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When it comes to political assassinations, 2014 is starting off with a bang, literally. Moments ago news broke that following an explosion in Prague, the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic has just been killed.
Firefighters search an area after an explosion in Prague January 1, 2014. The Palestinian ambassador to Czech Republic Jamal al-Jamal has died after an explosion at his residence in Prague on Wednesday, according to Czech police.
Ambassador Jamel al-Jamal was in his apartment with his family at the time of the explosion on Wednesday, according to Palestinian Embassy spokesman Nabil El-Fahel. Al-Jamal was seriously injured and rushed to a hospital, where he died, according to police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the blast occurred when the 56-year-old diplomat was moving an old office safe box. It was not immediately clear how the explosives got there, and the ministry said the blast was being investigated.
Prague rescue service spokeswoman Jirina Ernestova said al-Jamal was placed in a medically induced coma when he arrived at Prague Military Hospital.
She said a 52-year old woman was taken to a different hospital in Prague after suffering from shock.
The ambassador’s apartment is in Prague’s Suchdol neighborhood.
Once we see any news on who the alleged perpertrators are, we will update this post.
MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Economy Minister said on Wednesday that job creation in 2014 would be “significant” as a tentative economic recovery kicks in, but a poll showed most Spaniards do not expect any clear improvement until 2015.
“2014 will see the net creation of jobs, higher even than we predicted in September in the budget, and the jobless rate will fall,” Luis de Guindos told Cadena Ser national radio, declining to put a number on expected jobs created.
Spain exited a recession in the third quarter of last year but the economy is still sickly and with unemployment officially predicted at 25.9 percent in 2014, roughly where it is now, there is little perception of a real recovery on the streets.
Separately on Wednesday, a poll of 1,000 people published in newspaper El Mundo showed that 71 percent of Spaniards believe the recovery and the end of the crisis will start in 2015 at the earliest.
The country is still reeling from a decade-long housing bubble which burst more than five years ago, forcing a 41-billion euro ($56 billion) bailout of the country’s banks, which were glutted with property debt.
The center-right government decreed a labor market reform in late December to encourage employers to take on more part-time workers and to simplify contracting in hopes of fuelling job creation.
“We believe the labor reform will make the market more dynamic … in 2014,” Guindos said in the interview recorded a few days ago.
However one think tank has said the changes fail to tackle Spain’s notoriously two-tiered labor market, with security for long-term fixed contracts and practically none for shorter-term ones.
Guindos added that the economic recovery would take root thanks to an expected tax reform which would look to reverse a personal income tax rise implemented when the government came to power in 2011, and cut
It’s time to put a cap on 2013. It’s a year that, for liberty’s sake, would have best been thrown into the crapper.
The U.S. system is a totalitarianism that has over the past year begun to lose even its veneer of benevolence. This is typical of governments, which naturally grow, increasingly centralize power and become more corrupt.
As countries have more and more centralized power (fascist state), the people have less and less freedom. Propaganda is intensified, vital information is withheld, and peoples’ expectations are manipulated. In reality this mind manipulation and control are nothing less than an assault upon the mental and physical body. It is all accepted gradually — so gradually that most of the people never become alerted to lost freedoms.
It is this gradual, insipid assault on the people and freedom that we battle every day. That is our purpose here at Personal Liberty Digest™.
It’s customary as each year draws to a close for media organizations to cover the year’s big stories. Those decisions are usually quite subjective and are made by people living in an insular bubble of their own design. Their ideas are generally an echo chamber of groupthink.
The wonders of the Internet allow us to use a different metric in determining the big stories. It is you, the readers, who determined for us what was important and what was controversial. You did so by your responses.
What follows are the top stories based upon input you didn’t realize you were providing. They are the stories written by me that had the highest number of viewers. You think this isn’t the best way to list them? Wait until you read them to decide. Most of them deal directly with the growing fascist state.
No. 1: Viewed 53,832 Times
Proof Of A U.S. Police State
America has fast descended into a police state. The trouble is that we want to believe in the rule of law and the system that alleges to support and enforce it. But when reality collides with illusion, it is too late. No matter how bad things seem, we always think that times will get better and that government will do the right thing.
