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The Right of the People to be Secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers, and Effects,
Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures,
Shall Not Be Violated


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Breatk On Through (To The Other Side)

Scott Weiland with the Doors.

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If White House Was Surprised by Applause at Tucson Pep Rally… Why Did They Ask For It On Jumbotron?

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that they were surprised by the applause at the memorial pep rally on Wednesday for the victims of the Tucson shootings.
I will say that I read the speech several times and thought that there wouldn’t be a lot of applause if any. I think many of us thought that. But I think there was a celebration, again, of the lives of those who had been impacted. Not just at that grocery store but throughout the country. And I think that, if that is part of the healing process, then that’s a good thing.
Oh really?
Then why was it printed on the Jumbotron?


Rush Limbaugh: Tucson Memorial T-Shirt Obama Election Slogan

Remember the t-shirts on the back of chairs at the memorial for Tucson shooting victims? Rush Limbaugh found proof that the text on the shirts “Together We Thrive,” comes from the “Organizing for America” website – Barack Obama’s election website, now turned over to supporters. Does it get any smarmier than this – memorializing the dead with an election t-shirt? See video and hear all the details below.
Obama Slogan - Tucson Memorial T-Shirt
From Rush:
One thing on the pep rally-disguised-as-a-memorial on Wednesday night.  I happened to, as I have been told, anger a lot of people yesterday by saying that the president delayed the memorial while waiting for the polling data to come in and the T-shirts to get printed.
Well, guess what?  I was right on both counts.  The polling data shows, as you know, that the American people do not associate conservative rhetoric with what happened out in Arizona.  In fact, there’s a Quinnipiac poll out that shows a majority of America don’t think that; but that 54% of Americans think that the worst of the political rhetoric comes from the left, comes from Democrats.  The second thing was they had to wait to get the T-shirts printed.  And that’s true.  Not only that, they had to wait to get a new logo for the T-shirts.  It was a pep rally.
“Together We Thrive” is about “revolution” and “diversity,” (racism), according to John Berry IV blogging at Organizing for America on February 11, 2008: (snippets)
What I see in Obama is a chance for a revolution. A chance for every group to participate and be heard; A chance to live the American dream that has been denied to so many…In a previous career, I was the global leader of Diversity for a global fortune 500 corporation, I have studied the affects of diverse groups working together and the results can not be denied. Together we Thrive!!!!!!!!!!!
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Johnny Winter and. . .

Muddy Waters
Cross-Eyed Cat

John Lee Hooker

Brother Edgar
Tobacco Road

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Michael Coren: "Christians, The Most Persecuted People On Earth"

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This is not a joke. He really did.

Law enforcement officials said Friday they have multiple photos of Jared L. Loughner posing with a Glock 9mm pistol next to his naked buttocks and dressed in a bright red g-string.
It is the same model of weapon as the one the police say Mr. Loughner used last Saturday to kill six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and to wound 14 others, including an Arizona congresswoman.

The photos were turned over to the police by Walgreens, where Mr. Loughner had taken the 35-mm
film to be developed on Jan. 7, the day before the shooting.

In some of the photos he is holding the gun near his crotch, and in others, presumably shot in a mirror, he is holding the gun
next to his buttocks, the police said.
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Muslim Paedophiles Operating in the US

The proverbial has hit the fan in the UK with the latest revelations about "Asian Paedophile Pimps" operating all over the UK for at least 10 years. Even the police would not raise the issue because of fears of being branded racists. Now the cat's out of the bag but the media refuse to say it's a Muslim issue as they ignore the stats; out of 56 court cases 53 involved Pakistani Muslims.

It seems that the U.S. has exactly the same nationwide problem, only difference is that the perpetrators are Somalian Muslims and their victims were African American & Somalian whilst the UK Muslims preferred white girls. Think on this ; Obama is intent on letting another 80,000 Somalians into the U.S.

FBI busts up huge interstate SOMALI MUSLIM child sex trafficking ring. 

Twenty-nine people have been indicted in a sex trafficking ring in which Somali gangs in Minneapolis and St. Paul allegedly forced girls under age 14 into prostitution in Minnesota, Tennessee and Ohio. 

The 24-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee, said one of the gangs’ goals was recruiting females under age 18, including some under age 14, and forcing them into prostitution so the defendants could get money, marijuana or liquor.

The indictment details several instances in which young Somali or African American girls were taken from place to place and forced to engage in sex acts with multiple people. One girl was under 13 when she was first prostituted. Another girl was 18 when she was raped by multiple men in a hotel room, the indictment said.

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Chicago: ‘Ms. Diversity’ active in anti-semitic group

Just another friendly tale of diversity via the Chicago Tribune, Ms. Diversity not your typical pageant winner. But first, the obligatory and omnipresent Islamic victim-hood: 

Palestinian-American Ms. Diversity winner turned experiences with intolerance into push for cultural understanding

Danyah Zayed remembers the crushing insults and angry stares.
She and other Muslim students were leaving their elementary school near the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview after the planes hit the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001, when passers-by threatened them, called them terrorists and asked why they were in the United States.
Stung by the experience, Zayed vowed to grow up to be a compassionate Muslim, unlike the men who masterminded the terrorist attacks, and to fight all types of discrimination.
“I wanted people to understand who I am as a Muslim and Palestinian,” said Zayed, now a senior honors student at St. Xavier University in Chicago.
Zayed, a first-generation American, is active in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and has protested outside the Israeli consulate in Chicago.
A push for cultural understanding?

But when two Israeli-Americans showed up at a recent SJP meeting at St. Xavier, Zayed invited them to return for a panel discussion on campus this spring to hash out their differences.
“She’s very determined to make a difference,” Ghouleh said.
Zayed, who grew up in Burbank, said she inherited her work ethic from her mother, grandmother and aunts. Her mom and several aunts are teachers. One aunt is an attorney with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, and her grandmother is studying toward her GED.
Auntie is an attorney for DHS, while niece protests Israel and is active in anti-semitic, terror-linked group – maybe that’s what they meant by not typical.
Zayed was crowned Ms. Diversity by the magazine’s panel of judges at the Oak Lawn Hilton, where she’ll hand over the crown to the 2011 winner at the next ceremony, on March 12.
The Chicago Tribune and the founder/CEO, Sammer Ghouleh, of the magazine that held the Ms. Diversity contest have worked together before to promote Arab/Muslim media efforts as noted at Militant Islam Monitor.
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Nasty Muslim Jokes

do not screw sheepA Muslim farmer walks into his wife's bedroom with a sheep under his arm and says, "Just wanted to show you the pig I've been screwing behind your back."

