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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

Obama Declares State of Emergency as ‘Matthew’ Approaches Florida

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

US President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency Thursday in Florida, in anticipation of the damage likely to be created by the rapidly approaching Hurricane Matthew.

The move effectively authorized release of funds and coordination of disaster relief efforts via the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

There is a large Jewish community in Florida, as well as in Georgia and South Carolina as well.

The storm has already cost the lives of 113 people, including 108 in Haiti alone.

Below is a photo of the storm as seen from the International Space Station three days ago, on Oct. 3, 2016.

Hurricane Matthew, from the International Space Station on Oct. 3, 2016.

Hurricane Matthew, from the International Space Station on Oct. 3, 2016.

Both agencies will be needed to deal with effects of the storm during and after Hurricane Matthew makes landfall.

Matthew was still designated a Category Four hurricane on Thursday afternoon — the second-most severe storm on the scale — and was packing winds of approximately 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour).

More than two million people were urged by authorities to leave their homes in coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as Matthew approaches. It’s the largest mandatory evacuation seen in the United States, spanning three states so far, since 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard.

Hana Levi Julian

Florida Awaits Hurricane Matthew, Deadliest Storm Since 2004

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The deadliest hurricane since 2004 was expected to strike the eastern Florida coast by Thursday night, prompting the state’s governor to plead with residents to “evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

Matthew is a Category 4 hurricane, just one level short of the deadliest storm possible, and considered to be the strongest in decades.

The island nation of Haiti this week lost 98 lives to Matthew; four other people died in the Dominican Republic when the hurricane hit that nation’s coast.

In Florida, a state of emergency has already been declared and some two million residents have been urged by Florida Governor Rick Scott to evacuate their homes in anticipation of damage from the storm. Winds could reach up to 145 miles per hour at landfall.

The Florida governor activated 2,500 members of the National Guard to help keep order as people prepare for the storm. Nearly 1600 flights have already been cancelled. Gas stations are emptying, and grocery store shelves are just about bare. Trains and cruise ships in south Florida are suspending service.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned in a bulletin, “extremely dangerous Hurricane Matthew heading for Florida.” The site has updated advisories on the latest status of the storm, and its current location.

According to The Weather Channel, Matthew is expected to be the strongest Florida East Coast strike since Hurricane Andrew, and likely to also bring similar destruction to the Georgia coast and to the coast of South Carolina, with dangerous, life-threatening storm surge and flooding rains expected.

“The eyewall may deliver the strongest, most destructive winds anyone in parts of the northeast and east-central Florida coast has seen in their lifetime,” according to the site. “The last, and only Category 4 hurricane to make landfall anywhere in northeast Florida or the Georgia coast was an 1898 hurricane south of St. Simons Island, Georgia.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott warned residents in a media briefing on Thursday: “Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you… There is no reason not to leave… Millions will lose power, possibly for a long period of time. My goal is to make sure everyone is prepared. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: Obama $38 Billion MOU Designed to Shackle Congress, Fight Not Over

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement regarding the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US, saying: “In a short while, in Washington DC, a historic agreement will be signed between the United States and Israel. This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.”

A few lines down, Netanyahu wrote: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” and, “I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support, which crosses party lines and embraces the length and breadth of the United States.”

There, in the cross-section between the President and Congress, is where the drama over the US aid package to Israel will be taking place in the coming months. It also explains why the PM has embraced a deal that is, clearly, a step back in terms of Israel’s ambitions for US military aid.

According to Ha’aretz, citing senior defense ministry officials, as recently as last July US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and then Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon have reached an agreement in principle on a $45 billion aid package over ten years. Why is Israel now willing to settle for $7 billion less? Ha’aretz, typically, blames the cut on Netanyahu’s refusal to toe the line on the Iran nuclear deal, and his insolent battle against the President in Congress over it. But that doesn’t explain why Sec. Carter was offering the larger amount months after Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech in Congress.

Like all deals, the $38 billion MOU must still be confirmed in the Senate, first by the Appropriations Committee and then by the full Senate. One key member of the committee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who earlier this week told the Washington Post: “The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion. I said, ‘Tell the administration to go [expletive] themselves.’”

