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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris on What is different about Rubio? on: April 14, 2015, 02:04:05 PM
I disagree with Morris here; I thought Rubio's announcement speech yesterday was quite good.
52  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Empty Suit Hillary on: April 14, 2015, 01:42:58 PM
In the Business World, We'd Call Bill Clinton's Wife an Empty Suit

Posted by Herman Cain - 04-13-2015

Lots of talk. Not much to back it up.

If you spend much time in business, you'll meet one of them. They're not hard to spot. They may have gotten a position by way of nepotism. Or maybe they gave a very impressive interview, but once hired it became painfully clear they didn't have what it took to do the job on a day-to-day basis. They had learned how to speak some of the language of business, but actually getting things done and done well was an entirely different story.

We call them empty suits.

I suppose a lot of them might be attracted to politics because all you have to do in politics is appear to be getting things done. Like Dr. Stantz said in Ghostbusters, "In the private sector, they expect results!" And those who can't deliver tend not to last very long. They might have a resume that lists a lot of jobs that look impressive, but there's a reason they list so many. They don't stick around anywhere very long because it quickly becomes obvious that they either don't have what it takes, or they won't do the work that's required.

And that brings us to Bill Clinton's Wife, who thinks she should now get a turn as president. Democrats will point to her resume. Eight years as a U.S. senator. Four years as Secretary of State. Pretty impressive, no?

Actually, no. Because it's not just the positions you held. It's what you did in them. And in her case, it's why you had the jobs in the first place. What significant accomplishment can she point to during her years as New York's junior senator? What major piece of legislation did she sponsor and successfully push through to implementation, only to see it work well for the American people? What important problem did she help to solve?

You don't remember any? That's because there weren't any.

What have been the results of her tenure as Secretary of State? Are you kidding me? The Russian reset button gimmick was lame and naive, but not as bad as the actual results in terms of our relations with Russia, which is more hostile toward us (and fears us less) than ever. The Middle East is completely out of control. Iran is close to getting the bomb. Syria is in chaos. And relations everywhere from Great Britain to Israel to Egypt to Turkey to even Canada are worse than they were back in the days when, according to Democrats, George W. Bush was "shredding our alliances." (Remember that one? Seems pretty preposterous given the current state of affairs, doesn't it?)

Oh, and let's not forget her decision to deny extra security in Benghazi, only to tell the victims of the attack there not to worry because she'd make sure a guy who made a YouTube video was "brought to justice".

At least she knew how to make decisions about trade deals. She would just check and see who donated to the Clinton Foundation and then take a position. These Clintons do have a way of doing things, don't they?

And let's not forget: Everyone knew before she ever became a senator, and before she ever became Secretary of State, that she wanted to be president and thought she should be president. She only pursued those jobs to make herself look more qualified for the job she wished she could just move right into. This is classic empty suit stuff! And once she had those jobs, her only purpose in doing them was to make herself look more qualified for the presidency.

I'm honestly baffled as to why so many people support such an empty suit. I know why the political consultant class supports her. They think her name recognition gives her a great chance of being elected and they see her as a meal ticket for another four years. And I know that while she often infuriates the liberal media with her secrecy (you can treat everyone else badly, but not them), they will still cover for her if she wins the Democrat nomination - lying by omission as they ignore the many scandals and other storylines that demonstrate her lack of preparation and qualification for the Oval Office.

But what's with normal, everyday people who are telling pollsters they want her to be president? I guess an empty suit can pretty easily fool people who only pay very limited attention. In fact, that's what they count on. It sounds good to them when she says she wants to be their "champion," but if they were really to think that statement through, they might ask, "Champion of what?" And when have the Clintons ever been champions of anything except themselves and their own interests?

There's a reason we refer to her around here as Bill Clinton's Wife. It's because she has only ever gotten anywhere in politics because of who she's married to. She is only taken seriously as a candidate for president because of who she's married to. Anyone else with her unimpressive track record would be laughed off the stage. Not only does she have no impressive accomplishments in her career, but she hasn't even offered any compelling policy ideas, or even any serious priorities or goals.

She just commands lots of attention, without so much as a hint of why she deserves any of it. It's hard for me to believe that as she goes through the rigors of a campaign, where serious opponents will challenge her on substance, that she can continue the illusion. That's usually when empty suits, shall we say, fold like a cheap suit.
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: April 14, 2015, 12:34:43 PM
54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's server is not just about hiding things from the American people on: April 14, 2015, 11:44:25 AM
Interesting details in that one Obj.
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China expands islands in South China Sea on: April 14, 2015, 09:17:54 AM
Important maps for understanding this article at

MANILA—China is expanding two islands it controls in the disputed Paracel Islands, east of Vietnam, even as it builds seven new islets in the South China Sea, satellite imagery published on Tuesday shows.

Woody Island and Duncan Island have both expanded significantly as a result of recent land reclamation work undertaken by China, according to images taken a month ago by satellite-imaging company DigitalGlobe and published today by the Diplomat, an Asian current-affairs website. Vietnam says it owns both islands, although Woody Island is home to China’s largest South China Sea settlement—Sansha City, which has a population of 600 people.
Read More

    China Expands Island Construction in Disputed South China Sea (2/18/15)

China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. All the claimants apart from Brunei have populated settlements on disputed islands under their control, but China has made a concerted push in recent months to expand its footprint in the contested region, drawing persistent complaints—but little collective action—from its neighbors.

Satellite pictures published by the Philippines and others have charted the speedy construction of at least seven islands by China in the Spratly Islands group through the use of dredgers to dump sand on top of shallow reefs. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said earlier this month that the artificial islands would be used for “military defense,” as well as a range of civilian purposes.

Vietnamese officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. Diplomatic relations between Beijing and Hanoi became strained a year ago when a Chinese drilling platform was deployed to disputed waters east of Vietnam, though ties have largely recovered since the rig was removed in July.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that “the Paracels are an inherent part of China,” when asked about the reclamation projects there. Chinese officials have consistently waved away complaints about the country’s island-building program on the grounds that China is entitled to undertake construction projects within its own sovereign territory.

President Barack Obama waded into the South China Sea row last week, saying that China “is not necessarily abiding by international law and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”

“Just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” Mr. Obama said during a visit to Jamaica on Thursday, when asked about China’s island-building program.

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris last month dubbed the Chinese reclamation program in the South China Sea the “Great Wall of sand,” saying that Chinese dredgers had created 4 square kilometers of artificial landmass in the disputed sea over the past few months.

On Monday, the Philippine government said China’s island-building program would cost the region’s littoral states $100 million a year through damage caused to the local ecosystem and the degrading of fish stocks.

—Dinny McMahon contributed to this article.

Write to Trefor Moss at
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: ME Christians trapped between foes on: April 14, 2015, 09:15:13 AM
Middle East Christians Trapped by Islamist Extremists Forge Alliances With Former Foes
Without the protection of functioning states, many Christians face difficult choices

On Palm Sunday, Christians in the Lebanese village of Al-Qaa depended on army troops to shield them from nearby ISIS militants. Another source of protection: Shiite militants in Hezbollah, which backs their decade-long enemy, the Syrian regime.
Sam Dagher
April 13, 2015 10:34 p.m. ET

AL-QAA, Lebanon—Three decades ago, plainclothes Syrian agents went door to door in this border village seeking out young Christian men, who were abducted and killed in a notorious chapter of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.

The village’s nearly 2,000 Christians now find themselves siding with the same Syrian regime they blame for what many call the 1978 massacre.

That is because a few miles away, hundreds of Islamist extremists tied to al Qaeda and Islamic State stalk the porous border region separating Lebanon and Syria. Standing between the militants and the village are Lebanese troops aided by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, whose men are also fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Yes, I prefer the Syrian regime over these terrorist groups,” a 45-year-old Al-Qaa resident said, but it is a choice “between the bitter and more bitter.”

