And that is all.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Floatin' Powa News Service: With 10 You Get Minyan!

Origin ~ Hebrew
The number of persons required by Jewish law to be present to conduct a communal religious service, traditionally a minimum of 10 Jewish males over 13 years of age.

The number ten in Hebrew is very significant. Every Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent. The Hebrew letter that equals ten is a Yod (also spelled yud)

YOD is the smallest Hebrew letter, also it is the only letter suspended in midair. The symbolic meaning of the Yod is God’s Hand, meaning how God’s Hand works or interacts in our lives. Because the Yod is the smallest character in the Hebrew alphabet, it symbolically says that God’s Hand is always there, but it never forces us. The more humble we are, the more God’s Hand can have influence in our lives to be directed according to His will.

YOD (HAND): YOD represents what exists in a steady state, in continuity. The very first thing the Torah tells us is that GOD speaks the world into being with ten utterances. There are ten Sefirot, ten commandments (613 for the Jews), ten trials of Abraham, Abraham asks GOD to stay his hand (yod) of destruction for the sake of ten righteous men (Genesis 18), ten is everywhere in the bible. We have ten fingers, ten toes. The Hebrew word for the number ten is pronounced `eser and it looks like this: עשר

The first character in the word is `AYIN, ע, which represents sight, to see, the eye, to discern with divine providence. The land of Israel is the land which God your God seeks; the eyes of God your God are always looking at it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. The full spelling of the letter ayin equals 130 or 5 times 26, 26 being the value of the Name Havayah. In Kabbalah this phenomenon is understood to mean that the eye possesses five Divine powers. The right eye possesses five states of kindness, whereas the left eye possesses five states of severity or might. This corresponds to the meanings inherent in the sefirot.

The second character is the SHIN, ש, which means the tree of life, the burning bush, the fire that is God’s spirit, the eternal flame. The letter shin appears engraved on both sides of the head tefillin. On the right side, the shin possesses three heads, while on the left side it possesses four heads. The ancient Jewish mystics taught that the three-headed shin is the shin of this world, while the four- headed shin is the shin of Olam Haba, the World to Come.

The secret of the shin is the flame of Divine Revelation bound to the coal of the Divine Essence. A simmering coal actually possesses an invisible flame within it, which emerges and ascends from the surface of the coal when the coal is blown upon. The three levels: coal, inner flame, and outer flame, correspond to the secret of chash-mal-mal. The most basic model of Divine service as taught by the Ba'al Shem Tov, is the three-stage process of chash, mal, mal: silence, circumcision, and speech. The concept of circumcision applies spiritualy speaking here to the tongue as well as the sexual organ and in this context is related to speech.

The third character is the RESH, ר, and symbolically means a humble or penitent man -the letter itself looks like a man bending over in prayer. Although the letter resh is situated close to the end of the alef-beit, its primary meaning is "head" or "beginning." There are four "beginnings" in the alef-beit relative to four different categories of phenomena.

The ordinal beginning of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter ALEF. Phonetically, it is a breath...the vapor, the amorphous "matter" from which the pronunciation of every letter is formed. In Hebrew script, every letter begins from a point, the "secret" of the letter yod. That "point" is in GOD's hand.

The word for FEAR used there is interesting as it is the feminine form, to me emphasizing that we are as GOD's wife:
יִראָה ‎ yir‘âh
Feminine form of ירא
יָרֵא ‎ yârê‘
yaw-ray‘ fear (also used as infinitive); to morally revere

And Abraham said:
Oh, please, let not the Lord GOD be angry,
and I will speak this only once, but:
What if ten shall be found there?
And GOD said:
For ten’s sake, I will not destroy it.
~ Genesis 18:32
Abbasshole Salam Fayyad to The Obamanable Bushman:
Draft new Mideast Peace Plan
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged the United States on Saturday to draw up a fresh plan aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, AFP reported.

"I call anew on the United States to come up with a plan and a timetable for its application that will contribute to put an end to Jewish settlements and Israeli offensives, and lead to serious negotiations," Fayyad was quoted as saying.

The Palestinian leader made the comments in a speech at the Qalandiyah refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the French news agency said.
"Israel is turning its back on international legitimacy," he was quoted as adding.
US tells Israel to halt east Jerusalem project
How would you like them to tell you where you can and can not build in say, Texas?

