Wednesday, December 12, 2012

History Ignored , AWOL and Endless Campaigning!

Livni comes to her senses.  (See 1 below.)

History is hard to refute but weak and feckless politicians and diplomats do it all the time. Particularly when it comes to Israel. (See 1a below.)

Should Israel be its brother's keeper when that brother seeks its annihilation?  You decide.  (See 1b below.)

Israel has options.  (See 1c below.)
My friend Avi shows how you bank without borders.  (See 2 below.)
We can neither tax nor spend our way out of our fiscal trap and yet Obama campaigned by telling us his would be the most open of administrations.

An Alabama Senator laments the closed door back room dealing regarding the fiscal cliff and correctly points out the true financial problems of this nation will only be resolved in open debate.

When Boehner and Obama resolve their differences, I submit they will not truly solve our long term problems. The resolution of the current impasse will basically be designed to get Obama off the hook for the next four years.  What will have been accomplished is the proverbial can will have been kicked further up our hill of  mounting debt.

This escalating debt will continue to stifle employment and a true economic recovery of historical proportions because, as interest rates rise, productive capital will be siphoned off by government which produces nothing by way of goods and services.(See 3 below.)
According to a new intelligence estimate, America will no longer be the only superpower in the world by 2030. Is the United States slipping? What role does the enormous debt play? Stephen Green, Scott Ott and Bill Whittle examine the causes of the country's decline.
The Syrian border and Israel. (See 4 below.)
Ayers is correct - capture the minds of the youth and you can alter any  society. Only a matter of time for the poison to take effect.  (See 5 below.)
It is one thing to lead from the rear and another to be completely AWOL.

I held a meeting at my home yesterday for a staff member of one of the top lobbying organizations in the nation.  His review of the Middle East was chilling.  (See 6 below.)

Yesterday Assad fired Scuds to protect his WMD from being stolen by an Al Qaeda arm actively marauding in Syria.  (See 6a below.)
Does campaigning never end? (See 7 below.)

Yesterday I received a Channukah gift from one of my former associates of some twenty years.  She always comes up with thoughtful and appropriate gifts - a little kooky - but the cards that accompany them are golden.

And I quote: "...I am sending you a gift that will build on your past as an academic pugilist and combine it with your dread of the next four years in D.C."

Yesterday she sent me a blow up punching bag in the image of Obama.  I told her it might take me four years to get the thing inflated and that might serve to take my mind off this reckless wrecker.  

I also invited her down because I did not want punching exclusivity.

Livni: The world is making a mistake on settlements

Former foreign minister issued rare criticism of the international community at The Jerusalem Post's diplomatic conference at Herzliya's Daniel Hotel Wednesday when she told a room full of ambassadors that Israel keeping settlements is a requirement for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Prior to Livni's address, current Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke to the ambassadors and continued his recent criticism of the international community's handling of Israel and the Palestinians. But Livni's criticism surprised the ambassadors.

"It doesn't matter what you think about settlements," Livni said with uncharacteristic bluntness. "We have settlement blocs close to the Green Line and the only way for the conflict with the Palestinians to end is for Israel to keep them. Any pre-agreement by the international community to a withdrawal to 1967 borders before the talks occur, makes it difficult to negotiate. it was clear in the talks I conducted with the Palestinians that there would not be return to 1967 borders."

Livni said she is frustrated as an Israeli when the international community compares casualties caused by the IDF, which acts to defend Israel and target terrorists, to those killed by terrorists who target civilians.

"The message terrorists need to hear is that there are things that are unacceptable to the international community," Livni said. "Soldiers feel that they cannot act against those who try to harm them."

Livni warned that Israel was becoming more isolated. She said Israel cannot allow that to happen, not because of the economy but because the international community impacts Israel's legitimacy to act against terror and in self defense.

When Livni said that Israelis needed to change how they view settlements and suggested that there was no connection between settlements and security, Israel Beytenu immediately attacked her on Twitter.

"Tzipi Livni says no connection between settlements and security, standing in opposition to decades of even Left-wing thinking," a Yisrael Beytenu spokesman wrote.

The Yisrael Beytenu spokesman added later: "Livni ignores that freeze in upgrade in relations with EU was under her administration. Easy to blame others for her mistakes."

Livni ended her address by expressing hope that following the Palestinian Authority's success in obtaining United Nations recognition as a non-member state, negotiations could begin soon.

"Now that the Palestinians won in the UN, you should tell the Palestinians to relaunch negotiations with Israel," she told the ambassadors. "Maybe there is a chance now."

1a)A Divided Jerusalem Will Not Stand

When a capital city with a growing population needs to expand, why does that set off international alarms?


Israel's government is under heavy criticism for recently approving building permits in what the international community calls "the settlements." Yet places like Ramat Shlomo, Gilo and Givat Ha'matos are well within the municipal borders of Jerusalem, and the virgin hills of "E-1"—between the city of Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim—have over three millennia of deep Jewish roots. Here in Jerusalem, we stand saddened and appalled by the European Union ministers who condemn these construction projects while ignoring calls from the leader of Hamas for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.
When the people of Israel left Egypt and came to this region 3,500 years ago, each of the 12 tribes received a piece of land on which they built their cities and developed their ways of life. The exception to the rule was the holy city of Jerusalem, which wasn't divided or given to any of the tribes. Jerusalem served all 12 Jewish tribes equally, as it did the people of other faiths who came to worship here.

Jerusalem became the de facto center of the world, managed by Hebrew kings for 1,000 years. All residents and pilgrims entering her gates were treated with honor and respect.

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, the city traded hands from conqueror to conqueror—including the Babylonians, Assyrians, Turks, British and Jordanians—for two millennia. None of these rulers maintained the city's freedom of religion, Jerusalem's essence. These empires never adopted Jerusalem as their capital. The Jewish people, on the other hand—even in their darkest days, amid expulsions, pogroms, the Holocaust and waves of terror—have always comforted themselves with the saying: "Next year in Jerusalem."
In 1967, Israel reunified its capital, Jerusalem, which had been divided between Israeli and Jordanian control since the Jewish state's founding in 1948. Since then the city has maintained freedom of access, movement and religion. Peace-seeking pilgrims of all faiths can again visit the holy places without limitation or restriction. Tourism to Jerusalem is thriving, as is the city's economy, and its per capita crime rate is among the world's lowest.

Yet Israel and her capital are once again facing trials. Now more than ever, Israel and Jerusalem need real friends and real leaders. The threat we face now isn't from foreign invaders, but rather from international diplomats seeking to locate a simple but incorrect solution to the complex relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. As far as Jerusalem is concerned, we must recall that no divided city in history has ever succeeded.

Isn't it ironic that many in Europe who recently celebrated 25 years of the reunification of Berlin are at the same time calling for the division of another capital on another continent?
Despite tremendous international pressure and internal political risk, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stood up for a united Jerusalem.
By 2030, the city's population will expand to one million residents from 800,000 today (33% Muslim, 2% Christian and 65% Jewish). Where does the world suggest we put these extra 200,000 residents? The expansion of Jerusalem's residential areas is essential for the natural growth of all segments of our population. It enables Jewish and Arab families alike to grow and remain in the city. The capital of a sovereign nation cannot be expected to freeze growth rather than provide housing to families of all faiths eager to make their lives there.
As for "E-1," this land has always been considered the natural site for the expansion of contiguous neighborhoods of metropolitan Jerusalem. "E-1" strengthens Jerusalem. It does not impede peace in our region. The international alarm about planned construction is based solely on the misplaced dreams of the Palestinians and their supporters for a divided Jerusalem.
Jerusalem has been and forever will be the heart and soul of the Jewish people. It is also the united and undivided capital of the state of Israel. The Jewish people and the Jewish state have a bumpy road ahead. We appreciate the support of our friends, and only through continued bold leadership at home—leadership willing to stand up to pressure from foreign capitals—will we get through this challenging time.
Mr. Barkat is the mayor of Jerusalem.


