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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 22, 2011, 06:46:19 PM
Thursday, Dec 22 2011 12AM Secret talks with Taliban reach critical juncture as U.S. considers transfer of Gitmo prisoners to Afghan custodyU.S. officials held meeting with Haqqani network
Currently, fewer than 20 Afghan citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay
'End conditions' they want Taliban to embrace include renouncing violence, breaking with al-Qaeda, and respecting Afghan constitution
Senior Taliban official denies meetings occurred

By Reuters Reporter

After ten months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents, stakes could not be higher.
Senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.
Failure would likely condemn Afghanistan to continued conflict, perhaps even civil war, after Nato troops finish turning security over to Afghan president Hamid Karzai's weak government by the end of 2014.
 Negotiations: The U.S. has been in talks with the Taliban for ten months to release Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay
Success would mean a political end to the war and the possibility that parts of the Taliban - some hardliners seem likely to reject the talks - could be reconciled.
The effort is now at a pivot point.
As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.
It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Mr Karzai.

 More...'I pray he didn't lay down his life for nothing': First and last U.S. soldiers killed at war remembered as last troops withdraw from Iraq
Over and out: Soldiers cheer as America closes the gates on Iraq
The $4 MILLION vacation: Separate flights, luxury accommodation and plenty of golf... the price of Obama’s annual Hawaiian holiday soars

The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate.
Still, the senior officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity to share new details of the mostly secret effort, suggested it has been a much larger piece of President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy than is publicly known.
U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings with their insurgent contacts, mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, the officials said.
 In talks: According to senior U.S. officials, has been one talk with a member from the Haqqani group, who was responsible for a deadly attack in Kabul this fall
'We imagine that we're on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we've got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver' on mutual confidence-building measures, said a senior U.S. official.
While some U.S.-Taliban contacts have been previously reported, the extent of the underlying diplomacy and the possible prisoner transfer have not been made public until now.
There are slightly fewer than 20 Afghan citizens at Guantanamo, according to various accountings. It is not known which ones might be transferred, nor what assurances the White House has that the Karzai government would keep them in its custody.
SENIOR TALIBAN COMMANDER DENIES SECRET TALKS WITH U.S.
A senior Afghan Taliban commander on Monday denied that the group held secret talks with U.S. officials which had reached a turning point.
'How can talks be at a critical point when they have not even started,' the commander told Reuters by telephone.
The Taliban have publicly maintained they will not enter into any negotiations while foreign troops are in Afghanistan, so even if they are participating, they might be reluctant to admit that.
Commanders might also worry about morale among fighters on the ground, if their believed their leaders were in talks.

'Our position on talks remains the same. All occupying forces have to leave Afghanistan.

'Then we can talk,' said the commander from an undisclosed location.

Guantanamo detainees have been released to foreign governments - and sometimes set free by them - before. But the transfer as part of a diplomatic negotiation appears unprecedented.
The reconciliation effort, which has already faced setbacks including a supposed Taliban envoy who turned out to be an imposter, faces hurdles on multiple fronts, the U.S. officials acknowledged.
They include splits within the Taliban; suspicion from Mr Karzai and his advisers; and Pakistan's insistence on playing a major, even dominating, role in Afghanistan's future.
Mr Obama will likely face criticism, including from Republican presidential candidates, for dealing with an insurgent group that has killed U.S. soldiers and advocates a strict Islamic form of government.
But U.S. officials say that the Afghan war, like others before it, will ultimately end in a negotiated settlement.
'The challenges are enormous,' a second senior U.S. official acknowledged. 'But if you're where we are ... you can't not try. You have to find out what's out there.'
Mr Obama is expected to soon sign into law the 2011 defence authorization bill, including changes that would broaden the military's power over terror detainees and require the Pentagon to certify in most cases that certain security conditions will be met before Guantanamo prisoners can be sent home.
Ten years after the repressive Taliban government was toppled, a hoped-for political resolution has become central to U.S. strategy to end a war that has killed nearly 3,000 foreign troops and cost the Pentagon alone $330billion.
While Mr Obama's decision to deploy an extra 30,000 troops in 2009-10 helped push the Taliban out of much of its southern heartland, the war is far from over. Militants remain able to slip in and out of lawless areas of Pakistan, where the Taliban's senior leadership is located.
Bold attacks from the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network have undermined the narrative of improving security and raised questions about how well an inexperienced Afghan military will be able to cope when foreign troops go home.
In that uncertain context, officials say that initial contacts with insurgent representatives since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly embraced a diplomatic strategy in a February 18, 2011, speech have centred on establishing whether the Taliban was open to reconciliation, despite its pledge to continue its 'sacred jihad' against Nato and U.S. soldiers.
 Denied: A senior Taliban commander denied such talks, possibly because of a resolve not to go into talks while foreign troops are in the country
'The question has been to the Taliban, 'You have got a choice to make. Life's moving on,' the second U.S. official said.
'There's a substantial military campaign out there that will continue to do you substantial damage ... Are you prepared to go forward with some kind of reconciliation process?'
U.S. officials have met with Tayeb Agha, who was a secretary to Mullah Omar, and they have held one meeting arranged by Pakistan with Ibrahim Haqqani, a brother of the Haqqani network's founder.
They have not shut the door to further meetings with the Haqqani group, which is blamed for a brazen attack this fall on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and which U.S. officials link closely to Pakistan's intelligence agency.
U.S. officials say they have kept Mr Karzai informed of the process and have met with him before and after each encounter, but they declined to confirm whether representatives of his government are present at those meetings.
Officials now see themselves on the verge of reaching a second phase in the peace process that, if successful, would clinch the confidence-building measures and allow them to move to a third stage in which the Afghan government and the Taliban would sit down in talks facilitated by the United States.

'We imagine that we're on the edge of passing into the next phase. Which is actually deciding that we've got a viable channel and being in a position to deliver' on mutual confidence-building measures.

-Senior U.S. official
'That's why it's especially delicate -- because if we don't deliver the second phase, we don't get to the pay-dirt,' the first senior U.S. official said.
Senior administration officials say that confidence-building measures must be implemented, not merely agreed to, before full-fledged political talks can begin. The sequence of such measures has not been determined, and they will ultimately be announced by Afghans, they say.
Underlying the efforts of U.S. negotiators are fundamental questions about whether - and why - the Taliban would want to strike a deal with the Western-backed Karzai government.
U.S. officials stress that the 'end conditions' they want the Taliban to embrace - renouncing violence, breaking with al Qaeda, and respecting the Afghan constitution - are not preconditions to starting talks.
Encouraging trends on the Afghan battlefield - declining militant attacks and a thinning of the Taliban's mid-level leadership - is one reason why U.S. officials believe the Taliban may be more likely now to engage in substantive talks.
They also cite what they see as an overlooked, subtle shift in the Taliban's position, based in part on statements this year from Mullah Omar that, despite fiery rhetoric, indicate some openness to talks. They also condemn civilian deaths and advocate development of Afghanistan's economy.
 End of mission: U.S. troops are slated to leave Afghanistan in 2014
In July, the Taliban reiterated its long-standing position of rejecting talks as long as foreign troops remain. In October, a senior Haqqani commander said the United States was insincere about peace.
But U.S. officials say the Taliban no longer wants to be the global pariah it was in the 1990s. Some elements have suggested flexibility on issues of priority for the West, such as protecting rights for women and girls.
'That's one of the reasons why we think this is serious,' a third senior U.S. official said.
Yet as it moves ahead the peace initiative is fraught with challenge.
At least one purported insurgent representative has turned out to be a fraud, highlighting the difficulty of vetting potential brokers in the shadowy world of the militants.
And it as dealt a major blow in September when former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed Mr Karzai's peace efforts, was assassinated in an attack Afghanistan said originated in neighbouring Pakistan.
Since then, Mr Karzai has been more ambivalent, ruling out an early resumption in talks. He said Afghanistan would talk only to Pakistan 'until we have an address for the Taliban.'
 Words of caution: Afghan president Hamil Karzai warned U.S. officials to be sure of the Taliban's authenticity for seeking peace
The dust-up over the unofficial Taliban office in Qatar, with a spokesman for Karzai stressing that Afghanistan must lead peace negotiations to end the war, suggests tensions in the U.S. and Afghan approaches to the peace process.
Speaking in an interview with CNN aired on Sunday, Mr Karzai counselled caution in making sure that Taliban interlocutors are authentic -- and authentically seeking peace.

The Rabbani killing, he said, 'brought us in a shock to the recognition that we were actually talking to nobody.'
Critics of Mr Obama's peace initiative are deeply sceptical of the Taliban's willingness to negotiate given that the West's intent to pull out most troops after 2014 would give insurgents a chance to reclaim lost territory or nudge the weak Kabul government toward collapse.
While the United States is expected to keep a modest military presence in Afghanistan beyond then, all of Obama's 'surge' troops will be home by next fall and the administration - looking to refocus on domestic priorities -- is already exploring further reductions.
Another reason to be circumspect is the potential spoiler role of Pakistan, which has so far resisted U.S. pressure to crack down on militants fuelling violence in Afghanistan.
Such considerations make for a divisive initiative within the Obama administration. Few officials describe themselves as optimists about the peace initiative.
 Only a handful left: There are less than 20 Afghans being detained at Guantanamo Bay. It is unclear how many would be released back to the Afghan government
At the State Department, formally leading the talks, senior officials see the odds of brokering a successful agreement at only around 30 per cent.
'There's a very real likelihood that these guys aren't serious ... which is why are continuing to prosecute all of the lines of effort here,' the third senior U.S. official said.
While Nato commanders promise they will keep up pressure on militants as the troop force shrinks, they are facing a tenacious insurgency in eastern Afghanistan that may prove even more challenging than the south.
Still, with Obama committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan, as the United States did last week from Iraq, the administration has few alternatives but to pursue what may well prove to be a quixotic quest for a deal.
'Wars end, and the end of wars have political consequences,' the second official said. 'You can either try to shape those, or someone does it to you.'
THE NEXT STEPS OF NEGOTIATION
If the effort advances, one of the next steps would be more public, unequivocal U.S. support for establishing a Taliban office outside of Afghanistan.
U.S. officials said they have told the Taliban they must not use that office for fundraising, propaganda or constructing a shadow government, but only to facilitate future negotiations that could eventually set the stage for the Taliban to re-enter Afghan governance.
On Sunday, a senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council said the Taliban had indicated it was willing to open an office in an Islamic country.
But underscoring the fragile nature of the multi-sided diplomacy, Afghan president Hamid Karzai last week announced he was recalling Afghanistan's ambassador to Qatar, after reports that nation was readying the opening of the Taliban office. Afghan officials complained they were left out of the loop.
On a possible transfer of Taliban prisoners long held at Guantanamo, U.S. officials stressed the move would be a 'national decision' made in consultation with the U.S. Congress.

                                                                               P.C.   
    
  
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 22, 2011, 04:19:14 PM
Woof,
 Not to worry, OB is in direct talks with the Taliban to strike a deal so we can withdraw there too.
                                               P.C.
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Recovers from coma. on: December 22, 2011, 04:14:49 PM
Woof,
 Readied to donate organs 21 year old in coma since Oct. and thought brain dead, wakes up.

http://gma.yahoo.com/readied-donate-organs-21-old-emerges-coma-204904805.html

                                        P.C.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed's step in. on: December 22, 2011, 05:42:10 AM
Woof,
 AZ deputies turn in their their badges for immigration enforcement.

http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/crime/ice-trained-mcso-deputies-turn-in-badges-12-21-2011

                                      P.C.
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 22, 2011, 03:01:55 AM
Woof,
 I wonder... in a month or two from now, would a poll show that the Iraqi people are still happy we are gone? Of course a month or two from now there won't be as many Iraqis left to poll and it's doubtful if it would be a fair poll. I also wonder in in a year or two, how many Americans are going to be happy we pulled out.  It's true that most Americans are happy about it now but our enemies are even happier. I wonder why that is? tongue
                                                                                             P.C.
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bombings on: December 22, 2011, 02:39:19 AM
BBC
 
 A wave of apparently co-ordinated bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have killed at least 57 people and injured more than 170, say officials.

The interior ministry said 13 locations had been attacked, including al-Amil in the south of the city and Halawi and Karrada closer to the centre.

The bombings are the worst in months - and follow the withdrawal of US troops.

They come amid fears of rising sectarian tensions as the unity government faces internal divisions.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.

However, analysts say the level of co-ordination suggests a planning capability only available to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Bombings remain common in Iraq despite an overall fall in violence.

In al-Amil there were two blasts, the second of which appeared to target rescuers who had come to the scene of the first explosion.

Raghad Khalid, a teacher at a kindergarten in Karrada, said all their windows had been blown out.

"The children were scared and crying. Some parts of the car bomb are inside our building."


Another woman said her baby had been covered in glass.

"She is now scared in the next room. All countries are stable. Why don't we have security and stability?" said Um Hanin.

Political turmoil
Iraq's year-old power-sharing government is in turmoil after an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges.

The entire al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolising power.

Mr Hashemi denies the charges. He is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Mr Maliki has demanded that they give him up.

The last American troops departed from Iraq on Sunday, nearly nine years after the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

President Barack Obama acknowledged that the situation was not perfect, but said the US forces were leaving behind "a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government elected by its people"

                                                                               P.C.
107  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Police becoming too militaristic? on: December 21, 2011, 07:07:52 PM
Cops Ready for War
By Andrew Becker | The Daily Beast – 15 hrs ago

Cops Ready for War
Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.
But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.
Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.
“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”
Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
Interactive Map: States Spend Billions on Homeland Security
The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.
“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”
Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged a bloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.
The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”
Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”
The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.
To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.
In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.
The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.
Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.
“The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.
A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.
The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.
The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.
“Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.
One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.
Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.
“As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”
The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.
The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.
Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.
“We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”
Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.
In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.
And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.
In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.
Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.
“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”
The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio now claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.
Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”


                                      P.C.
108  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tactical Rappelling on: December 21, 2011, 02:26:43 AM
Woof,
 Short clip on a new device.


<iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dW4IJdX_Ayk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

                                    P.C.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reduction of Guard Troops on: December 21, 2011, 01:52:50 AM


National Guard at border cut to about 300
Remaining troops will focus on aerial surveillance missions using helicopters and airplanes

Ross D. Franklin  /  AP file
A United States National Guard unit patrols the Arizona-Mexico border in Sasabe, Ariz., on Jan. 19, 2007. The contingent of National Guard troops working at the Mexican border will be cut from 1,200 to about 300 in the coming year.
 
 By ALICIA A. CALDWELL
 
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will keep a reduced contingent of National Guard troops working along the Mexican border for the next year, the Defense Department said Tuesday.
Starting in January, the force of 1,200 National Guard troops at the border will be reduced to fewer than 300 at a cost of about $60 million, said Paul Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense.
The remaining troops will shift their focus from patrolling the border on the ground looking for illegal immigrants and smugglers to aerial surveillance missions using military helicopters and airplanes equipped with high-tech radar and other gear. Exactly where those troops will fly or how many aircraft will be used has not been decided, he said.
"We are basically going from boots on the ground to boots in the air," said David Aguilar, deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection.
Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said his agency is working on identifying the "areas of greatest concern" along the border — areas that include Arizona and South Texas — and will station troops and aircraft accordingly.
President Barack Obama ordered a second round of Guard troops to the border last year, with the first of those troops arriving in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in August 2010. President George W. Bush first ordered Guard troops to the southern from 2006 to 2008. They were supposed to be in place for about a year but Obama extended the deployment earlier this year. The smaller force is now expected to remain until the end of 2012.
Stockton said the remaining troops are "transitioning to much more effective support."


"This provides us with more flexibility in dealing with the persistent challenges posed by cross-border movement and illegal crossings," Stockton said.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon has previously spent about $1.35 billion for the deployments under Bush and Obama.
Stockton said the Pentagon has budgeted about $60 million for the mission in 2012.
Congressional Republicans have objected to reducing the number of troops, arguing that the border isn't secure and reducing the number of people patrolling the area doesn't help security.

"If the Obama administration's goal is border security, their actions undermine their objective," said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "The administration's decision to draw down the National Guard troops along the U.S-Mexico border makes an already porous border worse."
Aguilar, who previously led the Border Patrol, said Tuesday there is still work to be done at the border but that successes in securing the frontier have allowed DHS to reduce the number of troops and change the mission.
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 Border Patrol agents at the southern border made 327,577 arrests, the fewest since 1972. There are also more than 18,500 agents patrolling the border, the highest number in the agency's history.
When Bush first deployed the National Guard, there were just over 11,000 Border Patrol agents in the area who made more than one million arrests.

                                         P.C.
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holder's use of his office in race and politics on: December 20, 2011, 04:58:33 AM
Woof,
 Holder has no problem using his office to further his political agenda.

EDITORIAL: Justice Department to blacks: We know better

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES REVERSED: Former North Carolina lawmaker Stephen LaRoque, a Republican who led the drive for nonpartisan local elections, calls the decision “racial as well as partisan.”From left: Faroya Basden, Elton Williams and Tyshun Wilson work to open the True Deliverance Fellowship Center in a closed storefront shop in Kinston. The center will be a place for Christian youths to congregate in the town of nearly 23,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.

 By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

-

The Washington Times

 Tuesday, October 27, 2009


 Black voters across the land should be offended by the Obama Justice Department. In a decision last month, the department effectively told black voters in the town of Kinston, N.C., that they are too stupid to choose their own elected officials unless the candidates are identified by party label. In doing so, the department overruled Kinston’s black voters themselves, who helped vote overwhelmingly to join most other North Carolina towns in holding nonpartisan local elections.
 
The arrogance of the Justice Department is staggering. Its violation of constitutional norms is astonishing. And its paternalism toward Kinston’s blacks is almost antebellum.
 
