Thursday, February 24, 2011
"Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac managed a narrower loss of $1.7 billion for the October-December quarter of last year. But it has asked for an additional $500 million in federal aid - up from the $100 million it sought in the previous quarter.
"Freddie Mac also posted a $19.8 billion loss for all of 2010.
"The government rescued Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. It estimates the bailouts will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee about half of all mortgages in the U.S., or nearly 31 million home loans worth more than $5 trillion. Along with other federal agencies, they played some part in almost 90 percent of new mortgages over the past year.
"Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from banks and other lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and sell them to investors around the world.
"The government's estimated cost of bailing out the mortgage giants far exceeds the $132.3 billion they have received from taxpayers so far. That would make theirs the costliest bailout of the financial crisis."
I see no problem here. Move on...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Ore. Dem Wu Says Painkillers were to Blame for Erratic Behavior and Sending Pics of Himself in Tiger Costume
"Earlier Tuesday, Wu said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' that it was 'unprofessional and inappropriate' for him to send pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff members.
Wu said the photos were taken while he was 'joshing around' with his children in October just before Halloween.
"One photo shows Wu wearing an orange and black striped tiger outfit with pointy ears and striped mittens. Portland newspapers reported that campaign staffers pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help in the final week before the November election, but he refused.
"'Last October was not a good month. It was very stressful. I did some things, I said some things, which I sincerely regret now,' Wu said.
"'I'm not a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act, but I do have a large problem with the politicization of the role of the Department of Justice. Strip away the gay-rights issue and consider the question: what would Democrats say if, in 2013, President Sarah Palin announced that her Department of Justice would refuse to defend the constitutionality of Obamacare in court? There is no provision in the Constitution for a retroactive veto. Compare and contrast the Bush administration Department of Justice, which steadfastly (and successfully) defended McCain-Feingold and enforced FACEA.'
Saturday, February 19, 2011
"The royal family, which was quick to use force earlier this week against demonstrators in the landmark square that has been the heart of the anti-government demonstrations, appeared to back away from further confrontation following international pressure from the West.
"The demonstrators had emulated successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in attempting to bring political change to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet — the centerpiece of Washington's efforts to confront Iranian military influence in the region.
Friday, February 18, 2011
"Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests, a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people and razing the tents and makeshift shelters that were inspired by the demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
"Bahrain's king appointed Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to lead a dialogue 'with all parties,' though it was unclear whether furious protesters would respond to the overture. Speaking on Bahrain's State TV, Salman expressed condolences for 'these painful days' and called for unity.
"'We are at a crossroads,' Salman said. 'Youths are going out on the street believing that they have no future in the country, while others are going out to express their love and loyalty. But this country is for you all, for the Shiites and Sunnis.'"
Are the Wisconsin protests a test for the unions nationwide?
"Bottom line: What happens in Wisconsin could easily have a ripple effect across the nation. If the unions win, watch for them to challenge other governors just as aggressively. If they don’t win, that could embolden state legislators to vote for legislation unions oppose."
Thursday, February 17, 2011
More Leftist civility: Hitler posters and physical threats-- in addition to the name-calling vitriol and walkouts.
"Randy Hopper is a state senator in Wisconsin. A Republican. He is now holed up with his colleagues — his Republican colleagues — in the capitol. The Democratic senators have apparently fled the state. Hopper says, 'None of my colleagues from the minority party decided to come to work today.'
"Hopper says, 'I've always said that they can threaten me all they want, but it’s not going to stop me from doing what the people elected me to do.' And he says more than once, 'We’re still here.' The Republicans have not run anywhere.
"They have been pushed around (literally), screamed at, etc. The capitol is surrounded. The signs carried by the protesters are 'vicious,' says Hopper. There are comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, of course. And there are other signs 'I won’t describe to you.'"
And of course there's the money involved. Michelle Malkin has a very, very long list of Illinois educators making $100,000+ a year in Wisconsin. Check it out. Do you think they're not going to scream "Hitler" to try to save that sort of money? Guess again.
"But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
"A call spread via Facebook and Twitter urging Yemenis to join a series of 'One Million People' rallies on a so-called 'Friday of Rage' in all Yemeni cities, seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
"Security forces have battled demonstrators calling for political reforms and greater freedoms over two days, leading to the deaths of two protesters and the main opposition group vowing to freeze its work in parliament in protest.
"Many in the square waved Bahraini flags and chanted: 'No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.' It also appeared they were planning for the long haul. Some groups carried in tents and sought generators to set up under a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) monument cradling a giant white pearl-shaped ball that symbolizes the country's heritage as a pearl diving center.
"Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East's wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups. A crackdown on perceived dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, and an ongoing trial in Bahrain accuses 25 Shiites of plotting against the country's leadership.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Bob McCarty at BigJournalism.com has an article here, coupled with a couple of shaky videos someone filmed while watching the TV news reports. The television news reports themselves are unwarrantably alarmist (especially once the raw footage of the interview is viewed), and the news anchors actively misconstrue what was really said by assistant port director Al Hallor.
The 10news.com article is better and can be found here. It reads:
"10News was granted access to San Diego's seaport for a firsthand look at how Customs and Border Protection officers safeguard against weapons of mass effect.
"'Given the open waterways and the access to the Navy fleet here, I'd say, absolutely, San Diego is a target,' said Al Hallor, who is the assistant port director and an officer with Customs and Border Protection.
"10News investigative reporter Mitch Blacher asked, 'Do you ever find things that are dangerous like a chemical agent or a weaponized device?'
"'At the airport, seaport, at our port of entry we have not this past fiscal year, but our partner agencies have found those things,' said Hallor."
This exchange came a bit later in the article:
"'So, specifically, you're looking for the dirty bomb? You're looking for the nuclear device?' asked Blacher.
"'Correct. Weapons of mass effect,' Hallor said.
"'You ever found one?' asked Blacher.
"'Not at this location,' Hallor said.
"'But they have found them?' asked Blacher.
"Yes,' said Hallor.
"'You never found one in San Diego though?' Blacher asked.
"'I would say at the port of San Diego we have not,' Hallor said.
"'Have you found one in San Diego?' Blacher asked.
"The interview was interrupted [by a public affairs officer] before Hallor was able to answer the question."
Hallor is clearly hesitant and nervous in the interview. He is also clearly not used to being interviewed by the news which could be the reason for his nervousness (it was very obviously at least a partial factor). Did Hallor misspeak? If he did, he did so twice about the same subject, which is possible.
To their great credit, channel 10 has posted the raw video here. It's only about 6 minutes 30 seconds long, but it is very interesting. Check it out.
From the video:
(from about 2:53 in the video)
Blacher: Do you ever catch dangerous stuff, like uh... chemical agents, bombs?
Hallor: (sighs) Um... I don't know how to answer that one.
Hallor then asks a partially off camera woman, almost certainly the public affairs officer, about how to answer the question. Lots of inaudibles follow and not much of an answer is given.
In print this appears far more nefarious then it actually is on the video, but clearly Hallor and the public affairs officer have a list of "do not dos and mentions" in their guidelines regarding interviews. Another example of this, but hardly an alarming one, is at about 4:53 of the video when Hallor asks the likely public affairs officer if he should or should not talk specifically about the RID device, which is simply a part of the procedure to detect radiation in cargo containers.
The exchange about finding weapons of mass effect in San Diego transcribed in the 10 news article occurs at about 5:45 of the raw video. Right after the short largely inaudible exchange between Hallor, the public affairs officer and Blacher, this happens:
Blacher: Okay. You never found one in San Diego?
Hallor: (makes pained face before answering) I would say in the Port of San Diego, we have not.
Blacher: Have you found one in San Diego?
Hallor: (after about a six second pause) Trying to--
Public Affairs Officer (partially inaudible): Yeah, we'll just talk about the Port of San Diego. I'll follow up later because personally [inaudible] ever. So, I just want to double check to make sure we give them accurate information. So I'll follow up later about that.
As the 10 News article says, Customs and Border Protection sent this statement after the interview:
"CBP has not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry. CBP is an all-threats agency. The purpose of many security measures is to prevent threats from ever materializing by being prepared for them. And, we must be prepared to stop threats in whatever form they do materialize at the border, whether it’s an individual or cargo arriving by land, air, or sea. Regardless of what the contraband or threat is, we’re being smart, evaluating, and focusing in on anything or anyone that is potentially high-risk.
"We were able to show you first-hand one example of how we evaluate segment risk, inspect, etc. in the cargo environment by air and sea here in San Diego. This is one portion of the CBP mission, and hopefully gives you some examples of how much has evolved in the past decade, with the new technologies we have at our disposal. This, coupled with document requirements at the border, advanced passenger and cargo information, better information sharing, and many other measures help us to secure the border - and each measure doesn’t work individually or in a vacuum, but rather in the layered security that we were able to demonstrate one facet of."
