Weekly News Archive
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MONDAY MAY 6, 2013
attack equals declaration of war ... Iron Domes at Haifa and Safed
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Sunday, May 5, that the strike at Syria overnight represented a "declaration of war" by Israel. Russian and Iranian media earlier predicted full-scale Middle East hostilities involving Israel erupting in the coming hours, in the wake of Israel’s renewed strikes against Iranian missiles bound for Hizballah and other targets around Damascus. Russian sources reported rumors that President Bashar Assad was on the point of declaring war on Israel.
Russia Today claimed that an Israeli rocket strike Sunday caused heavy Syrian casualties – according to rumors, at least 300 members of the Syrian Army’s 501st Unit dead and hundreds filling four Damascus hospitals. DEBKAfile: If this is confirmed, then the unit which operates the chemical weapon facility at the Barzeh district north of Damascus at the foot of Mount Qassioun was hit. Israel’s security cabinet holds emergency session.
The same Russian source reported that Syrian security forces cordoned off the sites of the explosions against entry. Residents reported after the blasts that the ground moved with the force of a 4 magnitude earthquake.
Shortly after the Israel attacks in the Damascus area Sunday, the IDF posted additional Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in Haifa and Safed to defend those northern towns against incoming Syrian and Hizballah rockets.
Low-ranking Syrian and Iranian officials responded to the Israeli attacks on Syria: Deputy Information minister His al-Yiftah commented by saying that “a new foreign element had entered the Syrian conflict overnight and this would cause war.”
In Tehran, an Iranian foreign ministry official condemned “Israeli aggression on Syria and accused Israel of fomenting instability and ethnic discord in the region. The commander of the ground forces asked if the war was not about to burst out of Syria’s borders, without answering the question.
An Israeli official confirmed to AFP that Israel had Sunday conducted a second round of strikes in three days on advanced weapons including Iranian F-110 weapons bound for Hizballah in transit at Damascus international airport. Syrian TV reported only an attack on the Jamraya military research center just north of Damascus. This was the same facility which Israeli planes attacked in January. [no further content]
Note: see these related items:
Israel Strikes Syria, Says Targeting Hezbollah Arms - Netanyahu's colleague, Tzachi Hanegbi: "The world is helplessly looking at events in Syria ... That is why, as in the past, we are left with our own interests, protecting them with determination - and without getting too involved" ... It was unclear whether Israel sought U.S. approval for the action LINK
Tensions Spike After New Israeli Strikes In Syria - Syria's government called the attacks against against its territory a "flagrant violation of international law" that has made the Middle East "more dangerous" and warned it has the right "to defend its people by all available means" ... The generally muted response appeared to signal that Damascus did not want the situation to escalate ... A senior Israeli official confirmed that Israel launched an airstrike in the Syrian capital early Sunday ... The target was Fateh-110 missiles, which have precision guidance systems with better aim than anything Hezbollah is known to have in its arsenal LINK
Source: Israel Behind Syria Strikes ... Hit Iran Missiles - "This new Israeli aggression is a clear attempt to alleviate the pressure on the armed terrorist groups after our army beat them back in several regions and after the army's victories on the road to recovering security and stability in Syria," said SANA LINK
[Iranian General]: Any Arms Israel Targeted In Syria Not Iranian LINK
Iran: Tel Aviv Will Receive A Crushing Response - Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday "Israel’s acts of aggression against Syria will not go unanswered and Tel Aviv will receive a “crushing response” ... He called for vigilance against "Israeli plots to create instability in the region," adding, however, that “oppression and crime in the region will not endure” ... Israeli aggression “is aimed at loosening the noose around the terrorists” in the eastern Ghouta region, near Damascus, state television added LINK
Off-The-Cuff Obama Line Put U.S. In Bind On Syria - “How can we attack another country unless it’s in self-defense and with no Security Council resolution?” one administration official said, referring to United Nations authorization ... “If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?” LINK
Syria's Iranian And Russian Allies May Openly Intervene If Crisis Escalates (Interview) - Journalist and Middle East expert Ali Rizk: "In a speech last Thursday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that Syria’s real friends – meaning Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia – won’t allow Syria to fall into the hands of the US, Israel, or al-Qaeda affiliates … I think what you have now is that Iran and Hezbollah now have a new significant ally of real significant weight which is Russia" LINK
IDF on war alert ...
Iran-Syrian-Hizballah war of attrition threatened ... U.S. set to act on Syria
Israel’s two air force strikes on Syria in three days - the second targeting the emblems of Assad rule overlooking Damascus from Mount Qassioun - appear to be part of a tactical plan put together by the US, Israel, and two Sunni powers, Turkey and Qatar, to break up the Tehran-Damascus-Beirut radical bloc and eventually force Iran to give up its nuclear bomb aspirations.
This is how it will be interpreted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah as they prepare their responses for the Israeli attacks.
Without officially confirming those strikes ever took place, Israel insisted that its air force and rockets singled out the advanced Iranian weapons waiting in Syria for transfer to Hizballah - and Hizballah itself. This message was designed for a purpose: It was meant to support Washington’s argument to Moscow that Israel had not aimed its bombs and rockets against Assad and his army - only the Iranian and Hizballah military presence in Syria.
But it didn’t quite work that way, because no one in Damascus slept a wink early Sunday, May 5, as Israel rocket blasts shook the city in what was described as a 4 magnitude earthquake and inflicted heavy casualties - not on the Hizballah brigades fighting in Syria, but Syrian elite units stationed around Mt. Qassioun.
The columns of fire over Damascus flashing across world screens caused the Assad regime and army serious loss of face.
Syrian officials could do no less [than] broadcast dire threats of war, but may be poised to do more.
Monday, May 6, the Syrian ruler spelled out his next plan of action in a message posted to Moscow: A third Israeli strike would incur an instantaneous Syrian response, he warned. Damascus would let Palestinian organizations off the leash to mount attacks against Israel from the Syrian Golan.
What this presages, according to our military sources, is the launching of a cross-border war of attrition mounted from Syria and Lebanon by Syrian and Hizballah soldiers posing as Palestinian fighters.
That is if Israel continues its assaults on Syria.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday that Israel’s “acts of aggression against Syria will not go unanswered and Tel Aviv will receive a crushing response.”
Washington is meanwhile expected to follow up on the Israeli operation in Syria by the end of May, early June, with operations ranging from US arms supplies to the Syrian rebels to demolishing Syria’s air force facilities and missile sites by US air strikes from Turkey, Europe and Israel. Barak Obama used this tactic to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya two years ago.
The Obama administration made a point of getting these options into print in Monday’s media after saying in answer to a question about the Israeli air strikes: “Israel justifiably has to guard against advance weapons reaching Hizballah.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources: Since the Syrian rebels are being systematically ground down and falling apart under the crushing weight of the Syrian army backed by Iranian and Hizballah troops and Moscow, feeding the rebels more weapons may no longer avail. So this would be the less probable of the two options . . . .
Having taken the calculated risk that Syria would be too busy with its own war to embark on a major reprisal, Israel Sunday night placed the country’s northern borders and region, including the big port town of Haifa - and its early warning systems - on the highest level of war alert, closed its northern airspace to civilian traffic for a couple of days, stationed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries at vulnerable points, and advised local authorities to go on standby.
All the parties concerned, from Washington and Moscow, to Jerusalem, Tehran, Damascus and Beirut, were waiting Monday on tenterhooks to see who made the next move.
Source: debka.com MORE
U.N. human rights
investigator: Syrian rebels used sarin gas
GENEVA -- Syrian rebels have used the deadly nerve agent sarin in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to testimony from victims, UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte said.
"According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas," del Ponte, a former war crimes prosecutor, said in an interview with Swiss radio late on Sunday.
She said there was "still not irrefutable proof, (but) very strong suspicions, concrete suspicions that sarin gas has been used. Assistance to victims shows this."
Her comments follow Israeli air strikes on military sites near Damascus on Sunday and come amid suspicions that Assad's regime has used chemical weapons in the 26-month conflict.
Del Ponte said the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, which she is a member of, was far from finishing its probe.
"We still have to deepen our investigation, verify and confirm (the findings) through new witness testimony, but according to what we have established so far, it is at the moment opponents of the regime who are using sarin gas," she said.
Del Ponte also said the commission might still find proof that the Syrian regime was also using this type of chemical weapon.
US President Barack Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict was a "red line" for his administration but has said he does not foresee US troops on the ground in Syria.
Set up two years ago at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council, the commission has so far been unable to gain access to Syria as Damascus has ignored repeated requests for entry.
Instead, it has interviewed over 1,500 refugees and exiles as a basis for its reports and its charges that both the government forces and their allies and opposition forces of carrying out war crimes in Syria, where more than 70,000 people have been killed since the violence exploded in March 2011.
Source: AFP / channelnewsasia.com
Note: see these related stories:
Investigator: U.N. Has Testimony Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Gas - "Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated," Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television LINK
Former Bush Administration Official Blames Israel For Chemical Weapons In Syria LINK
Surveillance State Alert:
Are all telephone calls recorded and
accessible to the U.S. government?
A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case
The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN's Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could . . . .
"All of that stuff" - meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant - "is being captured as we speak".
On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that "all digital communications in the past" are recorded and stored:
Let's repeat that last part: "no digital communication is secure", by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications - meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like - are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.