The wife says, "that's not a pig you fool, its a sheep."

The Muslim says, "I wasn't talking to you."

More from Bernie at Planck's Constant.

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APNewsBreak: New imam named for NYC Islamic center

NEW YORK – The imam who co-led the effort to build an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center has been given a reduced role in the project that made him one of the nation's most polarizing figures, the organization behind the plan announced Friday.

The nonprofit group Park51 said Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is set to start a national speaking tour Saturday and spends much of his time out of the country, was focused on other initiatives and didn't have enough time to spend on the center.

The group announced it had named a new senior adviser to help lead religious programing: Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, a 44-year-old scholar with an architecture degree known for his lectures on gender relations. It said Adhami would be among a number of imams with a role in the project.

Rauf helped come up with the idea for the center and his political connections won over influential supporters like the city's mayor.

He later promoted the center amid fierce controversy over its location, but he was never the driving force behind the plan. That role fell to the Manhattan real estate investor who controls the site, Sharif El-Gamal, who has spent recent months lining up financing and organizing the operation while Rauf served as the project's public face.

Rauf announced late this fall that he would be starting a global movement to oppose extremism and promote better relations between people of different faiths.

He will remain on the Islamic center's board and involved in the project, but Park51 said in a statement that it needed someone who could be more involved in the day-to-day business of building a local congregation.

"Due to the fact that Imam Feisal is focusing most of his energies and passion on launching this new and separate initiative, it is important that the needs of Park51, the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, take precedence," the statement said.

The group said that while Rauf's vision is "truly exceptional, our community in lower Manhattan is local. Our focus is and must remain the residents of lower Manhattan and the Muslim American community in the greater New York area."

Rauf's publicist released a statement saying that since he planned to spend the next few months traveling, a change made sense.

"Imam Feisal wants to meet the people of America where they are, to help build broader connection and understanding among all people of faith. To make that vision a reality, he is stepping back from the day to day details and operations of Cordoba House," the statement said.

Cordoba House was an original name for the planned community center that was dropped months ago by El-Gamal.

Rauf's continued use of the name was one of the many quirks of the complicated relationship between the two men. El-Gamal, who is also president of Park51 and controls its board, is a member of Rauf's congregation and has credited the imam with helping him find direction in his life.

Current plans for the center call for replacing a defunct clothing store two blocks from ground zero with a 13- to 16-story building that would hold athletic facilities, a day care center, art galleries, an auditorium for cultural events, a 9/11 memorial and a prayer space with room for a congregation of about 1,000.

Critics have assailed the project as insensitive, saying it is improper for a Muslim institution to be located so close to the site of an attack by Islamic extremists.

It is unclear whether Rauf's reduced role in the center will help or hurt its chances of getting built.

An unknown in the U.S. before the controversy, he emerged as possibly the country's best-known Muslim cleric and found himself listed alongside world leaders and celebrities as one of 2010's most influential figures, even as he was vilified by critics of the project.

Rauf, though, had also been criticized by some of the project's supporters for being absent at crucial moments.

Last summer he left for a long, State Department-funded trip to the Middle East just as the frenzy over the mosque was exploding at home. Then, he stayed silent for weeks, leaving mostly his wife, the community activist Daisy Khan, to respond.

His congregation in New York City was also small, and his life's work had revolved around interfaith relationships, meaning he often found himself working more closely with Jewish and Christian leaders in the city or figures in Washington or abroad, than with local imams.

Adhami has already performed guest lectures at the site of the planned center while Rauf has been away. One of his appearances there came in August, at the height of media coverage of the project.

At the time, Adhami seemed to take the crush of attention with nonchalance. His representatives invited reporters to cover his speech, only to have El-Gamal, who was unaware of the invitation, toss them out after they arrived. Adhami shrugged it off afterward as a misunderstanding and calmly fielded questions.

In a statement released by a Park51 publicist Friday, Adhami said he was being given "an extraordinary opportunity to be a key adviser on a project going forward that has enormous creative and healing potential for the collective good in New York City and in our nation."

Everyone associated with the project has had to endure intense, sometimes savage scrutiny, and Adhami is likely to be no different.

Born in Washington, D.C., he began his religious education as a child in Syria, and later earned an architecture degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He now lectures widely on issues of religious law, family and sexuality.

The archive of this new imam's website http://www.sakeenah.org reveals the last entry in August 2008 states:

Family & Society Today by Shaykh Abdallah Adhami
This series discusses many pressing issues of our time, including homosexuality, the relationship between neuro-emotive science and man’s spiritual essence, and stem-cell research conducted by Muslim doctors in the second century after hijrah (eighth-century CE).

You can watch Shaykh Abdallah on YouTube. Note the only comment to this particular video:

"What happened to Brother Abdallah’s beard?" At least before he had a small one, now he is cleanshaven! Almost everything he is saying can be found by looking up “Arba’een” in the bibliographic dictionaries and looking up biographical entries on the authors. Please don’t be so quickly and easily impressed. Islam is about taqwa and sunna and erudition in ilm, not merely Arabic research and English presentation skills. No offense is intended, just nasiha. I said the same to Abdallah when I met him. -lilpoly 2 months ago"

All emphasis mine. Interesting. It appears the self-aggrandizing-Rauf is replaced by yet another self-aggrandizing-‘Shaykh’ Abdallah Adhami.


cached page of blog.park51 = http://tinyurl.com/48roxxy

"In the spirit of intrafaith peace and understanding, Park51 is honored to host a series of majalis (lectures) during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram 1432."

scroll down:

“Monday, December 13Shaykh Abdallah Adhami. . . His works also strive to relate the eternal relevance of the essence of shari’ah laws as a vehicle to enhance modern lived experience. He is the founder and chairman of SAKEENAH.

So there you have it. “in the spirit of intrafaith peace and understanding” at Park51, Shaykh’ Abdallah Adhami strives “to relate the eternal relevance of the essence of shari’ah laws as a vehicle to enhance modern lived experience.

Oh, we understand the implications of sharia . . .THANKS BUT NO THANKS. JUST GO AWAY.


