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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison, no man to judge his own cause on: August 20, 2014, 10:04:07 AM
"No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity." --James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eh tu Maureen? on: August 20, 2014, 09:59:40 AM
Alone Again, Naturally
Maureen Dowd
AUG. 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — Affectations can be dangerous, as Gertrude Stein said.

When Barack Obama first ran for president, he theatrically cast himself as the man alone on the stage. From his address in Berlin to his acceptance speech in Chicago, he eschewed ornaments and other politicians, conveying the sense that he was above the grubby political scene, unearthly and apart.

He began “Dreams From My Father” with a description of his time living on the Upper East Side while he was a student at Columbia, savoring his lone-wolf existence. He was, he wrote, “prone to see other people as unnecessary distractions.” When neighbors began to “cross the border into familiarity, I would soon find reason to excuse myself. I had grown too comfortable in my solitude, the safest place I knew.”

His only “kindred spirit” was a silent old man who lived alone in the apartment next door. Obama carried groceries for him but never asked his name. When the old man died, Obama briefly regretted not knowing his name, then swiftly regretted his regret.

But what started as an affectation has turned into an affliction.

A front-page article in The Times by Carl Hulse, Jeremy Peters and Michael Shear chronicled how the president’s disdain for politics has alienated many of his most stalwart Democratic supporters on Capitol Hill.

His bored-bird-in-a-gilded-cage attitude, the article said, “has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.”

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an early Obama backer, noted that “for him, eating his spinach is schmoozing with elected officials.”

First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction.

His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass.

The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.

The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.

Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble.

The 2004 speech that vaulted Obama into the White House soon after he breezed into town turned out to be wrong. He misdescribed the country he wanted to lead. There is a liberal America and a conservative America. And the red-blue divide has only gotten worse in the last six years.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

The man whose singular qualification was as a uniter turns out to be singularly unequipped to operate in a polarized environment.

His boosters argue that we spurned his gift of healing, so healing is the one thing that must not be expected of him. We ingrates won’t let him be the redeemer he could have been.
Continue reading the main story
Recent Comments
Liberty Apples
6 minutes ago

Am I missing something? Is there a lost paragraph? Not a word about Hillary.
Charlie Ratigan
6 minutes ago

And so, the alchemist, Valerie Jarrett, sees the gold she created return to lead.
9 minutes ago

Slow day/month/year, Maureen?

    See All Comments
    Write a comment

As Ezra Klein wrote in Vox: “If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better.”

He concluded: “There probably won’t be another Race Speech because the White House doesn’t believe there can be another Race Speech. For Obama, the cost of becoming president was sacrificing the unique gift that made him president.”

So The One who got elected as the most exciting politician in American history is The One from whom we must never again expect excitement?

Do White House officials fear that Fox News could somehow get worse to them?

Sure, the president has enemies. Sure, there are racists out there. Sure, he’s going to get criticized for politicizing something. But as F.D.R. said of his moneyed foes, “I welcome their hatred.”

Why should the president neutralize himself? Why doesn’t he do something bold and thrilling? Get his hands dirty? Stop going to Beverly Hills to raise money and go to St. Louis to raise consciousness? Talk to someone besides Valerie Jarrett?

The Constitution was premised on a system full of factions and polarization. If you’re a fastidious pol who deigns to heal and deal only in a holistic, romantic, unified utopia, the Oval Office is the wrong job for you. The sad part is that this is an ugly, confusing and frightening time at home and abroad, and the country needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into some petulant expression of his aloofness, where he regards himself as a party of his own and a victim of petty, needy, bickering egomaniacs.

Once Obama thought his isolation was splendid. But it turned out to be unsplendid.
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH admits accounts differ on: August 20, 2014, 09:50:29 AM
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 20, 2014, 09:37:37 AM
She does not need to be doing the rubber chicken circuit.  The nomination is hers for the asking.  The Dems have absolutely NO ONE to run if she does not.  Biden?  cheesy cheesy cheesy  Warren is not stupid but is not presidential in the slightest.  The outcry for her to run should she hesitate is such a sure thing that it would not surprise me that should would do a bit of a Hamlet should-I-shouln't-I routine to elicit it.

To top it off, it is not like the Rep offerings are looking all that daunting politically.

You think she'd be scared of Cruz?

As for Rand Paul, I remind everyone of the recent and current discussion of her Atlantic interview on the Foreign Affairs thread.   Anyone here bet on Rand Paul to win that exchange?
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: August 20, 2014, 09:29:49 AM
On my FB page there is a fellow who takes me to task for my doubts.  I've posted PC's post there with a provocative tease.  We will see what he makes of it.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: August 20, 2014, 09:13:07 AM

Interesting article on Jeff Bell.  I like that he dials in on what I have called here "The War on Savers"-- this I think is a good issue and good way for Reps; unfortunately Cory Booker is an appealing candidate and my guess is Bell will lose.
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: August 20, 2014, 09:09:01 AM
On the point in question, her interview is not without merit.

The interview was posted here; if we don't watch out any and all of our candidates will not be able to handle her on this issue.

In a related vein, how would Cruz, or Paul, or ?  handle the following?

58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 20, 2014, 08:01:46 AM
Click here to watch: Rockets Launched From Gaza, PM orders IDF to hit Back at Hamas

The Israeli Air Force has struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire this afternoon, following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's order to strike back hard against the perpetrators. Sources in Gaza reported at least one IAF strike on an open area, which did not cause any injuries. It is possible the target was the site from where the rockets were launched, although this has not been confirmed. According to Palestinian Arab media reports cited by Walla!, the Israeli airstrike response focused on the Gaza neighborhoods of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia. The Arab report claims a strike was also carried out adjacent to an UNRWA school in eastern Rafah, in the Al-Marazi "refugee camp" in central Gaza, Deir al-Balah and Al-Karara in southern Gaza. An IDF spokesman said: "The IDF was prepared for this possibility and is determined to protect the security of the residents of the State of Israel. Earlier Tuesday, At least three rockets were fired towards the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, hours before the end of a 24-hour extension to a five-day truce declared last week.

Watch Here

In an even more explosive development, an unnamed security source told Walla! news site the rocket attack was ordered directly by Hamas's Qatar-based head Khaled Meshaal. The source claimed Meshaal had bypassed Hamas's official "military wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and ordered a specially-assigned unit of Hamas operatives answerable directly to him to launch the attack. The source claimed Meshaal was aiming to sabotage negotiations for a long-term truce in Cairo, which were not going his way. His plan may have worked: apart from the air strike in the last few minutes Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered Israel's delegation to the talks in Cairo to return to Israel, effectively putting an end to talks there. Weighing in on the rockets, Eshkol Regional Council head Chaim Yelin remarked: "who expected anything else? This is the language of Hamas. A language that for 14 years the state of Israel apparently hasn't understood."
Source: Arutz Sheva
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Paul Ryan's American Creed on: August 19, 2014, 08:42:35 PM 
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CPI July on: August 19, 2014, 08:18:36 PM

Data Watch
The Consumer Price Index Increased 0.1% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 8/19/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.1% in July, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 2.0% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) was unchanged in July and is up 1.8% in the past year.

Food prices increased 0.3% in July, while energy prices declined 0.3%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1%, below the consensus expected 0.2%. The gain in core prices was led by owners’ equivalent rent. Core prices are up 1.9% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – were unchanged in July and unchanged in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 0.3% in the past year.

Implications: Consumer prices continued to move higher in July, though only at the tepid 0.1% pace the consensus expected. Although consumer prices are up a moderate 2% from a year ago, the year-over-year number masks an acceleration. The CPI is up at a 2.5% annual rate in the past six months and up at a 2.8% rate in the past three months. (!!!)  Since the start of 2014, consumer prices are up 2.4% at an annual rate versus the 1.2% pace in first seven months of 2013. Owners’ equivalent rent (what homeowners would pay if they were renting their homes from soemone else) led the way in July, up 0.3%, accounting for most of the increase in the overall index. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, is up 2.7% over the past 12 months and will be a key source of the acceleration in inflation in the year ahead, in large part fueled by the shift toward renting rather than owning. And while energy prices declined 0.3% in July, muting the rise in the overall CPI, we expect this measure to move higher in the months ahead, continuing the trend higher we have seen over the past twelve months. The worst news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings remained flat in July and are unchanged in the past year. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, probably increased 0.1% in July. If so, it would be up 1.6% from a year ago, barely below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect to hit and cross the 2% target later this year, consistent with our view that the Fed starts raising short-term interest rates in the first half of 2015.
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing starts surge in July on: August 19, 2014, 08:16:19 PM
Housing Starts Surged 15.7% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 8/19/2014

Housing starts surged 15.7% in July to a 1.093 million annual rate, coming in well above the consensus expected 0.965 million. Starts are up 21.7% versus a year ago.
The increase in starts in July was due to strong gains in both single-family and multi-family units. In the past year, single-family starts are up 10.1% while multi-family starts are up 44.7%.
Starts in July rose in the Northeast, South, and West, but fell in the Midwest.
New building permits increased 8.1% in July to a 1.052 million annual rate, coming in above the consensus expected 1.000 million. Compared to a year ago, permits for single-units are up 3.9% while permits for multi-family homes are up 14.1%.

Implications: Great news on home building. Housing starts boomed in July, soaring 15.7%, and were revised up substantially for June. The upward trend should continue. Building permits also soared in July, up 8.1%, as single-family and multi-family permits rose 0.9% and 21.5% respectively. Starts can be volatile from month to month, so to find the underlying trend we look at the 12-month moving average, which now stands at the highest level since October 2008. The total number of homes under construction, (started, but not yet finished) increased 2.9% in July and are up 22.8% versus a year ago. No wonder residential construction jobs are up 116,000 in the past year. Multi-family construction is taking the clear lead in the housing recovery. Single-family starts have been in a tight range for the past two years, while the trend in multi-family units has been up (although volatile). In the past year, 35% of all housing starts have been for multi-unit buildings, the most since the mid-1980s, when the last wave of Baby Boomers was leaving college. From a direct GDP perspective, the construction of multi-family homes adds less, per unit, to the economy than single-family homes. However, home building is still a positive for real GDP growth and we expect that trend to continue. Based on population growth and “scrappage,” housing starts will eventually rise to about 1.5 million units per year. In other recent housing news, the NAHB index, which measures confidence among home builders, rose two points to 55 in August, the best reading since January. Looks like a broad pick-up in both sales and foot traffic around the country.
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sam Adams, 1749 on: August 18, 2014, 04:29:35 PM
"[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty
and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." --Samuel
Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749

63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / StealthFlation on: August 18, 2014, 03:55:42 PM
second post

StealthFlation Defined………………by BDI


An intractable economic condition that inevitably arises as unlimited units of
currency compulsively pursue nonproductive wealth assets in a grossly over-leveraged
economy which has been artificially reflated in a desperate and misguided attempt by
monetary authorities to synthetically engineer growth via extreme monetization. 
Preventing the real economy on the ground from seeking the healthy normalization and
natural balance of free market forces necessary for genuine productive economic

Also known as; wishful thinking, and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

This entirely synthesized approach to capital formation has brought us the following
disastrous results:

1)  Stealth incendiary inflationary risks to the economy due to latent money velocity

2)  Repeat massive unstable asset bubble dislocations

3)  Gross misallocation of genuine productive investment capital, stifling the
crucial SME sector

4)  Excessive market volatility which stymies business development and trade

5)  Lethargic economic activity and growth

6)  Massive off-shoring of the manufacturing base

7)  Facilitates fantastic fiscal deficit spending sprees

Cool  Decreases income & real job creation

9)  Extreme income inequality

10)  Eviscerates the very essence of money itself

Brought to you by The Savant @ StealthFlation , Stop by for Shelter from the Storm

64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Recipe for inflation on: August 18, 2014, 03:48:03 PM
   Monday Morning Outlook
                                        Jackson Hole: A Recipe for Inflation To view this article, Click Here
                                        Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
                                        Date: 8/18/2014


On Thursday, The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual retreat in
Jackson Hole, WY will start. The topic of discussion is: “Re-Evaluating Labor
Market Dynamics.”