Source: guardian.co.uk MORE
Israel to Assad: air strikes did not
aim to help Syria rebels
JERUSALEM -- Israel sought to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that its recent air strikes around Damascus did not aim to weaken him in the face of a more than two-year-old rebellion. Officials say Israel is reluctant to take sides in Syria's civil war for fear its actions would boost Islamists who are even more hostile to Israel than the Assad family, which has maintained a stable stand off with the Jewish state for decades. But Israel has repeatedly warned it will not let Assad's ally Hezbollah receive hi-tech weaponry. Intelligence sources said Israel attacked Iranian-supplied missiles stored near the Syrian capital on Friday and Sunday that were awaiting transfer to Hezbollah guerrilla group in neighbouring Lebanon. Syria accused Israel of belligerence meant to shore up the outgunned anti-Assad rebels - drawing a denial on Monday from veteran Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Interviewed on Israel Radio, Hanegbi said the Netanyahu government aimed to avoid "an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime" . . . The Assad government has condemned the air strikes as tantamount to a "declaration of war" and threatened unspecified retaliation. But Hanegbi said Israel was ready for any development if the Syrians misinterpreted its messages and was ready "to respond harshly if indeed there is aggression against us". MORE
Shock claim: Israeli strike timed with Syria rebels
Al-Qaida-linked jihadists advance immediately after bomb attack
TEL AVIV -- Israel’s airstrike in Syria Sunday was coordinated with Turkey, which in turn coordinated rebel attacks throughout Syria timed to coincide with the Israeli strike, according to Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence sources speaking to World Net Daily. The sources said the rebels did not know about the Israeli strike in advance, but instead were given specific instructions for when to begin today’s major assaults against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Almost the moment the Israel Air Force departed was the moment the rebel advance began,” added the Egyptian intelligence source. Multiple reports have noted how the Syrian rebels consist in large part of al-Qaida-linked jihad groups. The Egyptian and Jordanian sources described to World Net Daily how immediately after today’s Israeli air strike the jihadist rebels used access roads to advance toward Damascus and began heavy clashes with Syrian military forces throughout the country. MORE
Syria 'to open borders' for flood of terror
TEL AVIV -- The Syrian government will soon declare it is opening its borders with Israel for Palestinian and other jihad groups to carry out attacks against the Jewish state, a senior Syrian official told World Net Daily. Separately, informed Middle Eastern security officials said the Syrian army held a meeting Sunday afternoon with the leaders of the military wing of the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist group to discuss retaliation against Israel for the recent air strikes near Damascus. According to those officials, Islamic Jihad and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah are coordinating a possible reaction to Israel’s reported strikes. Meanwhile, Iran has instructed the Al Quds unit of the Revolutionary Guard to prepare a response to Israel’s reported airstrikes Sunday and Friday against Syrian targets, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials. The officials, speaking to WND, said Syria and Iran are determined to respond to the Israeli strikes. The officials said the retaliation may not be launched from Syrian territory but instead could come in the form of a terrorist attack against Israelis in Africa or South America. MORE
Note: see also Iran Calls For Stand Against Israel After Syria Attack - Iranian army ground forces commander Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said on Sunday Iran was ready to support its ally ... "Syria has a powerful army and with the structure and experience it has against the Zionist regime (Israel) it can definitely defend itself and there is no need for intervention by other countries," Pourdastan said, according to Fars ... "But if they need training we can help them" LINK
Iranian missile fears to trigger Mid-East defence alliance
Israel is preparing to agree to a defence co-operation deal with Turkey and three Arab states aimed at setting up an early warning system to detect Iranian ballistic missiles. The proposal, referred to by the diplomats involved as 4+1, may eventually lead to technicians from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan working alongside Israelis in joint command-and-control centres. The US-brokered plan is to build a "moderate crescent" of allied states that share an interest in countering Iran's nuclear ambitions. "The plan is to start with information-sharing about Iran's ballistic missiles," an Israeli official said. Israel, he said, believed President Barack Obama had no appetite for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "That's why the Americans are working on a regional alliance to deter and contain Tehran," he said. Under the plan, the Israelis would have access to real-time data from radar stations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In return, Israel would provide access to its advanced anti-missile defence systems and early warning radar, which would be shared online with its new partners. Israeli Arrow anti-missile interceptors would shield Jordan against incoming Iranian missiles. The deal is remarkable, since Saudi Arabia and the UAE have no diplomatic relations with Israel and diplomatic ties to Turkey have been downgraded since the Gaza flotilla raid in 2010, in which eight Turkish activists died. Mr Obama's initiative to counter the "fundamentalist crescent" of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah - the "state within a state" in Lebanon - is seen as ambitious by Israeli diplomats. "The Americans are trying to get together all the parties who feel threatened by Iran," said Zalman Shoval, a former ambassador to Washington. [no further content] LINK
[Senator Inhofe]: DHS ammo grab to 'dry up' supply
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) says he believes open purchase orders from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to buy over 1 billion rounds of ammunition are part of an “intentional” effort by the Obama administration to “dry up the market” for gun-owning citizens. “We have in this country the Second Amendment that preserves the right to keep and bear arms,” Inhofe told radio host Aaron Klein, “and the president doesn’t believe in that.” . . . Inhofe was talking about his Ammunition Management for More Obtainability – or AMMO – bill, which is designed to limit non-defense, armed federal agencies to pre-Obama levels of ammunition. The bill, S.843, has been referred to Senate committee, while a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) has been referred to House committee. “President Obama has been doing everything he could to stop the private ownership of guns in America,” Inhofe asserted. “Yet he’s been voted down in a big way by a large majority, and so my feeling is that he’s doing this to buy up [ammunition] so honest, law-abiding citizens here in the United States, like my son, can’t even buy ammunition because government is purchasing so much.” The DHS has claimed it’s simply creating bulk purchase orders to save money and that 80 percent of the ammunition is used for training purposes, but Inhofe isn’t buying the explanation. “We had someone testify the other day the DHS has the ‘right’ – this is a bureaucrat who said this – they have the ‘right’ to buy as much as they want, and they’re planning to buy 750 million rounds,” Inhofe said. “That is more than three times the amount our soldiers are using for training to defend our nation.” “I believe it’s intentional,” Inhofe said of the ammunition shortages many private and local law enforcement purchasers are experiencing. “It’s just another effort to restrict gun activity and ownership.” [see source website for audio of full interview] MORE
Radio Host to Lead Armed March on [Washington DC] July fourth 'To Put Government on Notice that We Won't be Intimidated'
Libertarian activist and radio host, Adam Kokesh plans to lead an armed march on Washington, D.C. this Independence Day. Launched as a group on Facebook, the 'Open Carry March on Washington' hopes to get 1,000 supporters to march into the nation's capital with loaded rifles. The group plans to meet at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. From there, they will march across the Memorial Bridge into Washington, D.C. and continue down Independence Avenue. While Virginia permits open carry, Washington, D.C. does not issue any permit/licenses to carry a firearm. The Facebook page states: "This is an act of civil disobedience, not a permitted event. We will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny." The event is said to be non-violent and states that if the group is met with physical resistance, they will turn back. "There's a remote chance that there will be violence as there has been from government before, and I think it should be clear that if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting," the event's page reads. The event is open to unarmed supporters, journalists and welcomes law enforcement officers to join. [no further content] LINK
This Is The World's First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun (Photos)
Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun. Now he has. Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year-old University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator” [see pictures at source website] . . . All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition. MORE
Note: see also Defense Distributed's Political Opponents Aren't Waiting Around For Its Printable Gun To Be Finished And Uploaded Before Calling For It To Be Banned - Congressman Steve Israel issued a press release Friday responding to this story: “Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser,” his statement reads ... “When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction ... Now that this technology is proven, we need to act now to extend the ban [on] plastic firearms” LINK
MORE NEWS & COMMENTARY
Note: Views expressed in the commentaries on this website are those of individual authors and not necessarily those of Christian Media Daily or our host - Christian Media Network. Quotes are obviously the opinion of the source. A quote is just a quote and these are offered without comment. Use of a news story or commentary is not an endorsement of the source website.
Israeli raids in Syria highlight Arab conundrum
(Sarah El Deeb and Brian Murphy)
CAIRO (AP) -- Five weeks ago, the head of the Arab League capped a summit in Qatar with an impassioned appeal to strengthen the rebel fighters trying to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad. On Sunday, he denounced Israel's airstrike into Assad's territory as a dangerous threat to regional stability.
The contrast reflects a fundamental conundrum for Arab leaders.
Nearly all Arab states have sided with the rebel forces seeking to topple Assad and inflict a blow to his main ally, Iran. And Sunday's attack by Israeli warplanes in Syria - the second in three days - was the type of punishing response many Arab leaders have urged from the West against Assad after more than two years of civil war.
The fact the fighter jets came from Israel, however, exposes the complications and regional cross-currents that make Syria the Arab Spring's most intricate puzzle.
While Israel and much of the Arab world share suspicions about Iran, including worries over its nuclear ambitions and expanding military, the perception that they are allied against Assad - even indirectly - is strongly knocked down by many Arab leaders.
The airstrikes also highlight one of the critical side issues of the Syrian conflict: the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Israeli warplanes apparently targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made Fateh-110 guided missiles believed to be bound for Hezbollah.
Toppling Assad would cut the arms pipeline that runs from Shiite giant Iran to Hezbollah. But Hezbollah remains deeply popular on the Arab street for its battles with Israel, including a war in 2006 in which Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel.
No Arab leader wants to be perceived as giving a green light for Israeli attacks.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby warned of serious repercussions from the Israeli attacks and called on the U.N. Security Council to "immediately move to stop the Israeli aggressions on Syria."
Elaraby described the Israeli airstrikes as a "grave violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state that will further complicate the issue in Syria and expose the region's security and stability to the most serious threats and consequences." . . . .
The airstrikes come as Washington considers how to respond to indications that the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons. President Barack Obama has described the use of such weapons as a "red line," and the administration is weighing its options, including possible military action.
Source: Associated Press / myway.com MORE
ADDITIONAL NEWS & ANALYSIS
Libya gunmen besieging ministries demand government quits
U.S. Diplomat Will Tell Issa's Committee He Thought
Benghazi 'Was A Terrorist Attack From the Get-Go'
The committee hearing will be held on Wednesday
Militia Hired by State Department Warned It Wouldn't Protect Stevens' Movements in Benghazi LINK
DOD Had 'Assets Pre-Positioned' Off Libya ... In Case It Needed to Rescue Hillary Clinton LINK
Remote-control helicopter stuck in statue atop Marion
Sheriff Joe injects new life into Obama eligibility
[analysis]: WILL ALABAMA SUPREME COURT JETTISON THE IMPOSTOR PRESIDENT? LINK
U.S. official: North Korea, Iran obtain high-tech arms
materials bypassing sanctions
Palestinian leader Abbas in China for state visit LINK
Abbas arrives in Beijing for a state visit, official media says, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also set to meet Chinese leaders later this week
China hosting both Palestinian, Israeli leaders LINK
Israeli head of military intel discussed Syria, Iran in secret Beijing visit LINK
Prime Minister Netanyahu is to depart just 10 days after head of Military Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi's secret visit to China, centered on two major diplomatic-security issues, in which China had a key role: the Iranian nuclear program and the civil war in Syria
Pakistan's Looming Election Doesn't Bode Well for U.S. Interests LINK
Nuclear incident drills to start Monday across Montana LINK
Mechanisms of Destruction and Collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings on 9/11 (Resource) LINK
An analysis of peer reviewed technical literature 2001 - 2012 ... Overall, our peer-reviewed literature results collectively yield a very strong prima facie argument for Controlled Demolition
[Red Flag - uncorroborated testimony]
CIA Official Breaks Silence on Extraterrestrials [?!] (Video) LINK
Former U.S. Officer Describes Encounter With Alien Craft [?!] LINK
9.5 million people have left the workforce under Obama LINK
Since February 2009, the first full month of Obama’s presidency, 9,549,000 people have left the labor force ... There were 80,387,000 Americans not working that month, compared with 89,936,000 not working or looking today ... That includes people who have retired on schedule, taken early retirement, or simply given up looking for work
'Open hostility' to Christians in U.S. military LINK
Judges rule to destroy home-schoolers' family (Sweden) LINK
HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS: Join the Sound Body Yahoo group (part of the Christian Media ministry) to receive regular health eblasts LINK
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny imposed upon the mind of man."
TUESDAY MAY 7, 2013
- no news edition -
WEDNESDAY MAY 8, 2013
U.S. to arm Syrian
rebels ... Putin's rebuke, Chinese 'peace plan' mar Netanyahu's
Negative diplomatic ricochets are pursuing Israel in the aftermath of its air force attacks on Syria. In the first place, they are seen to have had no effect on Hizballah’s successful military intervention on the side of the Assad regime or the Syrian war at large. In the second, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by President Vladimir Putin Monday, May 6, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.
Putin did not say how, but he did announce he had ordered the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria.
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the Russian leader was referring to S-300 anti-air systems and the nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander (NATO named SS-26 Stone) surface missiles, which are precise enough to hit a target within a 5-7 meter radius at a distance of 280 kilometers.
In his phone call to Netanyahu, the Russian leader made no bones about his determination not to permit the US, Israel or any other regional force (e.g. Turkey and Qatar) [to] overthrow President Bashar Assad. He advised the prime minister to make sure to keep this in mind.
Our sources add: Since Syrian air defense teams have already trained in Russia on the handling of the S-300 interceptor batteries, they can go into service as soon as they are landed by one of Russia’s daily airlifts to Syria. Russian air defense officials will supervise their deployment and prepare them for operation.
Moscow is retaliating not just for Israel’s air operations against Syria, but in anticipation of the Obama administration’s impending decision to send the first US arms shipments to the Syrian rebels.
Intelligence agencies in Moscow and the Middle East take it for granted that by the time Washington goes public on this decision, some of the Syrian rebel factions will already be armed with American weapons.
That the measure was in the works was signified by the introduction Monday by Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of legislation allowing the US to provide arms and military training to the Syrian rebels,
US military instructors have been working with Syrian rebels at training camps in Jordan and Turkey for some months. So putting the arms in their hands only awaited a decision in Washington.
Putin’s message to Netanyahu was intended to reach a wider audience than Jerusalem, such as Barack Obama in Washington and President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of Netanyahu’s talks there Tuesday.
Therefore, when US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Moscow that day, in an attempt “bridge the divide” between their governments on the Syria conflict, he was preceded by a barrage of Russian condemnation of the Israeli air strikes in Damascus “as a threat to regional stability;” a stiff warning from the Russian foreign ministry to the “West” to stop “politicizing the issue of chemical weapons in Syria;” and Moscow’s “concern that world public opinion was being prepared for possible foreign military intervention.”
In other words, the Russian leader rejected in advance and with both hands any attempt by the US to use the Israeli air strikes as leverage for a deal with Moscow for ending the Syrian war. US weapons supplies to the rebels would furthermore be matched by stepped-up arms supplies to the Assad regime, which Putin is totally committed to preserving.
Kerry planned back-to-back meetings Tuesday with Russian officials focusing mainly on Syria but also covering the Russian angle on the Boston bombings, and hoped-for cooperation on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues.
The Chinese government’s cold shoulder to Israel was exhibited less directly [than] Moscow’s, but no less firmly. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was invited to visit Beijing and meet President Xi two days before the [Israeli prime minister] arrived in the Chinese capital Tuesday to begin the official part of his visit. The Chinese president unveiled his peace plan before meeting the Israeli prime minister.