Israel rejects US call to halt Jerusalem project
As well they should.
Israel on Sunday rejected a U.S. demand to suspend a planned housing project in east Jerusalem, threatening to further complicate an unusually tense standoff with its strongest ally over settlement construction.Israeli officials said the country's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department over the weekend and told that a project being developed by an American millionaire should not go ahead.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet there would be no limits on Jewish construction anywhere in "unified Jerusalem.""We cannot accept the fact that Jews wouldn't be entitled to live and buy anywhere in Jerusalem," Netanyahu declared, calling Israeli sovereignty over the entire city "indisputable."
Netanyahu: Israel can build anywhere in Jerusalem
Go BiBi.

Syria backs China's measures to maintain stability in Uighur Autonomous Region
It is just fine for "sovereign" China to slaughter & jail these Muslims but it is a crime against humanity for Israel to defend itself against the fifty mazillionth intifada of the "Palestinian" Muslims, nu?
In a written interview with Xinhua, Al-Jarad said the Syrian government fully supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is against any excuse or reason to interfere in the country's internal affairs.
Hamas calls Al Jazeera crackdown a bid to silence media in West Bank

Fatahsses OK re-opening of Al-Jazeera bureau

Fatah, Hamas agree to continue the meeting in Cairo till Sunday
Discussing 50 ways to kill the Juden...

Senior Islamic Jihad delegation heads for talks in Cairo
Glow Ball unity through dead Jews, my friend!

Israeli Muslims Raise Money to 'Fight Occupation'
Muslims have a duty to remove Israeli occupation from the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, he said.
Palestinian Authority in first talks with Iran FM
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat met Iran's foreign minister in Egypt in the first such talks since the 1993 Oslo accords, a senior Palestinian official told AFP on Sunday."Saeb Erakat met with Manouchehr Mottaki in Sharm el-Sheikh three days ago" on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement's (NAM) summit in the Egyptian resort, the official said on condition of anonymity.

It marked the first such meeting since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, he added."They discussed the internal Palestinian situation and the need for successful negotiations between Hamas and Fatah," he said, referring to the two main Palestinian factions.
DoD head Robert Gates to visit Israel
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to visit Israel on July 27 for talks likely to focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions and U.S.-Israeli strategic ties, officials involved in planning the trip said on Sunday. As the second cabinet-level representative of the Obama administration to be hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gates could also lobby for a resolution to the bilateral dispute over the future of West Bank settlements.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell declined to confirm the trip or what might be on Gates's agenda. "We don't talk about the secretary's trips, wherever they may be, until such time as we are ready to announce them and nor should anyone else," Morrell said.
West must close Iran nuclear file: new atomic chief
That strange sound you hear is me laughing hysterically...
Iran's new atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that the West should close the Islamic republic's nuclear file and cease its hostility towards Tehran. "Legal and technical discussions about Iran's nuclear case have finished ... and there is no room left to keep this case open," Salehi said in his first remarks since being appointed Friday to head Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.
Election unrest sparks anew in Iran
Tens of thousands of government opponents packed Iran’s main Islamic prayer service Friday, as their top clerical backer bluntly criticized the country’s leadership over the crackdown on election protests. The opposition aimed to make this into a show of its continued strength despite heavy government suppression since the disputed June 12 presidential election.
In Iran, protesters clash with police
Still, and again.

Iran bails UK embassy employee

Iran Institutes New Laws Defining Internet Crimes
New legislation recently passed by parliament and approved by the Guardians Council contains 55 articles that impose hefty fines and harsh penalties of up to 15 years in jail for vaguely defined "crimes" involving threats to public security, violations of public morality, defamation of public figures, and the passing of sensitive information to unqualified individuals or people in foreign countries.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foundation for Protection of Free Press, Mashaallah Shams-al-Waezin, told Al-Arabiyah television that the aim of the new legislation is simply to strike fear into the hearts of ordinary Iranians and to close important channels of communication for the populace.
Turkey helps tackle Afghanistan's growing drug trade
Sure it's growing, we legalized it and even built a bridge to transport it.

U.S. Helped Chinese Interrogate Uighurs at Guantánamo
U.S. military personnel at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, actively helped Chinese interrogators question members of China's Uighur minority, including physically restraining them so they could be photographed against their will, according to testimony presented Thursday to a congressional subcommittee.

The testimony is certain to add to the controversy over how the U.S. government has handled the Uighurs, who were turned over to U.S. troops in Afghanistan by bounty hunters who were paid $5,000 per captive.

Challenges go beyond Uighurs

Rioting last week between ethnic Han Chinese and ethnic Uighurs in China's Xinjiang Province left 180 people dead and 1,000 injured. Chinese police and paramilitary forces arrested 1,500.

