In the second quarter of the Super Bowl, Coke became the first advertiser to show a gay family in an ad for America’s big game. The snippet appeared as one of many vignettes in a sweeping ad that celebrated America’s collection of diverse creeds, codes and individuals. In the five-second clip, two male partners and their daughter go roller-skating while a chorus of children sing “America the beautiful.” The hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful went trending on Twitter shortly after the spot aired. Gay rights organization GLAAD praised the ad, calling it “a step forward for the advertising industry.” Coke has been under fire for its marketing lately. A social marketing effort that allowed customers to give each other digital coke bottles with words written on them backfired after the site wouldn’t allow users to put the word “gay” on them. The beverage maker has also been criticized for sponsoring the 2014 Olympics because the host country, Russia, in 2013 passed a law banning “the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors ”Coca-Cola has demonstrated to corporate America that being LGBT-inclusive is good business, but as the world turns its attention to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s time for sponsors of the Olympics like Coca-Cola to show the whole world how beautiful LGBT families are,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement after the ad aired.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Congress that new unilateral sanctions against Iran could upend sensitive international negotiations over its nuclear development, imploring lawmakers to work with the Obama administration in presenting a unified front to Tehran. Echoing President Barack Obama’s deep concerns about another round of tough economic penalties, Clinton said any congressional action could undercut US work with its allies as well as American influence with Russia and China in forcing Tehran to negotiate after years of inconclusive talks. “Now that serious negotiations are finally under way, we should do everything we can to test whether they can advance a permanent solution,” Clinton said.
“As President Obama has said, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed, while keeping all options on the table.” Clinton offered her assessment in a three-page letter to Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Levin’s office released the letter, dated January 26, on Sunday. Levin and several other committee chairmen have expressed a willingness to hold off on sanctions to give diplomatic efforts a chance. However, 59 Republicans and Democrats back legislation to impose a new round of penalties on Iran, maintaining that crippling economic sanctions forced Tehran to make concessions. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez and Mark Kirk would blacklist several Iranian industrial sectors and threaten banks and companies around the world with being banned from the US market if they help Iran export any more oil. The provisions would only take effect if Tehran violates the six-month interim deal or lets it expire without a comprehensive nuclear agreement. More
Embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction rather than handing over them as agreed last summer, the Sunday Times reported, quoting Israeli and Russian sources. The report cites the sources as saying that the WMDs, which include chemical and biological weapons, are being upgraded with North Korean and Iranian assistance, and are believed by the Israelis to be located in Western Syria, in “the heartland of his Alawite sect”. They are to serve, the paper said, “as an insurance policy in case (Assad’s) country is eventually partitioned.” This area where the weapons are stored, according to the report, includes the coastal region around the port city of Latakia, which last week was bombed in an attack that Palestinian sources said had been carried out by Israel. The report also quotes a source in Israeli military intelligence as saying that, “This region is now totally fortified and isolated from the rest of Syria”. More
In 1987, a treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev prohibited the testing of medium range nuclear missiles. Now, there are growing concerns that Russia is violating the agreement that helped to end the Cold War. The State Department has yet to formally accuse Russia of violating the terms of the deal. But the United States has told NATO allies that Russia has tested the missile. “The United States never hesitates to raise treaty compliance concerns with Russia, and this issue is no exception,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, told The New York Times.
“There’s an ongoing review process, and we wouldn’t want to speculate or prejudge the outcome. The State Department has had suspicions that Russia was testing missiles designed to strike targets in Europe since 2008. When diplomats raise the issue with Russian officials, Moscow consistently denies it and says it considers the matter settled. The disagreements over nuclear weapons are the latest in a series of rifts between Russia and the United States. The most visible is Russia’s grant of asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Moscow and Washington have been on the opposite sides of nearly every big international issue, from Syria to Iran to the recent turmoil in Ukraine. The spat over the nuclear treaty is especially troubling. Nuclear agreements like the one Russia is suspected of violating have been the bedrock of the post-Cold War relationship between Russia and the United States, along with NATO allies.