The issue at hand was a proposal last November to switch Kinston to a nonpartisan voting system for local elections. About 65 percent of Kinston’s 15,000 registered voters are black, meaning that blacks are registered at a higher proportion than their voting-age population of 59 percent. In last November’s elections, more than 11,000 of those 15,000 voted, with blacks voting in greater numbers than whites. By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Kinston voted to eliminate party affiliations from local candidates’ names on election ballots. The switch to nonpartisanship won a majority in seven of the city’s nine black-majority voting precincts. In sum, nothing could be clearer than that Kinston’s black voters themselves want nonpartisan elections.
 
Yet the Justice Department ruled that nonpartisan elections somehow violate black voting rights because apparently black voters don’t know their own minds. The department ruled that unless black and white voters specifically know who the Democrat in any particular race is, the would-be Democrat might not win - and unless the would-be Democrat wins, blacks will be disenfranchised.
 
“Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office,” wrote Loretta King, who at the time was acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
 
More blatantly, department spokesman Alejandro Miyar said only a Justice Department analysis could make “the determination of who is a ‘candidate of choice’ for any group of voters.” That’s odd. We thought voters chose their candidates by, yes, voting. They vote, and then they count. Since when did a Washington bureaucrat get to tell the voters that they voted wrong? Since when did that bureaucrat get to tell a majority of black voters in a majority black city with a disproportionately high black voting registration that those selfsame black voters can’t make their own choice unless the choice has a D by his name?
 
The Justice Department is pushing beyond all reasonable limits a constitutionally suspect provision known as Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section requires any jurisdiction in parts of 16 states to attain the department’s permission before making any change in voting procedures, even changes as small as moving voting machines from a school cafeteria to the school’s auditorium. Last spring, the Supreme Court stopped just short of ruling that Section 5 is unconstitutional. The high court wrote that “the Act’s preclearance requirements and its coverage formula raise serious constitutional questions,” but then decided that the case at hand did not require the justices to decide those questions.
 
In other recent cases, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has written that “it is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race” and that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
 
Back in the still-valid 1970 case of Oregon v. Mitchell, Justice Hugo Black wisely wrote that “no function is more essential to the separate and independent existence of the States and their governments than the power to determine … the nature of their own machinery for filling local public offices.”
 
Here the Justice Department is clearly in the sordid business of discriminating by both race and political party to overturn a black-majority town’s right to determine how it fills local offices. This decision should not stand. The city of Kinston should challenge it in court, and legal foundations ought to be eagerly offering to guide that challenge at no cost to the city.



                               Holder’s Hidden Agenda, cont’d . . .

November 13, 2009 10:57 A.M.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

  This summer, I theorized that Attorney General Eric Holder — and his boss — had a hidden agenda in ordering a re-investigation of the CIA for six-year-old alleged interrogation excesses that had already been scrutinized by non-partisan DOJ prosecutors who had found no basis for prosecution. The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies (i.e., the policies that kept us safe from more domestic terror attacks), coupled with the Holder Justice Department’s obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the “reckoning” that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. It would be too politically explosive for Obama/Holder to do the dirty work of charging Bush administration officials; but as new revelations from investigations and declassifications are churned out, Leftist lawyers use them to urge European and international tribunals to bring “torture” and “war crimes” indictments. Thus, administration cooperation gives Obama’s base the reckoning it demands but Obama gets to deny responsibility for any actual prosecutions.

Today’s announcement that KSM and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court for civilian trials neatly fits this hidden agenda. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets.

Let’s take stock of where we are at this point. KSM and his confederates wanted to plead guilty and have their martyrs’ execution last December, when they were being handled by military commission. As I said at the time, we could and should have accommodated them. The Obama administration could still accommodate them. After all, the president has not pulled the plug on all military commissions: Holder is going to announce at least one commission trial (for Nashiri, the Cole bomber) today.

Moreover, KSM has no defense. He was under American indictment for terrorism for years before there ever was a 9/11, and he can’t help himself but brag about the atrocities he and his fellow barbarians have carried out.

So: We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda’s case against America. Since that will be their “defense,” the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case – they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see — in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America’s defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us

 
                            Black Panthers Endorse Obama
Obama also has the endorsement of the New Black Panther Party.

"Barack Obama represents 'Positive Change' for all of America.  Obama will stir the 'Melting Pot' into a better "Molten America.'"
Read The New Black Panther Party 10 Point Platform from the anti-white and virulently anti-Semitic black supremacist party that has endorsed Obama on the presidential candidate's own website.


Following criticism earlier this month of an online endorsement from the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), Obama's campaign removed the controversial organization from the presidential candidate's official website.  The NBPP had been a registered team member and blogger on Obama's "MyObama" campaign site.

But the NBPP endorsement was reposted on Obama's official website today.

"Obama is capable of stirring the 'melting pot' into a better 'molten America,'" states the NBPP endorsement posted on Obama's site.

The NBPP is a controversial black extremist party whose leaders are notorious for their racist statements and for leading anti-white activism.  Malik Zulu Shabazz, NBPP national chairman, who has given scores of speeches condemning "white men" and Jews, confirmed his organization's endorsement of Obama in a recent interview with WND.

"I think the way Obama responded to the attack on him and the attempt to sabotage his campaign shows true leadership and character.  He had a chance to denounce his pastor and he didn't fall for the bait.  He stood up and addressed real issues of racial discord," stated Shabazz.

Shabazz boasted he met Obama last March when the politician attended the 42nd anniversary of the voting rights marches in Selma, Ala.

"I have nothing but respect for Obama and for his pastor," said Shabazz, referring to Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of nearly 20 years.

It is Wright's racially charged and anti-Israel remarks that were widely circulated this month, landing the presidential candidate in hot water and prompting Obama to deliver a major race speech in which he condemned Wright's comments but not the pastor himself.

Speaking to WND, Shabazz referred to Obama as a man with a "Muslim background, a man of color."

Shabazz's NBPP's official platform states "white man has kept us deaf, dumb and blind," refers to the "white racist government of America," demands black people be exempt from military service and uses the word "Jew" repeatedly in quotation marks.

Shabazz has led racially divisive protests and conferences, such as the 1998 Million Youth March in which a few thousand Harlem youths reportedly were called upon to scuffle with police officers and speakers demanded the extermination of whites in South Africa.

The NBPP chairman was quoted at a May 2007 protest against the 400-year celebration of the settlement of Jamestown, Va., stating, "When the white man came here, you should have left him to die."

He claimed Jews engaged in an "African holocaust," and he has promoted the anti-Semitic urban legend that 4,000 Israelis fled the World Trade Center just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

When Shabazz was denied entry to Canada last May while trying to speak at a black action event, he blamed Jewish groups and claimed Canada "is run from Israel."

Canadian officials justified the action stating he has an "anti-Semitic" and "anti-police" record, but some reports blamed what was termed a minor criminal history for the decision to deny him entry.

He similarly blamed Jews for then-New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani's initial decision, later rescinded, against granting a permit for the Million Youth March.

The NBPP's deceased chairman, Khallid Abdul Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam leader who was once considered Louis Farrakhan's most trusted adviser, gave speeches referring to the "white man" as the "devil" and claiming that "there is a little bit of Hitler in all white people."

In a 1993 speech condemned by the U.S. Congress and Senate, Muhammad, lionized on the NBPP site, referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers," labeled the pope a "no-good cracker" and advocated the murder of white South Africans who would not leave the nation subsequent to a 24-hour warning.

All NBPP members must memorize the group's rules, such as that no party member "can have a weapon in his possession while drunk or loaded off narcotics or weed," and no member "will commit any crimes against other party members or black people at all."

The NBPP endorses Obama on its own page of the presidential candidate's official site that allows registered users to post their own blogs.

The group labels itself on Obama's site as representing "Freedom, Justice, and Peace for all of Mankind."  It links to the official NBPP website, which contains what can be arguably regarded as hate material.

The NBPP previously endorsed Obama on the presidential candidate's site, but following publicity of that endorsement, the Obama campaign removed the NBPP posting.

"It's our policy [to remove] any content generated by a group that advocates violence," explained Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor to FoxNews.com.

Before the campaign removed the party's page, Obama spokeswoman Tiffany Edwards told FoxNews.com the NBPP endorsement on Obama's website "has nothing to do with us."

"People can form their own groups," she said. "It's not something that the campaign -- it's not something that we've done."

While it appears anyone can initially sign up as a registered supporter on Obama's site, it isn't clear whether the campaign monitors the site or approves users.  There is a link on each blog page for users to report any abusers, such as those who post controversial entries, to the administrator.

Shabbazz chalked up the Obama campaign's initial removal of his NBPP endorsement from the website to "the game of politics."

"The Obama camp's move to remove our blog doesn't mean much because I understand politics.  We still completely support Obama as the best candidate."

Obama 'less biased' on Israel

Shabazz said that aside from promoting black rights, he also supports Obama because he may take what he called a "less biased" policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I have hopes he will change the U.S. government's position toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because our position has been unwarranted bias.  Time and time again the U.S. vetoed resolutions in the U.N. Security Council condemning [Israeli] human rights violations. ... I hope he shifts policy," Shabazz said.

           .............................................................................................

        Explosive Accusations: Justice Department Lawyer Accuses Holder of Dropping Black Panther Case For Racial Reasons –
 
June 30th, 2010 (21) Posted By Pat Dollard.
 
  A former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the Obama administration’s handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case is accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of dropping the charges for racially motivated reasons.
 
J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia, says he and the other Justice Department lawyers working on the case were ordered to dismiss it.
 


“I mean we were told, ‘Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,’” Adams told Fox News, adding that political appointees Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division since 2003, ordered the dismissal.
 
Asked about the Justice Department’s claim that they are career attorneys, not political appointees, Adams said “obviously, that’s false.”
 
“Under the vacancy reform act, they were serving in a political capacity,” he said. “This is one of the examples of Congress not being told the truth, the American people not being told the truth about this case. It’s one of the other examples in this case where the truth simply is becoming another victim of the process.”
 
Adams claimed an unnamed political appointee said if somebody wants to bring these kinds of cases, “that’ not going to de done out of the civil rights division.”
 
Adams also accused Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of lying under oath to Congress about the circumstances surrounding the decision to drop the probe.
 
The Justice Department has defended its move to drop the case, saying it obtained an injunction against one member to keep him away from polling stations while dismissing charges against the others “based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law.”
 
But Adams told Fox News that politics and race was at play in the dismissal.
 
“There is a pervasive hostility within the civil rights division at the Justice Department toward these sorts of cases,” Adams told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.
 
Adams says the dismissal is a symptom of the Obama administration’s reverse racism and that the Justice Department will not pursue voting rights cases against white victims.

“In voting, that will be the case over the next few years, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
 
In an opinion article published in the Washington Times last week, Adams said the dismissal “raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election.”
 
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler dismissed Adams’ accusations as a “good faith disagreement” with ulterior motives.
 
“It is not uncommon for attorneys within the department to have good faith disagreements about the appropriate course of action in a particular case, although it is regrettable when a former department attorney distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his or her agenda,” she said in a written statement.
 
In the final days of the Bush administration, three Black Panthers — Minister King Samir Shabazz, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson — were charged in a civil complaint with violating the Voter Rights Act in November 2008 by using coercion, threats and intimidation at a Philadelphia polling station — with Shabazz brandishing what prosecutors called a deadly weapon.
 
The Obama administration won a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panthers didn’t appear in court to fight the charges. But the administration moved to dismiss the charges in May 2009. Justice attorneys said a criminal complaint, which resulted in the injunction, proceeded successfully.
 
The department “is committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of both the civil and criminal provisions of federal law that prohibit voter intimidation. We continue to work with voters, communities, and local law enforcement to ensure that every American can vote free from intimidation, coercion or threats,” Schmaler said Wednesday.
 
But the Justice Department’s explanation has failed to appease the United States Commission on Civil Rights, which is probing the department’s decision, or Republican lawmakers who say the dismissal could lead to an escalation of voter intimidation.
 
The commission held a hearing in April in which Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who has led the charge for answers from the Justice Department, was among those testifying. The Justice Department did not provide witnesses at that hearing. Instead, Perez testified before the commission in May.
 
“At a minimum, without sufficient proof that New Black Panther Party or Malik Zulu Shabazz directed or controlled unlawful activities at the polls, or made speeches directed to immediately inciting or producing lawless action on Election Day, any attempt to bring suit against those parties based merely upon their alleged ‘approval’ or ‘endorsement’ of Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jackson’s activities would have likely failed,” he told the commission.
 
The commission has repeatedly sought information from the Justice Department, going as far as filing subpoenas. Schmaler said the department has provided 2,000 pages of information in response.
 
But Adams said in the Times article that the department ordered the attorneys “to ignore the subpoena, lawlessly placing us in an unacceptably legal limbo.”
 
Adams also says that after the dismissal, Justice Department attorneys were instructed not to bring any more cases against racial minorities under the Voting Section.

Adams told Fox News that the New Black Panther case was the “easiest I ever had at the Justice Department.
 
“It doesn’t get any easier than this,” he said. “If this doesn’t constitute voter intimidation, nothing will.”


                                                  P.C.





111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holder's anti gun record on: December 20, 2011, 04:15:26 AM
Woof,
 Holder's record on gun control:

Tags: holder | gun | control Eric Holder Was a Gun Control Nightmare
Friday, 21 Nov 2008 11:03 AM

By Jim Meyers

  Barack Obama’s nomination of Eric Holder for attorney general will not sit well with advocates of Second Amendment rights — Holder has consistently championed stronger gun-control measures.

As deputy attorney general in the Bill Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001, Holder “was a strong supporter of restrictive gun control,” according to The Volokh Conspiracy, a Web site that focuses on the legal system and the courts.

He advocated federal licensing of handgun owners, a three-day waiting period on handgun sales, rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month, banning possession of handguns and so-called "assault weapons" by anyone under age 21, a gun show restriction bill that would have given the federal government the power to shut down all gun shows, and national gun registration.

“He also promoted the factoid that ‘Every day that goes by, about 12, 13 more children in this country die from gun violence’ — a statistic that is true only if one counts 18-year-old gangsters who shoot each other as ‘children,’” noted the Web site, founded by law professor Alexander Volokh.

After the 9/11 attacks, Holder wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post arguing that a new law should give "the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms a record of every firearm sale." He also said prospective gun buyers should be checked against the secret "watch lists" compiled by various government entities.

Earlier this year, Holder — who would become the first African-American attorney general — co-signed an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia’s ban on all handguns and on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home.

Holder also played a key role in the snatching of 6-year-old Cuban Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives’ home in April 2000, according to the Web site. Gonzalez was to be sent to Cuba where his father lived.

Although a photo clearly showed a federal agent pointing a gun at the man who was holding the terrified child, Holder claimed that the federal agents sent to capture Gonzalez had acted "very sensitively."

David Kopel, author of the Volokh Conspiracy report, observed: “If Mr. Holder believes that breaking down a door with a battering ram, pointing guns at children (not just Elian), and yelling ‘Get down, get down, we'll shoot’ is an example of acting ‘very sensitively,’ his judgment about the responsible use of firearms is not as acute as would be desirable for a cabinet officer who would be in charge of thousands and thousands of armed federal agents, many of them paramilitary agents with machine guns.”

                                            

                            Eric Holder: Gun GrabberBy: John Lott
                          FoxNews.com | Tuesday, January 13, 2009



  Despite a huge Democratic Senate majority, Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings are going to be difficult. He has a long record to defend. Whether it is his involvement and inconsistent statements about Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich’s or his pushing Clinton’s clemency of the FALN terrorists or his failure to disclose his work for troubled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich after Blagojevich's legal problems surfaced, he faces tough questions.

But Holder’s nomination raises other questions about what President-elect Barack Obama claimed he believed during the campaign. Numerous times he promised that he supported an individual’s right to own guns and that he wouldn’t do anything to take away people’s guns.

Just last year in a brief to the Supreme Court, Holder argued that “the Second Amendment did not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms,” that it only protected government militias’ rights to guns. He claimed that the Second Amendment posed no obstacle to implementing gun bans.

I can’t find even one gun control law that Holder has opposed. On every gun control regulation he has discussed, he has been supportive, including: bans, raising the age that someone can possess a gun, registration and licensing, one-gun-a-month limit on purchases, and mandatory waiting periods.

Even more troubling, while Holder served in the Clinton Justice Department, he oversaw the background check system, but he has never been asked to explain why the system broke down so consistently while he ran it.

The constant breakdowns of "instant" background-check systems during the Clinton administration halted gun sales for hours or even days at a time, costing stores untold sales and additional costs. Even by the end of the Clinton administration, from September 1999 to December 2000, the system was down about one hour for every 16.7 hours of operation. The breakdowns often came in big blocks of time, the worst during a period covering 60 business hours during two weeks in the middle of May 2000. During his tenure, gun shows sometimes found that they couldn’t sell guns during the entire weekend that they were open.

Try running a business where you face random shutdowns and neither customers nor sellers are ever informed of how long outages are expected to last. In addition to the government-imposed fees on gun sellers and the regulatory harassment of gun sellers with no evidence that these policies have reduce crime, it is not surprising that the number of gun dealers has plummeted by over 80 percent since 1992.

The breakdown in background checks, which had been a problem for years under the Clinton administration, magically fixed itself within weeks of President Bush assuming office in 2001, and the problems have not recurred.

What few realize is the huge power that the attorney general has to make legitimate gun selling very difficult without any new laws or regulations having to be passed. This is even more important now than it was under the Clinton administration, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has recently moved from the Treasury Department to the Justice Department.

I always questioned Obama’s claims and argued that up until the presidential campaign his whole career had supported gun bans, but there was no lack of politicians and advisers who attested to Obama’s sincerity on the issue. Obama and his campaign constantly tried to explain away his past support for gun control as being mistakes by subordinates who had incorrectly explained his positions.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, promised reporters last August about Obama: “He ain't going to take your gun away. He ain't ever going to take your gun away.” Joe Biden made similar statements while campaigning in places such as rural southwest Virginia. An Obama adviser, Stanford law professor Larry Lessig, said on Hugh Hewitt's national radio show last fall that "I think that he has always been an individual rights person on the Second Amendment." Another adviser, Professor Cass Sunstein at Harvard, told Time Magazine in June: "Obama has always expressed a belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a private right to bear arms." The list goes on. It was a constant theme of the campaign.

