"First, to be clear, there is now no strategic missile defense in Europe." - Robert Gates
“I know it sounds arrogant to say,” he told me, “but I redefined the Republican Party” - George w Bush
President Barack Obama has secured a private meeting with leaders of Israel and Palestine before the UN meeting: "After a frustrating week of shuttle diplomacy here in which the Obama administration failed to persuade Israelis and Palestinians to renew peace talks, leaders of the two sides are heading to the United States to make their cases again that the administration should push the other harder.
Palestinian leaders say the sources of the frustration could not be clearer — Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in keeping with earlier commitments and its insistence on holding peace talks without agreeing to deal with the key issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
“Without a settlement freeze or an agreement to talk about the core issues, there is no point in starting the negotiations,” Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, who is also going to New York, said by telephone. “Ask Mr. Netanyahu if he is willing to negotiate on Jerusalem and on refugees. He refuses. And we all know that if he ever accepted, he would lose his governing coalition.”
Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition is largely right-wing and pro-settlement.
Israeli officials say they will seek to focus American attention away from settlements and on what they consider the real dangers plaguing the region — Iranian nuclear ambition and Palestinian intransigence."
Netanyahu, the statement continued, never set any preconditions for meeting the Palestinian leadership and was ready to travel anywhere in the world and meet any leader so long as the meeting would advance peace. The announcement of the meeting came as something of a surprise..."
The Palestinian Authority announced that: "... such a meeting might take place, but stressed that the Palestinians would not drop their demand that Israel halt all construction in settlements before the resumption of peace talks. A PA official said that under the current circumstances, a decision by Abbas to meet with Netanyahu would only be because of the heavy pressure the Americans have been exerting on him in recent weeks."
So, both sides are procrastinating and are making no commitment to sit down and actually negotiate with each other, they will bluster, point fingers, and threaten each other like they have done for over 60 years. Obama might be able to learn from the failure of George Mitchell, who recently toured the Middle East trying to accomplish the same thing. The Palestinian and arabic newspaperss: "accused him of "going to the wrong addresses and knocking on the wrong doors"... Also, Hamas has been left out of the equation, and first you have to get Fatah and Hamas to sit down and learn how to negotiate with themselves before they can play nice with others... Both sides play the role of victim to the hilt, and, as our local GOP drama queens have shown, you can't even draft a bipartisan bill much less have talk for a lasting peace...
So, you're the new Attorney General and you want to make a change in the office. You decide to hold an investigation into the CI and allegations of torture. Not only will it piss off the previous administration and Dick Cheney, but you have incurred the collective wrath of CIA directors past: "Seven former CIA directors have sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to overturn Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to appoint a torture prosecutor.
Holder's decision, they wrote "creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute." they added that the probe "will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country."
The seven former directors are Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster and James Schlesinger. One former director whose name isn't on the letter: George H. W. Bush..." I first read this on a conservative web site, and the story took up a whole page of small print, which is difficult to read even with bifocals. When it makes it a more liberal site, the story is only a few paragraphs in length. The lesson to be learned here is that something always gets lost in the translation from conservative to liberal...
some late night jokes about the Middle East:
"A ceasefire went into effect between Israel and Hezbollah. Total disaster. We are no longer on the road to World War III. Jesus was half way here. Now he has turn his cloud of glory and go back to heaven -- and it does not get good mileage. Here's the worst part. Guess who brokered this peace in the Middle East? The U.S. and the French working through the UN. The only non-offensive word in that sentence is 'through.'" --Stephen Colbert
"There's now a 48-hour cease-fire going on in the Middle East. Israel will stop attacking Hezbollah, but Hezbollah will not necessarily agree to stop attacking Israel. Hey, we can't even get Mel Gibson to stop attacking Israel." --Jay Leno
"Lebanon. Our president, President Bush, has rejected calls for an immediate cease-fire on the grounds that he'd prefer a 'sustainable cease-fire.' It makes sense. He doesn't want the killing to stop until he's sure it will stop. So, there will be more killing until the president's convinced that there will be no more killing. Or everyone else runs out of people." --Jon Stewart
"Another day in the Middle East. Obviously the cease-fire fell through, talks fell apart, they lasted about two hours. Even the O.J. jury managed to meet longer than that." --Jon Stewart
"We're still on the road to World War III. Things were looking a little grim last week -- all those countries pressuring us to call for an immediate cease-fire, but we stayed strong. Sure, we sent over Condi Rice to negotiate, but she's not there for cease-fire. No, she's there for 'sustainable cease-fire,' which considering the Middle East, is like sending her to bring back Jimmy Hoffa on a unicorn." --Stephen Colbert
"More rockets were fired into Israel today. Israel responded by bombing more targets inside Lebanon. Now there's talk the U.S. might send some troops over there to help with border security. That's when you know the people over there are in trouble, when they start asking our advice on border security." --Jay Leno
"The Middle East crisis continues right now. Everyone's trying to leave the area. Americans stuck in Lebanon say they're frustrated because other countries seem to be evacuating their citizens faster. On the bright side, we're almost finished evacuating New Orleans." --Conan O'Brien
"A lot of trouble in the Middle East right now between Lebanon and Israel. ... Last night Israel bombed the runways at Beirut's airport, putting a stop on all flights in and out. So I'm sorry everybody, you're just gonna have to cancel that relaxing weekend getaway to Beirut." --Conan O'Brien
"This morning the Vatican weighed in on the crisis. The Vatican came out and condemned Israel's attacks on Lebanon ... which is great, because all day yesterday, the Jews and Muslims were asking, 'What do the Catholics think?'" --Conan O'Brien
"Of course, world leaders are getting involved in the crisis right now. Earlier today Germany's chancellor called for the attacks on Israel to stop. After hearing about it, a spokesperson for Israel said, 'You know things are bad when Germany's got your back'." --Conan O'Brien
"At a joint press conference with President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a 'de-escalation of Mid-East violence.' Later, Bush called for both sides to 'de-angrify' and 'de-hurt' each other." --Conan O'Brien
"The biggest surprise of the election: it was the lowest voter turnout ever. A dismal 63.2%. That's the lowest turn-out they've ever had. You know we shouldn't be bringing democracy to the Middle East, they should be bringing it to us" --Jon Stewart, on the Israeli election
"Big news in the Middle East. Yesterday the Israeli government began moving thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip. This is huge. And officials say once the area is cleared of all Jews the area will be renamed Utah." --Conan O'Brien