Archive for July, 2012

Why Obama walked away from the Global Arms Trade Treaty

Barack Obama

Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—On Friday July 27, most observers expected the U.S. to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, given the recent incidents that had happened in America like Fast and Furious, and also the Colorado shooting. To their surprise, when Barack Obama was presented the treaty to sign, he tossed the pen on the desk and walked away, leaving observers scratching their heads.

“The White House walked away at a critical moment by failing to move this treaty to conclusion. It is a tremendous loss for thousands of innocent civilians around the globe who die each year from armed violence fueled by the unregulated transfer of arms,” said Scott Stedjan, Oxfam America’s senior policy adviser.

In this July 18 article I wrote, I explained why signing such a treaty would threaten the Constitution’s Second Amendment. Obama being a lawyer, knows that the issue of gun control is very sensitive, especially in an election year. It was therefore in order for him to walk away with the explanation from the White House that Obama needed more time.

In addition, on July 26, just 24 hours before Obama was scheduled to sign the treaty, 51 Senators sent both Obama and Hillary Clinton a letter voicing their concerns, and went as far as threatening to oppose the ratification of the treaty.

“…We also believe that the right of personal self-defense is a human right that is inherent in the individual. U.N. organizations, by contrast, have in the past argued that gun control is mandated by international human rights law, and that the right of self-defense does not exist,” the letter stated.

You may read or download the full letter with all 51 signatures here.

On Monday July 30, two Democrats introduced another bill that would end the sales of online ammunition called The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act would require buyers who are not dealers to present a photo ID at the time of purchase. The lawmakers are New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Rep. Carolyn

It is very likely that such a bill will never pass, considering the fact that the House is Republican-controlled, and the Senate already has a majority opposing restriction of firearm possession, as indicated in the above-mentioned letter.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm

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Israel and South Sudan sign treaty over rights of River Nile

Salva Kiir

Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—Last week, South Sudan and Israel, specifically Israel Military Industries Ltd. signed an agreement to cooperate on River Nile water infrastructure and technology development during a ceremony at the Knesset. The new agreement with Israel could potentially allow South Sudan “to transfer its oil to Israeli refineries”, which the country also lacks.

“This way we will help you solve various problems in your area,” Minister of Water and Irrigation, Paul Mayom Akec said. “We will be pleased to examine this,” reported the Sudan Tribune.

While all the other nations were asleep, Israel saw business potential, and this time it wasn’t about to let the Chinese or American investors snatch this golden opportunity from it.

“We see this as a privilege to be the first [sector in Israel] to sign an agreement with the new state,” Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said in a statement aimed at Akec Paul Mayom, water and irrigation minister of South Sudan. “We will continue to do everything possible in order to assist you. You are among friends.” The Jerusalem Post published the utterances here.

The White Nile runs through South Sudan

This agreement certainly does not sit well with Egypt and Sudan. There was an outcry in Egypt and Sudan over last week’s signing of a cooperation agreement between Israel and South Sudan on water infrastructure and technology development. Warnings abounded that the pact between the government in Juba and Israeli Military Industries Ltd posed a threat to the water security of the two downstream countries and should be countered. Largely overlooked was the fact that their own inaction was mostly to blame for it, according to Al Akhbar.

All eyes on DR Congo for its natural resources

Perhaps the richest African country in natural resources is DR Congo. Currently, the country is experiencing a tumultuous period as foreign armies seek to seize its resources.

Rwanda has been accused by the Netherlands, Great Britain and the U.S. of backing rebels in DR Congo, and the three nations have withheld financial aid to the embattled nation, according to a report by Press TV.

DR Congo is an important country because of its abundant freshwater supply and natural resources that are coveted by outside eyes. Once the country becomes stable, it will be a magnet for foreign nations, just like what is happening in South Sudan.

Unfortunately Africa has been cursed with leaders who (with the exception of a handful), have failed to look out for the best interests on the Native Africans, and have engaged in unjust enrichment for themselves and families. Africa has no reason to be part of the Third World considering how rich it is. It should belong in the same sentence as Japan, Germany and Canada.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

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Romney gaffes will soon become classics like those of Prince Philip

Prince Philip and Mitt Romney

Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—Listening to the gaffes Mitt Romney has made so far, reminds one of the gaffes made by another high-ranking official across the pond. Prince Philip is perhaps the master of gaffes, that initially his statements were considered offensive, but now many consider them classics and to some extent satire. Romney is gaffe-prone too, but I suspect decades from now, we’ll all look back and be able to extract the humor in what we currently consider Romney gaffes.

Below are some of the gaffes Romney has made as compiled by Daniel Kurtzman:

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” —Mitt Romney to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair (August 2011).

“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” –Mitt Romney, using an unfortunate choice of words while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans (January 2012).

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” —Mitt Romney (January 2012).

“It’s hard to know just how well [the 2012 London Olympics] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.” July 25, 2012.

“I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida. Romney’s net worth is over $200 million.

“[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs.” –Mitt Romney, campaigning for president in Michigan (February 2012).

“I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” –Mitt Romney (January 2012).

“I’m not sure about these cookies. They don’t look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7/11 bakery, or whatever.” —Mitt Romney, visiting a local bakery while campaigning in Pittsburgh, PA, April 17, 2012 (The owner of the baker later told MSNBC he was offended by Romney’s remarks).

“I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.” —Mitt Romney (May 17, 2012).


