Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hamas launches TV Bugs Bunny-lookalike who declares 'I will eat the Jews'

A Hamas TV show for children which was condemned last year for a Mickey Mouse lookalike character who encouraged terror attacks against Israelis has produced a new outrage - a Bugs Bunny lookalike who declares "I will eat the Jews".

Assud the rabbit is the latest star of the Hamas children's TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers". The show is produced in Gaza by the Hamas-controlled Al-Aqsa TV station and beamed around the Arabic-speaking world by satellite.

The show, which is aimed at children under 12, is hosted by a sweet-looking girl in a headscarf called Saraa and at first glance looks like any other kids TV program.

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New character: The Bugs Bunny lookalike declares 'I will eat the Jews'

But Farfur, the Mickey Mouse-lookalike who urged his young audience to shoot Israelis, was beaten to death by "soldiers" in front of the cameras.

His successor Nahul the Bee "died" just over a week ago when the Israeli "siege" of Gaza prevented him from reaching a hospital to get urgent medical treatment.

Nahul was hailed by the winsome Saraa as a "martyr" in the style of Hamas suicide bombers who are promised they will marry 72 virgins in paradise.

"Today we say to you Nahul congratulations, we don't see this as your death, we see this as your wedding," Saraa declared.

Now Assud has stepped into the breach, swearing to devour the Jews with his bare rabbit teeth.

The Bomber Bunny was said to have sneaked into Gaza from Egypt when Hamas smashed down then border fence two weeks ago.

They then urged their young audience to liberate Tel Aviv through "resistance".

The program ended with the catchy song: "We will never recognize Israel."

With Saraa joining in on the refrain, the characters sang: "Until we liberate our homeland from the Zionist filth."

Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, said Hamas was "using charming children's characters to teach hate and violence."

"Even in programs intended for young chidlren they are expressing joy over death," said Marcus.

"This program is telling us that they see children as tools in their propaganda and their war. They have no problem stealing their children's youth and the pleasures of childhood for their own political purposes and thrusting them right into the midst of hatred and violence, preaching war, resistance and death," he said.

The program is beamed across the Arab world via the NileSat and ArabSat networks.

Marcus said it was ironic that the program could only be made and broadcast using electricity supplied by Israel.

"Israel is giving them their electricity supply," said Marcus. "They complain when Israel wants to turn it off, but they are using this same electricity supply to continue manufacturing Qassam rockets and create hate education."

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Florida Deputy Dumps Quadriplegic Man From Wheelchair

A veteran Florida sheriff's deputy is in hot water after she was caught on video dumping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair while he was being booked on Jan. 29, reported.

The video shows Brian Sterner, 32, out of his wheelchair and on the floor while Deputy Charlotte Marshall Jones is booking him into the Hillsborough County Jail, the Web site reported.

"The best I could do is offer him our apologies," Chief Deputy Jose Docobo told "There's no excuse. This is indefensible. To the extent that we can make it right for this gentleman, we'll attempt to do so."

Records show Sterner was arrested on charges of fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer from an incident on Oct. 25.

Jones, who has been with the sheriff's department since 1986, has been suspended without pay, according to the report. Supervisors who were there at the time of the incident have been suspended with pay.

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U.S. Official: World 'Better Place' With Death of Hezbollah Figure

DAMASCUS, Syria — One of the world's most wanted and elusive terrorists, Imad Mughniyeh, was killed by a car bomb in Syria nearly 15 years after dropping almost entirely from sight. The one-time Hezbollah security chief was implicated in attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, a string of brutal kidnappings and bombings of Jewish sites in Argentina.

The Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and its top ally Iran accused Israel in the assassination, a charge denied by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

The United States welcomed the death of Mughniyeh, who was indicted in the U.S. over the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed. The FBI had put a $5 million bounty on Mughniyeh.

"The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "One way or the other he was brought to justice."

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the agency was waiting for confirmation of Mughniyeh's death and its circumstances. "If this information proves true, it would be considered good news in the ongoing fight against terrorism," he said.

Mughniyeh's death was the latest in a series of blows to major terror figures in recent weeks. Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior al-Qaida leader, was killed in late January by a missile fired by a U.S. drone in western Pakistan. This week, Pakistani security forces critically wounded and captured Mansour Dadullah, a top Taliban figure, in a firefight also near the Afghan border.

But Mughniyeh, a Shiite Muslim not known to be connected to the Sunni al-Qaida or Taliban, harkened back to an earlier era of terror — a secretive, underground operator who was one of the first to turn Islamic militancy's weapons against the United States in the 1980s but whose name was not even known until years later.