From a 2005 lecture, “Understanding Laziness in Islam “ = http://tinyurl.com/4hj92jq given by Shaykh Abdallah Adhami:

“. . .And, so Allah (jallah thana`uhu) gives the believers the proper perspective and focus in Surat al-’Imran: “wa la tahinu wa la tahzanu wa antum al-a’laouna,” — do not become “weak,” do not grieve, for you will be dominant (i.e. high) . . .”
Got that? ‘Shaykh’ Abdallah Adhami counsels his flock “. . .for you will be dominant. . .”

So there you have it, 'Shaykh' Abdallah Adhami's spirit of intrafaith [sic] peace and understanding filters down to. . .Islam/muslims/sharia will be dominant.

Not much difference between Rauf and Adhami now, is there?

P.S. cached page = http://tinyurl.com/4fe8xym
of blog with recorded interview “DRAFT – Shaykh Abdallah Adhami Part I”
Apparently, this Shaykh has some debilitating health issues which has limited his productivity in the recent past. His saccharin persona may be easy on the ear, not so much on the intellect.

It also appears his material is actively being scrubbed from the web, hence the cached page links. Guess they feel they have something to hide.

Lan astaslem
لن استسلم‎
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Gregg Allman
Just Another Rider

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The Blaze:

Compassionate Pilot Delays Flight For Grieving Grandfather
Posted on January 14, 2011

In a simple gesture of extraordinary kindness, one airline pilot delayed his plane by 12 minutes to ensure that one passenger would be able to say a final goodbye to his murdered grandson.

Mark Dickinson, the grandfather of a two-year-old who had allegedly been murdered by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend, was rushing to be at his grandson‘s bedside before doctors turned off the young boy’s life support machines. He was going to miss his connecting flight from Tucson to Denver until a compassionate Southwest Airlines pilot stepped in to help.

Dickinson set off from Los Angeles where he had been visiting on business and was trying to connect in Tucson for a flight to Colorado where his 26-year-old daughter lived with his grandson.

“I was panicking because I was running late and I didn’t think I was going to make the flight,” Dickinson said. “That’s all I was thinking about, ‘I’m going to miss the flight.‘ It was sad and I felt anxious because I didn’t know what would happen if I missed the flight.”

Although he had arrived at LAX in plenty of time for his flight, a long line at check-in and security left Dickinson struggling to board his flight on schedule. According to the Daily Mail, airport employees would not allow the grandfather to cut into the security line, even though he tried to explain his circumstances. “They were of the opinion that it didn’t matter what my situation was; I needed to go like everybody else,” he told the Daily Mail.

Despite his best efforts, Dickinson arrived at his departure gate in his stockinged feet 12 minutes late. To his surprise, however, the Southwest airlines pilot was waiting for him.

“Are you Mark?” the pilot reportedly asked. “We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson.”

Dickinson’s wife, Nancy, wrote about his experience at the travel blog Elliot.org:

The pilot held the plane that was supposed to take off at 11:50 until 12:02 when my husband got there.

As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, “I can’t thank you enough for this.”

The pilot responded with, “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”

My husband was able to take his first deep breath of the day.
Because of the exceptional kindness of the unnamed pilot, Dickinson was able to be at his bereaving daughter‘s side when his grandson’s life support was pulled later that night.

Additionally, turning one tragedy into hope for others, the young boy’s organs were due to be donated to as many as 25 other people who desperately needed them.


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Boy, 9, has Disney World trip ruined after US immigration rules him a threat
A nine-year-old boy's dream trip to Disney World was ruined when US immigration officials ruled he was a threat.

Civil servants Kathy and Edward Francis planned to surprise their grandson Micah Strachan with the holiday of a lifetime to Florida in February.

They were only going to tell Micah about it when they took him to the airport on February 19 for the flight to the US.

They had already spent more than £1,500 on plane tickets and had been organising the trip for months.

But this week US Embassy officials denied the schoolboy a visa to enter the US.

They said there was a risk he would not leave the US at the end of his holiday and refused his application under Section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Micah was born in Britain and has lived in Middlesex all his life with his mum Claudia Lewis.

He holds a South African passport because his grandparents Kathy and Edward, who have lived and worked in Britain since 1990, only got him a South African passport.

They are originally from South Africa.

A letter from Micah's primary school was included in his visa application confirming he attended the school.

But the US Embassy's rejection letter to Micah said: "Because you either did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States or were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the US would be consistent with the visa status, you are ineligible."

His grandmother Kathy, from Brixton, South London, said: "It was going to be a total surprise. He would have loved it.

"We feel so deflated by the whole experience.

"I want to know why he would be deprived of the holiday of a lifetime.

"It's crazy to think that he wouldn't leave the country. This is causing severe stress on the family. I am going to fight this."

Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, said: "I was very concerned to learn about the situation facing my constituents and of course understand the distress the decision has caused.

"I have asked the American authorities to look again at this and very much hope they will feel able to reconsider their decision."

Meanwhile, the family have written to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ask for an explanation of the decision.

A US Embassy spokesman said it was "not policy" to comment on individual immigration cases.


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OPEC ministers say world can handle $100 oil
Other exporters indicate that cartel may not increase crude production
By Shaimaa Fayed and Amena Bakr

CAIRO — The global economy can withstand an oil price of $100 a barrel, Kuwait's oil minister said on Saturday, as other exporters indicated OPEC may decide against increasing output through 2011 as the market was well supplied.

Analysts have said oil producing countries are likely to raise output after crude rallied more than 30 percent from a low in May because they fear prices could damage economic growth in fuel importing countries.

European benchmark ICE Brent crude for February closed at $93.46 on Friday after hitting $94.74 a barrel, its highest level since October 2008.

Arab oil exporters meeting in Cairo this weekend said they saw no need to supply more crude as stocks were high and prices had been inflated temporarily by cold weather in Europe.

Asked by Reuters if the world economy could stand a $100 oil price, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah said: "Yes it can."

Iraq's new oil minister and the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation both told Reuters that $100 was a fair price, while Qatar's Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said he did not expect OPEC to increase production in 2011.

"I do not expect an OPEC meeting before June because oil prices are stable," he said.

Some delegates even called for exporters to comply better with agreed production limits. OPEC members' compliance with promised cutbacks reached 56 percent in November, according to Reuters estimates.

When asked if output could be raised, Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad said: "No. More compliance, more compliance."

The Cairo meeting of the Organization of Arab Exporting Countries (OAPEC) brought together Arab members of OPEC including top exporter Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally been viewed as a price moderate, as well as non-OPEC countries Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain.

Advertise AdChoicesOPEC cut output drastically after the global financial crisis struck in 2008 to prop up collapsing oil prices.

