Thursday, March 27, 2014

"President Barack Obama and the Vatican gave distinctly different accounts of the president's audience with Pope Francis"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"President Barack Obama and the Vatican gave distinctly different accounts of the president's audience with Pope Francis"

Interesting AP report of today's meeting between Obama and il Papa:
President Barack Obama and the Vatican gave distinctly different accounts of the president's audience with Pope Francis, with Obama stressing their common ground over issues of poverty and inequality and Vatican officials emphasizing sharp differences over abortion and birth control.
Obama described himself as "incredibly moved" by his nearly hour-long session with the popular pontiff. He said the two spent the most time discussing the plight of the poor and the marginalized as Pope_Obama_Meetwell as regions of conflict and the elusive nature of peace around the world.
The Vatican, in statement shortly after the conclusion of the meeting, said discussions centered on questions of "particular relevance for the church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection" — issues that have fueled divisions between Obama and Catholics in the U.S.
But Obama said those discussions took place with the Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, not with Francis. Issues like contraception and religious freedom, Obama said, "really was not a topic of conversation" with the pope.
"I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak with him about the responsibilities that we all share to care for the least of these, the poor, the excluded," Obama said during a news conference with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome. "And I was extremely moved by his insights about the importance of us all having a moral perspective on world problems and not simply thinking in terms of our own narrow self-interests."
The marked difference in emphasis introduced a perplexing element to the long-anticipated meeting, which the White House has looked forward to as way to validate Obama's economic policies. But in a report on Vatican Radio the day before the meeting, the Vatican signaled that the divisive issues would indeed be on the agenda.
Wonder who might not be telling the truth here?

Obama holds 52-minute meeting with Pope Francis

Obama holds 52-minute meeting with Pope Francis

  • March 27, 2014: Pope Francis meets President Barack Obama at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gabriel Bouys, Pool)
President Obama met Pope Francis at the Vatican for nearly an hour Thursday amid a complex backdrop of conflict over contraception, concern for the plight of the poor, and the pontiff's emergence as a powerful persona on the world stage.
Obama arrived amid the pomp and tradition of the Catholic Church, making his way to greet the pope after a long, slow procession.
"Wonderful meeting you, I'm a great admirer," the president said to Pope Francis when the two met in the Small Throne Room of the papal residence. "Thank you sir, thank you."
The pontiff and the president shook hands before sitting down with their translators at a wooden table in the Papal Library for their meeting.
"I bring greetings from my family," the president said. "The last time I came here to meet your predecessor I was able to bring my wife and children."
 The two were scheduled to meet for half an hour, but their private discussion lasted 52 minutes. Obama seem buoyed by the meeting as they emerged and the pope greeted a handful of Obama's senior advisers. Catholic Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced himself "a great admirer of everything you've been doing, as a Catholic, for the church."
Obama then presented the pope with a seed chest with fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House Garden, in honor of the pope's announcement earlier this year that he's opening the gardens of the papal summer residence to the public. The chest was custom-made of leather and reclaimed wood from Baltimore's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the U.S, and inscribed with the date of their meeting.
Obama is the ninth president to make an official visit to the Vatican. His audience marked a change of pace for the president, who has devoted the past three days of a weeklong, four-country trip to securing European unity against Russia's aggressive posture toward Ukraine.
Francis is the second Pope to lead the world's Roman Catholics during Obama's term of office. The president visited Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, a cordial meeting that nevertheless drew attention to the differences between the church and Obama on abortion.
To be sure, the relationship between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church is a fraught one. But in Francis, the White House sees the popular pope and his emphasis on economic disparity as a form of moral validation of the president's economic agenda.
Ahead of the visit, the White House said that Obama planned to speak with Pope Francis about "their shared commitment to fighting poverty and income inequality."
"The pope challenges us. He implores us to remember people, families, the poor," Obama said in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published ahead of his papal visit. "He invites us to stop and reflect on the dignity of man."
Several presidents have found comfort if not allies in the pope.
President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II famously shared an antipathy for the former Soviet Union, Reagan the Cold War warrior and the pope a Polish priest who fought communism in his country and later in Europe.
"Sometimes in these meetings there are compatible personalities," said Paul Begala, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and a Catholic himself. He recalled being with Clinton when the president met John Paul II in Denver.
"They were only supposed to meet alone for five minutes," he said in an interview earlier this year. "Those two gregarious, charismatic men sat in that room for an hour without another soul in there."
The Obama-Francis chemistry remains to be seen, but thematically both seem to be on some of the same pages.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, at the Vatican this week trying to secure Francis' attendance in Philadelphia next year, said he expected the Obama-Francis meeting to be good for both the U.S. and the Vatican.
"We have the most important religious figure in the world as part of that meeting, and one of the most important political leaders, so anytime the church and politics come together is an important moment for dialogue, discussion and the commitment to the common good," Chaput told reporters Tuesday at the Vatican.
Still, there are difficult areas of discord between U.S. bishops and the Obama administration over abortion and the administration's health care overhaul. U.S. bishops were among the most outspoken opponents of Obamacare, objecting to its mandatory coverage of contraception. The Supreme Court this week seemed divided when hearing arguments in a case in which companies argued that they have religious rights and can object to such coverage based on such beliefs.
In a possible hint of the Vatican's position, Vatican Radio, in an article in advance of the visit, took special note that Obama's papal audience takes place "in the context of a complex phase of the administration's relations with the Church of the United States." It went on to mention implementation of the health care law and legalization of gay marriage.
On Ukraine, Francis issued an appeal for dialogue early in the month. But otherwise the Vatican has kept a low profile on the issue, a possible sign that it doesn't want to inflame tensions with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Developments in the Middle East are also a likely topic. Obama has opposed military strikes against Syria in favor of diplomacy. And he will travel to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of May.
Francis faithfully backs church teaching on abortion — he has said he's a "son of the church" — but his emphasis and tone are elsewhere. He has said he wants his church to be more of a missionary, welcoming place for wounded souls rather than a moralizing church.
He caused a fuss in November when he decried some conservative economic theories as unproven. "The excluded are still waiting," he wrote.
Francis' attention to poverty has also captured the attention of Republicans, prompting some to stake out high-profile anti-poverty positions. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has extended a formal and open invitation to the pope to address Congress when he visits the United States.
No doubt there is a political dimension to Obama's visit as well. The president won the Catholic vote in both of his elections, helped by heavy support from Hispanic Catholics. Some of that support has waned since.
Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found that the pope remains hugely popular, with more than 8 in 10 U.S. Catholics saying they have a favorable view of the pontiff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Minnesota: GOP endorses Somali Muslim for state house

