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Friday, 27 February 2015

Zuckerman Says Obama ‘Lost touch with Reality’ on Iran, Israel

Netanyahu and Obama

US News and World Report Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, and publisher of the New York Daily News, Mort Zuckerman said Wednesday that “we have somebody who’s just lost touch with what’s going on in the world” in reaction to the looming Iran nuclear agreement  in an appearance on the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on the Fox Business Network.

“When you see a country like the United States literally ignoring an unbelievable threat to a lot of our allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, as well as Israel, then you know that we have somebody who’s just lost touch with what’s going on in the world, for whatever reason.” he stated.

Earlier, Zuckerman said “the President of the United States — for — to blame Israel and this Prime Minister for what it is, in fact, the United States is doing, which is eliminating all of the restrictions we’ve imposed on Iran, because we know how dangerous they will be as a nuclear power, and we’re opening the door for them to become a nuclear power in the area, and it’s astounding to me that in a sense he seems to be getting away with it.”

He continued, “It really in some fundamental way is astonishing to me that they didn’t have more empathy and understanding of an Israeli Prime Minister who knows that there is going to be nuclear weapons, and the capacity to deliver them within a matter of a few years if this administration’s policy is allowed just to run amok. Now, no country in the world would want to stand by and not do anything about that, and to treat it the way they are, as if this is somehow rather an unnatural and inappropriate reaction on the part of a man who’s trying to save his own country. That is ridiculous.”

After Dobbs said that “this administration appears to be reserving its empathy for our enemies,” Zuckerman responded: “Yes, well — the thing that’s really amazing, they are — you look at the countries that we can rely upon in that part of the world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and some of the other countries affiliated with Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, and we are walking away from them and giving Iran a free ticket to develop nuclear weapons which would change the entire balance of politics and power in that region, it’s crazy.”

The discussion concluded with Dobbs arguing “his [Obama’s] approach and his demeanor would be considered by just about any careful observer as authoritarian, not democratic,” and Zuckerman reacting, “I agree with that. My hope is that the Congress is going to react across political lines, both Republicans and Democrats will stand up to this. Because I think it’s outrageous.”

Thursday, 26 February 2015

PLO spokesman: 90% of Gaza’s residents want to leave because of Hamas

"Do you feel any national responsibility toward the Palestinians and their cause?” Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh asks Hamas -

More than 90% of Gaza Strip residents want to leave because of Hamas, Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said on Wednesday.

Addressing Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the Fatah spokesman asked: “Do you know that more than 90 percent of our people in the Gaza Strip want to emigrate, if given the chance, so they could escape from your regime? Do you feel any national responsibility toward the Palestinians and their cause?” Qawassmeh accused Hamas of killing Palestinians and lying. He claimed that Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007 was “one of the most important Israeli strategic goals.”

He accused Hamas of barring student, union and municipal elections in the Gaza Strip over the past eight years.

Qawassmeh accused Hamas of waging a smear campaign against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah after last summer’s military confrontation with Israel.

Hamas has been cracking down on Fatah members in the Gaza Strip by detaining and interrogating many of them, he added.

The Fatah spokesman held Hamas responsible for hindering efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. Hamas has imposed taxes in goods entering the Gaza Strip and “flooded the local market with Israeli products,” he said.

Qawassmeh’s attack on Hamas coincided with the arrest of several Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip over the past 48 hours.

Hamas detained for interrogation Hatem Othman, Jon Musleh, Mu’men Abu Samra, Awad Musleh, Khaled al-Masari, Raed Saker, Muhammad al-Askari and Rami al-Jarba, sources in the Gaza Strip said.

Othman, a Fatah member, was transferred to the hospital for treatment after he had his leg broken during the interrogation, the sources said.

According to the sources, the Fatah members targeted by Hamas are affiliated with ousted Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan, who is currently based in the United Arab Emirates. The Fatah men had participated in a series of protests in the Gaza Strip against Abbas’s decision to cut their salaries because of their affiliation with his rival Dahlan.

German Jewish Leader Warns Against Wearing Yarmulka

yarmGermany’s top Jewish leader suggested on Thursday that Jews shouldn’t wear a Yarmulka in areas with large Muslim populations but also said that hiding isn’t the right approach to concerns about anti-Semitism.

