Thursday, March 26, 2015

#RaceTogether

An interesting article from http://www.ucg.org/ about Starbucks race together campaign. This follows this post about Israel and Blood Moons. This follows this post about U.S. colleges. This follows this post about Easter. For a free magazine subscription or to get the books recommended for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.
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#RaceTogether

Starbuck's short lived campaign to dialogue about race in America produced mixed reactions.


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[Darris McNeely] Did you happen to get one of these cups of coffee at Starbucks last week when you went in for your favorite brew, as they were going through a promotional idea, #RaceTogether? An effort by Starbucks, initiated by its CEO to start a dialogue on race in America. They cancelled it after one week, and of course, the cancellation caused as much comment as the actual event itself, that went on for several days, as people from all walks of life commented about the effort to establish a dialogue on racial discrimination and racial problems in the United States, in Starbucks. The idea was that the barista would write this #RaceTogether on their coffee cup and then engage you, the customer, in a discussion about a very sensitive issue that could really erupt – who knows where that would go, because of the barista not being trained, perhaps, in how to discuss this with people, and just your frame of mind on an early Sunday morning, all you want your cup of coffee, not really to get into a discussion about that.
One famous American, Karima Abdul Jabar himself, said he was in shock and awe at the effort by Starbucks to do this – in shock that they would think that it might work, but in awe that they would try it, to do something to correct what indeed is a social problem in the United States and other parts of the world, and still, so many years after so much progress has been made, does elicit some very strong feelings.
And so, this particular program has gone; there’ll be others. And unfortunately, there’ll probably be other eruptions of racial discrimination, racial violence, and tension in our world to remind us that relations between mankind at all levels, of all races, creeds, or ethnicities, are not exactly what they should be.
I think for each one of us, we need to just stop and analyze what’s in our heart and think about this in our background, in our thoughts, in our actions – to make sure that before God and before our fellow man, there is no racial discrimination, there are no thoughts of evil in any way, or thinking of matters of inequality. For a Christian, for a son of God, those ideas, those thoughts should find no place in one’s heart.
In Romans:14:19, the apostle Paul makes a statement about this, as he’s talking about relationships between people on a spiritual basis, and he says, “Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace, and the things by which one may edify another.” Strive for peace in your words, in your relationships, and in your heart. Strive for that peace with God and strive for that with your fellow man. If that’s the case, and if that works, then we can have the help to deal with discrimination and get along together at a better level than what we may have done in the past.
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JEB: Illegal aliens should be at the front of the jobs line

An interesting article from www.numbersusa.com about Jeb Bush's stand on immigration. This follows this post about California's drought. This follows this post about Fox News and their PRO-amnesty coverage. This follows this post about Texas immigration bills. This follows this post on HOW amnesty is funded in ways other than the DHS. Remember, “Amnesty” means ANY non-enforcement of existing immigration laws! This follows this comment and this post about how to Report Illegal Immigrants! Also, you can read two very interesting books HERE.
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JEB: Illegal aliens should be at the front of the jobs line

