Recent News from ACT! for America

Posted at 11:16 AM ET, 11/22/2011
Washington Post
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has assembled a new team of advisers on national security just in time for Tuesday’s debate on ... foreign policy and national security.

According to the Gingich campaign, the team will be led by Herman Pirchner, the founder and president of the American Foreign Policy Council, and will include Robert McFarlane, Bill Schneider, James Woolsey, David Wursmer and several others.

The announcement provides still more evidence that Gingrich’s campaign is expanding quickly in an effort to harness his recent surge in public polls. Following his campaign’s implosion in June, Gingrich’s campaign shrank to a dozen staffers. Now, it’s back up to 40, and money is flowing in at a fast enough clip to allow him to build up his operations in all the key early states, he said during a swing through New Hampshire on Monday.

Some of Gingrich’s national-security advisers will be on hand during Tuesday’s Republican debate, which is co-hosted by CNN and the Heritage Foundation and is being held in Washington.

Here is a complete list of Gingrich’s new team and the biographies supplied by the campaign:

Norman A. Bailey is an adjunct professor of economic statecraft at the Institute of World Politics in Washington and president of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

Bailey served as a professor at the City University of New York until 1981, when President Reagan appointed him special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and senior director of International Economic Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. Since 198, Bailey has been an international economic consultant to governments, government agencies, corporations, banks, investment banking firms, trade associations and trading companies on five continents.

Ilan Berman is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. An expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, he has consulted for both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense. Berman is a member of the associated faculty at Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies. He also serves as a member of the reconstituted Committee on the Present Danger, a columnist for, and as editor of The Journal of International Security Affairs.

Ken de Graffenreid is currently professor of Intelligence Studies at The Institute of World Politics. Following service in the US Navy as a naval aviator and intelligence officer, he was appointed to President Reagan’s National Security Council in 1981.

Mr. deGraffenreid was senior director of intelligence programs at the National Security Council from 1981 to 1987, when he was charged with evaluating and coordinating a broad range of intelligence, counterintelligence, security countermeasures, space policy, arms control, strategic nuclear and command, control and communications issues. He served at the Pentagon in the second Bush administration as deputy under-secretary of Defense for policy, then as deputy national counterintelligence executive at the Central Intelligence Agency.

John Fonte is a senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at Hudson Institute. His book, Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others? was published by Encounter Books in August 2011.

Previously, Fonte was a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where he directed the Committee to Review National Standards under the chairmanship of Lynne V. Cheney. He also served as a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of Education and a program administrator at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Robert McFarlane has had a distinguished record of public service including ten years in the White House and State Department, serving variously as military adviser to Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, counselor to the secretary of state and rising ultimately to serve President Reagan as his national security advisor.

He is a graduate of the US NavalAcademy and served in the US Marine Corps.

Herman Pirchner is the founding President of the American Foreign Policy Council. Prior to founding AFPC, Pirchner worked for current Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and former Iowa Senator Roger Jepsen.

Tina Ramirez is the director of international and government relations for the Becket Fund, a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths. Previously, she served in a number of positions in Congress as a senior foreign policy advisor and expert on international religious freedom, and helped establish and direct the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus.

Bill Schneider is president of International Planning Services, Inc. and an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute. Schneider served as under secretary of state for security assistance, science, and technology (1982-86) under President Reagan, following service as associate director for national security and international affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (1981-82). He served as dhairman of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament from 1987-93, then as chairman of the Defense Science Board (DSB) from 2001-9, and currently serves as a Senior Fellow of the DSB.

Kiron Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she is a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. She also is an associate professor of international relations and politics at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the university’s Center for International Relations and Politics.

Abraham Wagner teaches in the areas of national security and intelligence at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and is also a senior research fellow at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies.

R. James Woolsey is chairman of Woolsey Partners LLC, a Venture Partner with Lux Capital Management, and chair of the Board of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A former CIA director from 1993 to 1995, Woolsey was also: Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Vienna, 1989-1991; Under Secretary of the Navy, 1977-1979; and General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, 1970-1973.