Should Israel Let the Palestinian Authority Fail?

…our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.
What permits the Israeli government to blatantly continue with its aggressive policies and the perpetration of war crimes stems from its conviction that it is above the law and that it has immunity from accountability and consequences….
Thus Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas characterized Israel inspeaking to the UN General Assembly on November 29, part of his successful bid for the West Bank and Gaza to be recognized by that body as a “state.” His words were consistent with incendiary calumnies heaped on Israel throughout the Arab world and in much of the Muslim world.There is, though, a difference: that it is Israel that keeps Abbas and his PA afloat. Along with the United States and the European Union, Israel gives Abbas the financial support without which his institutions would collapse. And it is Israeli security forces in the West Bank, in cooperation—at least until recently—with Abbas’s own security forces, that keep the West Bank from being taken over by Gaza-based Hamas.
This radical instance of biting the hand that feeds one naturally raises the question of whether Israel has to keep sustaining an entity that shows its gratitude by attacking it diplomatically and cultivating generations of hatred. The question is further sharpened by a recent escalation of anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank (see herehere, and here) amid reports that PA security forces have stopped arresting Hamas operatives there and “no longer seem…motivated to curb their activities in the area.”
One of Israel’s sharper analysts—Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA)—says: enough already.
Interviewed by Israel’s Besheva Hebrew-language weekly (translation here) the same week that Abbas gave his General Assembly address, Inbar said he was “not too upset” by Abbas’s UN move. He explained:
The Palestinian Authority is a fictional entity. It continues to exist only because of the IDF, and if we are not there, Hamas will take over take the place. I’m not sure it is right for us to continue to support the Palestinian Authority. We should let it fall apart….
Inbar went on to note that the Palestinian Authority “makes claims against us…runs an anti-Israel campaign all over the world…educates its people toward hatred of Israel…. We have to let them fail.”
When the interviewer noted the “concern that Hamas will take over the area,” Inbar responded:
We will not allow Hamas to take over the area. We will rule…. We should prepare to put up with some disturbances, and stop paying lip service to the paradigm of two states for two peoples. It simply does not work because there is no partner on the other side.
Asked whether, in terms of international law, Israel would not still be held responsible for the Palestinian population, Inbar replied:
There’s no need for us to be responsible for them. 
I am not prepared to be responsible for the food that comes or does not come to them. It’s their problem, not ours. What, must I take care of the whole world? We left their big cities in 1996 and that’s it…. If they want to be nice to us then we’ll help them, if not then we won’t…. Yes. There would be international pressure and we will withstand it. If the Europeans want to help them, let them help them…. We should not help our enemies.
It should be noted, first, that right after Inbar’s interview and Abbas’s speech, the Netanyahu government took two measures: announcing stepped-up building plans in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, including the heavily contested E1 area near Jerusalem; and suspending the month’s transfer of tax payments to the PA, using the money instead to pay the PA’s enormous debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.
Naturally, the worldwide diplomatic condemnation was unanimous and particularly nasty from Europe with its burgeoning Muslim populations and tight commercial ties with Arab states. To its credit, the Netanyahu government said it was going ahead with the measures anyway, though to what extent the building plans for E1 are just declaratory or will really be fulfilled remains to be seen.
Second, Inbar’s interview is not, of course, a systematic position paper and leaves some questions open—particularly whether Israel’s retaking full security control of the West Bank would pass the cost-benefit test. Israel’s security establishment has reportedly told Netanyahu such a redeployment would add some $3.15 billion to Israel’s annual budget—at a time when Israel’s fiscal discipline is the envy of most of the West and a paramount Israeli interest.
On the other hand, if the current disturbances continue and Abbas’s forces continue to prove useless or actively collusive with Hamas, Israel will have little choice but to crack down and this question may answer itself.
Third, barring such a scenario, Netanyahu—a cautious leader who faces much graver security challenges from the Syrian and, most of all, Iranian directions, and wants to get along as much as possible with a difficult occupant of the White House for another four years—is not likely to take any drastic steps toward the PA for the time being, even if he emerges from Israel’s January 22 elections with a more hawkish coalition.
Still, the questions Inbar raises are acute. Israel faces a morally upside-down world where it is damned for taking military, economic, or any other steps against sworn enemies who, in turn, are coddled and excused. The question is how long, as the PA keeps biting its helping hand, Israel can engage in morally upside-down behavior.

1c)Israel Has No Other Alternative But the Alternative it Has is a Good One

In 1993, Israel signed an agreement with the PLO to make peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The accord, known as the Oslo agreement, included the following passage in Article 31:

“Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”

By essentially unilaterally declaring the existence of an Arab Palestine, the world has abrogated that agreement.

What is shocking is not just that this has happened but there has been no discussion much less hesitation by dozens of countries to destroy an agreement that they hitherto supported. Indeed, a study of the history of this agreement shows clearly that the Palestinian side prevented the accord from succeeding, most obviously by permitting and carrying out continuing terrorism and rejecting Israeli offers for a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem both in the 2000 Camp David summit and in the ensuing offer conveyed by President Bill Clinton at the end of that year.

Now there are certain implications of this move. I am completely aware that virtually no one in a position of power in the Western world cares about these implications but it is necessary to remind them and others of just what they have done.  And at least the Western public should know how this all looks from an Israeli perspective, information often denied it altogether or distorted by the mass media.
–They have rewarded the party that refused to make peace.

–They have rewarded the side that rejected the offer of a state and pursued violence instead, cheering the murder of Israeli civilians.

–They have removed the framework on the basis of which Israel made numerous risky concessions including letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip; establish a government; obtain billions of dollars of money; created military organizations that have been used to attack Israel; establish schools and other institutions which call and teach for Israel’s destruction; and a long list of other things.

As a result of these concessions, terrorists were able to strike into Israel. Today, Hamas and its allies can fire thousands of rockets into Israel. Israel has paid for the 1993 deal; the Palestinian Authority has only taken what it has wanted.

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was one of many who stated that the Oslo Accords have now ceased to exist. What then governs the situation and Israel-Palestinian (Palestine?) relations?

There is, for example, no standing for any claim that the Palestinian side has recognized—much less accepted—Israel’s existence. Indeed, a “one-state solution” is daily advocated by Palestinian leaders.

Yet the world’s outrage is reserved for Israel’s announcement that 3000 apartments will be constructed on land claimed by Israel on the West Bank, all built on settlements whose existence until a bilateral agreement was reached was accepted by the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. Incidentally, repeatedly decisions of Israeli zoning boards that permit construction in future provoke global hysteria about the bulldozers moving in next week. Perhaps if the Palestinian Authority would make peace those buildings would never get built in a few years.

Whether or not the announcement of this construction was a good idea, the fact is that it is hardly the biggest outrage in what has just happened. The decision is a signal that if the Palestinian side, or indeed the world, isn’t going to recognize what was in effect a treaty—contrary to international practice—and in favor of the side that violated the treaty—even more contrary to international practice—Israel is not going to be bound by the interpretation of that document by those who have torn it up.