The Beijing government insistently weighs media coverage of China. The ethnic clashes so troubled Chinese President Hu Jintao that he left the economic summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations. Mr. Hu's hasty departure, in front of the cameras of every global news organization, indicates how serious the Chinese government views the violence in its far northwestern province.

Although officially designated the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the region is not autonomous and, as time passes, less Uighur. Beijing dominates provincial politics, which is one reason the region's 9 million Uighurs chafe. For the Turkic and predominantly Sunni Muslim Uighurs, Beijing's policy of "Sinicization" is a key source of friction. The policy promotes the centralization of Chinese state authority on China's periphery, in the "delicate" border areas that make Beijing very nervous.

Bad Business in China
One has to be suspicious when China detains an Australian executive on charges of stealing state secrets without providing further details or evidence and waits three days to inform the Australian government.

Suspicions grow exponentially when it happens that the executive’s employer, the Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto, recently snubbed a bid by China’s state mining company for a major stake. Rio Tinto is also playing hardball in negotiations over the price of iron ore it sells to Chinese state-owned steel mills.

Stern Hu, the Australian detained along with several Chinese employees, was Rio Tinto’s top negotiator for a new long-term supply contract. Whether the accusations have any merit, Beijing’s tactics reinforce fears about its penchant for bullying companies to get its way.
'Death to China' & 'Death to Russia' heard at Rafsanjani sermon
“Death to China!” and “Death to Russia!” chanted supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi during a sermon by influential former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to news reports.

Mr. Rafsanjani used the speech to criticize the government’s crackdown on dissent following the contested June 12 election. The Associated Press reports that the slogan broke out after hard-line supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yelled out the familiar “Death to America” chant during the speech. Nico Pitney of The Huffington Post posted a YouTube video showing an outdoors rally in Tehran today, in which he says the protesters are chanting in Farsi “Russia, do us a favor and let go of our country!”
PAKISTAN: President to leave for Tajikistan on July 28
President Asif Ali Zardari would leave on a two day visit to Dushanbe on July 28 to attend the Pak-Afghanistan-Russia-Tajikistan head of the state meeting. Foreign office sources confirming the visit told that prior to the meeting of the four head of the states a conference of Pakistan-Russia and Afghanistan would be held in which matters related to increasing regional cooperation, war against terrorism and trade between the four countries through Tajikistan would be discussed.
Are Taliban men fleeing Swat to Tajikistan?
A secretive military operation has raised fears that Islamist fighters fleeing Pakistan and Afghanistan may be slipping into Tajikistan, threatening a fragile peace in the ex-Soviet state. Since May, Tajik security forces have set up a tight security cordon and engaged in gunbattles with armed groups close to the Afghan border. Officials call it a counter-narcotics operation, but diplomats fear the government have been battling insurgents, possibly fighters linked to the Taliban.

"We know that something has happened, that most probably it involves the people who have been mentioned, and that it is probably a spillover from the Swat Valley operations," a senior western diplomat said. Fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistan army in Swat Valley had already raised concerns that militants with ethnic ties to Tajikistan could seek refuge inside Tajikistan.

Largest ground combat operation since the Vietnam War
The Pentagon and its NATO allies have launched the largest combat offensive to date in their nearly eight-year war in South Asia - Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword) with 4,000 US Marines, attack helicopters and tanks and Operation Panchai Palang (Panther's Claw) with several hundred British engaged in airborne assaults - in the Afghan province of Helmand. The American effort is the largest ground combat operation conducted by Washington in Asia since the Vietnam War.

A Kazakh account of last month's NATO meeting in the capital of Astana noted that "NATO is seeking to deepen cooperation with its partner countries in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan."
Romanian President On Official Visit To Turkmenistan July 21

Kazakhstan: Mr Dzhakishev is suspected of defrauding the state nuclear firm
A number of senior government officials have fallen to an anti-corruption drive in Kazakhstan, but some are questioning the motives behind the latest campaign, says the BBC's Central Asia correspondent Rayhan Demytrie.The government has introduced a series of anti-corruption measures, some more gimmicky than others. The latest is for civil servants to wear badges stating: "I am against corruption."
We don't need no stinkin' badges.

Kazakhstan's ancient history fascinates

Astana is a glimpse of tomorrow's Kazakhstan.
An Open Letter To The Obama Administration From Central And Eastern Europe
The following open letter to the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama appeared in the Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" on July 16:
We have written this letter because, as Central and Eastern European (CEE) intellectuals and former policymakers, we care deeply about the future of the transatlantic relationship as well as the future quality of relations between the United States and the countries of our region. We write in our personal capacity as individuals who are friends and allies of the United States as well as committed Europeans.

Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States. Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell twenty years ago. Without Washington's vision and leadership, it is doubtful that we would be in NATO and even the EU today.

We have worked to reciprocate and make this relationship a two-way street. We are Atlanticist voices within NATO and the EU. Our nations have been engaged alongside the United States in the Balkans, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. While our contribution may at times seem modest compared to your own, it is significant when measured as a percentage of our population and GDP. Having benefited from your support for liberal democracy and liberal values in the past, we have been among your strongest supporters when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights around the world.

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, however, we see that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. As the new Obama Administration sets its foreign-policy priorities, our region is one part of the world that Americans have largely stopped worrying about. Indeed, at times we have the impression that U.S. policy was so successful that many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all and that they could "check the box" and move on to other more pressing strategic issues. Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region's transatlantic orientation, as well as its stability and prosperity, would last forever.

That view is premature. All is not well either in our region or in the transatlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. The global economic crisis is impacting on our region and, as elsewhere, runs the risk that our societies will look inward and be less engaged with the outside world. At the same time, storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon. Like you, we await the results of the EU Commission's investigation on the origins of the Russo-Georgian war. But the political impact of that war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.

Despite the efforts and significant contribution of the new members, NATO today seems weaker than when we joined. In many of our countries it is perceived as less and less relevant - and we feel it. Although we are full members, people question whether NATO would be willing and able to come to our defense in some future crises. Europe's dependence on Russian energy also creates concern about the cohesion of the Alliance. President Obama's remark at the recent NATO summit on the need to provide credible defense plans for all Alliance members was welcome, but not sufficient to allay fears about the Alliance´s defense readiness. Our ability to continue to sustain public support at home for our contributions to Alliance missions abroad also depends on us being able to show that our own security concerns are being addressed in NATO and close cooperation with the United States

We must also recognize that America's popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund's own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years. Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States. We believe that the onset of a new Administration has created a new opening to reverse this trend but it will take time and work on both sides to make up for what we have lost.

In many ways the EU has become the major factor and institution in our lives. To many people it seems more relevant and important today than the link to the United States. To some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Our leaders and officials spend much more time in EU meetings than in consultations with Washington, where they often struggle to attract attention or make our voices heard. The region's deeper integration in the EU is of course welcome and should not necessarily lead to a weakening of the transatlantic relationship. The hope was that integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU would actually strengthen the strategic cooperation between Europe and America.

However, there is a danger that instead of being a pro-Atlantic voice in the EU, support for a more global partnership with Washington in the region might wane over time. The region does not have the tradition of assuming a more global role. Some items on the transatlantic agenda, such as climate change, do not resonate in the Central and Eastern European publics to the same extent as they do in Western Europe.

Leadership change is also coming in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to those, there are fewer and fewer leaders who emerged from the revolutions of 1989 who experienced Washington's key role in securing our democratic transition and anchoring our countries in NATO and EU. A new generation of leaders is emerging who do not have these memories and follow a more "realistic" policy. At the same time, the former Communist elites, whose insistence on political and economic power significantly contributed to the crises in many CEE countries, gradually disappear from the political scene. The current political and economic turmoil and the fallout from the global economic crisis provide additional opportunities for the forces of nationalism, extremism, populism, and anti-Semitism across the continent but also in some our countries.

This means that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The new elites replacing them may not share the idealism - or have the same relationship to the United States - as the generation who led the democratic transition. They may be more calculating in their support of the United States as well as more parochial in their world view. And in Washington a similar transition is taking place as many of the leaders and personalities we have worked with and relied on are also leaving politics.

And then there is the issue of how to deal with Russia. Our hopes that relations with Russia would improve and that Moscow would finally fully accept our complete sovereignty and independence after joining NATO and the EU have not been fulfilled. Instead, Russia is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods. At a global level, Russia has become, on most issues, a status-quo power. But at a regional level and vis-a-vis our nations, it increasingly acts as a revisionist one. It challenges our claims to our own historical experiences. It asserts a privileged position in determining our security choices. It uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe.

We welcome the "reset" of the American-Russian relations. As the countries living closest to Russia, obviously nobody has a greater interest in the development of the democracy in Russia and better relations between Moscow and the West than we do. But there is also nervousness in our capitals. We want to ensure that too narrow an understanding of Western interests does not lead to the wrong concessions to Russia. Today the concern is, for example, that the United States and the major European powers might embrace the Medvedev plan for a "Concert of Powers" to replace the continent's existing, value-based security structure. The danger is that Russia's creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region. There are differing views within the region when it comes to Moscow's new policies. But there is a shared view that the full engagement of the United States is needed.

