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Posts tagged ‘BBC’

BBC Apologizes to University for Undercover Trip to N.Korea.


The BBC apologised on Monday to a leading British university for sending two undercover reporters to accompany an academic trip to North Korea, after an internal investigation found that it had failed to inform students of the potential risks.

The publicly funded BBC joined the trip to North Korea for students and post-graduates of the London School of Economics (LSE) in March 2013.

Two undercover journalists – including the respected reporter John Sweeney – attached themselves to the group to gain access to the secretive state and film a documentary for Panorama, a current affairs programme.

The general secretary of the LSE’s student union accused the BBC at the time of using the students as “human shields”.

The university said the students had been told “a journalist” would accompany them, but it had not been made clear the BBC’s aim was to use the visit to secretly record footage for Panorama, a current affairs programme.

James Harding, the director of BBC news and current affairs, wrote to the chairman of the LSE, Peter Sutherland, saying that he accepted the corporation had fallen short. “On behalf of the BBC, I would like to apologise to you and the LSE,” he said.

The BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee said the broadcaster had not adequately informed the students about the BBC’s involvement so that they would be aware of any risks posed by the presence of the journalists.

“This was a serious failing, and the BBC is right to apologise to the complainants,” said Alison Hastings, Chair of the Editorial Standards Committee.

The LSE and the father of one of the students on the trip made a series of complaints to the BBC after news of its involvement in the trip surfaced last year.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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Dear Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala II By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I thank you for acknowledging my article published last week.  I trouble you with this follow-up only because of the dangerous debris left behind by your Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

First, on the “Abacha loot” recovery, let it be clear that my advocacy concerning Nigeria’s “recovered” funds is neither new, nor limited to your story.

In “Whatever Happened to the Abacha Loot?” (June 22, 2008), I wrote, “The national interest would be well served by a transparent picture of what has actually happened…The indications are that some of the funds recovered from the man and his family may have been re-stolen, or misused.”

In terms of numbers, my case is that Nigeria seems to have recovered between $2 and $3b from Abacha.  You say $500 million.

I know that the realistic number is mine because that is what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, reported in 2006.

In a statement in London in November of that year, Mr. Ribadu stated that “Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria,” and that $2 billion had been recovered during his term of office.  He repeated that figure that same month during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala.  In Dakar at the 2nd Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa, just three months ago, Mr. Ribadu repeated the claim that Nigeria recovered $2 billion.  Nobody has ever challenged him.

It is also significant, Madam, that one year before Ribadu went on record about the $2 billion recovery for the first time, you said the same thing.  The event was a press conference in September 2005 in Switzerland.  Up till that point, Nigeria had recovered “about $2 billion total of assets,” you said.

Nonetheless, the $2 billion recovered in the Abacha hunt that was referred to by Mr. Ribadu and your good self in 2005 and 2006 is without prejudice to the $700 million that former Finance Minister Michael Ani said in November 1998 had been recovered from Abacha.  Ani described $1.3bn in illegal withdrawals discovered to have been made by Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser for Abacha.

To Gwarzo belongs one of the sadder chapters of the loot recovery story. At the end of 1998, Abdussalam Abubakar said the government had recovered $1 billion from the Abacha family and another $250 million from Gwarzo.  When Obasanjo became president, at least $500 million more was recovered from Gwarzo in 2000.

The foregoing might explain why you said in a speech after you left the Obasanjo government, “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means.”

My point is: much more than $500 million was recovered from Abacha, some of them before, and some of them in-between your tenures as Minister of Finance.

Perhaps you refer only to $500m because the specific subject of your September 2005 Switzerland press conference was $458 million, which you said Nigeria had recovered.

That $500m is supported somewhat by an account of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, which said at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery in September 2007 that Nigeria had recovered a total of $505.5 million from the Swiss government.   On that occasion, at which you were present, it was also stated that up to $800m had been recovered from Abacha domestically.

Before all that, in November 2003, you personally announced that Nigeria had recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.  In case you may have forgotten, you clarified that the $149 million was not part of a $618 million trip you had just made to Switzerland at that time.

