"Mortar fire has hit the University of Damascus, killing 15 students, Syrian state media say. Officials blamed rebels for the attack, saying a number of people had also been injured. It said the mortars had hit the university's faculty of architecture. The Syrian capital is in the grip of heavy fighting between government and rebel forces, who have recently intensified the use of mortars in the city, correspondents say" BBC
This is the second time that rebel mortar fire has struck the center of Damascus. In this case the bombardment killed a number students.
The MSM in the US is uninterested. Given that it is the policy of the United States to destroy the present Syrian government and replace it with one desired by the islamists in the ME; Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc., this is not surprising.
In any event the BHO administration has influenced the media to support its campaign for gun safety, gay parity, etc. These priorities serve to focus attention away from th oming Islamist government in Syria. pl
"Women (55 percent) are more likely than men (39 percent) to want stricter laws, as are those living in the Northeast. Only 44 percent in the Midwest and South want stricter laws; 47 percent in the West." CBS News Poll
As I was saying...
The political approach of the anti-gun people has been badly flawed from the beginning of their latest efforts. They don't seem capable of understanding that there are many parts of the US where increased control of firearms is not wanted and that the US is a federal republic in which legislators respond to the will of the electorate on a local level.
IMO the only gun safety laws likely to be enacted are:
- Increased input of mental health data in the background checks system.
- Gun trafficking law.
- Universal background checks so long as data is not retained on positive results and there are the right exceptions in the bill.
According to what is being reported by the Connecticutt State Police today the Lanza house contained a gun safe. if that is true then Lanza'a mother made a fatal error in letting him have access to it. Why would she do a stupid thing like that?
Correct me if I am wrong but it appears that the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases are being argued by opponents on the basis of a supposed absolute right to marriage contained somewhere in the constitution of the US.
This is quite different from a challenge that could have been made on basis of the "normality" of such marriages.
If the argument that people have a right to marry whom they please without government interference is successful, it would seem inevitable that laws banning polygamy will be challenged.
What is the social benefit derived from laws against polygamy? As a libertarian constitutionalist I do not understand the laws against polygamy as being other than derived from Judeo-Christian tradition. pl
President Obama’s just-concluded visit to Israel, his first since his election in 2009, was by all accounts a public relations success. Long-demonized among a majority of Israelis, Obama’s charm offensive won him new friends, particularly among Israel’s younger generations. For the hardcore Likudniks, the specter of Obama being fawned over by his former harsh critic Bibi Netanyahu softened some of the hatred.
Back in 2009, when the newly elected President Obama appointed George Mitchell as his Middle East peace envoy, ex-President Bill Clinton urged Obama to go to Israel, to marshal public support for his peace initiative. Clinton warned the President that unless he built up a base of support within Israel, Netanyahu would clean his clock and sabotage any efforts to halt settlement expansion or move ahead on a two-state solution. Obama ignored Clinton’s sage advice and the rest is history.
Four years later, President Obama took up the Clinton recommendation. But the circumstances are very different now. For one thing, President Obama’s advisors have told him that, despite a weakened political situation, Netanyahu is more adamantly opposed than ever to a halt in settlement expansion and has no intention of moving forward with a two-state solution deal.
So, in their private talks, President Obama gave a great deal of ground to Bibi, dropping any attempt to get a settlement freeze. In effect, Obama ripped up the Quartet agreement, under which Israel was to halt settlement expansion once the Palestinian Authority cracked down on terrorism coming from the West Bank. The PA has fully complied with their side of the Quartet deal, and Obama just gave Netanyahu a green light to ignore Israel’s obligations.
In return for calling for a resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians with no preconditions—key and code for settlement expansion—Obama extracted an unreliable promise from Netanyahu that Israel would not take any unilateral action against Iran for the foreseeable future. Obama indicated that there was some progress at the last P5+1 talks, but it could take a year to fully explore the chance for a diplomatic settlement. Obama provided Israel with detailed intelligence assessments of Iran’s nuclear program, making it clear that U.S. evaluations are more in line with those of Israeli intelligence. In these talks as well, Obama made it clear that Israel has the sovereign right to defend itself against the Iranian threat, but that the U.S. was prepared to use military force if the diplomacy failed. In effect, this amounted to a quasi-green light for Israel, given that Netanyahu’s “Red Line” for an attack on Iran is quite different than the U.S. Red Line. For Netanyahu, the first moment that Iran approaches 225 kilos of 20 percent enriched uranium, the order goes down for an attack.
