Saturday, January 31, 2015


Open Jihad Declared in Egypt Following State Dept. Meeting with Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders … What are the rules to "The Muslim Wheel of Fortune"?

The Muslim Brotherhood called for “a long, uncompromising jihad” in Egypt just days after a delegation of the Islamist group’s key leaders and allies met with the State Department, according to an official statement released this week.


Just days after a delegation that included two top Brotherhood leaders was hosted at the State Department, the organization released an official statement calling on its supporters to “prepare” for jihad, according to an independent translation of the statement first posted on Tuesday.

The State Department meeting was attended by a deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor and other State Department officials.
The Muslim Brotherhood statement also was issued just two days before a major terror attack Thursday in Egypt’s lawless Sinai region that killed at least 25.

“It is incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are in the process of a new phase, where we summon what is latent in our strength, where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom,” it states.

Preparation for jihad is a key theme of the Brotherhood’s latest call for jihad.

An image posted with the statement shows two crossing swords and the word “prepare!” between them. Below the swords it reads, “the voice of truth, strength, and freedom.” According to the statement, “that is the motto of the Dawa of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The statement also invokes the well-known Muslim cleric Imam al-Bana, who founded the Brotherhood and has called for the death of Jews.
Imam al-Bana prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers and the second [Supreme] Guide Hassan al-Hudaybi reconstructed the ‘secret apparatus’ to bleed the British occupiers,” the statement says.

The Brotherhood’s renewed call for jihad comes at a time when current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is cracking down on the group and imprisoning many of its supporters, who notoriously engaged in violence following the ouster of Brotherhood-ally Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt experts said the timing of this declaration is an embarrassment for the State Department.

“The fact that the Brotherhood issued its call to jihad two days after its meeting at the State Department will be grist for endless anti-American conspiracy theories about a supposed partnership between Washington and the Brotherhood,” said Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). “The State Department should have foreseen what an embarrassment this would be.”

One member of that U.S. delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

“Now in the U.S. State Department. Your steadfastness impresses everyone,” reads an Arabic caption posted along with the photo.

Other members of that group included Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.

When asked on Tuesday evening to comment on the meeting, a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon, “We meet with representatives from across the political spectrum in Egypt.”
The official declined to elaborate on who may have been hosted or on any details about the timing and substance of any talks.

The meeting was described by a member of the delegation, Maha Azzam as “fruitful,” according to one person who attended a public event in Washington earlier this week hosted by the group.

The call for jihad, while surprising in light of the Brotherhood’s attempts to appear moderate, is part and parcel of organization’s longstanding beliefs, Trager said.

“Muslim Brothers have been committing violent acts for a very long time,” Trager explained. “Under Morsi, Muslim Brothers tortured protesters outside the presidential palace. After Morsi’s ouster, they have frequently attacked security forces and state property. “

“But until now, the official line from the Brotherhood was to support this implicitly by justifying its causes, without justifying the acts themselves,” he added. “ So the Brotherhood’s open call to jihad doesn’t necessarily mean a tactical shift, but a rhetorical one.”

Terrorism expert and national security reporter Patrick Poole said he was struck by the clarity of the Brotherhood’s call.

“It invokes the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist past, specifically mentioning the ‘special apparatus’ that waged terror in the 1940s and 1950s until the Nasser government cracked down on the group, as well as the troops sent by founder Hassan al-Banna to fight against Israel in 1948,” he said.

“It concludes saying that the Brotherhood has entered a new stage, warns of a long jihad ahead, and to prepare for martyrdom,” Poole said. “Not sure how much more clear they could be.”

Poole wondered if the call for jihad would convince Brotherhood apologists that the group still backs violence.
“What remains to be seen is how this announcement will be received inside the Beltway, where the vast majority of the ‘experts’ have repeatedly said that the Brotherhood had abandoned its terrorist past, which it is now clearly reviving, and had renounced violence,” Poole said. “Will this development be met with contrition, or silence? And what says the State Department who met with these guys this week?”

