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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nikolas Cruz-- father loss on: Today at 08:04:31 AM
https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/is-father-loss-part-of-nikolas-cruzs-story?utm_source=MercatorNet&utm_campaign=60937b13a5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e581d204e2-60937b13a5-124674163
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Oligarch pay Steele? on: Today at 08:00:51 AM
second post:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/255290/christopher-steele-putin-oleg-deripaska?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=35166114ab-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_16&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-35166114ab-207194629
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: The Niger Ambush on: Today at 07:56:54 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/17/world/africa/niger-ambush-american-soldiers.html?emc=edit_ta_20180218&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: Today at 07:52:03 AM
If Dems win House OR Senate, this is going to happen , , ,

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/374323-calls-mount-from-dems-to-give-platform-to-trump-accusers?userid=188403
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yazidi woman confronts ISIS killer/rapist on: Today at 07:33:54 AM
https://www.israelvideonetwork.com/the-moment-a-former-sex-slave-confronts-an-isis-commander-who-raped-over-200-women/?omhide=true

I think it safe to say he does not seem sorry in the slightest.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry Associate played middleman on: February 18, 2018, 09:23:39 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/9/john-kerry-associate-played-middleman-hillary-agen/?utm_source=FB-ARB&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Chacka_CL:TWT_FR:Traffic_D:180207_CP:Breaking%20News%202018&utm_content=145173138&utm_term=145173138
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (gun and knife rights stuff ) on: February 18, 2018, 06:10:58 PM
Example of Category 3 from GM's post above

http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/175/667/7ad.jpg

Hat tip GM, naturally  grin
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No veggie garden for you! on: February 18, 2018, 06:09:15 PM
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article199431784.html
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sequester could return in two years on: February 18, 2018, 06:00:49 PM
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/374329-pentagon-budget-euphoria-could-be-short-lived?userid=188403
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White House nixes sale of Chicago Stock Exchange on: February 18, 2018, 01:18:14 PM
https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-chairman-froze-agencys-approval-of-chicago-stock-exchange-sale-1506635485
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fake Islaomphobia Hate Crime Data on: February 18, 2018, 01:08:46 PM
https://gellerreport.com/2018/02/fake-islamophobia-report.html/
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zero net growth of Islam in America on: February 18, 2018, 12:58:11 PM
https://clarionproject.org/pew-report-sees-zero-net-growth-muslims-us/
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / cdc-study-use-firearms-self-defense on: February 18, 2018, 12:51:49 PM
https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cdc-study-use-firearms-self-defense-important-crime-deterrent
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry State Department approved the Russki trolls on: February 18, 2018, 12:02:49 AM
Don't know this site, but the dates do seem to lead to this conclusion:

https://patriotbeat.com/2018/02/17/john-kerrys-state-dept-approved-visas-muellers-13-russian-operatives/
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernie burned on: February 17, 2018, 11:59:49 PM
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/bernie-sanders-russia-2016-election-interference-415691
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / This looks like an interesting history book on: February 17, 2018, 11:51:30 PM
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0307958043/ref=nosim/nationalreviewon?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180216_G-File&utm_term=GFile#customerReviews
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / She seems quite sharp on: February 17, 2018, 11:44:57 PM
https://steemit.com/anarchy/@thepholosopher/3-common-gun-control-myths-debunked
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: February 17, 2018, 11:21:23 PM
May I suggest that that is not the point but rather to set up a hue and cry for FB to become the arbiter of what is Fake News?  Hence my subject line of
"Setting Facebook up to be the Ministry of Truth".
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Awesome data site compares death rates from mass public shootings in US n Europe on: February 17, 2018, 07:25:24 PM
https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Setting Facebook up to be the Ministry of Truth? on: February 17, 2018, 03:56:57 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/technology/indictment-russian-tech-facebook.html?emc=edit_ta_20180217&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta

To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook

By SHEERA FRENKEL and KATIE BENNERFEB. 17, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, faces renewed questions about why the social network didn’t catch the Russian activity earlier or do more to stop it. Credit Eric Risberg/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — In 2014, Russians working for a shadowy firm called the Internet Research Agency started gathering American followers in online groups focused on issues like religion and immigration. Around mid-2015, the Russians began buying digital ads to spread their messages. A year later, they tapped their followers to help organize political rallies across the United States.

