859: Army of Conquest

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 58m
September 11th, 2016
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Election 2016
FBI: Russia Can't Hack U.S. Voting System, Too 'Clunky' | The Daily Caller
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 02:44
Hackers may try to use cutting-edge technological capabilities, but could discover ''it actually isn't a fiber optic cable, it's a woman named Sally, a guy named Joe [who] pull out the punch cards, and that's hard to reach,'' Comey explained to the audience. ''There's a lot of pain in that, but there's a lot of beauty.''
These comments come at the same time U.S. officials are ramping up investigations into the cyber invasions of state election systems, after Yahoo reported that Arizona and Illinois' databases were compromised only a couple weeks ago. Intelligence and law enforcement officials will be informing Senate and House leaders about the investigation, CBS News reports.
Comey's confidence seems somewhat brazen since not every state uses tangible paper for its voting mechanism. Georgia, for example, has a shoddy history of protecting voters' personal information and is one of five states that employs electronic voting without paper records backing up the data. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Organizations Worldwide Fail At Cybersecurity)
If cyber intrusions do occur, it could be very difficult to detect.
There are so many hacks in recent days, ranging from the Democratic National Committee to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that it is not implausible for voting systems in America to be a target come election day.
Comey, who heads the top-ranking law enforcement agency in the U.S., is casting doubt on the prospect of foreign hackers by asserting that such anachronistic technology is too primitive for advanced hackers.
In a report called, ''Hacking The Elections Is Easy!'', James Scott with the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology outlines numerous ways voting infrastructures could be breached and exploited.
''This discussion only happens every four years, so after everybody calms down after the election, unfortunately, after the election is done and everybody is done counting, there will be abnormalities,'' Scott told the Daily Caller News Foundation. ''And somehow they always get swept under the rug.''
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Send tips to [email protected].
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].
Hackers may try to use cutting-edge technological capabilities, but could discover ''it actually isn't a fiber optic cable, it's a woman named Sally, a guy named Joe [who] pull out the punch cards, and that's hard to reach,'' Comey explained to the audience. ''There's a lot of pain in that, but there's a lot of beauty.''
These comments come at the same time U.S. officials are ramping up investigations into the cyber invasions of state election systems, after Yahoo reported that Arizona and Illinois' databases were compromised only a couple weeks ago. Intelligence and law enforcement officials will be informing Senate and House leaders about the investigation, CBS News reports.
Comey's confidence seems somewhat brazen since not every state uses tangible paper for its voting mechanism. Georgia, for example, has a shoddy history of protecting voters' personal information and is one of five states that employs electronic voting without paper records backing up the data. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Organizations Worldwide Fail At Cybersecurity)
If cyber intrusions do occur, it could be very difficult to detect.
There are so many hacks in recent days, ranging from the Democratic National Committee to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that it is not implausible for voting systems in America to be a target come election day.
Comey, who heads the top-ranking law enforcement agency in the U.S., is casting doubt on the prospect of foreign hackers by asserting that such anachronistic technology is too primitive for advanced hackers.
In a report called, ''Hacking The Elections Is Easy!'', James Scott with the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology outlines numerous ways voting infrastructures could be breached and exploited.
''This discussion only happens every four years, so after everybody calms down after the election, unfortunately, after the election is done and everybody is done counting, there will be abnormalities,'' Scott told the Daily Caller News Foundation. ''And somehow they always get swept under the rug.''
Follow Eric on Twitter
Send tips to [email protected].
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].
Matt Lauer Loses the War in a Battle Between the Candidates - NYTimes.com
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:38
The NBC presidential forum on Wednesday night in Manhattan brought together the candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump to try to determine who has the strength, preparation and presence of mind to lead during a time of crisis.
It sure wasn't Matt Lauer.
In an event aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Intrepid, the ''Today'' host was lost at sea. Seemingly unprepared on military and foreign policy specifics, he performed like a soldier sent on a mission without ammunition, beginning with a disorganized offensive, ending in a humiliating retreat.
Mr. Lauer interviewed the candidates in turn for a half-hour each. He began by asking Mrs. Clinton to defend her use of a private email server as secretary of state. And asking again. And again.
Roughly a third of his questioning dealt with the emails '-- a matter certainly connected to national security, but also a staple issue of this year's campaign-trail reporting. It suggested, as the rest of the forum confirmed, that Mr. Lauer was steadiest handling issues familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the morning politics headlines.
That emphasis left relatively little time for the forum's foreign-policy and military subjects. Mr. Lauer and the audience asked about complex topics '-- the Middle East, terrorism, veterans' affairs '-- and Mr. Lauer pressed for simple answers.
''As briefly as you can,'' he injected when an audience member asked how Mrs. Clinton would decide whether to deploy troops against the Islamic State.
There's a difference between an interviewer who has questions and one who has knowledge, and Mr. Lauer illustrated it. He seemed to be plowing through a checklist, not listening in the moment in a way that led to productive follow-ups. Short on time, he repeatedly interrupted Mrs. Clinton in a way he didn't with Mr. Trump. (''Let me finish,'' she protested at one point.)
Candidates should expect to be challenged. They're applying for a challenging job. But where Mr. Lauer treated Mrs. Clinton like someone running for president, he treated Mr. Trump like someone running to figure out how to be president, eventually.
That interview was the apotheosis of this presidential campaign's forced marriage of entertainment and news. The host of NBC's morning show interviewed the former star of its reality show ''The Apprentice,'' and the whole thing played out as farce.
Like Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has had a few controversies related to the military. You might recall him feuding with a Gold Star family, or mocking Senator John McCain of Arizona for being captured in Vietnam, or likening his prep-school attendance to military experience.
Mr. Lauer evidently didn't recall any of that. He kicked off by asking Mr. Trump what in his life had prepared him to be president, the kind of whiffle ball job-interview question you ask the boss's nephew you know you have to hire anyway.
Mr. Lauer did press the Republican candidate on his claims of a ''secret plan'' to defeat the Islamic State and his repeated praise of Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, leading Mr. Trump to cite the Russian authoritarian's poll numbers and compare him favorably with President Obama.
In general, though, Mr. Lauer's questioning of Mr. Trump was like watching one student quiz another to prep for a test neither had done the reading for. The host asked soft open-ended questions that invited the candidate to answer with word clouds.
Mr. Lauer prefaced one question by saying that ''nobody would expect you'' to have read deeply into foreign policy before running for president. He asked Mr. Trump if he would be ''prepared on Day 1,'' a yes-or-no question that will elicit only one answer from any candidate not about to drop out.
Most egregiously, Mr. Lauer allowed Mr. Trump to repeat, unchallenged, the false claim that he had opposed the war in Iraq when, as reported by BuzzFeed, he supported the invasion on record in 2002.
Any minimally prepared interviewer would have been ready for that claim, even if Mrs. Clinton had not earlier rebutted it in front of Mr. Lauer's face.
NBC News has a vast staff of anchors and reporters. Why turn over the grilling to a guy who had a hard enough time questioning Ryan Lochte? Giving a showcase to your top morning host works only if you're showcasing something the host does well.
Maybe the thinking was that Mr. Lauer would have sufficient training wheels in a format that wasn't a debate. In fact, he asked each candidate not to attack the other in answers, an absurd request that neither one followed anyway. (Though again, Mr. Lauer criticized only Mrs. Clinton for it.)
But the forum was a sort of introductory skirmish before the debates. It gave the candidates a chance to practice, to scout each other '-- and above all, to test the current news media waters, to see how willing a network anchor is to challenge and correct.
Mr. Lauer, fortunately, is not going to moderate a presidential debate.
But Fox News's Chris Wallace is, and he recently said that he did not consider it his job to truth-squad candidates as a moderator. Let's not mistake who this helps most: the fact-checking website PolitiFact has found far more false statements from Mr. Trump than from Mrs. Clinton.
Why would a journalist be allergic to verifying the truth? On an MSNBC panel, Chris Matthews guessed that Mr. Lauer didn't correct Mr. Trump on Iraq because of perceptions.
''You have to call the guy a liar when you do that,'' he said. ''That's the difficult thing for a Matt Lauer to do, because it sounds like an opinion.''
But it's not. When a candidate says he didn't say something that he did, that's a matter of fact. Here's what an opinion looks like: It's a travesty to be steamrollered by a candidate because you're worried that doing your job will look bad.
To put it in military terms, weakness is an invitation to attack. Going into the debates, what we saw at NBC's forum should make you very, very worried about our first line of defense.
Correction: September 8, 2016
An earlier version of this article rendered incorrectly the name of the website that reported that Donald J. Trump supported the invasion of Iraq. It is BuzzFeed, not Buzzfeed.
George Soros Foundation Seeking to Expand U.S. Online Voting
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 21:30
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NEW YORK '' George Soros's Open Society Foundations is seeking to expand the use of electronic and online voting systems nationwide, according to a leaked Foundations document reviewed by Breitbart News.While the directive was issued two years ago, the issue of electronic voting has become a hot button topic in this year's presidential election amid fears digital voting systems can be compromised.
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The online voting plan was contained in a 67-page hacked file detailing the September 29-30, 2014 Open Society U.S. Programs board meeting in New York.
A significant portion of the board meeting was dedicated to methods the Foundation's U.S. Programs (USP) could use to further the use of President Obama's executive action authority to bypass Congress during Obama's final two years in office.
The Open Society, together with partner grantees, assembled a general list of potential presidential executive actions on numerous issues. Significantly, the Soros-backed group zeroed in on the expansion of online voting.
States the document:
''USP will continue to fight against efforts to restrict voting rights, while supporting steps to improve voter participation and modernize voting procedures, such as on-line and same-day registration and expanded early voting. The Brennan Center, Demos and other grantees have engaged in litigation to expand access to registration and improve ease of voting.''
The document listed a number of executive action steps that the Obama administration could take to ''ensure greater participation by eligible voters,'' including online voting:
' Direct Health and Human Services to ensure that the federally facilitated health-care exchanges created as part of the Affordable Care Act (''Obamacare'') incorporate voter registration opportunities as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or ''Motor Voter Act''), and direct federal agencies to find ways to increase voter participation nationwide.
' Issue guidance interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act with respect to accessibility of polling places, privacy when voting, and competence requirements.
' Assist states with voter registration modernization efforts, including statewide database improvements, vote by mail, online registration and voting, and same-day registration.
' Direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to develop new data collection points that provide greater insight into county-based Election Administration and the ways in which voters interact with electoral systems (i.e., number of votes cast, type of voting machines used, provisional ballot statistics, etc.)
In January 2014, Obama's 10-person Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its recommendations for reforming the U.S. election process, including transitioning to voting via tablet computers and other technologies.
The commission recommended:
Software-only products can be integrated with off-the-shelf commercial hardware components such as computers, laptops, tablets, scanners, printers, and even machine-readable code scanners and signature pad products.
Tablet computers such as iPads are common components of these new technologies. They can be integrated into the check-in, voting, and verification processes in the polling place.
The commission highlighted new technologies in which the voter can ''pre-fill'' sample ballots at home to be scanned later at the polling place.
Obama's presidential panel dismissed concerns about hacking. The commission stated: ''The fact that a tablet or off-the-shelf computer can be hacked or can break down does not mean such technology is inherently less secure than existing ballot marking methods if proper precautions are taken.''
Those concerns may have been dismissed too soon. Two weeks ago, NBC News cited intelligence officials revealing hackers purportedly based in Russia recently attempted to breach state voter registration databases twice. One of the hacking attempts resulted in the lifting of up to 200,000 voter records in Illinois, according to the officials.
The breach prompted the FBI to issue an unusual nationwide ''flash'' alert warning states to take immediate measures to beef up the security of their online voting-related systems.
Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state election officials related to the matter.
Also last month, Johnson was quoted as saying during a media conference call hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that DHS should consider whether to designate the U.S. election system as a ''critical infrastructure.''
''We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid,'' Johnson said.
''There's a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure,'' he added.
On Thursday, however, Johnson downplayed concerns that hackers could alter the ballot count during the presidential election.
''It would be very difficult through any sort of cyber intrusion to alter the ballot count, simply because it is so decentralized and so vast,'' Johnson said. ''It would be very difficult to alter the count.''
The Hill poured cold water on Johnson's optimistic assessment.
The publication contended:
Despite Johnson's claims, however, hackers would not necessarily need to alter a particular vote count in order to inject chaos into the U.S. electoral system.
Merely tainting the integrity of the voting system might be enough to sow discord in the U.S on Election Day. In other words, even if hackers do nothing, simply claiming to have altered the results could cause the public to doubt the results.
And hackers might be able to alter ballot counts in swing districts where the outcome might have oversized importance.
Meanwhile, this is not Soros's only attempt to meddle in U.S. election affairs.
A May 2014 USP board meeting document discussed the goal of expanding the U.S electorate by ''at least 10 million voters.'' The document, first publicized by the Washington Free Beacon, stated the voter expansion goal would be accomplished ''by lowering barriers to voter registration through the various forms of modernization and increased ballot access while sustaining and expanding the franchise by establishing strong protections against vote suppression, denial and dilution.''
Ten million new voters are low ball numbers. The Soros-funded Brennan Center was mentioned in the September 2015 board meeting document reviewed by Breitbart News as engaging with other Soros grantees ''in litigation to expand access to registration and improve ease of voting.''
Brennon's website has an entire section dedicated to ''Voter Registration Modernization,'' explaining its goal is to use voter modernization to add 50 million more voters to the rosters.
The website states:
The Brennan Center's signature proposal to modernize voting would harness proven technology to ensure that every eligible voter is permanently registered. The move would add 50 million to the rolls, cost less, and curb the potential for fraud. Already, 48 states and the District of Columbia '-- without fanfare or partisan wrangling '-- have implemented important elements of the plan.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart's Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, ''Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.'' Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
With research by Joshua Klein.
The Deplorable Basket Case
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:01
When Romney was caught off camera in 2012 saying 47% of Americans are hopeless, it was a huge scandal for the press. But when Hillary calls Americans ''deplorable'' '' the press endorses her, and does everything they can to cheat for her.
She has given Trump a fantastic opportunity however. He should ask her to point to which people at his rallies are the deplorable ones.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas Monday
Hitlery's rhetoric is very similar to someone else from the 1930's
23 Nov 1938, Page 1 '' Arizona Republic at Newspapers.com
Public Figure Melania Trump's Lawsuit Triggers Crisis of First Amendment
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:06
Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.TARPLEY.net '' World Crisis RadioSeptember 3, 2016Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.
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DNC hack shows evolving nation-state threat
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:50
Cybersecurity
DNC hack shows evolving nation-state threatBy Mark RockwellSep 08, 2016President Obama's top homeland security advisor said that recent hacks against political targets in the U.S. illustrate the escalating nature of cyber threats from sophisticated attackers.
Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said she didn't want to "get ahead" of ongoing investigations into hacks like the one that hit Democratic National Committee systems, but she said the U.S. has a framework in place to respond to nation-state attacks.
"We engage on a whole host of levels, diplomatic, law enforcement, intelligence, military on these actors, whether they be China, whether they be non-state actors or terrorists," Monaco said at a Sept. 8 conference hosted by Atlantic Media. "People should not assume if they're not seeing it, we're not doing it."
Monaco said that the U.S. approach is "driven by intelligence -- what the FBI and intelligence agencies gather and what can be shown officially to call out attackers."
She pointed to the charges the U.S. filed in 2014 against five Chinese military officers for hacking into U.S. based systems to steal intellectual property as an example of the nuanced response.
Russia and other state actors "are continually trying to intrude upon our systems," she said. "That's government systems. That's private systems. That's public systems not in federal control. So they are an increasingly aggressive actor in this space. That is also true of China and Iran."
As Monaco was making her remarks about Russia and the DNC hack, a top Democrat on Capitol Hill was seeking info on how Russian hackers might be using social media to manipulate U.S. public opinion and the political process.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for help in determining if "Russian state actors" were using "bots" to manipulate the messaging platform.
Carper noted that DARPA has cautioned about the risk that bot activity on social network potentially poses "to the democratic process." The agency, he wrote, "has sponsored efforts to create analytical tools to detect and address covert attempts to manipulate public opinion."
Carper requested information regarding Twitter's efforts to track and address the use of its platform by potential Russian actors. Carper gave Twitter until the end of the month to answer questions about how it identifies and counts false and spam accounts; its ability to tell whether those kinds of accounts are controlled by Russian state actors; and whether efforts to create serial or bulk accounts that could be used for "disruptive or abusive purposes" would violate the social network's terms of service.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
Clinton Campaign Stunner '' Dismal Attendance For Hillary Clinton Key Note Address in Kansas City'...
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:45
The National Baptist Convention is being held in Kansas City Missouri with thousands of baptist worshipers from all fifty states. Hillary Clinton was the key note speaker.
The convention organizers anticipated considerable -and enthusiastic- attendance, amid a predominantly black audience. The first day of the convention almost every seat was full ''SEE HERE'' There was no reason to anticipate the convention attendees would not show up for Hillary Clinton.
The Kansas City Convention Center was set up in the same manner as the prior days general sessions where almost every seat was full. According to the convention center ''This annual meeting typically draws 20,000 or more delegates''.
Then this happened:
It gets worse:
And worse:
The thousands of delegates attending the convention, who previously filled those seats, just didn't show up for Hillary Clinton's Key Note Address. They blew her off.
Here's the convention general session attendance:
Here's the attendance during Hillary Clinton Key Note Address:
( Source Link )
The stunningly lackluster results must be sending shock waves throughout the DNC and Clinton Campaign. This portends trouble'.... Big Trouble.
The latest poll results via Kansas City Star for the presidential race '' Sept 6th:
In a four-way race for president:
R '' Donald Trump 46 percentD '' Hillary Clinton 37 percentL '' Gary Johnson 8 percentG '' Jill Stein 3 percent.The local media tried to put the best possible spin on the outcome '' HERE ''
KANSAS CITY, Mo. '-- Thousands of delegates of the National Baptist Convention had the opportunity to hear Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speak at the Kansas City Convention Center Thursday afternoon.
It was a rare treat for supporters who have never seen Clinton in person.
['...] Clinton has a long and supportive relationship with the National Baptist Conference, and has a large number of votes locked up among its members. (read more)
Meanwhile outside the Baptist Convention venue:
Mr. Van Jones, please pick up the red emergency phone.
Hillary Clinton's National Security Advisors Are a ''Who's Who'' of the Warfare State
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 12:02
Hillary Clinton ismeeting on Friday with a new national security ''working group'' that is filled with an elite ''who's who'' of the military-industrial complex and the security deep state.
The list of key advisers '-- which includes the general who executed the troop surge in Iraq and a former Bush homeland security chief turned terror profiteer '-- is a strong indicator that Clinton's national security policy will not threaten the post-9/11 national-security status quo that includes active use of military power abroad and heightened security measures at home.
It's a story we've seen before in President Obama's early appointments. In retrospect, analysts have pointed to the continuity in national security and intelligence advisers as an early sign that despite his campaign rhetoric Obama would end up building on '-- rather than tearing down '-- the often-extralegal, Bush-Cheney counterterror regime. For instance, while Obama promised in 2008 to reform the NSA, its director was kept on and its reach continued to grow.
Obama's most fateful decision may have been choosing former National Counterterrorism Center Director John Brennan to be national security adviser, despite Brennan's support of Bush's torture program. Brennan would go on to run the president's drone program, lead the CIA, fight the Senate's torture investigation, and then lie about searching Senate computers.
That backdrop is what makes Clinton's new list of advisers so significant.
It includes Gen. David Petraeus, the major architect of the 2007 Iraq War troop surge, which brought 30,000 more troops to Iraq. Picking him indicates at partiality to combative ideology. It also represents a return to good standing for the general after he pled guilty to leaking notebooks full of classified information to his lover, Paula Broadwell, and got off with two years of probation and a fine. Petraeus currently works at the investment firm KKR & Co.
Another notable member of Clinton's group is Michael Chertoff, a hardliner who served as President George W. Bush's last secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and who since leaving government in 2009 has helmed a corporate consulting firm called the Chertoff Group that promotes security-industry priorities. For example, in 2010, he gave dozens of media interviews touting full-body scanners at airports while his firm was employed by a company that produced body scanning machines. His firm also employs a number of other ex-security state officials, such as former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden. It does not disclose a complete list of its clients '-- all of whom now have a line of access to Clinton.
Many others on the list are open advocates of military escalation overseas. Mike Morell, the former acting director of the CIA, endorsed Clinton last month in a New York Times opinion piece that accused Trump of being an ''unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.'' The Times was criticized for not disclosing his current employment by Beacon Global Strategies, a politically powerful national-security consulting firm with strong links to Clinton. Three days later, Morell told Charlie Rose in a PBS interview that the CIA should actively assassinate Russians and Iranians in Syria.
During his time at the CIA, Morell was connected to some of the worst scandals and intelligence failures of the Bush administration. In his book, he apologizes for giving flawed intelligence to Colin Powell about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction, but defends the CIA torture program as legal and ethical.
Jim Stavridis, a former NATO supreme allied commander Europe on Clinton's advisory group, told Fox News Radio in July, when he was being vetted by Clinton as a possible vice presidential nominee, that ''we have got to get more aggressive going into Syria and Iraq and go after [ISIS] because if we don't they're going to come to us. It's a pretty simple equation.'' He said he would ''encourage the president to take a more aggressive stance against Iran, to increase our military forces in Iraq and Syria, and to confront Vladmir Putin'' over his moves in Crimea.
The New York Times reported in 2011 that Michael Vickers, a former Pentagon official on Clinton's new list, led the use of drone strikes. He would grin and tell his colleagues at meetings, ''I just want to kill those guys.''
Others on the list played a role in the targeted killing policies of the Obama administration, including Chris Fussell, a top aide to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and now a partner with him at his lucrative consulting firm, the McChrystal Group.
Fussell was aide-de-camp to McChrystal while he was serving as commander of Joint Special Operations Command. McChrystal oversaw a dramatic expansion in the use of night raids and assassinations, and would later be accused of condoning torture at JSOC's Iraq Base, Camp NAMA (code for Nasty-Ass Military Area).
Richard Fontaine, a former McCain adviser and president of the counterinsurgency-focused think tank Center for a New American Security, responded to the Paris attacks by writing an op-ed that advocated, among other things, a U.S.-backed ''safe zone'' in Syria. He has alsoproposedintensifying the bombing campaign against ISIS, and increasing the presence of U.S. special forces in Iraq.
Janet Napolitano, a former Obama DHS secretary, presided over a harsh immigration policy, where the department deporteda record number of undocumented immigrants '-- although she did support Obama's recent executive actions designed to protect some migrants.
The closest thing the list has to a dissenter to the status quo would appear to be Kathleen Hicks, a think tanker who served in the Obama Defense Department. On a panel at the Charles Koch Institute with John Mearsheimer earlier this year, she denounced American military overreach. ''A big footprint in the Middle East is not helpful to the United States, politically, militarily, or otherwise,'' she said.
Despite the heavy relevance of the region to U.S. foreign policy, only one adviser, former DHS official Juliette Kayyem, is a (non-Muslim) Arab American.
Top photo: Clinton in discussion with Lt. Gen. David Petraeus on Capitol Hill on Jan. 23, 2007.
A Debate Disaster Waiting to Happen - NYTimes.com
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 15:33
There was not much of a contest in Wednesday night's forum with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton answered the questions of the moderator, Matt Lauer, in coherent sentences, often with specific details. Mr. Trump alternated between rambling statements and grandiose boasts when he wasn't lying.
Mr. Lauer largely neglected to ask penetrating questions, call out falsehoods or insist on answers when it was obvious that Mr. Trump's responses had drifted off.
If the moderators of the coming debates do not figure out a better way to get the candidates to speak accurately about their records and policies '-- especially Mr. Trump, who seems to feel he can skate by unchallenged with his own version of reality while Mrs. Clinton is grilled and entangled in the fine points of domestic and foreign policy '-- then they will have done the country a grave disservice.
Whether or not one agrees with her positions, Mrs. Clinton, formerly secretary of state and once a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, showed a firm understanding of the complex issues facing the country. Mr. Trump reveled in his ignorance about global affairs and his belief that leading the world's most powerful nation is no harder than running his business empire, which has included at least fourbankruptcies.
Mr. Lauer seemed most energized interrogating Mrs. Clinton about her use of a personal email server while secretary of state. Focusing on it meant that other critical issues '-- like America's role in Afghanistan and its ties with China '-- went unaddressed. He was harder on Mrs. Clinton than on Mr. Trump, reflecting a tendency among some journalists to let Mr. Trump's deceptions go unchallenged. That certainly was the case when he let Mr. Trump attack Mrs. Clinton for voting for the Iraq war and going into Libya when Mr. Trump had supported those actions.
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Disputing outright lies may actually be one of the easier challenges for a moderator. The harder task is to pierce fantasies and gibberish. That requires preparation and persistence.
Mr. Trump was asked to explain his qualifications to lead the armed forces. ''I have great judgment,'' was his response. Fortunately, despite the lack of a follow-up question to that non-answer, Mr. Trump was perfectly able to display his abysmal judgment.
He repeated his view that President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, is a better leader than President Obama. He denigrated America's generals as having been ''reduced to rubble.'' He talked in circles about defeating the Islamic State, boasting of a secret plan that he would not share.
Mr. Trump reinforced his reputation for misogyny by defending his tweet from 2013 suggesting that sexual assaults were to be expected if women serve in the military. And, prompted by an audience question, he adjusted his immigration policy on the fly, suggesting that immigrants who join the military could avoid deportation.
Lucky for him, no one bothered to ask why he should be allowed to be commander in chief when he spent so much time attacking the parents of a Muslim Army captain killed in Iraq. Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump called for a huge expansion of the military that experts said would cost an extra $150 billion over a decade. He gave no hint where that money would come from.
At one point, Mrs. Clinton, trying to assure the audience that she would use military force judiciously, said, ''We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we're not putting ground troops into Syria.'' This left unanswered the question of whether she had made a promise she can't keep, particularly since there are some Special Operations forces in both battlefields now.
There will be many issues to explore at the three presidential debates. For the sake of the nation, the moderators need to be fully prepared to challenge the candidates, so voters can have a clear picture of how they will lead.
We recommend Hillary Clinton for president | Dallas Morning News
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:43
Andrew Harnik/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visits Galvanize, a work space for technology companies, in Denver, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Lea en espa±ol
There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.
We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II '-- if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections. The party's over-reliance on government and regulation to remedy the country's ills is at odds with our belief in private-sector ingenuity and innovation. Our values are more about individual liberty, free markets and a strong national defense.
We've been critical of Clinton's handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy.
PART ONEDonald Trump is no RepublicanHis name may be at the top of the GOP ticket, but Trump doesn't reflect Republican ideals of the past; we are certain he shouldn't reflect the GOP of the future.
Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.
In Clinton's eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress' most conservative lawmakers.
As President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It's no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
Clinton has remained dogged by questions about her honesty, her willingness to shade the truth. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state is a clear example of poor judgment. She should take additional steps to divorce allegations of influence peddling from the Clinton Foundation. And she must be more forthright with the public by holding news conferences, as opposed to relying on a shield of carefully scripted appearances and speeches.
Those are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.
We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent's.
Trump's values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear '-- exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny '-- to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.
After nearly four decades in the public spotlight, 25 of them on the national stage, Clinton is a known quantity. For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president.
Hillary Clinton has spent years in the trenches doing the hard work needed to prepare herself to lead our nation. In this race, at this time, she deserves your vote.
Earon
Never Mind Oil, Iran's About to Shake the World Pistachio Market - Bloomberg
Mon, 05 Sep 2016 14:48
Iran is ready to return to the global commodities market, flooding it with fresh supplies and risking a slump in prices.
Oil? Possibly, but there's a second industry that could be even more disrupted by a nuclear pact between Iran and the west: pistachio nuts.
Iran has far more clout in the market for cocktail nibbles than it does in crude trading. While it ranks only as the world's seventh-largest oil producer, the Middle Eastern country vies with the U.S. to be the biggest pistachio grower.
As with oil, Iranian sales of pistachios to the U.S. and Europe have been hampered by sanctions. As the talks between Washington and Tehran to resolve the decade-long nuclear dispute head toward the June 30 deadline for a final agreement, traders are predicting lower prices.
''The new supply will have an impact,'' said Hakan Bahceci, chief executive officer of Hakan Agro DMCC, a grain, nuts and pulses trading house based in Dubai.
The biggest losers may be Californian farmers who have doubled pistachio acreage over the past ten years despite drought conditions. Pistachio production in California started in earnest in 1979 and output hit 513 million pounds last year, more than triple the harvest in 2004, according to the U.S. Administrative Committee for Pistachios.
Nut LoversFor nut lovers, more supply would be good news: prices have risen 40 percent over the last five years due to supply shortages.
Yet, so far, the California pistachio industry is unconcerned. Bob Klein, manager of the Fresno-based Administrative Committee for Pistachios, said Iran would struggle to sell into Europe and the U.S. because of high levels of contamination from aflatoxin, a toxic chemical caused by fungus.
''I am not hearing a great deal of concern within the industry about the return of Iran,'' he said in an interview. Even if prices decline a bit, farmers will still thrive in California.
''Prices had been good. Pistachios are among the most profitable perennial crops'' in the U.S., he said.
The U.S. pistachio crop was worth about $1.3 billion last year. For Iran, the crop is worth more or less the same, but has more importance for the country because it's the second-largest export of the country, behind crude oil.
Hostage CrisisThe U.S. has banned Iranian pistachios intermittently over the last three decades. The first embargo dates from 1979 following the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis. The ban was lifted four years later, but re-introduced in 1987 during the Iran-Iraq war before it was lifted again in 2000.
Ten years later, President Barack Obama approved legislation that effectively blocked imports of Iranian pistachios into the U.S. again.
''Currently, you cannot import into the U.S. Iranian-origin pistachios,'' said Erich Ferrari, whose Washington-based firm Ferrari & Associates has lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of commodities traders on Iran.
Other Western sanctions, designed to stop oil and gas trading, are also limiting Iran's ability to sell pistachios in Europe because of restrictions on banking and shipping, traders said. China, India and Turkey remain big buyers, and some Iranian pistachios are finding their way into the European market from Turkey.
Tehran is eager to use the end of the nuclear sanctions to increase commodity production. On Wednesday, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh the country could lift oil output within 10 days after the easing of the sanctions.
Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.LEARN MORE
It's Going to Be a Bad Year for Pistachios
Mon, 05 Sep 2016 14:47
Eat them while you can, people. Pistachios are about to become a whole lot less available.
The USDA recently released a report showing that the United States, one of the world's two main pistachio producers, would cut the number of pistachios it harvested by nearly half this year, due mainly to California's punishing drought. This means a loss of over 100,000 tons of pistachios in the U.S. alone'--an amount equal to nearly a fifth of the world's entire 520,000 ton pistachio crop for this year.
Now, a worsening drought in Iran, the other top producer of pistachios in the world, has farmers there predicting that their pistachio harvest is also going to continue to fall dramatically'--perhaps even further than the 20,000-ton drop that was already predicted for this year.
USDA says worldwide we're going to lose 86,000 tons of pistachios this year. That figure sounds unsettlingly big, but the losses would look heavier yet if Turkey hadn't had a surprise bumper crop which nearly tripled its expected harvest. Even that anomaly, though, still wasn't enough to offset the loses.
Pistachios join chocolate, red wine, IPAs, salmon, coffee, almonds, and so much more on the list of foods that are going to get harder to come by in our hotter and drier world. On the plus side, however, the world market for edible insects continues to grow.
F-Russia
Russia and U.S. reach agreement on Syria
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 10:57
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The agreements on Syria reached by Russia and the United States in Geneva will come into force on September 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 10 after talks with US State Secretary John Kerry.
The regime of cessation of hostilities in Syria should hold for seven days, followed by the creation of a special center tasked with distancing the moderate opposition from terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 10.