Minnesota: GOP endorses Somali Muslim for state house

via MNGOP Endorses Abdimalik Askar h/t Megan
The Republican Party of Minnesota is proud to announce that Abdimalik Askar is the endorsed Republican candidate running for the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 60B in Minneapolis. Askar is the first Somali Minnesotan to be endorsed by Republicans to run for the state legislature. 
“Abdimalik Askar is a dynamic candidate, and we are so pleased that he stepped forward to run,” said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman, Keith Downey.  ”It is exciting for Republicans to endorse someone from the Somali community, but more importantly, he would represent his district so well. He is a very talented individual. And he stands strongly for the American Dream and the values of his community
What are the values of his community?
Askar is basing his positive message of opportunity on conservative values including better schools and school choice, small businesses, family values, and promoting diversity within our communities.

Queens assemblyman denies travel voucher payment abuse as FBI seizes records

Queens assemblyman denies travel voucher payment abuse as FBI seizes records

Assemblyman claims innocence during apparent probe of travel voucher abuse
Updated 10:37 pm, Wednesday, March 26, 2014
  • Assembly member William Scarborough speaks to reporters Wednesday Feb. 26, 2014 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, NY.    (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)
    Assembly member William Scarborough speaks to reporters Wednesday Feb. 26, 2014 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, NY. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)
William Scarborough rose early Wednesday in his Howard Johnson motel room to down a few ibuprofen for his pre-arthritis. That would only be the start of the state assemblyman's considerable discomfort.
FBI agents descended on the Queens Democrat's hotel room around 5:45 a.m. The same morning, agents visited his Capitol and district offices as well as his home as part of an apparent investigation into his use of the Legislature's travel voucher system, under which lawmakers can file for a $172 per diem payment for meals and lodging for each day they are in town on state business.
"This didn't help," Scarborough told reporters gathered outside his office Wednesday. "I took ibuprofen, and the next thing I knew there was a knock on the door."
Investigators carted away several boxes of documents from his office — "just about everything" — confiscated the assemblyman's smartphone and, he said, implied there might be indictments on the horizon.
But Scarborough said he is innocent, and that the investigators' questions seemed motivated by a misunderstanding of how the voucher system works. He said the believed the inquiry was triggered by a "hit job" in a New York City tabloid, an apparent reference to an October 2012 article in the New York Post that detailed the more than $59,000 in payments he collected in 2010 and 2011.
"I'm innocent," Scarborough said in an impromptu 15-minute news conference outside his sixth-floor suite of offices in the Legislative Office Building as groups of citizens in town to lobby lawmakers on the state budget streamed past.
"But I understand the reality," he said. "I understand what it means to stand here with you guys, and I understand how that's going to look. And I understand how it will never, ever be removed — even if this whole thing goes away. This is what it is."
Scarborough said agents quizzed him about per diem claims for days he was teaching an evening class at Brooklyn College. That class, he said, ended at 6:30 p.m., allowing him to hit the road for the roughly two-and-a-half-hour drive to Albany by 9 or 9:30 p.m.
"The Assembly regulations say that if I spend the night in Albany on that day, let's say the 4th, I'm entitled to claim that day as having been here," Scarborough said. "And so this is just one example of what I think is a misrepresentation or misreading of the rules. There were others. I don't know the universe of what they have. But of the ones that they presented to me, I think they are refutable."
A spokeswoman for the FBI in Albany confirmed that the bureau executed search warrants at Scarborough's Albany office and "multiple" other locations, including in New York City. But she declined to discuss the nature or scope of the investigation. A spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, which Scarborough said is involved in the inquiry, referred comment to the FBI.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian of New York's Northern District said the searches were part of an "ongoing" investigation, adding "Mr. Scarborough has not been charged and is presumed innocent."
The investigation appears to be joint effort between the Albany FBI's white collar crime section and Schneiderman's public integrity unit.
The raids are yet another ding in the reputation of the scandal-prone Legislature and of Scarborough's section of Queens, which was rocked almost exactly a year ago by a series of arrests that began with federal corruption charges against state Sen. Malcolm Smith, whose district covers almost all of Scarborough's.
They also come at an awkward time for lawmakers, who are in the final stages of negotiating a state budget that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted include a package of reforms — including public financing of elections — to tamp down corruption.

Three weeks ago, Brooklyn Democrat William Boyland Jr. was bounced from his Assembly seat when a federal jury convicted him of extortion and soliciting bribes. Boyland was also convicted of submitting some $70,000 worth of bogus per diem and travel vouchers.
"There's no question that we are under scrutiny ... in the Assembly," Scarborough said. "It is also true that my particular area of southeast Queens is also under scrutiny for various reasons. ... The irony to me is I've tried to go out of my way to keep on the straight and narrow."
In 2012, Scarborough topped the Assembly in per diem payments, pulling in an additional $33,986 above his $79,500 base salary and $12,500 bonus (known as a "lulu") for chairing the Small Business Committee.
Scarborough's expense and per diem haul dropped to $28,438 last year, according to data from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office. He has claimed $10,349 so far this year.
The lawmaker said his claims are consistently high because "I have a habit of coming up here off-session."
"I don't see where I can just leave my office here for six months and not come here and think that business is being taken care of," he said.
Scarborough, who said he was shocked by the raid, said agents pressured him help them further other investigations.
"They said to me for example, you know, 'All right, we'd like you to take responsibility and help us if you know of any corruption.' And the reality is I don't know of any corruption because if anything seems to come my way I try to get out of it," Scarborough said. "I was at a disadvantage. It would have been easier for me to say, 'OK, yeah, I know of this person. We sat down and we talked about putting money under the table.' But I don't know about that."
Scarborough said he believes agents will come up empty-handed. And he said investigators sent mixed signals about the likelihood that there will be charges.
"What I was told was that there might be indictments and I would not be one of them. When I spoke with people here (later), they seemed to have kind of tempered that statement, so I have no idea," Scarborough said. "It was implied. I don't want to misstate, but that was the implication at the time."
He added: "In this business, you're guilty until proven innocent. That's just the fact, OK? And I have always felt — because I've seen it with colleagues, I've seen it with others — that an accusation, an allegation, becomes an indictment."
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US Sanctions on Russia are Indirect Sanctions on the EU

