Fedor Emelianenko: Fight was even until I knocked Arlovski out

ANAHEIM, Calif. - For a brief moment during Saturday's "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" main event in Anaheim, Calif., Fedor Emelianenko (29-1) looked almost human.

Apparently frustrated by the effective striking, long reach and rapid speed of challenger Andrei Arlovski (14-6), Emelianenko looked wounded in the corner, and "The Pitbull" smelled blood.

The suddenly, and with little warning, a crushing right hand flattened Arlovski and immediately returned Emelianenko's mystique. During the psot-event press conference, the Russian champion said that despite appearances, he was firmly in control throughout the 194 seconds he needed to destroy the world's second-beat heavyweight.

"I didn't really think that I was really in any danger in the fight," Emelinaneno said through an interpreter. "I like to feel that I felt -- not only usually, but particularly in this fight -- felt comfortable and OK with where I was during the fight. I just didn't feel that I was in any danger."

Arlovski looked to be the quicker man in the opening minutes of the contest, peppering Emelinaneko with crisp jabs and leg kicks. The 32-year-old admitted Arlovksi's speed was impressive, but said it was not overwhelming.

"I didn't really feel like I had that much trouble in there," Emelianenko said. "I really felt comfortable, and I felt his speed. Yes, he is fast. But I didn't really feel that I was having trouble finding range.

"He's got very quick hands. He's got great skill. But I felt after a while that I was able to counter his attack and felt comfortable in there."

Emelianenko closed the distance on one occasion, clinching with Arlovski in the Belarusian's corner of the ring. A spot that "The Last Emperor" has used countless times before to drag his opponent to the mat looked strangely ineffective as Arlovski out-muscled Emelianenko's advances -- or so it seemed at first glance.

"At that time I wasn't trying that hard to throw him down," Emelianenko said. "I was really trying to wrestle a little bit at that time."

Then the former UFC champion tagged Emelianenko with left-right combo, followed by a front kick. Arlovski had his opponent on the ropes -- literally and figuratively -- and he charged in to finish Emelianenko off and reserve his spot in the record books.

Only Emelianenko wasn't in on the plans.

"I just think he made a mistake," Emelianenko said. "I saw on opening and my automatic reaction was to throw the right hand."

The opening was a result of a reckless flying knee attempt by Arlovski, and the automatic reaction by Emelianenko left his opponent unconscious on the mat.

"For that [flying knee] of Arlovski's, we didn't really train or prepare for that particular move," Emelianenko said. "But there are certain scenarios that we prepare for based on what's going on in the ring. In that situation it was basically an automatic response.

"There are certain situations that we do train for, and that was my automatic response to the counter."

Emelianenko has now won an astounding 26-straight bouts. The knockout marked his second-straight destruction of a former UFC champion, and the result cements Emelianenko's position as the world's best heavyweight fighter.

And while some observers point to Arlovski's defeat as a moral victory of sorts, proof that the Russian does have some small strain of vulnerability, Emelianenko believes he was never behind on his path to a convincing -- and impressive -- WAMMA heavyweight title defense victory.

"Honestly I haven't seen the fight yet, but I felt based on just feeling myself in the ring, I felt it was an even fight -- up until the point I knocked him out."

Source : http://mmajunkie.com

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Kirsten Gillibrand Good Enough To Be A Democrat But Not A Senator

Liberals have been crowing now since Caroline Kennedy dropped out of contention for Senatorette Clinton’s seat. Having the name “Kennedy” of course makes some one eminently qualified to do whatever it is they want to do. Amid a controversy over exactly which came first, Governor Patterson’s decision not to appoint her or her own decision to withdrawal over some brewing scandals, personal matters and even potential crimes, there have been a lot of explitives hurled at the New York Governor which have only gotten worse since the governor decided to appoint Kirsten Gillibrand, a 42-year-old U.S. Congresswoman from New York’s 20th District.

So why are Democrats and the liberals that support them so upset? They got a woman right? Just not the woman they wanted right? And she is a Democrat too so what is the fuss?

Well, as it turns out, Kirsten Gillibrand is not as liberal as Caroline Kennedy and that is why they are upset. They are particularly upset because Gillibrand is more conservative (but not conservative through and through mind you) than the standard Democrat is because she has to be in order to win in the 20th District. For example, the NRA loves her!

So Kirsten Gillibrand is good enough to be a Democrat representing the people of New York’s 20th District when the Democrats need her to help bolster their majority in the House. Hey, if she wasn’t then why let her run on their party’s ticket? But she is not good enough to be a Senator for that same party because of some of her views that are more conservative?

This is the way the Democrats use and abuse the “Blue Dogs” (i.e. more conservative Democrats). They will run them to gain power and increase their majorities, but once they themselves get too powerful they have to be taken down. Welcome to the same old Democratic Party.

Contributor's website: http://www.libertyreborn.com

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Miss Indiana, Katie Stam wins Miss America 2009 Pageant

Miss America 2009 is Miss Indiana, Katie Stam; A 22-year old student at the University of Indiana majoring in Communications and an aspiring television anchor. Katie's platform is "Promoting Community Service and Involvement" and as Miss America 2009 will spend the next 365 days touring the country on a 20,000 mile-per-month blitz representing the Miss America Organization, Children's Miracle Network, and promoting her personal platform.
Katie's favorite food is "anything breakfast" and her favorite movie is National Treasure (according to the 2009 Miss America Magazine and program book). Stam was a Tuesday night preliminary swimsuit winner and Quality of Life Award finalist.
During the Talent competition, Katie sang "Via Dolorosa" (an emotional song about Jesus' final walk) and won over the crowd.
Katie has been battling Laryngitis for the past week but seamlessly sailed through preliminary competitions and ultimately walked off with the crown.