Many in the region are looking with hope to the Obama Administration to restore the Atlantic relationship as a moral compass for their domestic as well as foreign policies. A strong commitment to common liberal democratic values is essential to our countries. We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not. Our region suffered when the United States succumbed to "realism" at Yalta. And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle. That was critical during the Cold War and in opening the doors of NATO. Had a "realist" view prevailed in the early 1990s, we would not be in NATO today and the idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace would be a distant dream.

We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world. But we are not certain where our region will be in five or ten years time given the domestic and foreign policy uncertainties we face. We need to take the right steps now to ensure the strong relationship between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe over the past twenty years will endure.

We believe this is a time both the United States and Europe need to reinvest in the transatlantic relationship. We also believe this is a time when the United States and Central and Eastern Europe must reconnect around a new and forward-looking agenda. While recognizing what has been achieved in the twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is time to set a new agenda for close cooperation for the next twenty years across the Atlantic.

Therefore, we propose the following steps:

First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States.

Second, we need a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe. It is the only credible hard power security guarantee we have. NATO must reconfirm its core function of collective defense even while we adapt to the new threats of the 21st century. A key factor in our ability to participate in NATO's expeditionary missions overseas is the belief that we are secure at home. We must therefore correct some self-inflicted wounds from the past. It was a mistake not to commence with proper Article 5 defense planning for new members after NATO was enlarged. NATO needs to make the Alliance's commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members. This should include contingency planning, prepositioning of forces, equipment, and supplies for reinforcement in our region in case of crisis as originally envisioned in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

We should also re-think the working of the NATO-Russia Council and return to the practice where NATO member countries enter into dialogue with Moscow with a coordinated position. When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West's security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well. Furthermore, the more secure we feel inside NATO, the easier it will also be for our countries to reach out to engage Moscow on issues of common interest. That is the dual track approach we need and which should be reflected in the new NATO strategic concept.

Third, the thorniest issue may well be America's planned missile-defense installations. Here too, there are different views in the region, including among our publics which are divided. Regardless of the military merits of this scheme and what Washington eventually decides to do, the issue has nevertheless also become -- at least in some countries -- a symbol of America's credibility and commitment to the region. How it is handled could have a significant impact on their future transatlantic orientation. The small number of missiles involved cannot be a threat to Russia's strategic capabilities, and the Kremlin knows this. We should decide the future of the program as allies and based on the strategic plusses and minuses of the different technical and political configurations. The Alliance should not allow the issue to be determined by unfounded Russian opposition. Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.

Fourth, we know that NATO alone is not enough. We also want and need more Europe and a better and more strategic U.S.-EU relationship as well. Increasingly our foreign policies are carried out through the European Union - and we support that. We also want a common European foreign and defense policy that is open to close cooperation with the United States. We are the advocates of such a line in the EU. But we need the United States to rethink its attitude toward the EU and engage it much more seriously as a strategic partner. We need to bring NATO and the EU closer together and make them work in tandem. We need common NATO and EU strategies not only toward Russia but on a range of other new strategic challenges.

Fifth is energy security. The threat to energy supplies can exert an immediate influence on our nations' political sovereignty also as allies contributing to common decisions in NATO. That is why it must also become a transatlantic priority. Although most of the responsibility for energy security lies within the realm of the EU, the United States also has a role to play. Absent American support, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would never have been built. Energy security must become an integral part of U.S.-European strategic cooperation. Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder (and with more unity) inside Europe for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia's abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline, particularly in using its security relationship with the main transit country, Turkey, as well as the North-South interconnector of Central Europe and LNG terminals in our region.

Sixth, we must not neglect the human factor. Our next generations need to get to know each other, too. We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania -- arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan -- have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program. It is incomprehensible that a critic like the French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove does not require a visa for the United States but former Solidarity activist and Nobel Peace prizewinner Lech Walesa does. This issue will be resolved only if it is made a political priority by the President of the United States.

The steps we made together since 1989 are not minor in history. The common successes are the proper foundation for the transatlantic renaissance we need today. This is why we believe that we should also consider the creation of a Legacy Fellowship for young leaders. Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.

In conclusion, the onset of a new Administration in the United States has raised great hopes in our countries for a transatlantic renewal. It is an opportunity we dare not miss. We, the authors of this letter, know firsthand how important the relationship with the United States has been. In the 1990s, a large part of getting Europe right was about getting Central and Eastern Europe right. The engagement of the United States was critical to locking in peace and stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of our broader community.

