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Author Topic: More This & That & Whatever.... The Best Of Intellectual Froglegs  (Read 30811 times)

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2013, 01:05:44 am »

"Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?"
****************
Friday, September 06, 2013

http://www.globalresearch.ca/did-the-white-house-help-plan-the-syrian-chemical-attack/5347542

Yossef Bodansky’s sources reveal that on August 13 and 14, there was a high-level meeting in Turkey that included the al-Qaeda Syrian rebels, along with U.S., Turkish, and Qatari officials, in which the Obama regime planned a bombing campaign after a “war-changing” moment that was set to occur within days. This “war changing” moment, of course turned out to be the gassing of 1429 people, including hundreds of children, to be blamed on Bashar al-Assad.


There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters — which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the August 21, 2013, chemical strike in the Damascus suburbs was indeed a pre-meditated provocation by the Syrian opposition.

The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the “horror” of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light.

On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence [“Mukhabarat Amriki”] took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Istanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development” which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria.
The opposition forces had to quickly prepare their forces for exploiting the US-led bombing in order to march on Damascus and topple the Bashar al-Assad Government, the senior commanders explained. The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive.

Indeed, unprecedented weapons distribution started in all opposition camps in Hatay Province on August 21-23, 2013. In the Reyhanli area alone, opposition forces received well in excess of 400 tons of weapons, mainly anti-aircraft weaponry from shoulder-fired missiles to ammunition for light-guns and machineguns. The weapons were distributed from store-houses controlled by Qatari and Turkish Intelligence under the tight supervision of US Intelligence.

These weapons were loaded on more than 20 trailer-trucks which crossed into northern Syria and distributed the weapons to several depots. Follow-up weapon shipments, also several hundred tons, took place over the weekend of August 24-25, 2013, and included mainly sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles and rockets. Opposition officials in Hatay said that these weapon shipments were “the biggest” they had received “since the beginning of the turmoil more than two years ago”. The deliveries from Hatay went to all the rebel forces operating in the Idlib-to-Aleppo area, including the al-Qaida affiliated jihadists (who constitute the largest rebel forces in the area).

“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days,” a Syrian participant in the meeting said. Another Syrian participant said that he was convinced US bombing was scheduled to begin on Thursday, August 29, 2013. Several participants — both Syrian and Arab — stressed that the assurances of forthcoming bombing were most explicit even as formally Obama is still undecided.

“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days,” a Syrian participant in the meeting said. Another Syrian participant said that he was convinced US bombing was scheduled to begin on Thursday, August 29, 2013. Several participants — both Syrian and Arab — stressed that the assurances of forthcoming bombing were most explicit even as formally Obama is still undecided.


The descriptions of these meetings raise the question of the extent of foreknowledge of US Intelligence, and therefore, the Obama White House. All the sources consulted — both Syrian and Arab — stressed that officials of the “Mukhabarat Amriki” actively participated in the meetings and briefings in Turkey. Therefore, at the very least, they should have known that the opposition leaders were anticipating “a war-changing development”: that is, a dramatic event which would provoke a US-led military intervention.

The mere fact that weapon storage sites under the tight supervision of US Intelligence were opened up and about a thousand tons of high-quality weapons were distributed to the opposition indicates that US Intelligence anticipated such a provocation and the opportunity for the Syrian opposition to exploit the impact of the ensuing US and allied bombing. Hence, even if the Obama White House did not know in advance of the chemical provocation, they should have concluded, or at the very least suspected, that the chemical attack was most likely the “war-changing development” anticipated by the opposition leaders as provocation of US-led bombing. Under such circumstances, the Obama White House should have refrained from rushing head-on to accuse Assad’s Damascus and threaten retaliation, thus making the Obama White House at the very least complicit after the act.

Meanwhile, additional data from Damascus about the actual chemical attack increases the doubts about Washington’s version of events. Immediately after the attack, three hospitals of Doctors Without Borders (MSF: médecins sans frontières) in the greater Damascus area treated more than 3,600 Syrians affected by the chemical attack, and 355 of them died. MSF performed tests on the vast majority of those treated.

MSF director of operations Bart Janssens summed up the findings: “MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack. However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events — characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers — strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent.” Simply put, even after testing some 3,600 patients, MSF failed to confirm that sarin was the cause of the injuries. According to MSF, the cause could have been nerve agents like sarin, concentrated riot control gas, or even high-concentration pesticides. Moreover, opposition reports that there was distinct stench during the attack suggest that it could have come from the “kitchen sarin” used by jihadist groups (as distinct from the odorless military-type sarin) or improvised agents like pesticides.

Some of the evidence touted by the Obama White House is questionable at best.

A small incident in Beirut raises big questions. A day after the chemical attack, Lebanese fixers working for the “Mukhabarat Amriki” succeeded to convince a Syrian male who claimed to have been injured in the chemical attack to seek medical aid in Beirut in return for a hefty sum that would effectively settle him for life. The man was put into an ambulance and transferred overnight to the Farhat Hospital in Jib Janine, Beirut. The Obama White House immediately leaked friendly media that “the Lebanese Red Cross announced that test results found traces of sarin gas in his blood.” However, this was news to Lebanese intelligence and Red Cross officials.
According to senior intelligence officials, “Red Cross Operations Director George Kettaneh told [them] that the injured Syrian fled the hospital before doctors were able to test for traces of toxic gas in his blood.” Apparently, the patient declared that he had recovered from his nausea and no longer needed medical treatment. The Lebanese security forces are still searching for the Syrian patient and his honorarium.

On August 24, 2013, Syrian Commando forces acted on intelligence about the possible perpetrators of the chemical attack and raided a cluster of rebel tunnels in the Damascus suburb of Jobar. Canisters of toxic material were hit in the fierce fire-fight as several Syrian soldiers suffered from suffocation and “some of the injured are in a critical condition”.

