— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for January, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State, 2013: John Kerry Confirmation Hearing

In the Washington Post, one can read: “His confirmation to be secretary of state virtually assured, Sen. John F. Kerry sketched a pragmatist’s view of the world Thursday, telling his Senate colleagues that the war in Syria may grind on indefinitely and that Iran may rebuff peaceful efforts to scale back its nuclear program. Kerry’s nearly four-hour confirmation hearing covered his views on topics new and old, including the Middle East, China’s appetite for African energy and resources, North Korean gulags and his beloved Boston Red Sox. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote as soon as next week to confirm Kerry (D-Mass.). The full Senate could take up his bid quickly. Senate insiders said Kerry could take over for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in early February”.[1]

[1] Anne Gearan, “Kerry sails through Senate confirmation hearing on secretary of state bid” The Washington Post (24 Jan 2013). http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/senate-opens-confirmation-hearing-on-john-kerry-as-secretary-of-state/2013/01/24/b9e0188c-6635-11e2-9e1b-07db1d2ccd5b_story.html.

The Austin Atheist Experience #414: The meaning of life

‘Russell and Keryn talk about the meaning of life as it relates to atheism.

The Atheist Experience is a weekly cable access television show in Austin, Texas geared at a non-atheist audience. The Atheist Experience is produced by the Atheist Community of Austin. The Atheist Community of Austin is organized as a nonprofit educational corporation to develop and support the atheist community, to provide opportunities for socializing and friendship, to promote secular viewpoints, to encourage positive atheist culture, to defend the first amendment principle of state-church separation, to oppose discrimination against atheists and to work with other organizations in pursuit of common goals (29 May 2011)’.

Hillary Clinton Testifies on Benghazi

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Benghazi – the attacks and the lessons learned before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2013.

Israel Election 2013: Bibi FTW???

RT’s correspondent Paula Slier tweeted the following election results: ‘With 99.5% of the vote in, Likud 31, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, Shas 11, Bayit Yehudi 11, Yahadut Hatorah 7, Movement 6, Meretz 6’.[1]  And what this means is that Bibi is still in power and that he has to build another coalition of the willing to pursue his outlandish policy goals. And now for some informed comment that is always well worth quoting in full, here is Professor Juan Cole: “Early returns for the Israeli elections suggest that turnout was high in secular areas like Tel Aviv and in some Palestinian-Israeli districts, whereas it was low in conservative strongholds. As a result the combined Likud coalition with Yisrael Beitenu only got about 31 seats (the Israeli parliament has 120). Likud is a far rightwing party based on the Fascist political philosophy of Vladimir Jabotinsky in the 1930s, while Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) is a far right nationalist party based on Russian, Ukrainian and other former Soviet Bloc populations, many of them only nominally Jewish or not actually Jewish at all, who were economic emigrants to Israel. There is likely no government in Europe as far right wing as Israel’s, and if there were it would be a scandal that attracted boycotts. Netanyahu is convinced that he will still be able to cobble together the 61 seats needed, at a bare minimum, for a majority in the Knesset. This outcome, however, is by no means a sure thing. Even if he can win a third term, his government will be fragile and deeply divided. One of his likely coalition partners, a centrist newcomer, wants to end the exemption from conscription into the military granted Haredim or ultra-Orthodox Jews, who have grown to 8% of the population and may well, because of large families, become an even larger percentage of Israelis in the coming two decades. The Haredim, most of them backers of Netanyahu, really, really don’t want to serve in the army. So Netanyahu’s cabinet could be quite fractious this time. The Israeli Left was given a boost in the summer of 2011, when youth demonstrated against the Neoliberal economic policies of the Likud government, which is market-oriented even if that means young people cannot afford to rent an apartment anywhere near their work in e.g. Tel Aviv. Many of the youth mobilized for those demonstrations appear to have come out to vote for centrist parties on Tuesday [, 22 January 2013]. It should be noted that the Israeli right wing plays dirty tricks on the Israeli left and liberals, smearing them as traitors and harassing them (many of the nearly 1 million Israelis living outside Israel were leftists unwilling to live under Likud harassment. Such treatment of these Israelis acts as a form of voter suppression. The 20% of Israelis of Palestinian heritage do not usually vote in larger numbers. They face so much discrimination that it is hard to convince them that anything good can come from an Israeli election. Moreover, the Israeli Right keeps trying to throw elected Arab parliament members out of parliament, sending a signal that even when Palestinian-Israelis do join in the process, attempts will be made to blunt their influence. But the scandal, and one that Freedom House just ignored (detracting from its credibility) is that 4 million Palestinians living under Israeli control could not vote in these elections. They could not vote because they are stateless. They are not citizens of any state. And Netanyahu is committed, despite occasional whitewashing of his position in public, to keeping the Palestinians without a state. But Israel controls the air, water and land of Palestine, and dictates Palestinian lives”.[2]

So much for the popularity contest which is the democratic process, as practised in Israel. Taking a broader view, the somewhat unfortunately named Dr Ismail Salami, who happens to be a lexicographer, Iranologist, Shakespearean and political analyst, opines on the Press TV website that “four US nuclear experts have called upon the Obama administration to impose tougher economic sanctions against Iran and resort to overt operations through using warplanes and missiles on Iranian nuclear sites [(in) a 155-page report]”.[3]