Again, what’s important here is not to complain about the unfairness of international life, the hypocrisy of those involved, and the double standards applied against Israel. This is the reality of the situation and must be the starting point for considering what to do. 

And what’s important is to do that which is necessary to preserve Israel’s national security and to ignore to the greatest possible extent anything that subverts it.

What has experience taught us? Very simply this: The Palestinian leadership’s priority is not on getting a state of their own–they have missed many opportunities to do so–but to gain total victory. No matter how much you might think it is rational for them to seek to have a country living peacefully alongside Israel forever as it develops its economy and culture and resettles refugees out of the camps they do not think so. And that’s all that’s important.

Taking a state of that kind  is only acceptable to the PA, and even more to the Hamas, leadership  if it serves to promote that goal. Even if moderation provides material rewards they prefer militancy. But after all, suffering–even if self-inflicted–brings massive political gains for them.

What has the world’s behavior taught us? Very simply this: Nothing we can do will suffice. If Israel were to accept unconditionally a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority would then demand that all Palestinians who so wished and had an ancestor living there before 1948 must be admitted to Israel with full voting and all other rights. And then what would the UN do?

What has diplomacy taught us? That the other side will not keep commitments and those guaranteeing those commitments will not keep their word to do so. And then they will complain that Israel doesn’t take more risks, give more concessions, and defend itself too vigorously.

Well, that’s the way things are and in some ways they’ve been like that for decades; from a Jewish standpoint, for centuries. So what else is new?

Of course, all the proper statements will be made and the diplomatic options pursued by Israel. They will not make any difference on the rhetorical dynamics but their point is to limit the material effects.

That is not a pessimistic assessment at all. Basically, this process has now been going on for about 40 years. It will continue to go on, partly because the West has been and will continue to be content with purely symbolic anti-Israel measures so it can reap some public relations’ benefits without any costs. The quality of existence is more important than the quality of the ability to justify one’s existence.

By coincidence, several surveys have just been published which pertain to Israel’s achievements in the face of such obstacles as small size, lack of resources, international hostility, and war waged against it by neighbors.

In its November 21, 2012,  issue, The Economist Intelligence Unit, a respected research group which is part of The Economist (which has been bitterly anti-Israel in recent years) published a study—“The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013””– of the best places for a baby to be born in 2013 and subsequently live its life. Israel was rated at number 20, just behind the United States (20, incidentally down from being number 1 in the 1980s!) and ahead of Italy (21), France (26), and Britain (27).

In the World Happiness Report, Israel rated 14th and in health it was in the 6th position, ahead of the United States, Germany, Britain, and France.

Living well, as the saying goes, is the best revenge. Meanwhile, Israel’s neighbors don’t get criticized by the UN—many of them get elected to the Human Rights Council despite their records—but are sinking into violence, disaster, and new dictatorships.

So which fate is preferable? To win the wars forced on you, to develop high living standards, to enjoy real democratic life, or to writhe under the torture of dictators, terrorists, and totalitarian ideologies?

Israel’s fate includes to be slandered, its actions and society so often distorted by those responsible for conveying accurate information to their own societies. And that also means to be attacked violently by its neighbors, though it can minimize the effectiveness of that violence.  Like our ancestors we have to deal with this bizarre situation, this mistreatment that others don’t even understand still exists.

But we cannot let this nonsensical excuse for reality drive us mad or make us mad.

There are only three ways, which must be combined, to survive: to believe truthful things, do constructive things, and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

For such a set of alternatives to exist–the fictional world of hypocritical and misinformed Israel-bashing or the real world –is ridiculous, empowered by the behavior of the world and especially by the West.

But that’s what does exist in this early twenty-first century era. 

Truly, as the Israeli saying puts it and as the story of the Oslo agreement so vividly proves, en breira, there’s no choice. Fortunately, the real-life alternative available is a good one. Go ahead; do what’s necessary; reconcile everyone possible; but don’t let that stand in the way of survival. 

And, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, Time will tell just who fell and who’s been left behind. When you go your way and I go mine. 
2)Banking Without Borders
By Avi Jorisch