s for jobless Americans, I suppose the answer is: Let them eat pie, or let them eat when there is a bigger pie.
Despite saying some pretty sensible things about immigration at the big CPAC conservative activists conference last Friday, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush displayed zero awareness that immigration issues affect working-class Americans.
FOX host Sean Hannity did his best to give Bush a chance to show concern for Americans who can't find jobs or whose wages are depressed by the country's giant surplus of workers. Perhaps Americans should have first crack at U.S. jobs, Hannity suggested.
(HANNITY) Right now at this point, the country at this moment in history, we have 50 million Americans nearly in poverty--nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps, the lowest labor participation rate since the 1970s. I want you to connect it to immigration. Shouldn't Americans have the opportunity for those jobs first? You say, go to the back of the line, but if they go to the back of the line, they still get to stay here and compete for those jobs?
Hannity was stating the gist of NumbersUSA's national ad campaign last fall in which we asked, "Who should get the next jobs?"
Nearly all supporters of "comprehensive immigration reform" or any other form of amnesty say that their plan would require illegal aliens to "go to the back of the line." But what does that mean? Since millions of Americas are in line looking for a job, then "back of the line" ought to mean that illegal aliens don't get a crack at a job until the jobless line of Americans is exhausted. Whether or not one agrees that illegal aliens should ever be allowed to have a U.S. job, surely they should not be put at the front of the jobs line, right?
I'm not aware of any supporter of "legalization" who thinks illegal aliens should go to the back of the jobs line, and Jeb Bush added himself to that list on Friday.
Bush refused to state that Americans have any priority over illegal aliens when it comes to jobs.
(BUSH) You either believe that the pie is static, that's the Left's point of view. Many on the Right don't agree with that, but with their policies, they imply it. Therefore, we're splitting up...someone's benefit is someone's else's detriment. I believe we ought to be focused on growing the economic pie, and growing it at a rate that looks more like the '80s in America. Growing it closer to four percent, not two percent. If we stay in this anemic economic rate, then your argument becomes valid, but if we grow at four percent, there's going to be opportunities for all. It's not a zero-sum game. That's not how Republicans and conservatives think. We don't think it's just all about the government divvying it up for us to get our crumbs. We believe we should pursue our dreams as we see fit, and the more people doing it with the capacity to achieve our success, the more economic growth will take place."
The way I read that answer to -- or failure to answer -- Hannity's very clear, specific question is that Bush believes the millions of illegal aliens who now have jobs should keep them and that unemployed Americans should wait until Bush's version of government is able to create enough new jobs that the Americans can then have employment, too.
Until the total economic pie gets a lot bigger, unemployed Americans stay unemployed while illegal aliens keep their jobs. That's the Jeb Bush version of who goes to the back of the line.
In fact, Bush seemed to suggest to the CPAC audience here in Washington that making illegal aliens take jobs is a part of their punishment for breaking immigration laws.
(BUSH) The simple fact is we are not going to deport 11 million people, We should give them a path to legal status, where they work, they don't receive government benefits, where they don't break the law, where they learn English, and where they make a contribution to our society. That's what we need to be focused on.
Essentially, Bush was answering Hannity in the same way that Pres. Obama's nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, answered Sen. Jeff Sessions when he asked who should have priority for U.S. jobs -- illegal immigrants or U.S. citizens and legal immigrants already here. Lynch refused to say Americans have first right to the jobs and went on to indicate that if somebody is in this country illegally she wants them to be holding a job and working.
Lynch and Bush showed no sensitivity for what it is like for tens of millions of working-age Americans who do not have a job, or what that level of UNproductivity might be doing to the nation as a whole.
And it gets worse.
Both Lynch and Bush are in favor of giving work permits to millions of illegal aliens which means they not only get to keep the jobs they have but they get to compete for every new U.S. job that opens up at every level.
At least under the status quo, illegal foreign workers are unable to access the majority of jobs in America. Under the Lynch and Bush vision for America, every American would have to compete with illegal aliens for any job that becomes available.
In Bush's answers to Hannity, he indicated some respect for the essential requirement of securing U.S. borders:
(BUSH) A great country needs to enforce borders for national security purposes, public health purposes, and the rule of law. First and foremost we have to do that.
But note that he didn't say the borders need to be secure to protect the interests of economically vulnerable Americans, something that a number of Supreme Court rulings have stated is the primary reason for immigration laws.
Bush did speak against Chain Migration but then undercut the value of reducing all that unnecessary and harmful foreign labor by suggesting that the country has some kind of labor shortage..
(BUSH) . . . we need a narrow family petitioning so that it's the same as every other country, spouses and minor children, not this broad definition of spouse, minor children, adult siblings and adult parents, that crowds out what we need, which are economic driven immigrants. Those who come here to work, to invest in their dreams in this country, to create opportunities for all of us, and that's what we need to get to.
Bush had a strong answer to the border surge last year of Central Americans, saying "they should have been sent home at the border" to send a message to stop the dangerous journeys.
In the end, though, Bush showed the cluelessness of much of the national Republican establishment that when the Republican Party appeals to the needs of working-class voters -- as in 2010 and 2014 -- it wins, and when it appears to be primarily the party of the privileged it loses. Telling the unemployed of America to be patient and wait for him to enlarge the pie while he confers improved job status on millions of illegal aliens does not sound like a 2010 or 2014 message.
ROY BECK is President & Founder of NumbersUSA
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Current Events & Trends: Israel: A nation in dire peril

