Oregon Bomb-Plot Suspect Wanted ‘Spectacular Show’
A Somali-born teenager plotted “a spectacular show” of terrorism for months, saying he didn’t mind that children would die if he bombed a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents. Fortunately, he never got the chance. The case is the latest in a string of alleged terrorist planning by U.S. citizens or residents, including a Times Square plot in which a Pakistan-born man pleaded guilty earlier this year to trying to set off a car bomb at a busy street corner. In the Portland plot, Mohamud believed he was receiving help from a larger ring of jihadists as he communicated with undercover agents. The official said Mohamud planned the details, including where to park the van to hurt the most people. Mohamud graduated from high school in Beaverton. He was enrolled at Oregon State University over the past year before withdrawing Oct. 6, the school said. Mohamud was known at the Salman Al-Farisi Center in Corvallis, said Yosof Wanly, imam at the mosque.
- · The ‘peaceful’ religion of Islam encourages Muslims to kill ‘infidels’ (non-believers). It is clearly Satan’s religion of choice.
Wikileaks Publishes Secret Diplomatic Papers
A quarter-million State Department documents — cables from around the world that were not meant to be made public — offer an unvarnished glimpse into diplomatic efforts to prevent terrorism, secure nuclear material, negotiate treaties and assess foreign leaders, according to the online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and news organizations that began to publish the material Sunday. The documents date from 1966 through February of this year. “This document release reveals the contradictions between the U.S.’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes,” WikiLeaks said. In recent weeks, the government pressured the organization not to publish the sensitive information, some of which officials argued could undermine U.S. security. The New York Times and the Britain’s Guardian said they had withheld information that could endanger individuals. On Sunday, the White House condemned the release in a statement: “President Obama supports responsible, accountable and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.”
- · I thought Obama wanted transparency?
Saudi King Urged Strike on Iran
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. A copy of the cable, dated April 20, 2008, was published in the New York Times website Sunday after the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released it. The classified communication between the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and Washington showed that the Saudis feared Shi’ite Iran’s rising influence in the region, particularly in neighboring Iraq. The United States has stated repeatedly that the military option is on the table, but at the same time U.S. military chiefs have made it clear they view it as a last resort, fearing it could ignite wider conflict in the Middle East.
Europe Bans BPA
The European Commission voted Thursday to ban the estrogen-like chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, from plastic baby bottles by the middle of next year. European Union countries must stop manufacturing polycarbonate plastic baby bottles with BPA by March; they must stop selling or importing them by June. The vote comes a week after American opponents of BPA failed to include a ban on the chemical in a $1.4 billion food-safety bill. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had championed a ban on BPA in baby bottles, blamed the chemical industry for defeating her proposal. Although consumer backlash has prompted major American baby bottle manufacturers to stop using BPA, the chemical is used in cheaper products sold in discount stores. The American Chemistry Council, which represents the plastics industry, maintains that BPA is safe.
Congress Heading for Standoff on Key Issues
Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week facing a deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown as Democrats show no signs of relenting on priority agenda items despite surging Republican opposition. Republicans said Democrats continue to pursue their agenda as if the midterm elections, in which the GOP gained control of the House and expanded its ranks in the Senate, did not happen. Republicans will not have their enhanced numbers until the new Congress convenes in January. The prospect is for a standoff on core issues in this lame-duck session, including extension of the tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts permanently for all households, including those with incomes beyond $250,000. Democrats have held firm on extending cuts only to those with incomes below that amount. Attention will also focus this week on Obama’s deficit-reduction commission, which is due to release a report Wednesday aimed at reducing the deficit and coping with rising Social Security and Medicare costs.
Shares in Ireland’s banks are rising as investors support the EU-IMF rescue loan for Ireland, particularly its immediate focus on injecting $13 billion into the cash-strapped banks. The lead IMF negotiator, Ajai Chopra, says he believes Ireland may not need to use the full loan facility and the plan’s requirement for Ireland to commit euro17.5 billion of its own cash and pension reserves is “a sign of strength.” Ireland‘s international bailout may have relieved investors Monday but it outraged many across the country who find that a requirement to raid state pension funds to protect foreign creditors unjustly burdens average taxpayers for the mistakes of a rich elite.