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Despite a performance rating that’s nearly the lowest it’s ever been, members of Congress are richer than ever. In fact, a Center for Responsive Politics study finds that, on average, one member of Congress has the cumulative worth of 18 American households. Which is an astounding amount of wealth for a body that ended last year as one of the least productive Congresses in American history. Here’s a snapshot of what else the study found:

1) The rest of us got poorer while Congress grew richer.
While the Great Recession took its toll on most Americans, members of Congress saw their wallets grow fatter. Since 2007, the median net worth of Americans has dropped by almost one third (28%). Meanwhile, members of Congress’ median worths rose a staggering 43%.

2) Congress is mostly made of millionaires
The rich (and very rich) are right in their element in Congress. Millionaires made up more than 50% of Congress in 2013, with nearly 271 of the 533 members claiming personal fortunes of at least seven digits. The median net worth of members was $1,029,505 in 2013, up 2.5 percent over the year prior. Contrast that with the median net worth of your average American household, which sits at a comparatively paltry $56,355.

3) The richest members of Congress are hundred-millionares
The top five members of Congress are worth astounding amounts. At $200.5 million, Republican Dave Trott’s personal wealth ranks just fifth highest in Congress. Democrat Jared Polis ranks fourth with $213.2 million. Democrat John K. Delaney is worth $222.4 million, placing him third. Another Democrat, Mark Warner, is worth $254.2 million. And Republican Darryl Issa is by far the richest man in Congress — in fact, it’s not even close — worth an incredible $448.4 million. And that’s still $15.6 million less than he was valued at last year.

4) Altogether, the members of Congress are worth billions
In 2013, the sum of the median worth of the members of Congress was about $4.3 billion. That’s roughly equivalent to the net worth of 76,000 American households. And that’s not including the holdings of Republicans Steve Knight, who for some reason hasn’t filed a financial disclosure statement, and Michael Grimm, who resigned in December after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion charges in a federal court.

5) Nancy Pelosi is among the very rich
The former Speaker of the House and current House Minority Leader grew her fortune hugely between 2012 and 2013, increasing it from $87.9 million to $100.8 million.

6) Surprise! Most didn’t get there by pulling themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps
Most of the members of Congress are rich because they arrived there that way. In fact, of this year’s freshman crop, half were already millionaires when they took office.

Let’s all agree to remember these numbers as Congress slashes and burns programs to help the poor and middle class while lecturing us all about “entitlement programs.”

To marvel at the maddening findings of the study in their entirety for yourself, be sure to click here.



Taliban not a terrorist group, White House deputy press secretary says

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz argued during Wednesday’s briefing that the United States can negotiate prisoner swaps with Taliban members, because the Taliban is not considered a terrorist group.
ABC News reporter John Karlasked the press briefing rookie whether the Jordanian government’s trade with the Islamic State was similar to the United States trading five Taliban members for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“As you know, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens,” Mr. Schultz said. “As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The president’s bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind. That’s the principle he was operating under.”

“Isn’t that what the Jordanians are operating under?” the ABC reporter argued. “The Talibanare still conducting terror attacks, so you can’t really say the war has ended as far as they’re concerned.”

Mr. Schultz explained: “I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. [Islamic State] is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”

“You don’t think the Taliban’s a terrorist group?” Mr. Karl interjected.

“I don’t think that the Taliban — the Taliban is an armed insurgency,” Mr. Schultz corrected. “This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, and that’s why this arrangement was dealt.”



iPhone sales trample expectations as profit sets global record

(Reuters) - Apple Inc quarterly results smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of big-screen iPhones in the holiday shopping season and a 70 percent rise in China sales, powering the company to the largest profit in corporate history.
The company sold 74.5 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 27, while many analysts had expected fewer than 70 million. Revenue rose to $74.6 billion from $57.6 billion a year earlier.

Profit of $18 billion was the biggest ever reported by a public company, worldwide, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt. Apple's cash pile is now $178 billion, enough to buy IBM or the equivalent to $556 for every American.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the Cupertino, California-based company would release its next product, the Apple Watch, in April.