Their digital instrument of choice for all of these actions? Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram.

The social network, more than any other technology tool, was singled out on Friday by the Justice Department when prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three companies for executing a scheme to subvert the 2016 election and support Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. In a 37-page indictment, officials detailed how the Russians repeatedly turned to Facebook and Instagram, often using stolen identities to pose as Americans, to sow discord among the electorate by creating Facebook groups, distributing divisive ads and posting inflammatory images.

While the indictment does not accuse Facebook of any wrongdoing, it provided the first comprehensive account from the authorities of how critical the company’s platforms had been to the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times, while other technology that the Russians used were featured far less. Twitter was referenced nine times, YouTube once, and electronic payments company PayPal 11 times.

It is unprecedented for an American technology company to be so central to what the authorities say was a foreign scheme to commit election fraud in the United States. The indictment further batters Facebook’s image after it has spent months grappling with questions about how it was misused and why it did not act earlier to prevent that activity.

Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, said the indictment laid bare how effectively Facebook could be turned against the country.


“Facebook built incredibly effective tools which let Russia profile citizens here in the U.S. and figure out how to manipulate us,” Mr. Albright said. “Facebook, essentially, gave them everything they needed.” He added that many of the tools that the Russians used, including those that allow ads to be targeted and that show how widespread an ad becomes, still pervade Facebook.

Facebook, with more than two billion members on the social network alone, has long struggled with what its sites show and the kind of illicit activity it may enable, from selling unlicensed guns to broadcasting live killings. The company’s business depends on people being highly engaged with what is posted on its sites, which in turn helps make it a marquee destination for advertisers.

When suggestions first arose after the 2016 election that Facebook may have influenced the outcome, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, dismissed the concerns. But by last September, Facebook had disclosed that the Internet Research Agency had bought divisive ads on hot-button issues through the company. It later said 150 million Americans had seen the Russian propaganda on the social network and Instagram.

The resulting firestorm has damaged Facebook’s reputation. Company officials, along with executives from Google and YouTube, were grilled by lawmakers last fall. Facebook has since hired thousands of people to help monitor content and has worked with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russian election interference. It has also changed its advertising policy so that any ad that mentions a candidate’s name goes through a more stringent vetting process. Mr. Zuckerberg has vowed to not let Facebook be abused by bad actors.

Yet Facebook’s multiple mentions in Friday’s indictment renew questions of why the world’s biggest social media company didn’t catch the Russian activity earlier or do more to stop it. How effective the company’s new efforts to reduce foreign manipulation have been is also unclear.

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of advertising, waded into the discussion on Friday with a series of tweets that argued that Russia’s goal was to sow chaos among the electorate rather than to force a certain outcome in the election. On Saturday, President Trump cited those tweets as evidence that Russia’s disinformation campaign was not aimed at handing him a victory.

In Silicon Valley, where Facebook has its headquarters, some critics pilloried the company after the indictment became public.


“Mueller’s indictment underscores the central role of Facebook and other platforms in the Russian interference in 2016,” said Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who had invested early in Facebook. “In its heyday, television brought the country together, giving viewers a shared set of facts and experiences. Facebook does just the opposite, enabling every user to have a unique set of facts, driving the country apart for profit.”

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy, said in a statement that the company was grateful the government was taking action “against those who abused our service and exploited the openness of our democratic process.”

He added that Facebook was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ahead of this year’s midterm elections to ensure that a similar manipulation campaign would not take place. “We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks,” he said.

Facebook has previously questioned whether law enforcement should be more involved in helping to stop the threat from nation state actors. Facebook said it worked closely with the special counsel’s investigation.

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment, while Twitter declined to comment. PayPal said in a statement that it has worked closely with law enforcement and “is intensely focused on combating and preventing the illicit use of our services.”

According to the indictment, the Internet Research Agency, created in 2014 in St. Petersburg and employing about 80 people, was given the job of interfering with elections and political processes.