This plan emphasizes, as the key to a settlement, the Palestinian right to a state on the basis of 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital. It also adopts Abbas’ pre-conditions for talks, including a stop to settlement activities; an end of the Gaza blockade; and “proper handling” of the Palestinian prisoners issue.
Clearly, Prime Minister Netanyahu would have been wiser to postpone his Chinese visit instead of taking off while Israeli air force blasts [were] still reverberating in Damascus. By staying at home, he would have displayed a firmer and steadier hand at the helm.
And after taking off, he would have done well not to linger for two days in Shanghai first. This gave the Russian leader the chance to catch him wrong-footed and administer a strong, publicized rebuke, so bearing down on the agenda of Netanyahu’s forthcoming talks with Chinese leaders. [no further content, emphasis added]
Note: see these related stories:
Obama: US Has 'Moral' Obligation In Syria - "I think that we have both a moral obligation and a national security interest in, A, ending the slaughter in Syria but, B, also ensuring that we've got a stable Syria that is representative of all the Syrian people and is not creating chaos for its neighbours" LINK
White House Won't [or can't] Specify Its 'Reaction' To Syria Crossing A 'Red Line' LINK
Israeli- and Hizballah-controlled enclaves take shape inside
Syrian rebel forces continued to fall back this week against superior Syrian forces in the north, center and south. Wednesday, May 8, they lost the important town of Kirbet Ghazaleh in the Horan province of southern Syria. For the first time in two months, the main transit route opened up for Syrian troops to reach the Jordanian border from Damascus and the opposition forces holding ground along the Syrian-Israeli border.
The rocky Golan plateau split between Syria and Israel by a demilitarized zone is beginning to move onto center stage.
Tuesday, Bashar Assad was quoted as saying the Golan will be the “front line of resistance” after giving radical Palestinians under his wing permission to install missiles there against Israel. Unidentified Syrian military sources vowed to attack the Israeli army vehicles crossing the line to evacuate wounded rebels in need of medical care. Our military sources say that if Israeli army vehicles, presumably unmarked, are indeed entering Syria to pick up injured rebels, they are most likely alerted by local liaison agents in the battle zones who guide them to the spots where the injured men are waiting.
The pro-al Qaeda Jabhat al-Nusra will have deduced that the contact points between these local Syrian agents and the IDF are located in the 8 sq. km separation zone on the Golan, which has been patrolled by UN Disengagement Observer (UNDOF) peacekeepers since Israel and Syria signed an armistice in 1974.
Hence the abduction of four peacekeepers Monday. The rebel Islamist Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade - which claimed responsibility - released a photograph of the kidnapped UN troops sitting barefoot on a carpet and wearing light-blue U.N. armored vests, three of which were marked “Philippines.”
This incident highlighted the high strategic importance of the Golan plateau.
Israel has set up a large field hospital near the Tel Hazakah observation and military post on Golan which overlooks southern Syria and northern Jordan. There, incoming Syrian war wounded are vetted and examined by Israeli army medics who decide whether to patch them up and send them back, or judge them badly hurt enough for hospital care. The seriously hurt are moved to one of the the nearest Israeli hospitals in Safed or Haifa.
This arrangement suggests a kind of security zone is evolving on the Israeli-Syrian border which may recall the alliance which evolved between Israel and the Maronite Christians of South Lebanon out of the 1976 Lebanese civil war.
Israel then set up medical facilities for treating Lebanese Christian war wounded at several points on what came to be called the Good Fence. The Maronites willingly pushed Palestinian terrorist forces back from the border and were given permits to work in Israel and other benefits. The South Lebanese Army established at the time with 2,500 militiamen functioned effectively under Israeli command for two decades.
The whole system collapsed when in 2000 Ehud Barak, then prime minister, pulled Israeli forces out of the buffer zone and back to the border. It was then that Hizballah moved in.
No one has actually referred to the potential of the Lebanese scheme in one form or another growing out of Israel’s initial medical ties with certain non-Islamist Syrian rebel militias across the Golan border. But it may be happening on the quiet
Foreign-controlled enclaves are in a more advanced condition in other parts of Syria under the Hizballah and/or Iranian forces assisting the Syrian army’s fight against rebel forces.
Hizballah has completely encircled al-Qusayr, the central Syrian town which commands the main routes between Damascus, Homs and Lebanon. Civic leaders have sent emissaries to Hizballah commanders offering to capitulate against a pledge not to ravage the town and to save its inhabitants.
In Damascus, Hizballah’s troops along with Iranian Basij militiamen command the Shiite holy places.
And in the southwest, they are securing a cluster of 30 Shiite villages opposite South Lebanon, not far from the intersection of the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanese borders.
By pouring fighting men into Syria, Hizballah is gambling on Israel not taking advantage of its heavily diluted strength on home ground to strike Hizballah strongholds in Lebanon or its supply routes from Syria.
Both Hizballah and Israel appear to be in the process of relocating their lines of confrontation from Lebanon to Syria. Israel’s air strike Sunday, May 5, which hit Hizballah and Iranian targets, may have been the first skirmish between them on Syrian territory. It is unlikely to be the last. [no further content, emphasis added]
Source: debka.com LINK
cite Benghazi security flaws
WASHINGTON -- US diplomats testified on Wednesday that Washington could have done more to safeguard its mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi ahead of and during an attack last year that left four Americans dead.
The senior officials' statements to a Congressional committee came as President Barack Obama's White House accused Republicans of exploiting controversy over the Benghazi assault to score political points.
Gregory Hicks, the deputy head of the US mission in Libya and the first US official who was on the ground to speak publicly about what happened, provided a minute-by-minute account of the events of September 11, 2012.
He also recounted what is believed to be the final phone call from US ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was among those killed in Benghazi.
Hicks testified that he and many others knew from the start that the assault on the Benghazi compound was a deliberate act of terror, and said he was shocked when Obama's administration publicly argued otherwise.
He told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he was "stunned" after UN ambassador Susan Rice went on television to say the attacks were a spontaneous reaction after a demonstration against an anti-Islam video.
"My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed," he said, in what became a fiery and impassioned hearing.
Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer at the US embassy in Tripoli in the months before the Benghazi attack, also testified.
He told lawmakers that senior State Department officials were aware of security shortcomings and argued that it was "inexplicable" that their actions were not reviewed more thoroughly.
The testimony by the "whistleblowers," as the committee's Republican chairman Darrell Issa called them, is the latest in a months-long series of hearings to put the attacks and the US response to them under a microscope.
Republicans have hammered Obama's handling of the tragedy, accusing the White House of misleading Americans in the run up to November's presidential election by portraying the attack as spontaneous.
The Obama administration, which eventually acknowledged that the attack was planned in advance, has attributed the initial account to confusion about what was happening on the ground.
But Hicks said it was clear from the outset that an attack was in progress.
He recalled the final, frantic call from Stevens, shortly before the line went dead, in which Stevens simply told him: "Greg, we're under attack."
Republican Trey Gowdy read an email from a top State Department appointee to senior officials describing how, one day after the attacks, she told the Libyan national assembly president that the attack was an act of terrorism.
"I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists," acting assistant secretary of state Elizabeth Jones wrote in the previously undisclosed email, according to Gowdy.
Lawmakers stressed the importance of protecting the witnesses.
"It's about time we're hearing these stories for the first time," Republican Tim Walberg said.
Hicks described how he had been pressured by administration figures, including Jones, to stop questioning the US handling of the attacks.
"The sense I got was that I needed to stop my questioning," he said.
He also said he was kept on an unreasonably tight leash by administration lawyers when Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz visited Libya, and was told not to allow himself "to be personally interviewed" by Chaffetz.
The White House argued on Wednesday that all the circumstances of the attack had been probed by a review board ordered by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and its recommendations had been acted upon.
"This is a subject that has, from its beginning, been subject to attempts to politicize it by Republicans, when in fact what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Hicks said he pressed repeatedly for a quick military response to the attack, beyond the emergency team sent from Tripoli.
The defence attache told him the nearest fighter jets were in Aviano, Italy, two to three hours away, but that there were no refuelling tankers available to offer support, Hicks said. [no further content]
Source: AFP / channelnewsasia.com LINK
Note: see also Former U.S. Official Describes Libya Attack LINK
fear retaliation for Israeli airstrikes in Syria
Western officials and experts fear that a pair of Israeli airstrikes on Syrian military targets in recent days increased the risk of attacks on Israeli tourists and other civilian targets in the coming weeks as Damascus and its allies try to retaliate.
On Tuesday, Syrian officials repeated warnings that “Israel will suffer” for destroying a cache of advanced Iranian-built missiles apparently intended for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group closely allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say any retaliation would likely come in a familiar form: attempted attacks by Hezbollah operatives against Israeli or Jewish civilian targets, perhaps far outside the Middle East.
But they also said that the rigors of the ongoing civil war in Syria and Iran’s negotiations over its nuclear program could serve as restraints.
With both Assad and Hezbollah bogged down in Syria’s civil war, an anonymous attack would almost certainly be seen as preferable to a direct assault, which would risk an escalating conflict with Israel, analysts say.
Hezbollah, with its international network and financial and military backing from Iran, has long been linked to assassinations and terrorist bombings on foreign soil, including last year’s suicide attack on a bus filled with Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian resort city of Burgas.
“I expect more of the ‘shadow war’ we’re already seeing - soft targets, tourists - and targeting senior current or former Israeli officials,” said Matthew Levitt, a Hezbollah expert and former counterterrorism adviser and analyst at the Treasury Department and FBI. “It’s already happening, and it will happen even more.” . . . .
U.S. officials said Assad has few palatable options for retaliating after two years of conflict, which has left his military depleted from its struggle with a patchwork of rebel fighters who control large swaths of the country.
Assad’s inability to respond to the Israeli airstrikes - the second and third against Syrian targets this year - is personally humiliating to the Syrian autocrat, even as it offers a chance to sway the opinions of some Arabs in his favor, said David Schenker, a former senior adviser to the Pentagon on Middle East policy and military affairs.
“Syria almost welcomes Israel’s involvement because it muddies the water,” Schenker said. “But it’s also embarrassing because the state can’t do anything about it.”
Assad’s key Shiite allies, Hezbollah and Iran, have loudly denounced the airstrikes. Iran demanded a formal response from the United Nations, criticizing the attacks in a letter as “blatant acts of aggression” and a “serious violation of international law.” But several current and former U.S. officials said Iran wants to avoid direct hostilities amid sensitive international negotiations over the country’s nuclear program and upcoming domestic elections.
Iran would likely pressure Hezbollah to show restraint as well, preferring to reserve the militant group’s stockpile of Iranian-made missiles and rockets as an insurance policy against a future Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, said Clifford Kupchan, a former State Department official and Middle East expert.
“Iran has been careful not to get itself bombed by the United States,” Kupchan said, “and it perceives Hezbollah as its key card in the event that Israel or the United States should ever attack its nuclear facilities.”
Despite its reported arsenal of about 60,000 missiles and rockets, Hezbollah has largely avoided military clashes with Israel since the last major conflict in southern Lebanon in 2006. Instead, it has engaged in a series of covert attempts to kill Israeli and Western diplomats, businessmen and tourists over the past two years, in settings ranging from Bangkok to Istanbul to Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week, a judge in Kenya sentenced two Iranian nationals [to] life imprisonment for their role in a foiled scheme to blow up Kenyan hotels and businesses popular with Israeli and Western tourists.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad appeared to be allude to such attacks when he vowed in an televised interview that Syria would retaliate for Israel’s latest incursions, in a manner and time of its own choosing.
“We have dealt with this on several occasions, and we retaliated in the way we wanted,” al-Mekdad told CNN on Sunday. “The retaliation was always painful.”