)Money laundering and terrorism financing are global problems that transcend national boundaries, and launderers and terrorists are constantly adapting their techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in the financial system to disguise the movement of funds.
Key Points
  • Criminals and terrorists conduct billions of dollars in transactions each year through the formal financial sector, the informal financial sector, the trade system and cash smuggling.
  • Despite international attempts to develop a blueprint for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, several countries and jurisdictions – particularly in the Middle East – have refused to implement anti-money laundering benchmarks and consequently lack the basic controls necessary to ensure that the international financial sector is not exploited by criminals, terrorists and their support networks.
  • The US government and its international partners continue to blacklist countries that either fail to comply with international standards or refuse to have their financial systems evaluated.
In the past three months, two London-based banks – HSBC and Standard Chartered – have been accused by the US government of serving as a gateway for Iran into the international financial market. Both financial institutions have come under scrutiny from United States (US) regulators, who have made it clear that banks doing business in the US must cut their ties with illicit Iranian entities or risk losing access to the US market.
On 17 July 2012, the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a 335-page report (in addition to several hundred pages of supporting evidence, including bank records and internal emails) accusing HSBC of exposing the US financial system to a range of money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing risks due to its poor anti-money-laundering (AML) controls. According to the report, which was released following a yearlong investigation into the bank, HSBC reportedly laundered money on behalf of Mexican drug cartels; acted as a major conduit to rogue regimes, initiating over 25,000 transactions on behalf of Iran in amounts totaling USD19.4 billion through its American affiliate, HSBC Bank USA, NA (known as HBUS) alone; provided correspondent banking services to suspect banks, including Saudi Arabia's Rajhi Bank (whose key founder was a generous Al-Qaeda donor) and other suspect clients; and offered services to bearer share corporations, used by money launderers to move funds, despite repeated warnings from regulators.
HSBC executives testified during a Senate hearing on the issue in July, at which the head of group compliance, David Bagley, announced that he would be stepping down amid the claims. The bank subsequently apologized for a "shameful" systems breakdown that failed to prevent money laundering activities and set aside USD700 million to pay for potential fines that may arise from the investigation, The Guardian reported on 30 July.
The following month, on 6 August, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) accused Standard Chartered PLC of laundering over USD250 billion on Iran's behalf and facilitating over 60,000 transactions, The New York Times reported. According to a DFS order document, for almost 10 years, the bank operated as a "rogue institution" that served as a "front for prohibited dealings" with Iran. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) subsequently launched an investigation that reportedly uncovered money flowing to Iran, Libya, Myanmar and Sudan, in addition to a manual teaching employees how to mask illegal transactions. Standard Chartered issued a statement, published on its website, on 6 August that "strongly rejects the position and portrayal of facts" made by the DFS. Even so, on 14 August, the bank agreed to pay USD340 million to the DFS to settle the laundering claims, The Guardian reported.
As these investigations demonstrate, money laundering and terrorism financing are global problems that transcend borders. Those who engage in such activities are constantly adapting their techniques, while law enforcement and intelligence agencies attempt to keep pace. It is a complex challenge to combat, largely due to the diversity of methods used.
Launderers and terrorists both exploit vulnerabilities in the financial system to disguise the movement of funds. Money launderers make their money illegally and try to "clean" it to conceal its origins. Terrorist financiers, on the other hand, can make their money legally or illegally – their aim is to conceal both its origin and its ultimate intended use. In short, money launderers convert dirty money into clean money, while terror financiers take money and make it dirty by funding acts of violence.
The international community has over time realized and reacted to the enormity of the problem, calling for the establishment of comprehensive anti-money-laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes. Three objectives are central to these efforts: protecting the integrity of the international financial system; identifying, disrupting, and dismantling financial networks that underpin international criminal and terrorist organizations; and making it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to profit from their crimes.
It is an axiom within the US law enforcement and intelligence communities that the key to disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations is to "follow the money". The same is true with terrorist organizations. Following the 11 September 2001 attacks, officials in the US and abroad recognized that effectively fighting terrorist financing (and its corollary, money laundering) might be one of the most effective ways to prevent future catastrophic terrorist incidents. Unfortunately, many governments have had a difficult time converting this theoretical understanding into effective action.
As a new generation of public servants develop the skills necessary to contribute to the war on terrorism financing, the proven tactic of following the money will become more central than ever. At the same time, this task is also becoming increasingly complex due to the skill and ability of adversaries to avoid traditional financial counter-measures. Law enforcement and intelligence officials must learn to understand the sometimes obscure methodologies employed by terrorist organizations to raise, transfer, and store money – whether these activities stem from Al-Qaeda, rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea, or members of Hizbullah, Hamas or a host of other like-minded organizations.
A borderless problem
Time-tested means of moving money and disguising its origin are still effective, although each method has its vulnerabilities. Criminals and terrorists conduct billions of dollars in transactions each year through four principal means: the formal financial sector (banks); the informal financial sector (such as hawala – a simple broker system based on trust); the trade system (commodities); and cash smuggling. Terrorists and their supporters have also perfected the exploitation of charities – including the Holy Land Foundation and Benevolence International Fund, both designated by the Treasury in the early-2000s as financiers of terrorism – which use all of these methods.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that money laundering accounts for 3-5 per cent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP). According to the World Bank, global GDP was approximately USD72.3 trillion in 2007, which would place international money laundering somewhere between USD2.17 and USD3.61 trillion annually.
Given this scale and geographic scope, no country is immune to the challenge of stopping the flow of illicit money. Money launderers and terrorism financiers have moved funds into all jurisdictions, including those with robust laws to counter such activity. Over the past 15 years, a few members of the international community have banded together to create a blueprint for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing. Unfortunately, several countries and jurisdictions – particularly in the Middle East – have refused to implement this blueprint. As a result, they lack basic controls necessary to ensure that the international financial sector is not exploited by criminals, terrorists and their support networks.
Just as the financial system has become global in nature, so too has the threat posed by tainted money. In confronting this threat, the system is only as strong as its weakest link – or as Daniel L Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the US Department of the Treasury, noted in September 2005: "Laxity in just a few jurisdictions undermines the efforts made by the rest."
Still, most countries in the Middle East have not taken even the most basic steps, such as criminalizing money laundering and terrorism financing, instituting controls in their formal and informal financial sectors, curbing cash smuggling, preventing abuse in the trade sector, and safeguarding the charitable sector. The inaction on the part of these countries continues to threaten the security of all nations.
Establishing an international framework
Governments serious about cracking down on illicit actors hiding the movement of their funds have taken the lead in creating international organizations with mandates to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The most important of these organizations is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established
by members of the G-7 (an international group consisting of the finance ministers from the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) in 1989. FATF has since issued a set of standards on effective AML/CFT efforts and created a framework to assess compliance by individual countries. Although the organization has a limited membership of only 36 members, and lacks an enforcement capability, it has been surprisingly effective in curbing the ability of illicit actors to abuse the international financial sector.
FATF's principal contribution is its frequently- updated International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation (or the 40 Recommendations). Typically referred to as "the international standard" for AML/CFT efforts, these recommendations were issued with the intention of universal application, to serve as a comprehensive framework against the movement of illicit money. These include the criminalization of money laundering and terrorism finance, implementation of proper controls in the financial sector to curb abuse and the blacklisting of rogue actors. These standards center on three principles. First, countries must improve their national infrastructure to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Second, each country is obliged to strengthen its financial system.
Both banking and non-banking institutions must establish procedures to identify clients and detect suspicious transactions, as well as develop secure and modern transaction protocols. Third, countries must strive to improve international co-operation by collecting, analyzing and sharing AML/CFT-related information at the administrative and judicial levels. This includes sharing information on international currency flows and developing mutual judicial-assistance programs in order to investigate, freeze and confiscate illicit funds.
FATF's official policy is to blacklist countries that either fail to comply with the international standard or refuse to have their financial system evaluated. This list is then published on the organization's website, and FATF urges member states to send it to financial institutions and law enforcement agencies so they can take appropriate action. Although the blacklist has no enforcement mechanism, it has nevertheless had an impact in changing the behavior of designated countries. For example, historically, once a country or jurisdiction has been blacklisted by FATF, financial institutions and other good corporate citizens have been reluctant to do business with, or in, these locations. Moreover, blacklisted countries that refuse to take remedial action have at times lost significant international investment as a result. In fact, the IMF and World Bank have sometimes chosen to downgrade a blacklisted country's credit rating – a significant punishment given the interconnected nature of financial markets. This has forced many countries to remediate their policies and procedures and implement more robust controls.
Case study 1: Iran
As Iran continues to flout United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) putting pressure on its nuclear proliferation activities and sponsorship of terrorism, policymakers in Europe and the US have come to view sanctions as the last peaceful means by which to bring the Iranian government into compliance. Much of the controversy regarding its nuclear program has centered on Iran's consistent failure to declare sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Properly targeted sanctions may serve as a credible way of influencing the Iranian regime to change course.
Denied hard currency, Iran would find it far more difficult to continue pursuing nuclear weapons, supporting its surrogates around the world and inciting violence. Accordingly, both the UN and the US have taken steps to isolate Iranian banks suspected of funding such activities via the international financial system.
Unfortunately, as the allegations against HSBC and Standard Chartered indicate, Iran still appears to have access to the financial sector through international banks that directly aid and abet it in obtaining foreign currencies, in direct disregard of the sanctions regime put in place by the international community.