Security worries among European Jews have been stoked by recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. Jews in Germany generally feel safe, though security measures need to be evaluated frequently, Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews, told rbb Inforadio.

One of Schuster’s predecessors last year suggested that Jews in Germany should make sure they’re not recognizable as Jews.

“I think hiding is not the right way” of dealing with worries about anti-Semitism, Schuster said. However, he added that it’s right to ask whether, in areas with high Muslim populations in Berlin and elsewhere, “it really makes sense to identify oneself as a Jew by wearing a kippa, for example, or whether it’s better to wear different headgear there.

“That is a development that I didn’t expect five years ago and is a little alarming,” Schuster said, adding that Muslim groups should do more to counter anti-Semitism among young people.

On Tuesday, Germany’s interior minister met with Jewish leaders and reassured them that their safety is a top priority.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

ISIS Executes 3 Women, Arrests 13 Others for Refusing to Marry Fighters

    ISIS Crucifies
(PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/JUSTPASTE.IT)A masked ISIS militant reads the charges facing the two men tied to a cross, who were later shot in the back of the head for banditry, Mosul, Iraq.

The Islamic State terrorist group executed three women and arrested 13 other females in the group's Iraqi stronghold of Mosul on Sunday, after the women refused to get married to ISIS militants.

A Kurdistan Democratic Party official from Mosul, Saed Mamuzini, informed the Kurdish news site on Monday that ISIS continues to kidnap and kill women within its strongholds who refuse to marry fighters.

"On sunday, IS (another name for ISIS) militants arrested 13 women in Mosul and later held them in unknown locations," Mamuzini explained. "The woman were kidnapped because they refused nikah (Muslim marriage) with the jihadists."

Mamuzini also disclosed that three other women were executed at the ISIS base of Ghazlan, in the southwest region of the city, because of their refusal of marriage.

The news of sunday's arrests and executions comes after seven women were executed at the Ghazlan base on Jan. 24 for also refusing to marry militants.

Mamuzini told BasNews in January that ISIS is demanding that women accept marriage to the fighters, or else they will suffer the consequences.

"Many women refuse to have sex with ISIS militants, in which cases they are arrested. The militants often kill them," Mamuzini said. "Today, seven women from Mosul were killed at the IS base of Ghazlan."

The report adds that to encourage women to marry militants, ISIS tells females that having marital sex with ISIS fighters is considered "jihad for women," or sexual jihad. A recent manifesto released by ISIS' all female police brigade states that girls as young as 9 years old are eligible to marry ISIS fighters.

As the killing of women who refuse marriage is becoming a systemic occurrence under ISIS' rule, Foundation for Defense of Democracies human rights analyst Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi told The Christian Post that the militant group "pretends" that its actions are justified under Islamic laws.

"Even the most barbaric acts they have been engaged in, they always seek some sort of Islamic jurists endorsement to their behavior. Before they burned alive the Jordanian pilot, they went out to find some Islamic scholar that told them it was OK to do so," Ottolenghi explained.

"I am pretty sure that if that is what they are doing systematically, there must be somebody who has told them that its OK," Ottolenghi continued. "They are brutal enough to where it is in character with all the other actions they have taken. They will always try to pretend that whatever violence they engage in, they find an explanation in Islamic law."

The Islamic State's execution of women due to their refusal to marry jihadis is not limited to just the Mosul region.

In December, the Iraq's Human Rights Ministry announced the Islamic State executed over 150 women and girls in the Anbar province because they declined to marry jihadis or become sex slaves.

"At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah… after they refused to accept jihad marriage," a statement from the Human Rights Ministry reads. "Many families were also forced to migrate from the province's northern town of Al-Wafa after hundreds of residents received death threats."

The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry statement added that the execution of the 150 women was carried out by one ISIS fighter who goes by the name Abu Anas al-Libi. Libi is not to be confused with the alleged Al Qaeda operative who died in January at a hospital in the United States after being charged with involvement in bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.

    Turkey and Qatar were sending the weapons to the Libyan Islamists through Sudanese territory.

    Libya accuses Sudan of supporting Islamist militias


    Copyright : APA

    The Libyan army has accused the Sudanese government of supporting the Libyan faction of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and giving weapons and land to them.
    The Libyan army spokesman Captain Mohammed Higazi told Egyptian state television that Turkey and Qatar were sending the weapons to the Libyan Islamists through Sudanese territory.

