Thursday, October 31, 2013

China Blames 'Terrorist Attack' in Tiananmen Square on People From Muslim Region

The Chinese government has acknowledged that a deadly car wreck in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Monday was not an accident, officially calling it a “terrorist attack” and announcing the arrest of five suspects linked to China’s far-western Xinjiang Muslim region. Read

Retaliation: Russians Now Accusing Americans of Abusing Human Rights

Almost seven months after the State Department released a blacklist of Russians accused of human rights abuses, lawmakers in Moscow are finalizing further retaliatory legislation targeting Americans they accuse of violating Russian citizens’ rights. Read

Americans Divided Over Snowden; Republicans Far More Skeptical of Mass Surveillance

An opinion poll surveying reactions to the National Security Agency surveillance revelations finds Republicans and Democrats almost identically divided over whether leaker Edward Snowden is a “traitor” or a “hero” – but with Republicans far less trusting of the administration in the affair. Read

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kerry ‘Amazed’ That Some Americans Still Don’t Grasp Urgency of Global Warming

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his frustration Tuesday with the fact that even in the United States, “a very educated country,” there are those who do not recognize the urgency of combating global warming. Read

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seriously? US Embassy Offering Free Tickets to Movie Exposing US Covert Ops

The U.S. Embassy in Canberra is offering free tickets to a screening of a new documentary about covert U.S. counter-terrorism operations, including targeted killings carried out under the Obama administration. Read

State Dep’t: We Have Our Own Assessment on Iran’s Nuclear Capability

As the State Department continues to urge Congress to hit the “pause” button on new Iran sanctions ahead of further talks next week, it indicated Monday that its assessment differs with that of an independent expert on the amount of time Iran needs to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb. Read

U.S. Diplomat Joins U.N. in Praising Islamic Nations’ Fight Against Terrorism

At a first-ever Security Council meeting focused on strengthening ties between the U.N. and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a U.S. diplomat Monday described the bloc of Muslim nations as “a strong and respected voice” in the fight against violent extremism. Read

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cuba Among Those Thanked by Kerry, Rice After Colombian Terrorists Free US Hostage

Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice both expressed appreciation to Cuba on Sunday after Colombia’s Marxist rebel group FARC released a former U.S. Marine it had held hostage since June. Read

Israel to End Boycott of UN Human Rights Council Under Pressure From West

After shunning the U.N.’s flagship human rights body for the past 17 months and defying it over a scheduled review of its rights record, Israel backed down on Sunday and agreed to take part, after coming under pressure from Western governments worried about the precedent its boycott was setting. Read

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kerry: Damage to US Image Abroad Stems From Shutdown; No Mention of Spy Scandal

Secretary of State John Kerry used an address to a liberal think-tank Thursday to cite ways in which the recent government shutdown hurt America’s image abroad, but his speech contained no reference to the diplomatic harm being caused by the escalating surveillance scandal. Read

Surveillance Scandal: Germany and France Tell Obama, Let's Talk

Germany and France plan to seek talks with Washington with the aim of reaching an understanding “before the end of the year” on the alleged National Security Agency surveillance of European leaders and citizens. Read

Thursday, October 24, 2013

European Parliament Applies Brakes to Promoting Abortion As a Human Right

European pro-lifers celebrated a rare victory this week when the European Parliament voted not to advance a controversial draft report that would promote abortion as a human right and “regulate and monitor” conscientious objection. Read

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

U.S. 'Is Not Monitoring' And 'Will Not Monitor' German Chancellor's Cell Phone

For the second time in three days, President Obama spoke Wednesday to a European ally angered by reports of U.S. sur- veillance of their communications – only this time the alleged target was the leader’s personal cellphone calls. Read

UK Lawmaker: Questions About Former BBC Head and Savile Scandal Won’t Go Away

Questions about how the British Broadcasting Corporation handled the Jimmy Savile pedophile scandal will continue to be asked until the matter of what its former director-general knew is settled, a British parliamentary hearing was told on Tuesday. Read

UN Climate Fund Approves Business Class Travel--With Higher Carbon Footprint

The U.N.’s $100 billion Global Climate Fund, currently establishing itself but struggling to attract donor support, has adopted a travel policy that will allow eligible board members to fly business class on trips of more than nine hours’ duration. Read

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EU Lawmakers Push Privacy Rules as France Protests New NSA Spying Claims

A European parliamentary committee on Monday night passed by a large margin a measure that aims to protect European citizens’ online data by making it harder for Internet companies to comply with U.S. government requests for individuals’ personal information. Read

Kerry Again Mentions Iran/Hezbollah’s Involvement in Syria But Is Silent on Al Qaeda

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah were “the only two” organized forces from outside Syria fighting on behalf of one of the parties in the country’s civil war. Read

Monday, October 21, 2013

More Questions for NYT CEO Mark Thompson Over Handling of BBC Pedophile Scandal

Almost a year after Mark Thompson took up the post of CEO at the New York Times Co., allegations that the former director-general of the British Broadcasting Corp. was negligent in his handling of a major pedophile scandal are back in the spotlight. Read

Saudi Rejection of Security Council Seat Draws Support in the Middle East

Arab ambassadors at the United Nations are urging Saudi Arabia to reverse its decision to turn down a seat on the Security Council, but in the region its unprecedented action – seen as a direct rebuke to the U.S. and other permanent council members – has struck a chord. Read

Friday, October 18, 2013

Saudi Arabia Gets First Ever Seat on UN Security Council – Then Says It Doesn’t Want It

After campaign- ing for its first ever seat on the U.N. Security Council and winning it in an election Thursday, Saudi Arabia in an astonishing move Friday said it would not take up the position. Read

As Congressional Resistance Mounts, What’s Next for the Arms Trade Treaty?

