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We'll put off the quiz for a week, then. ;-) Let me know what you think about it

once you've had a chance to digest it.

If you like that one, companion work is by another French political anthropologist, Pierre Claustres, whose Society Against the State (1974), traces a lot of civilization's nastiness -- war, slavery, human sacrifice, capitalism -- through the Mayan example back to the advent of organized agriculture and the resulting need for mass labor, the creation and outfitting of armies to conquer peoples and territory, and internalized social control mechanisms (organized religion and ideologies of power) that enabled landowners to get and stay rich through accumulation of surplus value. One of Claustres great insights was an answer to why man in a state of nature would voluntarily subject himself to the exploitation of another. The answer he says, beyond violent duress, is the attraction of "magical thinking" held by a priestly class who created the myth that some men have higher wisdom. Embrace of the myth of superior intelligence and secret knowledge makes obedience possible, along with the maintenance of those who know how to wield that myth as power over others. Think Alan Greenspan at his height.

Jerod Dimond's book, Collapse (which you may already have) goes with that, whose application of Chaos Theory explains why even little flaws in the original condition of complex social systems will result in sudden, catastrophic collapse -- when people stop believing that the system works, systems built upon surplus value and the manipulation of illusions fall apart.

Collective guilt, denial, and scapegoating. It's like Absolution of Sin, there's a

psychological need to revere the people we've destroyed and to assume that we've inherited their virtues and cleansed our own sins in the process. That's why we name our sports teams and attack helicopters after Native American tribes we've annihilated.

Read Rene Girard's, "Violence and the Sacred." You won't look at American History, mass culture, politics, government, wars and foreign policy the same way afterwards.

It's even worse than that - AIPAC works for the oligarchs, wealthy Right-wing, many Russian Mob

who bankroll and dominate the Likud Party. As it's been said about politics, you don't want to see what's inside the sausage.

Here's what a US State Dept cable has to say about one of the "virtual mafia states": http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,732345,00.html

XXXXXX: Redacted by the editors. Important note on the dispatches...

<<207278>> 5/15/2009 14:14 09TELAVIV1098 Embassy Tel Aviv UNCLASSIFIED



Unclas tel aviv 001098

C o r r e c t e d c o p y (corrected addee)

Dept for ca/vo/l/c; ca/vo/l/a; ca/fpp sarah sexton; inr/tipoff; ds ofac rome for dhs/ice

Ca/fpp: please pass to doj lisa holtyn and bruce ohr sipdis

E.o. 12958:n/a Tags: cvis, snar, cmgt, kfrd, kcor, kcrm, ktip, pinr, is Subject: israel: a promised land for organized crime?

Summary ---------

1. (SBU) Organized crime (OC) has longstanding roots in Israel, but in recent years there has been a sharp increase in the reach and impact of OC networks. In seeking a competitive advantage in such lucrative trades as narcotics and prostitution, Israeli crime groups have demonstrated their ability and willingness to engage in violent attacks on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders. The Israeli National Police (INP) and the courts have engaged in a vigorous campaign against organized crime leaders, including the creation of a new specialized anti-OC unit, but they remain unable to cope with the full scope of the problem. Organized crime in Israel now has global reach, with direct impact inside the United States. Post is currently utilizing all available tools to deny Israeli OC figures access to the United States in order to prevent them from furthering their criminal activities on U.S. soil. End Summary.

Crime War Hits the Streets of Israel -------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In November 2008, Israeli crime boss Yaakov Alperon was assassinated in broad daylight in a gruesome attack on the streets of Tel Aviv, only about a mile away from the Embassy. According to several media accounts, a motor scooter pulled up alongside Alperon's car and the rider attached a sophisticated explosive device with a remote detonator to the car door. The bomb killed Alperon and his driver, and injured two innocent pedestrians. The hit was the latest in a series of violent attacks and reprisals, and indicated a widening crime war in Israel.