The title itself says a lot about the Fed’s current mindset. Economists have
been studying labor market dynamics for many, many decades, if not centuries. So,
why does the Fed need to do any re-evaluating?

The answer: the unemployment rate is still 6.2% and other measures of the labor
market are far from robust. This is true even though the Fed has spent trillions on
bonds, boosted its balance sheet to record levels and cut interest rates to zero.

Maybe the Fed should “re-evaluate monetary policy,” or study “the
impact of fiscal policy on the economy” or find “the actual efficacy of
QE.” With all those juicy, and important, policy topics available, why study
the labor market?

Back when Ben Bernanke was Chairman of the Fed, he targeted a 6.5% unemployment rate
to start tightening. Now, Fed Chair Janet Yellen says it’s more complicated
than that. There are more important measures of labor market health.

What’s interesting about all of this is that the Fed is becoming a poster
child for “mission creep.” When the Fed first started in 1913, its job
was to protect the value of the US currency. Then, with passage of the Federal
Reserve Reform Act of 1977, the Fed received a dual mandate – to keep
“the unemployment rate” and inflation low.

This dual mandate was a mistake. The Fed has control over one thing – the
amount of money circulating in the economy. But, money itself cannot create jobs, or
fewer part-time jobs, or increase the labor force participation rate. If printing
money actually created wealth, then we should allow every citizen to counterfeit
their own currency. Of course, this would not work. Counterfeiting is illegal
because you get something for nothing.

No monetary policy expert has argued that the US experienced the crisis of 2008
because the Fed was too tight. And no one, with credentials, argues now that the US
economy is growing slowly because money is scarce.

In other words, monetary liquidity was not, and has not been, a problem for the
economy. As a result, any findings by the Fed that the labor market is not
performing at its full potential can be seen as proof that monetary policy is not
the tool for the job.

As the US learned in the 1980s, over the long-term, a single policy lever cannot
accomplish more than one policy objective. Monetary policy controls inflation in the
long run. Fiscal policy impacts the real economy (GDP and unemployment).

The Fed has now been easy for over five years, so it is impossible to argue that
monetary policy is being used as a short-term tool. If the labor market is still
having problems it must be because fiscal policy is harming potential growth. With
government spending, and especially redistribution, much higher than in the 1990s,
regulation a huge and growing burden, Obamacare, and higher tax rates, it’s no
wonder employment and incomes are lagging.

Unfortunately, the Fed does not see it this way. It is willing to maintain
abnormally, and artificially, low interest rates because the US hasn’t reached
so-called full employment. But those artificially low rates may cause other
problems, like a bubble in some sector, which the Fed has now decided to deal with
using “macro-prudential policy tools.” It sounds really technical, but
it's essentially playing “whack-a-mole” once excesses from easy money
pop up. In effect, the Fed wants to use monetary policy as a long-term policy tool
and deal with short-term monetary problems by using regulatory tools.

In reality, the existence of financial market excesses should prove that Fed policy
is being mishandled. But the Fed will choose to view excesses as a mistake by
financial institutions themselves. Blame the other guy, always.

This is a recipe for falling behind the curve. The Fed is already there and is
likely to stay there for some time to come. 
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Has Qatar surrendered? on: August 18, 2014, 03:46:25 PM

Has Qatar Surrendered?
Much has been written in the past year about the part Qatar plays in the conflict over the status and role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that presents a non-tribal Islamist alternative to tribal loyalties and ideological parties in the Arab world.

For the past two years, the controversy has centered on the role of the “Brothers” in Egypt, on former president  Mohamed Morsi’s legitimacy and the legality of General Sisi’s new government as of July 2013. Qatar has been the main source of support for the “Brothers” and their Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, for the last two decades.

Leading the opposition to Qatar’s policies was Saudi Arabia, and Sisi joined that opposition when he deposed Morsi. The relations between Qatar and its opponents reached a new low in March 2014, when the Saudis, Egypt and the United Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar. Later, there were reports of a Saudi armed force concentrated on Qatar’s border that would have invaded the recalcitrant emirate, had Qatar not been under the protective shade of the United States, which has its main Persian Gulf airbase in Qatar as well as strong economic and institutional ties with it.

Qatar has been the main supporter of Hamas for years, providing funds and a venue for Hamas leadership after it left Damascus, while granting political backing to the movement and its rule in Gaza. Several years ago, Turkey joined the Hamas supporters axis, sometimes joined by Iran –  the latter motivated by its hatred of Israel and/or its hostility to the Saudi regime.

When the current round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel broke out, the Qatar-Turkey Axis immediately placed itself on the side of Hamas, while on the opposing side stood the anti-Muslim-Brotherhood-and-Hamas Axis, consisting of Egypt Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Jordan. America attempted to help the Qatar Axis, but retreated when faced with strong criticism, both from Israel and Congress. The Palestinian Authority is torn between its desire to see Israel destroy Hamas and its pity for the Gazans who are paying with their blood for the Hamas takeover of their lives – and deaths.

When the possibility of ceasefire negotiations was broached, rivalry broke out between the two sides over who would head them and who would be able to sway the agreement in the direction he preferred. As the days went by, it became clear that the solution would depend on the result of the duel between the Saudi King and the Qatar Emir, with the winner designing the future of any agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On August 9, 2014, It became obvious that the winner was the Saudi King and the Egypt-Emirates Axis, the group opposed to Hamas, although not openly supporting Israel. Saudi victory over Qatar and its supporters was certain when last weekend, the Emir could be seen rushing to Riyadh, the capital of the country that opposes his nation’s activities.

Qatar’s surrender reached world consciousness mainly by way of Al Mayadeen, the media channel that has placed itself in opposition to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera.

For example, Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s media channel, calls the president of Egypt “El Sisi”, avoiding the title “President”, because Qatar still sees Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood champion, as the lawful president of Egypt. As opposed to Al-Jazeera, Al Mayadeen uses the title  “President Sisi”.

Al  Mayadeen was founded two years ago in Lebanon by a former Al-Jazeera reporter , Ghassan Ben Jeddou, who handed in his angry resignation from  Al-Jazeera because of the network’s political stand on Saudi Arabia and the takeover of Bahrain during the “Arab Spring.”. Al Mayadeen is suspected of being prejudiced against Qatar and its policies. However, now that there is a proliferation of Arab media channels that are free of government censorship, the only way a network can succeed is if its reports are seen as trustworthy. The above means that the information that follows reporting on the Qatari Emir’s visit to Riyadh, his meeting with the Saudi King and the words exchanged during the meeting,  is not totally reliable.

Note: My interpretations are in the parentheses.

On August 9th, Al Mayadeen reported in Arabic: “The Emir of Qatar told the Saudi King that his country is not in favor of forming alliances (i.e. Qatar is giving up the leadership of the Axis it led up to now). Gaza has become everyone’s focus (i.e. we know that Saudi Arabia does not care about Gaza’s fate)…”.

“The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa El Thani, said that he has arrived (i.e. was forced to crawl) to Riyadh in order to meet the Saudi King Abdallah ben Abed Elaziz, because he (the Qatari Emir)  knows well the loyalty of the Saudi King to the Arab Nation (i.e. to Saudi Arabia, its friends and their interests alone) and the trust he places in him and he will tell him (the king) what is going on in Gaza (i.e. the catastrophe Israel is wreaking on Hamas and Qatar) out of fear that we will lose our way  (i.e.Israel will win).

“Qatar does not have a policy of forming alliances (Qatar is sorry it led an alliance against the Saudis) even though there was once someone in Qatar who acted like a megalomaniac on the subject of Qatar and its size (severe criticism of Sheikh Hamad, the present Emir’s father and of Sheikh Hamad’s Foreign Minister, who took a politically arrogant line towards the Arab world and Saudi Arabia in particular, despite the fact that Qatar is a tiny Emirate. The Qatari Emir understands that without this criticism, or true repentance, the Saudi King will give him short shrift.).

Al Mayadeen continues: “The Qatari Emir made it clear to the Saudi King that Qatar is worthless if it does not belong to the Gulf Emirates (here he is begging the Gulf nations to allow their ambassadors return to Qatar) or its Arab partners (i.e. we are sorry for the anti- Egypt, Jordan and PA policies we espoused). Both sides (i.e. Axes) complement one another (i.e. our Axis surrenders to yours).

“The Qatari Emir told the Saudi King in plain language: Qatar is willing to follow in your footsteps and heed your instructions (i.e. totally abrogates its independent policies of the last few years) in order to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people (i.e. to salvage Hamas’ rule over the Palestinians who serve it as human shields).

“The Qatari Emir added: ‘In the face of the immense magnitude of the crimes and war of destruction going on in Gaza (and the danger that the Gazans will rebel against Hamas rule), there is no reason for Egypt (and its backer, Saudi Arabia) to insist on an initiative (i.e. conditions for surrender) that doesn’t meet the minimum expectations and demands of the Palestinians (read Hamas), especially now that Israel needs a ceasefire (i.e. Israel can continue fighting on and on because of the Israeli public’s support for their government).

“‘I don’t see how the Egyptians can bring themselves to shut out the Hamas movement. Let us put aside, my lord (!!!), our reckoning with Hamas (and the crimes it committed against Egypt and the Palestinians) for a future date (and then we will forget about them) and stand with the Palestinian people who stand behind Hamas (bearing knives) and support Hamas’ demands (to end the siege).’”

“‘I have come to you, my lord (!!!) in order to hear good tidings (now that we have surrendered and ended our policy of supporting Hamas) that will save us from the situation we are in now (i.e. the isolation we brought on ourselves by supporting  the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which is on the verge of collapse).’”

Al Mayadeen reports that the meeting between the Saudi King and the Qatari Emir was just ten minutes long, and does not bring the response of the Saudi King – who may have remained silent throughout.

The significance of the detailed report is in the total subjugation of Qatar to Saudi Arabia, of a young and inexperienced Emir to an older and wiser king. What brought about this abject surrender is the combination of Israeli determination and the geography of Gaza, an area under siege even if the present siege is removed, with Israel on one side, Egypt on the other and only the sea – blockaded as well – as a way to find refuge.  Qatar’s peninsula is in a similar position: one can reach the rest of the continent from Qatar only by way of hostile Saudi Arabia or by way of the sea. If not for the American presence there, Saudi Arabia could crush the Qatar regime within a few hours as it did to Bahrain in 2011.

