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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
December 15, 2011

West Bank Mosque Set Alight Following Outpost Razing

December 15, 2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A mosque in the West Bank was set alight hours after Israeli soldiers demolished two structures in an illegal outpost.

The interior of a mosque in a village near Ramallah was torched Thursday morning after being soaked with gasoline. The words "war" and "Mitzpe Yitzhar," the outpost that was razed early Thursday morning, were painted on the mosque.

The attack comes a day after a historic, unused mosque in Jerusalem was set on fire, damaging its exterior, and Palestinian vehicles were torched in the West Bank. Right-wing extremists have been blamed for the attacks.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the mosque attack near Ramallah a declaration of war by the settlers against the Palestinian people. He placed responsibility for the attack on the Israeli government and called on the international community to get involved.



December 15, 2011

India Studying Oil Payments to Iran via Russia

TEHRAN (FNA)- Indian government sources said on Thursday that New Delhi is exploring the option of paying for Iranian oil imports through Russian intermediaries.

"This is being considered in light of sanctions being considered (against Iranian oil trade) by some countries," a senior government source said Thursday.

Iran and India have struggled to find a conduit through which to clear accumulated debts arising from import of Iranian oil. Last year India's central bank scrapped a clearing house mechanism.

Iran is India's second-biggest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia and exports total about $12 billion a year, meeting about 12 per cent of India's import needs.



December 15, 2011

Last Post In Iraq: This Is The Death Knell Of The American Empire

So the Yanks are going home. Apart from the thousands of their servicemen and women whose lifeblood they are leaving in the sands of Iraq, and the tens of thousands too maimed or otherwise damaged to make it back to home and hearth. And minus the trillion-plus of dollars in treasure they have expended on destroying an Arab country (which may have lost a million souls and seen three millions off into exile), fanning the flames of fanaticism, making Iran more powerful, and unleashing a wave of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Nice work, but hardly "Mission Accomplished", as the melancholy valediction delivered by President Obama at Fort Bragg this week made clear to the discerning.

The more he talked about what he once called the "dumb war", the more obvious it was that his was the task of holding the dipped banner of defeat. And the crew of thick-necked servicemen straight out of central casting roaring their approval at his description of their success could not quite drown out the sound of the Last Post. This is the death knell of American empire, the end of the brief unipolar world in the ashes of whose hubris the lone bugler now stands playing the retreat. Like Ozymandias, history – which hasn't ended after all – will invite us to gaze upon its ruined works and tremble. But instead we will rejoice, rejoice. For the Project for the New American Century it will be never glad confident morning again.

The war that was waged – yes, for oil, and yes, also for Israel – was waged above all to terrify the world (especially China) with American power. It turned into the largest boomerang in history. For what has been demonstrated instead are the limits of near-bankrupt America's power. Far from being cowed, America's adversaries – and its enemies – have been emboldened. With shock and awe the empire soon dominated the skies over Iraq to be sure. But they never controlled a single street in the country from the day they invaded until this day of retreat. One street alone – Haifa Street in Baghdad – became the graveyard of scores, maybe hundreds of Americans.

Fortresses like Fallujah entered history alongside Stalingrad as symbols of the unvanquishable power of popular resistance to foreign invasion. Crimes like Abu Ghraib prison – where Iraqis were stripped naked and humiliated, forced to perform indecent acts upon each other and videotaped doing so for the entertainment of their torturers in the barracks afterwards – entered the lexicon of the barbarism of those who invade others, flying the colours of their "civilising" mission. As Chairman Mao once put it: "Sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone; only to drop it on its own foot." In an America where a third of the population are living in poverty or terrifyingly near it, and where imperial hubris met its nemesis on Haifa Street, China now knows it has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.



December 15, 2011

Emergency Committee for Israel slams Obama in N.Y. Times ad

December 15, 2011

NEW YORK (JTA) – The Emergency Committee for Israel in a full-page ad in The New York Times attacked President Obama’s treatment of the Jewish state.

“Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?” the ad, which appears in Thursday's edition, asks in bold lettering. A punching bag with a Jewish star is superimposed on the right, next to bullet points supporting the claim.

Among the points are French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a “liar” in a conversation with Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying that Israel needed to “get to the damn table” for negotiations with the Palestinians.

"The Obama administration has been using Israel as a punching bag. The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back,” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol told Politico. Kristol and Gary Bauer, president of the group American Values, are the leaders of the ECI.



December 15, 2011

Yaalon: Iran Has Choice To ‘Have Bomb Or Survive’

Written by: Richard Silverstein
December 15, 2011

Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon gave a foreign press briefing two days ago hosted by the ultra-hawkish pro-Israel advocacy group, The Israel Project. The former IDF general ranged over affairs in the entire Middle East. It was a deft, well-argued presentation that posited a region that would be in a state of perpetual conflict into the indefinite future. It presented Israel as a lone bastion of democracy in an enclave filled with radical Islamism that threatened not just his country, but virtually the entire world.