3. In July 2008, a 31-year-old Israeli woman was killed by a stray bullet on the beach in Bat Yam in front of her husband and two children during a failed assassination attempt on noted crime figure Rami Amira. In a feud between the Abutbul and Shirazi clans, crime boss Shalom "Charlie" Abutbul was shot by two gunmen in September 2008, an attack that also wounded three bystanders. In December 2008, Charlie Abutbul's son-in-law, Nati Ohayon, was gunned down in his car in Netanya. Before the fatal bombing of his car, Alperon himself had survived at least three previous attempts on his life before his assassination, and was engaged in an ongoing feud with the rival Abergil clan (although there are numerous suspects in Alperon's murder). The day after Alperon's death, two members of the Abergil syndicate were sentenced for conspiring to kill Alperon's brother, Nissim, in May 2008.

4. (SBU) In response to rising concerns for public safety, former Prime Minister Olmert convened an emergency meeting of top law enforcement officials, cabinet members, and prosecutors in December 2008. He promised to add 1,000 officers to the INP and to allocate approximately NIS 340 million (USD 81 million) to improve the INP's technical capabilities. In general, the rise in OC-related violence has led some public figures to call for emergency state powers to attack criminal organizations, and OC became a minor but important issue in the February 2009 Knesset elections. Former Labor Party MK Ephraim Sneh publicly decried criminal extortion in his campaign ads, only to have his car torched in apparent retaliation outside his home in Herzliya.

Background ------------

5. (SBU) Organized criminal activity is not a new phenomenon in Israel, and major crime families are well known to the Israeli public (the Alperons even featured in a recent reality television program). Five or six crime families have traditionally dominated OC in Israel, although the names and makeup of these syndicates have fluctuated in recent years. The Abergil, Abutbul, Alperon, and Rosenstein organizations are among the most well known, but recent arrests and assassinations have created a power vacuum at the top. New names such as Mulner, Shirazi, Cohen and Domrani have moved quickly to fill the gap. Other up-and-coming groups include the Harari, Ohana, and Kdoshim families. There are also a number of rival families active in the underworld of Israel's Arab sector.

6. (SBU) Traditional OC activities in Israel include illegal neighborhood casinos, prostitution rings, extortion, and loan sharking, with each family controlling a different geographic region. The Alperon family, for instance, dominates the Sharon region, while the Abutbul operation is based in the coastal city of Netanya. The focus is largely on easy money guaranteed by the limited use of violence. Criminal involvement in the recycling business, for example, has been well covered in the press. OC

families collect bottles illegally from municipal recycling bins and restaurants, return them at the collection centers claiming twice the actual numbers, and pocket the change for millions in profits.

Not Your Grandfather's Mob ---------------------------

7. (SBU) Despite their notoriety, OC figures have generally been viewed as a nuisance to be handled by local police. Law enforcement resources were directed to more existential security threats from terrorists and enemy states. In recent years, however, the rules of the game have changed. According to xxxxx, the old school of Israel OC is giving way to a new, more violent, breed of crime. xxxxx told conoffs that the new style of crime features knowledge of hi-tech explosives acquired from service in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a willingness to use indiscriminate violence, at least against rival gang leaders. New OC business also includes technology-related crimes, such as stock market and credit card fraud, and operates on a global scale.

8. (SBU) As the reach of Israeli OC has grown, so have the stakes. Crime families are working further from home and exporting violence abroad. Older gambling schemes have grown to include sprawling casino franchises in Eastern Europe. The Abutbul family began its gambling business in Romania over a decade ago, and now owns the Europe-wide Casino Royale network. In 2002, Israeli OC turf wars spilled into Europe when Yaakov Abergil and Felix Abutbul were killed two months apart. Abutbul was gunned down in front of his casino in Prague in a show of force by the Abergils as they attempted to capture a portion of the European gambling market.

