Arab and Islamic leaders condemn terror plot targeting Makkah’s Grand Mosque

Sun, 2017-06-25 05:00

JEDDAH: Leaders from around the Arab world have condemned a terror plot targeting the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which Saudi security forces said on Friday they had thwarted.
King Salman received a cable from Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, emir of the Kuwait, in which he expressed Kuwait’s strong condemnation of terrorist schemes, which contradict teachings of Islam and all religious and human values. Cables were also received from Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also condemned the plot to target the Grand Mosque. “This heinous crime exposes the extent of terrorism and the savagery of those terrorist groups, and no one in their right mind can justify or explain it… this heinous crime will make us even more formidable and determined to eliminate terrorism and eradicate its sources along with all those who finance, incite, sympathize with, or justify it in any manner whatsoever,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and expressed his full solidarity with Saudi Arabia in confronting terrorism and extremism.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that the government and people of Egypt stand by Saudi Arabia in confronting any attempt to target its security and stability.
Bahrain condemned the plot in the strongest terms and stressed that terrorism is contrary to all religious, moral and humanitarian values. It reiterated its firm position in rejecting terrorism, and stressed the need for closer international cooperation to eliminate the phenomenon that threatens all nations and peoples without discrimination.
Iraq also condemned the failed terrorist attempt to target the Grand Mosque, affirming its solidarity with the Kingdom in confronting terrorist groups that target its security and stability.
“These attempts demonstrate the extent of the intellectual and ideological deviation of the terrorist-based gangs, which led them to try to attack the holiest mosque during the holy month of Ramadan,” Ahmad Jamal, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a press statement.
The Yemeni Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued by the Yemeni news agency, “Attempts to target the Grand Mosque by terrorist groups confirm that these groups have crossed red lines and reflect the seriousness of their schemes, which do not hesitate to target the holiest places of Islam.”
Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammed Momani condemned the failed attack and expressed Jordan’s support for Saudi Arabia in its fight against terrorism.
Momani reiterated Jordan’s call for united international efforts to fight terrorists and terror organizations.
Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was categorically opposed to any form of terrorism and radicalism and expressed its solidarity with Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement, “I vigorously condemn the terrorist attack that targeted the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which plotted for committing one of the most heinous crimes against Islam and Muslims.”
Hariri commended the swift action of Saudi Arabia’s security forces in thwarting the attempt against the Grand Mosque and pilgrims.
The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong condemnation and denouncement of the terror plot.

'Devoid of values'
Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-Issa said in a statement that terrorism is an evil act devoid of any values.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the terror attempt, voicing the OIC’s full support for the Kingdom in fighting terrorism.
In Riyadh, the Council of Senior Scholars said it appreciated the achievement of the security forces in thwarting the terror plot.
The council said that those who were planning the crime had not respected the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, and therefore they have no religion nor honesty.
The General President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais lauded the achievement attained by the Ministry of Interior in protecting the holy sites.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain denounced the sinful terrorist plot to target the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The council stressed in a statement: “The attempt to target the Grand Mosque in the month of Ramadan clearly reveals that these terrorists are away from any religious, moral or humanitarian values.”
The Council of Pakistani Scholars also expressed its heavy condemnation of the terrorist plot targeting Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb strongly condemned the attack. In a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Tayyeb said Al-Azhar supports Saudi Arabia in fighting and uprooting terrorism. He praised the vigilance of Saudi troops, who were able to thwart the terrorist plot.
Egypt’s Mufti Shawki Allam lashed out those who were attempting to carry out the attack during the holy fasting month of Ramadan. He also lauded the vigilance of the Saudi security forces, which foiled the attempt.