I don't quite know what to make of all this. Local news in Southern California (as local news does elsewhere, I am sure) often jump on "scoops" and excitedly over-report on subjects that turn out to be nothing-- such as the Southern California "missile" incident (it was an aircraft's contrail).
Was this incident another nothing? Most likely.
Much of Hallor's hesitancy appears to come from wanting to be as accurate and specific as possible to the questions asked, as well as being on guard to some out-of-context "gotcha" moment. Likewise his nervousness could have been entirely from being camera shy. Hallor's manner suggests that he is not often called upon to do television interviews.
That being said, clearly Hallor said something that he should not have. Either he misspoke or let something slip.
The questions are:
When Hallor answered "yes" to the question "Have they found them [weapons of mass effect]?", was he accurate?
Did Hallor misunderstand the question, or did he get a little confused by the line of questioning due to being nervous? Could Hallor have thought that the "they" in the question referred to the devices that detect radioactive materials?
It would seem that if weapons of mass effect had been found and that the knowledge of was well-known enough for Hallor to be privy it, it would be almost impossible to keep it out of the public eye for so long. And the sort of slips that Hallor makes throughout the raw video seem mostly due to stage fright and being very intent about not saying something that could be misconstrued-- a bit of irony there, I suppose.
That said, Hallor does seem to make the same mistake twice, and the statement from Customs and Border Protection addresses only "nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry" and not non-nuclear weapons of mass effect. It's a little too specific for my tastes-- but, once again both government agencies and the media must play by the card regarding these sort of issues.
My bet is that this is all much ado but nothing-- but, I don't want to just completely dismiss the other possibility. It would certainly be nice if the media would follow up on this to confirm it one way or the other. I doubt that they will, though.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
From Glick's essay:
"The Obama administration has been silent on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation activities. As ISIS President David Albright said to the Washington Post, "The administration is always trying to keep people from talking about this knowledgeably.
"'They're always trying to downplay the numbers [of Pakistan's nuclear warheads] and insisting that "it's smaller than you think."'
"Pakistan's nuclear growth goes on as its economy is in shambles, its government is falling apart and a large portion of the country's territory is controlled by the Taliban.
"Pakistan is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. In 2009 Congress approved a five-year $7.5 billion civilian aid package. Last October, the Obama administration proposed supplementing the aid with $2b. for Pakistan's military.
"The administration requested the supplemental aid despite criticism that economic assistance to Pakistan indirectly funds its nuclear project, since Pakistan is in an effective state of bankruptcy.
"Moreover, a US Inspector-General's Report published this week concluded that the $7.5b. in assistance has achieved little.
"For their part, the Pakistani government and military adhere to a radically anti-American line, and Pakistan's powerful ISI intelligence service and large sections of its military continue to maintain intimate ties with al-Qaida and the Taliban.
"Last month, Pakistani police arrested US diplomat Raymond Davis in Lahore after he killed two gunmen who were reportedly about to rob him at gunpoint. Pakistani law enforcement officials have charged Davis with murder and refuse to release him to US custody, despite the fact that he should enjoy the protection of diplomatic immunity. Rather than attempt to quiet passions, the Pakistani government is fanning anti-American sentiments by among other things, releasing a videotape of Davis's police interrogation.
"To date, while members of Congress are beginning to threaten to curtail aid to Pakistan pending Davis's release, the administration has limited its response to this de facto act of hostage-taking by Pakistan to refusing to hold high-level exchanges with Pakistani leaders. And even this limited response has been inconsistently implemented."
Glick then really hits the nail on the regarding the danger that Obama's ideology has put the US and the world in.
"Since taking office, the Obama administration has failed to conceive of a strategy for contending with the situation. One of the main obstacles to the formation of a coherent US strategy is the Obama administration's move to outlaw any discussion of the basic threats to US interests. Shortly after entering office, President Barack Obama banned the use of the term 'War against terror,' substituting it with the opaque term 'overseas contingency operation.'
"Last April, Obama banned use of the terms 'jihad,' 'Islamic terrorism' and 'radical Islam' in US government documents.
"Given that US officials are barred from using all the terms that are relevant for describing reality in places like Pakistan, it is obvious why the US cannot put together a strategy for contending with the challenges it faces there.
"Imagine an intelligence officer in Peshawar trying to report on what he sees. Imagine a defense attaché in Lahore trying to explain the problems with the jihad-infested Pakistani military to his superiors in Washington. Imagine a USAID officer trying to explain why the jihadist-mosque attending public refuses to work at US-funded highway programs.