Only a few people left Germany in the early 1930s. They could clearly see the evolving tyranny. Many who stayed thought that things would not get so bad or that times would get better. They suffered from normalcy bias, a form of cognitive dissonance. They paid.
The wisdom today is in being able to see what is happening and having the vision to discern what is going to happen. Sorry. Anyone who still believes in the illusion of the rule of law will not see reality until it’s too late to do what is necessary to survive and keep their assets.
Today, the rule of law is what the 1 percent (the government) says it is. The government holds the police power and the military power. Its main purpose is to be the silent force to contain the population.
The population in the United States is well-armed. That fact does not escape the 1 percent. That is why the 1 percent is so eager to find a basis upon which to justify disarming the people. The armed populace is all that stands between the people and full-blown tyranny.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 2: Viewed 35,776 Times
Is Government Readying For A Shooting War Against Gun Owners?
Gun grabbing lawmakers at both the State and Federal level continue to push forward with their anti-American, anti-2nd Amendment, anti-gun agendas, even as more individuals, State legislatures and manufacturers of weapons, weapons accessories and ammunition push back. It almost seems as if the elected class is itching for a fight.
And when one considers that the Department of Homeland Security has contracted for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition — much of it hollow points or for use in sniper rifles — for its 55,000 armed agents, plus 2,717 armored personnel carriers and 7,000 select fire “personal defense weapons,” it seems even more apparent that’s the goal. For perspective, 1.6 billion rounds is enough to fight the Iraq war for 20 years. It’s enough to shoot every American five times. It’s 28,000 tons, or the equivalent of three guided missile destroyers. It’s almost 30,000 target practice rounds per armed agent — but of course, because they are more expensive, hollow points are not used for target practice.
These purchases have long concerned many of those who pay attention. But only the alternative media talked about it — to derision and catcalls — until Feb. 15. That’s when The Denver Post ran an article by The Associated Press about the purchases. That prompted a column by Ralph Benko at Forbes.com in which he said it’s time for a national conversation about the purchases.
More than that, it’s time for a national conversation on the link between the purchases and the ongoing push by the elected class to collapse the economy and pass legislation against the will of the people.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 3: Viewed 31,083 Times
Prepare For A Grid-Down Scenario
On Nov. 13-14, America’s major electricity generating companies along with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and government agencies in Canada and Mexico will conduct a drill to test system responses to cyberattacks and physical attacks on the North American electrical grid that cause its widespread failure.
The drill is called GridEx II, and it moves the threat of a total electrical blackout that sends the country back into the 19th century from the stuff of science fiction and/or tinfoil hattery to the mainstream. According to The New York Times, the drill is designed to:
practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.
“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”
One goal of the drill… is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities.
Should the grid collapse, those with medical conditions requiring machines to keep them alive or stable could be in trouble quickly, but most people could easily survive without power for two or three days. It’s not unusual for major storms to knock out power for that long. But longer-term power outages turn into desperate situations as water and food run low and/or generators run out of fuel. Google Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy to see how some people fared during long-term localized outages.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 4: Viewed 31,036 Times
An Open Letter To The Elected Class Regarding Gun Control
I realize it is customary to begin missives to elected representatives with the words Honorable Senator ______________ or Honorable Representative ______________, but I believe that title must be earned. Frankly, you (I am referring to you individually and to Congress as a whole) have not done so and, therefore, do not deserve to be addressed that way. However, the purpose of this letter is not to criticize you, but to inform you about what is happening in the country you were elected to serve.
According to a recent poll, Congress’ favorability ranks below lice, cockroaches, colonoscopies and root canals. Have you for a moment stopped to wonder why? It’s because a vast majority of Americans believe that Congress no longer represents them, but instead represents big corporations and, mostly, themselves and their cronies. The recent “fiscal cliff” deal is a perfect example. It socked a tax increase on 80 percent of American workers while doling out $76 billion in government money (which means my money) through special tax favors to large corporations, such as General Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and DIAGEO, and to Hollywood and green energy companies. According to a recent column in The Washington Examiner, Senator Max Baucus’ (Fascist-Mont.) former staffers who are now lobbyists all got their clients millions of dollars in special benefits from the fiscal cliff deal. In return, Baucus received thousands of dollars in political contributions from those companies’ political action committees. Americans, myself included, believe this is standard operating procedure in Washington, D.C. And there is talk that additional tax increases on the middle class are on the way.