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King, Islamic leaders exchange Eid Al-Fitr greetings

Sun, 2017-06-25 04:26

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has addressed citizens and Muslims everywhere on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.
A speech was delivered on Saturday by Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad.
The speech highlighted joy and happiness for all after the completion of the month of Ramadan and the subsequent Eid holiday.
The king said that the world is suffering from terrorism, which is the scourge of this era, adding that he pays great attention to bolstering security and stability in the world.
The king underlined Saudi efforts to serve pilgrims, the holy places, Islam and Muslims. In keeping with the royal custom of communicating with the leaders of Islamic countries, King Salman has sent cables of congratulation to leaders of the Islamic countries on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.
King Salman has also received cables of congratulation from kings, emirs, presidents and heads of states of Arab and Islamic countries on the occasion.
In reply, King Salman thanked them for their noble feelings, wishing them many happy returns.
The Supreme Court on Saturday announced that Sunday, June 25, is the first day of Eid Al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia after reported sightings of the new moon.

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Ministry of Haj and Umrah: Record pilgrim numbers achieved

Sun, 2017-06-25 03:00

MADINAH: A recent report issued by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah revealed a rise in the number of pilgrims this year, despite economic and security conditions experienced by some Arab countries.
According to the report, visas issued to pilgrims for the current year numbered about 6.75 million, compared with 6.39 million last year.
Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh bin Taher Benten said that this ongoing growth in the number of pilgrims and visitors comes in line with the objectives of Vision 2030.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah Mohammed bin Hamed Al-Klaiby confirmed the high occupancy rate of hotels during the current Umrah season, indicating an increase in occupancy rates in five-star hotels of 113 percent, while the occupancy rate in four-star hotels increased by 71.2 percent.
The report pointed out that economic and security conditions contributed to the decrease of Umrah performers from some countries. However, efforts exerted by the ministry to support the efforts of Umrah companies have compensated for the shortage of pilgrims coming from Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. The increase in Umrah visas came from other countries such as the United States, Germany and Norway.
The report revealed that Pakistanis top the list of pilgrims, with the total number of pilgrims at 1,446,284, up 45 percent from the previous year. Indonesians came second with an increase of 25 percent with 875,958 pilgrims, followed by Indians with 524,604 pilgrims. Pilgrims from Bangladesh numbered 80,977, and 264,878 Umrah visas were issued to Iraqis, up 58 percent.

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The Government’s Plan To Survive Nuclear War Doesn’t Include You

Authored by Mac Slavo via,

Once again this week, the United States teetered a little closer towards war with the Russians. On Sunday, the US military shot down a Syrian jet that was allegedly targeting US backed forces. The Russians have since claimed that the aircraft was engaging ISIS, and have revealed that their air defense systems will now track any of our aircraft that happen to fly over Western Syria. They also suspended a hotline between the US and Russia that was in place to prevent mid-air collisions over the crowded skies of Syria.

Amid incidents like this, you have to wonder what our government is thinking. For most Americans, Syria must seem inconsequential. Why is our military involved in a country, where we are brushing shoulders with a nuclear armed nation? If it’s to fight ISIS, then we could easily sit back and let Russian and Syrian forces wipe them out. If it’s to affect regime change, then clearly our government hasn’t learned anything from Iraq or Afghanistan. Why are we risking a war with the Russians just to influence the outcome of a regional civil war that has little bearing on the daily lives of most Americans?

The answer to that question could probably fill a novel, but there is one reason that the elites in Washington will never admit to. They can afford to make careless decisions because they are insulated from the results. If there is a war with Russia, which could easily turn into a nuclear war, they’ll have plenty of spacious bunkers to hide out in while the rest of America burns. And that’s been our government’s plan in regards to nuclear war since the beginning of the Cold War.

That’s the main takeaway from a new book called Raven Rock: The Story of the US Government’s Plan to Save Itself. Our government has spent decades building sprawling bunkers, like Raven Rock, that high ranking officials can flee to in the event of a nuclear war.

The idea for Raven Rock was to have a military base that would function as an alternative to the Pentagon and would be dug out of a mountain and deep enough to survive any Russian attack.


