Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Candidate Arrested in Britain After Quoting Churchill’s Criticisms of Islam

A British man running for office in European Union elections next month was arrested over the weekend while giving a speech in which he quoted a young Winston Churchill’s critical observations about Islam. Read

U.S. Diplomat Reluctant to Link U.S. Aid to Palestinian Prisoner Payments

A senior administration official on Tuesday played down the significance of the Palestinian Authority’s payments to thousands of Palestinians jailed in Israel for terrorist offenses, saying it was a “political issue” for the P.A. and voicing reluctance to tie the matter to U.S. funding. Read

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kerry: ‘If I Could Rewind The Tape, I Would Have Chosen a Different Word’

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday defended his support for Israel, declared that he has never stated that it was or intended to become an “apartheid” state, but acknowledged he should not have used the term in reference to Israel. Read

Cruz: 'Words Matter'; Kerry Should Resign Over Israel/Apartheid Comment

Secretary of State John Kerry should resign over his reported comment that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid” state if it does not make peace soon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Monday. Read

In Malaysia, Susan Rice Meets With Leader of Islamist Party Promoting Stoning, Amputation

National Security Adviser Susan Rice held a meeting in Kuala Lumpur Monday with leaders from three Malaysian opposition parties, including an Islamic fundamentalist party that has been striving for years to introduce strict shari’a punishments such as stoning and limb amputation in a state it controls. Read

Monday, April 28, 2014

Agreement Gives U.S. a Military Presence in Philippines, But No Bases

The United States signed a 10-year agreement with the Philippines on Monday allowing for a rotating American military presence – but not U.S. military bases – in the Southeast Asian nation, where nationalist sentiment forced the closure of two major U.S. bases more than 20 years ago. Read

Imam to Obama: ‘End Oppression of Muslims’; Obama to Imam: ‘Pray for Me’

Visiting Malaysia’s National Mosque on Sunday, President Obama was asked by the institution’s imam to end oppression against Muslims worldwide, Malaysia’s national press agency Bernama reported. Read

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U.S. Doesn't Object, So Iran Gets a Seat on U.N. Women's Rights Body

The Obama administration on Wednesday criticized Iran’s election to the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) – but neither the U.S. nor any other delegation objected when given the opportunity to do so, thus allowing Iran to get the seat “by acclamation.” Read

Palestinian Unity Deal Triggers Concern About U.S. Taxpayers Funding Hamas

An announcement Wednesday of a fresh attempt by rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government raises anew the prospect of a U.S. funding cutoff to the Palestinian Authority, and a Republican lawmaker was quick to signal her intention to get the ball rolling. Read

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

State Dep’t Suggests Chlorine Gas Attack in Syria Would Violate Deal That Prevented U.S. Military Action

If allegations that the Syrian regime used chlorine gas as a weapon are proven true, the action would be a contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the State Department confirmed Tuesday. Read

Pentagon: Sending US Troops to Eastern Europe ‘More Than Symbology’

Sending 600 U.S. troops to Poland and the Baltic states for bilateral infantry exercises is intended to send a message to allies and Russia alike, but it also goes beyond symbolism, the Pentagon press secretary said Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Obama’s Malaysia Trip Includes Visit to a Mosque

When President Obama becomes the first U.S. president to visit Malaysia in almost half a century, he will visit a prominent mosque on Sunday – but not a church, in a country where relations between the Muslim establishment and minority Christians have not always been smooth. Read

WH: Russia Faces 'Further Costs' -- 'In Coming Days’

During Monday’s White House briefing, press secretary Jay Carney would not say how long the administration will give Russia to comply with last Thursday’s Geneva agreement on “de- escalating” the Ukraine crisis, but he used the expression “in the coming days” eight times. Read

Monday, April 21, 2014

Corker: Obama Foreign Policy ‘A Day Late and A Dollar Short’

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Sunday urged the Obama administration to follow through with its threats against Russia -- to "go ahead and put in place some of the sectoral sanctions that have been discussed.” Read

Nigerian Terrorist Leader Tells Obama to Go ‘To Hell’

The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist group in a weekend video claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb attack in Abuja last week, taunting the government for its failure to defeat the Islamist group and telling President Obama and other world leaders to go “to hell.” Read

As Ukraine Crisis Deepens, Cracks Emerge in Kerry’s Geneva Deal

Just days after the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union sealed an agreement on the Ukraine crisis, the deal appears to be in trouble, following an outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine and refusal by pro-Moscow separatists occupying government facilities to stand down. Read

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kerry Bristles: ‘We Didn’t Come Here to Talk About Crimea’