US Sanctions on Russia are Indirect Sanctions on the EU

European countries are toeing the US line on sanctions against Russia, but when it comes to the economy they say they don’t want those sanctions, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, told RT.
RT: Obama said that the West is united against Russia, and that Russia could face further isolation. Angela Merkel, though, wants to deescalate the situation. The Czech parliament also voted against more sanctions. Why aren’t they all on the same page?
Michael Chossudovsky: This is a double-edged sword because the EU imports more than one-third of its gas and fuel from Russia. And consequently, if there are sanctions imposed on Russia, this will immediately backlash. In effect these are indirect sanctions on the EU, because the EU has no immediate alternative to those purchases of fuel and natural gas from the Russian Federation. The pressure for the imposition of sanctions is emanating from Washington – and the governments of the European countries may in fact toe the line at the diplomatic level. But when it comes to the economic and trade the answer is no, we don’t want those sanctions, because immediately it is going to penalize not the Russian people, but the people of the EU.
RT: What about the existing EU and US sanctions against certain Russian individuals? What economic effect do you think they could have?
MC: The sanctions are symbolic and in effect they are very arrogant in terms of conduct of diplomacy to target individuals within the Russian government – you can’t travel, your assets are frozen and so on. It is more of a harassment. It is not something which will impede the Russian state, a large country with a big economy to take action in that regard. It simply indicates the fact that Washington is somewhat desperate to find a solution.
Washington cannot implement meaningful sanctions as it would do with poor countries, maybe in Africa or Latin America, or maybe in Southeast Asia in the case of Myanmar. They can’t do it with Russia or China, because it simply does not work.
We have to bear in mind that the Western economies are very fragile, because on one the hand they depend on imports of energy. The West, taken together, the US, Canada and so on, their reserves of oil and natural gas are very small in relation to those of the Middle East and other energy-producing economies like Russia.
Now take the case of China. China is a major supplier of consumer goods to most of the Western countries. “Made in China” is everywhere in the shopping malls and department stores. And imagine if the sanctions are imposed on China for one reason or another. Well, China will say, no more “Made in China” commodities for the USA, which would immediately create havoc, at least in the immediate future, it would create havoc in the supply of consumer goods to millions of people.
RT: Russia’s no longer welcome to be a part of the G8. What does Moscow stand to lose from being excluded from that partnership?
MC: The G8 goes back to the days of Boris Yeltsin. The G7 was never a decision-making body. It was really a gathering of seven heads of government -heads of State and it was an opportunity to socialize. Some discussions were taking place but most of the communiqués were drafted in advance. And then Boris Yeltsin really asked the G7, “Well, I would also like to come,” and then they created the G8. In fact what they had was the G7 + 1 initially, and then it eventually evolved toward the G8.In the early days of the G8, Russia did not participate in the entire event. It came on the last two days, so to speak.
I don’t see this as a meaningful gesture. I think it is idiotic from a diplomatic point of view, because the G7/G8 offers an environment which is relaxed, where the US, European and Canadian heads of state heads of government could have established a dialogue with Russia, with president Putin at that venue with a view of resolving certain dimensions of this crisis. But they have chosen to cut the diplomatic dialogue and they are saying, “We don’t want to talk to you anymore.” The G7 was a place where you talk because nothing is decided in the G7/G8. It is an informal body of heads of government.

‘The Impact Cost IMF Assistance will be devastating for Ukraine’

RT: An aid package for Ukraine’s economy is advancing in the US Congress and Kiev’s talking to the IMF about loans too. Will that help be enough to save Ukraine’s devastated economy?
MC: We have to distinguish between different components of a bilateral aid package. The US State Department has money which it grants to Ukraine and so does USAID. There are two components of that so-called aid package. But ultimately at both the USAID and the State Department there is no actual accounting to where the money goes and to whom the money goes. So in fact this could go to NGOs, it could be channeled through the National Endowment for Democracy. It could go even to political parties or to individuals or to programs and it is in the nature of the bilateral relations. But I should mention that the aid which is promised by the West both in relation to the bilateral aid and the IMF loan, and in fact what happens is that governments will piggy back on to an IMF loan and they will provide additional funding with conditionality, but that loan of the IMF is fictitious. It is fictitious because Ukraine is heavily indebted and does not even have the ability of meeting its short-term debt obligations.
RT: Kiev could get over $20 billion worth of help from the US and the IMF soon, but what would that mean for Ukraine’s economy in the long run?
MC: The impacts on Ukraine’s economy right now are potentially devastating because the IMF is going to come in with very drastic reforms. Those reforms we know what they look like. There will be privatizations of state assets but also bankruptcy of private sector enterprises, possibly even breaking up some of the larger business conglomerates which are owned by the so-called oligarchs.
The IMF reforms will be devastating. They will have conditions in regard to curtailment of expenditures on social programs, curtailment of education. The reforms will trigger the collapse of the Ukrainian currency leading to inflation, increases to the cost of living. And bear in mind, this is the country which has already been impoverished as a result of IMF reforms going back to 1994 when the price of bread went up overnight 300 percent, and the price of transportation went up 900 percent. So we have an economy that is already crippled. Its agriculture has a tremendous potential but with these manipulations the likelihood is that assets as well as money will end up in the hands of Western companies.
RT: And ultimately, do you think Kiev’s government will be able to just avoid working with Russia altogether, and only do business with EU nations and the US.
MC: I think the answer to that question has to do with the nature of that government. That is not a real government. That government was installed following a coup d’etat led by extreme right groups and it also integrates within the government two neo-Nazi parties, Svoboda and the Right Sector which is now becoming a political party.
And key portfolios are held by members of these neo-Nazi groups.
So the question is, is it a real government or is it a proxy government which is obeying orders of Western creditors and Washington? Is it the government that can establish international relations with the international community or with Russia? I suspect it cannot. It is a government in crisis. We have to wait until the elections of May 25, if those elections are held, to see what would be the ultimate outcome, but I’m not particularly optimistic in that regard, because that government which is not a real government does not have the support for the people of Ukraine. It was brought into office as a result of riots and the storming of the parliament and it is supported by the West and that is fairly well understood. And I think what the Ukrainian people now need is a government which is sovereign and which can make choices to restore the bilateral relations with Russia and the EU, but not under the fist of conditionalities which are imposed by Washington and the IMF.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Obama’s Speech on Ukraine: Propaganda and Lies