Nonetheless, in December 2006, La Declaration de Berne, a Swiss humanitarian body, alleged that Switzerland had repatriated $700 million to Nigeria, but alleged irregularities in Nigeria’s use of the money, claiming $200 million was unaccounted for.

That $700m figure seems to be in harmony with the statement made by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria at a press conference three months ago, during which he gave that figure as what his country returned to Nigeria.

Similarly, on 10 March 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced at a joint press conference they had recovered “over N600 billion” in five years.

That sum seems somewhat conservative, but a lot more than $500 million of it came from Abacha.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • In May 2000, Luxembourg confirmed it had found and frozen $630 million in eight bank accounts in a private bank, in the names of the Abachas, awaiting Nigeria’s claim.
  • In August 2000, Nigeria asked Liechtenstein to help recover 100m British pounds.
  • In October 2001, a British High Court asked the government ahead to help Nigeria trace over $1bn in Abacha loot.
  • In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with the Abachas under which the government was to recover about $1.2 billion.
  • In February 2010, the British Government announced in Abuja it would repatriate 43 million pounds recovered from the offshore accounts of various Nigerian officials.

Some of these happened when you were not in the government, I know, but we are not talking about your personal life.  The point is that as a people, we cannot move forward unless there is true and full transparency.  Where is all the money?  Can you tell us?

Your over-reaching spokesman illustrates my point.  “On the NNPC oil accounts issue…Dr Okonjo-Iweala has called for an independent forensic audit to establish the facts of any unaccounted for money and ensure that all every Naira that is owed the treasury is returned to the Federation Account…the fundamental problem of determining the facts as a basis for action must still be tackled. Is there room for more action on corruption? Of course the answer can only be yes. But action is needed to achieve change. Talk is cheap, action is crucial.”

Exactly, Madame Minister, let us have a forensic independent audit.  But may I propose three productive caveats to your government?  The audit must be international; cover the NNPC and the recovered funds; and date from 1999.   This is the only scenario that can guarantee that the full story will be told.

Let me illustrate the depth of our depravity with a graphic example made by Ribadu in 2009 to the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He had four properties in London valued at about £10 million, plus another property in Cape Town valued at $1.2 million. £1 million cash was found in his bedroom at his apartment in London. £2 million was restrained at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and over $240 million in Nigeria. This is in addition to bank accounts traced to Cyprus, Denmark, USA and the Bahamas.”

This is the kleptocracy in which Nigerian leaders have stolen over $380bn since independence, as the same Ribadu told the BBC in 2006.  Yet, that Alamieyeseigha, like others, has been pardoned by your government.  This is why we will never get real answers by putting your “independent” audit in the hands of a pre-programmed Abuja panel.

Finally, you bristle at my reference to the issue of the recurrent budget.  You say I have no moral authority to comment on the matter.

So let us talk about moral authority.

Following your negotiations of Nigeria’s foreign with the Paris Club in 2006, Audu Ogbeh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, publicly said that one “top member” of your government had walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.  I had expected that President Obasanjo or you would be outraged, and challenge the allegation, but nobody ever has.  I would have defended my father’s name.

I repeat my support of your campaign finance proposal, in principle.  But a cafeteria approach to reform never works, and your forensic audit is bound to be eaten alive in the all-purpose impunity and kleptocracy that currently masquerades as governance.  The answer is banging on the front door.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

The Gutless Eunuch And The Lion King By Femi Fani-Kayode.


By Femi Fani-Kayode

On 26th September 2011 in an article titled, ”On Goodluck Jonathan, David and Goliath” I wrote the following-

”A few days ago President Jonathan proclaimed as follows- ‘I am not David, I am not a general, I am not a lion- I will defeat the Goliaths in our land’. These are deep and instructive words yet I do wonder whether Mr. President understands the spiritual and practical implications of what he is saying.

I say this because if he says that he is not a David how can he then possibly slay the Goliaths in the land? If he says that he is not a general how can he be an effective Commander-in-Chief who commands the respect and confidence of his army and his officers? If he says that he is not a lion how can he overwhelm the animals in our jungle that seek to destroy and ravage our land?