A site was chosen six miles from Camp David, the Presidential retreat in Maryland, and work began in 1951 on the $17 million project


Some 300 men worked round the clock in three shifts to carve a 3,100ft tunnel out of the granite; engineers invented technology as they went along including blast doors and blast valves.


Inside the facility there was 100,000sq/ft of office space in five parallel caverns big enough to hold a three story building in each.


The entire facility could fit 1,400 people and was placed on giant springs to reduce the impact of a blast.

Via Daily Mail

Meanwhile, as they were building these bunkers and trying to convince Americans that nuclear war could be easily survivable, behind the scenes they knew it would be a bloodbath for civilians.

At the end of the 1950s, the FCDA created ‘Battleground USA’, a grim 120-page report on how cities should manage civil defense operations in the event of an attack.


It said that the area should be divided into ‘mortuary zones’ with ‘collection teams’ in charge of identifying bodies.

Post Office mail trucks would ferry the wounded to one of 900 improvised hospitals set up near attack sites in places like federal prisons.


In Kansas officials planned to confiscate household vitamins for use by the general population.


Planners estimated they could assemble two million pounds of food after an attack from their own reserves and from stores.

They could also could find 11 million ‘man-days’ of food in the forests and plains in rabbit meat, 10 million ‘man-days of wild birds and five million ‘man-days’ of fish.


Most chillingly they budgeted nearly 20 million ‘man-days’ of meat in residential pets.


It was disturbing reading and a view of the world that summed up by Eisenhower in one meeting: ‘The destruction might be such that we might ultimately have to go back to bows and arrows’


During another meeting Eisenhower admitted that nation didn’t have ‘enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the street’ in the event of a nuclear strike’.

And as we all know, our government didn’t take many measures to protect civilians from the potential carnage that would be inflicted by a nuclear war. They didn’t build many bunkers for the rest of us.

At first glance that may sound like an impossible task, but it’s not. Take Switzerland for instance. Despite not having any nuclear weapons, they’ve built enough fallout shelters to house every Swiss citizen. You might say that we could never afford that many shelters, but it’s not a question of cost. Switzerland’s GDP per capita is similar to America’s.

The truth of the matter, is that our leaders don’t give a damn about what happens to American civilians. As long as they have their bunkers, they feel safe while antagonizing nuclear armed nations like Russia. They know that if there’s a war, they’ll survive while the rest of us burn and starve.

Make no mistake, if there’s ever a war with Russia, you’ll be on your own. Whether or not you survive depends entirely on your willingness and ability to prepare now.

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Meet The Money-Laundering, Nigerian Oil Magnate Behind New York’s $50MM Condo Foreclosure

Last night we noted that yet another luxury condo at Manhattan’s One57 tower, a member of “Billionaire’s Row,” a group of high-end towers clustered along the southern edge of Central Park, had gone into foreclosure - the second in the span of a month.  The 6,240-square-foot, full-floor penthouse in question, One57’s Apartment 79, sold for $50.9 million in December 2014, making it the eighth-priciest in the building and likely the largest residential foreclosure in Manhattan's history.

According to Bloomberg, the owner of the apartment attempted to conceal his/her identity by using a shell company (you know how those kooky billionaires can be) but was able to obtain an 'unusually large' mortgage with an even more unusual term: one-year.

In September 2015, the company took out a $35.3 million mortgage from lender Banque Havilland SA, based in Luxembourg. The full payment of the loan was due one year later, according to court documents filed in connection with the foreclosure.


The borrower failed to repay, and now Banque Havilland is forcing a sale to recoup the funds, plus interest.

Of course, it was only a matter of time until the mystery man behind Manhattan's most recent luxury real estate epic fail was exposed.  As such, meet Nigerian oil magnate, Kola Aluko.


As it turns out, the world renowned, Nigerian-born, billionaire playboy is about $25,000 behind on his property taxes.  But, that is probably the least of his worries as the New York Post points out that he currently wanted by authorities in both Nigeria and Europe for defrauding the Nigerian government out of oil sale profits.

