Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Palestinian Statehood Bid Falls Short in U.N. Security Council by One Vote

An Arab-backed bid to have the U.N. Security Council set a deadline for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state failed Tuesday, as a resolution failed to achieve the minimum of nine votes needed in the 15-member body. Read

State Dep't: ‘We Continue to Raise Our Concerns’ With Turkey About High-Level Ties With Hamas Terrorists

A day after having no comment to offer on Turkey’s feting of a top Hamas leader, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Tuesday the administration continues to view the group as a terrorist organization, and has raised its objections with Turkey. Read

Cuba Cracks Down on Attempt to Test Free Speech

Two weeks after President Obama announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy on Cuba, the communist regime on Tuesday banned a free speech protest in Havana and detained several pro-democracy activists, preventing others from leaving their homes. Read

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NATO Member Turkey Boosts Ties With Hamas; State Dep’t Has No Comment

A visit to Turkey by Hamas’ top leader and his participation in a convention of the ruling Islamist party is the latest sign that Turkey, a member of NATO, is becoming the key sponsor and ally of a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. Read

ISIS Complains About Media Treatment of Australian Hostage-Taker

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Monday praised the man responsible for a 17-hour siege at a café in Sydney, Australia this month, saying he had “added his name to the list of Muslims who answered the Khilafah’s [caliphate’s] call to strike those waging war against the Islamic State wherever they may be.” Read

Monday, December 29, 2014

Al-Qaeda Encourages ‘Lone Jihad’ Attacks, Promises Virgins in Paradise

Urging Muslims to carry out atrocities against the West, including attacks on aircraft, al-Qaeda’s latest propaganda publication also identifies goals of the jihadist, including “inflicting damage” on unbelievers, “attaining Allah’s pleasure” – and the reward of virgins in paradise. Read

GOP Senator Says Congress Could Target Funding for UN Over Palestinian Issue

As the Palestinians and their allies prepare to push a U.N. Security Council resolution to a vote within days, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned at the weekend that the incoming GOP-controlled Senate could respond by targeting U.S. funding for the United Nations. Read

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Unratified by the US, Controversial UN Arms Treaty Enters Into Force

As United Nations officials welcome the Christmas Eve entry into force of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), its progress in the U.S. remains hampered by significant Senate opposition and funding prohibitions included in appropriations legislation. Read

State Dep’t: ‘Ask the North Koreans if Their Internet Isn’t Working’

So, was the United States behind a 10-hour shutdown of North Korea’s Internet service? State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf wasn’t saying on Tuesday, but her briefing did geta little tense as a reporter pushed her on the issue. Read

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Russia Warns: Any Move to Join NATO Makes Ukraine a 'Potential Enemy'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s bid to drop the country’s official “non-aligned” status amounts to an application to join NATO and therefore makes Ukraine a “potential enemy” of Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned on Tuesday. Read

Despite Objections by China and Russia, UN Security Council Discusses North Korea's ‘Living Nightmare’

As the U.N. Security Council began an unprecedented discussion on what to do about rights violations in North Korea, the State Department said Monday the regime should admit responsibility and compensate Sony Pictures over a damaging cyberattack on the movie studio. Read

Departing State Dept. Official Arranged Transfer of 34 Gitmo Detainees in 18 Months

Secretary of State John Kerry has praised the departing official who for the last 18 months has been leading the effort to get foreign governments to accept Guantanamo Bay terrorist suspects, in pursuit of President Obama’s 2009 pledge to shut down the post-9/11 detention facility. Read

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day After Cuba Shift, Obama Signs Law Sanctioning Castro’s Closest Ally

President Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill sanctioning Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses, a measure in stark contrast to his policy shift on Cuba, Venezuela’s closest ally. Read

Only 45% of UN Member-States Back Iran Human Rights Measure; Cuba Leads the Opposition

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed an annual resolution condemning human rights abuses in Iran, but fewer than half the world’s nations supported the measure, marking the third consecutive year in which the number of countries voting in favor fell. Read

Thursday, December 18, 2014

After Obama’s Shift on Cuba, Some Say Iran Should Be Next

Shortly after President Obama announced his sweeping policy shift on Cuba, proponents of engagement with Iran said Tehran should get the same treatment. Read

Cuban Blogger Says Alan Gross Was Captured Purely As a ‘Hook’ to Free Cuba’s Spies

The White House insists that Cuba freed American contractor Alan Gross “on humanitarian grounds” in a move unrelated to the concurrent U.S. release of three Cuban spies. But Cuba’s leading blogger said Wednesday Gross had clearly been held hostage by a regime determined to get its spies home. Read

