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51  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: March 02, 2015, 11:29:14 AM
I'm not noticing any solution to the illegal amnesty/wrok permits issue being offered here, but politically it raises questions that must be addressed.

Squandering a GOP Majority
House Republicans walk into Obama’s immigration trap.
March 1, 2015 5:49 p.m. ET

A majority in Congress is a terrible thing to waste, but only two months into their largest majority since the 1920s Republicans are well on the way. Their latest mental breakdown is over their attempt to overturn President Obama ’s order ending deportations for some five million illegal immigrants.

Once again the fight comes down to recognizing political reality, or marching off a cliff to almost certain failure. The Cliff Marchers refuse to vote to fund the Department of Homeland Security without a provision barring the enforcement of Mr. Obama’s immigration orders going back to 2012. But the House bill has failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. That puts DHS on the cusp of a partial shutdown.

On Friday the House and Senate voted to fund DHS, but only for a week and only with the help of Democrats. Speaker John Boehner ’s plan to fund the department for three weeks came crashing down when 52 Republicans revolted. The revolters effectively put Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House. So the GOP will now consume itself in more recriminations as it squanders more of its first 100 days.

The sad if predictable irony is that this is exactly what Mr. Obama hoped to incite with his November immigration order. He wanted to goad an overreaction that made the GOP look both anti-immigrant and intemperate enough to shut down the government.

The double irony is that, in shutting down part of DHS, the Republicans would also give Mr. Obama an opening to claim the political high ground on national security. He’d blame the GOP for putting at risk the defenses against a terrorist threat that his own policies have allowed to proliferate.

The smart play now would be for Republicans to fund DHS and move on to more promising policy ground including the budget. Texas and other states that oppose the order have already won a legal victory when a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against implementing it. The Administration has appealed, but even if it wins in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the issue is likely to go the Supreme Court.

The Cliff Marchers dismiss this as surrender and are insisting on a long fight over the immigration order even if it means a partial DHS shutdown. (We say partial because some 85% of DHS’s 240,000 workers are deemed essential and would still report for duty even if the government deferred their pay. The core security functions of DHS would continue.) The GOP dissenters say they’d prevail over time as the public came to see Mr. Obama’s fealty to his immigration diktat as the real cause of the shutdown.

Miracles do happen, but in every previous shutdown the voters blamed Republicans more than Mr. Obama. And if there is a terror attack, good luck explaining that Congress isn’t to blame because those DHS workers were supposed to be on the job even if they weren’t being paid.

Some of the Cliff Marchers are also demanding that Republicans break Senate rules and cashier the filibuster to pass the House bill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy picked up that theme Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He pointed out that 57 Senators, including four Democrats, had voted to oppose Mr. Obama’s November order.

But busting the filibuster on policy would have ramifications far beyond this fight. Republicans would have to violate Senate rules, which require a two-thirds vote to change a rule midsession. They would also exceed what even Democrat Harry Reid did in breaking the filibusters for executive nominations.

Most important, this would remove what has long been a procedural barrier to narrow liberal majorities rewriting labor and election laws to hurt conservatives. If Republicans are going to throw out the filibuster, it should be done based on more than the desperation of a rump group in the House.

The immigration fiasco raises the larger question of whether House Republicans can even function as a majority. Some backbenchers are whispering that they’ll work with Democrats to oust Mr. Boehner as Speaker if he doesn’t follow their shutdown strategy. Some are also plotting to take down a procedural rule, which would mean handing control to Democrats.

Mr. Boehner has made mistakes, one of which is bending too much to the shutdown caucus. But let’s say the no-compromise crowd did succeed in humiliating the Speaker, and he resigned. What then? Whom do coup plotters want to put in charge?

Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan has support across the House GOP, but why would he want to run a majority that is hostage to the whim of 50 Members who care more about appeasing talk radio than achieving conservative victories?

Republicans need to do some soul searching about the purpose of a Congressional majority, including whether they even want it. If they really think Mr. Boehner is the problem, then find someone else to do his thankless job. If not, then start to impose some order and discipline and advance the conservative cause rather than self-defeating rebellion.
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52  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: March 02, 2015, 11:23:08 AM
You crack me up  cheesy
53  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plan to re-take Tikrit on: March 02, 2015, 11:22:27 AM
Iraq Military Begins Campaign to Reclaim Tikrit From Islamic State
Reclaiming Tikrit is seen as critical to defeating Islamic State militants in Mosul
Iraq’s military, backed by some 20,000 volunteer fighters, have begun a campaign to recapture the birthplace of Saddam Hussein from Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Mark Kelly reports. Image: AFP/Getty
Tamer El-Ghobashy and
Ghassan Adnan
March 2, 2015 4:09 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD—Iraq’s military, backed by some 20,000 volunteer fighters, began a campaign to reclaim the city of Tikrit on Monday, state television said, in what is seen an important political and military step in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Monday’s offensive, announced by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, marks the third attempt by Iraqi security forces to rout militants out of the city, best known as the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, which fell last summer during a dramatic assault by the Islamic State group.

Previous attempts had failed, mostly due to poor coordination between Iraq’s military and the mostly Shiite volunteer forces, which have proven to be the most effective fighters against the insurgency but carry with them political liabilities.

The Shiite militias are severely distrusted by Sunnis in Iraq, owing to years of abuse under a Shiite-dominated regime that was backed by the U.S.
An Iraqi soldier sits on a military vehicle at Udhaim dam, north of Baghdad, March 1, 2015. Iraq’s military, backed by some 20,000 volunteer fighters, began a campaign on Monday to reclaim the city of Tikrit , hometown of former president Saddam Hussein. ENLARGE
An Iraqi soldier sits on a military vehicle at Udhaim dam, north of Baghdad, March 1, 2015. Iraq’s military, backed by some 20,000 volunteer fighters, began a campaign on Monday to reclaim the city of Tikrit , hometown of former president Saddam Hussein. Photo: Reuters

In the hours before the operation was launched, Mr. Abadi sought to ease the concerns of Tikrit’s overwhelmingly Sunni residents, saying many of the volunteer forces aiding in the fight for the city are Sunni locals supporting the military’s effort.

He also reiterated a pledge to offer clemency to tribal leaders in Tikrit who had previously aided the insurgency.

“We will forget about their bad deeds if they come back to the side of the nation,” he said in a news conference broadcast on state television.

Reclaiming Tikrit, a city about 80 miles north of Baghdad, is seen as a critical point toward a planned offensive to defeat Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, which had been the de facto base for the insurgency in Iraq.

It is also considered a goodwill gesture from Iraq’s mostly Shiite leadership toward the nation’s Sunnis, whose disaffection after years of policies that marginalized them is seen as a major contributor to the success of the Islamic State in taking large portions of the country under their control.

Write to Tamer El-Ghobashy at
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54  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Analysis of Canadian Supreme Court decision on: March 02, 2015, 11:18:20 AM
55  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jeb Bush on: March 02, 2015, 10:37:21 AM
Intelligent observations, and I don't disagree.

I guess what I was trying to say in this moment that there is plenty of substance to Bush as well.   NONE of the candidates has the well-rounded background and positions that I would hope for in a presidential candidate.
56  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why Islam will never accept the State of Israel on: March 02, 2015, 10:33:31 AM
June 30, 2010
Why Islam Will Never Accept the State of Israel
By Steven Simpson
It is a common belief that the "Arab-Israeli conflict" is a conflict of two peoples fighting over the same piece of land and is therefore one of nationalism. Rarely, if ever, do we hear or read of the religious component to this conflict.

However, if anything, the conflict is more of a "Muslim-Jewish" one than an "Arab-Israeli" one. In other words, the conflict is based on religion -- Islam vs. Judaism -- cloaked in Arab nationalism vs. Zionism. The fact of the matter is that in every Arab-Israeli war, from 1948 to the present, cries of "jihad," "Allahu Akbar," and the bloodcurdling scream of "Idbah al- Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) have resonated amongst even the most secular of Arab leaders, be it Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s or the supposedly "secular" PLO of the 1960s to the present. Indeed, the question must be asked: If this is really a conflict of different nationalisms and not Islamic supremacism, then why is it that virtually no non-Arab Muslim states have full (if any) relations with Israel?

There is a common Arabic slogan that is chanted in the Middle East: "Khaybar, Khaybar! Oh Jews, remember. The armies of Muhammad are returning!" It would be most interesting to know how many people have ever heard what -- or more precisely, where -- Khaybar is, and what the Arabs mean by such a slogan. A short history of the Jews of Arabia is needed in order to explain this, and why Islam remains so inflexible in its hostile attitude towards Jews and Israel.

Until the founder of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdallah, proclaimed himself "Messenger of Allah" in the 7th century, Jews and Arabs lived together peacefully in the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, the Jews -- and Judaism -- were respected to such an extent that an Arab king converted to Judaism in the 5th century. His name was Dhu Nuwas, and he ruled over the Himyar (present day Yemen) area of the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, it is most likely that the city of Medina (the second-holiest city in Islam) -- then called Yathrib -- was originally founded by Jews. In any event, at the time of Muhammad's "calling," three important Jewish tribes existed in Arabia: Banu Qurayza, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qaynuqa. 

Muhammad was very keen on having the Jews accept him as a prophet to the extent that he charged his followers not to eat pig and to pray in the direction of Jerusalem. However, the Jews apparently were not very keen on Muhammad, his proclamation of himself as a prophet, or his poor knowledge of the Torah (Hebrew Bible). Numerous verbal altercations are recorded in the Qur'an and various Hadiths about these conflicts between the Jewish tribes and Muhammad.

Eventually, the verbal conflicts turned into physical conflicts, and when the Jews outwardly rejected Muhammad as the "final seal of the prophets," he turned on them with a vengeance. The atrocities that were committed against these tribes are too numerous to cite in a single article, but two tribes, the Qaynuqa and Nadir, were expelled from their villages by Muhammad. It appears that the Qaynuqa left Arabia around 624 A.D. The refugees of the Nadir settled in the village of Khaybar.

In 628 A.D., Muhammad turned on the last Jewish tribe, the Qurayza, claiming that they were in league with Muhammad's Arab pagan enemies and had "betrayed" him. Muhammad and his army besieged the Qurayza, and after a siege of over three weeks, the Qurayza surrendered. While many Arabs pleaded with Muhammad to let the Qurayza leave unmolested, Muhammad had other plans. Unlike expelling the Qaynuqa and Nadir, Muhammad exterminated the Qurayza, with an estimated 600 to 900 Jewish men being beheaded in one day. The women and children were sold into slavery, and Muhammad took one of the widows, Rayhana, as a "concubine."

In 629 A.D., Muhammad led a campaign against the surviving Jews of Nadir, now living in Khaybar. The battle was again bloody and barbaric, and the survivors of the massacre were either expelled or allowed to remain as "second-class citizens." Eventually, upon the ascension of Omar as caliph, most Jews were expelled from Arabia around the year 640 A.D.

