Sunday, September 30, 2012

Middle East: Tea Party policies could shape the US and go global

Al Jazeera

Will Tea Party policy span the globe?
Republican Party's right wing - an anti-tax "deficit hawk" movement - could steer the White House if Mitt Romney wins.

In the two years since it first gained prominence, the Tea Party has helped shape Republican Party policy, pushing conservatives farther right on fiscal and social issues.
Some would like to dismiss the group as a fringe movement, but Tea Partiers argue that they've become the mainstream, with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan trumpeting their views.
The Tea Party-backed standoff in Congress in the summer of 2011, when Republicans refused to raise the country's borrowing limit and risked a potential financial meltdown, illustrated how powerful they might be.
Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports.

Watch the video report:

Middle East: Fears of Taliban returning

Al Jazeera

People & Power
Kabul - A City of Hope and Fear
With the US set to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, what does the future hold for the country's capital?

By filmmaker John D McHugh

In two years time, the people of Kabul will again watch a superpower’s troops pack up and leave.

As they withdraw, much of the aid money that has kept this country afloat for the last ten years will go with them. That could totally undermine the already fragile confidence of the Afghan business community; several company bosses - and not a few politicians - are known to be quietly planning their departure.

As for Kabul, whether the Taliban could actually retake the capital after 2014 is still open to question. But as we found, most people here expect them to try.

With worsening security and a government losing legitimacy, all-out civil war is a very real threat.

If that happens, the progress the city has made in the last decade could again be thrown into reverse – and this time it might never recover.

Read it at Al Jazeera:

China: Iran says no change in US relations


No change in Iran's policy toward relations with U.S.: supreme leader's advisor

TEHRAN, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran's supreme leader, said there is no change in Iran' s policy toward its relations with the United States, Tehran Times daily reported Sunday.
Iran's policy concerning the relations with the United States is like the past and "no decision in regard to changing the policy has been made," Velayati was quoted as saying on Saturday.
"Iran is adherent to its strong policies shaped by (the deceased founder of the Islamic republic) Imam Khomeini and approved by (the incumbent) supreme leader of the Islamic revolution," said Velayati, who was also Iran's former foreign minister.
According to the report, during his recent visit to New York to address the annual UN General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not rule out the possibility of talks between Iran and the United States to normalize relations.

Read it at Xinhua:

Australia: Early voting changes US election

The Sydney Morning Herald

Early voters key to deciding US presidency

Nick O'Malley

THE US election could be decided long before election day as the two contenders mobilise to have their supporters take advantage of early voting laws.
By Friday night it was estimated at least 30,000 people had already voted, many of them in the key swing state of Iowa, which allowed ballots to be cast from Thursday.
It is estimated that this year up to 40 per cent of voters will cast their ballots early - either in person or by mail - rather than joining the long queues on Tuesday, November 6.

UK: Clinton's contraception deal will help millions

PJ:  Ironic that back in the US, many politicians on the right (which is now dominated by their extreme fringe) challenged the mandate by the Affordable Care Act to ensure contraception was covered under employer healthcare plans.  Some have gone even further, like  former presidential candidate Rick Santorum who has said on more than one occassion that he wants to see a total ban on contraceptives:   "Many of Christian faith have said, `Well, that's OK. Contraception is OK,'" he said. "It's not OK. It's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. ... If it's not for purposes of procreation, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women."

The Independent

Clinton's contraception deal will help millions

A new buy-in-bulk deal to provide cheaper contraception for developing countries is set to be finalised by a coalition of governments and private donors headed by Bill Clinton and a leading drug company, potentially helping up to 27 million women.

The former US president, announcing the project at the United Nations, said the contract would bring down the costs of 'Jadelle', a reversible progestogen implant inserted into the arm which can provide contraception for five years.
It will be distributed to women in 42 countries including Bangladesh, Kenya and Senegal with the hope that families without access to other forms of contraception can gain more control over their family planning. Strategists hope this will cut the number of maternal deaths in childbirth and large families suffering from child starvation. "This would actually save about 280,000 children's lives. They might be born a year or so late. They may be born in greater spacing but they will live and be healthy," Mr Clinton said.

Read it at The Independent:

Israel: Romney and Netanyahu share more than friendship

Netanyahu and Romney share ideology - and donors

A Haaretz investigation found that 19 of Netanyahu's wealthiest American donors have also given to Romney, the Republican Party, and/or other Republican candidates.

By Chaim Levinson

Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly denies having any preference as to who wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election, it's clear he is rooting for Republican Mitt Romney. The two see eye to eye on the Middle East, and Romney in the White House would make life easier for Netanyahu, assuming he is reelected next year.
But the similarities don't end with ideology: The two also have many donors in common. In fact, a Haaretz investigation found that 19 of Netanyahu's wealthiest American donors, each of whom gave thousands of dollars to his campaign to defeat Moshe Feiglin in January's Likud party leadership primary, have also given to Romney, the Republican Party, and/or other Republican candidates.