Obama also conceded that the United States had to reassess the Arab Spring, particularly given the growing power of the most extreme Jihadists in the wake of the overthrow of Qaddafi, the Benghazi attack and the obvious leading role being played by the Al Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, in the Syrian insurgency.
And Washington also celebrated the success of the Iron Dome missile defense program by pledging a continuation of ever-expanding American military assistance. Sequestration apparently stops at the banks of the River Jordan.
In short, in return for a passing and soon-forgotten “feel good moment” Obama once again gave away the store to Bibi.
If I understand the EU bail out deal for the Cypriot government, all deposits of over 100,000 Euros will be subject to confiscations of 40% or more. this will be for the purpose of funding the bail out.
I would imagine that there are quite a few people here on this blog who have enough money in the bank to "qualify' for the Cypriot "haircut."
What do you think of the deal and the precedent it creates? pl
To Order Directly From the Author:
PO Box 16103
Washington, DC 20041
Pricing for Perfect bound Softcover:
The Butcher's Cleaver: $23.95 (Hardcover $33.95)
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Please add $3.99 S&H handling for each book ordered, or $11.89 for all three books in the Trilogy.
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I was interviewed some time ago by the North Carolina Museum of History concerning the writing of this trilogy.
"The Confederate Secret Services, a conversation with W. Patrick Lang, novelist, retired U.S. Army colonel, and military intelligence consultant
Patrick Lang discusses his two novels, The Butcher’s Cleaver and Death Piled Hard, both of which focus on Claude Devereux, a Virginia banker who is recruited by the Confederate secret service and placed in the office of Union secretary of war Edwin Stanton. Approximate run time: 24 minutes. Podcast "
This podcast is highly recommended
"Science currently holds that time travel is an impossibility, but readers of Down the Sky, thefinal volume of Colonel Pat Lang’s Strike the Tent trilogy will question that assertion. Code-named “Hannibal,” Confederate penetration agent Claude Devereux is firmly lodged in the upper echelons of the Federal war machine. Now a Brigadier General of the Union forces with the new Congressional Medal of Honor on his chest, Major Devereux of the Confederate Secret Service knows time is running out. His minders in Richmond may no longer trust him, his personal life is a shambles, and Union spy-catcher Lafayette Baker is determined to bring him down. Only his peculiar, personal friendship with President Lincoln holds his enemies at bay.
There was a very interesting recent discussion regarding Northern Africa and the battle against Islamic Terrorists.
Early on in the Global War on Terrorism I was chosen to lead a Multi-national planning effort to develop a long-term campaign against Islamic Terrorism in a Maghreb. Based on assessments it was believed that the greatest threats came in Southern Algeria from the GSPC. The planning team was comprised of military planners from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Turkey. What was evident early on was that United States knowledge of the region was woefully lacking. In particular the French, Spanish, and Italian officers providing great insights into what was really happening in this region.
The first and most important conclusion was like much of the world the national boundaries draw by the West meant little or nothing to the inhabitants of these regions. Second large swaths can and should be considered ungoverned. Ungoverned areas mean just what you would assume it means—an area where the government does not or is unable to exert control. Third the nature the activities in the ungoverned area included criminal activity, tribal and ethnic conflict (particularly the conflict between Arab North African and Black Africans), Islamic terrorism, and anti-governments rebels.
"Kerry will tell al-Maliki, a Shiite with close ties to Iran, that Iraq cannot be part of the political discussion about Syria's future until it clamps down on the Iranian shipments, the senior official said. As Iraq approaches provincial elections next month, Kerry will also stress the importance of ensuring that all elements of society feel enfranchised, the official said. A recent decision to delay the polls in Anbar and Nineveh provinces is a "serious setback" to Iraq's democratic institutions and should be revisited, the official said." ABC News
Are we really this stupid? The present Iraqi government threw us out. Remember? They are sitting on an ocean of oil with very high prices being paid for that oil. They are Shia activists who now run a country in which Sunnis used to run them, Sunnis who look similar to the rebels in Syria.
