Russia says U.S. tries to justify terrorism in Syria

(Reuters) – Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of trying to justify terrorism against the Syrian government and berated Western nations it said had failed to condemn a bomb attack that killed senior security officials.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to what he said were comments by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland indicating such attacks were not surprising, said: “This is a direct justification of terrorism.”

“To put it mildly, we don’t understand the refusal of our partners to condemn the terrorist attack in Damascus,” he said.

He suggested Washington was using the threat of further attacks to push the U.N. Security Council to place international mediator Kofi Annan’s peace plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.

Chapter 7 allows the council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention, although U.S. officials have said they would prefer the former course of action.

Lavrov said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, had cited the July 18 bomb attack in Damascus as evidence that the Security Council should not delay further in adopting a Chapter 7 resolution.

“In other words this means ‘We will continue to support such terrorist attacks until the Security Council does what we want,'” Lavrov told a news conference after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis.

“This is a terrible position.”

Lavrov criticized Western sanctions on Syria and defended Russia’s veto last week of a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have threatened the Syrian authorities with sanctions if they did not halt violence.

He also reiterated Moscow’s stance that Assad’s departure from power could not be a precondition to a political dialogue aimed at ending the 16-month-old conflict and that Syrians themselves must decide the country’s future.

Two rebel Syrian groups claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, a senior commander and one of the pillars of the Assad clan’s rule, as well as Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar and veteran army general Hassan Turkmani.

(Reporting by Steve Gutterman; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

The second Tajik Civil War?

 

The second Tajik

Arkady Dubnov

Attempts by President Rahmon finally deal with the opposition could provoke civil war.

 

Tajikistan was once again on the brink of civil war. This week, government forces launched a large-scale military operation in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region (Badakhshan), which remains one of the last bastions of opposition to President Emomali Rahmon .

The operation is clearly not evolved to the scenario, which counted in Dushanbe – opposition armed resistance, and the bill died on both sides is already in the hundreds. The loss forced the government to start negotiations, but to reach a truce would be difficult – too many forces interested in destabilizing the region, which is one of the key points of transit of drugs from Afghanistan. Especially on the eve of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and intensify the struggle for power in Kabul.

The operation, led by Minister of Defense of Tajikistan Sherali Khairulloyev , involved about three thousand soldiers and officers of the uniformed services. Early in the morning, residents awoke to Khorog, fire, telephone the town was interrupted, closed all the shops and markets in a panic. As told to “MH” the chairman of the Russian Fund for Cultural Heritage, “Pamir” Mukim Maybaliev on the eve of the operation of the city authorities have taken all the employees of foreign companies and representative offices. However, the remaining children in Khorog and women who find themselves in a combat zone, no one thought of that.

A few hours after the start of hostilities BBC BBC reported 100 dead government troops and the same number of civilian casualties. We also know that in Khorog was detonated car Rushan District Attorney Badakhshan Nafasbeka Dilshodova . The prosecutor and his companion were seriously injured and were hospitalized. Official Dushanbe reports only nine soldiers killed and more than twenty militants were killed.

However, the armed resistance and the loss has already forced the authorities to change their tactics. According to unofficial reports, Tajik President Rahmon has turned to living in Paris, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims (the majority are committed Pamiris this branch of Islam) 75-year-old Prince Aga Khan IV with a request to provide emergency assistance in the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Gorno-Badakhshan, recall, since the 90’s is still one of the strongholds of opposition to the ruling regime in Tajikistan. According to the “PL”, in the Pamir may be hiding up to 300 militants. The operation against them in Dushanbe preparing for a long time, but the immediate cause for the invasion has become a kind of “retaliation” – an attempt to apprehend the perpetrators of the murder of the chief of the regional committee of the National Security Major General Abdullah Nazarov . Involved in the crime committed on July 21 near Khorog, Dushanbe called subordinate commander Ishkashim frontier Tolib Ayembekova , whom authorities accused of cigarette smuggling from Afghanistan.

How to tell “MN” informed sources in Dushanbe and Khorog confirmed in the 56-year-old Major General Nazarov was killed by a blow at the heart of his brother Tolib Ayembekova during emotional encounters a couple of kilometers from Khorog. A senior Tajik security officer was well aware of the smuggling of cigarettes, which involved the head Ishkashim frontier, and tried to turn the situation to one of the detained vehicles. He asked the guards not to go with him out of the car and headed for accompanying a shipment.