9. (SBU) Israeli OC now plays a significant role in the global drug trade, providing both a local consumer market and an important transit point to Europe and the United States. In 2004, Zeev Rosenstein was arrested in Israel for possession of 700,000 ecstasy tablets in his New York apartment, destined for distribution in the U.S. market. He was ultimately extradited to the United States in 2006, where he is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. Two other crime figures, Meir Abergil and Israel Ozifa, are also facing U.S. extradition charges on charges that include smuggling 100,000 ecstasy tablets into the United States.

10. (SBU) The prostitution business has also grown beyond the neighborhood brothel. In March 2009, the INP arrested twelve suspects in what is believed to be the largest Israeli-led human trafficking network unearthed to date. Ring leader Rami Saban and his associates were charged with smuggling thousands of women from the former Soviet Union and forcing them to work as prostitutes in Israel, Cyprus, Belgium, and Great Britain. Some women were flown to Egypt and smuggled across the Sinai border by Bedouins.

Law Enforcement Steps up the Pressure -------------------------------------

11. (SBU) After years of perceived inaction, in 2008 the INP created a new unit called Lahav 433. The elite unit operates under the direct command of the police commissioner, and is charged specifically with infiltrating and eliminating Israel's major crime syndicates. Lahav 433 also cooperates closely with district investigative units to combat smaller criminal organizations, many of which are aligned with the larger crime families.

12. (SBU) Following Alperon's assassination, the INP initiated a series of raids that led to the arrests of a number of leading crime figures. Among their targets were Aviv and Adam Abutbul, sons of crime-family head Charlie Abutbul, both charged with possession of illegal weapons. (A third brother, Francois, is already facing murder charges for a nightclub killing in 2004.) Police also arrested gangland figure Amir Mulner for weapons possession and conspiracy to commit a crime. Mulner is known to be an explosives expert by army training, and is a suspect in Yaakov Alperon's murder. He is also believed to be managing affairs for Rosenstein while the latter serves his sentence in the United States.

13. (SBU) Yaakov Alperon's brother Nissim was arrested with 18 others in December 2008, in what was reported to be a "mafia meeting" in a Tel Aviv-area caf. According to the Jerusalem Post, the group may have been planning a revenge attack for his brother's recent assassination. Alperon's son Dror, recently dismissed from his army service for disorderly behavior, also faces several counts of assault and was convicted on extortion charges. Also in December, police in Netanya launched several raids on illegal gambling houses and the homes of suspected money launderers with ties to the crime families. In Ashdod, brothers Roni and David Harari were arrested on charges of extortion. Regional police stuck a blow against the Jerusalem Gang, and convicted its leader Itzik Bar Muha.

Skepticism Hovers Over GOI Efforts ----------------------------------

14. (SBU)xxxxx told conoffs that "thousands of foot soldiers" remain active on the streets despite these aggressive anti-OC operations. He noted that approximately 2,000 people attended Alperon's very public funeral. xxxxx expressed skepticism that recent arrests will bear fruit in the long term without a sustained commitment to enforcement. He noted that many of the crime leaders remain active while in prison and their operations are not hampered significantly even when they are convicted and jailed.

15. (SBU) In December 2008, former Prime Minister Olmert himself admitted that efforts to combat OC have long been diluted among different agencies, and that INP technology lags far behind that allocated to security services for counterterrorism. Given the recent change in government and the current economic crisis, there is public skepticism as to whether GOI promises to remedy the situation will be fulfilled. In 2003, following a failed assassination attempt on Rosenstein, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made similar promises to commit manpower and resources to combating the problem.