That is the key to our success in bringing about the renaissance in the Alliance the Obama Administration has committed itself to work for and which we support. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the pay off down the road can be very real. By taking the right steps now, we can put it on new and solid footing for the future.

Signed by:
Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Emil Constantinescu, Pavol Demes, Lubos Dobrovsky, Matyas Eorsi, Istvan Gyarmati, Vaclav Havel, Rastislav Kacer, Sandra Kalniete, Karel Schwarzenberg, Michal Kovac, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mart Laar, Kadri Liik, Janos Martonyi. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Adam Rotfeld, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra, Lech Walesa.
The Grimmest Waiting List in Russia

Russia, Disgraced Over Assasinations
IN RUSSIA, a surefire way to curtail one's life expectancy is to tell truths and pose questions that are inconvenient to the Kremlin and its loyalists. That is particularly so for journalists, human rights activists and others who dare to criticize the supremely brutal regime in the southern Russian region of Chechnya, which, with the Kremlin's full backing, has prosecuted a blood-soaked anti-insurgency campaign.
Russia hosts Armenia, Azerbaijan peace talks

Russia Touts Regional Ties At Summit Snubbed By Neighbors
Russia on Saturday touted economic integration with former Soviet nations even though several of them snubbed an informal regional summit, as the Kremlin's ties with its neighbors grow more fraught.

Only five of the 11 countries comprising a post-Soviet grouping known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, attended this year's event, a horse race the Kremlin held in lieu of a formal summit. In a meeting with Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev on the sidelines of the event, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev praised progress in creating a single customs bloc with Kazakhstan and Belarus, while his Kazakh counterpart said other ex-Soviet nations were keen to join the future bloc. "We are currently in the stage of agreeing on all positions," Medvedev told Nazarbayev in televised remarks.

Medvedev held bilateral meetings with presidents of Kazakhstan & Tajikistan
After a night at the opera, what else but a day at the races?
While at the Russian President's Cup horse races Dmitry Medvedev held bilateral meetings with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon.
Biden to reassure allies in Ukraine, Georgia
Blinken stressed that the message of continued U.S. support to Ukraine and Georgia was not a blank check and Biden would press them to carry out economic and democratic reforms.
Yeah OK but where were Winkin' & Nod?

Gazprom cuts off Ukraine's gas supply.. AGAIN
Russian energy monopoly Gazprom said Thursday it has cut off supplies of natural gas to Ukraine after a payment deadline expired.
Kosovo: Serb leader "threatened with arrest"
Milan Ivanović said on Saturday in Kosovska Mitrovica that EULEX officials are accusing him of criminal activities for which he is not accountable. The leader of the Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo (SNV) added he would seek protection from Serbian authorities.

He told a news conference that EULEX suspects him of organizing, supporting and being involved "in terrorist groups", incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, strife and intolerance, endangering EULEX personnel, "calling to resistance", and of participation in offending crowds. He added that EULEX prosecutor in Kosovska Mitrovica Neta Amin has demanded that he be brought in for questioning to the southern, ethnic Albanian part of the divided town. The request was sent to the Zvečan police chief. The request said that the prosecutor will "consider issuing an arrest warrant if Ivanović refuses".
A little background on Milan Ivanović and Northern Kosovo:

After occupation by the Axis forces in 1941, most of Northern Kosovo was ruled by a Nazi client regime called the "National Salvation Government Serbian" headed by the fascist general Milan Nedic. On September 1, 1941, Nedić made a speech on Radio Belgrade where he declared the intent of his administration to "save the core of the Serbian people".

The Serbian government under Nedić accepted many refugees, mostly of Serbian descent, but also many Slovenes and the others including Milan Kucan, the former President of Slovenia and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her family. She and her family were born Jewish Czechs, but had converted to Catholicism.

This area was fully liberated by the Partisans in 1945 and became a part of the "Federal Unit of Serbia of a Democratic Federal Yugoslavia." In 1959 it was decided to strengthen the dying out Serb element in the Autonomous Region of Kosovo-Metohijaan and the area that today comprises Northern Kosovo was annexed to it. Serbian control over the region was restored in 1989 and 1990. After the 1999 NATO bombing campaign, Northern Kosovo was put under international administration and virtually all Serbia's control over it vanished.

Milan Ivanović appears to be a fascist leaning Serbian Nationalist, sometimes said to be in the Democratic Party of Serbia, sometimes said to be in other parties. He has often openly supported the Serb Radical Party (SRS)

JULY 2008:
Masked Hooligans Clash With Police On The Fringes Of Protest Rally
Karadzic's arrest means a termination of the the Republic of Srpska and a kidnapping of Kosovo,” said Milan Ivanovic, one of the leaders of the Serbs living in Kosovo and a member of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).