Despite the sanctions and a concerted effort by many Western nations, several banks around the world continue to do business with Iranian financial institutions that are complicit in supporting terrorist groups and spreading nuclear weapons. On 4 January 2012, US President Barack Obama signed into law sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI; or Bank Markazi), penalizing foreign financial institutions that do business with the bank, The Wall Street Journal reported. The following month on 6 February, the Obama administration also authorized legislation allowing US institutions to freeze the property and interests of the CBI, according to a White House press release. Nevertheless, the CBI still has access to the international financial sector, even though it has been accused of helping fund Iran's nuclear weapons program, proliferating weapons of mass destruction and facilitating money transfers to terrorist organizations.
Beginning on 23 December 2006, with the adoption of UNSCR 1737 imposing sanctions on Iran, the UN ordered member states to cease all business dealings with a major Iranian institution – Bank Sepah – and its affiliates. It also urged governments to "exercise vigilance" in relation to two other Iranian financial institutions, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat. All three financial institutions have been formally designated by the US government, prohibiting US banks from doing business with them.
On 8 September 2006, the US Department of the Treasury designated Bank Saderat, one of the largest Iranian-owned banks, for "facilitating Iran's transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations each year". The Treasury alleged that from 2001 to 2006, Saderat transferred USD50 million to Hizbullah alone. In turn, the Lebanese Shia group used the bank to send millions of dollars to other terrorist organizations, including Hamas. In 2005, for example, Hamas had substantial assets deposited in Bank Saderat and Bank Saderat has transferred several million dollars to Hamas, according to a statement by the Treasury on 25 October 2007.
Bank Sepah, a state-owned Iranian financial institution, was designated by the US Treasury on 9 January 2007 for reportedly providing a number of financial services to companies involved in Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile activities. The UN and US government claim that the entities in question – the Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG) and the Shahid Bakeri Industries Group (SBIG) – are key players in Iran's ballistic missile program. Sepah also provided services to the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), the parent company of these two entities. All three companies were designated by the US government on 29 June 2005 for their support to Iran's missile program. According to the Treasury, Bank Sepah processed and arranged financing for dozens of multimillion-dollar deals and allegedly used a range of deceptive practices to avoid detection, such as asking other institutions to remove its name from transactions.
In October 2007, the US Treasury also designated Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, for reportedly providing services to other banks and firms involved in the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including UN-designated entities such as Bank Sepah and its missile clients. According to the Treasury, after Sepah's designation under UNSCR 1747 (adopted on 24 March 2007, which extended existing sanctions on Iran), Melli took special measures to avoid identifying the bank in transactions. Treasury has also disclosed that Melli facilitated the purchase of sensitive materials for Iran's nuclear and missile programs by "opening letters of credit and maintaining accounts".
In addition, according to the Treasury, from 2002 to 2006, the Iran government reportedly used Bank Melli to send at least USD100 million to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), a special unit of Iran's IRGC whose mission is to organize, train, equip and finance Islamist movements around the globe. "When handling transactions on behalf of the IRGC, Melli employed deceptive banking practices to obscure its involvement from the international banking system," the Treasury noted, including requesting that its name be removed from financial transactions.
In total, the US government has designated 20 of Iran's 30 banks for their role in proliferating weapons of mass destruction or facilitating terrorism, according to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control'sSpecially Designated Nationals list. Treasury's Financial Crime Enforcement Network has blacklisted all 30 Iranian banks for engaging in money laundering and abusing the international financial sector.
If the international community continues its existing approach, the Iranian government will undoubtedly be able to produce and purchase the materials necessary to continue and further develop its nuclear weapons program. Although no measure – with the possible exception of military strikes targeting the Iranian nuclear program and assets – can halt Iran's uranium enrichment activities, the US government and its allies can take steps to limit the regime's ability to obtain hard currency and access international financial markets. In so doing, they could make it much more difficult for Iran to pursue nuclear weapons and sponsor terrorism.
Case study 2: United Arab Emirates
In a March 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy report, the US Department of State highlighted the susceptibility of the UAE to money laundering activities. "Its robust economic development, political stability and liberal business environment have attracted a massive influx of people, goods, and capital, which may leave the country vulnerable to money laundering activity. Dubai, especially, is a major international banking and trading center," the report said.
Indeed, the UAE has developed a reputation as a regional hub for money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) activities, serving elements as disparate as mob figures, arms dealers, drug traffickers, diamond traders, underground money brokers and jihadists. All of these illicit actors have been known to engage in money laundering, and while the UAE has taken steps to enhance its AML/CFT efforts, its ability – and desire – to prevent and address these activities is limited.
The UAE possesses an advanced, but lightly regulated, financial services sector. Each of the emirates has an abundance of informal financial networks, known as hawaladars. Moreover, the UAE is a cash-based society and a heavy trader of precious metals, especially gold. Illicit actors exploit these characteristics, using gold and hawalas to move their money around the world with few restrictions or obstacles. These actors also seek to exploit the UAE's permissive smuggling environment, which is most conspicuous in Dubai. There, dhows – wooden boats that have been used for centuries to transport goods in this part of the world – are rarely inspected and often dock in an aptly named location, Smugglers' Creek, according to a 2005 article by US News and World Report.
The 9/11 Commission Report published in 2004 also identified the UAE as an important node in financing the 9/11 attacks. Prior to the attack, Al-Qaeda moved money freely around the world using the Al-Barakat hawala network, which had headquarters in the UAE. In addition, a UAE money changer transferred funds to Marwan al-Shehhi, a UAE citizen who piloted United Airlines Flight 175 (which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center). Two of Osama bin Laden's sisters also reportedly used the UAE to smuggle cash to him in Afghanistan, while one of Bin Laden's financial chiefs, Shaykh Said (alias Mustafah Muhammad Ahmed) lived in Dubai and wired money to three of the terrorists before the attack. The funds were traced back to the Al-Ansari Exchange branch in Abu Dhabi. Ahmed has been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.
To its credit, the UAE has co-operated with international AML/CFT investigations and initiatives, including co-hosting a joint workshop held in Dubai in May 2012 organized by the UAE Anti-Money Laundering/Suspicious Cases Unit (AML/SCU) and the UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which focused in part on AML challenges and initiatives in the UAE. The previous month, the UAE co-hosted with the US embassy in the UAE an AML training session for Pakistani government officials, The Gulf Times reported. According to Dr Al Sumaiti, the director-general of the Dubai Judicial Institute (DJI) who spoke at the event: "The session acts as an interactive platform to look into local and international experiences and discuss the AML system application challenges. It investigates current developments in the field of anti-money laundering, with a focus on top international practices and standards to reduce such a menace that has made a negative impact on the global economy."
The March 2012 US Department of State International Narcotics report also acknowledged that the UAE government has taken some specific, albeit limited, steps to address the conditions that facilitate money laundering and terrorist financing activities. For instance, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) released a lengthy commentary to DFSA-authorized firms and ancillary service providers on 20 June 2010 designed to ensure full compliance with UN sanctions introduced in mid-June to tighten restrictions on financial and shipping enterprises related to Iranian proliferation-sensitive activities.
DFSA outlined three specific actions to be taken by these firms in relation to correspondent bank accounts with Iran-domiciled banks, transactions with Iran-domiciled clients and wire transfers emanating from persons domiciled in Iran. These focused on: conducting risk assessments of direct correspondent relationships and customer due diligence with Iranian banks to ensure that Iranian banks have adequate internal controls to detect and prevent sanctions evasion; treating all transactions with clients domiciled in Iran as high-risk transactions, and obtaining sufficient information to avoid transactions that violate or evade sanctions, including identifying air/sea transportation companies used in transactions, specifically aimed at determining the direct or indirect use of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) vessels; and completing all information fields of payment instructions that relate to the originator and beneficiary of the transaction.
To date, the UAE has also signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with 40 countries, most recently in July 2012 with financial intelligence units in Kazakhstan and Ukraine during the 20th Egmont Group plenary session in St Petersburg, Russia, the Khaleej Times reported. These MoUs are designed to facilitate co-operation and information sharing between the UAE and others relating to money laundering and financing of terrorists. The previous month, on 21 June, the UAE National Anti-Money Laundering Committee (NAMLC) led by the director of the AML/SCU also discussed establishing a trilateral committee with the US and Russia on exchanging information on the suspected financial flows into their respective countries, according to a press lease issued by the Central Bank of the UAE.
Nevertheless, the UAE has yet to take meaningful action in curbing Iran's abuse of the emirate's financial sector, and continues to provide Iran with a critical gateway to access hard currency, goods and services and free use of many of its shipping ports. Indeed, several areas require further action by the UAE government in order to deter money laundering activity. "The government should increase the capacity and resources it devotes to investigation of ML/TF both federally at the AML/SCU and at emirate-level law enforcement. AML/SCU needs to improve its timely financial information sharing capability to conform to international standards. The AML/SCU also needs additional resources to be able to execute its mandate of hawala supervision – currently it is not capable of supervising the vast number of hawalas in the country or enforcing hawala compliance," the US government concluded in its March 2012 report.
Only two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, President George W Bush addressed the media and declared "war" on terrorism financing. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations," he said. "Today, we are asking the world to stop payment." A few weeks later on 25 October, the administration launched an initiative referred to as Operation 'Green Quest', involving a special team of financial experts and law enforcement personnel to investigate how terrorists move money, the Associated Press reported. "The goal of [the operation] is to augment existing counter-terrorism efforts by bringing the full scope of the government's financial expertise to bear against systems, individuals and organizations that serve as sources of terrorist funding," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Ken Dam in a statement. "The same talent pool and expertise that brought down Al Capone will now be dedicated to investigating Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network."
Unfortunately, more than 10 years after these pronouncements, the war on terrorism financing and money laundering has stalled. This is clear even through the lens of the US government's own bottom-line metrics – assets seized and forfeited, successful investigations and prosecutions, and effective sanctions.
Although it is impossible to eradicate illicit finance and associated criminal activity completely, improving the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence communities to "follow the money" would be more important than any battlefield victory. Cutting off illicit finance deprives terrorist organizations of their means of survival. Without adequate finances, terrorist groups will struggle to sustain their operations. As such, while law enforcement, intelligence officers, and military personnel are sometimes intimidated by the scale and complexities of terrorism financing and international money laundering, the most important counter-measure available to them is initiative. On the trail of terror or in seemingly routine criminal inquiries, all investigators must take the next step and ask: what about the money?
3)We Can't Fix the Budget in Secret

