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 on: November 27, 2015, 03:45:03 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Body-by-Guinness
Asset confiscation gone wild:

 on: November 27, 2015, 02:44:15 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Amazingly, 97% agree.  Manmade global warming is not the biggest problem we face.

Fox News poll

 on: November 27, 2015, 11:58:10 AM 
Started by ccp - Last post by DougMacG
At this point in the 2012 cycle, through about the second week of December, Newt Gingrich was the front runner.

What that means for this year is - - -  I have no idea!

 on: November 27, 2015, 11:56:26 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by DougMacG
Rubio the Opportunist

This is intended as a hit piece by no doubt a liberal Dem journalist, (sorry for that redundancy).  But other than his bias that occasionally shines through it is actually a very long, detailed story with a lot of facts and information in it about Rubio and the campaign.  There are things is here all the candidates could learn from, such as his dexterity in answering difficult questions.

 on: November 27, 2015, 11:47:46 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Happy Thanksgiving everybody. ...  Now back to it!

Previously I attacked Trump for supporting the election of the Pelosi-Obama-Hillary-Reid majority in Congress that brought grave damage to this country.  But in the big picture of things, his contributions did not cause that sea change.  I was just trying to expose something about him and his politics, not blame the events of history on him.

PP:  "if the GOPe does manipulate things to get him [Rubio, Bush, etc.] nominated, the Trump voters will stay home."

This post and similar insights such as that the two parties are no different help to explain why President Obama got a second term.  A certain number of voters who 'should' have been Republican voters stayed home in 2012, enough to swing the election to Obama.  Romney won the independents by a pretty wide margin.  When people who lean conservative can't see a difference between the parties and stay home, we all get leadership by Obama and Hillary.  My way or I'll leave the country means we lose the country.  [And not that many actually leave.]

What you call manipulation is what others would call getting involved in politics and trying to make a difference.  National and state partoies are mostly free to make their own rules about how delegates are allocated.  In that process, people are trying to advance the chances of their own candidate, trying to advance the clout of their own state, and trying to get the process to nominate the candidate most likely to unite and win in the general election.

Trump has a 22 point lead today. He has been included in all the debates.  What could possibly be unfair in the process to keep him from winning the nomination and the election?  Unless it is true that he has a low ceiling.  If it is true that somewhere around 35% is as high he can go in the party and the other 65% would prefer any of the others over Trump then that is not a level of support that wins nominations in any convention where I have participated.  

In a state convention, it normally takes a 60% support ballot to nominate and generally you stay until someone gets that.  It also might take a certain level of majority to change a rule like that.  At some point candidates with small and declining support drop out and try to get their delegates to support someone else.  The behind the scenes negotiations and out in the open posturing in that process is called politics, not 'manipulation'.     )

 on: November 27, 2015, 10:48:06 AM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by DougMacG
Assad and ISIS are in business together.
Who knew?

 on: November 27, 2015, 10:37:46 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
"Our tax rate highly disadvantages American multinational high-tech businesses," Read said at a Wall Street Journal event. "I am fighting with one hand tied behind my back."

Companies can't wait to get out.

Everyone knows it is a global market and yet the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

At what point will the Obama-Hillary-Bernie tax raisers be satisfied?  When the last company leaves and when no more are ever started??

The Dem / Obama administration response to this is to try to block the exits.  Reminds me of the Berlin wall; their borer security was to keep people in - against their will.

 on: November 26, 2015, 09:44:14 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by G M
My money is on Putin getting payback, and NATO crumbling.

 on: November 26, 2015, 08:27:34 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 shocked shocked shocked

WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
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It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.

The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana.

Saudi Arabia

Leading a coalition of Sunni nations that includes Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. The country has also recruited Sudanese fighters for the campaign.


United Arab Emirates

In addition to sending its own special operations troops, the U.A.E. has sent more than 400 Colombian troops to Yemen who had been training in the Emirati desert.


United States

Has provided intelligence to help targeting for airstrikes, as well as refueling aircraft and other logistical support.






Against Yemen’s government

Houthi rebels

The Shiite group that pushed the Yemeni government out of Sana, the capital.



Although Iran has not officially acknowledged its role in the conflict, it has provided military and financial support to the Houthis over the years.

It is also a glimpse into the future of war. Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.

“Mercenaries are an attractive option for rich countries who wish to wage war yet whose citizens may not want to fight,” said Sean McFate, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of “The Modern Mercenary.”

“The private military industry is global now,” said Mr. McFate, adding that the United States essentially “legitimized” the industry with its heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan over more than a decade of war. “Latin American mercenaries are a sign of what’s to come,” he said.

The Colombian troops now in Yemen, handpicked from a brigade of some 1,800 Latin American soldiers training at an Emirati military base, were woken up in the middle of the night for their deployment to Yemen last month. They were ushered out of their barracks as their bunkmates continued sleeping, and were later issued dog tags and ranks in the Emirati military. Those left behind are now being trained to use grenade launchers and armored vehicles that Emirati troops are currently using in Yemen.