"After the (ceasefire) regime holds for seven days, we will set up an executive center, where representatives of Russian and U.S. militaries and special services will deal with practical matters, separating the opposition from terrorists," Lavrov said.
The initial confirmation of the ceasefire regime will be intriduced for 48 hours, he added.
"These documents will come into force on September 12, when the so-called D-Day comes," Lavrov said.
Russia and the United States have coordinated five documents on Syria that will create conditions for resuming political process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 10 after talks with U.S. State Secretary John Kerry.
"Despite lack of trust, despite attempts to disrupt today's agreement, we have managed to coordinate a package of documents. Today's document is not the only one. In fact, there are five of them," Lavrov said.
Source: TASS
Lavrov: There are those who want to disrupt Russian-U.S. agreement on Syria
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 10:57
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There were those who wanted to disrupt the Russian-U.S. agreement on Syria reached earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on September 10 after talks with U.S. State Secretary John Kerry.
"There are those who want to disrupt our agreement reached today," Lavrov said. "The last example is the arrogant announcement of sanctions ahead of the meeting between our presidents in China and another point with additional sanctions ahead of our meeting," he added.
Source: TASS
From Russian TV Network, Little Love for Donald Trump
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:19
Donald Trump's interview with Larry King on the Russian-government-funded television network RT America is being widely seen in the mainstream U.S. media as evidence of unseemly coziness between Trump and authoritarian Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The interview came after months of claims by Democratic Party officials and news media pundits that the Russian government is trying to get Trump elected.
RT America has a long history of coverage that benefits the Russian government and is critical of the United States, as many former employees have complained.
But there's one problem with the theory that RT America and the Russian government are fond of Trump: RT America is sometimes more critical of Trump than U.S. media.
The interview with King itself was far from a softball event '-- with the host pressing Trump on topics from releasing his tax returns to his utter lack of any strategy in the Middle East. And it's not uncommon to see criticism of Trump on the network.
Host Lee Camp has called Trump a ''mediocre wizard who can magically turn unemployment into racism.''
Following Trump's immigration speech in Arizona last week '-- in which he doubled down on harsh rhetoric after supposedly ''softening'' '-- RT host Thom Hartmann took Trump to task. ''Trump Now Flip Flopping Hourly'' read the chyron on the segment, as guest Mark Weisbrot exclaimed, ''He doesn't have a coherent position that stays the same, really, from one day to a next on really any of these issues.'' Hartmann's show has repeatedly labeled Trump's politics as ''fascist,'' showing little hesitation with using the word compared to mainstream media.
During Trump's trip to Mexico, anchor Ed Schultz hosted progressive writer and former Texas agricultural commissioner Jim Hightower, who described Trump and the Mexican president as ''one president, and one presidential wannabe who have approval ratings down at the mad cow disease level in both of their countries, so they're both hugging each other up hoping that this actually means something. It's a freak show.''
King, who has a well-earned reputation for being an easy interview, actually pushed back when Trump said he'll release his tax returns only once an audit of them is completed. ''Why does the audit, it just confuses me. All you have to do is release the first three pages which is not part of the audit, it just states income, what taxes you paid,'' King protested.
Trump's claim that he has a secret plan to tackle ISIS also elicited King's scorn. ''You said that you've got a plan on ISIS and you don't want to reveal it because you don't want the enemy to know. Nixon said the same thing about Vietnam, but there really was no plan,'' King also noted.
Unlike NBC's Matt Lauer, King was not afraid to interrupt Trump to correct him.
Trump said about Iraq: ''Once you go in, you gotta go out the right way, and Obama just took everybody out and it was like a shock to the system, and ultimately ISIS developed and now we have them in 26 to 28 countries and it's a disaster.''
''The timetable was arranged by Bush for the leaving,'' King corrected him.
''Well, you know what, let's look to the future,'' Trump said.
King's last question to Trump caused the interview to end altogether.
''Let's get something clear, because I know you a long time. On this immigration issue, what are your feelings about Mexican immigrants. What in your gut about '-- what do you feel about this?'' King asked.
Trump offered no response, and the line went silent.
''Donald are you there?'' King asked aloud.
''I don't know what happened there, we did not lose the connection,'' he told his audience.
King and Trump's relationship goes back decades, but the host has already said he won't be voting for his old acquaintance.
On Friday, the Trump campaign insisted Trump did not know the interview would end up on the Russian-funded network.
RT America for its part ran an article on Friday noting that the media networks that complained about Trump's interview with King are owned by corporate conglomerates and Trump foes.
Remarks on U.S., Russian Plan Toward Negotiated Peace in Syria
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:11
Sept. 9, 2016: Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov announce a plan to reduce violence, ease suffering, and resume movement towards a negotiated peace and a political transition in Syria at a press availability in Geneva, Switzerland.
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Army of Conquest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:11
The Army of Conquest (Arabic: جيش اÙفتح'Ž'Ž) or Jaish al-Fatah, abbreviated JaF, is a joint command center of IslamistSyrian rebel factions participating in the Syrian Civil War.
The alliance was formed in March 2015 under the supervision and coordination of Saudi cleric Dr Abdullah al-Muhaysini. It composes of Islamist rebel factions mainly active in the Idlib Governorate, with some factions active in the Hama and Latakia Governorates.[2] In the course of the following months, it seized most of Idlib province.[11] It is actively supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey.[12]
In an October 2015 publication, the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War considered Jaish al-Fatah as one of the "powerbrokers" in Idlib, Hama, Daraa and Quneitra provinces, though not in Damascus province, being primarily "anti-regime" and "anti-Hezbollah" but not necessarily "anti-ISIS".[13]
Participants[edit]At its founding, Jaish al-Fatah contained seven members, with Ahrar ash-Sham being the largest group,[14] al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham together were reported to represent 90 percent of the troops.[15] Another prominent Islamist faction in the operations room was the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria-linked Sham Legion (Faylaq Al-Sham). Jaish al-Fatah collaborated with more moderate Free Syrian Army factions such as Knights of Justice Brigade.[16]
The coalition's initial success has been attributed to its strong coherence, with the name of individual factions being forbidden when the group conducts joint operations.[17]
History[edit]Formation[edit]Jaish al-Fatah declared its formation on 24 March 2015.[1] On the same day, a pro-opposition source claimed that about fifty Syrian government soldiers defected to the new operations room.[1] The Army of Conquest captured Idlib City on 28 March 2015.[18] In the following months, they spearheaded an offensive that drove out government forces from almost all of Idlib Governorate.[11] Following this success, additional branches of the Army of Conquest were established in other parts of Syria.[19]
The Army of Conquest coalition was partially modelled upon the success of the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army,[20] and in turn newer coalitions, like the Battle of Victory, were modelled on the Army of Conquest.[21]
Expansion to other parts of Syria[edit]In early May 2015, the Army of Conquest formed a new branch in Western Qalamoun, called Jaish al-Fatah - al-Qalamoun.[19] On 1 October 2015, after defeats by pro-Assad forces, Jaish al-Fatah al-Qalamoun was replaced by an independent faction called Saraya Ahl al-Sham, which aims to unite all rebel factions in Western Qalamoun.[22]
Also in June, the al-Nusra Front issued a statement calling on the opposition in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus to form a similar coalition,[23] but this call was rejected by the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta,[24] a grouping which includes the most prominent factions in the area.
In October 2015 Army of Conquest members al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham (also a member of the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta), along with other groups formed Jund al-Malahm, an operations room in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, in direct competition with the Unified Military Command of Eastern Ghouta operations room. Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, which is another military council member also joined this new operations room.[citation needed]
On 20 June, the Army of Conquest in the southern region was established[25][26] and immediately took part in the campaign in Quneitra,[27] the collation includes Ahrar al- Sham Movement, Jabhat al- Nusra, Fath al-Sham Coalition, Ihyaa al- Jihad Brigade, Mujhedi Nawa Gathering, Asoud al- Tahid Brigade, Ansar al- Haqa Brigade and the Islamic brigade of al- Omarein.
On July 2016, the Jaish Fateh al-Sham, formed from former Al-Nusra Front members, restructured the group further, and now starting to send propaganda to support their offensives across Aleppo.
Restructuring[edit]On 23 October 2015, Jund al-Aqsa announced a split from Jaysh al-Fatah,[28] reportedly due to disagreements with Ahrar al-Sham over the application of Islamic law in areas under their control. Following this development, there were unconfirmed reports that al-Nusra Front, in an act of solidarity with Jund al-Aqsa, left the coalition,[29] or that Jund al-Aqsa would be rejoining Jaysh al-Fateh.[30] In January 2016, the Sham Legion announced it was leaving the group, ostensibly to redeploy its forces to Aleppo, but also due to tensions with Jund al-Aqsa.[4][31]
In May 2016, the Army of Conquest announced it was restructuring, ending ties with Jund al-Aqsa while readmitting the Sham Legion. It was also joined by the Turkistan Islamic Party, a jihadist group composed of Uyghurs from western China.[4]
Battles[edit]See also[edit]References[edit]^ abc"News Update 3-25-15". Syria Direct. Retrieved 25 March 2015. ^ ab"Rebels seek to storm Idlib amid chemical fears". NOW. 25 March 2015. ^"Hoping to break into encircled east Aleppo, rebels surprise with attack from southwest". Syria Direct. 1 August 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2016. ^ abc"Jaysh al Fath coalition launches new offensive in Aleppo province". The Long War Journal. ^"Inside the Victory Army restructuring: Infighting led to 'breakdown of our operational effectiveness'". Syria Direct. ^http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/air-strike-kills-syrias-top-jihadist-rebel-commander^http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrian-war-islamist-rebel-commander-killed-in-air-strikes-abu-hajer-al-homsi-abhat-al-nusra-jabhat-a7233321.html^"Syrian rebels combat ISIS, Hezbollah in Qalamoun". ARA News. 15 May 2015. ^ ab"Jihadist coalition captures checkpoints around city of Idlib". Long War Journal. 27 March 2015. ^"Al Qaeda and allies form coalition to battle Syrian regime in Idlib". Long War Journal. 24 March 2015. ^ abRyan Rifai (6 June 2015). "Syrian group claims control of Idlib province". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 25 June 2015. ^Kim Sengupta (12 May 2015). "Turkey and Saudi Arabia alarm the West by backing Islamist extremists the Americans had bombed in Syria". The Independent. ^Jennifer Cafarella; Genevieve Casagrande (7 October 2015). "Syrian Opposition Guide"(PDF). Backgrounder. Institute for the Study of War: 3. ^"Syrian rebels fight Syrian army near Assad heartland". Newsweek. Reuters. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. As the biggest group in Army of Fatah, Ahrar al-Sham appears to hold the key to preventing infighting. ^"Gulf allies and 'Army of Conquest". Al-Ahram Weekly. 28 May 2015. Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham represent 90 per cent of the troops. The Saudis and Qataris are to provide funding for 40 per cent of the coalition's needs ^"'Army of Conquest' rebel alliance pressures Syria regime". Daily Mail. AFP. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015. The coalition, whose formation was announced in March, comprises a range of mostly jihadist and Islamist groups, the most prominent being Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham [...] Other important members include Faylaq al-Sham, a coalition of Muslim Brotherhood-linked battalions, and Jund al-Aqsa, a small jihadist group. ^"Syrian Insurgent gains expose Assad Weaknesses" AP sourced article in The New York Times. "Muayad Zurayk, an activist in Idlib city, attributed the opposition's success in the province to the joint operations room [...] "All operations stemming from the coordinated command center are done in the name of Jaish al-Fatah," he said, referring to the unified command. "It is forbidden to mention the name of any faction.""^"Qaeda, allies seize Syria's Idlib city in blow to regime". AFP. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015. ^ abPollard, Ruth (9 May 2015). "New coalition shakes Syria's Assad regime". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2015. The model is now being copied in areas such as the Qalamoun '' the mountain ranges between Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and Syria ^"In Syria, Support for Rebel Unity Carries Risks". Stratfor. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015. With the Southern Front success as a model, rebel backers then sought to deploy similar methods in the north. ^Jocelyn, Thomas (23 April 2015). "Al Nusrah Front, allies launch new offensives against Syrian regime". Long War Journal. ^"Syria rebels form new Qalamoun coalition". NOW. 1 October 2015. ^Yousef, Sarbaz (11 June 2015). "Nusra demands Syrian rebels to unite against Assad in Damascus". ARA News. Retrieved 11 June 2015. ^sohranas. "The Unified Military Command of the Eastern Ghouta refuses the invitation of Jabhat al- Nusra to establish "al- Fateh Army in the Ghouta" calling it to disband its judicial councils and join "the Unified Command"". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 26 June 2015. ^"فصاØ...Ù Ø"ÙريØ(C) تشك٠فرعا Ùجيش اÙفتح باÙمنطقØ(C) اÙجنÙبيØ(C)". ^sohranas. "Some factions establish "al- Fateh Army" in the south of Syria". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 25 June 2015. ^"Charles Lister on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 25 June 2015. ^"Al Qaeda front group claims success in key Syrian town". Long War Journal. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015. ^"Reports: Al-Nusra Front leaves Jaish al-Fatah coalition in Syria". Middle East Eye. ^Sam Heller (9 November 2015). "The End of the Army of Conquest? Syrian Rebel Alliance Shows Cracks". Retrieved 7 December 2015. ^"Syrian rebel group says exits Islamist alliance to refocus fight". Reuters. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
U.S., Russia Reach Syria Cease-Fire Deal - WSJ
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:03
GENEVA'--U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday agreed on a cease-fire for Syria that, if implemented, would include joint military targeting by the two nations against Islamist militant groups.
Mr. Kerry, speaking to reporters after on-and-off talks with his Russian counterpart that began Friday morning and stretched past midnight, said the deal reached by the U.S. and Russia aims to reduce violence and eventually move toward a political transition. But signs of a divide...
Syrian government '²endorses'² ceasefire plan | News | DW.COM | 10.09.2016
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:02
The Syrian government has "approved" the US-Russian truce aimed at ending the five-year war in the Middle Eastern country, said the state news agency. The Syrian opposition also expressed optimism about the agreement.
"The Syrian government has approved the agreement, and a cessation of hostilities will begin in Aleppo for humanitarian reasons," the SANA news agency reported Saturday.
One of the goals of the US-Russian agreement was "reaching the necessary political solutions for Syria," the agency said, citing "informed sources."
"The entire agreement was reached with the knowledge of the Syrian government," SANA wrote.
Announcing the breakthrough deal early Saturday in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the nationwide "cessation of hostilities" will begin at sundown on September 12, when Muslims observe the religious holiday Eid al-Adha.
"If the plan is implemented in good faith '... this can be a moment where the multilateral efforts at the diplomatic table, negotiations could take hold, and it could really provide the Syrian people with a political transition," said Kerry.
The accord calls for a halt to fighting across Syria and increased humanitarian assistance for the people in the battered city of Aleppo.
The accord calls for an increase in humanitarian assistance for besieged Aleppo residents
'A real chance'
If the fighting ceases for one weak, the US and Russia, which back opposing sides in the war, could launch joint operations against jihadist groups, including the self-styled "Islamic State" militant organization.
Lavrov told reporters that Washington and Moscow had tentatively delineated the areas in which the militant groups they will be targeting are based.
"We will jointly agree on strikes against terrorists to be carried out by the Russian and American air forces. We have agreed on the zones in which these strikes will be carried out," Lavrov said.
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the deal as "a real chance" to bring aid to besieged people in Syria, but warned that without "rapid implementation" the agreement could fall apart.
Obstacles to truce deal
The Syrian opposition said it would respond to the deal after receiving the "official text."
"If we receive it, the High Negotiations Committee will study its details and the mechanisms of its implementation," the HNC wrote on its Arabic-language website.
A senior HNC member, however, cautiously welcomed the truce deal.
"We are closely following this agreement and are waiting for its details to know the conditions of its implementation," Basma Kodami of the HNC said.
But Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), one of the most powerful groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad, told The Associated Press news agency that if they were hit by Russians and Americans, they would retaliate.
"We have holy warriors who will burn the ground," said a JFS official on condition of anonymity. He also said that his group enjoyed support of a "coalition of crusaders."
The Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters calling for President Assad to step down.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since the conflict erupted five years ago.
shs/tj (AFP, dpa, AP)
Obama's Syria plan teams up American and Russian forces - The Washington Post
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:50
The Obama administration's new proposal to Russia on Syria is more extensive than previously known. It would open the way for deep cooperation between U.S. and Russian military and intelligence agencies and coordinated air attacks by American and Russian planes on Syrian rebels deemed to be terrorists, according to the text of the proposal I obtained.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry plans to discuss the plan with top Russian officials in a visit to Moscow on Thursday. As I first reported last month, the administration is proposing joining with Russia in a ramped-up bombing campaign against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syria branch, which is also known as the Nusrah Front. What hasn't been previously reported is that the United States is suggesting a new military command-and-control headquarters to coordinate the air campaign that would house U.S. and Russian military officers, intelligence officials and subject-matter experts.
Overall, the proposal would dramatically shift the United States' Syria policy by directing more American military power against Jabhat al-Nusra, which unlike the Islamic State is focused on fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. While this would expand the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Syria, it would also be a boon for the Assad regime, which could see the forces it is fighting dramatically weakened. The plan also represents a big change in U.S.-Russia policy. It would give Russian President Vladi­mir Putin something he has long wanted: closer military relations with the United States and a thawing of his international isolation. That's why the Pentagon was initially opposed to the plan.
Yet for all this, it's not at all clear that the plan will be accepted by Putin '-- or that Russia will fulfill its terms if he does. Administration officials caution that no final decisions have been made and that no formal agreement has been reached between the two countries. Negotiations over the text are ongoing ahead of Kerry's arrival in Russia.
On March 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would begin pulling its military from Syria, potentially winding down nearly six months of airstrikes. The alliance between Russia and the regime of Bashar al-Assad goes back decades. Here's a bit of historical context that explains why Russia was fighting to prop up its closest ally in the Middle East. (Ishaan Tharoor and Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
The proposed ''Joint Implementation Group'' (JIG) would be housed near Amman, Jordan, with the mission to ''enable expanded coordination between the United States and the Russian Federation beyond the established safety of flight procedures.''
Under the Obama proposal, the United States and Russia would establish separate headquarters at the new operation and a shared coordination office. Each side would be required to deploy at that location ''senior national representatives,'' intelligence personnel, subject-matter experts and operations personnel ''with expertise in national procedures for strike planning, targeting, weaponeering, operational law and other functions.'' Both countries would deploy support staff as well, ''to manage logistics, force protection, communications and other requirements.'' There's no estimate in the proposal for the exact number of personnel required.
''The participants, through the JIG, should enable coordination between the participants for military operations against'' Jabhat al-Nusra, the document states. First, the United States and Russia would share intelligence. Then, if both governments agreed, ''the participants should coordinate procedures to permit integrated operations.''
The initial mission would include the United States and Russia developing Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State targets together and then deciding which air force would fly which missions. Later, if both governments agreed, the two air forces could begin ''integrated operations'' that include assisting each other in the fight.
In exchange for U.S. assistance against Jabhat al-Nusra, the Russian side would be required to limit airstrikes to targets both sides agreed on and also to ensure that the Syrian air force would stand down and not bomb targets in agreed-upon ''designated areas.''
The proposal provides some large exceptions for the constraints on the Russians and the Assad regime, however. The Russian air force would still be permitted to strike Jabhat al-Nusra unilaterally if there were an ''imminent threat'' to their personnel. The Syrian regime would be allowed to bomb Jabhat al-Nusra if the group tried to advance beyond ''designated areas'' in which they already operate. Also, if Jabhat al-Nusra attacked the regime, even from the ''designated areas,'' the Russians could come to the aid of the regime, according to the proposal. The details of the ''designated areas'' are not spelled out in the document.
''All actions should be consistent with the terms of the cessation of hostilities,'' the document states, referring the cease-fire. The State Department admits neither Russia nor the Assad regime are adhering to the cease-fire now.
In the second part of the proposal, called the ''Approach for Practical Russian-American Cooperation against Daesh and Jabhat al Nusra and Strengthening the Cessation of Hostilities,'' the administration spells out details about how it wants the United States and Russia to work together on the ground.
Within five days of establishment of the JIG, the two sides are to come up with a common map of all Jabhat al-Nusra locations and begin sharing intelligence on leadership targets, training camps, logistical depots, supply lines and headquarters. They will then set about developing targets for strikes in the ''designated areas.''
''Designated areas include areas of most concentrated Nusrah Front presence, areas of significant Nusrah Front presence, and areas where the opposition is dominant, with some possible Nusrah Front presence,'' the proposal states. ''The process of target development through the JIG and airstrikes against Nusra targets by Russian Aerospace Forces and/or U.S. military forces will be ongoing and continuous.''
The document concludes by declaring that the United States and Russia should complete another agreement by July 31 on military and intelligence cooperation, a plan for a nationwide cease-fire and a new framework for a political transition in Syria.
One senior administration official described the document as ''prudent planning.'' ''We have long said we would welcome Russia's increased focus on ISIL and al-Qaida in Syria,'' said the official. ''It is not surprising that the Department of Defense, as a matter of prudent planning, would devise draft procedures to implement any enhanced coordination.''
Kerry sees the proposal as a way to reduce the violence in Syria and ground the regime's air force. The risk is that attacking Jabhat al-Nusra in conjunction with the Russians will spur terrorist recruiting, increase civilian casualties and put the United States firmly on the wrong side of the revolution in the eyes of the Syrian people. Also, there's no enforcement mechanism if the Putin or Assad regimes violate their commitments '-- as they have consistently done until now.
Even in the best-case scenario, where Russia and Syria hold up their end of the bargain, the result could be major advances for the Assad regime. While Jabhat al-Nusra is a problem, teaming up with the Russian air force might not be the best solution.
Update: ''Putin's Favorite Chauffer'' Killed In Accident'... Exactly As Former CIA Director Described On TV >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 15:32
Update: Curtis in the comments below pointed to this stunning admission by Mike Morrell, former acting director of the CIA, and long time Deputy Director at CIA. He is extremely close to Hillary via their mutual ties to Beacon Global Strategies LLC, the regime change firm Morrell went to after leaving the CIA, which is engaged in antagonizing our enemies.
Only a month ago, Morrell stunningly stated openly on television that he wanted to target the leadership of Russia, Iran and Assad in Syria. Morrell explicitly advocated taking out guards, top staff, top generals, etc. etc. of these leaders '' not trying to assassinating the head of state, but destroying the trusted people around them'... and the killing of Putin's ''favorite'' chauffeur appears to be exactly in the plans stated so carefully.
This video is a must see '' these underhanded tactics are exactly what is going on, and are likely to drag us into an all-out world war against these three nations'... and quite possibly China as well.
'--'--'--''
Someone Just Sent A Message: ''Putin's Favorite Chauffer'' Killed While Driving Presidential Limo
Someone had to know it was coming.
The issue of cars being hacked should be in full view by now. Newer cars are hooked up to the Internet, and like every other connected device, they can be hacked. A couple of white hats demonstrated that they can take over a car, and the results are dangerous and terrifying.
Maybe no one would bother hacking some average shmo, but it is certainly plausible that someone would go to such lengths in an attempt on a VIP, head of state or top oil executive. Quite possibly journalists as well.
With that in mind, take a look at this footage of the deadly accident that reportedly killed Vladimir Putin's ''favorite'' chauffeur during a horrible crash in Moscow. As the London Independent reports:
Vladimir Putin's personal chauffeur has been killed in Moscow after the presidential BMW collided head-on with a Mercedes.
The Russian President was not in the car at the time.
The driver, named only as MK, was said to be Mr Putin's favourite chauffeur and had 40 years of experience as an official driver.
It was captured on two angles, and first shows the approach of the other car (NOTPutin's man; driver not identified) as it moves into the center lane, speeds up dramatically, then veers off into the lane of oncoming traffic '' colliding head on with the car being driven by Putin's driver (''MK''). Towards the end of the video, it shows the opposite angle with the state vehicle approaching.
***WARNING GRAPHIC FOOTAGE***
Vladimir Putin Presidential Chauffeur Killed In Crash. You can see exactly how the ''accident'' occurred
Very suspicious.
Of course, we can only speculate on what really happened here, but it is eerie that this seemingly targeted collision took out an official presidential car, apparently a BMW 7-Series car, which was registered with the Federation Council. As the Independentnotes:
The BMW 7-Series was the official property of the Federation Council, also known as the Upper Chamber of Parliament or Russian Senate.
Mr Putin is scheduled to receive the first Russian-built ''Kortezh'' luxury limousine next year. Unlike ''The Beast'', US President Barack Obama's armour-plated vehicle, ''Kortezh'' will be on sale to the public as well.
It seems like Putin's new fleet of vehicles can't come quickly enough. His resurgence of activity in Syria and the Ukraine has undoubtedly pissed off NATO and driven the CIA covert private contractors and NGO assets over the edge.
Someone is sending Putin a message. Putin should consider himself put on notice.
Perhaps it was even a hired-hit man suicide driver, but the video appears to show a car with an improbable sharp-yet-even acceleration and 'loss of control' that (speculatively) looks more like remote control than kamikaze.
That much is up for debate.
The nothing-to-hide crowd would prefer to take refuge in the idea that the view of remotely hijacked cars is a paranoid thought that shouldn't be taken into consideration in car crashes '' which are after all, routine, everyday occurrences. But those who are still living in reality can recognize that not only is this technologically-feasible, but it is a workable option in cases of staged deaths and targeted ''hits'' '' wrapped up in political intrigue and secrecy.
What do you think?
Was This Dead Oil Exec's Car Hacked?
Kerry, Lavrov hand out pizza and vodka as Russia and U.S. cement Syria deal | Russia Beyond The Headlines
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:59
After 14-hour-long talks in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that an agreement for establishing a ceasefire in Syria has been signed. It could be described as a breakthrough in ''a deal on Syria.'' However, because of a large number of players in the conflict, nobody can give a full guarantee that the deal will be implemented.
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) at the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland where they discussed the crisis in Syria on Sept. 9, 2016. Source: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque
Moscow and Washington have developed a joint plan for resolving the situation in Syria, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who announced the breakthrough at a news conference after hours of talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
According to the U.S. secretary of state, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's air force should call off all military action, including air strikes, in order to stop the spread of violence, and because ''indiscriminate'' bombing causes civilian suffering. The plan envisages a complete cessation of hostilities, including of air strikes, Kerry added.
The two ministers urged the sides in the conflict to join a ceasefire starting from Sep. 12. Kerry said that if the ceasefire holds, Moscow and Washington will continue to deliver strikes against terrorist forces.
For his part, Lavrov, said that the signed deal was a package of five documents, without however listing them all. The documents envisage the establishment of a joint center for separating Syria's moderate opposition from terrorist groups.
The deal, which resulted from several years of protracted talks between representatives of the two countries, can be considered a real breakthrough.
Pizza and vodka
There were indications that the marathon talks might bring success: News agencies reported that the diplomats had offered pizza and vodka to journalists. The pizza presented to Russian journalists came from the U.S. delegation, while the vodka came from the Russian delegation, according to Lavrov.
Shortly before the start of this round of talks, the U.S. had switched to a language of ultimatums, describing the meeting as the last chance to reach an agreement and saying that the deal should be made on Washington's terms. Until the very last minute it was not clear whether the sides would reach an agreement as Kerry engaged in lengthy consultations with the White House, while Lavrov even said that the talks might continue into the next week.
The deal, if it does indeed satisfy both parties, may deliver a drastic change in the Syria campaign '' a united front against terrorist insurgents may emerge.
Earlier, the U.S. said that a joint action with Russia against Islamic State (ISIS) militants was impossible unless Syrian government troops ended their bombing of units belonging to the so-called ''moderate opposition.''
For their part, the Russian authorities said that a joint ''counterterrorist operation'' with the U.S. was possible only if Washington could separate units of ''the moderate opposition'' from units of jihadist organizations, such as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra. Moscow even suspected Washington of seeking to use those groups to topple the Assad regime. Earlier, the U.S. declared that it needed just two weeks to resolve the Syria issue.
Damascus is involved
The ceasefire agreement and the cessation of air strikes by Syrian government forces means that Damascus is also involved in the agreements and Moscow has managed to put pressure on it, making it a party to ''the deal.''
At the same time, Assad has more than once made a public show of his disagreements with the Russian leadership as regards military action. The Syrian president, who is receiving military support from Tehran and Moscow, is trying to show to the public at home that it is he who is in charge.
It is worth noting that the deal between Moscow and Washington was reached shortly after involvement from Turkey, which had started its own military operation in Syria, blocking Islamist action from the side of the Turkish-Syrian border in the province of Aleppo.
Iran also plays an important part in the conflict as its Shia militias are fighting alongside Syrian government troops. It is so far unclear what Tehran's reaction to the Russian-U.S. deal on Syria will be.
Moscow and Washington had already reached a Syria ceasefire agreement, back in February, but it did not remain in force long. The new deal may end up likewise, warns a leading analyst with Washington-based Gulf State Analytics Theodore Karasik. He points out that a definition of who is an extremist and who is not still matters.
http://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2016/09/09_a_10185923.shtml
No There There
LEAKED PENTAGON MEMO... [Disturbing] - Allen B. West - AllenBWest.com
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 05:18
I've often wondered what would happen if Barack Obama saw the real enemies of the State as he does his political opposition. If that were the case, we'd certainly have a more stable and secure global environment. When Obama tries to give Vladimir Putin a ''stare down,'' Putin knows there is no there, there.
However, one thing's for sure, Obama despises his political opposition and will do anything to destroy, denigrate and discredit them, and that includes damaging our national security'...as a recently uncovered Pentagon memo brings to light.
As reported by Politicopro.com, ''The Pentagon has crafted a secret plan to play ''hardball'' against House Speaker Paul Ryan's defense spending proposal, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO that calls for pitting the House and Senate against each other, capitalizing on the ''discomfort'' of one key Republican lawmaker and finding ways to undermine the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Advertisement - story continues belowThe five-page strategy blueprint also suggests possibly enlisting top military brass to help make the case that the Republican speaker's budget ''gimmick'' would weaken the nation's defenses.
The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reads at times like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders. It provides an unusually clear window into the tactics the Defense Department's top officials are using in an increasingly partisan feud over their budget '' particularly striking for an agency that seeks to avoid the perception of involvement in election-year politics.
The strategy it lays out will come to a head as Congress returns Tuesday, and will probably spill into the lame-duck session, as the House and Senate decide whether to include an extra $18 billion in war funding in the final defense authorization and appropriations bills they send to President Barack Obama.The White House strongly objects to Ryan's proposal to boost the Pentagon's budget without increasing domestic spending, both of which are under tight caps imposed by a 2011 spending deal.''We should attack'' Ryan's plan ''and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,'' says the May 13 memo, which calls for applying both ''public and private pressure'' on lawmakers to ensure the House Republican proposal doesn't become law. That includes appealing to ''media commentators'' to help make the department's case and possibly having Carter lobby congressional Democrats at one of their caucus meetings '' a step that it acknowledges ''risks the appearance of partisanship.''
In assessing the motivations of House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry , the memo says the Texas Republican is ''still smarting'' from tactics the White House used in last year's bout with Congress over defense spending. Asked to respond to the memo, a Republican aide to Thornberry's panel said it was striking ''how cynical it is.''
''This isn't a game of poker '' this is national security,'' said the aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. ''They see the chairman's legitimate oversight concerns and policy concerns that he is trying to address in the bill as nothing more than a talking point.'' Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said he would not discuss ''internal department deliberations'' but added the department's ''strong opposition to the House proposal should not be a surprise.''
If there's one thing that shouldn't be politicized, it's our national security. We're coming up on the 15th anniversary of 9-11 '-- sadly many don't even recall that fateful day. It's a day I'll never forget, watching the plane on a live feed, strike the second tower in NYC and then seeing the crash at the Pentagon, where a very close friend, retired LTC and Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell, was horribly burned and scarred for life.