The 10-year aid package reaching its conclusion in 2017 was set at “only” $31 billion, but, in addition, Congress has been awarding Israel additional funds: $729 million in 2014 to help with the acquisition gaps caused by the Gaza War, as well as to help the development of the Iron Dome system. In 2015 Congress gave Israel $620 million in addition to the aid package, and this year the estimates are around $600 million. So that the aid Israel currently receives from the US is pretty close to the MOU’s $38 Billion. Israel will only benefit from an additional $100 million annually. For a country boasting a $300 billion annual GDP, this is the definition of chump change.

Why, then, did Netanyahu agree to an MOU that compels Israel to pay back whatever amount Congress adds in military aid, which would include an attempt by, say, Senator Lindsey Graham, to tack on an extra $7 billion to the proposed package?

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

The MOU awards the Israeli missile defense development effort $500 million per year, more than the $487 million Congress gave it in 2016, but less than the Senate appropriations bill for 2017, which gives Israel $600 million. By the way, Obama asked for only $145.8 million in the budget. So, should the MOU go through the Senate, Israel would lose $600 million right off the bat. And Israel signed a letter, as part of the MOU, that any amount tacked on to the aid package in later years, Israel would be obligated to give back.

A White House official said this is better for Israel, since “the fact that under our offer Israel can count on the administration’s commitment to provide a substantial level of missiledefense assistance for a 10-year period is substantively different from the missile- defense support it has received in previous years.” There’s some truth to it — rather than go lobbying every year for that money, Israel is guaranteed a moderately lower sum, it’s already in the bank.

“You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham is irate because the MOU was a White House attempt to neutralize the Republican Congress’s ability to forge an independent relationship with the Jewish State. They can continue to invite Bibi to talk to them against the next president, if they so wish, but they can’t give him a penny. Vindictive? Probably. But also understandable. This President spent much of his two terms in office fighting Congress over foreign policy. He’d like to leave his successor a cleaner slate, at least when it comes to dealing with Israel.

The MOU is also better for the Pentagon, which, together with the White House, can keep all the money going to Israel inside one, manageable package. Should the need arise for additional funds, Israel would have to go to the President, not Congress, and when Israel asks for something, Israel also has to give something. Also, in six years, according to the MOU, Israel will lose the right to spend any of the aid package on its own military industrial complex — all the money must stay in the US. Of course, by then Israeli manufacturers would follow Elbit and Rafael and forge partnerships with US corporations, but the jobs in Israel would be lost.

“I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers,” Senator Graham wrote on his website. “Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.” He added, “Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform. I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”

So, it’s obvious why the MOU represents a good deal for the Administration. But why was Netanyahu “duped” into signing the MOU? There are two possible explanations, and they both have to do with the coming lame duck session of Congress. Since last summer, there have been persistent rumors in Jerusalem and Washington that, once the November 8 election is over, the Obama Administration would spend its last breath on squeezing a 2-state deal out of Israel. To do that, the rumors went, Obama would join the majority in the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that push Israel against the wall. It would be ugly, it would be painful, there would be no support for the move from either the Democrats nor the Republicans, but it won’t matter. It would be a move that can’t be stopped by Congress, and Israel would, at last, bow to the pressure.

Did Netanyahu sign the MOU in return for an Obama promise to leave him alone between Nov. 9 and January 17? Perhaps. Of course, the above nightmare scenario is not something we would expect from any US president, except for the fact that President Obama has been so capricious and unpredictable about his bizarre “Arab Spring” campaign, that if anyone would dream up something like that it would be him.

The other point has to do with the conversation Netanyahu had with Senator Graham earlier this week, in which, we understand, Graham did most of the talking, and only part of it was taken up by expletives. The Senator from South Carolina, with Bibi’s blessing, can bury the MOU. He has at his disposal several parliamentary means of delaying it until after the start of the new year. It won’t be simple, and there are members on the Democratic side of the Appropriations Committee who are decidedly not friendly to Israel (Senator Patrick Leahy, Dem – Vt comes to mind) who would attack Graham viciously. But if Graham can drag this deal long enough, he could get it tossed and rewritten by the next Administration.