    He further claimed that Sudan has opened many military training camps in its territory to train the ISIS fighters.

    The captain also accused Khartoum of supporting terrorism throughout Africa such as Boko Haram and the Somali Jihadists, Al Shabab.

    “We know very well and have many hard evidences that Turkey and Qatar are sending weapons to the terrorists through Sudan,� the spokesman alleged.

    “Sudan has opened some military camps in its territory specifically in White Nile state in the southern part of the country,� he stressed.

    “We are going to defend ourselves by all means, our military is ready to defeat all these attempts to destabilize our country and we will also use all the other diplomatic ways to stop this foreign intervention in our domestic issues,� he added.

    Libya has repeatedly accused Sudan and Qatar of supporting the Libyan Islamic militias. However, the Sudanese national army had denied the accusations.

    Three Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Paris for flying drone

    Three Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Paris for flying drone

    Three Al-Jazeera TV journalists were arrested in Paris Wednesday after flying a drone from a park on the edge of the city, a judicial source said. "The first was piloting the drone, the second was filming and the third was watching," the source said. This may be the first break in the police investigation of a series of mysterious drones that have been sighted over central Paris landmarks in the last two nights.

    The Mosul Offensive: Before An Offensive Is Launched, Our Sunni Allies Need To Define The War

    Note the addendum below that was not in the original publication on line. Bing West is always worth reading. V/R, RC, Fortunascorner

    The Mosul Offensive

    Before an offensive is launched, our Sunni allies need to define the war.

    By Bing West – February 25, 2015

    Last week, the press panned Mr. Obama’s anodyne remarks about “violent extremism.” The next day, the Central Command briefed the press on plans to seize the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, which is currently held by ISIS. For a White House fixated upon imagery, news of an impending offensive projected a resolute commander-in-chief.

    The briefing elided its subliminal message: Americans in ground combat. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had previously said, “We may need to ask to have our advisers accompany the troops that are moving on Mosul.” However, there is no “may” about it. While the offensive will mainly be launched by the Iraqi Army, it cannot succeed without American forward air controllers and advisers, plus thousands of backup U.S. troops. USCENTCOM did not give its briefing without knowing whether the plan included advisers. In that sense, the briefing was a trial balloon to prepare the public for a change of mind by the president.

    The two battles for Fallujah show what would be likely to happen in Mosul. In April of 2004, President George W. Bush ordered the Marines, against their advice, to seize Fallujah. Within days, the ferocity of the battle sparked a public outcry. Mr. Bush lost his nerve and ordered the Marines to pull out. Similarly, if Mosul is attacked, Mr. Obama will be pressured by a dozen nations with competing interests. Given the present circumstances, he must, unlike in past crises, be fully resolved to stay the course.

    In the Fallujah case, the Islamists took control after the Marines pulled out, forcing a second assault in November. Some 18,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed by 540 air strikes and 16,000 artillery and tank shells. Knee-deep water flooded the shattered city. Seventy Americans were killed and 600 wounded.

    The coming offensive will be war on a scale without precedent in the past decade. To get to Mosul, 200 miles north of Baghdad, the Iraqi Army has to fight its way through five cities. Once that is done, logistics supply requires holding open a single highway that will be subject to repeated IED explosions and suicide-bomber attacks. Between 30,000 and 50,000 tons of munitions, water, fuel, and equipment must be delivered to the frontlines. Delays and shortages are inevitable.
    This fight will not be swift. ISIS knows it will crumble if it cannot hold onto territory. If ISIS were to retreat, what happened in Anbar Province in late 2006 would be repeated: namely, the local populace would point out every jihadist and every hiding place. A despised army is most vulnerable as it tries to retreat. Every identifiable enemy vehicle would be a target for air strikes by our forces.

    When ISIS first attacked Mosul, the Iraqi Army ran away. So ISIS will fight with confidence when the Iraqi Army comes back. The jihadists will hold tens of thousands of civilians as human shields, while hundreds of thousands will flee, guaranteeing confusion. Thousands of fanatical Islamists will be hiding among 150,000 buildings, determined to fight to the death.
    The part of Mosul on the east side of the Tigris is Kurdish. That likely can be seized. On the west bank of the Tigris, the city is primarily Sunni, and the fighting will be tough. In Fallujah, about 150 squads searched 18,000 buildings, engaging in more close-in shootouts than all the police SWAT teams in history. Iraqi soldiers, lacking the determination of United States Marines, will not battle house to house. Instead, they will stand off and smash the city with artillery and American air power. Mosul is five times larger than Fallujah. More than 2,000 air strikes and 100,000 artillery shells are likely to be delivered, with 50,000 buildings wrecked. The press will show pictures of rubble and misery day after day, week after week.

