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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Boko Haram murders over 200 children on: April 16, 2014, 07:48:46 AM
http://shariaunveiled.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/boko-haram-muslim-terrorists-massacre-at-least-200-christian-children-on-the-way-to-school/
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / State theft (emminent domain) for developer buddies via "blight" on: April 16, 2014, 07:21:48 AM
http://capoliticalnews.com/2014/04/15/tax-used-to-research-initiative-to-make-85-of-california-blighted-to-return-redevelopment-agencies-to-steal-private-property/
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral college on: April 16, 2014, 07:19:06 AM
second post

http://dickmorris.rallycongress.com/15119/reject-proposal-to-bypass-electoral-college/

Would someone be so kind (BD are you out there?) as to give the argument for the electoral college?
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA voter fraud on: April 16, 2014, 06:59:26 AM
http://capoliticalnews.com/2014/04/15/voter-fraud-easy-in-california-proof/
55  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense and other law related to martial arts on: April 16, 2014, 12:37:34 AM
mmmm , , , some disconcerting additional details being reported here , , ,

http://brainerddispatch.com/news/crime/2014-01-23/byron-smith-pleads-not-guilty
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Similar to the Rancher Bundy case on: April 16, 2014, 12:14:17 AM
It appears that there are going to be more cases like this-- it does not seem to rise to the level of "Armed Resistance?"

http://www.americasfreedomfighters.com/2014/04/12/feds-seize-familys-ranch-property-owners-fight-government-land-grab/

I'm not sure in which thread this, or others like it that may come, belong but for now I am going to try the notion of "Tea Party" for these cases and ask that they be posted here.

==========================

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/11/ripples-of-nevada-range-showdown-spreading-in-west/
57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Armed Resistance? on: April 15, 2014, 10:39:07 PM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2014/04/15/
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uke govt fires on Russki rowdies on: April 15, 2014, 06:43:02 PM


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303887804579502892789915218?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Radioactive fracking waste? on: April 15, 2014, 06:41:26 PM
PAsting in this thread as well

Radioactive Waste Is North Dakota's New Shale Problem
Local Officials Find Improper Dumping of Used 'Oil Socks'


By
Chester Dawson
connect
April 15, 2014 1:29 p.m. ET

Bags full of radioactive oil filters piled in an abandoned building in Noonan, N.D. North Dakota Health Department/Associated Press

At a deserted gas station in a remote North Dakotan town, local officials recently found the latest example of the shale-oil boom's unintended consequences: hundreds of garbage bags filled with mildly radioactive waste.

These bags, which were discovered late February in Noonan, N.D., contained what are known as "oil socks": three-foot-long, snake-like filters made of absorbent fiber that the shale-oil industry uses to capture silt from waste water resulting from hydraulic fracturing.

Days earlier, a similar trove had been found on flatbed trailers near a landfill in Watford City—which, like Noonan, is located in the state's sparsely populated westernmost reaches where the Bakken oil shale formation lies.

The two recent incidents show that North Dakota's regulators have been slow to address repercussions from the surge in crude output, ranging from widespread flaring of natural gas at oil wells to drill rigs popping up on historic lands.

Most of the radioactive material in oil socks comes from silt filtered in the process of pumping waste water down injection wells. Radium, found in soil, rock and water, accumulates in the filtered silt.

"Before the Bakken oil boom we didn't have any of these materials being generated," said State Waste Management Director Scott Radig. "So it wasn't really an issue."

The trailers found in Watford City that contained improperly stored oil socks belonged to Riverton, Wyo.-based RP Services LLC, state officials said. The investigation is still underway, and RP Services didn't respond to requests for comment. One of its clients, oil giant Continental Resources Inc., CLR +0.86% has cut ties with the company as a result of the discovery.

Radiation levels from these oil socks are fairly low—North Dakota state officials say a person could stand for a year by a Dumpster full of them and receive less skin radiation than from a dental X-ray. But the discovery of the large quantities of improperly stored and abandoned radioactive waste has triggered a public outcry.

Last week, the state reacted by passing new regulations—effective June 1—forcing the shale-oil industry to use leak-proof containers to temporarily store the socks at well sites. "This is a response to the ongoing problem of illegal dumping of filter socks," said Lynn Helms, director of the state department of mineral resources.

North Dakota already mandates the filters eventually be transported by "licensed waste haulers" to an authorized disposal facility.

The problem: North Dakota doesn't have a single storage facility capable of handling radioactive waste—and it now has between 500 and 600 injection wells producing the socks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the average level of radium in soil is below five picocuries per gram, which is the maximum threshold for waste disposal at standard dumps in North Dakota and many other states. The average concentration of radium in wastewater sludge from oil-and-gas production is about 75 picocuries per gram, according to the EPA. Radioactive sludge poses a higher risk of exposure than some other forms of radiation-prone substances because their solubility in water allows them to be more readily released to the environment.

Several states outside of North Dakota—Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and to some extent, Montana—have designated dumps to handle above-average levels of radioactive waste. Facilities in Montana accept materials with radiation levels of under 30 picocuries per gram, while in Idaho, they tolerate levels as high as 1,500.

As a result, radioactive oil socks from North Dakota's shale-oil industry often have to be transported hundreds of miles away to dumps certified to handle it.

"There's such a rush to get the oil out that the rules and regulations are not keeping up with the pace of development," said Wayde Schafer, head of the North Dakota chapter of the Sierra Club. "This state is reactive instead of proactive," he said.

Illegal disposal or storage of radioactive waste in North Dakota is subject to fines of up to $10,000 per incident in addition to a $1,000 fine for standard illegal dumping, state officials say. But that hasn't stopped the occasional dumping of contaminated socks on road sides or at waste facilities.

Dump operators now routinely screen garbage with radiation monitors, and have the power to levy fines on offenders.

"It's unfortunate it falls to guys like me to enforce the rules," said Rick Schreiber, solid waste director at the McKenzie County Landfill near Watford City, which levies a fine of $1,000 per sock. "The state isn't doing much about it."

Policing is part of dump operators' job, state officials say. "They are responsible for checking waste loads coming in," said David Glatt, chief of the North Dakota Health Department's Environmental Health Section. "They can either reject it, or they can fine them."

North Dakota's volume of filter waste with levels of radiation requiring specialized disposal ranges from a low of eight tons a day to several times that number, according to state and industry officials.

Where all that oilfield-related waste winds up is anyone's guess, say companies specializing in radioactive waste disposal. But they believe most of the filters are being properly handled to avoid heavy fines.

"When you're looking at fines of $1,000 per sock, it really doesn't make financial sense to sneak them in" to state dumps, said Kurt Rhea, manager of a Denver-based waste disposal unit of Secure Energy Services Inc. SES.T -0.05% "I've had a couple of people call up and say: ‘I can't tell you my company name, but what would it cost?'" to have the filters disposed of out of state, Mr. Rhea said.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council, an industry lobby, believes the state's radiation exposure limits for industrial waste are too low and supports allowing disposal within North Dakota at certified dumps. That is something state health authorities are studying, in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory.

"We need a North Dakota-based solution," said council president Ron Ness.

Write to Chester Dawson at chester.dawson@wsj.com
60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Seymour Hersch: The Red Line and the Rat Line on: April 15, 2014, 06:30:43 PM

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

The Red Line and the Rat Line
Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels

You are invited to read this free essay from the London Review of Books. Subscribe now to access every article from every fortnightly issue of the London Review of Books, including the entire LRB archive of over 12,500 essays and reviews.

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​* Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’
BIRMINGHAM CITY - MA MEDIA AND CREATIVE ENTERPRISE

In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped his fingers – ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president’s red line: ‘The joint chiefs asked the White House, “What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?” They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president’s reasoning.’

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

At this stage, Obama’s premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’

The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’
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Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.

The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’ The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

Obama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)

*

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.
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By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.

An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks’ insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)

But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country’s ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a ‘golden loophole’: gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.

The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. ‘The middlemen did what they always do,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.’ The illicit skimming flared into a public ‘gas for gold’ scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.

Late last year Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but ‘lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months’. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to ‘accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime’.

*

The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’
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A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’

The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’

Turkey’s willingness to manipulate events in Syria to its own purposes seemed to be demonstrated late last month, a few days before a round of local elections, when a recording, allegedly of a government national security meeting, was posted to YouTube. It included discussion of a false-flag operation that would justify an incursion by the Turkish military in Syria. The operation centred on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the revered Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, which is near Aleppo and was ceded to Turkey in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. One of the Islamist rebel factions was threatening to destroy the tomb as a site of idolatry, and the Erdoğan administration was publicly threatening retaliation if harm came to it. According to a Reuters report of the leaked conversation, a voice alleged to be Fidan’s spoke of creating a provocation: ‘Now look, my commander, if there is to be justification, the justification is I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land [in the vicinity of the tomb]. That’s not a problem. Justification can be created.’ The Turkish government acknowledged that there had been a national security meeting about threats emanating from Syria, but said the recording had been manipulated. The government subsequently blocked public access to YouTube.