Just before the November election, the Los Angeles Times questioned the honesty of those who questioned Obama’s stand on guns, because "Obama does not oppose gun rights. He has made a point of pounding this home to rural audiences, telling them he has no intention of taking their guns away: not their shotguns, not their handguns, not anything."

There are few such issues that the Obama campaign promised over and over again during the campaign.

Holder’s nomination suggests this promise was not serious. And it also suggests that Obama won’t appoint judges who believe it either. With Appeals Courts around the country already facing Second Amendment cases and a very closely divided Supreme Court likely to rehear the issue, the judges Obama will appoint could easily reverse last year’s Supreme Court decision striking down the D.C. gun, a decision that he claims to support.

                                             P.C.




112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political situation in Iraq on: December 20, 2011, 04:01:24 AM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Stay Connected
Iraqi News IRAQINEWS.COM

Iran is a friendly country, we need it, Barzani

ARBIL / IraqiNews.com: Kurdish region President Masoud Barzani described Iran as “a friendly country”, stressing the need for it, according Iranian Mehr Newe Agency. The agency added that leader of the Iranian revolution Ali Khamanei received today President Barzani. Barzani stated that “we will not forget the assistance of the Iranian people and government during the hard times passed by Iraq”. “To preserve our victory, we need Iranian assistance and guidance in this sphere”, Barzani added. Khamanei declared that “Iran will support a unified Iraq with full stability”, stressing “Iraq should be rebuilt in order to have its rightful status”. He described the peaceful coexistence among ethnic groups is “a precious opportunity” describing the present situation in Iraq “relieves Iranian republic”. He added that all Iraqi ethnic groups are ” close brothers to Iran with deep rooted relations with the Iranian people”, stressing that “bilateral relations are good and should be developed day by day”. RM 71

         Baghdad wants unilateral control of power, Masoud Barzani

ARBIL / IraqiNews.com:  Kurdish President Masoud Barzani stated today that the behavior of the Iraqi government is to have “unilateral” control, pointing out that the Regional Government aims at solving all problems withBAGHDAD .   In a conference for Kurdistan representatives abroad, held in Arbil, he declared that a delegation, headed by Premier Barham Saleh, will be sent toBAGHDAD  to discuss matters pending betweenBAGHDAD  and Arbil.   “The attitude inBAGHDAD  is to have unilateral control of power”, he added.   Barzani referred to anti-Iran PJAK and anti-Turkey PKK parties as “not taking into consideration the interests of  Kurdistan “, calling both parties “to discharge ideas gaining their rights by military means”.   “We are planning to end this war, if we succeeded then we rendered a great service to the people of Kurdistan, Iran and Turkey, otherwise, we will not be part of it”, he confirmed.   The Iranian bombardment continued for the last two months, while the Turkish shelling prevailed for its third week which led to civilian killings and material damages in homes and lands.   Local Kurdish sources said that the Turkish jet fighters are continuing bombing Iraqi villages along the borders in Qandeel mountains in Kurdistan  region.   Areas in Arbil and Duhuk are having massive Turkish aerial bombardments against possible PKK sites inside  Kurdistan , where reports said that 30 Turkish soldiers were killed.   The Turkish government announced that it will continue its attack till terminating PKK members and stop their attacks inside  Turkey . 665


                      Malikis’ government is a dictatorship – MP

BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: An al-Iraqiya MP described the present Iraqi government as being similar to a dictatorship, warning against the wrath of the Iraqi public for unilateral governmental decisions.   MP Khalid Abdullah al-Alwani told IraqiNews.com that “the present government , headed by Premier Nouri al-Maliki, is similar to a dictatorship, with one ruler and one party, without real partnership, just in name”.   “There are no consultations in government affairs and non-implementation of Arbil agreement”, he added.   Alwani warned against public wrath for unilateral control of government decisions.   Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani criticized Tuesday the work of the Iraqi government as “unilateral” and pointed out that the Regional Government aims at solving all problems with Baghdad. RM (TS)/SR 375


          Thoughts to withdraw from government to weaken Maliki – MP

BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: Al-Iraqiya bloc MP called today to think of political alternatives to amend the situation in the country which is moving to unilateral rule and party, pointing one of these alternatives is to withdraw from the government to weaken the status of Premier Nouri al-Maliki, according to a statement of his office. In a statement, as received by IraqiNews.com, MP Ahmed al-Alwani warned against the rule of one person and one party, which facilitates the return of the dictatorship, “which matter we cannot accept,” as he said. He criticized the State of Law bloc for not abiding with the agreements reached to. Alwani said that he demanded the withdrawal from the present government “in order no to be partners in future destruction of the country”. Al-Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Alawi announced last Thursday his rejection to preside of the Higher Strategic Policies Council due to “the absence of national partnership and unilateral rule.” Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani made an initiative in September 2011 to solve the current government crisis after a delay lasted for nine months, which led to the formation of a partnership government. RM (TI)/SR Number of Reads:351

                                                   P.C.


113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqi holocaust on: December 19, 2011, 08:34:56 PM
Woof,
The Iraqi holocaust very well documented.



http://iraqshoahfiles.blogspot.com
                 
                                     P.C.
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 08:17:31 PM
Woof,
 On a more serious note.

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's Human Rights Ministry has decided to create a center tasked with identifying the thousands of unidentified bodies found in Saddam Hussein-era mass graves in Iraq, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Human Rights Ministry spokesman Kamil Amin told RFI on September 20 that the unresolved situation has pushed the ministry to establish the special center, which will work with other ministries and health institutions to identify the remains from mass graves.

"This is a huge and very ambitious project that will need governmental and political support," Amin said. "We also asked many other countries with similar experiences for help, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina," he added.

The Hussein regime used to arbitrarily arrest, torture, and often kill and bury anyone suspected of being an opponent of the government.

Eyewitnesses in recent years have said that some people were even buried alive, especially during the 1991 revolt that took place after the Iraqi army was forced out of Kuwait.

More Than 100,000 Bodies

Some estimates put the number of bodies found in mass graves since the fall of Hussein's regime in 2003 at more than 100,000. A number of experts think there are many more thousands still to be uncovered.

Salah Muhammad, 25, is married and has three children. He told RFI that he has wondered where his father is since 1991, when he was taken away from his family.

Muhammad said he has been told by Iraqi officials that his father was executed and buried in one of the Hussein-era mass graves that are systematically uncovered several times a year.

Muhammad said he remembers the day when security agents entered their house by force and took away his father, who was a teacher, accusing him of being a member of the banned Al-Dawah party.

"I was still a child at that time," he told RFI, "but to this day, I am unable to forget this scene of those men dragging my father away, forcing him into a car. This was the last time I saw him," he said with tears in his eyes.

Muhammad said he searches everywhere for his father, including in every new mass grave that is discovered. But he said this is a very difficult and frustrating task.

"All the remains and bodies are lacking any ID proving who they are," he said. "How can they expect anyone to identify the missing loved ones [we are] looking for?"

Muhammad's story is one of many thousands of similar stories of Iraqis still seeking the bodies of missing relatives.

                                                                    P.C.
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 19, 2011, 08:09:25 PM
Woof,
 This just now coming across the wires: Iraq News: A Video of Saddam Hussein has been found showing the former dictator personally spaying Kurd's with WMD. In a related story the Left would rather he still be in control in Iraq.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KkOtGP1qWgE

                                         P.C.
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not everybody is happy on: December 19, 2011, 10:46:19 AM
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Demo in north Iraq’s Tal-Afar city demanding resignation of commanders

NINEWA / IraqiNews.com: Hundreds of citizen took to the streets of Tal-Afar city of northern Iraq’s Ninewa Province on Sunday, demanding the resignation of the Commanders of Army and Police in the city, due to the deterioration of the security conditions in their city, a Ninewa security source reported. “Hundreds of citizens have launched a demonstration on Sunday morning close to the Mayoralty building of Tal-Afar city, 60 km to the west of Mosul, chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the Commander of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Brigade and the Director of Tal-Afar Police, due to the deterioration of the security situation in the city,” the Security source told IraqiNews.com news agency. Tal-Afar city had witnessed last week 2 booby-trapped car explosions in al-Kifah district in the city, killing 3 persons and wounding 32 others, all civilians, whilst the city had witnessed another incident of killing 2 Iraqi soldiers by armed men on a checkpoint in al-Bawary district of the city. Mosul, the center of Ninewa Province, is 405 km to the north of Baghdad.

                                                          P.C.
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No shortage of cash on: December 19, 2011, 10:41:06 AM
Woof,

 URGENT: Southern Iraq’s Basra Province’s petrodollar revenues exceed one trillion and 131 billion Iraqi dinars

BASRA / IraqiNews.com: The Petrodollar revenues of southern Iraq ’s Basra Province for the year 2011 has reached one trillion (t) and 131 billion (b) Iraqi dinars (US$1.009 billions (b) approx.), according to a Basra Province Council’s source on Thursday.

                                            P.C.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqis that helped America, left to die. on: December 19, 2011, 10:02:41 AM
Woof,
 No where to go.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/12/20111215164220357796.html

                               P.C.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How to start a bloodbath 101 on: December 19, 2011, 09:06:14 AM
Woof,
 Let the slaughter begin.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/316340

                                     P.C.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraqi citizens polled on: December 19, 2011, 08:48:45 AM
Woof,
 Latest poll taken of what Iraqi citizens think.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/73-iraqis-iran-likely-act-aggressively-when-us-troops-leave
                                          P,C,
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / My words/my thoughts on: December 19, 2011, 05:04:35 AM
Woof,
 I want to make sure all of what I actually said, stays with JDN's continued chirping, color commentary, and hysterics in his last five post's. He's become obsessed I'm afraid and continues to repeat himself over and over, even after I already answered him, and now that I no longer address him directly, he answers other people's post's and uses that as a way to ascribe things to me that I never said or thought. For some reason he thinks because I'm still posting on this thread, even without mentioning his name in those post's or directing a post to him, that I'm still engaging him personally. I'm not, but I'm also not going to let him distort what I said. So here is what I said and my answer to his original comment. Anything else are his words and thoughts, completely made up in his head, not mine.

Woof,
 
 I said way back when, that we would give them a chance at a free society and in the end we would just walk away from it and leave them to their own designs. I also said that they didn't have a chance in hell of keeping it free after we left. I'm glad Saddam is gone, I'm glad we killed a lot of terrorist fighters there. I feel sorry for the Iraqi people that do want freedom. We should have done it like we did Japan, but there were too many people invested in it's failure back here at home to have had that kind of success. It takes commitment to do things right, unfortunately our News Media and Press are committed to an ideology that breeds failures like this then they will turn their back on the massacre to come and have no shame in saying they are not to blame, much like the million or so slaughtered after we pulled out of Vietnam. It won't come as immediate as Vietnam but in time it will.

 The President was correct in not celebrating this as victory in Iraq, because it is not a victory, it's a retreat from the frontlines of the war on Western civilization by the Islamic Fascist's. We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down. Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
                                             P.C.


Quote
Woof JDN,
 I don't deny that, and I know those labels, just like being called Hitler or racist can be applied broadly enough to discredit any solution to any problem. Nothing happens in war without some pain but that doesn't mean the pain lasts forever. The reality is, one: Iraq should pay for it's own reconstruction because they can afford it, and it is they that benefit from it not us. I didn't say load up the ships then set fire to what's left or let's make a profit off the deal, but quite frankly we couldn't afford to do this on our own, and two: our enemies are going to grab the oil for themselves after we leave and they are going to set fire to the place. So short term name calling or long term failure. The President has picked failure.
                                                     P.C.
 
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq celebrate's and worry on: December 19, 2011, 04:15:57 AM
  BAGHDAD — Even as Iraqis celebrated the departure of the last American troops Sunday, the dangers left behind after nearly nine years of war were on full display. Politicians feuded along the country's potentially explosive sectarian lines and the drumbeat of deadly violence went on.
The last U.S. convoy rumbled out of Iraq across the border into Kuwait around sunrise under a shroud of secrecy to prevent attacks on the departing troops. When news reached a waking Iraqi public, there was joy at the end of a presence that many Iraqis resented as a foreign occupation.
In the northern city of Mosul, pastry shop owner Muhannad Adnan said he had a swell of orders for cakes — up to 110 from the usual 70 or so a day — as families threw parties at home. Some asked him to ice the cakes with inscriptions of "congratulations for the end of occupation," he said.

But the happiness was shot through with worries over the future.
"Nobody here wants occupation. This withdrawal marks a new stage in Iraq's history," said Karim al-Rubaie, a Shiite shopowner in the southern city of Basra. But, he said, "the politicians who are running this country are just a group of thieves."
"These politicians will lead the country into sedition and civil war. Iraq now is like a weak prey among neighboring beasts."
In the morning, a bomb hidden under a pile of trash exploded on a street of spare car parts stores in a mainly Shiite district of eastern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four others. It was the latest in the near daily shootings and bombings — low-level but still deadly — that continue to bleed the country and that many fear will increase with the Americans gone.

 Violence is far lower than it was at the worst of the Iraq War, in 2006 and 2007, when Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias preyed on Iraqis around the country in a vicious sectarian conflict that nearly turned into complete civil war. But those armed groups still remain, and there are deep concerns whether Iraqi security forces are capable of keeping them in check without the help of U.S. troops.
Iraq's military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari said Sunday that his troops were up to the task of uprooting militant groups.
"There are only scattered terrorists hiding here and there and we are seeking intelligence information to eliminate them," Zebari said. "We are confident that there will be no danger."
Equally worrying, the resentments and bitterness between the Shiite majority and Sunni minority in this country of 31 million remain unhealed. The fear is that without the hand of American forces, the fragile attempts to get the two sides to work together could collapse and even turn to greater violence.
In an escalation of the rivalry, the main Sunni-backed political bloc on Sunday announced it was boycotting parliament to protest what they called Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempts to monopolize government positions — particularly those overseeing the powerful security forces. The bloc has complained of security forces' recent arrests of Sunnis that it says are "unjustified."
The Iraqiya bloc warned that it could take the further step of pulling its seven ministers out of al-Maliki's coalition government.
Story: 'Iraq War Ledger': The conflict by the numbers
"We are against the concentration of security powers in the hands of one person, that is the prime minister," said Sunni lawmaker Hamid al-Mutlaq, a member of the bloc.
Sunnis have long feared domination by the country's Shiites, who vaulted to power after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein at the hands of the Americans. The rivalry was exacerbated by the years of sectarian killing.
The Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the most seats in last year's parliamentary election. But its leader Ayad Allawi was unable to become prime minister, outmaneuvered by al-Maliki, who kept the premier's post after cobbling together key support from Shiite parties.
That has left al-Maliki beholden to Shiite factions, including those led by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militiamen were blamed for sectarian killings during the worst of Iraq's violence. Since forming his new government, al-Maliki has effectively controlled the Interior and Defense Ministries, which oversee the police and military, while conflicts between Sunni and Shiite politicians have delayed the appointment of permanent ministers.
Many on both sides of the sectarian divide also worry that neighboring Shiite-led powerhouse Iran will now increase its influence in their country. Al-Maliki's party and other Shiite blocs have close ties to Tehran. But even some in the Shiite public resent the idea of Iranian domination.
"I am afraid that this occupation will be replaced by indirect occupation by some neighboring countries," said Ali Rahim, a 40-year-old Shiite who works for the Electricity Ministry.

  Omar Waadalla Younis, a senior at Mosul University, said at first he was happy to hear the last Americans were gone and thought the city government should hold celebrations in the streets. Then he thought of the possible threat from Iran.
"Now that the Americans have left, Iraq is more vulnerable than before."
___
AP correspondent Bushra Juhi in Baghdad contributed to this report.


                                       P.C.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abandoning our friends on: December 18, 2011, 07:14:23 PM

NYTimes.com
 In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends By KIRK W. JOHNSON
Published: December 15, 2011 
  U.S. Marks End to 9-Year War, Leaving an Uncertain Iraq (December 16, 2011)
Op-Ed Contributor: An Unstable, Divided Land (December 16, 2011)
Editorial: A Formal End (December 16, 2011)
 
  ON the morning of May 6, 1783, Guy Carleton, the British commander charged with winding down the occupation of America, boarded the Perseverance and sailed up the Hudson River to meet George Washington and discuss the British withdrawal. Washington was furious to learn that Carleton had sent ships to Canada filled with Americans, including freed slaves, who had sided with Britain during the revolution.

Britain knew these loyalists were seen as traitors and had no future in America. A Patriot using the pen name “Brutus” had warned in local papers: “Flee then while it is in your power” or face “the just vengeance of the collected citizens.” And so Britain honored its moral obligation to rescue them by sending hundreds of ships to the harbors of New York, Charleston and Savannah. As the historian Maya Jasanoff has recounted, approximately 30,000 were evacuated from New York to Canada within months.

Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, President Obama is wrapping up our own long and messy war, but we have no Guy Carleton in Iraq. Despite yesterday’s announcement that America’s military mission in Iraq is over, no one is acting to ensure that we protect and resettle those who stood with us.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama spoke to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., of the “extraordinary milestone of bringing the war in Iraq to an end.” Forgotten are his words from the campaign trail in 2007, that “interpreters, embassy workers and subcontractors are being targeted for assassination.” He added, “And yet our doors are shut. That is not how we treat our friends.”

Four years later, the Obama administration has admitted only a tiny fraction of our own loyalists, despite having eye scans, fingerprints, polygraphs and letters from soldiers and diplomats vouching for them. Instead we force them to navigate a byzantine process that now takes a year and a half or longer.

The chances for speedy resettlement of our Iraqi allies grew even worse in May after two Iraqi men were arrested in Kentucky and charged with conspiring to send weapons to jihadist groups in Iraq. These men had never worked for Americans, and they managed to enter the United States as a result of poor background checks. Nevertheless, their arrests removed any sense of urgency in the government agencies responsible for protecting our Iraqi allies.