The gaffes below were made by Prince Philip as compiled by Mirror News Online:

At a project to protect turtle doves in Anguilla in 1965, he said: “Cats kill far more birds than men. Why don’t you have a slogan: ‘Kill a cat and save a bird?’”

To multi-ethnic Britain’s Got Talent 2009 winners Diversity: “Are you all one family?”

Prince Philip and Nigerian president

To President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

To a tourist in Budapest in 1993: “You can’t have been here long, you haven’t got a pot belly.”

To a British trekker in Papua New Guinea, 1998: “You managed not to get eaten then?”

On the 1981 recession: “A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”

To Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

“You ARE a woman, aren’t you?” Kenya, 1984.

To a children’s band in Australia in 2002: “You were playing your instruments? Or do you have tape recorders under your seats?”

Prince Philip

To Aboriginal leader William Brin, Queensland, 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

To black politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, 1999: “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?”

After hearing President Obama had had breakfast with leaders of the UK, China and Russia, 2010 he asked: “Can you tell the difference between them?”

To schoolchildren in blood-red uniforms, 1998: “It makes you all look like Dracula’s daughters!”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm

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Turkey sets up secret base at border to arm Syrian rebel gangs

Armed rebels

Newscast Media DAMASCUS, Syria—Turkey has set up a secret base near the Syrian border to send military and communications supplies to armed groups fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to a Qatari source, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are sending weapons and communications equipment for Syrian rebels via the base, which is located in the southern Turkish city of Adana, about one hundred kilometers from Syria’s border, Reuters reported on Friday.

“Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” said the unnamed Doha-based source.

“It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it (the base). Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,” the source said adding that Qatar has a key role in directing operations at the base with Qatari military intelligence and state security officials involved. The US intelligence is also believed to be involved in the secret anti-Syria “nerve center” and that they are working through middlemen.

According to the source, the base was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it.

Adana is home to Incirlik, a large Turkish-US air force base, but it was not clear from the source whether the secret anti-Syria center was located inside Incirlik base or in the city of Adana.

Ankara has vehemently denied involvement in the Syrian unrest and supplying rebels with weapons, but the presence of the secret anti-Damascus center in Turkey may explain how the Syrian rebels are staging their deadly attacks such as the devastating bomb attack in Damascus on July 18 which killed at least four high-profile security and military officials, including the defense minister and his deputy who is also President Assad’s brother-in-law.

Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many security forces. Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

Source: Press TV


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:34 pm

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Study: Women viewed as body parts while men as whole human beings

Women and men viewed differently

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—A research study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology reveals that the brains of both men and women perceived men as whole people while women were seen as body parts. Cognitive psychology suggests that global processing underlies person recognition, whereas local processing underlies object recognition.

The study discovered that male and female subjects relied on “global” cognitive processing when looking at images of men but used “local” cognitive processing when it came to pictures of women.

The global method means a person is perceived as a whole, while the local method views the person as an object. Women are more likely to be separated into different parts by the brain and seen as body parts rather than a whole, according to the research, while men, on the other hand, are processed as a whole rather than the sum of their parts.

“Everyday, ordinary women are being reduced to their sexual body parts,” said study author Sarah Gervais, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “This isn’t just something that supermodels or porn stars have to deal with.”

The findings across two experiments showed that women’s bodies were reduced to their sexual body parts in perceivers’ minds, while men were identified as whole human beings.

“It could be related to different motives,” said Gervais. “Men might be doing it because they’re interested in potential mates, while women may do it more of a comparison with themselves. What we do know is that they’re both doing it.” According to the study, women also view each other in terms of body parts.

However, we live in a culture that is obsessed with superficial appearance, whereby people do everything they can to cling to their youthful looks. Advertising is one of the major factors that contributes to this since it promotes a certain body-type, creating an illusion of what true beauty is. You now have a culture in which most doctors go to medical school and specialize in cosmetic or plastic surgery because they notice the demand from a self-absorbed civilization, that desires to look a certain way.

Self-worth is also another factor, since the number of single-parent homes is on the rise, and if one grows up with a weak self-image, it also affects one’s body image. If a parent is too busy to affirm a child as to how important and relevant that child’s life is, then it would be hard for such a kid to develop a strong self-worth. The result will be to seek acceptance from peers by enhancing the external appearance in terms of body parts, just to fit in.

When we see ads on TV or in magazines promising better teeth, bigger breasts, narrower waists, a defined jaw line and pronounced cheek-bones, these are usually targeted to the female gender.

Media and entertainment companies target and manipulate a particular demographic and promote an unrealistic image that people with a low self-esteem find hard to live up to. In the media, news directors look for certain physical attributes that they believe someone should have in order to increase ratings. This is particularly true for women, that’s why when local female anchors or reporters hit their early to mid-forties, they’d be very lucky to have their contracts renewed.

In entertainment, some contracts have clauses that require the actors and actresses to maintain a certain weight in order to get additional roles.

Some people will even go as far as getting butt implants or butt lifts just to enhance their figures, and recently an unfortunate event happened where a woman lost her life after receiving injections in her buttocks to make it look bigger.

When someone focuses more on enhancing a particular body part, just to “fit in” or look attractive, that person objectifies himself, or herself. It is more beneficial to focus on developing the true authentic self and blazing one’s own trail, rather than attempting to please the button-pushers.