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’

4 April
61  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 65 year old kills two teen invaders in his home and is charged on: April 15, 2014, 06:26:25 PM
http://brainerddispatch.com/news/crime/2014-01-23/byron-smith-pleads-not-guilty
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: The Plow Horse gets de-iced on: April 15, 2014, 06:13:11 PM
http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2014/4/15/the-plow-horse-gets-de-iced
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYC PD unit disbanded on: April 15, 2014, 06:10:21 PM
New York Police Unit That Spied on Muslims Is Disbanded

The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said.

The decision by the nation’s largest police force to shutter the surveillance program represents the first sign that William J. Bratton, the department’s new commissioner, is backing away from some of the post-9/11 intelligence-gathering practices of his predecessor. The move comes as the federal government reconsiders and re-evaluates some of its post-9/11 policies, including the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection.

READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/nyregion/police-unit-that-spied-on-muslims-is-disbanded.html?emc=edit_na_20140415

64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Somehow our side forgot to mention this , , , on: April 15, 2014, 03:38:03 PM
adioactive Waste Is North Dakota's New Shale Problem
Local Officials Find Improper Dumping of Used 'Oil Socks'
By Chester Dawson
connect
April 15, 2014 1:29 p.m. ET

Bags full of radioactive oil filters piled in an abandoned building in Noonan, N.D. North Dakota Health Department/Associated Press

At a deserted gas station in a remote North Dakotan town, local officials recently found the latest example of the shale-oil boom's unintended consequences: hundreds of garbage bags filled with mildly radioactive waste.

These bags, which were discovered late February in Noonan, N.D., contained what are known as "oil socks": three-foot-long, snake-like filters made of absorbent fiber that the shale-oil industry uses to capture silt from waste water resulting from hydraulic fracturing.

Days earlier, a similar trove had been found on flatbed trailers near a landfill in Watford City—which, like Noonan, is located in the state's sparsely populated westernmost reaches where the Bakken oil shale formation lies.

The two recent incidents show that North Dakota's regulators have been slow to address repercussions from the surge in crude output, ranging from widespread flaring of natural gas at oil wells to drill rigs popping up on historic lands.

Most of the radioactive material in oil socks comes from silt filtered in the process of pumping waste water down injection wells. Radium, found in soil, rock and water, accumulates in the filtered silt.

"Before the Bakken oil boom we didn't have any of these materials being generated," said State Waste Management Director Scott Radig. "So it wasn't really an issue."

The trailers found in Watford City that contained improperly stored oil socks belonged to Riverton, Wyo.-based RP Services LLC, state officials said. The investigation is still underway, and RP Services didn't respond to requests for comment. One of its clients, oil giant Continental Resources Inc., CLR +0.86% has cut ties with the company as a result of the discovery.

Radiation levels from these oil socks are fairly low—North Dakota state officials say a person could stand for a year by a Dumpster full of them and receive less skin radiation than from a dental X-ray. But the discovery of the large quantities of improperly stored and abandoned radioactive waste has triggered a public outcry.

Last week, the state reacted by passing new regulations—effective June 1—forcing the shale-oil industry to use leak-proof containers to temporarily store the socks at well sites. "This is a response to the ongoing problem of illegal dumping of filter socks," said Lynn Helms, director of the state department of mineral resources.

North Dakota already mandates the filters eventually be transported by "licensed waste haulers" to an authorized disposal facility.

The problem: North Dakota doesn't have a single storage facility capable of handling radioactive waste—and it now has between 500 and 600 injection wells producing the socks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the average level of radium in soil is below five picocuries per gram, which is the maximum threshold for waste disposal at standard dumps in North Dakota and many other states. The average concentration of radium in wastewater sludge from oil-and-gas production is about 75 picocuries per gram, according to the EPA. Radioactive sludge poses a higher risk of exposure than some other forms of radiation-prone substances because their solubility in water allows them to be more readily released to the environment.

Several states outside of North Dakota—Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and to some extent, Montana—have designated dumps to handle above-average levels of radioactive waste. Facilities in Montana accept materials with radiation levels of under 30 picocuries per gram, while in Idaho, they tolerate levels as high as 1,500.

As a result, radioactive oil socks from North Dakota's shale-oil industry often have to be transported hundreds of miles away to dumps certified to handle it.

"There's such a rush to get the oil out that the rules and regulations are not keeping up with the pace of development," said Wayde Schafer, head of the North Dakota chapter of the Sierra Club. "This state is reactive instead of proactive," he said.

Illegal disposal or storage of radioactive waste in North Dakota is subject to fines of up to $10,000 per incident in addition to a $1,000 fine for standard illegal dumping, state officials say. But that hasn't stopped the occasional dumping of contaminated socks on road sides or at waste facilities.

Dump operators now routinely screen garbage with radiation monitors, and have the power to levy fines on offenders.

"It's unfortunate it falls to guys like me to enforce the rules," said Rick Schreiber, solid waste director at the McKenzie County Landfill near Watford City, which levies a fine of $1,000 per sock. "The state isn't doing much about it."

Policing is part of dump operators' job, state officials say. "They are responsible for checking waste loads coming in," said David Glatt, chief of the North Dakota Health Department's Environmental Health Section. "They can either reject it, or they can fine them."

North Dakota's volume of filter waste with levels of radiation requiring specialized disposal ranges from a low of eight tons a day to several times that number, according to state and industry officials.

Where all that oilfield-related waste winds up is anyone's guess, say companies specializing in radioactive waste disposal. But they believe most of the filters are being properly handled to avoid heavy fines.

"When you're looking at fines of $1,000 per sock, it really doesn't make financial sense to sneak them in" to state dumps, said Kurt Rhea, manager of a Denver-based waste disposal unit of Secure Energy Services Inc. SES.T -0.05% "I've had a couple of people call up and say: ‘I can't tell you my company name, but what would it cost?'" to have the filters disposed of out of state, Mr. Rhea said.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council, an industry lobby, believes the state's radiation exposure limits for industrial waste are too low and supports allowing disposal within North Dakota at certified dumps. That is something state health authorities are studying, in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory.

"We need a North Dakota-based solution," said council president Ron Ness.

Write to Chester Dawson at chester.dawson@wsj.com
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The ghost of Vince Foster lurks , , , on: April 15, 2014, 03:25:23 PM
http://freebeacon.com/blog/obamas-new-hhs-secretary-proved-her-loyalty-by-clinton-by-digging-through-a-dead-mans-trash/
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sympathy for Bundy on: April 15, 2014, 03:06:00 PM
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/why-you-should-be-sympathetic-toward-cliven-bundy.php
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We win one! on: April 15, 2014, 03:00:54 PM
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304512504579491340045747178?mg=reno64-wsj

Wisconsin Civil-Rights March
Prosecutors targeting conservatives lose in federal court.
April 11, 2014 6:49 p.m. ET

Score another one for free political speech. On Tuesday, Federal District Judge Rudolph Randa soundly rejected a motion to dismiss a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Wisconsin prosecutors who are investigating the political activities of conservative groups (but not liberals).

In a 19-page ruling, Judge Randa wrote that Wisconsin Club for Growth Director Eric O'Keefe's claim that the unlawful investigation violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights may proceed. Mr. O'Keefe has standing to bring the lawsuit because "chilled speech is, unquestionably, an injury supporting standing" and that claim doesn't depend on whether he is charged with a crime; "the threat of prosecution is enough."

Prosecutors argued that the federal suit couldn't proceed under the 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Younger v. Harris, which prevents federal courts from intervening in a criminal prosecution. That precedent doesn't apply here, Judge Randa wrote, because the state's secretive John Doe proceeding is not a prosecution but "an investigatory device, similar to a grand jury proceeding, but lacking the oversight of a jury."

The Younger exemption also does not apply, the judge added, when the plaintiffs allege that the prosecution was "brought in bad faith for the purpose of retaliating for or deterring the exercise of constitutionally protected rights." Mr. O'Keefe's claim easily satisfies that requirement with its assertion that the John Doe investigation into possible campaign finance violations has been selectively used as a "pretext" to target conservative groups and deter their political engagement.

"The success or failure of O'Keefe's claims do not depend upon the state court's interpretation of its own campaign finance laws," Judge Randa wrote. "O'Keefe's rights under the First Amendment are not outweighed by the state's purported interest in running a secret John Doe investigation that targets conservative activists."

The ruling means that those named in the lawsuit, including special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, Democratic prosecutors John Chisholm, Bruce Landgraf, David Robles and Government Accountability Board contractor Dean Nickel can be held personally liable. The judge rejected their claims of immunity, noting that a prosecutor's absolute immunity is "limited to the performance of his prosecutorial duties, and not to other duties to which he might to assigned by his superiors or perform on his own initiative, such as investigating a crime before an arrest or indictment."