The sorry truth is that we don’t need them anymore now that we’re leaving, and resettling refugees is not a winning campaign issue. For over a year, I have been calling on members of the Obama administration to make sure the final act of this war is not marred by betrayal. They have not listened, instead adopting a policy of wishful thinking, hoping that everything turns out for the best.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis who loyally served us are under threat. The extremist Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr has declared the Iraqis who helped America “outcasts.” When Britain pulled out of Iraq a few years ago, there was a public execution of 17 such outcasts — their bodies dumped in the streets of Basra as a warning. Just a few weeks ago, an Iraqi interpreter for the United States Army got a knock on his door; an Iraqi policeman told him threateningly that he would soon be beheaded. Another employee, at the American base in Ramadi, is in hiding after receiving a death threat from Mr. Sadr’s militia.

It’s not the first time we’ve abandoned our allies. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford and Henry A. Kissinger ignored the many Vietnamese who aided American troops until the final few weeks of the Vietnam War. By then, it was too late.

Although Mr. Kissinger had once claimed there was an “irreducible list” of 174,000 imperiled Vietnamese allies, the policy in the war’s frantic closing weeks was icily Darwinian: if you were strong enough to clear our embassy walls or squeeze through the gates and force your way onto a Huey, you could come along. The rest were left behind to face assassination or internment camps. The same sorry story occurred in Laos, where America abandoned tens of thousands of Hmong people who had aided them.

It wasn’t until months after the fall of Saigon, and much bloodshed, that America conducted a huge relief effort, airlifting more than 100,000 refugees to safety. Tens of thousands were processed at a military base on Guam, far away from the American mainland. President Bill Clinton used the same base to save the lives of nearly 7,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1996. But if you mention the Guam Option to anyone in Washington today, you either get a blank stare of historical amnesia or hear that “9/11 changed everything.”

And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in. For the first time in five years, I’m telling Iraqis who write to me for help that they shouldn’t count on America anymore.

Moral timidity and a hapless bureaucracy have wedged our doors tightly shut and the Iraqis who remained loyal to us are weeks away from learning how little America’s word means.

Kirk W. Johnson, a former reconstruction coordinator in Iraq, founded the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 16, 2011, on page A43 of the New York edition with the headline: The Iraq We're Leaving Behind: Abandoning Our Friends.
                                                   
                                          P.C.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 09:54:14 AM
Woof,
 That's strange I can only hear crickets on this thread.

http://youtu.be/CQFEY9RIRJA

                               P.C.
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 18, 2011, 07:11:12 AM
Woof bigdog,
 Thank you for saying so; the whole thing has me in a very frustrated and angry mood. We know what's coming; it's like watching a train wreck. I hope there's a hell because I don't think karma is going to be able to handle all the people responsible for the carnage to come. It won't be instantaneous, it will happen over time but it will rival Pol Pot's killing fields before it's over.
                              P.C. 
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abandoning Iraq NYT OP ED on: December 18, 2011, 04:47:00 AM
NYTimes.com
 In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends By KIRK W. JOHNSON
Published: December 15, 2011  
  U.S. Marks End to 9-Year War, Leaving an Uncertain Iraq (December 16, 2011)
Op-Ed Contributor: An Unstable, Divided Land (December 16, 2011)
Editorial: A Formal End (December 16, 2011)
  
  ON the morning of May 6, 1783, Guy Carleton, the British commander charged with winding down the occupation of America, boarded the Perseverance and sailed up the Hudson River to meet George Washington and discuss the British withdrawal. Washington was furious to learn that Carleton had sent ships to Canada filled with Americans, including freed slaves, who had sided with Britain during the revolution.

Britain knew these loyalists were seen as traitors and had no future in America. A Patriot using the pen name “Brutus” had warned in local papers: “Flee then while it is in your power” or face “the just vengeance of the collected citizens.” And so Britain honored its moral obligation to rescue them by sending hundreds of ships to the harbors of New York, Charleston and Savannah. As the historian Maya Jasanoff has recounted, approximately 30,000 were evacuated from New York to Canada within months.

Two hundred and twenty-eight years later, President Obama is wrapping up our own long and messy war, but we have no Guy Carleton in Iraq. Despite yesterday’s announcement that America’s military mission in Iraq is over, no one is acting to ensure that we protect and resettle those who stood with us.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama spoke to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., of the “extraordinary milestone of bringing the war in Iraq to an end.” Forgotten are his words from the campaign trail in 2007, that “interpreters, embassy workers and subcontractors are being targeted for assassination.” He added, “And yet our doors are shut. That is not how we treat our friends.”

Four years later, the Obama administration has admitted only a tiny fraction of our own loyalists, despite having eye scans, fingerprints, polygraphs and letters from soldiers and diplomats vouching for them. Instead we force them to navigate a byzantine process that now takes a year and a half or longer.

The chances for speedy resettlement of our Iraqi allies grew even worse in May after two Iraqi men were arrested in Kentucky and charged with conspiring to send weapons to jihadist groups in Iraq. These men had never worked for Americans, and they managed to enter the United States as a result of poor background checks. Nevertheless, their arrests removed any sense of urgency in the government agencies responsible for protecting our Iraqi allies.

The sorry truth is that we don’t need them anymore now that we’re leaving, and resettling refugees is not a winning campaign issue. For over a year, I have been calling on members of the Obama administration to make sure the final act of this war is not marred by betrayal. They have not listened, instead adopting a policy of wishful thinking, hoping that everything turns out for the best.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis who loyally served us are under threat. The extremist Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr has declared the Iraqis who helped America “outcasts.” When Britain pulled out of Iraq a few years ago, there was a public execution of 17 such outcasts — their bodies dumped in the streets of Basra as a warning. Just a few weeks ago, an Iraqi interpreter for the United States Army got a knock on his door; an Iraqi policeman told him threateningly that he would soon be beheaded. Another employee, at the American base in Ramadi, is in hiding after receiving a death threat from Mr. Sadr’s militia.

It’s not the first time we’ve abandoned our allies. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford and Henry A. Kissinger ignored the many Vietnamese who aided American troops until the final few weeks of the Vietnam War. By then, it was too late.

Although Mr. Kissinger had once claimed there was an “irreducible list” of 174,000 imperiled Vietnamese allies, the policy in the war’s frantic closing weeks was icily Darwinian: if you were strong enough to clear our embassy walls or squeeze through the gates and force your way onto a Huey, you could come along. The rest were left behind to face assassination or internment camps. The same sorry story occurred in Laos, where America abandoned tens of thousands of Hmong people who had aided them.

It wasn’t until months after the fall of Saigon, and much bloodshed, that America conducted a huge relief effort, airlifting more than 100,000 refugees to safety. Tens of thousands were processed at a military base on Guam, far away from the American mainland. President Bill Clinton used the same base to save the lives of nearly 7,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1996. But if you mention the Guam Option to anyone in Washington today, you either get a blank stare of historical amnesia or hear that “9/11 changed everything.”

And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in. For the first time in five years, I’m telling Iraqis who write to me for help that they shouldn’t count on America anymore.

Moral timidity and a hapless bureaucracy have wedged our doors tightly shut and the Iraqis who remained loyal to us are weeks away from learning how little America’s word means.

Kirk W. Johnson, a former reconstruction coordinator in Iraq, founded the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 16, 2011, on page A43 of the New York edition with the headline: The Iraq We're Leaving Behind: Abandoning Our Friends.
                                                  
                                          P.C.
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 04:30:07 AM
Post 7

Woof,
 Venezuela is chummy again.

www.mofamission.gov.iq/VEN/en/articles.aspx
   
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                              P.C.

128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China get's chummy with Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 04:12:16 AM
 Post 6

China becomes chummy with Iraq.  
  
Iraq, China to improve relations: Iraqi PM  
 
English.news.cn   2011-07-16 15:47:31 FeedbackPrintRSS

by Zhang Ning

BAGHDAD, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki here on Thursday said Iraq and China have the common wish to further improve the mutual relations.

The Iraqi premier, who is slated to pay a visit to China from Sunday to July 21, said in an joint interview by Xinhua and China's CCTV that Iraq and China both have long history of civilizations and the two cultures have had impact on each other.

"We'd like to renew the Silk Road," said Maliki, referring to the ancient trade route from China to Europe which had a stop in Iraq.

In the modern history, said the Iraqi leader, the two countries have seen close relations in politics and economy.

"China has become a major power in the world arena and Iraq wishes to strengthen the ties with China," said the premier.

He said China's economy is on good track and Iraq is eager to enhance the economic cooperation with China.

Chinese companies have been working in Iraq in sectors including oil, electricity and construction.

Maliki said Iraq is faced with difficulties in its reconstruction effort, as infrastructure, public service and government institutions are all in need of more fund.

"So the first step is to improve the production of crude oil, in a bid to increase revenue," said the prime minister.

In his tour to China, Maliki wishes he could bring more Chinese companies to Iraq to help with the country's reconstruction.

"These companies will find in Iraq a good investment environment. Iraq is capable of rewarding the investors with benefits," said the prime minister.

In regard to the country's government reform plan, Maliki said he has sent a letter to the national parliament, asking for the approval to decrease the number of cabinet positions.

Maliki's government has over 40 ministers, which is criticized by the public and rival groups.

"The aim of the reform is to urge the ministries to help people more efficiently and successfully," said the prime minister.

As to the security situation, Maliki said, "things have improved compared with years ago."

He said the Iraqi security forces have strengthened in training and equipment, adding "They can take responsibility without the help of foreign troops."

However, he added the Iraqi security forces still need U.S. help in training.

Editor: Wang Guanqun  
 
                                                    P.C.
 

 
 
 
 
 
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cuba and the Middle East on: December 18, 2011, 03:59:55 AM
 

Carta de Cuba, la escritura de la libertad
 
 CUBA IN THE MIDDLE EAST
A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY


DOMINGO AMUCHASTEGUI (1)

Foreword By
Haim Shaked, Director
Middle East Studies Institute
July, 1999

Contents:

INTRODUCTION
CHRONOLOGY
GLOSSARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY





INTRODUCTION

After a close relationship with Middle Eastern groups and countries for forty years, Cuba enjoys today an exceptional position in the region with embassies in almost all countries, and with a wide variety of political connections within the ruling elites. Castro is engaged in a growing process of enlarging bilateral trade, financial assistance, involvement in joint ventures, and cooperation projects, as well as in diplomatic cooperation in the international system.

The context has changed over the years. While the priorities are not to channel weapons to groups within the region, there are still some specialized military assistance, training and cooperation, especially with the PLO. Yet Cuba's priorities now are to obtain investments, economic cooperation, and trade opportunities from Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and others.

For U.S. interests, the closeness of the relationship with Iraq and some of the more militant terrorist groups in the Middle East is troublesome. Can Cuba be used to carry out terrorist acts against U.S. targets? Is there any cooperation between Sadam Hussein and Castro in the development of chemical and bacteriological weapons? What remains from the close cooperation between Castro and the more militant terrorist groups in the region? These and other questions are of critical importance to the security of the United States. Cuba's proximity to the U.S., the continuous flow of immigrants from the island and the increased travel from and to Cuba should make Castro's relationships a troublesome and worrysome issue to U.S. policymakers.

The Middle East and North Africa have been extremely important to Castro's foreign policy since 1959. It remains today as a region of special priority in Castro's redesign of his foreign policy after the collapse of Cuba's alliance with the former Soviet Union. Actually, there is not one single aspect of Castro's foreign policy in which the Middle East does not become important as:

1) A region connected to Cuba's non-aligned interests and policies.

2) An area where Cuba laid the foundations for the deployment of regular military forces and the establishment of military cooperation over the last 40 years.

3) A region from where to gain knowledge/connections/influence with "liberation movements" throughout Africa and the Middle East.

4) A base for triangular operations in connection with Intelligence/subversive activities in Latin America.

5) A source of influence with Arab communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

6) A region in which trade, loans, cooperation, and diplomatic support has become very important, especially in the 1990's.

7) After Vietnam, a virtual laboratory, in the military field, in particular since the Six Day War (1967), for updating and upgrading Cuba's military capabilities, including technological and operational capacities.

Cool A region where the Arab-Islamic states are extremely important due to their voting power within the UN system for Cuba's multilateral diplomacy.

It is within such a context that the relevance of the Middle East for Cuba's foreign policy should be understood. The following chronology is only meant to be illustrative of the depth and closesness of Cuba’s long-standing relationships with states, leaders, and groups in this troubled region.



CHRONOLOGY

1959-1963

* Relations developed with Gamal Abdel Nasser; Cuba joined the Non-Aligned Movement, sponsored by India, Yugoslavia, and Egypt. Efforts to buy weapons from Egypt failed.

* The Cuban government sent Captain José Ramón Fernández (currently vicepresident of the Cuban government) to Israel in the summer of 1959 to negotiate the purchase of light weaponry and artillery, but no agreement was reached. Instead, significant civilian assistance was granted by Israel to Cuba for more than 10 years in the field of citrus cultivation and diplomatic relations were normal until 1973.

* Raúl Castro and Che Guevara visited Cairo and established contacts with African liberation movements stationed in and supported by Cairo. Both Cuban leaders visited Gaza and expressed support for the Palestinian cause.

* Initial relations established with Baghdad under Karim Kassem. The Cuban government sent Commander William Galvez to purchase light weaponry, tanks and artillery. No agreement was reached.

* Castro established relations with the Algerian FLN through Paris and Rabat; official and public support was extended, large quantities of weapons were shipped to the FLN through Morocco (1960-1961); provided shelter, medical and educational services were provided in Cuba for wounded Algerians; political and military cooperation in the fields of counter-intelligence and intelligence were initiated. First Cuban deployment of regular military forces in support of the Algerian government against the Moroccan aggression of 1963. These forces remain to train the Algerian army for more than a year.

1964-1967

* With considerable hesitation and reluctance, Nasser cooperated with Che Guevara during his guerrilla operation in Congo-Kinshasa (former Zaire) in 1965.

* Cuba welcomed the founding of the PLO. First contacts with Palestinian FATAH between 1965 (Algiers) and 1966-67 (Damascus).

* The Tricontinental Conference was held in Havana in January, 1966 to adopt a common political strategy against colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism.

* Cuba sent weapons via Cairo, to the NLF in Southern Yemen. Cuban agents were sent on fact-finding missions to North and South Yemen (1967- 1968);

* Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials privately criticized in very harsh terms the shameful performance of the Egyptian leadership during the Six Day War in 1967. The war, as such, was thoroughly studied by the Cuban Armed Forces;

* Cuba and Syria developed a close alliance and supported FATAH and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF).

1968-1975

* Cuba continued its military and political support for FATAH after the Syrians broke with the latter, and, later on, Cuban support was granted to other Palestinian organizations (Popular and Democratic fronts).

* Cuba sent military instructors and advisors into Palestinian bases in Jordan to train Palestinian fedayeen (1968); first high-level delegation from FATAH-PLO visited Cuba (1970).

* Several missions sent to Southern Yemen to support NLF / FATAH Ismail internally and externally, both politically and militarily.

* The Soviet Union and Cuba increased military and civilian cooperation with Southern Yemen (PDRY).

* Cuba commenced political and military cooperation with Somalia's Siad Barre (1969).

* Economic cooperation began with Libya in 1974, after serious bilateral tensions between 1969 and 1973.

* Closer connections with FATAH-PLO and other Palestinian organizations were reinforced, including training of Latin American guerrillas in Lebanon;
military support included counter-intelligence and intelligence training.

* Arafat visited Cuba in 1974.

* Arab and Non-Aligned countries pressured Cuba to break relations with Israel in 1973 and sponsor U.N. Resolution on Zionism "as a form of racial discrimination."

* Cuba provided military support and personnel to Syria during the Yom Kippur War (1973-1975).

* Cuba joined with Algeria and Libya on a diplomatic/political offensive in support of Frente POLISARIO (People's Front for the Liberation of Western Sahara and Río del Oro); later on provided military cooperation , medical services, and other forms of assistance.

1976-1982

* Cuba avoided any public condemnation of Syria's military intervention in Lebanon, although privately they did so in strong terms.

* Cuba supported the so-called "Steadfastness Front" against the U.S. backed Camp David accord.

* Additional military and political support provided to the Palestinian cause; Arafat attended the 6th Non-Aligned Conference in Havana (1979).

* At this stage, significant hard currency loans (tens of million) had been facilitated by Arafat-PLO to the Cuban government under very soft terms; Cuba granted diplomatic and political support to Arafat during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In the 1980s, Cuban universities were graduating hundreds of Palestinian students in various fields, especially from medical schools.

* The Aden (South Yemen) regime decided to support the Ethiopian radical officers commanded by Mengistu Haile Mariam, sending Yemeni military units in support of the latter against Somali aggression, and asking the Cubans to do the same. Cuba joined in, first with a group of officers headed by General Arnaldo Ochoa, a move that was followed later on by the deployment of large Cuban forces against the Somali invasion. Also as part of the alliance with the Aden regime, Cuba granted some small-scale support to the Dhofaris in their armed struggle against the monarchy in Oman until the late 1970s.

* As part of Cuba's alliance with Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in Ethiopia, the Cuban leadership decided to engage in active political and military support for more than 10 years to the Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan headed by John Garang against the Arab-Muslim regime in Khartoum (until today there are no diplomatic relations between Khartoum and Havana).

* Cuba developed closer ties with Iraq in various areas (medical services, construction projects, grants and loans).

* Cuban military advisory to Iraq in different fields began in the mid 1970s (it was cancelled after the Iraq invasion of Iran in late 1980).

* Cuba cooperated with Libya in the political founding of the World MATHABA in Tripoli, to provide political support and coordinate revolutionary movements throughout the world. Cuba supported also Lybia's stand on Chad and in its support to the FRENTE POLISARIO.

* Despite its close links with Baghdad, Cuba recognized and praised the Iranian Revolution, although with no significant increase in bilateral ties. Once Iraq attacked Iran, Cuba withdrew its military advisors from Baghdad and adopted a position of official impartiality, though more sympathetic to Baghdad, due to its past relations.

