02/14/13

Downs and Ups

Arlene from Israel

Update on my update: Little Zakkai has had a tough time since last I wrote — as, unquestionably, have his parents.

On Monday he successfully came through surgery to remove growing tumor nodules on his spine. Following the surgery, he was given what was supposed to be a routine MRI to be sure all was well. But it was discovered that in spite of the diligence of the two surgeons who worked on him with great care, a nodule on the spine was missed. The doctors recommended re-opening the incision, which had not yet healed. And so, yesterday, this 2-1/2 year old went under the knife for the second time in 48 hours.

But the upbeat news now is that he’s doing beautifully and will probably be moved out of ICU today and discharged before long.

Please G-d, Zakkai, after five surgeries, is now tumor-free and will recover quickly. (This picture of him is not from now — he’s not recovering that fast.)

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President Obama has delivered his State of the Union address, and Barry Rubin, a very savvy commentator, has now taken it apart in “Careful Phrasing Conceals Disasters.”

Rubin provides multiple examples of ways in which Obama distorts the situation (offers untruthful pictures), or implies something that isn’t true while taking care to not quite lie. A few examples follow (emphasis added).

There is the Obama statement that:

“For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.”

Calling it a “strange phrase,” Rubin identifies it as a reworking of the Obama theme of the great victory achieved in taking out bin Laden, “while hinting that al-Qaida is not a threat to the United States. Well, as Benghazi shows, al-Qaida is still a threat but wording the sentence the way Obama did implies otherwise without saying so and looking foolish at making an obviously false claim.”

On a similar note, Obama declared that:

“Most of al Qaida’s top lieutenants have been defeated.”

A strange formulation, says Rubin, that again, implies that al Qaeda has been soundly weakened.

“The administration…is looking for something that gets in bin Laden’s assassination and that of other al-Qaida leaders (al-Qaida has been decapitated) [thus] hinting that al-Qaida has been defeated.

“Of course, all of this glosses over the fact that al-Qaida hasn’t been defeated. It is on the march in Mali, the Gaza Strip, Somalia, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Yemen, and other places.”

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This is not nit-picking by Rubin. Not an attempt to make Obama look bad by focusing on unimportant phrasing. Obama’s phrasing is very important indeed. For he seeks to convince the nation that under his leadership “the” enemy of the US, al-Qaida, has been so significantly weakened it is no longer a major threat. But to deny the threat that al-Qaeda continues to present is to do the nation a severe disservice.

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Obama also said:

“A year ago, Gadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators, a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone.”

Rubin observes:

“Hm, someone in Libya with ‘American blood on his hands’? Glad there’s nobody like that around anymore!”

To Obama’s statement that:

“And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed and that human dignity cannot be denied.”

Rubin comments:

“Oh, I’ll bet that a lot of Syrians are going to learn that human dignity can be denied in the face of ethnic massacres and a new regime where the Muslim Brotherhood rules and Salafists run around free to do as they please.”

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About US leadership and the American relationship with Israel, Obama said:

“The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment — and I mean iron-clad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”

Retorts Rubin:

“Really? That’s not what I hear from people all over the world. It is the absence of American leadership they feel, sometimes to their great cost. Ask the Poles, and the Czechs, and the Saudis, and the democratic oppositionists in Iran and Syria, and so on. Ask the Peruvians and the Colombians if they feel American leadership is protecting them from Venezuela and other radical forces in the region.

“It is true that military cooperation with Israel is good—which is to say, normal not the greatest in history—but what Israeli leader believes that Obama can be relied on? The ones I speak to usually say something like this: ‘I never thought I’d see the day when we couldn’t depend on America.’

“… let’s be frank here: Since Obama believes he knows better what Israel security needs are than do its leaders then anything he does is ‘pro-Israel’ even if it is against Israel’s will.

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How cheap words are, especially in the mouth of Obama. I’ve included a solid part of this piece because the analysis is important for anyone who thinks seriously about the big issues. I could go on, but you can read the full article for yourself:

http://www.gloria-center.org/2013/02/state-of-the-union-address-on-foreign-policy-careful-phrasing-conceals-disasters/?utm_source=activetrail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2/14/2013%20Newsletter

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There are, of course, other rebuttals to the Obama claim of “the renewal of American leadership.” I share this one, by Walter Russell Mead: “As America’s Credibility Wanes, Iran Upgrades Its Nuclear Capacity.” (Emphasis added)

“Iran can sometimes be very hard to read, but the announcement that even as talks approach it is installing advanced and more capable centrifuges at its nuclear facility in Natanz doesn’t need much interpreting: Iran isn’t afraid of Barack Obama. The Ayatollahs have looked at the clues, added up the numbers, and come to the conclusion that the President will not use military force as Iran presses forward with its nuclear plans.