Abdullo Nazarov of Tajikistan was a figure as famous as it is odious. One of the former commanders of the armed opposition, he entered into the structures of power after the Civil War put an end to the inter-Tajik agreements in 1997 – then the opposition contributed 30 per cent quota. He then became one of the most loyal to President Rahmon siloviki than earned the hatred of the former associates.

In 2010 Nazarov accused of harboring his brother that he was deposed president of Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz secret service chief Janysh Bakiyev . Nazarov, denied everything, but was removed from his post of Deputy Chairman of State Committee of National Security (SCNS), Tajikistan and sent to serve in Khorog.

Officially, the military operation began in Gorno-Badakhshan, after Tolib Ayembekov refused to hand over suspects in the murder of the general. “Ayembekov and his supporters refused to supply the investigating authorities to come and surrender – said in a joint statement by the Interior Ministry and National Security Committee of Tajikistan. – In order to prevent civilian casualties on behalf of the President of the Republic established a commission of deputies, government members, heads of law enforcement, government and public figures, intellectuals and religious leaders and activists of the area, which within three days, met several times with Ayembekovym and his supporters, inviting them to lay down arms and surrender of offenders to law enforcement authorities. ”

Intelligence agencies claim that Ayembekov “categorically rejected the proposal, gathering around himself criminals and started an armed resistance.” “In connection with the security forces to stabilize the situation in Khorog, the detention of members of organized crime and bring them to justice morning of July 24 was launched a special operation” – said the official Dushanbe. The number of victims has specified, but it became known, “MN”, among the dead militants – one of the most influential field commanders Yodgor Shomuslimov and 23-year-old son Tolib Ayembekova. Another warlord – Imomnazar Imomnazarov began taking part in negotiations with the government.

According to the Tajik security services, “Ayembekov, creating a criminal gang, for several years was engaged in smuggling drugs, tobacco products, and precious stones, committing serious crimes, in particular, engaged in banditry.” Surprisingly, while the Tajik authorities for a long time did not have anything against what the “bandit” Ayembekov border guard commander. This part is quite clearly demonstrates the level of protection of the Tajik-Afghan border against the penetration of drugs. However, the fact that Khorog is the main transit point for Afghan drugs in recent years, the secret to anyone is not.

Recent events have confirmed, and another: official Dushanbe has no control over the situation in the Gorno-Badakhshan, whose inhabitants traditionally have little trust in central government, regarding it as corrupt and unjust. Its position and the Pamirs are ready to defend abroad. So at the Embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow, gathered several hundred natives of Badakhshan, which required from Dushanbe to cease hostilities immediately in Khorog, to reconnect with the city to assist the victims.

What happened on July 24 in the Pamirs, said Mukim Maybaliev of the Fund for Cultural Heritage, “Pamir”, more like a campaign of intimidation of the local population or a small war against him, than on a special operation against the militants. The consequences of the incident threatens to further undermine the position of ruling in Tajikistan for 20 years the regime headed by President Emomali Rahmon, who in October of this year marks 60 years of age.

In the autumn of next year to be held in the country’s presidential elections and Rahmon once again preparing to run for them. Real opponents he does not have – they are either destroyed or in prison or in exile. In the absence of a viable secular opposition Tajik authorities under the pretext of combating religious extremism in recent years begun to limit the activity and the moderate Islamic theologians. The most famous among them are brothers Turajonzoda. One of them, Haji Akbar Turajonzoda , was until recently deputy prime minister and senator.

Inability to openly oppose the government faces the fact that discontent will go into the hidden form, but now there is a risk that in the violent resistance to authority. In anticipation of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, strengthening militant opposition in Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon faces serious trouble.

Source :: Novaya Gazeta (Kazakhstan)

There Has Been Positive Change In Pakistan People’s Mindset Towards India: Krishna

Positive change in Pakistan people’s mindset towards India: Krishna

Indian foreign minister SM Krishna says even global conditions require that the two countries maintain good bilateral relations. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Srinagar, July 26 — There is a positive change in the mindset of Pakistani people vis-a-vis relations with India, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Thursday, citing his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

Khar made the remark in a recent meeting, said Krishna, after electronically inaugurating the Jammu Passport Sewa Kendra (PSK) and laying the foundation-stone of the Passport Bhavan here, along with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

He also mentioned about the cordial meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at New Delhi when Zardari came to India to visit the famous Sufi shrine at Ajmer.