Every king worth his salt must have the spirit of the lion and the warrior in him to a certain extent. It is a fundamental pre-qualification for good quality and inspirational leadership and that is what distinguishes the pretender and the usurper from a real king. May the spirit and weakness of the biblical King Ahab not be our President’s portion even though his words seem to have ensnared him. History proves that weak kings and weak leaders always end up pulling down and destroying their own empires and kingdoms simply because they are incapable of providing strong and decisive leadership. Always remember, whether you are a king or a subject, that courage is the greatest of all the virtues. This is wisdom. Would someone please tell our President?”

With the shooting of opposition leaders like Senator Magnus Abe and the killing of some APC youths by policemen in Port Harcourt on January 12th 2014, the attempted murder of the father of Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and the cold blooded slaughter of some people that were with him in Kano on January 7th 2014 by people that are suspected to be agents of the Federal Government, the killing of twenty four people in Borno state by Boko Haram insurgents on January 8th 2014, the  shooting and hacking to death of 30 villagers and the burning of 40 houses by fulani gunmen in Shonong village, Plateau state on January 6th 2014, the bombing of a High Court in Port Harcourt by unknown persons a few days ago, the killing of 91 children by Boko Haram in Damatru a few months ago, the slaughter of 200 Nigerian troops by Boko Haram in Borno state a few weeks back, the massacre of 41 school children in Borno state by Boko Haram four months ago, the burning to the ground of 53 churches in Borno state by Boko Haram in 2013, the mass murder of no less than 7000 thousand Nigerians by Boko Haram in the last 3 years, the burning to the ground of an army barracks with it’s attendant slaughter of the family members of army officers and military personnel in Bama in December 2013 and the raging war that is going on in the north-eastern part of our country between Boko Haram and our military today those words and that counsel that was offered two years ago seem even more relevant now than they were even then.

I believe that the carnage that we are witnessing in our country today has come as a direct result of the manifestation of weakness at the top. When a President tells the world that Boko Haram are his ”siblings” whom he ”cannot move against”, as he did earlier this year, he is asking for trouble. When a President keeps offering Boko Haram amnesty even when they kept rejecting it and whilst they were murdering his people, as he has been doing for the last three years, he is asking for trouble. When a President installs and supports a party National Chairman, by the name of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who describes Boko Haram as ”freedom fighters”, as he did earlier this year, he is asking for trouble.

When a President announces to the world that he is ”not a lion or a David”, as he did approximately two years ago, no-one should be surprised when his people are killed like flies before his very eyes. May God bring us a real leader that can save our nation and may He take away this one who feels no pain and has no empathy when Nigerian blood, nay even the blood of innocent children, is shed with impunity. Under the tenure of our ”lamb” President more innocent Nigerians have been slaughtered by terrorists than at any other time in the history of our country except during the civil war.

What a mess and what a record. I continue to ponder about one thing though- would the President have been so unperturbed and detached from the whole thing if the children that were killed in their school just a few weeks ago had been from his Niger Delta area. It appears to me that simply because those kids were northerners this President just ”doesn’t give a damn”. What a tragedy. Whether christian or muslim, northern or southern these are only children and they are NIGERIAN children each of whom is entitled to the full protection of the Nigerian state. I have said it before and I shall say it again, Nigeria has become an abattoir of human flesh and blood under the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and all those who support him should bury their heads in shame. The blood of all those innocent people is on his hands because he swore to an oath before God and the Nigerian people to protect them from such evil.

Permit me to make a painful observation here. I was thoroughly appalled about the fact that when our President was asked about the latest round of killings during his live ”Presidential Media Chat” programme a few months ago he not only told a lie to the world by claiming that only ”21 or 22 students were killed” at a time when the BBC and CNN had confirmed that at least 45 bodies had been found (almost 100 were to be discovered later) but he also failed to express his condolences to the families of those that had lost their loved ones. He made the same omission when he failed to commiserate with or express his condolences to the families of the 200 soldiers that were killed in Borno state a few weeks back whilst fighting Boko Haram simply because they ran out of bullets during the course of the battle.