Source : http://community.livejournal.com

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Hamas opens makeshift offices, Gaza talks to begin

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas' government in Gaza began its first week back in business Sunday, operating from makeshift offices because most administrative buildings were bombed, as the Palestinian militant group prepared for new talks with Egypt on consolidating the weeklong cease-fire with Israel.

The group said it would be distributing $52 million in aid to people affected by Israel's 3-week offensive against Hamas, which devastated Gaza. The cash compensations for lost relatives or damaged homes would come from its own funds, Hamas said, until relief pledged by international donors can come in. Hamas receives millions in funding from Iran and donations from supporters around the world, believed to be smuggled into the blockaded territory through tunnels.

Some Hamas aid has already been passed out in a few cases in recent days, but Hamas said its formal distribution was beginning Sunday.

Top Hamas leaders remained in hiding, apparently still fearing an Israeli strike despite the cease-fire. But lower-level Hamas officials could be seen back to work on Sunday, sometimes operating outside from a table set next to the rubble of their destroyed offices. Early in the morning, the Hamas national security chief, Gen. Hussein Abu Athra, was signing orders on the hood of his car next to the pummeled historic building that had served as security headquarters.

A Hamas delegation was due to start talks with Egyptian officials on Sunday on means to reopen the border, largely closed since the group violently took over Gaza in June 2007. The issue is key to preserving the cease-fire, and Israel, the United States and Egypt are trying to work out security arrangements to ensure Hamas does not smuggle weapons into the strip before any opening.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said discussions would address a detailed cease-fire agreement. "We are not going to accept less than opening the borders ... and lifting the sanctions," Barhoum told AP on Sunday.

"We reject an open-ended cease-fire, but temporary calm with guarantees can be discussed," he also said, without specifying how long. A low-level delegation from Hamas' rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' West Bank-based government, was also in Cairo for talks but was not expected to meet with the Hamas envoys.

In the new U.S. administration's first direct foray into peace efforts, President Barack Obama's top Middle East envoy is due in Israel on Wednesday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, an Israeli Foreign Office official said.

The official said George J. Mitchell's talks would focus on ensuring an arms blockade on Hamas and on reviving broader peace negotiations. Diplomats in Washington said he would also discuss improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The official and diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because Washington has not officially announced Mitchell's visit.

International aid organizations and the United Nations say truce talks' priority must be to ensure the reopening of Gaza to provide relief and reconstruction help for the 1.4 million people trapped inside. First estimates show Gaza suffered about $2 billion in damages during the Israeli air strikes and ensuing ground offensive.

Israel has been allowing some supply convoys into Gaza, though its borders remain largely closed. The Israeli military says more than 125 trucks a day _ on some days nearly 200 _ have entered Gaza since fighting ended on Jan. 17, but aid workers say the numbers are not enough.

John Ging, the head of the U.N. agency providing help for Gazans, UNRWA, said diplomatic talks should not preclude on letting aid reach Gaza.

"It's all rather simple actually," Ging said in an Associated Press interview late Saturday. "Open up the crossing points and I'm absolutely confident that you'll see not just a positive development for the people ... but a positive development in their mindsets as well, which will make political problems easier to solve," Ging said.

"Change has come to the United States, let's have some change here for the people in Gaza," he said.

Israel launched its 22-day offensive in a bid to halt Hamas rocket fire on southern Israel. The assault killed 1,285 Palestinians, most of them civilians, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights counted. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed during the fighting, Israel said.

Israel's Cabinet was due to vote Sunday on a measure ensuring the government will provide "moral and legal support" for military officers in potential court cases related to the war's conduct.

"Israel will give 100 percent backing to those who acted in its name and on its behalf. The justice minister will give legal responses to all the self-righteous, sanctimonious types who would sue our soldiers and officers," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the start of the Cabinet session.

Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups have said they are seeking to build a case that Israel violated the laws of war. The groups are focusing on suspicions that Israel used disproportionate force in its onslaught and failed to protect civilians.

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

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Pope reinstates Holocaust denier Bishop Williamson

The lifting of the ex-communication decree on British Bishop Richard Williamson is further evidence that Pope Ratzi is unfit for office. Williamson is a Holocaust denier: he says: "Not one Jew was killed in the gas chambers." He thinks 2-300,000 Jews were killed in the Nazi concentration camps but not by gassing. Williamson is a fraud in cleric garb, an anti-Semite who in Germany (where he gave the interview below) would now be in jail.

He claims that there has been a "huge exploitation" of Germany which has paid "millions and millions of euros in compensation" because it has a guilt complex over the gassings he does not think happened: in effect he's saying Germany is the victim of a monumental historical fraud. The evidence for the gas chambers is so overwhelming that his contentions need no detailed reply.

His reinstatement is part of the Pope's wish to bring the ultra-conservative Society of St Pius X back into the Vatican's fold. Ever the scholarly dogmatist, Ratzi cares nothing for the memory of Nazi victims, everything for the unity of his corrupt Church which failed the Jewish people doing the Holocaust.

Listen to Wiliamson yourself. Holocaust Memorial Day is on January 27.