Read it at Haaretz: 

UK: America's economic recovery in the hands of Congress

The Economist


Ben Bernanke has done his bit to help the American economy. Now the politicians must do theirs

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the cliff must be avoided. But they have radically different ideas about how to do so, and are thus leaving it until after the election. For a business trying to plan ahead, delay makes no sense. The elements of what should be in a deal are obvious. America urgently needs a medium-term plan that both raises revenues by reforming taxes and arrests the long-run growth of spending on entitlements such as pensions and health care for the elderly (Medicare). It also needs the process to be gradual. Accomplishing this will require the Republicans to erase their red line against raising taxes, and the Democrats to erase theirs against touching Medicare benefits. If they do not agree to that, there is nothing Mr Bernanke can do to help them.

Read it at The Economist:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

UK: The future of the Republican party


The Republicans will massacre each other after Mitt Romney loses


This week it was announced that Mormon supporters of Mitt Romney are promoting a day of mass fasting and prayer to seek divine help for the Republican candidate in the upcoming Presidential debates. He’ll need it.
The question is no longer whether Mitt Romney loses the election. The really interesting conundrum is: what will happen to the Republican party when he does?
When Barack Obama’s reelection is confirmed – at an increasingly early hour – on the night of 6 November, it will mean the GOP has managed to secure a popular majority only once in the past quarter of a century. When the Democrats had a similarly disastrous run from 1968 until 1992 they were seen to be flirting with extinction.
Let’s glance a little deeper into the crystal ball. This election was held against the backdrop of a struggling economy. None of the predictions I have seen suggest the global or US economy is likely to still be teetering on the edge of recession in four years' time. Which means that the next Republican candidate is probably going to have to try wresting the White House from the grip of a Democratic party that can point to a strong and sustained record of growth. Given Mitt Romney’s abject failure to capitalise on an economic downturn, how confident are Republicans that their next candidate will prevail when it really is morning again in America? 

Read it at The Telegraph

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UK: Does the end really justify the means?

The Guardian

Voter suppression is the last resort of these stop-at-nothing Republicans

As millions of ad dollars have failed to put Mitt Romney ahead, his allies are trying to rig this election in worst Jim Crow tradition
But if you can't get people to pay attention to the ads, or change their mind, you could just stop them from voting at all. And it is here that accusations of election thievery both stick and might have more cause for concern.

There has been much anxious talk about voter fraud from the conservatives and the rightwing media, so much so that Fox News even has a "voter fraud unit". To prevent this terrible crime against democracy, the Republicans have been striving to implement voter ID and voter suppression laws, focusing particularly on the crucial swing states, with eight states already passing the law that people must provide a state-approved document and photo in order to vote. This move will, as it happens, mainly affect minority groups, the poor, the elderly and students when it comes to voting – not because it's illegal for them to vote, but because these are the groups that most commonly don't have photo ID, such as driving licenses and passports. As it happens, these are also the groups more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. And, of course, the Republicans know that: Mike Turzai, the Republican state representative for Pennsylvania, said in a talk in June:
"Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done."

Read it at The Guardian:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Israel: Obama's UN address


Obama: U.S. will do 'what we must' to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran

According to advance excerpts of the U.S. President's speech at the UN, Obama is due to warn Iran on nuclear bid but stop short of meeting Netanyahu's demand to set clear 'red lines.'

Seeking to step up pressure on Iran, Obama will tell the UN General Assembly that there is still time for a diplomacy but that "time is not unlimited," according to advance excerpts of his speech, due to begin sometime around 1315 GMT. 

His tough talk appears aimed at easing Israeli concerns about U.S. resolve to curb Tehran's nuclear drive, as he reasserts before the world body that he will never let Iran develop an atomic bomb and then simply contain the problem. 

But he will stop short of meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand to set a clear "red line" that Iran must not cross if it is to avoid military action. 

Read it at Haaretz

Israel: Israel US tensions nothing new


Back to the future: New released documents show Israel, U.S. tensions, circa 1975

The U.S. administration is tired of Israel's intransigence, warmongering and attempts to interfere in its domestic politics. Welcome to the 1970s.

By Amir Oren

In March 1975, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was shuttling between Jerusalem and Cairo in an effort to reach a second interim Sinai agreement between Israel and Egypt. The Israeli negotiating team included then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, and IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai (Motta) Gur. 

The major obstacle was Israel's refusal to withdraw the Israel Defense Forces to the eastern approaches of the Mitla and Gidi passes. Kissinger was angry at the Israelis for their weakness, their scant political experience and their internal squabbles. He later vented his frustrations to President Gerald Ford. The Israelis were "treacherous, petty, deceitful - they didn't treat us like allies," and they deceived him into thinking that there was sufficient reason for him to come to the region. But now, at a meeting with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in Aswan, after Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi and Defense Minister Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy had left the room, Kissinger surprised Sadat by handing him a personal letter from Rabin. 

Read it at Haaretz:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Australia: Released Gitmo inmate "led US embassy attack"

The Sydney Morning Herald

Gitmo inmate 'led US embassy attack'

By Richard Spencer Benghazi

THE attack on the US consulate in Benghazi may have been led by a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay returned to Libya by the Bush administration.

US intelligence officials believe Sufyan Ben Qumu, one of the leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, is likely to have been behind the assault.

Ben Qumu, who now lives openly in the Libyan town of Derna, 240 kilometres east of Benghazi, was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007.