Here and throughout the Middle East, many Christians, under attack and without the protection of functioning states, face difficult choices amid the region’s roiling sectarian conflicts.

Some are taking sides, others are taking up arms. In Iraq and Syria, for example, Christians fight alongside Kurds against Islamic State, even though some Christians accuse the Kurds of seeking to one day incorporate them and their land into Kurdish-controlled territories.

While both Christians and Muslims suffer from the violent extremism engulfing the region, the stakes and consequences differ, said the Rev. Fadi Daou, a Lebanese Maronite Catholic priest and professor of Christian theology.

In Lebanon and Iraq, Shiite Muslims rely on Hezbollah and other militias backed by Iran. Sunni Muslims, while threatened by the Shiite forces, constitute the region’s majority and are backed by insurgents, Father Daou said.

Christians in Lebanon, meanwhile—long viewed as the region’s most empowered and assertive—“are 10 times weaker than they were in 1975,” said Father Daou, who is also chairman of Adyan, a Western-backed organization that promotes cultural and religious diversity across the Middle East.

Lebanon’s symbolic post of president, which must be occupied by a Christian in accordance with the country’s sectarian power-sharing system, has been vacant for nearly a year.

Few Christians in Lebanon, Father Daou said, believe they can repeat what they did at the onset of the Lebanese civil war 40 years ago when they organized themselves into militias to battle armed Muslims.

With the government barely functioning, Christians here see few options: They can emigrate; depend on Hezbollah for protection; or simply pray that regional and world powers will prop up Lebanon’s armed forces and shield the country from falling into sectarian war.

Next to Al-Qaa, in the village of Ras Baalbek, a Christian commander of the Resistance Brigades, a Hezbollah-affiliated unit made up largely of non-Shiites, is rallying residents to take up arms against Sunni extremists because, he said, the army alone can’t protect local Christians.

In early August, the Lebanese army arrested a Syrian Islamist rebel leader tied to Islamic State on the outskirts of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town near Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek. Islamist militants then stormed Arsal and nearly 150 people died in the battle with army troops. Militants abducted Lebanese soldiers and security forces. Eventually, eight were released and four killed, two by decapitation. The army sent reinforcements and the skirmishes continue.

“The entire world knows that Lebanese army posts collapsed during the so-called Arsal raid by militants,” the bearded Christian commander said. “So it’s my natural right to make alternate arrangements.”

The Lebanese Army chief, Gen. Jean Kahwaji, said last month that his troops, with the help of the U.S. and other countries, were capable of protecting the country from militants.

Following the demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the French carved out the State of Greater Lebanon in the Levant, envisioning it as a haven for Christians. The idea of Christians needing the West’s protection lingered after the country gained independence in 1943.

Some Christians in the Middle East, particularly church leaders, believe secular, authoritarian-ruled states offer the best protection. They say regions beset by tribalism and prone to Islamic fundamentalism are ill-prepared for Western-style democracy.

“We do not need lectures from the U.S. about democracy and morality,” said Ignatius Youssef Younan III, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church. He favors democratic reform in Syria but not Mr. Assad’s removal.

Many Christians in Egypt, home to the largest Christian population in the Middle East, have embraced the military coup led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, now president, saying they felt threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mr. Sisi’s predecessor, Mohammed Morsi.

Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, had urged followers last year to vote for Mr. Sisi, calling him the country’s savior.

Vivian Fouad, former director of the Cairo-based Coptic Center for Social Studies, said most Copts supported Mr. Sisi. But many resented their pope’s foray into politics, she said: “Our best protection is active participation in the rebuilding of Egyptian political life and civil society.”

On Palm Sunday last month, Lebanese soldiers stood guard in front of the Mar Elias Catholic church in Al-Qaa, as families dressed in their finest walked behind a priest, and children carried palm branches in the traditional procession that marked the start of Easter week. Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday.

Antoun and Therese Nasrallah, who brought their four children to church for Palm Sunday, are among the Lebanese Christians who fear an attack by Islamist militants.

Mr. Nasrallah has an AK-47 assault rifle at home and his wife keeps a hunting rifle close. “People will fight until the very end if they have to,” she said.

At night, Mr. Nasrallah goes on patrol with other villagers, including those loyal to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. They face a common enemy but the alliance is difficult for Mr. Nasrallah, he said.

Mr. Nasrallah, 44 years old, was a child when Syrian agents arrested his three uncles, who were schoolteachers, and two other family members. The men were among 26 Christians taken from Al-Qaa and two nearby villages.

The next day their tortured and bullet-riddled bodies were found in a nearby field—killings that triggered an exodus of local Christians, Mr. Nasrallah said. He was at his grandparents’ house after they heard the news on the radio. “My grandmother was pulling her hair and slapping her face,” he said, “and my grandfather took to the village streets shouting, ‘The boys are gone.’ ”

Like other villagers here, he and his wife believed the goal of Syria at the time was to drive out Christians and others who lived close to the border and who were seen as hostile to the regime.

At the start of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975, many Christians here said they welcomed Syrian soldiers as protectors against Muslim forces. Eventually, though, Syria was seen as a dreaded occupation force.

Al-Qaa residents say they once more feel they are fighting for their existence. This time, the enemy is Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, whose militants have driven away Christians and other minorities from towns and villages in Iraq and Syria over the past year.

With their focus on survival, longtime opponents of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah speak of having to band together, despite their animosity, against Islamic State.

“We were praying each day for the toppling of the Syrian regime and for its figures to be put on trial for all their crimes, especially the Al-Qaa massacre,” said Bashir Matar, who lost his father, an uncle and two other family members in the 1978 killings.

“The regime has been saved because our focus now is on the imminent danger—ISIS,” said Mr. Matar, a lawyer who heads the local branch of the Lebanese Forces party.

In northern Iraq, Basim Bello faced a similar choice in the Christian town of Al-Qosh. Before Islamic State captured the nearby city of Mosul and surrounding Christian villages last June, Mr. Bello was a vocal critic of leaders in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.

At the time, Kurds controlled the region known as the Nineveh Plain and backed only Christian clergy and politicians who favored Kurdish control. Kurdish leaders say the area has historically been theirs to govern.

Today, most Christians displaced from Islamic State-controlled areas are sheltered in the Kurdish region, and Christian men fight alongside Kurds against the militants, backed by the U.S. and its Western allies.

“It’s like having your hand stuck under a rock. Today, the enemy is ISIS, but I know Kurds still covet our areas,” said Mr. Bello who heads a political coalition seeking to establish a self-rule area in northern Iraq for Christians and other minorities.

Christians in the Lebanese village of Al-Qaa remember a time when citizens of the newly independent countries of the Middle East dreamed of living in pluralist democracies that respected all faiths.

The era is preserved in the abandoned stone-and-mud rooms that once belonged to the Nasrallah brothers, the schoolteachers who were among the Christian men seized by Syrian agents in 1978. George, Milad and Riyad Nasrallah are remembered here as intellectuals and passionate political activists.

Their books, photographs and political pamphlets are now thickly coated in dust. One tome is titled the “Dawn of Islam.”

—Dana Ballout contributed to this article.

Write to Sam Dagher at
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57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin flips of Obama-Kerry on: April 14, 2015, 08:22:42 AM
Russian Missiles for the Ayatollah
Vladimir Putin blows a raspberry at Obama.
April 13, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET

Vladimir Putin blew a geopolitical raspberry at the Obama Administration on Monday by authorizing the sale of Russia’s S-300 missile system to Iran. The Kremlin is offering the mullahs an air-defense capability so sophisticated that it would render Iran’s nuclear installations far more difficult and costly to attack should Tehran seek to build a bomb.

Feeling better about that Iranian nuclear deal now?