Obama’s Speech on Ukraine: Propaganda and Lies

The speech delivered by President Barack Obama in Brussels Wednesday was a call to arms for a US-NATO confrontation against Russia. With a series of lies and evasions, Obama presented a world turned upside down in which the US and European imperialists, who backed the coup in Ukraine spearheaded by fascistic forces, are the defenders of democracy and peace.
There was little in the speech that could convince working people, either in Europe or the United States, that a policy of open-ended conflict with Russia was in their interests. That was not the purpose of the speech, which consisted of one propaganda lie after another, uttered with the assurance that there would be no serious criticism, let alone opposition, within the ruling elites of the US and Europe or from their media mouthpieces.
Obama sought to elaborate the basis for a major turn in US foreign policy—what one of his foreign policy advisers called a “strategic pivot” towards confronting Russia, deliberately employing the same term that the White House has used to describe its systematic anti-China policy in the Far East.
One aim of this strategy of confrontation is to provide a new political axis for the US-dominated NATO military structure, which has visibly frayed in the absence of the old Cold War framework.
Much of the speech was devoted to rehashing long-discredited claims that American imperialism and its European allies represent democracy, freedom and the popular will. Obama invoked the conflict between democratic ideals and the authoritarian view that “order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign.”
But the words rang rather hollow coming from a president who has claimed absolute and unreviewable power to order the drone-missile assassination of anyone he chooses, anywhere in the world, and whose government asserts the right to collect and store the e-mails, text messages and telephone calls of the entire human race.
The focus of the speech was an indictment of Russian actions in Crimea, which was annexed last week after a popular referendum in the region. “Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident,” Obama declared, “that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.”
Of course, these are precisely the principles that successive US governments have trampled on: the 1999 US-NATO bombing of Serbia that resulted in the redrawing of its borders by force and the secession of Kosovo; the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, in flagrant violation of international law; and countless instances in which the US tramples on the rights of “people and nations” to “make their own decisions” when those decisions come into conflict with the interests of American imperialism.
The Russian government of President Vladimir Putin has pointed to the hypocrisy of the US-European outcry over Crimea, citing many of these examples, and Obama sought to rebut Putin’s arguments by employing the technique of the big lie.
He rejected any comparison between Crimea and Kosovo, denying that Kosovo was an example “of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country.” Obama asserted, “NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years,” ignoring the responsibility of the United States and the European powers, particularly Germany, for fomenting the breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines. In Kosovo, the US sponsored the gangsters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who carried out tit-for-tat atrocities against the Serb population, and now, in power, persecute the Roma and other minorities.
“Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy,” Obama continued. “Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well.”
There was no significant debate or democratic discussion in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq. The war was the outcome of a political conspiracy. The Bush administration went to war on the basis of brazen lies about Iraq’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction and its nonexistent alliance with Al Qaeda. The mass demonstrations that showed the opposition of millions of Americans, and a majority of the world’s population, were simply ignored.
After claiming he had opposed the Iraq war, Obama sought to justify its conduct and outcome, claiming, “even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”
The truth is that the war in Iraq was the greatest crime—up to now—committed in the 21st century. More than a million Iraqis lost their lives as a result of the US invasion and occupation, and Iraq was destroyed as a functioning society. The Bush administration openly declared that the Geneva Conventions and international law did not apply either to the war in Iraq or the previous conquest and occupation of Afghanistan, a position that the Obama administration continues to uphold.
Obama seeks to rally the world against the supposed crimes of Russia in Crimea, in which, as of this writing, two people have been killed (one Ukrainian soldier and one Russian), while opposing any prosecution of the American war criminals responsible for the immense bloodbath visited upon the people of Iraq.
Instead, the US president excused the monumental crimes of his own government with the statement, “Of course, neither the United States nor Europe are perfect in adherence to our ideals. Nor do we claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world.”
Actually, the US government does claim that role. Administration after administration has declared the United States to be “the indispensable nation,” the sole superpower, the country whose military-intelligence apparatus must be the world’s policeman, and whose leaders are immune from any accountability for their actions.
Obama’s arguments were no less fraudulent when he addressed the specifics of the situation in Ukraine. “Yes, we believe in democracy, with elections that are free and fair, and independent judiciaries and opposition parties, civil society and uncensored information so that individuals can make their own choices,” he claimed.
But in Ukraine, the United States and the European Union rode roughshod over national sovereignty, intervening to foment a coup that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, an elected president, and installing in power not the “choice” of the Ukrainian people, but the choice of Washington.
This was exposed by the notorious phone calls between State Department official Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they discussed the pluses and minuses of various Ukrainian politicians and made their selection of “Yats”—the newly appointed stooge prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk—as the best option.
Obama dismissed the charge that the US is backing fascists in Kiev with a banal reference to his grandfather serving in Patton’s army fighting the Nazis in World War II, as though this had any significance. The US government has backed countless fascists and authoritarian killers since 1945, from Franco in Spain, to the Shah in Iran, to Pinochet in Chile, to the Egyptian military butchers of today—to name only a few.
Obama made no mention of Egypt in his speech, maintaining a guilty silence over the US support for the junta that has just sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death after a two-day show trial. This was a deliberate and cynical omission, as Obama referred to democratic strivings in “Tunis and Tripoli,” but not in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Russian charges of US collaboration with fascists in Kiev are true. US officials have repeatedly met with leaders such as Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the ultra-right Svoboda party, which is a key component of the Ukrainian cabinet, as well as officials of the neo-Nazi Right Sector, which played the role of storm troopers in the fighting to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine. In all, the US State Department and other agencies have expended $5 billion to subvert pro-Russian governments in Ukraine since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Obama’s speech in Brussels was an attempt to justify a policy towards Russia that is aggressive, provocative and incalculably dangerous. The real goal of US actions in this crisis was suggested in the US president’s sneering reference on Tuesday to Russia as merely a “regional power.”
This was not, of course, Obama’s language when seeking to enlist Russian assistance in overthrowing the Assad government in Syria, browbeating Iran or isolating North Korea. But it has been the goal of American imperialism ever since the collapse of the USSR to expand its influence throughout the former Soviet bloc—first in the countries of Eastern Europe, then in former Soviet republics in the Baltics, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and now Ukraine.
Russia is to be reduced not merely to the status of “regional power,” but to a semi-colonial status, dismembered and carved up by the major imperialist powers. In this context, it is clear that when Obama speaks of diplomacy, he means the capitulation of the Russian regime to US and EU demands.
Obama insisted in his speech that Russia’s failure to accept the new arrangements in Eastern Europe established by American and European imperialism be met with ever harsher economic sanctions and political isolation.
In the pursuit of this policy, Washington is turning the regions that border Russia on the west into an armed camp, creating the conditions for any spark or provocation to ignite a military conflagration between nuclear powers. Obama made a point in his speech of invoking Article Five of the NATO charter, which obliges all NATO member states to come to the defense of any single member state that comes under attack—including former East Bloc countries or Soviet republics such as Poland, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. This was an implied threat of military force.
The struggle against imperialist militarism and the threat of US-NATO intervention in the Ukraine crisis requires the independent political mobilization of the working class on an international basis, uniting workers of North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union in a common struggle.

