President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Meet in Oval Office, Discuss Middle East Peace, Iran, and Nuclear Weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday under a cloud of tension which has hung over US – Israeli relations in the past months. The main topic of discussion is what it always is, the peace process in the Middle East. Obama was optimistic about the effects of the meeting claiming that he expected direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians to begin well before the moratorium on settlement construction expires in September.

The other main subjects of discussion between the two heads of state were Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons program. President Obama emphasized that there had been no shift in American policy on Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons program, despite the United States’ signature on a recent United Nations document that singled out Israel for its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, binding 189 countries. In an interview aired Thursday evening on Channel 2 News in Israel, Obama was asked whether he was concerned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to attack Iran without clearing the move with the U.S., to which the president replied "I think the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is sufficiently strong that neither of us try to surprise each other, but we try to coordinate on issues of mutual concern."


CNN Fires Senior Editor for Praising Hezbollah Leader

CNN fired the senior editor of Middle East affairs Octavia Nasr due to her complimentary remarks of a Hezbollah leader. Hezbollah is Shi'a Islamist political and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon and backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nasr wrote on Twitter on July 4 that she was "sad" to hear of the death of Hezbollah's Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah--a man for whom she has "respect." Fadlallah had justified suicide bombings, is believed to be responsible for the Marine barracks bombing, and had said that "Zionism has inflated the number of victims in this Holocaust beyond imagination."

In a blog posting that targeted her original twitter message, Nasr wrote that it "was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work. That's not the case at all."

She asserted that she had respect for the terror leader because Fadlallah opposed "honor" killings and beating women. However, stating that you have respect for Fadlallah because of such stances is similar to espousing respect for bin Laden because he has funded the building of day care centers.

Nasr's CNN superior Parisa Khosravi released this statement following the incident, "We believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward,".


Spending Spree: Federal Deficit Surpasses $1 Trillion
for Second Straight Year

The federal deficit in June surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the second straight year, but it's on pace to be slightly lower than last year.

The deficit was $1.005 trillion at the end of June for fiscal year 2010, which is $81 billion less than it was after nine months of fiscal 2009, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released late Wednesday.

The Obama Administration has quickly eclipsed the big spending Bush Administration accentuating the former administration’s pace by nearly threefold. The Deficit has risen from just over $11 Trillion when Obama took office to nearly $13.2 Trillion Currently.


Louisiana Governor Jindal Frustrated with Red Tape
in Stopping Oil Flow

Governor Jindal

When oil began its intrusion on Barataria Bay, a vast estuary in southeast Louisiana that is host to one of the most productive fisheries in the country, local officials devised a plan of action in May to save the fragile ecosystem. The plan would initiate the building of rock dikes across several major tidal inlets between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico to block and then capture the oil.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was a staunch supporter of the plan, and BP agreed to pay for the project, estimated to cost $30 million. By early June, about 100,000 tons of rock began being loaded onto barges on the Mississippi River for transport to the coast.

However, over the past weekend the Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the project, citing environmental concerns, in particular the potential for the rock barriers to cause widespread erosion and the breaching of Barataria Bay’s existing barrier islands.

Now the rock sits on 75 barges on the Mississippi River with no immediate use.

“They’re just sitting back criticizing,” said Deano Bonano, the emergency-preparedness director for Jefferson Parish, which borders Barataria Bay. “Where are they when it comes to protecting this bay?”

In a speech on Tuesday in New Orleans, Mr. Jindal said: “No one can convince us that rocks in the water are more dangerous than oil. That is absolutely ridiculous. The only people who believe that are the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., who can’t see the oil, smell the oil or touch the oil."

The scientists responsible for advising the Army Corps of Engineers insist the rock plan was misguided.

“There was very strong scientific backing for not doing this,” said Denise Reed, a wetlands specialist and director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences in New Orleans. “This could really devastate our barrier shoreline, our first line of defense.”

Yet by siding with federal agencies blamed from the beginning of the spill for a slow-footed and chaotic response — and for which resentment still lingers over the failings of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina — these coastal scientists have made themselves easy targets for leaders eager to portray themselves as stopping at nothing in the fight against the oil. For these politicians, swifter action is crucial.

“You don’t wait weeks and weeks for studies and federal permits in the middle of a war,” Mr. Jindal, a Republican, said in a speech on July 2. “You do what you need to do as quickly as possible to protect your land and your people.”