Upon your inauguration, you swore an oath, with your hand on a Bible, to uphold and defend the Constitution. You have repeatedly violated that oath by passing unConstitutional laws like the USA Patriot Act (and subsequent extensions) and the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants the President the authority to indefinitely detain American citizens and suspends habeas corpus. If I’m not mistaken, these unConstitutional laws contain provisions that in some way violate Amendments 1, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9. That’s quite a feat for two laws.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 5: Viewed 29,619 Times
More Blood On Obama’s Hands
The overhyped and superfluous George Zimmerman trial is winding down, and Florida’s law enforcers are growing antsy. That’s because they’re seeing in social media and hearing from the streets that if Zimmerman is acquitted in a trial that never should have been held to begin with, blacks will riot and kill whites.
If there are riots and people are injured and property is damaged, President Barack Obama and his Department of Justice will be to blame. The blood will be on their hands.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Obama claimed that if he had a son, Trayvon Martin is what he’d look like. Then the DOJ dispatched its Community Relations Service (CRS) team to Florida to hold “marches, demonstrations, and rallies” on Martin’s behalf. According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the DOJ spent more than $3,800 to incite racial tensions in Sanford, Fla., and oust the police chief because Zimmerman was not charged immediately in Martin’s death. One of the rallies sponsored by CSR was headlined by the notorious race-baiter Al Sharpton. CSR-sponsored rallies went on for a couple of weeks; and if sparking unrest was the goal, the money was well-spent.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 6: Viewed 28750 Times
How To Avoid The Obamacare Death Trap
We are less than one year out from healthcare tyranny under the oligarchy-endorsed Obamacare.
It’s very deceptive to call Obamacare socialized medicine. The law has nothing to do with healthcare. It’s just the opposite. It’s sickness care. The Nazis had their gas chambers and America has “medical care,” which is the most sophisticated killing machine that demented minds can create.
Americans are mentally dependent on the “medical” brainwash. When our dumbed-down people hear the trigger word “medical care,” they go blind and hyperventilate. They do not know a scam from a sham. They will go unanimous for anything with the term “healthcare” in it.
Obamacare is not healthcare. It has absolutely nothing to do with healthcare. It’s a great transfer of wealth and population control with a ticket to the death panels when we are no longer considered productive citizens.
As the paper money regime collapses, the money creators are speeding up the printing presses in a desperate ploy to transfer the wealth of the American people before it becomes worthless anyway. It is disguised warfare against the American people.
It reminds one of the last days of the Nazi regime. As the cities were reduced to rubble, German citizens were being shot for “treason.” In the last days of any regime, the process of oppression of citizens is intensified.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 7: Viewed 28,735 Times
DHS Suggests Christians, Constitutionalists Should Get Extra Surveillance From LEOs
Big government progressives and collectivists love labels. They seem to come up with a new one almost daily, as they seek to isolate and demonize one small segment of the population at a time that they can identify as “extremist” and then dismiss from any discussion about the country’s direction.
The Department of Homeland Security and the military have, in reports published over the past several years, equated a large segment of the U.S. population with terrorists for simply expressing displeasure of the nation’s course, preparing for disaster or even paying in cash. DHS and the Barack Obama regime are aided in this endeavor by government propaganda arm mainstream media and organizations like the Southern Preposterous Lie Center (aka Southern Poverty Law Center), see here, here and here.
Now, true to its communistic-sounding roots, DHS is becoming exceedingly fearful of Christians who believe the Bible is God’s word, Christian “fundamentalists” (whatever those are), Americans who believe the country was founded on Godly principles and those who believe the Constitution stands as the law of the land. In training materials, DHS has lumped Christians and Constitutionalists in with a group it calls the sovereign citizen movement and identified them as requiring special surveillance by law enforcement.