'The world's greatest deliberative body' now is like the Russian Duma, with secret meetings and preordained votes.

The United States is on an unsustainable spending and debt course. Without reform, it will lead to economic disaster. Yet a fundamental alteration in U.S. policy won't occur until the American people understand the depth of the danger and the scale of change required. One thing is already clear: Such change can begin only with extensive, messy and even contentious legislative work carried on for months in the open light of day.

This is the exact opposite of the hidden negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Washington has become possessed by the idea that a small group of negotiators, meeting in secret, can solve the deep, painful and systemic problems plaguing this country with a single "grand bargain," produced at the 59th minute of the 11th hour. This is a siren song.

The Senate was once called the world's greatest deliberative body. But the democratic process—which leads to consensus, truce or compromise—has been set aside. So for three straight years the Senate has produced no budget, no plan, no long-term proposal of any kind.

Instead, we have seen an endless series of secret conclaves: gangs of six, committees of 12, meetings at the White House, at Blair House, in the Capitol's labyrinth of hallways and hideaways. Meetings everywhere but in the committee room and the open air of the Senate floor.

No one denies that good people have been trying hard, but what have all these secret talks produced? Temporary fixes, stopgap measures and another set of emergency deadlines. One wise observer has said that the Senate now operates like the Russian Duma, where officials meet behind closed doors, put out the word, and the overwhelming votes materialize. Today in Washington—where we're faced with the consequences of our last secret deal, the Budget Control Act of 2011—the next round of secret meetings and hushed negotiations is under way.

Members of the Senate must reassert their chamber's historic role as the national institution where the great challenges of our time are debated, clarified and ultimately resolved in public view. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Harry Reid has executed a brilliant partisan strategy of protecting his members from public accountability by avoiding the public workings of the legislative process.

Following their victories in the historic midterm elections of 2010, Republican leaders too readily accommodated Sen. Reid's craven strategy. The country and their own party's political fortunes suffered as a result.

What we need is more distinction, not less. On these great issues of the economy and debt, the voters have sent Washington mixed signals and a divided Congress. It is thus all the more critical that the facts and choices be clarified. The Senate is the perfect institution—created for just such a time as this—to provide that clarity and consensus.

Proposals should be worked up in committee, where senators appointed by their colleagues have developed expertise in the issues that come before them. Amendments should be offered as part of an open process to modify and perfect legislation. The debate should be brought to the Senate floor.

It may take dozens of votes, even scores, to reach a consensus. But the American people need to be in on the process and have the opportunity to voice their opinion on concrete proposals. Have we forgotten that it is their future that is at stake?

At a minimum, any short-term fix that may be devised in order to avert the January cliff must spend at least one week on the Senate floor in order to give senators the time they need—and that the subject warrants—for amendment and debate. No Christmas Eve "deal" should be rushed through, using the threat of financial panic to secure its hurried passage.

Next year, the Senate should return to regular order, beginning with the production of its first budget plan in four years. Every senator, whose one vote is equal to that of every other, must stand up and call a halt to government by secret committee. Under Sen. Reid's leadership—without sufficient resistance from the GOP—the Senate has suppressed the needed debate and dodged the accountability that comes from casting and defending votes.

Nothing will do more to restore respect for the Senate than for the American people to see it engaged in full, honest and passionate debate. If some of our constituents are disappointed in the results or the votes cast by their senator, at least they can know that nothing was hidden from them, that everything was laid on the line for the future of this great Republic. They will know which senators gave their all to deal wisely and courageously with the great challenge of our time—and they can hold accountable those who did not.
Mr. Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee
4)Israeli Intelligence Official: Border With Syria Will Soon be 'the Hottest Border in Israel'

A senior Israeli intelligence official has told Israel’s Channel 2 that soon the country’s border with Syria will be “the hottest border in Israel,” even more dangerous and active than those shared with Egypt and Gaza. According to the source, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s holdout against opposition rebel forces appears to slowly be coming to an end, the expectation of attacks against Israel from extremist groups who have been massing weapons along the border will rise.
“Currently what keeps the Assad regime in power is the Syrian Air Force,” said the source. “Fighter jets and helicopter attacks” have prevented the rebels from winning the war. ” The problem,” the source says, “is that recently the Syrian Air Force has been losing one to two planes a day and they can not keep pace with attrition like that. The collapse of the Syrian Air Force would lead to the outright collapse of the government.”
The main problem is not local rebels but those that come from outside of Syria. Fighters have begun to flow into Syria from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya. The source told Channel 2 “it’s important to say that we are talking about very dangerous people with experience fighting the U.S. Army” in Iraq or against the regime in Libya. Today, estimates have it that between 3,000 and 4,000 rebels are readying a fight with Israel, according to Channel 2.
Said the Israeli official: “It really doesn’t matter who controls Syria the day after the regime falls. Every indication is that it is not heading in a positive direction for Israel.”
5)Bill Ayers: Leftist Power is in Schools

Terrorist turned teacher Bill Ayers appeared at a recent Big Apple gathering of “Change the Stakes,” an anti-testing group comprised mostly of teachers and parents. At least two employees of the New York City Board of Education were there as well.
EAGnews obtained exclusive video of the event and will be releasing more clips in the coming days.
But first we would like to present Ayers’ statement on the power of radical socialist educators in today’s public schools. It should send chills down every parent’s spine.
Ayers explained to his audience that leftists wrongly put their faith in Barack Obama as an agent of change. “Forget about it,” he said, “that’s not where change comes from.”
“When there’s movement on the ground, shit happens,” he said.
“If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to – the White House, even the Congress, the Pentagon – these are not the sites we have access to.
“But lo and behold, we have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom, the workplace, the shop, the farm – why are we ignoring that and saying ‘I hope Obama makes peace.’ Forget about it. He’s not going to do anything if you don’t do something. Our job is movement building.”
Ayers’ call to action is precisely why we see bizarre things like the California Federation of Teachers’ “Tax the Rich” video or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – of all people – being labeled a “fat cat” by the Chicago Teachers Union.
Ayers’ acknowledgement that radical leftists are using classrooms and public spaces to influence children should be a wakeup call to every parent and taxpayer. Educators are paid to teach kids to read, write and think for themselves, not to brainwash them in revolutionary ideology.
Ayers is not an educator. He’s an unconvicted terrorist who wants to use our tax money to further his goal of destroying the greatest nation in the history of the world. And he’s calling on the people teaching your children to assist him.
If we are smart, we will use our leverage as taxpayers to stop this nonsense in its tracks, before it becomes an even bigger problem.
6)Middle East Exploding, and Obama Nowhere to Be Found
By Elise Cooper