"The Obama administration's decision to ban relevant language from the official US policy discourse was ideologically motivated. And in choosing ideology over reality, the Obama administration has induced a situation where rather than construct policies to deal with reality, at all levels, US officials have been charged with constructing policies to deny and ignore reality.
"Against this backdrop it becomes fairly clear why the Obama administration's handling of the political turmoil in Egypt has been so incompetent.
"Upon entering office, Obama made a determined effort to ignore the political instability percolating under the surface throughout the authoritarian Arab world. US government officials were instructed to curtail programs aimed at developing liberal alternatives to authoritarianism and the Muslim Brotherhood. The justification for this behavior was again ideological.
"As the world's biggest bully, the US had no moral right to judge the behavior of tyrants like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"Once the dutifully ignored long-repressed popular discontent boiled over into the popular revolts we have seen over the past month in Tunisia and Egypt as well as Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and beyond, the Obama administration rushed to get on the 'right side' of the issue. To avoid criticism for refusing to contend with the problems bred by Arab authoritarianism, Obama went to the other extreme. He became the most outspoken champion of unfettered popular democracy in Egypt.
"Of course, to occupy this other side of the spectrum, Obama has had to ignore the danger constituted by the most powerful opposition movement in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood's hostility towards the US's most fundamental strategic interests in the Middle East has been swept under the rug by the Obama administration and its supporters in the US media.
"From its slavish devotion to appeasing Iran, its single-minded insistence on withdrawing from Iraq, its announced commitment to withdrawing from Afghanistan, to its tolerance of Hugo Chavez, and its infantile reset button diplomacy towards Russia, the Obama administration's foreign policy is on a collision course with reality."
I really wish that Glick was way off base here, but I'm afraid she isn't. Obama's rank amateurism coupled with his American counter-culture ideology have destabilized much of the world, turning many parts of the underdeveloped world into a very chaotic, and dangerous place. Hope and Change...
From The Washington Post article by Karen DeYoung:
"Pakistan's nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons, a doubling of its stockpile over the past several years in one of the world's most unstable regions, according to estimates by nongovernment analysts.
"The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival.
"Other nuclear powers have their own interests in the region. China, which sees India as a major regional competitor, has major investments in Pakistan and a commitment to supply it with at least two nuclear-energy reactors.
"Russia has increased its cooperation with India and told Pakistan last week that it was 'disturbed' about its arms buildup."
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
It seems that Obama is pulling out all the stops in his attempts to destroy US relations with Great Britain.
From The Telegraph article by Matthew Moore (h/t Anne Leary at Backyard Conservative):
"The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
"Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.
"Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.
"The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called 'special relationship', which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
"A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the 'New START' deal.
"Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
"Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain."
Brilliant! Obama manages to betray Britain for absolutely no gain whatsoever. This is so absolutely idiotic and incompetent I have to wonder if it isn't on purpose...
As I noted before, the New START treaty basically puts limits on the US arsenal and nothing else. As Andrew Osborne reported, Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov has said that START doesn't effect their capabilities.
"The treaty, known as the 'New START', is the centrepiece of President Barack Obama's much-hyped 'reset' in relations with the Kremlin.
"It limits each country to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200, and brings back a system of joint monitoring that ended when a previous nuclear arms treaty expired at the end of 2009.
"Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian defence minister, told Russian senators that the treaty would not damage Russia's interests and would have little impact on its nuclear arsenal however.
"'The limits on delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads outlined are substantially more than our current possibilities,' he said. 'We do not possess so many (warheads and delivery vehicles) [emphasis mine].'"
Absolutely brilliant! Obama managed to compromise and sell out Britain, reduce the US nuclear arsenal, and for absolutely no gain. Maybe Obama can lecture the British about how he knows what's best for them, and how they're just scared and that makes them not conform to logic and reason as exemplified by his political stances, etc.
Way to go. No wonder the Russians were laughing about the "Overcharge button." It was a clear indication of things to come.
Is it really the Obama Doctrine to repeatedly betray your allies to your enemies for no gain? Ask Jordan next. Obama is proving to be the best friend to our enemies and the worst ally to our friends.
UPDATE: There has been some speculation that we're only seeing one side of the story. Since the Telegraph's only real source of this is WikiLeaks, there could be undisclosed documents in which the UK gave the go ahead to the US to reveal this information to the Russians.
So far this has been only speculation, and there is no indication that this is actually the case. More to come, I'm sure...
Don't Like the Tea Party and Arizona? Then Come Watch a Play about Murdering Conservatives Says Mercury Theatre Artistic Director
Dan Riehl at BigHollywood.com is reporting that the Mercury Theatre in Madison, WI is taking some heat for putting on a theatrical version of the film "The Last Supper."