So, somebody told John Kerry that it would be a good idea to go "jawbone" Maliki about what he should do in running Iraq?
Are we really that stupid? pl
These two geniuses today assured each other on TV that US intervention in Syria is necessary and will be relatively painless. Bashir, the lefty transplant from the UK, is for anything the MSNBC propaganda machine is for and O'Hanlon, the former budget analyst, who is now at Brookings were quite reassuring in their "sheep petting" mode before the slaughter begins.
O'Hanlon did say that there is a substantial chance that Islamist fanatics would rule Syria after the Baath, but, no matter, he is still for arming the rebels.
Bashir does not seem to have noticed that MSNBC produced and is still showing a documentary on the way the Bush Administration lied the US into war with Iraq. Now he is helping to do the same. pl
So far not too bad.
- He did not free Pollard.
- He didn't offer to give Israel extra free money or guns.
- He and Natanyahu managed to conceal their true feelings about each other.
- BHO's speech to the "youth group" was very skilled and the reaction both positive and negative was useful.
- He apparently did not accept Israeli instruction on Iran and Syria.
- His speeches in Israel were simple traditional drivel about friendship, eternal friendship and more eternal friendship.
- His visit to Abbas was much the same thing.
One thing about the press chatter around this trip that concerns me is the renewed talk of Jordan's instability, deep problems, etc. I don't see it. Jordan has always been a delicately balanced place. Israelis for many decades "beat the drum" for the idea that the Hashemite monarchy would soon disappear. They stopped that after Jordan made peace with them. Have their allies in the press now started this again? Abdullah is a very Western, modern, man who wants to bring the country to a consititutional monarchy that would be a true parliamentary democracy. He wants to do that without surrendering the country to the Islamists. What part of that does the media not like? pl
On the tenth anniversary of the start of the disasterous Iraq War of 2003, it is more useful than ever to read or re-read Col. Patrick Lang's monumental account of the blunder into war, "Drinking the Kool Aid." The importance of this work was puncuated this week, when President Obama commemorated the anniversary of the Iraq war by making his first presidential visit to Isreal, where he effectively gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an American green light to take whatever actions he felt are necessary to defend Israeli interests against the threat coming from Iran. Behind the scenes, Obama actually extracted a promise from Netanyahu to hold off from unilateral action so that the United States could decide the proper time for military action against Iran.
When I received the report of what had actually been discussed between Obama and Netanyahu, my thoughts immediately returned to "Drinking the Kool Aid." Now, as then, a U.S. Administration embarked on a path that will almost certainly lead to war in the Persian Gulf, a war that will likely have even more devastating consequences than the disasterous action of March 2003. Now, as then, the greatest skepticism about the need for war came from senior military officials, people with the greatest appreciation for the folly of war as the first option, rather than the last. Now, as then, the usual rightwing Zionist and neoconservative propaganda apparatus is churning out disinformation to hype the conflict. Except for the map coordinates, very little has changed. The threat of imminent "nuclear mushroom clouds," the prospect of weapons of mass destruction being used against Israel by an Iranian/Syrian/Iraqi "rogue regime" driven by irrationalist motives--the buzz words and frightening images remain the same.
This is precisely the message of "Drinking the Kool Aid." Unless there is a genuine recognition of the folly and consequences of the Iraq fiasco, it will be repeated over again and again--with the same disasterous outcome. It makes no difference what party is in power at the White House or on Capitol Hill. President Obama was swept into office in 2008 on the mandate to end the war party rule of the Bush-Cheney era. Once in office, President Obama found that the unitary executive powers were too awesome to repudiate. He has continued on the path set for him by the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, who once told General Wesley Clark that the United States had one or two decades to overthrow the governments of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya. Sudan and Somalia--before an emerging rival power like China challenged the American global military hegemony.
