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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
December 29, 2013

Netanyahu Named 25th Most Influential Person In U.S. Defense

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been named the 25th most influential person in U.S. defense for 2013 by Defense News, a Gannett Government Media publication.

Not surprisingly, the annually-complied Defense News 100 most Influential People in U.S. Defense list includes some of America's enemies and the leaders of countries that are considered hostile to the United States. Also included are American government officials, industry leaders, policy makers and lobbyists. But the list also names the leaders of some U.S. allies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping topped this year's list, with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice second and Defense Secretary Chick Hagel coming only third. According to the list, CIA Director John Brennan (#5) has more influence on U.S. defense than Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff (#6). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (#4), rose 12 spots, while his predecessor, Hillary Clinton (#43), fell 40 spots.

Netanyahu, who was ranked No. 25 on this year's list, is described as a leader "fortified by populist support at home and powerful friends in Capitol Hill." The text accompanying the list says that after supporting Mitt Romney in the last U.S. election, the "well-connected Israeli leader… is now confronting President Obama on the top two items of his Mideast policy agenda," Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It cites Netanyahu's threats to attack Iran and his push for additional sanctions as the White House seeks a diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat from Iran, as well as the Israeli prime minister's declared support of the two-state solution, while continuing construction in West Bank settlements.



December 29, 2013

Day Of Reckoning: Chicago Is Tackling The Worst Pension Crisis In The US

Since the start of this school year, Annie Stoball has been walking her nine-year-old granddaughter Kayla across four blocks to Gresham Elementary on Chicago’s South Side. The route takes the pair through turf claimed by rival gangs – a far more dangerous journey than to her old school, Morgan Elementary, just across the street from their house. So far this “safe passage” trip – the city has hired monitors to watch over the children – has been uneventful.

“Kayla feels safe because I walk her to school every morning and I pick her up when it’s done. My concern is how long they’ll stay out here,” she says, referring to the safety workers.

Morgan was one of about 50 elementary schools forced to close this year, collateral damage from the ballooning pension crises in Chicago and the state of Illinois. The budget gap in Chicago’s school district alone is $1bn, mainly because of pension liabilities, while the combined unfunded pension liabilities of the city and the school district runs to over $27bn.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Democratic mayor, has said the school closures – along with 3,000 job cuts in the school system – were necessary to close the yawning hole in the district budget. The episode has further soured the mayor’s relations with the teachers union, which held a seven-day strike last year. Karen Lewis, head of the union, called the school closures “racist” and “classist”.

The woes of the city and the state of Illinois – which has its own, worst-in-the-nation, $100bn unfunded pension liability – have been driven primarily by the government’s failure to pay its share to keep its pension promises.



December 29, 2013

International Nuclear Talks With Iran to Resume Soon

MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – Iran and a group of six nations will resume negotiations on the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program next week, a European official said Friday.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who led previous talks with Iran, said “technical experts will meet with Iran in Geneva on December 30.”

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said the aim of the talks would be to lay down a plan of implementing previously reached agreements.

Iran and the six-nation group – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – have agreed on a set of temporary measures to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities pending a broader agreement.



December 29, 2013

Obama Backs Deeper Ties Under US-Russian Commission

WASHINGTON, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – The White House on Friday called for closer cooperation with Russia on issues such as arms control, counterterrorism and trade under the auspices of a bilateral presidential commission launched four years ago.

US President Barack Obama “encourages the commission’s working groups to deepen and expand their engagement with Russia in order to remove barriers to trade and investment, increase security, and ensure that advances in science and innovation continue,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

The statement came as Washington and Moscow issued a joint report Friday on the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, an initiative created in 2009 by Obama and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to facilitate high-level talks on a broad range of issues.

The report, which praised the efforts of the two countries to “strengthen and expand cooperation,” covers the period from May 2012 to December 2013 that has seen a deterioration in US-Russian ties, primarily over human rights issues.

In the report, however, officials focused on areas they described as fertile for collaboration, including military-technical cooperation and counterterrorism in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in April, which US authorities say was carried out by two brothers with ties to Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus region.



December 29, 2013

Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant Halts Work for 2 Months

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant has halted its activities for two months, IRNA news agency reported Sunday citing the country’s atomic energy chief.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said the plant will be brought to a halt for refueling purposes. He also said Iran is in talks with Russian officials for construction of four new nuclear reactors.

Iran’s only Bushehr nuclear power plant came into service September 2011 and began operating at full capacity a year after. Moscow handed over operational control of the Russian-made plant to Iran in September this year.