David Wurmser is the executive and founding member of the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC, where he provides analysis on the geopolitics and economics of Israel and the Middle East. Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton at the State Department until 2003, then rose to senior advisor to Vice President Richard Cheney on Middle East, proliferation and strategic affairs.

Stephen Yates has been the president of DC International Advisory, a consultancy, since 2006. Before opening DC International Advisory, Yates served in the White House as deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs from 2001 through 2005. During his tenure in government, he was deeply involved in the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy priorities in Asia, Latin America and Africa.



November 11, 2001

The financial dispute between an Islamic bank and about 200 families whose mortgages are in limbo, moved to a Toronto courtroom on Thursday.

The homeowners had interest-free mortgages with United Muslim Financial totalling about $32 million.

Since 2005, UM Financial has offered loans and mortgages to people who want to adhere strictly to Islamic (Shariah) law, under which no interest can be charged on a loan.

The court will now decide what to do with those mortgages.

UM Financial was ordered into receivership on Oct. 7.

"At this time our main focus is to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the legal and moral interests of the families affected by this case are protected," said Afroz Kapadia, spokesperson for the group United Muslim Homeowners.

The court-appointed receiver, Grant Thornton Limited, says it is facing challenges getting key documents from Omar Kalair, the head of UM Financial.

The receiver claims UM Financial, "purchased $2.1 million of precious metals (silver and gold) in the weeks leading up to the receivership order" and that "proceeds of approximately $2.1 million were paid to UM Financial's Shariah board."

The receiver also claims "Omar Kalair has failed to disclose the location of assets."

Muhammad Heft — one of the homeowners — sat through the hearing, also convinced UM Financial isn't being upfront.

"In our community we have to have the highest standard of ethics and Shariah banking is not just a document it's a behaviour, it's a communication, it's an organization of a company and I think this one failed miserably," he said.

The lawyer representing Omar Kalair said his client won't be making any statements to the media.



New York Times

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said on Friday that it had boarded two small boats that were sailing toward Gaza to challenge Israel’s maritime blockade of the Palestinian coastal enclave. There were no immediate reports of violence or injuries.

The boats, one Canadian and the other Irish, were carrying 27 pro-Palestinian activists, journalists and crew members from nine countries. The military had stated that it would prevent the boats from reaching Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The Israeli Navy initially notified the vessels that they were en route to an area under blockade and advised them to turn back, or to sail to a port in Egypt or Israel, the military said in a statement.

Shortly after, an Israeli military spokeswoman said the boats had been boarded by naval forces. “The boarding followed numerous calls to the activists,” the spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich, wrote on Twitter, adding that the navy “took every precaution to ensure the safety of activists.”

The military said that the boats would be steered to Ashdod port in Israel where the activists would be handed over to the police and immigration authorities.

The two boats set sail from a Turkish port on Wednesday, four months after the last international flotilla to Gaza was stalled by the Greek authorities who held some vessels in port. Two other vessels, including the Irish boat now headed for Gaza, were damaged at port under mysterious circumstances. The protesters said the boats were sabotaged.

The Israeli authorities view the efforts to break the blockade as provocations designed to embarrass Israel and undermine its security. In May 2010, Israeli commandos raided a large flotilla and fatally shot nine protesters — eight Turkish citizens and an American citizen of Turkish descent — after meeting tough resistance on the deck of a Turkish passenger vessel.

This time there appeared to be little prospect of a violent confrontation. An organizer on the Canadian boat, Ehab Lotayef, a Canadian electrical engineer of Egyptian origin, said in a video message on Wednesday after leaving Turkey that the participants “are not going to challenge Israel physically. We are a peaceful mission that is committed to the safety of the personnel on board” the two vessels, he said.

Mr. Lotayef added that the goal was “to say that the blockade is illegal and inhumane.”

“We would want to see everybody manage to go to Gaza freely from any country in the world,” he added.

Israel says that the maritime blockade of Gaza is in accordance with international law and is essential to prevent weapons smuggling. Its position was backed by the Palmer report, a United Nations review of Israel’s 2010 raid published in September that found the blockade of Gaza to be legal and appropriate.