This brings us, then, to the question of why modern-day Muslims still boast of the slaughter of the Jewish tribes and the Battle of Khaybar. The answer lies in what the Qur'an -- and later on, the various Hadiths -- says about the Jews. The Qur'an is replete with verses that can be described only as virulently anti-Semitic. The amount of Surahs is too numerous to cite, but a few will suffice: Surah 2:75 (Jews distorted the Torah); 2:91 (Jews are prophet-killers), 4:47 (Jews have distorted the Bible and have incurred condemnation from Allah for breaking the Sabbath), 5:60 (Jews are cursed, and turned into monkeys and pigs), and 5:82 (Jews and pagans are the strongest in enmity to the Muslims and Allah). And of course, there is the genocidal Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:177, which would make Adolph Hitler proud. "The Day of Judgment will not have come until you fight with the Jews, and the stones and the trees behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!"' Thus, the Arab Muslims had their own "final solution" in store for the Jews already in the 7th century.

The fact that Muslims still point to these (and many other) hateful verses in the Qur'an and Hadith should give Jews -- not just Israelis -- pause to consider if there can ever be true peace between Muslims and Jews, let alone between Muslims and Israel. When the armies of Islam occupied the area of Byzantine "Palestine" in the 7th century, the land became part of "Dar al-Islam" (House of Islam). Until that area is returned to Islam, (i.e., Israel's extermination), she remains part of "Dar al harb" (House of War). It now becomes clear that this is a conflict of religious ideology and not a conflict over a piece of "real estate."

Finally, one must ask the question: Aside from non-Arab Turkey, whose relations with Israel are presently teetering on the verge of collapse, why is it that no other non-Arab Muslim country in the Middle East has ever had full relations (if any at all) with Israel, such as faraway countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? Indeed, why would Persian Iran -- conquered by the Arabs -- have such a deep hatred for Jews and Israel, whereas a non-Muslim country such as India does not feel such enmity? The answer is painfully clear: The contempt in which the Qur'an and other Islamic writings hold Jews does not exist in the scriptures of the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other Eastern religions. Therefore, people that come from non-Muslim states do not have this inherent hatred towards Jews, and by extension, towards Israel. But when a people -- or peoples -- is raised with a scripture that regards another people and religion as immoral and less than human, then it is axiomatic why such hatred and disdain exists on the part of Muslims for Jews and Israel.

Islam -- as currently interpreted and practiced -- cannot accept a Jewish state of any size in its midst. Unless Muslims come to terms with their holy writings vis-à-vis Jews, Judaism, and Israel and go through some sort of "reformation," it will be unlikely that true peace will ever come to the Middle East. In the meantime, unless Islam reforms, Israel should accept the fact that the Muslims will never accept Israel as a permanent fact in the Middle East.

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57  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ex Mossad head disgrees with Netanyahu on: March 01, 2015, 08:03:03 PM,7340,L-4631634,00.html
58  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: March 01, 2015, 07:52:46 PM

and , , , apparently he is a creationist?
59  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A new improved Bush Doctrine on: March 01, 2015, 07:19:32 PM
60  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: March 01, 2015, 06:50:04 PM
Wouldn't be the first time  cheesy but FWIW it was brought to my attention by a retired LEO.
61  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: March 01, 2015, 06:48:34 PM
Fourth post of the day:
62  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: March 01, 2015, 05:54:12 PM

Fair enough  grin
63  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: March 01, 2015, 03:03:23 PM
64  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: March 01, 2015, 02:55:48 PM
In fairness, I should note that article is essentially RumInt, but IMHO is quite plausible.
65  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: March 01, 2015, 02:51:31 PM
Shouldn't this be in the Epidemics thread?  Why here?
66  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Look out! Here comes the Feds! on: March 01, 2015, 02:50:37 PM
67  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli jets if they attacked Iran's nukes. on: March 01, 2015, 11:17:31 AM

 , , , and the Obama White House called Netanyahu chickenshit?!?

 angry angry angry
68  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jeb Bush on: March 01, 2015, 10:33:36 AM
I agree with most of that too smiley  I guess I am just saying not to put our fingers in our ears just yet with Bush. 

I fully recognize that there are some serious potential weak links in his candidacy:

1) A natural and proper revulsion to monarchy/nepotism and the general revulsion to the idea of a First Lady running against the son and brother of previous presidents. 

2) As we call for a return to a strong foreign policy, we are going to be accused of wanting to redo what did not work in Iraq under Bush 2, and Jeb, an honorable man, will have a hard time criticizing him and distinguishing himself from his brother.   Remember too, Rand Paul will be resonating with many people with many of his criticisms.

69  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: March 01, 2015, 08:37:36 AM
70  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US military vehicles 300 miles from Russian border on: February 28, 2015, 11:59:56 PM
71  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jeb Bush on: February 28, 2015, 11:39:51 PM
I could live with a compromise that AFTER THE BORDERS ARE CONTROLLED allowed those who were brought here very young and for all intents and purposes are Americans, to achieve some sort of legalized status.   I also note that he speaks of the very important point about narrowly limiting the definition of "family" that can be brought in from what it is now.
72  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Historical Jesus on: February 28, 2015, 06:48:56 PM
73  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: February 28, 2015, 06:34:11 PM
74  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Mom's Choice: Jihad or Jail on: February 28, 2015, 09:57:57 AM
A Mom’s Choice: Jihad or Jail
U.K. woman who told police her son joined a militant group in Syria now regrets her decision
By Alexis Flynn and Jenny Gross
Updated Feb. 27, 2015 6:02 p.m. ET

BIRMINGHAM, England—Majida Sarwar searched the bedroom of her 21-year-old son five days after he left on what he had said was a university-sponsored trip. Mrs. Sarwar found a frightening six-page letter, addressed, “DEAR MUM PLEASE READ,” that sent her to police.

“As you know, I have gone for a holiday, but the real purpose is to do Jihad for Allah,” the May 2013 letter began. It ended saying he was headed to Syria, where, citing religion, “I will help the oppressed and fight Allah’s enemies.”

Mrs. Sarwar and her husband worked with U.K. authorities to help retrieve their son and his boyhood friend from an al Qaeda-linked rebel group fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Months later, the young men, apparently disillusioned with the war, agreed to return home. They were arrested on arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport and sentenced in December to more than 12 years in prison, the longest penalty imposed in the U.K. so far for traveling to fight in Syria. Mrs. Sarwar, angry over the sentence, says she regrets turning in her son.

As Western countries try to figure out how to keep young people from the lure of Islamic Stateand other terror groups, the U.K. has turned to Muslim women in a program launched last year to help spot radicalism sprouting in their families. The idea is to intercept family members before they leave. Other intervention programs have been started in Denmark, France and Australia.

But the experience of the Sarwar family illustrates the difficulties, and it may give pause to parents who face the choice for their sons and daughters of a militant’s death abroad or a lengthy prison term at home.

“The feeling in the Muslim community was, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” said Farooq Siddique, a former adviser to the British government’s anti-extremism campaign. “You are effectively asking parents to spy on their children.”

Authorities in the U.K. and throughout Europe are focused on keeping citizens from the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq, seeking to counter homegrown extremism that this year has yielded deadly shooting sprees in Paris and Copenhagen. But despite tightened borders and tougher laws, the numbers are rising.

This week, the British government has come under fire for failing to prevent three Muslim girls from flying to Turkey, despite knowing their links with a British woman suspected of joining Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Authorities say the school friends, ages 15 and 16, are now believed to be in Syria.

U.S. authorities arrested three men this week from Brooklyn, N.Y., suspected of planning to travel to Syria to join the militant group. A lawyer for one of the men, Akhror Saidakhmetov, said his client planned to plead not guilty. Lawyers for the other two men declined to comment.

Europol, Europe’s police coordinating agency, said as many as 6,000 Europeans have gone to Syria and Iraq. The U.K. counts about 600 of its citizens who have traveled there, mostly to fight; the U.S. about 100.

The head of the U.K.’s domestic intelligence agency known as MI5 said in January that authorities had detected more than 20 terror plots by militants in Syria, including ones directed at Canada, Australia, Belgium and France.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said this week the fact that young British girls can be persuaded by reading the Internet in their rooms to join extremist groups “demonstrates the scale of the problem.”  Beyond police and border agents, Mr. Cameron said, “Everyone has a role to play in preventing our young people being radicalized—whether schools, colleges and universities or families, religious leaders and local communities.”

In addition to the campaign aimed mostly at Muslim mothers, U.K. authorities are seeking passage of a law this year that would require schools, colleges and other public institutions to take action against radicals.

But imposing a statutory duty would create “a climate of fear, where people don’t feel comfortable having a frank conversation,” said Talha Ahmad, of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group for Muslim organizations. He said the government should be focusing on building ties with local Muslims rather than increased scrutiny, which can fuel mistrust.

Others say the approach places an unfair burden on Muslim families to turn in their own children or siblings, citing the case of Mrs. Sarwar and her son.
Studying computers

Yusuf Sarwar grew up in Handsworth, an ethnically mixed working-class neighborhood in Birmingham. He attended classes at Birmingham City University, studying computer science and working part time guarding cars at a soccer club. He met Mohammed Nahin Ahmed, a postal worker, in junior high.

They took religious inspiration reading online material from Osama bin Laden ’s mentor, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, as well as from online chats with extremists abroad, according to U.K. prosecutors.

Mr. Ahmed, age 22, asked in one exchange with a Danish Islamist in March 2012: “would the brothers in yemen accept me?” The Dane said he could “be a mujahid wherever in the world you are. Look at 7/7 from your country,” referring to the 2005 attack on London’s transport system that killed 56 people, including the four attackers.

By December 2012, Mr. Sarwar and Mr. Ahmed had begun plans to join the fight in Syria, according to court filings. Mr. Sarwar bought supplies on Amazon, including balaclavas, combat gloves and a walkie-talkie, which prosecutors said were intended for battle. He also bought gym equipment, including a punching bag, prosecutors said.

Two months later, in February 2013, Mr. Sarwar told his mother he was going on a two-week university trip to Turkey. He forged a flier about the outing and included an email contact, which carried a pseudonym for a Hot Mail account he created, according to court documents.

In May 2013, the two men flew to Istanbul on one-way tickets, authorities said, and then made their way to Syria.

During a neighborhood visit a few days later, Mr. Ahmed’s father asked Mrs. Sarwar about the trip their two boys had taken together, according to prosecutors. That was news to Mrs. Sarwar. Her son had said he was traveling alone. That sent her searching his room, where she found the letter explaining his deception and asking forgiveness, prosecutors said.

