January 31, 2015

Competition Between Taliban And ISIS Grows, As ISIS Expands Its Presence In Af-Pak Region

The blind leading the blind . . . 

The Taliban grew out of U.S., Saudi, and Pakistani support for terrorists in Afghanistan.

ISIS (or Daesh) grew out of U.S., Saudi, Israeli, and Turkish support for terrorists in Syria.

The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and Pakistan now say that they are genuinely fighting the vicious terrorist groups that they created, but reality says otherwise. 

An excerpt from, "Mullah Omar is a fool and illiterate warlord, al-Baghdadi says" Khaama Press, January 29, 2015:
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) chief Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi has called the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar a fool and illiterate warlord. 
Al-Baghdadi has said that Mullah Omar does not deserve a spritual or political credibility, according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty which cited reports by the Times.
An excerpt from, "ISIS Recruiter And Former Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Captured By Taliban In Afghanistan" by Alessandria Masi, International Business Times, January 29, 2015:
Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim is only 33, but he’s already been in the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, detained at Guantanamo Bay, released from prison, become a recruiter for the Islamic State group and, on Wednesday, reportedly captured by the same group that launched his jihadist career. 
The Taliban in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province captured Khadim, along with 45 other suspected ISIS members, a Taliban commander told the Afghan news website Pajhwok. The move signals growing tension in the country between the Taliban and ISIS, jihadist groups pursuing the same agenda in theory, but in practice pitted against each other by the recent ISIS proclamation of an “Islamic State” in Afghanistan too, as well as Syria and Iraq. 
ISIS claims primacy over other Sunni extremist groups and hopes to absorb them. Many groups have, either through force or convenience, already pledged allegiance to self-appointed ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, as ISIS ramps up expansion outside of Iraq and Syria, it has met some powerful opposition, like Yemen's al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- and recently the Taliban.

Sisi In Europe: Peace With Israel Will Create A New, Better Reality In The Region; MB In Turkey: Bring Us The Heads of Sisi And His Journalist Supporters

Title: Egyptian President Al-Sisi at Davos: Time Has Proven the Genius Nature of Sadat's Peace Initiative. Source: MEMRI TV. Date Published: January 30, 2015. Description:
In his January 22, 2015 speech before the World Economic Forum at Davos, Egyptian President Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed the need for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution, and said: "Nobody could tell what was going on in President Anwar Al-Sadat's mind when he proposed his vision for peace... But the years that have passed have proven the accuracy and genius nature of his vision."

Title: Calls to Kill Pres. Al-Sisi and Egyptian Journalists on Turkey-Based Muslim Brotherhood TV Channels. Source: MEMRI TV. Date Published: January 30, 2015. Description:
In this compilation of video clips from Muslim Brotherhood TV channels, various Egyptian clerics and commentators call to kill Egyptian President Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and the journalists who support him. Cleric Salama Abd Al-Qawi said, on Rabea TV, that anyone who killed Al-Sisi would be doing a good deed, cleric Wagdi Ghoneim told Misr Alan TV that "whoever can bring us the head of one of these dogs and Hell-dwellers" would be rewarded by Allah, and commentator Muhammad Awadh sai, on Misr Alan TV, that the punishment for the "inciting coup journalists" was death. The programs aired on January 10 and 26, 2015.

Peter Augustine Lawler's Lecture - Lost in the Cosmos: Self-Help We Can Finally Believe In

Walker Percy, Obl.S.B. (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990) was a Southern author from Covington, Louisiana, whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of "the dislocation of man in the modern age." His work displays a combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith. 
After many years of writing and rewriting in collaboration with editor Stanley Kauffmann, Percy published his first novel, The Moviegoer, in 1961. Percy later wrote of the novel that it was the story of "a young man who had all the advantages of a cultivated old-line southern family: a feel for science and art, a liking for girls, sports cars, and the ordinary things of the culture, but who nevertheless feels himself quite alienated from both worlds, the old South and the new America."

