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DECEMBER 18, 2012 EARLY EDITION

December 18, 2012

NBC Journalist Freed from Captivity in Syria

NBC’s award winning journalist Richard Engel was freed Monday after five days of captivity in Syria. He and his crew were unharmed.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu   First Publish: 12/18/2012, 2:18 PM

NBC News correspondent Richard Engel, honored at the 2009 George Foster Peabody Awards

NBC News correspondent Richard Engel, honored at the 2009 George Foster Peabody Awards
AFP Photo

US television journalist Richard Engel has been freed after being kidnapped in Syria and held for five days, his employer, NBC News, said early Tuesday. The kidnap victims apparently escaped when their captors clashed with rebels.

“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed,” the network said in a statement reported by AFP.

“We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country,” it said.

Engel, 39, is one of the most high-profile American journalists to report from Syria, where rebels have been fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a civil war that has claimed some 43,000 lives according to activists.

NBC said Engel and other unnamed employees went missing shortly after crossing into Syria from Turkey on Thursday, and that it had not been able to contact them until it learned they had been freed on Monday.

The network said there was no claim of responsibility, no contact with the captors and no ransom paid.

Engels and his crew were hustled into the back of a truck and transported to an unknown location believed to be near the town of Ma’arrat Misrin, NBC said. They were blindfolded and bound but otherwise unharmed, it said.

When the captors tried to move them to another location late Monday, they ran into a checkpoint manned by Syrian rebels from the Ahrar al-Sham Brigade. A firefight broke out and two of the captors were killed, NBC said.

The other captors escaped, and Engel’s crew was not harmed in the incident. The reporters were able to cross back into Turkey Tuesday morning and were in good health.

The 21-month-long rebellion began as a series of Arab Spring-style protests against the Assad family’s four-decade reign but has since escalated into a brutal civil war, with fierce battles and intensive shelling in major cities.

Tags: Syria ,Media ,NBC

 

 

UN Sending Chemical Weapons Kits to Troops in Golan

The United Nations is sending chemical weapons kits to troops in the Golan Heights because of growing fears over Syria’s arsenal.
By Elad Benari    First Publish: 12/18/2012, 5:46 AM
Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad   Flash 90

The United Nations is sending chemical weapons kits to UN troops in the Golan Heights because of growing fears over Syria’s deadly non-conventional arsenal, officials said Monday, according to AFP.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous briefed the UN Security Council on efforts to bolster the safety of the UN force, which monitors a ceasefire zone between Syria and Israel, after five troops were injured in attacks.

“We have taken measures to enhance security,” he told reporters after the meeting, according to the AFP report. “For those personnel who are not equipped on a national basis we are sending them some kits to protect them from chemical attack, if that were to happen.”

Extra armored cars have also been sent from other missions to the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has been monitoring a ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.

There are about 1,000 unarmed troops from Austria, Croatia, India, Japan and Philippines in UNDOF. The Indian troops, at least, are known not to have chemical weapon protection, noted AFP.

Five Austrians were wounded, two seriously, when a convoy taking U.S. troops from the Golan Heights to Damascus airport came under attack earlier this month. There have been a number of incidents in the ceasefire zone this year.

“There have been increasing difficulties fulfilling its mandate,” Ladsous said. “The multiplication of incidents is really a concern.”

The United States said earlier this month that it had intelligence showing Syria was considering using its chemical weapons. U.S. President Barack Obama led international warnings to President Bashar al-Assad over the arsenal.

The United States and its allies, including Israel, have repeatedly expressed concernthat Syria’s stockpile, believed to be one of the biggest in the world, could be stolen and fall into extremist hands or be transferred to the Hizbullah terror group by a crumbling Syrian regime.

Ladsous also confirmed that the United Nations is drawing up contingency plans to send a possible international force to Syria if the government collapses, but the UN peacekeeping chief gave no details.

“It is contingency planning based on a number of possible scenarios. But the work is going on,” he said, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari said that Damascus is “genuinely worried” that some countries might equip extremist groups with chemical weapons and then claim they were used by the government.

Jaafari also accused the United States of backing “terrorist” groups in Syria in a letter to UN leader Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council which was released Monday.

The letter reaffirmed the Assad government’s denial that it would use chemical weapons.