Source : http://madamearcati.blogspot.com

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Advertising Classifieds Giveaways Homepage RSS Feed Search Shopping Twitter Web Feeds Miss Indiana's Kate Stam Crowned Miss America

Miss Indiana Katie Stam has been crowned Miss America. 22-year-old Katie Stam is currently a a communications major at the University of Indianapolis. She won the competition despite suffering from laryngitis. You can read more about her here on the Miss Indiana website and here on Miss America's official site.

There's also a bio here of Katie Stam on the University of Indianapolis website where Katie says the Miss America competition is much more than a beauty pageant.

Katie Stam has heard her share of cynical comments about "beauty pageants," even from close relatives, but she's quick to correct any misconceptions.

"The Miss America pageant is a scholarship pageant," says Stam, a University of Indianapolis senior who will be vying for that storied crown in January after winning the Miss Indiana title on June 21. "It's so much more than standing onstage and being poised."

Stam, who turns 22 in July, has the resume to back up that statement, being listed on the honor roll and active in student government at UIndy. But as it turns out, she is especially good at being poised onstage, as well as on camera.

In her college career, she's been one of the top broadcasting students in the Department of Communication, acting first as news director and more recently as operations manager for startup campus cable station UIndy TV. This spring, she helped lead her classmates to an underdog win in the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters annual college competition, seizing the TV School of the Year title from much larger competitors. Stam herself took home first-place honors in both the TV News Anchor and TV News Package categories. She also was among six UIndy students to win national recognition this year in the Broadcast Education Association's annual competition, sharing second place in the TV Hard News Reporting category.

Congratulations Katie!

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Kay Yow Dies: NC State Hall of Famer

North Carolina State’s beloved Women’s Basketball Coach, and Hall of Famer, Kay Yow, lost her fight against breast cancer on January 24, 2009 at age 66.
After missing four straight games this season, Yow announced on January 6, 2009 that she would not return to coach this season. According to the NCS’s website, her entire team visited with her in her hospital room earlier this week.

Yow coached for 38 seasons, as ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel said, “from the birth of modern day women’s college basketball to a time when fans now expect to see several televised games a week.”

Who else was this successful at this high a level while always being universally liked? Who else inspired only admiration and never ire in her foes? Even her fiercest adversary — Cancer, with the capital C — would have expressed boundless admiration, were it an entity that could speak.

Kay Yow’s collegiate record is 737-344, with four of those years at Elon College. Her NC State record: 680-325. She is one of three women’s coaches at the Division I level to coach 1,000 games at one instutution. She took the the team to the Final Four in 1998 and 2002, and to Sweet 16 eleven times in her career. She is the fifth winningest active NCAA Division women’s basketball coach.

North Carolina State University lost another basketball coach, Jim Valvano, to cancer in 1993. He recruited family and friends to lead The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Kay Yow was one of those friends. She has been an integral part of the Foundation.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) set up a 501c(3) charitable organization in December 2007, in partnership with The V Foundation: The mission:

The Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund™ is a 501 c(3) charitable organization committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved and unifying people for a common cause.

Among her many awards:

Inducted into the Christian Athletes Hall of Champions - 1991

Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, only the 5th womens coach to be selected.

The North Carolina State University Reynolds Coliseum was renamed Kay Yow Court in her honor in 2007

Recipient of the Bob Bradley Spirit & Courage Award - 2007

Yow coached these Medal Winning U.S. WB teams:

Silver at 1981 World University Games - 1981

Gold U.S. teams in the goodwill Games and FIBA World Championship - 1986

Gold at Seoul Olympics - 1988

Here’s more from Voepel’s very personal tribute to Kay Yow:

Cancer first showed up in 1987 and took part of Yow’s body. Then, in 1993, it took her mother, Lib, and her good friend, fellow NC State coach Jim Valvano. Cancer took new pals she met as she comforted fellow warriors with the disease, which returned to her in 2004 and again in 2007. Cancer took her appetite, her cherished high energy, her restful sleep, her mornings and afternoons on the golf course. It took away any thoughts of a quiet, relaxing time beyond basketball.

Cancer took and took and took — yet there was always Kay Yow with something more to give to everyone around her.

Read Mechelle Voepel’s entire article:

Others speaking of Yow’s legacy:

Stephanie Glance, NCS interim head coach: “It has been an honor and privilege to work with Coast Yow for the last 15 seasons.”

Commissioner John Swofford, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) : “What an impact Kay had on so many.”

Debbie Antonelli played for Yow in the mid-1980’s and is now a Fox color analyst: “She gave a lifetime of service to her faith and to her family and her friends and certainly to all her former players. She impacted everything about my personal life, including how I raise my children.”

Georgia Tech WB Coach, MaChelle Joseph: “Yow has been a fixture for more than three decades…[she] represented what was good about our game.”

Bonnie Henrickson, Kansas State WB Coach: “…an unbelievable presence in our profession….I never heard anybody say a bad word about that woman.”

Joanne McCallie, Duke WB Coach remembers Yow: “…for her courage, particularly in how open she was as she fought cancer. A lot of people are afraid, they’re afraid to share their story. Kay was never afraid.”

Sandra Kay Yow was born in Gibsonville, NC on March 14, 1942.

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Times: Pope Benedict Reinstates Holocaust Denier Bishop Richard Williamson

This action by Pope Benedict is outrageous beyond words. It confirms again what we have suspected, namely that Benedict is using the catholic church to foster a retrograde bigoted and racist agenda.