* Castro granted political recognition to the revolution in Afghanistan in 1978, but internecine conflict and civil war prevented any strengthening of bilateral relations. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 disrupted Cuba's Non-Aligned policies at a time when Castro was chairman of the NL Movement. While publicly supporting Moscow, Fidel Castro was very critical of the Soviet invasion, something that was bitterly discussed with Soviet officials.

1983-1991

* Declining economic cooperation between Cuba and Libya.

* New ties of alliance between Algeria and Libya with Morocco cut-off any further direct support from Cuba to FPOLISARIO.

* Libyan support to Latin American revolutionary movements, especially in Central America and the whole of the World MATHABA project, declined rapidly after the U.S.bombing of Tripoli in 1986; Cubans increasingly distant until MATHABA's last meeting in 1990 in Tripoli, where the termination of the Libyan project was pretty obvious for all the participants, including the Cuban delegation.

* The Palestinian Intifada increases Cuba’s support for Arafat and the PLO, both diplomatic and military.

* Cuba starts exploring other possibilities for increased diplomatic recognition and economic ties in the region, including Saudi Arabia (two Cuban ambassadors were sent for that purpose, but with no significant success); the Gulf States, Jordan, Turkey (with much better results: embassies were finally established in Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan); and even Israel (with no official success, but with promising inroads within the private sector and some political/religious forces).

* After the violent collapse of the Aden regime, the death of Fatah Ismail, andthe reunification with North Yemen, Cuban authorities negotiated with the government of Sanaa from which bilateral relations continued to develop, including areas of economic and political cooperation.

* After the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, Cuban-Palestinian military cooperation was enhanced, including the areas of counter-intelligence and intelligence.

* Cuba condemned Iraq for its invasion and annexation of Kuwait, supporting the latter's sovereignty; it also condemned U.S. military operations in the Gulf and abstained from supporting the bulk of the sanctions imposed on Baghdad. A Cuban military delegation was sent to Iraq to learn and share what was considered vital information and experiences from U.S. combat operations in Kuwait and Iraq.

1992-1999

* Embassies were opened in Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Jordan; trade and joint ventures were developed. Diplomatic ties and trade relationships have increased discreetly with Egypt and Libya; Qatar supported Cuba in the 1999 sessions on Human Rights at Geneva.

* A high-level PLO military delegation including the new head of Intelligence paid a non-public visit to Cuba.

* Israeli firms provided capital, technology and markets to Cuba in the field of citrus cultivation and exports; religious and political delegations visited were exchanged..

* Lebanon's normalization in the 1990's allowed Cuba to reach important financial and trade agreements, including Lebanese participation in joint ventures and in establishing a branch of the Fransabank in Havana. Nabih Berri, in 1998, the Chairman of the Lebanese parliament paid a long and successful, visit to Cuba during the month of Ramadan, and more recently Adnan Kassar, president of the Fransabank and the International Chamber of Commerce paid an official visit to Havana.

* Iranian-Cuban relations have increased after several high-ranking delegations from Iran visited Cuba: the Vice-President, the Minister of Foreign Relations, the Minister of Public Health, and the Minister of Social Assistance. The Cuban Minister of Public Health visited Iran in 1998. In the last two years the number of Cuban doctors, paramedics, and medical services hired by Teheran have increased, together with additional purchases of Cuban pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products. A recent agreement (1999) was signed, establishing Cuba's assistance in setting up social security/social assistance networks in Iran.

* The recent election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika (April 1999) as President of Algeria, opens new opportunities for Cuba, given Bouteflika's close relationship with the Cuban government for more than 40 years.

* PLO leaders continue to have close relations with the Cuban leadership, having access to specialized military and intelligence training, either in Cuba or Palestinian territory, and in the sharing of intelligence.

* Cuba continues to actively undermine U.S. policies in the Middle East and North Africa in primarily three ways: a) Portraying U.S. actions and diplomacy in the region as those of an aggressor, seeking to impose hegemony by force such as the recurrent attacks on Iraq, violation of sovereign rights (no-fly zones), the perpetuation of unjustified economic sanctions to countries in the region (Iraq, Iran, Syria), open political intervention and the use of brutal force as acts of retaliation (the Bin Laden case/Yugoslavia); b) portraying the U.S. as the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the Israel/Palestine and the Gulf conflicts, and c) discrediting U.S. policies, especially by gaining support for Cuba's agenda at the U.N. These Anti-American views and policies are conveyed as a systematic message through a network of Cuban embassies in most countries of the region, at the U.N. and its multilateral system plus Cuban embassies and missions throughout the Western Hemisphere and other significant non-governmental political and cultural channels.


GLOSSARY

1. FLN. Front de Libération National, the political and military organization that led the war of national liberation against French colonial rule between 1954 and 1962. Ruling political party until the 1980s in Algeria.

2. PLO. Palestine Liberation Organization, founded in Cairo, in 1964, under the auspices of Egypt (then known as the United Arab Republic) to serve Nasser's manipulations of the Palestinian cause, composed mostly of conservative Palestinian intellectuals and bureaucrats serving Arab governments. An instrument of Nasser's foreign policy until the June War of 1967, when the old PLO leadership collapsed to be replaced by FATEH's leadership headed by Arafat.

3. FATEH. Acronym for Palestine National Liberation Movement, founded in 1959 by younger generations of Palestinians that had experienced the defeats of 1948 and 1956, strongly committed to a radical nationalist platform to fight for Palestine and against Arab intervention and manipulations of the Palestinian problem. Mostly an underground and not legally recognized organization until the June War in 1967; it transformed itself into the most powerful and influential party inside Palestinian and Arab politics, controlling the PLO effectively since 1969, when Arafat becomes its chairman.

4. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The most important branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement (known as the ANM, created in the 1950s as radical followers of Nasser). After the June War of 1967 splitting away from Nasser and focusing on building a more radical alternative within the Palestinians under the name of Popular Front, led by George Habash; a later off-spring, in 1969, was the Democratic Front led by Nayef Hawatmeh. Strongly based in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and the Gulf, until 1970 heavily engaged in terrorist methods. After 1970 dropped such tactics, became more active and open across the occupied territories and southern Lebanon, adopting Marxist-Leninist ideology.

5. Frente POLISARIO. Frente Popular de Liberación del Sagía el Hamra y Río del Oro, inspired by the ANM tradition and the Algerian FLN, created to fight against the Spanish-Morrocan-Mauritinian arrangements to split the former colony of Saguía el Hamra/Río del Oro (known as Western Sahara) between the two African states. Enjoyed active support from Algeria and Libya together with a considerable number of African states until the 1980s.

6. NFL. National Front for the Liberation of South Yemen, another important, and successful, branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement. Created in 1962 in the course of the revolution in North Yemen, against the monarchy and supported by Nasser. Expanded to the south of Yemen and began armed struggle against British colonial occupation and local feudal lords (sultans and sheikhs). Broke with Nasser in 1966-1967 and finally forced the British to negotiate and evacuate Aden, followed by the defeat of the local feudal lords. Since 1965 it has had very close relations with Cuba. Main leader was Abdel Fatah Ismail. Internecine conflicts sine the late 1970s eventually led to open civil war in 1990 and the collapse of the regime, the death of Fatah Ismail, and integration with the north under the control of the government in Sanaa.

7. World MATHABA. A Libyan project from the late 1970s to promote political, financial, and military support for revolutionary movements throughout the world. Ghaddafi called on other "revolutionary governments" to support this project, which Cuba did although with extreme caution and distrust. Cuba could not refuse to join due to the fact that its major allies in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and even the Soviet Union had accepted to participate and that many of them were benefitting from Libya's abundant financial support. Although governments -like the case of Cuba- took part at the level of political deliberations and to coordinate common actions in the diplomatic and political fields, MATHABA was something else: essentially a tool in the hands of the Libyans to project their individual goals and agenda (Ghaddafi's Green Book, to reward his supporters, and to undermine his enemies). Financial and military assistance was never a collective decision, but responded for the most part to bilateral arrangements between Ghaddafi's regime and individual organizations, some of which resorted, at different stages, to terrorist methods like the IRA and ETA. Insurgencies in Central America, like the Sandinistas and others, were privileged beneficiaries along with the African National Congress, FRENTE POLISARIO, and others. Cuban leaders were always anxious to counterbalance Libyan attempts for unilateral actions, to influence Cuban allies or about Ghaddafi's hostility toward well-known Cuban allies such as Arafat. The dominant perception among Cuban leaders was that Ghaddafi posed too many unnecessary security risks the U.S. and too many complications within Cuban alliances.

8. People's Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan. The final outcome of different secessionist movements in southern Sudan during the 1960s and early 1970s (like the Anya-Nyas) fighting against Arab-Islamic control of the central government, allocation of resources, and religious, political, and ethnic intolerance.

9. Eritrean Liberation Front. The most influential Eritrean organization fighting for secession from Ethiopia in the 1960s, actively supported by the Syrian regime since 1965. Various internal divisions developed later on until the late 1970s, when a new front was built based on very different domestic and external alliances and, eventually led the Eritreans to victory. Cuba's support to Mengistu Haile Mariam's regime in 1978 meant the cessation of previous Cuban backing to the Eritrean cause.

10. PDRY. People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, official name adopted by the Southern Yemeni independent republic.

11. Gamal Abdel Nasser. A colonel in the Egyptian army, member of the Free Officers Movement formed after the defeat in 1948 at the hands of the newly-born state of Israel. Led the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in 1952. Undertook signficant economic, social, and political transformations, setting much of the basic tenets and role-model of Arab nationalsm after WWII. Co-founder of the Neutralist countries in 1956 and of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. Defeated by Israel in 1948, 1956, and 1967.

12. Karim Kassem. A colonel in the Iraqi army and, at the beginning, a follower of Nasser. Led the revolution against the monarchy in 1958. A rival of Nasser later on, a bloody military coup inspired and mostly led by the Arab BAATH party, a strong and influential inter-Arab nationalist movement in the Middle East, overthrew him in 1963.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY ON CUBA'S POLICIES AND ACTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

1. Anderson, Jon Lee (1997). Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, New York, Grove Press.

2. Baez, Luis (1996). Secreto de Generales, Ciudad de La Habana, Ediciones SI-MAR, S.A.

3. B'nai B'rith (1982). "PLO Activities in Latin America," New York, Anti-Defamation League.

4. Campbell, John C. "Soviet Policy in the Middle East." Current History Num.80 (January 1981).

5. Durch, William J. ""The Cuban Military in Africa and the Middle East: From Algeria to Angola."

Studies in Comparative Communism, Num. XI (Spring-Summer 1978).

6. The Economist Foreign Report. "Castro's First Middle East Adventure: Part II."15 March, 1978.

7. Erisman, Michael H. (1985). Cuba's International Relations: The Anatomy of a Nationalistic Foreign Policy,Boulder, Westview.

8. Eran, Oded. "Soviet Middle East Policy: 1967-1973,"Rabinovich, Itamar and Haim Shaked, eds. (1978). From June to October: The Middle East Between 1967 and 1973, New Brunswick, Transaction Books.

9. Falk, Pamela S. (1986). Cuban Foreign Policy: Caribbean Tempest, Massanchussets/Toronto,

D.C. Heath and Company.

10. Fernández, Damián (1988). Cuba's Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Boulder, Westview Press. 11. Karol, K.S. (1971). Guerrillas in Power, London, Jonathan Cape.

12. Legum, Colim and Haim Shaked, eds. (1977-1980). The Middle East Contemporary Survey. Vols. IIII, New York, Holmes and Meir.

13. "Relations Between the palestinian Terrorists and Cuba." Reprinted from  Lebanon: Selected Documents. Israeli, Raphael, ed., London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983.

14. Siljander, Mark. "The Palestine Liberation Organization in Central America."Mmeo., October 1983.

15. U.S. Department of State. "The Sandinistas and the Middle Eastern Radicals."Washington D.C., August 1985.

16. Viotti, Paul R. "Politics in the Yemens and the Horn of Africa: Constraints on a Super Power."Mark V. Kauppi and R. craig Nations, eds. The Soviet Union and the Middle east in the 1980s. Lexington, D.C. Heath, 1983.


[1] Mr. Amuchastegui is a research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and a Doctoral candidate at the School of International Studies, University of Miami. He was a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana; Guest Professor at the Cuban National Defense College; Senior Researcher at Cuba's Center for Studies of Africa and the Middle East; and Intelligence Analyst and Head of the Organization Department at the Tricontinental Organization in the 1960s and 1970s. He traveled extensively through North Africa and the Middle East. He edited Palestine: Crisis and Revolution (Havana, 1970); Palestine: Dimensions of a Conflict Sociology and Politics in Israel Contemporary History of Asia and Africa (Four Volumes, Havana, 1984-1988), together with several other books and articles. He was a direct or indirect participant in most of the developments described herein until 1993.

Arriba (up)
English Articles 2005
Open Letter to Fidel Castro
Juragua: Fallout Threat
Castro and the Middle East
Castro and Terrorism
Proposed Sentences for Human Rights Activists
RSF Protests in Paris against Cuban Repression
RSF Denounces Repression
Oswaldo Paya's Speech
Purpose and History
Daily Life in Cuba
On the Case of Elián
THE HOMELAND BELONGS TO ALL
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                                  P.C.
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Square Axis on: December 18, 2011, 03:40:16 AM
 
 THE SQUARE AXIS: CUBA//IRAN/IRAQ/CHINA
By Manuel Cereijo

IRAN
Dr. Miyar Barruecos, El Chomi. Dr. Luis Herrera. Cuba and Iran.
Since 1990, Cuba and Iran have cooperated in the development of weapons of massive destruction. Dr. Miyar Barruecos, physician, very close to Castro, has been the force behind the throne in this alliance. Dr. Luis Herrera, from the CIGB, and one of the main scientists in the development of the CIGB and the biological weapon programs in Cuba, has been the operator, the facilitator, in the massive and huge cooperation between Cuba and Iran.

Cuba just finished, May 2001, the construction of a Biotechnology Center in Teheran. Cuba served as the source of technology, selling of equipment, and project management for the Center.

Iran has bought the best fruits of the CIGB, recombinant protein production technologies in yeast and Escherichia coli, as well as the large scale purification protocols for both soluble and insoluble proteins synthesized in or excreted by them.Iran can use these technologies to create bioweapons of massive destruction.

Iran, with Cuba's assistance, is capable of producing the bacteria known as Pseudomonas. The pathogen is not usually lethal to humans, however, produces partial paralysis for a period of time, and therefore but is an excellent battlefield weapon.

Sprayed from a single airplane flying over enemy lines, it can immobilized an entire division or incapacitate special forces hiding in rugged terrain otherwise inaccessible to regular army troops-precisely the kind of terrain in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and similar terrorist regions.

Besides Cuban scientists, at least there are about ten scientists from the Biopreparat Russian Center working in Iran. The New York Times reported in December 1998 that the Iranian government dispatched a few scientific advisors attached to the office of the presidency in Moscow to recruit former scientists from the Russian program.

In May, 1997, more than one hundred scientists from Russian laboratories, including Vector and Obolensk, attended a Biotechnology Trade Fair in Teheran. Iranians visited Vector, In Russia, a number of times, and had been actively promoting exchanges. A vial of freeze-dried powder takes up less space than a pack of cigarettes and is easy to smuggle past an inattentive security guard.

The Soviet Union spent decades building institutes and training centers in Iran and Cuba. For many years, the Soviet Union organized courses in genetic engineering and molecular biology for scientists from Cuba and Iran. Some forty scientists from both countries were trained annually.

In 1997 Russia was reported to be negotiating a lucrative deal with Iran and Cuba for the sale of cultivation equipment including fermenters, reactors, and air purifying machinery.

A report submitted by the U.S. Office of Technological Assessment to hearings at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in late 1995 identified 17 countries believed to possess biological weapons. Among them: Cuba and Iran.

The Cuba/Iran alliance posses a real threat to the national security of the United States.



IRAQ
Dr. Rodrigo Alvarez Cambra. The main coordinator of the alliance.

Viruses and bacteria can be obtained from more than fifteen hundred microbe banks around the world. The international scientific community depends on this network for medical research and for the exchange of information vital to the fight against disease.

According to American biowarfare experts, Iraq obtained some of its most lethal strains of anthrax from the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Maryland, one of the world's largest libraries of microorganisms. For $35 they also pick up strains of tularemia and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, once targeted for weaponization at Fort Detrick, United States.

Iraq was also given by the CDC the West Nile virus in the late 1980s. At the same type, the CDC gave Cuba the St. Louis encephalitis virus, very similar to the West Nile virus. Since the 1980s, Cuba and Iraq established very close relations. This was partially due to Dr. Rodrigo Alvarez Cambra, a well known orthopedic surgeon, who has operated on Hussein's knee, and also has treated other members of his family, including one of his sons.

By early 1990s, Iraq had provided Cuba with anthrax, for its further development. A report submitted by the U.S. Office of Technological Assessment to hearings at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in late 1995 identified seventeen countries believed to posses biological weapons-Libya, North Korea, South Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Syria, Israel, China, Egypt, Vietnam, Laos Bulgaria, India, South Africa, Russia, and Cuba.

At the time Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected in 1995, he not only denounced Iraq activities in these weapons of massive destruction, but also the close relationship of Iraq, first with the former Soviet Union, and presently with Cuba. Yury Kalinin , one of the most important persons in Russia's biological development, visited Cuba in 1990 to establish in Cuba the Biocen, a Center very similar to Russia's Biopreparat. He acknowledged at the time, the involvement of Cuba in biological weapon development. Some 25 Cuban scientists were periodically trained in the Soviet Union from 1986 to 1992.

Furthermore, Cuba has advanced tremendously in the area of nano-technology, an essential tool in the development of bio-weapons, and computer related technology. Fidel Castro Diaz Balart, Castro's oldest son, and former head of Cuba's nuclear program, visited India and Iraq to strengthen collaboration on this vital area.