“One of the clues that lead them to this conclusion is the U.S. decision to cut back the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region. If Washington were serious, the Iranians believe, we would be building up our naval presence, not drawing it back….

“President Obama’s choice of one of the most prominent ‘Iran doves’ in American public life as his new Defense Secretary is also being read in Tehran as a sign of the President’s thinking…

“The announcement of more troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in last night’s SOTU will confirm the already widespread view in Tehran that the U.S. is in retreat and that if Iran hangs tough it can get what it wants.

From Iran’s point of view the Administration also seems to be standing down in Syria. A year ago Washington was full of tough talk: demands that Assad relinquish power, unambiguous statements that he “must go.” America was huffing and puffing—but folded like a cheap suit when it came time to back words with deeds. From an Iranian point of view this sends two very clear signals. First, don’t worry about threats and rhetoric from this White House. When they utter threats, they are just making noise. Assad ‘must go,’ Iran ‘must stop’ its nuclear program. This is just chit-chat; it won’t be followed up by anything other than diplomatic notes.

“…the fact that the President didn’t make the confrontation with Iran a centerpiece of his State of the Union message will be read in Iran as yet another signal. Their nuclear program isn’t a high enough priority for this President to lead to war.

“…Iran needs to fear the United States. The signs right now are that it doesn’t.”

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/02/13/as-americas-credibility-wanes-iran-upgrades-its-nuclear-capacity/

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Of course Iran doesn’t fear the US. Obama doesn’t do “fear.” He’s into dialogue.

This situation, says the author, makes war more likely. Which, my friends, is precisely what Prime Minister Netanyahu has been saying for a long time.

And now, we’re being told, Obama is coming here to convince Netanyahu to trust him to handle Iran. How’s that again?

02/14/13

The Definitive Dossier on PTSD in Whistleblowers

The Definitive Dossier on PTSD in Whistleblowers by Michael Volpe:

From historical figures like Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, Frank Serpico, and The Insider himself Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, whistleblowers have always been on the front lines of rooting out corruption.

The personal sacrifice that they make in bringing the truth to light is rarely told with the detail it deserves.

Investigative journalist Michael Volpe takes a close look at the pain and suffering that goes along blowing the whistle on corruption.

Whether it’s the story of a psychologist that was retaliated against after reporting on a case of suspected child abuse, or the case of a roofer that attempted to blow the whistle on suspected bid rigging only to find a sea of corruption, these stories will amaze, enlighten, and disturb the audience all at once.

Relying on thousands of hours of interviews, first hand experience, and the help of legendary figures like Hans Selye and Emil Kraepelin, Volpe shows how these harrowing stories often lead to trauma, which then leads to PTSD.

Combining investigative journalism, historical analysis, along with psycho-analysis, this book gives the audience a view on both the act of whistleblowing and its traumatic effects in a way it’s never been told before.

Chapter 4 from "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"

Chapter 4: Anna Chacko by Michael Volpe

Buy at Amazon.com today…

02/14/13

Al Jazeera Hires K Street to Lobby Congress

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Apparently on the defensive over its unorthodox entry into the U.S. media market, Al Jazeera has hired a high-powered lobbying firm on Capitol Hill to stave off an investigation of the curious transaction with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore.

The firm, DLA Piper, represented Al Jazeera in the acquisition of Gore’s Current TV, has an office in Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, and is also active in the “Islamic financial services industry” in the Middle East.

“Al Jazeera America is assembling a K Street team to advocate for its cable news channel,” reports The Hill. Current TV was purchased from Gore and other prominent Democrats, including Richard C. Blum, husband of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Gore reportedly got $100 million out of the $500 million deal.

But DLA’s top lobbyist on the Al Jazeera account is a Republican, Mark R. Paoletta, who used to work for President George H.W. Bush.

The term “K Street” refers to Washington, D.C.’s expensive lobbying industry, a sure indication that Al Jazeera realizes it has to deploy huge sums of cash from its owner, the Emir of Qatar, to make sure its takeover of Gore’s Current TV does not run into snags.

The Emir of Qatar, a multi-billionaire, runs a dictatorial regime that postures as America’s friend in the Middle East but which supports the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Lobbying registration forms reveal that four lobbyists from the firm DLA Piper are on the Al Jazeera account. DLA Piper describes itself as a global law firm with 4,200 lawyers located in more than 30 countries, including the Middle East.

One of its areas of interest is “Islamic Finance.”