Subsequent works included The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome in 1987. Percy also published a number of non-fiction works exploring his interests in semiotics and Existentialism, the most popular work being Lost in the Cosmos.
Peter Augustine Lawler (born 1951) is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He teaches courses in political philosophy and American politics. He was a 1973 graduate of DeSales University and holds a PhD from the University of Virginia.

Lawler writes broadly from a Catholic intellectual tradition that emphasizes the importance of limits on unfettered personal autonomy in shaping well-lived lives, as well as the centrality of the love of truth in making sense of the human experience and knowing "who we are and what we are supposed to do." Lawler argues that moral anthropology suggests the possibility of God's existence and love. His influences include both Catholics like Augustine, Pierre Manent, Thomas, Pascal, Flannery O'Connor, Tocqueville and Walker Percy, as well as non-Catholic thinkers (especially Leo Strauss). 
Title: Lost in the Cosmos: Self-Help We Can Finally Believe In. Source: Thomas International Center. Date Published: April 30, 2013. Description: 

PETER AUGUSTINE LAWLER is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College in Georgia. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including "Modern and American Dignity," "Postmodernism Rightly Understood," "Stuck With Virtue," "Aliens in America," and "Homeless and at Home in America." He has also written over 200 articles and reviews for scholarly and popular publications. Lawler is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science. He was the 2007 winner of the Richard M. Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.

"Percy says this Scientism versus Fundamentalism thing, this is one reason why our world is so screwed up. The dispute between Scientific popularizers like Sagan and the new Atheists and fundamentalists who believe that God created the world six thousand years ago, this dispute, Percy says, is enough to give both Science and Christianity a bad name." - Peter Augustine Lawler [22:39 - 23:00].

Netanyahu Missteps: Challenging Hezbollah Is One Thing, Challenging The President of The United States Is Another

The growing crisis in relations between the United States and Israel is a great thing for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for stability in the Middle East, and for world peace in general. Of course, we shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves. But the tide is turning. Hopefully, the Israel Lobby will soon be history. The sanity train is maybe, just maybe, coming to Washington. It may arrive an hour late, but it will get there eventually. And who would've guessed that a Netanyahu misstep would start the train rolling? All men must be good for something.

Below are articles about the breakdown in US-Israeli relations and their repercussions.

An excerpt from, "A Strained Alliance: Obama-Netanyahu Rift Grew Over Years" by Peter Baker and Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, January 30, 2015:
Rather than defuse the latest explosion, each side has chosen to escalate. The Obama administration made it clear this week that it no longer has any use for Mr. Netanyahu's ambassador in Washington. Israeli officials defied American opposition on Friday to announce 450 new settlement units in the West Bank and privately whispered to their media that Mr. Obama had given Iran 80 percent of what it wants. 
"Of course this is a crisis," said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on Israeli-American relations at Bar-Ilan University. "This is even a more serious one, first of all because of what it is and secondly because it comes on top of many previous crises. This is a different kind of story. This is a different kind of crisis." 
An excerpt from, "Benjamin Netanyahu: the Anti-American Obstructionist" by Melvin A. Goodman, Counterpunch.org., January 29, 2015:
Over the past several years, Netanyahu has gone out of his way to embarrass virtually every U.S. official, including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. There are Israeli officials who believe that Netanyahu has gone too far this time. The only way to lend some credibility to our concerns and the concerns of those Israelis is to adopt a tougher stand on issues of concern. President Obama may find that there is more support than he expects, both at home and abroad for standing up to the intransigence of the Israeli Prime Minister.
An excerpt from, "Netanyahu speech could allow Obama to ‘take on the Jewish lobby’ as he took on Cuba lobby — Indyk" by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, January 30, 2015:
Back to the issue of the Israel lobby. I’d point out to you that Martin Indyk states, “both sides have an interest in” that special relationship. But he never actually describes what the U.S. interest is here. If you read his statements, the relationship really only flows one way. The U.S. supports Israel. What does Israel do for the U.S.? Except destroy our reputation across the Arab world, and kill Rachel Corrie and the 34 men of the USS Liberty, etc? Don’t Americans get to make that assessment? If Americans actually questioned the precious relationship, according to Indyk’s analysis, Israelis would turn on a dime toward actual reform. 
Col. Patrick Lang: 
Does it amuse others that Dermer threw Boehner under the bus in this interview? To paraphrase - We Israelis always wanted to seek White House agreement but that nasty Boehner didn't let us. All the world is against us...