Castro visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASSR) in October, 2000. Cuba and India agreed in collaboration on areas like biotechnology, tropical medicine, nano technology and computational technology.

Prof. V. Krishnan, JNCASR President said Cuba had tremendous advancement in biotechnology and nanotechnology. After his visit to India. Castro Diaz Balart visited Iraq and Iran.

The Cuba/Iraq cooperation is the most important threat faced by the United States in this fight against terrorism.



CHINA
The fall of communism has not reduced the level or amount of espionage and other serious intelligence activity conducted against the United States. The targets have not changed at all: there is still a deadly serious foreign interest, and mainly from the new China/Cuba consortium, in traditional intelligence activities such as penetrating the U.S. intelligence community, collecting classified information on U.S. military defense systems, and purloining the latest advances in the nation's science and technology sector.

There is also a growing importance in maintaining the integrity of the country;s information infrastructure. Our growing dependence on computer networks and telecommunications has made the U.S. increasingly vulnerable to possible cyber attacks against such targets as military war rooms, power plants, telephone networks, air traffic control centers and banks. China and Cuba have increased their cooperation in this area through the Bejucal base in Cuba, as well as in Wajay (near Bejucal), and Santiago de Cuba. On these bases they use technologically sophisticated equipment, as well as new intelligence methodologies that makes it more difficult, or impossible for U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor or detect.

The international terrorism threat can be divided into three general categories. Each poses a serious and distinct threat, and each has a presence already in the United States. The most important category is the state sponsored threat. This category, according to the FBI, includes the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Lybia, Cuba, North Korea. Put simply, these nations view terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. In view of this list, we need to evaluate the recent trip made by Fidel Castro.

There are three main areas of concern for us in the new and dangerous axis formed by China and Cuba: radio frequency weapons, computer technology, missile capabilities. The problem with the Chinese Cuban rapprochement is that it is driven by by mutual hostility towards the United States.

Radio frequency weapons are a new radical class of weapons. Radio frequency weapons can utilize either high energy radio frequency (HERF), or low energy radio frequency(LERF) technology. HERF is advanced technology. It is based on concentrating large amounts of RF EM energy in within a small space, narrow frequency range, and a very short period of time. The result is an overpowering RF EM impulse capable of causing substantial damage to electronic components.

LERF utilizes relatively low energy, which is spread over a wide frequency spectrum. It can be no less effective in disrupting normal functioning of computers as HERF due to the wider range of frequencies it occupies. LERF does not require time compression neither high tech components. LERF impact on computers and computer networks could be devastating. The computer would go into a random output mode, that is, it is impossible to predict what the computer would do. A back up computer will not solve the problem either. One example of LERF use was the KGB's manipulation of the United States Embassy security system in Moscow in the late 80s.

Worldwide proliferation in RF weapons has increased dramatically in the last five years. The collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the most significant factor contributing to this increase in attention and concern about proliferation. The KGB has split into independent parts. One of them is referred to as FAPSI. It has been partially privatized. Spin-off companies have been created, with very attractive golden parachutes for the high officers. FAPSI, or its spin-off companies have been heavily involved in China and Cuba in RF technology, as well as computer technology.

China, PRC, has stolen design information on the United States most advanced thermonuclear weapons. The stolen information includes classified information on:

Seven U.S. thermonuclear warheads, including every currently deployed thermonuclear warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal
Classified design information for an enhanced radiation weapon (neutron bomb), which neither the USA , nor any other country has yet deployed
Classified information on state of the art reentry vehicles, and warheads, such as the W-88, a miniaturized, tapered warhead, which is the most sophisticated nuclear weapon the United States has ever built.
These and other classified information have been obtained in the last 20 years. However, the now presence in Cuba, with the use of the Bejucal base, and the proximity to the United States, makes the China/Cuba new axis a very serious threat to this nation. In 1993, a Cuban nuclear engineer, and high officer of the Cuban Intelligence military apparatus, was awarded a one year stance at Sandia National Labs, Albuquerque, doing research on Physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials. The officer is, since 1999, in exile in the United States.

The PRC has acquired also technology on high performance computers(HPC). HPCs are needed for the design and testing of advanced nuclear weapons. The PRC has targeted the U.S. nuclear test data for espionage collection. This can be accomplished through the facilities in Cuba.

China'new venture in Cuba will:

Enhance China's military capability
Jeopardize U.S. national security interests
Pose a direct threat to the United States
END


Manuel Cereijo
INGMCA@aol.com


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                     P.C.
 
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 02:57:46 AM
EVERYONE:

PLEASE USE THE SUBJECT LINE IN YOUR POSTS

Thank you,
Marc
Woof,
 Oh, ye of little faith. I wasn't done yet, but thanks for the stern reminder. cheesy
                      P.C.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran get's chummy with Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 02:50:39 AM
Post 5

Iraq’s announcement last week that U.S. forces would be required to leave Iraq under terms of the Status of Forces Agreement by 31 December blindsided Washington, and aroused predictable partisan cries of Iraqi ingratitude.

Since 2003 Washington has watched with growing alarm Iraq’s rapprochement with neighboring Iran, though any Middle Eastern specialist could have observed that a military intervention that overthrew a brutal but secularist dictatorship would allow the country’s repressed Shi’a majority an increased say in a new democratic regime, and the subsequent government would undoubtedly look more kindly on its Shi’a neighbors than Washington might like.

Proof of the changing regional dynamics was underlined on 29 October, when Iraqi Kurdistan's Regional Government President Massoud Barzani at the head of a high-powered delegation met in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Obviously relishing the moment to discomfit the Obama administration, Salehi emphasized to journalists the Iranian government's commitment to further expand relations with neighboring countries commenting upon the two nations’ friendly relations and the two nations' historical, cultural and religious bonds and commonalities, and expressing his government’s wish to expand ties and cooperation between Iran and Iraq's Kurdistan region, particularly in the areas of economy, bilateral trade, culture, transit links, border issues and reciprocal official visits by the two countries' nations.

Barzani in turn expressed his pleasure in his visit to Iran, and thanked Iran's minister for his country’s aid and assistance to the Iraqi people in hard times before concluding that Kurdistan attaches priority to cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran as an important neighbor.

The following day Barzani met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told reporters after referring to Iran's cordial and friendly relations with different Iraqi tribes and religions that, "Iran supports progress, development and security in Iraq. It also considers Iraq's progress beneficial to the entire region."

In a not so oblique swipe at Washington’s policies Ahmadinejad stated that the world's superpowers have been weakened, people everywhere are unhappy with the global status quo and hence they should unite to set up a suitable alternate political system in the world before concluding, "Iran and Iraq should step toward development and establishment of security in the region. Iran's security is of paramount importance for Iraq. We consider insecurity along borders harmful to both countries. We are fully ready for cooperation in all areas."

Barzani’s busy schedule also included a meeting with Iranian Vice President for International Affairs Ali Saeedlou, who remarked that Iran and Kurdistan should expand their trade and economic ties through setting up a joint economic committee.

The same day that Barzani met with Ahmadinejad in Tehran Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad, where they discussed bilateral ties and the development of Iraq along with the current political situation in Arab and Muslim countries. Salehi has also scheduled meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Why can a region of Iraq have such an autonomous foreign policy? Because, the Iraqi government has allowed Iraqi Kurdistan to have oversight, to some degree, of its foreign relations without reference to Baghdad.

Despite the warm diplomacy, an interesting element was absent from both the Kurdish and Iranian remarks about cooperation – energy, more specifically, oil.

Iraqi Kurdistan exports its oil via Iraq's North Oil Company main export pipeline, which carries about 100,000 barrels of crude per day to Turkey’s deepwater port at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. In August Iraq exported 2.189 million bpd, including 461,000 bpd from fields in the north of the country. Baghdad has ambitious plans to ramp up oil production to 12 million barrels per day within just five years and, as Iraqi Kurdistan is the most stable part of the country, it could turn the region into a magnet for foreign investment and make it a competitor to Iran, where decades of sanctions have stymied government efforts to raise production above is current level of approximately 4.5 million bpd.

If energy issues might impact growing Iranian-Kurdish relations, the attendant foreign policy issues are equally complex. Iran has persistently sought to improve relations with its neighbors, seeing it as both a way to weaken international sanctions and provide surety against any possible Israeli-U.S. military strike on its civilian nuclear facilities.

Iraqi Kurdistan is well aware that the March 2003 U.S. invasion opened up political opportunities for the region denied it by the dictatorship of former President Saddam Hussein, and will undoubtedly be loathe to overly antagonize to anger its U.S. patron by siding too closely with Tehran.

Finally, Iran has issues with the Kurdish Regional Government about reigning in the activities of the Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistan, better known by the acronym PJAK, a Marxist Kurdish nationalist group responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against Iran. Turkey has a similar problem with The Kurdish Marxist Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, or PKK, and the failure of the Kurdish Regional Government to reign in the groups recently led Turkey and Iran to agree to share military intelligence. While the Barzani administration is understandably nervous about repressing PJAK and the PKK lest they turn their guns on them, exasperation in both Ankara and Tehran is rising over the lack of concrete action and if Iran is eventually forced to choose between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, there is little doubt that Iran will side with Turkey.

But at the moment, there is a warm glow in Arbil and Tehran about improving relations.

As a corollary to the flurry of diplomatic activity, Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barham Saleh on 30 October left for the U.S. for an official visit accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami and Minister of Planning Ali Sindi, where they will meet with U.S. officials and participate in some symposiums on the Arab Spring. The representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States is Qubad Talabani, the youngest son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.

Beyond discussing the Arab Spring, doubtless the quartet will be pressed by eager U.S. officials to learn all about the Arbil-Tehran “thaw,” engaging in “frank and candid” discussions, to use diplomatese.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com
  
  
                                                        P.C.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria's plan for Iraqi oil and gas pipeline. on: December 18, 2011, 02:40:09 AM
Post 4


Syria Today | Coast to CoastHOMEPOLITICSBUSINESSFOCUSLIFEARCHIVETIME OUTCONTACTSUBSCRIPTION   January 2011 - Politics  
January 2011  
Coast to Coast

What is the "Five Seas Vision", how will it be achieved and what does it mean for Syria?

By Dania Akkad
Photos SANA

President Bashar al-Assad travelled to Bucharest in November where he met with Romanian President Traian Basescu.



Look at any regional map and you will see Syria in the middle, encircled by the numerous blue shapes that represent the Caspian, Black, Mediterranean, Red and Arabian Gulf seas. Syria's foreign policy is now being shaped by this strategic location through a concept dubbed the "Five Seas Vision", a strategy announced by President Bashar al-Assad in 2004 that seeks to use Syria's geographic position to put it at the centre of a regional energy and transportation network.

Assad, with delegations in tow, has crisscrossed the Black Sea in recent months, meeting with leaders in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Azerbaijan. Closer to home, Syria and its neighbours – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – are moving closer to forming a free-trade bloc.

The 11th Five-Year Plan beginning this year aims to build the roads, ports and pipelines to attract the energy Syria hopes will pass through it from its neighbours. Syria may soon serve as a pipeline route to Turkey and Europe for oil from Iraq, which plans to ramp up its production this year.

Though the Five Seas remains a nascent idea, experts say that it could eventually transform Syria, enriching its coffers as well as its international reputation. Nevertheless, making Syria a strategic hub is still a long way off, requiring two important measures that have thus far eluded the country – securing unprecedented foreign investment and achieving regional stability.

The origins
To understand Five Seas, it helps to go back seven years. In the midst of the war in Iraq and the introduction of US sanctions, Syria felt pressured and isolated.

That year, Assad became the first Syrian head of state to make an official visit to Turkey. In light of the strained relationship with the US, the president's time in Turkey sparked the idea for the Five Seas partnership, said Joshua Landis, Syria expert and director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

"I think [Assad saw Turkey as] a world that was dynamic, that branched east and west, was creative and vital," Landis said. "I'm sure he thought: 'Why shouldn't Syria get a piece of this? This is the model. We don't want to be Iran. We want to be Turkey.'"

Soon after the trip, Assad first began to publicly articulate what he dubbed his "Five Seas Vision". Looking locally and eastward for business partners meant that Syria was less reliant on the sometimes-fickle whims of western countries – a consideration that remains relevant today, as US sanctions remain in place.

Despite its name, the Five Seas, analysts said, should not be interpreted literally as a strategy designed to align Syria with countries that border nearby bodies of water. Rather, it should be taken as a symbol that Syria will no longer depend on the US and its main allies for stability, a message that many other countries – Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, for example – have also been asserting in recent years.

Tangible moves
Beyond the symbolic message that the policy sends, Assad and other Syrian officials have made tangible progress with the Five Seas Vision since 2004. Perhaps the best example is the improvement in Turkish-Syrian relations, culminating in the start of a free-trade area and visa-free border crossing between the countries in 2007.

More recently, Syrian delegations have paid visits to several of Syria's Five Seas partners, securing a number of agreements. Syrian and Iraqi officials have agreed to build new cross-border pipelines for oil and natural gas, running from Kirkuk in Northern Iraq to Syria's port at Banias, near Tartous. A previous pipeline connecting the same cities from 2000 to 2003 generated an estimated SYP 46bn (USD 1bn) for Syria annually, before it was bombed by the US in the beginning of its war in Iraq, according to Raymond Hinnebusch, director of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Secondly, a deal signed in December allows Syria to start importing natural gas from Azerbaijan this year via a pipeline running through Turkey. Currently, Syria imports all its natural gas from Egypt.

Syria and Iran also signed a free-trade agreement in the summer of 2010, though the benefits of this are questionable as trade between the two countries has historically been limited. There has, however, been an ongoing discussion about importing Iranian gas – via Iraq – to Syria. Iraqi officials have reportedly authorised plans for an Iranian pipeline running through their territory.

Transportation agreements between Syrian ports and ports in Bulgaria and Ukraine – both countries which Assad visited recently – have also been completed. Further, Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych and Assad are scheduled to sign a free-trade agreement in February.

Benefits and challenges
Before such a plan can be successful, however, Syria must build the kind of infrastructure needed to make it a central hub. It needs new ports, railways, roads and pipelines. The five-year plan relies heavily on foreign investment for infrastructure upgrades. While Syria received SYP 69bn (USD 1.5bn) in foreign investment last year, this is far from the SYP 506bn (USD 11bn), which Abdullah al-Dardari, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, has said Syria needs annually over the next five years in order to achieve its infrastructure upgrades.

Economist Jihad Yazigi said the government plans to cover some of the infrastructure costs through the December 2010 introduction of bond sales and with funding from international institutions such as the World Bank.

Some costs may also be recouped. In addition to the increased revenue Syria could earn through charging fees for pipelines, electricity grids and boats docked at its ports, Landis said new infrastructure could also attract companies that find it too expensive to do business in other countries.

"If you can tie this all together," he said, "it jump starts all sorts of other things."

Inside Syria the opening of new markets and relations creates "huge expectations", said a source who has travelled with Assad to many of the Five Seas countries but asked not to be named.

"It's basically a huge window for choice and alternatives for Syrians [involved in business]", he said.

 
  Daily News Brief
15 December 2011

Iran signs economic agreements with Syria
SANA reported that following a meeting of the Syrian-Iranian officials in Damascus,
Reports on clashes in Homs, Hama and Dera’a
Yesterday in Homs three people were killed when armed groups targeted a bus, Syrian private daily Al-Watan reported.
Iraq prepares to send its delegation to Syria, meanwhile SNC announces its first conference in Tunisia
The Daily Star has reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki has announced that Iraq


                               P.C.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia get's chummy with Iraq on: December 18, 2011, 02:37:31 AM
 Post 3

Woof,
Very chummy. I wonder why? See post 4 wink 
  
  Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria
Posted By Mary Casey, Tom Kutsch  Friday, December 16, 2011 - 8:47 AM   Share
Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria

After months of reticence on international involvement in Syria, Russia has proposed a surprisingly tougher draft resolution on Syria to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution would call on all parties to immediately end violence, "including disproportionate use of force by the Syrian authorities." Western countries believe the language was too weak, but were willing to negotiate, optimistic that these efforts would end the Security Council deadlock. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was encouraged that Russia acknowledged the need for the Security Council to address the violence in Syria, however said "There are some issues in it that we would not be able to support. There's unfortunately a seeming parity between the government and peaceful protesters." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq will send a delegation to Syria to discuss an Iraqi peace initiative encouraging dialogue between the government and opposition in efforts to end the conflict. Elsewhere, Syrian army defectors killed 27 soldiers in a three-pronged, seemingly coordinated attack. The insurgency is becoming increasingly better armed and organized, with the Free Syrian Army claiming to have orchestrated many recent attacks.

                                                              P.C.
 
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran lays low on: December 18, 2011, 02:25:14 AM
 Post 2

 After Deadly Attacks in Iraq, Iran Lays Low While U.S. Plans Withdrawal
By Jennifer Griffin & Justin Fishel

Published October 03, 2011

A failed Improvised Rocket-Assisted Missile attack on a U.S. military outpost in eastern Iraq led an explosives team to this nearby weapons cache in July. Analysis indicates that the 107mm rockets are unique to Iranian design and manufacturing, validating U.S. assertions that the Iranian Regime has been playing an increasingly nefarious role within Iraq’s borders.
U.S. intelligence officials suspect that Iran, after deadly attacks by proxy militia in Iraq, is laying low until U.S. troops leave Iraq at the end of the year.

An Iranian militia on July 12 attempted to fire 41 Iranian-made rockets at a U.S. military post in eastern Iraq near the border with Iran. Seventeen of the 107 mm rockets were confiscated by U.S. and Iraqi forces before they could be launched, but the rest missed the U.S. base known as COS Garry Owen in Maysan province just north of Basra and instead hit the base for the Iraqi 10th Army division, killing several Iraqi women and children.

U.S. defense officials familiar with the incident tell Fox News that in response an angry Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki issued a communiqué warning his Iranian counterparts that should such destabilizing operations continue he would be forced to ask U.S. forces to remain in Iraq past December 31, the current deadline for all U.S. forces to leave.