But Aluko has bigger problem, it seems. The 47-year-old tycoon is under investigation in Nigeria and in Europe for alleged money-laundering crimes.


A Nigerian court, according to various reports, tried to freeze Aluko’s assets, including his One57 unit, as part of the alleged scheme to defraud the government of oil sale profits.

Meanwhile, it seems that the only reason Aluko isn't already in prison is because the Nigerian courts can't seem to find him to serve papers.  Apparently he's been hiding out on this 213-foot, $100 million yacht, the Galactica Star, for over a year.


Over the past year, the boat has been spotted making port calls in Cancun, Mexico and Turkey.


Of course, if you're going to be an international playboy then you need to have rich and famous friends and, as it turns out, rappers Jay-Z and P. Diddy seemed to have fulfilled that role for Aluko.  Back in 2012 the rap duo apparently hosted Aluko's birthday party in Beverly Hills.  Then, just a few years later in 2015, Jay-Z and wife Beyonce rented Aluko's mega-yacht for the bargain basement price of just $900,000 per week to sail around the Mediterranean.



Well, presumably it was fun while it lasted.

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An Open Letter To The Fed’s William Dudley

Authored by MN Gordon via,

Dear Mr. Dudley,

Your recent remarks in the wake of last week’s FOMC statement were notably unhelpful.

In particular, your excuses for further rate hikes to prevent crashing unemployment and rising inflation stunk of rotten eggs.

Crashing Unemployment

Quite frankly, crashing unemployment is a construct that’s new to popular economic discourse, and a suspect one at that.

Years ago, prior to the nirvana of globalization, the potential for wage inflation stemming from full employment was the going concern.  Now that the official unemployment rate’s just 4.3 percent, and wages are still down in the dumps, it appears the Fed has fabricated a new bugaboo to rally around.  What to make of it?

For starters, the Fed’s unconventional monetary policy has successfully pushed the financial order completely out of the economy’s orbit.  The once impossible is now commonplace.

For example, the absurdity of negative interest rates was unfathomable until very recently. But that was before years of central bank asset purchases made this a reality.

Perhaps, the imminent danger of crashing unemployment will give way to the impossibility of negative unemployment.  Crazy things can happen, you know, especially considering the design limitations of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ birth-death model.

Secondly, muddying up the Fed’s message with inane nonsense like crashing unemployment severely diminishes the Fed’s goal of providing transparent communication.  In short, Fed communication has regressed from backassward to assbackward.

During the halcyon days of Alan Greenspan’s Goldilocks economy, for instance, the Fed regularly used jawboning as a tactic to manage inflation expectations.  Through smiling teeth Greenspan would talk out of the side of his neck.  He’d jawbone down inflation expectations while cutting rates.

Certainly, a lot has changed over the years.  So, too, the Fed seems to have reversed its jawboning tactic.  By all accounts, including your Monday remarks, the Fed is now jawboning up inflation expectations while raising rates.

Congratulations and Thank You!

History will prove this policy tactic to be a complete fiasco.  But at least the Fed is consistent in one respect.  The Fed has a consistent record of getting everything dead wrong.

If you recall, on January 10, 2008, a full month after the onset of the Great Recession, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke stated that “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”  Granted, a recession is generally identified by two successive quarters of declining GDP; so, you don’t technically know you’re in a recession until after it is underway.  But, come on, what good is a forecast if it can’t discern a recession when you’re in the midst of one?

Bernanke’s quote ranks up there in sheer idiocy with Irving Fisher’s public declaration in October 1929, on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash and onset of the Great Depression, that “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”  By the month’s end the stock market had crashed and crashed again, never to return to its prior highs in Fisher’s lifetime.

To be fair, Fisher wasn’t a Fed man.  However, he was a dyed-in-the-wool central planner cut from the same cloth.  Moreover, it is bloopers like these from the supposed experts like Bernanke and Fisher that make life so amiably pleasurable.  Do you agree?