He was imprisoned in Tripoli upon his return to Libya, but later freed by Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The 53-year-old has refused to comment on repeated allegations that Ansar al-Sharia members were present during last week's raid, which killed Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya.
''Now it is very clear who was responsible for this,'' Mohammed al-Gharabi, the leader of the biggest pro-government militia, said yesterday. ''It was people from Ansar al-Sharia, not all of them but some of them, and I think [the organisation] knows who did it.''


Israel: Romney's leaked mideast peace pessimism draws muted response


Romney’s Mideast peace pessimism draws muted response from U.S. Jewish groups

The Republican presidential candidate's remarks in a leaked video on the Israel-Palestine conflict drew some headlines, but not much noise from centrist Jewish groups.


Without directly criticizing Romney, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the Union of Reform Judaism’s new president, said that U.S. leadership required action in the short term, not just the long term. 

“We need to do concrete things every day, not naively and not with sacrificing the safety and security of Israel -- although safety and security for Israel means two states,” Jacobs said. “Our tradition requires us to do difficult things in the world. There is no benefit to delaying.” 

Jacobs said that even when peacemaking was stalled, there were incremental actions the parties could undertake.

Read it at Haaretz:

UK: The Romney reboot that wasn't

The Economist

The relaunch that wasn’t

Mitt Romney’s video gaffe is not fatal. But he needs to recover his focus fast

Nonetheless, all the fuss about Mr Romney’s gaffes has hindered him from disseminating his own message, and has clearly unsettled the Republican grandees on whom he relies for donations and logistical support. Since midsummer, Mr Romney has been trying to quell anxiety on the right that his singled-minded strategy of harping endlessly about the poor state of the economy was insufficient to unseat Mr Obama. His campaign at first dismissed the carpers as “bedwetters”. But it has since resorted to all manner of gestures to accommodate them, from the selection as his running-mate of Paul Ryan, an outspoken advocate of entitlement reform, to this week’s instantly forgotten relaunch.

Read it at The Economist:

GOP earns anti-science award

PJ:  Sadly, the GOP, who once touted scientific research, has become the party who mocks it.  In 2008 Sarah Palin famously scoffed at research involving fruit flies--research that was destined to play an important role in a cause that she claimed to support.  Today the party chides and ridicules science as if its a part of their platform. 

CARE2 make a difference

Why Sarah Palin should be thankful for fruit flies

The consensus of many Republicans about basic science research is that it is more evidence for “government waste.” In 2010, YouCut Citizen Review, a crowdsourcing tool for identifying unnecessary government spending, put the National Science Foundation at the top of its list for budget cuts, says Wired.

However, that hasn’t stopped the government from promoting scientific endeavors. A bipartisan group of six Congressmen have, along with organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), joined forces to create the Golden Goose Awards. These awards are intended to honor those whose basic research has had humane or economic benefits, including life-saving medicines and technological advances that can lead to advances in national security, energy, the environment, communications and public health.

Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) came up with the idea and named the awards as a deliberate play on the “Golden Fleece Awards” that Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) issued between 1975 and 1988 to mock federally-funded research which, seeming to have no practical applications, was dubbed a symbol of the government throwing away citizens’ tax dollars.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wow...the state of education in the US is worse than I thought

PJ: These are real utterances by some of the most powerful conservatives in the US.


Congresswoman Bachmann seems to have forgotten that Africans were brought to the US as slaves and that they did not travel of their own free will as explorers or colonists,

Sarah Palin remains clueless about most things,

Glenn Beck must not even know who Thomas Jefferson was and he certainly has no knowledge about the marines who were a recognized European fighting force beginning in around the late 1600s and they were not formed to attack Islamic pirates,

Mike Huckabee obviously does not know a tick about the founding fathers since most were certainly not clergymen, some were not even believers even though many attended universities like Princeton, Yale, Harvard and William and Mary that (at the time) were considered seminaries. He neglects to understand that many of these universities (although seminaries) taught infidelity[a disbelief in the Scriptures and in Christianity] and that many of the most famous of founders were not strict followers of the Christian teachings (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are the two most famous),

What can I say about Herman Cain that a firm slap against my forehead won't convey,

and the list goes on....

The New Yorker

1619-1808: Africans set sail for America in search of freedom: “Other than Native Americans, who were here, all of us have the same story.”—Michele Bachmann

1775: Paul Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”—Sarah Palin.

1776: The Founding Synod signs the Declaration of Independence: “…those fifty-six brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.”—Mike Huckabee

1801: “Thomas Jefferson creates the Marines for the Islamic pirates that were happening.”—Glenn Beck

 1812: The American War for Independence ends: “ ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’…that song—written during the battle in the War of 1812—commemorates the sacrifice that won our liberty.”—Mitt Romney

1916: Planned Parenthood opens genocide clinics: “When Margaret Sanger—check my history—started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.”—Herman Cain

And this is the man that many want to lead their country...?

The Daily Beast

Why Does Everybody Hate Mitt Romney?

No other presidential candidate has racked up unfavorable ratings this high during a campaign, according to a Pew Survey. Why is Romney so disliked? It’s not personal, it’s business.