It was a briefing that was filled with lies, fantasies, with even a smidgen of fact thrown in. I found it fascinating. Fascinating, because it gives you entré into a certain strategic vision shared by Israel’s most hawkish, most delusional policymakers. But let’s be clear. Bogie Yaalon isn’t delusional in the way that the Hilltop Youth are. He’s not even delusional in the way that Avigdor Lieberman or Newt Gingrich is. He’s delusional in a stone-cold sober, cold-blooded way that could lead to tens of thousands of dead, blood running down the streets of Israel, Iran and numerous other Arab cities, and missiles bristling from bunkers and launch sites throughout the region.

A word on his background. He was IDF chief of staff until called upon by Ariel Sharon to help evacuate settlers from Gaza. When he refused, Sharon cashiered him unceremoniously, which left an incredibly bitter taste in his mouth. He is not just a security hawk, but caters to most far-right fringes of the Likud. I reported here on a visit he made to Australia in the company of Moshe Feiglin and members of Meir Kahane’s family, which is among the most extreme of the settlers. Feiglin has been banned from the UK as a figure whose extremist views might disturb the public order. He was promised the defense portfolio by Bibi Netanyahu before the last election, but the latter welched when he decided to bring Ehud Barak and Labor into the coalition government. This has left Yaalon and Barak as sworn enemies.

Before you read this, the question all of us should consider is–is Bogie Yaalon a lone wolf spinning his own strategic vision of apocalyptic doom or does he have the power to implement this vision? Does he have Bibi’s ear? Can he turn his views and theories into operational orders and boots on the ground? One way of answering this question is to note that Yaalon is within Bibi’s inner circle as a member of the Shminiya, the eight-member senior minister’s circle that votes on all major policy proposals such as an Iran attack. In that capacity, he has a huge platform to realize his views.



December 15, 2011

Vladimir Putin Calls John Mccain 'Nuts' In Outspoken Attack

By Alex Spillius
12:59PM GMT 15 Dec 2011

The Russian prime minister called the former presidential candidate “nuts” in response to Twitter comment about Russia’s parliamentary elections that drew allegations of fraud and triggered large protests.

Mr McCain’s tweet read: "Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you."

Mr Putin turned stony faced when asked about the tweet on his annual televised phone-in.

"Mr McCain fought in Vietnam. I think that he has enough blood of peaceful citizens on his hands. It must be impossible for him to live without these disgusting scenes anymore.



December 15, 2011

House Armed Services Chairman Seeks to Avert $55 Billion in Cuts

By Roxana Tiron and Kathleen Hunter - Dec 15, 2011 12:01 AM ET

The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee is proposing to avoid about $55 billion of defense spending cuts in 2013 by reducing the federal workforce.

Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, a California Republican, introduced legislation yesterday to trim government employment by 10 percent over 10 years by hiring one federal employee for every three who retire.

The Defense Department faces cuts of as much as $1 trillion over the next decade after lawmakers on a bipartisan deficit- reduction panel in November said they were deadlocked on how to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.

The Pentagon already is cutting about $490 billion from its budget over the next 10 years under the budget control act President Barack Obama signed into law Aug. 2. The same measure created the supercommittee.



December 15, 2011

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Improves on Job Gains, Bloomberg Index Shows

Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose last week to the highest level in two months, a sign that job gains may be lifting sentiment during the holiday shopping season.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was at minus 49.9 in the period ended Dec. 11, after a reading of minus 50.3 the prior week. Confidence among Americans with full-time jobs climbed to the highest level in almost five months.

A decline in unemployment last month complemented by increasing payrolls may help reverse the recent decline in household confidence. At the same time, the European debt crisis and gridlock among lawmakers in Washington could prevent further gains in sentiment.

“The modest increase in private-sector hiring has at least tentatively prevented another leg down in confidence,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg L.P. in New York. “Perhaps the traditional holiday season has injected a bit of hope that the worst has passed, at least for those fortunate to have a job and disposable income to enjoy the holidays.”



December 15, 2011

Arizona Sheriff’s Office Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Department Says

PHOENIX — In a harshly worded critique of the country’s best-known sheriff, the Justice Department accused Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of engaging in “unconstitutional policing” by unfairly targeting Latinos for detentions and arrests and retaliating against those who complain.

After an investigation that lasted more than two years, the civil rights division of the Justice Department said the sheriff’s office has “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency.” The department interfered with the inquiry, the government said, prompting a lawsuit that eventually led Mr. Arpaio and his deputies to cooperate.

“We have peeled the onion to its core,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, noting during a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning that more than 400 people were interviewed as part of the review. Mr. Perez said the inquiry raised the question of whether Latinos were receiving “second-class policing services” in Maricopa County.

The report stems from a civil inquiry and Mr. Perez said he hoped that Mr. Arpaio would cooperate with the federal government in turning the department around. Should he refuse, a lawsuit will be filed, Mr. Perez said, adding that the Justice Department is conducting a separate criminal inquiry of the department.



December 15, 2011

Robert Reich: Newt’s Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes

Newt Gingrich has done it again. With his new tax plan he has raised the bar from irresponsibility to recklessness.

Every dollar estimate I’m about to share with you comes from the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center – a group whose estimates are used by almost everyone in Washington regardless of political persuasion.

First off, Newt’s plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion – in a single year!

To put this in perspective, most forecasts of the budget deficit cover ten years. The elusive goal of the White House and many on both sides of the aisle in Congress is to reduce that ten-year deficit by 3 to 4 trillion dollars.



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