16. (SBU) It is not entirely clear to what extent OC elements have penetrated the Israeli establishment and corrupted public officials. The INP insists that such instances are rare, despite the occasional revelation of crooked police officers in the press. Nevertheless, there have been several dramatic revelations in recent years that indicate a growing problem. In 2004, former government minister Gonen Segev was arrested for trying to smuggle thousands of ecstasy pills into Israel, a case that produced considerable circumstantial evidence of his involvement in OC. The election of Inbal Gavrieli to the Knesset in 2003 as a member of Likud raised concerns about OC influence in the party's Central Committee. Gavrieli is the daughter of a suspected crime boss, and she attempted to use her parliamentary immunity to block investigations into her father's business. (Gavrieli is no longer a member of the Knesset.) Just last month, Israeli politicos and OC figures came together for the funeral of Likud party activist Shlomi Oz, who served time in prison in the 1990s for extortion on behalf of the Alperon family. Among those in attendance was Omri Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was himself convicted in 2006 on illegal fundraising charges unrelated to OC.

Courts Testing New Powers --------------------------

17. (SBU) In 2003, the GOI passed anti-OC legislation that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for heading a criminal organization and three years for working in such an organization. The law defines such a body as a group of people working in an "organized, methodical and ongoing pattern to commit offenses that are defined by the laws of Israel as crimes." The law also allows for property forfeiture, both in the wake of conviction and in cases where it is proven to belong to a criminal organization.

18. (SBU) Until recently, xxxxx, judges and lawyers have been slow to make use of this authority, and are hampered by a lack of resources, insufficient understanding of the tools at their disposal, and reticence to mete out tough sentences. A witness protection program for those who testify against OC is just now getting off the ground, and is not backed by any specific legislation. Nevertheless, on March 16th, a Tel Aviv district court took the important step of sentencing 14 convicted criminals belonging to two mob organizations in Ramle and Jaffa to up to 27 years in prison.

19. (SBU) Increased efforts by Israeli authorities to combat OC have engendered retaliatory threats of violence. Recent press reports indicate that as many as 10 Israeli judges are currently receiving 24-hour protection by the police against the threat of violence from members of crime organizations. Israeli OC appears to be intent on intimidating judges personally, as a way of influencing the legal process. Judges in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa have been assigned police protection, underscoring the depth of the problem.

Israeli Crime Reaches American Shores --------------------------------------

20. (SBU) Israel's multi-ethnic population provides a deep well of opportunity for Israeli OC to expand into new territory. Most Israeli crime families trace their roots to North Africa or Eastern Europe, and many of their Israeli operatives hold foreign passports allowing them to move freely in European countries, most of which participate in the visa waiver program with the United States. Approximately one million Russians moved to Israel following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Russian citizens no longer require visas to enter Israel. Many Russian oligarchs of Jewish origin and Jewish members of OC groups have received Israeli citizenship, or at least maintain residences in the country. Little is known about the full extent of Russian criminal activity in Israel, but sources in the police estimate that Russian OC has laundered as much as USD 10 billion through Israeli holdings. While most Israeli OC families are native-born and the stereotype that Russian immigrants tend to be mobsters is greatly overblown, indigenous OC groups routinely employ "muscle" from the former Soviet Union.

21. (SBU) The profit motive serves as a great unifier among Israel's diverse demographic groups. According to xxxxx, some Amsterdam-based Hasidic groups allegedly are implicated in international drug smuggling through links to Israeli OC. Arab and Jewish Israeli criminals routinely cooperate and form alliances to expand control of lucrative drug, car theft and extortion rackets. Even hostile and closed borders pose few obstacles to OC groups. According to the INP, 43% of intercepted heroin in 2008 was smuggled from Lebanon, 37% from Jordan, and 12% from Egypt.

Israeli OC Operating Freely in United States ---------------------------------------------

22. (SBU) Given the volume of travel and trade between the United States and Israel, it is not surprising that Israeli OC has also gained a foothold in America. Over the last decade, media reports have detailed a number of high-profile cases involving Israeli OC, ranging from large-scale drug deals to murder. The ongoing Central District of California grand jury investigation against the Abergil family, where a RICO conspiracy case was initiated in December 2007, best demonstrates the full extent of such criminal activity. Investigators have linked Yitzhak Abergil and his entire network to crimes of "embezzlement, extortion, kidnapping, and money laundering." Yitzhak Abergil is currently under arrest in Israel and facing extradition for related charges linking him to the murder of Israeli drug dealer Samy Attias on U.S. soil.