Emirati officials have made a point of recruiting Colombian troops over other Latin American soldiers because they consider the Colombians more battle tested in guerrilla warfare, having spent decades battling gunmen of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the jungles of Colombia.

Continue reading the main story

The exact mission of the Colombians in Yemen is unclear, and one person involved in the project said it could be weeks before they saw regular combat. They join hundreds of Sudanese soldiers whom Saudi Arabia has recruited to fight there as part of the coalition.

In addition, a recent United Nations report cited claims that some 400 Eritrean troops might be embedded with the Emirati soldiers in Yemen — something that, if true, could violate a United Nations resolution restricting Eritrean military activities.

The United States has also been participating in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, providing logistical support, including airborne refueling, to the nations conducting the airstrikes. The Pentagon has sent a team to Saudi Arabia to provide targeting intelligence to the coalition militaries that is regularly used for the airstrikes.

The Obama administration has also in recent years approved the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware from American contractors to the Saudi and Emirati militaries, equipment that is being used in the Yemen conflict. This month, the administration authorized a $1.29 billion Saudi request for thousands of bombs to replenish stocks that had been depleted by the campaign in Yemen, although American officials say that the bombs would take months to arrive and were not directly tied to the war in Yemen.

The Saudi air campaign has received widespread criticism from human rights groups as being poorly planned and as having launched strikes that indiscriminately kill Yemeni civilians and aid workers in the country. Last month, Saudi jets struck a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Saada Province in northern Yemen, and in late September the United Nations reported that 2,355 civilians had been killed since the campaign began in March.

On the other side in Yemen is Iran, which over the years has provided financial and military support to the Houthis, the Shiite rebel group fighting the coalition of Saudi-led Sunni nations. The divisions have created the veneer of a sectarian conflict, although Emirati troops in southern Yemen have also been battling members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Sunni terrorist group’s affiliate in Yemen.

Dozens of Emirati special operations troops have died since they arrived in southern Yemen in August. A single rocket attack in early September killed 45, along with several Saudi and Bahrani soldiers.

The presence of the Latin American troops is an official secret in the Emirates, and the government has made no public mention of their deployment to Yemen. Yousef Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador to Washington, declined to comment. A spokesman for United States Central Command, the military headquarters overseeing America’s involvement in the Yemen conflict, also declined to comment.

The Latin American force in the Emirates was originally conceived to carry out mostly domestic missions — guarding pipelines and other sensitive infrastructure and possibly putting down riots in the sprawling camps housing foreign workers in the Emirates — according to corporate documents, American officials and several people involved in the project.

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

A 2011 intelligence briefing for senior leaders involved in the project listed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Somali pirates and domestic riots as some of the biggest threats to Emirati stability.

The troops were told that they might one day be called for foreign combat missions, but until the deployment to Yemen the only external missions they were given were to provide security on commercial cargo vessels.

Those missions were rare, and soldiers involved in the project describe years of monotony at the desert camp, housed within a sprawling Emirati military base called Zayed Military City. They rise every day at 5 a.m. for exercise and military training — including shooting practice, navigation and riot control. A number of Westerners, including several Americans, live at the camp and serve as trainers for the Latin American troops.

But by late morning the sun burns so hot at the windswept complex that the troops move into air-conditioned classrooms for military instruction.

The troops live in typically austere military barracks, hanging their laundry out the windows to dry in the hot air. There is a common computer room where they can check their email and Facebook pages, but they are not allowed to post photographs on social media sites. Meals are basic.

“It’s the same food all the time, every day,” one member of the project said several weeks ago. “Chicken every single day.”

The Emiratis have spent the equivalent of millions of dollars equipping the unit, from firearms and armored vehicles to communications systems and night vision technology. But Emirati leaders rarely visit the camp. When they do, the troops put on tactical demonstrations, including rappelling from helicopters and driving armored dune buggies.

And yet they stay largely because of the money, receiving salaries ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, compared with approximately $400 a month they would make in Colombia. Those troops who deploy to Yemen will receive an additional $1,000 per week, according to a person involved in the project and a former senior Colombian military officer.

Hundreds of Colombian troops have been trained in the Emirates since the project began in 2010 — so many that the Colombian government once tried to broker an agreement with Emirati officials to stanch the flow headed to the Persian Gulf. Representatives from the two governments met, but an agreement was never signed.

Most of the recruiting of former troops in Colombia is done by Global Enterprises, a Colombian company run by a former special operations commander named Oscar Garcia Batte. Mr. Batte is also co-commander of the brigade of Colombian troops in the Emirates, and is part of the force now deployed in Yemen.

Mr. McFate said that the steady migration of Latin American troops to the Persian Gulf had created a “gun drain” at a time when Latin American countries need soldiers in the battle against drug cartels.

But experts in Colombia said that the promise of making more money fighting for the Emirates — money that the troops send much of home to their families in Colombia — makes it hard to keep soldiers at home.

“These great offers, with good salaries and insurance, got the attention of our best soldiers,” said Jaime Ruiz, the president of Colombia’s Association of Retired Armed Forces Officials.