“It is defending its people from terrorists backed by well-known states, at the forefront of which is the United States of America,” Jaafari said. “We are genuinely worried that certain states that support terrorism and terrorists could provide the armed terrorist groups with chemical weapons, and then claim they had been used by the Syrian Government,” he wrote.     Tags: Syria ,Syria Unrest ,Chemical Weapons ,Herve Ladsous ,UNDOF

American Troops to Help Protect Turkey from Syria

The Pentagon reportedly plans to send Patriot missiles, soldiers to Turkey under a NATO plan to defend against attacks from Syria.
AAFont Size

By Maayana Miskin

First Publish: 12/14/2012, 1:21 PM

 

Patriot missile

Patriot missile  AFP photo

The United States will send Patriot air defense missiles and 400 troops to Turkey to defend it from Syria, APreported Friday. Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has signed a deployment order.

Turkey requested assistance from NATO following multiple incidents in which violence in Syria spilled over the border. In October, Turkish officials reported having foundRussian military supplies on board a plane heading for Syria.

Earlier in the year the Syrian army shot down a Turkish plane.

The Patriot missiles are capable of shooting down both missiles and aircraft. Panetta said the decision to move the missiles to Turkey would “help Turkey have the kind of missile defense it may very well need to deal with the threats coming out of Syria.”

Syria has previously slammed the plan to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey as “a new act of provocation.”

Video: Unveiled Women Barred from Voting on Constitution

Egyptian “democracy” unveiled: Women without veils were barred from voting for the new anti-secular constitution. Mass protests on Tuesday.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu   First Publish: 12/18/2012, 10:32 AM

Women without veils complained they were not allowed to vote for the new Egyptian anti-secular constitution. Mass protests on Tuesday.

Egypt’s opposition is calling for mass protests on Tuesday over alleged polling violations after Islamists backing Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi claimed victory in the first round of a referendum on a new charter.

Thousands of women complained they were not allowed to vote because they were not veiled, and Christian women also said they were turned away.

A low one-third turnout fueled charges of forged ballots, campaigning inside polling stations and judges being replaced by civilians favoring the Muslim Brotherhood.

A group of top judges announced on Monday it would boycott supervision of the second round, and Germany said it has postponed debt relief for Egypt because of concerns over the country’s commitment to democracy.

Adding to the complications for Morsi, the prosecutor general named by the president as he temporarily assumed sweeping powers last month handed in his resignation, a judicial source told AFP.

The opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, urged Egyptians to “take to the streets on Tuesday to defend their freedoms, prevent fraud and reject the draft constitution” ahead of the second round.

It claimed “irregularities and violations” marred the initial stage of the referendum last weekend across half of Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood said resulted in a 57 percent “yes” vote, according to its unofficial tally.

On the legal front, the State Council Judges Club, whose members took part in overseeing the first round as required by law, said it would boycott next Saturday’s vote because the authorities had failed to live up to their promises.

The association has demanded that a “siege” of the Supreme Constitutional Court by Brotherhood supporters be lifted. But the action has continued without any intervention by the authorities, it said.

In Germany, a spokesman for the overseas development ministry said a plan to forgive up to 240 million euros ($316 million) of Cairo’s debt had been delayed indefinitely.

Germany’s Development Minister Dirk Niebel said earlier he had serious reservations. “There is the danger that the dictatorial system of ousted president (Hosni) Mubarak is returning,” he told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

Large protests both for and against the proposed constitution have been staged during the past three weeks, sparking violent clashes and revealing deep divisions in society over Morsi’s rule.

Early this month, eight people were killed and more than 600 hurt when rival protesters fought outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

The opposition says the constitution weakens human rights, especially those of women, and undermines the independence of judges while strengthening the military.

It fears Islamists propelled into power after a revolution last year that toppled Mubarak’s 30-year regime want to establish Sharia-style laws.    Tags: Muslims ,Egypt ,Mohammed Morsi

US Sends Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi 20 F-16 Warplanes

Egypt’s unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is to receive 20 F-16 fighter jets.
  y Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu  First Publish: 12/11/2012, 12:17 PM

US Air Force F-16

US Air Force F-16
Official US Department of Defense photo

Egypt’s increasingly unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is about to receive 20 F-16 fighters jets despite calls to suspend arms sales to Cairo, Fox Newsreported Tuesday.