His “47 percent” comment resonated because it reinforced the negative narrative about Mitt as an out-of-touch member of the superrich with little feeling for policy, politics or people—a million miles away from W’s “compassionate conservative” mantra. He comes across as an awkward mix of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller, without any of the redeeming qualities. And it’s arguable which is worse—whether Romney essentially believes what he said at the $50,000-a-plate fundraiser, or was simply pandering to the well-heeled audience.  

“Four years ago, the other candidates couldn’t stand him,” said a longtime Republican operative affiliated with another competing campaign in 2008. “There was just this aloofness to him and an elitism that set the tone. There wasn’t the comradeship that you normally have with candidates—you know, when you get to know each other in the course of the campaign and you kind of like each other and respect each other, no matter how badly you beat the daylights out of each other. Romney hammered every single candidate with negative advertising above and beyond what was needed—and his attitude seemed to be ‘I didn’t say it.’ It was this mysterious ad agency off somewhere.’ His aloofness is just what sort of puts people off.”
Likewise, look at the Republican primary candidates Mitt faced off with this year. Rick Perry still seems to be barely on speaking terms with Romney, even though he’s playing the role of good soldier. Rick Santorum waited almost a month before mouthing his support. Newt Gingrich’s nervous tick is to remind his audience that the contest isn’t between Romney and Reagan, but Romney and Obama. But the bitterness of his primary campaign complaint—"How can somebody run a campaign this dishonest and think he’s going to have any credibility running for president?—still resonates with more authenticity than his endorsement. The only unifying factor is intense opposition to President Obama.
Read it at The Daily Beast:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Israel: US religious tolerance needs to be practiced at hom


What if the U.S. had invested in promoting religious tolerance as much as it did in military aid?

Riots from Marrakech to Bangladesh have forced the United States to rejig its relationship with the Muslim world.

By Natasha Mozgovaya

Should the U.S. cut its aid, or increase its support of fledgling democracies and the promotion of tolerance, so that each caricature or low-quality movie mocking Islam won't end up with another bloody protest? Or maybe that same educational work needs to be done in the U.S. itself, where a Virginia mosque was vandalized this week with obscene graffiti in response to protests half a world away, and the controversial Koran burning pastor Terry Jones received another phone call from General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, trying to convince him to backpedal on his support for the "Innocence of Muslims" movie that sparked protests.

Contrary to statements by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, "American weakness" is not the cause of the current troubles in the Middle East, and to the utter disappointment of the conservatives, Romney once again failed to offer an alternative to the current administration's policy - not in terms of the "red line" on Iran, and not even on Egypt. In fact, he said he wants to get closer to Egypt so they'll understand it's better to be an ally of the U.S. (Violent protests could easily become Obama's "September surprise," tilting the polls in Romney's favor - hadn't his rival been Mitt Romney, whose campaign continues to amass self-inflicted wounds ).

Read it at Haaretz:

Canada: Five best Romney blunders


5 controversial quotes from Mitt Romney

From proposing a $10K bet to joking with unemployed voters

Mitt Romney's loose lips have again stirred up chatter this week, after a video emerged of the Republican presidential nominee at a fundraiser in May, where he made disparaging remarks about Obama's supporters and the Palestinians.

In the secretly recorded footage, released by the liberal-leaning investigative magazine Mother Jones, Romney is heard saying that Palestinians "have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."

He also derided supporters of President Barack Obama. Romney claimed that 47 per cent of Americans are on side with Obama and "believe they are victims," and thus are too dependent on government.
"My job is not to worry about those people," Romney said.

Read it at the CBC:



Germany: German papers baffled by Romney's gaffe

Der Spiegel

'Who Wants an Amateur in the White House?'

An anti-Romney protest outside a Texas fundraiser on Tuesday.Zoom
An anti-Romney protest outside a Texas fundraiser on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appears to have seriously damaged his chances of election with his comments about the "47 percent" of voters who are "dependent" on the state. German commentators are baffled by how a career politician could have made such an embarrassing gaffe.
On Wednesday, German commentators analyze the impact of Romney's gaffe.

Read it at Der Spiegel:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney is a very successful private equity investor but he is not a world leader

PJ: Romney's consistent stance about the Palestinian people is not only misguided, it is dangerous. The man has proven time and again that he has no head for diplomacy.

Mitt Romney was a business leader, in essence a corporate dictator who was obeyed. He did not have to garner votes for his plans. He did not have to lobby for support. He simply had to give orders. He could say what he wanted as long as he closed deals, as long as his company showed profits.

He has said that he likes to fire people. He touts his ability to turnaround a failing business. His record shows that he has succeeded in turning a profit regardless of the consequences to a business or its employees. In many instances, his leadership resulted in the annihilation of a company and the elimination of jobs even while providing healthy profits to himself and his investors. He is responsible for firing a lot of people. It is not illegal. It may or may not be ethical. It is what his type of business--private equity investing--is designed to do.

Private equity firm's sole purpose is to show a profit for investors. They can do this by investing in a business that might grow. They can do this by taking over a business and selling off parts at a profit. They can do this by taking assets in a company then shutting the whole thing down and distributing the profits from the assets to investors. The goal is not to create a business, it is not to grow a business, it is not to provide employment to anyone at a business. The only goal is to show profits that will be distributed to investors.

His style of business leadership does not make a world leader. Citizens are not employees that can be fired.