Think anti-Semitism, the kind that gave rise to the Holocaust, is dead? Think again. A survey conducted in Poland on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day revealed 63 percent of locals believe that there is a Jewish conspiracy to control the banking system and the world media. On the religious front, 18 percent said the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ, and 13 percent of those surveyed still believe that Jews use Christian blood for ritual purposes. Today, anti-Semitism is most often masked as hostility toward the State of Israel, and that played into the poll, as well, with 21 percent of respondents saying that Israel treats the Palestinians just as Hitler treated the Jews of Europe. Thirty-five percent said Israel would stop at nothing to achieve its nefarious goals. The survey was conducted by the Center for Prejudice Research in Warsaw among a representative sampling of Polish citizens. The findings were presented to the Polish parliament by MP Michael Bilvic. Bilvic noted that while anti-Semitic sentiment among Polish Christians was down, Jew-hatred in general had not decreased. He and many other parliamentarians agreed that education against anti-Semitism must be improved. More
Would you like to buy a house for one dollar? If someone came up to you on the street and asked you that question, you would probably respond by saying that it sounds too good to be true. But this is actually happening in economically-depressed cities all over America. Of course there are a number of reasons why you might want to think twice before buying any of these homes, and I will get into those reasons in just a little bit. First, however, it is worth noting that many of the cities where these “free houses” are available were once some of the most prosperous cities in the entire country. In fact, the city of Detroit once had the highest per capita income in the entire nation. But as millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, these once prosperous communities have degenerated into rotting, decaying hellholes. Now homes that once housed thriving middle class families cannot even be given away. This is happening all over America, and what we are witnessing right now is only just the beginning. More
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is once again the target of criticism, direct and indirect, by Israeli leaders after he suggested that Israel could face “delegitimization” and “boycott” campaigns without a peace deal with the Palestinians. That remark, made Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, prompted Economy Minister Naftali Bennett to slam Kerry: “We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier,” Bennett said on Saturday evening. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also responded, albeit indirectly, dismissing the threat of boycotts: “Firstly, they only serve to make the Palestinians become more entrenched in their stance of refusal. Secondly, no pressure will make me abandon the State of Israel’s vital interests, of which security of the civilian population is foremost.” The U.S. State Department attempted to clarify Kerry’s remarks Sunday, saying that Kerry’s remarks were a warning, not a threat, and that the Obama administration did not support boycotts.
Kerry has triggered the ire of Israeli leaders with similar “warnings” before. In November 2013, he warned that Israel could face terrorism if it did not reach an agreement: “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” Israelis recoiled at the implication that they alone bore the burden of peace, and that terrorism would be an expected, or even legitimate, response. In January , Israel’s Minister of Defense was quoted as saying Kerry was “messianic” and “obsessed” with the peace process. On that occasion, Israeli leaders were swift to distance themselves from the remarks, and the minister quickly apologized. Yet this time, Kerry has unified Israeli leaders against him, and it is the Obama administration that is backtracking. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders are stepping up their efforts to isolate Israel and defy the U.S., inviting Iran to intervene in the conflict with Israel. Kerry, who has been to the region ten times in less than a year in office, is increasingly perceived by Israelis as attempting to impose an unworkable “solution” on them. Breitbart
North Korea is stepping up pressure on the US and South Korea to cancel a major military exercise due to begin next month, with a senior official warning that the drills will push the peninsula “to the brink of war”. Hyon Hak Bong, Pyongyang’s ambassador to London, told the Financial Times that the military exercises would gravely damage the North’s recent calls for improved ties with the South. He suggested they would also jeopardise the reunions of families divided by the border, to which Pyongyang agreed in principle earlier this month. High quality global journalism requires investment.
“We gave South Korea an opportunity – if they lose this chance they will be strongly mistaken,” Mr Hyon said. “If the exercises go ahead it will make the situation tense and bring the situation to the brink of war.” Last year’s spring exercises, involving thousands of troops, prompted Pyongyang to issue repeated, strongly worded warnings of imminent conflict, adding to international concern after North Korea’s third nuclear test last February. Pyongyang has tried to take the initiative in the run-up to this year’s drills, on January 16, publishing a proposal for both sides to suspend “slander” and “hostile military acts”. South Korea has ruled out abandoning the drills, instead urging Pyongyang to demonstrate its sincerity by agreeing to reunion meetings in mid-February for families divided by the country’s partition in the 1940s. But Mr Hyon said these meetings “can’t be held under a dangerous situation in which South Korea and the US stage the joint military exercises”. More
A top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards boasted Saturday that his forces have plans in place to attack the United States from within, should the U.S. attack the Islamic Republic. “America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised interview. “We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.” Reports indicate that terrorist Hezbollah forces — allies of Iran — have infiltrated the U.S. and have mapped out targets. “We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within,” Salami said.