The John Doe probe has been a one-sided investigation conducted against political opponents to chill their ability to influence elections, and now the prosecutors will have to defend themselves in open court.
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ; Morris on: April 15, 2014, 12:37:12 PM
Putin Acts, Obama Assesses
Is the American President still interested in his job?
April 14, 2014 7:16 p.m. ET

The White House on Monday said there was "overwhelming evidence" that Russia is stirring the unrest in eastern Ukraine, but President Obama hasn't yet decided if further sanctions are warranted. That's how the Associated Press put its dispatch from Washington on the crisis in Ukraine, and the juxtaposition is a perfect summary of the current state of U.S. foreign policy.

Vladimir Putin uses Russian special forces to cow a neighbor and steal territory, while Mr. Obama agonizes about what to do.


"We are actively evaluating what is happening in eastern Ukraine, what actions Russia has taken, what transgressions they've engaged in," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we are working with our partners and assessing for ourselves what response we may choose." This is from the same President who has been saying for weeks that any further Russian transgressions into Ukraine would be met with harsh sanctions. Mr. Putin must laugh out loud when he reads this stuff.

Meanwhile, the government in Kiev is getting the message that it had better fend for itself and has begun to meet one of the offers from Mr. Putin that it can't refuse. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said he is now open to a national referendum that would grant greater autonomy to regions of the country. Mr. Putin wants to hive off eastern and southern Ukraine into what would essentially be a Russian protectorate and leave Kiev with a rump state. The U.S. has refused to send Ukraine lethal military aid, and Kiev may be looking to sue for peace to avoid an outright invasion.

We know Mr. Obama didn't run for President to engage in great power politics, but it is still part of the job description. Is he still interested in doing his job?

==================================
http://www.dickmorris.com/putin-ships-devastating-weapons-to-iran-dick-morris-tv-lunch-alert/?utm_source=dmreports&utm_medium=dmreports&utm_campaign=dmreports
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ endorses Sen Rand Paul for president , , , not on: April 15, 2014, 12:12:34 PM
Rand Paul for President
Because what the GOP needs is a humbling landslide defeat.
By Bret Stephens


April 14, 2014 7:03 p.m. ET

Republicans, let's get it over with. Fast forward to the finish line. Avoid the long and winding primary road. It can only weaken the nominee. And we know who he—yes, he—has to be.

Not Jeb Bush, who plainly is unsuited to be president. He is insufficiently hostile to Mexicans. He holds heretical views on the Common Core, which, as we well know, is the defining issue of our time. And he's a Bush. Another installment of a political dynasty just isn't going to fly with the American people, who want some fresh blood in their politics.

Unless the dynasty is named Clinton. Or Kennedy. Or Nunn. Or Carter. Or, come to think of it, Paul. In that case, dynasties are just fine, thank you.

Chris Christie is also unfit to be president. His aides caused a traffic jam in the service of a petty political vendetta. The New Jersey governor may not have known about it, but it doesn't matter because the mere taint of scandal makes him unfit to be the Republican nominee, much less the president.


Unlike, say, the impeached former president. In 1999 Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court by a federal judge. In 2001 he had his law license suspended for five years by the Arkansas Supreme Court. His post-presidential charitable work, the New York Times NYT +2.06% reported last year, is "a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest." A "taint of scandal," perhaps? In Bill's case, it's more like eau de cologne, irresistible to the ladies.

No, what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.

This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.

Mr. Paul was in New Hampshire last weekend, speaking to conservative activists at the Freedom Summit, emphasizing the need for Republicans to do a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and African-Americans.

It's a fine message. Or rather, it would be a fine message if it weren't for Mr. Paul's long political association with Jack Hunter, aka the "Southern Avenger," a former radio shock jock who co-wrote Mr. Paul's 2011 book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington." On April 14, 2004—the 139th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination—Mr. Hunter wrote a column titled " John Wilkes Booth Was Right." He also lamented that "whites are not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity" as blacks and Hispanics.

Mr. Hunter remained a member of Mr. Paul's staff until last July, when the Washington Free Beacon broke the story. Afterward, Mr. Hunter recanted his views and pleaded amnesia. As for Mr. Paul, he defended his former aide, saying he had merely been "stupid," that he had been "unfairly treated by the media," and that "he got along fine with everybody in the office, treated everyone fairly, regardless of race or religion."

So can we now, um, switch the subject?

Yes, we can. Let's move on to a YouTube video of Mr. Paul in April 2009, offering his insights to a college group on foreign policy. Channeling Dwight Eisenhower, the future senator warned "we need to be so fearful of companies that get so big that they can actually be directing policy."

"When the Iraq war started, Halliburton got a billion-dollar no-bid contract. Some of the stuff has been so shoddy and so sloppy that our soldiers are over there dying in the shower from electrocution."

Then he gets to his real point: Dick Cheney, who opposed driving all the way to Baghdad when he was defense secretary in the first Bush administration, later went to work for Halliburton. "Makes hundreds of millions of dollars, their CEO. Next thing you know, he's back in government and it's a good thing to go into Iraq."

Mr. Paul's conclusion: "9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq."

Cui bono—to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. C heney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let's not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: April 15, 2014, 12:05:38 PM
Stevens' Amendments
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has a new book titled, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution." Naturally, coming from a leftist jurisprude like Stevens, the recommendations are a bit out of line with our Founders' vision. For example, Stevens' Second Amendment would be amended to read, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed." That, of course, would gut the real meaning of the right to keep and bear arms. He has other changes, including virtually dispatching with federalism. All in all, we're glad he's no longer on the bench, even if his replacement Elena Kagen also leaves much to be desired.


Marc:  Apparently Justice Stevens is unaware of Title 10 Ssection 313 (hope I am remembering this correctly) about the unorganized militia.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China housing bubble about to burst 2.0? on: April 15, 2014, 12:02:43 PM
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303456104579487790125203828?mod=WSJ_hppMIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond&mg=reno64-wsj
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Marshall: McCullough v. Maryland 1819 on: April 15, 2014, 11:54:58 AM
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A short history of Dems, Reps, and Racism on: April 15, 2014, 11:23:22 AM
Hat tip to our CCP:
==================================


A Short History of Democrats, Republicans, and Racism

 The following are a few basic historical facts that every American should know.

 Fact: The Republican Party was founded primarily to oppose slavery, and Republicans eventually abolished slavery. The Democratic Party fought them and tried to maintain and expand slavery.

 Why is this indisputable fact so rarely mentioned? PBS documentaries about slavery and the Civil War barely mention it, for example. One can certainly argue that the parties have changed dramatically in 150 years, but that does not change the historical fact that it was the Democrats who supported slavery and the Republicans who opposed it. And that indisputable fact should not be airbrushed out for fear that it will tarnish the modern Democratic Party.

 Had the positions of the parties been the opposite, and the Democrats had fought the Republicans to end slavery, the historical party roles would no doubt be repeated incessantly in these documentaries. Funny how that works.

 Fact: During the Civil War era, the "Radical Republicans" were given that name because they wanted to not only end slavery but also to endow the freed slaves with full citizenship, equality, and rights.

 Yes, that was indeed a radical idea at the time!

 Fact: Lincoln's Vice President, Andrew Johnson, was a strongly pro-Union (but also pro-slavery) Democrat who had been chosen as a compromise running mate to attract Democrats. After Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson thwarted Republican efforts in Congress to recognize the civil rights of the freed slaves, and Southern Democrats continued to thwart any such efforts for nearly a century.

 Fact: The Ku Klux Klan was originally and primarily an arm of the Southern Democratic Party, and its mission was to terrorize freed slaves and Republicans who sympathized with them.

 Why is this fact conveniently omitted in so many popular histories and depictions of the KKK, including PBS documentaries? Had the KKK been founded by Republicans, that fact would no doubt be repeated constantly on those shows.

 Fact: In the 1950s, President Eisenhower, a Republican, integrated the US military and promoted civil rights for minorities. Eisenhower pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1957. One of Eisenhower's primary political opponents on civil rights prior to 1957 was none other than Lyndon Johnson, then the Democratic Senate Majority Leader. LBJ had voted the straight segregationist line until he changed his position and supported the 1957 Act.

 Fact: The historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supported by a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in both houses of Congress. In the House, 80 percent of the Republicans and 63 percent of the Democrats voted in favor. In the Senate, 82 percent of the Republicans and 69 percent of the Democrats voted for it.

 Fact: Contrary to popular misconception, the parties never "switched" on racism.

 Following the epic civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the South began a major demographic shift from Democratic to Republican dominance. Many believe that this shift was motivated mainly by racism. While it is certainly true that many Southern racists abandoned the Democratic Party over its new support for racial equality and integration, the notion that they would flock to the Republican Party -- which was a century ahead of the Democrats on those issues -- makes no sense whatsoever.