If it is true that the Emir visited Riyadh and if the text of his monologue, as reported by Al Mayadeen, is accurate, we are about to face a new constellation of forces in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, a tribal monarchy with an Islamic cast – has become the leading force, Israel is closer to the winning axis and the US is on the losing side. The Iran-Syria-Iraq Axis is under pressure because of the IS Jihadists and the US is attempting to bolster up its status by using air power against IS.

There are voices calling on Israel to take advantage of this new situation, go ahead with the Arab peace initiative whose origin is in Saudi Arabia, leave Judea and Samaria and establish a Palestinian state with Mahmoud Abbas that will be part of the new array of forces, united against a weakened Hamas and Qatar.

The idea is a good one, except that carrying it out is problematic: coalitions and alliances in the Middle East are exactly like the sand dunes that mark this region of deserts; today they are here and by tomorrow the wind has blown them somewhere else. In the past, there were those who advised Israel to hurry to make peace with Assad while he was still powerful, even if that meant giving up the Golan Heights. And where is Assad today, pray tell? And what would have happened had Jabhat El Nusra or the Islamic State taken over the Golan, able to look down at Tiberias and aim weapons at its residents?

The Middle East seesaw is weighted on the Saudi-Egyptian side now, but it is not at all clear whether that coalition will continue directing the Middle East in another year or two. Israel must not be tempted to place its future and security in the hands of a temporary coalition, no matter how good it is.

Israel must act on the basis of long term planning that centers on Israel and its territorial possessions, not on the changing alliances of the sand dunes of the Middle East.

Reprinted with permission from Arutz Sheva

66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stretching the Truth past the breaking point on: August 18, 2014, 08:21:46 AM
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama`s true colors revealed on: August 18, 2014, 02:02:57 AM
Steven Emerson's Op-Ed: The President's True Colors Finally Revealed

Steven Emerson, Executive Director

August 17, 2014

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Op-Ed: The President's True Colors Finally Revealed

by Steven Emerson
Jerusalem Online
August 17, 2014

When I first glanced at the headline on today's Jerusalem Online and reports in the
Jerusalem Post and other Israeli newspapers, I thought they must have been a satire:
"Washington officials have told Egypt that the US will grantee Israel's commitment
to any agreement signed." But it was not a satire. The was deadly serious, confirmed
by other Israeli newspapers and sources in Cairo.

The US offering to Hamas to "guarantee" Israeli commitments to any agreement signed?
As if anyone needed proof of the Obama Administration's antipathy to Israel, here it
was in black and white. If anyone party needed a commitment to enforce its
agreements in any deal, it would have been Hamas, that has been known to break every
commitment it ever made. To pick just a few at random:

* Hamas recently violated 9 cease fire agreements, including two of its own
* Hamas illegally siphoned thousands of tons of cement and steel shipments it
received from international donors and Israel that it had committed to use the build
the civilian infrastructure in Gaza for hospitals, schools and apartment buildings;
instead it spent upwards of $500 million of these humanitarian shipments to covertly
build numerous tunnels buried deep underground into Israel in order to carry out
murderous raids on Israeli civilian communities intended to kill tens of thousands
of Israelis
* Hamas violated the 2012 Cease Fire negotiated by then State Department Secretary
Hillary Clinton together with then Egyptian Muslim President Mohammed Morsi in which
Hamas committed to stop smuggling weapons and missiles into Israel, of which nearly
4000 were recently launched into 80% of Israel's population centers
* Hamas violated the commitment to the Palestinian Authority that it would never
launch a coup d'état against the PA after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But in
2007, Hamas did exactly that in a bloody takeover of Gaza, kicking out and killing
PA officials.
* Hamas violated a publicly solemn commitment to its own civilians that it would
uphold the rule of law (yea, right) when it took over Gaza only to subsequently
execute hundreds of dissident Gazans, torture and imprison thousands of political
opponents, violently persecute the minority of Christians still living in Gaza and
imprison and prosecute suspected gay Gazans.
* Violating a commitment it made in the Clinton negotiated 2012 truce that it would
cease its missile attacks on Israel.

And at the same time, it should be noted that President Obama personally signed an
official letter at the time of the 2012 negotiated cease fire to Prime Minister
Netanyahu that the US would provide Israel with the technology to defeat and stop
Hamas smuggling of weapons. But subsequent to that empty promise, Hamas soon
received in massive quantities from Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. That promise was
never carried out.

Israel on the other hand meticulously fulfilled its part of the bargain by severely
relaxing the blockade on Gaza, allowing tons of previously restricted cement and
steel into Gaza, increasing the number of daily truckloads of food, medical stuff
and building equipment through the two Israeli checkpoints into Gaza by more than
250 truckloads a day ( a commitment is still upheld during the Hamas war against
Israel, a fact mostly ignored by the mainstream media blindly committed to the Hamas
narrative that Israel was the aggressor).

Remember when Obama spoke to the annual AIPAC conference a few years back and
ceremoniously declared, "I got your back." This is the same President who, as the
Wall Street Journal disclosed last week, personally held up the Israeli request for
additional Hellfire missiles that it had depleted in its war with Hamas.

As far back as 1967, the United States had made a firm promise to Israel that it
would never allow the Egyptians to blockade the Straits of Hormuz, considered the
lifeline of Israel. But when the Egyptians blockaded the Straights of Hormuz in May
1967, what did the US do? Nothing.

And in the current round of negotiations being held in Cairo now, according to
leaked details in Egyptian newspapers reported by today's Jerusalem Online

Israel agreed to make the following astonishing concessions:

* "Israel will stop its attacks in Gaza - in land, sea and air. No ground operations
will be conducted."
* Israel has agreed to the "opening of crossings between Israel and Gaza [in which]
Movement of people and merchandise will be allowed, to rebuild Gaza."
* "Eliminating the buffer zone in the North and East of Gaza and deployment of
Palestinian military forces starting from January 1, 2015"
* "Freedom of fishing and action in the territorial waters of the Palestinians in
Gaza to a range of 6 miles. The range will gradually be increased, to no less than
12 miles…"
* "Israeli authorities will assist the Palestinian Authority to restore the
foundations in Gaza, as well as help provide the necessary living needs for those
who were forced to leave their homes due to the battles. Also, Israel will provide
emergency medical attention to the wounded and will supply humanitarian assistance
and food to Gaza as soon as possible."

It should be noted that even during the recent murderous war waged by Gaza, Israel
had opened up its borders to treat wounded Gaza civilians in Israeli hospitals and
continued to supply daily more than 500 tons daily of humanitarian assistance and
food to Gaza even as the Hamas launched thousands of rockets and attempted mass
murder of Israeli civilians by attempts, fortunately thwarted by Israel, to
infiltrate dozens of fully armed Hamas terrorists into Israel via the tunnels dug by

And what did the Hamas commit to?

* "All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop the attacks against Israel, in the
land, the sea and the air; also, building tunnels from Gaza to Israeli territory
will be stopped."

That was it. Virtually the same identical commitments it agreed to in December 2012.
Quite interestingly, Hamas insisted--which Israel did not agree to--to the immediate
opening of a Gaza seaport and airport. But the party that suggested to Hamas that
they insist on these demands was none other than the Qataris, the country--which is
the top financial patron in the world today to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and
many of its terrorist offshoots--curiously selected personally by Obama to be the
official diplomatic interlocutor in the Cairo talks. The role that Qatar was
supposed to play was to convince the group to make concessions. But curiously the
opposite happened. Qatar, the country to which that the US just sold $11 billion
worth of military weapons, actually sabotaged the negotiations. So far, the
President has been studiously silent on this betrayal.

In light of the fact that Hamas has manifestly never upheld any of the commitments
it has ever made, the salient question that has to be asked is why Obama did feel
compelled to assuage Hamas with an assurance that the US would "guarantee" that
Israeli upheld its commitments? The word "guarantee" has a rather expansive and
vague latitude for definition. The most recent demonstration of an American
guarantee that Israel would halt its defensive war against Hamas was the suspension
of critical military deliveries to Israel during the height of the conflagration
instigated by Hamas.

Indeed, for all the public affirmations made last week--after the WSJ expose-- by
the Obama Administration that the US was "totally committed to the security of
Israel," Obama suddenly decides to make a promise to Hamas--whose covenant differs
not one bit from the fascist radical Islamic doctrine adopted by ISIL--that it would
enforce the commitments made by Israel, which in fact have historically been
studiously upheld by Israel.

If Obama was truly sincere in his now obviously contrived promises to "watch
[Israel's] back", he would have offered to guarantee Hamas commitments, a terrorist
group that has repeatedly violated its commitments in previous agreements. But with
his statement that he would "guarantee" Israeli commitments and not those made by
Hamas, the President has revealed his true colors for everyone to see.

Steven Emerson is Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism
(, a non profit group that investigates the threat of
radical Islam, author of 6 book on terrorism and national security and executive
producer of the award winning 2013 documentary "Jihad in America: The Grand
Deception" (

68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 18, 2014, 01:46:34 AM
Let‘s keep the merits of this fascinating case on the Race thread please.
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Video Clips of Interest on: August 18, 2014, 01:38:43 AM
Please post in Race thread。
70  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: esgrima de machete colombiana on: August 17, 2014, 04:42:54 PM
Gracias por haber compartido eso con nosotros.  Muy interesante.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marie Le Pen on: August 17, 2014, 04:15:34 PM 
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Steve Emerson: Who watches the watchers? on: August 17, 2014, 04:14:10 PM
by Steven Emerson
The Jerusalem Post
August 16, 2014

The performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains the one
area of investigation that is sorely needed.

As is the historical pattern concerning Israel, last week began the growing tsunami
of groups - representing the United Nations, The Hague, the European Union, human
rights groups, and other non-governmental organizations - announcing their intention
to "investigate and review" the military actions under taken by Israel and Hamas
during the past five weeks to determine if "war crimes" were committed.

We know from past history the demonstrable manifestation of the vitriolic anti
Israeli (and some might add anti-Semitic) bias by nearly all of these organizations
clamoring to declare Israel guilty of war crimes, as they have repeatedly accused
Israel in the past of everything from massive human rights violations to war crimes
to genocide.

No other country in the world - even those like the Sudan, North Korea and Iran -
who have committed genuine massive human rights violations - have ever been the
object of such massive condemnations as Israel has selectively been. And as far as
the official inclusion of Hamas actions into the investigative agenda of these
groups, we know that their inclusion is only window dressing, designed to give the
false veneer that their investigations are "even handed."

Yesterday, the UN announced that nearly 2,000 civilians were killed in the Ukrainian
battle with the pro Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine in the past 2 days alone.
Two-thousand in two days? In five weeks, Gaza suffered 1,957 deaths, of which most
were actual terrorists, not civilians, as the mainstream media and UN agencies had
speciously alleged. But don't expect any onslaught of investigations by the UN or
human rights groups. And where was the international media coverage of the 2,000
deaths in eastern Ukraine? AWOL of course.