“We want to prevent the damage — we don’t want to clean it up,” Mr. Bonano, the emergency-preparedness director, said. “That’s the big difference between us and them.”

Mr. Jindal said in a statement Tuesday that officials would resubmit the plan.

“We’ve made countless revisions,” said Garret Graves, the director of the governor’s Office of Coastal Activities. “We jumped through all these hoops to address their concerns, only to wait a month and be rejected.”

Governor Jindal’s office has also said the governor will keep pressing for the rock barrier.


NASA’s New Mission: Muslim Outreach

Barack Obama

In an almost laughingly absurd restatement of goals for the America’s space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: to “re-inspire children” to study science and math, to “expand our international relationships,” and to “reach out to the Muslim world.” Of those three goals, Bolden said in a recent interview with Al Jazeera, the mission to reach out to Muslims is “perhaps foremost,” because it will help Islamic nations “feel good” about their scientific accomplishments. Far from injecting inspiration, Administrator Bolden went out of his way to suck any inspiration left in American children, when he told Al Jazeera in the same interview: “We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can’t do it, China can’t do it — no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.” Are you feeling inspired? The nation that single-handily put man on the moon is absolutely incapable of achieving greatness in the future, according to our president’s NASA administrator. And our children are left to be inspired by Obama’s international greatness rather than dreams of becoming astronauts. Instead of being used to gain strategic advances through celestial exploration, NASA has been turned into a sort of Public Relations firm. Can someone tell me how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is given the responsibility to mend relations with Muslim countries and improve overall international relations?


Economic Woes Far From Over for U.S., Global Community

Home sales are down. Retail sales are down. Factory orders in May suffered their biggest tumble since March of last year. So what are we doing about it? Less than nothing. Roughly a million Americans have dropped out of the jobs market altogether over the past two months. That is the only reason why the headline unemployment rate is not exploding to a post-war high. Let us be honest. The US is still trapped in depression a full 18 months into zero interest rates, quantitative easing (QE), and fiscal stimulus that has pushed the budget deficit above 10percent of GDP. It is obvious what that policy should be for Europe, America, and Japan. If budgets are to shrink in an orderly fashion over several years – as they must, to avoid sovereign debt spirals – then central banks will have to cushion the blow keeping monetary policy ultra-loose for as long it takes. The Fed is already eyeing the printing press again. "It's appropriate to think about what we would do under a deflationary scenario," said Dennis Lockhart for the Atlanta Fed. His colleague Kevin Warsh said the pros and cons of purchasing more bonds should be subject to "strict scrutiny", a comment which signaled the Fed Board is arguing internally about quantitative easing round 2.


Market forecaster predicts Dow plunge to 1,000:
“Winter is coming. Buy a Coat.”

Buy A Coat

With the stock market ripe for decline in the midst of no tangible positive economic data experts are turning bearish on the market’s outlook. One man in particular is warning of a doomsday on the horizon. Robert Prechter, widely regarded as an expert in technical analysis claims the market could drop to unprecedented levels sinking the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 1,000 points. “I’m saying: ‘Winter is coming. Buy a coat,’ ” he said. “Other people are advising people to stay naked. If I’m wrong, you’re not hurt. If they’re wrong, you’re dead. It’s pretty benign advice to opt for safety for a while.” His advice: individual investors should move completely out of the market and hold cash and cash equivalents, like Treasury bills, for years to come. (For traders with a fair amount of skill and willingness to embrace risk, he suggests other alternatives, like shorting the market or making bets on volatility.) But ultimately, “the decline will lead to one of the best investment opportunities ever,” he said. Buy-and-hold stock investors will be devastated in a crash much worse than the declines of 2008 and early 2009 or the worst years of the Great Depression or the Panic of 1873, he predicted. Prechter warns that the Dow, which opened today at 10,134, is likely to fall well below 1,000 over over a span of five or six years as a grand market cycle comes to an end, he said. That unraveling, combined with a depression and deflation, will make anyone holding cash “extremely grateful for their prudence.” Ralph J. Acampora, a market analyst with more than 40 years of experience and a partner at Alverita, a wealth management firm in New York claims that he is bearish on the market but asserts that Prechter’s warnings are a bit off the deep end. The “mathematics don’t work,” Mr. Acampora said, because such a big decline would imply that individual stocks would need to trade at unrealistically low levels. Furthermore, he said, “I don’t want to agree with him, because if he’s right, we’ve basically got to go to the mountains with a gun and some soup cans, because it’s all over.”

Obama Photo By: Eric Kabik/Retna