Since then, the number of Iranian proxy attacks by Asaib ahl al-Haq (AAH), or the League of the Righteous, against U.S. forces has dropped significantly. The reduced attacks led U.S. intelligence officials to conclude that Iran’s short term strategy may now be to wait for U.S. troops to leave at the end of the year before trying to reassert itself through the militias which have been trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps - Quds Force.

Until the misfire in July the Iranian strategy, according to U.S. military commanders, was to step up the number of attacks on U.S. forces in order to make it look as though U.S. troops were being forced to leave the region. The July incident appears to mark a shift in strategy, according to one senior defense official. The Revolutionary Guard asked the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia to stand down while Maliki completes a difficult round of negotiations with the U.S. ambassador and State Department, determining how many, if any, U.S. troops will stay past December.

The 107 mm rockets fired at the U.S. base had writing on them that linked them to Iran and color bands on the munitions that also link them to Iraq’s next door neighbor, according to classified weapons manuals shared by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

AAH, the group that fired the rockets, is led by the notorious. Shiite cleric Qais Khazali who founded the group in 2006 after splitting from Muqtada al Sadr at the height of the Iraq civil war, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Khazali led a daring raid on U.S. forces in January 2007 in Karbala using American vehicles, uniforms and identification cards that left 5 U.S. soldiers dead. He and his brother and a Lebanese Hezbollah operative were captured by U.S. troops two months later.

AAH then carried out a coordinated attack on Iraq’s Finance ministry, kidnapping a British consultant. Khazali was released by U.S. forces in 2009 as part of a prisoner swap and attempt by the Maliki government to bring the Shiite militia into the political process.

Recently Khazali was photographed at a conference sponsored by the Iranian government in Iran celebrating the “Islamic Awakening,” Iran’s answer to the Arab Spring. He sat 4 rows behind President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raising eyebrows among U.S. military officials who have faced dozens of attacks by his Shiite Iraqi militia since his release in 2009.

In June of this year, 9 U.S. soldiers were killed as a result of Iranian rockets. U.S. troops were attacked 6 times this year by militias firing Iranian rockets, twice as many times as the year before. Admiral Mike Mullen before retiring as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs last week warned, “If they [Iran] keep killing our troops that will not be something that we will sit idly by and watch.” Now it seems that Iran’s leadership has made a new calculation that it may be more beneficial to slow the attacks until the government of Iraq finalizes its request for how many U.S. troops it will ask to remain.

                                                      P.C.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's Plan for Mayhem on: December 18, 2011, 02:23:22 AM
Post 1

    Iran's Secret Plan For Mayhem
By ELI LAKE, Staff Reporter of the Sun | January 3, 2007

http://www.nysun.com/foreign/irans-secret-plan-for-mayhem/46032/

 
WASHINGTON — Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq.

The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.

An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.

Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a "smoking gun." "We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to," the official said.

One of the documents captured in the raids, according to two American officials and one Iraqi official, is an assessment of the Iraq civil war and new strategy from the Quds Force. According to the Iraqi source, that assessment is the equivalent of "Iran's Iraq Study Group," a reference to the bipartisan American commission that released war strategy recommendations after the November 7 elections. The document concludes, according to these sources, that Iraq's Sunni neighbors will step up their efforts to aid insurgent groups and that it is imperative for Iran to redouble efforts to retain influence with them, as well as with Shiite militias.

Rough translations of the Iranian assessment and strategy, as well as a summary of the intelligence haul, have been widely distributed throughout the policy community and are likely to influence the Iraq speech President Bush is expected to deliver in the coming days regarding the way forward for the war, according to two Bush administration officials.

The news that Iran's elite Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22, could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged in recent years with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war.

The top Quds Force commander — known as Chizari, according to a December 30 story in the Washington Post — was captured inside a compound belonging to Abdul Aziz Hakim, the Shiite leader President Bush last month pressed to help forge a new ruling coalition that excludes a firebrand Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr.

According to one Iraqi official, the two Quds commanders were in Iraq at the behest of the Iraqi government, which had requested more senior Iranian points of contact when the government complained about Shiite death squad activity. The negotiations were part of an Iraqi effort to establish new rules of the road between Baghdad and Tehran. This arrangement was ironed out by Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, when he was in Tehran at the end of November.

While Iran has openly supported Iraqi Shiite militias involved in attacks on American soldiers, the Quds Force connection to Sunni insurgents has been murkier.

In 2003, coalition forces captured a playbook outlining Iranian intentions to support insurgents of both stripes, but its authenticity was disputed.

American intelligence reports have suggested that export/import operations run by Sunni terrorists in Fallujah in 2004 received goods from the revolutionary guard.

"We have seen bits and piece of things before, but it was highly compartmentalized suggesting the Iranian link to Sunni groups," a military official said.

A former Iran analyst for the Pentagon who also worked as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, Michael Rubin, said yesterday: "There has been lots of information suggesting that Iran has not limited its outreach just to the Shiites, but this has been disputed."

He added, "When documents like this are found, usually intelligence officials may confirm their authenticity but argue they prove nothing because they do not reflect a decision to operationalize things."

A former State Department senior analyst on Iraq and Iran who left government service in 2005, Wayne White, said he did not think it was likely the Quds Force was supporting Sunni terrorists who were targeting Shiite political leaders and civilians, but stressed he did not know.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that al-Quds forces are on the ground and active in Iraq," he said. "That's about it. I saw evidence that Moqtada al Sadr was in contact with Sunni Arab insurgents in western Iraq, but I never saw evidence of Iran in that loop."

Mr. White added, "One problem that we all have is that people consistently conduct analysis assuming that the actor is going to act predictably or rationally based on their overall mindset or ideology. Sometimes people don't.

"One example of a mindset that may hinder analysis of Iranian involvement is the belief that Iran would never have any dealings with militant Sunni Arabs. But they allowed hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives to escape from Afghanistan across their territory in 2002," he said.


                                                         P.C.
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lowes protest on: December 17, 2011, 09:15:45 PM
By JEFF KAROUB
 
updated 12/17/2011 6:25:14 PM ET 2011-12-17T23:25:14
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Protesters descended on a Lowe's store in one of the country's largest Arab-American communities on Saturday, calling for a boycott after the home improvement chain pulled its ads from a reality television show about five Muslim families living in Michigan.
 
About 100 people gathered outside the store in Allen Park, a Detroit suburb adjacent to the city where "All-American Muslim" is filmed. Lowe's said this week that the TLC show had become a "lightning rod" for complaints, following an email campaign by a conservative Christian group.

Protesters including Christian clergy and lawmakers called for unity and held signs that read "Boycott Bigotry" and chanted "God Bless America, shame on Lowe's" during the rally, which was organized by a coalition of Christian, Muslim and civil rights groups.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit Democrat and the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, said it was "disgusting" for Lowe's to stop supporting a show that reflects America — the conservatives, liberals and even "the Kim Kardashians" in the Muslim community, she said.

"We're asking the company to change their mind," said protester Ray Holman, a legislative liaison for a United Auto Workers local. He said he was dismayed that the retailer "pulled sponsorship of a positive program."

A local rabbi extended his support to clergy at the protest and local Arab Americans, saying he and other Jews would have been at the protest had it not fallen during the Jewish Sabbath.

"I hope that they would likewise stand up and demonstrate should something outrageous like this take place against another religion," Rabbi Jason Miller said in a statement.

Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said Saturday that the company respected the protesters' opinion.

"We appreciate and respect everyone's right to express their opinion peacefully," she said.

The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of families living in and around Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit at the heart of one of the largest Arab-American populations outside the Middle East.

Dearborn is home to the Islamic Center of America, one of the largest mosques in North America. Overall, the Detroit area has about 150,000 Muslims of many different ethnicities and is served by about 40 mosques.

It airs Sundays and ends its first season Jan. 8.

The Florida Family Association has said more than 60 companies it emailed, from Amazon to McDonalds, pulled their ads from the show, but Lowe's is the only major company so far to confirm that it had done so. The group accused the show of being "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

The travel planning site Kayak.com also pulled its ads, though its marketing chief said the decision was made because the company was dissatisfied by the show's quality and TLC wasn't upfront with advertisers about how the show would be presented.

Saturday's rally was met by about 20 counter-protesters including John White, who lives in nearby Livonia and called those protesting against Lowe's "terribly misdirected." He acknowledged that he hadn't watched the show, saying he'd seen previews and read about it, but believed the company made a decision based on business, not bigotry.

 
An interfaith group of Muslim, Baptist and other religious leaders picket a Lowe's home improvement store to protest the chain' action in pulling its advertising from the "All-American Muslim" TV reality show. "Americans are not suspicious ... of baseball-playing, apple-pie eating Muslims," he said. "It's the ones you see on the news."

The manager of the Lowe's store, Doug Casey, said the company wasn't influenced by any outside group or ideology. He said those who criticized Lowe's have a right to their opinion, but that "it's not the opinion of most of the customers I spoke to in the store today."

"I'm deeply sorry if it's caused any divide in our community," he said. "It was never our intention to offend or alienate anyone."

The hubbub didn't keep people from shopping at the store. Keith Rissman, who was buying finishing boards for windows he's installing in his mother's garage, said he supported the company.

"It's a decision they're allowed to make," the 57-year-old said. "If (people) don't want to shop here, they don't have to."

Karen Lundquist, 65, came to the store with her son even though she didn't support Lowe's decision. "It just seems like they yielded to a Christian hate group," she said.



                                                       P.C.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 17, 2011, 07:22:35 PM
Woof JDN,
 That is the genius behind the Lefts' political correctness. They can define anything, in part or as a whole, for any amount of time, as being some terrible thing. Political correctness is going to insure our ultimate defeat in any war we have to undertake if we don't secure the victory. And if you can find anywhere in the history of man where at least a short term form of occupation or form of imperialism wasn't used to successfully do it, I'd like you to name it. You completely ignored what I actually said and redefined it as being oil for blood. I said the Iraqi's should pay for what we have spent there, meaning the cost of their reconstruction, not the cost of our blood and treasure or for our profit and I clarified that in a follow up post which you ignored all together so you could continue your attack and add to it the asinine crap about Cuba just to further distort the debate and malign me personally; all the while not directly addressing me. That is a very disrespectful way of debate and verge's on being dishonest. However, time will tell as to what is going to be the out come in Iraq, the die has been cast, and I'm afraid it's going to be much worse than if we had kept at least a presence there. @JDN THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER DEBATE BETWEEN ME AND YOU ON THIS SUBJECT.
              P.C.
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 17, 2011, 04:54:47 PM
We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down. Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
                                             P.C.

Sounds like Colonialism and Imperialism at it's finest.  
Woof JDN,
 I don't deny that, and I know those labels, just like being called Hitler or racist can be applied broadly enough to discredit any solution to any problem. Nothing happens in war without some pain but that doesn't mean the pain lasts forever. The reality is, one: Iraq should pay for it's own reconstruction because they can afford it, and it is they that benefit from it not us. I didn't say load up the ships then set fire to what's left or let's make a profit off the deal, but quite frankly we couldn't afford to do this on our own, and two: our enemies are going to grab the oil for themselves after we leave and they are going to set fire to the place. So short term name calling or long term failure. The President has picked failure.
                                                     P.C.
 
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 17, 2011, 03:05:48 AM
Woof,
 
 I said way back when, that we would give them a chance at a free society and in the end we would just walk away from it and leave them to their own designs. I also said that they didn't have a chance in hell of keeping it free after we left. I'm glad Saddam is gone, I'm glad we killed a lot of terrorist fighters there. I feel sorry for the Iraqi people that do want freedom. We should have done it like we did Japan, but there were too many people invested in it's failure back here at home to have had that kind of success. It takes commitment to do things right, unfortunately our News Media and Press are committed to an ideology that breeds failures like this then they will turn their back on the massacre to come and have no shame in saying they are not to blame, much like the million or so slaughtered after we pulled out of Vietnam. It won't come as immediate as Vietnam but in time it will.

 The President was correct in not celebrating this as victory in Iraq, because it is not a victory, it's a retreat from the frontlines of the war on Western civilization by the Islamic Fascist's. We should be building more bases in Iraq, right in Iran's backyard, not shutting them down. Iraq should be paying us in oil for every cent we have spent there too. History has shown us that you must win a peace and that you cannot retreat your way to it. Retreats, most often end in massacre's. For you Liberal, so called, peace activist's out there that have facilitated this result, and are celebrating this as being the end of the Iraq war; the war there is just starting, thanks to you.
                                             P.C.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Captured narco had arenal on: December 16, 2011, 09:38:29 PM

Mexico says captured cartel leader had arsenal
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO | AP – Tue, Dec 13, 2011Email

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities said Tuesday that an alleged founder of the Zetas drug cartel had an arsenal of 169 weapons when he was captured Monday, and may have been linked to the abduction of nine Mexican marines.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said suspect Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga oversaw Zetas operations around the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where nine marines disappeared earlier this year.

Vergara said a suspect was killed and a marine wounded in a firefight that erupted during Hernandez Lechuga's capture Monday in the Veracruz state city of Cordoba. The bust was the result of a yearlong intelligence operation, Vergara said.

Marines found 133 rifles, five grenade launchers, 29 grenades and 36 pistols at the scene of the raid near a highway. Marines also found bulletproof vests with the letter "Z'', the zetas symbol, on the front.

Vergara said Hernandez Lechuga was one of Mexico's 37 most wanted drug traffickers, and that with his arrest, 22 of those 37 have either been killed or detained.

The Zetas have been linked to some of the apparent abductions of Mexican marines, but Vergara didn't say what specific evidence authorities had of Hernandez Lechuga's involvement in the cases.

The apparent abductions of Mexican navy personnel have been shrouded in mystery, with the navy previously acknowledging that three marines and a navy cadet were abducted by suspected drug cartel gunmen in August in Veracruz, the state's largest city.

Later that month, the navy said it had found four bodies in a pit on the outskirts of Veracruz city, and that the remains might be those of the missing marines, but it never publicly confirmed that was the case.

At a Tuesday news conference where Hernandez Lechuga and four alleged associates were paraded before the media, Vergara said a total of nine marines had disappeared, but didn't say whether any of them had been found.

Mexican drug cartels have kidnapped and killed military personnel before, but such incidents remain relatively rare.

Hernandez Lechuga was the leader of the Zetas in about 10 states, including Veracruz. The federal government had offered a reward of 15 million pesos, or about $1.2 million, for information leading to his arrest. Vergara said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was also offering a $1 million reward for Hernandez Lechuga, known by the nickname "Lucky."

The Zetas organization was formed by a small group of elite soldiers based in Tamaulipas state, across the border from Texas, who deserted to work for the Gulf drug cartel in the 1990s.

The Zetas split from their former allies in the Gulf cartel last year, setting off bloody fights throughout Mexico as they sought to expand south.

In Veracruz, the Zetas are believed to be locked in a bloody turf battle with groups allied with the Sinaloa cartel.

Also Tuesday, gunmen killed a town's deputy mayor and her bodyguard and wounded the town's police chief and his family while they were in the northern city of Chihuahua, authorities said.

Attackers opened fire on the two cars being used by the officials from the town of Gran Morelos, said the Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman, Carlos Gonzalez.

He said deputy mayor Idalia Ayala and her bodyguard died in one car. Police chief Miguel Gomez was in the second with his wife and two children, and all were wounded and taken to a hospital, Gonzalez said.

Gomez was named police chief after last month's arrest of Gran Morelos' top cop. Authorities said soldiers caught the police chief while he and police officers from the nearby town of Belisario Dominguez met with a boss for La Linea, a gang of hit men for the Juarez Cartel.

In neighboring Coahuila state, gunmen killed the director of the prison in the capital city of Saltillo, authorities said.

Serafin Pena Santos was ambushed Tuesday afternoon as he drove through a residential area of the northern city, state prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors didn't give a motive in the killing, but said the assailants used automatic rifles, weapons commonly used by Mexico's drug traffickers.

___

Associated Press writers Ricardo Chavez in Ciudad Juarez and Oscar Villalba in Piedras Negras contributed to this report.

                                                          P.C.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drone, tricked into landing on: December 16, 2011, 07:16:03 PM

Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer
In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran.
By Scott Peterson, Payam Faramarzi* | Christian Science Monitor – 11 hrs agoEmail

Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran.

Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.

Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.


"The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain."

The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control center, says the engineer.

The revelations about Iran's apparent electronic prowess come as the US, Israel, and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iran's missile and industrial facilities, and the Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.

Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.

Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible.

"Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation, says former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding that it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it flies on a different course. “I wouldn't say it's easy, but the technology is there.”

In 2009, Iran-backed Shiite militants in Iraq were found to have downloaded live, unencrypted video streams from American Predator drones with inexpensive, off-the-shelf software. But Iran’s apparent ability now to actually take control of a drone is far more significant.

Iran asserted its ability to do this in September, as pressure mounted over its nuclear program.

Gen. Moharam Gholizadeh, the deputy for electronic warfare at the air defense headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), described to Fars News how Iran could alter the path of a GPS-guided missile – a tactic more easily applied to a slower-moving drone.

“We have a project on hand that is one step ahead of jamming, meaning ‘deception’ of the aggressive systems,” said Gholizadeh, such that “we can define our own desired information for it so the path of the missile would change to our desired destination.”

Gholizadeh said that “all the movements of these [enemy drones]” were being watched, and “obstructing” their work was “always on our agenda.”

That interview has since been pulled from Fars’ Persian-language website. And last month, the relatively young Gholizadeh died of a heart attack, which some Iranian news sites called suspicious – suggesting the electronic warfare expert may have been a casualty in the covert war against Iran.

Iran's growing electronic capabilities
Iranian lawmakers say the drone capture is a "great epic" and claim to be "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News on Dec. 13 that the US will "absolutely" continue the drone campaign over Iran, looking for evidence of any nuclear weapons work. But the stakes are higher for such surveillance, now that Iran can apparently disrupt the work of US drones.