The escalating debt crisis on the eurozone periphery is starting to contaminate the creditworthiness of Germany and the core states of monetary union. Credit default swaps (CDS) measuring risk on German, French and Dutch bonds have surged over recent days, rising significantly above the levels of non-EMU states in Scandinavia. “Germany cannot keep paying for bail-outs without going bankrupt itself,” said Professor Wilhelm Hankel, of Frankfurt University.
The sound of new artillery fire from North Korea just hours after the U.S. and South Korea launched a round of war games in Korean waters sent residents and journalists on a front-line island scrambling for cover Sunday. None of the rounds landed on Yeonpyeong Island, military officials said, but South Korea’s Defense Ministry later warned journalists to leave the island. The incident showed how tense the situation remains along the Koreas’ disputed maritime border five days after a North Korean artillery attack decimated parts of the island and killed four South Koreans.
Iraqi authorities have made their first arrests in one of the deadliest attacks recorded against Iraqi Christians. Christian Today reports that twelve members of the Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 31 attack, were arrested last week. Militants had stormed the church during mass wearing suicide vests and taking about 120 churchgoers hostage. Nearly 60 people, mainly worshippers, were killed. More were wounded. Extremists have targeted Christians in multiple bombing attacks since then, killing several more Christians. Meanwhile, human rights watchdogs say extremists are focused on eliminating Christianity from Iraq. “I’m using the word religion-cide to explain to people what is really taking place in Iraq right now,” said Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA.
Nearly all the major candidates in Haiti’s presidential election called for Sunday’s election to be voided amid allegations of fraud and reports that large numbers of voters were turned away from polling stations across the quake-stricken country. Twelve of the 19 candidates endorsed a joint statement denouncing the voting as fraudulent and calling on their supporters to show their anger with demonstrations against the government and the country’s Provisional Electoral Council, known as the CEP. The statement included all of the major contenders but one: Jude Celestin, who is backed by the Unity party of President Rene Preval. The CEP had earlier acknowledged problems with the voter lists but said immediately after the candidates’ news conference that the election would continue.
Egypt‘s opposition said Monday that its candidates were heavily defeated in parliamentary elections a day earlier, accusing the ruling party of manipulating the vote to ensure a sweeping victory. Opposition complaints were backed up by a coalition of local and international rights groups that observed Sunday’s elections and said they lacked any transparency and were marred by widespread fraud. The coaltion of rights groups estimated that turnout for the elections was only 10 to 15%, substantially less than the 25% turnout in the 2005 and criticized the denial of access to representatives of the opposition parties and independents to the ballot boxes. In the absence of any kind of monitors, either from civil society or the opposition, the activists alleged supporters of the ruling party were able to stuff the ballot boxes — something they could not do in the past because of the presence of judges in the polling stations.
Voters in Spain‘s wealthy and influential northeastern Catalonia have ousted the Socialist party and given the conservative nationalist Convergence and Union party — CiU — a comfortable majority in regional elections. The results are a rebuke to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero‘s party, which suffered a backlash because of the country’s slumping economy. The setback could be mirrored nationwide in municipal elections and 13 regional government ballots in May. Zapatero must face national elections in 2012.
Rio police backed by helicopters and armored vehicles invaded a shantytown complex long held by traffickers on Sunday, quickly taking over the key drug gang stronghold. Black-clad officers from elite police units entered the Alemao slum complex amid heavy fire, with TV images showing police and army helicopters flying low to support the men on the ground as hundreds of drug gang members tried to hold their position. But the officers encountered less resistance than expected and claimed victory, saying police were controlling the shantytown complex although many gang members still remained inside. At least five police helicopters were buzzing atop the Alemao, helping provide intelligence on where the gang members might be.
The ambitious climate bill that President Obama had backed, which sought to commit the U.S. to reduce industrial pollution 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 is now officially dead. Obama couldn’t get the bill passed this year when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, and he has said he’ll pursue smaller measures — what he calls “singles” instead of “home runs” — that could draw GOP support. He has cited efforts to promote electric vehicles, nuclear power, renewable energy and energy efficiency. He also has touted the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans, beginning next year, to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
For the first time in recorded history, 12 hurricanes formed this year in the Atlantic basin without a single one making landfall in the United States. The six-month hurricane season officially ends Tuesday. Half of them went to the “right,” curving out into the Atlantic Ocean, and half went to the “left,” into the Caribbean Sea. Tropical storms and hurricanes killed more than 250 people in the Caribbean and Central America this season.