The origins of this Russian sideswipe go back to 2007, when Moscow and Tehran signed an $800 million contract for delivery of five S-300 squadrons. But in 2010 then-President Dmitry Medvedev stopped the sale under pressure from the U.S. and Israel. The United Nations Security Council the same year passed an arms-embargo resolution barring the sale of major conventional systems to the Tehran regime.

That resolution is still in effect, but the Kremlin no longer feels like abiding by it. With the latest negotiating deadline passed and without any nuclear agreement in place, Moscow will dispatch the S-300s “promptly” to the Islamic Republic, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

So much for the White House hope that the West could cordon off Russia’s aggression against Ukraine while working with Mr. Putin on other matters. Russia and the West could disagree about Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the thinking went, but Washington could still solicit the Kremlin’s cooperation on the Iranian nuclear crisis.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed news in February that Russia’s state-run weapons conglomerate Rostec had offered Tehran the Antey-2500—an upgraded version of the S-300 system. “It’s just some reports,” she said. White House spokesman Josh Earnest similarly boasted in March of how “international unanimity of opinion has been critical to our ability to apply pressure to Iran.”

Now Mr. Obama wants to delegate responsibility for enforcing his nuclear deal with Iran to the United Nations, which means that the Russians will have a say—and a veto—there, too. Think of this missile sale as a taste of what’s to come.
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58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim WW2 heroes who saved jews. on: April 14, 2015, 08:19:24 AM
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on the Rubio Candidacy on: April 13, 2015, 08:59:18 PM
The Rubio Run
The 43-year-old is strong on foreign policy, less so on taxes.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) announces his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. ENLARGE
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) announces his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Joe Skipper
April 13, 2015 7:16 p.m. ET

Marco Rubio on Monday joined Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the run for the Republican presidential nomination. It must be more than coincidence that the first three declared candidates are first-term members of the U.S. Senate. Aside from reducing the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to a trampoline, the eager trio reflect the undercurrent of impatience these days in Republican politics—with the incumbent President, with Washington and with each other.

Like Ted Cruz, Senator Rubio is the son of Cuban-American immigrants. As a mere fact of biography, this speaks well of the American political system and the Republican Party that produced them.

Of the three, Senator Rubio has the most political experience. Despite his 43 years, he is essentially a lifetime politician, starting out as a city commissioner of West Miami and rising to become Speaker of the Florida House. Mr. Rubio gained his Senate seat in 2010 by defeating former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, one of the worst career politicians of the last generation.

To his credit, Mr. Rubio has used his Senate office as more than a planning headquarters for his presidential run. From his seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Rubio, with Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, has become one of his party’s most visible and best-informed critics of President Obama’s foreign policy in Ukraine, Iran and a Middle East beset by Islamic State.

His opposition to Mr. Obama’s Cuba opening is well known, but as noteworthy has been his effort to keep in public view the Venezuelan government’s assaults on its democratic opposition.

More so than Senators Cruz and Paul, Mr. Rubio has shown a willingness to work with colleagues, notably the Senate’s immigration reform in 2013. Mr. Rubio showed a measure of political courage in grabbing that issue, though he became notably silent as the debate moved to the House, where reform died.

He has immersed himself in the details of the country’s fiscal and social problems and offers some thoughtful reforms, such as consolidating the myriad federal anti-poverty programs into a single grant sent to the states with fewer strings. It’s an idea that deserves discussion.

His recently announced tax-reform plan, introduced with Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, reflects the tensions inside the GOP. It proposes dropping the corporate rate to 25%, a consensus figure. But it proposes remarkably timid reductions in marginal tax rates for individuals, leaving the top rate at 35% on relatively modest incomes. Instead the plan’s centerpiece is a large, new tax credit—$2,500 per child.

With this proposal, Senator Rubio makes himself the party’s most visible ally of the “new” Republican idea that the Reagan tax-cutting agenda is a political dead end, and that the party now must redistribute revenue directly to middle-class families. It’s not clear how Candidate Rubio would hope to win a tax-credit bidding war with Hillary Clinton, who’d see and raise on the size of the credit and make it refundable to non-taxpayers. The Rubio tax credit looks like an obvious political gambit with no economic growth payoff.

The Senator nonetheless has the rhetorical gifts to make a compelling case for himself. His message is aspirational, and he offers a generational contrast with Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Rubio’s biggest challenge will be convincing primary voters that this precocious energy adds up to something better than voting for one of the successful Republican Governors with a record of real accomplishments.
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60  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Liberal Way of Lying on: April 13, 2015, 08:56:37 PM
Bret Stephens
April 13, 2015 7:33 p.m. ET

Sometime in the 1990s I began to understand the Clinton way of lying, and why it was so successful. To you and me, the Clinton lies were statements demonstrably at variance with the truth, and therefore wrong and shameful. But to the initiated they were an invitation to an intoxicating secret knowledge.

What was this knowledge? That the lying was for the greater good, usually to fend off some form of Republican malevolence. What was so intoxicating? That the initiated were smart enough to see through it all. Why be scandalized when they could be amused? Why moralize when they could collude?

It always works. We are hardly a month past Hillary Clinton’s Server-gate press conference, in which she served up whoppers faster than a Burger King burger flipper—lies large and small, venial and potentially criminal, and all of them quickly found out. Emails to Bill, who never emails? The convenience of one device, despite having more than one device?

It doesn’t matter. Now Mrs. Clinton is running for president, and only a simpleton would fail to appreciate that the higher mendacity is a recommendation for the highest office. In the right hands, the thinking goes, lying can be a positive good—as political moisturizer and diplomatic lubricant.

What the Clintons pioneered—the brazen lie, coyly delivered and knowingly accepted—has become something more than the M.O. of one power couple. It has become the liberal way of lying.

Consider this column’s favorite subject: the Iran deal. An honest president might sell the current deal roughly as follows.

“My fellow Americans, the deal we have negotiated will not, I am afraid, prevent Iran from getting a bomb, should its leaders decide to build one. And eventually they will. Fatwa or no fatwa, everything we know about their nuclear program tells us it is geared toward building a bomb. And frankly, if you lived in a neighborhood like theirs—70 million Shiites surrounded by hundreds of millions of Sunnis—you’d want a bomb, too.

“Yes, we could, in theory, stop Iran from getting the bomb. Sanctions won’t do it. Extreme privation didn’t stop Maoist China or Bhutto’s Pakistan or Kim’s North Korea from building a bomb. It won’t stop Iran, either.

“Airstrikes? They would set Iran back by a few years. But even in a best-case scenario, the Iranians would be back at it before long, and they’d keep trying until they got a bomb or we got regime change.

“Fellow Americans, how many of you want to raise your hands for more Mideast regime change?

“So here’s the deal with my deal: It never was about cutting off Iran’s pathways to a bomb. Let’s just say that was an aspiration. It’s about managing, and maybe slowing, the process by which they get one.

“I know that’s not what you thought I’ve been saying these past few years—all that stuff about all options being on the table and me not bluffing and no deal being better than a bad deal. I said this for political expedience, or as a way of palliating restive Saudis and Israelis. You feed the dogs their bone.

“But if you’d been listening attentively, you would have heard the qualifier ‘on my watch’ added to my promises that Iran would not get the bomb. And what happens after I leave office? Hopefully, the Supreme Leader will be replaced by a new leader cut from better cloth. Hopefully, too, this marathon diplomacy will open new patterns of U.S.-Iranian cooperation. But if neither thing happens we’d be no worse off than we are today.

“That’s why getting a deal, any deal, is more important than the deal’s particulars when it comes to sanctions relief, inspections protocols and so on. The details only matter insofar as they make the political medicine go down. What counts is that we’re sitting at the table together, speaking.”