 Yet virtually every liberal, when pressed on the matter, will inevitably claim that the parties "switched," and most racist Democrats became Republicans! In their minds, this historical ju jitsu maneuver apparently transfers all the past sins of the Democrats (slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, etc.) onto the Republicans and all the past virtues of the Republicans (e.g., ending slavery) onto the Democrats! That's quite a feat!

 It is true that Barry Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 probably attracted some racist Democrats to the Republican Party. However, Goldwater was not a racist -- at least not an overt racist like so many Southern Democrats of the time, such as George Wallace and Bull Connor. He publicly professed racial equality, and his opposition to the 1964 Act was based on principled grounds of states rights. In any case, his libertarian views were out of step with the mainstream of the Republican Party, and he lost the 1964 Presidential election to LBJ in a landslide.

 But Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act provided liberals an opening to tar the Republican Party as racist, and they have tenaciously repeated that label so often over the years that it is now the conventional wisdom among liberals. But it is really nothing more than an unsubstantiated myth -- a convenient political lie. If the Republican Party was any more racist than the Democratic Party even in 1964, why did a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in both houses of Congress vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Act? The idea that Goldwater's vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act trumps a century of history of the Republican Party is ridiculous, to say the least.

 Every political party has its racists, but the notion that Republicans are more racist than Democrats or any other party is based on nothing more than a constant drumbeat of unsubstantiated innuendo and assertions by Leftists, constantly echoed by the liberal media. It is a classic example of a Big Lie that becomes "true" simply by virtue of being repeated so many times.

 A more likely explanation for the long-term shift from Democratic to Republican dominance in the South was the perception, fair or not, that the Democratic Party had rejected traditional Christian religious values and embraced radical secularism. That includes its hardline support for abortion, its rejection of prayer in public schools, its promotion of the gay agenda, and many other issues.

 In the 1960s the Democratic Party essentially changed its strategy for dealing with African Americans. Thanks largely to earlier Republican initiatives on civil rights, blatant racial oppression was no longer a viable political option. Whereas before that time Southern Democrats had overtly and proudly segregated and terrorized blacks, the national Democratic Party decided instead to be more subtle and get them as dependent on government as possible. As LBJ so elegantly put it (in a famous moment of candor that was recorded for posterity), "I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years." At the same time, the Democrats started a persistent campaign of lies and innuendo, falsely equating any opposition to their welfare state with racism.

 From a purely cynical political perspective, the Democratic strategy of black dependence has been extremely effective. LBJ knew exactly what he was doing. African Americans routinely vote well over 90 percent Democratic for fear that Republicans will cut their government benefits and welfare programs. And what is the result? Before LBJ's Great Society welfare programs, the black illegitimacy rate was as low as 23 percent, but now it has more than tripled to 72 percent.

 Most major American city governments have been run by liberal Democrats for decades, and most of those cities have large black sections that are essentially dysfunctional anarchies. Cities like Detroit are overrun by gangs and drug dealers, with burned out homes on every block in some areas. The land values are so low due to crime, blight, and lack of economic opportunity that condemned homes are not even worth rebuilding. Who wants to build a home in an urban war zone? Yet they keep electing liberal Democrats -- and blaming "racist" Republicans for their problems!

 Washington DC is another city that has been dominated by liberal Democrats for decades. It spends more per capita on students than almost any other city in the world, yet it has some of the worst academic achievement anywhere and is a drug-infested hellhole. Barack Obama would not dream of sending his own precious daughters to the DC public schools, of course -- but he assures us that those schools are good enough for everyone else. In fact, Obama was instrumental in killing a popular and effective school voucher program in DC, effectively killing hopes for many poor black families trapped in those dysfunctional public schools. His allegiance to the teachers unions apparently trumps his concern for poor black families.

 A strong argument could also be made that Democratic support for perpetual affirmative action is racist. It is, after all, the antithesis of Martin Luther King's vision of a color-blind society. Not only is it "reverse racism," but it is based on the premise that African Americans are incapable of competing in the free market on a level playing field. In other words, it is based on the notion of white supremacy, albeit "benevolent" white supremacy rather than the openly hostile white supremacy of the pre-1960s Democratic Party.

 The next time someone claims that Republicans are racist and Democrats are not, don't fall for it.
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Olympics/elite athletes on: April 15, 2014, 11:17:26 AM
Please use the Martial Arts forum for this.
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen Harry Reid's role in all this on: April 15, 2014, 11:14:47 AM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/14/defiant-reid-vows-bundy-ranch-confrontation-not-ov/?page=all#pagebreak
76  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Brazil on: April 15, 2014, 11:02:49 AM
My natural inclination is to keep things rather simple.

A Training Group Leader is just that. 

An instructor is a TGL who has shown a certain level of proficiency in DBMA.

A Guro is a big deal.  There are only a handful of these, and all of them are full Dog Brothers.  I have not yet had a situation present itself where someone is of Guro level but is not a full DB.

77  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / FL bill would allow carry without permit during riots, disasters on: April 15, 2014, 10:59:38 AM
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/florida-house-bill-would-allow-carrying-guns-without-a-permit-during-riots/2174397
78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Keeping the Internet free for now on: April 14, 2014, 05:11:33 PM
Keeping the Internet Free—for Now
The Commerce Department has second thoughts about surrendering America's online oversight.
By
L. Gordon Crovitz
April 13, 2014 6:51 p.m. ET

Less than a month after announcing its plan to abandon U.S. protection of the open Internet in 2015, the White House has stepped back from the abyss. Following objections by Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican senators, and critical congressional hearings, the administration now says the change won't happen for years, if ever.

"We can extend the contract for up to four years," Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling told Congress last week, referring to the agreement under which the U.S. retains ultimate control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann. If the administration makes good on that reassurance, it would punt the decision to 2019 and the next president.

Mr. Strickling originally linked the end of U.S. control to the September 2015 expiration date of the current Icann agreement. He backtracked at a Hudson Institute conference last week: "We did not intend that to be a deadline after which 'bad things' would happen. There has been some misapprehension that we were trying to impose a deadline on this process. We weren't." Fadi Chehade, Icann's CEO, agreed. "There is no deadline," he said. "The U.S. has many years on the contract."

In an interview, Mr. Chehade assured me that he understands why supporters of the open Internet want the U.S. to retain its oversight role, which keeps countries like Russia and China from meddling. "I'm worried, too," he said. "There's no question that governments like power and certain governments will always try to take control of the Internet, so we will have to be careful."

The Commerce Department tasked Icann to come up with a plan to invite authoritarian governments to participate while still keeping the Internet open. This is likely impossible—and wholly unnecessary. Nongovernmental "multi-stakeholders," such as engineers, networking companies and technology associations, now run the Internet smoothly. They are free to do so because the U.S. retains ultimate control over Internet domains, blocking authoritarian regimes from censoring or otherwise limiting the Internet outside their own countries.

The Obama administration proposal would have treated other governments as equal stakeholders, turning the concept of private-sector self-governance on its head. Robert McDowell, a former commissioner at the Federal Communication Commission, pointed out at the Hudson Institute event that "'multi-stakeholder' historically has meant no government," not many governments.

Mr. Strickling tried to deflect criticism in his testimony: "No one has yet to explain to me the mechanism by which any of these individual governments could somehow seize control of the Internet as a whole." The senior State Department official involved in Internet governance, Daniel Sepulveda, similarly claimed at the Hudson Institute: "Governments can no more take over Icann than Google GOOGL +1.38% can take over Icann."

These are false assurances. Steve DelBianco of the NetChoice trade association gave this example in congressional testimony: Under Icann rules, a majority of governments can simply vote to end the current consensus approach and switch to majority voting. China and Iran are already lobbying for this change. Russia, China and other governments switched to majority voting to outfox the U.S. at a conference of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, in 2012. Mr. Sepulveda called that an "anomaly," but the result was an 89-55 vote for a treaty giving U.N. legitimacy to governments cutting off the open Internet in their countries. This division of the Internet into open and closed networks goes into effect next year.

The Obama administration somehow thinks sacrificing U.S. control of Icann will satisfy regimes eager further to undermine the open Internet. Mr. Strickling argues: "Taking this action is the best measure to prevent authoritarian regimes from expanding their restrictive policies beyond their borders." The opposite is true. Granting these countries access to Icann and the root zone filenames and addresses on the Internet would give them the potential to close off the global Internet, including for Americans, by deciding rules for how all websites anywhere must operate.

The letter sent by Republican senators identified a dozen criticisms of the plan. They asked why it's in the U.S. interest to cede control and how control could be regained once lost.

The senators also asked to see the legal opinion claiming the executive branch has the power to transfer control of the Internet without congressional approval. A bill called the Internet Stewardship Act was introduced in the House to mandate congressional approval before any change is made. Unanimous congressional resolutions starting in 2005 have called on the U.S. to retain control over Icann.