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed irritation when a reporter asked him after Ukraine crisis talks in Geneva Thursday if the West has now “given up on Crimea,” since the region – which Russia annexed last month – had scarcely been mentioned all day. Read

Putin: Concerns About Ukraine Joining NATO Prompted Crimea Annexation

After insisting for weeks that he annexed Crimea because of Russia’s long history there and fears the new Ukraine government threatened its ethnic Russians, President Vladimir Putin on Thursday acknowledged that the decision was also prompted by strategic concerns about Ukraine joining NATO. Read

Fate of 100 Nigerian Schoolgirls Seized by Islamist Terrorists Unknown

The whereabouts of around 100 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram on Monday remain unknown, after the military was forced on Thursday to retract an earlier statement that most had been released. Read

Thursday, April 17, 2014

State Dep’t Official Warns of Backlash in Promoting LGBT Rights Abroad

Addressing an event on “global LGBT rights,” a senior State Department official on Wednesday sounded a note of caution about how the U.S. promotes such issues in religiously or culturally conservative countries, warning of the risk of a backlash there. Read

U.S. Troop Reduction in Europe Has NATO Commander Calling for ‘Pause’

NATO announced Wednesday that it is enhancing its military footprint on its eastern flank, and the alliance’s top military commander in Europe hinted that in light of Russia’s recent aggression, it is “important that we take a pause and determine what is appropriate for [the size of] U.S. forces in Europe.” Read

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Swearing in Diplomat, Kerry Describes Battle Between Modernity and Extremism

Swearing in former Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said he told him that “every day we have to deal with people who haven’t changed their ways for centuries and folks who have not broken out of outdated traditions, and sometimes people who seem very removed from the modern world.” Read

Obama Called Him a Violence Renouncer, But Abbas Is Silent on Passover Eve Shooting of Israeli Family

Weeks after President Obama described Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas as “somebody who has consistently renounced violence,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted Tuesday that the P.A. had not condemned the killing of an Israeli and the wounding of his wife and son on their way to a Passover Seder. Read

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Israel Says Kerry’s Comments on Iran Nuclear Breakout Time ‘Worrying’

Recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran’s nuclear “breakout” time -- how long it will take Iran to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon -- have set off alarm bells in Israel, where the government’s strategic affairs minister said Monday they were “worrying” and “unacceptable.” Read

US, Russia Exchange Accusations as Ukraine Crisis Simmers

Ahead of a crucial meeting in Geneva later this week on the Ukraine crisis the United States and Russia are staking out their positions, each accusing the other of fomenting unrest in the east of the country. Read

Republicans Support US Presence in Afghanistan, As Taliban Pledges Ongoing Jihad

House Speaker John Boehner led a group of Republican lawmakers on a visit to Afghanistan Monday to send “a strong, unequivocal message that the House of Representatives wants to maintain a right-sized presence” post-2014. Read

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 25 Since Obama Authorized Additional Sanctions Against Russia, but Still No Action

President Obama on March 20 signed an executive order authorizing sanctions targeting sectors of the Russian economy, but since then, administration officials have done nothing more than repeatedly warn that such measures will be imposed unless Moscow changes course. Read

Talk, Not Action: Administration Again Warns Russia of ‘Sectoral’ Sanctions

With Ukraine hovering on the brink of open conflict allegedly instigated by Russian agents, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Sunday that sanctions targeting sectors of the Russian economy “could be on the table.” Read

Friday, April 11, 2014

NATO Dismisses Russia’s Claim That Satellite Images of Troop Buildup Are Eight Months Old

NATO reaffirmed early Friday that commercial satellite images it released a day earlier showing a Russian troop buildup on Ukraine’s border had been taken within the three weeks, after a senior Russian military officer was quoted in state media as claiming they were from routine military exercises eight months ago. Read

Iran UN Envoy Row: Foreign Minister Calls US Congress ‘a Group of Radicals’

Sounding a defiant note over his government’s nomination of a U.N. ambassador-designate linked to the 1979 American hostage crisis, Iran’s foreign minister has dismissed those objecting to the decision – who include virtually the entire U.S. Congress – as “a group of radicals.” Read

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brandeis Bows to Islamic Pressure, Yanks Honorary Degree From Women's Rights Advocate

Brandeis University’s decision to withdraw an honorary degree from a Somali-born naturalized American scholar who stands up for women abused in Islamic societies came on the same day that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote to the institution’s president to complain about the plan to award the degree. Read

Kerry Urged to Get Tougher on Israel – By Americans Who Went Easy on Hamas

A handful of former senior government officials who this week called on Secretary of State John Kerry to take a tougher line on Israel in his teetering Mideast peace effort are some of the same individuals who in a 2009 report urged the incoming Obama administration to change the U.S. approach towards Hamas. Read