A speech along these lines would have the virtues of intellectual integrity and political honesty. It would improve the quality, and perhaps the tenor, of our foreign-policy discussions. The argument might well lose—the U.S. tool kit of coercion is not so bare, the benefit of diplomacy isn’t so great, the threat of a nuclear Iran isn’t so manageable and Americans aren’t that eager to roll over for the ayatollah. But at least we would have a worthwhile debate.

Question for Mrs. Clinton: Does she think the U.S. should gently midwife Iran’s nuclear birth or violently abort it? If she wants to be president, our former top diplomat could honor us with a detailed answer.

In the meantime, let’s simply note what the liberal way of lying has achieved. We are on the cusp of reaching the most consequential foreign-policy decision of our generation. We have a deal whose basic terms neither side can agree on. We have a president whose goals aren’t what he said they were, and whose motives he has kept veiled from the public.

Maybe the ayatollah will give him his deal, and those with the secret knowledge will cheer. As for the rest of us: Haven’t we learned that we’re too stupid to know what’s for our own good?

Write to
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61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Alinsky Way of governing on: April 13, 2015, 08:52:39 PM
The Alinsky Way of Governing
What happens when those in power adopt ‘rules for radicals’ to attack their less powerful opponents.
By Pete Peterson
April 9, 2015 6:50 p.m. ET

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, recently caused a stir by sending letters to seven university presidents seeking background information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that failed to endorse what is the conventional wisdom in some quarters regarding climate change. One of the targets was Steven Hayward, a colleague of mine at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.

Though the congressman lacked legal authority to demand information, his aggressive plan, which came to light in late February, should not be a surprise at a time when power holders from the White House on down are employing similar means against perceived enemies.

Mr. Grijalva left a clue about how he operates in 2013 when the magazine In These Times asked about his legislative strategy. “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy,” he said, referring to the community organizer and activist who died in 1972, “that’s where I learned this stuff.”

What sort of stuff? Mr. Grijalva sent his letters not to the professors but to university presidents, without (at least in the case of Mr. Hayward) the professors’ knowledge. Mr. Hayward was not even employed by Pepperdine at the time of his congressional testimony in 2011.

But targeting institutions and their leaders is pure Alinsky; so are the scare tactics. Mr. Grijalva’s staff sent letters asking for information about the professors, with a March 16 due date—asking, for instance, if they had accepted funding from oil companies—using official congressional letterhead, and followed up with calls from Mr. Grijalva’s congressional office. This is a page from Alinsky’s book, in both senses of the word: “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have,” reads one tip in his 1971 “Rules for Radicals.”

Yet adopting Alinsky’s tactics may not in this case fit with Alinsky’s philosophy. This is Alinsky with a twist. Despite myriad philosophical inconsistencies, “Rules for Radicals” is meant to empower the weaker against the stronger. Alinsky writes: “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

In a similar vein, the political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain supported Alinsky’s work in getting disengaged communities—typically in lower socio-economic strata—to assume the difficult responsibilities of citizenship. As a way of challenging “big government,” even conservatives such as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey have recommended Alinsky’s tactics (minus his professed hatred of capitalism, etc.).

But what happens when Machiavelli’s Prince reads and employs “Rules for Radicals”? In 2009 President Obama’s friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett was asked on CNN about media bias, particularly at Fox News, and she responded: “What the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power.” I remember thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re the White House. You are the power.”

In that sense President Obama’s election was both the climax of Alinsky’s vision and an existential crisis for that vision. Alinsky promoted the few tactics available to the downtrodden: irreverence, ridicule and deception. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” he wrote. So the rise to power of the world’s most famous community organizer raises a question: Should Alinskyite tactics be employed by those in power, or should they be reserved for those without?

Mr. Grijalva’s campaign against seven academics serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when power adopts these strategies to suppress opposition. The congressman’s office arranged additional pressure by notifying national and local media that these professors were under “investigation.” On the day the letters went out, the Washington Post blared: “House Dems: Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?”

After receiving a call from a Grijalva staffer, our local Malibu Times obliged with the front-page headline, “Pepperdine Professor Investigated by Congressman.” The online Delaware News Journal, the hometown newspaper for David Legates at the University of Delaware, wrote: “UD’s David Legates caught in climate change controversy.” Alabama’s Huntsville Times had a piece under the headline: “Arizona congressman asking questions about outside funding for UAH climate expert John Christy.”

To their credit, several editorial boards came to the defense of the professors. The Arizona Republic, the home-state newspaper of Mr. Grijalva and targeted Arizona State University professor Robert Balling, wrote that Mr. Grijalva’s campaign “fits the classic definition of a witch hunt.” Rep. Grijalva on March 2 acknowledged to National Journal that some of the information he demanded from the universities was “overreach” but defended his demand for information about funding sources.

How did it come to this? The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument, much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research. Instead of evaluating the quality of the research, opponents make heavy-handed insinuations about who funds it—as though that matters if the science is sound. And now just about every climate scientist employed by an American university knows that Washington is watching.

More broadly, what has happened is that a generation of American politicians who came of age during Saul Alinsky’s lifetime has moved into positions of institutional power that he so often derided as “the enemy.” They are showing an inability to leave behind Alinsky’s tactics that were intended for the weak against the strong. Civil discourse and academic freedom suffer while the “Prince” becomes more powerful.

Mr. Peterson is the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.
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62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia lifts its ban on delivery of S-300 Missiles to Iran on: April 13, 2015, 12:35:37 PM
Russia Lifts Its Ban on Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Iran
The Kremlin removes ban implemented by Dmitry Medvedev in 2010
By Paul Sonne
Updated April 13, 2015 12:13 p.m. ET

MOSCOW—The Kremlin has lifted its ban on deliveries of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, setting the legal groundwork for Russia to resume its plans to sell a powerful air-defense system to Tehran.

A decree by President Vladimir Putin posted on the Kremlin website Monday formally removed the Russian ban which has been in place since 2010. The move comes ahead of a June 30 deadline for world powers including the U.S. and Russia to strike a final deal with Iran over the dismantlement of its nuclear program.

Russia signed a contract worth about $800 million to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2007. But the U.S. and Israel pushed the Kremlin to drop the deal, expressing concern that Tehran could use the sophisticated air-defense system to protect its nuclear facilities from an attack.

Russia relented three years later when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a Kremlin decree prohibiting the delivery of any Russian S-300 missiles to Iran. The 2010 order brought Russia in line with United Nations Security Council sanctions passed that year, which established an arms embargo on Iran in an attempt to further impede its nuclear progress.

“At this stage, we believe the need for this kind of embargo, and a separate voluntary Russian embargo, has completely disappeared,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday. “I note that the S-300 air-defense missile system, which is exclusively of a defensive nature, is not suited for the purposes of attack and doesn’t threaten the security of any governments in the region, including, of course, Israel.”

U.N. sanctions don’t restrict the supply of air-defense weapons to Iran, Mr. Lavrov said. Russia applied the S-300 ban in September 2010 as a goodwill gesture to stimulate progress in nuclear talks with Tehran and form a united front with other world powers taking part in negotiations, he said. The recent framework agreed with Iran to eliminate its nuclear program has now removed the need for the ban, Mr. Lavrov argued.

“Taking into account the very tense situation in the surrounding area, modern air defense systems are very important to Iran,” Mr. Lavrov added.

Moscow’s decision comes nearly two months after Russia’s top Russian defense industry executive told reporters that Russia had offered to sell Iran a powerful air-defense system in the S-300 family, but had yet to strike a deal.

Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec, said in February Iran was still considering Russia’s offer to supply Antey-2500 anti-ballistic missile systems but had not yet made a decision, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Rostec didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I don’t hide it, and everyone understands that the more conflicts there are, the more weapons are bought from us,” Mr. Chemezov said at the time, noting that Russia’s foreign weapons sales had totaled $13 billion in 2014. “Our volumes continue to grow, despite sanctions. In particular it is Latin America and the Middle East.”