Source: washingtonpost.com MORE
U.S. agree joint push for peace in Syria
MOSCOW -- The United States and Russia on Tuesday agreed to push both warring sides in the Syria conflict to find a negotiated solution and to hold an international conference in search of peace. Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry held hours of talks with President Vladimir Putin and then Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lasting late into the night in a bid to narrow the differences between Moscow and Washington on the conflict. "We agreed that Russia and the United States will encourage both the Syria government and opposition groups to find a political solution," Lavrov told reporters at a concluding news conference that ended after midnight. Lavrov added they agreed on the need to hold "as soon as possible" an international conference on Syria to convince both rebels and the regime to accept the terms of the Geneva accord agreed by world powers last June for a peaceful solution in Syria. He said the conference should take place "if possible by the end of this month." MORE
Note: see these related stories:
Russia And U.S. Agree On An International Conference On Syria - This was agreed during visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Tuesday ... DEBKAfile: Those talks did not bridge the essential gaps between Moscow and Washington on the Syrian crisis ... The decision to convene an international conference at the end of the month was a compromise LINK
Syria Opposition Insists On Assad Exit For Deal LINK
President Assad says Syria able to face Israel
BEIRUT (AP) -- In his first response to Israel's weekend airstrikes, President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Syria is capable of facing Israel, but stopped short of threatening retaliation for the strikes near the Syrian capital of Damascus. Assad spoke after a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who paid an unexpected visit to Damascus. Iran, one of Syria's closest allies, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia allied with both Assad and Tehran, have become increasingly involved in Syria's civil war, supporting the regime with fighters, military advisers and weapons. Syria and Hezbollah have been key to Iran's expansion of influence into the Arab world, and a collapse of the Assad regime would be a major blow to Tehran. "We are fully confident that Syria will emerge victorious from the crisis," Salehi said about the more than 2-year-old battle between fighters loyal to Assad and rebels trying to oust him. Israel's airstrikes on Friday and Sunday put Syria and Iran in a difficult position because if they retaliated, they would run the risk of drawing Israel's powerful army into the war. At the same time, inaction further weakens Assad's already shaky claims to being the leader of the Arab world's hard-line, anti-Israeli camp. MORE
Analysis: Syria has limited response options
BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian regime on Tuesday dispatched an obscure proxy, a Damascus-based Palestinian militant group, to threaten retaliation for two Israeli airstrikes over the weekend. The relatively tepid response to Israel's breach of Syrian sovereignty highlighted Syrian President Bashar Assad's limited options as he, along with allies Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, is bogged down at home in a fight for survival against armed rebels. Assad and visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi denounced Israel on Tuesday, but stopped short of promising retaliation. Commenting on the airstrikes for the first time, Assad said Syria is "capable of facing Israel's ventures" while Salehi said "it's high time to deter the Israeli occupation" from launching more attacks . . . Assad's regime might be reluctant to open a new front against Israel with his army already stretched thin in the deadlocked fight with the rebels, but he has a history of operating through proxies such as Hezbollah. One Iranian official hinted the Islamic militant group might take the lead. Hezbollah has in the past struck Jewish or Israeli targets abroad. On Tuesday, the pro-government newspaper al-Watan also said the Syrian leadership is now permitting Syrian-based Palestinian factions to "carry out anti-Israel attacks from the Golan and announced its readiness to provide the Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah) with all kinds of weapons." . . . Failure to retaliate for the Israeli airstrikes threatens to further undermine Assad's claim that he is the leader of the hard-line anti-Israel camp. By threatening reprisals for future attacks and sending a militant group into the fray, the regime seemed to be trying to lessen the embarrassment of not acting now. LINK
Note: see these related stories:
Assad: Golan Front Line For Resistance - In his first reaction to Israeli air strikes in Damascus, Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Syria is capable of confronting Israel, after meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Damascus ... “The Israeli aggression on Syria reveals the extent of Israeli and other regional and Western states’ involvement in ongoing events in Syria,” he said ... According to the Lebanese al-Mayadeen network, Assad also said “The Golan will become the frontline for resistance” LINK
Syrian Rebels Grab UN Peacekeepers Near Golan - Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade claims four Filipinos held for their own protection amid intense clashes with regime close to Israel border LINK
Israel flexes muscles in Syria battleground
BEIRUT -- Israel’s massive strike on Syrian military complexes in Damascus Sunday was designed to send a message to Damascus that it was prepared to act over increasing Iranian and Hezbollah engagement, experts say. The message, political sources and analysts agreed, was also a sign that Israel was prepared to take matters into its own hands in the absence of clearly defined action by the U.S. and its allies . . . But political sources and analysts say the symbolic value and sheer size of the strike, which targeted the military facility at Qasioun Mountain, overlooking the capital and housing the notorious elite 4th Division and the 105 Brigade, were designed as a clear message to Syrian President Bashar Assad. “This is a highly symbolic site and deeply embarrassing to Assad. This is home to the elite soldiers responsible for defending Damascus. There are no Iranian weapons there,” said a Syrian political source who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject. “It is acceptable to the West to say it is targeting Hezbollah. They are an acceptable target for the mainstream media,” he added. The source said the Israeli strike was a response to more open engagement by Iran and Hezbollah amid signs Assad forces were gaining more ground in a concerted push against the rebels . . . “This was a very loud message from the Israelis, that we are here, we have an interest here and the capability to strike hard. It also sends a message that Israel is prepared to do this if the West is not.” Assad’s military gains have coincided with U.S.-Saudi-backed plans to develop a buffer zone along the Jordan border. The plan, to arm and train secular rebel brigades more palatable to the U.S. and regional allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has gained traction in recent weeks, yet concerns about the unpredictability of arming rebel brigades have meant that so far no concrete decision has been made. Syrian opposition figure and history professor at Ohio University, Amr al-Azm said U.S. inaction had prompted Israel to take matters into their own hands. “I think the Israelis looked at the U.S. red line [on chemical weapons], saw that it was wobbly and decided to act,” he said, adding that it “embarrasses the U.S.” “It shows that when [Israel] perceives a threat, they will act and when they say red lines, they mean red lines,” Azm said. MORE
Turkey Launches Military Drills Along Syria Border
Exercise at NATO base to test 'Readiness for battle'
With tensions soaring in the wake of the weekend Israeli attacks on Syria, the Turkish military has launched a round of military drills at a NATO air base along the Syrian border. The 10-day drills will involve military and government ministry coordination in mobilization for a war with Syria. NATO says the mission was planned ahead of time, but was never reported until it began. MORE
Egypt Investment Collapsing as Citizens Turn Into Vigilantes
In a dimly lit Cairo workshop, Hussein spins a metal pipe on a lathe, sending sparks flying. In a few minutes, it’ll become the barrel of a gun. Sometime after that it will join the growing arsenal of illegal weapons on the streets of Egypt. Artisans who make machine parts by day are turning into bootleg gunmakers at night, says Hussein, 54, who asked not to be identified by his full name for fear of prosecution. He only sells to a middleman because “trust the wrong person and you’re going to jail.” He can make as much as 3,000 pounds ($435) per gun - about 20 percent of what a legally licensed one costs. “Fear is big business nowadays,” Hussein said. “People buy the guns because they’re afraid. People buy the guns because they want to scare others. We’re in a jungle now.” More than two years after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, the proliferation of weapons and a spate of vigilante killings, violence and sexual attacks are eclipsing the hope born from the revolt. Fueled by political deadlock and economic stagnation, the security breakdown threatens to put solutions beyond the reach of President Mohamed Mursi. A growing number of Egyptians think that “you can actually achieve your goals using violence,” said Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. Beneath that lies the “dashed expectation and hope of the youth,” he said. MORE
Gun crime has plunged ... but Americans think it's up, says study
Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show. Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center. In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium. The number of gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in a separate report released Tuesday. Gun crimes that weren’t fatal fell by 69%. However, guns still remain the most common murder weapon in the United States, the report noted. Between 1993 and 2011, more than two out of three murders in the U.S. were carried out with guns, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found. The bureau also looked into non-fatal violent crimes. Few victims of such crimes - less than 1% - reported using a firearm to defend themselves. Despite the remarkable drop in gun crime, only 12% of Americans surveyed said gun crime had declined compared with two decades ago, according to Pew, which surveyed more than 900 adults this spring. Twenty-six percent said it had stayed the same, and 56% thought it had increased. It’s unclear [?!] whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. MORE
Broadcast Alert: GEO Show Examines The FEMA Youth Corps – Obama's Version Of The Nazi Brown Shirts
A new installment of the East Wind Bible prophecy program details the first wave of the young people graduating from the FEMA Corps, a manifestation of Obama's promise years ago to develop a national domestic police force utilizing the youth of America. Associated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FEMA Youth Corp is the first generation of government trained militants who have been indoctrinated to be fiercely loyal to the Obama regime. The East Wind program, hosted by Al Davenport, also addresses the DHS acquisition of hundreds of millions of ammunition rounds – specifically hollow point bullets which are only used to kill people – at a time the government is becoming increasingly tyrannical, and decidedly anti-Christian. Airing on the streaming radio network GEO, anyone on the internet can hear it by pointing their browser to GEOmedianetwork.com, and clicking on the streaming audio link. This week's East Wind will be streamcast on Wednesday May 8th at 5 PM (all times Pacific); Thurs at 2 PM and 10:30 PM; and Friday at 9 AM and 11:30 PM, with additional airings over the weekend (consult the online schedule at GEO). The East Wind program monitors the American departure from the Gospel on an ongoing basis, and reports on the judgment of God, which is likened to an East Wind in Scripture, upon America. [no link]
Gross Hypocrisy Alert:
Sebelius: 'Keeping Our Children Safe
... Most Fundamental Task' [?!]
(CNS News) -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood who once dined with late-term abortionist George Tiller in the Kansas mansion while governor of the state, said on Tuesday “keeping children safe” is society’s “most fundamental task.” “You know we say this often, but I think it bears repeating that we have no higher obligation as a society, as our president reminds us, than keeping our children safe and protecting their health – it’s our most fundamental task,” Sebelius said at an event at the University of the District of Columbia Community to mark National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. MORE
Admiral Speaks Defiantly Against Anti-Proselytizing Rule: 'My Heart Said Give This Man a Bible'
(CNS News) -- Amid increased reports of a policy for courts martial over so-called proselytizing in the military, Coast Guard Rear Admiral William D. Lee recalled giving a Bible to a distressed serviceman who had previously tried to kill himself. “Yet, if I do something, such as I did several weeks ago when I was looking into the face of a young man, 20-something years old, who had 18 months before put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger and survived, when I looked at that young man and I heard his story, the rules say send him to the chaplain. My heart said, give this man a Bible,” Lee said last week during a speech on the National Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill. He added that military leadership faces extra hurdles. “The higher you are, the more vulnerable you are to being taken down,” Lee continued. “You get in the cross hairs of those people who lay and wait outside the gate, waiting to take us to task for expressing our faith for so much as whispering to a young man who is on his last hope that ‘there is hope. Take it home. We can talk about it if you want.’ The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I’m crossing the line. I’m so glad I have crossed that line so many times.” The rear admiral’s remarks came after The Washington Post reported on April 26 that a 27-page document of regulations from the Air Force said, “Leaders at all levels must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to preferential treatment for any religion.” The document even suggested that noncompliance could result in court-martial, according to the Post. MORE
The mass exodus of Christians from the Muslim world
A mass exodus of Christians is currently underway. Millions of Christians are being displaced from one end of the Islamic world to the other. We are reliving the true history of how the Islamic world, much of which prior to the Islamic conquests was almost entirely Christian, came into being. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently said: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.” Ongoing reports from the Islamic world certainly support this conclusion: Iraq was the earliest indicator of the fate awaiting Christians once Islamic forces are liberated from the grip of dictators. In 2003, Iraq’s Christian population was at least one million. Today fewer than 400,000 remain - the result of an anti-Christian campaign that began with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, when countless Christian churches were bombed and countless Christians killed, including by crucifixion and beheading. Now, as the U.S. supports the jihad on Syria’s secular president Assad, the same pattern has come to Syria: entire regions and towns where Christians lived for centuries before Islam came into being have now been emptied, as the opposition targets Christians for kidnapping, plundering, and beheadings, all in compliance with mosque calls telling the populace that it’s a “sacred duty” to drive Christians away. In October 2012 the last Christian in the city of Homs - which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came - was murdered. One teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us … because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.” In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” MORE
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Obama May Back FBI Push
for Total Internet Surveillance Law (Jason Ditz)
Would require all Internet companies to allow wiretaps at all times
President Obama is reportedly considering endorsing an FBI plan for a new series of laws requiring all Internet companies to build-in to all online systems a “capacity to comply with wiretap orders.”
The Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before them, have previously tried to expand existing legislation into the Internet, demanding online companies give them virtually limitless access to anything that might be used for communication.
The problem is that an awful lot of existing systems not only don’t have the capability to spy on their users, but in many cases are explicitly designed with privacy in mind. This is the antithesis of the FBI goal of total information awareness.