Nations in the Middle East, some of whom were once allies of the U.S., appear to be defying America.  This is very evident when reviewing the events over the past six months in Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, and also among the Palestinians.  As former Vice President Dick Cheney stated, "[o]ur allies no longer trust us, or have confidence in us, and our adversaries no longer fear us."  The problem is also that America's allies in the region are dwindling while its adversaries are increasing.  American Thinker interviewed experts to get their opinion about this very important issue.
In Iraq, the government has ignored entreaties from the Obama administration and has freed a top Hezb'allah operative accused of murdering American soldiers.  This was after Vice President Joe Biden phoned Prime Minister Maliki on November 13, urging him to hold the terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq accountable for his crimes.  Also, earlier this month it was reported by U.S. officials that Iraq has allowed Iran to use Iraqi airspace to fly military personnel and weapons to Syria in civilian aircraft.
In Egypt, the day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Egyptian President Morsi, Morsi instituted a power-grab.  He issued decrees giving himself broad powers by effectively weakening the judiciary, and he pushed through a draft of the new constitution in just twenty-one hours.  This draft basically sets Morsi up to become a dictator through several articles that will restrict the rights of women and minorities.  Liberals, Coptic Christians, and women walked out as this constitution was drafted, and members of all of these groups have been demonstrating ever since.  At a meeting to discuss the situation, there was only one liberal opposition politician who attended, while the other eight delegates were Islamists.  President Obama has not made any strong statements rejecting this possible Islamist coup, which will be voted on as a referendum on December 15.
"Palestine" is yet another failure of the Obama administration.  The Palestinians defiantly took a vote to the U.N. General Assembly that decided overwhelmingly to divide Jerusalem and seize much of Israel, as well as give "Palestine" independent non-voting member status.  This was done a day after Secretary of State Clinton stressed that America would not support that move and that the "path to a two-state solution ... is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York."
In Syria, there is the significant threat of chemical weapons being used in their civil war.  It is reported that the Assad regime is loading some of its missiles and bombs with deadly nerve agents.  There is also speculation that a terror group might try to get some of those chemical arms.  The U.S. administration responded by having Clinton and President Obama warn Assad that Syria would be "held accountable" if chemical weapons are used.  Vice President Cheney summarized the feelings of all those interviewed.  In a speech, he asserted, "The President can make bold statements and bold talk, as he did in the past couple of days about developments in Syria, but I don't think they care...I have grave doubts that he is prepared to do anything with Syria."
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden explained to American Thinker, "In talking about the Middle East, no one can question that our interests remain important and constant.  Our influence, however, has waned, although part of that was probably inevitable, given the changes in the region.  The question that should be asked: are we committing enough in terms of our resources and our energies in protecting our interests in this part of the world, or is this the product of American retrenchment?"
There is a good argument to be made that the president is MIA, since he appears to be both disinterested and not highly committed.  Hayden believes that what America could do is provide resources such as aid, military contacts, a large diplomatic footprint, and training.  Hayden sarcastically points to Iraq, where "I am coming to the conclusion that the right number of troops probably wasn't zero.  Iraq has become very unstable, much more friendly to Iran, and has been a facilitator about what is going on in Syria.  Would all that be happening as much if we still had a military presence there?"
A former Bush national security advisor emphatically notes, "No one can think that we have been engaged with the Syrian problem for the last six months.  I am not talking about U.S. troops on the ground, but on the other hand, you can't lead from behind.  If we continue to sit on the sidelines, we will find ourselves in a really bad position in that region.  When there is a civil war and ungoverned areas, the groups that benefit the most are the extremists, the al-Qaedas of the world, as seen in both the Syrian and Libyan civil wars."
Was Libya the warning sign, the light bulb that should have gone on?  A former high- ranking CIA official unequivocally answered yes.  He angrily commented, "Authorities in Washington including the president did not do what they could to defend our people.  Libya showed the world we tried to temper our reaction down.  We did nothing, not even scream loudly.  There is ongoing turmoil in this region.  We are in for a hell of a time.  I had to laugh when the president said we should pivot away from the Middle East.  There is going to be tremendous uncertainty and instability in the Middle East.  The problem is that those in the region see us as being weak and do not have much respect for us."
Congressman Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, regards the president's Middle East policies as nonexistent.  He believes that the president has chosen to have a light footprint in the Middle East, which has led the Arab Spring to turn into the Arab winter.  "The area is evolving into complete chaos, and the U.S. is nowhere to be found.  Libya is a good example, where the president did it his way and then disappeared.  He has allowed the bad guys to gain the upper hand.  Americans should be aware and concerned about this trend and the president's reaction.  The entire Middle East is a lot more dangerous."
Those in the Middle East no longer fear and respect America.  They have defied the U.S. because the president has not taken a leadership role.  His policy or lack of one is dangerous to the national security of the U.S.  No one can feel confident regarding what is happening in the Middle East today, especially with a president who is disengaging and is not asserting his influence to shape events.

6a)Diplomat: Iran-Egypt ties on right track

 Head of Egypt Interest Section in Tehran Khaled  Amareh said on Sunday that mutual understanding and dialogue between Iranian and Egyptian officials are in the shaping and the two countries' endeavors for further expansion of relations are going ahead on the right track.

Speaking to IRNA, Amareh said in a short span of time after downfall of the
Hosni Mubarak regime, good ties have been established between Iran and Egypt
and the two sides have strong determination for further expansion of
relations in different fields.

He stressed that of course, as two big regional powers, Iran and Egypt
deserve to have the highest level of relations in all fields. "Undoubtedly,
in the future, the two countries will have very good relations at bilateral,
regional and international levels."

Saying that his country has been witnessing the first ever constitutional
reforms, the diplomat said since Egypt has been for years under the yoke of
dictatorial governments, it is natural for Egypt to be highly sensitive to
any kind of change and development under present conditions.
He said recent developments in Egypt and the ruling by President Mohamed
Morsi which gave him more authorities, made Egyptians more sensitive based
on the idea that the new president might follow his predecessors and
monopolize power.

Having observed wide-scale opposition to his ruling, Morsi withdrew his
ruling so that more space and time would be provided for more comprehensive
dialogue with the opposition and different political groups.
He said certain political groups in Egypt believe that new constitution has
some flaws and certain clauses need to be amended.
He said the time is now ripe for dialogue between different political
parties and the government to patch out possible differences.


