Monday, February 29, 2016

Pakistan Executes Bodyguard Hailed As Hero for Killing a Politician He Accused of Blasphemy

Pakistan on Monday hanged a bodyguard who, invoking the Qur’an, shot dead the senior politician he was paid to protect – a provincial governor whom he accused of blaspheming Islam. Read

Candidates Elected to Top Iranian Body Include Men Implicated in Terror, Assassinations

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday hailed Iran’s “glorious” elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts, a powerful body that will pick his successor, declaring that the turnout showed “the brilliant face of religious democracy to the world.” Read

Only 3 Christians Among 651 Syrian Refugees Admitted to U.S. Since Paris Attacks

The government has admitted 651 Syrian refugees into the United States since Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists attacked Paris last November, three of whom (0.46 percent) are Christians. Read

Friday, February 26, 2016

Leahy on Iran’s Detention of US Sailors: Wouldn’t We Have Held Iranians in Our Waters?

The senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) implied during an exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday that Iran was justified in detaining ten U.S. sailors who entered Iranian waters last month. Read

‘Incomprehensible’: UN Committee Elects Assad Regime to Leadership Post

A group of United Nations’ member-states on Thursday elected the Assad regime to a leadership post of a special committee dealing with decolonization, sparking protests from a human rights group that had earlier urged U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to intervene. Read

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Head of UN Agency Who Sent US Computers to North Korea ‘Told Me That He Didn’t Care What the US Thought … Didn’t Have to Obey US Laws’

The head of a U.N. agency which gets a significant proportion of its budget from U.S. patent applicants transferred U.S.-origin computer equipment with dual-use potential to North Korea, and cracked down harshly on whistleblowers who sought to expose his behavior, U.S. lawmakers were told Wednesday. Read

Kerry: If It Weren’t For My Relationship With Iran’s Zarif, Our Sailors Would Probably Be Hostages

Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Wednesday that if it wasn’t for the Iran nuclear deal and his relationship with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, ten U.S. sailors apprehended in Iranian waters last month would probably now be hostages. Read

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kerry Warns, ‘It May Be Too Late’ to Keep Syria Whole

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday that Syria could end up partitioned if diplomatic efforts to end the violence and reach a political settlement do not bear fruit. Read

Castro Mouthpiece: Obama’s Planned Visit Dismantles ‘Myth’ That ‘Cuba Violates Human Rights’

Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers Tuesday he intends to travel to Cuba in the coming weeks “to have a human rights dialogue” ahead of President Obama’s scheduled visit next month. Read

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

State Department Reminds China That Hawaii Is a State, Unlike China's Man-Made Islands

Beijing has compared China’s reported deployment of military assets in disputed territory of the South China Sea to the U.S. defending Hawaii, prompting a State Department spokesman to point out Tuesday that Hawaii is a U.S. state. Read

House Hearing Will Probe U.N. Agency’s Illicit Tech Transfers to Iran, North Korea

U.S. lawmakers will hear testimony Wednesday on claims that the sitting head of a U.N. agency covertly transferred U.S.-origin computer equipment to Iran and North Korea. In a crackdown on whistleblowers, he allegedly ordered the clandestine collection of staffers’ DNA in a bid to track down the author of anonymous letters of complaint. Read

Syria Truce: No Monitors on the Ground to Ensure Compliance

A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, announced Monday and due to take effect on Saturday, will not be formally monitored on the ground – despite the fact that the U.S. and Russia have been at odds for months over exactly who Russian airstrikes are targeting in Syria. Read

Monday, February 22, 2016

Iran’s State-Run Media Outlets Offer New Reward for Salman Rushdie’s Murder

Twenty-seven years after Iran’s supreme leader ordered the death of Salman Rushdie and publishers of his book The Satanic Verses for “blaspheming” Islam, dozens of state-run media organizations are jointly offering a new reward for the assassination of the British author. Read

Kerry Tries Again: Now Says Syria Truce ‘Could Begin in the Coming Days’