The group began using American social media to achieve those aims in 2014, when it started making Facebook pages dedicated to social issues like race and religion. Over the next two years, the indictment said, the Russians stole the identities of real Americans to create fake personas and fake accounts on social media. The group then used those to populate and promote Facebook pages like United Muslims of America, Blacktivist and Secured Borders.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:14:12 PM


Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

, , ,

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.
22  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:13:01 PM


Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

 U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just completed, by most accounts, a successful visit to Latin America. He began his five-nation tour by invoking the Monroe Doctrine and suggesting the Venezuelan military could manage a "peaceful transition" from the authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. This reminded several regional observers of President Trump's suggestion last year of a possible "military option" for Venezuela, hinting at possible U.S. or multilateral intervention to stop the country's collapse.
Any party in the Western Hemisphere seeking to undertake military intervention in Venezuela— including Venezuela's own military—must take into account the role Iran, Russia and China have played in the crisis. Russia and China were prominently mentioned by Tillerson during his visit to the region; Iran, however, was notably absent from his remarks.

Most regional analysts will likely agree that Venezuela has become a Cuban-occupied country. With more than 30,000 Cubans embedded in Venezuela, many of whom are part of the intelligence and security apparatus, it's clear that the Castro brothers played an integral role in the country's collapse. However, this narrative of Cuban intervention misses two key points. First, it fails to identify precisely Cuba's role in Venezuela, and, secondly, it ignores the presence and influence of other key extra-regional actors.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has contributed significantly to propping up the Venezuelan government during the last decade.

Of these, Russia and China are perhaps the two most visible. As in Syria, and, historically, in Central America, Russia is the primary supplier of military aidand technical support to the Venezuelan armed forces. Venezuela represents 75% of Russia's total foreign military sales in the region, accounting for more than $11 billion in arms sales.

Additionally, the Russian state-owned energy firm, Rosneft, has provided Venezuela with an estimated $17 billion in financing since 2006. Moscow has leveraged its collateral deals to acquire expanded stakes in Venezuela's oilfields—specifically, the heavy-crude Orinoco belt—providing Russia greater control of Venezuela's strategic energy assets.
Russia is not alone in translating Venezuelan debt into strategic assets. According to the International Institute of Finance, China holds more than $23 billion in Venezuela's foreign debt, making it the country's largest creditor. Through these credits and loans, Beijing is the primary benefactor and principal banker to the South American nation, yielding enormous leverage over the state.

Chinese energy companies are also gaining an increasing share of Venezuela's most lucrative oil field, the Faja Del Orinoco (FDO). China secured a 25-year land grant to the FDO. In exchange, China has used its checkbook to fund many of the nation's social programs, such as subsidized housing and free medical clinics.
 
Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visits Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has buoyed the Venezuelan government during the last decade. Cuba's robust counterintelligence and human intelligence networks, which permeate Venezuela's highest political and military levels, are indispensable to China and Russia because of their operational knowledge of Russian-supplied equipment, along with their longstanding ties to communist clandestine networks.

In this context, it is hard to imagine a strategy that would remove Havana's presence from Venezuela without first passing through Moscow or Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, can operate independently in Venezuela because it taps into a separate, more robust clandestine network that has been developing in Latin America for more than half a century.

Approximately 60% of the population of the city of As-Suwayda in southwestern Syria (pop. 139,000, according to the 2004 census) are Venezuelan-born dual citizens. Many more have arrived since 2009. The district of As-Suwayda (same name as the city) has been dubbed "Little Venezuela." Estimates indicate that upwards of 300,000 Syrians from the As-Suwayda Governorate currently live halfway around the world in Venezuela. According to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, more than a million Syrians reside there. This Syria-Venezuela connection could represent a clandestine network managed by Iran and critical to the advancement of Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution."

As in the Syria conflict, Iran's primarily role is preparing the Venezuelan battlefield through a range of operations in irregular warfare, using non-state actors and surrogates to gain influence over the population. Its influence is often not visible on the ground, but it was evident when Iranian-trained forces helped repress anti-regime protestors in 2017. During anti-Maduro demonstrations, the motorcycle-riding members of the Venezuelan civilian militias known as Collectivos were clearly modeled on and trained by Iran's paramilitary Basij militia. The role of the Basij in crushing Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 provided lesson for dealing with anti-regime protestors half a decade later in Venezuela.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners.