Col. Lang's treatis on the road to folly in Iraq has withstood the test of time. Like a Shakespearian tragedy, it offers a prophetic warning and opportunity to change paths before the die is cast. The image of "drinking the Kool Aid" must be used as a powerful tool to alert, shame, embolden enough of our political, military and intelligence leaders so that another string of needless wars can be averted. I am sure this was Col. Lang's intention in writing his landmark account of the slide into Iraq war.
There are now an estimated 80,000 Syrian Islamist fighters engaged in battle, as well as approximately 18,000 foreign Islamist militiamen, according to sources. This includes some 2,000 fighters who are members of the Uighur ethnic group, a Muslim minority of Turkic heritage who live mostly in China. The Nusra Front, along with several other Islamist groups, have designs on turning post-revolution Syria into an Islamic caliphate. Fadel al-Salim, a lawyer who is close to the Nusra Front, told The Daily Star: “We are working to re-establish the Islamic caliphate in Syria, and we have informed [Syrian National Council head] Moaz al-Khatib that we will not accept the building of a civil state in Syria. We control the ground and will rule by Islamic law.” Daily Star
An interesting article and fairly accurate except that it continues the MSM and neocon line that the revolt in Syria was secular in origin and that there are large parts of the rebel movement that are not under effective Islamist control. In the case of the media, these ideas are based in the "Iraq Syndrome" (appalling ignorance and acceptance of partisan propaganda). And then, there are, of course the neocon chickenhawk journalists who are eager for another US war in the Middle East.
Lurking in the article are a couple of unfortunate truths:
- American government personnel are training Islamist fighters in Jordan and possibly Turkey.
- American government liaison people are mouthing the line that there are good islamists and then there are bad Islamists. We have been doing that kind of thing for a decade. Egypt seems to have taught us nothing. Lang's Postulate - "Islamist governments ALWAYS want just two things. These are attainment and retention of absolute power, and creations of a sharia law state."
The bottom line is that the US is now participating in the creation of a sharia law state in Syria, pl
"On Thursday, however, CERN stopped hesitating. They’ve announced that the the particle described in July 2012 was, in fact, a Higgs Boson. “The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a statement. To make this final determination, the dataset was analyzed to see if the quantum properties of the boson discovered in July matched the properties that are currently predicted by physics. After tests in two different detectors, it was confirmed that the particle possessed those properties." forbes
OK. I actually know a little physics, but I would like to have someone here explain the answer to my question. pl
"A US judge has ordered the FBI to stop its "pervasive" use of National Security letters to snoop on phone and email records, ruling Friday that the widespread tactic was unconstitutional. The order issued by US District Court Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco came as a blow to a measure heavily used by the administration of President Barack Obama in the name of battling terrorism " globalpost
"Garland rejected an effort by the Obama administration to keep secret any aspect of the C.I.A.’s interest in the use of drone strikes to kill terrorism suspects abroad. It does not necessarily mean the contents of any of those records will ever be made public, and it stopped short of ordering the government to acknowledge publicly that the C.I.A. actually uses drones to carry out “targeted killings” against specific terrorism suspects or groups of unknown people who appear to be militants in places like tribal Pakistan. The Obama administration continues to treat that fact as a classified secret, though it has been widely reported." NY Times
There has been a consistent pattern in which federal judges have been willing to uncritically accept the Executive Branch's arguments with regarding to classification issues regarding evidence.
It often seems that any argument at all from the Justice Department will suffice in most courts. This different. pl
"Father Lombardi repeated assertions by a prominent human rights campaigner that there had been “no compromise by Cardinal Bergoglio with the dictatorship.” The debate has simmered in Argentina, with journalists there publishing articles and books that appear to contradict Cardinal Bergoglio’s account of his actions. These accounts draw not only on documents from the period, but also on statements by priests and lay workers who clashed with Cardinal Bergoglio. " NY Times
There are always anti-clericals. They hate priests . They have always hated priests. Their prejudice is dignified by its persistence. Mark Twain was among them. "Mankind will only be free when the last priest is hanged in the guts of the last king." (either "Innocents Abroad" or "A Connecticutt Yankee at King Arthur's Court")
On the other hand we have the gay lobby. These folks have been so succesfull at recruiting support from media gay people, media corporations and the congress that it has become axiomatic to say that any opposition to their program of normalization will be attacked with the fury and deceptive self assurance that is usually associated with AIPAC.