The Commando eventually seized an opposition warehouse containing barrels full of chemicals required for mixing “kitchen sarin”, laboratory equipment, as well as a large number of protective masks. The Syrian Commando also captured several improvised explosive devices, RPG rounds, and mortar shells. The same day, at least four HizbAllah fighters operating in Damascus near Ghouta were hit by chemical agents at the very same time the Syrian Commando unit was hit while searching a group of rebel tunnels in Jobar. Both the Syrian and the HizbAllah forces were acting on intelligence information about the real perpetrators of the chemical attack. Damascus told Moscow the Syrian troops were hit by some form of a nerve agent and sent samples (blood, tissues, and soil) and captured equipment to Russia.

Several Syrian leaders, many of whom are not Bashar al-Assad supporters and are even his sworn enemies, are now convinced that the Syrian opposition is responsible for the August 21, 2013, chemical attack in the Damascus area in order to provoke the US and the allies into bombing Assad’s Syria. Most explicit and eloquent is Saleh Muslim, the head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) which has been fighting the Syrian Government. Muslim doubts Assad would have used chemical weapons when he was winning the civil war.

“The regime in Syria … has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, five km from the [UN] committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so,” Muslim told Reuters on August 27, 2013. He believes the attack was “aimed at framing Assad and provoking an international reaction”. Muslim is convinced that “some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action” is responsible for the chemical attack.The US was exploiting the attack to further its own anti-Assad policies and should the UN inspectors find evidence that the rebels were behind the attack, then “everybody would forget it”, Muslim shrugged. “Who is the side who would be punished? Are they are going to punish the Emir of Qatar or the King of Saudi Arabia, or Mr Erdo?an of Turkey?”

And there remain the questions: Given the extent of the involvement of the “Mukhabarat Amriki” in opposition activities, how is that US Intelligence did not know in advance about the opposition’s planned use of chemical weapons in Damascus?

It is a colossal failure.

And if they did know and warned the Obama White House, why then the sanctimonious rush to blame the Assad Administration?

Moreover, how can the Obama Administration continue to support and seek to empower the opposition which had just intentionally killed some 1,300 innocent civilians in order to provoke a US military intervention?

Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 01:14:01 am by Warph »
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2013, 06:55:03 am »
EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS STORY OF THIS MADMAN,
HOW HE CAME TO KILL 50 MILLION PEOPLE!

(EXCELLENT VIDEO)

HITLER IN COLOR

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEerqYY8N4U" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEerqYY8N4U</a>
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2013, 01:30:01 am »

America’s Three Greatest Presidents

Turns out the shortest month on the calendar is actually the most significant for American history. For our three greatest Presidents were all born in February.

George Washington

Born on February, 22, 1732, George Washington displayed a character that continues to define our nation. The General of the victorious army that defeated the most powerful nation on earth at the time, he could have led a march on the Congress and declared himself the King, or Emperor of the Americas. But almost unique in world history, he had the character to decline to do that, and stay the course with the principles of liberty for which he fought.

It was also the character of his judgment that won the Revolution. If you read the military history of the Revolution, he was the master of the strategic retreat, picking fights he knew he could win. He intimidated the British out of Boston in March 1776, with the difficult maneuver of laboriously hauling heavy cannon, seized by Yankee militia from Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York, to the commanding Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. But he spent the rest of 1776 retreating in the face of overwhelming British land and sea power from Long Island, to Manhattan, to New Jersey, then all the way across New Jersey to Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia, into the less settled climes of Pennsylvania.

Knowing that he needed a victory to keep the nation’s hopes alive, he engineered a Christmas Day counterattack at a weak point of the British occupation, at Trenton, New Jersey, capturing the entire thousand-man garrison. Washington then pressed his advantage, a week later attacking the main British army in the field, at Princeton. Bravely rallying his more scattered troops personally on the field of battle, he kept the fight up until the British regulars in the end ran.

The British settled into the cities of New York and Philadelphia for the winter of 1777. But Washington was left to hold together his dwindling force in the relative wilds at Valley Forge for the winter. By the spring of 1778, Americans grateful that Washington had kept the Revolution alive flocked in droves to Washington’s encampment.

The army had spent the winter becoming newly professionalized, drilled by veteran volunteers from European militaries sympathetic to Washington’s cause. Emerging with a disciplined force newly uniformed, Washington laid siege to the main British force in New York. When he learned that Cornwallis marching up from the south had encamped on the Yorktown peninsula in Virginia, with a French fleet heading there to cut off retreat by sea, Washington deceived the British by leaving a skeleton force at New York, and stealing away by forced march to Virginia. He surprised Cornwallis by arriving along with the French to trap the British army there into surrender. With the capture of this third British force of the war, the British gave up the fight.


Abraham Lincoln

Born February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln made a career out of devotion to the principles of America’s founding. Foreshadowing the civil rights struggle a century later, Lincoln emphasized the principled language of the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of his argument against slavery.

In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln focused on the Declaration’s recognition that “All men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” He teased crowds with the suggestion that maybe we should rip these words out of the document, engendering cries of “No, No,” in response. He replied, “Well, let’s follow it then.”

In doing so, Lincoln put the lie to today’s anti-American “Progressives,” who deride the Founders as hypocritical slaveholders. The Founders did not have the power to abolish slavery when America was born. America would fight a brutal civil war 100 years later to do that. But what they did was lay the intellectual and moral foundation for abolition, and 100 years beyond that for civil rights.

Those American founding principles have reverberated across the globe ever since then, providing the foundation for liberation of enslaved people everywhere. And they continue to resonate to this day, inspiring the Resistance to the Progressive rejection of America’s founding, and their attempted transformation of America from the freest and most prosperous nation in world history.

Lincoln used the moral force of the founding to hold America together though the long suffering of the Civil War. Just as in the Revolutionary War, the forces of liberty got stronger and stronger with each passing year. And the liberation of America from slavery was consequently achieved.

It is a reflection of the perversity of American culture today that the Republican Party that was founded to liberate the slaves, and that went on to support civil rights 100 years later, over a Democrat party then still entrenched in the South that often opposed civil rights, now finds 95% of African Americans voting against it in every election. It is not that the Democrat party has delivered for black America. What it has delivered is poverty perpetuated by the slavery of welfare, rather than economic growth and prosperity lifting up from poverty.