Indeed. the performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains
the one area of investigation that is sorely needed. And if truth be told, why
should the media be afraid of an assessment of its performance? After all, it is a
profession that claims the moral high ground, asserts that it is only pursuing "the
truth," claims that it is the only institution in a free society that can provide
accountability to the actions of the government, hence the moniker "Fourth Estate"
for the media, and portrays any criticism of its performance as somehow an attack on
"free speech."

But who watches over the watchers?

Well, no one actually does. Yet the media likes to proclaim they are self-policing
and that any external oversight would be a violation of the fundamental right to
free speech. So from time to time, ever so rarely, we actually witness the media
admitting to mistakes and inaccuracies in its coverage. Generally speaking however,
those admissions of wrongdoing are initiated not by the high priests in the
mainstream media but by "lesser" media on the periphery of the priesthood, outside
observers and critics who have caught the media with their hands in the cookie jars
and by truly honest journalists, few as they are, snubbed and derided by the
mainstream media. Just look at how established journalists Bernard Goldberg and
Sharyl Attkisson were viciously denigrated and attacked by the mainstream media
after they had the chutzpa - actually integrity - to criticize the performance of
their own co-religionists.

What is at stake here is the very honesty and accuracy of the mainstream media's
coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. Specifically, how honest, fair and accurate was the
mainstream media - such as The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The New York
Times, and CNN - in covering Hamas actions in Gaza, Hamas human rights violations
and atrocities, and Hamas threats to journalists. We know all too well how they
covered Israeli actions in Gaza. Coverage of the deaths and damage in Gaza was
covered wall to wall by both print and television, often without providing the
critical context that the Israeli targets were Hamas terrorist missile launching
sites, Hamas command and control headquarters, and Hamas military sites - all
embedded in Gaza's civilian population centers, from schools to hospitals to UN

In the coverage provided by those above named media outlets, there was not one photo
of one Hamas terrorist, not one photo of a Hamas missile site embedded in a civilian
area, such as a UN school, hospital, apartment building, kindergarten. There was not
one story or photo of Hamas executions of Palestinian dissidents. And there was not
one story about direct Palestinian threats to and harassment of journalists if Hamas
suspected them of actually showing any of the above. Thus, it was with amazingly
refreshing candor that we witnessed Foreign Press Association (FPA), an organization
of 480 international journalists covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, actually
issue a statement last weekcondemning the threats by and intimidation of journalists
by Hamas.

It's worth reprinting the actual text of the FPA statement, known for its antipathy
to Israel than for any criticism ever issued of Hamas.

"The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and
unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives
against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month. The
international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from
reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers
an objective picture from the ground. In several cases, foreign reporters working in
Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they
have reported through their news media or by means of social media.
We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a 'vetting' procedure that
would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a
procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA."

A truly extraordinary statement. But did the mainstream media in the US actually
report on this self-indictment? Not one mainstream media outlet said a word. Not

Worse, some journalists like the Jodi Rudoren, New York Times bureau chief in
Israel, dismissed the FPA statement with total disdain. In a blog posted by the
media oversight group CAMERA, Rudoren's response to the FPA statement was short and
sweet: "Every reporter I've met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA
narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense."

The CAMERA blog then went on to cite the numerous reports by journalists, after they
left Gaza, of how Hamas threatened, intimidated and manipulated them.

But all that must have been part of a fabricated Zionist narrative according to
Rudoren. And so must have been the report about the planned massive Hamas multi
tunnel attack that was to occur near the period of the high holy days. This planned
attack was intended to kill up to tens of thousands of Israeli civilians. But in the
more than 800 stories filed by The New York Times during the five-week war, the
Times never reported a word of it. Why? According to an email that I obtained that
sent by Rudoren, she claimed she spoke to an Israeli military official who dismissed
the planned Hamas attack as "totally false, a rumor, no evidence whatsoever."

When I asked Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson about this plot, he said, "Israeli
military intelligence confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hamas had planned to
carry out this multi-tunnel attack in order to kill thousands and thousands of
Israeli civilians." Nearly every single Israeli media outlet--even those like
Ha'aretz known for their ultra left views--reported on this mass murder Hamas plot.
But left unreported for readers of the Times, thanks to a manifestly pernicious
ideological agenda of its bureau chief in Israel.

Rudoren was interviewed on CNN's Reliable Sources on July 30, 2014 The show's host,
Hala Gorani, revealed CNN's own unvarnished anti Israeli bias in the questions she
asked of Rudoren: "Jodi, we have been showing our viewers and international networks
have been running these images of absolute devastation and the humanitarian disaster
in Gaza. Are Israelis in their own country seeing these same images?

Rudoren responded: "Not as much. I mean, certainly some. But in some ways you have
to seek it out. I -- someone told me that they were watching Al Jazeera so that they
could get the other side as well."

In fact, as anyone watching Israeli television, there was extensive coverage of the
damage inflicted by the IDF in Gaza. Rudoren's statement that Israelis had to sneak
viewing of Al-Jazeerah was simply a fabrication. But to CNN, it was incredulous that
Israelis could not disown their own government for defending them from the thousands
of rockets reigning down on the entire population and the dozens of tunnels dug into
Israel to carry out mass murder attacks. Unlike CNN, Israeli television also showed
how Hamas had stored munitions and launched missiles from mosques, hospitals,
schools and UN facilities. Israeli TV also showed photos of Hamas command and
control facilities at Al Shifa hospital as well as photos of the actual munitions
and missile launching sites embedded in civilian areas.

On another CNN Show that aired on August 3, 2014, host Brian Stelter acknowledged
that viewers had complained that CNN was deliberately refraining from showing
pictures of Hamas terrorists or how they operated out of civilian areas.

Stelter: "So are reporters in Gaza under pressure from Hamas? Are they being
intimidated into only showing civilians, and not the people Israel calls terrorists?

Well, I asked the executive in charge of international here at CNN, Tony Maddox. And
he says no.

Let me put his comments up on screen: "Our in-field reporters have repeatedly say
that Hamas militants are rarely to be found on the streets of Gaza. We have had no
intimidation from Hamas and received no threats regarding our reporting. They have
so far refused all requests for interviews in Gaza.

73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ABbas`s Fatah declares war on: August 17, 2014, 08:13:57 AM
[Abbas's Fatah Declares a Return to Terror Against

Click here to watch: [Abbas's Fatah Declares a Return to Terror Against

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, often touted
internationally as a "moderate" alternative to Hamas, has declared its intentions to
further increase its terror attacks against Israeli citizens. A new video released
to YouTube by Fatah's "military wing," the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, declares the
unity of Fatah's various military branches, and announces a recent decision to
strengthen Fatah's military activities. Filming in what they term a "joint
operations room" in Gaza, the Fatah terrorists are seen in the video proudly
displaying three-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank rocket launchers, assault rifles
and portable communications devices. One of the terrorists is filmed telling the
camera that "the rifle" was and remains the only option to "free the occupied
lands," and that Fatah has never abandoned the path of violent terrorism. As
demonstrated by the armed presence in Gaza, Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades has
reportedly taken an active part in the terror war being fought against Israel from
Gaza, joining Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror organizations against Israel
during Operation Protective Edge.


In Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have likewise declared "open
war" on the Jewish state. The declaration has been followed by numerous Fatah terror
attacks, including a shooting attack south of Bethlehem last Sunday, after another
shooting attack the Sunday before in Neve Tzuf. On Monday, a wanted Fatah terrorist
was killed by IDF forces near Shechem after he refused to turn himself in and opened
fire on the soldiers. While there has been a common perception globally that Abbas's
Fatah is somehow more "moderate" and accessible as a peace partner than Hamas or
other alternative groups, Fatah has been open about its goals to destroy Israel. The
group just last Sunday falsely claimed to have murdered 11,000 Israelis, and has
likely called for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. Fatah's position is in
line with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) charter of 1968, which calls
for "armed struggle" and "armed revolution," declaring "armed struggle is the only
way to liberate Palestine," and calling on local Arabs to "be prepared for the armed
struggle." Following the charter, the PLO and Fatah were defined internationally as
terror organizations, a status which was removed during the 1993 Oslo Accords

Source: [Arutz

74  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: August 16, 2014, 07:16:24 AM
Please also post that on the R汗thレアdオンSCH
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) and the 4th & 9th Amendments on: August 16, 2014, 07:10:54 AM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: August 16, 2014, 07:03:55 AM
Spengler is invariably a very, very interesting writer.
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran's Hostages on: August 16, 2014, 06:58:28 AM
Mike-- nice work finding this thread but I am thinking this thread to be a bit too specific.  May I ask you to post in on the Iran thread please?
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / San Fran Nan Pelosi on: August 16, 2014, 06:52:48 AM
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media beleived Hamas lies on: August 16, 2014, 06:46:53 AM
[Hamas Lied About Everything. And the media believed

Click here to watch: [Hamas Lied About Everything. And the media believed

It’s the Mideast equivalent of "Dog bites man," but it took the media nearly a month
to recognize its sheer obviousness: Hamas lies. Hamas lies systematically,
instructing civilians to misinform the foreign press. It lies habitually, with a
formidable record of mendacity from previous conflicts. And it lies guiltlessly,
convinced that the objectives of ‘resistance’ supersede quaint notions of
truth-telling. Nonetheless, since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge over a
month ago, Western media have relied on Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry – as here,
here and here – for casualty tallies. As one reporter told the Washington Post, when
it comes to body counts, the Hamas Health Minister Ashraf Al-Qidra is "the only game
in town." For his part, Qidra has acknowledged that he considers any fatality who
has not been claimed by an armed group as a civilian. And for its part, the Hamas
leadership almost never admits its operatives have been killed – and instructs
Gazans to do the same. Consequently, Qidra’s running total labels three-quarters of
Gaza deaths as civilians. The result has been thundering condemnation of Israel for
“indiscriminate” bombing (according to the United Nations Human Rights Council), and
even targeting civilians deliberately (as per The Guardian). “The world stands
disgraced,” bellowed the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency on July 30, in
words run by The Guardian in a banner front-page headline the next day. Human Rights
Watch charged Israel with "collective punishment," and even the United States – the
Jewish state’s closest friend – lamented, "Israel has to do a better job to avoid
civilian loss of life." After nearly a month, however, the media has belatedly
cottoned to the Hamas game. Over the last week The New York Times, Al Jazeera and
the BBC – none of them traditional redoubts of Zionist fervor – have begun casting
doubt on their own previously reported statistics.