Accordingly, the study’s findings in regard to the way people view each other, is relevant in explaining the image problem this civilization suffers from, which is an after-effect of what the media and entertainment constantly promote as the norm.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:35 am

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Democrats in Senate pass tax cut bill in time for 2012 election

Tax return

by Anugrah Kumar

Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed for and succeeded in the passage of a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle class. The Democratic bill was approved Wednesday by a near party-line 51-48 vote, and Vice President Joe Biden presided over the chamber just in case his vote was required to break a tie, The Associated Press reported.

The measure was passed soon after a rival Republican plan to include the best-off in the tax reductions was defeated 54-45 in the Senate.

When the Democratic bill goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives next week, it will certainly be rejected. “The House will vote next week to stop that tax hike, and until the Senate does the same, the threat to our economy remains,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement following the vote on Wednesday.

Democrats seemingly pushed for the measure just to allow President Obama to say to voters in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that his party got the measure passed but Republicans prevented his party from implementing it.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said, “Now the ball is in Speaker Boehner’s court. The Senate has spoken, the message is clear: ‘put the middle-class first.’”

“With the Senate’s vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and nearly every small business owner,” Obama said in a statement.

However, the passage of the Democratic bill also allows Republicans to say that the Democratic Party doesn’t care for businesses. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said, “Thank goodness it’s not going anywhere because it would be bad for the economy, the single worst thing we could do to the country.”

The $250 billion Democratic measure seeks to extend tax cuts for another year that are otherwise set to expire in January. But those tax cuts are not meant for individuals whose annual earnings exceed $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 yearly.

Under the Democratic measure, individuals earning over $200,000 and couples making at least $250,000 would see their top rates on those earnings rise from 33 percent and 35 percent today to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in January.

Republicans in the House are now expected to pass a bill similar to their $405 billion measure the Senate rejected Wednesday.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 1:55 am

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Eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday August 1 sparks controversy

Chick-fil-A food chain

by Paul Stanley

Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—The latest Chick-fil-A controversy is beginning to take on the nature of a frat house food fight, according to some commentators on both sides of the issue, and calls for restraint have begun. Here’s what’s gone on in just the past few days:

• In a July 2 story published by Biblical Recorder and later reposted by Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy asserts his support for traditional marriage by saying the company was “guilty as charged” when asked about the opposition his company was facing for supporting traditional marriage.

• Actor Ed Helms and leading gay rights activists express outrage over Cathy’s comment and suggest yet another boycott of the company’s products.

• Last Friday Jim Henson and his company, saying their company embraces “diversity and Inclusiveness,” announced they would no longer partner with Chick-fil-A.

• The National Organization for Marriage, along with former Gov. Mike Huckabee, try to rally pro-family supporters by encouraging them to eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, Aug. 1.

• And finally, elected officials in Boston and Chicago have vowed to block Chick-fil-A from building additional restaurants in their cities.

Needless to say, the issue is not only defined by culture but has drifted into the political spectrum with calls of action coming from both sides of the aisle. Huckabee wrote on his website, “No one is being asked to make signs, speeches or openly demonstrate. The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.”

Over 100,000 people have responded by saying they will show up to support Chick-fil-A. Yet the tit-for-tat sparring between gay activists and pro-family supporters has turned out to be what some are calling an old-fashioned, college era food fight.

Dana Milbank, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, penned in a column Tuesday:

“Huckabee is starting this food fight for the spirit, not the body. Unfortunately, he is doing violence to both. His defense of the fast-food restaurant will make Chick-fil-A a fat target in the culture wars and will further divide Americans. Apparently, it isn’t enough to be split on matters of politics; now we must choose sides between red and blue eateries, retail stores and consumer products.”

But supporters on the other side of the counter say it wasn’t Huckabee who started the fight, instead, pointing their fingers at pro-gay activists and even other retail giants such as Home Depot, JC Penny and General Mills for promoting their goods to the homosexual community and dismissing others who make up the larger majority of their customer base.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 26, 2012 at 2:31 am

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U.S. partners with diaspora members to help countries of origin

Hillary Clinton

by Phillip Kurata

Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. government is working with immigrants and the descendants of immigrants in the United States to extend the benefits of economic, religious and political freedom to their countries of origin.

“Many of the reasons many of you are here is because you did not want to stay where you were from, or your parents didn’t, or your grandparents didn’t, which was my case. They left seeking better economic opportunity, a better future. Some come seeking religious freedom, freedom of conscience, a chance to stretch your own ambition,” Clinton said in a speech to the Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum in Washington July 25. Diaspora representatives from around the world attended the forum.

“It is part of America’s ongoing mission to try to help more people everywhere to have that same chance,” she added.

Clinton said the U.S. and Canadian governments are partnering with the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance because the two governments share a common purpose rooted in the large immigrant populations in their countries.

Working with diaspora communities will “reverse the so-called brain drain that slows progress in so many countries … and instead offer the benefits of a brain gain,” the secretary said.

“We can move forward by giving back, by tapping into the experiences, the energy, the expertise of diaspora communities.”

Clinton said the United States also stands to benefit from the diaspora partnership. It is “a recipe for spurring greater economic growth in the United States as well, and it holds the promise of advancing strategic interests, like rebuilding societies after conflicts or disasters, and improving relations with key countries,” she said.

Clinton said a diaspora volunteer corps that will deploy highly skilled professionals on short- and medium-term development assignments to countries of origin is being organized, as is a mentoring and networking Web platform specifically for diaspora members trying to give back to their countries of origin.

The secretary said economic development and political reform are linked and the United States supports both. She added that democracy means more than elections. “Democracy is changing the way people relate to one another, work with one another, listen to one another,” she said.