And to allay any doubts, here is an example of Williamson's antiSemitism, now implicitly endorsed by Pope Benedict, taken from Williamson's blog post of March 1, 2008:

Now ever since the Jews were responsible for the crucifying of Our Lord Jesus Christ -- "His blood be upon us and upon our children", Mt.XXVII,25 -- they have as a race and as a religion, always with noble exceptions, continued to reject him down to our day. Thus St. Paul observed that they not only "killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets", but they also prohibited St. Paul himself from "speaking to the Gentiles so as to save them". In brief, their behavior was such that "they please not God and are adversaries to men" (I Thess. II,14-16). Closer to our own time, it is a matter of historical record that the designing and launching of, for instance, Communism, to wrest mankind away from God and to replace his Heaven with a man-made paradise, was largely their achievement.

So they persecuted St. Paul at every turn (see Acts of the Apostles) as being one of their arch-enemies, when in fact nobody loved them more truly or labored more for their real well-being than did St. Paul (cf. Rom. IX,1-5). Similarly today, they will call an "anti-semite" anybody who gets in the way of any godlessness of theirs, when in fact all people laboring for their salvation, as for the salvation of Gentiles, are their best friends. St Paul, pray for us ! Kyrie eleison.

La Reja, Argentina
Posted by Bishop Richard Williamson at 7:33 AM

And here is the Times' story...

Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI, acceding to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has proven increasingly focused on appeasing traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian resigned to the church’s diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has favored a smaller church of more ardent believers over a larger one with looser faith. But his focus on doctrinal debates has come at a cost. As in 2006, when Benedict offended Muslims by citing a medieval scholar who called Islam “evil and inhuman,” the revocation may help heal an internal rift, but it opens a broader wound.

A particularly contentious part of the reinstatement on Saturday was the inclusion of Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers.

He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop Lefebvre made the four bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church’s relationship with the society. Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991.

In a statement Saturday, the Vatican said that the pope would “reconsider” whether to formally affirm the four as full bishops, but referred to the men by that title.

In recent years, Benedict has made other concessions to the Lefebvrists, including allowing the broader recitation of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s Vatican reforms and includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

Chester Gillis, the Amaturo chair in Catholic studies at Georgetown University, said that both Benedict and John Paul II before him had tried for years to bring these traditionalists back into the church, out of concern that their movement might grow and create an entrenched parallel church.

“I don’t think the Vatican doesn’t care about Jewish-Christian relations, but at least it appears that internal church matters trump external relations,” he said. “They’re thinking, let’s heal our own house whatever the consequences are externally.”

The recent comments by Bishop Williamson, who led a traditionalist seminary in Ridgefield, Conn., at the time he was made bishop and later moved to a seminary in Argentina, inevitably overshadowed the debate about traditional and liberal strains in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that “the historical evidence” was hugely against the conclusion that millions of Jews had been “deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that Bishop Williamson’s comments had “nothing to do with” the pope’s decision to welcome the schismatic bishops back into the fold. He added, “These are declarations that we don’t share in any way.”

Father Lombardi called the revocation of the excommunications a fundamental step toward the unity of the church, after two decades of rift. “We have to consider it very positive news,” he added.

Jewish groups criticized the decision to reinstate the men.

In a statement released Saturday, the Anti-Defamation League said that lifting Bishop Williamson’s excommunication “undermines the strong relationship between Catholics and Jews that flourished under Pope John Paul II and which Pope Benedict XVI said he would continue when he came into his Papacy.”

Abraham Foxman, the A.D.L.’s national director, added that the decree “sends a terrible message to Catholics around the world that there is room in the church for those who would undermine the church’s teachings and who would foster disdain and contempt for other religions, particularly Judaism. Given the centuries-long history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback.”

In a statement released Friday, Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, said, “We urgently call on the Vatican to reiterate its unqualified repudiation and condemnation of all and any Holocaust denial.”

In welcoming the cleric back into the church, Benedict is “making a mockery of John Paul II, who called anti-Semitism ‘a sin against God and man,’ ” Rabbi Rosen added.

In revoking the excommunications, the Vatican said it was responding to a letter sent in December by the director of the Society of Pius X, in which the bishops said they were “firmly determined to remain Catholic and to put all our efforts to the service of the church.”

The letter appeared to stop short of saying that the society would embrace, or even accept, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

“This is certainly a major concession to the traditionalists, part of a long effort by Rome to heal the only formal schism after Vatican II,” said John L. Allen Jr., a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.

“Politically, this certainly emboldens the conservative reading of the council and emphasizes what Benedict XVI has repeatedly called the ‘continuity’ of Vatican II with earlier periods of church history,” he added.

Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the Vatican was “still holding discussions” with the Lefebvrists about the Second Vatican Council.

Source : http://tzvee.blogspot.com

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Sugar Shane Mosley sweeter than ever in demolition of Antonio Margarito

Shane Mosley went into his fight against Antonio Margarito with a lot going against him. His involvement in BALCO and use of performance-enhancing drugs has grown. His marriage is reportedly in trouble. The last two tall fighters he fought - Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest - combined to give him four of his five career losses. In Margarito, he was facing boxing’s “It Guy,” who had cemented his standing among boxing elite’s with his stoppage of Miguel Cotto. Oh, and he was 37.

Nine brilliant rounds later, Sugar Shane was the welterweight champion, and a lot of those problems got a lot easier to deal with. After dominating Margarito throughout the fight, Mosley dropped Margarito in a wild 8th round, and then turned it on to stop him in the 9th.