By way of contrast not only was he quick to offer his condolences to the government and people of Kenya for the terrible carnage that was inflicted on them by Al Shabab just one day before when 68 people were killed at a Nairobi shopping mall but he was also quick to offer the Kenyan government military assistance.  I guess that to him Nigerian blood is not as expensive or as important as foreign blood.

If President Uhuru Kenyatta ever decides to accept his offer let us hope that our President will provide enough bullets and ammunition to the soldiers that he will send. Our boys are deeply courageous fighters and they certainly deserve that much. They also deserve to have a Commander in Chief that inspires them, that watches their back, that truly cares and that gives them the very best.

The question must be asked – does our President have any balls? And if he does just how big are they? Is he really a man? Does he have what it takes to fight a war against terror or is it that there is more to this than meets the eye? Is there a sinister plan to ensure that elections do not hold in some parts of the north-east in 2015 given the fact that those areas are very hostile to the suggestion that Jonathan should return to power that year? Is this whole thing planned and contrived or is it a case of chronic incompetence, ineptitude and weakness? Does Jonathan believe that it is in his interest for the north to burn and for northern blood to be spilt? Is the mindset of those that are pulling the strings of the view that since the problem has been (to use the President’s own words in his last media chat) ”localised” and ”contained in a certain area” the government can sit back and watch the locals slaughter themselves whilst they continue to drink champagne and kai-kai in the Villa? If that is the case has it not occurred to them that their fellow Nigerians live in those areas where the problem has supposedly been ”localised” and is the blood of those fellow Nigerians not red as well? Are they less Nigerian because of where they were born and who they are? Are the people that live in the villages and countryside not as important as those who live in the towns and cities?

Whatever is really going on God sees all and anything that is not of Him will surely fail. If it is nothing but weakness and incompetence that has resulted in this unprecedented carnage the President will answer before God for violating his solemn oath to protect the Nigerian people from enemies within and from enemies without. If it is a conspiracy to encourage and create turmoil and chaos in the north just to ensure that they are excluded from the vote in 2015, both Jonathan himself and Nigeria as a whole will reap the consequences. It is worth noting that that is precisely what happened in Mali in the elections that took place before the north was taken over by the islamists and it led to a full scale civil war.

Any attempt to exclude any part of this country from participating in the elections in 2015 under the guise of lack of security or Boko Haram will result in the same thing with catastrophic consequences for Nigeria. Yet as Napolean Bonaparte once said, ”we must never account to conspiracy what can easily be explained away by incompetence”. It is more likely than not that the situation that is unfolding in the north-east and the feeble fight that our government is putting up against Boko Haram over there is down to Jonathan’s weakness and nothing more. So when asked the question is our President capable of fighting the war against terror my answer would be that I am afraid that I doubt it very much. He just doesn’t have it in him. As the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair once said about John Major, his predecessor in office, he is just ”weak, weak, weak”.

I am a great believer in strong government and I am one of those that has always believed that President Olusegun Obasanjo was one of the most effective leaders that we have ever had in this country. Love him or hate him one thing is clear- not under Obasanjo’s watch would 7000 thousand innocent Nigerians be massacred at will in the space of just two years by a bunch of murderous and heartless terrorists. He would have known exactly what to do and how to do it to put a stop to such callous lawlessness and anarchy right from the start. Equally significant is the fact that such was his love for Nigeria that regardless of the region, ethnic group or religious faith that the victims came from, espoused or belonged to, his response to the terrorists would have been swift, decisive and utterly ruthless. He would have had Boko Haram in ”shock and awe” and the whole world would have marveled at it. This is because in Obasanjo we had a President who not only had balls but who also had the courage, heart and guts to match them.

The greatest error that we as a people ever made and the worst tragedy and misfortune that has ever befallen us as a nation is the fact that a lamb ended up taking a throne that was designed and prepared for a lion. The unfortunate consequences of that tragic error and misfortune are there for all to see. The shedding of the blood of even the youngest, the most innocent and the most vulnerable in our society by Boko Haram on a daily basis is an eloquent testimony to that unsavoury fact.