The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to take over the inheritance.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, swept into power earlier this year on an Islamic campaign that promised reforms, has turned the Arab Spring revolution on its end by trying to usurp power. He has deployed armed soldiers and police to quell angry riots that have raised fears of a repeat of the violent suppression of anti-Mubarak protesters nearly two years ago.

Despite the instability, the United States is going ahead with the delivery of the F-16 jets, part of a two-year-old order for the planes.

The first four jets are to be delivered January 22,  according to a source at the Texas air base where the planes are being tested. The date, by coincidence, is the same day that Israelis will vote for the next Knesset.

Fox noted that Egypt already has 200 F-16 warplanes and quoted  Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, as saying that the timing of the deliveries is more than questionable, but not because of the Israeli elections.

“Should an overreaction [by Egypt] spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put U.S. officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents,” he said.

“Given Washington’s fiscal woes, American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s major arms supplier.”

Morsi has backed off his attempt to assume dictatorial powers, but he is trying to win approval of a new constitution that would place Islamic Sharia law in a more prominent place in Egypt.

“The Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government has not proven to be a partner for democracy as they had promised, given the recent attempted power grab,” a senior Republican congressional aide told FoxNews.com.

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently said. “The Obama administration wants to simply throw money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States.”

The order for the Lockheed-Martin planes is another win for the American military-industrial complex.

“This is a great day for Lockheed Martin and a testament to the enduring partnership and commitment we have made to the government of Egypt,” said John Larson, vice president, Lockheed Martin F-16 programs.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller explained to Fox, “The U.S.-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of our broader strategic partnership for over thirty years. The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s modernization efforts.  Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to regional mission sets.”

President Barack Obama had distanced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood until it became clear that it was a driving force following the fall of Mubarak. In a radical shift of foreign policy, Obama’s advisors, some of whom support a more liberal policy towards Hamas, began making contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and eventually established open contacts with the radical Islamic party.

It campaigned on a strongly anti-American and anti-Israeli platform, but the U.S. State Department has reasoned that Egypt will remain an ally.

State Department official Andrew J. Shapiro was cited as stating last month, “I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt.

“The administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly. Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States.

“We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel [and] confronting Iranian ambitions…”

 

US Sends Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi 20 F-16 Warplanes

Egypt’s unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is to receive 20 F-16 fighter jets.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu  First Publish: 12/11/2012, 12:17 PM

US Air Force F-16

US Air Force F-16     Official US Department of Defense photo

Egypt’s increasingly unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is about to receive 20 F-16 fighters jets despite calls to suspend arms sales to Cairo, Fox Newsreported Tuesday.

The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to take over the inheritance.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, swept into power earlier this year on an Islamic campaign that promised reforms, has turned the Arab Spring revolution on its end by trying to usurp power. He has deployed armed soldiers and police to quell angry riots that have raised fears of a repeat of the violent suppression of anti-Mubarak protesters nearly two years ago.

Despite the instability, the United States is going ahead with the delivery of the F-16 jets, part of a two-year-old order for the planes.

The first four jets are to be delivered January 22,  according to a source at the Texas air base where the planes are being tested. The date, by coincidence, is the same day that Israelis will vote for the next Knesset.

Fox noted that Egypt already has 200 F-16 warplanes and quoted  Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, as saying that the timing of the deliveries is more than questionable, but not because of the Israeli elections.

“Should an overreaction [by Egypt] spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put U.S. officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents,” he said.

“Given Washington’s fiscal woes, American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s major arms supplier.”

Morsi has backed off his attempt to assume dictatorial powers, but he is trying to win approval of a new constitution that would place Islamic Sharia law in a more prominent place in Egypt.

“The Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government has not proven to be a partner for democracy as they had promised, given the recent attempted power grab,” a senior Republican congressional aide told FoxNews.com.

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently said. “The Obama administration wants to simply throw money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States.”

The order for the Lockheed-Martin planes is another win for the American military-industrial complex.

“This is a great day for Lockheed Martin and a testament to the enduring partnership and commitment we have made to the government of Egypt,” said John Larson, vice president, Lockheed Martin F-16 programs.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller explained to Fox, “The U.S.-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of our broader strategic partnership for over thirty years. The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s modernization efforts.  Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to regional mission sets.”