JNi.Media

Jewish, Muslim High School Students Marked for Death in Duncan, South Carolina

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Jewish and Muslim high school students at the James T. Byrnes High School in Duncan, South Carolina were marked for death in online threats reported Friday evening by a student at Byrnes, one of the largest high schools in the state, with some 2,300 students.

An investigation by the sheriff’s office is under way but no arrests have yet been in made following the threats, which included pics of a person in a gas mask, and a knife with a handle marked with a swastika.

Security personnel are sweeping Byrnes High School and maintaining a close watch over the site over the holiday weekend (it’s Labor Day weekend in the United States).

Spartanburg School District 5 said in a news release the school would be attacked Tuesday, so extra officers will be there when students return to the building.

Superintendent Scott Turner said in a statement quoted by CBS News and WSPA, “I want to ensure our parents and community that we are taking these threats extremely seriously, and are doing everything possible to make sure our campuses are secure. We are working with law enforcement to ensure the individual who made these threats is found. As always in District Five, the safety of our students and staff is our first priority.”

Hana Levi Julian

Compare Obama’s Rosh HaShanah and Eid-ul-Fitr Messages [Video]

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

President Barack Obama laced his annual Rosh HaShanah greetings with political overtones, in stark contrast to his message to Muslims last July on their Eid-ul-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

President Obama reminded Jews that the “Book of Life is open.” Assuming a posture as a Jew, he added:

As millions of Jews ask God to inscribe their names in that Book we recognize how much lies beyond our control.

It was a pointed reminder to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that besides God, there also is President Obama who pulls the strings when it comes to world affairs, such as the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The President then preached peace, which he said is “hard, but right now the book is open.  Not just for God but for us.”

That is a theme that was totally absent from his speech to Muslims in July, when he noted:

The end of Ramadan is a time to reflect spiritually, build communally, and aid those in need. While Eid marks the end of Ramadan, it marks a new beginning for each individual – a reason to celebrate and express gratitude on this holiday.

President Obama then devoted nearly half of his greeting to talk about how millions of Muslims go to mosques for prayers and then have “festive gatherings, gift exchanges, and feasts among friends, neighbors and families.”

He emphasized how “the diversity of traditions paint the vibrant images we see from around the world capturing the spirit and excitement of Eid – colorful dresses or white garments decorating the masses of people standing in lines for prayer, lanterns and ornaments lighting up bazaars and neighborhoods, intricate henna designs painted on hands of young girls and women, and an abundance of delectable foods and aromatic cuisines.”

Then he boasted that Eid-ul-Fitr now is a an official holiday in New York City public schools, and he praised Muslims for helping to raise money “for  the churches burned in the wake of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina” by a white racist.

The greeting to Muslims was absent of any reference to radical Muslim violence, peace in the Middle East, or the nuclear threat from Iran. It was a typical patronizing greeting made by every leader to partisan groups.

Now let’s go back to 2009 for President Obama’s first Rosh HaShanah greetings:

I want to extend my warmest wishes for this New Year. L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – may you have a good year, and may you be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life….

At the dawn of this New Year, let us rededicate ourselves to that work. Let us reject the impulse to harden ourselves to others’ suffering, and instead make a habit of empathy – of recognizing ourselves in each other and extending our compassion to those in need.

Let us resist prejudice, intolerance, and indifference in whatever forms they may take — let us stand up strongly to the scourge of anti-Semitism, which is still prevalent in far too many corners of our world….

And let us work to achieve lasting peace and security for the state of Israel, so that the Jewish state is fully accepted by its neighbors, and its children can live their dreams free from fear.

All of that was absent from this year’s greeting, which also did not mention anti-Semitism and certainly not anti-Zionism, lest he prompt reminders that Iran’s idea of peace is a world without Israel.

President Obama was elected on a motto of “change.”

He has fulfilled his promise.