If Mr. Obama still thinks giving up U.S. protection of the open Internet and its multi-stakeholder community is such a great idea, he should ask Congress to vote on it. He won't, because there is zero chance that an Abandon the Internet Act would ever pass
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Waking up to the Russian threat on: April 14, 2014, 04:46:20 PM
Included in this piece is mention of a point I have been making here for some time about Central Asian gas needing to break up Russia's monopsony status and how that was and is forestalled by the Russian invasion of Georgia:

Waking Up to the Russian Threat
The head of NATO says Europe has misread Vladimir Putin for years and now must scramble to push back against the Kremlin's widening ambitions.
By Sohrab Ahmari
April 11, 2014 6:35 p.m. ET

Brussels

Until recently, members of the Russian delegation to NATO were free to roam at will about the Western alliance's headquarters here on the outskirts of the Belgian capital. The Russians had an awkward habit of listening intently to others' conversations at the cafeteria, yet their presence was tolerated in the name of dialogue.

Not anymore. In response to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea, NATO earlier this month suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow. Now most of the 70 or so Russian personnel enjoy about the same level of access to the alliance headquarters as journalists. It's a small but significant sign of what NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls "the new security environment" in Europe.

With his salt-and-pepper hair, chiseled jaw and crisply pressed navy suit, Mr. Rasmussen, 61, cuts a handsome figure. The former Danish prime minister is also one of Europe's most serious thinkers on defense matters—a hawkish figure, by European standards, who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite considerable opposition at home. His term as NATO secretary-general, which began in 2009, was supposed to come to a close in December but was extended through September 2014 so he might oversee preparations for the alliance's September summit in Cardiff, Wales.
Enlarge Image

Neil Davies

Mr. Rasmussen sits down with me in a meeting room decorated with solemn portraits of his predecessors—men who led NATO through the Cold War and helped usher in "a Europe whole and free," as then-President George H.W. Bush put it in a 1989 speech commemorating the alliance's triumphant 40th anniversary.

Now that vision of Europe is imperiled once more. "I see Ukraine and Crimea in a bigger context," Mr. Rasmussen says. "I see this as an element in a pattern, and it's driven by President Putin's strong desire to restore Russian greatness by re-establishing a sphere of influence in the former Soviet space."

Destabilizing Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus is a pillar of the Kremlin's strategy. "It's in Russia's interest to see frozen, protracted conflicts in the region, such as in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova, and Crimea," Mr. Rasmussen says of regions where Moscow has asserted control. "If you look at a map, you will see why it's of strategic importance for Russia."
Related

    The West Leaves Ukraine to Putin
    Russia's Second Invasion

Moscow's interfering with states on the Continent's eastern periphery prevents them from joining NATO, Mr. Rasmussen says, since the alliance is reluctant to accept new members involved with border disputes. "At the same time," he says, "it plays a role in energy security. The possibility to establish alternative pipelines circumventing Russia—including through Azerbaijan and in the South Caucasus—is very much dependent on peace and stability in that region. All this is part of President Putin's geopolitical and strategic thinking."

The Kremlin needs modern weapons systems and well-trained forces to realize its vision, and Mr. Rasmussen is alarmed by the improvements he has seen in the Russian military during the past few years. Contrasting Russia's military action against Georgia in 2008 with its invasion of Crimea this year, he says, "we have seen an incredible development of the Russian ability to act determinedly and rapidly. We have seen better preparation, better organization and more rapid action. They have also invested in more modern capabilities. We shouldn't underestimate the strength of the Russian armed forces." Now 40,000 of those troops are massed on the border of eastern Ukraine.

Moscow boosted military spending by 79% in the past decade, according to a Brookings Institution estimate, and military spending amounted to 4.5% of Russian gross domestic product in 2012, according to the World Bank. Most Western European states, by contrast, began cutting defense long before the recession and have kept doing so even as their economies have stabilized. France spent 1.9% of its GDP on defense in 2013; Denmark spent 1.4%; Germany, 1.3%; and Spain, 0.9%.

"We in Europe have disarmed too much, for too long," Mr. Rasmussen says. "We can't continue to cut defense budgets deeply while Russia is increasing her defense budget. . . . It has created a growing gap across the Atlantic between the U.S. and Europe. Today the U.S. spends around 75% of the overall NATO defense investment. I'm concerned that in the long run it will weaken the trans-Atlantic alliance if this trend continues."

Then there is Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas. Mr. Rasmussen thinks the dependency risks interfering with Western self-defense: "There's no doubt that Europe should reduce its dependency on imported energy from Russia," he says. So does the NATO secretary-general endorse shale-gas fracking? The drilling technique that has led to a U.S. energy boom has met much green resistance in Europe. He chuckles and declines to make specific recommendations: "It's a question of a more diversified energy supply, including the establishment of alternative pipelines."

Equally worrying is the West's drive to unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal just as the Russian expansionist tide rises. The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday announced that it will disable 56 submarine-based nuclear-launch tubes, convert 30 B-52 bombers to conventional use, and remove 50 missiles from America's underground silos—all well ahead of the 2018 deadline set by the New Start Treaty with Russia and despite the crisis in Ukraine.

Reductions to Western nuclear forces "must take place in a balanced manner, based on more transparency" from Russia, Mr. Rasmussen says. "The fact is that since the end of the Cold War, NATO nuclear powers have reduced the number of nuclear weapons significantly, while you haven't seen the same on the Russian side."

The result is that "today you have a clear imbalance between the NATO powers and Russia in that respect," Mr. Rasmussen says. "And in the light of ongoing events in Ukraine, I don't think there is the right climate for moving forward when it comes to nuclear disarmament or arms control. There's no sign whatsoever that Russia will provide more transparency." (Following the interview, a NATO spokesman said Mr. Rasmussen wanted to add this clarification: "Reductions in U.S. strategic forces under the New Start Treaty do not affect the significant U.S. commitments to NATO or the U.S. nuclear-force posture in Europe.")

Behind the NATO capability crisis lies a more fundamental problem of entrenched worldviews. In the years after the Cold War, Western leaders came to believe that European security depended not on confronting the Kremlin, but on engaging it. "We were all very enthusiastic after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the removal of the Iron Curtain, and the breakdown of communism and the Warsaw Pact," Mr. Rasmussen says. "It seemed that we could develop a new vision of Europe whole, free and at peace—in cooperation with Russia."

In 1997, the alliance and Russia adopted the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, resolving to "build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security." The NATO-Russia Council was formed five years later. The council opened NATO headquarters to Russian diplomats—a step that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War.

The Kremlin seemed to respond positively at the time. "In my previous capacity as prime minister of Denmark I have met President Putin on several occasions," Mr. Rasmussen recalls. "I still remember when we established the NATO-Russia Council in 2002. I remember a Putin who delivered what I would call a very pro-Western speech. I left with the impression that he felt strongly committed to delivering this relationship between Russia and NATO."

So what changed? "I think he changed his worldview," Mr. Rasmussen says of the Russian leader. "We still remember his famous speech at the Munich Security Conference, at which he stated that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was the biggest tragedy of the last century. That was the first indication that he had changed his worldview, and now we have seen it implemented in practice, first in Georgia in 2008 and now reaffirmed in Crimea."

The Kremlin and its Western apologists attribute the shift in Russian behavior to NATO expansion in the early 2000s. Mr. Rasmussen rejects this line of thinking. "I hope that Mr. Putin doesn't believe his own words," he says. "He can't seriously consider NATO as an enemy, as a threat. We have never had an intention to attack Russia."

States on Europe's periphery are eager to join NATO, Mr. Rasmussen says, "because we represent basic values that people desire to see implemented in their countries, such as individual liberty, democracy, the rule of law and on top of that economic opportunities, because our community of nations also represents economic freedom. . . . So while Putin tries to establish his Eurasian Union using pressure, not to say oppression, people are queuing up to join our organization voluntarily."

NATO's outreach to Russia, meanwhile, didn't stop even after Mr. Putin bared his fangs in the South Caucasus. "Despite the setback in 2008—the Georgia crisis—in 2010 at the NATO-Russia Summit we decided to develop what we call a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia," he says. "We invited Russia to cooperate on missile defense. You will see during these post-Cold War years we have done a lot to promote NATO-Russia cooperation."

Has NATO's engagement and cooperation with Moscow paid any security dividends? "Obviously not," Mr. Rasmussen replies without hesitation. "We have seen a revisionist Russia trying to redraw the European map by force. That's a wake-up call. That's a completely new security environment and of course we have to adapt to that." He adds: "This goes far beyond Crimea."
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Russia's second invasion on: April 14, 2014, 04:38:43 PM
second post

President Obama is dispatching Vice President Joe Biden to Kiev next week in a show of Western support against Russian intimidation, but the Veep may want to speed up his deployment. By then Vladimir Putin may already have annexed another chunk of Ukraine.