The extent of Iran's influence in Venezuela has long been a source of debate among U.S. and regional security analysts. In many ways, Iran has positioned itself in Venezuela to capitalize on China's economic clout and Russia's military footprint. For instance, Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) used a variety of joint projects with Venezuela's military industry (CAVIM), as well as Russian and Chinese oil contracts with PDVSA, to shield it from international sanctions.
Iran's most salient expertise, however, is in the development of clandestine structures through surrogate forces and proxy networks. Its most prominent proxy force, Lebanese Hezbollah, is known to deploy to global hotspots on behalf of Iran. Meanwhile, the Qods Force (the extra-territorial arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - IRGC) works with Hezbollah to increase social pressure in these hotspots to exacerbate conflicts. The Hezbollah and IRGC-QF cooperation is an important component of the Syrian civil war.

In Venezuela, long-standing clandestine networks from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East are playing a similar role behind the scenes in shaping the narrative and ultimately directing the actions of the country's key players. These networks have provided the Venezuelan regime with the know-how to control the population and propagate its narrative. Their influence is evident from the prominence of Arabs in the Venezuelan government.
 
Protesters have taken to Venezuela's streets to condemn unprecedented levels of oppression.

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela began with severe shortages of food and medicine, prompting a a popular uprising last year. Syria faced a similarly severe drought before its civil war that contributed to the violent uprisings that began in 2011. As in Syria, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis that exacerbates refugee outflows with serious counterterrorism concerns and a strong Russian and Iranian presence. Unlike Syria, however, this crisis rests much closer to U.S. shores.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.

Dealing with the tragedy that has transpired in Venezuela over more than two decades will require a better public understanding of the central role of extra-regional actors, particularly Iran, in the country's crisis.

Any intervention in Venezuela -- military, humanitarian or otherwise -- will not work unless it is aimed at removing the external influences, especially Iran, Russia and China, that have turned Venezuela into the Syria of the Western Hemisphere.

Joseph M. Humire is the executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article has taken excerpts from a forthcoming special report by Mr. Humire on "Venezuela's Crisis: A New Global Paradigm." You can follow him on Twitter at: @jmhumire.
Related Topics:  Joseph M. Humire
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:12:17 PM
 




Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

 U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just completed, by most accounts, a successful visit to Latin America. He began his five-nation tour by invoking the Monroe Doctrine and suggesting the Venezuelan military could manage a "peaceful transition" from the authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. This reminded several regional observers of President Trump's suggestion last year of a possible "military option" for Venezuela, hinting at possible U.S. or multilateral intervention to stop the country's collapse.
Any party in the Western Hemisphere seeking to undertake military intervention in Venezuela— including Venezuela's own military—must take into account the role Iran, Russia and China have played in the crisis. Russia and China were prominently mentioned by Tillerson during his visit to the region; Iran, however, was notably absent from his remarks.

Most regional analysts will likely agree that Venezuela has become a Cuban-occupied country. With more than 30,000 Cubans embedded in Venezuela, many of whom are part of the intelligence and security apparatus, it's clear that the Castro brothers played an integral role in the country's collapse. However, this narrative of Cuban intervention misses two key points. First, it fails to identify precisely Cuba's role in Venezuela, and, secondly, it ignores the presence and influence of other key extra-regional actors.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has contributed significantly to propping up the Venezuelan government during the last decade.

Of these, Russia and China are perhaps the two most visible. As in Syria, and, historically, in Central America, Russia is the primary supplier of military aidand technical support to the Venezuelan armed forces. Venezuela represents 75% of Russia's total foreign military sales in the region, accounting for more than $11 billion in arms sales.

Additionally, the Russian state-owned energy firm, Rosneft, has provided Venezuela with an estimated $17 billion in financing since 2006. Moscow has leveraged its collateral deals to acquire expanded stakes in Venezuela's oilfields—specifically, the heavy-crude Orinoco belt—providing Russia greater control of Venezuela's strategic energy assets.
Russia is not alone in translating Venezuelan debt into strategic assets. According to the International Institute of Finance, China holds more than $23 billion in Venezuela's foreign debt, making it the country's largest creditor. Through these credits and loans, Beijing is the primary benefactor and principal banker to the South American nation, yielding enormous leverage over the state.