On that day, the Islamic jihadists didn't seek out a building with Democrats or Republicans, they sought to kill Americans. And how utterly sad '-- pathetic actually '-- that we have a memo from the very same Pentagon using the terminology of ''attacking'' funding for our military. And how dare this ''president'' '' still struggling with that '-- hold our men and women in uniform and their families hostage for increased domestic spending for his vision of expanding the welfare nanny-state and the dependency society?
I will ask a simple question, what freaking rock did this guy crawl out from under? And even worse, how could we, this great nation, America, elect and reelect someone so seemingly demented and misguided in upholding the most vital oath, to protect the American people? What type of person is Barack Obama and his progressive socialist acolytes that they'd play Russian roulette with our national security?
And let me be very blunt: whom does Secretary of Defense Ash Carter serve?
So, this person masquerading as our SecDef is going up on Capitol Hill to lobby against our men and women in uniform? It appears he's nothing more than a puppet caring little about those in uniform who stand upon freedom's rampart, dedicated to safeguarding our way of life, liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.
We can ill afford to allow this scourge to hold power in America any more. Now, I've written on countless occasions about how we need to rein in the Department of Defense and make it fiscally accountable. I support auditing the DoD. But, who among you can agree with this memo '-- which obviously some brave person in the Pentagon leaked '-- someone with a conscience. And I can only imagine the witch hunt going on to find the leak. May God bless them and protect them.
There can be no debate that the sequestration has adversely affected our defense readiness. I abhor budget gimmicks, but at this time when we have combat aviation maintenance crews scouring bone yards and museums for spare parts we're at a critical moment. And instead of playing partisan political games, we should be ''providing for the common defense.''
''The newly obtained strategy memo spells out the Pentagon's tactics in greater detail. The blueprint '' written by Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord and legislative affairs chief Stephen Hedger, both former congressional aides '' describes Obama's threat to veto this year's defense policy and spending bills as ''the principal weapon at our disposal.''
But it also says Carter might have to take an ''all in'' approach to opposing the House GOP plan. At times, the memo appears to step up to the edge of what tactics are considered acceptable for the Pentagon as it lobbies Congress.
In discussing its efforts to keep outside experts ''informed'' about its opposition to Ryan's plan, for example, it adds that ''the department cannot advocate that such individuals take any specific actions.''
At issue is a move by House leaders this year and last year to use a supplemental war spending account, called ''Overseas Contingency Operations,'' to increase overall defense spending while leaving other federal agencies under strict congressional budget caps. The Defense Department's base budget is subject to these caps, but its war-spending account is not '' so Republicans have sought to game the system by using overseas money to fund base programs.''Now, perhaps if we had a commander in chief who didn't do as he did last year, and veto the first draft of last year's defense authorization bill over the very same issue, it wouldn't come to this. But obviously Obama doesn't understand we provide for the common defense'...not provide for the common welfare, in the Constitution.
Barack Obama and his minions have reached some very low lows, but this one beats them all, in my assessment. He's dispatching the Secretary of Defense to Capitol Hill to lobby against his political opposition seeking to strengthen our defense posture and care for those who bear the burden of our national security.
This memo reflects such a depraved state of mind and existence that it's unconscionable to believe this is happening in our America. So, let me close by saying, the day Obama departs the White House cannot come soon enough'...and think as you may, he must not be replaced by someone like Hillary Clinton who is even more corrupt, deceitful and destructive.
Saudis
House unanimously passes bill to allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia | TheHill
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 15:42
The House on Friday passed legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, days before the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The legislation passed unanimously by voice vote, to thunderous applause.
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The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in May, now heads to President Obama's desk, where its future is uncertain.The White House has hinted strongly it will veto the measure. Obama has lobbied fiercely against it, arguing it could both strain relations with Saudi Arabia and lead to retaliatory legislation overseas against U.S. citizens.
But lingering suspicion over Saudi Arabia's role in the 9/11 attacks and pressure from victims' families made the bill a popular bipartisan offering on Capitol Hill.
The bill's popularity puts the president in a delicate position. Supporters are hoping Obama will be leery of expending political capital he desperately needs during the lame-duck session.
The president is hoping lawmakers will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a criminal justice reform measure and confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
If Obama does choose to veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, supporters believe that they have the two-thirds majority needed to override him '-- a first during his presidency.
''I think we easily get the two-thirds override if the president should veto,'' Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerEU's bite into Apple makes US tax reform more appetizingRight seeks to kill the lame-duckDems' Florida Senate primary nears its bitter endMORE (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bill in the Senate, said when the bill cleared the upper chamber in the spring.
But many on Capitol Hill do not believe that the veto is a done deal. The White House has not issued an official position on the bill and spokesmen have been careful with their language, stopping short of issuing a full veto threat.
''We have serious concerns with the bill as written,'' a White House official said Wednesday.
''We believe there needs to be more careful consideration of the potential unintended consequences of its enactment before the House considers the legislation,'' the official said. ''We would welcome opportunities to further engage with the Congress on that discussion.''
The president has 10 days to either sign or reject the legislation before it becomes law.
Supporters of the legislation see it as a moral imperative.
''The victims of 9-11 and other terrorist attacks on US soil have suffered much pain and heartache, but they should not be denied justice,'' Schumer said in a statement Wednesday.
Under current U.S. law, victims may sue a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, like Iran. The bill would allow citizens to sue countries without that designation '-- like Saudi Arabia.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 hailed from Saudi Arabia. Critics have long suspected that the kingdom's government may have either directly or indirectly supported the attacks.
Congress in July released 28 previously secret pages detailing suspicious Saudi ties to the 9/11 hijackers, but the report failed to provide a smoking gun. House Intelligence Committee leaders have cautioned that the findings were preliminary.
The 9/11 Commission report said that neither the Saudi government ''as an institution'' nor its senior officials funded the attackers.
Saudi officials have for years denied that their government had any role in plotting the attacks, and the Saudi government has led a quiet campaign in Washington to kill the legislation.
Despite its popularity in Congress, some prominent national security advisers have also pilloried the bill.
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey, both of whom served under former President George W. Bush, this week warned that the legislation ''is far more likely to harm the United States than bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism.''
EuroLand
Merkel in trouble after election debacle
Mon, 05 Sep 2016 21:51
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 06, 2016, on page 6.Advertisement
Angela Merkel Loses Election in Home District to Nationalist AfD Party'....
Mon, 05 Sep 2016 21:45
The reverberations from open border policies, and mass immigration continue to surface. The latest evidence is found today in North-Eastern Germany where the AfD party (Alternative for Deutschland/Germany), German Nationalists, has won a significant electoral victory in the home district of Angela Merkel.
Globalists are shocked, SHOCKED'....
(Via Reuters) German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats were beaten into third place by the anti-immigrant and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in a north-eastern state election on Sunday, TV exit polls showed.
In a stinging defeat for Merkel in her home district that could weaken her chances of a fourth term in next year's federal elections, the upstart AfD took 21.9 percent of the vote behind the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in their first election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by campaigning hard against the chancellor's policies on refugees, according to a projection by ARD TV at 1.15 p.m. ET.
''This isn't pretty for us,'' said Michael Grosse-Broemer, one of Merkel's top deputies in parliament in Berlin in a ZDF TV interview. ''Those who voted for the AfD were sending a message of protest.''
Merkel's approval rating has plunged to a five-year low of 45 percent, down from 67 percent a year ago, due to spreading disenchantment with her open-door policies on refugees.
According to a Der Spiegel magazine report, Merkel wanted to announce her intention of running for a fourth term this year but put that on hold due to resistance from her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union. The arch-conservative CSU has demanded that Merkel put limits on the numbers of refugees.
''This was a dark day for Merkel,'' Thomas Jaeger, a political scientist at Cologne University, told Reuters. ''Everyone knows that she lost this election. Her district in parliament is there, she campaigned there, and refugees are her issue.''
The election took place exactly a year after Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees and the discontent in the state was palpable.
''This is a slap in the face for Merkel '-- not only in Berlin but also in her home state,'' said Frauke Petry, co-leader of the AfD. ''The voters made a clear statement against Merkel's disastrous immigration policies. This put her in her place.'' (read more)
NA-Tech News
DHS' Touhill tapped as top federal cybersecurity officer
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 12:01
Cybersecurity
DHS' Touhill tapped as top federal cybersecurity officerBy Mark RockwellSep 08, 2016Greg Touhill will be the first federal chief information security officer.
The White House announced Sept. 8 that Greg Touhill will be the first governmentwide chief information security officer.
The announcement has been anticipated for months because the position is a key component of the Obama administration's $19 billion Cybersecurity National Action Plan, which was unveiled in February. The strategy to better secure federal IT systems includes a fund to replace legacy systems and the creation of the CISO position, which would oversee cybersecurity policy, planning and implementation across the federal government.
Touhill, a retired Air Force brigadier general, currently serves as the deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at the Department of Homeland Security.
In a blog post, U.S. CIO Tony Scott and Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator, said Touhil's work at DHS has focused on developing and implementing the government's efforts to protect critical infrastructure networks. That experience would help him develop a range of complex and diverse technical solutions for large federal IT assets, Scott said.
Top security officials in the government and industry have said the CISO can be a critical addition, while agency security chiefs are looking to the position to help them build on their ideas and give them more of a voice in federal policy circles.
In April, Scott said he hoped to have a CISO named within 30 days, but the appointment was delayed.
Touhill, who won an FCW Federal 100 award in 2016, also has strong experience with civilian and military best practices and workforce training, development and retention strategies, Scott and Daniels wrote. Before retiring from the Air Force, Touhill was director of the service's Command, Control, Communications and Cyber Systems at U.S. Transportation Command and had served as the command's CIO, where he was responsible for the investment strategy for all IT resources.
Touhill will lead a team at the Office of Management and Budget that has been driving cybersecurity best practices across the federal government and is also responsible for federal agencies' CyberStat reviews.
Grant Schneider, a top cybersecurity adviser to Scott, will serve as acting deputy CISO.
He has been ubiquitous in federal cybersecurity circles in recent years and was widely rumored to be in the running for the federal CISO job. After seven years as CIO at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Schneider moved to the White House in late 2014 to advise Scott and help establish OMB's new E-Gov Cyber and National Security Unit, which oversees agency cybersecurity programs using the CyberStat process.
After the Office of Personnel Management breach was discovered last year, Schneider was detailed to help Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert strengthen the agency's cybersecurity.
Schneider has also helped implement the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program that is jointly administered with DHS.
About the Author
Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.
FCC Makes Itself King of Copyright
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 12:00
WASHINGTON '-- Today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a fact sheet announcing his revised proposal to force cable, satellite and telephone companies (MVPDs) to make their pay-TV video content available via apps '-- so MVPD subscribers can view that content across all their devices, ranging from third-party set-top boxes to mobile devices and streaming media players, like Roku and Apple TV. The U.S. Copyright Office warned that the FCC's original proposal would violate copyrights, and the FCC responded by effectively creating an alternative copyright office within the FCC, which will write a new standard license between third-party device makers and MVPDs. The FCC argues that this will increase the availability of third-party set-top boxes under its authority in Section 629 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, but content owners and MVPDs still have major concerns about the licensing process.
''We applaud the FCC for finally embracing the apps-based proposal championed by industry months ago,'' said Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom. ''At least the FCC is now operating within the realm of what Congress asked the FCC to do: focus on the availability of third party hardware. The FCC's original legal theory was absurd: that it could require MVPDs to make their content available to third-party app-makers because the terms 'device' and 'equipment' in the statute included apps. Even this Chairman, for all his disregard for statutory text, apparently couldn't keep making that argument with a straight face. We salute the Chairman for finally doing something he's never done before: issuing a Further NPRM in a major proceeding he began. Part of being an expert agency is recognizing that the first proposal may not be the best one, and seeking additional public comment through the procedures established by the APA.''
''But the FCC's approach is still deeply troubling,'' said Tom Struble, TechFreedom Policy Counsel. ''Historically, the FCC's role in content matters has been limited to ensuring parties engage in 'good faith' negotiations '-- as with retransmission consent. The FCC could have taken that same approach here: Since set-top boxes are being phased out anyway, MVPDs have a strong incentive in general to get their apps on as many devices as possible. Yet there are a range of issues, especially involving security features, where the two sides might reasonably disagree. The FCC shouldn't dictate a single, one-size-fits-all answer in those fights '-- and it didn't need to. It could have addressed the vast majority of potential problems by standing on the sidelines as a referee (Wheeler's favorite metaphor), ensuring that the parties play by a fair set of rules, and intervening only when negotiations break down because of bad faith on one side or the other. Instead, Wheeler, true to form, lept to the assumption that the FCC needed to be 'The Decider.'''
''The FCC kept moving the goalposts here,'' said Evan Swarztrauber, Communications Director at TechFreedom. ''First, this was about Americans paying too much to rent cable boxes, but the market is already moving away from boxes as unnecessary, except for satellite providers. Problem solved? Not so fast. Then it was about 'too many remotes' '-- consumers might have to consume content via more than one device. MVPDs proposed 'open source' apps that can be carried on one-stop-shop devices like Roku. Problem solved? Try again. Then, it was about 'too many apps' '-- consumers couldn't handle switching between apps on the same device. So, MVPDs made clear they'd enable users to search across apps. Only in the face of overwhelming opposition from across the political spectrum did the Chairman finally re-think his initial proposal. It's sad, but not surprising, that even Wheeler's idea of compromise involves declaring himself 'King of Copyright.'''
###
We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on the video marketplace, including:
About TechFreedom:
TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.
IANA Transition Is Premature
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:59
Extension & Partial Transition Needed to Address Remaining Questions
WASHINGTON '-- TechFreedom today released a white paper explaining concerns about the transition in Internet governance that the Commerce Department plans to complete at the end of September by allowing to lapse a contract it has held since 1998 governing administration of the Domain Name System, the technical heart of the Internet. The paper details twelve sets of concerns about the so-called IANA transition, explaining:
We support the multi-stakeholder model. We do not believe any government should control or own the Internet. We do not oppose the ''Transition'' '-- wherein multi-stakeholders would assume the current U.S. oversight responsibilities over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But we do oppose rushing the Transition before critical questions are resolved. We recommend extending the contract for a year or two to vet the proposal and complete all of the reforms sought by the community. '...
We worry that approving the Transition prematurely will set the multi-stakeholder model up to fail. We fear that governments will gain new influence over the Internet, that Internet freedom will suffer, and that the ICANN leadership (CEO and staff) will continue its troubling pattern of cavalierly ignoring its bylaws and procedures while the ICANN Community proves too fractious to hold the leadership accountable.
What's needed now is a ''test drive'' '-- a trial period of a year or two in which the U.S. withdraws and allows the new ICANN to operate autonomously, but with the possibility of reasserting its traditional role if unforeseen problems arise, if ICANN resists additional reforms, or if the multi-stakeholder community determines that the new bylaws or governance structure are insufficient to hold ICANN accountable.
The white paper explores each of the twelve concerns in depth. The paper is co-authored by Berin Sz"ka, President of TechFreedom; Paul Rosenzweig, a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security; and Brett Schaefer, the Jay Kingham Senior Research Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at The Heritage Foundation.
###
We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on the IANA transition, including:
About TechFreedom:
TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.
Now you can buy a USB stick that destroys anything in its path | ZDNet
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:48
Image: USBKill.comFor just a few bucks, you can pick up a USB stick that destroys almost anything that it's plugged into. Laptops, PCs, televisions, photo booths -- you name it.
Once a proof-of-concept, the pocket-sized USB stick now fits in any security tester's repertoire of tools and hacks, says the Hong Kong-based company that developed it. It works like this: when the USB Kill stick is plugged in, it rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharges -- all in the matter of seconds.
On unprotected equipment, the device's makers say it will "instantly and permanently disable unprotected hardware".
You might be forgiven for thinking, "Well, why exactly?"
The lesson here is simple enough. If a device has an exposed USB port -- such as a copy machine or even an airline entertainment system -- it can be used and abused, not just by a hacker or malicious actor, but also electrical attacks.
"Any public facing USB port should be considered an attack vector," says the company. "In data security, these ports are often locked down to prevent exfiltration of data, or infiltration of malware, but are very often unprotected against electrical attack."
Not every device is vulnerable to a USB Kill attack. The device maker said that Apple "voluntarily" protected its hardware.
USB Kill costs '‚¬49.95 (about $56), and a Test Shield, which allows users to test for an attack without blowing up their hardware, costs an additional '‚¬13.95 (about $16).
LGBBTQQIAAP
Tampons Coming To Men's Rooms At Brown University | Zero Hedge
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:37
Submitted by Sydney Hutchison via CampusReform.com,
Brown University's student body president will be hand-delivering menstrual products to all nonresidential bathrooms on campus, including men's rooms, with the help of 20 other students.The initiative is intended to communicate the message that "pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury," and that not all people who menstruate are women.Brown University's student body president will be hand-delivering menstrual products to all nonresidential bathrooms on campus, including men's rooms, with the help of 20 other students.
Viet Nguyen, President of the Undergraduate Council of Students, announced the initiative in a campus-wide email Tuesday, saying he wants to communicate the message that not all people who menstruate are women, according to Newsweek.
''There's been a lot of conversation about why pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury, but not a lot of action. We wanted to take it into our own hands,'' Nguyen explains in the email, observing that ''low-income students struggle with having the necessary funding for food, let alone tampons.''
By putting menstrual products in women's, men's, and gender-inclusive bathrooms, Nguyen aims to ''set a tone of trans-inclusivity, and not forget that they're an important part of the population,'' but is under no illusions that the effort will be universally popular.
''I'd be na¯ve to say there won't be push back,'' he preemptively concedes. ''I've had questions about why we're implementing this in male bathrooms as well. It's an initial confusion, but people generally understand when we explain it.''
Nguyen told Newsweek that menstrual products will be available in approximately 30 to 40 bathrooms across campus for the 2016''2017 school year, financed exclusively by the undergraduate finance board, rather than general university funds.
''Why aren't these products treated the same way as other products we hand out, like toilet paper?'' he pondered in an interview with The Guardian. ''It's a necessity, rather than a luxury, so Brown and other universities should treat them as such.''
''Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury. They're as essential as toilet paper; just ask anyone who has ever struggled to obtain or afford them,'' agreed Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. ''Students' participation in school should not be hindered by insufficient access to this basic necessity. Universities around the country should follow suit.''
Yuzuka Alaska, a junior at Brown, opined that menstruation is currently a ''taboo,'' but speculated that ''if we can implement this project, that will add to this conversation and make it more of an accessible topic.''
* * *
UPDATE: Brian Clark, Brown's Director of News and Editorial Development, praised the students for their "tremendous initiative" in a statement to Campus Reform, saying the school will look forward to observing the results.
"In efforts to work with and support their peers, leaders from the Undergraduate Council of Students take on a number of student-focused efforts each year," he said, clarifying that "these are student-led and independent of the university administration, although we recognize that many important resources on campus today were first idenitified and advocated for by students themselves.
"We expect that UCS will continue to solicit feedback on this new initiative and collect data on the use of these products," he concluded, saying the administration "will be interested to learn what they find as they assess the effectiveness of the program moving forward."
ZH: We have nothing to add here... not one word!!
EuroLand
Eurogroup head to US: If you want billion-dollar fines to stop, sort out your taxes
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 02:12
For its part, Ireland has opposed the European Commission's ruling on concerns that it would jeopardize its policy of wooing foreign businesses to relocate there, as well as interfering with the country's' sovereign right to set tax policy.
In response, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has slammed the decision as "total political crap" and "completely unfair,"
However, Dijsselbloem dismissed the controversy, telling CNBC that there was a new mood in Europe.
"The bottom line is, and the big companies have to realise this, times are changing and new times will ask them, make them, pay taxes in a fair way," he said.
"Where they make their profits, they must pay their taxes to a fair amount, a fair share and I think for too long they have been able to get out of that and it has to stop," the official told CNBC.
"I think to my citizens I cannot explain why they should pay their fair share and the large companies do not."
Interne documenten EU: minstens 10 procent belasting voor multinationals - Investico
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:49
De lidstaten van de Europese Unie bespreken voorstellen om ondergrenzen in te voeren voor belastingheffing op multinationals. Zo moet er een einde komen aan de jarenlange fiscale concurrentie tussen Europese landen, die met elkaar vechten om bedrijven naar zich toe te trekken tegen de laagste tarieven. Een minimumtarief zou een primeur zijn voor de EU, waar de hoogte van directe belastingen nu nog volledig de bevoegdheid is van lidstaten zelf.
Dit blijkt uit onderzoek van Trouw en het platform voor onderzoeksjournalistiek Investico op basis van interne stukken van drie Brusselse belastingwerkgroepen. De stukken, die een periode beslaan van 18 jaar, zijn in handen van de Duitse omroep NDR en het internationale consortium van onderzoeksjournalisten ICIJ, waar ook Trouw deel van uitmaakt.
Momenteel werken de lidstaten voorstellen uit om het verschuiven van winsten tussen EU-landen door multinationals aan banden te leggen. De bedrijven proberen die winst te laten vallen in het land met het laagste belastingtarief met behulp van rente- en royaltybetalingen (dat zijn vergoedingen voor gebruik van bijvoorbeeld een merknaam of patenten). In het voorstel zouden alle lidstaten minstens 10 procent belasting moeten heffen op rente- en royaltyinkomsten. Als een land waar het geld van een bedrijf samenkomt geen belasting of minder dan 10 procent belasting heft, dan kunnen andere EU-landen de heffing alsnog doen.
KoerswijzigingOnder Nederlands voorzitterschap is er in het eerste halfjaar van 2016 flink getrokken aan de voorstellen. Nederland heeft zelf veel te verliezen, aangezien het in Europa (C)(C)n van de aantrekkelijkste belastingregimes kent. Door deze voorstellen komt ook de zogeheten Nederlandse innovatiebox onder druk te staan, zo blijkt uit de geheime Brusselse verslagen. Die regeling biedt bedrijven een zeer voordelig belastingtarief van 5 procent voor inkomsten uit research en ontwikkeling.
Europese lidstaten werken in de drie werkgroepen al bijna twintig jaar aan maatregelen om belastingconcurrentie tegen te gaan. Jarenlang leidde dit tot weinig concrete resultaten, omdat landen een vetorecht hebben en omdat elke lidstaat z'n eigen belastingspeeltjes als laatste wil opgeven. Steeds meer lidstaten hebben genoeg van de voortdurende impasse en willen nu doorpakken.
Dat Europa bereid is ondergrenzen voor belastingen in te voeren betekent een fundamentele koerswijziging, zegt professor Jan van de Streek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam, die gespecialiseerd is in harmonisatie van Europese bedrijfsbelastingen. ''Nu gaat het over rente en royalty's, dat is een eerste stap. Maar als dat principe is ingevoerd, gaat dat in allerlei Europese belastingwetgeving ingrijpen. De ultieme stap kan dan een Europese vennootschapsbelasting zijn waarbij niet alleen de basis waarover je heft in heel Europa gelijk wordt geschakeld, maar waarbij een land ook wordt gedwongen om ten minste een bepaald minimumtarief te hanteren.''
ZelfbeschikkingTot nog toe vinden Europese lidstaten belastingen een zaak van nationale overheden. Of er inderdaad bereidheid is die soevereiniteit op te geven moet blijken in oktober, als het principe van ondergrenzen in de belastingheffing volgens de voorlopige agenda voor het eerst voor ministers van financin op de Ecofin wordt besproken. Met name de grote lidstaten als Duitsland, Frankrijk en Itali lijken nu te willen doorpakken. Overigens kan over een voorstel pas formeel worden besloten als de Europese Commissie ermee komt.
In de voorstellen die Nederland schreef, probeert het de lage belasting van 5 procent op de innovatiebox enigszins te redden. Nederland stelt voor dat landen met een speciale regeling als een innovatiebox geen 10 procent heffen, maar rond de 7,5 procent.
Het ministerie van financin bevestigt dat Nederland de innovattiebox in lijn wil brengen met internationale afspraken ''om misbruik en belastingontwijking tegen te gaan''. Maar als het om het tarief gaat blijft het ministerie hameren op ''de soevereiniteit van de lidstaten van de EU''.
Komt er een parlementaire enquªte over de rol die Nederland speelt in internationale belastingontwijking?Lees meer
Naar aanleiding van het onderzoek naar de Panama Papers vindt aanstaande maandag in de Tweede Kamer een hoorzitting plaats over belastingontwijking. Het onderzoek, dat werd uitgevoerd door honderden journalisten in 76 landen waaronder in Nederland journalisten van Trouw en het FD, legde april dit jaar bloot hoe particulieren, bedrijven en organisaties fiscaal gunstige structuren opzetten via het jurdische adviesbureau Mossack Fonseca in Panama. In de Kamer zullen ambtenaren, onderzoekers en belastingadviseurs spreken over de fiscale constructies. Na de bijeenkomst zal de vaste Kamercommissie besluiten of er een mini-enquªte komt over de rol die Nederland speelt in internationale belastingontwijking. Een mini-enquªte is een korte parlementaire enquªte waarbij genodigden verplicht onder ede gehoord kunnen worden.
Dit verhaal verscheen in Trouw
EU-plan voor minimale belasting op royalty's en rente | NOS
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:44
Vlaggen voor het Berlaymontgebouw in Brussel, het hoofdkantoor van de Europese Commissie ANP
Multinationals moeten in de hele EU minstens 10 procent belasting gaan betalen over royalty's en rente. Dat staat in een intern EU-plan dat journalisten van dagblad Trouw en onderzoeksjournalistiekplatform Investico in handen hebben. Het plan moet belastingontwijking tegengaan.
Als het plan (.pdf) doorgaat, zou dat de eerste keer zijn dat er binnen de EU een minimumbelastingtarief komt dat voor alle landen geldt. Landen zouden dan dus voor het eerst hun zelfbeschikking op belastinggebied opgeven.
Nederland wil uitzonderingAan het plan is gewerkt tijdens het Nederlandse EU-voorzitterschap. Tijdens de onderhandelingen heeft Nederland zich wel ingezet voor een uitzondering op het minimumtarief van 10 procent.
Nederland heeft nu nog een speciaal tarief van 5 procent (de zogeheten Innovatiebox), waar royalty's onder bepaalde voorwaarden onder vallen. Het is nog onduidelijk of Nederland zo'n uitzondering krijgt.
Steun onduidelijkOf het plan uiteindelijk werkelijkheid wordt, is ook nog onduidelijk. Het plan is door ambtenaren opgesteld en waarschijnlijk wordt het in oktober tijdens een bijeenkomst van ministers van Financin voor het eerst op politiek niveau besproken. Dan moet blijken hoeveel steun er binnen de EU-lidstaten is.
De EU werkt al langer aan maatregelen om belastingontwijking door multinationals tegen te gaan. In juni bereikten de landen al een akkoord over een regeling, die de renteaftrek beperkt waarop bedrijven aanspraak kunnen maken.
En vorige week zei de EU dat Ierland een naheffing van 13 miljard euro aan Apple moet opleggen vanwege verboden staatssteun. Eerder moest Nederland om dezelfde reden ruim 25 miljoen euro van Starbucks terugeisen.
The final European Anti-Tax-Avoidance Directive: impact to EU jurisdictions - Lexology
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:38
On 21 June at midnight, the Ministers of Finance of the Member States to the European Union (EU) reached an agreement on the Anti-Tax-Avoidance Directive (ATA Directive or the Directive). The agreement is a political agreement in the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) and the Directive still needs formal adopting by the European Council. It is expected that the Council will adopt the Directive without making amendments. The European Parliament had already adopted the ATA Directive on 8 June.
The Directive is part of the Anti-Tax-Avoidance Package (ATA Package), which was published by the European Commission (EC) on 28 January 2016. Previously, we described the measures proposed in the initial version of the ATA Package and included comments on the ATA Package from Bird & Bird tax lawyers from multiple EU jurisdictions.
The Directive has been heavily debated in the ECOFIN Council and was subject to multiple important amendments. One important change compared to the initial version of the ATA Directive, is the deletion of the so-called switch-over clause.[1]
In this article we will briefly describe the measures of the final version of the ATA Directive and comment on the expected impact of the Directive to various EU jurisdictions. On a preliminary note, the provisions of the ATA Directive are expressly meant as a minimum standard. Member States are free to implement the measures in a stricter way.[2]
The final version of the ATA Directive prescribes EU Member States to implement the following measures in their respective corporate tax systems. The measures must be effective 1 January 2019 at the latest.[3]
1. Interest deduction limitation rule
This rule stipulates that the deductible exceeding borrowing costs (i.e. taxable interest and equivalents minus deductible borrowing costs) are limited to 30% of the taxpayer's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA)[4]. Member States may choose to allow taxpayers to deduct exceeding borrowing costs in excess of 30% of the EBITDA, but only up to '‚¬ 3 million. They may also choose to apply the 30%-rule and the '‚¬ 3 million at the level of a group as defined in national tax law. Additionally, Member States may choose not to apply the interest limitation rule to standalone entities.
The interest limitation rule contains two (optional) group escapes:
Equity escape rule: if the ratio between equity and total assets of a taxpayer is equal to or higher than the equivalent ratio of the group, the taxpayer may fully deduct the net borrowing costs. A ratio of up to two percentage points below the group's will be deemed equivalent to the group's ratio for purposes of the equity escape rule.Group ratio rule: a group ratio is determined by dividing the exceeding third party borrowing costs of the group by the EBITDA of the group. That ratio is multiplied by the EBITDA of the taxpayer to determine the amount of deductible exceeding borrowing costs.Member States may choose to allow taxpayers to either:Carry forward, without time limitation, exceeding borrowing costs which cannot be deducted as a result of the interest deduction limitation rule; orCarry forward, without time limitation, and back, for a maximum of 3 years, exceeding borrowing costs which cannot be deducted as a result of the interest deduction limitation rule; orCarry forward, without time limitation, exceeding borrowing costs and, for a maximum of 5 years, unused interest capacity, which cannot be deducted as a result of the interest deduction limitation rule.The interest limitation rule provides for an optional grandfathering clause, allowing Member States to exclude loans which were concluded before 17 June 2016 from the scope of the interest deduction limitation rule. Importantly, the exclusion does not extend to any subsequent modifications to such loans. Additionally, Member States may choose to exclude loans used to fund long-term public infrastructure projects (as defined in the Directive) in the EU. Financial undertakings (as defined in the Directive) may also be excluded from the scope of the interest deduction limitation rule.
Member States must have implemented the interest limitation rule by 1 January 2024 at the latest.
Some Member States do not have a general interest deduction limitation rule in their corporate tax systems. It is advisable to carefully check the possible consequences of this rule. For instance, it could be advisable to properly document and not to modify loans that were concluded before 17 June 2016.
2. Exit taxation
Based on this rule a tax is levied on the transfer of assets if:
Assets are transferred from the taxpayer's head office to its permanent establishment (PE) in another Member State or third country in so far as the Member State of the head office no longer has the right to tax the transferred assets due to the transfer;Assets are transferred from a PE in a Member State to the head office or another PE in another Member State or in a third country in so far as the Member State of the PE no longer has the right to tax the transferred assets due to the transfer;The tax residence is transferred to another Member State or to a third country, but not with respect to assets that remain effectively connected with a PE in the first Member State;A business carried out by a PE is transferred out of a Member State to another Member State or third country in so far as the Member State of the PE no longer has the right to tax the transferred assets due to the transfer.The taxable base is formed by the difference between market value and value for tax purposes at the time of exit of the assets concerned.