Unholy alliance: Top Republicans to team up with radical Dems to crush anti-establishment GOP candidates

Unholy alliance: Top Republicans to team up with radical Dems to crush anti-establishment GOP candidates

Leading Republicans will raise money and strategize on defeating tea party and other conservative Republican challengers in a conclave at Amelia Island, Fla., on April’s first weekend, according to Red State.
Cantor Boehner
Photo Credit:
Planning to attend the gathering, sponsored by lobbyist Steve LaTourette’s Main Street Advocacy organization, are John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and 25 other top lawmakers, all apparently hell-bent on annihilating the freshest breath of air to hit the party of Lincoln since Newt Gingrich, Red State reported.
Getting contributions of $5,000 per guest, plus donations from lobbyists and influence-peddlers invested in maintaining the status quo, LaTourette stands to raise a significant amount of money targeting anti-establishment GOP candidates. More exasperating is that the true financiers lurking behind the curtains are radical Democrats such as George Soros, leftist unions and unnamed fatcats, according to Red State.
The unholy alliance will schmooze with five-star charm at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, as GOP leaders plot to return milquetoast, get-along Republicans to office, or help upstart conservatives go down to ignominious defeat.
LaTourette, a former Ohio Republican congressman-turned-lobbyist, has parlayed his connections into a well-heeled enterprise inside the Beltway. His corporate sponsors contend their goal is to “bolster our incumbents who are under attack from the far right, and ensure that we hold on to seats represented by pragmatic Republicans that we would otherwise lose if there was an ultra-conservative in the general runoff,” according to Red State.

Obama threatens more executive action on amnesty if GOP doesn’t act by summer

Obama threatens more executive action on amnesty if GOP doesn’t act by summer

dreamersIf Republicans don’t act on a comprehensive package that would ultimately give amnesty to illegal immigrants by summer, President Obama will act on his own, Greg Sargent reported at the Washington Post Wednesday.
“Two immigration reform advocates who have spoken personally with the president in recent days tell me they came away convinced he knows he will have to resort to executive action by summer if Republicans do nothing,” Sargent said.
“The president made it clear that three months from now, if there is no legislative action, he will do more using executive authority,” said Lorella Praelli, the director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream.  “That was the message that we got in different ways.”
Praelli, Sargent added, was in a recent meeting with Obama and others who support amnesty.
“The president left the clear impression that if Republicans don’t act in three months, he will,” added Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, who, Sargent said, was also in the meeting.
Sargent went on to say there is good reason to believe Obama will carry out his threat to act unilaterally.
“The Department of Homeland Security is already reviewing possibilities. If nothing happens by July, and we head into August recess, it’s hard to imagine Republicans acting in September or October, when the midterms are in full swing,” he said.
He also observed that any unilateral action on Obama’s part will, as he put it, “embolden the ‘tyranny’ screaming hard-liners in the House GOP caucus.”
But Republicans have shown they have no stomach for a fight, despite their rhetoric.  A number of Republicans have spoken of impeachment, but have done nothing.
The bottom line for Sargent:
There is good reason to believe that if House Republicans don’t act in the next few months, nothing serious is going to happen until at least 2017. Republicans will be heading into another presidential election without having done anything significant — or perhaps anything at all – to prove their willingness to address a humanitarian crisis afflicting a segment of the electorate that votes in presidential elections and continues to grow in many of the key swing states.
Republicans, however, know that any move to advance amnesty will be met with strong opposition from the conservative base.  And any executive action on Obama’s part will also result in even louder cries for impeachment.
The best hope is for conservatives to take the Senate and hold the House this November.
Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Putin’s strength is Obama’s weakness

Putin’s strength is Obama’s weakness

“I consider it to be my sacred duty to unify the people of Russia, to rally citizens around clear aims and tasks, and to remember every day and every minute that we have one Motherland, one people and one future.”                                                                                
- Vladimir Putin writing in his official biography
As Barack HUSSEIN Obama says he fears a nuclear attack on New York City more than he fears Vladimir Putin running amok, once again he’s calling for Russia to de-escalate the Ukrainian situation…and in Obama’s case that means he’s using the NEVER will come to fruition threat of isolationism and more useless sanctions to do so. Putin must be shaking in his boots…NOT.
You have to give Vladimir Putin credit as he waited patiently for many years for a weakling to become the American president… something he knew George W. Bush was NOT…waited for a man who he had NO respect for to assume the leadership of the world’s leading superpower or must I sadly say now former leading superpower…before he pulled this Ukrainian stunt.