So we see in Detroit, and Chicago, and Watts, and the Bronx, and everywhere where there is no competition against Democrat political monopoly, the welfare state destructively bringing everyone down, instead of a rising tide of capitalist prosperity that lifts all boats, as Kennedy envisioned. Detroit is actually disappearing under the feet of the Democratic socialists of America. But democracy is not functioning there, as the incumbents effectively carpet bombing the predominant black community in Detroit never face even the threat of being voted out.



Ronald Reagan

Born on February 6, 1911, Reagan was a preservationist of the principles and vision of the Founders, opposed to the “Progressive” revolt against the founding principles of American freedom and prosperity that gained so much steam during the past century. Reagan restored those founding principles, and the freedom and prosperity they engendered, just when they were slipping away.

We have forgotten today what Reagan faced, what he overcame, and what he achieved. Reagan transformed double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, double-digit interest rates, with subpar growth about half the long-term U.S. average, declining real wages and incomes, and soaring poverty, to a 25-year boom restoring the long-term U.S. growth trend line, and ultimately full employment, while slaying an historic inflation that remains tamed to this day, with rising real wages and incomes, and persistently declining poverty.

The Reagan recovery grew into a 25-year economic boom, from 1982 to 2007, what Art Laffer and Steve Moore rightly called in their book, The End of Prosperity, “the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet…. [M]ore wealth was created in America in the twenty-five year boom than in the previous two hundred years.” The economic growth during the first seven years of the boom alone was equivalent to adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy. During the boom’s last seven years, the growth was the equivalent of adding the entire economy of China to the U.S. economy.

Reagan didn't promise to do great things for us. He showed us that great things came from within us. Modern Republicans would do well to remind themselves that America's greatness doesn't lie within politicians, but within each of its citizens. That is Reagan's legacy.


*****************************

As George Washington University economist Henry R. Nau recently explained in the Wall Street Journal, by 2007 the entire 25 year economic boom had created 50 million new jobs, and restored the long term U.S. economic growth rate to 3.3%, twice the rate of the 1970s. As Nau elaborated:

[T]he U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories. (emphasis added).

He added, “In the past three decades [1980 to 2007], the percentage of households making more than $105,000 in inflation adjusted dollars doubled to 24% from 11%.”

The magnitude of the turnaround and these results are what make it the greatest economic boom in world history, and a heroic achievement deserving of much greater recognition and award for the major policymakers who led its creation.

That should be enough for any one President. But Reagan also won the Cold War without firing a shot, in Margaret Thatcher’s famous phrase, with the Soviet Union actually breaking up and disintegrating.

'By their fruits, ye shall know them', the Bible wisely tells us. Barack Obama, by contrast, following exactly the opposite of everything Reagan did, has forced America to suffer the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression. And doing the same in foreign policy and national defense, Obama seems on track to reopen the Cold War as well, this time with America losing, and a lot more than shots fired.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 01:42:11 am by Warph »
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2013, 02:01:44 am »





Myth and Memory: The Battle Over Reagan's Legacy

By Byron York

Nearly one-third of the U.S. population today was born after Ronald Reagan left the White House. They'll never have any personal memory of Reagan, and millions more remember him just as the old guy who was president when they were little. Someone else -- teachers, historians, the media -- will likely shape whatever opinions they have of Reagan.

It's no wonder that a battle is under way for the 40th president's legacy.

After recent events commemorating Reagan's 100th birthday in his home of Southern California, it's clear that the guardians of Reagan's legacy -- the veterans of his administration, the younger conservatives who study his every move and the Republicans who devoutly hope another Reagan will arrive on the scene as soon as possible -- aren't quite sure how to fight the fight. They've worked hard to remind the world that Reagan stood for policies like lower taxes, less regulation and a strong defense. Yet increasingly, in the public conversation, they have seen Reagan portrayed simplistically as a genial pragmatist from a less divided time in our nation's politics.

"These days, at a distance of more than a generation, you hear even liberal-leaning commentators reminiscing about the Reagan years in a way that doesn't always ring true to me," former Vice President Dick Cheney said at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara on Feb. 5. "They speak of it as a gentler time in politics, when supposedly debates were more cordial, and opponents on Capitol Hill were unfailingly civil and respectful toward the president. I hope I'm not disillusioning anybody, but I don't quite remember it that way."

Veterans of Reagan's administration remember the vicious fights that took place between the president and Democrats in Congress. They also remember the battles inside the Reagan White House and the Republican Party. Reagan emerged (mostly) victorious from those conflicts not because he was an affable fellow but because he combined a set of bedrock principles with great political skills. It's those principles, Reagan loyalists fear, that are being lost in the general canonization of Reagan. That has been especially true in recent days, when they've been amazed to hear Barack Obama described as the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Time magazine's published a cover story explaining how "Obama is fashioning his own presidency to follow the Gipper's playbook," and after Obama's State of the Union speech, commentators on ABC, CBS and NBC all proclaimed his message "Reaganesque." "This is really in some ways silly," said Edwin Meese, who served under Reagan both in California and in Washington. "I think President Obama may be trying to learn from Ronald Reagan -- I'll give him credit for that -- but unfortunately everything he is doing policy-wise is directly the opposite of Ronald Reagan, at least as far as domestic policy is concerned." Meese is happy to list the examples -- taxes, regulation, federal spending, monetary policy -- in which Obama is nothing like Reagan.

So how can conservatives teach Reaganism to a post-Reagan world? Their biggest resource is the Reagan Library, here in Simi Valley, which officials say attracts between 350,000 and 450,000 visitors per year. The library's exhibits on Reagan's presidency begin with what might be called a 1970s Hall of Horrors. The walls are covered with bold-letter reminders of the bad old days before Reagan: RECESSION. MISERY INDEX. STAGFLATION. IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS.

For conservatives, the point is to show visitors that Reagan put an end to those Carter-era maladies by the principled application of conservative policies, and that he achieved his greatest goal, winning the Cold War, in the same way -- over the opposition of many Democrats and the doubts of some of his own advisers. But that message is soft-pedaled at the library; you would never get an idea that the political fights of the 1980s were as tough as they were.