As our Matt Kaminski reports nearby from Kiev, the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine may already be underway. Masked and armed Russian speakers with the distinct look of special forces, but no military insignias, took over police stations and other locations in much of Ukraine's east over the weekend. This was the Russian president's stealth mode of invasion in Crimea. By the time the West figured out what was going on, the deed was done.
Opinion Video

Editorial page editor Paul Gigot on Kiev's reaction to Russia's invasion of eastern Ukraine. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The difference this time is that Ukraine is responding with at least some force of its own. The Kiev government is mobilizing its military for what it called a "large-scale antiterrorist operation" in the east. "We won't allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of the country," said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

Gun battles in Slovyansk and elsewhere have already produced casualties, and the violence may be exactly what Mr. Putin wants as a pretext to send in larger forces in the name of protecting Russian-speaking minorities. This too was part of the Crimea playbook. So much for the diplomatic "off-ramp" that Mr. Obama keeps beseeching Mr. Putin to take. The only off-ramp the Russian wants is inside Ukraine and points west.

Mr. Kaminski also reports on how the Obama Administration rejected Kiev's pleas for military aid that could be useful now and might have even given the Kremlin cause to slow its revanchism. Instead Mr. Putin has seen the flimsy Western response to Crimea, following Mr. Obama's climbdown on Syria, and he has calculated he can move without fear of serious economic sanctions or a military buildup inside front-line NATO countries.

Mr. Putin may also calculate that raising the military pressure on Ukraine will help achieve what he wants without a full-scale invasion. This week envoys from the EU, U.S., Ukraine and Russia are set to meet to discuss a diplomatic solution. Mr. Putin's solution is to impose conditions on Kiev that include Russian as a second national language, a pledge not to join NATO or the EU, and a "federalist" reform that would make eastern parts of Ukraine essentially self-governing. Eventually the autonomous regions might choose to join Russia.

Mr. Putin would like nothing better than to get the EU and U.S. to tell Kiev that it has little choice but to accept these terms or risk a full-fledged invasion. If Kiev still resists, the West would have given Mr. Putin another pretext to invade his neighbor to defend his fellow Russian-speakers. With this second military action in weeks, the U.S. ought to drop its illusion that Mr. Putin is interested in diplomacy. His real goal is to redraw the postwar map of Europe to Russia's advantage, with faux diplomacy if he can, by force if necessary.
81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ben Franklin, 1795: Liberty and safety on: April 14, 2014, 04:34:18 PM
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1795
82  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Pensions are fuct on: April 14, 2014, 04:31:47 PM


http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/thought-secure-pooled-pensions-teeter-and-fall/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

==================

Scott Grannis:

The multiemployer plans' problems do look real and serious. One common denominator jumps out: all the plans with problems have unions among the participants. Unions tend to get in bed with politicians, and both have a penchant for over-promising benefits and attaching government guarantees which encourage pension managers to do stupid things. When hard times hit, the poor management of the fund and its under-funded status collide to produce massive losses. Now they want the taxpayers to make up the losses. These problems are acute in places like Los Angeles and other municipalities where there exists an unholy alliance between unions and politicians. The losses are massive, too big for the taxpayers to swallow. From the perspective of society we need failures to be recognized. From the perspective of the individuals who will lose their promised benefits, this is of course a tragedy. No easy way out.

==================================

Lots of private plans are already protected by the government.

http://pbgc.gov/

As to your comment that all the plans that appear to be in trouble have unions involved, I would argue that  there are many non-union plans that are also ripe for failure.


========================

Friday, April 11, 2014 8:05 PM


Reader Question on the Inevitable Los Angeles Bankruptcy; What About Chicago?

In response to LA Commission Studies Pension Crisis, Recommends New Commission; Bankruptcy Inevitable reader Daniel writes ...
 Hello Mish,

Can you please explain why a home owner in a place like Los Angeles would be concerned with their city's future bankruptcy?

Will whatever happens not be short lived?

I understand that city workers will be affected and that unions and union workers will be affected as well, but how would your typical resident/homeowner be affected in such a situation?

Thanks for your wonderful blog!!

Daniel
Tax Hikes Coming

Hello Daniel

In a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable, the first thing LA politicians are likely to do is raise taxes, all kinds of taxes. They will probably invent new ones too.

Please compare LA's setup to Chicago.

Comparison to Chicago

Via email, Ted Dabrowski at the Illinois Policy Institutes writes ...

 Gov. Pat Quinn is in a bind.

He’s being asked to sign a Chicago pension bill that he knows has no real reforms and no way to pay for itself. By signing the bill, Quinn will give Mayor Rahm Emanuel his blessing to raise Chicago property taxes by $750 million over five years.

But that’s just the beginning.

If the Legislature uses the same blueprint to “fix” the city and Cook County’s other pension funds, Quinn will be blessing billions more in tax hikes.

The problem for Quinn is that he promised property tax relief to all Illinoisans in his state budget address just two weeks ago. Here’s what he said:

“My comprehensive tax reform plan starts with providing every homeowner in Illinois with a guaranteed $500 property tax refund every year.

In Illinois, more is collected in property taxes every year than in the state income tax and state sales tax combined. In fact, Illinois has one of the highest property tax burdens on homeowners in the nation – more than 20 percent above the national average. The property tax is not based on ability to pay. The property tax is a complicated, unfair tax, hitting middle-class families the hardest.

For too long, Illinois has … overburdened its property taxpayers.”

By signing a pension bill that helps Emanuel raise property taxes, Quinn will break yet another promise. The governor has already asked the Legislature to make the 2011 tax hike permanent, even though he originally promised it would be temporary.

But Quinn has a way out of his predicament. Besides the obvious political reasons to oppose the bill, Quinn has three good policy reasons not to sign it:

1. Property tax hikes won’t solve Chicago’s pension problem. Emanuel needs more taxes because his plan doesn’t reform the broken pension system. Instead, it just props up a failed system run by the same politicians who bankrupted it in the first place.

What Emanuel and supporters of his pension bill won’t tell you is that they’ll be back for even more tax hikes. Emanuel’s current plan calls for additional city contributions (above what the city pays today) to the municipal pension fund totaling $4.1 billion through 2025. But his proposed property tax hikes will raise only an additional $2.25 billion during that time period.

That means the mayor’s tax hike will be $1.9 billion short of the extra contributions needed through 2025. Without real reforms, he’ll be back for more.
 
2. People and businesses will flee. Avoiding real reforms and raising taxes is a failed strategy. People and businesses will flee Chicago, just as they’ve been doing for years. Taxpayers will leave because they’ll be paying more money for fewer services.

Each Chicago household is already on the hook for more than $61,000 in future taxes to pay down the massive long-term debt – more than $63 billion in bonds and pension shortfalls – that their city and county governments have racked up.

Tax hikes mean fewer people will stick around to pay a growing bill.

3. There is a plan to fix Chicago without tax hikes. The Illinois Policy Institute offers a reform plan that avoids tax hikes and immediately cuts Chicago’s pension shortfall in half. The core of its solution is a hybrid retirement plan for city workers that gives them a self-managed plan and fixed, monthly Social Security-like benefits at retirement.

The plan makes the tough choices necessary to bring about real retirement security for Chicago’s city workers.

Quinn and Emanuel’s goal must be to end Chicago’s pension crisis and to preserve Chicago’s status as a world-class city.

Massive property tax hikes will do just the opposite and push Chicago further in the direction of Detroit.

Ted Dabrowski
Vice President of Policy
Everyone Affected

No one should assume they are unaffected by the pension crisis, even if they do not live in troubled cities. For starters, more cities are affected than admitted.

For discussion, please see 85% of Pension Funds to Fail in Three Decades.

Secondly, and equally important, Democrat controlled states like California and Illinois are dominated by union sympathizers. Of course that is precisely why those states are in serious trouble.

So even if you live in an unaffected city, states controlled by unions are also highly likely to raise all sorts of taxes to protect union interests.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/04/reader-question-on-inevitable-los.html#koWQzoZlBGwQLAbx.99
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Armed Resistance? on: April 14, 2014, 04:23:26 PM
OTOH

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2014/04/13/
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: America'snew Anti-Strategy on: April 14, 2014, 04:09:50 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/375215/americas-new-anti-strategy-victor-davis-hanson
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Unreal City on: April 14, 2014, 03:54:52 PM
 
An epic struggle over land, water, and power is erupting in the American West and the halls of Washington, DC.

It began when a 4,000-square-mile area of Arizona desert called Black Mesa was divided between the Hopi and Navajo tribes. To the outside world, it was a land struggle between two fractious Indian tribes; to political insiders and energy corporations, it was a divide-and-conquer play for the 21 billion tons of coal beneath Black Mesa. Today, that coal powers cheap electricity for Los Angeles, a new water aqueduct into Phoenix, and the neon dazzle of Las Vegas.