And he found that man in the guise of Barack HUSSEIN Obama…the man who dared to call Putin “weak” and to say that Russia is but a “regional power” who takes over other countries by “weakness, not power.” This man is a joke…a laughing stock, a spineless, wimp whose agenda is, was, and always will be to bring our beloved America down to the level of a Third World country.
Vladimir Putin…the very man who took over a sovereign nation by shear intimidation alone, has been a driving force in Russian politics for more than 12 years, and is now working to create a nation of warriors. Putin is an ultra-nationalist leader hell bent on restoring the glory days of the old Russian Empire let alone the former Soviet Union. Rising from the ranks of the KGB to become the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg then on to the Russian presidency, Vladimir Putin respects power and force…hence his contempt for Barack HUSSEIN Obama. And after years of economic crisis and self-perceived international humiliation at the hands of the West, Putin wants to reinstate Russian core values and bring back now faltering Russian historical traditions by flexing the muscle of brute strength…in other words while Putin wants Russia to be part of the modern world he wants to do so on Russian terms…on his terms.
On his terms for sure, but in certain ways Vladimir Putin and Barack HUSSEIN Obama are one and the same in their narcissism and in their embracing of their own self-importance…their own self-worth. Yet narcissism aside the two men are diametrical opposites in their hopes for their countries as Putin wants Russia to be the world’s number one superpower…and through calculated opportunity and military strength he has laid the path towards that goal…while Barack HUSSEIN Obama wants to abandon America’s superpower status by restraining and reining in America’s strength by cutting and emasculating America’s military.
And while Vladimir Putin is NOT a true Communist per se but is a Statist, and with Barack HUSSEIN Obama being a socialist with the heart of a communist…both still believe that the principle of concentrating economic, political, and related controls lies with the state at the cost of individual liberty…resulting in a weak position for the individual or community with regards to the government. This belief serves Putin well in his current endeavor of rebuilding the ‘motherland’…while Obama takes that belief a step further into building big government alone…the bigger the better for more control…with individual liberties NOT just weak but hopefully for him non-existent…as in ‘We the People’ be damned.
Remember, for Vladimir Putin Russian nationalism is all important…all encompassing…as it trumps all else for pride in the ‘motherland’ is the foundation of his government. Remember also that for Barack HUSSEIN Obama American nationalism…as in pride in American values and ideals…is something to be ashamed of… something to be relegated to a corner like a child hanging his head in shame over a minor infraction of his parents house rules. Putin has great respect for all things Russian…for Russia’s once glorious past…while Obama hates everything American…is ashamed of America’s past…and his actions or lack thereof say it all as his great joys in life are apologizing for America or speaking ill of America as a player on the world stage.
And Putin, whether we believe it to be right or wrong, lives in a culture…in a world…where to him the ends justify the means…as in a return to Russian greatness starting with the takeover of Crimea… bringing Crimea back into the Russian fold. Obama on the other hand lives in a culture…in a self-serving world…where there are NO means just an end…as in the end of America as we know and love her.
Now please do NOT think that I admire Putin in his role as the leader of…for all intents and purposes…Communist Russia. In NO uncertain terms I know full well that he is a bully, a thug, and that his actions regarding Ukraine and Crimea are a breech of international law, but even with that I do somewhat admire Vladimir Putin for his strength of convictions in standing up to and making a mockery of our weak, ineffective, anything but American president and oh so sad excuse of a Commander-in-Chief…a man so full of hot air and proven useless threats that every time he opens his mouth the world’s leaders enjoy a good laugh at our beloved America’s expense.
And that my friends is the saddest thing of all for America has become a laughing stock because America has a man in sitting in the White House who has NO business being there…NO business at all…period.

LPACTV Obama a British Agent doesnt have birth cert Enemy of US starving...

they are not on the Ocean floor they are in terrorist muslim hands tell it to the retards that think obama is god

#MH370 Updates: From Lithium Batteries to Ocean floor

#MH370 Updates: From Lithium Batteries to Ocean floor
Did MH370 crash in the Andaman Sea and then drift thousands of kilometres to the southern Indian Ocean?Raja Dalelah: I’m convinced I saw aircraft near Andaman islands.
Sarah and Philip were due to move to Kuala Lumpur together. Credit: AP/Family handout - Photo Courtesy:
Sarah and Philip were due to move to Kuala Lumpur together. Credit: AP/Family handout – Photo Courtesy:
A team of oceanographers from Australia has been calculating where wind and ocean currents may have carried debris from Flight 370. The model could be used to trace ocean roads back to the plane’s crash site.
AS Australian rescuers stepped up the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, frustration at two weeks of fruitless efforts boiled over in Beijing with police having to restrain angry relatives of the 239 missing passengers and crew.
The issue of lithium batteries came back in the news:
Lithium ion batteries, which are deemed “dangerous” cargo, have been responsible for 140 incidents on planes in the last 23 years, according to FAA.
Meanwhile, Sarah Bajc, the partner of American passenger Philip Wood, voiced concern that the sudden focus on a particular section of the Indian Ocean was happening at the expense of a land search along a northern route the plane may have taken over South and Central Asia.
”I believe, and I think many people believe, the passengers are being held for some other purpose. But so far that doesn’t seem to be listened to,” Bajc told CNN
”If there’s a chance it was taken by an abductor of some sort, then we should be putting at least some of our resources towards looking on land.’’
The mystery deepens with a Malaysian housewife claiming she saw what looked like a Malaysian Airline aircraft in the water near the Andaman seas:
Did MH370 crash in the Andaman Sea and then drift thousands of kilometres to the southern Indian Ocean?
Raja Dalelah: I’m convinced I saw aircraft near Andaman islands.
Article is in the link below:
Under sea Floor
The cluster of suspected debris from Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been sighted above a giant undersea chain of volcanoes whose complex terrain has barely been charted, says an Australian marine geologist.
Robin Beaman from James Cook University said so little of the southern Indian Ocean sea floor, including the search zone, had been mapped in detail that any attempt to retrieve wreckage would require extensive 3D mapping, likely by ships with deep ocean multibeam echo sounders.
But Australia no longer has the capacity to chart depths of 3000 metres, the average depth of the search area, because the only government vessel capable of conducting mapping of that kind, the RV Southern Surveyor, had been decommissioned in December.
The research vessel’s replacement was being built in Singapore and was about to undergo sea trials, Dr Beaman said.
Read more:

Lyndon LaRouche Webcast, March 21st, 2014

BRUCE: Obama’s bizarre immigration rules

BRUCE: Obama’s bizarre immigration rules

Story Topics
Last month, President Obama took an action making it easier for supporters of Islamist terrorists to be granted asylum in this country.
At the same time, persecuted Christians face a brick wall at the Obama State Department in their efforts to secure refugee status, and a report this week reveals Israeli officials are now finding it more difficult to get simple visitor visas or to even renew existing visas. Why is all of this suddenly emerging?
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, none of us ever imagined a dozen years later we’d be negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan, supplying aid to al Qaeda-affiliated “rebel” groups in Syria, and releasing from Gitmo some of the most hardened al Qaeda operatives. Under the Obama administration, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Now we can add another bizarre, and potentially dangerous, unilateral decree from the administration: Mr. Obama has ordered a change in immigration rules making it easier for so-called “minor” terrorists to gain refugee status and asylum in the United States.
I know some may think this is a story from the parody publication The Onion, but unfortunately, what was once absurd satire has now become reality. As he threatened at the State of the Union, Mr. Obama used an executive directive to unilaterally ease restrictions specifically for asylum-seekers who have provided what his administration terms “limited material support” to terrorist groups.
I argued on my radio program that after the disastrous rollout of Obamacare and its continued collapse, Mr. Obama would suffer a narcissistic collapse, compelling him to take actions meant to punish the people he views as responsible for his failure — the American people.
You see, nothing is ever his fault. Making a change that allows those who have assisted the enemy, however “limited,” to become ensconced in this nation, speaks exactly to that concern.
Every disaster under Mr. Obama’s watch was always the fault of George W. Bush. Or the Tea Party. Or Republicans. Or racists. Or Fox News. Now? It’s the American people as a whole.
With al Qaeda regaining power in the Middle East as a result of Mr. Obama’s feckless foreign policy, and with the American immigration system already in chaos, how does the issue of easing restrictions on those with terrorist-group involvement even become a focus worthy of personal presidential attention?
Going out of your way to open the door to this country for people who have had terrorist associations is bad enough, but it doesn’t stop there. Investor’s Business Daily reports the Obama administration has rejected almost all the asylum requests from 20,000 Coptic Christians trying to flee Islamist persecution in Egypt.
Additionally, Israelis who work in their country’s defense industry are being denied visas to enter the United States. According to one government official quoted in coverage by Ha’aretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, “everything has changed” in the last year, with “hundreds of Israeli individuals with ties to Israel’s defense establishment” being denied entry to the United States.
In other words, the Obama administration is making it easier for Muslims with terrorist associations to enter the country, while making it more difficult for persecuted Christians and Israeli Jews.
In related news, a Christian German family, the Romeikes, who gained asylum in the United States after escaping a draconian Nazi-era anti-home-schooling German law, had become targets for deportation by the Obama Department of Justice.
In 2010, the Romeikes were granted asylum on religious freedom grounds, but for some reason, the Obama administration felt the need to appeal that decision, and its Department of Justice won.
The regime fought tooth and nail for this victory and that would result in deportation.
Story Continues →

Just this week, however, after the Supreme Court refused to hear the family’s appeal, the Justice Department did an abrupt about-face, and almost immediately granted the family “indefinite deferred status.”
Was there a moment of clarity after years of fighting the family in court, likely spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to deport the Christian family of eight?
Did the overwhelming support by the American people for the Romeikes jar Mr. Obama’s Justice officials out of their grotesque stupor to the point that even they, at the last minute, recognized the obscene hypocrisy of their actions?
What we do know is if the Romeike family had provided “limited” terrorism support in their past, entered the country illegally or were Muslim, they likely would have had a much easier time of it.
Considering the condition of the world, we need to be compassionate about allowing as many asylum claims as possible, but within a reasonable and safe framework.
Focusing on making it easier for those who have aided the Islamist enemy, denying persecuted Christians, and making things more difficult for Jews to simply get visas, is unreasonable, dangerous and makes one wonder, what exactly is the Obama administration trying to do?
Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.

Abdurahman Alamoudi helped President Clinton and the American Civil Liberties Union develop a presidential document called “Religious Expression in Public School,” which established a legal justification upon the ACLU could use to sue public schools to force them to remove Nativity scenes and curtail Christmas celebrations. Alamoudi is a former director of CAIR and founder of CAIR ally, American Muslim Council.

Abdurahman Alamoudi helped President Clinton and the American Civil Liberties Union develop a presidential document called “Religious Expression in Public School,” which established a legal justification upon the ACLU could use to sue public schools to force them to remove Nativity scenes and curtail Christmas celebrations. Alamoudi is a former director of CAIR and founder of CAIR ally, American Muslim Council.
  • Founder and executive director of the American Muslim Council
  • Islamic affairs advisor for the Clinton administration
  • Supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah
  • Was sentenced to 23 years in prison for terrorist fundraising

See also:  American Muslim Council   Grover Norquist

              Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development

Born in Eritrea, Abdurahman Alamoudi immigrated to the United States in 1979 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1996. In 1981 he founded the Islamic Society of Boston. From 1985 to 1990, he served as executive assistant to the president of the SAAR Foundation in northern Virginia.

In 1990 Alamoudi founded the American Muslim Council. The following year, he established the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council (AMAFVAC), whose purpose was to “certify Muslim chaplains hired by the military.”

During the 1992 presidential election cycle, Alamoudi courted both the Democratic and Republican parties. When Bill Clinton emerged victorious, Alamoudi increased his donations to Democrats. He went on to serve the Clinton administration as an Islamic-affairs adviser and a State Department “goodwill ambassador” to Muslim nations.

In 1993 the Defense Department certified Alamoudi's AMAFVAC as one of two organizations--along with the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences--authorized to approve and endorse Muslim chaplains. Among the chaplains endorsed by Alamoudi's group was James Yee, who eventually would be arrested in 2003 on suspicion of espionage.

In March 1993 Alamoudi disparaged the federal government for the "flimsy" evidence it had used as a basis for arresting Mohammed Salameh, a suspect in the World Trade Center bombing of February 26. Samameh was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1995 Alamoudi helped President Clinton and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) develop a presidential guideline entitled “Religious Expression in Public School,” which established a legal justification upon which the ACLU could file lawsuits restricting Christmas celebrations and removing Nativity scenes from public schools.

Alamoudi made numerous controversial statements during the 1990s and early 2000s, including these:
  • In 1994 he said: "Hamas is not a terrorist group.... I have followed the good work of Hamas."
  • In March 1996, Alamoudi said he was "honored to be a member of the committee that is defending" Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) founder Musa Abu Marzook, who in 1997 would be deported from the U.S. because of his Hamas-related activities. "I really consider him to be from among the best people in the Islamic movement," Alamoudi added. "Hamas ... and I work together with him."
  • In December 1996, Alamoudi told a meeting of the IAP: “I think if we were outside this country, we can say, ‘Oh, Allah, destroy America,’ but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it.... You can be violent anywhere else but in America.”
  • In October 2000, Alamoudi attended an anti-Israel protest outside the White House, where he proudly declared himself "a supporter of Hamas" and "a supporter of Hezbollah.” (For video, click here.)
As President Clinton's second term drew to a close in the late Nineties, Alamoudi sought to ensure that his own access and influence at senior levels of the U.S. government would continue even if a Republican were to capture the White House in 2000. To cover that possibility, Alamoudi provided some $20,000 in seed money (in checks drawn on a Saudi bank account) to help conservative activist Grover Norquist establish an organization called the Islamic Free Market Institute in the late 1990s.