    There will be nothing surgical about this offensive. A State Department spokesperson recently repeated a mindless trope: “We cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war.” Well, get ready for a lot of killing. President Obama must prepare the public for an operation that will be fierce, long, and messy.

    Given the enormous costs, the White House must not commit to this operation unless it is convinced that taking Mosul would significantly advance American interests. Now comes the strategic kicker: Who is the winner if Mosul is seized? Iran.

    Currently, Iran has 7,000 troops and advisers working with the Shiite militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army. Our bombing and our advisers would be supporting Iranian soldiers and Shiite militias advancing amidst Iraqi Army units. This operation would make America the de facto wartime partner of Iran. If the Shiite Iraqi Army did capture the destroyed Sunni city, Iran would stand out as a winner, having extended its regional power into a Sunni heartland. How would the White House explain that outcome to Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt – already estranged by the administration’s actions over the past six years?

    By briefing about a military offensive for public-relations effect, the White House and USCENTCOM have posed strategic questions without providing the answers. The war would not stop with Mosul. Seizing that city would still leave ISIS in control of northwestern Iraq, half of Syria, and large swaths of North Africa. Before we again enter this war on the ground, we need to clearly define the final objectives in Syria, Iraq, and across the Maghreb.

    A coalition of Sunni leaders, mullahs, and warriors must emerge, putting forward a progressive Sunni religious doctrine backed by a terrible swift sword. The U.S. should support that movement with funding, moral approval, arms, airlifts, intelligence, air strikes, and adviser/air-control teams. On occasion, U.S. raids and expeditionary assaults on a battalion or larger scale would be appropriate. A key element is to foster the emergence of charismatic Sunni Arab warrior leaders. The war against Sunni jihadists must be defined, primarily fought, and won by Sunni Muslims.
    – Bing West, a former combat Marine and assistant secretary of defense, has written three books about the war in Iraq, including No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah.
    Addendum: From a recent news story: ” ‘We want Mosul to look more like the liberation of Paris than Stalingrad or Fallujah,’ said a senior military official. Commanders are hoping they can convince most of the Islamic State fighters to leave the city before the battle.”

    A disturbing quote, given that the Islamist fanatics want a Stalingrad, because it was a decisive victory for the defenders. Our commanders are signaling they don’t have the stomach for a bloody battle — the exact wrong message to send.

    The Mosul briefing revealed a lack of battlefield understanding at CentCom and a de facto geopolitical alliance with Iran at the White House.

    Israeli Scientists Suppress Malaria Parasite, Creates Way to Boost Immune System

    Israeli Scientists Suppress Malaria Parasite, Creates Way to Boost Immune System 

    Up to one million people, mainly pregnant women and young children, are killed each year by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which causes the most devastating form of human malaria.

    Now, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have revealed the genetic trickery this deadly parasite deploys to escape attack by the human immune system.

    The parasite is known to replicate within the circulating blood of infected individuals and modify the surface of infected red blood cells. Its virulence comes from its impressive ability to hide from the immune system by selectively changing which surface proteins it displays.

    This sophisticated game of hide-and-seek, which involves continually alternating the foreign molecules, called antigens, that can trigger an immune response, is called antigenic variation.

    Previous research has shown that the antigens the parasite selectively displays are encoded by members of a gene family named var. The parasite tightly regulates the expression of these var genes so that only one is expressed at any given time, while the rest of the family is maintained silent.

    Understanding this complex mechanism is essential to understanding how the deadly Plasmodium falciparum parasite evades the immune system. It is also more broadly important to science because the process by which cells can express a single gene while keeping alternative genes silent is one of the unsolved mysteries in the field of eukaryotic gene expression.

    In research at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Ron Dzikowski and his PhD student Inbar Amit-Avraham found that at the precise moment in the cell cycle when a specific var gene is active, corresponding RNA molecules (of a type called long noncoding RNA) are present.