Chinese energy companies are also gaining an increasing share of Venezuela's most lucrative oil field, the Faja Del Orinoco (FDO). China secured a 25-year land grant to the FDO. In exchange, China has used its checkbook to fund many of the nation's social programs, such as subsidized housing and free medical clinics.
 
Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visits Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has buoyed the Venezuelan government during the last decade. Cuba's robust counterintelligence and human intelligence networks, which permeate Venezuela's highest political and military levels, are indispensable to China and Russia because of their operational knowledge of Russian-supplied equipment, along with their longstanding ties to communist clandestine networks.

In this context, it is hard to imagine a strategy that would remove Havana's presence from Venezuela without first passing through Moscow or Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, can operate independently in Venezuela because it taps into a separate, more robust clandestine network that has been developing in Latin America for more than half a century.

Approximately 60% of the population of the city of As-Suwayda in southwestern Syria (pop. 139,000, according to the 2004 census) are Venezuelan-born dual citizens. Many more have arrived since 2009. The district of As-Suwayda (same name as the city) has been dubbed "Little Venezuela." Estimates indicate that upwards of 300,000 Syrians from the As-Suwayda Governorate currently live halfway around the world in Venezuela. According to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, more than a million Syrians reside there. This Syria-Venezuela connection could represent a clandestine network managed by Iran and critical to the advancement of Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution."

As in the Syria conflict, Iran's primarily role is preparing the Venezuelan battlefield through a range of operations in irregular warfare, using non-state actors and surrogates to gain influence over the population. Its influence is often not visible on the ground, but it was evident when Iranian-trained forces helped repress anti-regime protestors in 2017. During anti-Maduro demonstrations, the motorcycle-riding members of the Venezuelan civilian militias known as Collectivos were clearly modeled on and trained by Iran's paramilitary Basij militia. The role of the Basij in crushing Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 provided lesson for dealing with anti-regime protestors half a decade later in Venezuela.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners.

The extent of Iran's influence in Venezuela has long been a source of debate among U.S. and regional security analysts. In many ways, Iran has positioned itself in Venezuela to capitalize on China's economic clout and Russia's military footprint. For instance, Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) used a variety of joint projects with Venezuela's military industry (CAVIM), as well as Russian and Chinese oil contracts with PDVSA, to shield it from international sanctions.
Iran's most salient expertise, however, is in the development of clandestine structures through surrogate forces and proxy networks. Its most prominent proxy force, Lebanese Hezbollah, is known to deploy to global hotspots on behalf of Iran. Meanwhile, the Qods Force (the extra-territorial arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - IRGC) works with Hezbollah to increase social pressure in these hotspots to exacerbate conflicts. The Hezbollah and IRGC-QF cooperation is an important component of the Syrian civil war.

In Venezuela, long-standing clandestine networks from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East are playing a similar role behind the scenes in shaping the narrative and ultimately directing the actions of the country's key players. These networks have provided the Venezuelan regime with the know-how to control the population and propagate its narrative. Their influence is evident from the prominence of Arabs in the Venezuelan government.
 
Protesters have taken to Venezuela's streets to condemn unprecedented levels of oppression.

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela began with severe shortages of food and medicine, prompting a a popular uprising last year. Syria faced a similarly severe drought before its civil war that contributed to the violent uprisings that began in 2011. As in Syria, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis that exacerbates refugee outflows with serious counterterrorism concerns and a strong Russian and Iranian presence. Unlike Syria, however, this crisis rests much closer to U.S. shores.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.

Dealing with the tragedy that has transpired in Venezuela over more than two decades will require a better public understanding of the central role of extra-regional actors, particularly Iran, in the country's crisis.

Any intervention in Venezuela -- military, humanitarian or otherwise -- will not work unless it is aimed at removing the external influences, especially Iran, Russia and China, that have turned Venezuela into the Syria of the Western Hemisphere.

Joseph M. Humire is the executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article has taken excerpts from a forthcoming special report by Mr. Humire on "Venezuela's Crisis: A New Global Paradigm." You can follow him on Twitter at: @jmhumire.
Related Topics:  Joseph M. Humire



24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jonah Goldberg: The People We Deserve on: February 17, 2018, 09:36:30 AM

http://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/456513/virtue-democracy-people-we-deserve?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180216_G-File&utm_term=GFile
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another 500,000 reads thread! on: February 17, 2018, 09:35:05 AM
500,000 reads on our Israel thread!!!