The fact of the matter is that Nigeria is in dire need of a real ”Asiwaju” to lead her. She needs a man with the spirit of the ”Jagaban”- a ”last man standing” who has an iron will and who knows no fear. She needs an ”Ebora” and a ”Balogun” all rolled into one who is ready to confront evil, defend our nation, protect our people and crush the enemy. Sadly we do not have that today. Instead what we have is what the Yoruba describe as an ”olori oko tio lepon”. Roughly translated that means ”a President without balls”. May the Lord take the leadership of this nation away from the gutless eunuch and give it to a lion king.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Nigeria’s New “MINTed” Hope By Okey Ndibe.


 

Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

During a brief trip to London last week, I was intrigued to realize that part of the news buzz pertained to Nigeria’s inclusion in a list of countries with prospects of becoming four of the world’s biggest emergent economies. The so-called MINT countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Jim O’Neill, an economist at the international investment firm, Goldman Sachs, popularized the acronym. He earlier coined the term BRICS countries, denoting Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which he rated a few years ago as some of the globe’s emerging economic giants.
On Thursday, Peter Okwoche of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ended a short interview on my new novel, Foreign Gods, Inc., by asking what I thought about Mr. O’Neill’s rosy prediction for Nigeria.

Lacking the time to offer a detailed and nuanced response, I stated that Nigeria is endowed with extremely bright people, that the country is full of energetic and industrious men and women. By contrast, I added, the country has never been lucky in the department of leadership. To sum up, I invoked Chinua Achebe’s dire—but hardly contestable—conclusion that Nigeria has an amazing facility for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nigeria’s economic policy makers are understandably giddy about Mr. O’Neill’s flattering prognosis. I’d caution the infusion of a high dose of chastening realism into the premature celebration. A sense of history demands nothing less than a sober—and sobering—confrontation of the facts. Achebe was no economist, but the central fact of Nigeria’s journey, as far as economic development is concerned, bears out the late writer’s dim take on his country. In a sense, we could say that Achebe was the sounder economist and Mr. O’Neill, in inflating Nigeria’s odds, the fiction-maker.

This is not the first time Nigeria has been mentioned enthusiastically in prognoses of dramatic economic growth. Again and again, experts, foreign and homebred, had foretold that Nigeria was on the cusp of becoming a stupendous economic miracle. Each new prediction or declaration would trigger its own surge of elation. Nigeria’s policy makers and their sometimes over-pampered partners in the private sector would go into a spree of premature celebration, as if the word potential was interchangeable with reality, as if promise were the equal of performance. Each time, in the end, the outcome was embarrassing. Rather than rise to its potential, Nigeria always somehow found a way to stay stuck in the mud of failure and mediocrity, continuing to romance its worst nightmares.

Nigerians are all-too aware of their country’s missed opportunities. Many years have been lost to wasteful, visionless squander mania. Rampant, unchecked corruption has smothered many a promising grand idea. For many discerning people, Nigeria has become a huge graveyard: a cemetery littered with betrayed dreams, dashed hopes, and asphyxiated aspirations. We’re all too familiar with many dud promissory notes that came with such flamboyant names or phrases as “Green Revolution,” “Consolidating the Gains of SAP,” “Vision 2020-10,” “NEEDS,” “Dividends of Democracy,” and “Transformational Leadership.”

Read Nigerian newspapers or watch any Nigerian television station and you’re bound to realize that there’s zero discussion of the things that matter. It’s all about one empty-headed politician decamping from one political party to another; one squabble or another between two politicians or two political parties; one hireling or another warning that presidential power must stay where it is, or must be transferred to a person from a different geo-ethnic sector, or it’s hell-in-Nigeria; some pastor or imam declaiming that God whispered into his/her ears that Nigerians must fast and pray more (even though most of the populace is already on poverty-enforced fasting). Much of Nigeria’s public discourse is taken up by a tizzy of political rants and faux piety.

Greatness never comes by accident, nor is it imposed by divinity on an unwilling people. A country, like a person, must prepare—be prepared—for greatness. It starts with dreaming greatness, imagining it, contemplating what it must take, and deciding that the venture is worth the risk, that we’re willing to invest the time, intellect and material resources to translate the dreamed into reality.

