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Talk in diplomatic circles: Israel and Palestine discuss two-state solution

For the first time in over a year, Israeli and Palestinian representatives sat down to the negotiating table in an attempt to resolve the Middle Eastern peace deadlock. This time, they met in neighboring Jordan.

The issues on the table, as RT’s Paula Slier reports, were borders and security, with the Palestinian Autonomy reiterating their call for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders as the basis for the two-state solution. They also called for the release of all Palestinian prisoners as an indication that Israel is serious about the resumed talks. Further, the Palestinians continue to insist on a freeze of the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

But while the talks were underway in Amman, Israel’s Lands Administration announced that it was issuing tenders for some 300 new homes to be built on occupied Palestinian territory, an indication indeed of Israel’s commitment.

Israeli representatives maintained that no preconditions can be placed on the negotiations, which they say must address every current issue. The Israeli side demanded its own indication of commitment from the Palestinians, in the form of ceased rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who was present at the talks in the Jordanian capital along with representatives of the Middle East Quartet, said “no major breakthroughs have been made” – but also that “it is very important that the two sides spoke face to face.”

It is the first time negotiators from Tel Aviv and Ramallah have sat down together in over a year, with the last attempt at peace talks breaking down in September 2010.

But even though many were excited to see Palestinian and Israeli negotiators at the same table, some – including the concerned parties themselves – said in advance that the meeting is only a discussion to figure out how – and indeed whether – negotiations can proceed.

Tension in the Middle East is palpable, though both sides are downplaying the importance of the Jordan meeting, refusing to call it a “negotiation.” But pressure is mounting, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warning of potential “new measures” against Israel if Tuesday’s meeting fails to bring about a resumption of negotiations.

The Fed, working through the ECB with its swap lines, is bailing out EU Banks

Wednesday, December 28, 8:36 AM Make no mistake, writes former Dallas Fed VP Gerald O’Driscoll, the Fed – working through the ECB with its swap lines – is bailing out EU banks and, indirectly, EU governments. Technically not loans, swaps allow the Fed to lend money without reporting it as such, and the figure has ballooned nearly $100B in December. It’s similar to the way Greece hid its mammoth debt through the use of swaps (that worked out well).

 

Mainstream media starts smear campaign against Ron Paul

Published: 23 December, 2011, 02:12

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul speaks during a town hall meeting in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on December 21, 2011 (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul speaks during a town hall meeting in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on December 21, 2011 (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

TAGS: ElectionMass mediaUSAMedia

 

As Congressman Ron Paul accumulates support in the polls, the mainstream media launched a smear campaign attacking the politician with bit of ammo they can find.

Latest in their arsenal is a decades’ old newsletter than the candidate has long since dismissed.

While rumors of infidelity led to the collapse of pizzaman Herman Cain’s campaign and the adulterous affairs of former-House Speaker Newt Gingrich poses problems for chance at the GOP bid, the mainstream has only now come after Paul with the first piece of fodder it seems fit for news coverage that relies on scandal and sex more than politics and liberty.

To Paul, however, the allegations are laughable. According to the congressman, he has dismissed a 20-year old newsletter with racist remarks under his name for a decade now and will continue to do so. Despite this, the mainstream media is using everything they can find to find Rep. Paul at fault.

The writings in question came from an early-90s newsletter issued by Paul’s campaign, and though his name is on the newsletter, he says he was unaware of the contents that are now causing controversy. As with all stances the congressman takes, he says that this has been the story he’s offered up ever since he became aware of the contents.

An interview with CNN on Wednesday this week ended abruptly after Paul became irritated that the network wanted to tackle the issue of racist remarks for the third day in a row, even after he had answered questions regarding them on the network hours earlier. Pressed by CNN reporter Gloria Borger, Paul responded, “I never read that stuff. I was probably aware of it ten years after it was written. And it’s been going on twenty years that people have pestered me about this, and CNN does it every single time. When are you going to wear yourself out?”

Borger countered Paul’s comment by asking, “Is it a legitimate question to ask?”

“When you get the answer it is legitimate that you take the answers I give. You know what the answer is?” responded Paul. “I didn’t write them, I didn’t read them at the time and I disavow them. That is the answer”

When Borger called Paul out for his allegedly “incendiary” remarks, he told her that they are only being interpreted that way “because of people like you.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has even gone after Paul while the candidate takes the lead in his own state, insisting recently that a first-place win in the Iowa Caucus is meaningless. “People are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third,” said Branstad, adding, “If Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire and the other states.”

