Israel’s Netanyahu Indicted On Corruption Charges

Benjamin Netanyahu (image via Flickr)

They say timing is everything.

Donald Trump’s buddy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, was formally charged on corruption charges today just hours before meeting with Trump for the reveal of the long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

From CNN:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on corruption charges Tuesday, just hours before he was set to meet President Donald Trump for the unveiling of the US administration’s long-anticipated Middle East plan.

Netanyahu has been charged with bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit submitted the indictment in Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday shortly after Netanyahu withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity, a request he was almost certain to lose.

Netanyahu has insisted he is innocent, calling the investigations an “attempted coup” driven by the left and the media.

The charges in court mean that Netanyahu will be the first sitting prime minister to face trial in the country’s history. A trial date has not been set yet, but the legal process could possibly take years.

Government Of Lebanon Blocks Gay Dating App Grindr

The government of Lebanon has apparently ordered the gay dating app Grindr blocked for most users in the Arab country.

The government of Lebanon has apparently ordered the gay dating app Grindr blocked for most users in the Arab country.

The Independent reports the Arab nation’s state-owned internet service provider, Ogero, blocked access to the app on the orders of the public prosecutor’s office, and that all internet providers will soon follow suit.

No explanation has been given for the ban, but the court order responsible for the action specifically stated that the app “secures romantic sexual liaisons for homosexuals and bisexuals.”

A similar ban of the app occurred in January, but that was short-lived as access was restored. At the time, the government denied any involvement.

Tarek Zeidan, executive director of Helem, one of the oldest LGBTQ advocacy groups in the region, explains the absence of public spaces for gays to openly meet underscores the importance of the dating app for Lebanese LGBTQs.

“Digital forms of communication like Grindr break the isolation that members of the community feel as many still live with family,” he told The Independent.

“Grindr has also become an effective way to disseminate life-saving information on sexual health and safety – this move will set these efforts back significantly, especially when it comes to contacting difficult-to-reach populations such as individuals living in rural areas, closeted or discreet individuals, and refugees which constitute a sizeable portion of the community,” he added.

Even though Lebanon has been traditionally viewed as one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East in regard to LGBTQ rights, some activists believe this is just the beginning of a series of attacks on the community.

Georges Azzi, executive director of the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, told The Independent, “This is not an independent incident, this is part of a bigger campaign and strategy to limit the spaces of the LGBT community.”

“The groups behind this campaign operate in an atmosphere where the government and security apparatuses are encouraging attacks on freedom of expression,” added Azzi. “We are being controlled by medieval forces.”

Some activists are advising users to use VPN service to bypass the ban.

Recent news reports show a mixed bag when it comes to LGBTQ rights and status.

Last year, judges ruled Article 534 of Lebanon’s penal code could not be applied to consensual sex between adults of the same sex. The early 20th century law had been used to persecute gays calling for punishment for “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature.”

But last October, authorities raided an LGBTQ conference, and in May 2018 police arrested the organizer of Beirut Pride which resulted in the event being cancelled.

Lebanon joins Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the list of Middle East countries that ban Grindr.

Trump Admits “No Proof” Any ‘Middle Eastern Terrorists’ Amid The Migrant Caravan In Mexico

After stoking fears about "middle Eastern terrorists" being hidden in the midst of the caravan of migrants moving north through Mexico to the United States' border, Donald Trump admitted today he has "no proof" that there actually ARE any terrorists traveling amid the caravan.
Donald Trump

After stoking fears about “middle Eastern terrorists” being hidden in the midst of the caravan of migrants moving north through Mexico to the United States’ border, Donald Trump admitted today he has “no proof” that there actually ARE any terrorists traveling amid the caravan.

Via Mediaite:

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked if he’s saying that there are terrorists in the caravan. Trump said “there could very well be,” adding, “I have very good information.”

He tagged in Vice President Mike Pence to talk about his call with the president of Honduras, and he said at one point it’s “inconceivable there would not be individuals from the Middle East as part of this growing caravan.” Acosta asked him directly if he has evidence of terrorists in the caravan, as opposed to just citing statistics.

Trump jumped in to say he’s spoken with the border patrol and they’ve intercepted “many people from the Middle East” and even ISIS at the border. Acosta again asked, “Are they in the caravan?” “They could very well be,” the President responded. “But there’s no proof,” Acosta noted.

“There’s no proof of anything. There’s no proof of anything. But they very well could be.”

Well, that settles that, huh?

Watch below.

President Obama Addresses USA On Request For Military Authorization Against ISIL

Speaking from the White House, and accompanied by Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel, President Obama detailed his request to Congress asking for authorization of military force to address the threat of ISIL in the Middle East:

Obama made clear that the draft authorization sent to the legislators does not signal a new ground war for the United States in the Middle East.

“I do not believe this nation is benefited … by being on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said.

President Obama repeated often his respect for our armed forces and his resolve that ISIL will be defeated:

“Our coalition is on the offensive. ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose.”

“Our mission will succeed.”

“As Commander in Chief, I will only send our troops into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary for our national security.”

Reuters reports another journalist beheaded by ISIL

Reuters is reporting that another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, may have been beheaded by ISIL:

The Islamic State released a video purporting to show the beheading of American hostage Steven Sotloff, a monitoring service said on Tuesday, as the militant group raised the stakes in its confrontation with Washington over U.S. air strikes on its fighters in Iraq.

A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, a man the group named as David Haines, and warned governments to back off “this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State”, the SITE monitoring service said.

“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and … on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings,” the man said.

“So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

Several news outlets report that Sotloff’s family is aware of the video and grieving.

On August 19th, the same group posted a similar video showing the gruesome killing of American journalist James Foley.

After the fact, Mitt Romney agrees with President Obama on source of recent Middle East unrest

Mitt Romney strongly denounced an anti-Muslim film linked to riots against U.S. diplomatic compounds in the Mideast, accusing its director of wrongly offending Islamic sensibilities.

Romney told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that while he had not seen the film himself, he knew enough to declare it a “very bad thing.”

“You know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say,” Romney said. “And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it.”

Romney said that the film is clearly legal under the Constitution.

“Of course, we have a First Amendment, and under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do,” he said. “They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.”

The Republican nominee also condemned Florida pastor Terry Jones, whose burning of a Koran sparked deadly attacks abroad in 2011, for promoting the film.

“I think the whole film is a terrible idea,” he said. “I think him making it, promoting it, showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment —- the good judgment — not to be — not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.”

Now, if this all sounds good to you, I want to remind you that this was EXACTLY what President Obama said the day the riots began. And this sentiment is basically what Romney was speaking out against saying this approach to the issue was “apologizing” for the US.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack,” Obama said with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side in hastily arranged public remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“Today, we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake: Justice will be done.”

This hardly sounds like an apology.

Stevens lost his life in an assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, amid anger among Islamist extremists at a low-quality film mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Outrage at the movie also led an angry phalanx of Egyptian protesters to storm the U.S. Embassy there and tear down its American flag.

Noting anger in the Middle East at the film, Obama declared, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is no justification for this senseless violence—none.

“The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts,” Obama said. “Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.”