Never allowing Margarito to find a rhythm for his windmilling, winging shots, Mosley dominated throughout, landing countless heavy right hands to Margarito’s head while managing the fight brilliantly. It was quite possibly the best performance of Mosley’s storied career.

In a way, the fight brought back memories of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s demolition of Diego Corrales some years back. And with Mayweather making noises about coming back, Mosley just made himself an attractive opponent. And a showdown with Mayweather is a problem Mosley would definitely not mind having.

Source : http://www.williamkwolfrum.com

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Gaza: Israel is Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, And Guilty of War Crimes Many Times Over

President Barack Obama must turn the page on US's relationship with Israel.

The US's "Special Relationship" with Israel is destroying the image of the United States internationally and it endangers the security and safety of ALL American citizens around the world.

President Barack Obama should not be another line of hypocritical Presidents of the past, when it comes to Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

President Obama, without any fear of or favour to, the Israeli and Jewish Lobby in the US, should, in no uncertain terms, make Israel face the international community on charges of crimes against humanity and for war crimes against the Palestinians.

Otherwise, his campaign call for CHANGE and HOPE for Americans and for the rest of the world, is just another nonsensical crap from a Presidential candidate.

Did Israel commit war crimes during 22 days and nights of aerial assault, rocket launches and ground fighting in Gaza?

In one sense the question is academic, because Israel will not recognise the conflict as an international one. It has not signed the 1977 Geneva protocol designed to apply to the victims of internal conflicts.

But international lawyers say general principles can be drawn from the laws of war, which may have been violated in several ways.

The main issues are these:


Up to 10 times as many Palestinians were killed as Israelis. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 1,314 Palestinians were killed, of whom 412 were children or teenagers under 18, and 110 were women. On the Israeli side, there were 13 deaths between 27 December and 17 January, of whom three were civilians killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Of the 10 soldiers killed, four were lost to "friendly fire".

Even if the Palestinian figure is disputed, it is clear that the death toll was massively higher for Palestinians than Israelis. Proportionality is not simply a matter of numbers, however. There will also be a debate over whether the destruction wrought by Israel's huge land, sea and air arsenal was proportionate to the threat posed by Hamas militants to civilians – itself also a violation of international humanitarian law.

With foreign journalists barred from Gaza by Israel throughout the war, it is especially hard to come by hard information on the exact circumstances in which all civilian casualties were caused.

But unofficial comment from senior military officers in the Israeli media have suggested that a deliberate choice was made to put the protection of its soldiers first, and that of civilians second.

If true, it appears to have been successful, but even if it wasn't, the "collateral damage" inflicted on civilians appears to have significantly exceeded the norms even of previous Israeli operations in Gaza, suggesting looser rules of engagement for military operations.

The head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, pointed out that there was an "expansive" definition of military targets, to include civilian government offices, police stations and the parliament building, on the grounds they at least indirectly helped Hamas.

Firing into urban areas

Israeli forces did not penetrate into the heart of Gaza City or Khan Yunis. But many of the areas where they deployed their forces were heavily built up.

Probably the most lethal incident was the 6 January mortar attack that hit the UN school being used as a shelter for hundreds who had fled their homes in the northern Gaza town of Jabalya. It killed 30 straight away, and an estimated 13 more died from their critical injuries in subsequent days.

Israel's initial claim in this and several other incidents was that it was responding to fire from Hamas. The militants could be at fault for "locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas", in the words of the Geneva Conventions. But the conventions also forbid any attack expected to cause death or injury to civilians "which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated" – a rule Israel is accused of breaking several times.

Though it fortunately caused no deaths and only two injuries, the incident in which shells containing phosphorus hit the UN Relief and Works Agency headquarters – where many were also sheltering – was almost as high profile. Not only did they set fire to food and medical supply warehouses, they landed as the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was holding meetings with Israeli leaders.

UN chiefs vigorously denied Israeli suggestions made in the media, though apparently not to the UN itself, that Hamas gunmen had been sheltering in UN premises.

In the first case Chris Gunness, UNRWA's chief spokesman, revealed that diplomats had been told by the Israeli authorities that Hamas was not operating from the school. And in the second, Mr Ban said that Israel's Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, had acknowledged a "grave mistake".

White phosphorus

White phosphorus – which can cause horrific injuries, and is heavily restricted in international law – is now widely accepted to have been used by Israel in this war at several locations.

Dating originally from the First World War, white phosphorus and its distinctive plumes of white smoke can legally be used to mark objectives, spread smoke for concealment or set fire to military targets, but not in civilian areas. Israel first denied using it at all, then claimed it was being used only in uninhabited areas, and then last week announced an investigation into its use.

A high school student Mahmoud al-Jamal, 18, was lucky to have been hit by phosphorus shelling during the third week of the war.

By the time he reached the care of Gaza City's Shifa hospital, unconscious and severely burned in his left arm, legs and chest, the head of the burns unit, Dr Nafez abu Shaban knew the only hope of saving him lay with surgery. Shifa had no experience of it before 27 December, but "by the last week of the war we knew that we had to get the patient to the operating room and excise all the burnt tissue".

Mahmoud was running from the heavy fighting between Hamas gunmen and Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city district of Tel Al Hawa when a shell dropped in front of him. "I could feel my whole body burning," he said. "I fell and asked someone next to me to help. But he was dead. Then I fainted."

Part of his body was still smouldering when he was being anaesthetised in theatre. "A piece extracted itself from his body and burned the anaesthetist on his chest," said Dr Shaban. Mahmoud will live; unconfirmed estimates are that dozens of others burned by phosphorus have not survived.