For a more rigorous examination of Reagan's conservatism, you would have to drive an hour up the road to the small museum at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara. It's run by the conservative Young America's Foundation. The number of annual visitors -- about 7,500 -- is relatively small, but the foundation also runs an extensive network of campus programs that teaches thousands of students about Reagan's deeply conservative convictions.

But even if you combine all those efforts -- what are the numbers compared to the mass-audience media outlets telling us that Reagan was just a nice, sunny guy and that even Barack Obama is Reaganesque? The guardians of Reagan's legacy are working hard, but they're up against some very long odds.
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2013, 12:47:44 pm »



PAUL HARVEY... GOOD DAY!


"Paul Harvey's last Saturday newscast 02/07/09 - Part#1"
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vR3vXFZn0M" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vR3vXFZn0M</a>
"Part #2"
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1brr2DMjic" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1brr2DMjic</a>

"If I Were The Devil" (Repeat Vid)
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGjLwOSPmiA" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGjLwOSPmiA</a>

"An Open Letter From God"
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlp0GBn02wM" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlp0GBn02wM</a>

"Freedom To Chains"
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0FF13u13WE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0FF13u13WE</a>




"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2013, 01:03:43 pm »
Census on Obuma’s 1st Term:
Real Median Income Down $2,627;
People in Poverty Up 6,667,000;
Record 46,496,000 Now Poor

September 17, 2013 - 1:54 PM
By Terence P. Jeffrey


"President Barack Obuma Serves Chicken Sausage Gumbo...
A Job He's More Suited For."


CNSNews.com) - During the four years that marked President Barack Obama’s first term in office, the real median income of American households dropped by $2,627 and the number of people in poverty increased by approximately 6,667,000, according to data released today by the Census Bureau.

The record total of approximately 46,496,000 people in the United States who are now in poverty, according to the Census Bureau, is more than twice the population of Syria, which, according to the CIA, has 22,457,336 people.

In 2008, the year Obama was elected, real median household income in the United States was $53,644 according to the Census Bureau. In 2012, the last full year of Obama’s first term, median household income was $51,017. Thus, real median household income dropped $2,627—or 4.89 percent—from 2008 to 2012.

In fact, real median household income dropped in every year of Obama's first term. In 2008, when he was elected, it was $53,644. In 2009, the year he was inaugurated, it dropped to 53,285. In 2010, his second year in office, it dropped to $51,892. In 2011, his third year in office, it dropped to $51,100. And, in 2012, his fourth year in office, it dropped to $51,017.

At the same time the number of people living in poverty in the United States increased. In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, there were approximately 39,829,000 people living in poverty in this country. In 2012, there were 46,496,000. That is an increase of approximately 6,667,000—of 16.73 percent—from 2008 to 2012.

The number of people in poverty increased during three of the four years of Obama's first term--taking a slight dip from 2010 to 2011, but then rising again from 2011 to 2012. In 2008, there were 39,829 people in poverty in the U.S. In 2009, it climbed to 43,569. In 2010, it climbed again to 46,343. In 2011, it dipped to 46,247. And, in 2012, it climbed to an all-time high 46,496.

In 2008, the year Obama was elected, people in poverty represented 13.2 percent of the national population. In 2012, they represented 15.0 percent of the population.

The income threshold at which a person was determined to be in “poverty,” according to the Census Bureau, depended on the size of their household. If a person lived by themselves and earned less than $11,270 in 2012, they were considered to be in poverty. A family of two people was considered in poverty if they earned less than $14,937. The threshold for a family of three was $18,284, for a family of four it was $23,492, and for a family of five it was $27,827.

The data reported here on real median household income and the number of people in poverty come from the Census Bureau’s report “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012,” which was released today:

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
-- Warph

"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2013, 01:19:30 pm »
Gen. Boykin on Air Force Sec. Nominee:
Will She Protect Religious Liberty of Airmen?

September 18, 2013 - 7:57 PM
By Michael W. Chapman


(CNSNews.com) – As President Barack Obama’s nominee for Air Force secretary, Deborah Lee James, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, senators need to confirm if she is committed to protecting the religious liberty of members of the Air Force, many of whom are facing religious persecution by their own commanders, said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC).

(CNSNews.com) – As President Barack Obama’s nominee for Air Force secretary, Deborah Lee James, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, senators need to confirm if she is committed to protecting the religious liberty of members of the Air Force, many of whom are facing religious persecution by their own commanders, said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC).

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William "Jerry" Boykin, executive vice president
of the Family Research Council.

“My biggest concern is where she stands on religious liberty in the military because the Air Force has a particularly egregious problem right now,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Boykin told CNSNews.com.

In a new report, A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military, http://www.frc.org/clearpresentdanger  the FRC documents numerous cases of persecution against members of the U.S. military, many of them Air Force, for religious-related reasons. Most of the cases involve opposition to conservative Christian beliefs, reportedly including banning Bibles, labeling evangelicals and Catholics extremists, and trying to force a soldier to endorse gay marriage.

The concern over the persecution of military personnel who are Christian has led to legislation, in the House and Senate, that lawmakers want attached to the National Defense Authorization Act.  The White House, however, has threatened a veto over the measure.

Deborah Lee James, President Obuma's nominee
for Air Force Secretary.


Obama nominated Deborah Lee James to be the new Air Force secretary in early August. Jones, 54, has not served in the military but has worked for several defense contractors, including Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) where she currently is president of the Technology and Engineering Sector. She also worked in government on the House Armed Services Committee and, from 1993-1998, was assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.

When CNSNews.com asked Boykin whether he thinks James should be confirmed by the Senate, he said, “There’s not a lot available in terms of information on positions she’s taken. Now, I do not believe it is necessary for someone to have served in the Air Force or any other service to be the secretary of the Air Force. I think it’s helpful if they have served but I don’t think it is necessary for them to have served.”