What Israel seems to want for the rest of the ME is a super-sized Morgenthau Plan that would reduce the surrounding countries to unindustrialized pastoral regions without the potential for manufacturing weapons.

At the same time Israel seems to want the US to continue to march in lock step with it on any issue of interest.

To that end they wish to address the Congress of the United States for the purpose of lobbying against the president of the US.

I will say it again. Obama should deny Bibi a visa.

January 30, 2015

David Bentley Hart On The New Atheists + How Ancient Christians Read the Bible

Title: David Bentley Hart - The new atheists and an ugly God Source: aragon123ist. Date Published: April 8, 2011. Description:
In an interview with CPX (a Christian organization based in North Sydney, Australia), extremely erudite Eastern Orthodox theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart shares a few thoughts on the "New Atheist" movement.

Title: How ancient Christians read the Bible - David Bentley Hart. Source: ObjectiveBob. Date Published: January 25, 2013. Description: 
Another excerpt from David Bentley Hart's brilliant lecture.
See the full lecture here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOShHXaqt0M

January 28, 2015

PM Alexis Tsipras tells first cabinet meeting: 'Greece will not default'

Title: PM Alexis Tsipras tells first cabinet meeting: 'Greece will not default'. Source: euronews. Date Published: January 28, 2015. Description:
Fresh from success in Sunday's general election, Greece's new Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras has chaired his first cabinet meeting - setting out the priorities for his anti-bailout government. 
Firmly opposed to the austerity imposed on Greece by its EU and IMF creditors, he pledged to negotiate a viable and fair solution, confounding predictions of doom.

A Tale of Two Houses: Sisi Mourns House of Saud, Obama Scorns House of Netanyahu

Photo: A needless murder by Egyptian police of a female socialist activist on the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. The Sisi regime only buries itself with such brutal acts.

An excerpt from, "Egypt Cancels Revolution Fete to Mourn Saudi King who derailed Revolution" by Juan Cole, January 26, 2015:
In a great irony, the Egyptian government attempted to cancel the commemoration of the January 25 revolution four years ago, on the grounds that the late King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia needed to be mourned. The Saudis played a sinister behind-the-scenes role in undermining budding Egyptian attempts at democracy, and appear to be complicit in the coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Muhammad Morsi in 2013 (though to be fair, that government was very widely hated). 
As it was, dissidents from the left and from the Muslim religious right did manage to mount rallies to protest the authoritarian turn of the current Egyptian government. The police reacted horribly, deploying live ammunition at the protesters– killing 18 and wounding 52. 
National security police and plainclothesmen had a heavy presence throughout the capiteal of Cairo.
Not a wise move by Sisi.

An excerpt from, "Obama Won't Meet with Netanyahu During Visit to Congress" VOA, January 27, 2015:
American officials last week said President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits Washington in March. The U.S. Congress has asked the Israeli leader to speak to a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner said he did not contact the Obama administration about the visit before inviting Mr. Netanyahu. 
Many observers see the invitation as a way for Republican Party lawmakers to criticize the administration’s policy toward Iran.

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu do not agree on the best way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Mr. Netanyahu has questioned Mr. Obama’s support of international talks to limit Iran’s nuclear activities.
Not a wise move by Boehner.