In 2000, Alamoudi illegally began making regular trips to Libya, where he met with government officials to discuss strategies by which they could create “headaches” for Saudi Arabia.

In January 2001, Alamoudi attended a conference in Beirut with leaders of numerous terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad.

In June 2001, Alamoudi was a guest speaker at a Northern Virginia conference where senior Islamic militants from throughout the Middle East were gathered. Many of the speakers denounced the “Zionist entity that aims to destroy the Muslim ummah [community].”

That same month, Alamoudi attended a briefing on President Bush's faith-based initiative, and the White House invited him to the post-9/11 prayer service on September 14th at the National Cathedral in Washington.

In September 2003, British customs officials arrested Alamoudi at Heathrow Airport as he was returning from Libya with $340,000 in cash given to him by President Muammar Qadhafi to finance a plot involving two U.K.-based al Qaeda operatives intending to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah.

Alamoudi was subsequently extradited to the United States. In October 2003, he was arrested at Dulles Airport on charges of having illegally accepted $10,700 from the Libyan mission to the United Nations.

With Alamoudi in custody, federal authorities released a transcript of a telephone conversation in which he had: lamented that no Americans had died during al Qaeda’s 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya; recommended that more operations be conducted like the 1994 Hezbollah bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people died; and clearly articulated his objective of turning America into a Muslim nation.

Alamoudi was indicted not only for his illegal dealings with Libya, but also for tax evasion and immigration fraud. He ultimately pled guilty to, and was convicted of, being a senior al Qaeda financier who had funneled at least $1 million into the coffers of that terrorist organization. He also acknowledged that he had pocketed almost $1 million for himself in the process. In October 2004, Alamoudi was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison.

During the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial of 2007, which examined evidence of HLF's fundraising on behalf of Hamas, the U.S. government released a list of approximately 300 of HLF’s "unindicted co-conspirators" and "joint venturers." Alamoudi was named in that list. To view the names of additional noteworthy individuals and groups listed, click here.

In addition to the affiliations listed above, Alamoudi has also been, at various times, a board member of American Muslims for Jerusalem; the head of the American Task Force for Bosnia; a board member of the Council for the National Interest Foundation; a director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); a founding trustee of the Fiqh Council of North America; a board member of Interfaith Impact for Justice and Peace; a regional representative for the Islamic Society of North America; a board member of Mercy International; president of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada; a board member of the Somali Relief Fund; secretary of the Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliated Success Foundation; and director of the Talibah International Aid Association.

For additional information about Abdurahman Alamoudi, click here.

The president’s pointless trip to Saudi Arabia

The president’s pointless trip to Saudi Arabia

As President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia on Friday, many in the Middle East are wondering why he is making a trip with no discernible purpose. No one is quite sure what Obama is supposed to do while in Riyadh.
According to the White House, in addition to a one-on-one talk with 90-year-old Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, Obama hopes to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council. But there may be no summit — since the GCC is now badly split.
The council’s members are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.
One bloc — the Saudis, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — is determined to curb Iran’s ambitions in Iraq, Syria and Bahrain while taming the Muslim Brotherhood in Sunni Arab states.
Oman and Qatar, forming a second bloc, have forged close ties with Iran in the hope of challenging Saudi Arabia’s “Big Brother” pretensions. Qatar is also bankrolling the Muslim Brotherhood. Kuwait is trying to mediate between blocs while keeping Iran sweet.
The split is partly a result of religious and territorial disputes.
In 1954, Oman and Saudi Arabia fought a war that ended with Saudis capturing chunks of the Buraimi Oasis, rich in water and oil. In the ’70s the Saudis backed a rebellion against the sultan of Oman. Religiously, a majority of Omanis are of the Ibadi sect of Islam, while Saudi Arabia is dominated by the Hanbali school.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Oman (so far the only Arab country to invite him) and announced a project to build a bridge over the Strait of Hormuz. The bridge would enable Iran to send troops into the Arabian Peninsula in minutes.
The UAE and Oman, meanwhile, have territorial counter-claims in the Mussandam Peninsula. Qatar has territorial grievances against the Saudis (claiming ownership of oil-rich Khor al-Udaid) and is also in dispute with Bahrain over oil and gas resources offshore of the Hawar Islands.
To complicate matters further, the seven emirates of the UAE have divergent policies, notably on Iran. Abu Dhabi urges a tough stance against Tehran, while Dubai helps Iran circumvent sanctions imposed over the nuclear issue.
The GCC came into being with the Reagan administration’s support as a bulwark against the mullahs in Iran and Russian influence over Syria and Iraq. Decades later, the strategic retreat led by Obama has undermined US power and prestige as a major player in the region.
Indeed, some of Obama’s policies are signs either of a deliberate strategy to end American leadership, or of ineptitude.
In Egypt he sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, whetting the group’s appetite for domination in the Arab world. Even when the Brotherhood was caught plotting a coup in Abu Dhabi, Obama looked the other way.
Qatar saw Obama’s support for the Brotherhood as endorsing its own policy of funding the organization and giving it exposure through the Al Jazeera TV networks. That, in turn, heightened Saudi anxiety with fears that Washington might back the Brotherhood in a power grab in the kingdom.
Next, Obama announced “red lines” on Syria but ended up giving Russia the final say in shaping US policy.
The Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait are all concerned about what they see as Obama’s “caving in” to the mullahs in Tehran. They see Obama’s frequent references to a fatwa by “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei as tacit recognition of Tehran’s claim that Khamenei is leader of the Muslim ummah.
For Washington’s GCC allies, Russia’s blitzkrieg annexation of Crimea was the last straw. “Putin seized Crimea to ‘protect’ ethnic Russians. What if Iran seized Bahrain to protect fellow Shiites?” asks a commentary in the daily Al-Hayat.
“Is Obama trying to help Iran seize full control of Lebanon?” asks Lebanese commentator Eyad Abu Shaqra. “Obama has shown he is prepared to betray allies to please enemies.”
In a surrealistic spectacle, speculation is rife about which sheiks will even agree to see the president of the United States. Snubbing Obama has become a luxury any can afford: After all, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas did so just last week, answering Obama’s peace musings with a categorical no.
Arabs also notice that under Obama, the United States has managed to antagonize Israel, its ally of last resort.
Sadly, Obama has nothing to offer but the spectacle of the United States as a “superpower” neutralized by its own leadership.
The question is: Why go to the other side of the world to add to the humiliation?
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