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

WH Won’t Say If It Will Refuse Entry to Iran’s U.N. Ambassador-Nominee

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday the U.S. has told Iran that its nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi as ambassador to the U.N. is “not viable” – then quipped that the term was “diplomatic jargon to mean what you want it to mean.” Read

Kerry: Administration’s Foreign Policy Not ‘Spinning Out of Control'

Secretary of State John Kerry took exception Tuesday to an assertion by a Republican senator that the Obama administration’s foreign policy is “spinning out of control,” declaring that “that’s just not true.” Read

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Rep. Wolf on Mozilla CEO's Ouster: 'It Was the Silencing of Dissent'

The ousting of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over his views on traditional marriage amounted to the silencing of dissent, the compromising of freedom of speech and religion in America, and “the implications are vast and deeply troubling,” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said on Monday, likening the incident to "mob rule." Read

WH Hints at Russian Provocation in Eastern Ukraine, But Announces No New Sanctions

There is strong evidence that some of the pro-Russian demonstrators who seized local government facilities in eastern Ukraine at the weekend had been paid and were not locals, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday, hinting at a Russian hand behind the unrest. Read

Concerns About Religious Freedom Aired on Capitol Hill As India's Elections Begin

As India’s massive general election process gets underway, the powerful Hindu nationalist BJP party has stoked new religious freedom concerns with a pledge to build a Hindu temple at a site where the 1992 destruction of a mosque sparked deadly interreligious violence. Read

Monday, April 07, 2014

Senate Foreign Relations Chair: Iran’s Smiling Across Table, ‘Plotting in Back Room’

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Sunday lashed out at Iran, saying while it continues to “charm” during the talks over its nuclear program, its other actions “suggest that it’s the same old game.” Read

Obama Administration Raises ‘Serious Concerns’ Over Iran’s U.N. Ambassador-Nominee

A senior Obama administration official won’t say if Iran appointment of a controversial nominee to serve as U.N. ambassador will have any impact on a new round of talks between Iran and six world powers. Read

Hagel Warns China Against ‘Coercion and Intimidation’ in Regional Territorial Disputes

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel begins a three-day visit to China on Monday, after delivering a firm message to Beijing about the need to respect its neighbors, drawing a comparison between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and China’s pursuit of sovereignty claims in the South and East China Seas. Read

Friday, April 04, 2014

Kerry Wrongly Says None of the 15 Treaties Abbas Wants to Join Involve the UN

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters this week that none of the 15 international treaties which Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has applied to join are United Nations treaties. In fact, 13 of them are. Read

Obama and Kerry Say Iran Issued Fatwa Against Nukes, But It’s Not Listed With the Others

A State Department spokeswoman expressed surprise Thursday to hear that a purported “fatwa” by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prohibiting nuclear weapons, which President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry periodically cite, does not appear on a list of fatwas on Khamenei’s official website. Read

Thursday, April 03, 2014

US Ambassador to UN: Peacekeeping ‘Essential,’ But Not ‘Eternal’

Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged congressional appropriators Wednesday to support additional funding for U.N. peacekeeping, but said the administration was also pressing the U.N. to “rigorously” review existing missions, some of which have been going for many decades. Read

Ambassador Power: Defunding UN Agencies for Admitting ‘Palestine’ Hurts U.S.

Defunding United Nations agencies that admit “Palestine” is not in the interests of the U.S., Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power argued Wednesday, because doing so constitutes a “double win” for the Palestinians. Read

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Cruz: ‘Unconscionable’ That U.S. Would Be Forced to Host Terrorists As UN Ambassadors

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at preventing “known terrorists” from entering the U.S. to serve as U.N. envoys in New York. Read

Obama Wants to Pay 33% More to U.N. and Other Int’l Groups

When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, the panel will consider a budget request for international organizations that is 33 percent bigger than last year’s, including a 43 percent hike in U.S. contributions to peacekeeping missions. Read

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Egyptian Islamists Murder Young Christian, After Dragging Her From Car

Eyewitnesses have given a harrowing account of the murder in Cairo of a young Coptic Christian woman, hauled out of her car and beaten and stabbed to death by a Muslim mob, apparently targeted because of a cross hanging from her rear-view mirror. Read

Kerry: ‘NATO’s Door Remains Open,’ But He Does Not Mention Ukraine, Georgia

Marking the anniversaries of three previous rounds of NATO enlargement, Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday reaffirmed that “NATO’s door remains open” to European aspirants that meet criteria for new members. Read