He emerged during the turmoil of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, rising to become Hezbollah's security chief, and the the dramatic suicide bombings he is accused of engineering in Beirut were some of the deadliest against Americans until al-Qaida's Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

After he vanished in the early 1990s — reportedly moving between Lebanon, Syria and Iran on fake passports, even said to have undergone plastic surgery — Western intelligence agencies believe he took his terror attacks abroad, hitting Jewish and Israeli interests in Argentina. One Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Wednesday that Mughniyeh continued to head external operations for Hezbollah and was linked to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans.

Mughniyeh was still "very active and very dangerous," the official said.

His slaying could hike tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, as well as its allies Syria and Iran. Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody war in the summer of 2006, and some Lebanese figures close to the Shiite militant group called on Wednesday for attacks on Israel in retaliation.

It could also worsen the current turmoil in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is locked in a power struggle with the U.S.-backed government. Hezbollah called for a massive turnout at Mughniyeh's funeral in south Beirut on Thursday. The same day, government supporters are planning a rally of hundreds of thousands in downtown Beirut to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, raising fears of street violence between the two camps.

Hezbollah announced on its Al-Manar television that Mughniyeh "became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis." The station played Quranic verses in memorial and aired a rare, apparently recent picture of Mughniyeh — showing a burly, bespectacled man with a black and gray beard wearing military camouflage and a military cap.

Syria's Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Bassam Abdul-Majid said Mughniyeh was killed in Tuesday night car bombing in the Damascus neighborhood of Kfar Sousse, the state news agency SANA reported.

Witnesses in the Syrian capital said the explosion tore apart the vehicle, killing a passerby, and security forces sealed off the area and removed the body. Lebanese television station LBC said Mughniyeh was leaving a ceremony at a nearby Iranian school and was approaching his car when it detonated.

The killing is deeply embarassing to Damascus, showing that the wanted fugitive was hiding on its soil. Syria, home to a number of radical Palestinian leaders, is accused by the United States of supporting terrorism.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini called Mughniyeh's assassination "yet another brazen example of organized state terrorism by the Zionist regime."

Israel, which has been blamed for numerous past assassinations of militant leaders in Arab countries but does not claim responsibility, distanced itself from his killing. "Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident. We have nothing further to add," Olmert's office said in a statement.

Mughniyeh, born on Dec. 7, 1962, in the south Lebanon village of Tair Debba, joined the nascent Hezbollah in the early 1980s and formed a militant cell known as Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, said to be Hezbollah's strike arm though the group denies any link to it.

He is accused of masterminding the first major suicide bombing to target Americans: the April 1983 car bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. He is also blamed for a more devastating attack that came six months later, when suicide attackers detonated truck bombs at the barracks of French and U.S. peacekeeping forces in Beirut, killing 59 French paratroopers and 241 American Marines.

He was indicted in the United States for the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which Shiite militants shot Navy diver Robert Stethem, who was a passenger on the plane, and dumped his body on the tarmac of Beirut airport. The hijacking produced one of the most iconic images of pre-9/11 terrorism, a photo of the jet's pilot leaning out the cockpit window with a gunman waving a pistol in front of his face.

In the 1980s Mughniyeh was also believed to have directed a string of kidnappings of Americans and other foreigners in Lebanon, including the Associated Press's chief Mideast correspondent Terry Anderson — who was held for six years until his release in 1991 — and CIA station chief William Buckley, who was tortured by his captors and killed in 1985.

"I can't say I'm either surprised or sad (by his death). He was not a good man. Certainly, the primary actor in my kidnapping and many others," Anderson told AP on Wednesday. "To hear that his career has finally ended is a good thing and it's appropriate that he goes up in a car bomb."

Anderson was the last American hostage freed in a complicated deal that involved Israel's release of Lebanese prisoners, Iran's sway with the kidnappers, Syria's influence and — according to an Iranian radio broadcast — promises by the United States and Germany not to retaliate against the kidnappers. Edward Djerejian, who was U.S. ambassador to Syria at the time and was involved in negotiation through the Syrian government on hostage releases, said he had "no knowledge of such a deal" promising not to retaliate. "When I was in government we made no deals," he said.

Giandomenico Picco, an Italian diplomat working at the time as a special assistant to U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, said he was certain but never able to absolutely confirm that the hooded man he met in the slums of Beirut to finalize the deal was Mughniyeh.

Israel accused Mughniyeh of involvement in the 1992 bombing of its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in which 29 people were killed.

Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman also accused Mughniyeh in the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people. Prosecutors said Iranian officials orchestrated the attack and entrusted Hezbollah to carry it out.

Western intelligence also links him to Khobar Towers bombing, the Western official said.

Faris bin Hizam, a Saudi journalist who closely follows Islamic groups, said Mughniyeh flew to Saudi days before the Khobar bombing and met the group that carried out the attack. Mughniyeh spent his last years moving between Lebanon, Iran, Syria and Turkey, using up to 47 different forged passports, bin Hizam said.