Mr. Sarwar’s letter also included instructions for settling his affairs, including how to cancel a mobile phone contract and pay any outstanding debts. He told his mother where she could find a check equal to $7,466, his savings, to underwrite a pilgrimage to Mecca for her.

When Mrs. Sarwar handed over the letter to police, she told them she had no inkling of his radical views.

Police assigned an officer to Mrs. Sarwar and her husband as a liaison with detectives. Authorities searched the homes of the Sarwars and the Ahmeds, who lived nearby.

In Syria, Messrs. Sarwar and Ahmed received training from Jabhat al Nusra, an affiliate of al Qaeda, according to prosecutors, and were sent near Aleppo, a scene of fierce battle.

Police and prosecutors pieced together the men’s movements by reading their conversations over the WhatsApp mobile messaging service. Mr. Ahmed exchanged lighthearted and sometimes flirtatious chats with a British woman, who authorities said was a sympathizer. Mr. Ahmed sent her a picture of himself surrounded by automatic rifles.

Mrs. Sarwar tried to stay in touch with her son by phone, according to Ayaz Iqbal, a lawyer for the family. Her eldest son also tried to talk his brother into coming home, Mr. Iqbal said.

Yusuf Sarwar wasn’t persuaded. But after months in Syria, he and Mr. Ahmed had a change of heart. When they decided to return, Mrs. Sarwar gave police the flight details.

Armed police provided an airport homecoming. Forensic experts swabbed the men’s belongings and found traces of military-grade explosives.

Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Sarwar each pleaded guilty at the start of their criminal trial to a single count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts. The material provided in their defense was intended to mitigate the penalty.

Attorneys for Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Sarwar argued that the men—acting on their conscience—had been helping to overthrow the Assad regime, a stated British policy in 2013. The men claim not to have fought but instead worked as guards and grave diggers.

Prosecutors acknowledged they couldn’t prove the men had fought on behalf of a terror group but presented as evidence the traces of explosives found when they arrived. Defense lawyers said the material likely came from administering first-aid to civilian bomb victims.

The men offered statements in court down-playing their commitment to radical Islam. Each said they had never intended to attack fellow citizens or commit terrorism in the U.K.

“The defendant is British and he is proud to be British,” said Michael Ivers, Mr. Sarwar’s lawyer. “He is not somebody who is alienated. He enjoys the tolerant society he lives in.”

During the December sentencing hearing, Mr. Ivers urged the judge to take into account Mrs. Sarwar’s cooperation with authorities and said a stiff sentence could deter other families.

Mr. Sarwar and Mr. Ahmed showed little emotion when the judge gave their sentence. “It’s with no enthusiasm the court sentences young men to significant terms of imprisonment,” but they had enthusiastically and determinedly embarked on a path intending to commit terrorist acts, the judge said.

Police in several U.K. cities, including London, have been meeting for months with small groups of Muslim women to warn of seemingly innocuous online forums, including gaming zones. They urge mothers to ask their children about their Internet use. The women also are coached to take notice if family members turn more outwardly religious or are increasingly angry about Syria’s civil war.

Authorities say the program works. Dozens of families contacted police in the first six months of “Prevent Tragedies,” London’s Metropolitan Police said. That helped lead to an increase across the U.K. in terror-related arrests to 327 in 2014 from fewer than 250 the previous year. Of last year’s arrests, 165 were Syria-related, nearly seven times the number in 2013.

The U.K. isn’t alone in such grass-roots efforts. Denmark, which has large numbers of foreign fighters relative to its population, has a program offering help for returning foreign fighters to find a job and a place to live. The program also offers counseling to steer people from extremist ideology.

In France, the government has set up a hotline for tips from friends and family of the more than 1,000 people that authorities say are either planning to travel to fight abroad or have already gone.

Australia, which had a deadly standoff in a Sydney cafe in December, created a $10.5 million program that includes grants to ethnic communities, mainly in the suburbs of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, to help counter extremism.

Detective Chief Superintendent Sue Southern, head of the West Midlands police counterterror unit that handled the Sarwar case, acknowledged the fragility of community trust. She said she was sympathetic to Mrs. Sarwar’s feelings but there was little police could do. By the time the family alerted police, she said, Yusuf Sarwar had already committed a crime.

“When a mother contacts us to say, ‘My son’s missing, I think he’s in Syria, can you get him back,’ it’s too late,” she said.

Mrs. Sarwar worked with authorities, in part, because she believed her son would receive more lenient treatment in return, according to a lawyer who represented the family.

One of Mr. Ahmed’s brothers said the stiff sentence was “going to backfire” by alienating Muslim families and discouraging them from coming forward. The brother said Mr. Ahmed recognized his mistakes, and it would have been better for authorities to work to integrate him back into society.

Mr. Sarwar and Mr. Ahmed had grown disillusioned during their months in Syria, according to their accounts in court. They became disturbed by the rise of Islamic State, particularly the militant group’s pursuit of sectarian killing. And they found Syria’s revolution had turned into a deadly rivalry pitting one rebel group against another.

The Sarwars and Ahmeds have also split. Mr. Ahmed’s brother said his family regrets that Mrs. Sarwar called police, and the families no longer speak.

Write to Alexis Flynn at and Jenny Gross at
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75  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul at CPAC on: February 28, 2015, 09:52:19 AM
76  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nigeria: Advancing against Boko Haram on: February 28, 2015, 09:48:23 AM

Nigeria: Advancing Against Boko Haram
February 28, 2015 | 14:02 GMT
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The Nigerian army marches toward the enemy during a joint military exercise. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Advances are being made against Boko Haram, a fact made evident by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's last-minute bid to influence presidential elections scheduled for March 28 by drawing media attention to recent military victories. On Feb. 26, the president visited the liberated town of Baga among several other locations in the northeast of the country. The lack of success against Boko Haram has been a constant source of criticism against Jonathan. But regardless of the impact of this measured military success, the offensive will not prevent Boko Haram from conducting its insurgency and terrorist attacks, which have intensified during the fighting. However, the offensive could affect election outcomes, with the government clearly aiming to go into elections beating back Boko Haram.


After several failed attempts to regain control over portions of northeastern states from Boko Haram, the Nigerian military has over the past two weeks finally started achieving results. Last week, Nigerian forces initiated military operations north of Maiduguri and north of Mubi. They first liberated towns along the main road to Baga, up to Monguno. During the weekend, they captured Baga, where Boko Haram had taken control of a Nigerian military outpost and massacred the local population. This offensive push is the first major success since minor operations in northern Adamawa state last year.

But the operations have recovered only some Boko Haram terrain. So far, the operation has pushed Boko Haram forces out of population centers in a substantial portion of northern Borno state, the most recent area of expansion by the Islamist militant group. The group still controls a large part of Borno state along the mountainous Cameroonian border, its core. It also controls areas of Sambisa Forest and parts of southern Yobe state.

Still, these areas are likely next for Nigerian military operations. Airstrikes have already been launched against Boko Haram positions around Gwoza and Bama, near Cameroon's border. Military operations north of Maiduguri could defeat Boko Haram's attempt to establish territorial control and carve out its own caliphate if they extended into this core, similar to the 2013 military offensive that defeated Boko Haram attempts to set up territorial control in 2013. However, since August 2014, the group has been able to consistently expand its control over localities within northeastern states while withstanding disastrous offensives attempting to liberate areas and defend military positions.

New Support

The Nigerian military's current success stands in stark contrast with earlier efforts mostly because of new support. First, forces from Chad, Niger and Cameroon have assisted the Nigerian offensive on their respective sides of the border. The countries have increased efforts to close their borders to Boko Haram movement. Chad has even deployed forces to support Niger and Cameroon. This activity increases operational effectiveness inside Nigeria and prevents Boko Haram fighters from relocating to new sanctuaries. Niger has tried to cut Boko Haram off from its financial resources, reportedly bombing two separate convoys of Nigerien traders carrying smoked fish into Nigeria, where Boko Haram taxes traders or seizes their goods. Chadian troops have led some incursions into Nigeria, but always in proximity to the border.

Assistance goes beyond Nigeria's immediate neighbors. The French military, which has a heavy presence in all three countries, has also actively supported the effort with intelligence personnel and surveillance flights. U.S. and other foreign intelligence operators have been present and supported these countries in some capacity in this part of West Africa as well, especially since operations in nearby Mali.

Second, the Nigerian military has seen marked improvement in logistics and support. New equipment, such as the purchase of a substantial number of armored vehicles, attack helicopters and even Chinese armed drones, moved into the northeastern theater over the past weeks, increasing the capabilities of the Nigerian forces. Along with renewed airstrikes against Boko Haram, these developments have notably helped the success of Nigeria's operations.

Considerable Risks

If the Nigerian military sustains these operations, another transition in Boko Haram tactics could be expected. If more conventional methods of fighting become infeasible because of successful military counteraction and attrition of combat power, Boko Haram is likely to refocus its resources on insurgency or terrorism again. The group continues to use suicide bombings as a tactic, escalating the frequency of suicide bombings in northern Nigeria over the past few days. If conventional territorial control goes beyond their reach, Boko Haram militants could prioritize vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks or expand attacks farther south again.

Finally, Nigeria's military successes will somewhat boost support for Jonathan as he heads into the presidential election. Military leaders supported a delay of the election, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 14, to prepare for the operations, since they would take military resources away from election security. The decision was likely a deliberate political calculation by the Nigerian government given the severe criticism it received from the opposition party. Jonathan and his military commanders also tried to capitalize by making a media spectacle out of their visit to the battle space. Regardless of the outcome of the operations, and those likely to take place over the next month, Boko Haram attacks will pose considerable risk to the elections taking place in northeastern Nigeria and potentially other areas of the country.
77  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jeb Bush on: February 28, 2015, 09:40:32 AM
Sean Hannity (yeah, yeah, I know) had an extended interview with Jeb Bush last night at the CPAC in front of a large crowd.

I must say Bush was quite good, and , , , presidential. 

Decide for yourself:

HUGE problems remain with his candidacy of course (e.g. Distinguishing his calls for strength in foreign affairs from his brother's waging of the Iraq War) but I gotta say the man offers a lot too.  His record as governor gives him a gravitas that one term Senators like Rubio ( (Rubio, whom I like a lot, also was interviewed, but frankly was nowhere near as impressive.)  and Rand Paul, neither of whom have noticeable executive or business experience.  He answered the questions directly and without flinching, with vigor, and calls to economic growth for all. 