Stressing improved trade relations and people-to-people contact between the two countries, he said he is looking forward to his upcoming visit to Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah also batted for good India-Pakistan relations and sustained dialogue. He said resolution of all issues through talks is the only way forward.

Wishing Krishna a very successful and fruitful Pakistan visit in September, Omar Abdullah reaffirmed the necessity of continuous engagement by the two countries in dialogue process to amicably address all issues.

“We know the Kashmir-centric issues are so complex and long drawn that these cannot be resolved in a few meetings but the sustained talks to find out a solution in a peaceful atmosphere is the only way forward,” he said adding that relations between the two countries have always a direct bearing on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The issues between the two countries cannot disappear overnight but efforts to engage in continuous dialogue should not stop,” he emphasised.

The chief minister also urged Krishna to take up, with his Pakistani counterpart, smaller issues like transferring cross-LOC trade from barter status to normal by allowing financial transactions through banks, communication facilities to traders and simplifying the visa regime for cross-LOC travel to enhance the ambit of this people to people centric confidence-building measure.

He also highlighted the importance of restoring direct Haj flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia for Haj pilgrims from the state.

“This issue is also connected with home and civil aviation ministries and I would call for active support and help from Mr. Krishna and Dr. Farooq Abdullah in this regard at the central level,” he maintained.

In his remarks, Krishna also underlined the government’s commitment to efficient delivery of passport services to Indian citizens in keeping with the vision “to deliver all passport-related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce”.

He said that as compared to 30,000 passports in 1950s, the passport offices in the country issued 73 lakh passports last year.

Noting that police clearance was necessary, he said: “We are working to create digital linking of passport offices with the police stations throughout the country to further ease the process of delivery.”

The launch of PSKs in Jammu and Srinagar will fast track the issuance of passports to people, Krishna added.

IANS

Tajik Opposition Asks Putin for Help

Tajik Opposition Asks Putin for Help

Khorog, Tajikistan

Khorog, Tajikistan

© REUTERS/ Handout

MOSCOW, July 26 (RIA Novosti)

Tajik opposition activists have sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to help resolve the military conflict in eastern Tajikistan that has left over 200 people dead, Russian RBC daily reported on Thursday, citing Tajik opposition activist Ikbolsho Muborakshoyev.

Russia is “the only authoritative force that can influence the situation and call the opposing sides to dialogue,” Muborakshoyev told a press conference on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, the official position recently announced by the Foreign Ministry is unacceptable for us since it supports the government’s actions,” he said, adding that the talks between the government and opposition have little chance of success because the government is pressuring the opposition.

Muborakshoyev charged that the military operation near the eastern Tajik city of Khorog, officially targeting the suspected killers of a top security official, was actually an attempt by President Emomali Rakhmon to suppress the opposition, which is traditionally influential in this part of the country.

Tajik security officials reported on Tuesday that 30 militants, including eight Afghan citizens, were killed and 40 were detained during a special operation in Tajikistan’s southern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region against a mafia-style group believed to be behind the murder of Abdullo Nazarov, chief of the Tajikistan National Security Committee, who was killed on July 21.

Dushanbe denies any casualties among civilians, but the opposition media reported about over 200 dead, including security officers and civilians.

Putin has yet to respond to the appeal.

Will Kurdish Gains In Northern Syria Trigger Turkish Military Response?

Liberated Kurdish Cities in Syria Move into Next Phase

image

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Syrian governmental forces have retreated from the Kurdish regions of Syria without a fight; the liberated cities are now being ruled evenly by the People’s Council of Syrian Kurdistan (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC).

According to the information obtained by Rudaw, the Kurdish cities of Kobane, Derek, Amoude, Efrin and Sari Kani have fallen under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces.

The city of Kobane was the first Kurdish city to be liberated last Thursday, 17 months after the revolution against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began.

The KNC and PYD agreed to jointly control the liberated Kurdish cities in a deal made in Erbil on July 11, under the supervision of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani.