An interesting article from http://www.ucg.org/ about Israel and Blood Moons. This follows this post about U.S. colleges. This follows this post about Easter. This follows this post about Human Trafficking. For a free magazine subscription or to get the books recommended for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.
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Current Events & Trends: Israel: A nation in dire peril




The year 1948 saw the birth of the modern state of Israel, transforming a significant portion of the Jewish people from a scattered nation (a diaspora or dispersion) into a nation-state with real sovereignty.

For nearly 2,000 years the Jews had no permanent liberties and no kingdom they could call their own. Again, 1948 changed this, but there were many wars and political trials to come in maintaining this gain. And now in 2014, the Israeli state still faces both external and internal threats to its very existence.
Israel's economic miracle must be balanced against a number of negative factors. Begin with the religious animosity of many of the world's Muslims. Also this tiny country remains surrounded by hostile Arab states with a combined population of some 370 million. And then, too, many Palestinians think of Israel as an alien interloper that has no place in "Palestine."
Israel's relationship with its longtime protector, the United States, has encountered some rocky shoals. The Israeli leadership is far from assured that Washington will stand by Jerusalem should the tiny nation encounter a time of severe crisis. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains extremely skeptical of the ongoing U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Some observers even think that the deal with Iran will drive Israel into an informal entente with Saudi Arabia. The latter might agree to this as part of the great divide in Islam between the majority Sunni branch and the minority Shiite branch concentrated in Iran and Iraq. Noted foreign policy professor Walter Russell Mead commented on the matter in The Wall Street Journal:
"Riyadh and Jerusalem have common interests that are not limited to preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Saudis believe Iran is leading Shiites in a religious conflict with Sunnis now engulfing the Fertile Crescent. They fear that the [Iranian] Islamic Republic, nuclear or not, poses an existential threat to their security as the Shiite tide rises . . .
"Israel is . . . concerned about . . . the prospect of a Hezbollah-Tehran-Syria axis along its northern frontier . . . Both countries think that a naive Mr. Obama's unicorn hunt for nuclear disarmament is leading him to sacrifice vital geopolitical interests in the hope of what will turn out to be a very bad nuclear deal with Iran" ("A Riyadh-Jerusalem Entente," Dec. 6, 2013).
Our free Bible study aid booklet Are We Living in the Time of the End? shows that the establishment of the state of Israel is one of the key prophetic benchmarks for the fulfillment of end-time prophecy. (Sources: The Wall Street Journal, author Ari Shavit.)

Is there an immigration bell among the drought alarms?

 An interesting article from www.numbersusa.com about California's drought. This follows this post about Fox News and their PRO-amnesty coverage. This follows this post about Texas immigration bills. This follows this post on HOW amnesty is funded in ways other than the DHS. Remember, “Amnesty” means ANY non-enforcement of existing immigration laws! This follows this comment and this post about how to Report Illegal Immigrants! Also, you can read two very interesting books HERE.
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Is there an immigration bell among the drought alarms?