If assets are transferred to another Member State (or in certain cases to a state that is party to the EEA Agreement), those Member States are obliged to allow taxpayers to value the assets at market value. In such cases taxpayers also have the right to defer tax claims arising from exit taxation by paying in installments for five years. If a taxpayer chooses to defer a tax claim, interest may be charged and, if there is an actual risk of non-recovery, securities may be demanded by the Member State involved. The deferral ends if:
the transferred assets or the business carried on by the PE are disposed of;the transferred assets are subsequently transferred to a (non-EEA) third country;the taxpayer's tax residence or the business carried on by its PE is transferred to a (non-EEA) third country;the taxpayer goes bankrupt or is wound up; orthe taxpayer fails to honor its obligations in relation to the installments and does not correct its situation over a reasonable period of time (12 months maximum).If the transferred assets are set to revert to the Member State of the transferor within 12 months, this rule does not apply to asset transfers related to the financing of securities, assets posted as collateral or where the asset transfer takes place in order to meet prudential capital requirements or for purposes of liquidity management.
This provision for the most part codifies jurisprudence from the European Court of Justice. However, certain countries have signaled that they expect difficulties implementing the provision. In deviation of the general deadline for implementation, Member States may therefore choose to extend the term for implementation of the provision on exit taxation by one year. Member States must apply this provision by January 1, 2020.
3. General anti-abuse rule
The GAAR stipulates that any non-genuine arrangement (i.e. arrangement or series thereof to the extent that they are not put in place for valid commercial reasons which reflect economic reality) carried out for the main purpose of obtaining a tax advantage that defeats the object or purpose of the otherwise applicable tax provisions, is to be ignored for the purposes of calculating the corporate tax liability. The tax liability shall then be calculated in accordance with national law. The GAAR does not affect the applicability of specific anti-abuse rules. Its application should be limited to 'wholly artificial arrangements': a taxpayer may in principle still choose the most tax-efficient structure. The GAAR would work throughout all corporate tax acts of Member States and target any situation of alleged abuse.
Since the GAAR is relatively vague and many Member States have general anti-abuse provisions in their domestic tax systems, there has not been much debate around the GAAR. However, taking into account that the GAAR is very broad and particularly open to interpretation by Member States and tax authorities, it is difficult to predict the GAAR's impact on investments in the EU.
4. Controlled foreign company legislation
The Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rule attributes non-distributed income of a foreign company or a PE, to the domestic parent company. The CFC rule targets taxpayers that (together with associated enterprises) directly or indirectly hold more than 50% of capital or voting rights or are entitled to receive more than 50% of the profits of low-taxed foreign entities and low-taxed PEs. For the purpose of the CFC rule, entities and PEs are regarded as low-taxed if they are subject to an effective corporate tax rate of less than 50% of what would have been charged in the parent company jurisdiction.[5]
As regards the method of determining what income is to be attributed to the parent entity, the ATA Directive provides a choice to Member States: (i) an entity based approach and (ii) a transactional approach.
Under the entity based approach, the non-distributed income of the CFC that is derived from categories of income listed in the Directive. Those categories include income from financial activities and passive income such as dividends, royalties and interest. No income will be attributed to the parent entity under the transactional approach if the CFC carries on a substantive economic activity, supported by staff, equipment, assets and premises, as evidenced by relevant facts and circumstances. Member State may choose not to apply this exception if the CFC is resident in a (non-EEA) third country. Additionally, Member States may choose not to treat an entity or PE as a CFC if one third or less of the income accruing to the entity or PE falls within the listed categories.
The transactional approach attributes CFC income to the parent entity if the income arises from non-genuine arrangements which have been put in place for the essential purpose of obtaining a tax advantage. An arrangement (or a series thereof) shall be regarded as non-genuine to the extent that the entity or PE would not own the assets or would not have undertaken the risks which generate its income if it were not controlled by a company where the significant people functions, which are relevant to those assets and risks, are carried out and are instrumental in generating the CFC's income. The CFC income to be included in the tax base of the parent entity shall be limited to amounts generated through assets and risks which are linked to significant people functions carried out by the parent entity. Member States may choose to exclude from the scope of the transactional approach a CFC that has accounting profits of no more than '‚¬ 750.000 and non-trading income of no more than '‚¬ 75.000 or CFCs of which the accounting profits amount to no more than 10 percent of its operating costs for the tax period.
Losses will not be allocated to the controlling company, but the CFC rule provides for a carry-forward to subsequent tax years.Finally, the CFC rule includes a provision to prevent double taxation when the income is distributed. It does not, however, contain a mechanism to prevent CFC income from being included in the taxable base of multiple entities: it does not provide for a rule that prescribes the order in which income must be attributed to parents and grandparents in Member States.
It is advisable to make an analysis of existing corporate structures in order to understand the potential impact the CFC rule may have.
5. Hybrid mismatches
This measure deals with double deductions and deduction/no inclusion situations resulting from different classifications of the same financial instrument or entity by different Member States. In case of a double deduction, the deduction shall be allowed only in the Member State where the payment has its source. If the mismatch results in a deduction/no inclusion the Member State of the payer shall deny deduction of the payment.
The hybrid mismatch measure is only applicable between Member States and not between Member States and third countries. It is expected that the European Council will ask the EC to present in October 2016 at the latest a proposal to widen the scope of the hybrid mismatch measure to third countries. The aim would be to reach an agreement on the extension of the hybrid mismatch rule to third countries at the end of 2016.
Comments to the final ATA Directive from tax practices
The Netherlands
In our reaction to the initial version of the ATA Directive, we expressed our concerns about the switch-over clause. Now that the switch-over clause has been deleted, the effects of the ATA Directive to the Dutch tax system should be mitigated. The rule on exit taxation and the GAAR are generally in line with existing provisions in the Dutch (corporate) tax system.
A relevant change, however, could be with the implementation of the general interest deduction limitation rule. Although the Netherlands has many specific interest deduction limitation provisions in its corporate tax laws, no general rule yet exists. In addition, most of the specific interest deduction measures apply to transactions with associated enterprises, as opposed to the interest deduction limitation rule in the ATA Directive that does not distinguish between associated enterprises and third parties.
The Netherlands has no official CFC rules, but has a rule that sorts a similar effect. However, more Dutch companies would be targeted by the CFC rule in the ATA Directive than currently under the Dutch rule. One important difference would be that under the CFC rule in the ATA Directive, an entity or PE is regarded low-taxed if it is subject to an effective corporate tax rate of less than 50% of the effective tax rate in the Member State of the parent entity. Under the Dutch rule, an entity is regarded low-taxed if it is subject to a corporate tax rate of less than 10% of what would have been charged in the Netherlands.
There currently are no general provisions tackling hybrid mismatches in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has, however, implemented the hybrid mismatch rule in the EU parent/subsidiary directive. That rule stipulates that Member States must tax profit distributions derived from subsidiaries in EU Member States to the extent that the distributions are tax deductible on the level of the subsidiary, and exempt such distributions to the extent that they are non-deductible. The Netherlands has implemented that rule in the Dutch participation exemption. The possible extension of the hybrid mismatch measure to third countries could have an impact on certain structures often used by US investors in the Netherlands to (indefinitely) defer tax in the US. However, it is highly uncertain how the third country hybrid mismatch measure would be shaped and even more so how it would be implemented.
Belgium
The Minister of Finance defines the Directive as a "win-win", preserving a perfect balance between honest taxation policy and reinforcement of economic growth. Belgian tax practitioners describe the agreement as highly influential, despite some slight mitigations compared to the proposal launched on 28 January 2016. Some even hope that the Directive might accelerate the enhancement of competitiveness of Belgian companies, which is currently afflicted by the high Belgian tax rates and the lack of fiscal consolidation.
For Belgian companies in general, the most significant impact will, without any doubt, result from the Directive's limitation on interest deduction, as the limitation also applies to situations which are completely distinct from (international) tax avoidance. The Directive limits the deductibility of net interest to a maximum of 30 % of the EBITDA. The tax exempt income, a notion on which the Directive did not further elaborate, must not be taken into consideration for the calculation of the EBITDA. Strictly speaking, dividends benefitting from the Belgian (95%) dividends received deduction regime, as well as capital gains realized on shares by non-SMEs, may in principle still be included in the EBITDA, as both types of income are not entirely 'exempted'. It remains to be seen how the Belgian authorities will interpret this unspecified notion. Furthermore, the ultimate implementation deadline of 1 January 2024 will only apply to Member States that already have local BEPS-rules equally effective as the EBITDA limitation of the Directive. The European Commission would have to assess whether the degree of efficiency of the relevant existing Belgian tax provisions (i.e. thin-capitalization rules, the general condition of deductibility of business expenses and the absence of fiscal consolidation) are "equally effective" as the EBITDA limitation of the Directive.
Finally, Belgian tax law does not yet contain CFC-measures and would therefore require rather drastic changes. Furthermore, it may be expected that, in accordance with the Directive's Preamble, the new anti-abuse rule will come to replace the currently applicable Belgian general anti-abuse rule and will apply in purely domestic situations.
Czech Republic
EU Affairs Committees of both chambers of the Czech Parliament have recently expressed their support for setting up common rules to fight tax avoidance. Yet at the same time they emphasize the fact that the regulation of direct taxes is solely a competence of the individual Member States. According to the Committees, the impact of the ATA Directive on the Czech state budget and its legal implications have not been analyzed yet, but it is generally assumed that the impact would be positive. Since the ATA Directive should be transposed 1 January 2019 and it will require major changes of the Czech legislation, the transposition period should be at least 24 months.
Finland
The final version of ATA Directive is expected to have a greater impact on Finnish tax legislation than the initial version, especially on the interest limitation and CFC rules.
The proposed interest deduction limitation rule is quite similar to already existing interest limitation rules in Finland, which came into force in 2014. One of the main differences is, however, the scope of the rule. The proposed interest limitation rule in ATA Directive applies to all exceeding borrowing costs without distinction of whether the costs come from national, cross-border, intergroup or third party loans, while Finnish interest deduction limitation rules only apply to loans between associated parties. On the other hand, the existing Finnish rules are to some extent stricter than the proposed limitation rule in ATA Directive. For instance, under Finnish rules taxpayers can deduct only 25% of the EBITDA (as opposed to 30% under the ATA Directive) and the fixed threshold is '‚¬ 500.000 (as opposed to '‚¬ 3 million under the ATA Directive). There are some other slight differences with respect to accounting methods and definitions.
As regards the rule on exit taxation, there is nothing substantially new for Finland, except for the deferral period which does not currently exist in Finnish legislation. Finnish legislation already includes a general anti-avoidance clause which reflects the 'purpose over form' idea. The Finnish GAAR applies in both domestic and cross-border situations.
Finnish tax legislation does not currently contain special regulations on hybrid mismatches. So far, Finnish authorities have tried to address hybrid mismatches with provisions regarding transfer pricing and the Finish GAAR. The implementation of the hybrid mismatch rule from the ATA Directive could thus mean a change to Finnish tax legislation.
France
With the introduction of the anti-abuse clause in the parent/subsidiary directive (as explained in relation to the impact to the Netherlands, see under par. A), French legislation already complies with the majority of the measures proposed in the ATA Package. For many years now, France has been modifying its tax legislation in this direction. Rules on exit taxation, hybrid mismatches and the CFC rule are already implemented within French tax legislation and many interest deduction limitations already exist.
The French tax authorities can challenge the reality of arrangements under the ''abuse of law'' provisions as implemented in French tax law. However, in doing so the tax authorities must follow a specific process and strict procedures. Some wonder whether the ATA Directive could open a new door for the tax authorities to challenge non-genuine arrangements. The transposition of the ATA Directive will be subject to the French Constitutional Council review, so it is yet to be seen how the ATA Directive provisions will be implemented.
Germany
The Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Sch¤uble, stated that it is important to implement the rules provided in the ATA Directive. However, many of those provisions (e.g. the interest deduction limitation and rule on exit taxation) already exist under German legislation.
In this context, however, it has to be noted that on 1 June 2016, the German Ministry of Finance published a draft bill of the act regarding the further measures against base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) which can be obtained here. It is the starting point of the legislative procedure which is expected to be completed at the end of 2016. The draft bill includes:
The implementation of the Automatic Information Exchange Directive which provides a legal basis for the exchange of information regarding advance cross-border tax rulings and advance transfer pricing arrangements;The implementation of a Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting standard;Changes of the Income Tax Act and the Foreign Tax Act to avoid uncertain interpretation and application of double tax treaties;Changes of the Income Tax Act and the Corporate Tax Act to combat certain tax planning schemes.Hungary
Hungarian rules on exit taxation are limited compared to the rule on exit taxation in the ATA Directive. Currently, Hungarian tax law contains two taxable events with respect exit taxation: the transfer of tax residence and cross-border mergers. In cases of transferal of tax residence, the tax base is formed by the difference between the accounting value and the value for tax purposes of the migrated assets. In cross-border mergers, revaluation gains realized on assets migrated in such mergers form the tax base. Implementing the rule on exit taxation in the ATA Directive will require amendments to the existing rules to bring the scope of exit taxation in line with the Directive.
Although Hungary has thin capitalization rules, certain amendments will have to be implemented to the existing law in order to implement the interest deduction limitation rule. The thin cap rules are currently limiting deduction of interest based on a debt-to-equity ratio. Accordingly, this rule will have to be supplemented or replaced by the EBITDA-ratio rule.
Hungarian CFC-legislation will have to be modified, as it differs from the CFC rule in the ATA Directive. The most important changes would concern the effective tax rate test and the income to be included in the tax base of the parent company.
Hungarian hybrid mismatch rules should only need a minor amendment, as they already cover transactions with countries that have a tax treaty with Hungary.
No amendments to Hungarian tax legislation are required relating to the GAAR.
Poland
The ATA Package presented by the European Commission received strong support from the Polish government. According to an official statement, "[i]t is our government's priority to eliminate tax optimization and shifting profits outside the country ('...) therefore the ATA package has met with our positive approach".
Discussions on taxation of groups using holding companies have been ongoing for several years in Poland. Poland does not have any specific provisions which would attract foreign holdings to register in Poland. Nevertheless, there are many foreign companies already present in Poland (mainly due to attractive employment costs and the large amount of European Union funds Poland has received). The consequences of international tax avoidance practices are particularly negative for Poland, as the State misses out on potential (corporate) income tax revenue. The prevention of tax optimization and of shifting profits abroad are therefore presented as priorities for the Polish government.
An amendment to the Polish Tax Ordinance was recently adopted, inter alia introducing a general anti-tax avoidance clause. The amendment is effective since 15 July 2016. The new Polish anti-tax avoidance clause provides that in cases of non-genuine arrangements contrary to the object and aims of the Polish tax law, performed primarily for the purpose of obtaining tax benefits, Polish tax authorities may deny such benefits. It is similar to the wording of the GAAR in the ATA Directive. The new Polish provisions were criticized within legal and business communities. Tax advisers say that the anti-tax avoidance clause is vague and grants the Polish tax authorities excessive rights to interpret taxpayers' business intentions. Some even state that these provisions may be contrary to the Polish Constitution. It is important to note that the new Polish provisions also apply to actions performed prior to 15 July 2016, if their consequences occur after that date.
As regards Polish laws on holding companies in general, practitioners have identified the need for implementation of such laws in order to provide clear rules for holdings in Poland. There are Polish provisions concerning tax capital groups. However, these are not up-to-date and are insufficient for international holdings. A draft law on the matter has been prepared and the market is currently awaiting an update on further progress.
Slovakia
On 1 July 2016, Slovakia took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. During preparations for this important six month period, Slovakia clearly expressed its position and presented a 'Strategic program for the Union in times of change'. In the context of healthy public financing, Slovakia expressed the necessity to continue the fight against tax avoidance and ensure equitable fulfilment of the public budgets. The action plan contains aspects of both indirect and direct taxes. In the area of direct taxes, to which the ATA Directive applies, the action plan intends to introduce a series of measures for increasing transparency in the area of corporate income tax and in the fight against tax avoidance.
Spain
In general terms, measures included in the final version of the ATA Directive already exist under Spanish legislation. In particular, Spanish tax law includes rules regarding CFCs, exit taxation and hybrid mismatches similar to the rules in the ATA Directive. Therefore, no substantial modifications to Spanish tax law are expected in this respect.
Although Spanish regulations are inspired by the OECD BEPS-project and recommendations/tax practices that are generally followed in other jurisdictions, some changes to Spanish tax law are necessary in order to implement the ATA Directive. Amendments are mainly expected with respect to the interest deduction limitation. The new measures are expected to be introduced in the short term, well before the implementation deadline in the ATA Directive expires.
Sweden
One might ask to what extent the ATA Directive will require implementation in Sweden. Sweden already has CFC rules, rules on exit taxation, a rule addressing hybrid mismatches, interest deduction limitations and a Tax Avoidance Act. Therefore, the ATA Directive is not expected to cause major changes in Swedish tax law. However, some details of the Swedish rules will probably require adjustments to be fully compliant with the Directive. The current Swedish interest deduction limitation rules have been heavily criticized by the business community and are - according to the EC - contrary to EU law. Hence, this is the area where the most rapid changes are expected. It is expected that Sweden will implement the provisions from the ATA Directive well before the implementation deadlines, especially given the EC's view to Swedish rules. Apart from perhaps accelerating changes to the Swedish interest deduction limitation rules, the Directive will most likely have relatively limited impact on the Swedish tax system.
DieselGate
VW Diesel Cheat - Volkswagen Engineer Pleads Guilty in TDI Emissions Scandal
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 02:43
The first Volkswagen employee to face criminal charges relating to the ongoing diesel emissions scandal has entered a guilty plea.
The Detroit News reports that James Robert Liang, 62, appeared in U.S. District Court on Friday in Detroit to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government to commit wire fraud in violating the Clean Air Act. Liang faces a penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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Liang, whose name first appeared in a lawsuit against VW filed in New York State in July, allegedly engineered a diesel emissions defeat device for the Volkswagen Jetta powered by the 2.0-liter TDI engine. He reportedly began developing the device in 2006, and oversaw testing of the device at a Volkswagen facility in California in 2014 and 2015.
The Department of Justice report states, "according to Liang's admissions, when he and his co-conspirators realized that they could not design a diesel engine that would meet the stricter U.S. emissions standards, they designed and implemented software to recognize whether a vehicle was undergoing standard U.S. emissions testing on a dynamometer or being driven on the road under normal driving conditions (the defeat device), in order to cheat the emissions test. Liang admitted that he used the defeat device while working on the EA 189 and assisted in making the defeat device work."
The Detroit News reports that Liang was also indicted for violating the Clean Air Act, which includes a two-year prison term and $250,000 fine. He did not enter a plea to the charge as part of an agreement with the Department of Justice.
Liang was employed at VW's world headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, starting in 1983. He relocated to the automaker's California facility in 2008, where he held the title Leader of Diesel Competence.
This plea marks the first instance of an individual VW employee being charged with a crime in the automaker's ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen first admitted to tampering with emissions control devices in September of 2015, eventually revealing that defeat devices were built in to up to 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide.
Experts say that affected diesel Volkswagens emit up to 40 times the legal limit of harmful pollutants in real-world driving, a result of defeat devices which shut off pollution controls whenever the vehicle detects that it is not undergoing government emissions testing. The automaker has agreed to spend more than $16 billion in the U.S. alone to address environmental fallout and claims brought by owners of the affected vehicles.
Ministry of Truth
Facebook reinstates Vietnam photo after outcry over censorship
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:23
"After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case," Facebook said in a later statement, adding it recognized "the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time."
Solberg posted the iconic "Napalm Girl" news photograph on her Facebook page after the company had deleted it from sites of Norwegian authors and the dailyAftenposten. Facebook had also removed the photo from the page of the woman who had been photographed as a girl.
Captured by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nick Ut of the Associated Press, the image of screaming children running from a napalm attack shows a naked nine-year-old girl at its center.
Solberg said Facebook's ban put unacceptable limits on freedom of speech.
"They must see the difference between editing out child pornography and editing out history," she told Reuters.
"It's perfectly possible for a company like Facebook to sort this out. Otherwise we risk more censorship," she said.
Protesting Facebook's move, Solberg re-posted the photo with a black square covering the naked girl, and published a range of other historic images blacking over faces of people such as Ronald Reagan or Winston Churchill.
She also posted a version of the "Tank Man" image from the 1989 protests in China's Tiananmen Square, with a black square covering a man standing in front of a row of army tanks.
Solberg wrote on her Facebook account: "I want my children and other children to grow up in a society where history is taught as it was."
Aftenposten splashed the Vietnam photograph across its front page on Friday, next to a large Facebook logo, and wrote a front-page editorial headlined "Dear Mark Zuckerberg", saying the social network was undermining democracy.
Earlier, Facebook said in a statement its rules were more blunt than the company itself would prefer, adding that restrictions on nudity were necessary on a global platform.
Norway is a big investor in Facebook. Its $891 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, had a stake of 0.52 percent in Facebook worth $1.54 billion at the start of 2016.
Solberg told Reuters she intended to maintain her Facebook account.
War on Ca$h
Why we should get rid of dollar bills larger than $10 - MarketWatch
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 13:59
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Project Syndicate) '-- The world is awash in paper currency, with major central banks pumping out hundreds of billions of dollars' worth each year, mainly in very large denomination notes such as the $100 bill.
The $100 bill accounts for almost 80% of the U.S.'s stunning $4,200 per capita cash supply. The 10,000 yen note (about $100) accounts for roughly 90% of all Japan's currency, where per capita cash holdings are almost $7,000. And, as I have been arguing for two decades, all this cash is facilitating growth mainly in the underground economy, not the legal one.
I am not advocating a cashless society, which will be neither feasible nor desirable anytime soon. But a less-cash society would be a fairer and safer place.
If governments were not so drunk from the profits they make by printing paper currency, they might wake up to the costs.
With the growth of debit cards, electronic transfers and mobile payments, the use of cash has long been declining in the legal economy, especially for medium and large transactions. Central bank surveys show that only a small percentage of large-denomination notes are being held and used by ordinary people or businesses.
Cash facilitates crime because it is anonymous, and big bills are especially problematic because they are so easy to carry and conceal. A million dollars in $100 notes fits into a briefcase, a million dollars in 500 euro notes (each worth about $565) fits into a purse.
Sure, there are plenty of ways to bribe officials, engage in financial crime and evade taxes without paper currency. But most involve very high transaction costs (for example, uncut diamonds), or risk of detection (say, bank transfers or credit card payments).
Yes, new-age crypto-currencies such as bitcoin, if not completely invulnerable to detection, are almost so. But their value sharply fluctuates, and governments have many tools with which they can restrict their use '-- for example, by preventing them from being tendered at banks or retail stores. Cash is unique in its liquidity and near-universal acceptance.
The costs of tax evasion alone are staggering, perhaps $700 billion per year in the United States (including federal, state and local taxes), and even more in high-tax Europe. Crime and corruption, though difficult to quantify, almost surely generate even greater costs. Think not just of illegal drugs and racketeering, but also of human trafficking, terrorism and extortion.
Moreover, cash payments by employers to undocumented workers are a principal driver of illegal immigration. Scaling back the use of cash is a far more humane way to limit immigration than building barbed-wire fences.
Is it time for the ECB to invest in equities?(3:45)If governments were not so drunk from the profits they make by printing paper currency, they might wake up to the costs. There has been a little movement of late. The European Central Bank recently announced that it will phase out its 500 euro mega-note. Still, this long overdue change was implemented against enormous resistance from cash-loving Germany and Austria. Yet even in northern Europe, reported per capita holdings of currency are still quite modest relative to the massive outstanding supply in the eurozone as a whole (over 3,000 euros per capita).
Southern European governments, desperate to raise tax revenue, have been taking matters into their own hands, even though they do not control note issuance. For example, Greece and Italy have been trying to discourage cash use by capping retail cash purchases (at 1,500 euros and 1,000 euros, respectively).
Obviously, cash remains important for small everyday transactions, and for protecting privacy. Northern European central bankers who favor the status quo like to quote Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky: ''Money is coined liberty.'' Of course, Dostoevsky was referring to life in a mid-nineteenth century czarist prison, not a modern liberal state. Still, the northern Europeans have a point. The question is whether the current system has the balance right. I would argue that it clearly does not.
A plan for reining in paper currency should be guided by three principles. First, it is important to allow ordinary citizens to continue using cash for convenience and to make reasonable-size anonymous purchases, while undermining the business models of those engaged in large, repeated anonymous transactions on a wholesale level. Second, any plan should move very gradually (think a decade or two), to allow adaptations and mid-course corrections as unexpected problems arise. And, third, reforms must be sensitive to the needs of low-income households, especially those that are unbanked.
In my new book, ''The Curse of Cash,'' I offer a plan that involves very gradually phasing out large notes, while leaving small notes ($10 and below) in circulation indefinitely. The plan provides for financial inclusion by offering low-income households free debit accounts, which could also be used to make government transfer payments. This last step is one that some countries, such as Denmark and Sweden, have already taken.
Scaling back paper currency would hardly end crime and tax evasion; but it would force the underground economy to employ riskier and less liquid payment devices. Cash may seem like a small, unimportant thing in today's high-tech financial world, but the benefits of phasing out most paper currency are a lot larger than you might think.
Kenneth Rogoff is professor of economics at Harvard University. His latest book, ''The Curse of Cash,'' has just been published by Princeton University Press.
This article was published with the permission of Project Syndicate.
Calling all conspiracy nerds - Weird "Dollar Bills" found all over the country - Page 1 - AR15.COM
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 13:56
So these have been popping up al over the country, out of nowhere, the last few days. They have been confirmed in juts about all of the states, and have tons of symbolism on them.
Following the website on the Statue of Liberty on the back of the bill brings you to badselfeater.com, itself being an anagram for FEDERAL BEAST(another domain which is not live, but was registered at the same time as badselfeater), with a countdown clock and some great music, pointing to September 14th at 4PM Pacific.
Now the Facebook page has found to be https://www.facebook.com/ThankMrTeeth, which has some more clues and information, including high resolution files of the bills which allows you to get a much better look.
Other Symbols to Note:1. Nazi Eagle Transposed over the UN Symbol.2. Corporate Logos sprawled across the bill.3. George Soros's Signature on the bottom left, Rupert Murdocks on the right.4. Lady Justice appears to be impaled upon her own sword, in the crack that runs up the Supreme Court.5. The Supreme Court plaquard reading "Our Rule Is Law" popped to what it actually says, "Equal Justice Under Law"6. The Dragon Rests upon the Constitution and Declaration, crossing that latter out with quill.7. Gasden flag upon the foot of the dragon8. Owl Symbol with all seeing eye9. "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here" on bill.
BLM
Cal State LA offers segregated housing for black students - The College Fix
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 03:25
Cal State LA offers segregated housing for black students
'A safe space for Black CSLA students '...'
California State University Los Angeles recently rolled out segregated housing for black students.
The arrangement comes roughly nine months after the university's Black Student Union issued a set of demands in response to what its members contend are frequent ''racist attacks'' on campus, such as ''racially insensitive remarks'' and ''microaggressions'' by professors and students. One demand was for a ''CSLA housing space delegated for Black students.''
''[It] would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students. This space would also serve as a safe space for Black CSLA students to congregate, connect, and learn from each other,'' the demand letter stated.
The newly debuted Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community ''focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and non-discriminatory,'' Cal State LA spokesman Robert Lopez told The College Fix via email.
The public university has 192 furnished apartments in a residential complex on campus, and the Halisi community will be located there, Lopez said, adding it joins other themed living-learning communities already housed there.
Lopez declined to answer any additional questions or provide more details on the new community, such as how many rooms it encompasses, and whether it's a whole floor or just a few rooms.
Cal State LA joins UConn, UC Davis and Berkeley in offering segregated housing dedicated to black students. While these housing options are technically open to all students, they're billed and used as arrangements in which black students can live with one another.
MORE: 'Orwellian,' 'ghettoization': Criticisms mount against UConn's dorm wing for black males
MORE: Universities, students of color embrace segregated spaces on campus
Meanwhile, at Cal State LA, campus leaders took down much of the online information on the new housing that it posted in late July. And university housing officials and other campus officials rebuffed requests by The College Fix for more details.
If campus leaders are proud of the new housing, they appear disinclined to talk about it.
CSULA's Housing Services page offers one paragraph on the new black living-learning community, calling it an effort to ''enhance the residential experience for students who are a part of or interested in issues of concern to the black community living on campus by offering the opportunity to connect with faculty and peers, and engage in programs that focus on academic success, cultural awareness, and civic engagement.''
In addition to the Black Student Union's housing demand, the group also demanded a $30 million dollar scholarship endowment to aid black students, three new black faculty counselors, a new anti-discrimination policy and cultural competency course for faculty and students, and finally, a meeting with the president for them to discuss the ''fulfillment and implementation of each demand.''
After the Halisi housing community was announced, the Black Student Union celebrated on its Instagram page, calling it a ''long overdue, but well deserved'' achievement, Young America's Foundation reports.
Members of Cal State LA's Black Student Union declined requests for comment from The College Fix.
Young America's Foundation quoted from the Halisi housing application prior to university officials taking it offline. Rules students who seek to live in Halisi must agree to include ''respect the differences of others that live in my community and look for positive thing to learn from them,'' ''be an advocate for change if the tools and resources available are deemed inadequate,'' and ''accept that I am still learning and need to be open to new ideas and experiences.''
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About the Author
Jeremy Beaman studies English and Philosophy at the University of Mobile, AL. He writes for The College Conservative, Positive Press Mobile and contributes regularly to the university magazine, The Torch. He has also contributed to the state's major news organization, AL.com, as well as the Alabama Baptist state newspaper. His major interests include politics, languages, religion and public life. He is originally from Huntsville, AL.
Take Two | Black Lives Matter partners with charity in sign of growth | 89.3 KPCC
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:34
Black Lives Matter has teamed up with a California charity to handle its financial matters and receive grants and donations.
Michael R. Blood with the Associated Press reports that the San Francisco-based International Development Exchange's partnership with the national Black Lives Matter movement is a sign of the movement's growth and expanding ambition.
Here's more from the AP story:
Since November, the nonprofit charity also known as IDEX has been acting as a mostly unseen financial arm of Black Lives Matter, with the ability to receive grants and tax-deductible donations on the group's behalf. More recently, the relationship evolved into a contractual partnership that will run through at least mid''2017.
IDEX is managing the group's financial affairs, allowing Black Lives Matter to focus on its mission, including building local chapters and experimenting with its organizational structure.
IDEX is a small charity that has worked with the needy on several continents, while Black Lives Matter has chapters in nearly 40 U.S. cities and several abroad, Blood reports. The idea is that the two organizations will together seek social change both in the U.S. and abroad.
In this photo taken Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, Rajasvini Bhansali, executive director of the International Development Exchange, also known as IDEX, poses at her office in San Francisco. IDEX is managing the Black Lives Matters' financial affairs, allowing the group to focus on its mission, including building local chapters and experimenting with its organizational structure. Eric Risberg/APHere's more from AP on how that might look:
A key aspect of the agreement involves exchanging information and building potential alliances between Black Lives Matter and IDEX's partners overseas. The idea is for the groups and movements to learn from each other.
Black Lives Matter has agreed to make donations to IDEX's partners in Zimbabwe and South Africa, in lieu of an administrative fee for the charity's services, [IDEX Executive Director Rajasvini] Bhansali said.
Part of the tie between the groups is personal: Bhansali has known Garza and fellow Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors for about a decade through their work, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She said Black Lives Matter has a strong interest in learning from social and cultural movements around the globe, which makes it a natural fit with IDEX and its work in needy communities in Africa, Asia and South America, where IDEX has supported more than 500 projects since 1985.
Blood reports that the agreement is one of several steps Black Lives Matter appears to be taking in response to criticism that it lacks direction and purpose.
An umbrella group known as the Movement for Black Lives, which includes Black Lives Matter, has published a detailed agenda of goals, including channeling more money into poverty programs, raising taxes on the wealthy, obtaining reparations for past racial injustices and spending as much as $4 trillion on jobs for black workers, Blood reports.