Do Nigerians dream big? In words, they do, but not in deed. In the 1960s through the 1980s, Nigerian “leaders” used to speak of “this great nation of ours.” But even they have abandoned that species of bad joke! Now, they speak of “moving the nation forward” or “delivering the dividends of democracy.” But the rickety molue they claim to be moving forward is in reverse gear, headed, any moment, for a jagged gorge. Ask any Nigerian official what “dividends” they have delivered and you’re bound to hear such fatuous lines as, “I purchased 100 tractors to mechanize agriculture,” “I don’t owe civil servants any arrears of salaries,” “I bought chalks for all elementary schools in my state,” “I have commissioned 500 water boreholes,” etc, etc.

It’s the 21st century, but very little of the language of those who run (that is, ruin) Nigeria suggests that they are aware of what time it is. They’re conscious of the world, of course, but only in a slavish, opportunistic way. They, their relatives and cronies are at their best when they travel in style to the world’s most dazzling cities: New York, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Beijing, etc. Once in these cities, they unleash their rank consumerist impulse, eager to bask in the most garish of each city’s sensual offerings. But it never occurs to them that the goods that make them swoon, the services they lust after are products of other thinking people’s imagination and work.

Meanwhile, back home, the masses are steeped in grim lives, trapped by ignorance and disease. Last week in London, a friend showed me a Youtube video of a brackish lake in Nigeria swarmed by thousands of sick, desperate Nigerians who believe that the stagnant body of water has healing powers. I was incensed by the spectacle, the hysteria of ignorance. Then it dawned on me: this is what can happen—what happens—in a country bereft of any healthcare system.

I’d like to hear Mr. O’Neill stipulate a recipe for Nigeria’s emergence into economic greatness. Nigeria has a high supply of thinkers, of experts in every field, including economic policy. But the hordes of unthinking, grub-obsessed politicians who dominate the political sphere are consistently threatened by expertise.

I don’t know of any country that rose to economic powers via fasting and prayers. And yet that’s the formula most treasured by Nigerian politicians who exhort their victims to fast and pray. Luck can only carry a person or a nation so far. And Nigeria has long exhausted its stock of luck, even if it somehow keeps borrowing some more.

The “N” in Mr. O’Neill’s MINT will become yet another mirage unless Nigerians find a way to reverse the toxic culture that validates corruption and venerates mediocrity.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Keane on Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Attacks ‘Will Grow’.


Image: Keane on Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Attacks 'Will Grow'

By Wanda Carruthers

The move by the army-backed government in Egypt declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization will not silence the radical elements in group, Ret. Gen. Jack Keane said Thursday.

He predicted during an appearance on Fox News that attacks on the Egyptian government “will grow in size and scale” as militants members of the brotherhood begin to assert themselves.

“There is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood that will wait for another political opportunity. But, then there’s another part of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the right and much more radical,” Keane said.

“They are already conducting armed violence, terrorist attacks. This will grow in size and scale.”

The Egyptian government formally declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization Wednesday. The move makes the group’s activities illegal, and is seen as an effort by the army-backed government to suppress opposition.

The Brotherhood played a significant role in the government itself before former President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power. Keane, a Fox News military analyst, said the Egyptian government was answering what they thought was the will of the people by getting rid of Morzi, who rose to power as a member of the brotherhood.

“The military regime believes that they are answering the clarion call of the people by suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood. They do not want them to participate in the political process again,” he said.

The current political tensions mask what Keane believes is the real problem facing Egypt — poverty among the majority of its people. He says the protests during the Arab Spring that eventually helped sweep Morsi into office were prompted by the nation’s economic and social problems.

“Remember the Arab Spring when they took to the streets a number of years ago? It was all about economic opportunity and social justice and political justice,” Keane said. ” And, hopefully, this regime will get back to trying to solve some of these problems.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ted Cruz Blasts Budget Deal, Warns Nation Nearing ‘Point of No Return’.