Francis does not believe that gay marriage is justifiable for his church, therefore Francis must be attacked in the most horrendous terms. Francis must be said to be a fascist and supporter of fascists. How contemptible.
I wrote here earlier that the Catholic Church needed a moderate and evangelical pope. I think that is what the Catholic Church got. He was a Jesuit priest. This has great significance. The members of the Society of Jesus are teachers and missionaries who give up the possibility of being a bishop when they become members of their community. To become a bishop they must leave the order, but they never really leave in their hearts. They are intellectuals who are known in popular culture as "God's marines." Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States began his priestly life as a Jesuit trained in Belgium.
The name choice is significant. This man rode the bus back to the clerical hotel last night. He rode the bus with his former colleagues and let his limo follow along behind. Once at the hotel, he went to his room, collected his things and went down to the front desk to pay his bill in person. When reminded that he was now the proprietor and need not pay the bill, he said that he wanted to make sure that they all pay their bills. It will be interesting to see how he has the papal apartments decorated or if he lives there at all. Vatican City is a big place, he could live anywhere within it.
The possibilities for this man to lead by example on isues of poverty and the spread of the Good News of the gospels is virtually unlimited. pl
"Only 4 percent of gun sales were thought to have come through gun shows or flea markets — a corner of the market that is a top concern today for those who want to expand background checks to close the “gun-show loophole,” as Obama’s proposals would do. More than 17 percent of guns acquired in 1993 and 1994 came from a family member, according to the poll — a source of weapons that would remain largely unregulated in pending Senate legislation calling for expanded checks. " washpost
There is evidently nothing that the anti-gun crowd will not stoop to in their eagerness to disarm Americans.
BTW, I have never bought a firearm on-line but is it not true that the seller in that case must send the weapon to a FFL dealer for pick up. Is it not true that the dealer must conduct the on-line check on the buyer? pl
"Northern Virginia’s growth shows no signs of slowing. So two congressmen from our area, Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran, have introduced the “Northern Virginia Metrorail Extension Act,” which would study extending the Orange line to Centreville, the Yellow line down Route 1 to Fort Belvoir, and the Blue line down I-95 to the Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge." Washpost
As an Alexandrian I heartily endorse such a long term plan. In the city of Alexandria we have the daily spectacle of cars pouring through our streets in a flood twice every work day. The pressure of this traffic is steadily increasing. State and federal government need to act on this proposal. Much of the traffic is the daily commuting of federal workers to Washington.
At the same time consideration should be given to extending the Virginia Railway Express Manassas line to Strasburg Junction over existing track. pl
“Legislators represent people, not trees or acres,” Chief Justice Warren wrote for the court in 1964, rejecting the argument that state senators, like federal ones, could represent geographic areas with varying populations. “Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.” Applying that principle to the Senate would be very hard. Even an ordinary constitutional amendment would not do the trick, as the framers of the Constitution went out of their way to require states to agree before their power is diminished. Article V of the Constitution sets out the procedure for amendments and requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or action by two-thirds of state legislatures to get things started. But the article makes an exception for the Senate. “No state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate,” the article concludes.? NY Times
Aw Shucks! Guess what coasties? This is still a federal republic. The Great Compromise that created the senate was built to lure the smaller states into the union of the thirteen. It worked, and now you big Democratic Party dominated lands of wonderfulness are stuck with it. You know very well that no state will agree to its own diminution. A coalition of the giants? Let's see that in action. IMO such a grouping would last until the interests of the states, as states, began to conflict.
The outcome of the CW/WBS was the big opportunity to fiddle with this system. Nothing happened. Why would it? The bog states benefited from the war.
1- California, New York, etc could secede from the Union. No?
2- OK - The big states could petition to be allowed to divide themselves into two or more states. California could become; Movielandia, Cowlandia and Redwoodia or maybe (Sasquatchia). New York could become; Bloombergia, Mohawkia and Albania. Oops, that one is taken.