“I think the key question is: What are her capabilities?” said Boykin. “Does she have the leadership skills to be able to be the secretary of the Air Force at a very critical time when we’re dealing with so many issues? And, furthermore, does she put national security as a first priority? And if the answer to both of those is yes, then all other things being equal, I see no reason why she shouldn’t be confirmed.”

“My biggest concern is where she stands on religious liberty in the military because the Air Force has a particularly egregious problem right now,” said Boykin, who served in the Army for 36 years, commanded all the Green Berets, and was one of the original members of Delta Force.

Concerning what the senators should ask James, Boykin said, “We want to know if she would be an advocate for allowing military members to live their faith, not just to believe in certain things. And, we think that there’s right now a problem in the Air Force where we see the constant infringements on those liberties. “

“So, I would want to know, and we’ve articulated it in the questions that we sent over [to the committee], suggesting that they be asked, I want to know that she is committed to allowing members of the Air Force to live their faith as long as it doesn’t infringe on the Constitution, nor on the rights of others,” said Boykin.

James earned a B.A. degree from Duke University and a M.A. from Columbia University.  If confirmed, she would replace former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who retired in June. The current acting Air Force secretary is Eric Fanning, the highest ranking openly homosexual in the Defense Department.

Eric Fanning, acting Secretary of the U.S. Air Force
and openly homosexual.
(US Air Force)

Fanning worked on the House Armed Services Committee (1991-93) for part of the time that Deborah Lee James was there (1983-93), and he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (1993-96) for part of the time that James was assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (1993-98).

Fanning worked briefly in the Clinton White House in 1996 and at CBS News in 1997-98.  In 2004-2007, Fanning served on the board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. According to the Washington Blade, Fanning contributes to LGBT causes, including Scouts for Equality, “the organization that led the way for the Boy Scouts to approve a resolution ending its ban on gay youth.”    Fanning supports having openly transgender people serve in the military, although they are not allowed to do so at this time.

When CNSNews.com asked Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Boykin whether he thought Fanning’s tenure so far as acting secretary had hurt the Air Force in any way, he said, “During his tenure we’ve had at least two pretty significant events that occurred, one of which is with a Sergeant Philip Monk down at Lackland Air Force Base, where he was directed by his commander to answer a question indicating that he supported same-sex marriage, even though according to his faith, he could not answer that truthfully saying that he did [support same-sex marriage].”

M. Sgt. Phillip Monk was relieved of his duty and is now charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice because of an incident in which he refused to punish an instructor who expressed religious objections to homosexuality. (Photo: Fox News)

“That was one of the incidents,” said Boykin.  “It’s ongoing right now, being investigated, and he has, in fact, been relieved of all his duties because he would not tell his commander that he supported same-sex marriage.”

The general continued, “There was another incident of an Air Force reservist who wrote a letter, an email actually, to a chaplain at West Point, and this was before the Supreme Court decision on DOMA, saying that West Point had violated the Defense of Marriage Act by allowing a same-sex marriage in the chapel at West Point. And he was also disciplined by the Air Force: His reenlistment, which he had just signed for six years, was reduced to a one-year contract.”

“So this was a reprisal, a retribution against him for standing on his faith,” said Boykin, “and there have been some other incidents that were also associated with Christians being able to actually exercise their faith and speak about their faith and this occurred on [Secretary] Fanning’s watch. So, the facts are the facts.”

« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 01:38:55 pm by Warph »
"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
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Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2013, 02:01:43 am »




(Anyone daring to ask "What is wrong with Obuma?", even facetiously or with every good intention, is themselves wrong.  Must be stoopid, nucular-spouting, evil, white tea-baggers.  A thought like that can't possibly come from any intelligent, learned fellows... can it?

Meanwhile, all the supposed mouth breathers and raaaacists who have been politely but firmly trying to inform our neighbors about the absolute folly of Obuma policies have been proven right.  How can such an articulate, clean, well-spoken, obviously a little intelligent, deliberate perfect man like Obuma fail so miserably?  Because he is wwaaayyy over his head.  Because his ideas are juvenile and niave at best, or intentionally ruinous at worst.  He is a king without clothes, a man without any convictions that he can state publically and proudy, and the most powerful leader in the world who lowers himself to bowing in front of foreign kings and running down his own country while allowing a cretin like Putin to run rings around him strategically.

What's wrong with Obuma?  Obuma is what's wrong with Obuma... Warph)



What’s wrong with President Obama?


By JOHN F. HARRIS and TODD S. PURDUM | 9/18/13


President Barack Obama says that he is less concerned with scoring “style points” for his improvisational handling of the Syria crisis than in “getting the policy right.” This dismissive defense comes at the precise moment that Washington is awash in brutal critiques of the Obama leadership style.

The president’s harried, serial about-faces on Syria — coupled with the collapse of Larry Summers's candidacy for chairmanship of the Federal Reserve — have combined to highlight some enduring limitations of Obama’s approach to decision-making, public persuasion and political management.

Across the capital, anxious friends and chortling enemies alike are asking: What’s wrong with Obama?


Any fair answer would acknowledge Washington’s impatient pack-of-wolves phenomenon — the tendency for the media and operative class to froth at the first sign of weakness — and would recognize that Obama has a foundation of genuine assets that have stayed intact during this summer of discontent.

But it’s also true, as acknowledged even by sympathetic lawmakers and some former Obama West Wingers in recent background conversations, that his presidency is in a parlous state, with wounds that are lately self-inflicted. That’s especially troubling because the unforced errors come in a second term when, historically, presidents are expected to be more clear-eyed and confident about the burdens of command. Here is a short list, based on nearly two decades of close observation of the presidency, of what’s wrong with Obama — at the moment, anyway:

• His mind

Even Obama’s biggest supporters may strain these days to recall one of the things they originally found most appealing about him: His obvious intelligence and the way it projected — casually articulate, coolly rational, comfortable with complexity and nuance. This seemed the perfect antidote to the fumbled syntax and glandular decision-making style of his predecessor.

From a young age, Obama has always been oriented toward deliberation, contingency, and a careful calibration of possibilities and risks. In his twenties, he listened so intently — and responded so noncommittally — to the feuding factions of the Harvard Law Review that all sides believed he had heard them out, and made him their leader. As an Illinois state senator in 2002, he won early attention for a stirring speech against the Iraq War, but also took pains to make clear, “I don’t oppose all wars,” only a “dumb war” or a “rash war.”

