Archive for 12/10/2011

Mexico City Residents Flee Into Streets After Strong 6.5 Earthquake, Three Deaths Reported

12/10/2011 Leave a comment

“A magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck in Mexico’s western Guerrero state, shaking buildings and causing panic in the nation’s capital and the Pacific resort of Acapulco. Officials said at least three people died, but there were no reports of widespread damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially estimated the quake magnitude at 6.8, but downgraded it to 6.7 and then 6.5. A quake of that magnitude is capable of causing severe damage, although the depth of this temblor lessened its impact.

The USGS said the quake occurred at 6:47 p.m. Saturday at a depth of 64.9 kilometres. It was centred about 42 kilometres southwest of Iguala in Guerrero and 166 kilometres south-southwest of Mexico City.

Mexico’s Interior Department said the quake was felt in parts of nine states.

Humberto Calvo, undersecretary of Guerrero’s Civil Protection agency, said three deaths had been reported in the state. He said one man was killed when a house’s roof collapsed in Iguala, a second died in the small town of Ixcateopan and the driver of a cargo truck was killed by rocks that fell on the vehicle driving on the toll highway linking Acapulco with Mexico City.

Calvo said a secondary highway between the two cities was blocked in two places by rockslides.

Highrises swayed in the centre of Mexico City for more than a minute, and shoppers were temporarily herded out of some shopping centres until the danger passed.

Mexico City’s mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, reported by Twitter that no major damage had been reported. He said power failed in some parts of the city.

People in one part of Mexico City’s upscale Condesa neighbourhood ran out of their houses and gathered in the streets, hugging each other while some shook and began to cry.

On one street, a group of women joined hands in a circle, closed their eyes and began to pray.

‘Please God, help us and let everything be OK,’ said one. ‘It’s OK. It’s OK. Everything is OK.'” Read more.

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Presidential GOP Front-Runner Newt Gingrich Describes Palestinian People as ‘Invented’

12/10/2011 1 comment

Although it is unfortunate that the heat Gingrich received has caused him to take a step back by voicing ‘support’ for the establishment of a Palestinian state, I am pleasantly surprised that Gingrich spoke the truth in this regard.  The flip side of the coin, of course, is that truth is a much hated thing in ‘Palestinian culture‘ …

“Newt Gingrich declared in an interview that Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people, a statement that drew outrage Saturday from top Palestinian officials.

Gingrich’s campaign, while standing by the statement, afterward clarified that the former House speaker still supports the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The front-running Republican presidential candidate made the comments in an interview with The Jewish Channel. The interview marks some of the toughest language to date any candidate has used to describe the Middle East peace process. It also comes after Gingrich pledged at a forum earlier in the week that if elected, he would name John Bolton — a hawkish, pro-Israel former U.N. ambassador who served in the George W. Bush administration — as his secretary of state.

In the interview with The Jewish Channel, Gingrich likened himself to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he praised for his “tough-minded realism” about Israel’s security.

He said the Jewish people have the right to a state, but stopped short of declaring the same for the Palestinians.

‘Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community,’ Gingrich said. ‘And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940’s, and I think it’s tragic.'” Read more.

Flashback: Gaza and the West Bank: 31 Opportunities for Statehood Squandered in Favor of Genocide – “There is an eerie déjà vu about an unmistakable and oft-repeated process in the Arab–Israel conflict. The process started in 1937 and has repeated itself with minor variations many times over the subsequent 74 years. The process is as follows: Arabs go to war with Israel, promising Israel’s destruction and the annihilation of its Jews. Israel wins the war and offers peace. Arab leaders reject Israel’s peace offer, renew their promises of destruction and annihilation; and after a while they go to war again, and lose again, and Israel again offers peace. Repeat this process 31 times and you have the history of the Arab-Israel conflict in a nutshell.” Read more.

Flashback: PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein (1977): ‘The Palestinian people does not exist’ – “Way back on March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said: ‘The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.'” Read more.

Muslim Brotherhood: Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty Needs to be Reviewed

12/10/2011 Leave a comment

“Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that the country’s peace treaty with Israel needs re-evaluation by the country’s new parliament, in press remarks by a senior member of the group published Friday.

‘A long time has passed since the Camp David accord was signed, and like the other agreements it needs to be reviewed, and this is in the hands of the parliament,’ said Mahmoud Hussein, the group’s secretary-general.

‘The brotherhood believes the treaty is of great importance, but it is not on the top of our list. There are other priorities for the time being,’ Hussein told the regional Asharq al-Awsat daily.

‘Generally, Israel does not honor the agreement,’ he added.

He denied a report saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had reached an understanding with the United States and Israel on ‘the importance of safeguarding the peace treaty with Israel.’

Last week, Israel expressed concern at the gains of Islamist parties in the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections and urged any future government to uphold the 1979 peace treaty.

Islamists made big gains during the initial round of the first elections since a popular revolt this year forced former president Hosni Mubarak out of power.