This might not work out all that well for the fantasy island big city people. The county by county electoral maps are revealing. pl
Korea - The DPRK has withdrawn from the Armistice of 1953. Does that mean that they consider themselves to be at war with the UN once again? If so, what are the US and the UN doing to prepare for defense against aggression in Korea? Are dependents being evacuated and US civilians resident in Korea being encouraged to leave? Are the missing parts of 2ID being returned to Korea? Are they there already for the exercise? I khow that USFK has worked endlessly and expensively on the early warning problem in Koreaa. How confident are they that we would have substantial early warning of hostilities initiated by the DPRK?
Afghanistan - "Everybody" who is anybody in the media or government prattles endlessly about "the progress we have already made in Afghanistan." What the hell does that mean? We have made progress in killing off AQ people and their organization, but anyone who who thinks we have "made progress" in pacifying Afghanistan and making it a place unfriendly to jihadi Islam is either a delusional COINista or just lying to support BHO Administration policy. THERE IS NO "PROGRESS" IN counterinsurency in Afghanistan. Give it up! pl
""The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents," he said during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women." Chroncom
"Karzai said in his speech that any foreign powers that want to keep troops in Afghanistan need to do so under conditions set forward by Afghanistan. "We will tell them where we need them, and under which conditions. They must respect our laws. They must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs," Karzai said. "
It doesn't sound as though an agreement on post 2014 legal extraterritoriality (the SOFA) is any closer. That last was meant to be ironic. BHO has stated (properly I think) that there will be zero US troops in Afghanistan after 2014 without one. This would not include the people in the Defense Attache Office in the embassy. They are covered by the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomats.
The conspiratorially minded already believe that the United States' effort in Afghanistan has been motivated by a desire to possess the goods of that wretched place. Rare earths like lithium, oriental carpets, pistachios, opium, perhaps the odd Bactrian camel, a Yak or two; these are supposedly the spoils for which the US has poured out so many wasted billions of dollars and rivers of blood.
In fact, American policy has been based on the idiocy of armed nation building (COIN) as a fantasy of the foreign policy establishment.
Karzai is president of Afghanistan. His remarks foreshadow the state of Afghan life after 2014. He is "feathering his bed" for the time of our final departure. He knows that what has been wrought in Afghanistan in the last 12 years will disappear like snow in the springtime. pl
"The immediate response from North Korea was to announce that it was withdrawing from the armistice that has kept the peace on the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and the curtailment of the hot-line that has linked the governments in Pyongyang and Seoul and is meant to serve as a direct link in times of crisis. Although the North's rhetoric is more belligerent than usual, analysts say the regime is unlikely to be looking for a full-scale conflict. The problem is that given heightened tensions, a relatively minor incident could act as a flashpoint to a far more serious clash. Pyongyang has also threatened to unleash its missile to turn both Seoul and Washington into "a sea of fire," while in a statement Friday, the North Korean foreign ministry added that a "second Korean War is unavoidable." " The Telegraph
"a second Korean war is unavoidable?" Hey! Maybe the Korea wonks should take these people seriously. These lunatics may not yet have the ability to strike South Korea or Japan with ballistic missiles, but they certainly could push across the DMZ in the direction of Seoul. They have been practising for that for decades. They could also raise hell in the west coast islands.
If allowed to persist in their present, well demonstrated, march towards an effective ICBM with nuclear warheads they will eventually hold Hawaii and the west coast of the US at risk.