In a letter to a conservative blogger, Prowers County (Colo.) Undersheriff Ron Trowbridge revealed what he learned during a recent training course conducted by Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Trooper Joe Kluczynski, a CSP analyst for the Colorado Information Analysis Center, (CIAC). CIAC is funded by DHS and run by the CSP, and the training materials Kluczynski used came from DHS.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 8: Viewed 28,546 Times
Boston And More Government Lies
The Saudi Arabian “person of interest” who was hospitalized with serious injuries and then held under guard at a hospital because he was suspected of playing a part in the Boston Marathon bombing is just a college student who happened to be enjoying the annual spectacle.
Two Chechnyan brothers — one a naturalized U.S. citizen — who heretofore were unknown to the U.S. security apparatus, became radicalized for unknown reasons. Using instructions found online, they fabricated bombs using kitchen utensils, hardware junk and fireworks, concealed them in a backpack and duffle bag and detonated them near the finish line of the race.
Days later, after the FBI solicited the help of the public in identifying two men in grainy video images, the two Chechnyan brothers came out of hiding, killed an MIT police officer in cold blood in an effort to steal his sidearm, car jacked an Asian man, drove to a convenience store and robbed it, then engaged in a firefight with police. The two men were armed with a small arsenal of five pipe bombs, an M-4 carbine, two handguns and a BB gun. They planned to kill as many people as they could and then, depending on who is talking, blow up New York or party there, authorities said.
During the early morning hours of Friday, April 19, the two men battled with police, exchanging gunfire and exploding at least one of their bombs. At least 200 rounds were fired by the cops. The suspects fired back 80 or more at police. The older brother, identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was apprehended when he ran toward police while firing his weapon. Tamerlan was on the ground being handcuffed by police when younger brother Dzhokhar — by all accounts of friends a nice and friendly guy who had never expressed jihadist opinions — drove over him in a stolen SUV, dragging the body at least 30 feet before it became disentangled from the vehicle’s undercarriage.
This violent exchange, in which police believe they wounded Dzhokhar, led to a voluntary lockdown of the town of Watertown, part of greater Boston. Residents and business owners were encouraged but not forced to stay inside all of Friday while police, FBI and National Guard troops and equipment scoured the neighborhood for the criminal terrorist. Police tactical units, armed in full SWAT or military gear conducted house-to-house searches, asking people to exit their homes at gunpoint, strongly encouraging them (with threats) to raise their hands (even if they were of different sex, race and age of the known suspect) and be frisked.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 9: Viewed 28,371 Times
Adam Kokesh Has Been ‘Disappeared’
Adam Kokesh, the Iraq war veteran and host of the Internet radio program “Adam vs. The Man” who became a staunch opponent of the “war on terror” and who planned a peaceful armed march on Washington, D.C., on July 4, was disappeared in broad daylight while speaking at a Smoke Down Prohibition rally in Philadelphia May 18.
Kokesh’s kidnapping came at the hands of Philadelphia police and other LEOs (legally entitled to oppress) who dragged him off the stage just after he began to speak. A video of the incident shows Kokesh being dragged away without resisting. Arresting “authorities” initially claimed Kokesh was to be charged with resisting arrest. But it seems they realized it’s hard to resist arrest when your arrest is illegal, so they apparently changed the charges to “forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded and interfered with officers and employees of the United States,” according to these documents. If that’s the case, then apparently standing with your hands up while an inept LEO tries to wrestle you to the ground is now “assault” in the eyes of a government that deems you a terrorist and then targets you for special “scrutiny” if you exercise your 1st Amendment guaranteed right of freedom of speech, claim to be a Tea Partier, hoard food and water, and/or support small government.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 10: Viewed 27,775 Times
President Harrison J. Bounel
Who is Harrison J. Bounel? According to the 2009 tax return submitted by President Barack Obama, he’s the President of the United States. All nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices are scheduled to discuss this anomaly today.
The case in question is Edward Noonan, et al v. Deborah Bowen, California Secretary of State, and the Justices are finally looking at it thanks to the dogged determination of Orly Taitz. The case calls into question many of the documents Obama (Bounel, Soetoro, Soebarkah, etc.) has used and/or released as authentic since he came on the national scene. The case contends that the documents — birth certificate, Social Security number, Selective Service registration, etc. — are fakes or forgeries. If that’s the case, Obama should not have been on the California ballot in 2008 and, therefore, should not have received the State’s electoral votes.
Four of the nine Justices must vote to move the case forward. We’ll see.