Mr. Chemezov, a friend of Mr. Putin, is among those sanctioned by the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine.

Write to Paul Sonne at

63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / investment idea on: April 13, 2015, 12:16:15 PM
Cyber Security seems like a good sector.  People whom I respect are mentioning FireEye.
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprise! Deportations dropping a lot under Obama on: April 13, 2015, 11:48:22 AM
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Story, 1833 on: April 13, 2015, 11:36:17 AM
"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: April 13, 2015, 10:44:08 AM
Some hyperventilating in here, but a first look gives the impression that some juicy particulars are to be found:

Note the one about the oil company in Colombia and its relations with the Clinton Foundation
67  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Wrongly incarcerated for 39 years on: April 13, 2015, 10:27:43 AM
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Viet Cong general on the American way of war on: April 12, 2015, 09:48:06 PM
69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huma Abedin on: April 12, 2015, 09:37:31 PM
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Violence seems to be working. Boko Haram getting its ass kicked on: April 12, 2015, 02:41:50 PM

Boko Haram given old-style SA hiding
April 12, 2015 at 07:00am
By Ivor Powell

Johannesburg - This week, Nigeria boasted that its war against Boko Haram was all but won, and that the Jihadist insurgents had been driven by Nigerian-led forces from the towns and forest camps from which they had formerly launched their reign of terror.

This still image, captured from a video obtained by AFP, shows Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) delivering a speech. The Nigerian group has pledged its allegiance to Islamic State.
(Credit: AFP)

“So they really have no base,” military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade is reported by AP as observing. “All we are doing is mopping up and conducting cordon and search operations for weapons and as many of them as may be straggling.”

Olukolade’s confidence may well prove somewhat premature. At more or less the same time, Chad has reported losing 71 deployed soldiers in ongoing conflicts with Boko Haram.

But all indications are that the tide has turned and that recent successes by Nigerian-led strike forces can at least in part be attributed to the involvement of the South African-linked Private Military Company (PMC), STTEP, in training and strategising Nigeria’s military response to a geopolitical security crisis that held its government seemingly mesmerised and ineffectual for several years.

At the heart of their recent success is the application of an apparently simple strategy pioneered by STTEP’s predecessor, Executive Outcomes, in bush wars in Angola and Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

Describing the strategy as one of “relentless pursuit”, Eeben Barlow, STTEP chairman and former boss of Executive Outcomes, in a blog in 2011, goes on to say it “implies the enemy is pursued with speed and aggression, without stopping, pushing him past the limits of endurance, while we continually substitute the men doing the pursuit with fresh troops…”

He also insists that it can only be effectively engaged with superior firepower on the side of the pursuing forces. It is also vital, Barlow argues, to have expert trackers among the pursuers as well as “outstanding communications” and intelligence capabilities to facilitate leap-frogging ahead of the enemy by means of helicopters (thus allowing for ambushes and the cutting off of their lines of retreat).

The strategic terrain indicated by Barlow is also traversed in the book Four Ball One Tracer, by former EO field operative Roelf van Heerden and Andrew Hudson. It details EO campaigns in Angola and Sierra Leone.

Here, the pursuit was launched on the premise of outgunning the enemy with an infantry backed up by mobile armoured vehicles as well as helicopter gunships. But the principles as well as the reliance on intelligence and mainly Bushman trackers first used by the South African counter-insurgency units Koevoet and the SADF’s 32 Battalion in the 1970s and 1980s, are virtually identical with those used in EO’s early military successes.

In the Nigerian theatre, however, as Barlow notes in an interview with the Special Operatives website, Sofrep’s James Murphy, the force available to the military includes an “air wing”, intelligence structures co-ordinated with the government’s military apparatus, and access to weaponry that includes bombs, mortars and RPGs.

Underlying it all is a coldly logical countering of the strategies classically used by insurgents throughout Africa.

As Sofrep’s Murphy notes, Boko Haram uses “guerrilla hit-and-run techniques, striking when and where they choose, hoping the media will act as a force multiplier by replaying stories about the attack over and over again…”

The core insight driving the strategy pursued by Barlow’s command is to take this initiative away from the enemy, and it appears to be working as effectively today as it did a quarter of a century ago.
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Limits of Iranian Expansion on: April 12, 2015, 02:16:54 PM

 The Limits of Iranian Expansion
Geopolitical Diary
April 9, 2015 | 23:54 GMT
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It is easy to look at the fight in Yemen as yet another sectarian proxy battle in the region. Saudi Arabia is fighting Iran-backed rebels and Iranian warships are seemingly facing off against the Saudi navy, which is blockading Yemen's ports. And with the number of security incidents picking up inside the Saudi kingdom, many are questioning whether a more assertive Saudi role in the region could end up bringing more trouble, potentially affecting Saudi Arabia's mostly Shiite oil-rich Eastern Province. A more careful look at Iranian capabilities, however, may reveal a less alarming picture.

First, the framing of the conflict as a sectarian one is a bit of an exaggeration. Yemen has long been fighting with itself. Factions such as the Houthis have taken advantage of a power struggle in Sanaa. Al Qaeda, southern separatists and various tribal factions, meanwhile, are playing various sides. Even Yemen's southern separatists have admitted to receiving Iranian financial support and military training in summer 2013. By framing the war in Yemen as a battle against an Iranian bid for regional hegemony, Riyadh can play on emotions to galvanize a Sunni coalition to fight back.

Iran has played an unclear but minor role in supplying Houthi rebels in Yemen, but with a Saudi-led blockade now in effect, that becomes much more difficult. Iran is also trying to flex its muscles by making a media splash out of the routine rotation of a naval group to the Gulf of Aden. But Iran is not about to enter a losing naval battle with Saudi and Egyptian naval forces in the Bab el-Mandeb strait. While Riyadh projects power from the Arabian Peninsula, it is simply too much of a reach for the small Iranian navy deployment operating far outside the umbrella of Iranian air cover.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

Second, Iran's reach into the Saudi kingdom is also minimal. A gunbattle in the eastern Saudi city of al-Awamiya on April 5 that ended with one Saudi policeman dead and three others wounded raised alarm that Iran could be stirring the embers of unrest. Sporadic attacks, usually involving small groups of gunmen ambushing security checkpoints, have occurred in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province over the past couple of years. But we have not seen any enhancement of the capabilities and organization of Shiite activists challenging Saudi authorities. As evidenced by the police raid and the militants' continued reliance on light arms, Saudi Arabia has kept a close watch on Eastern Province for good reason. Moreover, Riyadh appears to have been quite successful in preventing outside material support from reaching rebels in the interior.

At most, Iran is able to encourage Shiite militant activity, primarily through religious conduits in Beirut and Bahrain who go between Iranian intelligence and Saudi Shiite community leaders. As much as Iran would like to build up a fifth column in the Saudi kingdom, Saudi Arabia still appears capable of containing low-level unrest in the east to protect its oil wealth.

To be sure, a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement will help rehabilitate Iran's economy, enabling Tehran to project influence in the region. Consequently, Sunni powers are ramping up efforts to curb Iran's ambitions. But Iran's recovery should not be mistaken for a rapid expansion of power. Iran's power began peaking with the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and declined again when the civil war in Syria gained momentum. Tehran is now struggling to sustain its allies in Baghdad and Damascus. With Turkey and Saudi Arabia striving to fill a void left by the United States, Iran will try to preserve its gains rather than opening new fronts.
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What it looks like to the other side on: April 12, 2015, 01:50:04 PM
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Would new borders mean less conflcit in the ME? on: April 12, 2015, 01:35:41 PM

Here the WSJ takes on an idea I have raised here a number of times:
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why Russia will send more troops to Central Asia on: April 12, 2015, 01:32:10 PM
 Why Russia Will Send More Troops to Central Asia
April 11, 2015 | 12:59 GMT
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Russian soldiers take part in the August 2014 Indestructible Brotherhood joint military exercises at the Ala-Too training ground in Kyrgyzstan. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is making a concerted effort to increase its military and security presence throughout Central Asia, just not for the reasons it would have you think. Though the Kremlin is concerned with the threat of spillover violence from Islamist militancy in Afghanistan — its purported motive for deploying more troops — it is far more alarmed by what it sees as Chinese and Western encroachment into lands over which it has long held sway. It is this concern that will shape Moscow's behavior in Central Asia in the years to come.