Since the beginning of Paul’s campaign, the mainstream media has attacked the candidate as someone on the fringe and without a chance. Now that is success is being proven in the polls, the reality of a President Ron Paul is hitting the establishment hard and the GOP and mainstream media is going after him with everything they have.

On Thursday, Paul was once again picked on by CNN, this time saying he had no idea who penned the prose under his name.

“I do repudiate everything that is written along those lines,” said Paul, adding that he wants to “make sure everybody knew where I stood on this position because it’s obviously wrong.”

During his campaigns for the presidency, the Republican establishment and mainstream media have been unable to attack the congressman with any other controversy, with it seeming as if the politician has manage to successfully push himself away from drama during his days in elected office.

Walnut Creek Jewish Community Center set to shut down Friday, 12/16/2011

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The Contra Costa Jewish Community Center in Walnut Creek is shutting down Friday and suspending its adult day care programs and preschool — a move that has blindsided patrons of the 27-year-old center.

“I am absolutely sick,” Darby Lockett said Thursday outside the center on Tice Valley Road. For two years Lockett and her husband, Dudley, have come to the center for an adult day program for people with Alzheimer’s, which Dudley attends. Darby is part of a support group there once a week.

The teachers, who are losing their jobs, are wonderful, said Lockett, who doesn’t know where she and her husband will go.

The JCC sent a letter Wednesday to parents of the preschool program, saying activities would be suspended starting Friday. The center, apparently having major financial difficulties, broke off from the Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, based in Oakland, about a year and a half ago. The JCC becoming its own entity had nothing to do with the closure, said Rabbi James Brandt, CEO of the federation and foundation. Instead, he cited the economy and difficulties in fundraising as the reasons, adding that he was as shocked as everyone else to learn Wednesday of the closure.

“At an urgent board meeting last week it was determined that we are now at a point where the current offerings and corresponding fundraising activity cannot guarantee sufficient cash to cover the programs at the Tice Valley facility,” according to the letter from Robert Rich, JCC president, who did not return calls for comment. “Given this, the only course to take was, and is, to suspend the activities of the (adult day program), the JCC preschool and all other on-site programming.”

The letter also said employees at the center will be laid off and the property put up for sale.

With around 400 members and about 70 children in the preschool, the center apparently has had financial problems for the past few years. A federal tax return covering April to June 2010 shows a $151,253 deficit just for those three months. The JCC had to begin filing its own tax records after spinning off from the federation.

Brandt said they are working to help the families displaced by the closure.

“As sad as this is, one of the things that is heartening to me is we have been working full time with preschools and synagogues in the community … and they are really coming together to find new options for the displaced children,” he said.

Parents gathered at the center Thursday said their main concern is the kids. They said they are working feverishly to plot their next move; they hope they can somehow keep the preschool program going, either at the JCC or somewhere else.

Thursday was the Hanukkah party at the school, and parent Mark Lipton wondered how you tell your child that today is the party and tomorrow is the last time they may see their friends.

“Because it’s children, the number one goal is continuity,” he said.

Other parents said that because it’s winter break, finding a new school immediately may be impossible. The parents have set up an email address — helpjcckids@gmail.com — for anyone who wants to donate or get information.

The shock over news of the closure was evident Thursday. Making it harder to fathom was that, for years, the organization had told its members it wanted to expand and was asking for money to fund that.

In 2008, the JCC won the right from the City Council to develop 2.6 acres next to its Tice Valley center into an 80-unit condo complex. It was a controversial approval, but JCC leaders said the development was necessary to raise money to help pay for a $40 million expansion planned for the center. That development was never started.

Another wrinkle is that the city’s Tice Valley Gym, next door to the Jewish center, was built in 1995 on JCC-owned land. In exchange, the JCC is allowed to use the gym, where it still plans to hold some of its extracurricular classes, said Barry Gordon, director of Arts, Recreation and Community Service for the city. And the city has a 99-year lease for the gym land, so even if the JCC is sold, the city gym will remain, he said.

No one associated with the JCC returned calls for comment.