Meantime, on Feb. 4, Kathleen O’Leary, presiding judge of the 4th District Court of Appeal, reinstated the appeal of Taitz v. Obama et al filed by Taitz when she ran for Senate. That case involves evidence of 1.5 million invalid voter registrations in the State of California. The appeal also involves Obama’s lack of legitimacy to hold the office of President based on his forged IDs, stolen Connecticut Social Security number, the fact the last name he’s using is not legally his and his fraudulent claim to be the U.S. citizen.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the page is finally turning on 2013.
*NO INJURIES REPORTED FROM BNSF TRAIN FIRE IN NORTH DAKOTA
A train has derailed west of Casselton, North Dakota just before 2:20 p.m. Monday. As Valley News Live reports, several area emergency teams are on scene and are setting up an incident command center. Emergency crews are urging people to stay inside and a code red alert has been sent out to residents in a two mile radius of the accident. The Casselton Fire Department says a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train is involved. An unknown number of cars derailed, but Valley News Live reports is told one bulk oil car is on fire and toxic black smoke is being released.
DEVELOPING: Emergency crews on scene of train accident with large fire in Casselton, North Dakota: pic.twitter.com/2rjSTFe6OI
— ABC News (@ABC) December 30, 2013
— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) December 30, 2013
— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) December 30, 2013
Train oil tanker explosion in North Dakota 20 miles west of Fargo .. pic.twitter.com/rO2y0uonUS
— Ed Schultz (@WeGotEd) December 30, 2013
— PzFeed Top News (@PzFeed) December 30, 2013
— Mark Day (@1310MarkDay) December 30, 2013
China and Japan, Asia’s two most powerful nations, are increasingly jousting in the skies and in the seas near a set of disputed islands. Although their economies remain deeply intertwined, relations between the two governments seem locked in an irreversible, dangerous downward spiral.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe further embittered feelings last week by visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors the souls of Japan’s war dead, including 14 World War II leaders convicted as Class-A war criminals.
Needless to say, neither side seems terribly interested in a rapprochement. That’s a shame, because the deterioration in ties is fairly recent, stemming from a single incident involving the islands administered by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus, and claimed by China, which refers to them as the Diaoyu. A single, symbolic-but-generous gesture could well halt the slide.
Abe, though unquestionably a hawk on China, had nothing to do with the triggering event. In September 2012, then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered his government to buy several of the disputed islands from a private owner — an action which, in China’s view, effectively nationalized them.
Noda hadn’t intended to provoke the Chinese. On the contrary, he aimed to preempt a more aggressive gesture by hyper-nationalist politician Shintaro Ishihara — then Tokyo’s governor — who wanted to have the Tokyo metropolitan government purchase the islands and build on them to assert Japan’s sovereignty.
Still, barely two days before Noda’s decision, China’s then-President Hu Jintao had specifically warned him not to proceed. Hu’s concerns were legitimate. For years, China had quietly acceptedJapan’s “de facto” occupation of the islands even as it disputed sovereignty. By buying them, Japan appeared to be moving to “de jure” ownership. Given the nationalist mood in China, the Beijing government couldn’t risk appearing weak in its response.
If Abe really wanted to break the chain of escalation that has since played out between China and Japan, he could singlehandedly return to the status quo ante. He would only need to “sell” the islands to a private Japanese foundation or environmental group, ostensibly to preserve their undeveloped natural beauty.
Japanese hard-liners would no doubt regard such a move as a capitulation to China. It wouldn’t be. Even after a sale, Japan would continue its de facto occupation of the islands, as it has for decades. Since the islands’ purchase was made by a previous government, Abe’s Liberal Democrats need not feel bound by the decision. In fact, after pacifying his nationalist supporters by visiting Yasukuni, Abe may be in a stronger position to compromise on the islands.
In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Abe called for a summit with President Xi Jinping of China and said, “Now is the time to go back to that starting point.” Abe was referring to a bilateral agreement he reached with Hu in 2006, during a previous term as Japan’s prime minister. Selling the islands would be a critical first step toward returning to that calmer time.