“According to the treaty of Erbil which was signed by the KNC and PYD, any administrative vacuum in the Kurdish cities of Syria will be occupied evenly — 50/50 — by these two signatories. These two groups will continue ruling the Kurdish regions until an election is carried out,” said Nuri Brimo, a spokesperson of the Democratic Kurdish Party of Syria.

The national flag of Kurdistan and the flag of the PKK – which the PYD is affiliated with — are now being raised over the majority of government and public buildings.

However Abdulbaqi Yusuf, a spokesperson of Kurdish Union Party (KUP), said, “The buildings under the control of PYD are using their own flags, but we as the KNC are using the national flag of Kurdistan. This is a problem because we only recognize one flag and that is the national Kurdish flag, but the PYD does not recognize that flag.”

He added, “For example, in the city of Kobane, we controlled some buildings and raised the Kurdish national flag over those buildings, but the PYD came and forced us out with their guns and removed the national flag of Kurdistan and replaced it with their own flag. We could not do anything because they were armed and we were not.”

Yusuf also had concerns about the quality of life for Syrian Kurds. “People are living in bad conditions and have not received any help,” he said, criticizing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for not coming to their aid.

“We have requested help from the KRG several times but they have not helped. Nobody listens to us,” Yusuf said.

Brimo admits that “Barzani asked the KNC and PYD to rule the Syrian Kurdish cities evenly between them and in return promised financial and moral support.”

Abdulbasit Sayda, the leader of the country’s largest opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), said they were looking for help for people in the region. “As the SNC, we are holding meetings with international actors in order to receive financial and humanitarian aid and save ourselves from the clutches of the Syrian regime. We need this aid because the economic situation of the Syrian people and the Kurds is very bad and they need help,” he said.

Sayda added, “We are constantly in touch with Barzani regarding the situation in Syria and keep each other updated.”

Brimo explained the withdrawal of regime forces from the Kurdish cities. “The Syrian regime is gathering its forces in Damascus,” he said. “Therefore, they are retreating from other regions.”

He also revealed that the Syrian regime informed the PYD about their withdrawal in advance, so that the group knew beforehand which cities the forces would be leaving.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is present in many parts of Syria, but not in the Kurdish regions. “There is a sort of agreement between KNC and SNC. The FSA will not come to the Kurdish regions and the Kurds will not go the Arabic regions,” said Brimo.

Sayda admitted fearing a surprise attack by the Syrian government on these Kurdish regions.

“The Kurds of Syria need to brace themselves for a sudden return of Syrian government forces. It is probable that the regime might return to attack this region again,” he said.

Erdogan Claims Syria Gives PKK Terrorists Base In Northern Provinces–Vows To Strike

PKK’s Cooperation with PYD not Welcomed


Erdogan said Turkey does not receive favorably PKK’s cooperation with PYD in northern Syria.

Speaking on private TV channel, Kanal 24, Prime Minister Erdogan said that the structuring in northern Syria could not be regarded as one of the Kurds.
“There is a structure (in northern Syria) which was built by terrorist organization PKK and the PYD. Such a structure involves sensitive balances. We need to evaluate such a structure. We can not just accept such a structure,” Erdogan stressed.

“A structure in northern Syria for us means a structure of terror. It is impossible for us to look favorably at such a structure,” Erdogan underlined.
“Our Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will travel to northern Iraq next week. He will talk with officials there about the situation in northern Syria and our sensitivities,” Erdogan also said.

Turkey warns it would strike PKK fighters inside Syria

ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of letting Turkey’s Kurdish rebels operate inside the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike against them.

“In the north, it (President Bashar al-Assad’s regime) has allotted five provinces to the Kurds, to the terrorist organisation,” Erdogan said on Turkish television late Wednesday, referring to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

He said the move was explicitly aimed against Turkey and warned that “there will undoubtedly be a response on our part to this attitude.”

Asked if Ankara would strike fleeing rebels after an attack on Turkish soil, Erdogan said: “That’s not even a matter of discussion, it is a given. That is the objective, that is what must be done.”

“That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq,” he said during a programme aired on Kanal 24.

“If we occasionally launch aerial strikes against terrorist areas it’s because these are measures taken because of defence needs.”