Phil Buchanan, president of The Center for Effective Philanthropy, says when you look back at other social movements in U.S. history-- from the civil rights movement to more recent efforts for marriage equality-- "it's not surprising to see that what starts as an organic, spontaneous reaction of outrage and concern would end up taking on a more organized form over time through some kind of non-profit organization."
"As the Black Lives Matter movement gets clearer about their policy objectives," Buchanan says, "they will then need resources to pursue those objectives. And I think the backing of major foundations like the Ford Foundation [which hopes to raise $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives] and others, if that ends up coming to fruition, that could be very very powerful."
AP political writer Michael Blood and Phil Buchanan, president of The Center for Effective Philanthropy, joined Alex Cohen to discuss the story. To hear the full interview, click the blue player above.
The best SoCal news in your inbox, daily.Catch up each morning with KPCC's Short List newsletter.
Black Lives Matter partners with International Development Exchange charity | Northwest Herald
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:26
LOS ANGELES '' Black Lives Matter, which two years ago grew out of street protests and a social-media hashtag, has quietly established a legal partnership with a California charity in a sign of the movement's growth and expanding ambition, The Associated Press has learned.
The formal relationship between the national Black Lives Matter network and the San Francisco-based International Development Exchange represents another side of the loosely knit group that many Americans recognize for its sometimes-disruptive demonstrations against police shootings of unarmed black men.
Since November, the nonprofit charity also known as IDEX has been acting as a mostly unseen financial arm of Black Lives Matter, with the ability to receive grants and tax-deductible donations on the group's behalf. More recently, the relationship evolved into a contractual partnership that will run through at least mid-2017.
IDEX is managing the group's financial affairs, allowing Black Lives Matter to focus on its mission, including building local chapters and experimenting with its organizational structure.
"We completely understand the network is in its baby stages, and it's going to take some years" to develop, IDEX Executive Director Rajasvini Bhansali said in an interview.
The goal, leaders say, is to jointly seek social change in struggling communities in the U.S., as well as in Asia, South America and Africa, where the charity has operated for years.
The partnership links the national protest movement, which has chapters in nearly 40 U.S. cities and several more abroad, with a small charity that has worked with the needy on several continents. IDEX collected about $2 million in contributions and grants in the year ending June 2015, according to federal tax records.
"We've connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting black people," Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza said in a statement. The organization needed to partner with an organization that "can support us as we build these connections on a global scale."
It's not clear what the partnership will mean for the overall direction of Black Lives Matter, which has been alternately praised and derided for its confrontational tactics.
The agreement comes at a time when Black Lives Matter and a constellation of related groups are receiving a surge of donations and pledges of financial support. Together they are seeking reforms such as remaking the prison system, adopting universal health care and offering free college education.
For example, the Ford Foundation, working with the Borealis Philanthropy organization, hopes to attract as much as $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition with ties to dozens of groups, including the Black Lives Matter network. Grammy-winning singer The Weeknd said last month that he is donating $250,000 to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It's not a time for donors to sit back and criticize," said Leah Hunt-Hendrix, co-founder and executive director of Solidaire, an alliance supporting progressive political causes that has invested about $800,000 over two years in various groups in the movement, including Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, Southerners on New Ground and the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice.
"We still live in this legacy of drastic exploitation and marginalization and violence," Hunt-Hendrix said. "If we are ever going to address racism in America, this is the time and this is the opportunity."
A key aspect of the agreement involves exchanging information and building potential alliances between Black Lives Matter and IDEX's partners overseas. The idea is for the groups and movements to learn from each other.
Black Lives Matter has agreed to make donations to IDEX's partners in Zimbabwe and South Africa, in lieu of an administrative fee for the charity's services, Bhansali said.
Part of the tie between the groups is personal: Bhansali has known Garza and fellow Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors for about a decade through their work, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She said Black Lives Matter has a strong interest in learning from social and cultural movements around the globe, which makes it a natural fit with IDEX and its work in needy communities in Africa, Asia and South America, where IDEX has supported more than 500 projects since 1985.
The charity's projects have ranged widely, from helping Nepalese women establish a credit system through so-called microfinancing to working with a group to alleviate industrial pollution in South Africa.
In addition to its agreement with the charity, Black Lives Matter appears to be taking steps to answer criticism that it is little more than noise on the street, lacking direction and purpose. It is part of a recently established coalition of dozens of organizations known as the Movement for Black Lives, which has published a detailed agenda of goals.
Many of the proposals are familiar, such as channeling more money into poverty programs and raising taxes on the wealthy. Other ideas include obtaining reparations for past racial injustices and spending as much as $4 trillion to create government jobs for black workers and subsidizing businesses to hire black workers.
"Things like racism just can't be fixed by this or that single policy," Hunt-Hendrix said. "It requires massive cultural change."
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SLPC
7 Things You Need To Know About The Southern Poverty Law Center | Daily Wire
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 16:03
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently classified the organization White Lives Matter as a hate group, but refused to apply the same classification to Black Lives Matter.
Based on The Washington Post's report, the White Lives Matter group appears to be filled with white supremacists and people who have ties to neo-Nazi groups, so the hate group label could very well be a perfect fit. But what about Black Lives Matter, whose members have explicitly called for dead cops, the lynching of white people, and endorse racial segregation? For some reason, the SPLC's president, Richard Cohen, does not believe the label equally applies to the Leftist group.
"There's no doubt that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant 'pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon' that was heard at one rally," Cohen wrote in a blog post. "But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee '-- or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years."
The reality is that the SPLC is a leftist hack advocacy group which picks and chooses what standards to apply to its labels, consistently turning a blind eye to leftist and pro-Democrat groups and individuals while targeting, often unfairly, their enemies on the right. Here are seven things you need to know about the SPLC.
1. The SPLC was founded by a leftist who sought out leftist donors to enrich himself. As Rosslyn Smith at the American Thinker explained in 2012, the SPLC was founded by Morris Dees, a lawyer who donated money to Jimmy Carter and unsuccessfully lobbied for the attorney general position in Carter's administration. Dees courted northern leftists who donated to George McGovern's failed presidential campaign because he thought they "would get a vicarious thrill from sending a check to the Alabama-based SPLC to fight the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists."
As Smith explains, the SPLC peddles leftist donors under the false guise that the organization is short on cash and demonizes certain organizations '' such as anti-amnesty groups '' now that the KKK has faded into irrelevancy in an appeal to white guilt:
In his 2000 article, [Ken] Silverstein noted that during its then-29 years of existence, the SPLC had carefully adjusted its operations to fit the needs and self-image of its largely urban, white, and often Jewish donor base. Causes that garnered favorable early media attention but which also risked upsetting some donors, such as filing suits protesting the death penalty, were dropped, even if that meant the mass resignation of staff attorneys. Images of angry blacks and other minorities never appear in solicitations. Nor do concrete issues related to race and poverty get much attention in these appeals. Donors aren't called on to actually fight to improve housing, improve inner-city schools, or end violence at the borders. Everything is geared to the equal-opportunity and secular sin of being intolerant of those who are different. According to Silverstein, the payoff is also always the same -- the SPLC is all about making guilty white donors feel good about themselves for being understanding by writing a check to the wealthy and largely white SPLC. Actual attempts to help the oppressed and downtrodden aren't just optional. They are almost superfluous.
The fear-mongering worked, as the SPLC raked in over $54 million in total revenue 2014.
2. The SPLC vastly overstates the number of hate groups in the country. One of the reasons for this is that the SPLC has a bad habit of labeling groups with conservative positions as hate groups. As Human Eventswrote back in 2011:
For example, based on the report, if you state that kids do best when raised by a mom and dad (as opposed to two moms or two dads), you are propagating a known falsehood. Or if you agree with the many therapists and psychologists who argue that a child's upbringing and early-life experiences (including being sexually abused) play a major role in the development of his or her sexual orientation, you are propagating a known falsehood. The same is true if you claim that hate crime laws could lead to the arresting of pastors who criticize homosexuality (this has already happened in Sweden, England and Canada), or if you argue that it would be detrimental to the military to have gays serving openly. Yes, according to the SPLC, disseminating such views officially constitutes ''hate.''
The SPLC has also labeled Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, the John Birch Society, and LewRockwell.com as hate groups in 2015 even though they are "nonviolent" organizations, according to Reason.com's Jesse Walker.
"Nonviolent groups can be a stepping-stone to violence, but they can also pull people away from violence; in several cases, nonviolent activists have even turned would-be terrorists in," writes Walker. "[SPLC's Mark] Potok never tries to account for those dynamics."
Walker also points out that the SPLC also has a bad habit of duplicating certain organizations in their overall count of hate groups. For instance, the SPLC claimed that there was a rise in KKK organizations, but Potok admitted that this was based on the fact two large KKK groups splintered off into several smaller groups.
National Review's Patrick Brennan observed a similar phenomenon in 2013:
Only on the site where you find the raw data, and in none of their media releases, do they make it clear that the ''1,007 hate groups'' number counts individual chapters of national or regional groups. For instance, ''the American Nazi Party is listed six times, and the Council of Conservative Citizens is listed 37 times. There are many more. When you filter the list for organizations with identical names, the list of 1,007 becomes a list of 358.'' Or look at '''Georgia Militia,' which is listed 14 times. One listing has a county as its location, another says 'statewide,' and the remaining 12 list no location and contain no links to additional information.''
Additionally, the SPLC overstated the number of lone wolf terror attacks in 2015, as they used a metric that included "gang slayings, domestic violence, and other apolitical or ambiguous assaults in which the killer also happens to subscribe to an 'extremist' worldview," according to Walker.
3. The SPLC is not interested in classifying a leftist organization as a hate group. In 2011, National Review's Charles Cooke pressed the SPLC as to why they weren't tracking the Occupy Wall Street movement after a group affiliated with the movement plotted to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio. After a back-and-forth with a male representative from the SPLC, Cooke got the representative to admit: "We're not really set up to cover the extreme Left."
The representative even tried to argue that Occupy Wall Street wasn't a political movement and answered "Yes I suppose so" when Cooke asked him if "the SPLC covers a group if there is even a minute 'right-wing' component."
Cooke felt that "there was a little bit of a syllogism going on" in the SPLC, as he felt that in their mind "'Left' equals 'good,' and 'Right' equals 'bad,' and therefore anything 'Left' couldn't be 'bad' unless it were infiltrated by the 'Right.'
"In my time covering Occupy Wall Street I have seen anti-Semitism, black nationalism, class hatred, and threats of violence; there have been rapes, a few murders, and now some domestic terrorism," wrote Cooke. "One would have thought that these things would be sufficient warrant for a group like the Southern Poverty Law Center to stand up and take serious note, but, as I learned yesterday, there's one problem: They're just 'not set up to cover the extreme Left.'"
4. A shooting occurred at the Family Research Council (FRC) in 2012 after the organization was labeled a hate group by the SPLC. The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, admitted that he wanted to "kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims' faces, and kill the guard" after he saw the FRC listed on the SPLC's website as a "hate group."
"Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups," Corkins said in an FBI video. "I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that."
Leo Johnson, a security guard at the FRC, was shot by Corkins and survived. Corkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The SPLC defended its designation of the FRC as a hate group even after the shooting.
5. In 2014, the SPLC actually listed Dr. Ben Carson under their "Extremist Files" list. Via The Christian Science Monitor:
In February 2015, after criticism of his inclusion, the group apologized to the candidate. The SPLC said that while some might consider Dr. Carson's statements, including several that referenced Adolf Hitler, and comments on gay marriage, to be extreme, he should not have been branded an extremist.
The Hitler comments are a reference to when Carson said, "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed." This is hardly an extreme comment, in fact it's accurate. Carson's opposition to gay marriage is also not a viewpoint worthy of being put on an extremist list.
After being publicly shamed, the SPLC reluctantly removed Carson from the list.
6. The FBI removed the SPLC as a "resource" in 2014 for their "hate crime Web page." The FBI refused to comment on it, but according to The Blaze, the move came "after 15 conservative groups lobbied Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey to end the endorsement."
7. The actual hate group is the SPLC. As Human Events concluded in 2011:
All of which begs the question: Is the SPLC, by its own criteria, the real hate group? It still carries weight in plenty of circles here in America, and so when it categorizes an organization as a hate group, many people of good conscience are influenced by that designation, one which is quite stigmatizing and destructive, as evidenced by the recent events involving FOTF and AFA mentioned above. Yet it is the leaders of the SPLC who are either irresponsibly attacking other fine organizations, or worse still, knowingly defaming them.
Who then deserves the title of ''hate group,'' Focus on the Family or the Southern Poverty Law Center? Who has been guilty of demonizing others and spreading hurtful, inaccurate information? Whose actions and words have been hateful? The record speaks for itself.
28 Pages
House to vote on bill to allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia | TheHill
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 03:19
House leaders say a vote is coming this week on a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, an aide for House leadership told The Hill.
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The bill, which was approved unanimously by the Senate in May, is expected to pass the House and head to the president's desk.But President Obama is expected the veto the measure, which faces fierce opposition from his administration, senior national security officials from both parties and the Saudi Arabian government.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanSenate leader set to jam House conservatives in spending fightIRS chief makes his case to GOP lawmakersMcMullin challenges Johnson, Stein to undercard debateMORE (R-Wis.) had voiced reservations about the bill's approach in April, saying it needed to be reviewed "to make sure we are not making mistakes with our allies and that we're not catching people in this that shouldn't be caught up in this.''
Critics argue that the bill would undermine an important relationship with Saudi Arabia and open the door for other nations to pass similar policies that would expose the U.S. to costly lawsuits in foreign courts.
But lawmakers released 28 previously secret pages detailing suspected Saudi ties to the 9/11 hijackers in July and are under pressure to act from a group of victims' families, as the 15th anniversary of the attacks looms.
The 28 pages outlined several seemingly suspicious connections between Saudi government officials and the 9/11 hijackers but failed to include a smoking gun definitively linking the kingdom to the terror attacks.
Zika
84 Pregnant Women in Florida Have Tested Positive for Zika | Newser Mobile
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:04
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Obama Nation
Scientists like Barack Obama so much that they named a parasite after him - The Washington Post
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:43
Other presidents have mountains named after them. They're the namesakes for high schools, boulevards, space centers, libraries, airports, and elk. George Washington has the capital of our country named for him, for crying out loud.
But how many of them have the dubious honor of being the namesake for a parasitic worm?
World, meet Baracktrema obamai, a deadly turtle pathogen named in honor of our current president. Believe it or not, it's supposed to be a compliment.
The new genus and species of parasitic flatworm was introduced this week in an article in the Journal of Parasitology. The tiny creatures, which are the thickness of a human hair, invade the lungs of freshwater turtles in Malaysia, often with deadly consequences.
Thomas Platt, a turtle disease expert who discovered the new species shortly before his recent retirement from St. Mary's College, said that the name is meant to honor President Obama '-- not gross him out. Though most people (understandably) aren't big parasite fans, Platt has a deep respect for the resilient little creatures.
They ''face incredible obstacles to complete their [life cycles] and must contend with the immune system of the host in order to mature and reproduce,'' he said in a statement.
[To save Darwin's finches from devastation, scientists breed hordes of blood-sucking maggots]
Platt's research also revealed that the worm is a relative of members of the genus Unicaecum, another turtle parasite. And both are more distant relatives of the worms that cause the disease schistosomiasis in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, schistosomiasis infects as many as 200 million people in the year, second only to malaria as the world's most devastating parasitic illness. The worms crawl into their hosts' blood vessels and lay eggs, which can become lodged in victims' organs and cause fever, muscle pain, liver problems, even seizures or cancer.
Understanding Baracktrema obamai's relationship to Unicaecum can help scientists understand the evolutionary history of these parasitic diseases, Platt and his colleagues write. In turn, that will help researchers figure out how to treat them.
As he was delving into the phylogenetic tree of parasites, Platt had been conducting research on his own family history. In the process, he discovered that he shares a not-so-distant common ancestor with the president.
''I have named a number of species after people I admire, from my father-in-law, my PhD adviser, and good friends who are academics and/or amateur naturalists,'' Platt said. ''Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.''
The turtle worm joins a long list of creatures named for Obama, which includes a lichen, an extinct lizard (the "obamadon"), a species of trapdoor spider and another parasite. At this rate, perhaps the president is looking forward to leaving office.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly characterized the genus Unicaecum. It is a parasite that infects turtles.
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New Genus of Blood Fluke (Digenea: Schistosomatoidea) from Malaysian Freshwater Turtles (Geoemydidae) and its Phylogenetic Position Within Schistosomatoidea | Journal of Parasitology
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:43
Article Citation:
Jackson R. Roberts, Thomas R. Platt, Raphael Or(C)lis-Ribeiro, and Stephen A. Bullard (2016) New Genus of Blood Fluke (Digenea: Schistosomatoidea) from Malaysian Freshwater Turtles (Geoemydidae) and its Phylogenetic Position Within Schistosomatoidea. Journal of Parasitology: August 2016, Vol. 102, No. 4, pp. 451-462.SYSTEMATICS-PHYLOGENETICS
Jackson R. Roberts,Thomas R. Platt*,Raphael Or(C)lis-Ribeiro, andStephen A. BullardAquatic Parasitology Laboratory, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, College of Agriculture, Auburn University, 203 Swingle Hall, Auburn, Alabama 36849.
*Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556.
Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. infects the lung of geoemydid turtles (black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis [type host] and southeast Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis) in the Malaysian states of Perak, Perlis, and Selangor. Baracktrema and UnicaecumStunkard, 1925 are the only accepted turtle blood fluke genera having the combination of a single cecum, single testis, oviducal seminal receptacle, and uterine pouch. Baracktrema differs from Unicaecum by having a thread-like body approximately 30''50— longer than wide and post-cecal terminal genitalia. Unicaecum has a body approximately 8''12— longer than wide and terminal genitalia that are anterior to the distal end of the cecum. The new genus further differs from all other accepted turtle blood fluke genera by having a cecum that is highly convoluted for its entire length, a spindle-shaped ovary between the cirrus sac and testis, a uterine pouch that loops around the primary vitelline collecting duct, a Laurer's canal, and a dorsal common genital pore. Phylogenetic analysis of the D1''D3 domains of the nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA (28S) revealed, with high nodal support and as predicted by morphology, that Baracktrema and Unicaecum share a recent common ancestor and form a clade sister to the freshwater turtle blood flukes of Spirorchis, paraphyletic Spirhapalum, and Vasotrema and that, collectively, these flukes were sister to all other tetrapod blood flukes (Hapalorhynchus + Griphobilharzia plus the marine turtle blood flukes and schistosomes). Pending a forthcoming emended morphological diagnosis of the family, the clade including Spirorchis spp., paraphyletic Spirhapalum, Vasotrema, Baracktrema, and Unicaecum is a likely placeholder for ''Spirorchiidae Stunkard, 1921'' (type genus SpirorchisMacCallum, 1918; type species Spirorchis innominatusWard, 1921). The present study comprises the 17th blood fluke known to infect geoemydid turtles and the first proposal of a new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 yr.
Received: September 17, 2015; Revised: March 4, 2016; Accepted: March 31, 2016;
Blood flukes (Schistosomatoidea; see Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014) that mature in turtles (''turtle blood flukes,'' hereafter TBFs) have historically been included in paraphyletic ''Spirorchiidae'' (see Platt, 2002; Snyder, 2004; Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014). They total 83 accepted species (53 freshwater; 30 marine) assigned to 19 genera and infect 40 turtle species (37 freshwater, 3 marine; Smith 1997a, 1997b; Platt, 1993, 2002; Tkach et al., 2009; Platt and Sharma, 2012). Nearly all (320 of 327; 98%) extant turtle species occur in freshwater, but a disproportionate number (36%) of TBFs have been described from only 3 of the 7 (43%) extant marine turtles: Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758), and Eretmochelys imbricata (Linnaeus, 1766). Because (1) only 40 of 327 (12%) turtle species are documented as TBF hosts, (2) there are more than twice as many accepted TBF species (83) as documented turtle hosts, and (3) only 7 of 327 (2%) turtle species are marine (Smith, 1997a, 1997b; Platt, 2002; Snyder, 2004; van Dijk et al., 2014), we suspect that a large proportion of TBF biodiversity remains to be discovered, especially among freshwater turtles.
The iconic status and conservation rearing of marine turtles perhaps has hastened the study of their parasites and diseases (e.g., Witham, 1973; Glazebrook and Campbell, 1990a, 1990b), but freshwater turtles are less studied, despite a growing freshwater turtle aquaculture industry (Haitao et al., 2008). Like their marine counterparts, however, freshwater turtles are gaining protection and obtaining higher conservation status (IUCN, 2015) such that examination of these hosts for parasites may become increasingly prohibited (Platt and Sharma, 2012). As such, efforts toward TBF species discovery will likely focus on wide-ranging turtle species of low conservation concern or on aquacultured turtles. Yet, as with marine turtles, an understanding of host-parasite relationships, life cycles, immunology, and pathogenesis will become increasingly relevant due to the need for monitoring, management, and conservation of imperiled freshwater turtle populations (Benz and Collins, 1997). Specific details about how freshwater turtles are cultured are lacking (Haitao et al., 2008), but turtles confined in high densities and kept in extensive systems (e.g., earthen ponds) could develop intense TBF infections (e.g., Holliman and Fisher, 1968) in the presence of a susceptible snail host. This is analogous to sporadic aquaculture disease issues associated with fish blood flukes in cultured marine and freshwater fishes (Bullard and Overstreet, 2002, 2008). Moreover, in the face of scarcity of clean water and expansion of hydroelectric development, freshwater turtle habitats will be increasingly subjected to anthropogenic change globally, possibly leading to deleterious changes in the host-parasite relationship or local extinction of some blood flukes (depending on the biology of the intermediate host). Observations of marine TBF infections indicate that some TBFs can be pathogenic, but less is known about those aspects of the adult TBF-freshwater turtle relationship (Holliman and Fisher, 1968; Holliman et al., 1971), although previous work has focused on host cellular response to TBF eggs (Goodchild and Dennis, 1967).
Extant turtles are classified in the suborders Pleurodira (Chelidae + Pelomedusidae + Podocnemididae) and Cryptodira (11 families, including Geoemydidae) (van Dijk et al., 2014; Crawford et al., 2015). Eight of those 14 turtle families host TBFs: Geoemydidae (10 of 69; Table I), Chelidae (2 of 56 species infected), Cheloniidae (3 of 6), Chelydridae (1 of 4), Emydidae (10 of 53), Kinosternidae (3 of 26), Pelomedusidae (2 of 18), and Trionychidae (9 of 31). More than half of the species in each of these turtle families have not been examined for TBF infections. Regarding geoemydids, the host family of the present study, 10 of 69 (14%) species ranging from central Europe to southeast Asia host 16 TBFs assigned to 5 genera (Mehra, 1934, 1940; Sinha, 1934; Takeuti, 1942; Simha, 1958; Dwivedi, 1967; Rohde et al., 1968; Mehrotra, 1973a, 1973b; Tandon and Gupta, 1982, 1985; Tkach et al., 2009; Platt and Sharma, 2012; van Dijk et al., 2014). That 10 geoemydids are infected by species assigned to 5 TBF genera indicates a proportionally high level of generic, and perhaps species-level, TBF diversity among geoemydids.
Herein we propose a new TBF genus based on specimens collected from 2 previously reported geoemydid hosts'--the black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Gray, 1830), and the southeast Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis (Riche in Daudin, 1801)'--as well as conduct a phylogenetic analysis including the new genus and based on sequence data for the partial D1''D3 domains of 28S rDNA. This is the first proposal of a new TBF genus in 21 yr (Platt and Pichelin, 1994), i.e., since UterotremaPlatt and Pichelin, 1994.
Turtles were purchased from commercial turtle trappers during January and February 2008. Turtles were injected with a lethal dose of sodium pentabarbitol and necropsied by TRP using standard procedures (Platt, 1988, 1998) after the animal failed to respond with an eye blink when touched with a camel-hair paint brush. TBFs were killed by placing them in a small vial with enough saline to prevent desiccation, followed by the addition of steaming 5% neutral buffered formalin before the vial was capped and gently shaken. TBFs were stored in formalin, rinsed in water to remove formalin before staining, stained with Ehrlich's hematoxylin, cleared in methyl salicylate, prepared as whole mounts in Canada balsam, and studied using a compound microscope with differential interference contrast (DIC) optics. Illustrations of stained, whole-mounted specimens were made with the aid of a Leica DM-2500 microscope (Leica Microsystems, Wetzlar, Hesse, Germany) equipped with DIC and a drawing tube. Measurements are herein reported in micrometers (μm), followed by the number measured in parentheses. Turtle scientific names and taxonomic authorities follow van Dijk et al. (2014). Higher-level turtle classification and nomenclature follows Guillon et al. (2012) and Crawford et al. (2015), and anatomical terms for turtles follow Ashley (1974). Classification and anatomical terms for TBFs follow Byrd (1939: uterine pouch), Luhman (1935: genital sucker), Platt (1998, 2002: genital spines, plicate organ, and most other terms; 1993: median esophageal pouch), and Yamaguti (1971: Manter's organ).
Specimens for molecular analyses were preserved in 95% EtOH and processed for sequencing the D1''D3 domains of the nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA (28S). Total genomic DNA was extracted using DNeasyTM Blood and Tissue Kit (Qiagen, Valencia, California). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was carried out using the forward primer ''U178'' (5'²-GCA CCC GCT GAA YTT AAG) (where Y is C or T) and the reverse primer ''L1642'' (5'²-CCA GCG CCATCC ATT TTC A) (Lockyer et al., 2003). PCR amplifications were performed in a total volume of 25 μl, consisting of approximately 25''40 ng of template of gDNA, 0.2 μM of each primer along with 2.5 μl of 10— buffer with MgCl2, 2 μl of dNTP mixture and 0.6 units of Taq polymerase as provided in the Takara Ex Taq kit (Takara Biomedicals, Otsu, Japan). The cycling profile consisted of an initial 4 min at 94 C for denaturation, followed by 40 repeating cycles of 94 C for 30 sec for denaturation, 50''56 C for 30 sec for annealing, and 72 C for 2 min for extension, followed by a final 5 min at 72 C for extension. All PCR reactions were carried out in a Perkin Elmer GeneAmp 2400 thermocycler (Perkin Elmer, Waltham, Massachusetts). PCR products were purified using the PCR Product Pre-Sequencing Kit (USB Corporation, Cleveland, Ohio) following the manufacturer's protocols. Sequences were determined directly from PCR templates using a Beckman/Coulter CEQ2000XL DNA sequencer and dye-terminator chemistry. Primers used in sequencing reactions included a forward primer on the 5'² end of the fragment, Dig12 (5'²-AAG CAT ATC ACT AAG CGG), and a reverse primer on the 3'² end of the fragment, LSU1500R (5'²-GCT ATC CTG AGG GAA ACT TCG) (Tkach et al., 1999, 2000). Internal primers included the forward primers 300F (5'²-CAA GTA CCG TGA GGG AAA GTT G) and 900F (5'²-CCG TCT TGA AAC ACG GAC CAA G) and the reverse primers 300R (5'²-CAA CTT TCC CTC ACG GTACTT G) (Lockyer et al., 2003) and ECD2 (5'²-CTT GGT CCGTGT TTC AAG ACG GG) (Olson et al., 2003).
Sequences obtained were aligned with those for blood flukes available in GenBank. Homologous sequences from representatives of Diplostomoidea were used as outgroups (Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014). The ingroup consisted of the sequence data from the new species (GenBank No. KX061500) plus 73 taxa from Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al. (2014) (GenBank accession numbers reported therein), excluding short sequences from Aporocotyle spinosicalis (AF167094) and Cardicola coeptus (JF803976) and blood fluke cercariae. Sequences were aligned using MAFFT (Katoh and Toh, 2010) with default settings implemented in the CIPRES Science Gateway ver. 3.3 (Miller et al., 2010). The alignment was refined by eye using MEGA version 5.2.2 (Tamura et al., 2011), and ends of each fragment were trimmed to match the shortest sequence. Ambiguous positions were identified and removed using the Gblocks server (Castresana, 2000) with settings for a less stringent selection and the following parameters: minimum number of sequences for a conserved position = 40; minimum number of sequences for a flanking position = 40; maximum number of contiguous non-conserved positions = 8; minimum length of a block = 5; allowed gap positions = with half. Bayesian inference (BI) was performed using the Metropolis-coupled Markov chain Monte Carlo method (MC3) in MrBayes version 3.2.6 (Huelsenbeck et al., 2001; Ronquist and Huelsenbeck, 2003; Huelsenbeck and Ronquist, 2005) and run on CIPRES (Miller et al., 2010). Model of evolution was selected based on the Akaike Information Criterion (Posada and Buckley, 2004) as implemented in the jModelTest version 2.1.4 (Darriba et al., 2012; Guindon and Gascuel, 2003). The GTR + I + G (proportion of invariable sites = 0.288 and gamma distribution = 1.352) model was inferred as the best estimator; therefore, BI used the following parameters: nst = 6, rates = invgamma, ngammacat = 4, and default priors. Analyses were run in duplicate each containing 4 independent chains (3 heated and 1 cold chain) (nchains = 4) for 1.0 — 107generations (ngen = 10,000,000) sampled at intervals of 1,000 generations (samplefreq = 1,000). Results of the first 2,500 sampled trees were discarded as ''burn-in'' based on the stationarity of the likelihood values, assessed by plotting the log-likelihood values of the sample points against generation time using Tracer version 1.5 (Rambaut and Drummond, 2009). All retained trees were used to estimate posterior probability of each node. A majority rule consensus tree with average branch lengths was constructed for the remaining trees using ''summarize the trees'' (sumt) in MrBayes. Resulting phylogenetic trees were visualized using FigTree v1.3.1 (Rambaut, 2009). Branch supports were considered as significant when posterior probabilities were >0.95.
Baracktreman. gen. Roberts, Platt, and Bullard
(Figs. 1''10)
View larger version (13K)Figure 1.Body of holotype (USNM Coll. No. 1254763) of Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. from black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Gray, 1831), (Testudines: Geoemydidae) from Perak, Perlis, and Selangor states of Malaysia. Scale value aside bar. Anterior sucker (as), esophagus (es), esophageal-cecal junction (ecj), anterior extent of testis (at), posterior extent of testis (pt), ovary (ov), cecal termination '†(ct), and common genital pore (cgp). Roman numerals and dashed lines indicate body segments that are illustrated at higher magnification (see Figs. 2''7). Principally ventral view; anterior portion is ventrolateral view.
View larger version (59K)Figures 2''7.Holotype (USNM Coll. No. 1254763) of Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. from black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Gray, 1831), (Testudines: Geoemydidae) from Perak, Perlis, and Selangor states of Malaysia. Scale value aside bar, all figures are the same scale. (2) Anterior body segment (II) showing anterior sucker (as), pharynx (ph), nerve commissure (nc), esophagus (es), esophageal gland (eg), esophageal swelling (sw), cecum (ce), and vitellarium (v). Ventrolateral view. (3) Body segment (III). Ventral view. (4) Body segment (IV). Ventral view. (5) Body segment (V). Ventral view. (6) Body segment (VI). Ventral view. (7) Body segment (VII) showing ovary (ov), junction of vitellarium and primary vitelline collecting duct (jvc), vas deferens (vd), junction of ovary and oviduct (joo), vitelline duct (vt), cecal termination (ct), o¶type (oo), oviducal seminal receptacle (osr), ascending portion of uterine pouch (aup), junction of uterine pouch with uterus (jup), descending portion of uterine pouch (dup), seminal vesicle (sv), cirrus (ci), distal portion of uterus (diu), common genital pore (cgp), and excretory pore (ep). Ventral view.