In a front-page story on Wednesday, the Times compared and analysed data provided by
both Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations. That analysis
determined that the population most over-represented in the death toll – men ages 20
to 29 – were also those most likely to be militants: Though they make up just 9
percent of Gaza’s overwhelmingly young population, they account for more than a
third of its fatalities. By contrast, women and children under 15 – the least likely
to be combatants – account for 71 percent of the population, but one-third of its
deaths. The following day Al Jazeera published the names – provided by the Hamas
Health Ministry – of all of 1,507 known fatalities. Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar,
one of Hamas’s chief benefactors and diplomatic champions, and yet a breakdown of
the names’ age and sex reveals the same pattern: Men of combat age are
disproportionately represented. On Friday, the BBC’s head of statistics released his
own breakdown, based on data provided by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights. He concluded: "If the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate’,
as the U.N. Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed
so many more civilian men than women." The U.N.’s figures, in other words,
effectively disprove its own damning allegations of indiscriminate force. In
response, the office of the high commissioner offered merely that it "would not want
to speculate about why there had been so many adult male casualties." It had no
similar qualms, however, in republishing its own purely speculative estimates as
hard data: the "Facts and Figures" section of its website says 1,407 Gazan civilians
have been killed – roughly the same number cited by Hamas. The U.N., after all, uses
the Hamas-supplied figures as a starting point for its own, to which it adds
information from media reports (which, again, often rely on those same Hamas
numbers) and reports by Palestinian nongovernmental organizations. Many of those
NGOs, however, are also of suspect credibility. The oft-cited and reassuringly named
Palestinian Center for Human Rights, for example, defines anyone not actively
conducting militant activity – say, a Hamas sniper on a tea break – as a civilian.
Its figures for civilian casualties are higher even than those of Hamas. Objective
analysis of the available data reveals that rather than civilians making up the
“vast majority” of Gaza deaths – as the media regularly reported – the proportion
appears closer to half. Hundreds of dead civilians are hardly reason to celebrate,
but a 1-to-1 civilian casualty ratio is remarkably low by the grim standards of war.
Coalition efforts in Afghanistan, for example, produced a 3-to-1 ratio, and 4-to-1
in Iraq. Given Hamas tactics of firing rockets from densely populated civilian
areas, the toll in Gaza could have been immeasurably higher. Why, then, do the media
continue to accept Hamas propaganda unchallenged? Partly because the death of any
civilian – particularly children, who are half of Gaza’s population – is
heart-rending. Partly because the heat and fog of war make precise figures
unknowable until well after the fighting. Partly because the narrative of a
guerrilla militia confronting a modern military makes for compelling copy, and
partly – perhaps mainly – because of Hamas intimidation and restrictions on the
ground. Hamas mendacity, however, is old news. During its first major clash with
Israel in 2008-09, for example, the organization claimed that fewer than 50 of the
dead had been combatants. Years later, it conceded that the total had been identical
to that acknowledged by Israel: between 600 and 700. It is therefore all the more
extraordinary that journalists cast their usual skepticism to the winds and instead
followed the script of an unrepentant, unreliable terror outfit. Hamas has taken a
beating in its latest battle with Israel, but so too has media credibility.

Source: [US







Be the first of your friends to like this.

Hamas now says it deported foreign journalists from Gaza for documenting rockets
launches from civilian areas, according to a video translated by the Middle East
Media Research Institute (MEMRI). In an interview with Mayadeen TV, Isra
Al-Mudallal, head of foreign relations in the Hamas Information Ministry, confirms
that Hamas security personnel would confront journalists suspected of filming its
terrorist operations.

"So when they were conducting interviewers, or when they went on location to report,
they would focus on filming the places from where missiles were launched. Thus, they
were collaborating with the occupation," al-Mudallal said. "These journalists were
deported from the Gaza Strip. The security agencies would go and have a chat with
these people. They would give them some time to change their message, one way or

"Some of the journalists who entered the Gaza Strip were under security
surveillance. Even under these difficult circumstances, we managed to reach them,
and tell them that what they were doing was anything but professional journalism and
that it was immoral," added Al-Mudallal.

Throughout the latest conflict, Hamas has threatened and interrogated Western
journalists, preventing them from covering the terrorist organization's use of human

Recently, a Spanish journalist confirmed that Hamas launched rockets from the press
hotel in Gaza, according to the Algemeiner website. Fernando Gutierrez, writing for
Metilla Hoy, tweeted in Spanish: "On Saturday, 9th of August, Hamas launched a
batter of rockets from press hotel. What was their intent? To provoke Israel to kill
us? #SaveGazaFromHamas."

Related Topics: Media | IPT News

The IPT accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental
agency or political or religious institutions. Your support of The Investigative
Project on Terrorism is critical in winning a battle we cannot afford to lose. All
donations are tax-deductible. Click here to donate online. The Investigative Project
on Terrorism Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 organization.

80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 14, 2014, 08:45:59 PM
I bought PAAS at 9 and rode it to 40.  Got out in the low 30s and mid 20s IIRC.

As I have cautioned here a number of times, as soon as interest rates go up, the experience of the late 70s teaches that gold and silver will bet fuct.  As it is gold is donw over 35% from its peak.

The piece in GM,s post 909 epitomizes the notion of profity from prophesy.  It can be done, but then again the market can be wrong longer than you can stary solvent.
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PAAS not doing so well on: August 14, 2014, 07:53:11 PM
Silver Wheaton, Pan American Silver each -5%, hurt by low silver prices • 2:16 PM

       Silver Wheaton (SLW -5.3%) and Pan American Silver (PAAS -5.3%) are both
sharply lower as low silver prices combined with still-high costs combine to
weigh on Q2 results.SLW said its silver equiv. realized price fell from
$23.05/oz. a year ago to $19.83 in this year's Q2; gold sales accounted for
~30% of sales, and SLW’s realized gold price of $1,295/oz. was included
in a 14% drop in the silver equiv. price.In Q2 results for PAAS, the average
realized price for silver was $19.58/oz., down from $22.68 in the year-ago
quarter; gold, which accounts for ~25% of sales, also suffered, fetching
$1,289/oz.vs. $1,423 a year ago.
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: August 13, 2014, 11:10:41 AM
Off to Japan.  Back on Monday.
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 13, 2014, 11:10:11 AM
OK, Cognitive Dissonance of the Left then  smiley  but not Lebanon  cheesy
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: August 13, 2014, 09:35:21 AM
Nice find, but I'm not seeing why it is posted in this thread.

How about the FUBAR thread?
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: August 13, 2014, 09:32:23 AM
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: August 13, 2014, 08:40:58 AM

As I have been hammering for several years now, the Reps are utterly divided on foreign affairs and much of the core attitude that used to underlie Rep political strength on foreign affairs is gone.  With good reason the American people do not trust the competence of either party to lead this nation in war.  Which is a real big fg problem because it sure looks like a big war is coming!

Looked at through a political lens, Hillary's strategy is very interesting, potentially quite dangerous for us. 

Riddle me this:  How will the Reps respond to it?  More hawkish?  More Dovish?  How will each of the potential Rep nominees respond to it?  The American voter?  Given the American voter's well-earned distrust and looming war, is he/she likely to go for untested neophytes like Cruz or Paul? or Rubio? or?

(Oh and by the way, how does it square with what each of us thinks is best for American and the world?  This probably would be better answered in the Foreign Policy thread where I also posted it.)

Tangent:  I wonder why no one seems to note that Hillary's recent distancing from Baraq by pointing out that she, Petraeus, and Sec Def Paneta also supported arming the FSA in the early days of Syria, is also exactly what Sen. John McCain and Lindsay Graham advocated , , ,
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's Foreign Policy on: August 13, 2014, 07:40:26 AM
The Libs and Progs are going to have trouble with this , , , (see e.g. )

The Message From That Hillary Interview
She would be the best-prepared president on foreign policy since George H.W. Bush.
By William A. Galston
Aug. 12, 2014 6:57 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Goldberg's interview in the Atlantic magazine with Hillary Clinton has made headlines, with good reason. Her critique of President Obama's Syria policy was pointed and persuasive, as was her assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood's missteps in Egypt.

But what lay beneath the headlines is far more important. The interview revealed a public servant instructed but not chastened by experience, with a clear view of America's role in the world and of the means needed to play that role successfully. If she entered the race and won, she would be better prepared to deal with foreign policy and national defense than any president since George H.W. Bush, whose judgment and experience helped end the Cold War and reunify Germany without a shot being fired.

Although Mrs. Clinton's tart remark that " 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle" has evoked reams of commentary, the words that preceded it are far more important: "Great nations need organizing principles." The former secretary of state expressed enthusiasm for the role the U.S. played in defeating communism and fascism. The question since 1991 has been, what now?

During Bill Clinton's administration, the answer seemed clear enough: Build prosperity by incorporating the workers of Asia, Central Europe and the former Soviet Union into the global economy. The rising tide would create an expanding middle class, which would bolster new democracies and move authoritarian governments toward democracy. So the U.S. should take the lead in promoting open trade and peacefully advocating open government. The winds of history were in our sails.

Mrs. Clinton has thought hard about this, and here is what she told Mr. Goldberg: "The big mistake was thinking" that "the end of history has come upon us, after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was never true, history never stops and nationalisms were going to assert themselves, and then other variations on ideologies were going to claim their space." She cites jihadi Islamism and Vladimir Putin's vision of restored Russian greatness as prime examples. She might well have added China's distinctive combination of political authoritarianism and pell-mell economic growth ("market-Leninism"), which is seen elsewhere as an orderly alternative to democratic messiness.

The rise of violently aggressive anti-democratic ideologies was one rebuttal of the end-of-history theory. Another was the global economic crisis, discrediting the so-called Washington consensus that had dominated world affairs since the early 1990s. Central bankers, it turned out, were not wise enough to eliminate financial panics. Although too much regulation could stifle growth, too little could open the door to reckless risk-taking.

George W. Bush's response to jihadi Islam—global democracy-building backed by American might—came to grief in the sands of Iraq. But a policy built on avoiding that failure, says Mrs. Clinton in the Atlantic, runs risks of its own: "Part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes" of intervention and non-intervention. She adds: "When you're down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you're not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward." If Mr. Bush's porridge was too hot, Mr. Obama's is too cold.

But moderation is a means to ends, not an end in itself. So what would be the ends, the animating purposes of Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy? Her interview suggests, first, that we must take the fight to jihadi Islamism, which is inherently expansionist. In that connection, she says, she is thinking a lot about "containment, deterrence, and defeat." When unarmed diplomacy cannot succeed, she adds, we should not be afraid to back "the hard men with guns."

Second, we should drive a tough deal with Iran, or none at all. "I've always been in the camp," Mrs. Clinton says, "that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich."

Third, we should distinguish clearly between groups we can work with and those we can't. For example, Mrs. Clinton would exclude Hamas on the grounds that it is virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to Israel's destruction. She does not believe that Hamas "should in any way be treated as a legitimate interlocutor." Her commitment to Israel's defense is unswerving, including a willingness to call the rise of European anti-Semitism by its rightful name.

Fourth, the U.S. should vigorously advance the cause of women's rights around the world, not only because justice demands it, but also because the empowerment of women promotes economic growth and social progress.

And finally, because many American values "also happen to be universal values," we should take pride in ourselves and make our case to the world. Today, Mrs. Clinton says, "we don't even tell our story very well." As president, clearly, she would do her best to change that.
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's Foreign Policy on: August 13, 2014, 07:38:03 AM
The Message From That Hillary Interview
She would be the best-prepared president on foreign policy since George H.W. Bush.
By William A. Galston

Aug. 12, 2014 6:57 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Goldberg's interview in the Atlantic magazine with Hillary Clinton has made headlines, with good reason. Her critique of President Obama's Syria policy was pointed and persuasive, as was her assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood's missteps in Egypt.