Which has the FBI pushing for these new laws “requiring” all this software to be revised with their spying in mind. First efforts at the law were stalling in Congress over fear of “stifling innovation,” sparking the new proposal of just fining every company that the Justice Department feels like going after who doesn’t comply.
If President Obama does endorse it, analysts say it could spark a major Congressional debate about privacy, something the FBI clearly doesn’t want. More importantly, however, is that open source software will by definition allow end users to remove all of these wiretapping “features,” which makes the law completely unworkable to a broad segment of communications software. [no further content, emphasis added]
Note: see also U.S. Is Weighing Wide Overhaul Of Wiretap Laws - The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations ... The FBI director, Robert Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders LINK
BREAKING THE JAWS OF THE WICKED
(Coach Dave Daubenmire)
“And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.”
Do you have any idea who uttered that phrase? . . . .
. . . [It] certainly was not a very Christian statement for someone to make. Christians are passive. Christians love everyone. Christians are tolerant and accepting of evil. A Christian certainly wouldn’t go around bragging about breaking jaws.
In fact, a man of God would certainly not go around calling people, or their behaviors, evil. Godly people don’t judge. They don’t hate or oppose evil. WWJD? Jesus is our example and he loved and accepted every kind of sinful behavior.
At least that is what we are being taught today.
Hang on. I’ll tell you who said it in a minute.
Has there ever been a time in America when evil was more openly and boldly honored than [it] is today? Some meaningless dude in the NBA comes out as “gay” and the President of the United States personally calls him to tell him how proud he is of his courage.
Let that sink in … the President calls a man who is identified by the fact that he has [perverted sex] with other men. The President is proud of him . . . .
. . . The pastors don’t honor manly men. In fact, they are afraid of them. They want “dignified” “polite” men on the elder board. They want men’s ministry leaders who want to watch Focus on the Family videos and get in touch with their feelings. Most men’s groups are a waste of time.
The more compliant the men become the more the pastor will like it. Compliant men do not question authority. But Jesus did. And so did Peter … and Paul … and Stephen … and that wild and crazy John the Baptist. I wonder if any of them would even be welcome in the church today …
"And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.”
It was Job. Job said it. [Job 29:17] God thought very highly of Job. In fact, it was God who pointed him out to Satan. And the LORD said unto Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” None like him on the earth …
What did Job do that caught God’s eye? He didn’t tolerate evil, he fought it.
I bet Job didn’t have a purity problem. It is hard to get caught up in evil when you are fighting against it. Fighting evil is what Job did. Read what he said:
"When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.”
Job was a doer, a man’s man. He searched out ways to fight for the downtrodden and the oppressed. He sought out those who would do harm to the innocent. He broke their jaws and rescued the innocent from the teeth of the wicked.
Job was a servant of the King. He spoke with authority to the evil of his day. What was the result?
"Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them. And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down. I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.”
So what is our excuse? No wonder porn has us hooked like a catfish. There is no fight in us, no honor, and no fear of the Lord. Evil is devouring our children … our families … our nation.
Hey Dude! They are teaching your child to be a homo in your schools!! Are you so woosified that you won’t protect your children? Is your pastor okay with it? Will you pluck your children out of the teeth of the wicked?
Only bold, righteous men can turn the tide. Jaw Breakers. That’s what we need. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Christian men fight back? That wouldn’t be very Christian now, would it?
Source: newswithviews.com MORE
ADDITIONAL NEWS & ANALYSIS
Syria Internet blackout enters second day
Activists: Syria rebels shoot down fighter jet LINK
Mursi brings more Islamists into Cabinet (Egypt) LINK
New Truth About the Cop Shot in Watertown: Friendly-Fire in a
detains Jerusalem's top Islamic cleric
Israeli police were questioning Jerusalem's most senior Muslim cleric on Wednesday for suspected involvement in a "disturbance" at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Holy City, a spokesman said ... Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein was taken from his home by detectives and was being questioned at a police station "on suspicion of involvement in a disturbance that took place yesterday (Tuesday) on Temple Mount"
Kurdish rebels begin critical pullout from Turkey LINK
World powers hail Somalia's progress but warn of dangers LINK
Strife-torn Somalia has made "significant progress" and its economy is starting to revive, an international conference said on Tuesday, while warning that big challenges remain in stopping it sliding back into lawlessness
[analysis]: U.S. Empire and Disaster Capitalism: And Then There Was One LINK
[analysis]: Americans answer to feds: Nullification LINK
32 state legislatures already have introduced pro-Second Amendment “nullification” bills
Second Amendment Preservation Act (Resource: Interactive map) LINK
New Head of CIA's Clandestine Service Is Picked ... Acting Chief Is Passed Over LINK
The acting head was at the center of the agency’s detention and interrogation program and played a central role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes
Pentagon releases terrifying statistics of sexual assaults in the military LINK
10,962,532: U.S. Disability Beneficiaries Exceed Population of Greece LINK
[analysis]: RURAL AMERICA IN THE CROSSHAIRS LINK
Well-armed, independent rural landowners may be the last great hope for a free America because they aren't about to lay down and play dead for a bunch of free-loading, urban, radical environmentally-educated, Kool-aid drinking, college idiots and the ignorant and arrogant big-city politicians that aid and abet them
Human takeover by machines may be closer than we think LINK
In his book, 'The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,' Ray Kurzweil predicted that computers will be as smart as humans by 2029, and that by 2045, "computers will be billions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence"
[analysis]: What does the Stripping of Rights of Parents to
Home-schooling is illegal in Germany, except in rare cases ... And many home schooling parents are persecuted with fines, jail, or the loss of their children … In Sweden, the government controls education and the home-schooling movement has been crushed
Abomination Alert: Rhode Island Bishop on [sodomy-based] Marriage: We've Entered 'Post-Christian Era' LINK
Pope Francis: 'There Can Be No Dialogue With the Prince of This World' LINK
HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS: Join the Sound Body Yahoo group (part of the Christian Media ministry) to receive regular health eblasts LINK
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause.
Job 2:3 (KJV)
THURSDAY MAY 9,
- no news edition -
FRIDAY MAY 10, 2013
Next step in Syria:
diplomacy or intervention?
The Obama administration’s slowcoach policy on Syria has given Iran and Hizballah unfettered access for military intervention in the Syrian civil war, magnifying its lethality and heightening the prospects of its spilling over into Israel, Turkey and Jordan, say DEBKAfile’s Middle East analysts.
Ahead now is the influx of highly advanced weapons into the already excessively violent conflict. Thursday, May 9, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the transfer of advanced missile defense systems from Russia to Syria would be a “destabilizing factor for Israel’s security.”
Speaking to reporters in Rome, he was referring to Moscow’s imminent sale of S-300 air defense missiles to the Assad regime, which DEBKAfile revealed Tuesday, May 7, President Vladimir Putin had disclosed in his tough conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about Israel’s air strikes on Damascus.
In his comments, Kerry said nothing about how the US intended to stop the sale or respond to the deployment in Syria of weapons that would not only affect Israel’s security, but lock the sky against US air action against Syria and the imposition of a no-fly zone.
DEBKAfile’s sources estimate that the Syrian conflict and its repercussions, already horrendous, will go from bad to worse when it transpires - inevitably - that the Obama administration has no partner for its loudly hailed accord with Moscow, obtained by Kerry on May 7, for an international peace conference on the conflict.
Moscow has not joined the celebration. In fact, the prospects of this event started fading the moment Secretary Kerry declared in Rome, two days after his talks in Moscow, that “Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of a transitional government that would try to lead the country out of its civil war.”
This brought the rift to the fore, because Moscow will on no account countenance the exclusion of Assad’s representatives from any international forum or transitional government, whereas Washington keeps on insisting that Assad must go as the pre-condition for any deal to settle the conflict.
Washington, the West and Israel have been progressively losing bargaining chips in the weeks since a coalition of Syrian, Hizballah and Iranian Bassij troops began turning the tide of war against the rebels, pushing them out of one area after another which they had captured, including parts of the main cities of Damascus and Aleppo.
This pro-Assad military alliance and its gains have been largely ignored by Western media.
Another complication is the emergence of the pro-al Qaeda Jabhat al-Nusra as the most dedicated and best trained and armed of all the Syrian rebel militias fighting Assad. Although the US and Russia share an interest in liquidating this Islamist front and rooting al Qaeda’s followers out of Syria, no assent on this appears to be in the offing.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was mobilized meanwhile to fend off the pressure for US military intervention in Syria coming from Israel, Turkey and the Gulf emirates. Addressing the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Thursday, Hagel stressed the “unprecedented levels in recent years” of US defense cooperation with Israel and US reliance on “strong partnerships with other regional countries from Jordan and Egypt to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
He did not however disclose if and when the US might take action to stop the bloodshed in Syria or curb Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb.
The defense secretary likewise avoided spelling out how the US would be able to act militarily in a Middle East emergency while at the same time cutting deeply into its military resources. He assured his listeners that “US strategy sees the Middle East as critical to its security interests, and a robust presence would remain,” adding, “We have made a determined effort to position high-end air, missile defense, and naval assets to deter Iranian aggression and respond to other contingencies.”
His audience was well-informed enough to question this assertion at a time that US Air Force squadrons in Europe were being dismantled and returning home to be grounded.
Source: debka.com MORE
[Note: Also see Free Syrian Army Rebels Defect To Islamist Group Jabhat Al-Nusra and U.S. Warns Against Russian Missile Sales To Syria and After Months Of Deadlock, Diplomacy Gets Another Chance in today's News Briefs section, and the commentary piece The Israeli-Jihadist Alliance in today's More News section.]
U.S. envoy Ford's
secret crossing into Syria ... Turkey's 'chemical dossier' for
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford quietly crossed into northern Syria from Turkey for secret meetings with leaders of rebel groups fighting in Aleppo and Idlib - a mission assigned him by Secretary Kerry. He was only there for a few hours before crossing back to Turkey.
Ambassador Ford left Damascus in February 2012 when the embassy suspended operations in a capital beset by full-blown civil war.
DEBKAfile’s sources report his mission in meeting Syrian rebel leaders was threefold:
(1) A demonstration that the Obama administration had no qualms about sending emissaries into embattled Syria and conveying direct US assistance to rebel forces.
(2) A message to Moscow that if it persisted in sending Syria S-300 interceptor missile systems, that would jeopardize Israeli air force flights over Syria, Lebanon and even northern Israel, the United States would send the rebels weapons for knocking out Syrian air force operations and so eliminate Assad’s military edge against the rebels.
(3) Turkey was used for the crossing to hold off Ankara’s push for American military intervention in Syria - even on a limited scale.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who is scheduled to meet the US President at the White House on May 16, told an NBC TV interviewer Thursday: President Barack Obama’s red line had been crossed a long time ago as it was clear that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.”
The dossier Erdogan is preparing for Obama is based on the evidence of Turkish physicians who treated rebel casualties and diagnosed them as suffering from the effects of poison chemicals. Nonetheless, he has as little chance of being heeded by the US president as was Israel when it presented its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria last month.
In view of the US administration’s head in the sand and the spreading of a strong Russian umbrella for Bashar Assad over to his Lebanese Hizballah ally as well, Hassan Nasrallah was not surprisingly cockier than ever when he declared in a speech Thursday night that Syrian territory rather than Lebanon would henceforth be the stage for the combined Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah “resistance” front against Israel.
Secretary Kerry had a point when he noted that the Syrian war was on the point of spilling over into Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Source: debka.com MORE
Note: see also US Ambassador's Secret Syria Crossing - A State Department official confirmed that Ford had "spent some time" at a border crossing to discuss the situation in Syria with members of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition LINK
[Note: Also see Turkish Prime Minister Says Syria Used Chemical Weapons in today's News Briefs section.]
Iran's Leader Sends
Message: Unlimited Support For Syria And Warns Jordan
Following the recent Israeli air strikes on Damascus, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei sent a message of “full and unlimited support” to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported on May 8th.
The message was handed over by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi to Assad during Salehi’s short visit from Damascus on Tuesday.
In the message, al-Akhbar reported, Ayatollah Khamenei assured Assad of Iran’s full political, military and economic support for the Syrian leadership and for people to confront the “Takfiris, terrorists, Israel, the U.S. and all who may dare to attack the country.”
On Friday and Sunday, Israeli warplanes carried out two airstrikes on Syria. Afterwards, the Syrian government called the attacks a “flagrant violation of international law.”
“It’s time to stop the Zionist regime’s aggressions against the people of the region,” Salehi said during his meeting with President Assad according to a report by Lebanese al-Manar TV.