78  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 28, 2015, 12:27:09 AM

"Our grid could be 100% carbon free by now with nuclear replacing coal and gas and our transportation could be largely shifted over to natural gas, 30% better than gasoline or diesel on carbon emiissions."
79  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: February 28, 2015, 12:00:00 AM
80  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry's deal gets even worse on: February 27, 2015, 06:24:35 PM
second post


Iran on the Nuclear Edge
Official leaks suggest the U.S. is making ever more concessions.
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies. ENLARGE
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies. Photo: Associated Press
Feb. 27, 2015 6:44 p.m. ET

Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this week that no one should pre-judge a nuclear deal with Iran because only the negotiators know what’s in it. But the truth is that the framework of an accord has been emerging thanks to Administration leaks to friendly journalists. The leaks suggest the U.S. has already given away so much that any deal on current terms will put Iran on the cusp of nuclear-power status.

The latest startling detail is Monday’s leak that the U.S. has conceded to Iran’s demand that an agreement would last as little as a decade, perhaps with an additional five-year phase-out. After that Iran would be allowed to build its uranium enrichment capabilities to whatever size it wants. In theory it would be forbidden from building nuclear weapons, but by then all sanctions would have long ago been lifted and Iran would have the capability to enrich on an industrial scale.

On Wednesday Mr. Kerry denied that a deal would include the 10-year sunset, though he offered no details. We would have more sympathy for his desire for secrecy if the Administration were not simultaneously leaking to its media Boswells while insisting that Congress should have no say over whatever agreement emerges.

The sunset clause fits the larger story of how far the U.S. and its allies have come to satisfy Iran’s demands. The Administration originally insisted that Iran should not be able to enrich uranium at all. Later it mooted a symbolic enrichment capacity of perhaps 500 centrifuges. Last July people close to the White House began talking about 3,000. By October the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Kerry had raised the ceiling to 4,000.

Now it’s 6,000, and the Administration line is that the number doesn’t matter; only advanced centrifuges count. While quality does matter, quantity can have a quality all its own. The point is that Iran will be allowed to retain what amounts to a nuclear-weapons industrial capacity rather than dismantle all of it as the U.S. first demanded.

Mr. Kerry also says that any deal will have intrusive inspections, yet he has a habit of ignoring Iran’s noncompliance with agreements it has already signed. Last November he insisted that “Iran has lived up” to its commitments under the 2013 interim nuclear agreement.

Yet even then Iran was testing advanced centrifuge models in violation of the agreement, according to a report from the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security. In December the U.N. Security Council noted that Iran continued to purchase illicit materials for its reactor in Arak, a heavy-water facility that gives Tehran a path to a plutonium-based bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported last week that Iran was continuing to stonewall the U.N. nuclear watchdog about the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program. On Tuesday an exiled Iranian opposition group that first disclosed the existence of Tehran’s illicit nuclear sites in 2002 claimed it had uncovered another illicit enrichment site near Tehran called “Lavizan-3.” The charge isn’t proven, but Iran’s record of building secret nuclear facilities is a matter of public record.

As for the idea that the IAEA or Western intelligence agencies could properly monitor Iran’s compliance, a report last year from the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board is doubtful. “At low levels associated with small or nascent [nuclear] programs, key observables are easily masked,” the board noted.

This is significant since the Administration insists that any deal will give the U.S. at least one year to detect and stop an Iranian “breakout” effort to build a bomb. Iran’s ballistic missile programs aren’t even part of the negotiations, though there is no reason to build such missiles other than to deliver a bomb.

The Administration’s emerging justification for these concessions, also coming in leaks, is that a nuclear accord will become the basis for a broader rapprochement with Iran that will stabilize the Middle East. As President Obama said in December, Iran can be “a very successful regional power.”

That is some gamble on a regime that continues to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, prop up the Assad regime in Syria, use proxies to overthrow the Yemen government, jail U.S. reporter Jason Rezaian on trumped-up espionage charges, and this week blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz.

Given how bad this deal is shaping up to be, it’s not surprising that U.S. allies are speaking out against it. “We prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” one Arab official told the Journal last week. Saudi Arabia has also made clear that it might acquire nuclear capabilities in response—precisely the kind of proliferation Mr. Obama has vowed to prevent.

No wonder many in Congress want to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week. They look at all of this public evidence and understandably fear that the U.S. is walking into a new era of nuclear proliferation with eyes wide shut.
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81  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The deal, not the speech, is the problem on: February 27, 2015, 06:09:06 PM
White House-Netanyahu Rift Isn’t Over the Speech, but the Deal
By Gerald F. Seib
Updated Feb. 27, 2015 2:55 p.m. ET

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington for a controversial speech to Congress next week, the immediate problem isn’t that he and the Obama administration disagree. At the moment, the problem actually is that they seem to agree on this: As things stand now, the Israeli leader is virtually certain to oppose and try to block the deal the U.S. is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.

That is a change, and a significant one, from just a few months ago, when it seemed possible there could be a negotiated deal that both Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could embrace, if not exactly love. This change is why Mr. Netanyahu thinks it’s worth undermining his entire relationship with an American president by making a speech the White House didn’t know about and fumed about once it became known. And it’s why the White House has taken on Mr. Netanyahu so directly.

In short, the real sticking point isn’t the speech; the sticking point is the deal.

All of which raises a broader question: Does it have to be this way, or is there still hope of closing the rift? Despite all the tension, the possibility of common ground may not have disappeared entirely.

But first consider the immediate situation in Washington, where the controversy in coming days will be more about a speech rather than the substance of the Iran question. By now, the saga is well known. Republican House Speaker John Boehner went around the Democratic White House to invite Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about the threat from Iran. The speech will come two weeks before Mr. Netanyahu is running for a new term at home, and three weeks before the deadline for the talks the U.S. and five other world powers are holding with Iran over a possible deal to curb its nuclear program.

The White House was miffed. Very. But not, as is commonly assumed, simply because the speech represented a breach of diplomatic protocol, in which world leaders deal with each other rather than through their countries’ respective opposition parties.

The deeper cause for concern within the administration was a feeling that the speech means Mr. Netanyahu has concluded that there is no version of the deal currently being negotiated with Iran that he can endorse—and that he is embarked on a strategy of using his strong connections with Republicans in Congress to find a way to use the legislative branch to block an agreement negotiated by the executive branch.

“He’s advocating against any deal. That’s just not diplomacy,” a senior administration official said. “And he’s not putting forward an alternative deal.”

Little that Mr. Netanyahu has done in recent weeks suggests otherwise. He said this week that it appears the “world powers” negotiating with Iran “have given up” on their commitment to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

In a nutshell, here’s the substantive disagreement. The administration believes the deal it’s negotiating will reduce Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium so much that Tehran’s leaders would need a year to break out of the agreement and produce enough fissile material to build a bomb—sufficient time to allow the U.S. and its allies to stop any such breakout. Mr. Netanyahu thinks that the residual enrichment capability granted Iran would still leave it as a threshold nuclear state, and would in any case be too large to adequately monitor and inspect with any certainty.

There was a time, not long ago, when Mr. Netanyahu appeared to be pleased enough with the economic pressure the U.S. and the West were putting on Iran that he thought it might produce a deal he considered good enough. By all appearances, that’s what has changed.

Is there any alternative to this impasse? Dennis Ross, a Middle East diplomat under several American presidents, including Mr. Obama, thinks there might be. He suggests a new kind of anywhere, any-time inspections regime, enshrined in both a deal and legislation passed by Congress. If that legislation also mandated explicit consequences for Iranian violations, including use of military force, it might create the kind of American assurance Mr. Netanyahu could accept.

“There is a way to bridge the difference,” Mr. Ross says. Next week, though, that may be hard to see.

Write to Gerald F. Seib at
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90  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN caught fibbing about DHS and purported dangers of right wing extremism on: February 26, 2015, 08:47:54 PM

UPDATE: CNN Lied About “Right-Wing” Extremism Threat Greater Than ISIS

    Police State

By: Derrick Broze Feb 26, 2015

Despite a widely circulated article from CNN, the latest DHS report on extremism does not state that Right-Wing Extremism is more dangerous than ISIS.

Last week we reported on the newly released  intelligence report produced by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigations which called attention to an apparent domestic terror threat from ” right-wing sovereign citizen extremists.”

The report claimed that there have been 24 sovereign citizen attacks in the United States since 2010. According to the report these “extremists” believe they are not bound by the law and will assert their rights on a regular basis when confronted by police. This could be a traffic stop or refusing to obey court orders.

Now has obtained the actual report - CNN failed to show a copy of  the report – and it offers stark contrasts from what was originally reported. Despite CNN claiming that the threat from sovereign citizens was greater than ISIS or included “right-wing” extremists, the report does not state that at all. In fact, the entire report does not even use the term “right-wing” or even mention the Islamic State. Statements on the alleged danger of right-wing extremists came from a separate report and quotes from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not the actual report itself.

Some key points CNN failed to mention include the fact that the majority of individuals who identify as sovereign citizens are nonviolent. Instead the report focuses on  “sovereign citizen extremists,” or SCEs. The report finds that violence from these individuals is at best sporadic and expected to stay “at the same sporadic level” in the coming year. The violence in these cases is rarely planned in advance, the report concluded. This can include plotting a murder or sending threatening letters, however they tend to be traffic stops gone wrong. Twenty-four cases of violence connected to this apparent movement have been documented since 2010. Only 2 of those 24 cases involved SCEs successfully killing anyone. Hardly the growing threat CNN wants you to believe.

As I wrote last week, when governments criminalize innocent actions of free people there will be resistance. When governments propagandize the people to mistrust those who assert their rights, there will be division. Ultimately it is up to each of us to communicate with our neighbors and family members so they understand the difference between those pursuing violence and those attempting to live free. A full list of the incidents from the DHS report appears below.

One last thing to remember as you look at these 24 incidents: At least one of them (Schaeffer Cox) was arrested after being encouraged and essentially entrapped by federal authorities. Knowing the FBI’s history with creating or encouraging terror attacks using confidential informants, it is important to take the information provided by the DHS with a grain of salt.

Click here for an interactive map of the incidents.

• March 2010: Brody James Whitaker shoots at the Florida State Highway Patrol after a traffic stop.

• April 2010: Walter Fitzpatrick plans a “citizens’ arrest” of a Knoxville jury foreman who refused to indict President Barack Obama.

• May 2010: Jerry and Joseph Kane get into a shootout with the police after a traffic stop. They kill two officers and are themselves killed.

• June 2010: A sovereign citizen begins a multi-year series of written and verbal threats against law enforcement officials in Sweetgrass, Montana.

• September 2010: Victor Dwayne White of West Odessa, Texas, shoots and wounds two sheriff’s deputies and a utility worker who came onto his property to access an oil well. A 22-hour standoff ensues.

• January 2011: David Russell Myrland is arrested after threatening to use “deadly force” if necessary to “arrest” the mayor of Kirkland, Washington, and other officials.

• March 2011: Francis Shaeffer Cox conspires with confederates to kill a judge and an IRS officer in Anchorage, Alaska.

• June 2011: A domestic disturbance call brings police to the home of William Foust in Page, Arizona; Foust is shot and killed in the ensuing altercation.