Journalist and historian Judith Nies has been tracking this story for nearly four decades. She follows the money and tells us the true story of wealth and water, mendacity, and corruption at the highest levels of business and government. Amid the backdrop of the breathtaking desert landscape, Unreal City shows five cultures colliding—Hopi, Navajo, global energy corporations, Mormons, and US government agencies—resulting in a battle over resources and the future of the West.

Las Vegas may attract 39 million visitors a year, but the tourists mesmerized by the dancing water fountains at the Bellagio don’t ask where the water comes from. They don’t see a city with the nation’s highest rates of foreclosure, unemployment, and suicide. They don’t see the astonishing drop in the water level of Lake Mead—where Sin City gets 90 percent of its water supply.

Nies shows how the struggle over Black Mesa lands is an example of a global phenomenon in which giant transnational corporations have the power to separate indigenous people from their energy-rich lands with the help of host governments. Unreal City explores how and why resources have been taken from native lands, what it means in an era of climate change, and why, in this city divorced from nature, the only thing more powerful than money is water.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 14, 2014, 03:46:05 PM
I did not know that about OMB and fact checking.

===================

Baraq's Jay Carney would seem to be immune from OMB fact checking , , , speaking of which , , , http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/04/12/magazine-reveals-jay-carneys-kitchen-decorated-with-soviet-era-propaganda-posters-112076
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Armed Resistance? on: April 14, 2014, 03:45:05 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/13/is-harry-reid-involved-seven-answers-to-seven-questions-youre-probably-asking-right-now-about-the-nevada-rancher-situation/
88  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / CAmp Williams UT seminar on: April 14, 2014, 03:30:41 PM
This past weekend was my third time with 19th SF Camp Williams, Utah (tangent-- normally US Marines use "camp" and US Army uses "Fort". However, 19th SF has it origins in the National Guard, hence the use of "Camp").

I would like to acknowledge and thank my friend Tuhon Jared Wihongi of PTK, who was the official combatives instructor for 19th for a few years, for opening the door for me to go there and a special woof of thanks to Sgt Brett W. for his part in making all this happen.

In attendance were folks from 19th and a number of civilian friends. Naturally with this group the continuing focus tends to be on the Die Less Often material. So as to continue the progression with returning players yet not leave new players feeling left out, this was the progression:

Saturday AM: I taught DBMA SIW (Short Impact/Contact Weapons). Here the central theme is to defend one's bubble (a.k.a. ST. FOOM).

Tuhon Jared, who is also a Salt Lake City SWAT LEO and Instructor taught "tactical clinch." As many of you have heard me say over the years, Pekiti Tirsia Kali is one of the three main FMA influences on DBMA and there is considerable natural interface between the two systems.

This was amply demonstrated by Tuhon Jared's instruction for the Saturday afternoon segment. His tactical clinch material blends with very well with DBMA curriculum and doctrine.

Sunday morning I taught Kali Tudo Dracula Fang into the Dog Catcher against "Joe Generic MMA fighter".

Thus the stage was set for DLO on Sunday afternoon: The SIW idiom of movement is how we seek to solve the pushing or grabbing of the empty hand of the Prison Sewing Machine attack and the familiarization with the Dog Catcher that comes from applying it in the MMA context makes it more natural and more intuitive in the DLO context-- this is the logic of this particular progression and as I watched people vigorously play with the material I felt this progression was well confirmed.

As people played, Tuhon Jared and I wandered around and gave individual pointers.

Then it was time to have dinner at Jared's home with his wonderful wife Camille and meet their new daughter and on to the airport and home to my family.

Jared and I enjoy working together and we are strategizing for doing more of the same.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty/Marc
89  Dog Brothers Information / Instructor Lists / Brazil on: April 14, 2014, 03:23:18 PM


Starting to settle in after nearly two weeks on the road.

First some words about my Brazil seminar: Due to unexpected visa problems at the airport in Buenos Aires, my intended seminar, to be hosted by DBMA Group Leader Diego Marroni, did not happen. This greatly inconvenienced many people who had made plans. I have been giving seminars since 1995 and this was the first time that anything like this had ever happened to me and I was deeply embarassed.

Since then, Diego, who is a doctor in Brazilian Army, was stationed elsewhere, and he handed off hosting the seminar to Daniel V. & Daniel C.

The seminar was rescheduled for January 2014, but when I separated my shoulder in December it had to be rescheduled-- for April. Some would have been deterred, but Daniel and Daniel stood by me and for that I am grateful.

Finally we held the seminar the first week of April-- and Diego was able to come up from his post in southern Brazil-- with my recovery incomplete from my shoulder separation it was very helpful to be able to point to him and ask him to demonstrate movements that would have been painful for me. Also attending were some instructors from other parts of the country.

D&D were considerate hosts ( who consistently fed me very well!) and a wonderful group was in attendance. As I looked around the room I saw many people showing solid Kali Silat skills, and thanks to Diego filling in last year in my absence, many of them already had a grasp of our Dos Triques material. D&D give credit to Mas Guro Paulo Albuquerque for the general level that I saw. I had the pleasure of meeeting with the very gracious Mas Guro Paulo (who trains the Brazilian equivalent of our Secret Service) who was kind enough to share some of his thinking on gun disarms with me.

I am very pleased to announce that Daniel V. and Daniel C. are now DBMA Group Leaders for Rio.

I would also like to announce Diego's promotion to DBMA Instructor. In addtion to the month he spent with me in the US, and seeing him move while there, seeing what he was able to impart as he filled in for me last year and have it be retained a year later by those whom he instructed tells me what I need to know.

D&D tell me that August will be a better month for them to bring me back the next time and so the plan is for me to return in August of 2015. There may well be an additional seminar in another part of the country.

On the whole, I am very encouraged by developments in Brazil. The various instructors interested in DBMA get along well with each other and the prospects for synergy amongst the groups are quite promising. Add to that the dynamics of the three DBMA Groups in Argentina (Hernan, Guillermo, and Nicolas) and I can see something very strong taking root in southern South America.

The Adventure continues!
Guro CraftyMarc Denny
90  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Brazil on: April 14, 2014, 03:21:20 PM


Starting to settle in after nearly two weeks on the road.

First some words about my Brazil seminar: Due to unexpected visa problems at the airport in Buenos Aires, my intended seminar, to be hosted by DBMA Group Leader Diego Marroni, did not happen. This greatly inconvenienced many people who had made plans. I have been giving seminars since 1995 and this was the first time that anything like this had ever happened to me and I was deeply embarassed.

Since then, Diego, who is a doctor in Brazilian Army, was stationed elsewhere, and he handed off hosting the seminar to Daniel V. & Daniel C.

The seminar was rescheduled for January 2014, but when I separated my shoulder in December it had to be rescheduled-- for April. Some would have been deterred, but Daniel and Daniel stood by me and for that I am grateful.

Finally we held the seminar the first week of April-- and Diego was able to come up from his post in southern Brazil-- with my recovery incomplete from my shoulder separation it was very helpful to be able to point to him and ask him to demonstrate movements that would have been painful for me. Also attending were some instructors from other parts of the country.

D&D were considerate hosts ( who consistently fed me very well!) and a wonderful group was in attendance. As I looked around the room I saw many people showing solid Kali Silat skills, and thanks to Diego filling in last year in my absence, many of them already had a grasp of our Dos Triques material. D&D give credit to Mas Guro Paulo Albuquerque for the general level that I saw. I had the pleasure of meeeting with the very gracious Mas Guro Paulo (who trains the Brazilian equivalent of our Secret Service) who was kind enough to share some of his thinking on gun disarms with me.

I am very pleased to announce that Daniel V. and Daniel C. are now DBMA Group Leaders for Rio.

I would also like to announce Diego's promotion to DBMA Instructor. In addtion to the month he spent with me in the US, and seeing him move while there, seeing what he was able to impart as he filled in for me last year and have it be retained a year later by those whom he instructed tells me what I need to know.

D&D tell me that August will be a better month for them to bring me back the next time and so the plan is for me to return in August of 2015. There may well be an additional seminar in another part of the country.

On the whole, I am very encouraged by developments in Brazil. The various instructors interested in DBMA get along well with each other and the prospects for synergy amongst the groups are quite promising. Add to that the dynamics of the three DBMA Groups in Argentina (Herman, Guillermo, and Nicolas) and I can see something very strong taking root in southern South America.

The Adventure continues!
Guro CraftyMarc Denny
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: April 14, 2014, 01:34:36 PM
Doug's question is a very good one.  Those interested in pursuing it please do so in the Nuclear War or WMD thread.
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Berlin Wall (year?) Hungary 1956; Czechslovakia 1968, Ukraine 2014 on: April 14, 2014, 01:29:16 PM
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304117904579499762012132306?mod=trending_now_4


By
Matthew Kaminski
Updated April 14, 2014 5:39 a.m. ET

Kiev, Ukraine

'We're the chosen generation," says Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's interim prime minister. He's referring to all those who made this winter's European revolution. For the first time since 1654, when Ukrainian Cossacks formed a fateful alliance with Moscow against Polish rulers, Ukrainians are heading back West.