“We’re on your side and will not let Syria fall into the hands of Israel or the U.S. or the Takfiris,” he added.
Takfiri’s are religious fanatics who use violence to compel people to their way of thinking.
Prior to his visit to Syria, Iran’s foreign minister arrived in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Monday and had separate meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Abdullah Nsour on Tuesday.
According to al-Akhbar newspaper, Salehi imparted “a clear and unequivocal message of Iran’s strong commitment to protect Assad and Syria,” to the Jordanian King Abdullah.
“You must be aware that if the US decides to go to war with Syria, your kingdom will go in the process,” this message, Jordanian sources described as a direct message from Iran’s Supreme Leader. It warned the Jordanian king of the “American trap that threatens your throne and will wipe Jordan off the map.”
“The Islamic Republic is ready to provide you what you need in the face of pressures and to avoid the conflict moving into Jordan,” Salehi said to King Abdullah and underlined “Iran’s willingness to transfer Jordan into its camp.”
According to the sources of al-Akhbar who are close to the Jordanian royal court, “King Abdullah was friendly and listened to the Iranian message. He assured Salehi that Jordan will not be interfering in Syria.” [emphasis added]
Note: see these related stories:
Iran Vows Response To Alleged IAF Strike In Syria - Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar quotes Iranian sources as saying the response to Israel's alleged strikes will be made on two levels: The first being “blows under the belt in several locations,” which could be done inside Syria under the policy of "contain, squeeze and crush," or outside of it, while maintaining the "terror balance" ... The second possible way of response will be calling a meeting of "the friends of the Syrian people" in Tehran in two weeks, in which Iran will "announce a new initiative for a Syrian solution" ... More than 40 countries will be invited, and President Assad will be represented by ministers Ali Haidar and Qadri Jamil LINK
Damascus Sharpens Threats Against Israel - Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Damascus would respond instantly to any further Israeli attacks ... Speaking on Thursday, he said the Syrian army had been directed to hit back with powerful and painful blows without referring to government authority for permission LINK
of Militia State Department Hired to [protect the] Benghazi
Compound Were 'Complicit' in 9/11/12 Terrorist Attack
(CNS News) -- Elements of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, the Libyan militia hired by the U.S. State Department to station members as residents inside the U.S. compound in Benghazi and to protect the U.S. diplomats there, were “complicit” in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to the testimony of Greg Hicks, who was the department's second-ranking diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack.
“Certainly, elements of that militia were complicit in the attacks,” Greg Hicks, the State Department’s former deputy chief of mission in Libya told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday. “The attackers had to make a long approach march through multiple checkpoints that were manned by February 17 militia."
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R.-Texas), who asked Hicks about the militia's complicity in the attacks, also asked Eric Nordstrom, who had been the State Department’s regional security officer (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli until July 26 of last year, whether the department was aware that the militia had any ties to Islamic extremists.
“Absolutely,” said Nordstrom. “Yeah, we had that discussion on a number of occasions, the last of which was when there was a Facebook posting of a threat that named Ambassador Stevens and Senator McCain, who was coming out for the elections that was in the July time frame. I had met with some of my agents and then also with some Annex personnel. We discussed that.”
Farenthold expressed his incredulity that the State Department would hire militia of this nature to provide security.
“I'm stunned that the State Department was relying on a militia with extremist ties to protect American diplomats,” said Farenthold. “That doesn't make any sense. How does that happen?”
“You mean like in Afghanistan where Afghanis that are working with our military that are embedded and turn on them and shoot them?” asked Nordstrom rhetorically. “Or Yemen, where our embassy was attacked in 2008 by attackers wearing police uniforms? Or in Saudi Arabia, in Jedda, we had an attack in 2004? The Saudi National Guard that was protecting our facility reportedly ran from the scene, and then it took 90 minutes before we could get help.”
Nordstrom added that the February 17 Martyrs Brigade “was the unit that the Libyan government had initially designated for VIP protection” for Americans and that it would be “very difficult to extract ourselves from that.”
According to a report published by the Senate Homeland Security Committee on December 30, 2012, a member of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade had warned the RSO at the State Department compound in Benghazi on September 8, 2012, that the militia would no longer protect the movements of Americans diplomats in the city. That specifically included the then-imminent visit of Ambassador Stevens.
“In early September, a member of the February 17 Brigade told another RSO [State Department regional security officer] in Benghazi that it could no longer support U.S. personnel movements,” said the Senate committee report. “The RSO also asked specifically if the militia could provide additional support for the Ambassador’s pending visit and was told no.” . . . .
The Accountability Review Board (ARB) report published by the State Department said that the February 17 militia had [stopped] protecting the movements of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi because of the pay and working hours they got from the State Department.
“At the time of Ambassador Stevens’ visit, February 17 militia members had stopped accompanying Special Mission vehicle movements in protest over salary and working hours,” said the ARB report.
The ARB report also said that normally four members of the militia lived inside the State Department's Benghazi compound, but that on September 11, 2012 one of these four "had been absent for several days, reportedly due to a family illness." [emphasis added]
Note: see these related stories:
62% Of House GOP Now Co-Sponsoring Bill For Special Committee On Benghazi LINK
Gowdy And Chaffetz: 'We Need To Have More Hearings' LINK
Boehner Promises More Benghazi Hearings: 'The American People Deserve The Truth' LINK
Diplomat: State Lawyers Told Me Not to Speak To GOP Lawmaker Probing Benghazi LINK
White House Says Benghazi Probe 'Non-Substantive' ... Defends Early Talking Points About Attack LINK
[Note: Also see Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions ... Scrubbed Of Terror Reference in today's News Briefs section.]
Hezbollah says Syria to supply 'game-changing arms'
(AFP) -- Syria is to supply Lebanon's Hezbollah with "game-changing weapons" despite Israel's air strikes reportedly aimed at cutting off the flow of arms, the Shiite group's leader said on Thursday. "You Israelis say your objective is to stop the capability of the resistance (against Israel) from growing... but Syria will provide (Hezbollah) with game-changing weapons it has not had before," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech. [no further content, emphasis added] LINK
Turkish Prime Minister says Syria used chemical weapons
WASHINGTON -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told an American television channel he believes Syria has used chemical weapons, crossing a "red line" set out by US President Barack Obama. "It is clear the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles," Erdogan told NBC News on Thursday, without providing details on when or where they were used. "It has been passed (a) long time ago," Erdogan said of Obama's "red line," calling for stronger US action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "We want the United States to assume more responsibilities and take further steps. And what sort of steps they will take, we are going to talk about this," said Erdogan, who will meet Obama on May 16. Erdogan said Syrian patients showing signs of chemical attacks had been brought to hospitals across the border in Turkey, and that "remainders of missiles" that he believes were used in such attacks have been found. Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, meanwhile told reporters that authorities were conducting blood tests on wounded Syrian refugees to assess whether their injuries had been caused by chemical weapons. He said more than a dozen test results "required further study and should be taken seriously" but did not elaborate further. "The studies continue. We will publish the results once they are concluded," he added. MORE
Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra
Syria's main armed opposition group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), is losing fighters and capabilities to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist organisation with links to al-Qaida that is emerging as the best-equipped, financed and motivated force fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime. Evidence of the growing strength of al-Nusra, gathered from Guardian interviews with FSA commanders across Syria, underlines the dilemma for the US, Britain and other governments as they ponder the question of arming anti-Assad rebels . . . Illustrating their plight, FSA commanders say that entire units have gone over to al-Nusra while others have lost a quarter or more of their strength to them recently. "Fighters feel proud to join al-Nusra because that means power and influence," said Abu Ahmed, a former teacher from Deir Hafer who now commands an FSA brigade in the countryside near Aleppo. "Al-Nusra fighters rarely withdraw for shortage of ammunition or fighters and they leave their target only after liberating it," he added. "They compete to carry out martyrdom [suicide] operations." Abu Ahmed and others say the FSA has lost fighters to al-Nusra in Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Deir al-Zor and the Damascus region. Ala'a al-Basha, commander of the Sayyida Aisha brigade, warned the FSA chief of staff, General Salim Idriss, about the issue last month. Basha said 3,000 FSA men have joined al-Nusra in the last few months, mainly because of a lack of weapons and ammunition. FSA fighters in the Banias area were threatening to leave because they did not have the firepower to stop the massacre in Bayda, he said . . . Al-Nusra has members serving undercover with FSA units so they can spot potential recruits, according to Abu Hassan of the FSA's al-Tawhid Lions brigade. MORE
U.S. warns against Russian missile sales to Syria
BEIRUT -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday the transfer of advanced missile defense systems from Russia to Syria would be a “destabilizing” factor for Israel’s security . . . “We have previously stated that the missiles are potentially destabilizing with respect to the state of Israel,” Kerry said. “We have made it crystal clear that we prefer that Russia would not supply them assistance,” he told reporters alongside new Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. “That is on record. That hasn’t changed.” Israeli officials said they had asked Russia to cancel the imminent sale to the Assad regime of advanced ground-to-air missile systems. Such weapons would enhance the Syrian government’s defensive ability and make it even harder for the U.S. and other governments to consider even the possibility of trying to enforce a no-fly zone in the country or otherwise intervening militarily. [emphasis added] MORE
Lavrov: Take 2 on Russian S-300s missiles for Syria
Is Moscow going through with selling advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Syria or not? It depends on when and where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks. On a visit to Warsaw Friday, Lavrov switched from an earlier statement to say: “Russia is not planning to sell [advanced S-300 interceptors to Syria]. Russia sold them a long time ago. It has signed the contracts and is completing deliveries in line with the agreed contracts of equipment which is S-300 anti-aircraft technology.” Earlier Friday, after British premier David Cameron met President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Lavrov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying that Russia would be “fulfilling contracts it has already concluded with Damascus” but that “this did not include sales of the S-300 system.” [no further content] LINK
months of deadlock, diplomacy gets another chance (Syria)
ROME/MOSCOW -- If Russia has decided to make a new diplomatic push to drag Syria’s warring parties into peace talks, it may be because of signs that the United States could slowly get sucked into the conflict. The two major powers’ joint announcement that they would try to bring together representatives of President Bashar Assad’s government and the rebel forces fighting to oust him represents their first serious diplomatic initiative in nearly a year. After lengthy talks in Moscow on Tuesday, the United States and Russia said they would try to breathe life into a carefully negotiated agreement they both endorsed in June 2012 that left open the question of whether or not Assad must leave power. Their idea is to prod both sides to the negotiating table – possibly in Geneva by the end of May – to try to end the war and to get them to form a transitional government by mutual consent. That framework to end the conflict, in which more than 70,000 people have been killed since it began in 2011, was laid out in the so-called June 30, 2012 Geneva Communique. After showing little interest in getting it implemented, Moscow’s apparent willingness to revive the idea may reflect concern that U.S. President Barack Obama is rethinking his opposition to some kind of military intervention in Syria. Signs of this include the White House’s acknowledgement on April 25 that U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Syrian government probably used chemical weapons against its people, something Obama had previously described as a “red line.” There are also indications the conflict is widening – Israel bombed targets in Syria twice over the weekend – and concerns about the prominence of Islamist militants, some loyal to al-Qaeda, among the armed opposition, as well as about the role of Iran and Hezbollah, who support Assad. Finally, there are louder American voices urging Obama to arm the rebels, among them Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee who introduced legislation to that effect on May 6. “Of all those arguments, I think the greatest Russian fear is that the U.S. and the West are headed for some form of military involvement in Syria, one way or another, and that is likely to have been operative in their minds,” said one Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity. MORE
Iran unveils new attack drone
(AFP) -- Iran unveiled on Thursday a new drone, dubbed the Epic, capable of carrying out both surveillance and attack missions, the Mehr news agency reported. Defence Minister General Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying the Epic, which can fly at high altitudes, is a "stealth aircraft that cannot be detected by enemies." On April 18, Iran made public three other models. The Throne, also a stealth model, has a long range and is equipped with air-to-air missiles, said General Amir-Farzad Esmaili, commander of anti-aircraft operations. Esmaili said Iran had already produced and used dozens of them. The Hazem-3 (Solid) and Mohajer-B (Migrator) are "tactical and combat" models and also capable of reconnaissance, the general said. [no further content] LINK
North Korea nuke arsenal seen as matter of when, not if