December 29, 2013

All Foreign Greenpeace Arctic Activists Leave Russia

Source: RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – All 26 non-Russian environmental activists who were detained over a September protest at an Arctic oil rig and recently pardoned by a presidential amnesty have left Russia, Greenpeace said Sunday.

Polish national Tomasz Dziemianczuk, 37, was the last Greenpeace activist who flew out of Russia Sunday, the group said in a statement. A total of 25 other foreign activists had all left by Saturday.

"I am very happy to be going home, but I don't feel the same for the ship and its future. I am emotionally connected to both the crew and the ship and for me the case will be over when the ship is back in Amsterdam," Greenpeace quoted Dziemianczuk as saying before leaving Russia.

"This was only a great beginning to our Arctic campaign," he added.

Read more: http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131229/186060015/All-Foreign-Greenpeace-Arctic-Activists-Leave-Russia.html

December 29, 2013

Rabbi Sued After Baby Injured During Circumcision

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local rabbi is being sued after allegedly botching a bris, the traditional Jewish circumcision ritual, and severing a newborn boy’s penis.

The incident detailed in the lawsuit happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill within the last year.

Sometime during the bris, according to the lawsuit, Rosenberg severed the baby boy’s penis. The baby was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where doctors performed emergency microsurgery.

“If your finger, your thumb was cut off and was put back on, that is pretty exciting,” said renowned UPMC plastic surgeon Dr. Joe Losee.

But our sources say it took eight hours. The baby needed six blood transfusions and was hospitalized for nearly two months. Sources describe the reattachment procedure as successful.



December 29, 2013

ABC Reporter Calls Out Ted Cruz: ‘Come on!’ The Shutdown Was Your Fault!

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continued this week to be in denial for his role in the 2013 government shutdown even after ABC’s Jonathan Karl told him that this claims to the contrary were unbelievable.

“This is a city where it’s all politics all the time,” Cruz told Karl in an interview that aired on Sunday. “And I’m trying to do my best not to pay attention to the politics, to focus on fixing the problems.”

“Really?” Karl exclaimed, clearly not buying that the Texas Republican was not paying attention to politics.

“I know that’s hard to believe because no one in this town does that,” Cruz explained. “This is a time for people to step up and do the right thing. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And when it came to the government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health care reform law — that even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blamed on tea party-backed Republicans — Cruz insisted that his hands were clean.

MORE with vid...


December 29, 2013

Michael Hayden 'Drifting' Toward Calling Edward Snowden A 'Traitor'

Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency, said Sunday that he used to describe leaker Edward Snowden as a "defector," but is now "drifting in the direction of perhaps more harsh language ... such as 'traitor.'"

"I think there's an English word that describes selling American secrets to another government, and I do think it's treason," Hayden said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Snowden tore back the curtain on NSA programs that collect phone records en masse, among other things, and his revelations sparked outrage from those who feel the agency is going too far. Two recent federal court rulings have conflicted on whether the NSA surveillance is legal, with one judge calling it "almost Orwellian" and likely unconstitutional, and another determining that it is lawful. Those cases are headed to appeals courts in New York and Washington, and could eventually go to the Supreme Court.

A poll released in late October found that Americans are divided about 50-50 on whether Snowden is "something of a hero who should be commended for letting the public know that our governments are running electronic surveillance programs that threaten people’s privacy" or “more of a traitor who should be condemned for publicizing security activities and threatening western intelligence operations."

Some members of Congress have also called Snowden a "traitor" and accused him of an act of treason.



December 29, 2013

France’s Hollande Gets Court Approval for 75% Millionaire Tax

French President Francois Hollande received approval from the country’s constitutional court to proceed with his plan to tax salaries above 1 million euros at 75 percent for this year and next.

Under Hollande’s proposal, companies will have to pay a 50 percent duty on wages above 1 million euros ($1.4 million). In combination with other taxes and social charges, the rate will amount to 75 percent of salaries above the threshold, the court wrote in a decision published today.

“The companies that pay out remuneration above 1 million euros will, as expected, be called upon for an effort of solidarity on remuneration paid in 2013 and 2014,” the Economy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

Hollande, who once said he “didn’t like” the rich, announced the 75 percent tax in February 2012 as part of his presidential campaign to appeal to his Socialist base. It has become a symbol of his government’s record-high taxation rate.

A first proposal to put the change into law was turned down by the constitutional court in December last year because the tax applied to individuals and not households. The country’s top administrative court said any rate above 66 percent would be rejected as confiscatory.



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