If Abe wanted to be bolder, he could make the same offer to China that Japan has made to South Korea over a different set of disputed islands: to have the issue resolved by the International Court of Justice. The chances of China agreeing to this are minuscule. But by taking the moral high ground, Japan would both reaffirm its reasonableness, and satisfy the major precondition China has imposed on any Xi-Abe summit — acknowledging that sovereignty of the Senkakus/Diaoyu is in dispute.
Of course, if it’s hard to imagine an Abe administration reaching out to Beijing now, it’s equally hard to see Chinese leaders responding constructively. Yet on a simple cost-benefit analysis, Xi has incentive enough to scale back aggressive naval and air patrols of the waters surrounding the islands. He has just embarked on a set of difficult, potentially far-reaching economic reforms. Although he can’t afford to look weak domestically, he also can’t afford a geopolitical crisis that would disrupt China’s economy and possibly global trade.
A major rebalancing is gradually taking place in Asia as China’s economy becomes larger than Japan’s. But it isn’t in China’s interest to push for this rebalancing too aggressively. When I was in Tokyo in early December, I was struck by the intensity of concern over China’s aggressive posturing. The harder the Beijing government pushes now, the more rapidly Japan will move to upgrade its military capabilities and strengthen its alliances with the U.S. and countries ringing China.
Both sides need to find a way to ratchet down their words and deeds. Japan can and should take a first, small step forward by “going back” and selling the islands. Any Japanese leaders who doubt the wisdom of doing so should ask themselves a question: Are they really better off today than they were two years ago?
(Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is author of “The Great Convergence: Asia, the West and the Logic of One World.”)
To contact the writer of this article: Kishore Mahbubani at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this article: Nisid Hajari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica has quietly signed into law the government’s plan to create a regulated, legal market for marijuana, his spokesman says.
Presidential secretary Diego Canepa told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Mujica signed the legislation Monday night. That was the last formal step for the law to take effect.
- Uruguay becomes 1st nation to legalize marijuana trade
- Uruguay’s pot legalization could be ‘tipping point’ in war on drugs
Bureaucrats now have until April 9 to write the fine print for regulating every aspect of the marijuana market, from growing to selling in a network of pharmacies.
They hope to have the whole system in place by the middle of next year. But as of Tuesday, growing pot at home is legal in Uruguay, up to six plants per family and an annual harvest of 480 grams.
A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced eight people, including an unidentified Canadian, to up to a year in prison Monday after being convicted in connection to a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai.
The video they produced and uploaded to the internet — a spoof documentary of would-be “gangsta” youth in the Gulf Arab city-state.called Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs — is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It pokes fun at Dubai youth who styled themselves “gangstas” but are not particularly thuggish, and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help.
It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not meant to offend.
The state-owned daily The National said they were accused of “defaming the image of United Arab Emirates society abroad.”
Supporters of the defendants reported that they were charged under a 2012 cyber-crimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities.
Shezanne Cassim, 29, from Woodbury, Minn., became the public face of the defendants after his family launched an effort to publicize his months-long incarceration following his arrest in April. Cassim, who was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Dubai for work after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006, was sentenced Monday to a year in prison followed by deportation and received a 10,000 dirham ($2,725 US) fine, according to family spokeswoman Jennifer Gore.
Cassim’s brother, Shervon, called the ruling “painful and unfair.”
“Shez is coming up on nine months incarceration for making a parody. This isn’t justice,” he said in a statement.
Canadian only identified by initials
Two Indian defendants received similar sentences, while two Emirati brothers were sentenced to eight months behind bars and received 5,000 dirham fines, according to The National. A third brother was pardoned.
Three other defendants — a Canadian, a Briton and an American — were convicted and sentenced in absentia to the penalties given to the other foreigners. They have never been detained by authorities and so are unlikely to serve their sentences. The paper identified the defendants only by their initials, which is common in the Emirati media.
Gulf Arab authorities have been cracking down on social media use over the past two years, with dozens of people arrested across the region for Twitter posts deemed offensive to leaders or for social media campaigns urging more political openness.
A powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb ripped through a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city north of Cairo early on Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding more than 100, leaving scores buried under the rubble.
The country’s interim government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, branding it a “terrorist organization.” But the Islamist group condemned the bombing, describing it in a statement as a “direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people” and demanding that the perpetrators be found and brought to justice.