President Barack Obama had distanced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood until it became clear that it was a driving force following the fall of Mubarak. In a radical shift of foreign policy, Obama’s advisors, some of whom support a more liberal policy towards Hamas, began making contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and eventually established open contacts with the radical Islamic party.

It campaigned on a strongly anti-American and anti-Israeli platform, but the U.S. State Department has reasoned that Egypt will remain an ally.

State Department official Andrew J. Shapiro was cited as stating last month, “I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt.

“The administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly. Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States.

“We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel [and] confronting Iranian ambitions…”  Tags: Pentagon ,F-16 ,Mohammed Morsi ,Obama administration

 

US Sends Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi 20 F-16 Warplanes

Egypt’s unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is to receive 20 F-16 fighter jets.
AAFont Size

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

First Publish: 12/11/2012, 12:17 PM

 

US Air Force F-16

US Air Force F-16
Official US Department of Defense photo

Egypt’s increasingly unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is about to receive 20 F-16 fighters jets despite calls to suspend arms sales to Cairo, Fox Newsreported Tuesday.

The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to take over the inheritance.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, swept into power earlier this year on an Islamic campaign that promised reforms, has turned the Arab Spring revolution on its end by trying to usurp power. He has deployed armed soldiers and police to quell angry riots that have raised fears of a repeat of the violent suppression of anti-Mubarak protesters nearly two years ago.

Despite the instability, the United States is going ahead with the delivery of the F-16 jets, part of a two-year-old order for the planes.

The first four jets are to be delivered January 22,  according to a source at the Texas air base where the planes are being tested. The date, by coincidence, is the same day that Israelis will vote for the next Knesset.

Fox noted that Egypt already has 200 F-16 warplanes and quoted  Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, as saying that the timing of the deliveries is more than questionable, but not because of the Israeli elections.

“Should an overreaction [by Egypt] spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put U.S. officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents,” he said.

“Given Washington’s fiscal woes, American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s major arms supplier.”

Morsi has backed off his attempt to assume dictatorial powers, but he is trying to win approval of a new constitution that would place Islamic Sharia law in a more prominent place in Egypt.

“The Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government has not proven to be a partner for democracy as they had promised, given the recent attempted power grab,” a senior Republican congressional aide told FoxNews.com.

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently said. “The Obama administration wants to simply throw money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States.”

The order for the Lockheed-Martin planes is another win for the American military-industrial complex.

“This is a great day for Lockheed Martin and a testament to the enduring partnership and commitment we have made to the government of Egypt,” said John Larson, vice president, Lockheed Martin F-16 programs.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller explained to Fox, “The U.S.-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of our broader strategic partnership for over thirty years. The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s modernization efforts.  Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to regional mission sets.”

President Barack Obama had distanced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood until it became clear that it was a driving force following the fall of Mubarak. In a radical shift of foreign policy, Obama’s advisors, some of whom support a more liberal policy towards Hamas, began making contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and eventually established open contacts with the radical Islamic party.

It campaigned on a strongly anti-American and anti-Israeli platform, but the U.S. State Department has reasoned that Egypt will remain an ally.

State Department official Andrew J. Shapiro was cited as stating last month, “I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt.

“The administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly. Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States.

“We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel [and] confronting Iranian ambitions…”

 

US Sends Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi 20 F-16 Warplanes

Egypt’s unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is to receive 20 F-16 fighter jets.
AAFont Size

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

First Publish: 12/11/2012, 12:17 PM

 

US Air Force F-16

US Air Force F-16
Official US Department of Defense photo

 

Egypt’s increasingly unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is about to receive 20 F-16 fighters jets despite calls to suspend arms sales to Cairo, Fox Newsreported Tuesday.

The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to take over the inheritance.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, swept into power earlier this year on an Islamic campaign that promised reforms, has turned the Arab Spring revolution on its end by trying to usurp power. He has deployed armed soldiers and police to quell angry riots that have raised fears of a repeat of the violent suppression of anti-Mubarak protesters nearly two years ago.

Despite the instability, the United States is going ahead with the delivery of the F-16 jets, part of a two-year-old order for the planes.

The first four jets are to be delivered January 22,  according to a source at the Texas air base where the planes are being tested. The date, by coincidence, is the same day that Israelis will vote for the next Knesset.

