China has been hit once more by a food safety crisis, as officials in that country attempt to assure its own people, as well as consumers in the United States and elsewhere, that its products are safe. The Chinese government’s official Xinhua press agency reported on December 30 that food safety inspectors in the southern city of Shenzhen had discovered carcinogenic mildew in peanuts and cooking oil at some markets and restaurants.

High levels of the toxin aflatoxin were found in peanuts in three markets, and in cooking oil in four restaurants, Xinhua reported. “Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that commonly grows on crops such as grains and peanuts,” the news site reported.” While the toxin is found in insignificant levels in most peanut crops, including those grown in the United States, high levels of aflatoxin have been linked to liver damage and cancer.

An earlier report from the government news site said that high levels of the same toxic substance had been found recently in milk and other products from a popular dairy company in the region. “An initial investigation showed that the contamination was caused by mildewed feed given to cows in the dairy’s plant in southwest Sichuan province,” reported Xinhua. The news agency said that the Mengniu Dairy Company had “issued a public apology in an online statement, but insisted that the problem was discovered before the tainted milk could enter the market.”

The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) unit tracking terror leader Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, endorsed Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas for President in 2012, days before the Iowa caucus. He argued, among other points, that the top-tier GOP hopeful is the best candidate to protect America from violent Islamic extremism.

In a column entitled "Iowa’s Choice: Dr. Paul or U.S. bankruptcy, more wars, and many more dead soldiers and Marines" published on his website over the weekend, Scheuer said voting for any candidate other than Paul would help inflict further damage on an already-wounded America. It would also contribute toward the continuation of a foreign policy that will ensure total national bankruptcy, noted the 22-year intelligence-community veteran, who now serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.

“Dr. Paul’s non-interventionist policy will allow foreigners to work out their political destiny in their own way and at their own pace; prevent unnecessary additions to America’s growing list of enemies; and save countless young lives,” Scheuer wrote in his endorsement, blasting senior leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle with harsh words. “Electing anyone but Ron Paul will further increase the already strong chances of widespread Islamist-conducted violence inside the United States.”

Hysteria over Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program has been steadily rising among some U.S. and Israeli officials. But Tamir Pardo, the chief of Israel’s intelligence service known as the Mossad, said last week that a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian government would not necessarily pose an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.

“What is the significance of the term ‘existential’?” Pardo was quoted as saying in an article by the Washington Times. Citing Israeli diplomats who met with the spy chief last week in a closed-door session, the paper reported that, according to Pardo, the danger posed by a hypothetical nuclear weapon in Iranian hands was being overblown.

“If you said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an ‘existential’ threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop,” the Mossad boss told the gathering of about 100 Israeli ambassadors. “That’s not the situation. The term is used too freely.”

Speaking to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, several diplomats said Pardo had stated that a nuclear-armed Iran would “absolutely” pose a threat to the nation. But even if the Iranian regime were to acquire a bomb, the intelligence chief was quoted as saying, it would not mean the destruction of Israel.

The $30 billion sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday is a continuation of a history of U.S. weapons sales that has resulted in the arming of a wide array of enemies as well as friends of America in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The deal includes the sale of 84 F-15 jets and “assorted weaponry” to the Arab kingdom, the Washington Post reported. It also provides for the modernization of 70 of the Saudi's current aircraft, as well as munitions, spare parts, training, and maintenance. The announcement comes at a time of increasing tension between the United States and the Saudis' neighbors in Iran and threats and counter-threats surrounding the strategically important Persian Gulf region.

“This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East,” Andrew Shapiro, assistant Secretary of State for political-military affairs, told reporters. But the history of arms sales in the region has shown that the allies we arm one year may turn out be our enemies the next.

In the years preceding the Islamic revolution in Tehran, the United States sold tens of billions of dollars worth of military hardware and technology to the Shah of Iran. When the revolution ushered in the reign of  Ayatollah Khomeini, America was confronted with a new enemy in the Middle East, one armed with American high-tech weapons.

JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for January 2-8, 2012.

A senior communist officer who helped bring an end to a standoff between local government officials and residents of the village of Wukan, located in China’s Guangdong province, warned Chinese officials to prepare for more protests and takeovers by Chinese citizens with grievances over government corruption that has included land confiscation and other abuses.