US officials skeptical of Iran’s capabilities blame a malfunction, but so far can't explain how Iran acquired the drone intact. One American analyst ridiculed Iran’s capability, telling Defense News that the loss was “like dropping a Ferrari into an ox-cart technology culture.”

Yet Iran’s claims to the contrary resonate more in light of new details about how it brought down the drone – and other markers that signal growing electronic expertise.

A former senior Iranian official who asked not to be named said: "There are a lot of human resources in Iran.... Iran is not like Pakistan."

“Technologically, our distance from the Americans, the Zionists, and other advanced countries is not so far to make the downing of this plane seem like a dream for us … but it could be amazing for others,” deputy IRGC commander Gen. Hossein Salami said this week.

According to a European intelligence source, Iran shocked Western intelligence agencies in a previously unreported incident that took place sometime in the past two years, when it managed to “blind” a CIA spy satellite by “aiming a laser burst quite accurately.”

More recently, Iran was able to hack Google security certificates, says the engineer. In September, the Google accounts of 300,000 Iranians were made accessible by hackers. The targeted company said "circumstantial evidence" pointed to a "state-driven attack" coming from Iran, meant to snoop on users.

Cracking the protected GPS coordinates on the Sentinel drone was no more difficult, asserts the engineer.

US knew of GPS systems' vulnerability
Use of drones has become more risky as adversaries like Iran hone countermeasures. The US military has reportedly been aware of vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.

Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were "subject to listening and exploitation."

Perhaps as easily exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern military depends.

"GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by poorly controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3 players, or even mobile satellite services," Andrew Dempster, a professor from the University of New South Wales School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, told a March conference on GPS vulnerability in Australia.

"This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked out how they can jam GPS," he says.

The US military has sought for years to fortify or find alternatives to the GPS system of satellites, which are used for both military and civilian purposes. In 2003, a “Vulnerability Assessment Team” at Los Alamos National Laboratory published research explaining how weak GPS signals were easily overwhelmed with a stronger local signal.

“A more pernicious attack involves feeding the GPS receiver fake GPS signals so that it believes it is located somewhere in space and time that it is not,” reads the Los Alamos report. “In a sophisticated spoofing attack, the adversary would send a false signal reporting the moving target’s true position and then gradually walk the target to a false position.”

The vulnerability remains unresolved, and a paper presented at a Chicago communications security conference in October laid out parameters for successful spoofing of both civilian and military GPS units to allow a "seamless takeover" of drones or other targets.

To “better cope with hostile electronic attacks,” the US Air Force in late September awarded two $47 million contracts to develop a "navigation warfare" system to replace GPS on aircraft and missiles, according to the Defense Update website.

Official US data on GPS describes "the ongoing GPS modernization program" for the Air Force, which "will enhance the jam resistance of the military GPS service, making it more robust."

Why the drone's underbelly was damaged
Iran's drone-watching project began in 2007, says the Iranian engineer, and then was stepped up and became public in 2009 – the same year that the RQ-170 was first deployed in Afghanistan with what were then state-of-the-art surveillance systems.

In January, Iran said it had shot down two conventional (nonstealth) drones, and in July, Iran showed Russian experts several US drones – including one that had been watching over the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

In capturing the stealth drone this month at Kashmar, 140 miles inside northeast Iran, the Islamic Republic appears to have learned from two years of close observation.

Iran displayed the drone on state-run TV last week, with a dent in the left wing and the undercarriage and landing gear hidden by anti-American banners.

The Iranian engineer explains why: "If you look at the location where we made it land and the bird's home base, they both have [almost] the same altitude," says the Iranian engineer. "There was a problem [of a few meters] with the exact altitude so the bird's underbelly was damaged in landing; that's why it was covered in the broadcast footage."

Prior to the disappearance of the stealth drone earlier this month, Iran’s electronic warfare capabilities were largely unknown – and often dismissed.

"We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. "Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold." When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it might be rigged to self-destruct, but they "were so excited they could not stay away."

* Scott Peterson, the Monitor's Middle East correspondent, wrote this story with an Iranian journalist who publishes under the pen name Payam Faramarzi and cannot be further identified for security reasons.

                                                 P.C.
143  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self Defense with Pistols on: December 16, 2011, 06:55:58 PM
Interesting.  I must add that conservatives are very invested in making sure you stay under the government thumb (police and many "law and order" types tend to identify with the conservative side), as well.

I do see how it probably will be impossible to see how the use of weapons breaks down.  That is too bad, but I will keep reading.

I started thinking about this because it seems to me that a somewhat fit, somewhat trained person can manage almost everything, outside of the home with smarts, awareness and maybe a blade or impact weapon.  However, it seems like home invasions would require firearms, simply because of the intention of the invader, the surprise factor and the isolation factor.  These are only my thoughts and I am not a LEO and am only familiar with certain kinds of violence which may not even cover half of the things that happen to people.  All this to say; I may have some illusions and need to get rid of them.
Woof dreatx,
 Certain members of our society are targeted by criminals because they can't fight back so well, and to use a knife or impact weapon you still need to be able to block blows and get around their blocks to make contact with the weapon. Often there are more than one attacker and while you're tied up with one of them going toe to toe, trying to stick your knife in him, his buddies are stabbing you to death or pull out their guns and shoot you. If you have your wife and family with you, what's happening to them while you are knife fighting, are you going to hold all them bad guys at knife point or worse stick point? One of them is going to grab your kid. There are other reasons why concealed firearms are needed for personal protection out on the street, but one that is often ignored is the deterrent factor. If the bad guys can't tell who's armed then even a little old lady doesn't look so helpless to them.
                                                           P.C.
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drone tricked into landing? on: December 16, 2011, 06:17:34 PM

Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer

In an exclusive interview, an engineer working to unlock the secrets of the captured RQ-170 Sentinel says they exploited a known vulnerability and tricked the US drone into landing in Iran.
By Scott Peterson, Payam Faramarzi* | Christian Science Monitor – 11 hrs agoEmail
 Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran.

Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off communications links of the American bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel, says the engineer, who works for one of many Iranian military and civilian teams currently trying to unravel the drone’s stealth and intelligence secrets, and who could not be named for his safety.

Using knowledge gleaned from previous downed American drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.


"The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the Monitor, giving the most detailed description yet published of Iran's "electronic ambush" of the highly classified US drone. "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain."

The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control center, says the engineer.

The revelations about Iran's apparent electronic prowess come as the US, Israel, and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iran's missile and industrial facilities, and the Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear program.

Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.

Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible.

"Even modern combat-grade GPS [is] very susceptible” to manipulation, says former US Navy electronic warfare specialist Robert Densmore, adding that it is “certainly possible” to recalibrate the GPS on a drone so that it flies on a different course. “I wouldn't say it's easy, but the technology is there.”

In 2009, Iran-backed Shiite militants in Iraq were found to have downloaded live, unencrypted video streams from American Predator drones with inexpensive, off-the-shelf software. But Iran’s apparent ability now to actually take control of a drone is far more significant.

Iran asserted its ability to do this in September, as pressure mounted over its nuclear program.

Gen. Moharam Gholizadeh, the deputy for electronic warfare at the air defense headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), described to Fars News how Iran could alter the path of a GPS-guided missile – a tactic more easily applied to a slower-moving drone.

“We have a project on hand that is one step ahead of jamming, meaning ‘deception’ of the aggressive systems,” said Gholizadeh, such that “we can define our own desired information for it so the path of the missile would change to our desired destination.”

Gholizadeh said that “all the movements of these [enemy drones]” were being watched, and “obstructing” their work was “always on our agenda.”

That interview has since been pulled from Fars’ Persian-language website. And last month, the relatively young Gholizadeh died of a heart attack, which some Iranian news sites called suspicious – suggesting the electronic warfare expert may have been a casualty in the covert war against Iran.

Iran's growing electronic capabilities
Iranian lawmakers say the drone capture is a "great epic" and claim to be "in the final steps of breaking into the aircraft's secret code."

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News on Dec. 13 that the US will "absolutely" continue the drone campaign over Iran, looking for evidence of any nuclear weapons work. But the stakes are higher for such surveillance, now that Iran can apparently disrupt the work of US drones.

US officials skeptical of Iran’s capabilities blame a malfunction, but so far can't explain how Iran acquired the drone intact. One American analyst ridiculed Iran’s capability, telling Defense News that the loss was “like dropping a Ferrari into an ox-cart technology culture.”

Yet Iran’s claims to the contrary resonate more in light of new details about how it brought down the drone – and other markers that signal growing electronic expertise.

A former senior Iranian official who asked not to be named said: "There are a lot of human resources in Iran.... Iran is not like Pakistan."

“Technologically, our distance from the Americans, the Zionists, and other advanced countries is not so far to make the downing of this plane seem like a dream for us … but it could be amazing for others,” deputy IRGC commander Gen. Hossein Salami said this week.

According to a European intelligence source, Iran shocked Western intelligence agencies in a previously unreported incident that took place sometime in the past two years, when it managed to “blind” a CIA spy satellite by “aiming a laser burst quite accurately.”

More recently, Iran was able to hack Google security certificates, says the engineer. In September, the Google accounts of 300,000 Iranians were made accessible by hackers. The targeted company said "circumstantial evidence" pointed to a "state-driven attack" coming from Iran, meant to snoop on users.

Cracking the protected GPS coordinates on the Sentinel drone was no more difficult, asserts the engineer.

US knew of GPS systems' vulnerability
Use of drones has become more risky as adversaries like Iran hone countermeasures. The US military has reportedly been aware of vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s.

Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were "subject to listening and exploitation."

Perhaps as easily exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern military depends.

"GPS signals are weak and can be easily outpunched [overridden] by poorly controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3 players, or even mobile satellite services," Andrew Dempster, a professor from the University of New South Wales School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, told a March conference on GPS vulnerability in Australia.

"This is not only a significant hazard for military, industrial, and civilian transport and communication systems, but criminals have worked out how they can jam GPS," he says.

The US military has sought for years to fortify or find alternatives to the GPS system of satellites, which are used for both military and civilian purposes. In 2003, a “Vulnerability Assessment Team” at Los Alamos National Laboratory published research explaining how weak GPS signals were easily overwhelmed with a stronger local signal.

“A more pernicious attack involves feeding the GPS receiver fake GPS signals so that it believes it is located somewhere in space and time that it is not,” reads the Los Alamos report. “In a sophisticated spoofing attack, the adversary would send a false signal reporting the moving target’s true position and then gradually walk the target to a false position.”

The vulnerability remains unresolved, and a paper presented at a Chicago communications security conference in October laid out parameters for successful spoofing of both civilian and military GPS units to allow a "seamless takeover" of drones or other targets.

To “better cope with hostile electronic attacks,” the US Air Force in late September awarded two $47 million contracts to develop a "navigation warfare" system to replace GPS on aircraft and missiles, according to the Defense Update website.

Official US data on GPS describes "the ongoing GPS modernization program" for the Air Force, which "will enhance the jam resistance of the military GPS service, making it more robust."

Why the drone's underbelly was damaged
Iran's drone-watching project began in 2007, says the Iranian engineer, and then was stepped up and became public in 2009 – the same year that the RQ-170 was first deployed in Afghanistan with what were then state-of-the-art surveillance systems.

In January, Iran said it had shot down two conventional (nonstealth) drones, and in July, Iran showed Russian experts several US drones – including one that had been watching over the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

In capturing the stealth drone this month at Kashmar, 140 miles inside northeast Iran, the Islamic Republic appears to have learned from two years of close observation.

Iran displayed the drone on state-run TV last week, with a dent in the left wing and the undercarriage and landing gear hidden by anti-American banners.

The Iranian engineer explains why: "If you look at the location where we made it land and the bird's home base, they both have [almost] the same altitude," says the Iranian engineer. "There was a problem [of a few meters] with the exact altitude so the bird's underbelly was damaged in landing; that's why it was covered in the broadcast footage."

Prior to the disappearance of the stealth drone earlier this month, Iran’s electronic warfare capabilities were largely unknown – and often dismissed.

"We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. "Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold." When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it might be rigged to self-destruct, but they "were so excited they could not stay away."

* Scott Peterson, the Monitor's Middle East correspondent, wrote this story with an Iranian journalist who publishes under the pen name Payam Faramarzi and cannot be further identified for security reasons.

                                            P.C.
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 16, 2011, 10:20:45 AM
Woof,
 The short answer is because those guns were counted as illegal guns that were traced back to America and those numbers were used to call for more gun control laws and restrictions in the U.S.
                                     P.C.
146  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: No, no one knows. on: December 16, 2011, 08:05:52 AM
I am curious about something, and this seems to be the place for it:  In my mind, it seems that it is likely that there have been more incidents of defense with a gun in the home, and more instances of defense with some other kind of weapon out in the world.  Anyone know how that breaks down?
Woof dreatx,
 
 You will probably have trouble hashing the statistic's out on that one. Most private and government entities that are interested in such numbers usually only want to use them for political fodder, and since most big cities (where most of the crimes and deaths occur), are ran by Liberals, they are generally only interested in keeping records on gun deaths committed by violent criminals. They are not all that interested in how many people are stabbed or beaten to death and they are definitely not interested in how many people legally and successfully defend themselves against violence, by any method; gun or otherwise.

 You see if they started keeping those kinds of records then that would show how many innocent lives were potentially saved by the use of a weapon in the hands of a law abiding citizen. They are afraid of that number because then they wouldn't be able to justify their calls for more gun control. Why would they want more gun control that restricts law abiding citizens from having guns, when the crooks and murderer's just break those laws, leaving citizens defenseless?

 Well, they want you to need government protection, that way they can hire government employee's (cops, fire fighters, teachers, all unionized of course), that will also be dependant on a government check and benefits, then after they have wasted your tax dollars and need more, they can threaten you with taking the police off the street and let the riots, looting and burning begin. That's only half of it though; you see they need criminals to make this work, so they crowd millions of people into certain areas of these big liberal city's, make sure that all the jobs dry up or get sent overseas, then put a government roof over their head and give them just enough food stamps to keep them alive, make them angry at the world by telling them slavery from 200 hundred years ago put them there, then just set back and wait until the despair, depression, and hopelessness of their situation drives them to self medicate with illegal drugs and alcohol and turn to crime to get the money they need to buy the things they need and want.

 Of course drug users, attract drug dealers, and things get violent when they compete with each other, so they need gangs and the gangs raise the kids, because daddy is in jail and mom is stoned. You keep the borders wide open so the drugs keep coming and as a added benefit you get illegal immigrants and they fill any jobs left and also become depended on government handouts. You don't let prayer or the Ten Commandments in the schools because prayer might give them hope and the Commandments might contradict what they learn in the gangs. You know, all that 'thou shalt not kill' crap. Of course they won't be in school long anyway because most will drop out, which doesn't bother the teachers, so long as they get more pay and benefits and if they don't, they'll strike with the cops and fire fighters.

 Now the government has a nice little round robin, closed system, to manipulate and control, all for their own corrupt reasons and benefit. It's really a brilliant scheme because the elite in the government get all the power and money and then they blame all the problems on guns, or slavery from 200 hundred years ago, or greedy corporations, or global warming or guns (did I say guns twice?). They are really creative when it comes to finding something to blame while they keep accumulating power and control. Well, I got little off your question there but to answer it. No, no one knows how that breaks down. wink
                                            
                                  P.C.
147  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Self Defense with pistols on: December 15, 2011, 11:09:01 PM
Woof,
 The answer is next.
            P.C.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 15, 2011, 08:24:56 PM
Woof JDN,
 First you claim that Americans aren't concerned about the thousands of murders taking place in Mexico and now you want Americans to ignore one of our government agency's that has help facilitate some of those deaths as well as the death of one of our Border Patrol agents. If it was a mistake, do you want it to happen again? If people do ignore it, that will almost guarantee it will happen again. If it was a legit sting that was botched by some kind of half ass political play and interference from the Administration, don't you think something like that should be ferreted out? Do you think people inside this Administration and the government are going to do that without any pressure from We the People? Of course not. You're an intelligent guy but some of your post's aren't congruent enough for anyone to nail down what your viewpoint is and they leave some of us feeling somewhat schizophrenic in trying to figure out how or even what to respond to. I think you are conflicted on various points of the issue and need to work those out for yourself. I'm not attacking you or telling you what to think but I believe you have some important points to make and once you reslove and more precisely define how you feel about them I think you'll find that you are not as embattled here by the other poster's as it seems right now. I think part of what you are saying is that you don't want this to turn into a political witchhunt if in fact it was just an operation they lost control of, and you also seem to be saying even if there was some failings by higher ups no one really has the moral high ground to beat them over the head with it because stuff like this happens all the time regardless of who's in office and there is little if any evidence of intentional wrong doing so far. On the other hand you accuse and lament that American's don't care about what happens in Mexico but at the same time they should ignore this story and not be concerned about the reasoning or motovations that went into this operation that violated Mexico's sovereignty and adds to the violence of the cartels against eachother and innocent citizens, then you say it's awful and terrible that this happened. So right now what I'm getting from all this is that: It's bad that this happened, American's are heartless, there's no evidence it was politically motivated even though it involved illegal guns being moved across the border, which is a political hot topic of this Administration and an issue they have been using as a reason for more gun control but none of that should be looked at, and no one should be held accountable if it was a mistake and American's shouldn't care if it was a mistake or not. rolleyes
                                        P.C.
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 15, 2011, 06:26:40 AM

That said, frankly I don't understand why it would even affect gun control in America.  I mean 10's of thousands of Mexicans have already been gunned down
by the Cartels.  What's a few hundred more guns that frankly/obviously given the death count, could have been bought elsewhere?  Surely if it was a "false
flag operation" to promote gun control in America they could have done better.  Frankly, and sadly, no one cares in America about the huge death toll in Mexico. I truly doubt
if it would even affect gun control in America one way or another.


Woof JDN,
 Really??? Come off it man.
                  P.C.
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: December 13, 2011, 08:44:06 AM
Woof GM,
 Ha! Good update. cheesy
                P.C.
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