Dime bombs and other unusual weapons

While the vast majority of Palestinians were killed by conventional weapons, a Norwegian doctor, Erik Fosse, said injuries he had seen in Gaza were consistent with the use of Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs. "It was as if [patients] had stepped on a mine, but there was no shrapnel in the wounds," he said.

A UN convention, which Israel has signed, prohibits "the use of any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays". This could apply to Dime bombs, but by their nature it is extremely difficult to prove they have been used.

Amnesty International last week called on Israel to give details of weapons beside phosphorus it had used in Gaza, so that medics could better treat the injuries they inflict. Donatella Rovera of Amnesty, currently on a munitions fact-finding mission to Gaza, said doctors were encountering "new and unexplained injuries, including charred and sharply severed limbs" after air strikes.

The UK human rights agency also quoted Dr Subhi Skeik of Shifa hospital's surgery department as saying: "We have many cases of amputations and vascular reconstructions where patients would be expected to recover in the normal way. But to our surprise, many of them died an hour or two after operation. It is dramatic."

Dr Shaban of Shifa's burns unit said surgical colleagues had encountered bloodless amputations of limbs after attacks during the war, and that some Egyptian and Jordanian doctors with experience in Lebanon and Iraq had suggested that Dime bombs could be responsible. But both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch's weapons expert Mark Galasco, who is also in Gaza, are highly cautious about speculating on the possibility of Dime, not least because of the difficulty of finding provable traces of it.

Israel has always insisted that its weaponry – including controversial flechette darts, which have been used in Gaza before and have been found so far in two northern Gaza locations this time – is legal. There is no outright ban on Dime bombs, flechettes or even white phosphorus. It is the time and the manner in which they are used that can be illegal.

Targeting of civilians

Israel has continued to contrast what it says are its strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties with Hamas's undoubtedly deliberate targeting of civilians with Qassam rockets. There have, however, been several cases in which Palestinian civilians were hit while taking shelter. In other incidents, people in Gaza said they were fired on while seeking to flee to safety, in some cases waving white flags.

In the most widely publicised case, the UN says 80 members of the Samouni family were sheltering in a warehouse hit by missiles early on 5 January, killing 29. Several survivors said they had been ordered by the army to go there the previous day.

Meanwhile, Khaled Abed Rabbo said a single soldier shot three of his young daughters from a tank, killing two, as they obeyed orders to flee their home on the outer edge of Jabalya. He suggested it was a deliberate act, The army is investigating, but reaffirms that "the IDF does not target civilians".

Yesterday Mr Rabbo's mother Suad, 54, who was shot in the arm and abdomen at the same time, corroborated his account. She said she, her daughter and her seven-year-old granddaughter were all carrying white flags when they were shot. She did not see the soldier who fired, but insisted there were no Palestinian fighters in the vicinity.

Humanitarian aid

While basic humanitarian supplies, including medicine, continued to flow into Gaza from Israel during the war, the UN and other agencies complained more than once that there were severe problems in distributing food and other aid within Gaza because of continuing security problems. These were compounded when a driver contracted by UNRWA was shot dead near the Erez crossing as he prepared to load food, ready for moving it south during a three-hour humanitarian pause.

There were also several complaints from the Red Cross and Israeli human rights agencies that medics and rescue services were prevented from reaching the wounded and dead. Four weak and terrified children from the Samouni family were finally found by the Red Cross, two days after the attack that killed 29 other family members.

After the ground attack started, one convoy, consisting of an ICRC truck and a Palestinian Ministry of Health truck, both carrying medical supplies for hospitals in southern Gaza, and 13 ambulances carrying intensive care patients to Egyptian hospitals, had to turn back after the ICRC driver was shot and injured near a military checkpoint in the centre of the strip.

Fuel shortages and power cuts continued to deprive about a million Gazans of electricity at any one time. Sewage and water supplies were badly hit, because pumps could not operate.

Source : http://malaysianunplug.blogspot.com

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Missile Strike in Pakistan May Have Killed "High-Value Target"

While many in the media, including Rachel Maddow, have acted surprised that there was a missile-strike into Pakistan under President Barack Obama's watch, I am not surprised. This was a part of candidate-Obama's foreign policy position dating back to August of 2007 during the contentious Democratic primary. It is also, in my humble world view, the right position. It reaffirms out commitment to dismantling Al-Qaeda without having to rely on unreliable Pakistani-security services or sending soldiers into Pakistan.

These most recent strikes were done so due to actionable intelligence, and one Pakistani security official believes that a high-level target might have been taken out.

* Setrak's diary :: ::

The Washington Post has a must read article in today's paper that offers a far more objective view of the subject than most of the commentary that we have heard thus far. In it, one Pakistani security official offers the following;

A Pakistani security official said in Islamabad that the strikes appeared to have killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly even "a high-value target" such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official.

Another Pakistani official put a possible name to the man; suspected Al-Qaeda operative Mustafa al-Misri. It's unclear how significant of a figure he was, or if that was even his real name.

These are the people that former President George W. Bush promised to get. This is Al-Qaeda and their closest allies within the Taliban. These are the guys that would gladly murder innocent civilians, as they have demonstrated in the past. These are not people that respect the rule of law, but rather use it to their own whims. If we are going to get them, we have to get them by any means necessary. We can't send boots into the tribal areas of Pakistan without causing a huge firestorm of controversy and risk of a wider conflict. We also can't rely on the compromised Pakistani security forces, despite some reform, or the anti-Taliban militia that we have been assisting. And before anyone pretends like President Obama's actions are genuinely angering President Zardari, think again. People should always remember that President Asif Ali Zardari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto.