Well done gentlemen!!!
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 17, 2018, 09:23:33 AM
No, it was a matter of not contributing to the problem.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ten Rivers Generate Most of Plastic in Oceans on: February 17, 2018, 08:58:39 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4970214/95-plastic-oceans-comes-just-TEN-rivers.html
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli approach on: February 17, 2018, 12:48:43 AM
https://townhall.com/columnists/lawrencemeyers/2018/02/15/president-trump-have-education-department-mandate-active-shooter-protocols-n2449726
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Brown signs bill ending mandatory penalty for gun use in crime on: February 16, 2018, 11:54:06 PM
It would appear Breitbart continues with dishonest headlines , , ,

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/10/30/gov-jerry-brown-signs-bill-removing-penalty-using-gun-crime/
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SAudis about to back Shia Kurd media? on: February 16, 2018, 11:51:30 PM
In its quest to counter Iranian influence, Saudi Arabia is hoping to use its financial clout to turn the tide on a different sort of battlefield. According to Iraqi media sources, behind the scenes talks in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have led Saudi Arabia to offer $10 million to support the Shiite TV station Al Forat. Further reports indicate that media personnel from the station were sent to Saudi media offices in the United Arab Emirates for training. Though the reports haven't been confirmed by Saudi or Emirati sources, Al Forat recently announced that it has upgraded its channel to air in high definition and that its app will soon support IOS and Android devices. It may not be a complete confirmation, but the new upgrades suggest the channel has indeed acquired more funding.

If the reports are true, it would be a clear effort from powerful Sunni Arab Gulf states to support Iraqi media that could counter Iranian influence in Iraq. More than that, it would mark an effort by Saudi Arabia to increase its influence with Iraqis, regardless of sectarian affiliation. A well-known media station in Iraq, Al Forat is owned by Shiite cleric and political leader Ammar al-Hakim. However, Hakim's political party, the National Wisdom party, has denied reports of Saudi funding for the TV station.

Hakim is a logical personality for Saudi Arabia to connect with in Iraq. A member of a prominent family of Shiite clerics, Hakim maintains significant popularity. In addition, he split from the Iran-linked Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq last fall to form his own political movement with greater independence from Iran. Although he is Shiite, Hakim still ticks a lot of boxes for the Sunni Arab Gulf states. It's not guaranteed that he and his network have received their backing, but Hakim and Al Forat are exactly the sort of influential voices that it would make sense for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to support.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clarion Project: Hezbollah has 500,000 rockets! on: February 16, 2018, 11:50:17 PM
https://clarionproject.org/terrorist-organization-500000-rockets/
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GVRO proposal on: February 16, 2018, 11:42:24 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456510/gun-control-republicans-consider-grvo?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202018-02-16&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 09:10:07 PM
Bonus points-- Who said that and about whom?
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grassley about to get greased? on: February 16, 2018, 07:41:05 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/02/16/sen-chuck-grassley-folds-open-gun-control-discussion-post-parkland-attack/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_content=links&utm_campaign=20180216
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: February 16, 2018, 07:30:10 PM
"Should Israel indict Brock for interfering with Netanyahu's election?"

GOOD ONE!
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis kills up to 200 Russians in Syria on: February 16, 2018, 07:29:19 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis kills up to 200 Russians on: February 16, 2018, 07:28:36 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sly Dumb Fox Gen. James N. Mattis on: February 16, 2018, 07:27:49 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 1927 bombing biggest school bombing on record on: February 16, 2018, 07:19:23 PM
fifth post