Turkey regularly bombs suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Relations between Turkey and Syria have steadily soured since the start of the uprising against Assad’s rule in Syria in March 2011, with Erdogan criticising the regime’s crackdown against the revolt.

Some 100 foreign tourists reportedly stuck in Khorog

Some 100 foreign tourists reportedly stuck in Khorog

Asia-Plus

DUSHANBE, July 26, 2012, Asia-Plus – Some 100 foreign tourists have reportedly been stuck in Khorog.  They are mostly citizens of the European countries, the United States and Canada.

Representative of an Australian tourist company, which has been engaged in sending tourists to Gorno Badakhshan, says the majority of foreign tourists were supposed to leave Khorog in the morning of July 24, but they failed.

According to him, their company has already got in touch with diplomatic missions of the United States and European countries in Dushanbe.  “To ensure security of our clients is our main tasks, and therefore, we have got in touch with their embassies in Dushanbe, who, in turn, are in contact with their foreign ministries,” the source from Melbourne said.

He added that one of members of the tourist group stuck in Khorog had a satellite phone and he was getting in touch with the company by that phone.

Meanwhile, some sources say that some 70 employees of international organizations active in the region have also been stuck in Khorog.

Representatives of international organizations accredited in Tajikistan have reportedly applied to the Tajik power-wielding structures with solicitation to provide corridor for evacuation of their employees from Khorog.

First Images of Miami’s First “Zombie” Attack Victim, Ronald Poppo–DAMN!

Miami ‘Cannibal’ Victim Ronald Poppo’s Recovery!

Published on Jun 12, 2012 by 

-WARNING: Graphic Photos-

Ronald Poppo, the 65-year-old Miami homeless man whose face was eaten during a vicious attack two weeks ago is “doing well, eating, walking around, and remembers the attack,” doctors said today as they updated the public for the first time on the victim’s condition.

Poppo gave permission for doctors to discuss his case with reporters but has had no visitors. Doctors described Poppo as upbeat despite significant portions of his face being destroyed and they said he’s beginning to remember the horrific and unprovoked attack on the streets of the city.

WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: Pictures of Ronald Poppo and his attacker.

“When Poppo arrived you could not make out facial features,” said Dr. Nicolas Namias, chief of trauma at Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Our primary goal was to close his wounds…[and] allow him to recover before undergoing more surgeries.”

Doctors say his left eye was destroyed. His right eye is still there but they covered it with a flap taken from skin from his forehead and scalp. He suffered a brain injury, similar to those experiences by those involved in car accidents, according to doctors. Both his ears remain intact.

“Fifty percent of his face is gone, and he is missing all the features that would make him recognizable,” said Dr. Wrood Kassira, Jackson chief of plastic surgery.
PHOTO: This combo made with undated photos made available by the Miami-Dade Police Dept. shows Rudy Eugene, 31, left, who police shot and killed as he ate the face of Ronald Poppo, 65, right, during a horrific attack in the shadow of the Miami Herald’s he
Miami-Dade Police Dept./AP Photo
This combo made with undated photos made… View Full Size
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Mental health providers have begun seeing Poppo, and doctors described his condition as upbeat but he has many months of surgery ahead.

“He had wounds involving the forehead, both eyes and the cheek. We did skin grafts to his wounds, which are still healing and evolving. He is missing his eyebrows and his eyes. It is hard to see who he is,” said Dr. Namias.

Police say 31 year-old Rudy Eugene randomly met Poppo on the side of a heavily trafficked Miami thoroughfare during Memorial Day weekend. Police believe it was a chance encounter that occurred after Eugene dumped his car in South Beach and walked 3 ½ miles across a causeway, stripping off his clothes in broad daylight and then attacking Poppo.

Law enforcement officials continue to speculate that the dangerous new street drug “bath salts” may have played a role in the attack. Autopsy results on Eugene did not reveal any drugs in his system, however toxicology results have not been released.

Eugene was shot and killed by police after they say their repeated pleas to get him to stop attacking Poppo were met with growls. Doctors say police may have also shot Poppo but the chest injuries were not severe. “There was no ill effect from it. It was a simple injury. It was nowhere near the worst of his problems, said Namias

Surveillance video shows that for 18 agonizing minutes Poppo was disrobed from the waist down, kicked, punched and eaten alive before police shot Eugene four times. Poppo then sat up covered in blood as three paramedics quickly got him onto a stretcher, put a neck brace on him and rushed him to the emergency room.

