Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another planned terror attack (NOV. 19, 2012)

Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday. The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in "violent jihad," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release. A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased Al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001. The other two -- 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland -- converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments. They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside. Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

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Obamacare's threat to religious freedom

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider Liberty University's legal argument that President Obama's health care law violates the school's religious freedom. The case will be returned to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. "Today's ruling breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which filed the suit on behalf of the school, said Monday. "Our fight against ObamaCare is far from over." A federal judge in 2010 rejected Liberty's claim, and the appeals court later ruled the lawsuit was premature and failed to address the substance of the school's arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June 2012. In the high court's 5-4 decision, the justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty's. The school is challenging the constitutionality of the part of the law that mandates employers provide insurance and whether forcing insurers to pay for birth control is unconstitutional under the First Amendment's free exercise of religion clause. The appeals court ruled last year the Anti-Injunction Act barred it from addressing the merits in the case. The act blocks any challenge to a "tax" before a taxpayer pays it -- in this case referring to the penalties associated with failing to obtain health insurance. However, the Supreme Court's ruling stated the act did not serve as a barrier to lawsuits challenging the health care law. On that basis, Liberty University immediately petitioned the court to allow it to renew its original case.

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The leader of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt claimed dictatorial power in Egypt. Morsi announced his intentions last week, just one day after he helped broker a cease-fire agreement in Israel between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas in the Gaza strip. The move by the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi has sparked violent street protests, largely in Cairo, that have reportedly resulted in more than 500 injuries. The protests are expected to continue, unraveling the stability brought after political protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak and put Morsi into power this past summer. Morsi's attempt last week to consolidate power shields his efforts from the country's judiciary branch, which he considers an unreformed part of the Mubarak era. Senator John McCain calls upon Obama to condemn Mohammed Morsi's power grab. (Don't hold your breath.) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi won praise from President Obama for brokering a peace deal, but one day later seized new powers. (AP) President Obama, who praised Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, has not spoken to the Islamist since his alarming power grab, a White House spokesman said Monday. One day after Arizona Sen. John McCain appeared on the Fox News Channel and called on Obama to renounce the decree by Morsi putting himself above the law, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated the State Department's muted call for Egyptians to work out their "internal" problems. "We call for calm and for all parties to work together to resolve their differences peacefully," Carney said. "We've raised concerns about it," Carney added later. "We are constantly monitoring developments in Egypt and working with the Egyptians, with whom we have a very close relationship." But asked point blank if the White House "condemned" Morsi's move, Carney stopped short.

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The War on Men By Suzanne Venker

The battle of the sexes is alive and well. According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent. Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don't. The so-called dearth of good men (read: marriageable men) has been a hot subject in the media as of late. Much of the coverage has been in response to the fact that for the first time in history, women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce. They're also getting most of the college degrees. The problem? This new phenomenon has changed the dance between men and women. As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I've spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I've spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I've accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who've told me, in no uncertain terms, that they're never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same. Women aren't women anymore. To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven't changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically. In a nutshell, women are angry. They're also defensive, though often unknowingly. That's because they've been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs. Now the men have nowhere to go. It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. But what if the dearth of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is – hold on to your seats – women's fault? You'll never hear that in the media. All the articles and books (and television programs, for that matter) put women front and center, while men and children sit in the back seat. But after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told there's something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren't happy, it's men's fault. Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it's in their DNA. But modern women won't let them. It's all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever. It's the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they're forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men's linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek. So if men today are slackers, and if they're retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they've played to bring about this transformation. Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs. If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork

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The Death of Hostess-A Union Contract Hit By Dennis Kneale