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

State Dep’t Not Concerned About Turkey’s NATO Standing Despite Crackdown

Turkey’s crackdown on journalists and others it accuses of trying to overthrow the government does not raise concerns for the administration about its good standing as a NATO ally, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. Read

Pakistani Terrorist Condemns Attack on School, Calls Islam ‘Religion of Peace’

A leading Pakistani radical suspected of masterminding one of the deadliest terror attacks ever in South Asia issued a statement Tuesday condemning the attack on a school in Peshawar in which more than 140 people, mostly children, were killed. Read

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Russia Steps Up Threats As White House Mulls New Sanctions

Lawmakers in both parties urged President Obama to sign legislation in support of Ukraine, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest could not say whether he would do so. Read

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Not Seen As High Priority for U.S. in 2015

Amid a flurry of high-level diplomatic activity over a fresh bid to bring Palestinian statehood before the U.N. Security Council, a new survey of U.S. conflict priorities for 2015 places the dispute in tenth place, below such issues as terrorism, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and the South China Sea. Read

Two Hostages, Iranian-Born Terrorist Killed as Sydney Siege Ends

Police confirmed early Tuesday that two hostages had been killed, along with the gunman responsible for a 17 hour siege at a café in central Sydney, Australia that ended when police stormed the building around 4 AM local time. Read

Monday, December 15, 2014

Terror in Australia, As Gunman Forces Hostages to Wave Black Flag of ISIS/ISIL

A hostage-taking in central Sydney, Australia on Monday may be linked to Mideast terrorism, as a black flag resembling one often used by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda was visible in the window of a store where a number of people are believed to be being held against their will. Read

Senate Sends Obama Legislation Authorizing Weapons for Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart on Sunday, hours after the U.S. Senate sent President Obama legislation authorizing him to supply anti-tank and other weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces to use against Russian-backed separatists in the east. Read

Taliban Terror Surge in Afghanistan: Two Americans Killed

With just two weeks to go until the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ends, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed Sunday that the country would “never surrender” to terrorists, after a surge of Taliban violence killed more than 20 people. Read

Friday, December 12, 2014

Senate Passes Bill That Could Send US Weapons to Ukraine for Use Against Russia

A bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday could, if enacted, supply Ukrainian forces with U.S. weapons for use against Russian tanks in eastern Ukraine, a scenario the Obama administration has been loathe to contemplate. Read

While Kerry Backs Global Green Fund in Peru, House GOP Says No to $3B US Pledge

Secretary of State John Kerry lent his weight to U.N. climate talks in Peru Thursday and lauded the achievement of an initial $10 billion target in pledges for a global fund designed to help poorer countries cope with climate change. Read

Thursday, December 11, 2014

China, North Korea, Iran Blast U.S. Over CIA Interrogations

State media in countries hostile to the United States are giving prominent and stinging coverage to the Democrats’ report on the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation and detention programs, saying the revelations call into question the right of the U.S. to lecture others on human rights abuses. Read

State Dept. Warns: Senate CIA Torture Report Could Trigger Anti-U.S. Violence

At least eight U.S. diplomatic missions have issued messages to American citizens, warning of the potential of “anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests” following the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats’ CIA interrogation. Read

Kerry Cites CIA Interrogations, Ferguson: ‘Democracy is a Work in Progress’ in U.S.

Democracy in the United States is “a work in progress,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech Wednesday, citing the Senate committee report on CIA interrogation programs and the controversy over deaths of African Americans at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. Read

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kerry Defends Clinton’s ‘Empathize’ With Enemies Remark, Says She Didn’t Mean ISIS

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended Hillary Clinton over a recent speech in which she called for “respect, even for one’s enemies,” saying his predecessor was clearly referring to antagonists such as Russia, not the likes of ISIS. Read

U.N. Calls for CIA ‘Torture’ Trials, CAIR Demands ‘Accountability’

A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law “to bring those responsible to justice.” Read

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

State Dep’t Won’t Confirm It Is Concerned About Iran’s Nuclear Cheating

The State Department on Monday insisted that Iran is meeting its obligations under an interim nuclear agreement, but declined to comment on allegations in a news report that Iran is breaching U.N. sanctions by continuing to procure equipment for a heavy-water plutonium reactor. Read

Cost of Adapting to Climate Change May Climb to $500B, Says U.N. Environmental Agency

As Secretary of State John Kerry and other ministers prepare to join global climate talks in Peru, the U.N.’s environmental agency is claiming that the cost for the planet to “adapt” to global warming could be up to five times higher than previously estimated – a whopping $500 billion a year by mid-century. Read