For the second time in less than a fortnight, Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday announced a “cessation of hostilities” to take effect within days in Syria. Read

Saudis Cut Military Aid to Lebanon Over Iran/Hezbollah Support; US Refuses to Do So

American taxpayers will continue to fund the Lebanese security forces despite a decision by Saudi Arabia to cut $4 billion in military aid to a government that includes Hezbollah, the State Department has confirmed. Read

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hezbollah’s ‘Nuclear Bomb’: We Can Kill Tens of Thousands of Israelis by Hitting Toxic Gas Tank

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations has called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn a veiled threat by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah – a member of Lebanon’s caretaker government – to kill tens of thousands of Israelis by firing missiles at a toxic gas storage tank in Israel’s third-largest city. Read

Pentagon Asks Russia to Avoid Areas in Syria Where Special Operators Are Deployed

After saying for months that the U.S. is not cooperating with Russia in Syria – beyond basic air safety “deconfliction” measures – a senior military official disclosed Thursday that the Pentagon has asked Russia to avoid areas where U.S. Special Forces troops are located in northern Syria. Read

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trump on Responsibility For The 9/11 Attacks: ‘You May Find It’s the Saudis’

Republican Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that Saudi Arabia may have been involved in the 9/11 terrorist attack, touching on long-simmering suspicions that lie behind two legislative measures currently before Congress. Read

Ayatollah: US Wants to 'Deprive Muslim Nations’ of the…'Attractive Phenomenon of Religious Democracy'

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused America Wednesday of questioning the legitimacy of Iran’s upcoming elections, in a bid “to deprive Muslim nations in the world of the unique, novel and attractive phenomenon of religious democracy.” Read

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kerry’s ‘Cessation of Hostilities’ Agreement With Russia Comes Under Fire

The “cessation of hostilities” agreement between the Obama administration, Russia and other countries invested in the Syrian civil war is drawing sharp criticism from analysts who argue that it will simply allow Moscow and its ally in Damascus to consolidate their gains – at the expense of the opposition which the U.S. is trying to support. Read

State Dep’t Renames Its Counterterrorism Bureau to Include Focus on ‘Countering Violent Extremism

The State Department’s counterterrorism bureau has been renamed the “bureau of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism,” reflecting a “more proactive and integrated approach” to the effort to counter and prevent radicalization, including online, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday. Read

Report: Russia Killed More Civilians in Syria in January Than Either Assad Regime or ISIS

As Russia again dismisses accusations that its air force is bombing hospitals in Syria, a new report by an independent human rights group said Russia’s supposed anti-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria air campaign was responsible for more civilian deaths last month than either the Assad regime or ISIS. Read

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Syrian Refugees Admitted to US Since Paris Attack: 602 Muslims, 2 Christians

The government has admitted 605 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the United States since last November’s Paris terrorist attack, two of whom are Christians. Read

McCain Says He’ll Hold a Hearing, Subpoena US Sailors Detained by Iran if Necessary

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), angered by Iran’s treatment of 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained overnight in the Persian Gulf last month – and by the administration’s handling of the incident – is now threatening to subpoena the sailors if necessary to establish exactly what happened. Read

Deadly Airstrikes on Syrian Hospitals: US Blames ‘Regime and its Supporters,’ Turkey Blames Russia, Syria Blames US

The State Department on Monday accused “the Assad regime and its supporters” after at least two hospitals in northern Syria were bombed from the air, just days before a negotiated “cessation of hostilities” is meant to take effect. Read

Monday, February 15, 2016

Communist Party Paper Slams ‘Vile Characters’ Behind Senate Move to Rename Chinese DC Embassy Street After Dissident

A Communist Party-affiliated Chinese newspaper berated U.S. senators Sunday for passing a bill to rename of the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington in honor of a jailed Chinese dissident, describing those responsible as “vile characters.” Read

Email: Praised for ‘Turning POTUS Around’ on Libya Intervention, Clinton Says ‘Pray for a Soft Landing’