the death of Hostess Brands, progenitor of Twinkies, Devil Dogs and Ding Dongs and other artery-clogging, icing-adorned icons of Americana, plenty of factors get the blame. Management didn't cut deep enough, soon enough. Plants didn't update. Marketing failed to innovate. The product line stayed unstintingly junky, defiantly flouting America's reluctant reset to low-fat fare. But the real reason Hostess had to die at this particular time? This was a union contract hit. And that offers a disturbing glimpse into the delusional, drunk-with-power mindset of unions -- which represent barely 7% of the private work force in the U.S. -- as they embark on a second term of way-too-cozy relations with their supplicant in the White House. President Obama, ever grateful for the millions of dollars and thousands of foot soldiers provided by union support, will continue trying to end-run Congress and make it easier for unions to sink their hooks into business. Yet unions are in stark denial of the need for significant cutbacks in their lush contracts if their employers are to survive. This is especially true in the demise of Hostess Brands. Hostess's hired gun and CEO, Gregory Rayburn, the workout "cleaner" creditors had brought in to try to save the company, had said repeatedly that he would have to shut it down unless a dozen unions accepted cutbacks in pay, benefits and stupid, featherbedding union work rules. Even the Teamsters had agreed to his plan. (And those guys "will crack you over the head," as a union guy warned me many years ago when a strike loomed at the Detroit News and I, a lowly intern, had said I might cross any picket line.) But the 5,600 workers in the bakers union at Hostess went on strike. The leadership of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers whispered to workers that the company was bluffing, or a white-knight buyer may emerge. Hard to know whether this was blatant deception or foolish miscalculation; I'd suspect a bit of both. Then Rayburn, somber not swaggering, came on-air with me on "Markets Now" in the noon hour on Thursday and reiterated his threat: The bakers must return to work by 5 p.m. that day, or the company would file to liquidate on Friday. See the video here. Rayburn even had a company press release hand-delivered to picketing workers at a dozen plants, warning them of the 5 o'clock ultimatum. He was hoping to separate the members from their kamikaze leadership. It didn't work. On Friday, Hostess filed in bankruptcy court to liquidate the company. With extreme prejudice. Today, Rayburn seeks court permission to start selling off pieces. So now all 18,500 workers at Hostess Brands just lost their jobs. Way to go guys! Bake me a lie, as fast as you can. Brace yourself for a wave of union propaganda-as-apologia. You'll hear Obama-echoes of sniping against private equity a la Mitt-Bain Capital: "Romney-Style Economics Behind Decline of Hostess, But Workers Are Paying the Price," says one website affiliated, predictably, with the AFL-CIO.Those vulture capitalists must have sucked out hundreds of millions of dollars by leveraging up the company, right? (Answer: wrong. Ripplewood Holdings injected a total $150 million in three dollops as Hostess sank deeper into trouble. It lost every dollar.) The unions will say management had given itself millions in pay raises while demanding worker cuts. (True, but the raises were barely a rounding error at a company that had lost almost half a billion bucks in two years; and Rayburn rescinded the raises anyway, making the brass work for a dollar a year apiece.) The unions will blame the company for taking on almost $900 million in debt. (Yet that debt cost Hostess all of $45 million in interest last year, when its total losses swelled up to $340 million). And here's what you won't hear the unions ever talk about:

--Hostess paid out almost $100 million in health benefits for retirees last year, but over half of it covered workers who never had worked at Hostess. The Teamsters' onerous and antiquated "multi-employer pension plan" foists the pension obligations of a bankrupt company on to the balance sheets of surviving rivals—ensuring a steady death spiral in any declining industry. A similar "MEPP" almost killed YRC, one of the largest trucking companies.

--Union rules forced Hostess to run separate truck fleets for delivering bread vs. sweets. A sweets driver, serving a 7-11 store, was forbidden from restocking shelves with breads already delivered and waiting in the back—he had to call for a bread driver to swing by and handle.

--The union restrictions on the 5,500 distribution routes at Hostess made it unprofitable to serve tiny outlets, yet Hostess was barred from using smaller, sleeker—and non-union—distributors.

--Workers were asked to take an 8% pay cut and pay 17% of their health-care costs instead of zero. Welcome to the club, guys. For this, they would have received 25% ownership of Hostess plus $100 million of Hostess debt to be paid back to the unions.

But the bakers wouldn't budge. In the months ahead a chop-shop or food giant may resurrect various Hostess brands, but those 36 plants are shuttered, those 18,500 jobs are gone for good. The union preferred to picket while an 85-year-old company suffocated . . . rather than risk having to face inevitable demands for similar concessions at other employers across the country. Those demands will be forthcoming, anyway, because, as President Obama likes to say in slapping the rich with higher taxes, the math doesn't work. The only questions are which union will be next, and whether anyone reasonable (or sane) will be listening. Even a parasite is smart enough to know not to kill its host. In the case of unions, the presence of such preternatural intelligence isn't yet readily apparent.