View larger version (56K)Figures 8''9.Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. (8) Genitalia of holotype (USNM Coll. No. 1254763) from lung of black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Gray, 1831), (Testudines: Geoemydidae) from Perak, Perlis, and Selangor states of Malaysia. Junction of vitelline duct with oviduct (jvo), oviduct (od), Laurer's canal (Lc), Laurer's canal pore (Lcp), vitelline duct (vt), junction of uterine pouch with uterus (jup), descending portion of uterine pouch (dup), distal portion of uterus (diu), vas deferens (vd), o¶type (oo), uterus (u), oviducal seminal receptacle (osr), ascending portion of uterine pouch (aup), seminal vesicle (sv), cirrus (ci), common genital pore (cgp), and excretory pore (ep). Ventral view. (9) Genitalia of paratype (USNM Coll. No. 1254764) from lung of Southeast Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis (Daudin, 1801), Geoemydidae, from the Selangor state of Malaysia, showing comparable features as in Figure 8. Dorsal view.
View larger version (30K)Figure 10.Phylogenetic relationships of blood flukes reconstructed by Bayesian inference and based on partial D1''D3 domains of 28S from 79 taxa (majority rules consensus tree). Numbers aside tree nodes indicate posterior probability. Definitive hosts are indicated by icons aside tree nodes.
Diagnosis.Body cylindrical (not flattened or ventrally concave), thread-like, extremely elongate (approximately 30''50— longer than wide), with posterior end tapering more sharply than anterior end, lacking tegumental spines, body protuberances, and ventral sucker. Anterior sucker terminal, comprising an apparently protrusive and eversible hemisphere directing anteriad. Pharynx present, enveloping anterior extremity of esophagus, centered on mouth, aspinous. Esophagus short (approximately 5% of body length), ventral to anterior nerve commissure, lacking diverticula, straight anteriorly and slightly sinuous posteriorly, expanding laterally to form esophageal swelling immediately anterior to esophageal-intestinal junction; esophageal gland surrounding esophagus from level of nerve commissure to esophageal-intestinal junction, strongly basophilic anterior to esophageal-intestinal junction. Plicate organ and median esophageal pouch absent. Intestine comprising a single cecum, smooth (lacking diverticula or secondary rami), extremely elongate (up to 90% of body length), terminating posterior to gonads, extensively convoluted along entire length. Testis dorsal or lateral to cecum, occupying middle to posterior portion of body, exceeding 1/4''1/3 of body length. Cirrus sac present. Genital sucker and genital spines absent. Ovary single, longer than wide, spindle-shaped, lacking lobes, dextral, dorsal to cecum, anterior to distal tip of cecum, post-testicular. Oviduct extending posteriad from ovary, medial; middle portion of oviduct functioning as oviducal seminal receptacle. Laurer's canal post-cecal, post-gonadal, opening dorsally near level of o¶type. Vitellarium follicular, filling space surrounding cecum between esophageal-intestinal junction and ovary. O¶type a strongly glandular and thick-walled spheroid chamber, post-cecal, post-gonadal, anterior to common genital pore. Uterus post-gonadal, post-cecal, extensively convoluted, with associated uterine pouch; uterine pouch ventral to uterus and all other genitalia, post-cecal, post-gonadal, inverse U-shaped, comprising distinctive ascending (proximal) and descending (distal) portions; ascending portion extending dorsoanteriad from uterus, ventral to vas deferens, curving mediad before connecting with descending portion of uterine pouch; descending portion of uterine pouch laterally expanded, massive, extensively convoluted, extending posteriad before ending blindly. Common genital pore dorsal, sinistral. Excretory vesicle y-shaped; excretory pore terminal. Manter's organ absent.
Differential diagnosis.Body cylindrical, extremely elongate (approximately 30''50— longer than wide), lacking spines and ventral sucker. Anterior sucker a protrusive and eversible hemisphere directing anteriad. Esophagus short (approximately 5% of body length). Intestine comprising a single cecum, extremely elongate, terminating posterior to gonads, extensively convoluted. Testis exceeding 1/4''1/3 of body length. Ovary spindle-shaped, anterior to distal tip of cecum, post-testicular, occupying posterior 1/5 of body. Laterally expanded medial portion of oviduct an oviducal seminal receptacle. Laurer's canal post-cecal, post-gonadal, opening dorsally near o¶type. O¶type a glandular and thick-walled spheroid chamber, post-cecal, post-gonadal, anterior to common genital pore. Uterus post-gonadal, post-cecal, convoluted along entire length; uterine pouch post-cecal, post-gonadal, inverse U-shaped, with ascending and descending portions. Common genital pore dorsal, sinistral. Manter's organ absent.
Type species.Baracktrema obamai n. sp.
Baracktrema obamain. sp. Roberts, Platt, and Bullard
(Figs. 1''9)
Description of adult (based on 17 individuals comprising 5 and 12 intact and partial specimens, respectively; number in parentheses indicates number of specimens measured).Body 3,550''6,530 (5) long, 58''130 (11) wide or 1''2% (4) body length at level of esophageal-intestinal junction, 68''158 (13) wide or 2''3% (4) body length at level of testis (typically maximum width of specimen), 43''75 (11) wide or 1''2% (5) body length at level of genital pore (Figs. 1''7). Anterior sucker 10''23 (10) long or 0.95. With high nodal support and as predicted by morphology, Baracktrema and Unicaecum share a recent common ancestor and form a clade sister to the freshwater turtle blood flukes of Spirorchis, paraphyletic Spirhapalum, and Vasotrema and that, collectively, these flukes were sister to all other tetrapod blood flukes (Hapalorhynchus + Griphobilharzia plus the marine turtle blood flukes and schistosomes). The sequences for Baracktrema and Unicaecum produced relatively long branch lengths (comparable to those of the freshwater TBF Hapalorhynchus and of the crocodilian blood fluke Griphobilharzia), perhaps reflective of the marked morphological differences between these taxa; further justifying their assignment to distinct genera. The present phylogenetic analysis also reiterated support for monophyly of Schistosomatidae and paraphyly of TBFs (as well as Spirhapalum), with the blood flukes of freshwater turtles sister to all other tetrapod blood flukes (TBFs of marine turtles and schistosomes). We noted that some schistosome interrelationships differed from those previously reported (Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014), e.g., Bivitellobilharzia spp. were sister to the clade comprising all non-Schistosoma schistosomatids. Interrelationships of the fish blood flukes (Aporocotylidae Odhner, 1912) echoed that of Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al. (2014) wherein Aporocotylidae was monophyletic and sister to all tetrapod blood flukes (TBFs + schistosomes), and the euteleostean aporocotylids were monophyletic and sister to the chondrichthyan blood fluke Chimaerohemecus trondheimensis van der Land, 1967.
The life cycle of B. obamai should resemble that of other TBFs and schistosomes, requiring a snail first intermediate host and having a furcocercous cercariae that directly penetrates the vertebrate definitive host. Adults of B. obamai infect the lung arterioles, where clusters of tens to hundreds of eggs infected lung alveoli of specimens of both turtle host species. The mechanism involved for the transit of the eggs from the circulatory system to the alveoli could rely on the immune system of the host, as demonstrated for some schistosomes (Damian, 1987; Pearce, 2005). Alternatively, or in addition, eggs of B. obamai may be deposited directly into the luminal space of the alveoli by the fluke. How eggs travel from the lung to the external environment is not known to us; however, we speculate that some combination of active expulsion (coughing) and the bronchial escalator are involved.
The life cycles of TBFs and schistosomes differ regarding egg development: schistosome eggs are fully developed before they are released from the definitive host and hatch shortly after contact with water (Tanabe, 1923; Stunkard and Hinchliffe, 1952; Wu, 1953; Najim, 1956; Sinha and Srivastava, 1960; Greene, 1962; Lee and Wykoff, 1966; Yamaguti, 1975); however, TBF eggs apparently require a period of development in the external environment before hatching (Goodchild and Kirk, 1960; Holliman and Fisher, 1968; Wall, 1941a, 1941b, 1951). Examination of the eggs of B. obamai in saline at the time of necropsy by TRP revealed larvated eggs each having a fully developed, ciliated miracidium occupying 1/3''1/2 of the egg lumen. Miracidia swam actively inside the egg, immediately emerged upon the addition of freshwater and swam in the observation dish. Although the function of the uterine pouch in the new species is unknown, it is possible that the transit (or placement) of the eggs from the circulatory system into the lung occurs too quickly to allow for completion of larval development. Fertilized eggs could be held in the uterine pouch until development is complete such that eggs would be capable of hatching upon contact with environmental water. This scenario is highly speculative, and we did not observe a mass of eggs in the uterine pouch of any live specimen; however, the notion is intuitive based upon available facts regarding the life cycle of this and related species.
The morphological and molecular phylogenetic affinities between Baracktrema (1 species infecting Geoemydidae in the Indomalayan region only) and Unicaecum (2 species infecting Emydidae in North America only) (see Remarks) are intriguing regarding co-diversification of blood flukes and their turtle hosts. Baracktrema obamai infects C. amboinensis and S. crassicollis; U. ruszkowskii infects G. pseudogeographica and T. scripta; and U. dissimilis infects Graptemys geographica (Le Sueur, 1817) and T. scripta. These turtle families as well as Testudinidae plus monotypic Platysternon (Gray, 1831) comprise superfamily Testudinoidea, which has an extensive fossil record in Asia, where most extant species range (Crawford et al., 2015). Crawford et al. (2015) hypothesized that the Emysternia (Emydidae + Platysternon) entered the nearctic via high-latitude dispersal routes during the Paleogene (65''1.5 mya; a warming period) (see also Estes and Hutchison, 1980; Holroyd et al., 2001; Zachos et al., 2001; Eberle et al., 2010; Hutchison, 2013). In light of hypothesized Paleogene dispersal, the close morphological and molecular similarities among Baracktrema and Unicaecum are noteworthy. This also potentially applies to other TBF genera of the Indo-Malayan, Palearctic, and Nearctic regions (Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014; Crawford et al., 2015). Platysternon megacephalum (Gray, 1831), the monotypic extant member of Emysternia (Crawford et al., 2015), and other unsampled geoemydids are critical hosts to examine for testing such biogeographic hypotheses.
Molecular phylogenetics of turtle and fish blood flukes remains, unsurprisingly, in a state of flux. Tree topologies differ, sometimes markedly, among the various laboratories studying them; perhaps related to outgroup choice, taxon sampling, fragment length, analysis method, alignment parameters, treatment of gaps, and model of evolution used. Pending a revised morphological diagnosis, we considered only existing 28S sequence data (see Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al. [2014] for a complete list) from adult specimens with confirmed identities (i.e., excluding sequences derived from cercariae, which we think are not defensibly morphologically identifiable, as of yet, to the level of species, genus, or blood fluke family). As a result, we view the clade including Spirorchis spp., paraphyletic Spirhapalum, Vasotrema, Baracktrema, and Unicaecum as a likely placeholder for ''Spirorchiidae Stunkard, 1921'' (type genus SpirorchisMacCallum, 1918; type species Spirorchis innominatusWard, 1921; see MacCallum, 1918; Stunkard, 1921; Ward, 1921; Platt, 2002) (Fig. 10). Accepting the current definition of monophyletic Schistosomatidae (crown group within Schistosomatoidea [see Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014]), this system would leave 2 TBF clades (i.e., the Hapalorhynchus and Griphobilharzia clade plus the marine TBF clade comprising Carettacola, Learedius, and Hapalotrema) in ''systematic limbo,'' without a family assignment. Along with generating additional sequence data from other TBF species and genera, morphological diagnoses of these lineages/clades are in progress, which will help alleviate the nomenclatural ambiguity resulting from Snyder's (2004) indication of TBF paraphyly. Alternatively, perhaps additional TBF sequence data from 28S and other loci plus discovery of TBF species representing novel genera may demonstrate TBF monophyly.
The ''Spirorchis clade'' (Fig. 10), excluding H. gracilis, comprises all TBFs that infect freshwater cryptodirans (sensu Bickham and Carr [1983]; Guillon et al. [2012]; for sub-order Cryptodira, i.e., the ''hidden neck turtles,'' freshwater turtles that retract their neck vertically [Bonin et al., 2006]) and for which 28S sequences are publically available. Although many more TBFs (49 species) infect cryptodirans, molecular data for those species currently is lacking. All extant marine turtles are assigned to Cryptodira, but their blood flukes comprise the sister lineage to schistosomatids not those of freshwater cryptodirans (Fig. 10). Further in regard to the lack of basic knowledge of TBF biodiversity and biogeography, the present phylogenetic analysis further highlights the need for increased molecular taxonomic coverage among freshwater TBFs in general: only 9 of 57 (14%) freshwater TBF species and 6 of 10 (60%) freshwater TBF genera are associated with published 28S sequence data (Fig. 10). This predicament is even worse among the fish blood flukes, which are almost exclusively represented by marine taxa (Or(C)lis-Ribeiro et al., 2014). The present phylogenetic analysis clustered as sister taxa 2 genera that occur on opposite sides of the planet: Unicaecum spp. reportedly range in North America only (Stunkard, 1925, 1927; Byrd, 1939; Brooks, 1979), and B. obamai reportedly ranges in the Indomalayan region only (present study); further suggestive of the fact that unnamed TBF lineages remain to be studied, especially among freshwater turtles outside of North America.
We thank Dr. Reuben S.K. Sharma (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia [UPM]) for hosting T.R.P.'s sabbatical stay and supporting collections in Malaysia; UPM for providing sabbatical funds to T.R.P.; and Scott Snyder (University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska) and Sara Brant (Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico) for furnishing molecular sequence data originally derived from one of T.R.P.'s specimens of B. obamai. This is a contribution of the Southeastern Cooperative Fish Parasite and Disease Project (AU-SFAAS) and was supported in part by National Science Foundation Division of Environmental Biology grant nos. 1112729, 1051106, and 1048523 awarded to S.A.B.
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MEGA5: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28:2731''2739. Tanabe, B. 1923. The life history of a new schistosome, Schistosomatium pathlocopticum Tanabe, found in experimentally infected mice. Journal of Parasitology 9:183''198. Tandon, V., and N. K. Gupta. 1982. On some blood flukes (Spirorchiidae: Coeuritrematinae) from freshwater chelonians in India. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Animal Science 91:275''282. Tandon, V., and N. K. Gupta. 1985. On the blood fluke, Cardiotrema roparensis Mehrotra, 1973 and validity of C. longivesticulata Dwivedi, 1967 (Spirorchiidae: Coeuritrematinae). Research Bulletin (Science) of the Panjab University 36:331''334.Tkach, V. V., B. Grabda-Kazubska, J. Pawlowski, and Z. Swiderski. 1999. Molecular and morphological evidences for close phylogenetic affinities of the genera Macrodera, Leptophallus, Metaleptophallus and Paralepoderma (Digenea, Plagiorchioidea). Acta Parasitologica 44:170''179.Tkach, V., J. Pawlowski, and J. Mariaux. 2000. Phylogenetic analysis of the suborder Plagiorchiata (Platyhelminthes, Digenea) based on partial lsrDNA sequences. International Journal for Parasitology 30:83''93. Tkach, V. V., S. D. Snyder, and J. A. Vaughan. 2009. A new species of blood fluke (Digenea: Spirorchiidae) from the Malayan box turtle, Cuora amboinensis (Cryptodira: Geomydidae) in Thailand. Journal of Parasitology 95:743''746. [Abstract]van Dijk, P. P., J. B. Iverson, A. G. J. Rhodin, H. B. Shaffer, and R. Bour. 2014. Turtles of the world, 7th edition: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution with maps, and conservation status. Chelonian Research Monographs 5:329''479.Wall, L. D. 1941a. Life history of Spirorchis elephantis (Cort, 1917), a new blood fluke from Chrysemys picta. American Midland Naturalist 25:402''412. Wall, L. D. 1941b. Spirorchis parvus (Stunkard), its life history and development of its excretory system (Trematoda: Spirorchiidae). Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 60:221''260. Wall, L. D. 1951. The life history of Vasotrema robustum (Stunkard, 1928), Trematoda: Spirorchiidae. Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 70:173''184. Ward, H. B. 1921. A new blood fluke from turtles. Journal of Parasitology 7:114''128. Witham, R. 1973. A bacterial disease of hatchling loggerhead sea turtles. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Science 36:226''228.Wu, L. 1953. A study of the life history of Trichobilharzia cameroni sp. nov. (Family Schistosomatidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology 31:351''373. Yamaguti, S. 1971. Synopsis of digenetic trematodes of vertebrates, vol. I. Keigaku Publishing Company, Tokyo, Japan, 1074 p.Yamaguti, S. 1975. A synoptical review of life histories of digenetic trematodes of vertebrates. Keigaku Publishing Company, Tokyo, Japan, 590 p.Zachos, J., M. Pagani, L. Sloan, E. Thomas, and K. Billups. 2001. Trends, rhythms, and aberrations in global climate 65 Ma to present. Science 292:686''693. Jackson R. Roberts, Raphael Orelis-Ribeiro, Binh T. Dang, Kenneth M. Halanych and Stephen A. Bullard. (2016) Blood flukes of Asiatic softshell turtles: revision of Coeuritrema Mehra, 1933 (Digenea: Schistosomatoidea) and a new species infecting Chinese softshell turtles, Pelodiscus sinensis (Trionychidae), from Vietnam. Folia Parasitologica63.Online publication date: 6-Sep-2016.CrossRefVolume 102, Issue 4(August 2016)
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Agenda 2030
Unbelievable Heat On This Date 85 Years Ago
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 14:00
Bernie Sanders just had his 75th birthday this week. But had he been born 10 years earlier he would have experienced this. Two thirds of the US was over 90 degrees on September 10, 1931 and Minnesota reached 108 degrees.
September 10, 1931 temperatures:FORESTBURG 4 NNE SD 109MILAN 1 NW MN 108GANN VALLEY 4NW SD 107ABERDEEN SD 107MORRIS WC EXP STN MN 106NEW ULM 2 SE MN 106COTTONWOOD 2 E SD 106KENNEBEC SD 106MELLETTE 4 W SD 106MURDO SD 106
Anthem
The entire Seattle Seahawks team will protest the national anthem at opening game
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 10:50
The Seattle Seahawks will become the first NFL team to join Colin Kaepernick's silent protest during the national anthem this Sunday.
In their home opener against the Miami Dolphins, the Seattle Seahawks have planned a ''big surprise'' during the national anthem, according to starting linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner emphasized that the entire roster will take part in the protest, though he didn't specify if the team would sit or kneel.
''Anything we want to do, it's not going to be individual. It's going to be a team thing. That's what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals,'' Wagner told the Seattle Times.
The team has the support of head coach Pete Carroll, who recently stood up for cornerback Jeremy Lane when he sat during the national anthem in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last Thursday before Seattle's final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.
''[Lane]'s pretty clear on what he did and what he was trying to express and I think it is very simple and so we'll leave that up to him,'' Carroll told the Times.
In addition to Lane and Wagner, starting wide receiver Doug Baldwin has publicly expressed support for Kaepernick on social media. After Kaepernick started receiving blowback for refusing to stand up for the national anthem, Baldwin defended the protest and cast Kaepernick's critics as ignorant of what free speech entails.
Kaepernick's silent protest has also been recently joined by U.S. Women's National Team soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and several members of the West Virginia Tech volleyball team. Kaepernick, who said he refuses to ''stand to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people,'' has said he'll continue his protest until police brutality is no longer an issue.
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email at [email protected] and follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.
Use Apple Pay or else : funny
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 12:37
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Google Play Music
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:16
Lyrics
Yeah unhGet up ow!Ow!Knock me out, deadWoo!
Superhighways, coast to coast, easy to get anywhereOn the transcontinental overload, just slide behind the wheelHow does it feel when there's no destination that's too far?And somewhere on the way you might find out who you are, ooo
Living in AmericaEye to eye, station to stationLiving in AmericaHand in hand, across the nationLiving in AmericaI got to have a celebration, rock my soul, huh, aw, huh
Smokestack, fatback, many miles of railroad trackAll night radio keep on runnin' through your rock 'n' roll soulAll night diners keep you awake on black coffee and a hard roll, wooYou might have to walk a fine line, say it, you might take a hard lineBut everybody's workin' overtime
Living in America, unhEye to eye, station to stationLiving in AmericaHand in hand, across the nationLiving in AmericaI got to have a celebration, oh
I live in AmericaSaid, I live in AmericaWait a minute
You may not be lookin' for the promised landBut you might find it anywayUnder one of those old familiar names likeNew Orleans, Detroit City, DallasPittsburgh P.A, New York CityKansas City, Atlanta, Chicago and L. A.
Living in AmericaHit meLiving in America, yeahLiving in America
I live in AmericaNot yetI live in America, hey I know what it means, I
Living in AmericaEddie Murphy eat your heart out
To the bridge, eh
Living in AmericaHit me, I said now, eye to eye, station to stationLiving in AmericaOh, so nice with your bad selfLiving in AmericaWhoah, I feel good
Written by Charles Kaufman, Charlie Midnight, Dan Hartman ' Copyright (C) Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
Marines' Hymn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:10
The "Marines' Hymn" is the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps, introduced by the first Director of USMC Band, Francesco Maria Scala. It is the oldest official song in the United States Armed Forces.[1] The "Marines' Hymn" is typically sung at the position of attention as a gesture of respect. However, the third verse is also used as a toast during formal events, such as the birthday ball and other ceremonies. Western Illinois University uses the hymn prior to all football games. They are the only non-military academy allowed to use the hymn the university has had permission to use the official nickname, mascot, and hymn of the Corps since 1927.
History[edit]The lyrics are contained in the book Rhymes of the Rookies published in 1917. The author of these poems was W.E. Christian. The book is available online in several formats. The book consists of a series of poems regarding military life prior to World War I.
Some lyrics were popular phrases before the song was written. The line "To the shores of Tripoli" refers to the First Barbary War, and specifically the Battle of Derne in 1805. After Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon and his Marines hoisted the American flag over the Old World for the first time, the phrase was added to the flag of the United States Marine Corps. "The Halls of Montezuma" refers to the Battle of Chapultepec on 12/13 September 1847 during the Mexican-American War, where a force of Marines stormed Chapultepec Castle.
While the lyrics are said to date from the 19th century, no pre-20th century text is known. The author of the lyrics is likewise unknown. Legend has it that a Marine on duty in Mexico penned the hymn. The unknown author transposed the phrases in the motto on the Colors so that the first two lines of the Hymn would read: "From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli", favoring euphony over chronology.
The music is from the Gendarmes' Duet (the "bold gendarmes") from the revision in 1867 of the Jacques Offenbach opera Genevi¨ve de Brabant, which debuted in Paris in 1859. Correspondence between Colonel Albert S. McLemore and Walter F. Smith (the second leader of the United States Marine Band) traces the tune:
''Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines' Hymn is now sung was a very popular one.''The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied:
''Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found in the opera, Genevieve de Brabant... The melody is not in the exact form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song.''John Philip Sousa once wrote:
''The melody of the 'Halls of Montezuma' is taken from Offenbach's comic opera, 'Genevieve de Brabant' and is sung by two gendarmes.''Some websites, including the official USMC website [1], claim that the U.S. Marine Corps secured a copyright on the song either 19 August 1891 or 18 August 1919;[2] however, US Copyright Law prohibits the US Federal government, including subordinate agencies, from holding domestic copyrights,[3] and as such, the song falls into the public domain. However, several composers do hold copyrights on different arrangements of the song. These copyrights cover only the specific arrangements and not the song as a whole.[4] In 1929, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the three verses of the Marines' Hymn as the official version, but changed the fifth through eighth lines:
Pre-1929 versionAuthorized changeAdmiration of the nation,we're the finest ever seen;And we glory in the titleOf United States Marines.First to fight for right and freedomAnd to keep our honor clean;We are proud to claim the titleOf United States Marine.This older version can be heard in the 1950 film Halls of Montezuma. On 21 November 1942, Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse's fourth line from "On the land as on the sea" to "In the air, on land, and sea" to reflect the addition of aviation to the Corps' arsenal.[5]
Instrumental sample of a single verse of the Marines' hymn played by the President's Own Marine Band.
Problems playing this file? See media help.From the Halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli; We fight our country's battles In the air, on land, and sea; First to fight for right and freedom And to keep our honor clean; We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marine
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze From dawn to setting sun; We have fought in every clime and place Where we could take a gun; In the snow of far-off Northern lands And in sunny tropic scenes, You will find us always on the job The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps Which we are proud to serve; In many a strife we've fought for life And never lost our nerve. If the Army and the Navy Ever look on Heaven's scenes, They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.
Various people over the years wrote unofficial or semi-unofficial extra verses to commemorate later battles and actions, for example, this verse commemorating the occupation of Iceland during World War II:[6]
Again in 1941, we sailed a north'ard courseand found beneath the midnight sun, the Viking and the Norse.The Iceland girls were slim and fair, and fair the Iceland scenes,and the Army found in landing there, the United States Marines.As the anticipated invasion of Japan neared, this portion of another verse was on a sign the Marines erected on Bougainville:
So when we reach the 'Isle of Japan'with our caps at a jaunty tilt,we'll enter the city of Tokyoon the roads the Seabees built.Written by William Perkins after Desert Storm; CommO 1st CEB(-) Task Force "Poppa Bear"
In all our years of fighting,in some battles that were rough.From the rigs of the Continental ships,to the rigs in the Persian Gulf.But we've taught the world respect for,and exactly what it means.The eagle, globe, and anchor of,the United States Marine.And an anonymous additional stanza:
Standing ready to do battle,The United States Marines,For the cause of right and freedom,The United States Marines;If the People need to call uponThe United States Marines,They will find us always faithful,The United States Marines.See also[edit]References[edit] This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
^"The Marines' Hymn". United States Marine Corps Band. Retrieved 2007-04-20. ^Fuld, James J. The Book of World-Famous Music. Fifth ed. N.Y.: Dover, 2000.^17 U.S.C. § 105^United States. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series - Music. Part 5. No. 1. Sec. 1. Washington:, 1970. p. 830. Print.^Marine Corps Lore. Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Department of the Navy. 1963. p. 17. ^USMC Gals: Marines' HymnExternal links[edit]
Battle of Derna (1805) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:09
This article is about the battle in the 19th century. For the battle in Italo-Turkish war, see Battle of Derna (1912).The Battle of Derna was the decisive victory of a mercenary army recruited and led by U.S. Marines under the command of U.S. Army Lieutenant William Eaton and U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon. The battle involved a forced 600-mile march through the desert to the city of Derna, Libya, which was defended by a much larger force.[2]
Background[edit]In 1804 the former Consul to Tunis, William Eaton returned to the Mediterranean with the title of Naval Agent to the Barbary States. Eaton had been granted permission from the United States government to back the claim of Hamet Karamanli. Hamet Karamanli was the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli and had been deposed by his brother Yussif Karamanli. Upon his return to the area, Eaton sought out Hamet Karamanli who was in exile in Egypt. Upon locating him, Eaton made a proposal to reinstate him on the throne. The exile agreed to Eaton's plan.[3]
CommodoreSamuel Barron, the new naval commander in the Mediterranean, provided Eaton with naval support from USS Nautilus, USS Hornet and USS Argus. The three vessels were to provide offshore bombardment support.[4]Nautilus was commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry, Hornet by Samuel Evans, and Argus by Isaac Hull.[citation needed]
A small detachment of U.S. Marines was given to Eaton commanded by First LieutenantPresley O'Bannon. Eaton and Hull based their operations at Alexandria, Egypt. With the help of Hamet Karamanli, they recruited about 400 Arab and Greekmercenaries.[5] Eaton became general and commander-in-chief of the combined force.[6]
On March 6, 1805, Lieutenant Eaton (having designated himself as general and commander in chief) began to lead his forces on a 600 miles (970 km) trek across the Libyan desert.[7] Their objective was the port city of Derne, capital of the province of Cyrenaica. The mercenary forces were promised supplies and money when they reached the city. During the 50-day trek, Eaton became worried over the relationship between the Christian Greeks and the roughly 200 to 300 Muslim mercenaries. Mutiny threatened the success of the expedition on several occasions. Between March 10 and March 18, several Arab camel drivers mutinied before reaching the sanctuary of the Massouah Castle. From March 22 to March 30, several Arab mercenaries under the command of Sheik el Tahib staged mutinies. By April 8, when he crossed the border into Libya Tripoli, Eaton had quelled the Arab mutinies. In late April, his army finally reached the port city of Bomba, some miles up the coast from Derne, where Argus, Nautilus and Hornet were waiting for him. Eaton received fresh supplies and the money to pay his mercenaries.
On the morning of April 26, Eaton sent a letter to Mustafa Bey, the governor of Derne, asking for safe passage through the city and additional supplies, though Eaton realized the governor probably would not agree. Mustafa reportedly wrote back, "My head or yours!". On the morning of April 27, Eaton observed a fort in Derne with eight guns. He believed the majority of the population would prefer to be ruled by Hamet. Argus sent a cannon ashore to use in the attack. Hull's ships then opened fire and bombarded Derne's batteries for an hour. Meanwhile, Eaton divided his army into two separate attacking parties. Hamet was to lead the Arab mercenaries southwest to cut the road to Tripoli, then attack the city's left flank and storm the weakly defended governor's palace. Eaton with the rest of the mercenaries and the squad of Marines would attack the harbor fortress. Hull and the ships would fire on the heavily defended port batteries. The attack began at 2:45 p.m., with Lt. O'Bannon and his Marines leading the advance. O'Bannon led his Marines and 50 Greek gunners with the field piece from Argus, though the gun's effectiveness was lessened after the crew carelessly left the ramrod in the tube and fired it down range. The harbor defenses had been reinforced, and the attackers were temporarily halted. But this had weakened the defenses elsewhere and allowed the Arab mercenaries to ride unopposed into the western section of the city.[8]
Eaton's mercenary army was hesitant under the enemy's musket fire, and he realized a charge was the only way to regain the initiative. Leading the charge, he was seriously wounded in the wrist by a musketball. On Argus, Hull saw the Americans and mercenaries were "gaining ground very fast though a heavy fire of Musquetry [sic] was constantly kept upon them." The ships ceased fire to allow the charge to continue. Eaton would report that O'Bannon with his Marines and Greeks "pass'd through a shower of Musketry from the Walls of houses, took possession of the Battery". The defenders fled in haste, leaving their cannons loaded and ready to fire. O'Bannon raised the American flag over the battery, and Eaton turned the captured guns on the city. Hamet's force had seized the governor's palace and secured the western part of the city. Many of the defenders of the harbor fortress fled through the town and ran into Hamet's force. By 4:00 p.m. the entire city had fallen, and for the first time, an American flag flew over fortifications on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean.[8]
Yusuf was aware of the attack on Derne and had sent reinforcements to the city. By the time this force arrived, however, the city had fallen. His men dug in and prepared to recapture the city. Eaton fortified his new position, while Hamet took up residence in the governor's palace and had his Arabs patrolling the outer areas of the city. Yusuf's men dug in south of the city and waited. On May 13, they attacked the city and drove Hamet's Arabs back, almost recapturing the governor's palace. Argus and Eaton's captured batteries pounded the attackers, who finally fled under heavy fire. Nightfall found both sides back in their original positions. Skirmishes and several other minor attempts were made on the city in the following weeks, but the city remained in American control. From Derne, Eaton now planned to march across the desert and attack Tripoli from the land. During his march he was informed of the treaty signed between Tobias Lear and Yusuf Karamanli. In the middle of his trek Eaton was ordered to return to Egypt with Hamet.[citation needed]
Aftermath[edit]The Battle of Derne was the first land battle of the United States on foreign soil after the American Revolutionary War.[9] It was the decisive action of the First Barbary War, although Eaton was furious over what he called a 'sell-out' between Consul Lear and the bey. Hamet returned to Egypt and the mercenaries were never fully paid.