As demand has risen steeply in 2010 and is expected to rise further in 2011, the market is watching closely whether OPEC can release at least some of its spare capacity to prevent prices from soaring to around $150 per barrel as they did before the crisis struck in summer 2008.

OPEC's most influential oil minister, Saudi Arabia's Ali al-Naimi, said on Friday he was still happy with an oil price of $70-80 a barrel and there was no need for an extra OPEC meeting before the next scheduled one in June.

Others in the group have been pressing for a higher price, arguing that quantitative easing and a weakened U.S. dollar that spurred gains across financial markets mean the oil price strength is partly nominal.

Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy said the current increase in oil prices was the result of higher demand on heating fuel because of the cold weather in Europe.

United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohammed al-Hamli said crude oil inventories are "quite high. It's the highest over the five years average... The market is well supplied."


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Radio Host Mark Levin To MSNBC: ‘I’m Going To Drag Your Asses To Federal Court.

Radio host Mark Levin is fed up with claims that heated political rhetoric of the sort found on talk radio shows like his are in some way to blame for the shooting in Arizona that left six dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords injured.

And Levin is putting his money where his mouth is by threatening to take MSNBC hosts and contributors like Chris Matthews, Ed Shultz, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough and David Frumm (“you little weasel”) to federal court for accusations tying Levin to Loughner’s rampage.

“I don’t care if they’re bloggers,” Levin announced. “I don’t care if they’re television hosts, I don’t care if they’re radio hosts. I’m going to drag your ass into federal court. Oh, you’ll have due process. It’ll all be nice and legal.”

“Anyone,” Levin continued, “who accuses me of inciting mass murder in Tucson, Arizona is going to be sued. Period.”


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Tunisian Prime Minister Assumes Power After President Reportedly Flees Amid Riots

Published January 14, 2011

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has gone on state television to say he is assuming power in Tunisia.

The announcement Friday came after thousands of protesters mobbed the capital of Tunis to demand the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In response to the riots, the president declared a state of emergency in the North African nation, dissolved the government and promised new legislative elections within six months.

Unconfirmed news reports, citing unidentified government sources in Tunisia, said Ben Ali had left the country. The 74-year-old leader came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987, taking over for a man called formally President-for-Life.

Protesters thronged the capital, fueled by pent-up anger at high unemployment and at a leadership many see as controlling and corrupt. Marching through the city, they demanded Ben Ali's resignation and some even climbed onto the roof of the Interior Ministry -- a symbol of his iron-fisted regime.

Many shouted "Ben Ali, out!" and "Ben Ali, assassin!" Another poster read "We won't forget," a reference to the rioters killed, many by police bullets.

In response, Ben Ali dissolved the government and also promised that early legislative elections would take place within six months, the official TAP news agency reported. He made no reference to any resignation of his own.

Under the state of emergency, a curfew barring the circulation of people or vehicles took effect immediately until 7 a.m. Saturday, TAP said. Security forces and soldiers "can use their weapons against any suspicious person who doesn't respect the order to stop or tries to flee," it warned.

In Paris, an Air France spokeswoman confirmed that Tunisia's air space had been ordered closed, adding that the French airline had stopped all its flights there until further notice. Lutfhansa also canceled its only flight to Tunis from Frankfurt.

Earlier, thousands of tourists were evacuated from the North African tourist haven, which is reeling from nearly a month of riots and a heavy-handed police response that has been condemned from abroad.

At least 23 people have been killed according to the government, but opposition members put the death toll at three times that. Crowds sang the national anthem, fists in the air.

"We want to end this dictatorship," said Wadia Amar, a university chemistry professor. "The Ben Ali clan should be brought to justice. They've taken everything."

Hundreds of police with shields and riot gear blocked the avenue Friday in front of the Interior Ministry, where over the years there have been reports of torture. The march was organized by Tunisia's only legal trade union, which also went ahead with a symbolic two-hour strike.

Helmeted police kicked and clubbed unarmed protesters -- one of whom cowered on the ground, covering his face.

Read more »


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Russia nears arms pact approval, warns on pullout
By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia's parliament moved closer to approving a landmark arms reduction treaty with Washington Friday by amending domestic legislation to stress that Moscow could withdraw from the pact if it felt threatened by the West.

The amendments required for Russia to ratify the New START treaty do not change the pact itself and were introduced before the second of three ratification votes in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

The U.S. Senate included its own interpretations of the treaty -- the centrepiece of a "reset" that has improved long-strained relations between Moscow and Washington -- when it voted to ratify it last month.

[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]

New START will commit each side to ceilings of 1,550 warheads on deployed strategic missiles and bombers within seven years and establish verification rules to replace those that expired in 2009 with the 1991 START I treaty.

Analysts say rejection of the treaty by Russia's parliament, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, is out of the question. The amendments enabled Russia to underscore how it views the pact.

Duma international affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachyov said the amendments would "restore balance" after the U.S. Senate irked Russia with its interpretations of the treaty.

The amendments stipulate that Russia could withdraw if military deployments or even plans by the United States or NATO jeopardize its security.

They highlight lingering rifts over U.S. plans for a European anti-missile shield and Russian concerns over other weapons it fears the United States or NATO could deploy.

A missile system that weakens Russia's nuclear arsenal would "force us to use the article of the treaty that provides for the withdrawal of a state that feels violated in terms of security," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Duma, Interfax reported.


The Duma's warnings of a possible withdrawal are largely a matter of emphasis, because the treaty itself includes broad language allowing either side to pull out if it decides its "supreme interests" are threatened.

Russia stressed its right to withdraw because of concerns over the U.S. anti-missile shield in a statement it adopted when Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama signed the treaty last April.

"The Russians are using their law on ratification to reflect their concerns, and it really is an answer to some of the language in the U.S. Senate ratification resolution," said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The U.S. Senate stressed that a clause in the pact's preamble acknowledging an "interrelationship" between strategic offensive and defensive arms placed no legal constraint on U.S. missile defense plans.

The Duma ratification law says the points in the preamble are "indisputable" and must not be ignored.

"The most important thing is, the treaty is being ratified without a requirement for amendment," Pifer said.

But disputes over interpretation suggest the United States will have to work hard to keep a wary Russia satisfied, particularly if it is to secure further cuts.

In approving the treaty, the U.S. Senate ordered Obama to seek talks with Moscow within a year on cutting the former Cold War foes' arsenals of shorter-range tactical nuclear weapons, whose numbers are lopsided in Russia's favor.