Luke Somers’ Murderers: Mohammed 'Ordered Us to Be Kind Even When Killing'

Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, which on Saturday shot dead an American journalist and a South African teacher to prevent their rescue by U.S. Special Forces, wants the world to know that it opposes beheadings and other forms of brutality practiced by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Monday, December 08, 2014

Democrats Insist on Releasing CIA Report That Could Harm Americans

The imminent release of a Senate committee report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program could trigger violence against American citizens and interests abroad, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden are warning. Read

Kerry: Anti-ISIS Effort Offers Potential for ‘New Regional Alliance’ Against Extremists

The creation of a coalition to defeat jihadists in Iraq and Syria could open to door to a new regional alignment, with nations ready to make peace with Israel and act against violent extremists whether they were in ISIS or Hamas or Boko Haram, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday. Read

Friday, December 05, 2014

State Dep’t Spokeswoman Calls Her Egypt Talking-Point ‘Ridiculous’

Shortly after baffling reporters with a non-answer on the administration’s view of the acquittal of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in an unguarded moment this week appeared to describe her prepared talking-point on the issue as “ridiculous.” Read

U.N. Chief Urges ‘Greater Accountability’ in U.S. Following Garner Non-Indictment

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on U.S. authorities Thursday to respond to demands for “greater accountability” from law enforcement in the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict a white New York Police Department officer over the death of Eric Garner. Read

China Pledges $0 to U.N. Climate Fund, Then Complains About Amount Allotted to Fund

The Chinese representative at the U.N. climate conference in Peru scolded developed countries Thursday for not pouring enough money into a global climate fund intended to help poorer countries cope with climate change – but China has pledged nothing. Read

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Kerry: Iranian Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq Would be ‘Positive’

Iranian airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) positions inside Iraq would have a “positive” effect, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. He would not “confirm or deny” whether the reported action had occurred, however, and reiterated that the U.S. still has no plans to coordinate with Iran in the battle against the jihadists. Read

Jindal Hopes Obama Doesn’t Repeat the Iraq ‘Mistake’ in Afghanistan

President Obama’s decision not to leave a residual force in Iraq three years ago created a vacuum in which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had “metastasized into this transnational threat,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday. He said he hopes the “mistake” would not be repeated in Afghanistan. Read

Amid Terror Epidemic, Islamic Bloc Ministers Focus on Israel, ‘Islamophobia’

At a time when terrorists invoking Islam are killing Christians, fellow Muslims and others from South Asia to the Middle East to Africa, Islamic nations’ information ministers meeting in Iran concluded Wednesday that priorities include fighting “Islamophobia” and highlighting Israeli “war crimes.” Read

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Climate ‘Pariah’ Australia to Slash Funding for U.N. Environment Program

Already reviled by green groups for repealing its predecessor’s carbon tax, Australia’s center-right government is stoking fresh controversy with plans to slash funding to the U.N.’s top environmental body. Read

Rand Paul Warns About ‘Unintended Consequences’ of Toppling Secular Dictators

Whenever a secular dictator has been overthrown in the Middle East, it has boosted radical Islam, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. He pointed to the “chaos” in Libya and Iraq since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, and charged that U.S. involvement in Syria has only made the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stronger. Read

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

State Department Defends Partnership With Hamas-Supporting Qatar

The United States has a “productive relationship” with Qatar, and the Gulf state has assured the administration that its financial assistance to Palestinians will not benefit Hamas, the State Department has informed a Republican lawmaker concerned about its partnership with Hamas’ closest Arab ally. Read

Administration Won’t Say Whether It Supports Mubarak’s Acquittal

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki repeatedly declined to say Monday whether the administration supports or opposes an Egyptian court’s decision to drop charges against former President Hosni Mubarak, accused of ordering the deaths of hundreds of protesters who were calling for his removal in 2011. Read

Monday, December 01, 2014

N. Korea Seizes on Ferguson Tensions in Accusing U.S. of Human Rights Abuses

Amid a groundswell of international condemnation of its human rights record, North Korea has lashed out at the U.S., saying protests associated with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. are proof that America is a “tundra” of human rights. Read

U.N. Criticizes U.S. Compliance With Anti-Torture Treaty

Two weeks after a State Department delegation appeared before a U.N. panel to defend U.S. compliance with an international anti-torture treaty, the Geneva-based body released a report criticizing that record. It also called on the administration to release a Senate committee’s hotly-contested report on CIA interrogation methods. Read