Central Asia has played an important role in the projection of Russian military power since the Russian Empire's expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this period, Russia established military outposts as it competed with the British Empire for influence in the region. By the mid-19th century, Russia had brought modern-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into its empire. In the early 20th century, the countries were incorporated into the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia retained a military presence in Central Asia and played a major role in regional conflicts, such as the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war. Today Russia still has military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kazakhstan is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military bloc dominated by Moscow. And while Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are not members of the bloc, they do have important security and military ties with Russia through arms purchases.

Concerns of Militancy

Russia's long-standing influence in Central Asian military affairs frames several of the country's recent moves. On April 2, the base commander of Russia's 201st military base in Tajikistan said Russia would increase the number of troops stationed there from 5,900 to 9,000 over the next five years and add more military equipment through 2020. Then on April 3 an unnamed source in the General Staff of the Russian armed forces told Kommersant that Russia was prepared to grant Tajikistan $1.2 billion in military aid over the next few years. Russian military specialists were reportedly dispatched to Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan on March 24 as well. Turkmen officials have yet to confirm this, but local media report that Ashgabat requested Russian assistance to protect the Afghan border.

Officially, these developments are tied to growing concern over violence spilling over from Afghanistan into Central Asia. It is a legitimate fear for many Central Asian governments as NATO and the United States draw down their forces in Afghanistan. Regional governments have voiced discomfort with the increased militant presence in northern Afghanistan, including the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Russia has echoed this fear. Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative for Afghanistan alleged that Islamic State fighters in the north are training thousands of militants near the Tajikistan and Turkmenistan borders. Collective Security Treaty Organization summits have focused on the issue, and Tajikistan urged the bloc to do more to counter the threat at the April 1-2 Dushanbe summit.

Despite a definite uptick in militant attacks in northern Afghanistan, no concrete evidence has emerged of attacks over the border in Central Asian states. Central Asia's last major wave of regionwide militancy was 1999-2001, when the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan conducted attacks in the Fergana Valley in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The U.S. intervention in Afghanistan following 9/11, however, wiped out much of the group. Surviving elements then dispersed throughout the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

Since then, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have seen some attacks by Islamist militants. But many were related to political dynamics, not the movement in Afghanistan. A spillover of Afghan militancy is possible, but so far the threat is minimal.
More Pertinent Factors

Because Islamist spillover from northern Afghanistan is still a relatively minor threat, Russia's push into Central Asia may have other motivations. Moscow is engaged in a tense standoff with the West over Ukraine, just one theater in the competition for influence along the former Soviet periphery. Central Asia is another key region in this contest. The region possesses sizable oil and natural gas resources that are attractive to the European Union as it seeks to diversify energy supplies and end its dependence on Russia. Europe has already pursued Turkmenistan to join the Trans-Caspian pipeline project.

The United States has also been active in Central Asia, particularly from a security standpoint. The United States no longer uses Central Asian military bases that had been logistical centers for operations in Afghanistan, such as the Kant Air Base in Kyrgyzstan or the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan. These bases, however, have left a regional legacy. Washington maintains some security operations that include counternarcotics training with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The United States has also expressed interest in increasing its commitment. The commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin, said the United States was willing to provide military equipment and technology to support Turkmenistan's efforts to secure its border with Afghanistan. The United States also announced in January that it would grant over 200 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to Uzbekistan previously used in the U.S. Northern Distribution Network in Afghanistan. Such gestures point to a U.S. desire to develop more cooperative security relationships with Central Asian states.

Moscow's military and security expansion efforts stem partly from its concern about these gestures. But Russia has not limited itself to deploying military personnel. Moscow has expanded the scope and membership of its Eurasian Union to include broader cooperation on issues including border controls. Kazakhstan is already a member, and Kyrgyzstan will soon join. Russia increased the number of exercises held by Collective Security Treaty Organization members. It also called on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to cooperate more with the security bloc, though both have been hesitant.

However, Moscow's ability to solidify its position in Central Asia will be limited. Russia has a weak economy. Already, many Central Asian migrants who once worked in Russia have left, causing a decline in Russian remittances to the region. The West, and particularly the United States, will continue to have influence in the region. China, too, will continue to make economic and energy inroads.

Meanwhile, instability in the region will probably increase. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan both have potential succession crises in the offing. Moreover, demographic growth and competition over water resources are likely to threaten the region's security. Russia will see its position in Central Asia tested in the coming years. Islamist militancy is just one concern among many for Moscow and Central Asian governments.
75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chris Rock on the Hillbillary Clintons on: April 12, 2015, 11:48:01 AM
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cherokees expel blacks from tribal lists on: April 12, 2015, 10:50:23 AM
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 8/2014 on: April 12, 2015, 10:42:29 AM
Lots of good pictures of weapons seized

Ansar al-Sharia Overruns Special Ops Base & Seizes US Weapons in Benghazi
14Charlie 23 Comments SOF News

According to recent reporting from the Long War Journal and Agence France Presse, Salafist jihadist militia Ansar al-Sharia and its allies have seized Camp Thunderbolt, a key base for Libyan Special Operations Forces located in Benghazi.  The base is reported to have fallen following a week’s worth of sustained artillery shelling.
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Ansar al-Sharia, the Islamist group responsible for the 11 September 2012 Benghazi attack on the US Temporary Mission Facility and CIA Annex that left four Americans dead (as SOFREP has extensively reported), also announced complete control over the city in the form of an “Islamic emirate” earlier this week.

This attack and announcement of an Islamic emirate follow weeks of intensified fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi that pits Islamist and jihadist militia coalitions against secular militias and government forces, and also follows the recent evacuation of US and other western embassy officials from the country earlier this week.

The Long War Journal reports that Ansar al-Sharia is “currently fighting under the umbrella of the ‘Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council’, and is an alliance of multiple [Salafist jihadist] groups.”  Ansar al-Sharia claims that the seizure of Camp Thunderbolt deals a blow to the secular militias and government forces currently working to regain control over the city, namely career Libyan soldier General Haftar and the forces loyal to him.

Haftar, a “renegade general who last month launched an offensive against Islamist militias and their suspected political backers”, has been working closely with Libyan special forces to target the various Islamist militias in Benghazi.  It remains to be seen how the loss of Camp Thunderbolt will affect these operations.

Ansar al-Sharia uploaded photos of the weapons, munitions, and equipment it seized following the assault on Camp Thunderbolt to its official Twitter account (which they’ve operated since November 2013 as SOFREP has previously reported), which can be found below (courtesy of the Long War Journal).

Among the captured equipment are vehicles used by Libyan Special Forces, countless US and foreign munitions, SA-7 MANPADS, PK machine guns, explosive detection equipment, mortar systems, assault rifles, and much more.

Regardless of the strategic value the seizure of Camp Thunderbolt provides to Ansar al-Sharia in the coming weeks, it is clear that the immediate tactical-level benefits gained by Islamist militants in Benghazi now pose an even greater threat to any forces working to stem their control over the city.

This increased threat will also be of significant concern to any additional nations planning to evacuate their embassies, facilities, or personnel in the coming weeks should fighting intensify further.  It has already been reported that a British convoy came under small arms fire during an evacuation of personnel to Tunisia earlier this week.