The Freedom and Justice Party, the brotherhood’s political wing, was in the lead with 36.5 per cent of the vote. It was followed by the hard-line Salafist party, Al-Nour, with 24 per cent.” Source – Haaretz.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Holds Venomous Anti-Israel Rally, Vows to ‘One Day Kill All Jews’ – “A Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo’s most prominent mosque Friday turned into a venomous anti-Israel protest, with attendants vowing to ‘one day kill all Jews.’ Some 5,000 people joined the rally, called to promote the ‘battle against Jerusalem’s Judaization.’ The event coincided with the anniversary of the United Nations’ partition plan in 1947, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state.” Read more.

‘We’re on the Verge of Extinction’: Mob Attacks on Iraqi Christian Businesses Raise Security Concerns

12/10/2011 Leave a comment

This story is finally making its way into a couple of media outlets, but still nowhere near the attention it deserves …

By Judson Berger – “A rash of attacks on Christian-owned businesses in northern Iraq has raised troubling questions about the future safety of the country’s shrinking Christian community, particularly as U.S. forces withdraw completely from the nation they’ve refereed since 2003.

The attacks, which have received little international attention, raged through northern cities following a sermon last Friday by a local mullah. Video purportedly from the riots posted online shows mobs burning and wrecking businesses, which included liquor stores, hotels and hair salons.

Yonadam Kanna, a Christian member of the Iraqi parliament and secretary-general of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, confirmed to that dozens of shops — many Christian owned — were attacked across multiple cities.

‘The extremists prepared themselves to attack on more locations … but they were prevented by local police and security in addition to some guards from the villages,’ Kanna said in an email.

The incident underscored the perilous circumstance the country’s dwindling Christian population finds itself in, as U.S. forces withdraw and the surrounding region takes what could be an Islamist turn, if early results in the Egypt elections are any gauge.

‘The Iraqi Christians … are living in fear,’ said U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who is pushing for the creation of a special religious freedom envoy in the region. ‘Now with the forces leaving … I think the Iraqi Christians are going to go through a very, very difficult time.’

Urging the U.S. government to do more to draw attention to security concerns, Wolf said he ‘would not be surprised’ if Iraqi Christians continue to face these kinds of threats.

The latest attacks began in the northern city of Zakho, and spread to several other cities…

Juliana Taimoorazy, founder of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, said the Christians — who over the past decade have fled to surrounding countries to escape the violence — are faced with limited options today. She said they simply can’t go to Iran, Jordan can’t handle more refugees and Syria is no longer safe.

‘They don’t know what tomorrow or the next day will bring, but really there’s nowhere else to go,’ she said.

She questioned the security for Christians in northern Iraq, claiming the Kurdish regional government there did not initially intervene to stop the recent violence.

She also said it’s ‘disturbing’ the U.S. government has not spoken up on the latest attacks.

‘We’re on the verge of extinction,’ she said.” Read more.

Islamists in Iraq to Christians: ‘If Anyone Decides to Reopen His Store, We Will Kill Him’ – “The Islamist campaign against all things contrary to Sharia Law continues, and to drive home just how dead serious they are about preventing Christians in Zakho and elsewhere from buying and selling products, notes have been left for Christians informing them that if they reopen their stores, they will be killed …” Read more.

Details About Lost Drone Add to Speculation About Covert U.S. War in Iran

12/10/2011 Leave a comment

By Jennifer Griffin -“When the Iranians captured a downed U.S. Sentinel drone intact, the U.S. lost more than just the technology inside their high-tech spycraft. A secret program to gather intelligence about Iran’s nuclear sites was revealed and the U.S. had to admit they were running spy missions from an air base in Western Afghanistan.

It’s the latest in a series of mysterious events, including explosions and assassinations targeting Iran’s nuclear scientists and its ballistic missile program.

Some argue that the covert war against Iran’s nuclear program is under way, but it began more than a year ago.

First, there was a cyber attack largely believed to have been carried out by the Israelis with U.S. help targeting the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in June 2010. More than 1,000 centrifuges were destroyed by the Stuxnet worm.

Then there were the dozen or so mysterious explosions at the homes of Iran’s nuclear scientists, including the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, who was wounded by a car bomb in November 2010.

Last month, there was an explosion at a secret missile base near Tehran, and the head of Iran’s long-range missile program was killed along with 17 top members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, author of ‘The Iranian Threat’ who first revealed intelligence that Iran had a secret uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, says there are indications Iran was testing a new solid fuel rocket. ‘As they were doing the final preparations, fully loaded with a warhead and the fuel, it exploded. And with it, it took the entire crew of the missile team, including the top commander and the top missile expert,’ Jafarzadeh said.

Two weeks later on November 30, 2011, a blast at a uranium enrichment plant in Isfahan raised more suspicions that a covert war was already under way.

Satellite images obtained by Fox News and the Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS, from August 27, 2011 show buildings that have been near the plant for 15 years. However, after the November blast the buildings appear to have disappeared.” Read more.

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