President Barack Obama may not see the end of bin Laden as the end of Al-Qaeda, but the end of bin Laden and his network is closer than ever before. There is no longer any safe-haven.

Source : http://www.dailykos.com

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Ethics & Merrill Lynch executive remuneration

The real bonuses and the phoney profits have been a feature of Merrill Lynch's US operations.

But ex CEO John Thain's actions seem to me to show the moral bankruptcy of Wall Street. Merrill Lynch paid out $15 billion to executives in 2008 which just matched the controversial 4th quarter losses that Bank of America (its purchaser) have complained they were unaware of. Moreover, while Bank of America begged Washington for $20 billion more in handouts, Thain approved an accelerated bonus pool of $4 billion for his executives.

In addition while, in the scheme of things it is trivial, one cannot help wondering how Thain could have approved $1.2 million of shareholder monies for redecorating his office. I think Thain should go to jail. The argument that Thain sold Merrill Lynch to Bank of America for $44 billion and therefore 'saved the business' seems questionable to me. This seems, again, to have been a deception - the $50 billion dollar deal from hell.

I've read for years that executives have to be paid absolutely huge salaries to prevent them leaving. It was 'competition' working. But what's the point of retaining executives who drive firms into bankruptcy and who require bonuses that exceed earnings.

What happened to ethics in all this? Do ethical issues become redundant when you 'allign' executive interests with those of shareholders by suitably cute incentive contracts?

The appalling behaviour of prominent business executives threatens our prosperity by undermining the basic institutions of capitalism.

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Support the Palestinians, Support Israel

Support the Palestinians, support Israel

The brutal truth is that Gaza has become a lawless Hell on Earth, and that Hamas is guilty of making it so. Exclusively. We’d better abandon the idea of “but on the other side…”, writes Poul Højlund.

Hamas constitutes a horrible pestilence on the Palestinian society in Gaza. Anyone still harboring doubts concerning this is encouraged to review some of the many videos found on the Internet and on YouTube. What can be found there defies description.

A collection of raving mad killers terrorizing their own population and killing indiscriminately, senseless in their lust for blood, out of their minds in insanity. Please go see for yourself, but be prepared to face some deeply unpleasant ethical questions.

How can we bring this gang of madmen under control? This is worse than the worst of the Taliban, Hell of Medieval dimensions, but lacking the angels. They roam Gaza City in brand new SUVs paid for by the European Union, shooting at will.

Music, dance and alcohol are, Taliban-style, banned. One video shows a traditional wedding with singing. It triggers a bloodbath. The Hamas bullies suddenly appear in large Jeeps, shoot people, beat them more or less to death (hard to ascertain due to video quality), destroying anything in their way. The Medieval legal system called Sharia has been adopted by parliament, and even Crucifixion has now been adopted as a punishment.

No Arab state wishes to deal with Hamas. The Palestinian Authority withdrew from Gaza after a bloodbath barely known in the West. There exists no ‘moderate’ Hamas, and no effective central command able to order a ceasefire. There is only a gang of insane killers far astray from humanistic thinking.

One can watch the leaders of Hamas encourage murder, terrorism, the elimination of Jewry, the conquest of Rome, of Western Europe, worldwide holy war, the sacrifice of their own women and children in the struggle against the Jews. The total indoctrination of children of kindergarten age, complete with using real guns for toys, gender segregated schools, and veiled women. It would seem that Taliban has conquered Gaza.

- - - - - - - - -

How shall we ever succeed in reining in Hamas?

Decent people — and who is not? — believe in ceasefires, peaceful solutions, and some are still trying to make Israel and Hamas equivalent partners in a dirty battle. Or one simply closes one’s eyes, repeating “There is always trouble in the Middle East.” Even some Danish politicians, like Margrethe Auken [Socialist Peoples’ Party], claim that “Israel is the criminal.” No greater lie can be found.

We hear, again and again, that Hamas was voted in by democratic means. Ole Sippel on DR [Danish national television], claims that election to be the most democratic ever held in any Arab country. But he conveniently forgets the ensuing coup d’état, where the members of Fatah were either killed or expelled from Gaza. Even if Hamas is democratically elected, so what? Not even the largest of majorities can transmute a terrorist organization into anything other than the terrorist organization it is. The Nazis of Germany also came to power after so-called democratic elections. Does that justify even the smallest of their crimes?

The brutal truth is that Gaza has become a lawless Hell on Earth, and that Hamas is guilty of making it so. Exclusively. We’d better abandon the idea of “but on the other side…”, of moral equivalence.

We are facing what constitutes a complete collapse of anything we relate to ‘society’ and ‘civilization’. And there is no reason to believe that Israel has any part in the calamity.

Neither should one believe the Norwegian doctor, who amidst all his surgery always has ample time to provide comments to any and all television stations, courtesy of Hamas ‘journalists’. He is a hardcore old-school communist, who actively applauded the terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York. His purpose is so obvious that some serious self-scrutiny should be shown by the media who uncritically pass on his propaganda.

The only news coming out of Gaza is that controlled and endorsed by Hamas. Every single time a newspaper brings pictures from Gaza, one can be certain that it is part of the Hamas propaganda effort. This does not imply, of course, that it is fun to be a Palestinian in Gaza in these weeks. Quite to the contrary. War is awful, war in a city indescribable.