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1927-bombing-remains-americas-deadliest-school-massacre-180963355/
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sheriff sides with illegals rather than get body armor for deputies on: February 16, 2018, 07:14:36 PM
https://www.themaven.net/bluelivesmatter/news/to-avoid-cooperating-with-ice-sheriff-rejects-body-armor-for-deputies-VforcPchO0aa7CTOT5Falg?full=1
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China 2014 mass kill by knife on: February 16, 2018, 07:05:32 PM
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/33-dead-130-injured-china-knife-wielding-spree-n41966
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 07:04:56 PM
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/33-dead-130-injured-china-knife-wielding-spree-n41966
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 06:49:43 PM
And it must be said and not without reason, that we also worry about empowering the nanny state to use this sort of stuff as part of their mission to disarm the American people.  Remember the campaign to draw equivalence in extremism between Islamo-fascism and the Tea Party?
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 06:46:53 PM
Not to mention grifting operations like Trump University, bullying that little old lady in Atlantic City with eminent domain, and a reputation for stiffing contractors.
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Trump-AG Sessions vs. MS-13 on: February 16, 2018, 06:45:00 PM
    U.S. President Donald Trump's administration will press for more aggressive action from Central American governments against criminal gangs, drug trafficking and illegal migration.
    Institutional inertia, competing priorities and the decentralized nature of criminal gangs are going to limit the White House's ability to come down hard on security threats from Central America.
    The administration will probably press Central American governments to pursue individual criminal groups more, but the way Washington deals with crime from Central America overall is unlikely to change.

As U.S. President Donald Trump's administration moves to take a harder line against crime in Central America, it will likely run into the same problems that have vexed many previous presidents. On the campaign trail, Trump emphasized domestic security and indicated that illegal immigrants and criminal gangs from Central America would get more attention from law enforcement. As president, he has already followed through on some of these campaign promises domestically. Now, the White House appears to be shifting its attention abroad. But as Washington turns up the heat on Central America, it is likely to find its goals thwarted by poverty, corruption and the amorphous nature of gangs.
Forecast Update

The United States has for decades focused on stemming violent crime and illicit migration from Central America. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has made countering criminal activity from this region a central part of its foreign and domestic security policies, and it will press forward in the coming years to craft a more aggressive stance toward violent crime and illegal migration in the region.
See 2018 Annual Forecast
Spotlight on Central America

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — where many illegal migrants and criminal gang members in the United States are from — are in the spotlight as the Trump administration turns up the pressure. And the president has pointed to violent criminal gangs, particularly MS-13 (ethnically Salvadoran but born in Los Angeles--MARC not just ethnically, in citizenship too), in its drive to tighten immigration. Over the next few years, U.S. institutions such as the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security will try to turn Trump's campaign rhetoric into actions that hit criminal groups or weaken the flow of drugs to the United States. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez recently met with a U.S. State Department official in what was likely an attempt to find an actionable policy. And the United States can be expected to pressure the governments in Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and San Salvador to target and arrest key criminals, as well as to enact more substantial programs to detect and slow migrants trying to cross into Mexico.

However, pressing for change and achieving it are two very different things. For decades, these Central American nations haven't been able to effectively move against these problems, which also vex the United States. The countries are poor, with small and extremely corrupt armies and police forces. The local institutions that the United States has to work with are limited and are not going to improve quickly. Training enough capable and trustworthy soldiers and police officers to challenge the cartels and gangs and to stem migrant flows will take years — and the Trump administration simply may not have enough time to fund these improvements.

Additionally, criminal activity in Central America is of relatively low importance for Washington compared with other pressing global problems, a fact that may delay further action. Criminal gangs are but one of many forms of violent crime within the United States, and illegal migration is far lower than it was a few decades ago. Furthermore, while drug trafficking to the United States is a public health issue, it isn't an existential crisis. A solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis is far more consequential for the United States than reining in MS-13, the 18th Street gang and similar criminals.

Decentralization is also likely to frustrate Washington's moves against threats south of the border, since there is no single group it can target to end the criminal threat from Central America. Gangs tend to be decentralized, so while authorities can round up their members, other factions will take their place. The same can be said of Mexican and Central American drug trafficking cartels, which have fragmented into smaller, more violent units as their leaders have been arrested or killed.
Turning to Mexico

While Washington faces formidable regional obstacles, not all of its goals are out of sight. Its successes will be small, and the United States will continue to rely primarily on Mexico to stem the flow of drugs and migrants northward. Mexico has an institutional capability that all Central American states lack, and that isn't going to change in the next few years. The administration can press for its Central American neighbors to take more aggressive action against criminal gangs, migration and drug traffickers — and that is likely where the U.S. push in Central America is going to go.