Shares rose about 5 percent to $114.90 in after-hours trade.

Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Apple-shareholder Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta, Georgia, said that the report was a good sign in a quarter where big tech companies such as IBM and Microsoft Corp have disappointed.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters in an interview that the company did not sell more iPhones in China than the United States, despite some earlier predictions by research analysts.
But the big-screen iPhone 6 and 6 plus drove revenues in China were up 70 percent in the quarter from a year earlier. The company's success in the competitive Chinese market can be attributed to its partnership with China Mobile Ltd, the largest global mobile carrier, and the appeal of the larger screen size of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Maestri said he does not expect Apple to struggle because of China's slipping economic growth. "We haven't seen a slowdown," he added.

Maestri also said the company doubled iPhone sales in Singapore and Brazil.
Apple will reach 40 company stores in greater China by mid-2016, Maestri told analysts on a conference call.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, also lauded a 14 percent rise in unit sales of Apple Macintosh computers and sales of older iPhone models.

Apple was well positioned for the current quarter in China, she added, which will include the Chinese New Year holiday and reflect Apple's attempts to sell through new channels.

Apple reported net profit of $18.02 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share, compared with $13.07 billion, or $2.07 per share, a year earlier. That topped expectations of $2.60 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Analysts had expected revenue of $67.69 billion.
Maestri said that Apple faced "a clear headwind" from the strong dollar but that it had included the challenge in its forecasts. Apple predicted revenue of $52 billion to $55 billion in its fiscal second quarter, compared with Wall Street's average target of $53.79 billion.
Cook said that the company's new mobile payment service, Apple Pay, which lets customer buy products from select merchants with their phones, was in its "first inning" and the company would consider adding new features as it looked at expanding outside the United States.

(Reporting by Christina Farr in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Ted Kerr and Lisa Shumaker)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015



Senator Sessions, Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, questioned Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch at today’s Judiciary hearing to consider her nomination. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


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  • Travel Alerts

    We issue a Travel Alert for short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, we cancel the Travel Alert.
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Saturday, January 24, 2015


Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire supporter of Israel, said that the U.S. should fire a nuclear weapon at Iran rather than negotiate. He said that if Obama fires a weapon into the desert, killing no one, and then threatens to send the next one to Tehran so that Iran is “wiped out,” Iran will cease its nuclear program.
What are we going to negotiate about? I would say ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ …You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK let it go.’ And so there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’

The recommendations were met with applause by a Yeshiva University audience.

Adelson, an 80-year-old casino mogul and major supporter of Mitt Romney and other Republican political candidates, made the comments in a dialogue with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach during a conversation called “Will Jews Exist? Iran, Assimilation and the Threat to Israel and Jewish Survival.”

The video I took at Yeshiva University, above, records the exchange. Adelson is in the foreground with his back to the camera. Boteach, a rightwing political figure close to US ambassador Samantha Power and NJ Senator-elect Cory Booker, is on his right. Neither Boteach nor the others on the panel– Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens and Yeshiva University president Richard Joel — objected to Adelson’s idea.

Adelson owns homes in the U.S. and Israel, where he is also a newspaper publisher. The dialogue began when Boteach, who calls himself “America’s rabbi,” says that Adelson believes that Franklin Roosevelt could have prevented the Holocaust. Adelson says:

“He could have prevented the Holocaust… Yes– if not prevented the Holocaust, he could have at least significantly reduced the severity of it.”

Adelson said that Roosevelt could have convinced the British that it was “more important to them and to their future” not to sign the White Paper on Palestine in 1939 that limited Jewish immigration to Palestine. FDR had “unlimited leverage” because he could promise the British that the U.S. would enter World War II once the country ceased to be isolationist.

“He really had the leverage, he really had the upper hand,” Adelson said– something he realizes from being in business 68 years.

“Given your strong feelings about what the U.S. did not do to prevent the Holocaust,” Boteach asks, what are your feelings about “Obama speaking to Iran right now” and having diplomatic relations with Iran, given its threats against Israel? Not as a political person, the rabbi says, but as a prominent American.