For all that some on the right see him as a dangerous radical, his political instincts have always been toward synthesis — borrowing ideas and language from multiple sides — and split-the-difference moderation. Early in his term, he settled on a market-based overhaul of health insurance with an individual mandate to buy coverage not out of deep conviction for this solution but because Republicans had once proposed the idea, even as most liberal Democrats wanted a more aggressive approach. Obama is a pathological rationalist, animated by his belief that the truth is usually not black or white but is found in the gray shades in between, and that reasonable people should embrace the seeming contradictions of divergent views to find a sensible way forward.

But presidents, like mere people, often discover that their flaws are a magnification of their virtues. This president lately has faced situations that cried out for a black-and-white sense of purpose, and unquestioned public command.

In Syria, he set a red-line warning against use of chemical weapons, watched the regime of Bashar Assad ignore it, then seemed to deliberate out loud through a kaleidoscope of options, from a military strike on his own authority, to a military strike with congressional assent, to diplomacy in league with a foreign leader, Vladimir Putin, who had spent the summer humiliating him in the Edward Snowden case. There is a coherent argument for military intervention. And there is another one for saying that that Assad’s atrocities are tragic but a problem for others to solve. But the president’s effort to argue both things came off as incoherent.

With the Summers nomination, Obama had made it clear in conversations with aides and members of Congress that the strong-willed former Treasury Secretary was his first choice to take over the Fed — and he even came to Summers’s public defense when critics attacked his personal and policy record. But Obama also allowed a vacuum to grow in which liberals in his own party felt no compunction about publicly registering their opposition, whatever their president’s preferences.

The common theme in both episodes is that they were about projecting power, not summoning sweet reason. Obama’s approach put him in the position of being bullied — in one case by a sworn enemy, in the other by ostensible friends — who could not have cared less about his own nuanced views. As Churchill once said of the Germans, “The Hun is always at your throat or at your feet.”

• His energy

The last wave of “what’s wrong with Obama” speculation occurred almost a year ago, following his somnambulist performance at the first presidential debate in Denver against Mitt Romney. That’s no coincidence. When Obama is bored, or tired, or frustrated — whether with himself or the House Republicans or the press — he can’t hide it.

Before the 2012 election, Obama told people in the West Wing that he saw three potential outcomes: The economy would tank and he would lose; he’d catch a wave of support and win a decisive victory that would break the back of his conservative tormenters; or, most likely, that there would be a split decision dictating several more years of Washington muddle. The last scenario has come to pass — and there is no indication so far that 2014 will bring the House of Representatives back under Democratic control.

Presidencies do ebb and flow between periods of drift and revival. A couple weeks after his reelection victory in 1996, far from being in a celebratory mood, a sullen Bill Clinton complained that he had been persecuted by the media and Republicans, and compared himself to falsely accused Olympics bomber, Richard Jewell. That set the tone for his mood over the next year — a bad spell that, paradoxically, didn’t break until he was energized by his impeachment battle against Republicans in 1998.

Obama has chosen a curious moment to run his presidency with how-to manual in hand, like a father constructing a swing set on Christmas Eve. Syria should not have been his Bay of Pigs or Bosnia, a foreign policy foul-up or crisis like those that bedeviled John Kennedy’s and Bill Clinton’s early tenures. This should have been a Cuban Missile Crisis or Kosovo, a moment to display the wisdom that comes with experience.

What’s more, Obama’s now on the brink of another showdown against Republicans over the budget (which he could be forgiven for feeling leaves him like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”)

• His staff

Obama’s always-tight circle of aides and advisers has only gotten smaller and closer, and some of the crucial commanding figures of his first term — including David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Rahm Emanuel — are gone. The West Wing has had some important reinforcements, including Clinton veteran Jennifer Palmieri, but its most essential players have been running a sprint for six years, since the first campaign began in the winter of 2007. Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who has been swamped juggling myriad White House communications challenges, last week experienced “stroke-like” symptoms and a diagnosis of high blood pressure at the ripe age of 37.

Obama still has plenty of hard-working, conscientious hands on his team — perhaps the most skilled among them his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, who has pressed the president with limited success to step up his outreach efforts to Congress. But as is true of so many second-term staffs, this one is starting to have a second-string air.

• His philosophy

Nearly five years into his presidency, and nearly a decade after he first sprang to national notice with his 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, there is still no such thing as Obamaism — no clearly understood philosophy or larger strategy of governance.

To the contrary, the president and his team have always had an allergic reaction to being placed on an ideological spectrum with any more precision than that he is a pragmatic progressive. Whatever that means. He has never tried to fashion a “Third Way” philosophy in the style of Bill Clinton, or stood for bold liberalism of the type exemplified by Ted Kennedy or, more recently, Elizabeth Warren.

This vagueness may have worked in his favor in two elections. But its problem for governing, as seen in recent weeks, is that it tends to leave Obama all alone, in a capital where he desperately needs allies and people who assume good will about the political maneuvering necessary for any effective president. Liberals regarded Obama as a sell-out for flirting with a Summers nomination, while the remnants of Clinton’s “New Democrats” have long been frustrated by Obama as someone who never really shared their critique of traditional interest-group urban liberalism.

On Syria, neither hawks nor doves believed that Obama was acting on any principle deeper than desperate improvisation to get out of a jam.

• His salesmanship

For all the dazzling reviews that once greeted his oratorical skills — and it has been a while since he has knocked a speech out of the park — he has never really proven himself as a salesman.

The more he talked about Syria, the less support his arguments for intervention had in polls. His rush to Summers’s public defense merely emboldened his critics. He passed a historic health care bill but has yet to make the public fully aware of its most popular elements — no denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, extended coverage for dependent children to age 26 — much less turn them to political advantage. This year alone he has lost legislative showdowns over guns and budget sequestration (though he did win an important battle late last year over tax hikes on the wealthy) even when he had the broader public on his side.