William Eaton returned to the United States as a national hero. Legend holds that O'Bannon was presented a Mameluke sword by Hamet, the Ottoman Empireviceroy. No evidence supports this claim. The first mention of Hamet giving O'Bannon a bejeweled sword seems to be in a lengthy article, "Kentucky Officer First to Carry Stars and Stripes to Victory in Foreign Country," by John Presley Cain in the 29 July 1917 edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal. One sword that was purported to be the sword in question turned out to be a late-Victorian era forgery. [10] He was later awarded a sword of honor by his home state of Virginia. A further legend holds that O'Bannon's exploits in North Africa inspired the Marine Corps officers to adopt Mameluk swords, but this is also uncorroborated by any contemporaneous sources. Swords of this style were very popular in Europe and a more likely scenario is that the Marines were imitating the influential military leaders who were wearing them.[11] The attack on Derna was the inspiration for the lyrics of the Marines' Hymn "to the shores of Tripoli".[12]
In popular culture[edit]The 1950 American film Tripoli is a fictionalized account of the Battle of Derne.
References[edit]^Parisis, Ioannis (10 July 2013). "The first US Marine's operation in the Mediterranean '' A Greek-assisted attack in the Battle of Derna". The Academy for Strategic Analyses. Retrieved 11 September 2016. ^Naval History and Heritage Command, Battle of Derne, April 27, 1805, Selected Naval Documents^Lambert, Frank. The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World. Hill and Wang, 2005, p. 150.^Lambert, Frank. The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World. Hill and Wang, 2005, p. 152.^Hickman, John. Early American Wars. Kurose Ross, 1982, p. 82.^Lambert, Frank. The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World. Hill and Wang, 2005, p. 151.^"1775: Founding of the Marine Corps". ^ abNaval Documents Relating to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Volume V. Washington: United States Government Printing Office. 1944. pp. 547''548, 553''555. ^"Battle of Derna". US Marine Corps. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. ^http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/historydivision/Documents/Fortitudine/Fortitudine%20Vol%2014%20No%201.pdf^"First Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. US Marine Corps. Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. ^Kelly, Jack (April 12, 2009). "Kill the pirates". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-04-14. Bibliography[edit]Further reading[edit]London, Joshua E. Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. ISBN 0-471-44415-4Zacks, Richard. The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805. New York: Hyperion, 2005. ISBN 1-4013-0003-0.
Battle of Chapultepec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:09
The Battle of Chapultepec in September 1847 was a battle between the invading US army and Mexican forces holding Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City during the Mexican-American War. The castle, sitting atop a 200-foot (60 m) tall hill, was an important position for the defense of the city. Its capture paved the way for the fall of Mexico City.
Background[edit]On September 8, 1847, in the costly Battle of Molino del Rey, U.S. forces had managed to drive the Mexicans from their positions near the base of Chapultepec Castle guarding Mexico City from the west. However, Army engineers were still interested in the southern causeways to the city.[1]:311 General Winfield Scott held a council of war with his generals and engineers on September 11.[1]:311 Scott was in favor of attacking Chapultepec and only General David E. Twiggs agreed.[1]:312 Most of Scott's officers favored the attack through the southern gates, including Captain Robert E. Lee.[1]:312 A young lieutenant, P. G. T. Beauregard, gave a textbook speech that persuaded General Franklin Pierce to change his vote in favor of the western attack.[1]:312
Antonio L"pez de Santa Anna was in command of the army at Mexico City. He understood that Chapultepec Castle was an important position for the defense of the city.[1]:313 The castle sat atop a 200-foot (60 m) tall hill which in recent years was being used as the Mexican Military Academy.[1]:313 General Nicols Bravo, however, had fewer than 1,000 men[1]:313 (832: Total including 250: 10th Infantry, 115: Quer(C)taro Battalion, 277: Mina Battalion, 211: Union Battalion, 27: Toluca Battalion and 42: la Patria Battalion with seven guns( Gen. Manuel Gamboa with 2-24 lbs, 1-8 lb., 3-4 lbs. & 1 howitzer (68) ) to hold the hill, including 200 cadets, some as young as 13 years old. A gradual slope from the castle down to the Molino del Rey made an inviting attack point.
According to military records at the General National Archives in Mexico City, Chapultepec Castle was only defended by 400 men, 300 from de Batall"n de San Blas under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Xicot(C)ncatl, and the castle's garrison of 100 men, including the cadets. The additional Mexican troops were used in external walled redoubts of the castle to protect a large rectangular piece of ground in front of the castle itself. This area was protected by high walls and was about three-quarters of a mile long by one-quarter mile deep. This area was critical to the defense of the castle because the slope of the hill from the west was so gentle, it also encompassed the southern slopes which were moderate compared to the steep escarpments on the east and north. Also the source of water for the castle was located within this area.
Scott organized two storming parties.[1]:313 The first party consisted of Captain Samuel Mackenzie's 256 men and Gideon Pillow's division, who would advance from the Molino east up the hill.[1]:313 The second storming party consisted of Captain Silas Casey's men and John A. Quitman's division, advancing along the Tacubaya road.[1]:313 However, Casey was replaced by Major Levi Twiggs. Only Twiggs' division and Bennett Riley's brigade were left on the American right flank.[1]:312
The Americans began an artillerybarrage against Chapultepec at dawn on September 12.[1]:312 It was halted at dark and resumed at first light on September 13.[1]:316 At 8 AM, the bombardment was halted and General Scott ordered the infantry attack.[1]:316 There were three assault columns. On the left were the 11th and 14th Infantry under Colonel William Trousdale moving east along the Anzures aqueduct, in the center were four companies of the Voltigeur regiment under Colonel Timothy Patrick Andrews along with the 9th and 15th Infantry moving through the swamp and western edge of the grove, and on the right were the remaining four Voltigeur companies under Lieutenant Colonel Joseph E. Johnston.[1]:316
Pillow was quickly hit in the foot and called for reinforcements, which came from John A. Quitman's division but the attack faltered when fired upon by the Moelia Battalion battery.[1]:317 Andrews's column cleared the grove of Mexican troops and linked up with Johnston.[1]:316 Yet, the attack by the 9th and 15th Infantry stalled waiting for scaling ladders, and Col. Truman B. Ransom was killed.[1]:316''317
Quitman sent Persifor Smith's brigade to his right and brought in James Shields, plus the New York and 2d Pennsylvania Regiments into the assault.[1]:317 At the same time, Newman S. Clarke's brigade arrived on the western slope, as did the scaling ladders.[1]:317 The Voltigeurs soon planted their flag on the parapet.
By 9 AM, General Bravo surrendered to the New York Regiment and the American flag flew over the castle.[1]:318 Santa Anna watched the Americans take Chapultepec while an aide exclaimed "let the Mexican flag never be touched by a foreign enemy". He also exclaimed, "I believe if we were to plant our batteries in Hell the damned Yankees would take them from us."[1]:318
Los Ni±os H(C)roes[edit]During the battle, five Mexican military cadets plus one of their instructors, refused to fall back when General Bravo finally ordered retreat and fought to the death.[1]:316 These were teniente (lieutenant) Juan de la Barrera and cadets Agust­n Melgar, Juan Escutia, Vicente Surez, Francisco Mrquez and Fernando Montes de Oca, all between the ages of 13 and 19. According to legend, the last of the six, Juan Escutia, grabbed the Mexican flag, wrapped it around himself and jumped off the castle point to prevent the flag from falling into enemy hands. In 1967, Gabriel Flores painted a mural depicting "Los Ni±os H(C)roes".[3]
A mural decorates the ceiling of the palace, showing Juan Escutia wrapped in the flag, apparently falling from above.[4] A monument stands in Chapultepec Park commemorating their courage. The cadets are eulogized in Mexican history as Los Ni±os H(C)roes, the "Child Heroes" or Heroic Cadets.
Saint Patrick's Battalion[edit]Thirty men from the Saint Patrick's Battalion, a group of former United States Army soldiers who joined the Mexican side, were executed en masse during the battle. They had been previously captured at the Battle of Churubusco. Colonel William S. Harney specified that they were to be hanged with Chapultepec in view and that the precise moment of their death was to occur when the U.S. flag replaced the Mexican tricolor atop the citadel.
Bel(C)n and San Cosm(C) Gates[edit]General Scott arrived at the castle and was mobbed by cheerful soldiers.[1]:318
William J. Worth's division was sent by Scott to support Trousdale's men on La Ver"nica Causeway (now Avenida Melchor Ocampo) for the main attack against the San Cosme Gate.[1]:319 Defended by Gen. Rangel's Granaderos Battalion, part Matamoros, Morelia & Santa Anna Battalions (Col. Gonzalez), part 3d Light (Lt. Col. Echeagaray), & 1st Light (Comdt Marquez) Trousdale, followed by John Garland's, Newman Clarke's and George Cadwalader's brigades, began advancing up the causeway.
General Quitman quickly gathered the troops in Chapultepec, except the 15th Infantry who guarded the castle and prisoners, and designed as a feint, headed down the Bel(C)n Causeway stopping at the Belen Garita.[1]:318 The gate was manned by the Morelia Battalion, under the command of General Andr(C)s Terr(C)s' (three guns and 180 men : 2d Mexico Activos) and the paseo to the north by General Ramirez.[1]:318 Troops began to desert, and when Terres ran out of ammunition, he withdrew into the Ciudadela.[1]:319 Led by the Mounted Rifles (fighting on foot), Quitman breached the Bel(C)n Gate at 1:20 p.m.[1]:319 General Scott later commented "Brave Rifles, you have gone through fire and come out steel".[1]:319
It was 4 p.m. by the time Worth started his advance down the San Cosme causeway, having fended an attack by Torrejon's 1,500 cavalry.[1]:320 Garland's brigade used the arches of the aqueduct to advance on the right.[1]:320 Clarke's men on the right passed through a tunnel made by sappers.[1]:320 Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant, and some 4th Infantry, used the bell tower of San Cosme Church south of the causeway to place a mountain howitzer.[1]:320 On the north side of the road, naval officer Raphael Semmes repeated Grant's successful maneuver.[1]:320 Lieutenant George Terrett then led a group of Marines behind the Mexican defenders and, climbing to the roof, unleashed a deadly volley on the artillery gunners.[1]:320 By 6 p.m., Worth had broken through the gate, and the defenders scattered, many retreating into the Ciudadela, sweeping Santa Anna along with them.[1]:320 As night fell, Worth lobbed five mortar rounds into the city which fell near the National Palace.[1]:321
Aftermath[edit]The city was yet to be taken, Santa Anna had 5,000 troops in the Ciudadela and 7,000 in other parts of the city.[1]:321 Yet, six of his generals were taken prisoner.[1]:321 At 1 AM the next day, he ordered a withdrawal to Guadalupe Hidalgo while the city authorities appeared at Scott's headquarters at 4 AM.[1]:321 By 7 AM the American flag was flying over the Ciudadela.[1]:321
The efforts of the U.S. Marines in this battle and subsequent occupation of Mexico City are memorialized by the opening lines of the Marines' Hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma..." .
Among the lower-ranking officers present, many became generals in the upcoming American Civil War including Daniel H. Hill, Ulysess Grant, George Pickett, James Longstreet, Thomas Jackson (Stonewall Jackson), and Robert E. Lee.
Marine tradition maintains that the red stripe is worn on the trousers of the Blue Dress uniform, commonly known as the blood stripe, because all of the Marine NCOs and officers of the detachment died while storming the castle of Chapultepec in 1847, though iterations of the stripe predate the war. In 1849, the stripes were changed to a solid red from dark blue stripes edged in red, which dated from 1839.[5]
In 1947, President Harry S. Truman laid a wreath on the Cadets Monument as a gesture of goodwill after Mexico aided the U.S. in World War II.
References[edit]^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzaaabacadaeafagahaiajakalamanaoapaqarasBauer, K.J., 1974, The Mexican War, 1846-1848, New York:Macmillan, ISBN 0803261071^ abSmith, J.H., 1919, The War with Mexico, New York:Macmillan^inter alia, Villalpando, Jos(C) Manuel; Ni±os H(C)roes, M(C)xico DF: Planeta, 2004; Hernndez Silva, HC: "Qui(C)n avent" a Juan Escutla?", La Jornada, December 13, 1998; Rosas, Alejandro "Una historia mal contada: Los Ni±os H(C)roes", Relatos e Historias en M(C)xico, year II No. 13, September 2009.^"Mural of Cadet Jumping". Mexico 501. 2006-11-02. Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-13. ^"Lore of the Corps". National Museum of the Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 5 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-13. Additional Reading[edit]Alcaraz, Ramon et al. Apuntes Para la Histria de la Guerra entre Mexico y los Estados UnidosEisenhower, John S. D., Agent of Destiny - The Life and Times of General Winfield ScottNevin, David; editor, The Mexican War (Time-Life The Old West Series, 1978)Ramsey, Albert C. The Other SideScott, Winfield. Official ReportAnnual Reports 1894, War Department lists trophy guns: 1- 24pounder bronze, 1- 8 inch howitzer and 2- 4 pounder bonze howitzers.Coordinates: 19°25'²16'"N99°10'²55'"W>> / >>19.421°N 99.182°W>> / 19.421; -99.182
External links[edit]
Star Spangled Banner - Isaac Asimov
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:08
All Four StanzasIsaac AsimovI have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.
The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.
I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas.
This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.
"That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."
I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.
Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me - it was the anthem.
More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.
So now let me tell you how it came to be written.
In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.
At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message "We have met the enemy and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.
Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.
The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.
On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.
As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.
As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the worstared out at the fort, tyring to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"
After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," it was published in ds fit an old English tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" --a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.
Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key
Listen to the Star Spangled Banner
Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer
On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
"The towering steep" is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.
In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise.
During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is
And where is that band who so vauntingly sworeThat the havoc of war and the battle's confusionA home and a country should leave us no more?Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.No refuge could save the hireling and slaveFrom the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall standBetween their loved homes and the war's desolation,Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued landPraise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth waveO'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.
And don't let them ever take it away.
--Isaac Asimov, March 1991
Listen to the Star Spangled Banner Courtesy of the USAF Heritage of America Band
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO-Louie Gohmert: Hillary Clinton Is 'Mentally Impaired,' Needs Our Prayers - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 14:24
VIDEO-Bill Clinton: 'Even with' Matt Lauer, I thought Hillary did fine at commander-in-chief forum - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 14:11
VIDEO-Kaine: Russians are trying to delegitimize U.S. election results, at the very least - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 14:02
VIDEO-Clinton Campaign Attempt To ''Walk Back'' Hillary's ''Basket of Deplorable Americans'' Scripted Comments'... | The Last Refuge
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:54
Regrets, she has a few,'... but then again, too few to mention...The Clinton Campaign is attempting to clean up Hillary's flubbed Alinsky narrative to divide, isolate, ridicule and marginalize Donald Trump's supporters. Releasing the following statement:
Just to be clear. Hillary Clinton calling half of Donald Trump's supporters a ''basket of deplorable Americans'' was not some off-the-cuff comment. It was written into her teleprompter, and it was also evidenced a week earlier when the approach was first tested out.
Watch the first run:
The goal of the ''basket'' narrative was to divide Trump supporters and create a toxic image. It was simply a campaign strategy, and Hillary Clinton screwed up the approach by quantifying the basket as ''half'' of Trump supporters.
At its political core, the advancement of liberalism is based on division. Alinsky Rules for Radicals: Isolate, Ridicule, Marginalize.
Hillary Clinton is not apologizing for dividing and labeling millions of Americans; she simply regrets screwing up a well-planned strategy by her campaign team with her flubbed delivery therein. Nothing more.
Secretary Clinton only regrets screwing up the intended plan, and now the Clinton campaign is trying to figure out if they can recover the original intent of the scheme, by parsing out the ''grossly generalistic'' aspect.
The campaign, and the entire media apparatus who were previewed on the campaign strategy (evidenced by their being allowed to film the fundraiser commentary), want to push a narrative that Trump supporters are: ''racist, nativist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, bigoted etc. They had it all set up:
This approach was all pre-scripted. The entire design was planned well in advance, and scheduled for a Friday delivery to give the media all weekend to discuss. The media was there at the fundraiser to film the event and have the captured soundbite for the use by the campaign advocates.
She blew it. It backfired.
Secretary Clinton and her campaign come across as what they are: elitist ideologues dependent on retention of power by dividing Americans.
Bigly.
''Isn't it disgraceful that Hillary Clinton makes the worst mistake of the political season and instead of owning up to this grotesque attack on American voters, she tries to turn it around with a pathetic rehash of the words and insults used in her failing campaign? For the first time in a long while, her true feelings came out, showing bigotry and hatred for millions of Americans.
How can she be President of our country when she has such contempt and disdain for so many great Americans? Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of herself, and this proves beyond a doubt that she is unfit and incapable to serve as President of the United States. I will be President for all of the people, and together we will Make America Great Again.''
~ Donald J. Trump
VIDEO-Black Lives Matter Gaining Momentum In UK
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 13:13
Many young black people believe Black Lives Matter, which developed in the US in response to the killing of unarmed black people by police, will continue to gain momentum in the UK.
Supporters of Black Lives Matter UK first hit the headlines when they brought traffic to a standstill outside Heathrow Airport - and carried out similar protests in Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester - in a coordinated day of action last month.
At the centre of the movement are families affected by deaths in police custody.
Marcia Rigg lost her brother Sean eight years ago, when he died at Brixton Police Station in south London.
"Deaths are not just happening in the US or other countries, they are actually happening here in the UK," said Ms Rigg, who was invited to the US last year by the Black Lives Matter movement to recount the British experience of black deaths.
Sean Rigg was suffering a psychotic episode when he was detained by police and transported in the prone position, face down, in a police van.
Police footage then shows him in a collapsed state in the station, whilst officers question whether he was faking unconsciousness.
An inquest jury later found their actions contributed to his death.
"Sean died on a cold floor at the feet of police officers who just didn't care," said Ms Rigg.
"A young black man with mental health issues is seen as big and dangerous. But really they are not criminals. They are extremely unwell and vulnerable. We don't have superhuman strength. Black people are not madder than anybody else. But we seem to be treated differently."
The Rigg family are one of several awaiting the outcome of current investigations and reviews into the deaths of their loved ones in custody, and a decision from prosecutors as to whether any officers will stand trial.
Their frustration at delays and the fact no police officer has ever been convicted following a death in custody, is shared by many in the Black Lives Matter movement, who are angry that black people are disproportionately affected.
Figures from campaign group Inquest show that people from ethnic minority backgrounds as a whole are more likely to die - 1/7 deaths in custody and 1/5 deaths after being shot by police were people from minorities, who make up 1/10 of the population as a whole.
Figures from the Independent Police Complaints Commission show that over the last decade, 6% of those who died in police custody were black, compared to their 4% representation in the population at large.
Deborah Coles, of Inquest, said: "Where there is a real issue, is the disproportionate number of black people who die following the use of force.
"They are the most contentious deaths, they have raised serious public and political disquiet."
She added: "You see racial profiling and perceptions which informed how those officers responded, which is the idea of black men being inherently 'big black and dangerous' - those kind of stereotypes which I do think seep into police consciousness and inform the way individuals are then treated."
But the Government said that the number of serious incidents following contact with the police was falling.
Minister for Policing Brandon Lewis said: "The figures show at the moment that [the number of black people dying following police contact is in proportion to the number that are being arrested, and actually there's been a fall in incidents over the last year.
"But there is always more to do. Each death is a tragedy and we need to do more to make sure it doesn't happen."
Many young campaigners questioned whether things were improving.
"Black Lives Matter has made me more radicalised," said Joy Teddy-Jomoh, a student in London.
"I was aware of racism and police brutality, but now I realise it doesn't just affect black people in America, it affects black people globally. It has pushed me to fight for what I stand for."
Stryper battle hymn of the republic - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 06:05
Coffin Fuck - Yankee Doodle (Dandy) - Death Metal Cover - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:53
My Country, 'Tis of Thee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:43
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in 1831,[4] while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics. A melody in Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3 (also called 'The Great National' and contains the melody of 'God Save the Queen' as a tribute to Clementi's adopted country) caught his attention. Rather than translating the lyrics from German, Smith wrote his own American patriotic hymn to the melody, completing the lyrics in thirty minutes.
Smith gave Mason the lyrics he had written and the song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831,[4] at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston. First publication of "America" was in 1832.[4]
1My country, 'tis of thee,Sweet land of liberty,Of thee I sing;Land where my fathers died,Land of the pilgrims' pride,From ev'ry mountainsideLet freedom ring!2My native country, thee,Land of the noble free,Thy name I love;I love thy rocks and rills,Thy woods and templed hills;My heart with rapture thrills,Like that above.3Let music swell the breeze,And ring from all the treesSweet freedom's song;Let mortal tongues awake;Let all that breathe partake;Let rocks their silence break,The sound prolong.4Our fathers' God to Thee,Author of liberty,To Thee we sing.Long may our land be bright,With freedom's holy light,Protect us by Thy might,Great God our King.Additional verse to celebrate Washington's Centennial:[5]
5Our joyful hearts today,Their grateful tribute pay,Happy and free,After our toils and fears,After our blood and tears,Strong with our hundred years,O God, to Thee.Additional verses by Henry van Dyke:
6We love thine inland seas,Thy groves and giant trees,Thy rolling plains;Thy rivers' mighty sweep,Thy mystic canyons deep,Thy mountains wild and steep,--All thy domains.7Thy silver Eastern strands,Thy Golden Gate that standsFronting the West;Thy flowery Southland fair,Thy North's sweet, crystal air:O Land beyond compare,We love thee best!Additional Abolitionist verses by A. G. Duncan, 1843:[6]
8My country, 'tis of thee,Stronghold of slavery, of thee I sing;Land where my fathers died,Where men man's rights deride,From every mountainside thy deeds shall ring!9My native country, thee,Where all men are born free, if white's their skin;I love thy hills and dales,Thy mounts and pleasant vales;But hate thy negro sales, as foulest sin.10Let wailing swell the breeze,And ring from all the trees the black man's wrong;Let every tongue awake;Let bond and free partake;Let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.11Our father's God! to thee,Author of Liberty, to thee we sing;Soon may our land be bright,With holy freedom's right,Protect us by thy might, Great God, our King.12It comes, the joyful day,When tyranny's proud sway, stern as the grave,Shall to the ground be hurl'd,And freedom's flag, unfurl'd,Shall wave throughout the world, O'er every slave.13Trump of glad jubilee!Echo o'er land and sea freedom for all.Let the glad tidings fly,And every tribe reply,''Glory to God on high,'' at Slavery's fall.
Other anthems set to the same music:
^Public domain, taken from here^"My Country, 'Tis of Thee". The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Retrieved December 6, 2014. ^Snyder, Lois Leo (1990). Encyclopedia of Nationalism. Paragon House. p. 13. ISBN 1-55778-167-2. ^ abcGarraty, John A., and Carnes, Mark C., eds. (1999). American National Biography. 20. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 281. ^Andrews, E. Benjamin (1912). History of the United States. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ^Jarius Lincoln, [ed.] Antislavery Melodies: for The Friends of Freedom. Prepared for the Hingham Antislavery Society. Words by A. G. Duncan. (Hingham, [Mass.]: Elijah B. Gill, 1843), Hymn 17 6s & 4s (Tune '' "America") pp. 28''29.Some of these verses can be heard in the Arizona State University recording of the Antislavery Ensemble.^Hansen, Drew D. (2003). The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins. p. 83. ^Keveney, Bill (September 19, 2001). "Audience identifies with low-key Leno". USA Today. Retrieved July 3, 2009. ^Art For Freedom. "Art For Freedom". Art For Freedom. Collins, Ace (2003). Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource. ISBN 0060513047. Music, David M.; Richardson, Paul A. (2008). I Will Sing the Wondrous Story: A History of Baptist Hymnody in North America. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. ISBN 0865549486.
West Side Story OBC - (7) America - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:36
Jay & the Americans - Only in America - Feb. 2, 1965 Hulabaloo.flv - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:35
Soldiers in Afghanistan.Promised Land / Elvis Presley - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:33
Village People - In the Navy OFFICIAL Music Video 1978 - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:29
Billy Ray Cyrus - We The People - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:28
Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A. - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:27
VIDEO-Kid Rock - American Bad Ass [Official Video] - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:22
VIDEO-Toby Keith - Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American) - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:20
VIDEO-James Brown - Living in America - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 05:16
VIDEO-NFL: Brandon Marshall protests against US anthem as Broncos beat Panthers - BBC Sport
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:50
Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall kneels during US anthemDenver linebacker Brandon Marshall kneeled in protest during the American national anthem prior to the Broncos' victory over the Carolina Panthers in the opening game of the new NFL season.
Marshall is the third player to refuse to stand for the anthem since Colin Kaepernick did so last month in protest at what he sees as racial injustice.
"I feel like this was the right thing to do," said Marshall.
Broncos beat Carolina 21-20 in a re-run of February's Super Bowl 50.
At a pre-season game in August, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick chose to remain seated while the national anthem was played.
He said he would not "stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour".
Kaepernick's team-mate Eric Reid joined him in not standing during the team's final pre-season game while Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Jeremy Lane stayed seated ahead of a game with Oakland.
Marshall, a college team-mate of Kaepernick at Nevada, told NFL.com: "The message is I'm against social injustice. I'm not against the military or police or America at all.
"I knew what territory it came with, and I decided to do it. I feel like this is the right platform. This is our only platform to really be heard."
Denver Broncos CJ Anderson scores in win over Carolina PanthersThe NFL has previously said players are "encouraged but not required" to stand during the anthem.
The Panthers took a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter of the first Super Bowl rematch to start a season since 1970, but running back CJ Anderson scored two touchdowns as the Broncos edged ahead.
Graham Gano's field goal pulled the Panthers within a point, but he then missed his next attempt from 50 yards with four seconds left as Denver held on.
How to follow the 2016 NFL season on BBC TV and RadioNFL 2016: Kaepernick, Brady & Beckham Jr - all you need to know for new season
VIDEO-OIL MARKETS FLUCTUATE ON OIL MEETINGS-Kerry says US-Russia agreement could be 'turning point' in Syria conflict
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:45
The United States and Russia announced early Saturday a breakthrough agreement on Syria that foresees a nationwide cease-fire starting early next week, followed by an unlikely new military partnership between the rival governments targeting the Islamic State and al-Qaida.
At a joint news conference after a marathon day of negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the plan can reduce violence in Syria and lead to a long-sought political transition, ending more than five years of bloodshed. He called the deal a potential "turning point" in the conflict, if implemented by Syria's Russian-backed government and U.S.-supported rebel groups.
The cease-fire begins at sundown Monday, Kerry said, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. The nationwide cease-fire in Syria comes after more than five years of warfare and as many as 500,000 deaths.
Kerry's negotiating partner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, confirmed the agreement and said it could help expand the counterterrorism fight and aid deliveries to Syrian civilians. He said Syrian President Bashar Assad's government was prepared to comply with the arrangement.
Previously, neither side had succeeded in doing its part despite months of diplomacy. And the task was becoming even more difficult as fighting rages around the divided city of Aleppo, Syria's most populous and the new focus of the conflict. Assad's government appeared to tighten its siege of the former Syrian commercial hub on Thursday, following several gains over the weekend, which could make it harder for the U.S. and Russia to find a compromise that ends the fighting. Forty days of fighting in Aleppo has killed nearly 700 civilians, including 160 children, according to a Syrian human rights group.
VIDEO-Gary Johnson goes on The View - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:31
VIDEO-RUBBLEIZE-Tapper to Johnson: 'Here's a resident of Aleppo...his name is Omran' - CNN.com
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:30
These words, delivered directly to the former elected head of New Mexico, served to echo the sentiments of countless critics questioning Gary Johnson's foreign policy credentials.
After a morning show gaffe that many are calling a disqualifying moment for the Libertarian presidential nominee, on Thursday afternoon Jake Tapper offered a brief refresher course on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.Touching upon everything from CNN colleague Clarissa Ward's on-the-ground reporting to physicians in Aleppo pleading with President Obama for humanitarian aide, Tapper recapped an environment in which many children have yet to experience a life without war.But the centerpiece of Tapper's explainer, and in many ways of the crisis itself, was Omran.
"If you went online, you really couldn't miss his image," noted Tapper, referring to the now infamous video clip displaying a groggy 3-year-old, covered head to toe in blood and soot after a recent bombing.
But in concluding his message to Johnson, the host of CNN's "The Lead" did offer the drowning third-party nominee some semblance of a paddle -- at least in comparison to other politicians who have failed to act in the face of Aleppo's ongoing violence.
Quoting the tweet of author Greg Gutfeld, Tapper asked: "What's worse? Not knowing about Aleppo? Or knowing all along, and not acting on it?"
VIDEO-Gary Johnson responds to Aleppo gaffe - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:25
VIDEO-37-50-Defense Secretary Carter General Dempsey | Video | C-SPAN.org
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:19
U.S. Strategy Against ISIS Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey testified on U.S. strategy in combating ISIS militants in'... read more
U.S. Strategy Against ISIS Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey testified on U.S. strategy in combating ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. A broad range of topics was covered, including ongoing coalition efforts in Iraq and Syria; the Obama administration's policy toward the Abadi and Assad governments; the U.S. military-led Train and Equip program in Syria; regional ramifications of ongoing counter-ISIS efforts; and the Defense Department budgeting process.
* The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a militant group that has called itself the Islamic State. close
VIDEO-Al-Nusra Front in Syria gets daily weapons supplies from Turkey - Russian military '-- RT News
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:06
Terrorist group Al-Nusra Front is receiving daily arms shipments across the border from Turkey, the Russian General Staff says. The Al-Qaeda offshoot used the truce between government forces and moderate rebels in Syria to regroup and renew hostilities.
Al-Nusra Front remains a major destabilizing factor in Syria, Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy told journalists on Friday.
''Damascus is being continuously shelled from Eastern Ghouta. There were numerous attempts to capture power station near Homs and block the road connecting Aleppo and Damascus. The flow of trucks carrying weapons and ammunition from Turkey continues, with border crossings reported on daily basis,'' he said.
Read more
The general added that Al-Nusra Front attacks are confirmed by other nations as well, and that they agree with Russia's assessment of the negative impact of the militant group.
''It's obvious that the terrorist group, which operates in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, is currently the biggest stumbling block for the process of expanding the truce to new territories in northern Syria,'' Rudskoy said.
Al-Nusra Front benefited from the truce because some of the territories under its control are mixed with those, which were designated as held by so-called moderate rebel forces and which are excluded from Russian airstrike missions, he stressed.
In some areas Al-Nusra Front managed to take initiative, Rudskoy said. Three villages were captured by the terrorists from the government in the last few days while heavy fighting continues in the northern part of Aleppo city.
The Russian General Staff said that pressure exerted by Russia on armed groups in Syria continues to bear fruit. Over the last few days 17 armed groups, many of which were influenced by or pledged allegiance to Al-Nusra Front, agreed to join the truce. The general says that looming bombings of the terrorist forces, which Russia suggested to carry out together with the Americans, gave an incentive to the switch of sides.
Read more
Russia is assisting Syrian forces in their fight against terrorist groups and attempts to reconcile with rebels, who are willing to seek a peace transition. The effort is undermined by the fact that terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Nusra Front are not part of the US and Russia-negotiated ceasefire and continue hostilities. Al-Nusra Front in particular regularly attacks both rebels and government forces in an apparent attempt to derail the truce.
Moscow wants to intensify airstrikes on Al-Nusra Front positions, but is putting them on hold due to the murky borders between the extremist group and militants, who are supposedly supporting the truce. Russia has asked the US to put pressure on the rebels, so that a clear distinction could be established between their territories and those of the terrorists.
''Our American partners are stalling the process of differentiation between the opposition groups under their control and the terrorist, which not only discredits the entire so-called moderate opposition, but also derails the peace process and leads to a renewal of hostilities in Syria,'' Rudskoy warned.