The world is not a business. If it were, and a private equity firm were to take it over, entire countries would have to be let go, shut down, eliminated to pave the way for greater profits for the handful of investors that the firm represented. From Mr. Romney's recent statements, 47% of the American population would have to be let go (sorry grandma and all you returning vets out there). And as for the Palestinian people--the door is over there....

Pakistan: Romney's lack of diplomatic awareness

Pakistan Observer

Middle East peace process likely to remain ‘unsolved problem’: Romney

Mr. Romney has sought to cast himself as a turnaround expert, a fixer who can fashion success from the wreckage of a failing company, Olympics, or economy. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he can be heard saying in the video posted to the Mother Jones Web site on Tuesday morning, is a case where “we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

He later added, “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues “And I say, ‘There’s just no way.’ “

Mr. Romney continues, “You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” and compares the Middle East peace process to the volatile relationship between China and Taiwan.

Read it at the Pakistan Observer:

Israel: Palestinians outraged (again) by Romney's comments


Palestinians condemn Romney for suggesting they aren't interested in peace

Saeb Erekat and spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas denounce remarks by Republican presidential candidate, who told donors that the Palestinians are 'committed to the destruction of Israel.'

By The Associated Press and Reuters

The Palestinian Authority has denounced remarks by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who told donors that Palestinians "have no interest" in peace with Israel. 

According to comments captured on newly released video of his private remarks to wealthy donors, Romney said Palestinians are "committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel" and that the prospects for a two-state solution to Mideast peace were dim. He also suggested that efforts at Mideast peace under his administration would languish. 

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Romney was wrong to accuse them of not seeking peace. 

"No one stands to gain more from peace with Israel than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more in the absence of peace than Palestinians," Erekat told Reuters. "Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace.

Read it at Haaretz:

France: Romney contends that the Palestinians have no desire for peace

France 24

Romney says Palestinians have 'no interest' in peace

In a video leaked Monday of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney addressing wealthy donors, Romney said he sees “no way” forward for the Mideast peace process and that 47% of US voters “believe they are victims” entitled to government support.

US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was faced with a new headache on Tuesday after a video emerged showing him telling wealthy donors that he saw “no way” forward for the Mideast peace process and that almost half of all Americans “believe they are victims” entitled to extensive government support.

Read it at France 24:

Canada: Romney says no peace possible in the Mideast

The Globe and Mail

Romney: Palestinians not interested in peace

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told donors that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel and suggested that efforts at Mideast peace under his administration would languish, according to comments captured on newly released video of his private remarks to wealthy donors.

Mr. Romney said Palestinians are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel” and that the prospects for a two-state solution to Mideast peace were dim.

UK: Romney's Mideast views on tape


Mitt Romney secret video reveals views on Middle East

A new secret video clip has emerged of remarks by Republican candidate Mitt Romney, saying the Palestinians are committed to Israel's destruction. 

He tells donors the Middle East will "remain an unsolved problem... and we kick the ball down the field".
The video is from the same event as a clip released on Monday, in which Mr Romney says almost half of Americans "believe that they are victims".

The leak comes seven weeks before the US presidential election.

Speaking on Fox News on Tuesday, Mr Romney stood by his comments, leaked on Monday, that 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax support President Barack Obama and would never vote for him.
"Those that are dependent on government and those that think government's job is to redistribute, I'm not going to get them," Mr Romney said, describing redistribution as "an entirely foreign concept".

Read it and watch the video at the BBC:

Middle East: Romney's incendiary remarks

Al Jazeera

Obama rebukes Romney over remarks
US President chides Mitt Romney over gaffe caught on secretly recorded video, as his Republican rival defends comments.
"The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world,'' Romney said, according to the magazine. Mother Jones did not provide video of that comment.
The comments drew anger from Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erakat, who called them "absolutely unacceptable," and provided the White House with fresh ammunition to paint the Republican challenger as unpresidential.

Romney also criticised Obama's foreign policy approach.

"The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism, and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like [Vladimir] Putin and [Hugo] Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that they'll find that we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us, and they'll stop doing bad things," Romney says. "And it's an extraordinarily naive perception."

Read it at Al Jazeera:

UK: Mitt Romney's very bad week

The Guardian

Romney suffers fresh blow in second day of fallout from leaked video

Crude analysis of Israel-Palestinian conflict comes the day after damaging '47%' remarks from secretly recorded video

Mitt Romney refused to apologise on Tuesday for describing 47% of Americans as government-dependent "victims" in a covertly recorded video that has thrown his presidential campaign into disarray.
In an attempt to save his campaign from ruin, Romney went on the Republican-friendly Fox News network just as the rightwing Drudge Report published excerpts from a 1998 tape showing Barack Obama favouring "redistribution".

The apparently co-ordinated attempt to stem the crisis from the video, published on the Mother Jones website, followed a stumbling press conference on Monday night in which Romney tried to defend comments made at a fundraiser in Florida.

A second clip was released on Tuesday in which Romney is heard setting out his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, claiming the Palestinians are not interested in peace.

Read it at The Guardian:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Germany: Banning of film that incited violent protests would be victory for extremists

Der Spiegel

The World from Berlin Ban on Film Would Be a 'Victory for Extremists'

opinions about this topic.