https://www.numbersusa.com/sendfax

In "Intensifying Calif. drought sets off alarms," Doyle Rice, USA Today's weather and climate reporter, reports: "As California's epic drought continues with no end in sight, it is setting off new alarms about unprecedented water shortages, increased wildfire threats, fewer crops and farmers, higher electric bills and huge economic losses for years -- or even decades -- to come."
Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, says "In the end, we have no choice but to bring supply and demand back into balance, and the options for new supply are very limited."
Which leaves us with demand. Immigration policy now drives more than three-quarters of U.S. population growth. Without changes to immigration, the U.S. is projected to add nearly 100 million people (the equivalent of two and a half California's) by the year 2051.
Putting additional pressure on our water supply isn't the goal but it's a very real side effect of current immigration levels.
Per capita consumption is obviously very important. State and local governments are already putting restrictions on how and when residents use their water. Given the population projections, restrictions may become increasingly necessary, though not sufficient.
Efforts to increase the supply of water such as desalination plants and recycled wastewater projects take time and money. The increased demand that results from our immigration policy will give us less time and require more money to test out these potential solutions.
Congress can't make it rain, but they can (and do) mandate increased demand on our natural resources. They do so through immigration policy. We should be talking about this.
In his 1997 study, "How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection," T. Michael Maher of the University of Southwestern Louisiana found that "journalists are aware of the controversial nature of the population issue, and prefer to avoid it if possible."
Throw immigration into the mix and you've really got something to avoid!
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standard's Project for NumbersUSA

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anti-Semitism At Liberal American Colleges

An interesting article from http://www.ucg.org/ about U.S. colleges. This follows this post about Easter. This follows this post about Human Trafficking. For a free magazine subscription or to get the books recommended for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.
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Anti-Semitism At Liberal American Colleges


Time for another update on this virulent pathogen.


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[Darris McNeely] It’s time once again to talk about something that few people like to talk about, though we need to cover it from time to time here on Beyond Today : it’s anti-Semitism. Hatred of Jews and anything Jewish, and “Death to Israel” and all these other matters that are continuing, it seems now, to be in our news, rearing its ugly head. We, a few weeks ago, did one on the massacres of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris, where they were attacked, and some of the subsequent fallout from there in Europe, dealing with attacks upon Jews, synagogues, and all things Jewish. Israel has been in the news because of the Prime Minister Netanyahu coming and speaking here in his recent reelection to another term as prime minister. And so, the role of Israel in this world, the world of Jews, and these things, anti-Semitic, are really being talked about a great deal.
This particular article is talking about anti-Semitism raising its head in recent days on some of America’s most liberal college campuses, and asking the question whether or not they are breeding anti-Semitism. Schools like UCLA in Los Angeles, or Berkeley, or Vanderbilt down in Nashville, Tennessee – another college that has had some cases of this.
Anti-Semitism is something people don’t like to talk about, but at times when it comes out in some of the most polite society and circles, people will perhaps have to admit or even express to their closest friends that they do have a problem with Jews or things Jewish, or the State of Israel, which has become kind of the Jew of the world today because of the policies there and the Palestinian situation and their perception of Israel in the League of Nations and in the world of nations today.
Look, anti-Semitism has not left us. It is alive and well, and it is something that we do need to talk about, and you and I need to understand whether or not it resides in our hearts or minds at all and how virulent a pathogen it really is, and even anti-Biblical for all the obvious reasons.
You know, a few years ago I was on a lecture in Canada, and I was talking about something in regard to prophecy but someone came up afterwards during a break and he, because I had talked about the Jews and the State of Israel in my presentation, he tried to engage me in this story that people have that the Holocaust of World War II – the genocide of the Nazis against the Jews – didn’t really happen, that six million Jews were not really killed. And I’m standing there, just aghast that someone supposedly of sane mind can believe such an idea, and would even bring that to me in that type of setting. I had just come back from Germany, from Berlin, and I had actually been at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, that the German people have erected to the Holocaust of World War II, and I told the gentleman, “Do you think, do you really think, that modern Germany would have put their Holocaust memorial in the near proximity – almost directly over – the spot where Hitler’s bunker was at the end of World War II, in the heart of Berlin, its national capital, if they didn’t believe the Holocaust was a reality that they had to live with?” As I thought to the man, echoing the words of a line from a movie, “Go sell crazy someplace else. We’ve got enough of it here.” It’s too crazy and ridiculous of an idea. And it’s too evil of an idea for anyone to hold, but unfortunately, too many people do today. Something that if we’re not educated about, we need to be. And so that’s why we tend to talk about it here on Beyond Today , for the reasons that are important to the world scene, but also for some very, very deep spiritual reasons, as well. Think about that.
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Saudi Arabia Faces Challenges in the New Year