Lavrov cast a shadow over those hopes by signaling for the second straight day that cuts beyond those to be made under New START cannot be expected in the near term.

Further negotiations should include a range of different weapons and "can be held after the START treaty is executed," Lavrov told lawmakers, according to Interfax.

The Duma is expected to give the treaty its final backing on January 25. Approval by the upper parliament house -- the last step before Russia and the United States exchange documents putting the pact into force -- could come this month.


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CAIR Caught Encouraging Muslims Not To Talk To The FBI - Rescinds Poster On Website

From Fox News 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it will remove a poster from the group’s website promoting an upcoming conference that encourages people not to talk to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The poster was promoting a conference called “FBI Raids and Grand Jury Subpoenas: Know Your Rights and Defend Our Communities.” The keynote speaker is Hatem Abudayyeh, identified by CAIR as an activist and Palestinian community leader whose home was allegedly raided by federal agents in September.

The conference is scheduled for Feb. 9 at the East Side Cultural Center in Oakland.

Hooper conceded the poster “crosses the line,” but refused to renounce the artwork and blamed critics for fomenting what he called a manufactured controversy.

“The entire American-Muslim community is under the microscope right now with a cottage industry of Muslim bashers,” he said. “We’re used to this kind of attack by the Islamophobic hate machine and in this case there is some justification in terms of the possibility of misinterpretation of this poster.”
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Simile For The Democratic Party

We need Warren to create a graphic for the following, a comment made regarding the Democratic Party's reaction to Loughner's shooting spree:
The modern Democrat Party? As graceful as a drunk hippopotamus in the middle of the rutting season.
The commenter, King Shamus, made that statement in reaction to this post over at Bunkerville, where the following videos were posted by way of contrast:

Bunkerville asks in his post:
Have times changed this much since George Bush and his moment of condolence at Virginia Tech?
See the entire post HERE.

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UN Reduces It's Peacekeeping Force In Souther Lebanon - Are We Seeing Egypt 1967 All Over Again?

In the weeks leading up to the Six Days War, the UN gradually pulled it's "Peacekeeping Troops" out of Egypt. Egypt was then left to it's own devices, and they effected a massive military buildup along their border with Israel, in preparation for war against the "Zionist entity".

Alexander Munch asks, "are we seeing the same events play out today in Lebanon?"
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Velvet Revolver
Let It Roll


Fall To Pieces

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Her Royal Links

From Her Royal Whyness:

Boy stands by imam sex attack claim

Published on Thu Jan 13 18:06:33 GMT 2011

A 13-year-old has told a court he was telling the truth when he claimed he was sexually assaulted at a mosque by his Sheffield-based imam.
The boy, who cannot be named, claims Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, sexually assaulted him when he was 12 inside the mosque on Capper Street, Stoke on Trent.
Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, denies eight charges, including attempting to rape the boy's teenage cousin as he stayed over at his home one evening.
He is charged with three counts of rape, four counts of attempted rape and one count of sexual activity with a child, all alleged to have taken place between July 1 and October 16, 2009.
On Wednesday prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor told the jury the boy claimed in police interviews in October 2009 that he was singled out by Khan after evening prayer on several occasions, the first of which was around August 2009. He was sexually assaulted in various areas of the mosque which were not covered by CCTV, Mr Shakoor told the court.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, the boy said he attended the mosque for evening classes every weekday, arriving at around 6pm and leaving about an hour later.
The court heard the boy told police the last alleged assault, said to be on October 16, 2009, happened in a private room. When asked by the defence barrister, Robert Woodcock QC: "Did it happen at all?", he replied: "It did happen."
Mr Woodcock suggested on that occasion the boy was upset because the imam had thought he could smell drugs on him and questioned him about it.
He said: "He detected on you the smell of cannabis and asked you about it, didn't he? Once again he made it clear to you that he thought you and (your cousin) were up to no good, didn't he?" The boy replied "no" to both questions.
On Wednesday the court heard Khan was arrested on October 19, 2009. The case at Nottingham Crown Court was adjourned until Friday.

British imam charged with raping minor boy

London, Jan 13 : A Muslim religious leader in Britain has been charged with raping a 12-year-old boy while he attended mosque for religious lessons, a media report said.
Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, allegedly sexually assaulted the boy inside the Stoke-on-Trent mosque where he worked as the imam, the Daily Mail reported.

Khan is also charged with the attempted rape of and sexual activity with the boy's cousin, who was 15 at the time, as he stayed over at his home one evening.

Khan, from Sheffield, appeared at the Nottingham Crown Court and spoke only to confirm his name and to enter not guilty pleas to all eight charges against him.

He is charged with three counts of rape, four counts of attempted rape and one count of sexual activity with a child, which allegedly took place between July and October 2009.

Prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor told the jury that Khan's job as imam of the mosque was to lead prayers and to give Islamic education lessons to boys who attended evening classes there.

He said that in police interviews, the 12-year-old boy - who cannot be named - said he was singled out by Khan following the evening prayer on about half a dozen occasions.

"On each occasion it happened at the mosque, usually after the formal prayers in the main prayer hall. The defendant would request him to lay out his red prayer mat in a different part of the mosque. That is when the remaining prayer would be completed individually and not in congregation," Shakoor said.

"He seems to suggest that usually the defendant would take him through the door marked 'private' and into the sitting room area, and into the room with cushions on the floor used by committee members."

The prosecutor said the accused chose different places within the mosque that were not covered by CCTV cameras.

He said the boy described the defendant asking him before the alleged abuse, "Do you want some?" and when the boy replied in the negative, the defendant would say, "For God's sake, just say yes".

In October 2009, the boy told his father about the incidents.

The youngster - who is now 13 - said the abuse went on for around two months before finally coming to an end.

Prosecutor Shakoor said the last occasion happened Oct 16, 2009, when the defendant told him that he was going to take him somewhere else and "do it to him specially".

He said the boy told police that the accused was considered a very important figure among the Muslim community.

"He gives an account of his knowledge of the defendant, his position, his roles in public life and how he perceived him to be a powerful man of high standing. His family trusted him and the defendant had a strong following. Such was that following that people would be prepared to die for him," the prosecutor said.