Hence, Mr. Dudley, words of congratulations are in order!  Because on Monday you added what’ll most definitely be a sidesplitting quote to the annals of economic banter:

“I’m actually very confident that even though the expansion is relatively long in the tooth, we still have quite a long way to go.  This is actually a pretty good place to be.” – William Dudley, June 19, 2017

Thank you, sir, for your shrewd insights.  They’ll offer up countless laughs through the many dreary years ahead.

Too Little, Too Late

When it comes down to it, your excuses for raising rates are not about some unfounded fear of a crashing unemployment rate.  Nor are they about controlling price inflation.  These are mere cover for past mistakes.

The esteemed James Rickards, in an article titled The Fed’s Road Ahead, recently boiled present Fed policy down to its very core:

“Now we’re at a very delicate point, because the Fed missed the opportunity to raise rates five years ago.  They’re trying to play catch-up, and yesterday’s [June 14] was the third rate hike in six months.


“Economic research shows that in a recession, they [the Fed] have to cut interest rates 300 basis points or more, or 3 percent, to lift the economy out of recession.  I’m not saying we are in a recession now, although we’re probably close.


“But if a recession arrives a few months or even a year from now, how is the Fed going to cut rates 3 percent if they’re only at 1.25 percent?


“The answer is, they can’t.


“So the Fed’s desperately trying to raise interest rates up to 300 basis points, or 3 percent, before the next recession, so they have room to start cutting again.  In other words, they are raising rates so they can cut them.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Dudley, the Fed miscalculated.  Efforts to now raise rates will be too little, too late.  To be clear, there ain’t a snowball’s chance in hell the Fed will get the federal funds rate up to 3 percent before the next recession.  You likely won’t even get it up to 2 percent.

Nonetheless, you should stay the course.  If you’re gonna raise rates, then raise rates.  Don’t cut them.  Raise them.  Then raise them some more.

Crash stocks.  Crash bonds.  Crash real estate.  Crush asset prices.  Purge the debt and speculative excesses from financial markets.

Let marginal businesses go broke.  Let too big to fail banks, fail.  You can even consult with Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld, if needed.  Then let nature do its work.

In essence, bring the paper money experiment to a close and shutter the doors of the Federal Reserve.  No doubt, the economy and millions of people will suffer a painful multi-decade restructuring.  But what choice is there, really?

Let’s face it.  The Fed can’t hold the financial order together much longer anyway.  Why pretend you can with utter nonsense like crashing unemployment?  It’s insulting.

Your credibility’s shot.  Better to get on with it now, before it’s forced upon you.

P.S.  What’s up with Neel Kashkari?  The man has gone rogue.

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Off-duty black US cop mistakenly shot by white cop