    Furthermore, these long noncoding RNA (lncRNAs) molecules incorporate themselves into DNA structures, and determine how the parasite selects a single gene for expression while the rest of the family is kept silent.

    In a series of genetic experiments in transgenic parasite lines, the researchers were able to activate silent var genes by expressing their specific lncRNAs molecules, thus demonstrating their functional role in var gene activation.

    The research was conducted at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine; and at the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School.

    In a further development, the researchers collaborated with Dr. Eylon Yavin, at the Institute for Drug Research in the Hebrew University’s School of Pharmacy, to develop a novel way to interfere with these lncRNAs. They further showed that through this interference they could suppress the active var gene, erase the memory that regulates var expression, and induce switching towards expression of other var genes.

    The research provides evidence that these lncRNAs molecules play a key role in regulating the genetic mechanisms enabling the deadly parasite to evade human immunity.

    According to Prof. Dzikowski, “We believe this breakthrough has exposed the tip of the iceberg in understanding how the deadliest malaria parasite regulates the selective expression of its genes, enabling it to evade the immune system. Understanding the mechanisms by which the parasite evades immunity takes us closer to finding ways to either block this ability, or force the parasite to expose its entire antigenic repertoire and thus allow the human immune system to overcome the disease. Such findings can help pave the way for development of new therapies and vaccines for malaria.”

    The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS Early Edition) as Amit-Avraham et al., “Antisense long noncoding RNAs regulate var gene activation in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.”

    The research was supported by Israel Academy of Science and Humanities and European Research Council. Inbar Amit-Avraham was supported by the Abisch–Frenkel Foundation.

    The post Israeli Scientists Suppress Malaria Parasite, Creates Way to Boost Immune System appeared first on Jspace News.

    Small satellites could hitch rides to space on an F-15 fighter jet by next year.

    DARPA's ALASA Program
    DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program (ALASA) seeks to launch small satellites into low-Earth orbit.

    Small satellites could hitch rides to space on an F-15 fighter jet by next year, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency responsible for developing new technologies for the U.S. military.

    DARPA's so-called Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program is an ambitious project that aims to launch small satellites more quickly, and reduce the cost of lofting them into orbit. Traditional launches using rocketscost roughly $30,000 per pound ($66,000 per kilogram), DARPA officials have said.

    The F-15 jet would take off on a nearly vertical trajectory, with the expendable launch vehicle mounted underneath it. Essentially, the fighter jet acts as the first stage of a rocket, according to DARPA. After the aircraft flies to a high altitude, it releases the satellite and can then return to land on a conventional runway.

    ALASA flight demonstrations are expected to begin later this year, and the first orbital test launch is slated to occur in the first half of 2016. A dozen other demonstration launches are also planned for next year, according to agency officials, who declined to comment on the ALASA program in an interview with Live Science.

    "We've made good progress so far toward ALASA's ambitious goal of propelling 100-lb. [45 kg] satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch," Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA's tactical technology office, said in a statement.

    "We're moving ahead with rigorous testing of new technologies that we hope one day could enable revolutionary satellite launch systems that provide more affordable, routine and reliable access to space," Tousley said.

    A public update on the ALASA program took place earlier this month at the Federal Aviation Administration's 18th annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C.

    The new system is designed to be "an alternative to ride-sharing for satellites," which is when a small satellite hitches a ride into space on a rocket whose primary purpose is to boost a bigger satellite, according to TechieNews.

    The system "enables satellite owners to launch payloads from any location, any schedule into orbits of their choice, on a launch vehicle designed specifically for small payloads," Mitchell Burnside Clapp, DARPA module manager for ALASA, told TechieNews.

    The system designs were narrowed down to three in the first phase of the project, but the agency is planning more maneuvers to reduce the cost as much as possible. These methods include using conventional runways to launch and land the missions, and developing "a new high-energy monopropellant" that combines rocket fuel and oxidizer into one liquid.

    Other cost-saving measures for ALASA include mission-planning software to streamline launches, a system to watch over the vehicle using satellites and an automatic flight-termination system that could stop the flight if safety were at risk.

    In March, Boeing was selected as the prime contractor for the second phase of the ALASA program.

    Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Live Science on Twitter@livescience. We're also on FacebookGoogle+. Original article on Live Science.