Reading mosque St George's flag protest case dismissed

Ronald Peterson Mr Peterson said the case should never have been brought against him
A man who waved a St George's flag outside an unbuilt mosque and shouted "EDL" and "England" has had the case against him thrown out.
Ronald Peterson said he was protesting about planning issues over the construction of the mosque in Oxford Road, Reading, on 30 May 2010.
District judge Andrew Vickers dismissed two public order charges. He said Mr Peterson had a right to free speech.
Mr Peterson, 37, from Tilehurst, said he was "over the moon".
The judge said the words were not threatening, abusive or insulting.
Mr Peterson said he was trying to highlight concerns about how planning permission was granted to the mosque, the length of time it was taking to construct and worries over how it was being funded.
'Religiously aggravated' Speaking outside court, he said of the prosecution: "It shouldn't have ever happened in the first place.
"It was a lawful protest that I was doing, with a genuine concern.
"I made all my views at the time clear to the police when they turned up and all I had was my St George's flag and chanting 'England' and 'EDL'."
Police were called to the scene by two Muslim men, the court heard.
They told officers they were concerned by the protest as prayers were about to start at a nearby mosque and they believed an English Defence League (EDL) demonstration was about to take place.
Mr Peterson, of Elvaston Way, was charged with two public offences, including a "religiously aggravated" offence.
In a statement, Nina Maisuria from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "When we looked at the evidence provided by the police, we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

In France, far right seizes on Muslim street prayers


PARIS - A call to prayer goes up from a loudspeaker perched on the hood of a car, and all at once hundreds of Muslim worshippers touch their foreheads to the ground, forming a sea of backs down the road.
The scene is taking place not in downtown Cairo, but on a busy market street in northern Paris, a short walk from the Sacre Coeur basilica. To locals, it's old news: some have been praying on the street, rain or shine, for decades.
But for Marine Le Pen — tipped to take over from her father this weekend as leader of the far-right National Front party — it is proof that Muslims are taking over France and becoming an occupying force, according to remarks she made last month.
Her comments caused a furore as she seized on the street prayers to drive home the idea that Islam is threatening the values of a secular country where anxiety over the role of Muslims in society has deepened in the past few years.
More than two thirds of French and German people now consider the integration of Muslims into their societies a failure, pollster IFOP said in a survey published on Jan. 5. In France, where Islam is the second-largest religion after Catholicism, 42 percent saw it as a threat to national identity.
"This has become a key political issue," said Frederic Dabi, IFOP's head of research. "Street prayers and the perceived growing influence of Islam are seen as impinging on French values of secularism, communal living."
Controversy over the street prayers has translated into growing confidence within the National Front, some 15 months before a presidential election likely to see a battle for votes between the far right and Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party.
National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen has said he expects the party to outdo its electoral performance in 2002, when it knocked out the mainstream Socialist candidate in the first round of voting, but then lost to Jacques Chirac.
"These fears hang mostly on symbols: minarets in Switzerland, the niqab (full-face veil) in France, even the halal Quick menu," Dabi said, referring to a fast-food chain which recently opened a range of halal-only restaurants in France and Belgium. "The far right is playing on these fears."
Le Pen's comments seem to be taking hold. A poll published by TNS Sofres this week, showed that support for National Front ideas has grown by 12 percentage points over the past year.
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UK: Muslim Husband 'who hacked brother-in-law to pieces caught when bird dropped severed thumb from the sky'

From the Daily Mail in London:

Mahmood Ahmed's severed thumb 'fell from the sky' after being dropped by a bird, St Albans Crown Court heard
Mahmood Ahmed's severed thumb 'fell from the sky' after being dropped by a bird, St Albans Crown Court heard

A husband who hacked his brother-in-law to pieces was caught when a severed thumb 'fell from the sky' after being dropped by a bird, a court heard today.

Mohammed Riaz, 33, allegedly kidnapped Mahmood Ahmad, 41, and tortured him to death in an attempt to track down his estranged ex-wife Nahid Ahmad.

He enlisted the help of five accomplices to kidnap, imprison and murder father-of-two Mahmood with a mechanical butcher's saw, St Albans Crown Court heard.

His remains have never been found and the gang was only arrested after a member of the public found Mahmood's severed left thumb in a car park.

A prosecutor told the jury that CCTV footage captured the digit falling mysteriously from the sky and police believe it might have been dropped by a bird which had picked it up.

Riaz, of no fixed abode, denies murder, conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to imprison and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Sharif Mohammed, 37, Faisal Chowdhury, 18, Arnold Alexander Yousaf, 18, and Armizada Hussain, 37, all pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy to imprison.

Chowdhury and Yousaf pleaded not guilty to the further charge of conspiracy to kidnap and Mohammed and Hussain denied conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Riaz's sister Sabra Sultana, 36, from Ilford, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to imprison and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The body of Mahmood was disposed of so efficiently that only a segment of the hand has been found.
'That appears to have been severed by a tool that bears the mark of something akin to a band saw, like something which might be used in a butcher's shop.

'CCTV footage shows it falling from the sky. How it fell from the sky is unclear, whether a bird took it is unknown.

'These defendants all took part in these events. They were part of a rehearsed plan to take a man off the street to a distant location of the purpose of torture.

'It is plain that such a drastic course of action means each knew what was going on.' 

Fast food worker Mahmood, from Watford, Hertfordshire, disappeared after leaving work in the early hours of March 7 last year.

The court heard that on March 10 his severed left thumb, still attached to the knuckles of his left hand, was discovered by a security guard on a street in Ilford, Essex.

Mr Trimmer told the court that Mahmood's brother-in-law Riaz exercised a reign of terror over his wife Nahid and her family - leading to a divorce.

In a bid to track down Nahid, Riaz allegedly hatched a plan to kidnap Mahmood and torture him into divulging details of her new address.

The court heard that on March 7 neighbours witnessed Mahmood being bundled into a car by Chowdhury and Yousaf on the doorstep to his home.

He was allegedly taken to Hussain's home in Manor Park, east London, where he lived with his girlfriend, Sabra Sultana, 36, who is also Riaz's sister.

The jury heard that neighbours heard cries of 'leave me alone' and 'let me go' and a scream 'full of fear or terror' between 2am and 4am on March 7.

Ahmad, who is survived by his wife Farah Manir, was never seen alive again.

Read more.
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The Tea Party is Violence, but Islam is Peace

I think this gal is spot on with the above title.

As a nation, when can we explore a religious ideology that explicitly calls for violence against infidels, where there are documented cases of religiously inspired attacks on a daily basis, and where the very example of its militaristic founder is one of violent conquest, oppression, and ethnic cleansing?
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Initial U.S. Jobless Claims Rose More Than Forecast to 445,000 Last Week

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments jumped in the first week of 2011 to the highest level since October as more Americans lined up to file following the holidays.