• July 2011: James Tesi of Colleyville, Texas, fires on police after an attempted traffic stop.

• November 2011: A property dispute brings the authorites to Rodney Brossart’s home in Lakota, South Dakota. He threatens to shoot the officers, and a stand-off follows.

• February 2012: Vahe Ohanian visits a California Highway Patrol station and a sheriff’s station in Santa Clarita, California, threatening to “snipe” officers. (*)

• February 2012: Matthew O’Neill pleads guilty to sending an envelope containing white powder to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

• August 2012: In LaPlace, Louisiana, a traffic stop leads to two shootouts with members of a small sovereign-citizen group headed by Terry Lyn Smith, one at the vehicle and the second at a trailer park. Two police officers are killed and three wounded.

• September 2012: Phillip Monroe Ballard attempts to solicit the murder of the judge presiding over his tax trial. • March 2013: Jeffrey Allen Wright of Navarre, Florida, threatens officers with a gun when they try to serve a warrant. He is shot and killed.

• June 2013: In Snellville, Georgia, a man sends police a letter threatening death if they interfere with members of a sovereign-citizen group called the “Embassy of Granville.”

• June 2013: Lewis Pollard points a gun at officers at his Fruita, Colorado, residence. He is shot and killed.

• July 2013: Eric Stanberry Jr. pulls a gun on a security guard outside a Nashville strip club, identifying himself as a “sovereign peace officer.” Police tase him.

• July 2013: An incarcerated sovereign citizen plans to kill a federal agent and a witness.

• July 2013: David John McCormick refuses to let the Coast Guard board his boat. After lunging at one of the crew, he is arrested for assaulting a federal officer.

• August 2013: David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman are arrested for allegedly planning to “arrest,” “try,” and “execute” police officers.

• March 2014: Israel Rondon of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, fires at deputies serving a warrant. He is killed.

• June 2014: When deputies try to serve an eviction notice on Earl Carlson Harris of Ashland, Oregon, he threatens them with a rifle and is killed.

• June 2014: On federal land in Nevada County, California, Brent Douglas Cole allegedly fires at employees of the Bureau of Land Management and the California Highway Patrol as they attempt to tow vehicles from Cole’s unsanctioned campground.
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91  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where are the Jewish Fatwas and Riots? on: February 26, 2015, 06:21:51 PM
92  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-Turkey set to risk a proxy battle in Syria on: February 26, 2015, 04:45:29 PM
 A Risky U.S. Proxy Battle Against Islamic State
February 26, 2015 | 10:09 GMT

Rebel Jaish al-Islam fighters during a training session in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Jan. 11. (ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images)


The United States and Turkey signed a deal Feb. 19 to train and equip a new force of Syrian rebels as part of a broader plan to develop ground forces in Syria necessary to defeat the Islamic State. The United States worked closely with Saudi Arabia and Jordan to develop the plan and recently included Qatar as a core member of the training program. Initial training camps will be set up in Turkey and Jordan, followed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In the absence of U.S. troops in Syria or a viable partner among the rebels, the United States has decided to create its own ground force. As with all U.S. options in Syria, however, the move carries significant risks.


The U.S. plan envisions the eventual deployment of around 1,000 U.S. troops under the leadership of U.S. Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata into the region. This force would include several hundred trainers who will cooperate with counterparts in the intelligence and military services of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar. Together, they will train the new Syrian rebel force in basic military tactics, firearms, communications and command and control. The United States also announced Feb. 18 that 1,200 Syrian rebels from moderate factions have already been screened and vetted for the program. The United States expects, however, to recruit the bulk of forces from the Syrian refugee population in Turkey and Jordan.

Training is set to begin this spring, with approximately 5,000 fighters trained each year. Turkey will train around 2,000 of these. A Wall Street Journal report Feb. 17 indicated that the United States also plans to provide the rebels trained under the program with additional firepower through specially equipped pickup trucks that they could use to call in U.S. airstrikes. The new training program will be one of the largest U.S. commitments in Syria to date, but there is a possibility that it could founder or backfire.

Past Rebel Support

This is not the first time that the United States has involved itself in the training of Syrian rebels. The United States and its regional allies have carried out smaller train and equip programs through the CIA. The results, however, have not lived up to expectations. The rise of Islamist militant group Jabhat al-Nusra in particular has made it extremely difficult for the United States to support the so-called moderate Syrian rebel forces. The United States has asked the rebels it supports to demonstrate that they have clearly broken with Jabhat al-Nusra to focus on fighting the Islamic State. But the moderate rebel factions find themselves eclipsed by the firepower of Bashar al Assad's forces and their only viable ally — one that has played a critical role in numerous battles — is Jabhat al-Nusra.

Moderate rebel factions that the United States has supported with weapons in the past claim that weapons shipments have been infrequent as well as inadequate and have not made their forces substantially stronger. What the weapons assistance has done, however, is caused other, more extreme rebel factions to brand moderates as U.S. collaborators and, by extension, collaborators with the al Assad government. The fact that the United States has avoided targeting al Assad's forces but has gone after Jabhat al-Nusra fighters as recently as Feb. 19 bolsters this claim, enhancing the vulnerability of moderate factions. Consequently, numerous powerful Islamist rebel militant groups close to both the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra, such as Ahrar al-Sham, have adopted Jabhat al-Nusra's view that Washington is as much an enemy as Damascus.

U.S.-equipped moderate rebel forces, particularly in northern Syria, have been unable to fend off attacks from Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies. Notable among these are the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm. Fighters from Harakat Hazm and a number of other U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army groups have surrendered, disbanded, or even defected to Jabhat al-Nusra over the past few months. In the face of Jabhat al-Nusra's wrath, Harakat Hazm's core forces have had to seek protection from Jabhat al-Shamiya, a recently formed rebel coalition based in Aleppo province. Harakat Hazm has claimed, for instance, that its fighters had no choice given the disproportionate strength of Jabhat al-Nusra, but these events have understandably made Washington even more hesitant to increase support for the moderate rebels in Syria's north.

In southern Syria, however, the situation is considerably different. Here the Free Syrian Army units of the Southern Front have been far more effective in marshaling and organizing their forces. These units have benefited from increased support and direction from an operations command center in Jordan, in which the United States plays a key role. The continued support of the United States and U.S. allies has been a significant factor in the Southern Front's numerous victories over the past year. In spite of this success — and in spite of frequent official denials — even the Southern Front often works closely with Jabhat al-Nusra units. Jabhat al-Nusra forces, though outnumbered by the 30,000 Free Syrian Army fighters in the south, have proved useful in rebel offensives, often acting as shock troops spearheading attacks on strongly defended loyalist positions.

A New Effort

The United States cannot win its campaign against the Islamic State without ground forces, putting Washington in a difficult position. The political climate back home is against sending in U.S. ground troops. In Iraq, the United States can readily rely on local forces such as the Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi army, in spite of the shortcomings of these local forces. The rebel forces in Syria, however, have shown little desire to abandon their fight against Bashar al Assad in order to follow U.S. interests in taking down the Islamic State first. Even if the rebels could be persuaded, continued loyalist offensives on rebel strongholds would largely hamstring such efforts.

Syria's civil war is a contest of three forces, broadly defined as the rebels, the al Assad loyalists and the Islamic State. The United States hopes to bypass the fight between al Assad and the rebels in order to go directly after the Islamic State. One option to achieve this objective would be to increase support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). During the battle for Kobani the United States provided direct air support to YPG forces. The Kurdish population in Syria, however, is a distinct minority largely unable to project a presence beyond the Kurdish-populated areas of northern Syria. Furthermore, the United States must include Turkey in tackling the Islamic State in Syria by virtue of Turkey's geographic, logistical and military position. However, Turkey is adamantly against strengthening the YPG beyond the measures already taken, fearing such policies will reignite its own domestic Kurdish militant movement.

The U.S. training program aims to circumvent the pitfalls of bolstering existing players by adding a new — and hopefully more reliable — force into the mix. Unlike the disparate rebel forces already on the ground, the new force can be drawn from refugee populations in Turkey and Jordan, making it easier for U.S. civilian and military officials to vet, monitor and advise troops with the help of regional intelligence agencies. The United States also plans to act as the key logistical power behind the force and to pay fighter salaries, shaping the force's actions.
Old Program and Allies Remain

Meanwhile, the United States and its allies will continue supporting Syrian rebel forces already on the battlefield. The United States has limited its support for rebel factions in the north, but Turkey has stepped in to play an enhanced role. The Jabhat al-Shamiya coalition created in December incorporated three of Ankara's favored rebel factions — Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, the Mujahideen Army and the al-Tawhid Brigade — allowing Turkey to garner significant leverage. Turkey also provides the northern rebel factions with important supply lines that run from Turkey to Aleppo province, enhancing its leverage in potential negotiations with its partners on the future direction of Syria. It also allows Ankara to pressure the al Assad government as part of wider moves against the Islamic State.

In the south, Jordan is an increasingly willing key player. With the Islamic State's immolation of the captured Jordanian pilot, Amman has expressed desire to commit more resources to the fight against the extremist group. With the backing of the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Jordan is poised to support future allied strategies in Syria, especially given its strategic location. Indeed, the Jordanians have already been a significant factor in the success of the Southern Front rebels.
Risks and Limitations

Though the new training program is an attempt to avoid the complexities of supporting rebel factions, it still carries risks. Even at this early stage, Turkey is invoking the possibility that the new force could be used to target al Assad's forces. In spite of all the measures in place to direct the new group's efforts, there is no guarantee the United States could prevent it from eventually clashing with loyalist forces. Damascus has also said its forces will attack any foreign group that does not cooperate with the government, increasing the chance that the new force will have to contend with the same distraction as existing rebel groups.

Iran is also heavily invested in sustaining the al Assad regime. More direct U.S. interference in the Syrian conflict through this new force — especially if it clashes with loyalists — will threaten critical negotiations between Washington and Tehran. Iran has embedded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units with Syrian loyalist forces, raising the risk of direct clashes with the new U.S.-backed rebel force. The most critical risk, however, is that a schism between the Iranians and the United States over Syria could spill over into what the U.S. considers the more important theater: Iraq. Iranian-backed Shiite militias could pose a threat to U.S. forces stationed there if the United States comes into direct conflict with Iran in Syria.

On top of these substantial risks there is no guarantee that the new force will succeed in defeating the Islamic State. Only 5,000 fighters are scheduled to be trained annually, limiting the force's size. The new rebel army can succeed only if it becomes a nucleus for other moderate Syrian groups and initiates a unified rebel effort in line with U.S. interests. With the many complications that could derail this process, this outcome is highly unlikely. However, in order to defeat the Islamic State, the United States needs a ground force. With no other acceptable options, Washington has chosen the least bad out of many terrible options.
93  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: February 26, 2015, 03:24:59 PM
I get that, but with a reporter whose word I do take, I know his track record or that of his publication.