“We shall never surrender neither the Republic of Srpska, Serbia, nor Kosovo. We shall never surrender Radovan,” Milan Ivanovic exclaimed and called on the citizens to “fight the oppressors”.
APRIL 1999:
Inside the US State Department, the Kosovo conflict is known as "Albright's War"
Born in Prague the daughter of a Czech diplomat, Madeleine Korbel as she was called was one year old when her family fled from Hitler's tanks. For a while they squatted in Belgrade and, if Serbian TV is to be believed, the little girl was befriended by kindly Serb neighbours.

When the war ended, the Korbels returned to Czechoslovakia only to have to flee a second time to avoid becoming communists. They went to Denver where her father was offered a post at the university. From such inauspicious beginnings Madeleine Albright rose to become America's first female Secretary of State.
Obama Names Goldman Sachs's Hormats to State Department Post
Obama announced today he was nominating Robert Hormats, a vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, to a top economic position at the State Department. Hormats, 66, will serve as undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs. He served as deputy U.S. trade representative from 1979-1981 and in other posts at the State Department throughout his career.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech July 15 that she hoped to make economic policy and trade a larger part of U.S. diplomacy. “The role of the economic agenda of the State Department needs to be strengthened,” Clinton said. Obama also is nominating Lee Feinstein, an adviser to Clinton, as ambassador to Poland, the White House announcement said.
Lookie! Hormats blogs on HuffPo!

TEXAS: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst amends financial disclosures
Multimillionaire Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has drawn criticism for revealing scant details about his vast wealth, amended past financial filings Friday and disclosed information including his stake in several investment funds. The Republican sent the Texas Ethics Commission two corrected financial statements covering 2007 and 2008 filings. The new disclosures show Dewhurst holds a stake in several funds, including assets managed by Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and the TCP Investment Fund II LP.
Hank Paulson Rewrites History Before Congress
Yeah well they oughta be used to that.

SemGroup cash too tied up with Goldman: oil makers
A group of oil producers says bankrupt oil and gas company SemGroup LP does not have enough cash on hand to pay them the hundreds of millions of dollars they say they are owed because its cash is restricted in a deal with Goldman Sachs.

In documents filed on Thursday in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, the official committee representing the oil producers said that SemGroup owes them $295 million when it emerges from bankruptcy. "It is not clear that the Debtors will have sufficient funds to pay such claims," they said in the filing.

The committee, which represents various oil producers from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, said that SemGroup had restricted too much of its cash to settle accounts with Goldman Sachs' commodity trading unit J. Aron & Co, among others. The oil suppliers have been trying to recoup money for oil shipped through SemGroup in the weeks before it filed for bankruptcy. SemGroup was not immediately available for comment.
CIT in talks with JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs
CIT Group Inc is in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc about short-term financing as it looks for ways to avoid bankruptcy, a source close to the company said on Friday, sending the lender's shares and bonds up. Bankruptcy, however, is still possible over the next few days, and CIT, a 101-year-old lender that services nearly one million small- and mid-sized businesses, is continuing to talk with regulators about the situation, the source said. Financing talks have turned primarily to arranging for a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan for the lender in case of a bankruptcy, CNBC reported, adding that talks were also continuing for financing out of court.
Windfalls for Bankers, Resentments for the Rest
Goldman Sachs reported net income of $3.44 billion, a number that surprised even analysts who follow investment banking. JPMorgan Chase came two days later with news that it had earned $2.7 billion in the second quarter, even more than it earned in the same period last year, before the economy had a cardiac infarction. Then on Friday, Citigroup and Bank of America — two of the great basket cases of the meltdown — reported outstanding numbers, too.

All of these companies were beneficiaries of gargantuan government bailouts, in assorted forms and varied sums, but if they assumed they’d hear bravos for prompt paybacks and quick turnarounds, they were in for a shock. At a time when so many people are struggling with foreclosures and are either unemployed or worried about losing a job, these earnings were bound to stir up some basic questions of fairness.