In an email to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shortly after the U.N. Security Council in March 2011 authorized military intervention in Libya, a former senior State Department official praised her achievement in “turning POTUS around on this.” Read

Friday, February 12, 2016

In Tehran, Farrakhan Hails ‘Wonderful Revolution,’ Slams American ‘Tyranny’

Visiting Iran for celebrations marking the 37th anniversary of the rise to power of the ayatollahs, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has hailed the “wonderful revolution” and said Iran was emerging from sanctions “stronger” and “more influential.” Read

Russian FM: We’ve ‘Abandoned’ Soviet-Style Propaganda, But Critics of Our Syria Campaign Are Still Using It

Russia’s foreign minister on Friday accused critics of Moscow’s military operation in Syria of using Soviet-style propaganda – a practice which he claimed Russia itself has “abandoned.” Read

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Expert Testifies: Iranian Dual Nationals Have Been Involved in Terror Plots Against US, Israel

Iranians with dual nationality have been involved in terror plots against the U.S. and Israel, including a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a Washington restaurant, an expert on Iran told lawmakers on Wednesday. Read

US Navy ‘Disgusted’ by Iran’s Exploitation of Sailors’ Detention

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said Thursday it was “disgusted by the exploitation of our sailors in Iranian propaganda,” after the regime’s state television released images of a U.S. Navy sailor apparently in tears after he and nine others were detained overnight in the Persian Gulf last month. Read

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Obama’s FY2017 Budget Includes $750 Million for ‘Green Climate Fund’

In his final budget, President Obama is seeking $750 million for the Green Climate Fund – part of a $3 billion commitment which Republican lawmakers earlier vowed to block unless the U.N. climate agreement reached in Paris last December was submitted to the Senate for ratification. Read

Intel Chief: Iran Wants to Benefit from Nuclear Deal While Retaining Nuclear Capabilities

The U.S. intelligence community believes Iran views the nuclear deal as a way to get relief from sanctions while retaining nuclear capabilities and the agencies do not know whether it will eventually decide to build a nuclear weapon, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Read

Iran, Hezbollah Return to ‘Terrorism’ Subsection of Intelligence Threat Report

After a conspicuous absence last year, references to Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah returned to the “Terrorism” subsection of the intelligence community’s 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment, presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Read

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

State Dep’t: Turkey Is an Ally, But Kurds Are ‘Some of the Most Successful’ in Fighting ISIS

State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday declined to take up a challenge by an angry Turkish president for the U.S. to choose sides between Turkey and a key Kurdish group fighting in Syria, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization. Read

Terrorist’s Wife Indicted in U.S. in Connection With Rape, Death of American Hostage

An Iraqi woman in whose home Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi allegedly raped an American aid worker has been indicted in the U.S. for her role in the conspiracy that led to the death of the hostage. Read

Liberal Lobby Advising Sanders Aims to Defeat Initiatives on Israel/West Bank Labeling

The liberal Jewish lobby group J Street wants Americans to press their senators to oppose legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) – and supported by the two senators remaining in the GOP presidential race – to annul a directive on labeling goods produced in the territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinians. Read

Monday, February 08, 2016

573 Muslims, 2 Christians: Syrian Refugees Admitted to US Since Paris Terror Attacks

The number of Syrian refugees being resettled in the United States continues to climb slowly, but of the 576 admitted since last November’s Paris terrorist attack, only two (0.3 percent) are Christians. Read

Yet Again, North Korea Launches a Missile, US Calls for ‘Firm’ UN Response, China Calls for Restraint

North Korea’s ballistic missile test Sunday sparked a now familiar pattern of responses to provocative actions by the Kim regime, with the U.S. leading a chorus of condemnation and calling for a “firm” U.N. Security Council response, and China signaling it wants to apply the brakes. Read

NARAL Tweets Objection to Doritos Super Bowl Ad Featuring Ultrasound Baby

NARAL Pro-Choice America chose to live-tweet its response to commercials broadcast during Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, but touched a raw nerve with many after complaining that an ad featuring a baby during an ultrasound amounted to “humanizing fetuses.” Read