Dr Salami continues that the report was “[c]o-authored by Mark Dubowitz, who runs the Zionist Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and David Albright, a physicist who heads the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and who was responsible for concocting lies and myths about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and drawing the country into an abysmal vortex of destruction and devastation, the report can be but seen in the light of yet another overtly brash attempt by the US to push ahead with further militarism in the Middle East. Dubbed as U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East, the report falls short of mentioning any other Middle Eastern countries, which may be seeking a nuclear weapons program, and instead focuses heavily on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The authors of the conspiratorial report urge Washington to ‘undertake additional overt preparations for the use of warplanes and/or missiles to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities with high explosives’ and ‘increase Iranian isolation, including through regime change in Syria and deepening Iran’s diplomatic isolation’. Naturally, the words have been deliberately and carefully chosen in the report. By ‘overt preparations’, the authors explicitly admit that the US government has in the past used ‘covert operations’ as well i.e. assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and infiltrating and disrupting the computer systems. Somewhere in the report, the authors unambiguously refer to Washington’s sabotage activities in Iran. They say, ‘Press reports indicate that sabotage has been used to slow the Iranian nuclear program, including through infiltration and disruption of procurement networks and cyberattacks designed to inflict physical damage to the program. Judicious use of this tool should be included in continued U.S. efforts to constrain the Iranian nuclear program’”.[4]

Salami cautions that the reports reeks “of a Zionist influence contaminating the already decomposing American policy. On May 9, 2012, just ahead of the May 23 talks in Baghdad, where six world powers were slated to sit down with Iranian officials and resolve the so-called nuclear issue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the talks will be successful only if Iran agrees to ‘halt all uranium enrichment, ship its current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and dismantle an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom (Fordow)’. Interestingly, when the IAEA-Iran meeting took place in May, these three demands were exactly (but not coincidently) put on [the] IAEA’s agenda and the Iranian side was demanded to abide by these if it sought any resolution of the issue. What strikes the mind as reasonably acceptable is that the authors are no political well-wishers; rather, they are indeed so morbidly obsessed with paving the way for another ravaging war in the Middle East that they are cooking up another fairy tale as David Albright and his ‘company’ did in Iraq”.[5]  And now, the Israeli election results seem to have paved the way for the implementation of such a scenario . . .

[1] “‏@PaulaSlier_RT”, (11:36 PM – 22 Jan 13). https://twitter.com/PaulaSlier_RT/status/293985508005122049.

[2] Juan Cole, “Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised” Informed Comment (23 Jan 2013). http://www.juancole.com/2013/01/netanyahu-apartheid-disenfranchised.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+juancole%2Fymbn+%28Informed+Comment%29.

[3] Ismail Salami, “US cooks up nuclear fairy tale on Iran” Press TV (21 Jan 2013). http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/21/284780/us-cooks-up-nuclear-fairy-tale-on-iran/.

[4] Ismail Salami, “US cooks up nuclear fairy tale on Iran”.

[5] Ismail Salami, “US cooks up nuclear fairy tale on Iran”.

The Big Picture: The Second Term – Inauguration Debate

‘Thom talks with Sam Sacks, Marc Harrold and Neil McCabe about Obama’s inaugural address and what our president will focus on during his next four years in office. Thom takes viewer phone calls in “Your Take, My Take Live” and in tonight’s “Daily Take” Thom looks back at what top Republican leaders were plotting the night of Obama’s first inauguration and what they might be up to tonight. (21 Jan 2013)’.

Inaugural Drone Flyover 2013

A reputed news source has recently reported a little known detail concerning President Obama’s second inauguration ceremony: ‘Taking the oath of office for his second term today [, 21 January 2013], President Barack Obama joined thousands of supporters in the nation’s capital for traditional inauguration festivities that included a prayer invocation, a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, and a ceremonial flyover of three combat drones. “When Obama was being sworn in on the Capitol steps, we could hear the drones screeching by overhead and everyone got really excited,” spectator Andrew Meyers, 34, said as he eagerly trained his eyes on the unmanned aerial vehicles that have taken out several hundred innocent civilians during presidentially authorized strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. “They go by super fast, but luckily there are Jumbotrons all over the National Mall, so nobody missed out. Wait, they’re coming back!” At press time, sources confirmed that inaugural celebrants were enjoying the Jumbotron’s live closed-circuit feed of the still-open prison facility at GuantánamoBay’.[1]

In this way, the crowds in Washington, DC experienced firsthand what life is like for numerous people across the world, from Pakistan to Yemen, from Somalia to Afghanistan.

[1] “Obama Begins Inauguration Festivities With Ceremonial Drone Flyover” The Onion (21 January 2013). http://www.theonion.com/articles/obama-begins-inauguration-festivities-with-ceremon,30974/?ref=auto.

Obama 2.0 or Bush, Jr. 4.0???

‘Barack Obama has officially begun his second Presidential term, after being sworn in at the White House. Later, on Monday, he will spell out his vision for the next four years in his inaugural address. But as RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports many are still waiting for him to tackle some of his broken promises (21 Jan 2013)’.