A very interesting post from www.stratfor.com about Saudi Arabia's problems this year. This follows this post about Israel's elections. This follows this article about American energy independence and preventing money from going to hostile countries. For more, you can read two very interesting books HERE.
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Saudi Arabia Faces Challenges in the New Year
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By Michael Nayebi-Oskoui
The Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world — it is no stranger to upheaval. The 2009 uprisings in Iran and the brinksmanship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government were followed by the chaos of the Arab Spring, the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq and a potential realignment of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Unlike recent years, however, 2015 is likely to see regional Sunni Arab interests realign toward a broader acceptance of moderate political Islam. The region is emerging from the uncertainty of the past half-decade, and the foundations of its future are taking shape. This process will not be neat or orderly, but changes are clearly taking place surrounding the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, as well as the region's anticipation of a strengthened Iran.
The Middle East enters 2015 facing several crises. Libyan instability remains a threat to North African security, and the Levant and Persian Gulf must figure out how to adjust course in the wake of the U.S.-Iranian negotiations, the Sunni-Shiite proxy war in Syria and Iraq, and the power vacuum created by a Turkish state bogged down by internal concerns that prevent it from assuming a larger role throughout the region. Further undermining the region is the sharp decline in global oil prices. While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will be able to use considerable cash reserves to ride out the slump, the rest of the Middle East's oil-exporting economies face dire consequences.
For decades, long-ruling autocratic leaders in countries such as Algeria and Yemen helped keep militancy in check, loosely following the model of military-backed Arab nationalism championed by Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Arab monarchs were able to limit domestic dissent or calls for democracy through a combination of social spending and repression. The United States not only partnered with many of these nations to fight terrorism — especially after September 2001 — but also saw the Gulf states as a reliable bulwark against Iranian expansion and a dangerous Iraq led by Saddam Hussein. Levantine instability was largely contained to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, while Israel's other neighbors largely abided by a tacit agreement to limit threats emanating from their territories.
Today, Saddam's iron grip on Iraq has been broken, replaced by a fractious democracy that is as threatened by the Islamic State as it is by its own political processes. Gone are the long-time leaders of states like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Meanwhile, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Oman are facing uncertain transitions that could well take place by year's end. The United States' serious dialogue with Iran over the latter's nuclear program, once a nearly unthinkable scenario for many in the Gulf, has precipitated some of the biggest shifts in regional dynamics, especially as Saudi Arabia and its allies work to lessen their reliance on Washington's protection.