I've not seen any other reports of these words from AG and have never heard of this guy or this site , , ,
94  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Citizens United on: February 26, 2015, 12:56:58 PM
95  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ukraine's arms deal with UAE on: February 26, 2015, 12:28:03 PM
 An Arms Deal for Ukraine Serves to Warn Russia
Geopolitical Diary
February 25, 2015 | 21:58 GMT
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A day after Tuesday's announcement of an arms deal between Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates, the dust is beginning to settle and the details are starting to become clear. Much attention has been given to the potential for U.S. involvement in this deal and the possibility that the agreement is a way to indirectly transfer U.S. weapons Ukraine, a move that would cross a red line for Russia. However, UAE weapons cooperation with Ukraine is not likely to be that incendiary. For now, the deal serves the political purpose of signaling to Moscow that there are consequences for its actions — not only in Ukraine, but also in Iran and the rest of the world.

Stratfor sources have indicated that UAE military supplies to Ukraine are likely restricted to lower-profile items such as armored vehicles rather than "game-changing" technology. Using the United Arab Emirates simply as a conduit for U.S.-produced arms makes little sense because of the permission required from Washington to transfer critical U.S.-produced systems to a third party. Such a move would not give the United States any more political cover than a direct delivery to Ukraine would.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

Defense deals between Abu Dhabi and Kiev are not new. Even during the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates delivered armored vehicles to the Ukrainian military that have been used in active operations. The United Arab Emirates has developed a modest defense industry, and securing export deals for these armored vehicles is a normal practice.

But the timing of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's claim that the countries signed a contract worth tens of millions of dollars on Tuesday is critical. In recent weeks, the United States has issued a deluge of statements about retaining the option to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, and Russia has responded with a deluge of warnings. Abu Dhabi is not seeking to antagonize Moscow, but right now, defense-related cooperation with Ukraine at any level inadvertently affects relations with Russia. Poroshenko's invitation to the IDEX 2015 defense industry convention in the United Arab Emirates is certain to have caught Russia's eye. The invitation follows a recent visit to Iran by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that put the delivery of Russian air defense systems to Iran back on the table. The delivery of the S-300 air defense system has been a source of diplomatic controversy for some time and would exacerbate Abu Dhabi's concerns about Iran's military capabilities and nuclear program. In this context, displaying some degree of defense cooperation with Ukraine would serve as a reminder to Moscow that the United Arab Emirates can deliver weapon systems to places sensitive to Russian interests.

However, any weapon in and of itself will not reverse Ukraine's fortunes in the war. A weapon system has a capability, but that capability can only be used for a certain set of specific tasks on any given battlefield, whether they be offensive or defensive — a distinction the Russians will not make about any weapons sold or transferred to Ukraine. A weapon can have a massive impact on the battlefield if its capabilities neutralize or destroy the enemy's strength or exploit a weakness, if it is present in enough numbers and if the troops wielding it have been properly trained. All of this requires money — something the Ukrainians do not have much of, leaving them largely dependent on third-party largesse and a geopolitical context that rises above just fighting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

This explains the level of noise surrounding any potential weapons transfers to Ukraine. The separatists, with heavy Russian support, have had much success on the battlefield against a fairly weak Ukrainian military, predominantly by using armor and artillery. But the United States and its allies possess some weapons systems that could impose painful costs if they are fielded in large enough numbers and the Ukrainian military is trained in their use. The Javelin anti-tank guided missile is an oft-cited example of such a system. It may not win the war, but it could result in a higher attrition rate for Russian tanks, and that is why Russia has warned it would respond if significant weapons deliveries occur.

There is a context and timing to all of this noise as well. It grew louder when the separatists and their Russian backers looked like they could seriously expand their territorial holdings in eastern Ukraine. The threat of weapons deliveries from the United States was meant to deter such thinking. In other words, the United States has been telling Russia that the conflict in eastern Ukraine will get much more painful if Moscow continues using the combat situation as leverage in negotiations with Kiev. This strategy seems to have worked, to a point; a cease-fire has been implemented, albeit slowly and painfully.

A deterrent like the threat of arms deliveries does not go away. The combination of U.S. threats and the secretive UAE deal with Ukraine has opened up all levels of speculation. This deal seems to be more about low-level transfers and subtle messaging for now, but many options remain open as the conflict continues. All sides are likely to continue discussing and speculating about negotiations as well as any future arms deals with Ukraine as long as the status of eastern Ukraine remains in doubt.
96  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CPI declined .7% in January on: February 26, 2015, 12:26:44 PM
The Consumer Price Index Declined 0.7% in January To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/26/2015

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.7% in January, coming in slightly below consensus expectations of -0.6%. The CPI is down 0.1% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) declined 1.0% in January, and is down 1.0% in the past year.
The drop in the CPI in January was all due to energy, which fell 9.7%. Food prices were unchanged. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2% in January versus a consensus expected gain of 0.1%. Core prices are up 1.6% versus a year ago.
Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 1.2% in January and are up 2.4% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 3.0% in the past year.
Implications: With the exception of the Panic in late 2008, consumer prices fell in January at the fastest pace since 1949. As a result, the CPI is now lower than it was a year ago. Some analysts are going to use these data to warn about “Deflation” and say the Federal Reserve should hold off on raising rates. But the details of the report show we are not in the grips of deflation and the Fed should stay on track to start raising rates in June. True deflation – of the kind we ought to be concerned about – is caused by overly tight monetary policy and price declines that are widespread, not isolated to one sector of the economy. Think of the Great Depression. But we are not experiencing widespread declines in prices. The drop in consumer prices in January was all due to energy. Excluding energy, prices rose 0.1% in January and are up 1.9% from a year ago, very close to the Fed’s 2% inflation target. “Core” prices, which exclude food and energy, increased 0.2% in January and are up 1.6% from a year ago. Moreover, energy prices have turned higher in February, so this sector will soon be pushing the CPI up rather than holding it down. And, there are sectors where prices are rising faster. Food prices have risen 3.2% in the past 12 months, so if you only use the supermarket to gauge inflation, we understand thinking the headline reports are too low and that “true” inflation is higher. If you love eating steak, you’ve been out of luck, with prices up almost 15% from a year ago. In addition, housing costs are going up. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the CPI, rose 0.2% in January, is up 2.6% in the past year, and will be a key source of higher inflation in the year ahead. The best pieces of news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 1.2% in January, the fourth consecutive month of gains and the largest monthly rise since 2008. These earnings are up 2.4% from a year ago and up at a faster 4.9% annualized rate over the past six months, signaling that consumer purchasing power continues to grow.
97  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: February 26, 2015, 12:22:56 PM
Interalia, hearsay is taking someone else's word for what someone said.
98  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jeb Bush's biggest problem is W. on: February 26, 2015, 12:21:32 PM
99  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor Decade Forecast on: February 26, 2015, 10:50:15 AM

This is the fifth Decade Forecast published by Stratfor. Every five years since 1996 (1996, 2000, 2005, 2010 and now, 2015) Stratfor has produced a rolling forecast. Overall, we are proud of our efforts. We predicted the inability of Europe to survive economic crises, China's decline and the course of the U.S.-jihadist war. We also made some errors. We did not anticipate 9/11, and more important, we did not anticipate the scope of the American response. But in 2005 we did forecast the difficulty the United States would face and the need for the United States to withdraw from its military engagements in the Islamic world. We predicted China's weakness too early, but we saw that weakness when others were seeing the emergence of an economy larger than that of the United States. Above all, we have consistently forecast the enduring power of the United States. This is not a forecast rooted in patriotism or jingoism. It derives from our model that continues to view the United States as the pre-eminent power.

We do not forecast everything. We focus on the major trends and tendencies in the world. Thus, we see below some predictions from our 2010 Decade Forecast:

    We see the U.S.-jihadist war subsiding. This does not mean that Islamist militancy will be eliminated. Attempts at attacks will continue, and some will succeed. However, the two major wars in the region will have dramatically subsided if not concluded by 2020. We also see the Iranian situation having been brought under control. Whether this will be by military action and isolation of Iran or by a political arrangement with the current or a successor regime is unclear but irrelevant to the broader geopolitical issue. Iran will be contained, as it simply does not have the underlying power to be a major player in the region beyond its immediate horizons.

    The diversity of systems and demographics that is Europe will put the European Union's institutions under severe strain. We suspect the institutions will survive. We doubt that they will work very effectively. The main political tendency will be away from multinational solutions to a greater nationalism driven by divergent and diverging economic, social and cultural forces. The elites that have crafted the European Union will find themselves under increasing pressure from the broader population. The tension between economic interests and cultural stability will define Europe. Consequently, inter-European relations will be increasingly unpredictable and unstable.

    Russia will spend the 2010s seeking to secure itself before the demographic decline really hits. It will do this by trying to move from raw commodity exports to process commodity exports, moving up the value chain to fortify its economy while its demographics still allow it. Russia will also seek to reintegrate the former Soviet republics into some coherent entity in order to delay its demographic problems, expand its market and above all reabsorb some territorial buffers. Russia sees itself as under the gun, and therefore is in a hurry. This will cause it to appear more aggressive and dangerous than it is in the long run. However, in the 2010s, Russia's actions will cause substantial anxiety in its neighbors, both in terms of national security and its rapidly shifting economic policies.

    The states most concerned — and affected — will be the former satellite states of Central Europe. Russia's primary concern remains the North European Plain, the traditional invasion route into Russia. This focus will magnify as Europe becomes more unpredictable politically. Russian pressure on Central Europe will not be overwhelming military pressure, but Central European psyches are finely tuned to threats. We believe this constant and growing pressure will stimulate Central European economic, social and military development.

    China's economy, like the economies of Japan and other East Asian states before it, will reduce its rate of growth dramatically in order to calibrate growth with the rate of return on capital and to bring its financial system into balance. To do this, it will have to deal with the resulting social and political tensions.

    From the American point of view, the 2010s will continue the long-term increase in economic and military power that began more than a century ago. The United States remains the overwhelming — but not omnipotent — military power in the world, and produces 25 percent of the world's wealth each year.

The Decade Ahead

The world has been restructuring itself since 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia and the subprime financial crisis struck. Three patterns have emerged. First, the European Union entered a crisis that it could not solve and that has increased in intensity. We predict that the European Union will never return to its previous unity, and if it survives it will operate in a more limited and fragmented way in the next decade. We do not expect the free trade zone to continue to operate without increasing protectionism. We expect Germany to suffer severe economic reversals in the next decade and Poland to increase its regional power as a result.