For a quick refresher on Ansar al-Sharia, visit this BBC Profile or the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium’s (TRAC) profile.  SOFREP’s List of Terrorism Resources will also provide additional resources that contain more in-depth information if required.

Thanks for listening.

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About the Author

14Charlie is a young intelligence professional supporting an airborne-capable unit. Not SOF, just a regular guy. He holds a commission, a BS in Political Science with a German minor from a small engineering school in Colorado, and loves the adventure found in mountains, foreign travel, and single malt scotch. He strongly advocates admitting nothing, denying everything, and making counter-accusations. Nothing written here is in an official capacity or represents the positions of the USG. NFQ


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78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOFREP and I agree on Kurdistan on: April 12, 2015, 10:32:47 AM
Normally we would riff about another secret reader of this forum, but I think the Special Operations Forces probably came up with this on their own grin

I just signed up to this source for $5 a month.  At the URLs posted above you can see the first few paragraphs for free.  Here is the second article in its entirety

In a fragmented Iraq, civil war is in fashion and the only shimmer of hope for stability in the region is coming from the north in Kurdistan.

Today SOFREP has heard RUMINT from several sources that Kurdistan is not only taking ground, they are preparing to announce their own statehood.

“The American air support encouraged the Kurdish militiamen to reverse the momentum of the recent fighting and retake Gwer and the other town, Mahmour, both within a half-hour’s drive of Erbil, according to Gen. Helgurd Hikmet, head of the pesh merga’s media office. General Hikmet said some pesh merga fighters had pushed on beyond the two towns, which lie on the frontier between the Arab and Kurdish areas of Iraq.” -NY Times

I had an opportunity to spend some time in the region in with winter of 2006. The one thing that became clear to me from my experience in Sulaymaniyahwas that Kurdistan has their act together, a stark comparison to the rest of the country. In the back of my mind I’ve always thought that the Kurds should have their independence, they’ve been fiercely loyal to America, and I don’t know anyone who’s served in the north of Iraq who wouldn’t think this a good idea.

“Further destabilization rocked Iraq on Sunday as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused President Fouad Massoum of engaging in a “coup” by failing to choose a new prime minister by an Sunday’s deadline.

In a last-minute bid to cling to power, Mr. al-Maliki declared the inaction to be “a clear constitutional violation” and said he planned to file a legal complaint against Mr. Massoum, who was named the new president in late July.

“This attitude represents a coup on the constitution and the political process in a country that is governed by a democratic and federal system,” Mr. al-Maliki said in a surprise address on Iraqi TV.” -Washington Times

Time will only tell if rumor becomes fact. The one thing we can count on, is that anything is possible in the current environment.

We’ll have more updates ASAP.

(Main image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

About Our Links
We link to other websites if we find their content compelling. We also link to relevant products on as affiliates. The money we earn from Amazon helps keep the beer cold and the lights on.
About the Author

Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEAL with combat deployments to Afghanistan, and Iraq. During his last tour he served as the west coast sniper Course Manager at the Naval Special Warfare Center. He is Editor-in-Chief of, a SOFREP contributing editor, and a New York Times best selling author (The Red Circle & Benghazi: The Definitive Report). Follow Brandon on Facebook, Twitter or his website.

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79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Operation Jade Helm on: April 12, 2015, 10:20:38 AM
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DOJ's war on hookers on: April 11, 2015, 12:36:49 PM
81  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: April 11, 2015, 12:22:21 PM
An internet friend who follows and seems responsible about these things, says this is the back story:

IF: "Family of EDP's living in their car. Walmart loss prevention employee asked them to leave, they became hostile, cops were called"

MARC "Ah. Sure looked like the cops arrived in force and they did not dilly dally before going physical."

IF: "Agreed, but their use of force being so ineffective should be embarrassing and the one cop who shot himself in the and the other cop who kicked his partner in the face trying to kick the assailant"
82  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: April 11, 2015, 12:13:50 PM
This is a good thread for the clip Quiet Dog.

WOW!  What chaos!  The continuous caterwauling must make it very hard to stay centered.

Things seem to start rather abruptly, but given the purposeful arrival of several police cars I'm guessing there is a back story here. 
83  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TX panel votes to limit telemedicine on: April 11, 2015, 11:48:01 AM
84  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: New Obama regs 5 years after BP spill, new drilling too? on: April 11, 2015, 11:46:22 AM
85  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: April 11, 2015, 11:43:05 AM
Posted: 10 Apr 2015 05:30 PM PDT


As the chart above shows, Commercial & Industrial Loans outstanding at U.S. banks grew at a 19% annualized pace in the first three months of this year. These loans are mostly to small and medium-sized businesses that are not able to access the capital markets directly. It's good news not because more loans mean more spending and/or more economic activity (lending doesn't create growth, but it can facilitate growth by distributing capital to people and businesses can make productive use of the money). It's good news because it reflects a significant increase in confidence on the part of banks and businesses. Confidence has been in short supply for most of the current recovery, as can be seen by the tepid growth of business investment and the disappointingly slow growth of the economy. That looks to be changing for the better now.

Banks have had the ability to increase their lending virtually without limit ever since the Fed began its Quantitative Easing program in late 2008. However, lending didn't really pick up until the beginning of last year, right around the time the Fed announced the tapering and eventual end of QE. Things have changed dramatically since then. With rising confidence comes a reduced demand for money (i.e., money in the form of cash and cash equivalents like bank reserves, which exceed required reserves by about $2.5 trillion), and this validates the Fed's decision to stop growing its balance sheet. On the margin, banks are becoming less and less willing to sit on trillions of excess reserves; they'd rather lend money to the private sector than to the Fed, and they are beginning to do that in spades.

With lending activity booming, this is no time to be pessimistic about the economy's prospects.
86  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / EVen POTH notices China's navy growth and actions in the South China Sea on: April 11, 2015, 11:18:46 AM
Beijing, With an Eye on the South China Sea, Adds Patrol Ships

The Chinese guided missile destroyer Harbin during exercises with the Russian Navy in 2012. Credit China Daily/Reuters
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SINGAPORE — China is rapidly building coast guard ships, the vessels that China most commonly uses for patrols in the South China Sea, and in the last three years has increased the number of ships in that category 25 percent, a new report by the United States Navy says.

China has the world’s largest coast guard fleet, with more such ships than its neighbors Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines combined, the report shows.

The unclassified assessment of the Chinese Navy, the first in nine years by the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence, says the rapid modernization over the last 15 years is yielding dramatic results.

The Chinese Navy is “on track to dramatically increase its combat capability by 2020 through rapid acquisition and improved operational proficiency,” the report says.
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In 2014, China began construction on, launched or commissioned more than 60 vessels, and a similar number of ships were planned in 2015, it said, adding: “In 2013 and 2014, China launched more naval ships than any other country and is expected to continue this trend through 2015-16.”
A China Coast Guard vessel last year. China has increased its number of Coast Guard ships by 25 percent in the last three years. Credit Bullit Marquez/Associated Press

The United States Navy faces growing competition from China in the Pacific Ocean, and Washington has become increasingly concerned about China’s maritime power as it undertakes reclamation works to create artificial islands in contested areas of the South China Sea.

The new islands were to serve a variety of purposes, among them the establishment of defensive military capabilities in the waterway, one of the busiest trade routes in the world, China’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The Navy report noted that despite its slowing economy, China had continued its double-digit increases in military spending, announcing in March a military budget of $141.5 billion, an increase of 10 percent.

In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s goal to make China a great maritime power, China will have a much more robust navy with far greater reach in the coming decade with multiple aircraft carriers (China has only one so far), ballistic missile submarines and, potentially, a large-deck amphibious ship. At the moment, the report says, the Chinese Navy is built around destroyers, frigates and conventional submarines.