Sat, 2017-06-24 03:00

NEW YORK: An off-duty black US police officer’s race factored into him being mistakenly shot by a white officer who didn’t recognize him during a shootout with black suspects in the midwestern US state of Missouri this week, the wounded officer’s lawyer contends.
The 38-year-old black officer was off duty when he heard a commotion near his home in St. Louis County and ran toward it with his service weapon to try to help his fellow officers, police said.
St. Louis’ interim police chief, Lawrence O’Toole, said the incident began when officers with an anti-crime task force followed a stolen car and were twice fired upon by its occupants. One suspect was shot in an ankle and was arrested, along with another teenager who tried to run from police, O’Toole said. A third suspect is being sought.
When the off-duty officer who lived nearby heard the commotion and arrived at the scene to help, two on-duty officers ordered him to the ground but then recognized him and told him to stand up and walk toward them. As he was doing so, another officer arrived and shot the off-duty officer “apparently not recognizing” him, police said.
The police department as of Saturday hadn’t disclosed the names of the officers, who have been placed on routine administrative leave as the matter is investigated. Police described the black officer as an 11-year department veteran and said he was treated at a hospital and released. The officer who shot him is 36 and has been with the department more than eight years.
The black officer’s lawyer, Rufus J. Tate Jr., discussed the shooting with St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI, but the officer isn’t named in that report. Tate did not reply to several phone messages seeking comment left Saturday by The Associated Press.
Tate told the station that his client identified himself to the on-duty officers at the scene and complied with their commands. He questioned the white officer’s account, according to police, that he shot the off-duty officer because he feared for his safety.
“In the police report you have so far, there is no description of a threat he received. So we have a real problem with that. But this has been a national discussion for the past two years. There is this perception that a black man is automatically feared,” Tate said.
It was in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson where a white officer shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, three years ago, setting off months of protests, some of which were violent. The officer, who later left the force, wasn’t charged, which further strained relations between the area’s black community and the police.
But there have been several notable instances over the years in which an officer mistakenly shot a colleague.
In 2009, 25-year-old New York City police Officer Omar J. Edwards, who was black, was shot and killed by a white officer on a Harlem street while in street clothes. He had just finished his shift, and had his service weapon out, chasing a man who had broken into his car, police said.
Three plainclothes officers on routine patrol arrived at the scene and yelled for the two to stop, police said. One officer, Andrew Dunton, opened fire and hit Edwards three times as he turned toward them with his service weapon. It wasn’t until medical workers were on scene that it was determined he was a police officer. A grand jury voted not to indict Dunton.
A year earlier in the suburb of White Plains, New York, a black off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding an assault suspect at gunpoint.
And in Providence, Rhode Island, an off-duty black police sergeant, Cornel Young Jr., was accidentally killed by two uniformed white colleagues in 2000 while he was trying to break up a fight on a parking lot. Young — at the time the son of the department’s highest-ranking black officer — was dressed in baggy jeans, an overcoat and a baseball cap, and he was carrying a gun.
A jury later rejected a $20 million federal lawsuit by Young’s mother against the city and its police force, who she claimed didn’t properly train officers about how to identify their off-duty and plainclothes counterparts.
Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics show such accidental police-on-police shootings occur at a low rate given the tense, confusing circumstances officers routinely face. In 2013, according to online FBI figures, only two officers were killed when mistakenly shot as a result of crossfire, mistaken for a subject, or involved in other firearm mishaps. The FBI statistics don’t specify the race of the officers killed.

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Want to know where the stock market’s headed over the next 6 months? Don’t ask OPEC

The vagaries of crude-oil and appeared to weigh heavily on stocks in the past week, but as the landscape of rest of 2017 looks set to unfurl into the ...

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CIA Director Mike Pompeo: Trump’s “An Avid Consumer” Of Intel, Will “Punish Leakers”

In his first interview since becoming the head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo pushed back against accusations that President Donald Trump doesn’t read his daily intelligence briefings, claiming that the president is “very interested” in what’s happening at the intelligence communities and that his daily in-person briefings with the president typically run longer than their allotted time.

Pompeo tells MSNBC that Trump is a demanding boss who asks “great questions” and is trying to enable the CIA to take a more active “operational” role in countering threats posed by the US’s enemies.

Pompeo began by responding to criticism that some say Trump is "uninterested in facts":

“I cannot imagine a statement that is any more false than one that would attribute President Trump of not being interested in the intelligence community. He is an avid consumer of the products the CIA provides he thinks about them and comes back and asks great questions and perhaps most importantly relies on them.

As the Hill pointed out, Pompeo acknowledged that the CIA has been harmed by information leaks in recent years, but said that he and Trump are focused on shutting down the leakers.

“There have been failures,” he said. “You have not only nation states trying to steal our stuff but ... folks like Wikileaks.”

He went on to say that he believes under Trump, the intelligence community will be able to both stop and punish leaking.

We and all of President Trump’s government are focused on stopping leaks," he said, "and I think we'll have some successes both on the deterrence side, that is stopping them from happening, as well as on punishing those who we catch who have done it."

