Iran Fires on, Seizes U.S. Ship in Gulf

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Pentagon officials say the US is monitoring the seizure by Iran of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship

Iran has opened fire at a U.S. cargo ship and directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters Iranian forces had boarded a Marshall Island-flagged vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, in the Gulf. He said the boarding occurred after Iranian patrol boats fired shots across the vessel’s bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters.

U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels.

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The ship had no U.S. citizens aboard, the spokesman said, contradicting earlier reports which said there were 34 U.S. sailors on board.

Reuters tracking data showed the Maersk, a 65,000-tonne container ship, off the Iranian coast between the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. It was listed as sailing from the Saudi port of Jeddah, bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Jebel Ali.

A U.S. government official said the ship was intercepted by the Naval force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at 0905 GMT. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘There is nothing more tiresome in modern American life than the indignation sweepstakes we get in all the time to see who can be most angry’

From The Corner,

Responding to the outrage surrounding the Hoosier State’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Will noted on Tuesday’s Special Report…

“Tim Cook, CEO of Apple thinks Indiana is a horrible place. He opened marketing and retailing operations in Saudi Arabia two months before a man was sentenced to 450 lashes for being gay. The selective indignation is itself wonderful.”

Apple-Approved

“There are obviously two important principles at stake here,” Will continued…

“One is, the government should rarely, and only with extreme difficulty, compel people to take actions contrary to their consciences. The other is that when you open your doors to commerce you open them to everybody. That’s a simple thing…You can work this out, but the indignation isn’t helping.”

(read more)

National Review


Is American Praise of the Female Pilot Who Bombed ISIS Sexist and Racist? VOX Thinks So

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ISIS Militants in Syria Bitch-Slapped Back to the Stone Age by UAE’s First Female Bomber

Vox complains: 

There are two sets of American misconceptions here. The first is to play up Mansouri as representative of the UAE as a champion of gender equality, when in fact the UAE is objectively quite bad on women’s rights, and the fact that we allow them such a lowered bar represents a soft bigotry of lowered expectations. The second is to repeatedly contrast the UAE with Saudi Arabia in a way that explicitly frames Saudi gender restrictions as the default for Arab and Muslim societies, when in fact Saudi mariam-al-mansouri-1restrictions are freakishly unique and widely reviled in the Muslim world.

“Much of the praise starts with the assumption that Arab societies are inherently backward”

What these misconceptions have in common is to endorse the idea, which originates with ultra-conservative Islamists and Islamophobic racists, that Muslim and Arab countries will naturally set a lower standard for women’s rights. It buys into the condescending assumption that there are Western women and there are Arab women and they should expect different tiers of liberation because the latter’s societies are inherently less advanced. Read the rest of this entry »


ISIS Militants in Syria Bitch-Slapped Back to the Stone Age by UAE’s First Female Bomber

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Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri is believed to be the first woman from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to become an Emirates Air Force pilot

Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, joined the United Arab Emirates’ air force once the military branch accepted women. 

The first female pilot in the United Arab Emirates’ air force is reportedly taking part in the coalition air strikes against ISIS militants hiding in Syria.

“A woman’s passion about something will lead her to achieving what she aspires and that’s why she should pursue her interests.”

— Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri

Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, is a squadron commander piloting an F-16 Block 60 fighter jet likely among those dropping munitions this week in coordinated attacks against Islamic State strongholds near Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib.

Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar also provided support, logistics and aircraft in the strikes against the terrorists.

She graduated the academy in 2008 and now pilots an F-16 Block 60 fighter jet, likely among those taking part in the air strikes against Islamic State terrorists in Syria.

Al Mansouri, an Abu Dhabi native who holds an undergraduate degree in English literature, was among the first women to join the UAE Air Force academy when it finally allowed female members and she graduated in 2008, The National of UAE reported. Read the rest of this entry »


Amy Klobuchar Cites Rolling Stones in United Arab Emirates Fight

'I figure if Mick Jagger can play Abu Dhabi, these guys shouldn’t be in jail,' she said. | AP Photo

‘I figure if Mick Jagger can play Abu Dhabi, these guys shouldn’t be in jail,’ she said. | AP Photo

Lucy McCalmont reports:  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Friday came to the defense of an American jailed in the United Arab Emirates over a parody video he made mocking youth culture — and she dragged the Rolling Stones into the controversy.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, was sentenced this week to a year in jail for a video, which was created and posted online in October 2012 and pokes fun at teenagers in Dubai’s suburbs acting tougher than they are, influenced by hip-hop culture and calling themselves “gangstas,” according to reports.

The Stones concert, which was announced earlier in December, will be held in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 21. The concert will be the first time the rock band has played in the country.

Cassim, a U.S. citizen who moved to Dubai in 2006 after graduating from the University of Minnesota, was arrested in April and charged with violating cybercrimes and endangering national security, The Associated Press reported. He entered a not guilty plea and has been held at a maximum-security prison since June.

Read the rest of this entry »


American jailed over video mocking Dubai teens

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – A UAE court jailed on Monday an American and four other men for one year after they made a YouTube video that mocked Dubai teenagers, The National daily reported.

Shezanne Cassim, a 29-year-old from Minnesota, has been held since April after being charged with endangering the security of the United Arab Emirates under a cybercrimes law.

He was also fined 10,000 dirhams ($2,725).

Two Indian defendants were handed a similar punishment, while two Emirati brothers, already behind bars, were jailed for eight months and each fined 5,000 dirhams ($1,362), The National reported.

Read the rest of this entry »