And along with those questions, a rebirth, perhaps, of a type of anger that hasn’t been widespread for a while: good old class resentment.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Financial Regulatory Reform

New Round of Talks on Honduras Begins

US, Japan agree to set up nuclear deterrence talks

Secretary Clinton Goes to India

Iceland in row over refund to UK taxpayers

European Commission to recommend "monitoring Romanian justice" beyond 2009:
The European Commission is set to recommend next week that Romania continue to stay under special monitoring mechanism beyond 2009, due to its slow progress in justice reform and the fight against corruption, indicates a draft of the EC's report seen by Romania has regained its reform momentum, but the report criticises the Parliament for the hesitating to take consistent decisions to support the efforts for justice reform and fight against corruption. The report is due on Wednesday, 22 July.
McConnell to Vote Against Sotomayor
With the growing number of Republican Senators saying they’ll vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor — Dick Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida and Olympia Snowe of Maine are the latest — Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is apparently feeling compelled to come out strongly against her.

A senior aide today told the Associated Press that McConnell plans to announce his opposition to her confirmation on Monday. McConnell’s aide reportedly said that Sotomayor’s “statements show an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and that he’s worried she’d let her sympathies and prejudices interfere with her decisions as a justice.”

McConnell has sent out a statement including excerpts of his remarks he’ll deliver about Sotomayor on Monday.

Here’s one: Judge Sotomayor’s record of written statements suggest an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and therefore, in my view, an insufficient willingness to abide by the judicial oath. This is particularly important when considering someone for the Supreme Court since, if she were confirmed, there would be no higher court to deter or prevent her from injecting into the law the various disconcerting principles that recur throughout her public statements. For that reason, I will oppose her nomination.

The rest of his remarks are here.
Both Left and Right let down by hearings
Awwwww, ya poor shmucks.
To win GOP support, she stuck to the playbook of recent Supreme Court nominees of both parties: avoid taking personal positions; largely agree with skeptical senators; decline to comment when there’s a matter in litigation; and repeatedly affirm that a judge’s job is to apply the law like a machinist.
Obama Says Health-Care Reform Essential to Repairing Economy
Oh please.

Scariest Headline of the Day:
Pharm Tech Europe - 'Pharmerging' markets and the new world order

Pope 'can't pray' with wrist in plaster

God has left the BBC building

Who could blame him?

Buzz Aldrin: Put Humans on Mars By 2031
Good idea. Getting some of them the hell off my earth would be lovely. Hey Buzz, when the time comes... have I got a passenger list for you!

Archaeologists discover 13th century monastery in Bulgaria
A team of archaeologists in Bulgaria has discovered a 13th century monastery, as well as a 30-gram silver ring from medieval France. According to a report by Sofia News Agency, the team of archaeologists, led by Professor Nikolay Ovcharov, discovered the part of a wall and medieval coins within it that are dated from 1210 to 1240, in the yard of the St Peter and St. Paul Church in the medieval Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo.

Ovcharov believes that this was part of the Monastery of the Bulgarian Patriarch in the 13th century. This was the time of the Bulgarian Tsars Kaloyan (1197-1207), Boril (1207-1218), and Ivan Asen II (1218-1241). The monastery is believed to have been the center of the Tarnovo Patriarchate at the time of the Union of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with the Catholic Church in the Vatican that latest from 1204, when Pope Innocent III declared Kaloyan “Emperors of Wallachians and Bulgarians” until 1246.

The monastery was reconstructed after Veliko Tarnovo’s conquest by the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1393, later hosted the Tarnovo Bishop. Its remains were fully destroyed in 1913 by an earthquakes.
Octuplets Mom's Son Rushed to Hospital
Octuplets mother Nadya Suleman's two-year-old son Caleb was rushed to a hospital late Friday after accidentally drinking a chemical solution from his older brother's home volcano kit.
Lance Armstrong No Role Model
I am sick of the media playing Lance Armstrong as some sort of God. I get the wonderful story: The guy made a phenomenal recovery from cancer. He has won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. With Lance currently in third place half way through this year’s Tour, the Versus Network, which televises the race, is running around telling everyone how the great Lance has given it huge ratings. But there is another part of this story: In an age where most athletes (especially those in the NFL and NBA) are demonized for any misstep, it is amazing how it is never spoken that Lance dumped his wife and kids (who stuck with him during his battle with cancer) for Sheryl Crow and races for the UCI ProTeam Astana, which is based in Kazakhstan, a country ruled by a political tyrant. I’d like to see Versus mention that.
Japan police raid tour agent in mountain deaths
Japanese police raided the offices of a tour organizer Saturday on suspicion of negligence after eight senior citizens died of apparent hypothermia in cold, wet weather during a climbing tour of Japan’s northern mountains, officials said.

The hikers, most of them in their 60s, were found dead Friday. They were climbing Mount Tomuraushi on Hokkaido, Japan’s main northern island, police official Tsuyoshi Matsuya said.

Magnitude 5.2 - IRAQ

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