Friday, April 19, 2013

American Pastor Faces Worsening Conditions in Iranian Prison

Almost 570,000 people have signed a petition calling for international pressure on Iran to release American pastor Saeed Abedini amid continuing reports of that he is being beaten and maltreated in prison. The Iranians reportedly are demanding that he recant his faith in Jesus Christ or spend even longer behind bars than the term he already faces. Read

Obama Advised to Acknowledge Iran’s Nuclear ‘Fatwa’

President Obama should acknowledge an Iranian fatwa prohibiting nuclear weapons “as one of the bases for nuclear negotiations,” according to a report urging a new push to engage Tehran, endorsed by a group of former senior government officials. Read

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Assad Warns West About Terror Blowback As U.S. Sends More Troops to Jordan

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee that about 200 U.S. soldiers were going to Jordan to bolster efforts by a small group already there to contain a spillover of violence from Syria. Read

Erosion of Traditional Marriage Spreads

The campaign to legalize same-sex marriage jumped another hurdle on Wednesday night when New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to pass legislation changing the traditional definition of the institution. Read

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Calls Off Protest After Election Victor Accuses Him of Plotting Coup

The candidate narrowly defeated in Venezuela’s presidential election has called off plans for a mass rally to demand a vote recount after the declared victor accused him of plotting to seize power in the oil-rich nation with funding from the U.S. State Department. Read

Kerry to Testify on Capitol Hill After His Remarks on N. Korea Draw Scrutiny

U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday will have their first encounter with Secretary of State John Kerry since he assumed the post in February, and although the main topic is the foreign affairs budget, the hearing will also provide an opportunity to grill him on some of the positions he has taken, such as his recent signal of a softening towards North Korea. Read

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Al-Qaeda Propagandist Called for Attacks on Sports Events

Although no group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s deadly bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon, a leading al-Qaeda ideologue last year recommended that jihadists in America include sporting events in their list of prospective terror targets. Read

Monday, April 15, 2013

No Suspects in Custody, Says Boston Police Chief; FBI Takes Lead in Blast Probe

No suspects were in custody following Monday’s deadly blasts at the finish-line of the Boston Marathon, Boston police commissioner Edward Davis told reporters shortly before 9 PM eastern time, contradicting some media reports to the contrary. Read

No Sign Administration Will Use Financial Leverage to Reverse Palestinian Leadership Change

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret Sunday at the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, but he gave no indication that the Obama administration would use U.S. aid to the P.A. in a bid to reverse the move. Read

‘Anthropogenic’ Climate Change Is Kerry’s Priority in Asia

As threats from North Korea makes headlines in northeast Asia and around the world, Secretary of State John Kerry, in his weekend visit to the region, gave high priority to a different subject – one that he is passionate about – “anthropogenic” global warming and his contention that the science is settled. Read

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guam on Heightened Alert Amid Continuing North Korea Threats

North Korea’s reported preparations to launch a medium-range ballistic missile at any time have prompted stepped-up security precautions on Guam. Read

U.S. Intelligence Sends Mixed Messages on North Korea’s Nuclear, Missile Capabilities

A disclosure on Capitol Hill that the Defense Intelligence Agency believes North Korea has developed the know-how to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles made international headlines Thursday, before Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called it into question. Read

Thursday, April 11, 2013

‘Arab Spring’ Promotion Fund Makes a Comeback in State Dep’t Budget Request

The Obama administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 includes a second attempt to support the “Arab spring,” after a previous attempt ran into hurdles on Capitol Hill. Read

Obama’s Budget Includes Funding for U.N. Agency That Recognized ‘Palestine’

The Obama administration on Wednesday renewed its request for Congress to let it restore funding to the first United Nations agency to grant full membership to “Palestine,” arguing that defunding runs contrary to U.S. interests. Read

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Foreign Missions Not Advising Citizens to Leave Korea Despite Pyongyang's Latest Threats

If North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hoped his latest threat Tuesday would trigger an exodus of foreigners from South Korea, the U.S. and other governments did not play along, reporting no change in advice to their citizens there. Read