When asked about cooperation within the intelligence community, Pompeo said he suspects it has improved since the pre-9/11 era, though imperfections remain.

“I think we’re in a much better place today whether we’ve connected them all or not I suspect perfection cannot be achieved. The intelligence community have taken answers to today’s problems and applied them in really interesting ways.”

As Pompeo’s interviewer, NBC’s Hugh Hewitt, noted, the intelligence community almost universally assumed that Clinton was going to win November’s election.

But now that Trump is in power, how is the administration triaging the US’s enemies? Pompeo says he and the president spend the most time discussing the threat posed by North Korea. Trump scored a major foreign policy victory this week after Chinese state media reported that the Communist Party has agreed with the US that the Korean peninsula needs to undergo “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization.

Chinese state media described the talks, the first of their kind with the Trump administration, as an upgrade in dialogue mechanisms between China and the United States, following on from President Xi Jinping's meeting with Trump in Florida in April.

“North Korea is a very real danger. I hardly escape a day at the White House without the president asking me about North Korea and how the US is responding to that threat. For the past 20 years, the US has whistled past the graveyard hoping on hope that North Korea would see a change of color."


"They have the capacity to put America at risk with a nuclear weapon.”

Countering Iran, ISIS and Hezbollah also rank highly on the president’s list of priorities. When comparing Hezbollah to Iran, Pompeo said that the latter’s resources increase its capability to threaten the US.

“Iran is a powerful nation state with wealth and resources an organized government and an established piece of real estate of which they have complete control…I would say Iran poses the larger challenge, though I hesitate to rank them. ISIS is an enormous risk to the US today and we need to do everything to defeat them.”

In a sudden, unexpected turn, Hewitt asked Pompeo about Saudi Arabia and the allegations that radical elements within the kingdom’s government helped aid and abet the 9/11 hijackers. While Pompeo wouldn’t comment on these claims, he offered something almost as telling.

Pompeo said he believes the Saudi Arabian government values the cooperation and friendship of the US, and that the kingdom has made “a fundamental decision” not to condone acts of terror, or terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.  

“They welcomed an American who wasn’t on the side of the Iranians for coming to visit with them. They’ve come to understand that America will support them when pushing back against enemies that we share and support them to expand their economies as well."


"The Saudis have made a fundamental decision not to engage in that kind of activity that has led to all kinds of trouble in past decades…I think they understand that it’s not in Saudi Arabia’s best interest to not support terrorism.”

Of course, Pompeo’s response carefully sidestepped any acknowledgment of whether Saudi Arabia once collaborated with Al Qaeda to launch acts of terror against the US. Maybe Pompeo was trying to reassure executives at Saudi Aramco, who have argued against bringing the impending IPO of a 5% stake in the state-owned oil giant to New York City, fearing a lawsuit. Don’t worry, he seemed to suggest: All has been forgiven.

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Israel shifting towards ‘fascism’, says opposition leader

Israel’s opposition party leader on Saturday accused the government of shifting towards a “fascist” trend.

According to The Jerusalem Post, speaking at a cultural event, Zionist Union Party Chairman Issac Herzog said the future of Israel’s democracy was at stake.

“We are going through a process of fascistization of the Israeli politics,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Herzog as saying.

He said those who were worried about Israel’s future and wanted to prevent fascistization should support the transition to a moderate bloc.

“We have to change the regime in order to save the Israeli democracy from the fascistization that is threatening it,” Herzog said.

In his remarks, Herzog said the government threatened artists, academics and judges and fired journalists.

On the US efforts to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the opposition leader said these attempts would collapse.

“There is a true concern that the American effort will fail. This means that we could be dragged into a regional conflict,” he said.

Peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2014 over Israel’s refusal to release a number of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.

Since then, all attempts to revive talks have failed, due mainly to Israel’s insistence on continuing to build Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.


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