Zhu Mingguo, a deputy Communist Party secretary in the Guangdong province, led a team that met with Wukan village residents who had taken over the community in protest over a lack of compensation for lands co-opted by local government leaders. They also demanded an investigation into the death of one of the protest leaders while he was in police custody. According to Reuters News Service, for over a week the residents “had fended off police with barricades and held protests over the death in police custody of activist Xue Jinbo, whose family rejects the government’s position that he died of natural causes, and against the seizure of farmland for development.”

On December 21, following the meeting with Zhu and other provincial officials, leaders of the protests told residents to take down barriers and allow government officials into the village. For their part, the provincial government officials agreed to take a closer look at the dealings of local Communist Party bureaucrats in the sale of farmland to developers, as well as investigate the death of Xue Jinbo.

In a front-page editorial Thursday, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader told readers of the statewide daily that "Ron Paul is a dangerous man." While the Republican presidential candidate's libertarian views on domestic issues are attractive to some voters, the editorial conceded, "it is Paul's position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous."

"He has repeatedly said that we should allow Iran to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," is one of the charges against Paul in the editorial, written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid "This is the same country whose leadership vows death to America, the 'Satanic power,' and who wants Israel wiped from the map." Yet the editorial page of the same newspaper two days earlier featured a column by Patrick J. Buchanan, in which the columnist cited the statement of Pentagon spokesman George Little in clarifying recently televised comments by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," Little said. While statements by President Obama and the other GOP presidential candidates have either alleged or implied that Iran is right on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb, Rep. Paul has argued against forcing a military confrontation over a weapon that might not even be in the developmental stages — one that, according to the Pentagon spokesman, the Iranian government may not have even decided to build. Paul insists that our nearly nine-year war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction" should be instructive in that regard.

The government of Japan and the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China announced a landmark agreement this week to facilitate trade between the two powers without using the U.S. dollar, relying instead on the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.

According to the terms of the deal, the two governments agreed to encourage trade directly in yen and yuan without having to use American dollars as an intermediary — the current practice. Companies in Japan and China will soon be able to convert the currencies directly. And the Japanese government also agreed to hold Chinese yuan in its foreign-reserves portfolio.

It remains unclear exactly how and when the agreement will be implemented. But according to news reports, both governments have already set up a working group to iron out the details. Officials said the move was aimed at reducing risk and transaction costs.

The new currency deal comes as the communist Chinese dictatorship has been taking increasingly bold steps to expand the international role of the yuan. The regime’s officials have also become ever-more vocal in attacking the dollar’s global reserve status, calling instead for a more international system managed by a world entity such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
 

How did your U.S. Representative and Senators vote on last summer's debt deal that raised the national debt limit while promising to reduce future spending and deficit projections? How did your Representative vote on a measure that would have repealed the federal phaseout of the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb? And how did your Senators vote on an amendment to prohibit U.S. citizens  from being held indefinitely in the ongoing war against terrorism without being given a trial?

The answers to all three questions above are in our latest "Freedom Index" in the January 9, 2012 issue of The New American and also available online as a downloadable PDF.

The New American's "Freedom Index" is a congressional scorecard that rates all members of the House and Senate based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. The index is published four times each two-year congressional term; each index rates Congressmen based on 10 key votes.

Last week, the Republican presidential contenders slugged it out in Iowa. As usual, Ron Paul’s remarks concerning American foreign policy have drawn heat.  Paul is by far the most honest of the candidates. At the same time, he is also the most unpolished. In fact, chances are better than not that the former accounts for the latter.

Substantively speaking, Paul’s ideas are more cogent, and certainly more consistent with liberty, than any of those bandied about his rivals. But stylistically, he is at a disadvantage. Like or not, we are living in an imagistic age in which, as far as the electability of a candidate is concerned, style means at least as much, and often much more, than substance.

Paul, that is, needs to package his eminently sensible ideas so as to make them more palatable to both the base of his party as well as the rest of the country.

Fortunately, this is hardly as formidable a task as some may think. In fact, it isn’t particularly formidable at all.

When it comes to Israel, for example, imagine something like these words springing from the lips of Congressman Paul:
 

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