“There’s no place that has more experience, since we are now the longest-lasting democracy, than we do, and there are no people with more credibility than all of you,” she said to the diaspora representatives.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 12:32 am

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Syrian army mops up Damascus and pursues rebels in the outskirts of the city

Syrian armed forces - Photo by Al Manar

Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Calm prevailed Wednesday in most of Damascus districts after the wide range operation of cleansing was carried out by the Syrian regime forces. The Syrian Army continues to pursue armed groups in the Damascus countryside, and has inflicted them with heavy losses, particularly in Daraya. Syria state television reported that the national security forces have also inflicted armed groups in each city of Aleppo, Sakhoor, Marja and Neirab with heavy losses.

Also on Wednesday, the Syrian security forces carried out a raid in Qamishli countryside and confiscated a large quantity of smuggled weapons. Earlier in the day, the state-run television reported that an infiltration operation was foiled in the region of Talkakh which caused heavy losses among the rebels in the countryside of Lattakia.

Analysts are saying Assad’s counter-offensive effectively ended rebels’ hopes of capturing Damascus and has brought a swift end to a 16-month uprising that killed over 18,000 people.

How Assad did it -by Yusuf Fernandez

On January 20, Syrian state television reported that the country’s army had cleared the Al-Midan area of the capital of armed groups. The forces regained control of most parts of the neighborhood following heavy clashes with armed gangs. Government forces confiscated ammunition and vehicles equipped with machine guns from the armed opposition.

While some Western agencies, like Reuters, were echoing the Free Syrian Army’s propaganda about an “inexorable” rebel advance inside Damascus, what seemed especially inexorable on Friday July 20, was the destruction of groups that infiltrated the capital. Syrian TV released a video showing the bodies of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in the area of Qaboun, ensuring that many of them were “terrorists from other Arab countries”.

A report from Syrian television, which showed soldiers in the sub-district of al-Zahra in Al-Midane, said that the army had declared this area safe and asked residents to return home. In this sense, the quick and easy victory of Syrian forces in Damascus obviously has served to reassure the population and Assad’s foreign allies. Apparently, the thousands of rebels who entered the city were unable to seize it, but they were able to create insecurity and make the news.

The soldiers showed their optimism after Al-Midans’s takeover. One of them said that the assassination of the Defense Minister and other officials on Wednesday had given them more courage and that he and his comrades would destroy all those who had damaged their country. Another said: “This land is forbidden to any foreign hand who wants to bring us evil. This hand will be cut without mercy!” Another soldier exclaimed: “Here it is Syria. Down with Qatar!”

And another: “We are here to defend our land, our people and our blood. We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria! Here in this land of Al-Midane. Only the Syrian Arab army has the right to be there. This land is ours and it is us who control the ground!”

Rewind—Thursday June 19, clashes

During the night of Thursday and early Friday there were no big explosions like the previous days. Those explosions had alarmed residents, some of whom started to move to safer neighborhoods and others who chose to leave the country, according to reports.

The correspondent from Russian news site in English Russia Today, Maria Finoshina, wrote that Thursday’s clashes were the “worst she had seen in weeks”. Columns of black smoke rose on the horizon and sounds of gunfire could be heard regularly. Maria Finoshina added that despite all this and a general climate of tension, life had gone on as if nothing was happening in many neighborhoods which were not directly affected by the fighting, especially in the daytime. “People still frequent cafes and many shops remain open,” she said.

Fighting in other parts of Syria

At the same time, Syrian security forces recaptured a number of key areas across the country from armed rebels. Even newspapers such as the French conservative Le Figaro came to recognize that the government and its army had achieved successes against the rebels: “His troops (those of Bashar) crushed the rebels in Douma, near Damascus, bombed for the first time on Thursday, in a district of the capital, Kfar Sousseh, and launched the same day a deadly offensive against Al-Treimseh, killing over a hundred insurgents.”

The armed forces also regained the control of the Silqin area in Idlib and recaptured the al-Bukamal area near the Iraqi border as well as Bab al-Hawa, a town close to the Turkish border.

The terrorist attack

On the previous day, the news was dominated by the terrorist attack that killed the Minister of Defense, General Daoud Rajha, the brother in law of Bashar al-Assad, Assef Shawkat. The attack also seriously injured the Minister of Interior, Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar and other government officials. According to the Syrian Minister of Information, Omrane Zoebi, “the terrorist attack was perpetrated by the intelligence services of countries enemies of Syria. All countries that send money and weapons to terrorist groups take responsibility for what happened in Damascus,” said the minister in an interview with Syrian television, and added that the attack was “the last chapter of the American-Israeli conspiracy against Syria.”

The attack was rapidly broadcast by anti-Syrian media (Al Jazeera, Al Arabiyya etc) to increase their disinformation campaign. They said that General Hassan Makhlouf, the head of State Security was among the killed, which was denied. They claimed the Vice-President Farouk al-Shara has defected (he did an interview for ANB to deny it in person). There was also news on Al Jazeera about some alleged explosions in the site of the Fourth Division of the Syrian army, commanded by the brother of Syrian President, General Maher Al-Assad, which also proved to be completely wrong. Their message was clear: Assad did not control the situation on the ground and the regime would fall in some days or even in hours. The US administration echoed these claims, saying that “it is clear that President Assad is losing control in Syria.”