Let's get serious about this menace and let the Izzies fret over their own enemies. pl
"And for a time, free black people could even "own" the services of white indentured servants in Virginia as well. Free blacks owned slaves in Boston by 1724 and in Connecticut by 1783; by 1790, 48 black people in Maryland owned 143 slaves. One particularly notorious black Maryland farmer named Nat Butler "regularly purchased and sold Negroes for the Southern trade," Halliburton wrote." Dr. Henry Louis Gates
I have previously expressed my admiration for the scholarship of Doctor Gates. He is a man who truly understands that "the truth shall make you free." pl
"With more and more of Washington turning their television sets over to C-SPAN to see what Paul was up to, the freshman lawmaker repeatedly hammered home his desire to get a straight answer from the White House. "I don't question the president's motives. I don't think the president would purposely take innocent people and kill them. I really don't think he would drop a Hellfire missile on a cafe or a restaurant like I'm talking about. But it bothers me that he won't say that he won't," Paul said. "And it also bothers me that when he was a senator in this body and when he was a candidate, he had a much higher belief and standard for civil liberties, and that he seems to have lost that as he's become president." Paul added: "I have a great deal of concern about this slippery slope of saying that there won't be accusations, there won't be trials, that we will just summarily execute people. And the question is, will you execute noncombatants? If he's not going to, he ought to say so." " PBS
McConnell stated last night that he would oppose Brennan's confirmation. Let's see if he puts his "money where his mouth is."
Holder's performance before the senate yesterday was appalling. He doesn't think a non-judicial execution of an American citizen in a non-imminent sitation is unconstitutional? Someone should think about impeachment as a remedy with regard to Holder. pl
New FBI counterespionage surveillance video release reopens concerns about Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. On March 21, 2012 U.S. prosecutors played FBI surveillance video in court of former NASA employee Stewart Nozette agreeing to sell U.S. government secrets to Israel. Nozette was then sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The FBI surveillance video, obtained by IRmep under the Freedom of Information Act, is now available on YouTube and Vimeo. An imperfect redaction reveals Nozette appearing to say he sold classified U.S. government information to "Israeli Aircraft," also known as Israel Aerospace Industries and IAI.
In 2007 the FBI obtained a sealed warrant to search Nozette's home. They discovered a huge cache of classified U.S. government files unlawfully stored on Nozette's computer. One document named "Proposed Activities for 2005-6" ominously contained a section titled "Penetration of NASA" on behalf of a foreign client. The FBI soon discovered that between 1998 and 2008 a nonprofit run by Nozette received $225,000 in "consulting fees" from Israel Aerospace Industries. IAI tasked Nozette to obtain "technical data" beginning in November of 1998. Nozette complied with IAI's requests in exchange for "regular payments" according to criminal complaints filed in court. In the 1950s the state-owned IAI was established and led by Adolph "Al" Schwimmer, an American felon convicted for serially violating U.S. arms export controls. Schwimmer fraudulently obtained heavily discounted surplus U.S. aircraft from the War Assets Administration. In the 1960s IAI obtained stolen French Mirage 5 jet fighter plans in order to build its own copycat Kfir jet fighter. In the 1980s IAI relied on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to win U.S. funding for the development of the troubled Lavi jet fighter. The Lavi program was terminated in 1987 after questionable Israeli technology transfers to China. The U.S. has paid for half of the jointly developed IAI/Boeing Arrow Anti-Missile system since 1988. Since 2007 the AIPAC has lobbied for hundreds of millions in additional U.S. taxpayer funding for the new Arrow III, beyond the $3 billion in military aid already provided to Israel annually. Today AIPAC DC convention attendees will lobby Congress against cutting under sequestration any funding to IAI or other aid to Israel. On May 4, 2012 US Attorney Ron Machen was confronted on WAMU radio (YouTube) for officially stating no classified information was passed by Nozette to Israel.
This was contradicted by court filings and now surveillance video. Machen could not credibly explain why the Justice Department limited its criminal investigation to only Nozette. IRMEP
"On Saturday, March 2, at noon, Chadian armed forces operating in northern Mali completely destroyed a terrorist base ... The toll included several dead terrorists, including their leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar," Chad's armed forces said in a statement read on national television. Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the seizure of dozens of foreign hostages at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in January in which more than 60 people were killed. The French military, which is leading the offensive in northern Mali, has so far said it cannot confirm the information.
The purported death of Belmoktar comes a day after Chad's president said their troops killed Abou Zeid, the other main al-Qaeda commander in the region, a claim the French also said they could not confirm. Algeria's El Khabar newspaper said on Saturday that Algerian security services, who were the first to report Abou Zeid's death, had found his personal weapon and examined a body believed to be his. "Confirmation of Abou Zeid's death remains linked to the results of DNA tests done on Thursday by Algeria on two members of his family," it said. Analysts said the death of the two commanders would mark a significant blow to the rebellion in Mali. "Both men have extensive knowledge of northern Mali and parts of the broader Sahel and deep social and other connections in northern Mali, and the death of both in such a short amount of time will likely have an impact on militant operations," Andrew Lebovich, a Dakar-based analyst who follows al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), told Reuters.