Initial jobless claims rose by 35,000 to 445,000, according to Labor Department data released today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for 410,000 filings. The average number of applications over the past four weeks, a less-volatile gauge, increased to 416,500.

Today’s figures follow a report last week showing the U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast in December, underscoring the concern of Federal Reserve policy makers about the labor market. Economic growth may need to accelerate further and encourage companies to ramp up the hiring necessary to reduce the unemployment rate.

“The underlying trend is still a slow decline in claims,” said Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial in New York. “We’re taking steps in the right direction though it’s not enough to move the unemployment rate down precipitously.”

The Bloomberg median forecast was based on 46 economists’ projections that ranged from 380,000 to 420,000. The increase from the previous week was the biggest since July 17.

Stocks fell after the report, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropping 0.3 percent to 1,281.97 at 10:05 a.m. in New York. Treasuries were little changed with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note at 3.37 percent.

Producer Prices

Another report from the Labor Department showed prices paid to producers rose 1.1 percent in December, the most in 11 months and led by higher energy and food costs. Prices excluding food and fuel rose 0.2 percent, in line with forecasts.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in November to the lowest level in 10 months as faster growth overseas and a weaker dollar boosted demand for American-made aircraft and industrial supplies like cotton. The gap shrank 0.3 percent to $38.3 billion, less than the $40.5 billion median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Exports climbed to the highest level in more than two years.

The first week of the year is “historically the highest week for claims,” before seasonal adjustment, because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, a Labor Department spokesman said as the figures were released. He said that the four-week average for claims was a more useful measure.

Before Adjustment

While the Labor Department adjusts for a large pickup in filings around the start of a year, actual applications for jobless benefits were even higher, he said.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits fell by 248,000 in the week ended Jan. 1 to 3.88 million, the lowest level since Oct. 25, 2008. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.

Those who’ve use up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments increased by about 128,000 to 4.64 million in the week ended Dec. 25.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 3.1 percent in the week ended Jan. 1, from 3.3 percent the prior week, today’s report showed.

States, Territories

Thirty-four states and territories reported an increase in first-time unemployment claims for the week ended Jan. 1, while 19 had a decrease.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last week said the unemployment rate will probably fall slowly even with a pickup in U.S. growth this year.

At the pace of improvement projected by Fed officials, “it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully,” Bernanke said Jan. 7 in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee.

The U.S. added 103,000 jobs in December, fewer than economists had forecast in a Bloomberg survey, according to Labor Department data released Jan. 7. The unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent, from 9.8 percent a month earlier, partly because fewer people were in the labor force.

Synovus Financial Corp., a Columbus, Georgia-based bank, on Jan. 10 said it plans to cut about another 850 positions this year to streamline operations and save money. The company eliminated 300 jobs in 2010.

Some companies are hiring. Ford Motor Co. said Jan. 10 it plans to hire more than 7,000 workers in the next two years, including engineers with expertise in battery-powered cars.

Ford will hire 4,000 factory workers and 750 engineers this year and add 2,500 hourly workers next year, Mark Truby, a company spokesman, said in an interview in Detroit.


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2011 to Top 2010 Record of 1 Million Foreclosures
Thursday, 13 Jan 2011 01:31 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun.

Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.

"2011 is going to be the peak," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. The firm predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed this year.

The blistering pace of foreclosures this year will top 2010, when a record 1 million homes were lost, RealtyTrac said Thursday.

One in every 45 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing last year, a record 2.9 million of them. That's up 1.67 percent from 2009.

On Thursday, Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates dipped this week for the second straight time, extending a sliver of hope for some home owners. .

The average rate on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.71 percent from 4.77 percent the previous week. The rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinance choice, slipped to 4.08 percent from 4.13 percent.

But both are a half-point higher than the lows they reached in November. The 30-year loan rate hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent and the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 3.57 percent, the lowest level on records starting in 1991.

The dip has led more borrowers to apply for a refinance, but would-be buyers remain hesitant, according to Wednesday's mortgage indexes from the Mortgage Bankers Association. It will take more than low mortgage rates to jumpstart a housing market plagued by high unemployment, falling prices, tighter credit standards.

The glut of foreclosures has compounded the problem and while the pace moderated in the final months of 2010, that isn't expected to last.

Foreclosures are expected to remain elevated throughout the year, pushing home prices down another 5 percent nationally before finally bottoming out.

The number of homes that received at least one foreclosure-related filing in December was the lowest monthly total in 30 months. Total notices fell 1.8 percent from November and 26.3 percent from December 2009, RealtyTrac said.

Banks temporarily halted actions against borrowers severely behind on their payments after allegations of improper eviction surfaced in September.

However, most banks have since resumed foreclosures and the first quarter will likely bear that out, Sharga said.

The pain likely will be the most acute in states that have already suffered the worst. For the most part, it will be states that saw the biggest housing booms: Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California. They will be joined by states hit hardest by the economic downturn, including Michigan and Illinois.

And on Wednesday, Illinois lawmakers approved a 66 percent income-tax increase in a desperate bid to end the state's crippling budget crisis.

More than half of the country's foreclosure activity came out of five states in 2010: California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan. Together, these states recorded almost 1.5 million households receiving a filing, despite year-over-year decreases in California, Florida and Arizona.

Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in 2010 for the fourth straight year, despite a 5 percent decline in activity from the year before. One in every 11 households received a foreclosure filing last year in the state. In December, foreclosure activity increased 18 percent from November with a 71 percent spike in bank repossessions.

Arizona and California also showed sharp December increases in the number of homes that banks reclaimed, at 52 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Arizona, along with Florida, finished the year at No. 2 and No. 3 for the highest foreclosure rates.

One in every 17 Arizona households got a foreclosure filing last year, while one in 18 received a notice in Florida.

California, Utah, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Illinois and Colorado rounded out the top ten states with the highest foreclosure rates.

RealtyTrac tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions — warnings that can lead up to a home eventually being lost to foreclosure.
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This Week On The Gathering Storm: Pastorius!

Listen to The Gathering Storm Radio Show, hosted by WC and Always On Watch. The show broadcasts live every Friday beginning at noon, Pacific Time.

The call-in number is 646-915-9870.

Callers welcome!

Listen to the January 14, 2011 edition of The Gathering Storm Radio Show, live or later, by CLICKING HERE.