Israeli media also expressed their delight. The correspondent of the Arabic TV channel Al-Mayadine and editor of the Palestinian agency Maan in the occupied West Bank, Nasser Lahham, reported that Israeli television had announced the information of the murderous attack against the Syrian military officers with rejoicing, and it speculated about the imminent fall of the Syrian president.

Israeli President Shimon Peres could not hide his joy. “After the end of the Assad regime, we want to maintain good relations with Syria,” he said. A limited cabinet was even convened in an emergency meeting.

Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council (CNS), the opposition coalition supported by the West and the Gulf monarchies (and implicitly by Israel), asserted that the following days would be “decisive” and called the Syrians “to prepare themselves for the fall of Bashar al-Assad.”

The Syrian government responds

However, Syrian authorities reacted immediately after the attack. President Assad appointed General Fahd al-Freij, hitherto Chief of Staff, as new Minister of Defense. He inaugurated its functions by an unequivocal statement on the government’s desire to end terrorism, bombs and bands. The Syrian army expressed its determination to “cleanse” the country of “terrorists” after the attack.

“This terrorist act strengthens the resolve of our armed forces to clean the home of the remnants of terrorist gangs,” it said in a statement broadcast by state television. After this statement, an active pursuit operation against the insurgent groups in Damascus took place.

(Several) security experts have also told several Arabic channels that the attack was not likely to undermine the Syrian regime. One of them is Pierre Khalaf, who heads the Beirut-based Center for Strategic Arab and International Studies. Khalaf is certainly on the far side of the Syrian government –but it is in any case opposed to misinformation. He considers that the FSA has currently about 7,000 armed combatants and it is not a serious rival to the Syrian army.

“The Syrian leadership’s plan is to destroy most of the insurgents’ strongholds, whose number is estimated at 7,000 armed men. They also plan to control international frontiers. Having regained control of the countryside of Damascus, where the FSA had vast stores of weapons, operating rooms and underground hospitals, the effort is currently heading towards Homs, in order to pacify and regain control of neighborhoods which are still under the control of insurgents. At the same time, large operations are conducted at a border with Turkey through which weapons, money and men are being introduced into Syria.

“The situation of the rebels has reached a state of weakness and dispersal”, says Khalaf, but opponents living in five-star hotels (in Paris and other cities) are multiplying their statements on the “imminence” of the Battle of Damascus, which will be “decisive”.

Peter Khalaf has asked: “Are these claims realistic? It seems indisputable that the FSA and assimilated groups are on the defensive everywhere and that every serious confrontation with the Syrian military turns for them into a bloody defeat. And we can assume that the army, assured the Russian and Chinese support, will not to stop its deadly pressure.”

Source: Al-Manar News
Yusuf Fernandez is a Spanish journalist who also works for Radio Prague. He is the editor of several Islamic sites in Spanish and English and is currently editor of the Spanish site Al Manar.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

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Calmness in Syria is being restored says Iran’s Foreign Minister

Syria's Bashar Assad wearing shades

Newscast Media TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday that Syria is heading for tranquility as the army is gradually suppressing the armed insurgent groups.

“Enemies imagined that they can create a vacuum in the management of the country by explosions in Damascus but the enemies of the Syrian nation have been defeated… and the army is gradually finding supremacy over the armed opposition,” Salehi told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

The foreign minister presented an assessment of the situation in Syria in which groups with divergent and opposite views are pursuing: One is public legitimate demand that Iran has announced should be met and the second one is a strategy which has resorted to violence with the support of the West and certain regional
countries and because their purpose is to break out civil war and topple the government.

He again repeated that Iran is ready to mediate between opposition groups and the Syrian government, saying, “Since a year go we have been in contact with the Syrian opposition groups.”

However, he said the Syrian opposition is a combination of different groups with different purposes. He added, “We believe that the opposition groups should reach a compromise with the Syrian government to get out of this situation even though Syria is heading toward calm.”

Source: Tehran Times


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:47 pm

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Obama’s negative attacks on Romney have had little effect

Obama and Romney - file photo

by Napp Nazworth

Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C. — A strong majority of Americans say that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s business record, including as head of Bain Capital, would help him make good decisions on economic issues if he were president, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll. The poll results come after President Barack Obama’s campaign has, for months, spent much of its time and money attacking Romney’s business record.

“Would Mitt Romney’s business background, including as head of Bain Capital, cause him to make good or bad decisions as president in dealing with economic problems?” USA Today/Gallup asked 1,030 adults Thursday through Sunday.

Sixty-three percent answered “good decisions” while only 29 percent answered “bad decisions.” The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

The Obama campaign has claimed, through ads, interviews and speeches, that Romney’s record as head of Bain Capital suggests he would make a poor president. Romney was an “outsourcing pioneer,” the campaign claimed, which helped companies employ foreign workers instead of American workers, and Romney made himself rich while stripping workers of jobs and benefits.

“You’ve got to give the voters credit—economic reality trumps campaign rhetoric,” Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse told USA Today. “It’s pretty clear that the negative weight of the economy is having more impact on voters than President Obama’s campaign ads distorting Gov. Romney’s record.”

Ben LaBolt, spokesperson for the Obama campaign, told USA Today that other polls suggest that attacks on Romney’s Bain record are working and the arguments will damage Romney more in the long run.

Additionally, a record number of Americans seem to favor Romney’s philosophy of a smaller, less intrusive, government over Obama’s philosophy that government should be playing a larger role in helping Americans. Sixty-one percent say that government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals, the highest that number has been since 1992 when Gallup began asking the question.