Friday, February 05, 2016

Saudis Ready to Send Ground Forces Into Syria ‘To Fight ISIS’

A day after a U.N.-hosted Syria peace initiative stalled, Saudi Arabia signaled Thursday that it is ready to contribute to a ground offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), if the U.S.-led coalition agrees to such an operation. Read

Clinton Waited to Oppose TPP ‘Because I Did Want to Give the Benefit of The Doubt to the Administration’

Hillary Clinton said in Thursday’s Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire that she waited to see the outcome of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership before coming out in opposition – although as secretary of state she voiced enthusiasm for the trade deal on numerous occasions. Read

Three Republicans Ask to Visit Iran to Observe ‘Iranian Democracy in Action’

Three Republican lawmakers have asked Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to facilitate their visa applications to visit Iran, where they want to observe “Iranian democracy in action,” meet with imprisoned Americans, and visit nuclear facilities. Read

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Obama Urges Congress to Approve TPP ‘This Year’; Leading Presidential Candidates Oppose It

After trade ministers from the U.S. and 11 other countries on either side of the Pacific on Thursday signed one of the biggest trade deals in history, President Obama called on Republicans and Democrats to approve it “this year.” Read

Iran Accused of Coercing Vulnerable Afghans to Fight For Assad in Syria

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is reportedly coercing undocumented Afghans living in Iran to fight in support of Syria’s Assad regime, using a combination of financial incentives and coercive tactics including threat of deportation or imprisonment. Read

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

State Dep’t Brushes Off UN’s Delayed Response to N. Korea Nuke Test

Almost four weeks after the U.N. Security Council pledged to “begin to work immediately” on a new resolution incorporating “significant measures” against North Korea over its Jan. 6 nuclear test, State Department spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday could give no update. Read

Not Rambo: Iranian TV Highlights Online Mockery of Captured US Sailors

An Iranian state-run television network is highlighting social media postings that mock the U.S. military, juxtaposing images of the Hollywood action character Rambo with one of U.S. Navy sailors kneeling at gunpoint after being apprehended last month by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Read

Kerry Calls ISIS ‘Apostates’; Not Even World’s Top Sunni Authority Has Done So

President Obama and members of his administration frequently state that there is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday went further, labeling the Sunni terrorist group “apostates.” Read

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Contradicting Kerry, Iran Claims $100 Billion in Sanctions Relief ‘Fully’ Released

Iran now has access to more than $100 billion in formerly frozen assets that has been “fully” released as a result of the nuclear deal, regime spokesman Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht has claimed in an interview with state-owned television. Read

Sen. Cotton Introduces Bill to Rescind ‘Nonsensical’ Directive on Israel/West Bank Product Labelling

Accusing the Obama administration of a new “effort to put daylight between the United States and Israel,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Monday introduced legislation aimed at annulling what he called a “nonsensical” directive on labeling goods produced in the territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinians. Read

Iran Warns US: We Have Even More Embarrassing Footage of Your Captured Sailors

The head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy said Monday that if the U.S. seeks to humiliate Iran, the IRGC would release footage of ten U.S. sailors detained last month that is much more embarrassing than images released earlier. Read

Monday, February 01, 2016

550 Syrian Refugees Admitted to U.S. Since Paris Attacks Now Include 2 Christians

Five hundred and fifty Syrian refugees have been admitted into the United States since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) carried out terrorist attacks in Paris last November, and of those, two (0.3 percent) are Christians. Read

Ayatollah Awards Medals, Promotions to IRGC Personnel Who Held US Sailors at Gunpoint

More than two weeks after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors overnight in the Persian Gulf supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday awarded medals to the men involved. Read

From Lack of Reparations to Voter-ID Laws, UN Experts Slam U.S.

A trio of U.N. human rights experts ended a fact-finding visit to the United States Friday with a sharp critique of the conditions faced by African-Americans today, and decried the fact that “there has been no real commitment to recognition and reparations” for slavery. Read