Fox noted that Egypt already has 200 F-16 warplanes and quoted  Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, as saying that the timing of the deliveries is more than questionable, but not because of the Israeli elections.

“Should an overreaction [by Egypt] spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put U.S. officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents,” he said.

“Given Washington’s fiscal woes, American taxpayers should no longer be Egypt’s major arms supplier.”

Morsi has backed off his attempt to assume dictatorial powers, but he is trying to win approval of a new constitution that would place Islamic Sharia law in a more prominent place in Egypt.

“The Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government has not proven to be a partner for democracy as they had promised, given the recent attempted power grab,” a senior Republican congressional aide told FoxNews.com.

Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently said. “The Obama administration wants to simply throw money at an Egyptian government that the president cannot even clearly state is an ally of the United States.”

The order for the Lockheed-Martin planes is another win for the American military-industrial complex.

“This is a great day for Lockheed Martin and a testament to the enduring partnership and commitment we have made to the government of Egypt,” said John Larson, vice president, Lockheed Martin F-16 programs.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller explained to Fox, “The U.S.-Egypt defense relationship has served as the cornerstone of our broader strategic partnership for over thirty years. The delivery of the first set of F-16s in January 2013 reflects the U.S. commitment to supporting the Egyptian military’s modernization efforts.  Egyptian acquisition of F-16s will increase our militaries’ interoperability, and enhance Egypt’s capacity to contribute to regional mission sets.”

President Barack Obama had distanced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood until it became clear that it was a driving force following the fall of Mubarak. In a radical shift of foreign policy, Obama’s advisors, some of whom support a more liberal policy towards Hamas, began making contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and eventually established open contacts with the radical Islamic party.

It campaigned on a strongly anti-American and anti-Israeli platform, but the U.S. State Department has reasoned that Egypt will remain an ally.

State Department official Andrew J. Shapiro was cited as stating last month, “I know that the uncertainty over the Egyptian transition has prompted some in Congress to propose conditioning our security assistance to Egypt.

“The administration believes that putting conditions on our assistance to Egypt is the wrong approach, and Secretary Clinton has made this point strongly. Egypt is a pivotal country in the Middle East and a long-time partner of the United States.

“We have continued to rely on Egypt to support and advance U.S. interests in the region, including peace with Israel [and] confronting Iranian ambitions…”

Obamacare Gets Stunning Rebuke from 25 States  Sunday, 16 Dec 2012 06:41 PM  By John O. Edwards

Dec. 14 has come and gone, and President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare — has received a stunning blow.

State governments had until Dec. 14 to decide whether they would build their own health-insurance exchanges, online services that allow individuals to purchase private health insurance if it wasn’t provided by their employers.

The exchanges now have been rebuked by half the states, which have refused to participate in this critical component of Obamacare.

Their refusal won’t stop exchanges in their states. Under the law, states that don’t create an exchange can have the federal government deal with this expensive task.

Only 18 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to build and manage their own exchanges. Seven others have taken a middle course and will partner with the federal government to create their exchanges.

Why have so many states opted out when it comes to the exchanges? Part of the reason undoubtedly is political.

Most of the states carried by Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 election are those now refusing to build their own exchanges. That is no coincidence. These are states with populations that, generally speaking, would vote by clear majorities to repeal Obamacare if they were permitted to do so.

The elected governments in these states were plainly listening to their citizens when they decided to say no to a state-run health-insurance exchange.

But there’s more to the story. A number of states that voted for President Obama — notably Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, and New Hampshire — also have said no to an exchange. While politics may have played a role in those decisions, other factors came into play.

On “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie  explained why he vetoed a state-run exchange: “I’m asking (the Obama administration) a bunch of questions about how much this is going to cost and everything else, and they won’t answer my questions . . . I’m not going to do this now . . . The law permits you always to change back to a state exchange if you want to. And what I’ve said to them is . . . if you can’t give me all the information, you run it.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also nixed his state creating an exchange, echoed a similar sentiment earlier this month.

“The idea that you’ve got a state-instituted exchange, but it has to be federally approved. So the fact is the federal government’s going to have to run these,” Perry said. “And they don’t have the expertise, nor do they have the money.”

Perry predicted the implementation of Obamacare is “going to be a disaster.”