The Israelis distribute flyers encouraging civilian Palestinians to get to safety. Hamas blocks them from doing so, and instead pushes them in front of themselves as human shields. Hamas desires and creates a maximum of civilian suffering and death, which subsequently is used by uncritical media worldwide as ‘evidence’ of the just battle of Hamas and the cruelty of Israel.

The Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza are locked into this inferno. The borders are closed, there is no way out. Suspicions of insurgency are punished by executions on the spot, or in milder cases with the infamous ‘Hamas shot’, vertically through the knee and the lower leg leaving through the foot. The victim will never walk again.

Israel has taken on the dirty job of breaking Hamas. Commentators from DR claim this is due to the upcoming Israeli elections. The Danish minister of foreign affairs claims that Israel is using excessive military force. The United Nations talks about ‘proportionality’. Norway supports Hamas. The European Union is making payments to Hamas under the cover of ‘humanitarian aid’. Those SUVs are not coming out of nowhere, for sure.

Israel needs every kind of support we can provide them. Margrethe Auken talks of the Hamas rockets as ‘paper rockets’, as opposed to the professional army of Israel. She supports Hamas, while she takes cover under the grand shield of Christianity and humanism. Her party chairman, the amazingly popular Villy Søvndal, systematically claims that Israel is performing ‘carpet bombings’ of Gaza. He also supports Hamas.

Why is the Left so systematic in its support of the vilest scum of the Earth? Probably not due to inability to recognize a terrorist when they face one. But then, why? Ignorance, perchance? But where does it come from? Why are the journalists and editors not relating what really goes on?

I can’t find any other plausible explanation than creeping anti-Semitism, lurking right below the humanitarian surface. This, of course, is a harsh accusation. Thus, let me repeat it: Behind the inexplicable goodwill towards Hamas hides a creeping anti-Semitism. There is no other rational explanation.

Where were all the soft leftist well-meaning humanitarians and the enraged journalists when the Chechens were killed by the thousands by the Russians? Where are they when the population of Darfur is murdered by Arab militia? Where are they with regards to the rampant killings in Congo?

Nowhere, for in these cases it is not Israelis on the other side. To put it briefly. As long at it is not the Israelis (read: “Jews”), these nice humanitarians are not reacting. They are mum, they see nothing, they plainly do not care. But as soon as Israel (read: “the Jews”) are on the other side, they react.

This is probably not something they will realize themselves. We have, after all, all been inoculated against anti-Semitism. But then I suggest them to ask deep within: Why is this police action, by military means, of such importance when you know about the scum on the other side?

Israel, on the other hand, is proceeding with all possible precautions. Perhaps 800 were killed after 14 days of action in one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, the vast majority of those killed being Hamas militants. Some of the ‘civilians’ are Fatah staff, or simply critics, killed by Hamas, others still have been used by Hamas as human shields to hide behind.

The democratic state of Israel lost 1176 citizens, with an additional 9,000 wounded, due to Hamas terrorism in the years 2000 through 2008. None of these were terrorists. Nor were they terrorist sympathizers. Not a single one of them. Their ‘crime’ consisted of riding a bus, queuing up at the bakery, dancing at a discothèque or simply being around in their own country.

What did the gentle humanitarians say back then? Nothing. Why did they close their eyes towards the murderous inhumane behavior of Hamas towards both Israel and their own population, and why is their conscience constructed in such a peculiar way as to turn Israel into the crook here?

Why don’t we help the Palestinians by helping those taking action to rid them of the criminal regime they are subjected to? Why do we not support the only state on Earth willing to do the hard work here? Why do we even imagine there can be a genuine ceasefire as long as Hamas remains in power?

But no. We see support demonstrations for Hamas, with leftwing party Enhedslisten tailing along. We see violent ‘peace demonstrations’ solely against Israel. Our foreign affairs committee is called in (by the possibly well-meaning Jeppe Kofoed) solely to protest against Israel. We face a national and international press almost in unison failing to report on the atrocities of Hamas.

It is about time that Denmark and the Danes came to their senses regarding what goes on in the world. To help the Palestinians, we should support Israel.
Source : http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com

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20-Year-old Brazilian Model Mariana Bridi da Costa Dies

This is a very sad story about a girl that had a promising future. Beautiful 20-year-old Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa died after she succumbed to an infection that doctors were unable to stop. Mariana Bridi's physicians had amupated her hands and feets but were still unable to save her. The infection was caused by bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which has resistance to some antibiotics. WebMD has more about Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections which they say are "exceedingly rare" in young, healthy people in the U.S. Mariana's illness was originally incorrectly diagnosed as kidney stones in December.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA takes on Rush Limbaugh

Matt Drudge is calling Obama’s warning for Republicans not to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s empty rhetoric a “Media War.” When did Rush Limbaugh become part of the media? Of course, such an assertion is to admit the existence of the Bush Administration’s and the Republican’s attempts to control the media—not to mention corporate efforts to homogenize the media.

I recognize the need for bipartisanship, but my problem with some Republicans are their attempts to sabotage almost everything politically, ignore the facts and reality, promote divisiveness and culture war, in addition to being total hypocrites.

President Obama is absolutely correct to call out Rush Limbaugh, especially after Limbaugh recently expressed his hope for the Obama Administration to fail by saying, “I want him to fail” to Sean Hannity of FOX News. Personally, I disagreed with the Bush Administration’s policies on Iraq, but I never wished for the Administration’s policies to fail.

Source : http://conservationreport.com

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