It was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, spreading the carnage that has marked Egypt’s turmoil over the past months to a new area and bringing it closer to Cairo. Previous deadly violence has mostly taken place in the volatile Sinai Peninsula and in Suez Canal-area cities east of the Egyptian capital.
The blast at 1:10 a.m. local time struck at the security headquarters in the city of Mansoura, 110 kilometres north of Cairo in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya, collapsing an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building, incinerating dozens of cars outside and damaging several nearby buildings.
8 police officers killed
The state news agency MENA said 12 people were killed, including eight police officers, and that 134 were wounded, among them the city’s security chief and his assistant. Most of the victims were policemen, many of whom were buried beneath the debris.
Associated Press video from the scene showed bulldozers clearing the rubble outside the security headquarters, as charred and wrecked cars littered the street.
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim toured the scene of the explosion at daybreak, pledging that the police will “continue their battle against the dark terrorist forces that tried to tamper with the country’s security,” then went to hospital to visit the wounded.
MENA quoted Cabinet spokesman Sherif Shawki as saying that the Brotherhood showed its “ugly face as a terrorist organization, shedding blood and messing with Egypt’s security.”
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi described the attack as a “terrorist incident,” expressed condolences to the families of the victims and vowed that the perpetrators “will not escape justice.”
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the preliminary investigation indicated a car bomb caused the explosion, which also damaged a nearby bank and a theatre.
Security forces cordoned off the whole area around the bombing site, closed major entrances and exits to Mansoura and set up checkpoints to search for perpetrators. State TV called on residents to rush to hospitals to donate blood.
No one claims responsibility
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which came a day after an al-Qaeda-inspired group called on police and army personnel to desert or face death at the hands of its fighters.
The militant group based in Sinai and several others have claimed responsibility for a surge of attacks on security forces since a popularly-backed coup in July toppled the country’s former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
In response, Egypt’s armed forces launched an offensive against militants in the northern part of Sinai in August. Coupled with the offensive and with Morsi ousted and imprisoned, Egyptian investigators have moved to put him on trial for links to militants, accusing him and the Brotherhood of being behind the wave of violence in Sinai.
Tuesday’s bombing was not the first time that the security headquarters in Mansoura was targeted. Weeks ago, an explosion went off in front of the building but caused no casualties. Since the summer coup that ousted Morsi, militant Islamists have attacked several security headquarters with car bombs or by suicide bombers.
The Mansoura attack came shortly after the Islamic militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, threatened more attacks on the military and police, saying it considers Egyptian troops to be infidels because they answer to the secular-leaning military-backed government.
The group — which gained notoriety after expanding its operations outside of the restive northern Sinai province — has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide car bombings and deadly attacks, including a failed assassination attempt on Egypt’s Interior Minister in September. The minister escaped unharmed.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is believed to have ties with Palestinian militants in the neighbouring Gaza Strip, and officials have said other foreign militants have found refuge in Sinai during the ongoing turmoil.
In its message, which appeared on militant websites Monday, the group said it “will be more determined to fight” the military and police if its warning is ignored. It urged them to “repent” from participating in “this infidel bastion that is at war with God and his Prophet, and stop serving in its ranks.”
But MENA quoted Shawki, the Cabinet spokesman as saying that “such terrorist operations will not prevent us from moving forward with the road map.”
He was referring to the upcoming referendum on a draft constitution Jan. 14-15, a key step in a military-backed transition plan aimed at holding presidential and parliamentarian elections later next year.
With a wave of detente spilling over the Middle East, following the surprising US overture to calm relations with Syria and Iran just months after it nearly launched an offensive war in the country over a few fabricated YouTube clops Looks like Africa will be the next geopolitical hotspot. But while France is the figurehead leading the offensive over west Africa, focusing on Mali and the Central African Republic, where they are “peacekeeping” (with the support of US drones), east Africa appears set for a full-blown flare out, with the Sudan area emerging as the dominant zone of instability and future escalation. Which is perhaps why not only a US aircraft, but a UN helicopter, both came under fire in the Sudan over the past 24 hours in what is assured to generate an “appropriate” response by the US.