The report confirms recent announcements in the Chinese state-run news media that China has deployed the YJ-18, a new generation supersonic antiship cruise missile that could present unprecedented challenges to the air defenses of American and allied ships, said Andrew S. Erickson, an associate professor at the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island.

“Everyone serious about understanding Chinese military capabilities must familiarize themselves with this missile,” Mr. Erickson said.

An article in China Daily said last week that three “cutting-edge nuclear-powered attack submarines” had been manufactured by China and that one of them, referred to as the Type-093G, had a wing-shaped cross section designed to improve speed and mobility and to reduce noise. That submarine carried a vertical launcher capable of delivering China’s latest YJ-18 supersonic antiship cruise missile, the article said.

In the past, China had received antiship cruise missiles from Russia, but now China is making them at home and fielding them in greater numbers, said Lyle J. Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College.

“This missile, and its air-launched cousin, the YJ-12, are major threats to the U.S. Navy,” Mr. Goldstein said. “The major increase in speed makes the missile much harder to intercept.”
Correction: April 10, 2015

An earlier version of this article carried an incorrect dateline. The article was reported and written in Singapore, not Beijing.
87  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drones for crowd control on: April 11, 2015, 11:13:09 AM
88  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: April 11, 2015, 11:07:26 AM
"Her record as CEO of HP was not that highly regarded but she seems able to defend it."

I share this sentiment.

Also, I was not at all impressed with her as a Senate candidate her in CA.

That said:

a) Presumably she learned from her Senate campaign

b) Being a woman, she can go after Hillary unafraid of feminazi claptrap-- a point which she seems to have grasped quite well.  Thus, regardless of her ultimate merits (and I think she comes up quite short) having her in the race at this point is a big plus for beating Hillary.

89  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: April 10, 2015, 10:51:56 AM
90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: April 10, 2015, 01:23:57 AM
With the little I've seen so far, I can picture her as a VP candidate; she'd make a very good "pit bull with lipstick" going after Hillary.
91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRA not happy with Rand on: April 09, 2015, 02:54:02 PM
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jeb Bush on Gun Rights on: April 09, 2015, 02:27:29 PM
Patrick O’Connor And
Beth Reinhard
April 9, 2015 2:51 p.m. ET

The day after Jeb Bush signed landmark “stand your ground” legislation, one Florida resident emailed the then-governor to thank him “for allowing us to defend ourselves.”

“You are most welcome,” Mr. Bush replied.

The former Florida governor is confronting a conservative backlash for his positions on education and immigration. This week, he’ll turn to an issue on which he garners much higher marks from the right: guns.

Key to his appeal is the 2005 decision to sign a bill, among the most sweeping of its kind, that expanded protections for Floridians who use deadly force against home intruders or people who attack them in their cars, workplace or even on the street. The law has since become a touchstone in a broader debate about the use of deadly force, following the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen.
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Against that backdrop, Mr. Bush and nearly a dozen other potential Republican White House hopefuls will tout their support for gun rights Friday at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The three-day event, which draws thousands of gun enthusiasts each year, will be a fresh opportunity for Mr. Bush to win over conservative activists who have been cool to his likely White House bid. His speech Friday is a venue to promote his conservative record as Florida governor.

Not attending is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky because of a scheduling conflict. Top NRA officials are also unhappy Mr. Paul has for years lent his name to the National Association for Gun Rights, a group that fashions itself a more conservative alternative to NRA.

During his eight-year stretch as governor, Mr. Bush signed numerous bills extending new rights to gun owners, including those to expand protections for people permitted to carry concealed firearms. As a result, more than a million Floridians have permits to carry concealed weapons. He also approved a measure allowing Florida to extend its protections to residents of other states who visit the Sunshine State.

“He’s probably more conservative on guns than anybody in that race,” said Bill Bunting, a prominent gun-rights activist and a GOP committeeman with the state party. “He’s got a perfect track record.”

Most Republicans eying presidential bids are strong supporters of gun rights. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is expected to launch his campaign Monday, voted for the state’s stand-your-ground law in 2005 as a member of the state House.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a version of the law in 2007, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has made his support for similar legislation a staple of his early stump speech. Mr. Paul, who just announced his bid, has advocated allowing teachers and principals to possess guns to prevent school shootings like the one that occurred in 2012 in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

In the months before Mr. Bush signed Florida’s stand-your-ground law, he traded emails with the leading NRA lobbyist in the state, Marion Hammer. In one exchange, Ms. Hammer assured the governor the state Legislature would be the first in the country to pass a sweeping bill that included provisions protecting gun owners in their homes and from civil liability. “We’re the first to do the whole package,” she wrote.

In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Mr. Bush said the law shouldn’t have applied in those circumstances, in which the teen was shot by a self-appointed local neighborhood watchman. Mr. Bush also expressed sympathy for the victim’s family, telling reporters that “anytime an innocent life is taken, it’s a tragedy,” and he questioned the pace of the investigation.

But Mr. Bush didn’t waver in his support for the underlying legislation. “Applied properly, I support the law,” Mr. Bush said shortly after the incident.

At the time the bill passed, critics argued it would result in the death of innocent, unarmed people.

Mr. Bush “was aware of the possible ramifications,” said Democratic state Sen. Chris Smith, a vocal critic when he was still in the state House. “We brought up Trayvon Martin situations in those debates.”

Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said the governor “signed the ‘stand your ground’ law in an effort to protect individuals who felt in danger of imminent peril, great bodily harm or death.”

In private, Mr. Bush acknowledged the concerns. Days before he signed the law, a Parkland, Fla., resident emailed to say, “From what I understand about this bill it would put a lot of young BLACK men in harm’s way.”

The governor forwarded her note to his staff, and asked: “what is this about?”

When his aide explained the bill was the stand-your-ground measure advocated by Ms. Hammer, Mr. Bush replied: “We will need a response to this and to the others that will come.”

93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Hillary's rogue intel operation lead us into war in Libya? on: April 09, 2015, 01:00:21 PM
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 09, 2015, 11:32:19 AM
Geraldo is an egotistical ass.  That is all.
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US will have given Iran $11.9B through end of nuke talks. on: April 09, 2015, 11:31:06 AM
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ME: Must work for Food Stamps on: April 09, 2015, 01:47:09 AM
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / To be read in conjunction with each other on: April 09, 2015, 12:56:05 AM


New footage from the Israeli Navy showcases the most advanced submarine in the IDF's arsenal: the Dolphin-class INS Tanin (Crocodile). The nuclear-capable submarine boasts an array of sophisticated weaponry, as well as the latest in intelligence-gathering technology. It stands at a whopping 68 meters long, compared to 57.3 meters on average for other submarines. "The submarine will receive more long-term missions, and for a greater amount of time, than submarines" the IDF possesses, one navy officer explained, adding that as a result the Navy had "extended by several days our ability to operate silently and secretly in enemy territory." The submarine's commander, Lieutenant Colonel "G", echoed those sentiments, adding that as a result of the sensitive nature of the missions it will be undertaking only the most elite navy personnel will be operating it. "Even the smallest mistake by a soldier could foil the mission in the best-case scenario, and in the worst case reveal the submarine and leave it vulnerable to attack," he said.

Sailors worked closely with the defense ministry, intelligence agencies, the air force and other elite IDF units, he added. Commander of Haifa naval base General David Salamah explained the importance of Israel's submarine fleet to national security. Israel's submarines regularly operate "deep within enemy territory", he noted. "We are talking about a major upgrade to the navy and the entire IDF, in the face of the challenges posed to the State of Israel."

98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: April 08, 2015, 08:24:00 PM
Not to mention David Petraeus too.
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 08, 2015, 07:04:12 PM
Some real interesting nuggets in that Google piece , , ,  angry
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington; Paine on: April 08, 2015, 12:32:02 PM
"At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a nation; and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." --George Washington, Letter to the Governors, 1783

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." --Thomas Paine
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