With big tests now looming on the budget and immigration, there could hardly be a better time for Obama to show at last that he has the ability to provide cover to the people who support him on difficult issues, and the ability to punish the people who choose a different path.



Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/whats-wrong-with-barack-obama-96970_Page2.html#ixzz2fVOJy46o



"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
--Warph

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-- Warph

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Offline Warph

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2013, 04:06:52 am »
Lurch: “Not A Shred Of Evidence” That Syrian Opposition Possesses Sarin Gas.
Except There Is.


John Kerry gave a speech yesterday, claiming that the UN’s report on the chemical attack on August 21 proves the Assad regime was responsible for the attack.

Kerry claims the UN report “returned with several crucial details that confirmed that the Assad regime is guilty of carrying out that attack, even though that was not the mandate of the UN report”.

The UN report does not, in fact, ascribe blame for the attack but does conclude there was one and describes that nature of the munitions and gas involved. So Kerry’s language in not actually acknowledging that is perhaps a bit deceptive, although one might argue that the munitions likely suggest regime involvement.

However, Kerry, in classic overstatement, overplays once again, in trying to sell his point, he ends up showing himself either ignorant or a fabricator:

We, the United States, have associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report, the 122-millimeter improvised rocket, with previous Assad regime attacks. There’s no indication – none – that the opposition is in possession or has launched a CW variant of these rockets such as the kind that was used in the 21st of August attack.

Equally significant, the environmental, chemical, and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in this attack contained the nerve agent sarin. We know the Assad regime possesses sarin and there’s not a shred of evidence, however, that the opposition does.

And rocket components identified in the ground photos taken at the alleged chemical weapons impact location areas are associated with the unique type of rocket launcher that we know the Assad regime has. We have observed these exact type of rocket launchers at the Assad regime facilities in Damascus and in the area around the 21st of August.

So there you have it. Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime, which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don’t control to fire rockets they don’t have containing sarin that they don’t possess to kill their own people. And then without even being noticed, they just disassembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus, controlled by Assad.



Of course there is in fact evidence that the opposition has sarin. As we noted in a prior report, Syrian al-Nusra Front rebels were actually arrested in Turkey with vials of sarin. Moreover, the UN’s Commission on Inquiry member Carla Del Ponte, in fact, found “strong evidence” to suggest the rebels had actually used sarin.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22424188

There has been a specific claim that the rebels were responsible for the August 21 attack, that witnesses attributed it to the rebels.

If we went with what seems to be the administration’s “Youtube video evidence” argument, there are also multiple youtube videos of rebels purportedly using launchers to shoot off what are supposed to be chemical weapons.

There also have been reports of rebels overrunning an Assad regime position and taking chemical weapons, as well as reports of prior uses by both the regime and the rebels.

It is difficult to assess the accuracy of these varied reports and videos, but they are evidence that needs to be investigated to determine or dismiss their validity.

Beyond those reports, there is no question about the Turks finding rebels with sarin, and there is certainly reason to take seriously Carla Del Ponte’s remarks,which do state there is evidence, although not conclusive.

One cannot honestly conclude that there is “not a shred of evidence” that the rebels have access to sarin.




[...]


EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical AttackRebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh | August 29, 2013

This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, following allegations of a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed 355 people. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)



Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.




Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.



Saudi Involvement

In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks alleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

“Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

“Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

“They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.

Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, has issued a word of caution about Washington’s rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called ‘limited’ strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

"Every once in a while I just have a compelling need to shoot my mouth off." 
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"If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all."
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"A gun is like a parachute.  If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again."

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Re: "History Doesn't Happen In The Past... History Happens Now"
« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2013, 11:04:03 pm »
Attacking Tor:
How The NSA Targets Users' Online Anonymity

Secret servers and a privileged position on the internet's backbone used to identify users and attack target computers


by Bruce Schneier
theguardian.com, Friday 4 October 2013



Tor is a well-designed and robust anonymity tool, and successfully attacking it is difficult. The online anonymity network Tor is a high-priority target for the National Security Agency. The work of attacking Tor is done by the NSA's application vulnerabilities branch, which is part of the systems intelligence directorate, or SID. The majority of NSA employees work in SID, which is tasked with collecting data from communications systems around the world.

According to a top-secret NSA presentation provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, one successful technique the NSA has developed involves exploiting the Tor browser bundle, a collection of programs designed to make it easy for people to install and use the software. The trick identified Tor users on the internet and then executes an attack against their Firefox web browser.

The NSA refers to these capabilities as CNE, or computer network exploitation.

The first step of this process is finding Tor users. To accomplish this, the NSA relies on its vast capability to monitor large parts of the internet. This is done via the agency's partnership with US telecoms firms under programs codenamed Stormbrew, Fairview, Oakstar and Blarney.

The NSA creates "fingerprints" that detect http requests from the Tor network to particular servers. These fingerprints are loaded into NSA database systems like XKeyscore, a bespoke collection and analysis tool which NSA boasts allows its analysts to see "almost everything" a target does on the internet.

Using powerful data analysis tools with codenames such as Turbulence, Turmoil and Tumult, the NSA automatically sifts through the enormous amount of internet traffic that it sees, looking for Tor connections.


Last month, Brazilian TV news show Fantastico showed screenshots of an NSA tool that had the ability to identify Tor users by monitoring internet traffic. New Snowden Documents Show NSA Deemed Google Networks a "Target"
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/09/09/shifting_shadow_stormbrew_flying_pig_new_snowden_documents_show_nsa_deemed.html


The very feature that makes Tor a powerful anonymity service, and the fact that all Tor users look alike on the internet, makes it easy to differentiate Tor users from other web users. On the other hand, the anonymity provided by Tor makes it impossible for the NSA to know who the user is, or whether or not the user is in the US.

After identifying an individual Tor user on the internet, the NSA uses its network of secret internet servers to redirect those users to another set of secret internet servers, with the codename FoxAcid, to infect the user's computer. FoxAcid is an NSA system designed to act as a matchmaker between potential targets and attacks developed by the NSA, giving the agency opportunity to launch prepared attacks against their systems.

