Left overs


We know, yesterday was a lot to digest. (Art from the Gregg Griffin "Goth Bunny" series)

From Iran, to Hezbollah, with love. The Israeli army seized and released a ship it believes to have been carrying weapons bound from Iran and Syria and bound for Hezbollah.

They claim to have found a document linking the ship’s cargo to Iran, along with hundreds of weapons. The ship was bound for Syria, but, in a statement from Iran, the country’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, denied Syrian involvement in the shipment. Hezbollah also swatted any association to the arms. “Hezbollah denies any link to the weapons that the Zionist enemy claims it removed from the vessel Francop. At the same time it condemns Israeli piracy in international waters.” Convincing. Meanwhile, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has stated that, if Israeli settlements continue to encroach into Palestinian territory, Palestinians may have to give up on hopes of a two state solution. The only alternative then would be to live in peace with Jews and Christians, but Israelis fear a state with Palestinians as it would make Jews a minority. In all of this confusion, Mahmoud Abbas has decided that he will not seek reelection. “At the end of the day it’s not the presidency. It’s the question of the Israeli government continuing settlement activity, fait accompli policies, dictation. And nineteen years after trying to achive a two-state solution, maybe the president has come to his moment of truth…” commented Erakat.

U.S. jobless claims fell to a 10-month low for last week and business productivity surged at its fastest quarterly gains in six years, pointing to gradual improvement in the labor market. The stock market has been faring quite well, leaving many of the jobless (or those with jobless friends) on Main Street confused about all this “recovery” talk. Analysts expect today’s monthly jobs figures to paint the same picture, and breathe some hope to the gravely unsteady employment situation. This is bound to boost consumer confidence if the trend continues.

Extraordinary rendition goes on trial, and is convicted. An Italian judged charged 23 Americans with the 2003 kidnapping of Egyptian Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in Milan. From there he was taken to Germany and Cairo where he was kept for years before his release without charge. This practice, known as “extraordinary rendition,” began in the Bush administration. All of the individuals were charged and convicted in absentia. The U.S State Department stated that it’s “disappointed” with the verdict, and unless the government decides to extradite the 23 convicts, they will remain fugitives of international law. Learn more about extraordinary rendition from Frontline’s expose.

The UN announced plans to reduce the number of individuals it has stationed in Afghanistan temporarily. It will relocate roughly 600 of its 1100-member staff outside Kabul to destinations like Dubai, in response to the attack on a UN residence that killed five of the body’s employees. “Let me emphasise in light of media reports this morning, we are not talking about pulling out, and we are not talking about evacuation,” said Kai Eide, the UN’s special rep in Afghanistan. “We are simply doing what we have to do following the tragic event of last week to look after our workers while ensuring our operation in Afghanistan can continue.”

Authorities have identified the shooter in the Soldiers Readiness Center at the Ft. Hood Army Base in Texas as 39 0r 40-year-old Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, according to news reports. 12 are confirmed dead and 31 injured in an attack that began yesterday afternoon. The attack started as military prepared to leave a soldier readiness center to ship off to Iraq for combat. President Obama addressed the tragedy while visiting the Department of the Interior to speak with Native American Tribal Leaders.

“I had planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for native Americans as well as collaboration with our administration,” Obama began. “But as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas. We don’t yet know all the details at this moment. We will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence. My immediate thought is with the wounded and the families of the fallen. These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis. It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil. “

For up-to-the-minute information, go here.

Fourteen hedge fund bankers and other insiders, including an employee of infamous Raj Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group, have been charged for participating in a $14 million insider trading scheme. Five have pleaded guilty. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the Securities and Exchange Commission was also involved in the arrests. The SEC filed an amended lawsuit in the Rajaratnam case, adding as defendants some individuals charged yesterday.

“If you’re a wealthy trader, you aren’t special,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said today at a press conference, where he warned that more prosecutions in the insider case may be coming. “Knock on our door before we come knocking on yours.”

Nine protesters were arrested for storming Senator Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) office in protest of his opposition to health care reform. “Everyone in and no one out, universal health care now!” and “Represent Connecticut, not AETNA!” were choice slogans. Though Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats and ran in 2006 promising universal health care, he has has stated high opposition to the public option and may support a Republican filibuster of Democratic health care reform. Over 60 percent of Connecticut residents polled are in favor of reform, so why is Leiberman ignoring his constituents? Lieb has collected over $1.6 million from health care-related and pharmaceutical companies. His wife, Hadassah, has worked for lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton, whose clients include powerhouse health care industry players. Meanwhile, anti-reform protestors (though no one wants you to call them that) have gathered at the request of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Thousands of people, organized by grass roots Tea Party groups, have joined to hold signs like “Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds,” a reference to theories of Jewish world dominance centered around the prominent Jewish family of Rothschilds, and chant “Palin/Bachmann 2012.”



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