There is some good news, though, for the Obama campaign in the poll. By two to one, Obama is rated as more likeable than Romney and he holds a double-digit lead when asked which candidate better understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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Texas fashion designers-their collections exemplify a beautiful whole

Review of the Houston Bridal Extravaganza - photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — Last weekend I received an invitation to cover the Annual Houston Bridal Extravaganza Fashion Show, which I attended because it provided me an escape from the doom and gloom news cycle. The show went on for the entire weekend, with several Texas designers. Also showcased was Ventura’s Bridal Collection which included designs by Allure Couture, Casablanca Bridals, Christina Wu, Enzoani Blu, James Clifford, Justin Alexander Couture, Maggie Sottero, San Patrick, Mori Lee, and many more. I will now write my personal review of the event viewed through the eyes of a journalist, and have included a photo gallery.

Indeed it is the gift and graciousness of nature, that among a diverse generation of fashion designers, only a handful have risen to pre-eminence to demonstrate the finest and most captivating aspects of their profession.

For decades, fashion designers have emerged then disappeared, because they squandered their gifts and talents, by designing clothes that were devoid of style; used fabrics that were shamefully cut; and created garments that were badly executed.

Nature, having recognized the creative void within the fashion industry, ordained that the minds of Texas fashion designers would serve as a source of inspiration and admiration for those within and without the industry.

At the Houston Bridal Extravaganza, Texas talent was on display, as collection after collection enthralled the crowd. The show was exclusively a wedding collection, and one of the most popular colors for wedding dresses was Champagne, which is similar to Ivory, an off-white color.

The George R. Brown Convention Center hosted the Annual Bridal Fashion Show in Houston Photo by Joseph Earnest

Rather than imitate designs of their contemporaries or international brands, Texas fashion designers chose to celebrate nature. Their aim was to accentuate a woman’s natural beauty, rather than create an artificial beauty.

It has been said that natural beauty is a beautiful thing, while artificial beauty is the representation of a beautiful thing. Because talent is a product of nature, as opposed to an acquired skill, the concepts of the fashion designs are not subject to the rules, but are a product of the exceptions. Therefore, the cut of the fabric and the fit of the drapery, is meant to embrace a woman’s natural form, irrespective of her body’s frame, as shown in the picture above.

This explains why women admire such wedding designs ardently…bask in them elegantly…and anticipate new collections so fervently. The wedding collection exhibits a cross-cultural, multi-national and trans-generational appeal that gives it an enduring and universal quality.

The beauty of the finished wedding dresses creates a profound reality, that even an untrained eye is able to discern the intricacy of the detail, that emanates from the garments. Nature has so gifted these Texas fashion designers with the ability to create variety in style…portray feminine grandeur…and create harmony between the pieces in correct proportions. One of Houston’s most prominent fashion designers Natalie Harris, has perfected this technique for her loyal clients.

Houston Bridal Extravaganza Fashion Show - photo by Joseph Earnest

As a journalist, I can with particular observation espouse, that the indefatigable fertility of the minds of the fashion designers who showcased their brands, elaborates itself through the designers’ ability to fuse mental expression with practical expression, in order to create designs that exemplify a beautiful whole.

The designs created by minds of infinite beauty and refined disposition…the minds of Texas fashion designers…are undeniably the ultimate handiwork, of the consummate fashion designers.

The ever-growing awareness of artistic expression through fashion design, and the sound judgment of taste by Texas fashion designers, is the noblest glory, and the most enviable, that a fashion designer can attain. ENTER PHOTO GALLERY >>


5 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 1:52 am

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Houston International World Series Dog Show – Reliant Park


Newcast Media HOUSTON, Texas–The heart and soul of any dog show, this very traditional competition of more than 150 breeds is based on how well a dog adheres to physical standards set by the American Kennel Club. The top dog wins “Best in Show.”

The Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows features a variety of demonstrations for the public to see including the weight pull competition, Canine Frisbee (sm), Musical Freestyle, and the Purina Pro Plan Team
Performance. Watch as dogs pull more than 10 times their own weight across a mat to see who is the strongest, or watch dogs perform to music as they do routines with Frisbees or with their human partners,
and the Purina Team perform tricks with their trainers. The annual event takes place in Reliant Park, Houston and will conclude this Sunday. ENTER PHOTO GALLERY>>

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 22, 2012 at 2:58 am

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Syria’s Bashar al-Assad make first public appearance after ambush

Bashar Assad

Newscast Media DAMASCUS, Syria—After a deadly attack by rebels on top Syrian officials, there was much speculation about the whereabouts of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Several rumors suggested that Assad might have left the capital, but the president disproved those rumors by appearing on TV with newly-named Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij.

One of the victims killed in the blast was the president’s brother-in-law. The location of the killings took place in one of the most tightly secured neighborhoods in the city. The National Security headquarters is located in Rawda, in the upscale Abu Rumaneh neighborhood. It lies in a square that contains the Turkish, US, Iraqi, and several EU embassies.

President Assad with his newly-named Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij

According to Al-Akbar, the ambush which targeted the commanders of the security unit was claimed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). But there were several accounts. One spoke about a suicide bomber inside the building. Another said an explosive device had been installed inside the meeting room. Others claimed a number of FSA brigades penetrated the security structure and planted an explosive device in the meeting room.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm

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Tunisia’s Ben Ali sentenced to life in absentia for murder

Ben Ali

Newscast Media TUNIS—Tunisian former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been sentenced in absentia to life in prison for complicity in the murders of 43 protesters in the 2011 revolution that toppled him.