A demonstrator at a Pro Deutschland protest in Berlin this August. Zoom AP
A demonstrator at a Pro Deutschland protest in Berlin this August. 

Germany is considering forbidding a far-right party from publicly screening the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" in Berlin in November. But editorialists in the country say a ban would be wrong because it would play into the hands of extremists on all sides.

The German far-right party Pro Deutschland has said it plans a public screening of the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" in November, prompting fears that the event could trigger violence in Germany.

The issue has prompted a heated debate in the country, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the film should not be shown if it endangered public safety. "I can imagine that there are good reasons for this," she said, adding that a ban on the public screening was currently being considered
 Religious blasphemy was a crime in Germany until 1969, when the law was changed. At present, acts of blasphemy are only deemed criminal if they could disrupt public peace.

On Tuesday, most German media commentators said that even though the 14-minute film is disgusting rubbish, its screening should not be prohibited because it would breach the right to freedom of expression.

Read it at Der Spiegel:

Australia: How does Romney see Americans?

The Sydney Morning Herald

Hidden camera catches Romney's real thoughts on the other 47 per cent


Philip Rucker 

"There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it," Mr Romney said. "These are people who pay no income tax."
US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been forced to explain his comments to a private fundraiser. US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been forced to explain his comments to a private fundraiser. Photo: AFP

He added that his job "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."


Israel: US institutes temporary suspension in aid to Egypt amid protests


U.S. suspends aid talks with Egypt over anti-American protests, report says

Officials speaking to Washington Post say U.S. waiting to see 'how things materialize'; several officials say suspension is temporary move, not an overhaul of U.S. policy.

The United States has put negotiations geared at renewed U.S. financial aid to Egypt on hold following protests against an American-made anti-Islam movie, which started in Cairo and spread across the Muslim world, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. 

Protesters have breached the walls or compounds of several U.S. diplomatic missions, including the consulate in Benghazi, Libya where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

After last week's incidents, the State Department ordered all U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to review their security postures. As a result, a number of missions decided to destroy classified material, a U.S. official said on Monday.
Read it at Haaretz:

UK: Mitt Romney's view of Americans

PJ:  The irony is ripe!  Here is a man who has a number of accountants and lawyers searching for ways to shelter his vast wealth.  He pays little to no tax on his income.  He has numerous houses, travels in private jets and has cars and drivers at his beckon call.   That said, he criticises almost half of Americans as being on government handouts while not paying their fair share in taxes.  He deems the elderly on Medicare and Social Security as "government dependent", the war veteran accessing services designed to help them as not willing to work hard and not willing to take responsibility for themselves.  And then he slams people on the lowest rung on the economic ladder, who may be working two or three jobs to make ends meet, people who do not make enough money to pay federal taxes (but who do pay state and local taxes as well as payrol taxes).  

The Guardian

Mitt Romney stands by gaffe but says case not 'elegantly stated'

Romney confirms authenticity of video where he calls 47% of voters government-dependent, in most damaging mishap yet

In his press conference, in California, Romney basically repeated the case he made in the video that the 47% dependent on the government would vote for Obama, though couched in slightly less inflammatory language. Obama's policies are "attractive to people who do not pay taxes", Romney said.

Romney tends to avoid the press as much as possible and it is a sign of the seriousness of the situation that he had to make an impromptu statement. He attempted to pose his comments as part of a broader philosophical debate about the future of America. "Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits? Or do you believe instead in a free enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams?"

He insisted he wanted to help all Americans.

While his views about people dependent on the government will be applauded by parts of the right, he risks alienating independents who do not share his view of American society and also motivating disgruntled Democrats who may have otherwise have abstained in the 6 November election to get out and vote.

Read it at The Guardian:

You may also enjoy reading conservative columnist David Brooks opinion in the IHT:

Thurston Howell Romney

Monday, September 17, 2012

UK: Europeans favor Obama over Romney by a large margin

The Independent

Romney election triumph would sink US reputation in Europe, poll finds

Europeans hold strongly negative views about GOP contender but Obama's favourability poor in Pakistan and Middle East
Mitt Romney in Ohio
Mitt Romney: only one in 20 of those surveyed in Britain, France and Germany held a positive view of him. Photograph: Mark Duncan/AP
The reputation of the US in Europe risks sinking back to Bush-era levels of unpopularity if Mitt Romney becomes president, according to new international polling published on Tuesday.

Only around one in 20 of those surveyed in Britain, France and Germany by YouGov held a positive view of the Republican presidential nominee.

The poll of more than 12,000 people across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and China was prepared for the YouGov-Cambridge forum this week at which the Guardian is a media partner.

The results are a sign that affection for Barack Obama has diminished little since his 2008 speech in Berlin in which he promised to restore America's reputation on the world stage, even though, four years on, Guantánamo remains open and the US is still engaged in military action in Afghanistan.

But while Europeans had a strongly negative reaction to Romney, the prospect of him winning the White House was greeted with less dismay in Pakistan, where about 13% of respondents said it would make them more favourable to the US, compared to just 9% who said it would make them less favourable.

Read it at the Independent:

UK: Have angry mobs won?