The Push for Sunni Hegemony

Riyadh begins this year under considerably more duress than it faced 12 months ago. Not only is King Abdullah gravely ill (a bout of pneumonia forced the 90-year-old ruler to ring in the new year in the hospital and on a ventilator), but the world's largest oil-producing country has also entered into a price war with American shale producers. Because Saudi Arabia and its principal regional allies, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, boast more than a trillion dollars in cash reserves between them, they will be able to keep production levels constant for the foreseeable future.
However, other OPEC producers have not been able to weather the storm as easily. The resulting 40 percent plunge in oil prices is placing greater financial pressure on Iran and the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, Saudi Arabia's largest sectarian and energy rivals. Riyadh's careful planning and building of reserves means the Saudi kingdom's economic security is unlikely to come under threat in the next one to three years. The country will instead continue to focus on not only countering Iran but also rebuilding relationships with regional Sunni actors weakened in previous years.
Riyadh's regional strategy has traditionally been to support primarily Sunni Arab groups with a conservative, Salafist religious ideology. Salafist groups traditionally kept out of politics, and their conservative Sunni ideology was useful in Saudi Arabia's competition against Iran and its own Shiite proxies. Promoting Salafism also served as a tool to limit the reach of more ideologically moderate Sunni political Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, groups Riyadh sees as a threat because of their success in organizing grassroots support and fighting for democratic reforms.
With rise of external regional pressures, however, Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia are re-evaluating their relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood. Internal threats posed by Salafist jihadists and a desire to limit future gains by regional opponents are pushing countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to try to forge a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood to limit the risks posed by rival groups in the region.
Restoring relations with the Muslim Brotherhood will also have effects on diplomatic relations. Qatar has long been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact that has strained its relations with other countries — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates even went so far as to close their embassies in Qatar. However, the continuation of the United States' rapprochement with Iran and Riyadh's own discomfort with the rise of Salafist jihadist groups has made it reconsider its stance on political Islamism. Riyadh, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi's agreement to resume diplomatic ties with Doha, and the latter's consideration of changing its relationships with Egypt and Libya, points to a shift in how the bloc's engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood has the potential to streamline the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) efforts in the region.
The Gulf monarchies' attempt at reconciling with political Islamists can potentially benefit the GCC. For its part, Qatar has engaged with the staunchly anti-Islamist Libyan government in Tobruk, and it appears tensions with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government in Egypt have calmed. Both scenarios point to the likelihood of the GCC moving closer to adopting a more unified regional stance beginning in 2015, one more in line with Riyadh's wishes to preserve the framework of the council.
This improvement in relations comes at a critical moment. With the United States and Iran undergoing a rapprochement of their own, the Gulf monarchies will try to secure their own interests by becoming directly involved in Libya, Syria and potentially Yemen. This military action will also aim to project strength to Iran while also filling the strategic void left by the absence of Turkish leadership in the region, especially in the Levant.
However, Qatar has been opposed to this course of action in the past. Despite its small size, the country has used its wealth and domestic stability to back a wide array of Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda in Tunisia and rebel groups in Syria. Tensions between Qatar and regional allies came to a head in 2014 in the aftermath of Saudi and Emirati support for the July 2013 uprising that ousted the Doha-backed Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. The tension threatened the stability of the GCC and caused rebel infighting in Syria. This disconnect in Gulf policy has had wide regional repercussions, including the success of Islamic State militants against Gulf-backed rebel groups in Syria and the Islamic States' expansion into Iraq.
Without foreign military intervention on behalf of the rebels, no faction participating in the Syrian civil war will be able to declare a decisive military victory. As the prospects of a clear-cut outcome become less realistic, Bashar al Assad's Russian and Iranian backers are increasing diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement in Syria, especially as both are eager to refocus on domestic woes exacerbated by the current drop in global energy prices. Kuwait's recent decision to allow the Syrian regime to reopen its embassy to assist Syrian expats living within its borders points to a likelihood that the Gulf states are coming to terms with the reality that al Assad is unlikely to be ousted by force, and Sunni Arab stakeholders in the Syrian conflict are gradually giving in to the prospect of a negotiated settlement. A resolution to the Syrian crisis will not come in 2015, but regional actors will continue looking for a solution to the crisis outside of the battlefield.
Any negotiated settlement will see the Sunni principals in the region — led by the GCC and Turkey — work to implement a competent Sunni political organization that limits the authority of a remnant Alawite government in Damascus and future inroads by traditional backers in Tehran. Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam represents one of the potential Sunni solutions within this framework, and with Saudi opposition to the group potentially fading, it remains a possible alternative to the variety of Salafist options that could exist — to include jihadists. Such a solution ultimately relies on a broader democratic framework to be implemented, a scenario that will likely remain elusive in Syria for years to come.