Chavez’ Heir Slides in Polls Just Days Before Venezuela’s Crucial Election

Just days ahead of an election that could impact not just Venezuela but the wider Western Hemisphere, opinion polls show a marked shift in support towards the center-right politician campaigning against the late President Hugo Chavez’ anointed heir. Read

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Amid Religious Freedom Abuses in Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam, Blacklist Recommendations Awaited

As the release of an annual religious freedom report approaches, an independent watchdog is advising that Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam be blacklisted for violations – counsel which the State Department has so far overruled. Read

Monday, April 08, 2013

Kerry Condemns ‘Cowardly Terrorists,’ But Hamas Gets a Pass

Secretary of State John Kerry in Turkey Sunday condemned the “cowardly terrorists” who killed a young foreign service officer in Afghanistan and referred to Kurdish terrorism against Turkey, but when asked minutes later about Hamas – the Palestinian terrorist group embraced by his Turkish hosts – he chose to comment only indirectly. Read

Kerry Voices Sympathy for Families of Activists Killed in Gaza Flotilla Clash

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday expressed sympathy for the families of nine Turkish activists killed during violent clashes with Israeli commandos who raided a ship trying to break the security blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Read

Thatcher a Close Friend to the US, a Formidable Adversary to Proponents of Communism, Terrorism

As tributes pour in and Britons wrestle over her legacy at home, few around the world would dispute that Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy left Britain more respected, and the West stronger, during a pivotal decade of the 20th century. Read

Friday, April 05, 2013

Egyptian Gov’t Complained to U.S. Embassy Before Embassy Shut Down Twitter Feed

The State Department confirmed Thursday that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government had phoned the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to complain about postings on the embassy’s Twitter account before the embassy this week briefly shut the feed down and removed at least one offending tweet. Read

Amid N. Korean Threats, CIA No Longer Reports to Congress on Missile Proliferation

North Korean missile threats against the United States and its allies are simmering at a time when a legislative requirement for a recurring CIA report on the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology has been repealed. Read

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Europeans Joining Syria Jihad May Pose a Threat on Returning Home

Hundreds of European Muslims have gone to Syria to join the rebels since the anti-Assad uprising began, according to a new study, which says the conflict’s mobilizing effect can be compared to those in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Bosnia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan over the past decade. Read

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Attack; U.S. Sending Missile Defense Shield to Guam

As the Pentagon announced the deployment of a ground-based missile defense shield to Guam, North Korea early Thursday morning issued a new threat, declaring that nuclear strikes on U.S. targets have now been authorized and that “the moment of explosion is approaching fast.” Read

Kerry Hails U.N Arms Trade Deal, Which Senate May Not Ratify

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday enthusiastically welcomed an overwhelming U.N. General Assembly vote in favor of a global conventional arms trade treaty, but many of his former colleagues in the U.S. Senate – which will have to ratify the treaty – are leery. Read

Prodded by Islamists, Bangladeshi Gov’t Targets ‘Atheist Bloggers’

Authorities in the world’s third-largest Muslim country arrested three bloggers Tuesday, accusing them of using the Internet to “defame” Islam and its prophet. Critics said the move pandered to Islamists who have been demanding a crackdown of online speech. Read

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

N. Korea to Restart Reactor, Demands Recognition as a Nuclear Power

North Korea said Tuesday that it will restart the plutonium-based nuclear reactor that was shut down in 2007 under an agreement reached in talks with the United States and four other countries. Read

Uproar Over Mao Quote Shows U.S. ‘Narrow-Mindedness,’ China Says

The recent furor over a Mao Zedong quote appearing on a U.S. government website for children reflects American insularity and intolerance, a Chinese newspaper opined this week. Read

Monday, April 01, 2013

Map Purports to Show Kim Jong-un’s Wish List of Missile Targets in the U.S.

A photograph released by North Korea’s news mouthpiece over the weekend seems to show a map of American sites that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un evidently would like to target. Read

Those Who ‘Insult’ Egypt’s Morsi or PA’s Abbas Risk Imprisonment

Elsewhere they might be dismissed as April 1 jokes, but reports from Egypt and the Palestinian territories over the weekend reveal the all-too-real conviction among Arab leaders that they are too exalted to be lampooned. Read