The Independent

Mobs in the Middle East, Salman Rushdie's new book, and how progressive Islam fell to the barbarians

Of course I have very deep sympathy for oppressed Muslims everywhere. But that is no excuse for this counter-productive rampage

Once, we could say with some certainty that Islamicist fanatics, thugs, killers and mind-benders represented a minority and that most Muslims, quiet and sane were unseen and unheard. Today, I fear it is the opposite.
Modernist Muslims, amalgams of the West and East, comfortable with their multiple identities, have no part to play. We are written out, quashed. By whom? By the barbarians who have taken over mosques, schools, homes, hearts and minds. And also by Western political and cultural warriors and agents-provocateurs who derive inordinate satisfaction from playing and inciting Muslims, zapping away as if playing an electronic game.

The tawdry, internet film demeaning and abusing Islam’s Prophet was doing just that, knowingly pressing buttons. It started circulating around the anniversary of  9/11 and so deliberately brought up bad memories for Americans and rewound to those days when Muslims replaced Commies as the force of evil and the fearful “patriotic wars against terror” took off.

All this is happening as Salman Rushdie brings out a book about his days in hiding after Ayatollah Khomeini passed a fatwa calling for his death. You get to understand how the fatwa cruelly stole years of his life and sense of security. Many of his friends and other libertarians are up and about chanting hymns about freedom of expression in his name and having a go at religions and followers.

Read it at The Independent:

Israel: "I have never seen an Israeli PM who has so mismanaged Israeli-US relations"


by Chemi Shalev

Netanyahu, in damage control mode, enlists JFK and American football in calling for 'red lines' on Iran

Telling comment by columnist Jeffrey Goldberg on NBC: I have never seen an Israeli PM who has so mismanaged Israeli-US relations.

In an attempt to mitigate some of the damage caused by his harsh statements last week, Netanyahu appeared on CNN and on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday and successfully avoided making any statement that might be construed as endorsing Mitt Romney. He may also have set up the ladder that will allow him to climb down from his demand for US action before the upcoming elections by stating that Iran will have 90% of the material needed for a nuclear bomb – but only in six months’ time. In fact, when drawing on football terms with which his American audience is familiar, as is his wont, Netanyahu actually appeared to be inching closer to Obama’s own positions, saying that the Iranians are now in a “red zone”, 20 yards from the “red line”, but must not be allowed to score “a touchdown”, that is acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Read it at Haaretz:

Israel: Former ambassador say US will likely go to war with Iran


U.S. will go to war with Iran in 2013, says ex-U.S. ambassador to Israel

Martin Indyk tells CBS there is not much time left until Iran has a nuclear weapon, but says Netanyahu's demands for 'red lines' on Iran are 'unreasonable.'

Speaking during a panel on the CBS program Face the Nation, Indyk said, "I'm afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we're going to have a military confrontation with Iran."

The former ambassador stated that "Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon," but added that there's not a lot of time left until it does.

Regarding the recent friction between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over "red lines" on Iran, Indyk said that he doesn't think "the difference between Netanyahu and Obama on this is that great, in terms of the president's commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons."

He added, however, that Netanyahu's insistence on public "red lines" was unreasonable.

"That is an unreasonable requirement. The idea of putting out a public red line - in effect issuing an ultimatum - is something that no president would do. If you noticed, Governor Romney is not putting out a red line; Senator McCain didn't, either. And neither is Bibi Netanyahu for that matter, in terms of Israel's own actions."

Read it at Haaretz:

UK: Romney's misfire

The Independent

Mitt Romney misfires in his attempt to discredit Barack Obama's 'weak' foreign policy

David Usborne
But it may be that most Americans will be watching what Mr Obama does now rather than blaming him for actions past, as Mr Romney did when he came out all barrels blazing on Wednesday, fiercely scolding the administration because of a statement issued by the US embassy in Cairo even before the trouble started in Libya that he considered too conciliatory to the protesters outside. Mr Romney even called it "apologetic".

That was seen widely as a blunder. But in the days since, Republicans have honed their message of a feeble Obama foreign policy stance. In a speech to conservative activists on Friday, Mr Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, said Mr Obama had emboldened America's enemies in the Middle East. "Amid all these threats and dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership," he said.

Yet the Republicans may still be miscalculating. Attacking any president during a time of national crisis is a risky proposition. It especially doesn't help if the president in question is at his very best politically at such times.

Read it at The Independent:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

International NYT: Holy cow--the stimulus worked!

International Herald Tribune
Editorial | Sunday Observer

Don’t Tell Anyone, but the Stimulus Worked

Axel Koester/Corbis
Many people benefited from projects like this one near Los Angeles but had no idea that it was part of the Obama stimulus.

Read it at the IHT:

UK: Romney out of touch about American income levels

The Telegraph

Mitt Romney: People earning $250,000 are 'middle income'

Mitt Romney has said that people taking home $250,000 (£154,000) are "middle income", as the Presidential candidate blasted the Federal Reserve's latest attempt to kickstart the economy by printing more money.

"We can get to a balanced budget without raising taxes on middle income people," Mr Romney told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who then asked the Massachusetts Governor if he considered someone earning $100,000 as being "middle income".
"No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less," Mr Romney replied.
With the average salary at $39,959, according to the Social Security Administration, the comments are likely to anger an American public grappling with an unemployment rate of 8.1pc.
Mr Romney, who co-founded Bain Capital and is estimated to be worth $200m, said a cornerstone of his efforts to get a "balanced budget" in the US is to get more people to pay tax.