North Africa's Long Road to Stability

North African affairs have traditionally followed a trajectory distinct from that of the Levant and Persian Gulf, a reality shaped as much by geography as by political differences between the Nasser-inspired secular governments and the monarchies of the Gulf. Egypt, Saudi Arabia's traditional rival for leadership of the Sunni Arab world, has become cripplingly dependent on the financial backing of its former Gulf rivals. The GCC was able to use its relative stability and oil wealth to take advantage of opportunities to secure its members' interests in North Africa following the Arab Spring. As a result, Cairo has become a launching pad for Gulf intentions, particularly UAE airstrikes against Islamist militants in Libya and joint Egyptian-Gulf backing of renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter's Operation Dignity campaign.
Like Syria, Libya represents a battleground for competing regional Sunni ambitions. Qatar, and to a lesser extent Turkey, backed Libya's powerful Islamist political and militia groups led by the re-instated General National Congress in Tripoli after the international community recognized the arguably anti-Islamist House of Representatives in Tobruk. Islamist-aligned political and militia forces control Libya's three largest cities, and Egyptian- and Gulf-backed proxies are making little headway against opponents in battles to gain control of Tripoli and Benghazi, prompting more direct action by Cairo and Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are primarily concerned with the possibility of Libya, an oil-rich state bordering Egypt, becoming a wealthy backer of political Islam. Coastal-based infighting has left much of Libya's vast desert territories available for regional jihadists as well as a host of smuggling and trafficking activities, posing a significant security risk not just for regional states but Western interests as well. Egyptian and Gulf attempts to shape outcomes on the ground in Libya have proved largely ineffective, and Western plans for reconciliation talks favor regional powers such as Algeria — a traditional rival to Egyptian and Gulf interests in North Africa — that are more comfortable working with political actors across a wide spectrum of political ideologies to include Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamism.
Libya will likely find itself as the proving ground for the quid pro quo happening between the participants of the intra-Sunni rift over political Islam. In exchange for Saudi Arabia and its partners reducing their pressure on Muslim Brotherhood-style groups in Egypt and Syria, Qatar and Turkey are likely to work more visibly with Tobruk in 2015 in addition to pushing Islamist proxies into a Western-backed national dialogue. Libya's overall security situation will not be settled through mediation, but Libyan Islamists are more likely to re-enter a coalition with the political rivals now that both sides' Gulf backers are working toward settling differences themselves.

Regional Impact

Dysfunction and infighting have marred attempts by the region's Sunni actors to formulate a cohesive strategy in Syria. This has enabled Iran to remain entrenched in the Levant — albeit while facing pressure — and to continue expending resources competing in arenas such as Libya and Egypt. The next year will likely see an evolving framework where Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and to a lesser extent Turkey, will reach a delicate understanding on the role of political Islam in the region. 2014 saw a serious reversal in the fortunes of Muslim Brotherhood-style groups, which inadvertently favored even more far-right and extremist groups such as the Islamic State as the Gulf's various Sunni proxies were focused on competing with one another.
Iran's slow but steady push toward a successful negotiation with the United States, as well as the threats posed by militant Islam throughout the Levant, Iraq and North Africa, is necessitating a realignment of relationships within the Middle East's diverse Sunni interests. Less divisive Sunni leadership will be instrumental in coordinating efforts to resolve the conflicts in both Libya and Syria, although resolution in both conflicts will remain out of reach in 2015 and some time beyond.
A more robust Sunni Arab position, especially in Syria and the Levant, will likely put more pressure on Iran to reach a negotiated settlement with the United States by the end of the year. While a settlement may seem harmful to Gulf interests, the GCC is shifting toward a pragmatic acceptance of an agreement, similar to Riyadh's begrudging accommodation of a future role for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. The GCC's new goal is to limit Tehran's opportunities for success rather than outright denying it. Part of this will be achieved through an ongoing, aggressive energy strategy. The rest will come from internal negotiations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.
The next year will see the Sunni presence in Syria attempt to coalesce behind rebels acceptable to Western governments that are eager to see negotiations begin and greater local pushback against the Islamic State. More cohesive Gulf leadership will also present a more effective bulwark against Iranian and Alawite interests in the Levant. Most important, however, is the opportunity for regional Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia, to present a more mature and capable response to mounting pressures. Whether through more assertive military moves in the region or by working with states such as Qatar to steer the Muslim Brotherhood rather than embolden the Islamist opposition, 2015 will likely see a shift in Sunni Arab strategies that have long shaped the region.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Editorial: Is there a real conservative media?

Editorial

"Conservative" media outlet Fox News was criticized by Mickey Kaus, and all the ado over it led to his resignation. The criticism he directed at this outlet was that they are not covering immigration enough, but rather are talking about ISIS and socialism. These are important issues, to be fair, but the transformation of the U.S. through immigration will only exacerbate those problems, and also cause additional ones.

Contact Fox news and tell them about this!

desk@foxnews.com
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