7)Embrace the Suck
By William L. Gensert
Let's go over the cliff Gangnam Style.
It used to be an accepted truth that America would never negotiate with terrorists -- at least before Obama made 'leading from behind' so popular -- or the ascendency of his current variation, 'leading from nowhere.'
Well... in fiscal negotiations Barack Obama is a terrorist. Think about it; he has nothing to lose, because he cares only about winning -- the nation be damned. In fact, the economic depredations inherent in cliff diving provide him with an advantage.
By letting lower tax rates on the middle class expire, potentially he has access to so much more money to transform America, along with the ability to blame the Republicans for the entire debacle -- should he choose that route.
Or... he could wait, and then propose legislation restoring the rates for the middle class only, while including an increase in executive power -- the ability to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.
Control of the debt ceiling is one of the few tools the House can wield, but it only becomes effective as a weapon in the beginning months of the year, when the ceiling is reached, whereas the cliff is New Year's Day.
...And his majesty is salivating over the prospect of campaigning -- yes, to him, this is still a campaign -- on tax cuts for the middle class held up by greedy Republicans trying to reward their wealthy buddies.
As for the sequester, the second part of the fiscal cliff, half of the spending cuts would be borne by defense, which ties in nicely with his notion of America as more humble -- one nation among many -- in a world of equals, with most more equal than us. The cuts to social programs can be finessed with executive orders, innovative regulatory fiat and imperial diktats.
You see, there is no downside for him.
This is why his first offer at the negotiations was $1.6 trillion in tax increases -- double the position he campaigned on less than a month before -- plus an actual increase in spending of $50 billion as another 'mini' stimulus -- because stimulus worked so well before.
And what about his "balanced" approach of including cuts in spending? Well...maybe, but cuts would only be discussed later -- if he's not too busy being the greatest man to have ever lived.
Let's step back for a moment for some background and a little review.
Barack Obama is a terrible negotiator. When he went up against the Russians in the New Start Treaty of 2010, he ceded, before talks even began, the one card he held, missile defense systems scheduled for deployment in Eastern Europe. This is how we ended up with an agreement where we disarm, while they modernize their nuclear weapons.
Yet, his offer in the fiscal suck was brilliant -- in its way. It basically says "I give you nothing. You give me everything -- now go away. I have my impending $4 million vacation coming up. Aloha, suckers."
Apparently he has had some remedial training in the art of the deal since dealing with the Russians.
Yet then, he made the classic mistake, always made by the terminally hubristic, he walked away thinking he had already won.
Of course, it didn't help that Boehner is a bonehead and a horrible negotiator in his own right.
When in a negotiation, if your opponent offers nothing, and you are willing to make a deal somewhere in the middle, you do not start out in the middle with your first offer.
That is idiocy at worst, lunacy at best, incompetency in reality.
Your opponent will see this as weakness and a likelihood you will fold. Any skilled negotiator would walk away when the initial reply concedes almost everything wanted, because it opens the door to the possibility of getting more.
The bad negotiator, full of visions of personal ascendency, never returns -- that's Barack. He could have bargained in earnest and easily gotten $1.2 trillion in tax increases -- but he knew better, and decided to hold out for everything. You have to love someone who will not accept victory.
Boehner's first offer should have been "Zero," no tax increases and whatever level of domestic spending cuts that would frighten the heck out of the progressive morons whispering in the moron president's ear.
The House of Representatives, after all, does control the nation's purse strings. The President has a stronger position today, having just won reelection campaigning on higher taxes for the wealthy. Republicans, however, are not exactly unarmed -- but a weapon is only utile when used.
If Boehner wanted the middle, and Barack offered the other end, he should have started at the polar opposite and worked toward the middle.
In addition, he structured his offer incorrectly -- $800 billion in revenue increases by limiting deductions, without raising rates.
Barack Obama looked at his offer as a gift, considering it a possibility to now get not only the $800 billion in increased rates, but $800 billion in closed loopholes and limited deductions as well. After all, since the election, he has believed the increased rates a done deal.
Boehner, when putting the elimination of deductions on the table before being asked, was mimicking Barack when he gave up missile defense to the Russians before negotiations began.
Poor conservatives, Republican Boehner sucks as a negotiator every bit as much as Obama -- lucky America.
But it's not over. There is a time constraint -- technically a deal must be done by January 1, 2013, but in reality, an agreement has to be in place before the president's publically funded vacation -- it would be selfish of America to expect his royal highness to delay his recreation for the good of the nation.
Send to the Senate a bill permanently extending the Bush tax rates for all with income levels under $200,000 per year individually and $400,000 per year for those filing jointly. This is different from the president's plan, which pines for increases at $200,000 individually and $250,000 jointly, but this should be an easy argument to win for Republicans as a defense of marriage, however marriage is defined.
Tie into the legislation a permanent extension of the 2% payroll tax decrease, leave deductions alone, and walk away. A big part of negotiating is passing the pen and shutting up.
Leave the sequester in place; defense will suffer, but defense spending has always included a certain amount of bloat and this will serve to wring out at least some of it. And, when the detritus hits the fan, as it will under the leadership of America's weakest president, we will do what we have always done, rise up. Putting defense on hold for 4 years will not destroy America.
The other cuts in the sequester on the domestic side, can be argued point by point as Barack attempts to end run each one. The Republicans may not win each argument, but they can win some of them.
The Senate cannot vote against this, despite the increase being less than the $1.6 trillion increase demanded. And Barack cannot veto it either, because it is almost everything he has been on record asking for -- at least before he decided to overreach.
And... the beauty is, once they sign on, because they are who they are, they will immediately trumpet it as a great win for the president.
Now here is the key. The Republicans need to agree. The president did win, because they were just too weak to oppose him -- even though they knew this was bad for the nation.
Pass the pen and shut up (RIP Zig Ziglar).
Barack, the poor negotiator, will accept the win with all the graciousness and class he has displayed throughout his first term -- boasting about his victory at every opportunity.
Then, he will own it -- all of it -- the moribund economy, declining employment and increasing food stamp and disability enrollment, the higher costs of gasoline, home heating oil, food and all the basic staples of American existence, as well as the constant challenges to American interests abroad -- remember, Chris Stevens was only the first.
The overall decline in the American standard of living will for time immemorial be remembered as the "Obama New Normal."
All of this will be Barack. He will finish his presidency with an approval rating in the single digits, and he and his ideology will be destroyed.
An uninformed America, by reelecting the worst President in modern times has shown itself to be addicted -- to the easy answer and the glib phrase spoken by the least informed among us, read from a teleprompter in dulcet tones and life-affirming cadence.
Everyone knows that addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can get better.
Americans need to suffer before they let go of socialistic dreams.
I never met a tax I liked. Milton Friedman said any additional revenue from a tax hike will never serve to reduce deficits because "in the long run government will spend whatever the tax system will raise, plus as much more as it can get away with."
But... render unto Barack, what this election has shown to be Barack's -- allow the President to raise taxes on the most productive and destroy the economy.
For sure, many will not survive -- me included -- but after the death and destruction, maybe rationality will prevail and we can put Barack Obama and his disastrous policies behind us.

Obama's politics of bitterness and envy just won an election. Perhaps the failure of his policies based on the same can save a nation.
Nietzsche said. "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
We are gazing into the abyss, and if America is to be saved, we must all become monsters.
These next 4 years for America and its people will surely suck. With Obama's reelection this has become an unavoidable truth.
I say, embrace the suck. It is our only chance to survive.
George Bernard Shaw said. "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
And if there is one truth in life that by the grace of God has been granted to each of us, it is this:
There is no limit to how many times you can start over.
Let Barack be Barack, it is certainly a mistake for America, but frame the discussion in truth, and in 2016, we can at least begin again.

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