Fintan Lane, the organizer of the Irish vessel, rejected the Palmer Report, saying in a statement that the “the report itself acknowledges that it was ‘not asked to make determinations of the legal issues’ associated with the blockade,” and that its “legal speculations have been comprehensively repudiated.”

Mr. Palmor of the Israeli Foreign Ministry said “they can reject anything they want,” noting that the Palmer Report was adopted by the United Nations secretary general.

He added that the necessity of the blockade was underlined by the firing of dozens of rockets from Gaza last weekend. The longer-range rockets are imported to Gaza.

The wrangling over the blockade was replicated on social media, where supporters of the two boats seeking to reach Gaza attached the tag #freedomwaters to their updates on Twitter, while the Israeli government labeled its own official updates with #provocatilla.

Israel formally imposed the maritime blockade in early January 2009, during its three-week military offensive against Hamas.

A land blockade has been eased under international pressure since the deadly raid on the Turkish-led flotilla. Goods flow into Gaza across the land crossings with Israel, though exports out of Gaza are still severely restricted for security reasons according to Israel. The Egyptian authorities recently reopened the Rafah crossing, on the Egypt-Gaza border, for passengers, but travel in and out of Gaza is still very limited, including for foreigners.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of last summer’s experience, the organizers of the latest miniflotilla kept their plans secret until they had left Turkey for international waters.


Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel has authorized its military to take all necessary steps to stop rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground operation, an Israeli military official said Tuesday, as Egypt worked on a truce and said Israel had agreed to delay stepping up its response.

The Israeli government decision stopped well short of ordering tanks to roll into Gaza, and it appeared unlikely that would happen, as rocket fire all but stopped over the past day. The official said the decision authorized the military to act in accordance with the severity of Palestinian attacks, meaning that a ground offensive would be ordered only after massive rocket fire.

The Israeli official spoke on condition of anonymity because no statement was made.

Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said Tuesday that Egypt obtained an Israeli pledge to hold its fire while efforts were under way to persuade Palestinian militants to stop the rocket barrages.

This is the third case of Egyptian diplomatic involvement with Israel over the last month, after two prisoner exchanges. Israel has been concerned that Egypt's new rulers might toughen their line on Israel in accordance with widespread public dislike of the Jewish state despite a 1979 peace treaty. Egypt's diplomatic activity might calm those concerns.

The sudden spike in violence began when militants in Gaza started firing salvos at Israel late last week, and Israeli retaliated with airstrikes. One Israeli civilian and at least 10 Palestinian militants were killed in the worst violence on that front in months.

The confrontation threatened to spiral into a larger conflict, and Egypt stepped in to try to restore calm.

"In the past few hours, Egypt saved Gaza from severe destruction and succeeded in securing Israeli restraint to give Egyptians time to reach a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian factions," Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, told The Associated Press Tuesday.

On Monday, Netanyahu warned from the podium of the Israeli parliament that Israel would operate "vigorously and resolutely" against those who would threaten its security.

"A security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone," Netanyahu said. "It must also include offensive capabilities, the very foundation of deterrence."

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel's position has not changed.

The military said there have been no Israeli airstrikes since around midnight Monday. Two rockets were fired from Gaza during that time. The relative calm prevailed through Tuesday afternoon.

The rocket attacks have disrupted life in southern Israel, forcing schools to close. About 1 million Israelis live within range of rockets from Gaza.

The Islamic Jihad faction was behind the initial rocket attacks. On Sunday the militant faction agreed to stop the violence if Israel also did. Rocket fire that drew retaliatory Israeli airstrikes persisted afterward, but it was claimed by a different militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Gaza's ruling Hamas group, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in past violence, has not directly been involved in the attacks. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence from the territory.

Also Tuesday, Hamas said the Israeli military arrested one of its leaders in the West Bank, Hassan Youssef. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the move "a dangerous Israeli escalation against Hamas and against one of the symbols of the elected Palestinian legitimacy."

Youssef, a member of the Palestinian parliament, was released from an Israeli prison in August after serving six years.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since taking it over in June 2007 during a civil war with its rival, Fatah. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority, run by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who, unlike Hamas, favors a negotiated settlement with Israel.


Additional reporting by Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Cairo and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip.



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