First, Reuters reports about a U.S. aircraft which was by gunfire in South Sudan:
A U.S. aircraft came under fire on Saturday on a mission to evacuate Americans from spiraling conflict in South Sudan and four U.S. military service members were wounded.
Nearly a week of fighting threatens to drag the world’s newest country into an ethnic civil war just two years after it won independence from Sudan with strong support from successive U.S. administrations.
The U.S. aircraft came under fire while approaching the evacuation site, the military’s Africa Command said in a statement. “The aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission,” it said.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting that pits loyalists of President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, against those of his former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July and is accused by the government of trying to seize power.
Fighting that spread from the capital, Juba, has now reached vital oilfields and the government said a senior army commander had defected to Machar in the oil-producing Unity State.
And just to assure a condemning social response is generated, and the public mood against the South Sudan is sufficiently negative, the AP just reported that a UN helicopter in the region had been downed also following gunfire by local militant:
Two officials have told The Associated Press that a U.N. helicopter trying to evacuate peacekeepers and civilians was fired on and sustained significant damage on Friday in the same restive South Sudan state where a U.S. helicopter was hit Saturday.
Rob McKee of Warrior Security said the U.N. helicopter was hit by small arms fire and made an emergency landing while trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai in Jonglei state. A second official who insisted on anonymity because the information hasn’t been released said the helicopter was abandoned and remains unable to fly. No injuries were reported.
A U.N. spokesman didn’t answer a phone call or email seeking comment.
U.S. aircraft were fired on Saturday in Bor, the capital of Jonglei. Four U.S. service members were wounded.
Of course, the question is why the US (and, laughably, French) scramble to get involved militarily in Africa now? The answer is easy: as we reported in June 2012, in the rush for Africa China has a multi-year head start in the colonization race. So what short cuts is a self-determined superpower to do to catch up – why find one pretext after another to send a military force and achieve through brute force what China has been able to attain through infrastructure and domestic investing over the past several years.
From June 2012:
“The Beijing Conference”: See How China Quietly Took Over Africa
Back in 1885, to much fanfare, the General Act of the Berlin Conference launched the Scramble for Africa which saw the partition of the continent, formerly a loose aggregation of various tribes, into the countries that currently make up the southern continent, by the dominant superpowers (all of them European) of the day. Subsequently Africa was pillaged, plundered, and in most places, left for dead. The fact that a credit system reliant on petrodollars never managed to take hold only precipitated the “developed world” disappointment with Africa, no matter what various enlightened, humanitarian singer/writer/poet/visionaries claim otherwise. And so the continent languished. Until what we have dubbed as the “Beijing Conference” quietly took place, and to which only Goldman Sachs, which too has been quietly but very aggressively expanding in Africa, was invited. As the map below from Stratfor shows, ever since 2010, when China pledged over $100 billion to develop commercial projects in Africa, the continent has now become de facto Chinese territory. Because where the infrastructure spending has taken place, next follow strategic sovereign investments, and other modernization pathways, until gradually Africa is nothing but an annexed territory for Beijing, full to the brim with critical raw materials, resources and supplies. So while the “developed world” was and continues to deny the fact that it is broke, all the while having exactly zero money to invest in expansion, China is quietly taking over the world. Literally.
More from Stratfor:
In late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years. China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010. These figures could be even higher because of an additional $7.5 billion in unspecified commitments to South Africa and Zambia, likely intended for mining projects. Of the remaining $3 billion in Chinese commercial commitments to Africa, about $2.1 billion will be used on local manufacturing projects. While China has proposed $750 million for agriculture and general development aid and about $50 million to support small- and medium-sized business development in addition to the aforementioned projects, it has been criticized for the extractive nature of its relationship with many African countries, as well as the poor quality of some of its construction work. However, since many African countries lack the indigenous engineering capability to construct these large-scale projects or the capital to undertake them, African governments with limited resources welcome Chinese investments enthusiastically. These foreign investment projects are also a boon for Beijing, since China needs African resources to sustain its domestic economy, and the projects in Africa provide a destination for excess Chinese labor.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approved on Monday a new anti-terrorism draft law that criminalizes acts that disturb public order, defame the reputation of the state or threaten the kingdom’s unity, raising concerns by activists it could be used to quash political dissent.