Judge Hedi Ayari of the Tunis military court said Ben Ali was judged with around 40 of his former officials, including General Ali Seriati, ex-head of presidential security, who was given a 20-year prison term.

Former interior minister Rafik Belhaj Kacem was sentenced to 15 years, while the case against Ahmed Friaa, another former interior minister, was dismissed.

Families of the victims reacted angrily, saying the sentences for Seriati and Kacem were too lenient, criticizing the dismissal of the case against Friaa.

In all, more than 300 people died in the popular uprising that erupted in December 2010 and led to Ben Ali fleeing into exile in Saudi Arabia the following month. The ousted president has already been sentenced in his absence to a number of heavy sentences.

He has been sentenced to more than 66 years in prison in three separate trials, including for embezzlement, illegal possession of weapons and narcotics, housing fraud and abuse of power.


Al Manar

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:42 pm

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Is Fast and Furious responsible for global Arms Trade Treaty?

Arms Trade Treaty

Newscast Media NEW YORK—The Arms Trade Treaty in which countries around the globe are expected to sign a pact that would regulate international trade in conventional weapons, will conclude July 27, in New York, and many American gun owners are not happy about it. The treaty would require governments to deny weapons transfers to countries that fit certain criteria, and to develop national laws and regulations, governing imports and exports.

There have been analysts who hypothesize that Fast and Furious was engineered to give birth to this particular Arms Trade Treaty, because the Obama administration is viewed as one that is against gun ownership by civilians. Those in support of the treaty argue that it would help curb the flow of weapons that fall in the hands of terrorists, warlords or those who violate human rights.

Opponents of the treaty argue that it would fall under Article VI of the United States Constitution, triggering the Supremacy Clause. Americans would have to register their weapons in order for government to track them adequately, and the fear is that the subsequent action of an unfriendly administration toward guns would lead to an eventual banning of guns. This would not happen suddenly, but incidents like Fast and Furious would create a phasing out of weapons. Operation Fast and Furious was an operation to shut down the trafficking of guns from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels.

The Supremacy Clause provides that all treaties made under the authority of the United States, constitute the supreme law of the land as shown below:

Article VI U.S. Constitution – Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance
thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United
States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound
thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) says the treaty could be a threat to the Second Amendment, that guarantees the right to bear arms. However, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association says the treaty will not affect the Second Amendment in any way, and will not require the U.S. to do anything.

“We’re simply bringing other countries up to our standards. This treaty, in all likelihood, will not require the United States to do anything more than it is already doing.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

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Nelson Mandela honored and celebrated in South Africa

Nelson Mandela

Newscast Media CAPE TOWN—Nelson Mandela Day in South Africa is July 18. It’s the day when South Africans celebrate their former president’s contribution to universal freedom by donating 67 minutes of their time to public service. South Africa’s freedom icon, Nelson Mandela, spent 67 years of his life fighting for the liberty and freedom of all South Africans, both black and white. 27 of those years were spent as a political prisoner on Robben Island.

As the country marks Mandela’s 94th birthday, South Africans say they will never forget his struggle against oppression, racism and the subjugation of the majority by the minority.

“That guy is our hero. He’s a great man,” Nonhlalhla Cebekhulu told DW. “I was so inspired by his doings. I am so impressed by the way he saved this nation.”

Most South Africans, be they individuals or organizations, are so impressed by Mandela’s achievements that they are eager to follow the call to help the under-privileged on his birthday. They will spend 67 minutes in the service of the people in commemoration of the number of years Mandela devoted to fighting for liberation and freedom.

Among the institutions taking part is the University of South Africa, UNISA. A distance learning university, UNISA caters for more than 400,000 students all over the country and in many other parts of the African continent. Gcina Nhleko is the university’s communications manager in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Each national UNISA office will be embarking on projects to visit schools all over the country and make a difference in the lives of under-privileged students. We want to put a smile on their faces, even for just a day,” she told DW.

Andile Montzontsisi is a second year Bachelor of Commerce student in Durban. He and his fellow students also plan to do something for the needy in honor of Nelson Mandela.

“On the 18th we are going to an orphanage where we are going to give clothes, money and food for children who have no parents.”

Nelson Mandela will spend his 94th birthday at his home in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. Among the many prominent people calling on him to pay their tributes is the former United States President Bill Clinton, who is touring the region as part of a humanitarian mission.


Source: Radio Deutsche Welle

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

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Russia senses blackmail in Western stance regarding Syria

Vladmir Putin

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia sees “elements of blackmail” in the West’s linking of new sanctions against Syria with the extension of the international observer mission there, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, and said it was unrealistic to expect Moscow to force President Assad to step down.

“To our great distress, we see elements of blackmail,” Lavrov said. “They tell us, if you don’t give us an agreement on accepting the [UN Security Council] resolution on Article 7 of the United Nations, then we will refuse to prolong the UN Observer Mission mandate,” he added, ahead of a meeting with the UN’s special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan. The unarmed observers were sent to Syria following a UN Security Council vote in April, to observe compliance with Annan’s peace plan.

Moscow thinks such an approach “is absolutely counterproductive and dangerous because to use the observers as bargaining chips is inadmissible,” Lavrov said. On Wednesday, Britain, France and Germany presented the UN Security Council with a draft resolution which coordinated an extension of the UN Observer mission in Syria with the fulfillment by the Syrian government of a series of demands within ten days, including an end to use of heavy weapons.