23. (SBU) As part of an ongoing effort to track Israeli OC through media reports and police sources, Post so far has identified 16 families and 78 related individuals who are at the center of Israeli organized criminal activity. The consular section has revoked several visas for those who have been convicted of crimes in Israel, but many OC figures have no prior criminal convictions and carry no visa ineligibilities. As a result, many hold valid nonimmigrant visas to the United States and have traveled freely or attempted to travel for a variety of purposes.

24. (SBU) In March 2009, Post received information from law enforcement authorities that convicted criminal and member of the Abergil organization, Mordechai Yair Hasin, along with his pregnant wife and child, was intending to flee Israel for Los Angeles on valid tourist visas. Hasin's visa was revoked based on his conviction, as were his family's visas after they were determined to be intending immigrants.

25. (SBU) As in the Hasin case, Post is using every available tool to limit OC travel to the United States, but such efforts are not always successful. In June 2008, Post issued Adam Abitbul a valid tourist visa. Abitbul had no prior criminal convictions, and carried no visa ineligibilities. Several months later, Post received information from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that he had traveled to the United States to carry out a hit. Abitbul returned to Israel prematurely for his father's funeral, at which time Post revoked his visa. (Post can only revoke the visas of Israeli citizens while in country.) In a similar case, in October 2008 Post issued Moshe Bar Muha a tourist visa; he claimed to be traveling for medical treatment. Post subsequently received information from the LAPD that Bar Muha is in fact the brother of Itzik Bar Muha of the Jerusalem Gang (see above) and a convicted criminal.

26. (SBU) As recently as March 2009, Zvika Ben Shabat, Yaacov Avitan, and Tzuri Rokah requested visas to attend a "security-related convention" in Las Vegas. According to local media reports, all three had involvement with OC. Post asked the applicants to provide police reports for any criminal records in Israel, but without such evidence there is no immediate ineligibility for links to OC. Luckily, all three have so far failed to return for continued adjudication of their applications. Nevertheless, it is fair to assume that many known OC figures hold valid tourist visas to the United States and travel freely.

Comment: Israeli OC Slipping Through the Consular Cracks --------------------------------------------- ---------

27. (SBU) Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC, blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union, Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States.


Recall reading that most of the Libyan al-Qaeda contingent is from the Eastern region.

In our gleeful rush toward regime change and finishing off Syria, weakening Iran, and redividing the region's remaining non-Saudi oil reserves, where's reconstituting AQ on a scale not seen since the 1990s.

This is the definition of insanity.

Wikileaks: Pakistan army officials 'knew of Bin Laden house'

28 February 2012 Last updated at 05:24 ET

Wikileaks: Pakistan army officials 'knew of Bin Laden house'
Osama Bin Laden Osama Bin Laden lived in a heavily fortified compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad

Mid-ranking Pakistani army officials may have known that Osama Bin Laden had a safe house in Pakistan, leaked material appears to indicate. The claim was made in e-mails allegedly from US-based security think tank Stratfor, which were published by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

( . . .)

An email from a senior Stratfor employee to colleagues is quoted as saying: "Mid to senior level ISI and Pak Mil with one retired Pak Mil General that had knowledge of the OBL arrangements and safe house." The message goes on to say that the names and specific ranks of these generals were unknown to him, but adds that he believes US intelligence had that information.

(. . .)

"Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimised twice by submitting to questioning about them," Stratfor said in a statement on the publication of the emails by Wikileaks.

The next questions are: how long has US intelligence had that information, and why has the Pakistani military been keeping UBL under house arrest, and who else knew about this? How does Stratfor know this level of detail? Want to bet the corporate media doesn't even ask?

This is essentially a sectarian war between Sunni Arabs and the Shi'ia Syrian regime.