“Many of them retired from the army and left.”

 on: November 26, 2015, 07:06:06 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

Why Turkey Can't Sell a Syrian Safe Zone
Geopolitical Diary
October 7, 2015 | 01:24 GMT Text Size

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Brussels on Tuesday with an ambitious agenda: to promote the establishment of a "safe zone" in northern Syria. Erdogan can see that the Europeans have no good solutions to their immigration crisis other than to manipulate the route and flow of migrants. The latest idea gaining traction in a host of European capitals is to keep the hundreds of thousands of people trying to cross the Mediterranean off of Europe's shores by bottling them up closer to home instead. Brussels would, of course, pay Ankara to take care of its problem by housing more refugees traveling overland. But Turkey, which already hosts more than 2.5 million Syrians and has spent $7.6 billion on the refugee crisis so far, isn't buying into Europe's offer. Erdogan wants more. Much more.

Now that Turkey has Europe's attention and Russia has blindsided the United States in Syria, Erdogan is attempting to use the chaotic climate to dust off his plans for a Syrian safe zone. The Turkish version of a safe zone entails reinforcing rebel forces that are friendly with Turkey to flush out the Islamic State from a zone measuring 80 kilometers (50 miles) by 40 kilometers in Syria's northern Aleppo province. A no-fly zone, according to the Turkish proposal, would accompany the safe zone. Once the zone is declared safe and free of terrorist activity, refugee camps would be set up and Syrian migrants could live within their country's borders again.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The motives behind Turkey's plan are many and thickly layered. Most important, Turkey needs to avoid augmenting the burden migrants are placing on it at home while its economy is deteriorating. Second, Turkey is legitimately threatened by the Islamic State and wants to create as much distance as possible between its borders and those of the self-proclaimed caliphate. But the reasons don't stop there. Turkey can see that its southern neighbor will be fragmented for the foreseeable future. Ankara does not want to eradicate the Islamic State only to see Kurdish forces take its place. Rather, it wants to establish a physical foothold in northern Syria to ensure that the Kurds cannot create a viable autonomous state that could exacerbate Turkey's own Kurdish problem at home.

There is also a broader objective framing Turkey's strategy. A divided Syria undoubtedly creates risk, but it also presents an opportunity for Turkey to expand its sphere of influence in the Levant. This is the main driver behind Turkey's campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad's government and replace it with a Sunni Islamist-led administration that takes its cues from Ankara. After all, someone would have to provide security to make the zone in northern Syria "safe"; Turkish forces and civilian personnel presumably would take the lead in reinforcing such a corridor, potentially placing Turkish boots back on Arab soil.

Meanwhile, there is a murkier motive to consider. Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party will enter the Nov. 2 elections with a low chance of winning enough votes to regain its majority in parliament. The likelihood of the elections resulting in another hung parliament, coupled with Erdogan's reluctance to share power, raises the potential (albeit in an extreme scenario) for Turkey to use the premise of a military operation in Syria to stave off a third round of elections.

But Russia is botching Turkey's plans. Russia, Turkey and NATO are still arguing over whether two alleged Russian violations of Turkish airspace near the Syrian border were intentional (as Turkey and NATO claim) or accidental (as Russia insists they were). Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday that Russia was ready to form a working group and that it would be pleased to host Turkish Defense Ministry officials in Moscow to avoid further misunderstandings in Syria. Ankara has no choice but to interpret Russia's actions as a signal that Moscow is willing to interfere in a Turkish-led safe zone if Ankara tries to push ahead with its plans.

Moscow's strategy has already begun to bear fruit. The European officials who met with Erdogan in Brussels listened politely to his ideas for a safe zone and promised to discuss the idea further. But no European power wants to risk getting mixed up with a brazen Russia on the Syrian battlefield. The Europeans would rather bargain with Erdogan on issues such as visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and Turkey's acceptance of more migrants on the Continent's behalf instead.

The United States has kept Turkey's safe zone plan at arm's length for similar reasons. However, Russia's military adventurism in Syria is accelerating U.S. plans for a rebel offensive that could still at least partially fit with Turkey's interests.

In the coming months, the United States will be focused on the areas east and west of the Euphrates River. To the east, the United States will ramp up its support for Kurdish forces and their allies in preparation for a move toward Raqqa against the Islamic State. Greater U.S. support for Kurdish forces will not please Turkish leaders, but the United States' simultaneous boost in aid for the rebels Turkey has been preparing to the west will. Here, the United States and Turkey will work together to try to carve out a border zone free of the Islamic State's presence. The Americans are avoiding the label of a safe zone to keep the operation from conflating with Turkey's more ambitious agenda. Nonetheless, the United States will be indirectly taking the first crucial steps toward Turkey's ultimate goals for northern Syria.

Of course, Turkey will still have to contend with Russia. Moscow will do whatever it can to play off the fears of the NATO alliance. If a buffer zone were established in Syria and if Turkey, a NATO member, tried to protect the airspace over the zone, who would shoot down the Russian air force in the event that it crossed into the zone? In Brussels, Erdogan reiterated that "an attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO." But if NATO proves too afraid of the consequences of responding to Russian interference, then NATO's credibility will have been dealt a major blow. And that is exactly the outcome the Russians are hoping for.

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