If the reports prove true, that's two key jihadist leaders in two days. Of course we've seen how many times some Taliban leaders were reported to be killed. At least in this case there are troops on the scene rather than drones in the air to help verify the identities.
What I find most significant is that it was Chadian forces that did the deed. Africans solving an African problem. The French are there to plan, direct and support. They are also using the Tuaregs of MNLA for intelligence, reconnaissance and guides for the Chadian and French forces. We should be studying this campaign in our military schools.
Happy Sequester Day!
- SCOTUS is hotly engaged in issues involving a suit brought by Shelby County, Alabama regarding the designation of particular jurisdictions in the United States as past and present sinners in the matter of voting discrimination directed at African-Americans. The crux of the matter is the ability of the Congress to imply by designation that some Americans are more racist than others and that this proclivity is a feature of geographical and cultural concentration mainly in the South. This is a notion dear to the hearts of many in the North who continue to think of the South as a conquered land that is inhabited by primitives who must be firmly "guided" towards virtue. I think of this as the Thaddeus Stevens theory of American Salvation. Not surprisingly many Southerners resent this paradigm. SCOTUS may well overturn part of the law. I actually think that would be unfortunate. There HAS been widespread voter dicrimination in parts of the US. Indeed, there are places in the North that are covered by the strictures of the present act. IMO, the best remedy for the problem of differential application of the law would be to make the law applicable to all jurisdictions within the US. "What is good for the goose is good for the gander."
- In the context of the sequester DoD needs to have authority to transfer funds from one designated appropriation account to another as needed to make sure that DoD has the ability to make rational reductions of expenditures rather than blindly applying funds to categories that Congress happened to put money in during more hopeful times. pl
General Raymond Odierno is the chief of staff of the United States Army. As such he is the institutional head of the army. He is not the political head of the army. That vestigial role is fulfilled by the civilian Secretary of the Army who is normally a politician of some sort. It is long understood in the United States that active duty army officers, and especially the chief of staff will scrupulously eschew any intervention in political matters.
Odierno appeared today on "Morning Joe" the New York City chat show that reflects the mentality of that most prominent of American "fantasy islands." He had clearly been dispatched there to rail against the sequester, much as Susan Rice was sent to her doom on the morning Sunday newsies. His appearance against the sequester was unfortunate. The resolution for sequestration is a political matter. The chief of staff should not be appearing on national TV (well, MSNBC) seeking to influence a civilian political decision, but he did so. This is a sadly degenerate time in US national life, and any sense of what is appropriate seems to have been lost.
To make matters worse, Zbig's daughter, Mika, pressed Odierno for his views on gun control legislation for the general civilian public. She wanted to know if he favored registration, banning of "assault weapons," etc
The appropriate response for him would have been to say that he had no role in such civilian political matters and would not comment. Instead, he seemed to become confused between 1 - gun control for private ownership within the army and 2 - civilian gun control generally. As a result he ended by seeming to endorse Mika's obsessions.
This man sits in George Marshall's chair? pl
"Hundreds of foreign jihadist fighters joining the battles against the Syrian troops were seen leaving Syria on Tuesday through borders with neighboring Turkey, the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The reason behind the withdrawal is still vague, said the Observatory, citing one fighter as saying that his comrades "have been pulled out of Syria to join jihadists in Mali." The Observatory said the fighters pulled out from Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, a main hotspot in Syria's long- standing conflict. The Syrian government has for long accused Turkey of making its lands as routes for the foreign radical fighters in order to fight against the Syrian administration. " Xinhua
I picked this up in a comment by TTG yesterday. What is going on here, if anything? If this were true it would be bad news for the rebels in Syria. On the other hand, if these fellows want to go fight the French Army and Air Force in northern Mali, they will get a warm reception. pl