A group of Salaafist (Sunni) clerics just declared a fatwa against the minority Shi'ia (Allawite) leadership of the Ba'ath Party regime in Damascus. First, here's the report (from a Sunni paper) and then look at the nice folks we're allied with:

107 of the most well-known Muslim scholars from various countries, representing various Islamic groups and organizations have signed the statement (calling for jihad in Syria) which was issued on Tuesday 7th February 2012 / 15th Rabi' al-Awwal 1434. They include Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Shaikh Rached Al-Ghannouchi of Tunisia.

Shaikh Dr. Haitham al-Haddad also joins these scholars in signing this declaration as well as calling on the scholars of the United Kingdom to join the signatories. (Those interested in signing the declaration should contact MRDF via e-mail and we will add their names.)

The scholars call on Muslims and free people all over the world to support the Free Syrian Army and at the same time call on the Free Syrian Army to be disciplined in order not to stray from its mission to protect the Syrian people - they should steer clear of harming innocent people and carrying out revenge attacks.

The scholars also announced their support for any sincere effort to curtail the bloodshed in Syria and to protect the Syrian people from a prolonged civil war which could destroy the country. Such support, they said, is a fundamental Islamic requirement. They said that they supported the holding of free elections which would express the will of the people.


Al-Qaradawi has also described Shi'ites as heretics ("mubtadi'oun". Fellow member of International union of Muslim Scholars, Mohammad Salim Al-Awa criticized Qaradawi for promoting divisions among Muslims. In response, the Iranian Press Agency has described Qaradawi as "a spokesman for “international Freemasonry and rabbis".

Qaradawi accused what he called "heretical" Shias of "invading" Sunni countries.

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Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, but twice (in 1976 ...

Ali Gomaa #
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Ali Gomaa, who as the grand mufti (chief Islamic jurist) in Cairo is the senior Sunni Muslim figure in Egypt, was one of the Common Word signatories.

Rashid al-Ghannushi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Mohamed Ghannouchi. ... Religion, Sunni Muslim. Rashid al-Ghannushi or Rached Ghannouchi (Arabic: راشد الغنوشي‎ (born 1941) is a Tunisian Islamist .... "Global Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory In Tunisia".

Sh. Haitham al-Haddad Haitham al-Haddad is a London-based Islamic Scholar and Muslim community ...
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Jan 13, 2012 – The Muslim Brotherhood states that its ultimate aim is global Sharia. ... Haitham al-Haddad Claims Women Are Begging Him to Get Stoned ...
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Feb 9, 2012 – During the uprising against the Mubarak regime, a Muslim website published ... al Qaradawi, the highly influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian, in Qatar Saturday. ... Haitham al-Haddad Claims Women Are Begging Him to Get Stoned ... Righteous Sunni Muslim Bombs 32 Shia Rafida to Jahannam · The ...
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5 days ago – Al Qaeda is a spin-off of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt & Syria ... are considered by many Sunni to be heretics - i.e. essentially non-Muslim. ... Haitham Al-Haddad is a Muslim scholar who teaches what is the Islam of ...

She was right - projected $1.8T to return to 7% unemployment, and they

managed a stim of $.8T, about 40 percent of the required funding, the drop from 9.1 percent to 8.3 percent got us about a third of the way there.

There are a lot of assumptions there, such as what is the base-line "full employment" figure. If we apply Okun's Law*, unemployment drops one percent for every two percent GDP growth that is sustained for a year. By the same parameter, the natural unemployment rate (due to structural unemployment, not cyclical swings) during the period leading up to the 2008 crash was in the range of about six to seven percent. In the 1950's, that was about four percent, and that illustrates how much the American economy has slowed.