The firm says, “The worldwide Islamic financial services industry is thought to be worth in excess of US$1 trillion and, despite current global economic uncertainty, continues to demonstrate strong signs of growth as investors (Islamic and conventional) look to tap into the alternative source of liquidity offered by Shari’a compliant financing structures and products. “

Sharia refers to the totalitarian system of Islamic law.

“We consider ourselves to be more than just a global law firm but also a ‘stakeholder’ in the Islamic finance industry,” DLA Piper says.

Mark Paoletta, a partner in DLA Piper’s Federal Law and Policy group, is listed in the registration forms as one of the lobbyists for Al Jazeera. His specialty is “government investigations, with an emphasis on congressional investigations and hearings,” as well as “crisis management.”

According to his webpage, his clients have included:

  • Major hedge funds in connection with investigations by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the hedge fund industry
  • Defense contractors in investigations by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
  • A foreign bank in connection with an investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations into offshore tax practices

In addition to Paoletta, DLA Piper’s John Merrigan, Ignacio Sanchez and Matthew Bernstein are registered as lobbyists for the channel. “We’re keeping everyone advised of the upcoming launch of the U.S.-based news channel,” Merrigan told Politico.

While this may strike some as non-controversial, Al Jazeera critic Jerry Kenney points out that these discussions are being held “behind closed doors” and that Congress is getting only one side of the story.

“This is proof of why we need public hearings into Al Jazeera,” he said. “They have no choice now. America is supposed to be a government that is open and public and not based on back alley deals with a dictator. It seems as though this dictator has better standing with Congress then even the American people who want open hearings.”

Variety reports that Al Jazeera “does not reveal its finances” but that Qatar’s ruling Al Thani royal family has a sovereign wealth fund that reportedly has up to $100 billion in assets. This family “shelled out hundreds of millions in startup costs for the network,” and spending at Al Jazeera in 2010 “reached almost $650 million,” the publication said.

Paoletta, the DLA Piper lobbyist, has strong Republican credentials and advertises himself as having “worked closely with numerous Republican Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairmen and senior members, including Representatives Fred Upton, Ed Whitfield and Greg Walden.” He also worked in the White House as Assistant Counsel to the President during the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Politico says the firm DLA Piper is supposed to “make headway on Capitol Hill” for the new channel and “has been making the rounds in Washington, educating lawmakers about the company’s plans to be based in New York City and open bureaus across the country.”

In the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the hunt for and killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the location of an Al Jazeera bureau near bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan was an indication that the CIA was on the trail of the elusive terrorist mastermind.

The working relationship between al Qaeda and Al Jazeera has been a matter of public record since before the 9/11 al Qaeda terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

The unprecedented activity on Capitol Hill by the foreign propaganda channel suggests that the deal could yet run into significant obstacles to completion as members of Congress begin to grasp the significance of the terror channel getting a permanent base on U.S. soil with access to 40-50 million homes.

Perhaps the Al Jazeera lobbyists saw how Obama Pentagon chief nominee Chuck Hagel got into serious trouble on Capitol Hill for giving Al Jazeera an interview and bashing the United States on the air. In his grilling of Hagel over the interview, Senator Ted Cruz called Al Jazeera “a foreign network broadcasting propaganda to nations that are hostile to us.”

Accuracy in Media reviewed the lobbying registration form, which says that the firm DLA Piper will engage in “Informational communications regarding client’s cable television channel.” Under the heading of “Foreign Entities” the name of “Al Jazeera Media Network” is identified as the owner of the new channel, with an address in Doha, Qatar, where the government owners of Al Jazeera are based.

The term “informational communications” is a euphemism for making sure that Congress does not stand in the way of the deal. The lobbying activity suggests that the thousands of telephone calls to Congress about stopping the deal, or at least investigating the transaction, are having some impact and that Al Jazeera is starting to get worried.

Years ago a firm in the Arab state of Dubai thought it had approval for a deal to run U.S. ports but had to abandon the effort when members of Congress and the American people questioned the national security aspects of the proposal.

Accuracy in Media has been urging people to call Reps. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee (202-226-8417), and Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee (202- 226-9717), asking for investigations of Al Jazeera.

Jerry Kenney, an independent television producer in Florida, commented, “Qatar won’t defend itself. They buy hired guns to do that. Where is the honor in that? Just like they bought Current TV when no one wanted their programming they buy Washington insiders to run interference for them because they cannot defend themselves or show who they really are.”

He added, “Congress is only getting Al Jazeera’s side of the argument in private. Behind closed doors, and away from the glare of public scrutiny, Al Jazeera can distort its record and the facts with no one there to correct them. It’s time for public hearings.”

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.