January 21: Midnight Rider
January 28: Allan Goldstein

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Texas Rep. Berman files resolution to ban ‘religious or cultural law’

Berman: 'If that includes Sharia law, then so be it'
Mimicking proposed legislation in several other states, Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) suggested a constitutional amendment prohibiting Texas courts from enforcing, considering or applying religious or cultural law. Though the joint resolution itself does not specify ‘Sharia Law’ ­­­– the practices governing Muslim life, including family, work and religion – it falls under the umbrella of banned rules.
“A lot of federal courts are referring to international courts and laws of other countries. We want to make sure our courts are not doing this, especially in regards to cultural laws,” Berman said. “If that includes Sharia law, then so be it.”

Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights advocacy group, says the resolution and similar legislation being proposed in Indiana are violations of First Amendment rights and are essentially hypocritical.

“Based on the proposal, he obviously must be against the Ten Commandments,” Hooper half-joked.
Births, deaths, wills and marriages that include a person’s faith would be null and void, including references to Jewish law in a marriage contract or specifying to be buried in a Catholic cemetery in a will, under the resolution’s logic, Hooper said.

While Oklahoma citizens approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering international law or Islamic law during case decisions, a federal judge struck down the referendum after a lawsuit backfired, calling the amendment an infringement on the U.S Bill of Rights. (via Associated Press)
“What we are seeing is those that are trying to enact laws targeting the American Muslim community’s constitutional rights realize they are not going to pass legal muster,” Hooper said. “So they are finding backdoor, roundabout ways to accomplish the same thing.”

Berman is the author of several controversial bills this legislative session, including an Arizona-style immigration bill as well as a “birther” bill, requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to submit their original birth certificates to the Texas Secretary of State.
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Government fall plunges Lebanon into uncertainty
Jan 13, 6:49 AM (ET)

By Z

BEIRUT (AP) - The collapse of Lebanon's government plunged the country into deep political uncertainty Thursday after a year of relative stability, as the president began the process of putting a new administration together.

President Michel Suleiman asked Saad Hariri to stay on as caretaker prime minister after the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah and its allies resigned Wednesday and brought down Hariri's government. The crisis was the climax of tensions that have been simmering for months over the U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The tribunal is widely expected to indict members of Hezbollah soon, which many fear could rekindle violence in the tiny nation plagued for decades by war and civil strife.

Lebanon suffered through a devastating civil war from 1975-1990, a 1982 Israeli invasion to drive out Palestinian fighters in the south followed by a 20-year occupation of the south, a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and deadly sectarian fighting between the country's Sunnis and Shiites in 2008.

The collapse of the government ushers in the worst political crisis since 2008 in one of the most volatile corners of the Middle East.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa expressed concern that Lebanon could again descend into chaos.

"It is bad. It is tense. It is threatening," he said of the situation. "All of us have to work together in order to reach some kind of compromise," he told reporters in Doha, Qatar.

Israel also said it was worried about renewed violence on its northern border with Lebanon. Israeli troops in the north of the country were on alert Thursday.

Lebanon's 14-month-old unity government was an uneasy coalition linking bitter rivals - a Western-backed bloc led by Hariri and the Shiite Hezbollah - that was an attempt to stabilize the country. But in reality, it had been paralyzed for months because of disputes over the Hariri tribunal.

The president's office said in a statement he was accepting the resignations of 11 ministers - which amounted to the more than one-third of the 30-member Cabinet required to bring the government down.

But the president asked Hariri to continue managing the country's day-to-day affairs until a new cabinet is formed.

Hezbollah is supported by Syria and Iran and maintains an arsenal that far outweighs that of the national army.

At the heart of the dispute that brought down the government, Hezbollah denounces the Netherlands-based tribunal as a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel and urging Hariri to reject any of its findings. But Hariri has refused to break cooperation with the tribunal.

Now, the chasm between the two sides is deepening with Hezbollah accusing Hariri's bloc of bowing to the West. Hezbollah's ministers timed their resignations to coincide with Hariri's meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, forcing him to meet the American president as a caretaker prime minister.

Hariri was to hold talks in Paris on Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Suleiman was expected to begin consultations over the choice of a new prime minister Thursday. He was scheduled to meet with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, after which he was to set a date to begin polling lawmakers on their choice.

There were expectations of prolonged wrangling over the choice of prime ministerEINA KARAM

Israel troops on alert after Lebanon govt falls

Jan 13, 3:33 AM (ET)


JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli troops in the north were on alert Thursday over worries that the political turmoil in Lebanon might spill over into renewed violence on their shared border, following the collapse of the Lebanese government.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group and its allies threw the already volatile Lebanon into chaos on Wednesday by pulling out of the government and causing it to collapse.

Hezbollah, which clashed with Israel in a monthlong war in 2006, bolted over the government continued cooperation with a U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hezbollah expects the tribunal to indict some of its members. It timed the dissolution of the government to coincide with the White House visit of the current prime minister, Hariri's son Saad.

A senior officer in Israel's northern command said commanders were following events in Lebanon very closely for any sign Hezbollah might try to heat up the already jittery northern border to deflect attention from the political turmoil.

However, although troops have raised their level of alert, reserves have not been called up and no regular troops have been moved north from other areas, the officer said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose military tactics.

Retired general Yaakov Amidror told Army Radio that the prevailing Israeli assessment is that Hezbollah has no interest at this point in a bruising war with Israel. Both the militant group - and more important, Iran - prefer to keep Hezbollah primed to assault Israel in the event Iran is attacked, Amidror said.

But in the current situation, Amidror said he would advise the military to "cast aside all these learned assessments from me and others" because the situation in Lebanon is so unsettled.

"Things are liable to slip out of the hands of decision-makers," he said. "You never know in such a volatile and delicate situation, where everyone has a lot of weapons, a lot of resentment, a lot of frustration - you never know where it could lead."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said late Wednesday that Israel was "closely following events but this is a strictly internal Lebanese affair."

Israel's war with Hezbollah in 2006 was touched off by a Hezbollah border raid. Israel invaded Lebanon and Hezbollah retaliated with nearly 4,000 rockets fired into northern Israel in fighting that killed around 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis, according to official counts from each side.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been largely quiet since. Hezbollah hasn't fired a rocket into Israel in the past four years - though Palestinian groups have - and the killing of an Israeli officer by Lebanese army fire in August was the military's first fatality on the frontier since 2006.

But although the U.N. truce that ended the fighting forbade Hezbollah to rearm, Israel believes the group has restocked its arsenal with even more powerful weapons.


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