Poppo, who once attended New York City’s elite Stuyvesant high School and dreamed of becoming president, will need months of reconstructive surgery that will cost thousands of dollars. A foundation set up in his name has raised $15,000.

“In terms of the cost of the care, the physician doesn’t have to become concerned with it…We are allowed to take care of the patient…there will be a long-term cost,” said Namias.

“AK 47s…belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”–Meddler-In-Chief

[The shooter used an AR-15, a.k.a., M-16.]

Obama vows gun checks after Colorado shooting

Barack Obama (AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana: Speaking to a nation raw from its latest mass shooting, US President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday to pursue “common-sense” measures to make sure mentally unbalanced people cannot get their hands on guns.

Obama did not mention any specific law or measure but said he would work with both parties in Congress to try to achieve a “consensus around violence reduction” in the wake of last Friday’s massacre at a cinema in Colorado.

“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” he told the National Urban League Convention in New Orleans, referring to part of the US Constitution.

“I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation — that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” he said.

Calls for a re-examination of America’s gun laws mounted in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora as it emerged that suspect James Holmes bought four weapons legally.

Over eight weeks, Holmes stocked up on the Internet on 6,300 rounds of ammunition: 3,000 for his .233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, another 3,000 for his two Glock pistols, and 300 cartridges for his pump-action shotgun.

Holmes, a 24-year-old graduate student, also bought a special magazine for his AR-15 military-style assault rifle that enabled him to fire up to 50 to 60 rounds per minute.

Obama said he had already stepped up background checks on those who buy weapons in the wake of last year’s shooting in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords fighting for her life.

“But even though we have taken these actions, they’re not enough. Other steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress. This has been true for some time, particularly when it touches on the issue of guns,” he said.

“I believe the majority of gun owners would agree we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons. And we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller.

“A mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common-sense.”

A group of Democratic lawmakers pushed to ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines Tuesday in the wake of the Colorado massacre, but congressional leaders are unwilling to touch the volatile issue.

Advocates of stricter gun control measures argue that America is more prone to mass shootings than other countries because the law in many states is too lenient.

They have been disappointed by Obama, but political pragmatists see that he could be committing electoral suicide if he took up such an explosive issue at the current time.

The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is well-funded and a powerful player in Washington. It argues that crazy people do crazy things and says that clamping down on fundamental American liberties will achieve nothing.

Several key battlegrounds in November’s elections — Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, for example — have gun-friendly populations that remain wedded to their right to bear arms.

Colorado Shooter Was Camp Counselor for Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters

Colorado Shooter Was Camp Counselor for Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters

THEJEWISHPRESS

 

An undated handout photo released by the University of Colorado shows James Holmes, reportedly the shooter at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.

An undated handout photo released by the University of Colorado shows James Holmes, reportedly the shooter at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.

James Holmes, the Colorado graduate student who is suspected of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding 58 others on Friday during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,”  worked as a camp counselor in Los Angeles County in 2008 that was run by Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters (JBBBS), the group’s CEO told NBC4 on Saturday.

James Holmes, 24, worked as cabin counselor at Camp Max Straus in the summer of 2008, according to Randy Schwab, the CEO of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Schwab’s statement read: “It is with shock and sorrow that we learned of the incident in Aurora. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of those involved in this horrible tragedy. On behalf of Camp Max Straus I want to offer our deepest sympathies and condolences.”

Schwab said that, as cabin counselor, Holmes was in charge of the care and guidance of about 10 children. His role was to ensure that the children had a “wonderful camp experience.”

According to Schwab, Holmes helped the children in his care “learn confidence, self esteem and how to work in small teams to effect positive outcomes.”

His statement continued: “These skills are learned through activities such as archery, horseback riding, swimming, art, sports and high ropes course.”

Camp Max Straus is a nonsectarian program for children ages 7-14, which is run by Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles.

Holmes is not Jewish.

Can the Saudis Purchase Nukes from Pakistan?