The security concerns the Trump administration is emphasizing are perennial, intractable issues that Washington's institutional bureaucracy cannot deal with conclusively. Their rather low importance, accompanied by institutional inertia, is going to limit the White House's ability to devote more time and resources to them.

In the end, the administration is probably going to respond to criminality from Central America with tactics reminiscent of measures that have already been tried. Mexico will shoulder most of the burden of helping the United States deal with security problems in its backyard. Though the administration will try to craft a response different from those of its predecessors, it will most likely resort to more of the same.
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 04:18:12 PM
YES.

Let's use this thread for discussion of these issues.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 04:15:56 PM
AGREED.
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary intervened to let this man into US on: February 16, 2018, 04:14:43 PM
https://www.westernjournal.com/dick-morris-humas-influence-hillary-let-islamic-scholar-now-charged-with-rape-into-the-us/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=deepsix&utm_content=2018-02-16&utm_campaign=can

Dick Morris: Huma’s Influence? Hillary Let Islamic Scholar Now Charged with Rape into the US

By Dick Morris
February 16, 2018 at 12:34pm
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In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed a decision by the Bush administration and allowed Tariq Ramadan, a world-famous Islamic scholar who donated to a terrorist front group, into the United States.

CNS reported that two weeks ago, Ramadan was arrested in Paris and charged with the rape of two Muslim women, one of whom had been disabled in a car accident, forcing her to use a crutch to walk.

Ramadan, something of a celebrity in the Muslim world, was a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford, U.K. His grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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The ban imposed by the Bush administration was a cause célèbre in the Islamic world.

Question: Did Huma Abedin, Hillary’s closest adviser, play a role in Clinton’s unjustifiable decision to lift the ban on Ramadan’s ability to travel to the U.S.? Was Hillary trying to please Huma?

TRENDING: FBI Was Warned About the Florida School Shooter Last Year in Comments Section of a YouTube Video

Abedin had to have known all about Ramadan. Her connection with the Muslim Brotherhood runs deep.

Huma’s father founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an institution established by the government of Saudi Arabia with the support of the Muslim World League. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy said the Muslim World League is “perhaps the most significant Muslim Brotherhood organization in the world.”

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Tariq Ramadan was barred as a security threat from entering the U.S. in 2006 by the State Department for “providing material support to a terrorist organization.” Specifically, he was found to have donated funds to a supposed charity that was really — and quite openly — a front for Hamas.

He was arrested in Paris for raping two Muslim women.


A Swiss newspaper also reported that Ramadan tried to seduce a 14-year-old student in his class and noted that three other female students have said that Ramadan seduced them.

Despite his record, Hillary reversed administration policy and lifted the ban on his travel to the U.S. Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group, says that Ramadan “openly supports the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas” and has done work for Iran.

The New York Times wrote that “the women’s accusations have put a dent in his (Ramadan’s) projected image as a pious family man.”

The decision to revoke the ban on Ramadan came in the form of an order personally signed by Secretary Clinton, saying that she was acting “as a matter of discretion.”

Ramadan has been a host on an Iranian television talk show “Islam and Life.”  He was employed by the Dutch city of Rotterdam as an adviser on “integration,” but was terminated because of his role on Iranian television.

That Hillary Clinton used her “discretion” to let him into the United States speaks volumes about her own lack of “discretion” and may give us a clue to Huma Abedin’s ability to get Hillary to do what she wanted.
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tangent to the Mueller indictment on: February 16, 2018, 04:06:19 PM
A friend writes:

"Mueller indictment, 2 of the Russians were able to enter U.S. on travel visas which they received after applying for them through the State Dept in 2014. From June 4, 2014 – June 26, 2014 they traveled around the US. Who was head of the FBI & State Dept at this time again?"

IIRC there are a number of queer Hillary grants of visas-- anyone remember what they were?

For example:

https://www.westernjournal.com/dick-morris-humas-influence-hillary-let-islamic-scholar-now-charged-with-rape-into-the-us/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=deepsix&utm_content=2018-02-16&utm_campaign=can
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mass Shootings the New Manifestation of an Ancient Phenomenon on: February 16, 2018, 03:14:36 PM
http://kellybroganmd.com/mass-shootings-the-new-manifestation-of-an-ancient-phenomenon-and-their-link-to-psychiatric-drugs/
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