But what lay beneath the headlines is far more important. The interview revealed a public servant instructed but not chastened by experience, with a clear view of America's role in the world and of the means needed to play that role successfully. If she entered the race and won, she would be better prepared to deal with foreign policy and national defense than any president since George H.W. Bush, whose judgment and experience helped end the Cold War and reunify Germany without a shot being fired.

Although Mrs. Clinton's tart remark that " 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle" has evoked reams of commentary, the words that preceded it are far more important: "Great nations need organizing principles." The former secretary of state expressed enthusiasm for the role the U.S. played in defeating communism and fascism. The question since 1991 has been, what now?

During Bill Clinton's administration, the answer seemed clear enough: Build prosperity by incorporating the workers of Asia, Central Europe and the former Soviet Union into the global economy. The rising tide would create an expanding middle class, which would bolster new democracies and move authoritarian governments toward democracy. So the U.S. should take the lead in promoting open trade and peacefully advocating open government. The winds of history were in our sails.

Mrs. Clinton has thought hard about this, and here is what she told Mr. Goldberg: "The big mistake was thinking" that "the end of history has come upon us, after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was never true, history never stops and nationalisms were going to assert themselves, and then other variations on ideologies were going to claim their space." She cites jihadi Islamism and Vladimir Putin's vision of restored Russian greatness as prime examples. She might well have added China's distinctive combination of political authoritarianism and pell-mell economic growth ("market-Leninism"), which is seen elsewhere as an orderly alternative to democratic messiness.

The rise of violently aggressive anti-democratic ideologies was one rebuttal of the end-of-history theory. Another was the global economic crisis, discrediting the so-called Washington consensus that had dominated world affairs since the early 1990s. Central bankers, it turned out, were not wise enough to eliminate financial panics. Although too much regulation could stifle growth, too little could open the door to reckless risk-taking.

George W. Bush's response to jihadi Islam—global democracy-building backed by American might—came to grief in the sands of Iraq. But a policy built on avoiding that failure, says Mrs. Clinton in the Atlantic, runs risks of its own: "Part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes" of intervention and non-intervention. She adds: "When you're down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you're not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward." If Mr. Bush's porridge was too hot, Mr. Obama's is too cold.

But moderation is a means to ends, not an end in itself. So what would be the ends, the animating purposes of Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy? Her interview suggests, first, that we must take the fight to jihadi Islamism, which is inherently expansionist. In that connection, she says, she is thinking a lot about "containment, deterrence, and defeat." When unarmed diplomacy cannot succeed, she adds, we should not be afraid to back "the hard men with guns."

Second, we should drive a tough deal with Iran, or none at all. "I've always been in the camp," Mrs. Clinton says, "that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich."

Third, we should distinguish clearly between groups we can work with and those we can't. For example, Mrs. Clinton would exclude Hamas on the grounds that it is virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to Israel's destruction. She does not believe that Hamas "should in any way be treated as a legitimate interlocutor." Her commitment to Israel's defense is unswerving, including a willingness to call the rise of European anti-Semitism by its rightful name.

Fourth, the U.S. should vigorously advance the cause of women's rights around the world, not only because justice demands it, but also because the empowerment of women promotes economic growth and social progress.

And finally, because many American values "also happen to be universal values," we should take pride in ourselves and make our case to the world. Today, Mrs. Clinton says, "we don't even tell our story very well." As president, clearly, she would do her best to change that.
89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gazans not happy with Hamas on: August 13, 2014, 07:28:53 AM,7340,L-4558305,00.html
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Growing Threat from an EMP Attack on: August 13, 2014, 07:23:44 AM
The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack
A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we've done almost nothing to prepare.
By R. James Woolsey And Peter Vincent Pry
Aug. 12, 2014 7:14 p.m. ET

In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt.

Recent declassification of EMP studies by the U.S. government has begun to draw attention to this dire threat. Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.

The much neglected 2004 and 2008 reports by the congressional EMP Commission—only now garnering increased public attention—warn that "terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or a military base, they may gain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack."
Enlarge Image


The EMP Commission reports that: "China and Russia have considered limited nuclear-attack options that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack." The report further warns that: "designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century."

During the Cold War, Russia designed an orbiting nuclear warhead resembling a satellite and peaceful space-launch vehicle called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. It would use a trajectory that does not approach the U.S. from the north, where our sensors and few modest ballistic-missile defenses are located, but rather from the south. The nuclear weapon would be detonated in orbit, perhaps during its first orbit, destroying much of the U.S. electric grid with a single explosion high above North America.

In 2004, the EMP Commission met with senior Russian military personnel who warned that Russian scientists had been recruited by North Korea to help develop its nuclear arsenal as well as EMP-attack capabilities. In December 2012, the North Koreans successfully orbited a satellite, the KSM-3, compatible with the size and weight of a small nuclear warhead. The trajectory of the KSM-3 had the characteristics for delivery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S.

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

What to do?

Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

Last year President Obama signed an executive order to guard critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. But so far this administration doesn't seem to grasp the urgency of the EMP threat. However, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress is addressing the threat. In June 2013, Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) and Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.) introduced the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage, or Shield, Act. Unfortunately, the legislation is stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In October 2013, Rep. Franks and Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Texas) introduced the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. CIPA directs the Department of Homeland Security to adopt a new National Planning Scenario focused on federal, state and local emergency planning, training and resource allocation for survival and recovery from an EMP catastrophe. Yet this important legislation hasn't come to a vote either.

What is lacking in Washington is a sense of urgency. Lawmakers and the administration need to move rapidly to build resilience into our electric grid and defend against an EMP attack that could deliver a devastating blow to the U.S. economy and the American people. Congress should pass and the president should sign into law the Shield Act and CIPA as soon as possible. Literally millions of American lives could depend on it.

Mr. Woolsey is chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former director of the CIA.Mr. Pry served on the EMP Commission, in the CIA, and is the author of "Electric Armageddon" (CreateSpace, 2013).
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China) on: August 12, 2014, 06:56:36 PM

Modi Condemns Pakistan's 'Proxy War'; Police Officer Deaths Rise in Karachi; Afghan Taliban Kill 20 Civilians Over Tax


PM Modi visits Kargil; condemns Pakistan's proxy war

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kargil and Leh in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Tuesday, his second visit to J&K in two months (Indian Express, NDTV, Hindustan Times). While addressing troops of the Indian Army and the Air Force in Leh, Modi strongly condemned Pakistan, and said the neighboring country "has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism."

Dressed in traditional Ladakhi clothes, Modi said in Leh: "There was a time when Prime Ministers never visited this state. I have come here two times already, your love has drawn me here." Modi said further that his three-pronged development plan for the region was about three P's: "Prakash (electricity), Paryavaran (environment), and Paryatan (tourism)."

As the first Indian prime minister to visit the volatile Kargil region since the war in 1999, Modi inaugurated a 44-megawatt Chutak power station in Kargil and promised industrial development of the area. Modi also praised the locals and said: "The people of Kargil are very patriotic and it is inspiring for the entire country." The Kargil war in 1999 was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, which began after Pakistani soldiers infiltrated the Indian side of the LoC, a military boundary between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. Although New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to a truce in 2003, ceasefire violations have continued across the borders.

Sonia Gandhi: increase in communal violence under Modi

In strong criticism of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said on Tuesday that there had been an increase in communal violence in the country since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May (Hindustan Times, IBNLive). While addressing Congress leaders in the southern state of Kerala, Gandhi said further that the BJP government's main agenda was to divide the people. Gandhi said: "During UPA [United Progressive Alliance] 1 and 2, there were hardly such instances. But in a very short span we have had nothing less than 600 incidents of communal violence in UP [Uttar Pradesh] and perhaps as many in Maharashtra. Why suddenly all these communal instances after the BJP came to power? These instances are deliberately created to divide our society on religious lines. We must condemn this."

Gandhi also criticized the Modi government for not expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people over Israel's assault on Gaza, and said: "this has muted the country's response to the suffering people and betrayed its long tradition of solidarity with the people in Palestine and the vision of two states existing side-by-side in peace and harmony." Last week, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had demanded a discussion over the communal violence in Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament).

Indian minister claims Yale 'degree;' creates twitter storm

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said her statement regarding her participation at Yale University's leadership program had been "misconstrued" on Monday, a day after claiming she had a "degree from Yale University" (Washington Post, Indian Express, NDTV, Economic Times). Irani tweeted on Monday: "Unfortunate that the statement re my participation in a leadership programme and certificate thereafter was misconstrued." At an event on Saturday Irani had said: "In that kitty of mine where people call me 'anpadh' (illiterate) I do have a degree from Yale University as well which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated my leadership capacities."

Irani, the youngest cabinet minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, has been criticized for being the education minister even though she does not have a college degree. Irani has had to defend her academic background ever since she took office in May because of contradictory declarations about her education qualifications in her election affidavits in 2004 and 2014.

?Despite her clarification on Monday, Irani's statement created a storm on twitter. Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: "And our HRD minister forgot to mention her Yale degree in her affidavit this time. But all her affidavits have had different degrees, sigh." A post from "God" retweeted several times said: "Congratulations to Smriti Irani on Graduating from Yale in the exact same amount of time it took Me to Create the World." Another post said: "2 more days at Yale, You could've been Dr. Smriti Irani Tongue."

-- Neeli Shah and Jameel Khan


Police officer killings in Karachi on the rise

The New York Times' Zia ur-Rehman and Declan Walsh reported on Monday that Karachi's police force, which recently logged its 102nd officer death, is on track to exceed the 2013 death toll of 166 police deaths (NYT). They attribute many of the deaths to a growing Taliban presence in the city and Pakistani officials say that the guerilla war that was once fought only in northwestern Pakistan is now seeping into Karachi. "It's a very serious threat," said Ghulam Qadir Thebo, the Karachi police chief. "The Taliban are well trained and well organized, with a network that is linked to global jihad."

Stock market drops

On Tuesday, Pakistani stocks rose above 350 points to settle at the Karach Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index at 28, 425 (Dawn). Earlier that same day, stocks fell over 450 points in the first twelve minutes of the morning trading session.  The market suffered its largest ever drop in a single day in share prices on Monday, as investors panicked about the political marches by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri on Islamabad planned for August 14.

Will Pakistan censor the kiss?

Pakistan's sweetheart (and most highly paid actress) Humaima Malik, worries that her native country won't be very receptive to her latest on-screen romance (BBC). Starring in her first Bollywood role, she will be seen on screen locking lips with Indian co-star Emraan Hashmi (who is known as the 'serial kisser' in Bollywood)(NDTV). Until recently, all kisses were censored in Pakistani cinema, but the fact that the object of her affection is Indian adds to the shock value. Many Pakistani actresses who have sought fame in Bollywood have seen backlash at home in conservative Pakistan.