Whatever the reason behind the decision of 25 states to opt out of building and managing an exchange, a large challenge now confronts the Obama administration.

The authors of Obamacare did not anticipate this level of non-participation by the states — as shown by the absence of specific language in the law to address the possibility — but now the federal government will be forced to build and manage exchanges for half the states.

If the White House is unable to rise to this unexpected challenge, it could mean that some of the states which opted out will not have an exchange in place by Oct. 1, 2013, the deadline for all exchanges to be operational.

While the federal government has the financial means to build out the exchange infrastructure where it needs to, it may have difficulties managing the health-insurance landscape in individual states, given the labyrinth of mandates and regulations that separate one state from another.

Another potential problem looms on the horizon thanks to a mistake in how the Obamacare law was written by Congress.

The specific language of the law says that a health-insurance exchange run by a state is eligible to receive subsidies from the federal government, but it does not explicitly say that an exchange run by the Department of Health and Human Services is eligible to receive the same money.

For now, the Internal Revenue Service is ignoring this inconsistency, but someone eventually may mount a legal challenge over the issue, leaving the matter for the courts to decide.

But the uncertainty of the exchanges inevitably will raise the question of whether Obamacare can be fully implemented, especially by 2014 when the individual mandate requires every citizens to have private health insurance or pay a fine.

Since Obama signed the sweeping legislation on March 23, 2010, its sustainability has experienced a rollercoaster of ups and downs.

With a little more than half of Americans consistently opposed to it since then, Obama’s greatest legislative achievement nonetheless has endured, surviving a controversial Supreme Court decision that could have cut the legs out from under it and a national election that could have elevated Mitt Romney to the White House along with his promise to block the law’s implementation.

With these large judicial and electoral hurdles overcome, Obamacare now is  moving full-steam-ahead towards Jan. 1, 2014, when most of its most important provisions go into effect.

All, however, is not smooth sailing, with resistance remaining in numerous states. The controversy surrounding the creation and management of the new health-insurance exchanges highlights like nothing else this persistent opposition.

Health-insurance exchanges represent the vital central nervous system of Obamacare. Once they are up and running, Americans will be able to go to a website and select an insurance plan that meets their individual needs from a menu of coverage options.

The plans will be regulated, each required to provide so-called “Essential Health Benefits.” The exchanges, by definition, are online marketplaces for health insurance, but they also are structural magnets that will help integrate the many different components of Obamacare together.

2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Report: Ahmadinejad to Cancel Turkey Trip After ‘WWIII Threat’

A report Sunday said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would not be visiting Turkey, as had been scheduled

By David Lev   First Publish: 12/16/2012, 7:48 PM

Patriot battery

Patriot battery   Israel news photo: Flash 90

After threatening that Ankara could set off “World War III” if it allows the U.S. to deploy Patriot missiles on its border with Syria, a report Sunday said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would not be visiting Turkey, as had been scheduled. Turkey’s Hurriyet daily newspaper said that the cancellation of Ahmadinejad’s visit had raised Turkish-Iranian tensions to new heights.

Earlier this year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had invited Ahmadinejad in honor of the 739th anniversary of the birth of Rumi, the originator of Sufi Islam, who had lived most of his life in Persia, and died in Turkey. The two had been set to discuss regional issues, especially Turkey’s decision to cut Iranian oil imports in the wake of international sanctions. Israeli officials said that it was certain that Israel would be high on the agenda, since besides being Iran’s sworn enemy, Israel’s relations with Turkey are poor.

The Hurriyet report attributed the cancellation to the increased tension with Iran in the wake of Tehran’s threat that deploying the missiles could “”create a world war.” Speaking to the ISNA news agency, Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi said that “the Patriot (missiles) are threatening. Each one of them is a black dot on the map, (setting the stage) to create a world war.

“The Western countries seeking to deploy the missile batteries on the Turkey-Syria border are devising plans for a world war,” Firouzabadi said. “This is very dangerous for everyone, and even for the future of Europe. A veteran military man and analyst can easily see this and predict the future.”

There was no comment on the report from official sources in Turkey or Iran.

 

 

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Revelation 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. This blog is to present Up To Date Prophetic News. My prayer is that this blog will bring others to know Jesus as their Savior if they do not know him the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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One comment on “DECEMBER 18, 2012 EARLY EDITION
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