The current confrontation with Russia over Ukraine will remain a centerpiece of the international system over the next few years, but we do not think the Russian Federation can exist in its current form for the entire decade. Its overwhelming dependence on energy exports and the unreliability of expectations on pricing make it impossible for Moscow to sustain its institutional relations across the wide swathe of the Russian Federation. We expect Moscow's authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia. The security of Russia's nuclear arsenal will become a prime concern as this process accelerates later in the decade.

We have entered a period in which the decline of the nation-states created by Europe in North Africa and the Middle East is accelerating. Power is no longer held by the state in many countries, having devolved to armed factions that can neither defeat others nor be defeated. This has initiated a period of intense internal fighting. The United States is prepared to mitigate the situation with air power and limited forces on the ground but will not be able or willing to impose a settlement. Turkey, whose southern border is made vulnerable by this fighting, will be slowly drawn into the fighting. By the end of this decade, Turkey will emerge as the major regional power, and Turkish-Iranian competition will increase as a result.

China has completed its cycle as a high-growth, low-wage country and has entered a new phase that is the new normal. This phase includes much slower growth and an increasingly powerful dictatorship to contain the divergent forces created by slow growth. China will continue to be a major economic force but will not be the dynamic engine of global growth it once was. That role will be taken by a new group of highly dispersed countries we call the Post-China 16, which includes much of Southeast Asia, East Africa and parts of Latin America. China will not be an aggressive military force either. Japan remains the most likely contender for the dominant position in East Asia, both because of its geography and because of its needs as a massive importer.

The United States will continue to be the major economic, political and military power in the world but will be less engaged than in the past. Its low rate of exports, its increasing energy self-reliance and its experiences over the last decade will cause it to be increasingly cautious about economic and military involvement in the world. It has learned what happens to heavy exporters when customers cannot or will not buy their products. It has learned the limits of power in trying to pacify hostile countries. It has learned that North America is an arena in which it can prosper with selective engagements elsewhere. It will face major strategic threats with proportional power, but it will not serve the role of first responder as it has in recent years.

It will be a disorderly world, with a changing of the guard in many regions. The one constant will be the continued and maturing power of the United States — a power that will be much less visible and that will be utilized far less in the next decade.

The European Union will be unable to solve its fundamental problem, which is not the eurozone, but the free trade zone. Germany is the center of gravity of the European Union; it exports more than 50 percent of its GDP, and half of that goes to other EU countries. Germany has created a productive capability that vastly outstrips its ability to consume, even if the domestic economy were stimulated. It depends on these exports to maintain economic growth, full employment and social stability. The European Union's structures — including the pricing of the euro and many European regulations — are designed to facilitate this export dependency.

This has already fragmented Europe into at least two parts. Mediterranean Europe and countries such as Germany and Austria have completely different behavioral patterns and needs. No single policy can suit all of Europe. This has been the core problem from the beginning, but it has now reached an extreme point. What benefits one part of Europe harms another.

Nationalism has already risen significantly. Compounding this is the Ukrainian crisis and Eastern European countries' focus on the perceived threat from Russia. Eastern Europe's concern about Russia creates yet another Europe — four, total, if we separate the United Kingdom and Scandinavia from the rest of Europe. Considered with the rise of Euroskeptic parties on the right and left, the growing delegitimation of mainstream parties and the surging popularity of separatist parties within European countries, the fragmentation and nationalism that we forecast in 2005, and before, is clearly evident.

These trends will continue. The European Union might survive in some sense, but European economic, political and military relations will be governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships that will be small in scope and not binding. Some states might maintain a residual membership in a highly modified European Union, but this will not define Europe.

What will define Europe in the next decade is the re-emergence of the nation-state as the primary political vehicle of the continent. Indeed the number of nation-states will likely increase as various movements favoring secession, or the dissolution of states into constituent parts, increase their power. This will be particularly noticeable during the next few years, as economic and political pressures intensify amid Europe's crisis.

Germany has emerged from this mass of nation-states as the most economically and politically influential. Yet Germany is also extremely vulnerable. It is the world's fourth-largest economic power, but it has achieved that status by depending on exports. Export powers have a built-in vulnerability: They depend on their customers' desire and ability to buy their products. In other words, Germany's economy is hostage to the economic well-being and competitive environment in which it operates.

There are multiple forces working against Germany in this regard. First, Europe's increasing nationalism will lead to protectionist capital and labor markets. Weaker countries are likely to adopt various sorts of capital controls, while stronger countries will limit the movement of foreigners — including the citizens of other EU countries — across their borders. We forecast that existing protectionist policies inside the European Union, particularly on agriculture, will be supplemented in coming years by trade barriers created by the weaker Southern European economies that need to rebuild their economic base after the current depression. On a global basis, we can expect European exports to face increased competition and highly variable demand in the uncertain environment. Therefore, our forecast is that Germany will begin an extended economic decline that will lead to a domestic social and political crisis and that will reduce Germany's influence in Europe during the next 10 years.

At the center of economic growth and increasing political influence will be Poland. Poland has maintained one of the most impressive growth profiles outside of Germany and Austria. In addition, though its population is likely to contract, the contraction will most probably be far less than in other European countries. As Germany undergoes wrenching shifts in economy and population, Poland will diversify its own trade relationships to emerge as the dominant power on the strategic Northern European Plain. Moreover, we expect Poland to be the leader of an anti-Russia coalition that would, significantly, include Romania during the first half of this decade. In the second half of the decade, this alliance will play a major role in reshaping the Russian borderlands and retrieving lost territories through informal and formal means. Eventually as Moscow weakens, this alliance will become the dominant influence not only in Belarus and Ukraine, but also farther east. This will further enhance Poland's and its allies' economic and political position.

Poland will benefit from having a strategic partnership with the United States. Whenever a leading global power enters into a relationship with a strategic partner, it is in the global power's interest to make the partner as economically vigorous as possible, both to stabilize its society and to make it capable of building a military force. Poland will be in that position with the United States, as will Romania. Washington has made its interest in the region obvious.

It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form. Russia's failure to transform its energy revenue into a self-sustaining economy makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations. It has no defense against these market forces. Given the organization of the federation, with revenue flowing to Moscow before being distributed directly or via regional governments, the flow of resources will also vary dramatically. This will lead to a repeat of the Soviet Union's experience in the 1980s and Russia's in the 1990s, in which Moscow's ability to support the national infrastructure declined. In this case, it will cause regions to fend for themselves by forming informal and formal autonomous entities. The economic ties binding the Russian periphery to Moscow will fray.

Historically, the Russians solved such problems via the secret police — the KGB and its successor, the Federal Security Services (FSB). But just as in the 1980s, the secret police will not be able to contain the centrifugal forces pulling regions away from Moscow this decade. In this case, the FSB's power is weakened by its leadership's involvement in the national economy. As the economy falters, so does the FSB's strength. Without the FSB inspiring genuine terror, the fragmentation of the Russian Federation will not be preventable.

To Russia's west, Poland, Hungary and Romania will seek to recover regions lost to the Russians at various points. They will work to bring Belarus and Ukraine into this fold. In the south, the Russians' ability to continue controlling the North Caucasus will evaporate, and Central Asia will destabilize. In the northwest, the Karelian region will seek to rejoin Finland. In the Far East, the maritime regions more closely linked to China, Japan and the United States than to Moscow will move independently. Other areas outside of Moscow will not necessarily seek autonomy but will have it thrust upon them. This is the point: There will not be an uprising against Moscow, but Moscow's withering ability to support and control the Russian Federation will leave a vacuum. What will exist in this vacuum will be the individual fragments of the Russian Federation.

This will create the greatest crisis of the next decade. Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands. The decline of Moscow's power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed. This will be a major test for the United States. Washington is the only power able to address the issue, but it will not be able to seize control of the vast numbers of sites militarily and guarantee that no missile is fired in the process. The United States will either have to invent a military solution that is difficult to conceive of now, accept the threat of rogue launches, or try to create a stable and economically viable government in the regions involved to neutralize the missiles over time. It is difficult to imagine how this problem will play out. However, given our forecast on the fragmentation of Russia, it follows that this issue will have to be addressed, likely in the next decade.

The issue in the first half of the decade will be how far the alliance stretching between the Baltic and Black seas will extend. Logically, it should reach Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. Whether it does depends on what we have forecast for the Middle East and Turkey.
The Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East — particularly the area between the Levant and Iran, along with North Africa — is experiencing national breakdowns. By this we mean that the nation-states established by European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries are collapsing into their constituent factions defined by kinship, religion or shifting economic interests. In countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq, we have seen the devolution of the nation-state into factions that war on each other and that cross the increasingly obsolete borders of countries.

This process follows the model of Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, when the central government ceased to function and power devolved to warring factions. The key factions could not defeat the others, nor could they themselves be defeated. They were manipulated and supported from the outside, as well as self-supporting. The struggle among these factions erupted into a civil war — one that has quieted but not ended. As power vacuums persist throughout the region, jihadist groups will find space to operate but will be contained in the end by their internal divisions.

This situation cannot be suppressed by outside forces. The amount of force required and the length of deployment would outstrip the capacity of the United States, even if dramatically expanded. Given the situation in other parts of the world, particularly in Russia, the United States can no longer focus exclusively on this region.

At the same time, this evolution, particularly in the Arab states south of Turkey, represents a threat to regional stability. The United States will act to mitigate the threat of particular factions, which will change over time, through the use of limited force. But the United States will not deploy multidivisional forces to the region. At this point, most countries in the area still expect the United States to act as the decisive force even though they witnessed the United States fail in this role in the past decade. Nevertheless, expectations shift more slowly than reality.

As the reality sinks in, it will emerge that, because of its location, only one country has an overriding interest in stabilizing Syria and Iraq, is able to act broadly — again because of its location — and has the means to at least achieve limited success in the region. That country is Turkey. At this point, Turkey is surrounded by conflicts in the Arab world, in the Caucasus and in the Black Sea Basin. But Turkey has avoided taking risks so far.

Turkey will continue to need U.S. involvement for political and military reasons. The United States will oblige, but there will be a price: participation in the containment of Russia. The United States does not expect Turkey to assume a war-fighting role and does not intend one for itself. It does, however, want a degree of cooperation in managing the Black Sea. Turkey will not be ready for a completely independent policy in the Middle East and will pay the price for a U.S. relationship. That price will open the path to extending the containment line to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

We expect the instability in the Arab world to continue through the decade. We also expect Turkey to be drawn in to the south, inasmuch as its fears of fighting so close to its border — and the political outcomes of that fighting — will compel it to get involved. It will intervene as little as possible and as slowly as possible, but it will intervene, and its intervention will eventually increase in size and breadth. Whatever its reluctance, Turkey cannot withstand years of chaos across its border, and there will be no other country to carry the burden. Iran is not in a position geographically or militarily to perform this function, nor is Saudi Arabia. Turkey is likely to try to build shifting coalitions ultimately reaching into North Africa to stabilize the situation. Turkish-Iranian competition will grow with time, but Turkey will keep its options open to work with both Iran and Saudi Arabia as needed. Whatever the dynamic, Turkey will be at the center of it.

