Puppet MastersS

Life Preserver

Obama Reassures Jordan King of U.S. Support

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The president made a weekend call to Jordanian King Abdullah II to assure him of U.S. support, but also to say that Washington wants Jordan to move toward reform.

With protests rocking the Middle East, the Obama administration is reaching out to King Abdullah II of Jordan, trying to reassure a badly shaken ally of its support even as it calls for greater political freedom across the Arab world.

Abdullah has been among the leaders alarmed by the popular uprising that toppled Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, expressing his anxiety to Washington over the steadiness of U.S. support for its friends in the region.

Seeking to ease those fears, President Obama called the king over the weekend and has dispatched a procession of top officials to Jordan to reassure him of Washington's support. The emissaries included the State Department's No. 3 official, William J. Burns, and the top U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael G. Mullen.

Jordan's royal family is facing popular demands for more open government while also coming under pressure from the nation's tribal leaders, traditional supporters of the government. At the same time, the Obama administration is pressing for changes that could discomfit the king and his aides.

"You can't maintain power through coercion.... At some level, in any society, there has to be consent," Obama said at a Tuesday news conference, adding that people armed with nothing more than "a smart phone and Twitter account can mobilize hundreds of thousands."


Israeli General Claims Stuxnet Attacks as One of His Successes

stuxnet graphic
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The latest results of a Symantec study concentrating on the Stuxnet worm revealed that its developers knew what they were doing - once finished, it took only 12 hours to infect the first target.

The study also concluded that the Stuxnet attacks can be dated back to June 2009 - more than a year prior to it being first discovered by security experts - and that its intial targets were five separate organizations that have a presence in Iran and most of which have been attacked at various points through 2009 and 2010.

Last month, The New York Times ran a story about Stuxnet having been developed by the Americans and the Israelis as a part of a joint project, but it was based on the claims by confidential sources and there was only circumstantial evidence that would corroborate them.

But, it now seems that the information from these sources was correct. The Haaretz - Israel's oldest daily newspaper - reports (via Google Translate) about the a surprising video that was played at a party organized for General Gabi Ashkenazi's last day on the job.

The video contained references to the successes he achieved during his stint as chief of staff, and enumerated among them was the Stuxnet worm attack on Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and and the nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

There is always the possibility that this was just a way of magnifying the General's achievements, but it is also possible it is true. As we all know, Israel has never commented on the speculations about its involvement in the attacks.


Who's Afraid of a Free Society?

dollar decline
© Unknown
Last week, my new book, Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse was released. It could just as easily have been called Everything Needs to Be Abolished, and Here's Why.

The book does two things. First, it lays bare the true fiscal position of the U.S. government, and shows why some kind of default is not merely possible but inevitable. But this is not a book full of numbers about the impending collapse. The collapse is merely the jumping-off point. By far the more central part of the book is this: the critical first step for reversing this mess and checking the seemingly unstoppable federal advance is to stick a dagger through the heart of the myths by which government has secured the confidence and consent of the people.

We know these myths by heart. Government acts on behalf of the public good. It keeps us safe. It protects us against monopolies. It provides indispensable services we could not provide for ourselves. Without it, America would be populated by illiterates, half of us would be dead from quack medicine or exploding consumer products, and the other half would lead a feudal existence under the iron fist of private firms that worked them to the bone for a dollar a week.

Star of David

FBI Official Sees 100% Likelihood of WMD Strike on U.S.

A senior FBI official said there is a 100 percent chance that the United States at some time will be attacked with a weapon of mass destruction, Newsmax reported on Monday (see GSN, Feb. 14).

"The notion of probability of a WMD attack being low or high is a moot point because we know the probability is 100 percent," FBI Assistant Director for the WMD Directorate Vahid Majidi said. "We've seen this in the past, and we will see it in the future. There is going to be an attack using chemical, biological or radiological material."

Majidi said the expected WMD attack could be carried out by an international terrorist group, a lone actor or a criminal operation. An incident would be expected to feature a weapon less devastating than a nuclear bomb due to the difficulty in preparing and transferring such as device.


Book Review: The Invention of the Jewish People

Can you imagine the acrimony if this book had been written by anyone other than an Israeli Jew?
Book Review: The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand, 2009, Verso Books, London and New York. English translation from the Hebrew by Yael Lotan.

Justification for the Zionist venture that has displaced Palestinians and resulted in the nation of Israel hinges on the story of a Semitic ethnic group exiled from its homeland in 70 CE, thereafter to wander during a two-millennium "Diaspora". In this book, Shlomo Sand, an historian at Israel's University of Tel Aviv, and part of a "post-Zionist" movement contesting this "imagined universe" with its "mythological kingdom of David", accuses rabbinical Judaism of avoiding its own history. He is firm in challenging "the nationalization of the Bible and its transformation into a reliable history book" and its basis for "the sacred trinity of Bible-Nation-Land of Israel".