[When the truth comes out, it necessarily sounds like a conspiracy theory.  In the case of the so-called “Islamic bomb,” many of us so-called “conspiracy nuts” have been warning for years that the bomb being developed in Islamabad was financed by Riyadh, meaning that it was co-owned.  We have come dangerously close to the day when the Saudis will collect the deadly merchandise that Pakistan has been holding for them.  We now know why certain events have taken place, namely the promotion of Bandar to head of Saudi intelligence and the news of the $100 million Saudi “present.”   (Just found out that my post of the $100 mil article was somehow moved into the trash–restored–editor).  This is what America’s complex South Asian strategy has been leading up to–THE MORE NUKES THE MERRIER, when the mad American social scientists start tossing grenades into the old control room.]

King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia met Pakistan’s prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, in Jeddah a few days ago as Riyadh began sending its Special Forces to Pakistan for training.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, July 25 (UPI) — King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia met Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Jeddah a few days ago as Riyadh began sending its Special Forces to Pakistan for training.

The Islamic countries, both dominated by the mainstream Sunni sect, have long had a particularly close relationship and these events heightened speculation Riyadh is trying to strike a secret deal with Islamabad to acquire nuclear weapons to counter Iran.

Abdallah’s surprise July 19 appointment of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom’s ambassador in Washington in 1983-2005 and a veteran of its usually clandestine security policy, as his new intelligence chief may be part of murky mosaic linking Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Bandar played a key role in the clandestine arming of by the United States and Saudi Arabia, via Pakistan’s intelligence service, of the Afghan mujahedin during the 1969-79 Soviet invasion.

Bandar’s appointment as the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency, its foreign intelligence service, was one of several critical security related command changes made in recent days.

These took place as the kingdom, the world’s largest oil exporter, faces a swarm of regional challenges, the most prominent of which is nuclear wannabe Iran.

As the confrontation between the United States and Iran over Tehran nuclear program builds up in the Persian Gulf, Riyadh is increasingly looking eastward to longtime ally Pakistan, the only nuclear Muslim power, for support.

“As Iran becomes more dangerous and the United States becomes more reluctant to engage in military missions overseas, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may find that renewed military and nuclear cooperation is the best way to secure their interests,” observed Christopher Clary and Mara E. Karlin, former U.S. Defense Department policy advisers on South Asia and the Middle East.

Writing in The American Interest, they noted: “As the United States re-examines its military posture toward South Asia and the Middle East in the context of its withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, it must explicitly consider the possibility of a Saudi-Pakistan nuclear bargain.

“The failure to take such a scenario seriously could promote its occurrence.”

U.S. plans to effectively withdraw militarily from Afghanistan in mid-2013, as it did in Iraq last December, have intensified Pakistani concerns about Islamic jihadists.

This mirrors Saudi suspicions that after Iraq and Afghanistan it can no longer rely on the United States for protection.

The Saudis too face a jihadist threat, particularly from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula that’s based in neighboring Yemen.

It’s long been believed that the Saudis bankrolled Pakistan’s nuclear program, in the 1970s and ’80s and now wants some reciprocity in the shape of readymade nuclear weapons, paid for by massive financial aid for Islamabad.

Israel’s Debkafile Web site, considered close to Israeli intelligence and which sometimes posts reports considered to be disinformation, claimed in December 2010 that Pakistan has set aside two nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia.

These, it said, are believed to be stored at Pakistan’s nuclear air base at Kamra in the north.

At least two giant Saudi transport planes sporting civilian colors and no insignia are parked permanently at Kamra with aircrews on standby,” Debka reported.

“They will fly the nuclear weapons home upon receipt of a double-coded signal from King Abdallah and the director of General Intelligence,” who now happens to be Prince Bandar, reported to be close to the monarch.

The Saudis have of late portrayed their high-tension rivalry with the Iranians as a new, menacing chapter in the 1,300-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shiite Islam.

“The stakes are enormous,” says Bruce Reidel, a former counter-terrorism specialist with the CIA wrote in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

“Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. It will soon surpass the United Kingdom as the fifth-largest nuclear arsenal.

“It’s the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of population. It will soon surpass Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population.”

A leading Saudi royal, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who headed the GIP in 1977-2001, warned U.S. and British military chiefs meeting outside London June 8, 2011, that Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear arms “would compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences.”