Mughniyeh's last public appearance was believed to be at the funeral of his brother Fuad, who was killed in 1994 by a booby-trapped car in Beirut. In 2006, Mughniyeh was reported to have met with hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Syria.

Mughinyeh's killing was the first major attack against a Hezbollah leader since a 1992 helicopter strike that killed the group's secretary-general Sheik Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has consistently refused to talk about him. The announcement of his death was the first mention of him in years.

Mughniyeh's body was brought to south Beirut in the afternoon and was laid in a refrigerated coffin, wrapped in Hezbollah's yellow flag, Al-Manar showed.

Mughniyeh's father — Fayez, a south Lebanese farmer — as well as Hezbollah's deputy leader, Sheik Naim Kassem and other Hezbollah officials received condolences at the hall from allied Lebanese politicians and representatives of militant Palestinian factions. Though bitter rivals of Hezbollah, some pro-U.S. politicians including Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri offered written condolences in a gesture of solidarity.

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Dane, Tunisians arrested in cartoonist murder plot

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A Danish citizen of Moroccan descent and two Tunisians were arrested in Denmark on Tuesday over a plot to murder one of 12 cartoonists whose drawings of the Prophet Mohammad caused worldwide uproar in 2006.

The Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said the arrests near Aarhus in western Denmark were made after lengthy surveillance to prevent a "terror-related killing" that was in an early stage of planning.

PET said it expected the 40-year-old Danish citizen to be released pending further investigation. The Tunisians will remain detained while deportation proceedings are brought against them.

According to Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that originally published the cartoons in September 2005, the suspects are accused of planning to kill 73-year-old Kurt Westergaard.

He drew the cartoon that caused the most controversy, depicting the founder of Islam with a bomb in his turban. The paper reproduced that drawing on its Web site on Tuesday.

Westergaard, who has been under PET protection for several months, told Danish state TV he was sure the PET's interference had saved his life. But he said even with hindsight he would still have made the drawing.

The cartoons gained little initial attention but were later reprinted outside Denmark, provoking outrage among Muslims, most of whom deem any depiction of the Prophet as offensive.

Three Danish embassies were attacked and at least 50 people were killed in rioting in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Several young Muslims have since been convicted in Denmark of planning bomb attacks, partly in protest at the cartoons.


Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was deeply concerned by the serious nature of the crime.

"Unfortunately, the matter shows that there are in Denmark groups of extremists that do not acknowledge and respect the principles on which Danish democracy is built," Rasmussen said in a statement. "In Denmark, we have freedom not only to think and talk, but also to draw."

The Islamic Faith Community, a religious Muslim organization at the centre of the cartoon controversy, condemned the plot, saying all disagreements should be handled via legal channels.

"It does not serve our purpose that people take the law into their own hands. On the contrary," it said in a statement. "We want to appeal to reason in both politicians and the media to not use this miserable example to feed the flames or use it for their own profit. No one in Denmark deserves to live in fear."

In the 2006 book "The Mohammad Crisis" written by former Reuters correspondent Per Bech Thomsen, Westergaard said he did not expect the cartoons to become a global affair.

"The idea was to illustrate that terrorists get their ammunition from the fundamentalist parts of Islam. It was not aimed at Muslims and Islam in general, but against the part that inspires and uses death and destruction," he said in the book.

Westergaard, a staff cartoonist at Jyllands-Posten who has been accused of being both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian in the past, told Thomsen he felt misunderstood.

"I was part of the project to strike a blow for freedom of expression and the anger over being threatened because one does one's work drowns out the fear," he said in the book.

(Editing by Catherine Evans)

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What can you do in 15 seconds?

'China's Spying At Cold War Levels'

A former Boeing aerospace engineer has been charged with stealing Space Shuttle secrets for China.

In a second case, three people - including a US Defense Department weapons expert - are being held on suspicion of spying for Beijing.

The US Justice Department described it as a "serious breach of national security" and said it showed China's spying efforts "are approaching Cold War levels".

The engineer was arrested at his home in Orange County, California, on allegations he supplied trade secrets from several aerospace programmes, including the Space Shuttle.

Dongfan "Greg" Chung, 72, was employed by Rockwell International from 1973 until its defence and space unit was acquired by Boeing in 1996.

Chung is alleged to have supplied trade secrets relating to the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft, and the Delta IV rocket.

In a second case, two men and a woman - including a US Defense Department official - are alleged to have passed classified US government documents to China.

They were named as Tai Shen Kuo, 58, and Yu Xin Kang, 33, both from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Gregg Bergersen, 51, of Alexandria, Virginia.