I recall Obama saying early on that unemployment would remain elevated over previous levels. He was right. It looks like the "new normal" is now up to 8% unemployment.
Google: "full employment six percent"
Macroeconomics - Google Books Result
books.google.com/books?isbn=0812046196...Jae K. Shim, Joel G. Siegel - 1993 - Business & Economics - 152 pages
Most economists define full employment as meaning that a given percentage of ... an unrealistic goal and needed to be revised to 6 to 7 percent unemployment.
Survey of Economics - Google Books Result
books.google.com/books?isbn=0324579616...Irvin B. Tucker - 2008 - Business & Economics - 532 pages
Full employment is the situation in which an economy operates at an unemployment rate equal ... In practice, therefore, full employment is difficult to define. ... In the 1980s, the accepted rate was 6 percent, and, currently, the consensus among ...

Al-Zawahri calls on AQ and Jihadists to join the Syrian Sunni uprising

Okay folks, it's now official - we're allies (again) with Al-Qaeda in yet another religious war in the Mideast/Persian Gulf.


Al Qaeda leader backs Syrian revolt against Assad

By Martina Fuchs

DUBAI | Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:05am EST

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in a video recording posted on the Internet on Sunday, urged Syrians not to rely on the West or Arab governments in their uprising to topple President Bashar al-Assad. In the eight-minute video, entitled "Onwards, Lions of Syria" and posted on an Islamist website, the Egyptian-born Zawahri also urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of Syrian rebels confronting Assad's forces.

"Wounded Syria still bleeds day after day, while the butcher, son of the butcher Bashar bin Hafiz (Hafez al-Assad), is not deterred to stop," Zawahri, wearing his white turban and seated against a green curtain, said.

"But the resistance of our people in Syria despite all the pain, sacrifice and bloodshed escalates and grows," he added.

Zawahri took command of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in a raid in Pakistan last May.

Also, yesterday, came news that the fighting in Syria between Sunnis and Shi'ia has spilled over into neighboring Lebanon. See,

The Saudis and their allies of convenience in the region are again pushing the U.S. into yet another round of an ongoing and expanding religious war against Shi'ia Iran and its regional allies.

Holy wars aren't something that most Americans understand very well. This isn't just about pro-democracy demonstrators versus bad dictators. Scratch the surface, and one sees the uprising against Assad is rooted in ancient religious difference and clan-based blood vendettas that go back centuries.


The ruling Syrian Ba'ath Party is predominantly Alawite, a Shi'ia sect, and the civil war continues the "long campaign of terror" by the Sunnis in the 1970s and 1980s against the Assad regime. That bloody revolt, which ended in the 1982 massacre of Sunni rebels in the city of Hama, had its origins in centuries of religious clashes and the many years the Shi'ia minority were a persecuted minority in Syria until a 1964 coup brought the Ba'ath Party, led by the Assad family, into power. See,

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From 1976 to 1982, Sunni Islamists fought the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria in what has been called "long campaign of terror". Islamists attacked ...
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From 1976 to 1982, Sunni Islamists fought the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria in what has been called "long campaign of terror". In 1979 the ...
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The uprising was aimed against the authority of the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria, in what has been called "long campaign of terror". During the ...

That's the context most of the western media and the pro-regime change propagandists aren't giving the public. Most coverage is entirely one-sided and fails to provide any historical context that might explain why the Syrians are killing each other. The escalating civil war in Syria is essentially part of an expanding regional religious war, and the west is being pushed into the middle of it by powerful, wealthy interests and a massive propaganda blitz. Enemy of my enemy . . . this stuff goes back millenia, and we're being played into taking sides, yet again.


I hope you didn't really mean, "death rate in Syria . . . not really a big problem."

The "raining sarcasm" icon often seems too blunt a tool. We need a smiley more suitable for irony.

Maybe a gallows humor toon. Maybe several.

Park Service is part of the Interior Dept. If there's a crackdown, it's the White House, not Issa

who gives that dispersal and arrest order.

If the U.S. Park Police do forcibly evict OWS from DC, we will have become just another Third World Police State in the eyes of the world.

P.S. - It's incidents of petty brutality and unlawful arrest of political protestors, like this one, that creates that image. It's the kind of mass arrest scene in Oakland, below, that solidifies it.

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