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) -- For 20 years, fears about North Korea's headlong pursuit of nuclear bombs have been watered down with smirking admonishments not to overestimate an impoverished dictatorship prone to bragging and tantrums. Few are laughing now. After three nuclear tests of apparently increasing power and a long-range rocket launch that puts it a big step closer to having a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead to American shores, many believe that in a matter of years - as little as five, maybe, though the timeframe is a point of debate - Pyongyang will have a very scary nuclear arsenal. Though it's a view not embraced by everyone, one respected South Korean expert says North Korea could be working toward 80 to 100 nuclear-tipped missiles. Bruce Klingner, a former U.S. intelligence officer specializing in North Korea, provides a less dramatic but still bracing assessment: If the path is A to Z, with Z being nuclear missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland, North Korea is maybe at T. Proof of the new seriousness with which Pyongyang's intentions are now seen can be found in the Obama administration's announcement in March that it will spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to the U.S.-based missile defense system. It said it was responding to what it called faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles. "Where in the past, there may have been some ambiguity about what North Korea was seeking to achieve, there is a clear recognition that they are pressing toward a nuclear capability with a potential longer-range delivery," Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia from 2009 until earlier this year, said at a forum last week in Seoul. "Such an approach represents a strategic, almost existential threat to the United States." The sense of urgency is new. What hasn't changed is the fierce, seemingly paralyzing debate about how to discourage North Korea's development of nuclear weapons. Some call for unconditional talks. Others say it's time for tougher, Iran-style sanctions and for China to cut off aid to its ally. MORE
Pentagon Demands To Keep Nine Bases In Afghanistan After 2014
KABUL -- The United States has demanded nine permanent military bases in Afghanistan, something that has long fuelled concerns among regional countries, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday. In the bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) being negotiated between the allies, the president said: “The United States insists on its demands and interests and we stick to our own.” Addressing a ceremony at the Kabul University, he said Washington had sought military bases in Nangarhar, Parwan, Balkh, Kabul, Paktia, Kandahar, Helmand and Herat provinces. Iran and Russia have repeatedly opposed a permanent American military presence in Afghanistan, fearing it may exacerbate insecurity in their neighbourhood. Given the fact that Afghanistan was going through a critical phase of history, his administration was doing its bit to exercise caution in taking important decisions, he observed. He underlined the need for concrete steps to ensure a better future for the conflict-torn country, notably durable peace and economic security. With this in mind, Afghanistan had signed a strategic pact with the US, he said. In return for the military bases, Afghanistan wanted the US to ensure its stability, strengthen its economy and equip its armed forces, the president explained. MORE
Note: see these related stories:
US Troops Won't Extend Stay In Afghanistan Unless Asked To - "As the president has already made clear, the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan, and any US presence after 2014 would only be at the invitation of the Afghan government and aimed at training Afghan forces and targeting the remnants of al-Qaeda" LINK
Karzai Says US Could Keep Nine Afghanistan Bases LINK
Threat of jihadi contagion from neighboring states weighs on Tunisia
TUNIS -- The hunt for al-Qaeda-linked militants in a mountainous region near Tunisia’s borders with Algeria in recent days has raised alarm that the birthplace of the Arab Spring has become the latest battleground for violent jihadists. With neighboring Algeria and Libya full of weapons and violent movements of their own, Tunisia is struggling to prevent the growth of armed groups while it makes its own tentative transition to democracy. The news out of Tunisia in the past week has been depressingly familiar for the Middle East: roadside bombs badly wounding soldiers and police as they comb a mountainous region for al-Qaeda-affiliated militants. What’s unusual is the setting: a largely secularized middle-class nation of 10 million. For now, the numbers are small compared to those found in Algeria, Libya or northern Mali. But recent fighting in the Sahel – the arid region just south of the Sahara Desert – has forced jihadi fighters to look for new havens, raising fears that Tunisia is in their sights. MORE
Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12
Revisions ... Scrubbed of Terror Reference
When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story. ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack. White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack. That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November. “Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.” Summaries of White House and State Department emails - some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard - show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points. MORE
State Department orders firm to remove 3-D printed guns web blueprints
The US government has blocked a Texas-based company from distributing details online of how to make a plastic gun using a 3-D printer. The ban, by the State Department citing international arms control law, comes just days after the world's first such gun was successfully fired. Defense Distributed, the company that made the prototype, stated on Twitter that its project had "gone dark" at the instigation of the government. The company is run by Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old University of Texas law student who has said the idea for freely distributing details about how to produce the guns online was inspired by 19th century anarchist writing. Wilson argues everyone should have access to guns. A State Department spokesman said: "Although we do not comment on whether we have individual ongoing compliance matters, we can confirm that the department has been in communication with the company." The action came too late to prevent widespread distribution of the files: Defense Distributed told Forbes that the files have already been downloaded more than 100,000 times in the two days since they were uploaded. The largest number of downloads initially were to addresses in Spain, followed by the US, Brazil, Germany and the UK. Fifteen of the gun's 16 pieces are constructed on the $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, Forbes said. The final piece is a common nail, used as a firing pin, that can be found in a hardware store. Betabeat posted a copy of the letter reportedly sent by the Department of State to Wilson. The department said the blueprints had to be taken offline because they may contain data regulated by the State Department. The department said it would review the files. MORE
One-Third of U.S. Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter ... Threatening Food Supply
Nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared last winter, an unsustainable decline that threatens the nation’s food supply. Multiple factors - pesticides, fungicides, parasites, viruses and malnutrition - are believed to cause the losses, which were officially announced today by a consortium of academic researchers, beekeepers and Department of Agriculture scientists. “We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands,” said entomologist Dennis vanEngelstorp of the University of Maryland, who led the survey documenting the declines. Beekeepers lost 31 percent of their colonies in late 2012 and early 2013, roughly double what’s considered acceptable attrition through natural causes. The losses are in keeping with rates documented since 2006, when beekeeper concerns prompted the first nationwide survey of honeybee health. Hopes raised by drop in rates of loss to 22 percent in 2011-2012 were wiped out by the new numbers. The honeybee shortage nearly came to a head in March in California, when there were barely enough bees to pollinate the almond crop. Had the weather not been ideal, the almonds would have gone unplanted - a taste, as it were, of a future in which honeybee problems are not solved . . . Scientists have raced to explain the losses, which fall into different categories. Some result from what’s called colony collapse disorder, a malady first reported in 2006 in which honeybees abandon their hives and vanish. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) subsequently became a public shorthand for describing bee calamities. Most losses reported in the latest survey, however, don’t actually fit the CCD profile . . . Amidst the uncertainties, scientific attention has settled on a group of culprits, the most high-profile of which is a class of pesticides known as neo-nicotinoids. These were developed in the 1990s, rushed to market with minimal studies of potential harms, and subsequently became the world’s most-used pesticides. In the last several years, it’s become evident that neo-nicotinoids are extremely toxic to honeybees and, even in small, sub-lethal doses, make bees more vulnerable to disease. [emphasis added] MORE
Lawmakers Turn Capitol into House of Prayer
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned the "people's house" into a house of prayer Wednesday. The event honors the first inauguration of George Washington and his devotion to daily prayer. Lawmakers present included: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-California), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri), Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina), Rep. Robert Pittenger (D-North Carolina), Rep. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). They asked for humility and wisdom as they make decisions that affect the country, and they prayed that God would bless the nation so America can be a blessing to the rest of the world. Wedesday's ceremony featured brief history lessons about Washington from guests like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Christian author Eric Metaxas. Metaxas warned that nearly 225 years after Washington's inaugural prayer, religious liberties are under attack. "If we lose religious freedom, if a secular orthodoxy rises and begins to force people to keep their faith in the shadows (and says) 'just in that building on Sunday morning, but once you come out you have to bow to the secular orthodoxy' - once that happens, you understand that we can no longer be America," Metaxas warned. The service was held in Statuary Hall in the Capitol, which served as a church for lawmakers in the 1800s. [no further content] LINK
'State-Granted Rights' Alert: Student prayer rights bill passes North Carolina Senate
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA -- Legislation meant to clarify when and how student-led prayers are allowed in public schools has passed the North Carolina Senate. The bill that passed unanimously Thursday says students can pray and express religious viewpoints as long as they don't create disruptions. It also requires school employees to show "appropriate respect" toward students who are properly exercising their rights. Republican sponsors speaking for the bill pointed to an incident in McDowell County in which a teacher forced a student to remove religious references from a poem. Some Democrats have questioned the need for the bill and the removal of language from a previous version of the bill explicitly forbidding the schools from establishing an official religion. The bill now heads to the House. [no further content] LINK
Saeed Abedini released from solitary in hopeful sign (Iran)
Iranian authorities released American pastor Saeed Abedini from solitary confinement today after forcing him to spend the week of his birthday in a “small dark hole,” according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Abedini, imprisoned for 225 days in Evin Prison because of his Christian faith, turned 33 on May 7 while in solitary confinement. Supporters sent more than 52,500 birthday messages to the prison addressed to Abedini. His wife, Naghmeh, wrote in a letter: "With tightness in my throat, pain in my heart, and tears streaming down my face … I promise to stand strong in the strength of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fighting with every strength of my being until you are united to our family again.” Abedini and nine other prisoners were sent to solitary confinement April 29 after fellow prisoners protested Iran’s lack of medical care, representatives from the ACLJ said. During his time in solitary, Abedini’s family in Iran was not allowed to visit him. The family worries about Abedini’s health: He complained of internal bleeding from beatings by prison guards even before the solitary confinement and had been denied medical treatment for his injuries. The ACLJ told WORLD last month that Abedini suffers from frequent fainting, constant abdominal pain, blood in his stool, and is in need of immediate medical attention. Naghmeh told the ACLJ that her husband’s return to the general prison is a hopeful sign: “His release from solitary is a direct result of the multitudes praying. I am relieved my husband is out of solitary, but still am deeply concerned about Saeed’s health. While this is a small victory, I am still demanding justice be done and that Saeed be released.” . . . Despite the pain Abedini is facing, in his latest letter dated March 9 he continued to hold on to his faith: “The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives. Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are often seen in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God.” He closed the letter with “Pastor Saeed Abedini, the servant and slave of Jesus Christ in chains, with a lot of joy to see you soon.” MORE
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Syria rebels will prevail ... but sequester makes U.S.
The U.S. Army's top officer said that force readiness is "degrading significantly" enough that if President Barack Obama decides to put boots on the ground in Syria, soldiers may not be fully prepared for the job if they don't move out by the end of this summer.
General Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, said he believes the Free Syrian Army (FSA) will prevail because the rebels have been able to win and hold territory.
"I kind of believe its not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Odierno said of the FSA's chances to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
From a military perspective, Odierno did not offer advice to the rebels, which the U.S. support officially and with non-lethal aid, but said he was encouraged by what they've been able to accomplish against Syria's forces.
"I think from what I've seen is they have made some significant gains. I think they are controlling the territory. It makes you think that, you know, it's going to be difficult for the regime over time to survive," Odierno said, at a Defense Writers Group briefing with reporters in Washington, on Tuesday.
Odierno cautioned, however, that training cutbacks due to the sequester mean that, within months, the Army will be less prepared for a ground intervention.
"Its a matter of us having the dollars to make sure they are ready and trained to meet such a contingency in Syria."
"Readiness is OK right now, but it's degrading significantly because our training is reducing. So, the next three, four months, we probably have the capability to do it," he said, of a Syrian incursion. "Next year, it becomes a little bit more risky."
"If you ask me today, we have forces that can go. I think it will change over time because the longer we go cancelling training and reducing our training, the readiness levels go down."
When readiness falls, he warned, risk inevitably goes up.
"What is the risk? The risk is lives."
Odeirno said that while Pentagon continues to present President Obama options for Syria, including acting unilaterally or in an international coalition, he's more concerned about the future facing the region.
"What I worry about is the next day. So, when it happens, what happens the day after?" he said. "To me, that's important, what happens to Syria."
"Nothing happens independently in the Middle East. What's the impact on Israel? What's the impact on Lebanon? What's the impact on Jordan," he said, mentioning Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, as well.
"If we don't get this right, what happens the day after ... could change the whole face of the Middle East, or it could go smoothly," he speculated. "How do we from an international coalition try to make this happen in such a way where we don't create incredible instability once Syria falls. That's what I worry about."
Add the use of chemical and biological weapons to his list of concerns.
"There's lots to worry about," Odierno said. "For me, it gets very, very messy."
There's one more layer to the Syria mess that complicates any outcome, said the Army chief: terrorists in the rebel ranks.