This is the second warning by a high-ranking officer of the Guards in two weeks. The chief commander of the Guards, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafari, addressing Secretary of State John Kerry, said on Jan. 24 that a direct conflict with America is the “strongest dream of the faithful and revolutionary men around the world.” Kerry had previously said that if Iran did not live up to the agreement reached in Geneva on its nuclear program, “all options are on the table.” “Your threats to revolutionary Islam are the best opportunity,” Jafari had said. “Muslim leaders for years have been preparing us for a decisive battle.… Do you know how many thousands of revolutionary Muslims at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary groups around the world are awaiting for you to take this [military] option from the table into action?” More
At least 500 dolphins were found dead in the past few weeks on different beaches in northern Peru and the cause of death is still under investigation, media reports said. The Peruvian Sea Institute, or Imarpe, sent a team of scientists to investigate why the dolphins beached themselves in the northern regions of Lambayeque and Piura, the El Comercio newspaper reported. Other beachings of dolphins occurred in the past two years in northern Peru. The team covered a 142-kilometer (88-mile) stretch of coast on Jan. 28-29, traveling from Pimentel, a resort city in Lambayeque, to the southern part of the reserve in Illescas, located in Piura, the newspaper said, citing officials. Experts found at least 400 beached dolphins, with the discovery coming after about 100 other dolphins beached themselves in recent weeks. Fishermen told the Imarpe team that the dolphins were caught in nets regularly and drowned, the newspaper said. The scientists, however, confirmed that some young and adult dolphins died at sea and others arrived on the beaches near death.
Tests conducted on tissue samples in Lima determined that the marine mammals were not poisoned by fishermen and did not die from the effects of extractive activities in the regions. The marine mammals may have died from ingesting toxic algae, the head of Imarpe’s Lambayeque office, Jaime de la Cruz, told El Comercio. Officials are concerned about the deaths because dolphins approach the coast at this time of year to mate and feed, De la Cruz said. In 2012, about 800 dolphins were found dead in central and northern Peru, with Imarpe concluding in a report that the animals died from natural causes. Contact with fishing vessels, pesticides, pollution from heavy metals and seismic mining exploration were among the human causes ruled out. The report, however, also ruled out some possible natural causes of the deaths, including lack of food, bacterial infections, viral infections and biotoxins. Hundreds of seabirds were also found dead in northern and central Peru in early 2012. The deaths of more than 1,200 pelicans were due to lack of food because of the migration of cold water fish as a result of the warming of ocean waters, officials said. Hundreds of dead seabirds were found along a 200-kilometer (124-mile) stretch of beaches in the Piura and Lambayeque regions in early 2012, Peruvian media reported. EFE. Fox News
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sharply criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday for threatening Israel with boycotts if peace talks fail. ”Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust,” Netanyahu stated, at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting. “Moreover, they will not achieve their goal. First, they cause the Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and thus push peace further away. Second, no pressure will cause me to concede the vital interests of the State of Israel, especially the security of Israel’s citizens. ”For both of these reasons, threats to boycott the State of Israel will not achieve their goal,” Netanyahu concluded. Last Wednesday, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times published some details of Kerry’s plan which, he said, will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with “unprecedented” security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory. The deal will call for “Palestine” to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into pre-1967 Israel, Friedman said. Jewish leaders later revealed that mutual recognition is another factor of the plan – with Israel recognizing a Palestinian state and the Palestinian Authority (PA) being forced to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland – a condition the PA has already publicly refused to accept.
Hamas has removed from the Gaza-Israel border most members of the 900-strong force it employs to prevent rocket fire into Israel, The Times of Israel has learned. Sources in Gaza said the decision of Hamas’s military wing to withdraw most members of the rocket-prevention force, which was first deployed last July, was taken in the wake of Israel’s airstrikes on targets in Gaza overnight Thursday. In the aftermath of the Hamas decision, most members of the rocket-prevention force, formally deployed to “safeguard public order,” have indeed disappeared from the Gaza-Israel border area. Hamas’s move is likely to be interpreted as a green light to fire on Israel by the various terror groups in Gaza. In the aftermath of the Hamas decision, most members of the rocket-prevention force, formally deployed to “safeguard public order,” have indeed disappeared from the Gaza-Israel border area. Hamas’s move is likely to be interpreted as a green light to fire on Israel by the various terror groups in Gaza. More
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