Image: Ted Cruz Blasts Budget Deal, Warns Nation Nearing 'Point of No Return'

By David A. Patten

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is blasting the bipartisan budget deal that passed the Senate this week, saying the deal “went backwards” and would only worsen the nation’s spiraling debt.

The budget compromise that had been championed by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan in the House passed the Senate by a 63 to 36 vote.

Speaking in an exclusive Newsmax Magazine interview, Cruz said Friday: “It’s a sad statement that the easiest way to get bipartisan agreement in Washington is to increase spending, debt, and taxes.

“That’s why the American people are so frustrated with career politicians in Washington in both parties, because they’re not listening to the American people and they’re not working to solve the enormous fiscal and economic challenges that we’re facing,” he added.

The deal on the budget reduces the impact of the automatic sequester cuts by about $63 billion over two years. Its includes a controversial 1 percent cut in cost-of-living pension adjustments to some military retirees that Cruz opposes, and only cuts $23 billion from spending over the next decade.

Critics have pointed out the $23 billion over 10 years is only about 3 percent of the federal government’s $680 billion deficit for 2013 alone.

The U.S. national debt, which was roughly $10 trillion when President Obama took office, now stands at over $17 trillion. And Cruz warned time is running out to fix it.

“We have a brief window of time to turn things around,” he said. “We don’t have a long time.”

He added: “We are nearing the point of no return.”

Cruz described himself as “profoundly optimistic” that the nation will eventually get its balance sheet back in order – but not thanks to Washington.

“The answer’s going to have to come from the American people,” he said. “It’s not going to come from Washington. It’s got to come from millions and millions of Americans across this country standing up, and holding elected officials accountable, telling elected officials of both parties, ‘Stop doing what you’ve been doing over and over again, it’s not working.’”

Increasingly, Cruz is being mentioned among the top potential contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination. Perhaps due to the spotlight shined on him during the shutdown over Obamacare, Cruz’s name recognition has skyrocketed.

The freshman senator from Texas recently was named the third most influential figure in the world in a Rasmussen poll, behind only Pope Francis and President Obama.

The price for his meteoric rise: Cruz is sustaining more frequent political attacks by rivals. New York Republican Rep. Peter King, reportedly flirting with tossing his own hat in the ring for the 2016 nomination, recently described Cruz and fellow movement-conservative Rand Paul as “out of touch with the American people.”

Asked his reaction to that broadside, Cruz replied that King is “certainly entitled to his opinion.”

But he added: “Nobody should be surprised that the Washington establishment doesn’t want to change. No one should be surprised that the Washington establishment fights back.

“You don’t get a $17 trillion national debt without a whole lot of bipartisan cooperation, without a whole lot of Republicans going along to get along with Democrats and exploding the size, power, and spending of the federal government. And that’s why so many people across this country are rightly fed up with Washington.”

But Cruz says the sequester unfairly requires the military to bear a disproportionate burden.

“I think we owe it to the men and women in the military to stand with them, to support them,” he said. “One of the most disturbing aspects of this recent budget deal is that it cuts the retirements of our veterans, retroactively, and it doesn’t do the same thing for civilian employees.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Brzezinski: Hillary May Have Been Focused on 2016 as Sec. of State.


Image: Brzezinski: Hillary May Have Been Focused on 2016 as Sec. of State

By Wanda Carruthers

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have been too focused on a potential run for president in 2016 to have effectively negotiated the recent peace deal with Iran or other matters, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested Thursday.

“You can’t help but wonder, was she more cautious because she thought, would she have been comfortable negotiating the Iran deal going into 2016?” Brzezinski said on MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe.”

“My point is, [if] she’s being cautious because she’s thinking of 2016, then she’s thinking about the wrong things while being secretary of state,” the former adviser to President Jimmy Carter added.

Secretary of State John Kerry looks “more comfortable in his own skin right now” and is doing a “fantastic job,” Brzezinski continued.

He emphasized, however, that he thought Clinton was “terrific” in the position. The difference between the two, he said, was that each had different agendas.

“He focuses on strategic issues … She had a global agenda. She had a futuristic agenda, human rights, gender issues, global climate, et cetera,” Brzezinski said.

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