Their timing is terrible. Two decades ago, when the Berlin Wall fell, the West embraced another generation of Eastern Europeans. Ukraine has gotten a different welcoming committee. An economically feeble European Union gorges on Russian energy and dirty money while lecturing Ukraine on Western values but refusing to defend it. Asking for Washington's help against Russian attack, Kiev finds a man "chosen" in the past two presidential elections to get America out of the world's trouble spots.

Vladimir Putin sees a West made soft by money, led by weak men and women, unwilling to make sacrifices to defend their so-called ideals. In the Ukrainian crisis, the image fits. Russia's president is many things, but most of all he is resolute. He took the EU and America's measure and annexed Crimea last month at minimal cost. Ignoring Western pleas for "de-escalation," Russia this weekend invaded eastern Ukraine. Just don't look for video of T-72 tanks rolling across the borders, not yet at least.

Russian intelligence and special forces on Saturday directed local crime bosses and thugs in coordinated attacks on police stations and other government buildings in towns across eastern Ukraine. These men were dressed and equipped like the elite Russian special forces ("little green men," as Ukrainians called them) who took Crimea. Ukrainian participants got the equivalent of $500 to storm and $40 to occupy buildings, according to journalists who spoke to them. Fighting broke out on Sunday in Slovyansk, a sleepy town in the working-class Donbas region that hadn't seen any "pro-Russia" protests. A Ukrainian security officer was killed.

Kiev is on a war footing. Radio commercials ask for donations to the defense budget by mobile-telephone texts. The government's decision to cede Crimea without firing a shot cost the defense minister his job and wasn't popular. Western praise for Ukrainians' "restraint" got them nothing. The fight for Ukraine's east will be different.

This invasion was stealthy enough to let Brussels and Washington not use the i-word in their toothless statements. The EU's high representative, Catherine Ashton, called herself "gravely concerned" and commended Ukraine's "measured response." There was no mention of sanctions or blame. The U.S. State Department on Saturday said that John Kerry warned his diplomatic counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, that "if Russia did not take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences."

By now, the Ukrainians ought to have seen enough to know that they're on their own. Moscow has reached the same conclusion. These perceptions of the West are shaping events.

A month ago, the EU sanctioned 21 marginal Russian officials and quickly tried to get back to business as usual. On Friday, the U.S. added to its sanctions list seven Russian citizens and one company, all in Crimea. What a relief for Moscow's elites, who were speculating in recent days about who might end up on the list. Slovyansk fell the next day.


Any revolution brings a hangover. Ukrainians expected problems: an economic downturn, some of the old politics-as-usual in Kiev, including fisticuffs last week in parliament, and trouble from Russia. Abandonment by the West is the unexpected blow. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fought, and 100 died, for their chance to join the world's democracies.

As an institution, the EU always found excuses to deny Ukraine the prospect of membership in the bloc one day. But Bill Clinton and George W. Bush never recognized Russian domination over Ukraine. Billions were spent—Kiev was the third-largest recipient of U.S. aid in the 1990s—and American promises were made to protect Ukraine's sovereignty. In return, Ukraine took active part in NATO discussions and missions, sending thousands of troops to the Balkans and Iraq.

When Russia invaded Crimea and massed 40,000 or more troops in the east, Ukraine turned to an old friend, the United States, and asked for light arms, antitank weapons, intelligence help and nonlethal aid. The Obama administration agreed to deliver 300,000 meals-ready-to-eat. As this newspaper reported Friday, military transport planes were deemed too provocative for Russia, so the food was shipped by commercial trucks. The administration refused Kiev's requests for intelligence-sharing and other supplies, lethal or not.

Boris Tarasiuk, Ukraine's former foreign minister, barely disguises his anger. He says: "We've not seen the same reaction from the U.S." as during Russia's 2008 attack on Georgia. U.S. Navy warships were deployed off the Georgian Black Sea coast. Large Air Force transport planes flew into Tbilisi with emergency humanitarian supplies. But who really knew for sure what was on board the planes? That was the point. Russian troops on the road to the Georgian capital saw them above and soon after turned back. The Bush administration dropped the ball on follow-up sanctions but may have saved Georgia.

By contrast, the Obama administration seems to think that pre-emptive concessions will pacify Mr. Putin. So the president in March ruled out U.S. military intervention in Ukraine. Maybe, but why say so? Late last month at a news conference in Brussels, Mr. Obama also openly discouraged the idea of Georgia or Ukraine joining NATO.

The next diplomatic "off ramp" touted by the Obama administration will be the negotiations involving Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the U.S. scheduled for later this week. Petro Poroshenko, the leading Ukrainian presidential candidate, tells me that these "talks for the sake of talks" send "a very wrong signal" about the West's commitment to sanctions. It's a case of the blind faith in "diplomacy" undermining diplomacy. See the Obama record on Syria for the past three years.

The West looks scared of Russia, which encourages Mr. Putin's bullying. But on the Ukrainian side, the sense of abandonment brings unappreciated consequences. Ukraine's political elites have taken into account that Russia could reimpose its will—perhaps that anticorruption law demanded by the EU isn't so necessary after all?

While millions of Ukrainians have united against Russia, out in the east of the country many people are fence-sitters. The fight there, as in Crimea, won't be over any genuine desire to rejoin Russia. Before last month, polls in Crimea and eastern Ukraine put support for separatists in single digits. But the locals' historical memory teaches them to respect force and side with winners. Left to fend for itself by the West, Ukraine looks like a loser to them, notes Kiev academic Andreas Umland.

The U.S. Army won't save Slovyansk. But Ukraine expects and deserves America's support by every other means that Washington has refused so far. Betrayal is an ugly word and an uglier deed. Europe and the U.S. will pay dearly for it in Ukraine.

Mr. Kaminski is a member of the Journal's editorial board.
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Google getting in on the drone action on: April 14, 2014, 01:15:44 PM


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304117904579501701702936522?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Armed Resistance? on: April 14, 2014, 12:21:49 PM
The recent events in Nevada concerning the rancher Bundy, his cattle, BLM, grazing fees to the Feds, and the presence of armed militia have been of great concern to me.  Most of us here believe in the Second Amendment, and understand that it is not about hunting or self-defense alone-- It is about defense of the nation from all enemires foreign and domestic, including if need be a government gone tyrannical.

This thread is for matters concerning where where that grey line may be.

In the case of the moment, as sympathetic as many of the apparent facts are for Bundy (his family has been grazing there since 1877, the apparent bull excrement nature of the tortoise story the Feds are putting out (apparently the Feds have bred so many turtles they are now killing some of them)  The Feds owning/controlling some 84% of Nevada, etc there are many warning flags here.   Apparently Bundy has unique legal theories disregarding settled law regarding the Feds and BLM.  He has lost in court for some 20 years now.   I doubt hardly anyone on his side could give an accurate summary of the courts' various rulings in the case on what the law is.

And for this militia types are willing to show up talking about shooting it out with the Feds?

As this forum well attests, my loathing for much that is being done to our country by the Federal government is open and obvious.  That said, the rule of law is a precious thing, and not to be tossed away lightly.   A civil society, a Constitutional Republic, requires that everyone sometimes accept what they believe to be a mistaken court ruling.

As additional facts come to light, I reserve the right to change my mind, but with what I have at the moment, is some people have allowed their passion to override good sense and they came very close to setting off something that would have given the Feds the opening for which they desperately and not always legally search to shut down our freedoms.   I am very glad that cooler heads seem to have prevailed at BLM.  I am concerned that many regular folks will form negative impressions of the Tea Party and related factions (militia types) based upon the foolish hot-headedness that seems to have been on display here.

=================

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/04/14/3426222/militia-rancher-behind-bars/
95  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / People can die from stupidity like this on: April 14, 2014, 11:55:25 AM
http://deadspin.com/mma-fighter-blacks-out-in-corner-sent-right-back-in-to-1562543562?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&utm_source=deadspin_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
96  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Shame on RFA!!! on: April 14, 2014, 11:54:43 AM
http://deadspin.com/mma-fighter-blacks-out-in-corner-sent-right-back-in-to-1562543562?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_facebook&utm_source=deadspin_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow 
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greta Van S anally rapes Dem politician on: April 11, 2014, 12:49:01 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/10/greta-van-susteren-backs-dem-candidate-into-a-corner-forces-him-to-admit-big-lie-after-he-accused-tea-party-of-dishonesty/
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government data leaked to market players first on: April 11, 2014, 12:28:38 PM


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304512504579491881406165124?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bullied special ed student convicted of wiretapping on: April 11, 2014, 12:24:10 PM
http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/special-ed-student-recorded-bullies-accused-felony-wiretapping/
100  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tuhon and Son (Sled Dog) #6 on: April 11, 2014, 12:14:36 PM


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd_V3G76GuA
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