He indeed has changed.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Black Monday: Iran and P5+1 to Sign Deal

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

It’s all over except for the shouting and the crying, according to an Associated Press report that a deal with Iran has been completed and will be signed on Monday.

However, a senior State Dept. official maintained that “major issues remain to be resolved in these talks.”

AP’s Matt Lee, a veteran and highly reliable journalist, reported Sunday:

Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks are expected to reach a provisional agreement Sunday on a historic deal that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, diplomats told The Associated Press.

The two diplomats cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out Sunday afternoon and a formal agreement still awaits a review from the capitals of the seven nations at the talks. They said plans now are for the deal to be announced on Monday.

The regime’s PRESS TV headlined, “Iranian MPs hail nuclear negotiators’ resistance against US’ excessive demands.”

The legislators issued a statement that included a rejection of “any inspection of the Iranian military sites, interviews with Iranian scientists and imposing restrictions on the country’s nuclear research and development.”

The key issue of inspections will be examined with a microscope, especially by Congress, which will have 60 days to review a final agreement.

A deal will be bitter if not deadly pill for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to swallow, and Israel can be expected to hound Congressmen to try to torpedo it, which will not be simple.

President Barack Obama undoubtedly will dismiss as rhetoric for local consumption the belligerent sneers from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the United States is “the absolute embodiment of arrogance” and an enemy of Iran.

Politico reported last week it is “very unlikely” that Congress can kill the deal unless there is a full-scale rebellion by Democrats. Americans, already gearing up for next year’s Congressional and presidential elections, view the ISIS , the economy and immigration policies as more serious issues than a nuclear-armed Iran, which President Obama will claim won’t happen under the agreement.

Congress would have to come up with a solid majority, perhaps even a veto-proof two-thirds majority, in order to nullify the agreement. Ironically, it is the Arab countries that might be able to twist Congressmen’s arms against the deal.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Politico:

If the Arabs come out and say this is a bad deal, if AIPAC says this is a bad deal, if public opinion says we don’t trust this deal, then our Democratic colleagues will hopefully come forward to say, ‘We can do better.’

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Peace Process? Obama Says US Gun Violence 33 Times Worse than in Israel

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

President Barack Obama told the American people that last week’s murder of nine blacks in a Charleston, S.C. church should wake up Americans “to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

He tweeted:

Here are the stats: Per population, we kill each other with guns at a rate 297x more than Japan, 49x more than France, 33x more than Israel.

The comparisons are a bit ridiculous and miss the point completely.

In Japan, the law states, “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.” Exceptions are few and far between, and licenses for hunting and sports are allowed only after a lengthy procedure.

In Israel, tens of thousands of people walk around with guns, most of them soldiers, licensed guards or members of first response teams, with virtually no incidents except when shooting at terrorists.

Two notable exceptions, often used by anti-Semites to try to describe Israelis as violent, were the murders of Arabs by Baruch Goldstein and Eden Natan-Zada.

They were exceptions and not examples. Gun violence in Israel historically is related to defend the country against terrorists.

President Obama wants to solve the problem of gun violence in the United States, but he put the emphasis on the word “gun” and not “violence, which is deeply rooted in American society from the days of the Wild West.

Obama said after the murders in Charleston:

It is within our power to do something about it. I say this recognizing that the politics of this town foreclose a lot of those avenues. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.

Gun control is the obvious first way to find and quick and easy fix to American gun violence. The gun lobby has successful limited gun control laws, but the Charleston massacre may break the lobby’s back.

The more that guns are easily available, it is a reasonable conclusion that more shootings are likely to result.

The issue of gun control is so highly charged in the United States, under the guide of “freedom,” that it will be difficult to legislate and enforce stricter controls.

If legislation is enacted, it remains to be seen if those who should have guns will be denied them while those who should not have them will get guns anyway.

It is easier to legislate gun control than it is to legislate violence.

It is even easier for President Obama to decide what is best for Israel.

Here is Obama’s tweet:
obamatweet

Below is Obama’s speech on Thursday after the murders in Charleston.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/peace-process-obama-says-us-gun-violence-33-times-worse-than-in-israel/2015/06/21/

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