Half of the Senate and more than two-fifths of the members of the House of Representatives have advised the administration of their opposition to the global conventional arms trade treaty it signed last month, raising questions about its future implementation in the U.S., the world’s largest arms exporter. Read

Thursday, October 17, 2013

After Nuclear Talks, Rubio Moves to Preempt Any Softening on Iran Sanctions

The top U.S. nuclear negotiator will brief Congress on Iran’s latest offer in international talks on its nuclear programs, but the State Department won’t say yet whether the proposal was “substantive” enough for the administration to ask lawmakers, again, to hold off on tightening sanctions. Read

Claim: Turkey Exposed Iranians Spying for Israel

Turkey’s Islamist government is believed to have tipped off Iran last year as to the identity of up to 10 Iranians who had spying for Israel and meeting with their Israeli handlers in Turkey, according to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Read

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Saudi Grand Mufti Has Villified Shi’ites But Now Preaches Against Sectarianism

Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader told pilgrims visiting Mecca this week that Muslims should shun sectarianism, but the Sunni cleric has himself a record of vilifying Shi’ites. Read

Shutdown Delays U.N. Probe of U.S. Human Rights Record; GOP Blamed

A United Nations’ review of the United States’ compliance with international human rights norms will not happen as scheduled because of the partial government shutdown, and the chairman of the reviewing body blames the Republican Party. Read

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Russian Official Accuses U.S. of Using Lab in Caucasus for Bio-Warfare

A prominent Russian government official has accused the U.S. of conducting covert biological warfare work near Russia’s borders, under the guise of an infectious disease surveillance laboratory in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Read

Monday, October 14, 2013

On Eve of New Nuclear Talks, Iran Lays Down ‘Red Lines’ of its Own

In a move that doesn't bode well for the promise of international nuclear talks due to begin in Geneva on Tuesday, Iran said Sunday it would never agree to shipping its enriched uranium abroad, describing the issue as a “red line” for the regime. Read

Sovereignty Issues Cloud Tentative Agreement on U.S. Role in Afghanistan After 2014

The U.S. and Afghan governments tentatively agreed in marathon weekend talks on the main elements of a security arrangement that would govern the post-2014 presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but President Hamid Karzai’s anger over the capture of a Pakistani terrorist on Afghan soil underlined the deep differences between the two sides. Read

Friday, October 11, 2013

EU May Declare Abortion a ‘Human Right’

European lawmakers this month will vote on a measure that promotes abortion as a fundamental human right, while taking aim at the conscientious objection rights of pro-life doctors and health workers. Read

Leader of Battered Hamas Trying to Boost Foreign Support

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is traveling again, stoking fresh speculation that the Palestinian terrorist group’s exiled chief is again looking for a new base and trying to shore up foreign sponsorship following diplomatic blunders and unforeseen “Arab spring” developments. Read

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kerry Touts Pivot to Asia; IG Finds No Additional Funding or Staffing

Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly is giving assurances during his Asia trip about the administration’s commitment to the region, but the State Department’s internal watchdog has been critical of how the “rebalance” is being implemented. Read

Obama Suspends Some Aid to Egyptian Military Which Tossed Muslim Brotherhood

After deliberating for more than two months, the Obama administration announced Wednesday it will withhold several hundred million dollars’ worth of aid to Egypt--not because it has decided that the military takeover amounted to a coup, but because of some of its actions were “not consistent with inclusive democracy and nonviolence.” Read

Friday, October 04, 2013

Obama Cancels Asia Trip: ‘Another Consequence of the House Republicans Forcing a Shutdown’

The White House late Thursday announced that President Obama will no longer travel to Asia this weekend, placing the blame on Republican lawmakers for what it called a “completely avoidable” government shutdown. Read

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Iran Sanctions Bill Sponsor: Administration's Request for Congress to Hold Off is ‘Troubling’

After two months of declining to comment publicly about the administration’s view of new legislation toughening sanctions against Iran, the State Department on Thursday asked senators to delay the move, at least until nuclear negotiators meet in Geneva later this month. Read

Glenn Greenwald, Journalist Who Reported on NSA Surveillance Leaks, to Address Islamic Event

The American journalist and commentator who first reported on Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on National Security Agency surveillance programs will be the keynote speaker at an annual Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet next month. Read

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Obama Scales Back Asia Trip, Eliminating Two Stops

If President Obama chooses to cancel a scheduled trip to Asia starting later this week it will be the second year in a row that he’s skipped the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), despite his administration’s much-touted “pivot” to Asia Read

Netanyahu Links Iran’s New President to Terror Carnage in the 1990s

Iran’s nuclear activities were at the center of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address at the U.N. on Tuesday, but the most striking part of the speech may have been the accusation that Iran’s amiable new president at least knew about Tehran carrying out major terrorist attacks on three continents. Read

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Iranian Nuclear ‘Fatwa’ Cited by Obama May Not Exist

President Obama’s phone conversation with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has drawn fresh attention to a purported fatwa prohibiting nuclear weapons, which some skeptics doubt exists. Read