"With the rebels, we do know there's some terrorists in there," Odierno said. "Obviously, we don't want them to be involved in the outcome, we don't want them to gain power because of the impact they could have on the rest of the region - regionally and then potentially internationally." [no further content]
Source: foreignpolicy.com LINK
Hizballah and Israel Spar as Syria's
Conflict Threatens to Spin Out of Control (Nicholas
A dangerous game of brinkmanship is unfolding in the Middle East pitting Israel against Syria and its militant Shi‘ite ally Hizballah in what threatens to expand the two-year Syrian civil war into a full-blown regional conflict. On three separate occasions since January - two of them within 48 hours of each other last Friday and Sunday - Israeli jets have attacked Syrian military bases, targeting consignments of advanced weaponry supplied allegedly by Iran that were pending transfer to Hizballah across the nearby border with Lebanon. The air raids were unprecedented. Israel has never before risked striking at Hizballah’s Iranian-supplied weapons inside Syria.
For now, though, Israel’s gamble seems to have paid off. Other than some initial huffing and puffing from Damascus, no immediate retaliation was forthcoming. But rather than acting as a deterrence, the air strikes appear to have galvanized Syria to promise even greater amounts of sophisticated weaponry to Hizballah and also to announce the launch of a popular resistance campaign to liberate the Golan Heights, the strategic volcanic plateau in the southwest corner of the country that has been occupied by Israel since 1967 . . . .
Nevertheless, there are no indications that Israel intends to suspend the air strikes against weapons systems it considers “game changers” in the context of the Israel-Hizballah conflict. Israel appears to calculate that the Assad regime cannot afford to retaliate while fighting for its survival against opposition rebel forces. Similarly, Hizballah is busy deploying fighters into Syria to help the Assad regime crush the rebel factions in what has fast turned into a brutal sectarian war. Hizballah has shown no interest in resuming direct hostilities with Israel since the end of a monthlong war in July-August 2006, when the group’s crack fighters fought the Israeli army to a standstill in the battlefields of south Lebanon.
Source: time.com MORE
Cowardice Redefined, The New Face of
American Serial Killers (Vic Pittman)
A little after 10:00 p.m., and a serial killer is getting ready to make his move. He has watched and waited for this moment for some time.
He watches his victim get out of a cab and dig in his pockets for money. Two of his children run out to the porch to greet their daddy. The killer presses a button and watches as the victim, the taxi driver and the two children are vaporized. Other people in the house, the man's wife, parents and three other children are badly injured and burnt by the high explosive.
The house next door partially collapses, killing an elderly woman and injuring her grandson. But this is just the beginning.
Neighbors and emergency personnel arrive and begin trying to help the victims. There is chaos ... children screaming, people wailing and the cries of the burnt and injured. Several people are trapped under rubble.
When enough people have gathered, the killer presses the button again. Fifteen seconds later, all those at the scene are vaporized or blown to shreds. The killer high-fives his partner. In two hours he will be off work! They are planning on driving in to Las Vegas, have some cocktails maybe pick up some girls.
On the other side of the world, at the crime scene, the misery, grief and suffering is just beginning. The gathering and grouping of body parts, the burials, the amputations and lifetime medical traumas, the traumatized children, the destroyed lives. But tonight in Vegas, it is party party party for this 22-year old serial killer from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, some 7550 miles away from the carnage. The biggest threat he will face tonight is a hangover tomorrow.
He is a drone "pilot". He and his kind have redefined the words "coward", "terrorist", and "sociopath". He is the new face of American warfare. He is a government trained and equipped serial killer. But unlike Ted Bundy or John Gacy, he does not have to worry about getting caught. It is his job.
One thing that the drone terrorism/assassination program has revealed to the world is how racist we Americans are. American life is precious... when Americans die we expect the entire world to weep at our feet along with us. Three Americans die in a senseless act of violence and murder at the Boston Marathon, and the entire country grieves and the president makes heartfelt speeches. Where were all the speeches and expressions of grief when the US bombed the school in Chenagai, Afghanistan? Didn't hear about that senseless act of violence and murder? Of course not.
This is from the UK newspaper The Tribune.
"It is one of the worst incidents of the entire drones campaign, yet one of the least reported. A CIA strike on a madrassa or religious school in 2006 killed up to 69 children, among 80 civilians. The attack was on a religious seminary in Chenegai, in Bajaur Agency.CIA drones attacked on October 30, flattening much of the school. Their target was reportedly the headmaster, a known militant. But dozens of children were also killed, the youngest aged seven." [see LINK] . . . .
Can you imagine being afraid to throw a wedding for your child because a bored 22-year old "aviation warfare specialist" on the other side of the world may decide that it could be a terrorist get together and blow it up? That is the reality of life for many people in the world today, especially in Northern Pakistan.
And do you think that this killer drone business will not come to our shores?
Do you think that the same people who plan, approve and carry out strikes on weddings and houses full of children, who blow up an entire restaurant and everyone in it to kill a 16 year old American kid..do you think that these people would hesitate to do the same thing here if they felt a need to?
They kill children but are too nice to do it here?? "They wouldn't do that to us ... that's crazy talk!" Remember Waco? There were children there. Twenty-eight of them.
Sooner or later we are going to see a scenario like this ... in the United States. A citizen shoots down a surveillance drone flying over his property. The government responds with an armed drone and blows the citizen to shreds. No risk to "law enforcement", call the guy a terror suspect and classify the information so that no one can look any further into it.
The message will be sent to the other uppity citizens that if you mess with us, you will die ... today.
Source: salem-news.com MORE
The Israeli-Jihadist Alliance
Israel bombs Damascus – and the cat is out of the bag
It’s seems counter-intuitive, to say the least. Indeed, it seems quite mad. And yet we now have all the evidence we need to point to a de facto Israeli alliance with al Qaeda. The bombing of Damascus suburbs by Israeli jets – purportedly in order to prevent the Syrians from supplying Hezbollah with long range missiles – at precisely the moment when the Syrian “rebels” are demanding Western intervention on their behalf highlights one of the most bizarre alliances in history.
Bizarre, yes, but inexplicable? Not at all.
The Syrian government is claiming the Israelis “coordinated” their attack with the rebels, but this seems problematic – and is largely irrelevant. Yes, a rebel spokesman “blessed” the Israeli strike, but I rather doubt there’s ongoing communication between the rebel leadership and Tel Aviv. It’s simply not necessary: after all, their goals in the region are complementary, if not identical. The Sunni extremists who comprise al Qaeda have been in the front lines in the battle against Bashar al-Assad, and are also bitterly hostile to the mullahs of Tehran, whom they consider heretics: Israel, for its part, has launched its own holy war against Iran for quite different reasons, and is eager to take out Assad: regardless of motives their goals do coincide. Both want chaos in Syria – the Israelis, in order to eliminate a longstanding thorn in their side, and the jihadists because they thrive in failed states, like Lebanon.
Why would the Israelis aid a “rebel” army made up almost exclusively of hardened jihadists who supposedly hate Israel and want to see its non-Arab inhabitants driven into the sea? For the same reason they initially nurtured Hamas – because they believe it serves their long range purposes. The reason the Israelis granted official legal status to the group that eventually morphed into one of the Jewish state’s most implacable enemies was simple: to divide the Palestinian resistance, and therefore weaken it . . . .
In an effort to stay out of a major mess that could get far messier, the White House is up against not only the Israel lobby, the McCain brigade, and powerful members of his own party, he’s also swimming against the foreign policy current that dominated the previous administration – and also his own.
It was during the Bush regime’s effort to save face by proclaiming “victory” at the end of the Iraq “surge” that the US decided to play the Sunni card and forge a regional coalition to block Iranian dominance of the region. That this turn ended up with the US and al Qaeda on the same side in the Syrian trenches is hardly surprising – or unprecedented. Bin Laden’s legions fought in the Kosovo war on the side of their Kosovar Muslim brothers and NATO: many present day jihadists are veterans of that conflict, just as they are veterans of Afghanistan, Libya, and Chechnya – all regions where the jihadists and the Americans are de facto allies. In the Balkans, we used them to block Russian influence in Europe: in Syria, we are using them to run interference with the Iranians. In resisting – at least publicly – the call to intervene more visibly, this President is contravening the trajectory of American policy in the region – and the US ship of state, an enormous and therefore unwieldy vessel, is not so easily turned around. It has a momentum all its own.
Source: antiwar.com MORE
Note: see also Commentary: US Prepares War With Syria As Washington-Backed Al Qaeda Rebels Lose Ground - On Thursday, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced that Syria would supply his militia “special weapons it never had before,” calling the decision “game-changing” … The weapons are apparently being transferred as a response to Israel’s air strikes on Damascus ... “This is the Syrian strategic reaction,” he explained LINK
ADDITIONAL NEWS & ANALYSIS
Prosecutor may seek death penalty for Cleveland kidnap, rape
suspect Ariel Castro
Cuyahoga County prosecutor says Ohio law calls for the death penalty for the "most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping" ... He says aggravated murder charges could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force [I agree that this is murder. What I don't understand is: How is every abortion not also murder? (see next item) -Ed.]
[Red Flag - graphic descriptions]
Abomination Alert: [analysis]: The insanity of the Gosnell baby-murder trial LINK
The babies Gosnell “murdered” were no older, larger, more viable, more human or more precious than other late-term babies aborted routinely over the past 40 years ... It’s just that Gosnell pulled them out of their mother before he killed them ... Had he done exactly the same horrendous things while the baby was still inside the mother, many who today express horror would have regarded “the procedure” as just another late-term abortion that mother and doctor determined to be in her best interest ... How is this possible? ... Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers courageously confronted this now-institutionalized mass delusion: “Regardless of such quibbles, about whether Gosnell was killing the infants one second after they left the womb instead of partially inside or completely inside the womb – as in a routine late-term abortion – is merely a matter of geography ... That one is murder and the other is a legal procedure is morally irreconcilable”
[analysis]: Israel Supports al Qaeda Operatives in Syria
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood rallies against Israel LINK
Intelligence report identified vulnerability before Boston
FBI Under Fire ... Didn't Tell Boston Police Department About Marathon Bombing Suspects LINK
Philippines mulls pullout of Syria peacekeepers
Philippine foreign secretary said Friday that he has recommended President Benigno Aquino III pull out all Filipino U.N. peacekeepers from the Golan Heights following the abduction of four by Syrian rebels, the second such incident in two months
[Chinese] stealth drone prepares for test flight LINK
The Lijian ("sharp sword") is China's first stealth drone and the third in the world after the X-47 designed by the United States and France's nEUROn
IRS apologizes for ['inappropriate' targeting of conservative political groups] LINK
Mystery Aircraft Frightens Quincy Residents (Massachusetts) LINK
Every night for nearly the last two weeks, residents have spotted a low-flying aircraft doing loops over the city
[analysis]: Domestic Spying and Social Media: Google, Facebook 'Back Doors' for Government Wiretaps LINK
Tim Clemente (former FBI counterterrorism agent): “We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in [phone] conversations ... It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning” ... By stating that the evidence would not be admissible in court, Clemente was implying that the evidence was gathered illegally
[analysis]: Use of secretive 'Stingray' FBI cell phone tracking tool ruled lawful by judge LINK
Judge David Campbell refused to dismiss the motion even though the ACLU pointed out in an amicus brief that by “failing to apprise the magistrate that it intended to use a stingray, what the device is, and how it works, it prevented the judge from exercising his constitutional function of ensuring that warrants are not overly intrusive and all aspects of the search are supported by probable cause”
Hackers stole $45 million in ATM card breach LINK
Automakers warn new ethanol mandate could damage vehicles LINK
The auto industry says E-15 - as the blend is known - corrodes pumps, fuel lines and injectors ... And manufacturers say they won't cover damages caused by the higher blend
Monsanto protests scheduled in 36 countries LINK
Citrus Disease With No Cure Is Ravaging Florida's Groves LINK
Citrus greening is a bacteria which causes fruit to turn bitter and drop from the trees when still unripe ... It affects all citrus fruits, but it has been most devastating to oranges, the largest crop ... It has infected all 32 of the state's citrus-growing counties
Israeli archaeologists find source of 'Second Temple' era stones LINK
HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS: Join the Sound Body Yahoo group (part of the Christian Media ministry) to receive regular health eblasts LINK
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Worldwatch was edited this week by Editor Robert Ellis with help from Claire Mason.