This will not be the only region drawing Turkey's attention. As Russia weakens, European influence will begin inching eastward into areas where Turkey has historical interests, such as the northern shore of the Black Sea. We can foresee Turkey projecting its power northward certainly commercially and politically but also potentially in some measured military way. Moreover, as the European Union fragments and individual economies weaken or some nations become oriented toward the East, Turkey will increase its presence in the Balkans as the only remaining power able to do so.

Before this can happen, Turkey must find a domestic political balance. It is both a secular and Muslim country. The current government has attempted to bridge the gap, but in many ways it has tilted away from the secularists, of whom there are many. A new government will certainly emerge over the coming years. This is a permanent fault line in contemporary Turkey. Like many countries, its power will expand in the midst of political uncertainty. Alongside this internal political conflict, the military, intelligence and diplomatic service will need to evolve in size and function during the coming decade. That said, we expect to see an acceleration of Turkey's emergence as a major regional power in the next 10 years.
East Asia

China has ceased to be a high-growth, low-wage economy. As China's economy slows, the process of creating and organizing an economic infrastructure to employ low-wage workers will be incremental. What can be done quickly in a port city takes much longer in the interior. Therefore, China has normalized its economy, as Japan did before it, and as Taiwan and South Korea did in 1997. All massive expansions climax, and the operations of the economies shift.

The problem for China in the next decade are the political and social consequences of that shift. The coastal region has been built on high growth rates and close ties with European and American consumers. As these decline, political and social challenges emerge. At the same time, the expectation that the interior — beyond parts of the more urbanized Yangtze River Delta — will grow as rapidly as the coast is being dashed. The problem for the next decade will be containing these difficulties.

Beijing's growing dictatorial tendencies and an anti-corruption campaign, which is actually Beijing's assertion of its power over all of China, provide an outline of what China would like to see in the next decade. China is following a hybrid path that will centralize political and economic powers, assert Party primacy over the military, and consolidate previously fragmented industries like coal and steel amid the gradual and tepid implementation of market-oriented reforms in state-owned enterprises and in the banking sector. It is highly likely that a dictatorial state coupled with more modest economic expectations will result. However, there is a less likely but still conceivable outcome in which political interests along the coast rebel against Beijing's policy of transferring wealth to the interior to contain political unrest. This is not an unknown pattern in China, and, though we do not see this as the most likely course, it should be kept in mind. Our forecast is the imposition of a communist dictatorship, a high degree of economic and political centralization and increased nationalism.

China cannot easily turn nationalism into active aggression. China's geography makes such actions on land difficult, if not impossible. The only exception might be an attempt to take control of Russia's maritime interests if we are correct and Russia fragments. Here, Japan likely would challenge China. China is building a large number of ships but has little experience in naval warfare and lacks the experienced fleet commanders needed to challenge more experienced navies, including the U.S. Navy.

Japan has the resources to build a significantly larger navy and a more substantial naval tradition. In addition, Japan is heavily dependent on imports of raw materials from Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf. Right now it depends on the United States to guarantee access. But given that we are forecasting more cautious U.S. involvement in foreign ventures and that the United States is not dependent on imports, the reliability of the United States is in question. Therefore, the Japanese will increase their naval power in the coming years.

Fighting over the minor islands producing low-cost and unprofitable energy will not be the primary issue in the region. Rather, an old three-player game will emerge. Russia, the declining power, will increasingly lose the ability to protect its maritime interests. The Chinese and the Japanese will both be interested in acquiring these and in preventing each other from having them. We forecast this as the central, unsettled issue in the region as Russia declines and Sino-Japanese competition increases.
Post-China Manufacturing Hubs

International capitalism requires a low-wage, high-growth region for high rewards on risk capital. In the 1880s it was the United States, for example. China was the most recent region, replacing Japan. No one country can replace China, but we have noted 16 countries with a total population of about 1.15 billion people where entry-level manufacturing has gone after leaving China.

To identify these countries, we looked at three industries. The first was garment manufacturing, particularly low-end and of garment parts like coat linings. Second was the manufacturing of footwear. Third, we looked at cellphone assembly. These industries require low capital investment, and manufacturers move their facilities around rapidly to take advantage of low wages. Industries of this sort, such as inexpensive toys in Japan, served as a foundation for manufacturing sectors to evolve into broader low-wage products in high demand. The workforce, frequently women at first, expanded dramatically as new low-wage industries moved in. The wages were low on a global scale but very attractive on the local scale.

Like China during its takeoff in the late 1970s, these countries tend to be politically unstable, with uncertain rule of law, poor infrastructure and all of the risks advanced industrial businesses try to avoid. But companies from other countries excel in these environments and have built business models around this.

The map of these countries shows that they are concentrated in the Indian Ocean Basin. Another way to look at it is that these are the less developed countries (or regions) in Asia, East Africa and Latin America. Our forecast is that in this next decade, many of these countries — and perhaps some not identified — will collectively take on the role that China had in the 1980s. This would mean that by the end of the decade, they would be entering an intensifying period of growth in a much wider array of products. Mexico, whose economy exhibits potential in both low-end manufacturing and higher-end industry in a cost-competitive environment, stands to benefit substantially from its northern neighbor's investment and healthy level of consumption.
The United States

The United States continues to make up more than 22 percent of the world's economy. It continues to dominate the world's oceans and has the only significant intercontinental military force. Since 1880, it has been on an uninterrupted expansion of economy and power. Even the Great Depression, in retrospect, is a minor blip. This expansion of power is at the center of the international system, and our forecast is that it will continue unabated.

The greatest advantage the United States has is its insularity. It exports only 9 percent of its GDP, and about 40 percent of that goes to Canada and Mexico. Only about 5 percent of its GDP is exposed to the vagaries of global consumption. Thus, as the uncertainties of Europe, Russia and China mount, even if the United States lost half its exports — an extraordinary amount — it would not be an unmanageable problem.

The United States is also insulated from import constraints. Unlike in 1973, when the Arab oil embargo massively disrupted the U.S. economy, the United States has emerged as a significant energy producer. Although it must import some minerals from outside NAFTA, and it prefers to import some industrial products, it can readily manage without these. This is particularly true as industrial production is increasing in the United States and in Mexico in response to the increasing costs in China and elsewhere.

The Americans also have benefited from global crises. The United States is a haven for global capital, and as capital flight has taken hold of China, Europe and Russia, that money has flowed into the United States, reducing interest rates and buoying equity markets. Therefore, though there is exposure to the banking crisis in Europe, it is nowhere near as substantial as it might have been a decade ago, and capital inflows counterbalance that exposure. As for the perennial fear that China will withdraw its money from American markets, that will happen slowly anyway as China's growth slows and internal investment increases. But a sudden withdrawal is impossible. There is nowhere else to invest money. Certainly the next decade will see fluctuations in U.S. economic growth and markets, but the United Stares remains the stable heart of the international system.

At the same time, the Americans have become less dependent on that system and have encountered many difficulties in managing — and particularly, in pacifying — that system. The United States will become more selective in assuming responsibilities politically in the next decade, and even more selective in military interventions.

For a century, the United States has been concerned about the emergence of a hegemon in Europe, and in particular of either an accommodation between Germany and Russia or a conquest of one by the other. That combination, more than any other, might be able to muster a force — between German capital and technology and Russian resources and manpower — capable of threatening American interests. Therefore, in World War I, World War II and the Cold War, the United States was instrumental in preventing this from occurring.

In the world wars, the United States came in late, and though it absorbed fewer casualties than other countries, it nevertheless suffered more than was comfortable for it. In the Cold War, the United States intervened early and, at least in Europe, had no casualties. Based on this, the United States has a core policy imperative that is almost automatic: When a potential European hegemon arises, the United States will act early, as in the Cold War, in building alliances and deploying sufficient force in primarily defensive positions.

This is happening now against Russia. Though we forecast the decline of Russia, Russia poses danger in the short term, particularly with its back against the wall economically. Moreover, whatever we forecast, the United States cannot be certain that Russia will decline and indeed, if it launches a successful expansionary policy (politically, economically or militarily), it may not decline. Therefore, the United States will take measures according to its imperative. It will try to build an alliance system outside of NATO, from the Baltics to Bulgaria, encompassing as many nations as possible. It will try to involve Turkey in the alliance and have it reach to Azerbaijan. It will deploy forces, proportional to the threat, in those countries.

This will be the primary focus in the early part of the decade. In the second part, Washington will focus on trying to assure that Russia's decline does not result in nuclear disaster. The United States will not become involved in trying to solve Europe's problems, it will not have a war with China, and its involvement in the Middle East will be minimal. It will conduct global counterterrorism operations but will do so with the full knowledge that those operations will be only partially effective at best.

The Americans will have an emerging problem. The United States has 50-year cycles that end with significant economic or social problems. One cycle began in 1932 with the election of Franklin Roosevelt and ended with the presidency of Jimmy Carter. It began with a need to rebuild demand for products from idle factories and ended in vast overconsumption, underinvestment and with double-digit inflation and unemployment. Ronald Reagan's presidency laid the groundwork for restructuring American industry through a change in the tax code and by shifting the focus from the urban industrial worker to the suburban professional and entrepreneur.

We are now about 15 years from the end of this cycle, and the next crisis will make itself felt in the second half of the next decade. It is already visible. It is the crisis of the middle class. The problem is not inequality; the problem is the ability of the middle class to live a middle class life. Currently, the median household income in the United States is about $50,000. Depending on the state you live in, this is actually about $40,000. That allows the literal middle to buy a modest home and live frugally outside major metropolitan areas. For the lower middle class, the 25th percentile, this is almost impossible.

There are two causes. One is the rise of the single-parent household. Having two households is twice as expensive. The other problem is that the same incentives that led to the badly needed re-engineering of the American corporation and vastly improved productivity also limited job security and income for the middle class. This is not a political crisis yet. It will become one toward the end of the next decade, but it will not be addressed until the elections of 2028 and 2032. It is a normal, cyclical crisis, but painful nonetheless.
In Context

There is no decade without pain, and even in the most perfect of times, there is suffering. The crises that we expect in the next decade are far from the worst seen in the past century, and they are no worse than those we will see in the next. There is always the expectation that what we know now as reality will define the future. There is also the belief that our pain now is the most extraordinary anguish that has ever been. This is simply narcissism. What we have now will always change — usually sooner than we believe possible. The pains we are having now are merely the normal pains of being human. This is not a comfort, but a reality, and it is in this context that this decade forecast should be read.
100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Brain altering devices may supplanta drugs on: February 26, 2015, 10:45:57 AM
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