The draft included introduction of a series of diplomatic and economic sanctions against Damascus if it failed to carry out the resolution’s demands, in line with Article Seven of the UN Charter, which allows the Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security”.

Russia declared that it would not accept the western draft project and presented its draft document which included an extension of the observer mission for another three months to carry out the Kofi Annan plan to resolve the conflict.

Lavrov also dismissed as “unrealistic” calls by Western powers for it to use its influence to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down as leader of the violence-stricken Middle East country.

“They tell us that we should persuade Assad to step down of his own free will. This is simply unrealistic,” Lavrov said. “He will not leave – not because we are protecting him, but because he has the support of a very significant part of the country’s population.”

“We will accept any decision by the Syrian people on who will govern Syria, as long as it comes from the Syrians themselves,” Russia’s top diplomat added.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that both Russia and China would “pay a price” for what she said was their support for Assad. Western powers have repeatedly accused both countries of protecting the embattled Syria leader. The Kremlin is continuing to push Annan’s six-point peace plan as the only way to bring an end to the spiral of violence in Syria, despite the failure of a ceasefire stipulated under the deal, which rebel forces have said they will no longer abide by. Annan’s plan does not call for Assad’s departure.

“We need to pressure both the regime and the opposition to make them stop the violence,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia had been able to persuade the Syrian armed opposition to drop what he said were “radical demands.”

“They are continuing to talk about a revolution,” he said. Lavrov held talks with two Syrian opposition groups last week.

Russia – along with China – has refused to support Western-backed UN resolutions on Syria that it says betray a pro-rebel bias and which could leave the door open for foreign military intervention against the Assad regime. Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of long-time Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:28 am

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Ron Paul fails to secure speaking slot at GOP convention in Tampa

Ron Paul

by Augrah Kumar

Newscast Media TAMPA, Fla—Ron Paul has lost his last chance to be nominated, or clinch a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., with his campaign’s failure to secure a plurality of delegates at the state Republican convention in Nebraska.

The libertarian Texas congressman, who wanted to use his delegates and supporters to influence the direction of the Republican Party in the August convention, won only two of Nebraska’s 35 national convention delegates. Presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney, whose delegates Paul wanted to out-organize in Tampa, got the rest.

According to Republican National Committee rules, a candidate must have a plurality of delegates in five states to be officially eligible for the nomination at the national convention and be granted up to 15 minutes for a nominating speech.

Paul was hoping that the Nebraska convention would give him a plurality of delegates along with delegates from Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, and Minnesota. But Paul lost it all, results on Saturday showed. Now, it’s up to Romney and convention organizers to decide whether to include Paul in the proceedings in late August.

However, Paul’s insurgent spirit remains strong. His campaign is planning on bringing as many as 500 supportive delegates to Tampa to make his presence known. Paul is planning a rally in Tampa around the convention, and his supporters have organized Ron Paul Festival, an independent event that will include live music, according to ABC News.

Paul had said his delegate count gave him “a tremendous position to grow our movement and shape the future of the GOP.” He believes in a non-interventionist foreign policy and decriminalizing drugs, and says government should not have a role in some of the conservative social causes.

The Texas Congressman is also asking Romney not to select former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice amid rumors that she could be his running mate. “I don’t dictate anything to anybody, but they wouldn’t be very happy with her,” Paul said in an interview with the Fox Business Network.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - July 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

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Genetically engineered mosquitoes to be released in Key West Florida


by Jennifer Riley

Newscast Media KEY WEST, Fla—A proposed plan to invade the Florida Keys with genetically engineered – mutant – mosquitoes in an effort to decrease the disease-carrying insect’s population has residents up in arms.

More than 103,000 people have signed the petition by Key West resident Mila de Mier to Florida Governor Rick Scott, the Chairman of the Florida Keys Mosquito Board of Commissioner William J. Shaw, and other key officials against the plan by British company Oxitec to release 5,000 to 10,000 mutant mosquitoes into the Florida Keys. The genetically engineered male mosquitoes are manipulated so that they contribute to producing offspring that die quickly and therefore would help suppress the spread of Dengue fever in the area.

But residents are worried that genetically modified mosquitoes could mutate and adversely affect the fragile ecosystem – or even humans – in the Florida Keys.

“The Florida Keys is a beautiful place, and it’s my home,” said de Mier to Orlando’s WKMG-TV Local 6. “We won’t be lab rats just so this company can make money. Oxitec says we have to do this to control mosquitoes, but it’s just not true. Other methods of mosquito control are working. We don’t need to gamble with mutant mosquitoes.”

On her online petition, de Mier noted that Oxitec is applying to the FDA for an “animal bug” patent, which she is asking the FDA to reject.

“Nearly all experiments with genetically-modified crops have eventually resulted in unintended consequences: superweeds more resistant to herbicides, mutated and resistant insects also collateral damage to ecosystems,” she warns on

“Why would we not expect GM (genetically modified) insects, especially those that bite humans, to have similar unintended negative consequences?”

The British biotech company, however, defended its genetically modified mosquitoes as safe, saying that the insects that would be released are males, and therefore do not bite and cannot spread any disease.

“I hate mosquitoes and my kids get bit,” de Mier said to “At first I thought this seemed like a good idea. But the more questions we ask, the more questions we have.”

“I don’t want my family to be guinea pigs,” she said. “We need to look at the bigger picture of the environment, and think about could happen if something goes wrong.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:36 pm

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