First Lady Michelle Obama’s June 2011 African safari is now being considered a half-million-dollar taxpayer-funded boondoggle, due to newly-released accounting information gathered by Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog. Judicial Watch acquired passenger manifests and expense records from the U.S. Air Force pursuant to an August 19 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Although touted as a working tour intended to spread goodwill in Africa, the trip’s travel amenities and recreational "distractions" have brought political turbulence to the White House.
The objective of the First Lady’s excursion to Africa, the White House stated, was to inspire and interact with young people who have meaningful influence in academics and civic leadership. Trekking through Botswana and parts of South Africa, Michelle and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, were to promote health and wellness and encourage young people to become active in national affairs.
But Mrs. Obama’s professed "work trip" was not exclusively bound to spreading the goodwill of "democracy" and global unity.
A Libyan Jewish man who fled the nation with his parents decades ago has become a celebrity in recent days for his quest to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue. But shortly after 56-year-old David Gerbi took a sledgehammer to the wall blocking the entrance, armed men threatened his life and forced him to abandon the project — for now.
Gerbi said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and a local leader to start fixing up the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 60s. Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned into mosques as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.
But Gerbi was hoping the rebellion would be a new start — that the exiled Jews could return to Libya if they chose to. He called the reconstruction effort a “test” of the new regime’s tolerance.
“I have read that Americans are peace-loving,” 58-year-old Pakistani writer Syed Zubair Ashraf told the Washington Post. “But their government has interfered in every country. Why?”
That is an excellent question, and one to which Americans ought to give serious consideration, especially as a presidential election approaches. Few Americans would consider themselves warlike. Who among us would choose to drop bombs on a foreign country at his own expense and risk? Yet the U.S. government, claiming to represent the American people, does so routinely — and then blames the inevitable retaliation on foreigners’ hatred of the United States’ liberty, not its government’s foreign policy.
Such “blowback” (as the Central Intelligence Agency, which isn’t so foolish as to believe government propaganda, calls it) may soon be coming from Pakistan. The Post reports that Pakistanis, fed up with U.S. policy and the suicide attacks arising in response to it, have come to “view the United States … as an enemy.” They have good reason to come to that conclusion, says the paper: “Since 2001, when Islamabad partnered with Washington to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, there have been 335 suicide bombings in Pakistan. Before 2001, there was one.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced recently that the Palestinian Authority intended to seek official recognition of statehood by the United Nations. The UN Security Council president announced Monday that the council would meet today to begin formal consideration of the Palestinian request for membership in the world body.
Predictably, the United States has announced that it would veto any Security Council resolution accepting Palestine’s application for recognition. The exercise of the veto would prevent the proposal from being placed before the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A yes-no vote in the Security Council is not expected to occur for some time, perhaps a month.
If the United States and Israel are successful in thwarting the Palestinian plan to gain full membership in the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority will likely recur to the General Assembly, where the possibility of a veto is obviated and there remain a few less desirable, though more likely, alternatives to official recognition of statehood.
The United Nations is preparing for what is sure to be a contentious showdown, as on September 23 the Palestinians sought recognition from the world body as an independent state.
Fox News reports:
Earlier in the week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rebuffed an intense, U.S.-led effort to sway him from the statehood bid, saying he would submit the application to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon as planned. A top aide, Mohammed Ishtayeh, said Thursday that Abbas asked Ban and the Council's Lebanese president this month to process the application without delay. ...
To be sure, Abbas’ appeal to the U.N. to recognize Palestinian independence in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip would not deliver any immediate changes on the ground: Israel would remain an occupying force in those first two territories and continue to severely restrict access to Gaza, ruled by Palestinian Hamas militants.
Abbas told the Palestinians, “We’re going without any hesitation
Item: The New York Times for August 26 reported that Chinese defense officials had “denounced” a Pentagon “report that called China’s military buildup ‘potentially destabilizing.’” The paper cited a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman saying, “The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts.” The spokesman added: “China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature.”
Correction: Peace, as it is understood by dedicated communists, is the absence of resistance to communism. Tibetans, among others, have experienced firsthand the nature of the type of “peace” imposed by Communist China and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) — with estimates of those killed in Tibet ranging from 600,000 to twice that number.
As noted by Jean-Louis Margolin in The Black Book on Communism (edited by Stéphane Courtois, et al., Harvard University Press, 1999), the “litany of atrocities” in Tibet “is hair-raising and in many cases unverifiable. But the eyewitness reports concur so precisely that the Dalai Lama’s assessment of this period [in the late 1950s] seems beyond challenge: ‘Tibetans not only were shot, but also were beaten to death, crucified, burned alive, drowned, mutilated, starved, strangled, hanged, boiled alive, buried alive, drawn and quartered, and beheaded.’”
American Policies are a Success: Poverty is up, violence is up, China is a world power and Mexico continues toward destabilization.
In what appeared to be a political maneuver timed to coincide with a UN address by its president, Iran freed two Americans it had held for the last two years. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and a third American, Sarah Shourd, had been arrested in 2009 while reportedly hiking along the Iran-Iraq border. Bauer and Fattal were later convicted of espionage, a move designed to set up an ultimate swap of the pair — with payment of $500,000 “bail” for each man.
ForeignPolicy.com reported that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 22, “and the release of Bauer and Fattal may have been a gesture of goodwill before the speech.” Foreign Policy explained that “Ahmadinejad had signaled last week that Bauer and Fattal would be granted a pardon, but the Americans’ release was delayed by Iranian political infighting and the fact that one of the judges in their case was on vacation. The government of Oman reportedly paid $1 million in bail for the hikers.”
High-ranking officials across Mexico including the Attorney General are reportedly demanding answers from the U.S. government about its secret program that sent high-powered weaponry across the border to drug cartels, saying the Obama administration’s explanations so far are inadequate. The Mexican public is outraged as well.
Hundreds of Mexicans including law-enforcement officers have been murdered with guns traced back to the operation, which was handled by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (still known as ATF). “Project Gunrunner” weapons were also involved in the deaths of at least a few American agents including Border Patrol officer Brian Terry.
Under “Operation Fast and Furious,” the Obama administration was deliberately providing sophisticated and powerful weapons to violent Mexican drug cartels — often using taxpayer money. He was simultaneously campaigning for stricter U.S. gun control by citing violence in Mexico.