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Time for US to review links with Hamas sponsor Qatar

With the dangerous and ever-changing political dynamic in the Middle East and North Africa replacing the previous status quo with new governments with very different agendas, the tiny Gulf state of Qatar has emerged as an increasingly significant player in the power-politics of the region. The state that is home to the Al Jazeera TV corporation, that will stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament, and whose capital Doha is fast becoming a major international business centre, is governed by the Al Thani family, with Crown Prince Hamad al Khalifa al Thani the ruler of the oil-rich state holding the reins of power since deposing his father in a peaceful coup in 1995. While Qatar is seen in some quarters as a progressive Arab state and enjoys generally good relations with the United States and other western democracies, concern has been growing over the apparent ambitions of the Crown Prince to step into the vacuum left by the recent travails of both Syria and Iran, the long-time sponsors of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. The recent official visit of the Qatari leader to Gaza – the first foreign leader to visit the Strip - in which he made a massive $400 million donation (ostensibly for 'infrastructure projects') to the Hamas regime, has only served to increase a sense of unease in some quarters that Al Thani's huge wealth is being used to insert himself as a major figure in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and complicate the already near-impossible impasse reached in the peace process. Noel Clay, spokesman for the US State Department, told "We share the international community's deep concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, including those Palestinian civilians residing in Gaza. We urge all those wishing to provide international humanitarian support to Gaza to do so through established channels to ensure that the Palestinians' humanitarian needs and Israel's legitimate security needs are both met." Clay stressed however, "We oppose engagement with Hamas, which remains a destabilizing force in Gaza and the region, and which remains a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization." Clay's statement strongly hints at US dismay at the Qataris behaviour. The US has aggressively pursued a policy of sanctions against Iran and other countries that sponsor terrorism, so will Qatar's brazen public support of Hamas result in a clamp down on business ties with the aspirational Gulf state? The US-Qatar Business Council, for example, is made up of a raft of household names, including major companies with strong business interests in Qatar. The likes of the Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, The Boeing Corporation, and Lockheed Martin, all value their ties to Qatar, but should such US business luminaries really be engaging with the financial backers of Hamas, an internationally acknowledged terrorist regime? attempted to put that question to the US-Qatar Business Council, but no one was available to comment. Professor Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US policy in the Middle East at the Begin Sadat Center for Stategic Studies, believes that Qatar has seized its opportunity to become a major player in the Israel/Gaza conflict. "Qatar's interest is to diminish as much as possible the Iranian influence in Gaza...where Iran still sponsors Islamic Jihad. Hamas has long been receiving weapons and training from Iran, but since the war in Syria relations between Hamas and Iran have been uneasy. The US believes that Hamas is a destructive movement in Gaza and the Middle East and supports Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government (in the other Palestinian territory on the West Bank). Qatar's strengthening of Hamas is therefore counter-productive from the US point of view, because it reduces Abbas' power and will increase the influence of Hamas in the West Bank." Professor Gilboa continued, "The other major drawback however for the US of Qatar's intervention on the side of Hamas... is that it means that the US has to rely on Egypt's President Morsi to restrain Hamas, through their mutual ties to the Muslim Brotherhood."Qatar's hosting of the Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and their provision of safe haven to Omar Bin Laden, the fourth son of Usama Bin Laden, who reportedly described his father's death at the hands of US Special Forces as, "a criminal act", has also raised eyebrows. Was it merely coincidence then that the significant increase in rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel that precipitated the violent eight days of hostilities between the two sides that threatened to destabilize even further the whole Middle East, followed only days after Qatari Crown Prince Al Thani's visit to the territory, his vast financial donation, and his promise of ongoing support for the radical Islamist regime? Gilboa believes that Qatar is playing a very dangerous game in its use of Hamas as a proxy stick with which to beat Iran. "The ideal US policy would be to keep Hamas strong enough to counter Iran and Islamic Jihad, but weak enough not to threaten Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is a very difficult balancing act to maintain. It is obvious to me that if Hamas draws Israel into a war again, Israel will invade the Gaza Strip and eliminate Hamas from Gaza. There is no question in my mind about it." "The conflict in Gaza is not just about Gaza" Gilboa concluded. "Everyone is looking to see its effects and repercussions on the region as a whole."

Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist who blogs at and can be followed on Twitter @paulalster

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NOTE: I have been to Qatar during my deployment to Iraq. We have important military bases in Qatar. But we need to state the obvious, that Qatar is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Israelis believe that they should have gone to war in Gaza

A poll shows about half of Israelis think their government should have continued its military offensive against Palestinian militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Sometimes not going to war is worse than going to war-as bad as war is.

Media anti-Israel

The number 1 threat to democracy in America is the liberal news media.

Brazen faking of images reveals Hamas' desperation

There is only one thing worse than the image of a child killed by military conflict, and that is the image of a child killed by military conflict having deliberately been placed in the line of fire. War is, by definition, a very nasty business, and invariably it is the innocents on all sides who bear a significant cost in lives lost, people maimed and communities traumatized. But solid evidence now reveals how Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have been deliberately placing their civilian population in mortal danger, choreographing a number of seemingly gory scenes, as well as releasing images from other conflicts, such as Iraq and Syria, and passing them off as dead Gazan civilians killed by Israeli missiles. In an attempt to persuade the world that Israel is committing war crimes and to distract attention away from the illegal and immoral use of their own population as human shields, Hamas has resorted to staging a number of fake deaths and scenes of severely injured people right in front of international TV crews. The BBC recently broadcast a news report showing a man being carried off by four others, seemingly the victim of an Israeli missile strike, only for him to reappear in the same clip a few seconds later wandering around completely unharmed. The same organization's Jon Donnison yesterday re-tweeted a picture of the dead body of a young girl on a stretcher in Gaza with the headline "Heartbreaking," only for it to transpire that the girl had sadly been killed three weeks earlier in Syria. Such is the sometimes chaotic nature of the situation on the ground in Gaza that mistakes can be made, but according to Paul Hirschson, spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamas has crossed a red line even in the Arab world by promoting the use of images of dead people – children in particular – against the tradition of their religion and the expected respect for the dead. Hirschson told that, "There's no question that there are civilians being killed and injured on both sides of this conflict, but respect for the dead within the Muslim world is a core principal and what Hamas is doing is in contradiction to the customs and traditions of the local community.

"As in Judaism, Islam believes in taking the body and burying it at the first opportunity," he said. "Even Al Jazeera is sensitive to this and has blanked out faces as it is an invasion of privacy. This is a cynical abuse of respect and privacy and is not something that is reconcilable with the norms of the community. There are certain moral and ethical codes that we all behave by. In Egypt and Jordan this stuff doesn't get published. Hamas are going to suffer for it amongst their own." Does the apparent manipulation of pictures, the "photoshopping" of images to suggest scenarios that later prove to be false, suggest a desperation then on the part of the Islamists to persuade the outside world of their opinion, regardless of the truth being told or not told? "Hamas is using these pictures in order to deliberately incite Arab public opinion because their leadership is disappointed at the relative lack of public pressure throughout the Arab world on Arab governments to support Hamas," Hirschson argued. "That could be for a number of reasons, but it could very well be because in Syria, in Egypt, or in Bahrain, for example, they have problems of their own. The other factor is that, yes, we have seen a rise in Islamists in the Arab world, but not everyone there is excited at that prospect. It is significant that there has barely been anything from Gaza's brothers in the Palestinian Authority. The (West Bank) leadership is nauseated with Hamas." Some argue that Hamas' manipulation of images is effectively undermining their own case and risking losing public sympathy as viewers and readers cannot be sure if the suffering being displayed is genuine. Those instances of real tragedy and trauma become lost in a fog of spin and manipulation. "War has very ugly consequences," Hirschson continued. "The one thing I don't want to do is to suggest it is all staged, that there are no injuries, and this is all a bluff. People are being killed on both sides, and sadly sometimes uninvolved people are being killed and hurt. I'm not all that concerned about those who are involved (in terrorism), but the manipulation of images, the faking of images, and the presenting of images from other conflicts as fact on the ground in Gaza, is a cynical ploy on the part of Hamas." On Monday, a number of foreign journalists were injured when a media center in Gaza was hit by an Israeli missile. Hirschson suggests that Islamic Jihad had deliberately positioned their command and control center in the building.

"Whether or not those international crews knew that Islamic Jihad were there is unclear. But by effectively using the media as human shields, nothing less than a war crime is being committed," he concluded.

Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist who blogs at and can be followed on Twitter @paulalster

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