The first two have been charged with "conspiracy to disclose national defence information to a foreign government". The maximum penalty is life behind bars.

Bergersen, a US weapons systems policy analyst, is accused of "conspiracy to disclose national defence information to persons not entitled to receive it".

This charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said: "Those who compromise classified national security information betray the enormous responsibility and trust placed in them by our government and the American people."

According to court documents, the charges relate to a two-year period between January 2006 and February 2008.

Last November, a US congressional panel report said China presented an array of spy threats to Washington, including "currency manipulation" and computer espionage.

Beijing hit back, calling the claims "insulting" and "misleading".

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Latest Silicon Valley status symbol: The plug-in hybrid

If you've got a fancy job in the Bay Area, you're probably going to get the sales call from Sass Somekh.

Somekh, the former president of equipment maker Novellus and an alum of Applied Materials, has started as a way to promote plug-in hybrid conversions. Converting a regular Prius to a plug-in isn't cheap. The price runs about $10,000. Even if gas rises to $4 a gallon, it would still take nearly 100,000 miles of driving before you broke even. ( is working with A123 Systems, the lithium-ion battery maker, to perform the conversions.)

Rather than try to promote this on the mass market, Somekh is hitting up CEOs and other heavy-hitters in the area. If they convert their cars, the reasoning goes, their ever-obsequious vice presidents will follow.

So far, he seems to be drawing a crowd. People who have committed to a conversion include Aart J. de Geus, chairman of Synopsis; Erik Straser, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures; Gary Dickerson, CEO of Varian Semiconductor; and Cal Chow, CEO of Nanosys.

Plug-ins are better for the environment in most states than regular gas because they get 100 miles a gallon or so. (In Ohio and other coal-heavy states, plug-ins are close in total emissions to regular cars.) Out of all the alt fuel car concepts swirling around these days, plug-ins seem to have the broadest support.

Somekh also has formed a small venture firm focused on green investments called Musea Ventures. The firm was one of many that put money into Project Better Place, Shai Agassi's company that will install electric charging stations as a way to promote electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

One of the criticisms of electric cars has been the range. They can only go 250 miles or less on a charge. One idea that might get around that problem: electric car companies, in conjunction with electric charging stations, could allow customers free use of gas cars kept on-site or in the hands of car rental organizations like Zipcar. That way, you could buy an electric car and, when you need it, get your hands on an SUV for a long trip into the mountains.

Somekh reiterated that he doesn't speak for Project Better Place, but it's an interesting idea.

Original here

CBS journalists missing in Iraq

Two journalists working for the American network CBS are believed to have been kidnapped in southern Iraq.

Police and witnesses said they were seized from a hotel in the city of Basra by at least eight gunmen.

CBS released a statement saying the two were missing and that efforts were under way to find them.

The network did not name the journalists and it requested that others refrain from speculating on their identities.

"CBS News has been in touch with their families and asks that their privacy be respected," the statement added.

The journalists were taken from the Sultan Palace Hotel, police and witnesses said.

A member of staff was quoted as saying the gunmen had arrived at the hotel earlier in the day and inquired about who was staying there. They are said to have returned later in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Other reports say the group were masked and carrying machine-guns.

Dangers for media

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Kallaf said police were searching for the journalists.

"As soon as we heard reports of their disappearance, the minister of the interior issued an order for the Iraqi police and intelligence service to be on high alert."

The disappearance of the journalists comes amid continuing concern about the dangers faced by media staff in Iraq. International media watchdogs report dozens of journalists killed each year since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at the fate of the two.

"Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists and the deadliest conflict for the press in recent history," it said.

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If Americans Knew What We Did to Iran, Would We Still Talk About Using Force?

Hands on buzzers, for 500 points: this democratic leader was overthrown in 1953 by a US-organized coup in retaliation for nationalizing oil resources previously controlled by the British.

Who is Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh?

If you're a little rusty on the history of U.S.-Iran relations, here's a 6-minute video review:

If more Americans knew about this history, could our leaders blather on about supporting freedom and democracy in the Middle East they way they do? Would news media take them seriously if they did so? Would American pundits be so cavalier about the idea of bombing Iran, in flagrant violation of international law? Could people make fun of Senator Barack Obama for supporting real diplomacy with Iran and get away with it?

I don't claim that it would be impossible for U.S. politicians to talk about bombing Iran if "every schoolboy knew" what the United States did in Iran in 1953. But surely it would be more difficult.

Spread the video.

Ask Congress to support the Lee bill, which would appoint a high-level U.S. representative to Iran for the purpose of reducing tensions and establishing normal diplomatic relations.

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Anon v. CoS - San Diego, CA Feb 10th Raid - EPIC WIN!

69 photos | 104,649 views

Photos are from 10 Feb 2008.

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