From The Daily Page's event details:
"Mercury Players Theatre is producing The Last Supper, a play by Dan Rosen in which politics and morals are at odds when five liberal grad students discover a new way to deal with the radical right wing. Talkbacks will be held following the performances on Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th. Following those performances, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the cast, the director, the production team, and the playwright himself.
"'The Last Supper is a perfect Mercury fit. Mercury strives to keep our art current, poignant, radical and a bit raw --- so does Dan Rosen's The Last Supper. If you have felt helpless and unheard through the outrage of our own culture right now - through Arizona, through the Tea Party, through Madison's own political turn - then this is the show for you!' said Mercury's Artistic Director, Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe [emphasis mine].
"Politics and morals are at odds when five liberal grad students discover a new way to deal with the radical right wing. Arsenic and Old Lace meets Fox News in this twisted dark comedy. This is the debut of a new version of the script, revised by the playwright to reflect the changes in the political climate since the play was originally written."
Yup. Because the only way to cope with a Right turn in this country is to watch a play about killing conservatives. How mature.
And my parents ask me why I don't go to the theater as often as I used to...
Problem: Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Unemployment Dropped to 9% in Jan.; Gallup Says Unemployment Rose to 9.8%
"The unemployment rate (9.0 percent) declined by 0.4 percentage point for the second month in a row. (See table A-1.) The number of unemployed persons decreased by about 600,000 in January to 13.9 million, while the labor force was unchanged [emphasis mine]."
So let's see here. The number of unemployed people dropped by 600,000 people causing a .4 percentage point decrease (unless those two sentences are unrelated), yet only 36,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were created. And Gallup reports that unemployment rose slightly to 9.8% and didn't drop to anywhere close to 9%. Huh...
I'm sure there's an explanation for this difference. A very simple one.
UPDATE: It seems I was right. Don Surber offers this explanation to Glenn Reynolds (who apparently had the same question I did):
"The 'not seasonally adjusted' unemployment rate was 9.1% in December. It rose to 9.8% in January. In January 2010, it was 10.6%. This should explain the question from Glenn Reynolds as to why the official figure of 9.0% is so far below the 9.8% calculated by the Gallup Poll."
However, Surber adds:
"A net gain of only 36,000 jobs in January shows the stimulus was a disaster.
"In fact, there may actually have been a loss of jobs in January.
"In 2010, revisions averaged a drop of 20,000 jobs a month (for example, last January, the government first reported a net gain of 14,000 jobs. That was quietly revised later to a loss of 39,000 jobs).
"It is true that winter is to blame for some of the smaller-than-expected job gain.
"But a net gain of 36,000 jobs in a nation of 300 million people is not enough to push unemployment from 9.4% down to 9.0%.
"Yet this is what the Obama regime wants us to believe.
"The administration’s manipulation of the numbers does not erase the fact that we very well could be headed to another recession.
"At a net gain of 36,000 jobs a month, it will take 18 years to get those 4 million jobs that President Obama promised in exchange for $787 billion.
"President Obama’s administration had expected a net gain of 146,000 jobs — still well below the net gain of 250,000 jobs necessary to sustain prosperity."
Better get ready to cling to religion and guns...
Thursday, February 3, 2011
"United in its opposition to the U.S. and Israel, this coalition is seeing many of its chief regional adversaries weakened—particularly Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II.
"'[The unrest] proved that the global arrogance's era of domination and control of the region has come to an end,' Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tehran's state television this week, using Iran's catch-phrase for the U.S."
"Organizations opposing the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have pledged to launch their own protest movement this week and have cited Saturday as a 'day of rage.' Any sustainable movement against the Syrian leadership would buttress the argument that the protest wave is a broad-based effort driven by economics and concerns about lack of political freedoms, Western diplomats said.
"'As long as the people have a major say in the future [of the Middle East], then you are going to have the minor say in the United States,' Mr. Assad said.
"'With [the region] assuming a new shape and the developments under way, [we hope] we would be able to see a Middle East that is Islamic and powerful,' Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran on Monday.
However, Hamas officials said in interviews this week that what's happening could be to the Islamist movement's advantage. They expect the changes in Egypt and Jordan, in particular, to give them more room to operate.
"'You gotta hand it to German businessman Siegfried Rotthaeuser, who came up with a brilliant run around the European Union ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs — he rebranded them as "Heat Balls" and is importing them for sale as a "small heating device."