Once the computer is successfully attacked, it secretly calls back to a FoxAcid server, which then performs additional attacks on the target computer to ensure that it remains compromised long-term, and continues to provide eavesdropping information back to the NSA.


***Exploiting The Tor Browser Bundle***

Tor is a well-designed and robust anonymity tool, and successfully attacking it is difficult. The NSA attacks we found individually target Tor users by exploiting vulnerabilities in their Firefox browsers, and not the Tor application directly.

This, too, is difficult. Tor users often turn off vulnerable services like scripts and Flash when using Tor, making it difficult to target those services. Even so, the NSA uses a series of native Firefox vulnerabilities to attack users of the Tor browser bundle.

According to the training presentation provided by Snowden, EgotisticalGiraffe exploits a type confusion vulnerability in E4X, which is an XML extension for Javascript. This vulnerability exists in Firefox 11.0 – 16.0.2, as well as Firefox 10.0 ESR – the Firefox version used until recently in the Tor browser bundle. According to another document, the vulnerability exploited by EgotisticalGiraffe was inadvertently fixed when Mozilla removed the E4X library with the vulnerability, and when Tor added that Firefox version into the Tor browser bundle, but NSA were confident that they would be able to find a replacement Firefox exploit that worked against version 17.0 ESR.


***The Quantum system***

To trick targets into visiting a FoxAcid server, the NSA relies on its secret partnerships with US telecoms companies. As part of the Turmoil system, the NSA places secret servers, codenamed Quantum, at key places on the internet backbone. This placement ensures that they can react faster than other websites can. By exploiting that speed difference, these servers can impersonate a visited website to the target before the legitimate website can respond, thereby tricking the target's browser to visit a Foxacid server.

In the academic literature, these are called "man-in-the-middle" attacks, and have been known to the commercial and academic security communities. More specifically, they are examples of "man-on-the-side" attacks.


The NSA uses these fast Quantum servers to execute a packet injection attack, which surreptitiously redirects the target to the FoxAcid server. An article in the German magazine Spiegel, based on additional top secret Snowden documents, mentions an NSA developed attack technology with the name of QuantumInsert that performs redirection attacks. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/british-spy-agency-gchq-hacked-belgian-telecoms-firm-a-923406.html

Another top-secret Tor presentation provided by Snowden mentions QuantumCookie to force cookies onto target browsers, and another Quantum program to "degrade/deny/disrupt Tor access".

This same technique is used by the Chinese government to block its citizens from reading censored internet content, and has been hypothesized as a probable NSA attack technique.


***The FoxAcid System***

According to various top-secret documents provided by Snowden, FoxAcid is the NSA codename for what the NSA calls an "exploit orchestrator," an internet-enabled system capable of attacking target computers in a variety of different ways. It is a Windows 2003 computer configured with custom software and a series of Perl scripts. These servers are run by the NSA's tailored access operations, or TAO, group. TAO is another subgroup of the systems intelligence directorate.

The servers are on the public internet. They have normal-looking domain names, and can be visited by any browser from anywhere; ownership of those domains cannot be traced back to the NSA.

However, if a browser tries to visit a FoxAcid server with a special URL, called a FoxAcid tag, the server attempts to infect that browser, and then the computer, in an effort to take control of it. The NSA can trick browsers into using that URL using a variety of methods, including the race-condition attack mentioned above and frame injection attacks.

FoxAcid tags are designed to look innocuous, so that anyone who sees them would not be suspicious. An example of one such tag [LINK REMOVED] is given in another top-secret training presentation provided by Snowden.

There is no currently registered domain name by that name; it is just an example for internal NSA training purposes.

The training material states that merely trying to visit the homepage of a real FoxAcid server will not result in any attack, and that a specialized URL is required. This URL would be created by TAO for a specific NSA operation, and unique to that operation and target. This allows the FoxAcid server to know exactly who the target is when his computer contacts it.

According to Snowden, FoxAcid is a general CNE system, used for many types of attacks other than the Tor attacks described here. It is designed to be modular, with flexibility that allows TAO to swap and replace exploits if they are discovered, and only run certain exploits against certain types of targets.

The most valuable exploits are saved for the most important targets. Low-value exploits are run against technically sophisticated targets where the chance of detection is high. TAO maintains a library of exploits, each based on a different vulnerability in a system. Different exploits are authorized against different targets, depending on the value of the target, the target's technical sophistication, the value of the exploit, and other considerations.

In the case of Tor users, FoxAcid might use EgotisticalGiraffe against their Firefox browsers.

FoxAcid servers also have sophisticated capabilities to avoid detection and to ensure successful infection of its targets. One of the top-secret documents provided by Snowden demonstrates how FoxAcid can circumvent commercial products that prevent malicious software from making changes to a system that survive a reboot process.

According to a top-secret operational management procedures manual provided by Snowden, once a target is successfully exploited it is infected with one of several payloads. Two basic payloads mentioned in the manual, are designed to collect configuration and location information from the target computer so an analyst can determine how to further infect the computer.

These decisions are made in part by the technical sophistication of the target and the security software installed on the target computer; called Personal Security Products or PSP, in the manual.

FoxAcid payloads are updated regularly by TAO. For example, the manual refers to version 8.2.1.1 of one of them.

FoxAcid servers also have sophisticated capabilities to avoid detection and to ensure successful infection of its targets. The operations manual states that a FoxAcid payload with the codename DireScallop can circumvent commercial products that prevent malicious software from making changes to a system that survive a reboot process.

The NSA also uses phishing attacks to induce users to click on FoxAcid tags.

TAO additionally uses FoxAcid to exploit callbacks – which is the general term for a computer infected by some automatic means – calling back to the NSA for more instructions and possibly to upload data from the target computer.

According to a top-secret operational management procedures manual, FoxAcid servers configured to receive callbacks are codenamed FrugalShot. After a callback, the FoxAcid server may run more exploits to ensure that the target computer remains compromised long term, as well as install "implants" designed to exfiltrate data.

By 2008, the NSA was getting so much FoxAcid callback data that they needed to build a special system to manage it all.

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