Read it at The Telegraph:

Australia: US Iman calls for calm

The Sydney Morning Herald

US imam warns Muslims against violent overreaction to film

Tara Bahrampour

AS ANTI-AMERICAN violence spread across the Muslim world, the imam of one of America's largest mosques urged his congregation to combat bigotry with education, and paid tribute to the US ambassador Chris Stevens killed on Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.

''We should not fall into the trap of people who want to portray Muslims as violent people,'' Imam Mohamed Magid told hundreds of followers at the Adams Centre, Virginia, adding that the Californian man who made a film insulting the prophet Muhammad was trying to provoke a clash of civilizations.

The film was deeply offensive ''but we should not express our anger with violence and breaking things and taking innocent people's lives''.

Australia: Chris Stevens' vision

The Sydney Morning Herald

Slain envoy would have urged US to 'waver not' on Libya

US intervention does little to honour Chris Stevens' vision, writes Robin Wright.

More than anyone else, Stevens convinced Washington that the National Transitional Council (NTC) had the political bona fides to pick up the pieces after Colonel Gaddafi's 42-year rule. His assessment has so far proved accurate. When Libyans went to the polls in July, most rejected hardline Islamists as well as separatists. And many NTC officials won the popular vote.

Most colleagues thought Chris was daft for taking the ambassadorship, in what would be his third Libyan tour. But he was excited. ''It's going to be fascinating. Wild, but fascinating,'' he told me.

A week before his murder in Benghazi, we exchanged emails about plans to visit Libya. A State Department travel warning cited increasing assassinations, car bombs and gunmen abducting foreigners. Chris saw the potential over the peril. He was not one declaring the Arab Spring had made the region worse. He understood the Middle East was moving into the second phase of its traumatic transition as Arabs vie to define a new order.

Read more:

UK: Romney's missteps

Financial Times

Republicans question Romney tactics

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights.
Mitt Romney’s remarks over the deadly attack on the US embassy in Libya have amplified concerns in his party that the candidate is losing a winnable election with a series of tactical errors and miscalculations.
Even members of his own party criticised the intervention, in which Mr Romney attacked the Obama administration for allegedly apologising for American values in response to the killing of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans.

It later emerged that a call for religious tolerance by the US embassy in Cairo – which the Romney campaign slammed as “disgraceful” – was issued before, not after, the attacks in Benghazi.

Read it at the FT:

UK: After the riots

The Guardian

US agents quiz fraudster over links to anti-Islam movie that led to murder

Libya promises to seek out killers who used riot as cover for ambassador's killing, but Barack Obama comes under increasing pressure to take action

Four suspects have been arrested but their identities are being kept secret, part of a disjointed investigation that is symptomatic of the chaos that continues a year after the revolution. What evidence there might have been at the consulate has been trampled by sightseers. Two wounded attackers are being treated in a city hospital but have not been interviewed, with local police fearing to confront the Sharia militia who stand guard around the building. And Libya has yet to give permission for an FBI team dispatched to Libya to work in Benghazi.

But anxiety about the attack is everywhere in this city. "It is chaos, only chaos, we need the United Nations here," said Mailand Saad, a local businessman. "We need to defeat these bloody people, these extremists."
More than 600 community leaders gathered on Saturday at a conference, the Committee of the Wise People of Benghazi, to promise help in finding the militants. Conference organiser Alem Ali said leaders had agreed a joint demand that rogue militias must surrender or be disarmed by force. "If they do not join legitimate armed forces, the tribes have authorised the government to take action."

Read it at The Guardian:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

UK: The GOP and their candidate

The Telegraph

The GOP is beginning to decouple itself from Romney


The thing that will have most alarmed the Romney camp about yesterday’s debacle was how quickly and publicly Republican politicians and advisors distanced themselves from his comments. "Governor Romney in the big picture is right. But I would have waited 12, 24 hours and put out a more comprehensive statement,” said  Rep. Peter King. Mark Salter, John McCain’s former chief of staff, wrote an article in which he said: “Let's refrain from making this terrible loss an occasion for more unfair and hyperbolic sound bites”. 

Read it at The Telegraph:

The new rule in American politics: never pull together...always attack the other side

The Atlantic Wire

Never Too Soon: Pundits Turn Murders in Libya into a Partisan Cudgel

There is always a group of people for whom it is never too soon to analyze four Americans' murder for possible partisan gain. For those talking heads, there were two main lines of attack after news broke that U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other State Department staffers were killed in a Benghazi rocket attack. The reactions were 1) that President Obama is a weak ineffectual leader just like Jimmy Carter and 2) that Obama is a Muslim terrorist sympathizer.

The conservative responses are predicated on the idea that the U.S. embassy in Egypt tweeted a condemnation of Terry Jones' anti-Islam movie after the attacks, which isn't true, as Salon's Steve Kornacki points out.

Read it at The Atlantic Wire

Canada: Obama's foreign policy to the test

The Globe and Mail

U.S. Politics

Violence tests Obama’s foreign policy

Read it at The Globe and Mail