Afghan Taliban kill civilians over 'war tax'

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, Kundex police spokesman, said that Taliban militants killed 20 civilians who refused to pay a "war tax" in northern Kunduz province on August 11 (RFE/RL). The Taliban shot and wounded 10 others for refusing to pay that same day. According to a Defense Ministry statement, government troops launched military operations against militants across the country on Monday and Hussaini said 16 militants were killed in these operations.

Attack kills NATO soldier

A NATO service member died in an attack in eastern Afghanistan while a roadside bombing killed three Afghan policemen in the south on Tuesday, Afghanistan officials said (AP). The U.S.-led military alliance gave no further details about the death of the service member, but the death brings the number of NATO service members who have died in Afghanistan so far this year to 51, including 38 Americans.

-- Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen

92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington and the Quakers 1789 on: August 12, 2014, 06:44:51 PM

"The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights." --George Washington, to the Annual meeting of Quakers, 1789
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 'Moderate' Fatah on: August 12, 2014, 04:04:04 PM
Click here to watch: Winner of Arab Idol Sings on PA TV: We Will Replace Israel With Palestine

Hopes that Fatah will be a calming influence on Hamas in the effort to end the fighting in Gaza have been tempered by mixed messages the supposedly more moderate wing of the Arab Palestinian leadership is sending to its international audience and its Arab constituents - including boasting on its Facebook page of the number of Israelis it has killed. In a post seemingly aimed at reminding 'Palestinians' it hates Israel as much as Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that governs Gaza, the Fatah party seems to take issue with the idea that it isn't doing enough to fight the Jewish state.

Watch Here

The belligerent Facebook message - containing fabricated statistics - was posted on the official home page of Fatah’s Facebook even as representatives of the party founded by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were in Cairo for the peace talks. “Listen well! To whoever does not know Fatah and argues with this giant movement: Fatah has killed 11,000 Israelis; Fatah has sacrificed 170,000 Martyrs (Shahids)...; Fatah was the first to carry out operations (i.e., terror attacks) during the first Intifada... Fatah was the first to fight in the second Intifada (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005)... Fatah led the Palestinian attack on Israel in the UN... Fatah leads the peaceful popular resistance against Israel... Stop and think before you attack [Fatah]."
Source: Fox News
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 12, 2014, 03:19:03 PM
Please post that in the Foreign Policy thread
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good news! on: August 12, 2014, 02:17:19 PM
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: August 12, 2014, 01:29:06 PM
This thread hit 100,000 reads today gentlemen.   cool

Well done!
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: August 12, 2014, 11:13:40 AM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spengler: Caliphate puts men to the meat-grinder on: August 12, 2014, 11:05:45 AM
Second post:

And now, a different POV:
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs
Caliphate puts men to the meat-grinder
By Spengler

General William Tecumseh Sherman burned the city of Atlanta in 1864. He warned: "I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them." Add a zero to calibrate the problem in the Levant today. War in the Middle East is less a strategic than a demographic phenomenon, whose resolution will come with the exhaustion of the pool of potential fighters.

The Middle East has plunged into a new Thirty Years War, allows Richard Haass, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations. "It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing
traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups - militias and the like - operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless," he wrote on July 21.

Well and good: I predicted in 2006 that the George W Bush administration's blunder would provoke another Thirty Years War in the region, and repeated the diagnosis many times since. But I doubt that Mr Haass (or Walter Russell Mead, who cited the Haass article) has given sufficient thought to the implications.

How does one handle wars of this sort? In 2008 I argued for a "Richelovian" foreign policy, that is, emulation of the evil genius who guided France to victory at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in 1648. Wars of this sort end when two generations of fighters are killed. They last for decades (as did the Peloponnesian War, the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th century) because one kills off the fathers die in the first half of the war, and the sons in the second.

This new Thirty Years War has its origins in a demographic peak and an economic trough. There are nearly 30 million young men aged 15 to 24 in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, a bulge generation produced by pre-modern fertility rates that prevailed a generation ago. But the region's economies cannot support them. Syria does not have enough water to support an agricultural population, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers into tent cities preceded its civil war. The West mistook the death spasms of a civilization for an "Arab Spring," and its blunders channeled the youth bulge into a regional war.

The way to win such a war is by attrition, that is, by feeding into the meat-grinder a quarter to a third of the enemy's available manpower. Once a sufficient number of who wish to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so, the war stops because there are insufficient recruits to fill the ranks. That is how Generals Grant and Sherman fought the American Civil War, and that is the indicated strategy in the Middle East today.

It is a horrible business. It was not inevitable. It came about because of the ideological rigidity of the Bush Administration compounded by the strategic withdrawal of the Obama administration. It could have been avoided by the cheap and simple expedient of bombing Iran's nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards bases, followed by an intensive subversion effort aimed at regime change in Teheran. Former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated this course of action, but then Secretary of State Condileeza Rice persuaded Bush that the Muslim world would never forgive America for an attack on another Muslim state.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, warned Bush that America's occupation army in Iraq had become hostage to Iranian retaliation: if America bombed Iran, Iran could exact vengeance in American blood in the cities of Iraq. Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen told Charlie Rose on March 16, 2009: "What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is, in addition to the immediate effect, the effect of the attack, it's the unintended consequences. It's the further destabilization in the region. It's how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now [because of the] capability that Iran has across the Gulf. So, I worry about their responses and I worry about it escalating in ways that we couldn't predict."

The Bush Administration was too timid to take on Iraq; the Obama administration views Iran as a prospective ally. Even Neville Chamberlain did not regard Hitler as prospective partner in European security. But that is what Barack Obama said in March to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: "What I'll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they're not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn't to say that they aren't a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they're not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives." Bush may have been feckless, but Obama is mad.

With Iran neutralized, Syrian President Basher Assad would have had no choice but to come to terms with Syria's Sunni majority; as it happens, he had the firepower to expel millions of them. Without the protection of Tehran, Iraq's Shia would have had to compromise with Sunnis and Kurds. Iraqi Sunnis would not have allied with ISIS against the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad. A million or more Iraqis would not have been displaced by the metastasizing Caliphate.

The occupation of Iraq in the pursuit of nation-building was colossally stupid. It wasted thousands of lives and disrupted millions, cost the better part of a trillion dollars, and demoralized the American public like no failure since Vietnam-most of all America's young people. Not only did it fail to accomplish its objective, but it kept America stuck in a tar-baby trap, unable to take action against the region's main malefactor. Worst of all: the methods America employed in order to give the Iraq war the temporary appearance of success set in motion the disaster we have today. I warned of this in a May 4, 2010 essay entitled, General Petraeus' Thirty Years War (Asia Times Online, May 4, 2010).
The great field marshal of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, Albrecht von Wallenstein, taught armies to live off the land, and succeeded so well that nearly half the people of Central Europe starved to death during the conflict. General David Petraeus, who heads America's Central Command (CENTCOM), taught the land to live off him. Petraeus' putative success in the Iraq "surge" of 2007-2008 is one of the weirder cases of Karl Marx's quip of history repeating itself first as tragedy second as farce. The consequences will be similar, that is, hideous.

Wallenstein put 100,000 men into the field, an army of terrifying size for the times, by turning the imperial army into a parasite that consumed the livelihood of the empire's home provinces. The Austrian Empire fired him in 1629 after five years of depredation, but pressed him back into service in 1631. Those who were left alive joined the army, in a self-feeding spiral of destruction on a scale not seen in Europe since the 8th century. Wallenstein's power grew with the implosion of civil society, and the Austrian emperor had him murdered in 1634.

Petraeus accomplished the same thing with (literally) bags of money. Starting with Iraq, the American military has militarized large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the name of pacification. And now America is engaged in a grand strategic withdrawal from responsibility in the region, leaving behind men with weapons and excellent reason to use them.
There is no way to rewind the tape after the fragile ties of traditional society have been ripped to shreds by war. All of this was foreseeable; most of it might have been averted. But the sordid players in this tragicomedy had too much reputation at stake to reverse course when it still was possible. Now they will spend the declining years of their careers blaming each other.

Three million men will have to die before the butchery comes to an end. That is roughly the number of men who have nothing to go back to, and will fight to the death rather than surrender.

ISIS by itself is overrated. It is a hoard enhanced by captured heavy weapons, but cannot fly warplanes in a region where close air support is the decisive factor in battle. The fighters of the Caliphate cannot hide under the jungle canopy like the North Vietnamese. They occupy terrain where aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat. The Saudi and Jordanian air forces are quite capable of defending their borders. Saudi Arabia has over 300 F-15's and 72 Typhoons, and more than 80 Apache attack helicopters. Jordan has 60 F16's as well as 25 Cobra attack helicopters. The putative Caliphate can be contained; it cannot break out into Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and it cannot advance far into the core Shia territory of Iraq. It can operate freely in Syria, in a war of attrition with the Iranian backed government army. The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport.

Ultimately, ISIS is a distraction. The problem is Iran. Without Iran, Hamas would have no capacity to strike Israel beyond a few dozen kilometers past the Gaza border. Iran now has GPS-guided missiles which are much harder to shoot down than ordinary ballistic missiles (an unguided missile has a trajectory that is easy to calculate after launch; guided missiles squirrel about seeking their targets). If Hamas acquires such rockets-and it will eventually if left to its own devices-Israel will have to strike further, harder and deeper to eliminate the threat. That confrontation will not come within a year, and possibly not within five years, but it looms over the present hostilities. The region's security will hinge on the ultimate reckoning with Iran.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. He is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Was Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cockburn: ISIS Consolidates on: August 12, 2014, 10:58:08 AM

Isis consolidates
Patrick Cockburn

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

The birth of the new state is the most radical change to the political geography of the Middle East since the Sykes-Picot Agreement was implemented in the aftermath of the First World War. Yet this explosive transformation has created surprisingly little alarm internationally or even among those in Iraq and Syria not yet under the rule of Isis. Politicians and diplomats tend to treat Isis as if it is a Bedouin raiding party that appears dramatically from the desert, wins spectacular victories and then retreats to its strongholds leaving the status quo little changed. Such a scenario is conceivable but is getting less and less likely as Isis consolidates its hold on its new conquests in an area that may soon stretch from Iran to the Mediterranean.

The very speed and unexpectedness of its rise make it easy for Western and regional leaders to hope that the fall of Isis and the implosion of the Caliphate might be equally sudden and swift. But all the evidence is that this is wishful thinking and the trend is in the other direction, with the opponents of Isis becoming weaker and less capable of resistance: in Iraq the army shows no signs of recovering from its earlier defeats and has failed to launch a single successful counter-attack; in Syria the other opposition groups, including the battle-hardened fighters of al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, are demoralised and disintegrating as they are squeezed between Isis and the Assad government. Karen Koning Abuzayd, a member of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry in Syria, says that more and more Syrian rebels are defecting to Isis: ‘They see it’s better, these guys are strong, these guys are winning battles, they were taking territory, they have money, they can train us.’ This is bad news for the government, which barely held off an assault in 2012 and 2013 by rebels less well trained, organised and armed than Isis; it will have real difficulties stopping the forces of the Caliphate advancing west.