Nowhere within Rome's detailed records is there documentation of an expulsion from Judea that could be a basis for an "Exile" and a "Diaspora". Rather, Judaism's history has been one of converting non-Semitic peoples. Judaism was historically evangelistic, and within officially polytheistic Rome, itself struggling with hedonism and corruption, the monotheistic religion offered moral grounding for converts. From there Judaism spread throughout the Empire, only to slow in the fourth century when a repressive Christianity, having become differentiated from its Judaic root, became official state religion.

Proselytizing and conversion to Judaism was widespread in the Mediterranean and north into the Caucasus. In particular, the now vanished empire of Khazaria, which extended from the Black and Caspian seas well into Russia, underwent massive conversion to Judaism in the eight century, thereafter to become the primary source of Jewry in Eastern Europe. This was an accepted history among scholars until the 1970s, when it became condemned as anti-Semitic by what Sand refers to disparagingly as "Israel's establishment historians ", occupied in inventing the eternal history of the "people of Israel". Sand writes that the "Exile", in fact a creation of early Christians, was ultimately accepted by Jews and evolved into "truth engraved in history".

Eye 1

In sharp reversal, U.S. agrees to rebuke Israel in Security Council

The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. U.S. officials were not available for comment, but two Security Council diplomats confirmed the proposal.

Mr. Potato

US clueless about Egypt?


Senate hearing turns into farce as American ignorance on Egypt situation revealed; specific agenda of Muslim Brotherhood unclear, top official says, has trouble responding to question on group's attitude to peace with Israel

Washington - A senate hearing Wednesday revealed that top US intelligence agencies are largely ignorant about the current situation in Egypt and unfamiliar with the agenda of the country's radical Islamists.

"It's hard to at this point to point to a specific agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group," National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators. When asked about the group's attitude to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, he said this was a difficult question before assessing "they are not in favor of the treaty."


Bahrain Protests: At Least 2 Dead in Crackdown; ABC's Miguel Marquez Roughed Up

bahrain protest
A protester lies injured on a stretcher as Bahraini anti-government demonstrators take him to hospital in Manama early Thursday. Riot police with tear gas and clubs drove protesters from the Pearl Square in Manama. Medical officials said four people were killed.

With unrest spreading across the Arab world from Egypt to other countries, protesters said at least two people were killed in a crackdown on demonstrations in Bahrain.

ABC News correspondent Miguel Marquez was caught in the crowd, and beaten by men with billy clubs in Bahrain's capital, Manama.

The country's main opposition group, Al Wefaq, said two men were killed in Pearl Square, in the center of Manama, when riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets early Thursday to break up the protests, according to the Associated Press. Hospitals across the city were on alert for more casualties.


Libya crushes 'day of anger' efforts

© UnknownLibyan leader Muammar Gaddafi delivers a speech behind bullet proof glass, at the city of Benghazi, Libya, February 25, 2010.
Libya crushes 'day of anger' efforts Libyan security forces arrested activists and clashed with protesters on Thursday as Muammar Gaddafi's regime cracked down on efforts to organise a "day of anger" on the back of uprisings that forced the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents from office.

Activists and human rights officials said protesters and security forces clashed in Benghazi, the oil-rich nation's second city, and Al-Bayda, the scene of violence the previous night.

Tripoli, the capital of the oil-rich nation, appeared calm as several hundred supporters of Mr Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969, held a demonstration in the centre of the city.

"There were clearly attempts to demonstrate in Benghazi and al-Bayda since this morning and there have been arrests since last night," said Heba Morayef, North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "What we have seen in the last couple of days is a crackdown on peaceful protestors though arrests, beatings, tear gas, and in Al-Bayda, live fire."

Black Cat

Israel increases activity on Blue Line, breaches Lebanese airspace

© UnknownIsraeli War Planes
Security source says Jewish state taking steps ahead of anniversary of Mughniyeh killing

Beirut - Israel ratcheted up its activities close to the Blue Line Monday, violating Lebanese airspace, according to reports from the south.

Reports also suggested Israel was bolstering its border patrols in the region from which two of its soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah in 2006, sparking the devastating month-long war which followed.

"Israeli war drones have been flying over Nabatiyeh, Iqlim Al-Toufah and Khiyam, all in south Lebanon, since 11 a.m. Monday," the National News Agency reported.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon told The Daily Star that UNIFIL "had not reported any violation" of Lebanese territory by Israeli patrols in recent weeks.

The Central News Agency, quoting an unidentified security source, said Israel had stepped up its maneuvers close to the Blue Line in anticipation of the anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughnieh, who was killed in an attack in Damascus in 2008 which the party blames on Israel.

"Security sources declared having observed movements of Israeli patrols in the Israeli side facing the border towns of Ramya and Aayta al-Shaab," the CNA said. "The patrols were accompanied by shots fired from machine guns in Khillet Warde and the vicinity of Israeli Area 716 inside Israeli territories.