In Baghdad there was shock and terror on 10 June at the fall of Mosul and as people realised that trucks packed with Isis gunmen were only an hour’s drive away. But instead of assaulting Baghdad, Isis took most of Anbar, the vast Sunni province that sprawls across western Iraq on either side of the Euphrates. In Baghdad, with its mostly Shia population of seven million, people know what to expect if the murderously anti-Shia Isis forces capture the city, but they take heart from the fact that the calamity has not happened yet. ‘We were frightened by the military disaster at first but we Baghdadis have got used to crises over the last 35 years,’ one woman said. Even with Isis at the gates, Iraqi politicians have gone on playing political games as they move ponderously towards replacing the discredited prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

‘It is truly surreal,’ a former Iraqi minister said. ‘When you speak to any political leader in Baghdad they talk as if they had not just lost half the country.’ Volunteers had gone to the front after a fatwa from the grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shia cleric. But these militiamen are now streaming back to their homes, complaining that they were half-starved and forced to use their own weapons and buy their own ammunition. The only large-scale counter-attack launched by the regular army and the newly raised Shia militia was a disastrous foray into Tikrit on 15 July that was ambushed and defeated with heavy losses. There is no sign that the dysfunctional nature of the Iraqi army has changed. ‘They were using just one helicopter in support of the troops in Tikrit,’ the former minister said, ‘so I wonder what on earth happened to the 140 helicopters the Iraqi state has bought in recent years?’

Probably the money for the missing 139 helicopters was simply stolen. There are other wholly corrupt states in the world but few of them have oil revenues of $100 billion a year to steal from. The sole aim of many officials has long been to get the largest kickback possible and they did not much care if jihadi groups did the same. I met a Turkish businessman in Baghdad who said he had had a large construction contract in Mosul over the last few years. The local emir or leader of Isis, then known as al-Qaida in Iraq, demanded $500,000 a month in protection money from the company. ‘I complained again and again about this to the government in Baghdad,’ the businessman said, ‘but they would do nothing about it except to say that I could add the money I paid al-Qaida to the contract price.’ The emir was soon killed and his successor demanded that the protection money be increased to $1 million a month. The businessman refused to pay and one of his Iraqi employees was killed; he withdrew his Turkish staff and his equipment to Turkey. ‘Later I got a message from al-Qaida saying that the price was back down to $500,000 and I could come back,’ he said. This was some time before Isis captured the city.

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’ He points out that the supposedly more moderate wing of the Sunni opposition had done nothing to stop the remnants of the ancient Christian community in Mosul from being forced to flee after Isis told them they had to convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed. Members of other sects and ethnic groups denounced as Shia or polytheists are being persecuted, imprisoned and murdered. The moment is passing when the non-Isis opposition could successfully mount a challenge.

The Iraqi Shia offer another explanation for the way their army disintegrated: it was stabbed in the back by the Kurds. Seeking to shift the blame from himself, Maliki claims that Erbil, the Kurdish capital, ‘is a headquarters for Isis, Baathists, al-Qaida and terrorists’. Many Shia believe this: it makes them feel that their security forces (nominally 350,000 soldiers and 650,000 police) failed because they were betrayed and not because they wouldn’t fight. One Iraqi told me he was at an iftar meal during Ramadan ‘with a hundred Shia professional people, mostly doctors and engineers and they all took the stab-in-the-back theory for granted as an explanation for what went wrong’. The confrontation with the Kurds is important because it makes it impossible to create a united front against Isis. The Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, took advantage of the Iraqi army’s flight to seize all the territories, including the city of Kirkuk, which have been in dispute between Kurds and Arabs since 2003. He now has a 600-mile common frontier with the Caliphate and is an obvious ally for Baghdad, where Kurds make up part of the government. By trying to scapegoat the Kurds, Maliki is ensuring that the Shia will have no allies in their confrontation with Isis if it resumes its attack in the direction of Baghdad. Isis and their Sunni allies have been surprised by the military weakness of the Baghdad government. They are unlikely to be satisfied with regional autonomy for Sunni provinces and a larger share of jobs and oil revenues. Their uprising has turned into a full counter-revolution that aims to take back power over all of Iraq.

At the moment Baghdad has a phoney war atmosphere like London or Paris in late 1939 or early 1940, and for similar reasons. People had feared an imminent battle for the capital after the fall of Mosul, but it hasn’t happened yet and optimists hope it won’t happen at all. Life is more uncomfortable than it used to be, with only four hours of electricity on some days, but at least war hasn’t yet come to the heart of the city. Nevertheless, some form of military attack, direct or indirect, will probably happen once Isis has consolidated its hold on the territory it has just conquered: it sees its victories as divinely inspired. It believes in killing or expelling Shia rather than negotiating with them, as it has shown in Mosul. Some Shia leaders may calculate that the US or Iran will always intervene to save Baghdad, but both powers are showing reluctance to plunge into the Iraqi quagmire in support of a dysfunctional government.

Iraq’s Shia leaders haven’t grappled with the fact that their domination over the Iraqi state, brought about by the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein, is finished, and only a Shia rump is left. It ended because of their own incompetence and corruption and because the Sunni uprising in Syria in 2011 destabilised the sectarian balance of power in Iraq. Three years on, the Isis-led Sunni victory in Iraq threatens to break the military stalemate in Syria. Assad has been slowly pushing back against a weakening opposition: in Damascus and its outskirts, the Qalamoun mountains along the Lebanese border and Homs, government forces have been advancing slowly and are close to encircling the large rebel enclave in Aleppo. But Assad’s combat troops are noticeably thin on the ground, need to avoid heavy casualties and only have the strength to fight on one front at a time. The government’s tactic is to devastate a rebel-held district with artillery fire and barrel bombs dropped from helicopters, force most of the population to flee, seal off what may now be a sea of ruins and ultimately force the rebels to surrender. But the arrival of large numbers of well-armed Isis fighters fresh from recent successes will be a new and dangerous challenge for Assad. They overran two important Syrian army garrisons in the east in late July. A conspiracy theory, much favoured by the rest of the Syrian opposition and by Western diplomats, that Isis and Assad are in league, has been shown to be false.

Isis may well advance on Aleppo in preference to Baghdad: it’s a softer target and one less likely to provoke international intervention. This will leave the West and its regional allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – with a quandary: their official policy is to get rid of Assad, but Isis is now the second strongest military force in Syria; if he falls, it’s in a good position to fill the vacuum. Like the Shia leaders in Baghdad, the US and its allies have responded to the rise of Isis by descending into fantasy. They pretend they are fostering a ‘third force’ of moderate Syrian rebels to fight both Assad and Isis, though in private Western diplomats admit this group doesn’t really exist outside a few beleaguered pockets. Aymenn al-Tamimi confirms that this Western-backed opposition ‘is getting weaker and weaker’; he believes supplying them with more weapons won’t make much difference. Jordan, under pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia, is supposed to be a launching pad for this risky venture but it’s getting cold feet. ‘Jordan is frightened of Isis,’ one Jordanian official in Amman said. ‘Most Jordanians want Assad to win the war.’ He said Jordan is buckling under the strain of coping with vast numbers of Syrian refugees, ‘the equivalent of the entire population of Mexico moving into the US in one year’.

The foster parents of Isis and the other Sunni jihadi movements in Iraq and Syria are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey. This doesn’t mean the jihadis didn’t have strong indigenous roots, but their rise was crucially supported by outside Sunni powers. The Saudi and Qatari aid was primarily financial, usually through private donations, which Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, says were central to the Isis takeover of Sunni provinces in northern Iraq: ‘Such things do not happen spontaneously.’ In a speech in London in July, he said the Saudi policy towards jihadis has two contradictory motives: fear of jihadis operating within Saudi Arabia, and a desire to use them against Shia powers abroad. He said the Saudis are ‘deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shiadom’. It’s unlikely the Sunni community as a whole in Iraq would have lined up behind Isis without the support Saudi Arabia gave directly or indirectly to many Sunni movements. The same is true of Syria, where Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington and head of Saudi intelligence from 2012 to February 2014, was doing everything he could to back the jihadi opposition until his dismissal. Fearful of what they’ve helped create, the Saudis are now veering in the other direction, arresting jihadi volunteers rather than turning a blind eye as they go to Syria and Iraq, but it may be too late. Saudi jihadis have little love for the House of Saud. On 23 July, Isis launched an attack on one of the last Syrian army strongholds in the northern province of Raqqa. It began with a suicide car-bomb attack; the vehicle was driven by a Saudi called Khatab al-Najdi who had put pictures on the car windows of three women held in Saudi prisons, one of whom was Hila al-Kasir, his niece.

Turkey’s role has been different but no less significant than Saudi Arabia’s in aiding Isis and other jihadi groups. Its most important action has been to keep open its 510-mile border with Syria. This gave Isis, al-Nusra and other opposition groups a safe rear base from which to bring in men and weapons. The border crossing points have been the most contested places during the rebels’ ‘civil war within the civil war’. Most foreign jihadis have crossed Turkey on their way to Syria and Iraq. Precise figures are difficult to come by, but Morocco’s Interior Ministry said recently that 1122 Moroccan jihadists have entered Syria, including nine hundred who went in 2013, two hundred of whom were killed. Iraqi security suspects that Turkish military intelligence may have been heavily involved in aiding Isis when it was reconstituting itself in 2011. Reports from the Turkish border say Isis is no longer welcome, but with weapons taken from the Iraqi army and the seizure of Syrian oil and gasfields, it no longer needs so much outside help.

For America, Britain and the Western powers, the rise of Isis and the Caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to get rid of Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria run by a movement a hundred times bigger and much better organised than the al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden. The war on terror for which civil liberties have been curtailed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent has failed miserably. The belief that Isis is interested only in ‘Muslim against Muslim’ struggles is another instance of wishful thinking: Isis has shown it will fight anybody who doesn’t adhere to its bigoted, puritanical and violent variant of Islam. Where Isis differs from al-Qaida is that it’s a well-run military organisation that is very careful in choosing its targets and the optimum moment to attack them.

Many in Baghdad hope the excesses of Isis – for example, blowing up mosques it deems shrines, like that of Younis (Jonah) in Mosul – will alienate the Sunnis. In the long term they may do just that, but opposing Isis is very dangerous and, for all its brutality, it has brought victory to a defeated and persecuted Sunni community. Even those Sunnis in Mosul who don’t like it are fearful of the return of a vengeful Shia-dominated Iraqi government. So far Baghdad’s response to its defeat has been to bomb Mosul and Tikrit randomly, leaving local people in no doubt about its indifference to their welfare or survival. The fear will not change even if Maliki is replaced by a more conciliatory prime minister. A Sunni in Mosul, writing just after a missile fired by government forces had exploded in the city, told me: ‘Maliki’s forces have already demolished the University of Tikrit. It has become havoc and rubble like all the city. If Maliki reaches us in Mosul he will kill its people or turn them into refugees. Pray for us.’ Such views are common, and make it less likely that Sunnis will rise up in opposition to Isis and its Caliphate. A new and terrifying state has been born.
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rest in Peace Robin Williams on: August 12, 2014, 10:33:30 AM
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