Another problem comes from fringe Islamist groups like Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam. Russia says neither is truly committed to the peace process and both have committed numerous atrocities. Moscow wants them acknowledged as terrorists and legitimate targets for airstrikes. The US opposes this, saying that both groups have the backing of Saudi Arabia and are represented at the UN-sponsored peace talks.
VIDEO-US, Russia announce Syria ceasefire plan | News | DW.COM | 09.09.2016
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 04:01
The US and Russia have announced a comprehensive ceasefire deal aimed at ending the five-year war in Syria. The deal paves the way for a political solution to the conflict, which has killed more than 200,000 people.
Announcing the breakthrough deal early Saturday in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the nationwide "cessation of hostilities" will begin at sundown on September 12, when Muslims observe the religious holiday Eid al-Adha.
"If the plan is implemented in good faith '... this can be a moment where the multilateral efforts at the diplomatic table, negotiations could take hold, and it could really provide the Syrian people with a political transition," said Kerry.
However, Washington's top diplomat warned the deal is an "opportunity" for conflicting parties, adding that the agreement will only hold if there are concrete steps on the ground.
While Kerry said all opposition groups needed to adhere to the ceasefire, he added that the agreement also stipulates how the regime "will not fly combat missions where the opposition is located," calling it the bedrock of the cessation of hostilities.
In besieged Aleppo, where fighting has raged for months, a "demilitarized zone" will be created around the Castello road, a key route contested by government forces and rebels, according to the diplomats.
Other details began to emerge on early Saturday, such as the promise of a pull-back by President Bashar al-Assad, who will also allow the easier flow of badly needed humanitarian aid.
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the deal as "a real chance" to bring aid to besieged people in Syria, but warned that without "rapid implementation," the agreement could fall apart.
Conditional cooperation
If the ceasefire is observed for the first seven days, Washington and Moscow will embark on joint military operations targeting the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front and the so-called "Islamic State."
Lavrov told reporters that Washington and Moscow had tentatively delineated the areas in which the militant groups they will be targeting are based.
"We will jointly agree on strikes against terrorists to be carried out by the Russian and American air forces. We have agreed on the zones in which these strikes will be carried out," Lavrov said.
However, US officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, have criticized the intelligence-sharing deal, suggesting it could undermine American interests.
There was also the matter of getting all sides to cooperate. Later on Saturday, an umbrella group for moderate opposition forces said it had not received any details of the deal, and voiced skepticism as to whether it would actually work.
The Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since the conflict erupted five years ago.
ls,es/cmk (AFP, Reuters, AP)
VIDEOS-Syria Rivals Sign Up To US-Russian Peace Plan
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:47
The US and Russia have unveiled a plan aimed at ending the Syrian civil war and leading to political transition in the country.
The agreement calls for a nationwide ceasefire to begin on 12 September - the start of the Muslim Eid al Adha holiday.
The Syrian government has told Moscow it is prepared to comply with the deal.
Opposition forces have also said they will fulfill the peace plan's requirements if the Syrian government demonstrates it is serious about ending the bloodshed.
Syria's moderate Free Syrian Army said they saw little chance of the deal's success, with a spokesman for one of its brigades saying that Damascus and Moscow had not observed the last agreement so were unlikely to observe this one.
"We hope this will be the beginning of the end of the civilians' ordeal," Bassma Kodmani, a leading member of the opposition umbrella group, the High Negotiations Committee, said.
But Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a spokesman for the rebel Nour al-Din al Zinki Brigades, said the deal would only help the Syrian army to gather forces and send more Iranian-backed fighters into Aleppo.
Truces agreed in the past have collapsed after both sides failed to hold up their ends of the bargain.
Hours after the deal was announced, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people had been killed and wounded on Russian airstrikes near the city of Idlib.
If the planned cessation of hostilities holds for seven days, it will be followed by an unlikely military partnership between the US and Russia to target Islamic State and al Qaeda.
"Going after Nusra is not a concession to anybody," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
"It is profoundly in the interests of the United States to target al Qaeda, to target al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, which is Nusra, an organisation that is opposed to a peaceful transition, an organisation that is an enemy of the legitimate opposition, an organisation that is currently plotting attacks beyond Syria's borders, including against the United States."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added: "I want to stress that distinguishing between terrorists and moderate oppositions has been written as a priority into the document that we agreed today."
Washington has been tasked with persuading "moderate" rebels to break away from the Nusra Front and other extremist groups.
Mr Kerry said the deal the was a potential "turning point" in the long-running civil war which has killed as many as 500,000 people and displaced millions of others.
However, he warned the plan could be described as nothing more than an opportunity until it is successfully enforced.
Mr Lavrov said the deal would allow efficient co-operation in the struggle against terrorism, and expand humanitarian access to Syria's worst-hit towns and cities.
Turkey, which made a major military incursion into the north of Syria two weeks ago, said it was preparing aid for Aleppo once the truce was in place.
Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov have met four times since 26 August - and Moscow has been pressuring the Assad regime to suspend offensive operations against civilian areas and Syria's armed opposition.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed the plan, adding a call for "all parties to the Syria conflict and all countries with influence upon them to do what is needed to end violence and lift sieges"
The announcement of the deal in Geneva was delayed for several hours by internal US discussions.
As tired journalists awaited news, Mr Lavrov took it upon himself to deliver boxes of pizza "from the US delegation", followed by two bottles of vodka "from the Russian delegation".
The agreement came as dramatic footage showed bombed-out buildings and rubble on the streets of Aleppo in the aftermath of fierce fighting.
VIDEO-Hilary Clinton | NOlathe's Blog
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:10
Admiral Lyons, whose career in the United States (U.S.) Navy was capped by two years of service as the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985 to 1987, thinks this kidnapping was planned to be the first stage of an international prisoner exchange. This transfer of prisoners would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ''Blind Sheik'' convicted of orchestrating the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993.
Lyons' analysis of the evidence led him to the failed kidnapping conclusion
Admiral James Lyons suggests the Obama administration intentionally lessened the levels of security at the consulate compound in Benghazi in the weeks leading up to the attack. This plan should have worked to reduce the possibility of resistance as the Ansar al-Sharia terrorist organization captured Chris Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya.
According to information obtained by Fox News, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both former U.S. Navy Seals, ignored orders to ''stand down'' and fought vigorously for hours in their attempt to defend the compound from the impending attack.
Ultimately, these armed assaults on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex claimed the life of four Americans''Ambassador Chris Stevens, former U.S. Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Department information manager Sean Smith.
Failed kidnapping attempt theory proposed by Western Center for Journalism
In October 2012, the Western Center for Journalism released two separate articles suggesting the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was the result of a failed kidnapping attempt aborted by the complicit terrorists when they encountered the unexpected armed resistance at the U.S. Consulate.
On October 20, Kris Zane published the center's initial article ''Muslim Brotherhood Behind Benghazi Attack with Link to Obama.'' Zane suggests the ''Innocence of Muslims'' video was nothing more than a scapegoat the Obama administration utilized to distract the public from the incriminating information being gathered from the investigations into the attack at Benghazi, Libya.
Within 24 hours of the incident, ground intelligence had already linked the assault on the compound to Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. Therefore, the Obama administration had already determined by September 12 the online video had absolutely nothing to do with the armed assault on the American Consulate and CIA annex.
Later in the article, Zane cites an anonymous source from inside the White House that explained the Benghazi debacle had been constructed in order to deliver an ''October surprise for Obama.'' The administration's plan was to abduct Ambassador Stevens to ensure the release of Abdel Rahman would be more ''palatable to the American people.''
By winning the release of Stevens, Obama would have boosted his mediocre approval ratings just in time for Election Day, and Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood could have secured the freedom of their beloved ''Blind Sheik.''
On October 23, news networks received and released emails confirming that all vital intelligence agencies had been informed of the severity of the attack within two hours of the confrontation. These same communications had also been forwarded to the White House Situation Room.
On October 25, Kris Zane published his second article on the incident ''Obama Linked to Benghazi Attack.'' This submission also included a video detailing the facts and research Zane had gathered to support his conclusion that this botched abduction attempt was the real reason behind the deadly Benghazi attack.
Judge Mukasey links Obama to release of sheik
Almost a month before the Western Center for Journalism shared its conclusions in regards to the Benghazi attack, the Wall Street Journal had published an article on September 24, 2012 from Judge Michael Mukasey entitled ''Will Obama Free the Blind Sheik?''
In his submission, Mukasey questioned the wisdom of releasing this ''poisonously influential Islamic Cleric'' Omar Abdel Rahman back to his homeland. Upon Rahman's release to Egypt, Judge Mukasey concluded the sheik would incite additional domestic and international acts of terror against Americans.
Judge Mukasey, who presided over Abdel Rahman's trial in 1995, had sentenced the sheik to life in prison upon his conviction for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, numerous plots to destroy other landmarks in New York City, and conspiring to assassinate Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt.
According to Mukasey, Rahman's ''legacy'' as an ''totemic figure'' for Islamic militants originated in 1981, when his ''pronouncements'' were used by Egyptian soldiers to justify their assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Mukasey informs his readers of the June 2012 meeting at the White House when Hani Nour Eldin urged that Abdel Rahman be transferred to Egypt. Questions immediately arose as to how Eldin, who had just completed an 11 year sentence for terrorism charges and was also a professed member of a designated terrorist organization, could have even been granted a visa to enter the U.S., much less secure a visit to the White House.
After an adamant series of interrogations from Congress, Homeland Security official Nelson Peacock admitted that while the issuance of Eldin's visa failed to raise ''warning flags,'' regulations would have required him to receive ''waiver from someone in authority'' for admittance to the U.S.
Sources suggest Clinton's documents confirm orders for additional security
Well-renowned writer Ed Klein appeared as a guest on The Blaze TV's ''Wilkow!'' on October 24 to discuss the existence of documents confirming Clinton ordered additional security for the compound in Benghazi, Libya prior to the attack on September 11 2012.
Host Andrew Wilkow spoke with Klein, who reported ''legal counsel'' for the Clintons had informed him of Bill and Hillary's numerous heated discussions in recent weeks regarding the release of these papers.
Ed Klein insisted these communications written by Hillary Clinton had ordered additional security to be provided in Benghazi, and Obama blatantly refused her request. These documents could be used to further support the rampant suspicions Obama had ulterior motives for leaving the American outpost virtually unguarded from outside aggressors.
Bill Clinton tried to convince Hillary to go forward with her written requests so she would be exonerated from any wrong-doing in the attack. Hillary refused to disclose the orders for additional security out of fear she would be labeled as a ''betrayer'' of the Democratic Party. This ''betrayal'' would have eliminated her chance to run for president in 2016.
It is worth noting that within days of Obama's reelection, Hillary Clinton resigned from her cabinet position as Secretary of State. This resignation infers there is truth to the widely reported rumors that the relationship between the Clintons and Obama has always been ''tense at best.''
Congress and the media question timing of General Petraeus' resignation
Further confounding analysts trying to determine what really happened in Benghazi on the night of September 11 are the recent revelations about General David Petraeus' affair with his Biographer Paula Broadwell.
General Petraeus publicly stated this affair with his biographer was the reason he submitted his resignation. News of this sex scandal surfaced less than a week after Election Day, when a slim majority of American voters had re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Reports indicate the FBI initiated an investigation over the summer regarding General Petraeus' extramarital affair and the potential related threats to national security. However, the agency never alerted Congress of the potential compromise of confidential information.
The Obama administration has also insisted it was never notified by the FBI of the pending investigation prior to the election. However, many critics now conclude the White House intentionally delayed the announcement of Petraeus' resignation to avoid any impact on Obama's reelection bid.
Tracking down the truths behind the Benghazi attack will take time and tenacity
The circumstantial evidence increasingly supports the various sources currently suggesting the attacks on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya was in fact an aborted abduction attempt resulting in the murder of four Americans. However, tracking down the truth will take time and tenacity for all of the investigators involved in the hunt for honest answers.
Voters can play a pivotal role in ensuring the actual account of events will be released by repeatedly contacting local and national media sources, as well as their elected congressional representatives. It is imperative the American electorate demand honesty, transparency, and accountability in the investigation of the attack that lead the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
VIDEO-The Benghazi Kidnapping Plot - YouTube
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 03:05
VIDEO-High school players taking knee for national anthem across country | | USA Today High School Sports
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 02:33
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Colin Kaepernick's gesture to kneel for the national anthem was repeated by high school players in a number of places before games Friday night.
Kaepernick retweeted a number of posts on Twitter with photos or news stories.
Here is a sampling:
At Lincoln Southeast in Nebraska, two players '-- one white, one African-American took a knee as a silent protest. (see the video above).At Waggener High in Louisville, a player took a knee as his teammates stood alongside him. A number of players had taken a knee as the team line up but eventually rose as the music starting playing. Coach Jordan Johnson said the team will take steps before next week's game to ''to ensure our young men can make a stand for social injustice, while at the same time not showing, what is perceived as, disrespect.'' (Click here for more of Waggener's response.)Many players at Maury High in Norfolk, Va., took a knee behind the end zone when the anthem was played. Others stood at attention as did the coaches. ''Our school system has said, we're of the belief, we let our guys do what they believe in,'' Coach Chris Fraser told the Virginian Pilot. ''And so we didn't make an issue of it, and if they believe in a cause, that's fine. I stand behind what they believe in, but I'm going to do what I believe in.''At Auburn High in Rockford, Ill., a number of players took a knee during the anthem while their teammates stood with their hands over their hearts.Here is another photo at school in Minneapolis.Players at Watkins Hills High in Montgomery, Md., also took a knee during the anthem, according to a photo provided to USA TODAY High School Sports.colin kaepernick, Inequality, knee, national anthem, protest, News
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VIDEO-VIDEO=> Hillary Clinton Ducks Behind Pillar to Keep Press From Filming Her Coughing
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 02:03
Democratic party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton stepped behind a pillar to keep the press from filming her coughing at a press conference Friday on national security issues.
Then she let out a big cough.
Hillary Clinton spoke at a press conference September 9, image via screen grab.
A listless, tired looking Clinton had been speaking and taking questions for about fourteen minutes when she first ended her press conference but came right back to the microphone to answer a shouted question about her rival Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking to Larry King on King's show that is on Russian owned RT.
Clinton spoke for another two minutes then abruptly cut herself off, turned and walked away, curtly saying to the press as she turned her back on them, ''Thank you all.''
As soon as Clinton was behind the pillar immediately stage right a loud double cough could be heard. As Clinton stepped past the pillar her closed right hand could be seen coming down from her face, as one does when coughing.
It would appear that reports focusing attention on Clinton's coughing fits on the campaign trail have rattled her so that she feels the need to not be seen coughing on camera.
NTK Network posted a video clip of the coughing episode to YouTube.
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VIDEO-Joy Reid drops the hammer on Trump advocate lying about Clinton as interview goes off the rails
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 01:41
Dad from TLC's conservative Christian 'Willis Family' series arrested for child rape
Hours after Twin Towers fell, Trump bragged his building was now the 'tallest' in lower Manhattan
'The truth hurts': Democratic strategist crushes Trump rep over Clinton 'deplorables' comment
'Desert Storm' general lambasts Trump's 'incredibly insulting' remarks about current US military
Joy Reid drops the hammer on Trump advocate lying about Clinton as interview goes off the rails
WATCH: Barbra Streisand's brilliant reworking of 'Send in The Clowns' into Trump parody '--with lyrics
'Get the f*ck out of America, b*tches': Crazed Trump fan attacks Muslim women pushing baby strollers
Watch as Mika Brzezinski finally hits her breaking point with Trump's lies: 'It's not funny' anymore
GOP surrogate gets the grin slapped off him by entire MSNBC panel over Trump's record on Birtherism
Trump has white-hot emotional meltdown after CNN documentary exposes his shady grifting
VIDEO-Warner: Timing of Cash Payment to Iran 'Unusual' - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 12:03
VIDEO-Axelrod: Clinton Looked Irritated and Unprepared in Forum - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:47
VIDEO-Lewandowski: Putin Is a Fighter for His People - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:36
VIDEO-Kaine: Russians are trying to delegitimize U.S. election results, at the very least - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:35
VIDEO-Gowdy blasts Department of Justice for giving immunity to 'triggerman' who deleted Clinton emails - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:31
VIDEO-Wolf Blitzer Is Worried Defense Contractors Will Lose Jobs if U.S. Stops Arming Saudi Arabia
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:29
Sen. Rand Paul's expression of opposition to a $1.1 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia '-- which has been brutally bombing civilian targets in Yemen using U.S.-made weapons for more than a year now '-- alarmed CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday afternoon.
Blitzer's concern: That stopping the sale could result in fewer jobs for arms manufacturers.
''So for you this is a moral issue,'' he told Paul during the Kentucky Republican's appearance on CNN. ''Because you know, there's a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there's going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That's secondary from your standpoint?''
Paul stayed on message. ''Well not only is it a moral question, its a constitutional question,'' Paul said. ''Our founding fathers very directly and specifically did not give the president the power to go to war. They gave it to Congress. So Congress needs to step up and this is what I'm doing.''
Watch the exchange:
Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, and has since been responsible for the majority of the 10,000 deaths in the war so far. The U.S.-backed bombing coalition has been accused of intentionally targeting civilians, hospitals, factories, markets, schools, and homes. The situation is so bad that the Red Cross has started donating morgue units to Yemeni hospitals.
The war's incredible humanitarian toll has generated an increasing outcry in the United States. Earlier this month, more than 60 members of Congress signed a letter asking the administration to delay the most recent arms shipment. Ordinarily, under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress has 30 days to block arms sales proposed by the administration '-- but by announcing the arms sale in August, most of those 30 days fell during Congress's August recess. That 30-day window expired Thursday night and the White House has not granted the request for extra time.
The Obama administration has sold more weapons to the Saudis than any other administration, pledging more than $115 billion worth of small arms, tanks, helicopters, missiles, and aircraft.
So yes, it's a legitimate moral issue. What it's not is a legitimate economic issue.
If you're worried about jobs, military spending is not where you look. It's an inefficient way to create jobs, because it has a lower multiplier effect '-- meaning how much it ripples in the wider economy. One study from 2011 found that $1 billion put into military spending would create approximately 11,200 jobs, but that same amount of money put into education creates 26,700 jobs.
Top photo: CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer moderates a presidential debate on Dec. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas.
VIDEO-Bill Clinton Really Wishes He Was 20 Years Old Again - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:20
VIDEO-Bill Clinton: 'Even with' Matt Lauer, I thought Hillary did fine at commander-in-chief forum - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:16
VIDEO-Wow '' Bill Clinton Mocks Middle Class ''Coal People'' for Opposing Hillary Clinton'... | The Last Refuge
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:14
The Clinton campaign is entering a desperation phase. You can always tell when Clintons get desperate because they begin the snark, ridicule and belittling approach. Isolate, ridicule, marginalize '' it's what their ideological teachers have taught them.
Today, Bill Clinton climbs upon the elitist throne and ridicules middle America:
''We all know how her opponent's done real well down in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, because the coal people don't like any of us anymore. '... and they blame the president when the sun doesn't come up in the morning now.''
Remember, ''Cold Anger'' !Cold Anger does not react; it absorbs consistent vilification and ridicule as fuel. This sensibility does not want to exist, it is forced to exist in otherwise unwilling hosts '' who also refuse to be destabilized by it.
Cold Anger absorbs ridicule the way a long-term battered spouse absorbs the blow in the hours prior to the pre-planned exit; with purpose.
However, when the push-back comes, no shield nor any cry of micro-aggression will provide any benefit. No quarter is provided. Delicate sensibilities are dispatched like a feather in a hurricane.
Pushed far enough, decisions are reached'....
We're there.
Waiting now.
Waiting for November 8th.
Waiting.
Focused.
Resolute.
VIDEO-Kaine: I'm Barely a Likable Enough Guy - YouTube
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 11:13
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton: Half of Donald Trump supporters are in 'basket of deplorables'
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 06:13
In an effort to explain the support behind Trump, Clinton went on to describe the rest of Trump supporters as people who are looking for change in any form because of economic anxiety and urged her supporters to empathize with them.
"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," Clinton said. "Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."
She added, "And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric."
Clinton went on to say that some of these people were "irredeemable" and "not America."
Trump's campaign quickly pounced on the remarks.
"One day after promising to be aspirational & uplifting, Hillary insults millions of Americans. #desperate," campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted.
She later added, "Hillary, placing people in 'baskets,' slandering them but admitting after 8 yrs, they are "desperate for change."
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, said in a statement that Clinton "ripped off her mask and revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans."
Clinton acknowledges desire for change
Shifting to the other half of Trump supporters, Clinton said many of those people feel like the government doesn't care about them and who just want change in any form.
"That other basket of people are people who feel that government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures. They are just desperate for change. Doesn't really even matter where it comes from."
She continued, "They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead end. Those are people who we have to understand and empathize with as well."
Clinton made the comments before introducing Barbra Streisand at an LGBT fundraiser in downtown New York.
According to average ticket prices and attendance figures provided by the campaign, Clinton raised around $6 million at the fundraiser, only the sixth she has opened to press. While she has headlined more than 330 fundraisers as a candidate, her campaign has kept most of these events closed from reporters.
'Prejudice and paranoia'
Clinton's comments amount to startlingly blunt talk for a candidate that is usually measured in her assessment of the Republican nominee.
Although Clinton has accused Trump of racism before, she has never explicitly called him a racist. Last month, she delivered a major speech in which she accused Trump of aligning himself with far-right extremists and saying he "built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.""He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party," Clinton said in Reno, Nevada. "His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous."
Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton's campaign, cited the speech in attempting to clarify the Democratic nominee's comments Friday night.
"Obviously not everyone supporting Trump is part of the alt right, but alt right leaders are with Trump," Merrill tweeted, adding, "And their supporters appear to make up half his crowd when you observe the tone of his events."On Thursday, Clinton slammed Trump for kicking off his political career by questioning whether President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States.
"We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business, who traffics in toxic conspiracy theories like the lie that President Obama is not a true American," Clinton said. "If he doesn't respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?"
Clinton also echoed her campaign on Friday when she urged her supporters -- some of whom paid $50,000 to attend the fundraiser with Streisand -- to not get complacent.
"We can't take anyone or any place for granted and therefore I am asking you to volunteer for a phone bank or a canvass. At the very least, if you know anybody who's even thinking of voting for Trump, stage an intervention," Clinton said. "That may be one conversion therapy I endorse. Just remember: friends don't let friends vote for Trump."
CNN's Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Hanjin Shipping's Troubles Leave $14 Billion in Cargo Stranded at Sea - WSJ
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:47
Updated Sept. 7, 2016 7:49 p.m. ET The financial woes of one of the world's biggest shipping lines have left as much as $14 billion worth of cargo stranded at sea, sending its owners scurrying to try to recover their goods and get them to customers, according to industry executives, brokers and cargo owners.
Since Hanjin Shipping Co.1179301.15% of South Korea filed for bankruptcy protection there last week, dozens of ships carrying more than half a million cargo containers have been denied access to ports around the world because of uncertainty about who would pay docking fees, container-storage and unloading bills. Some of those ships have been seized by the company's creditors.
Samsung Electronics Co.SSNHZ0.00%, which makes the Galaxy smartphone and other devices, said it has cargo valued at about $38 million stranded on Hanjin ships in international waters.
''We're passengers on a bus, and we're being told we can't get off,'' Evan Jones, a lawyer for the company, said Tuesday.
Samsung said it is considering chartering 16 cargo planes to fulfill its shipment contracts, mostly to the U.S.
About 95% of the world's manufactured goods'--from dresses to televisions'--are transported in shipping containers. Though Hanjin accounts for only about 3.2% of global container capacity, the disruption, which comes as retailers prepare to stock their shelves for the holiday season, is expected to be costly, as companies scramble to book their goods on other carriers.
Analysts don't expect the snarl to leave U.S. retailers with inventory shortfalls for the holidays, but the longer the logjam drags on, the greater the risk.
''This is not impacting store shelves now,'' said Nate Herman, a senior vice president for the American Apparel & Footwear Association. ''It will impact store shelves if the situation isn't resolved.''
On Tuesday, the association, which represents manufacturers and retailers, held a conference call with 150 members. ''People are still trying to figure out how to get their boxes off the boat and move them,'' Mr. Herman said.
While Hanjin was granted protection by bankruptcy courts in Korea and the U.S., conditions are ''bordering chaos,'' said Lars Jensen, chief executive of SeaIntelligence Consulting in Copenhagen. ''With so many Hanjin ships barred from entering ports, shippers have no idea when their cargo will be unloaded.''
The courts' protection permits Hanjin ships to move in and out of certain terminals in those countries without fear of asset seizures. But shippers and brokers say the rulings don't solve the shipping line's problems in the U.S., as it is unclear whether Hanjin will be able to afford to have the ships unloaded once they dock. Moreover, the courts' rulings don't necessarily apply to ports in Asia and Europe.
Mr. Jensen said 43 Hanjin ships are en route to scheduled destinations with no guarantees that they will be allowed to unload. An additional 39 are circling or anchored outside ports. Eight ships have been seized by creditors.
As Hanjin ships drift at sea, their crews face increasing uncertainties and diminishing supplies.
''We usually have food and water for about two weeks,'' said the captain of a Hanjin-operated ship speaking by satellite phone from the South China Sea. But, after 12 days at sea, ''everything is getting tight'--food, water and fuel,'' he said.
The captain added that he is rationing water and cutting back air conditioning to save energy.
''The heat is driving the crew crazy,'' he said.
His ship was carrying lubricants and home appliances from South Asia to a Chinese port, but last Thursday, he was told to stop, as the ship could be seized at its destination.
Adding to the confusion, shippers and brokers said the Korean government has designated only three so-called base ports'--Los Angeles, Singapore and Hamburg'--where Hanjin vessels can unload shipments without risk of being seized by creditors.
''Even in those ports, we don't know who is going to be paying unloading and docking fees,'' a broker in Singapore said. ''Korea says it will be Hanjin, but Hanjin is telling us it has no money. It's a total mess.''
The Korean Shippers Council, which represents more than 60,000 trading companies, said Wednesday its members ''have not been able to figure out the whereabouts of their freight.''
Brokers said the problems extend to carriers with vessel-sharing deals with Hanjin. They include China's Cosco Group, Japan's Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp.26030.36% and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.26090.14%, which typically move thousands of Hanjin containers daily.
Sanne Manders, chief operating officer at California-based freight forwarder Flexport Inc., said rates on Asia-U.S. cargo have risen 40% to 50% since Monday on all sea lanes'--not just those operated by Hanjin.
''That amounts to easily $600 to $700 per container,'' Mr. Manders said. ''We think this period of high prices will be 30 to 45 days," through the initial peak for Thanksgiving-season shipping, he said.
Freightos, an online marketplace for booking freight shipments, said the average price per container on Asia-U. S. routes rose 56% to $4,423 on Tuesday from $2,835 a week earlier.
Executives with freight-booking platform Shippabo warned that companies should expect delays as many cargo containers have been rerouted on different vessels.
''For the top 25 importers, this is a blip,'' said Frank Layo, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. ''They're diversified, they're not shipping it all on one line.'' But for smaller retailers with less sophistication, ''this could be devastating,'' he said.
The Hong Kong Shippers' Council said local terminals are charging shippers a special fee of $1,260 per container to allow them off Hanjin ships. Cargo owners said at least 10 other European and Asian ports are charging similar fees.
'--Tom Corrigan and Paul Ziobro contributed to this article.
Write to Erica E. Phillips at erica.phillips@wsj.com
VIDEO-What Really Happened at Donald Trump's Intelligence Briefing - NBC News
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:34
As U.S. officials cast doubt on Donald Trump's claim he read the "body language" of intelligence officials at a recent briefing, NBC News has learned exclusive details of what unfolded in the room '-- and of reported tension between one of Trump's advisers and the briefers.
Six current and former senior officials said they were aware of friction between retired Gen. Michael Flynn, one of the advisers Trump brought to the briefing, and the officials who conducted the briefing. Four sources with knowledge of the briefing '-- including two intelligence officials who spoke to people in the room '-- said Flynn repeatedly interrupted the briefers until New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie intervened.
Both Christie and Flynn denied the officials' version of events, with Flynn calling the report "total b__s___" and Christie calling it "a complete work of fiction."
The Aug. 17 briefing is attracting fresh scrutiny after Trump said at NBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum that he divined that intelligence officials were "not happy" with President Obama.
"What I did learn," Trump said, "is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow ... what our experts said to do ... And I was very, very surprised.
"I could tell '-- I'm pretty good with body language '-- I could tell they were not happy."
Related: Clinton Slams Trump But She Blabbed About Briefing, Too
Timothy Barrett, a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment Thursday on Trump's characterization.
However, a U.S. official pointed out that intelligence officers don't give policy advice, so it would be inaccurate to say that Obama failed to follow the advice of the intelligence community. A second U.S. official said analysts are trained not to allow their body language to betray their thinking.
Related: First Read: Trump's 9 Controversial Remarks in 24 Minutes
Meanwhile, four people with knowledge of the matter told NBC News that one of the advisers Trump brought to the briefing, retired general Mike Flynn, repeatedly interrupted the briefing with pointed questions.
Two sources said Christie, the New Jersey governor and Trump adviser, verbally restrained Flynn -- one saying Christie told Flynn to shut up, the other reporting he said, "Calm down." Two other sources said Christie touched Flynn's arm in an effort get him to calm down and let the officials continue.
Christie denied that he had silenced or restrained Flynn. "The comments and actions attributed to me in this story about General Flynn are categorically untrue. I did not make the statements alleged nor did I touch General Flynn's arm for any reason during the briefing. The report is a complete work of fiction."
Flynn told NBC News the report was "total b__s___" and added, "These are anonymous sources. They're lying."
In an interview on TODAY, Flynn was asked whether he saw what Trump claims he did at the briefing.
"I sure did...in a very specific way," Flynn said, though he went on to say that his conclusion was based not on body language but on intelligence officials drawing distinctions between the content of their briefing and White House policy.
The intelligence briefing is given to the presidential nominee from each party.
There were fewer than 10 people in the room at Trump's briefing, and all the briefers were career intelligence officials, including both military officers and civilians, U.S. officials told NBC News. A former senior intelligence official said the briefing team is always the same for both presidential candidates. None were political appointees, and none were among the team that briefs President Obama daily. The names of the briefers have not been made public.
The briefing was conducted at the "secret" level of classification, and it did not cover sources and methods or covert operations.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials who asked that their names not be disclosed told NBC News that many members of the current intelligence community -- leadership rank and file -- were angered by Trump's comments Wednesday night, and the possibility that he may have disclosed details of his intelligence briefing or attempted to politicize it.
Former CIA and NSA director Mike Hayden, who opposes Trump, told NBC News that in almost four decades in intelligence "I have never seen anything like this before."
"A political candidate has used professional intelligence officers briefing him in a totally non-political setting as props to buttress an argument for his political campaign," said Hayden. "And his political point was actually imputed to them, not even something they allegedly said. The `I can read body language' line was quite remarkable. ... I am confident Director Clapper sent senior professionals to this meeting and so I am equally confident that no such body language ever existed. It's simply not what we do."
Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director who was President George W. Bush's briefer and is now a Hillary Clinton supporter, said Trump's comments about his briefing were extraordinary.
"This is the first time that I can remember a candidate for president doing a readout from an intelligence briefing, and it's the first time a candidate has politicized their intelligence briefing. Both of those are highly inappropriate and crossed a long standing red line respected by both parties," he said.
"To me this is just the most recent example that underscores that this guy is unfit to be commander in chief," Morell continued.
"His comments show that he's got no understanding of how intelligence works. Intelligence officers do not make policy recommendations. It's not their job and anyone running for president should know that. The people who briefed him, I'm pretty sure were career analysts '-- senior intel professionals. There is no way that they would in any way signal displeasure with the policies of the president."
That said, intelligence officials have asserted they warned the administration repeatedly about the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria well before Obama ordered a bombing campaign. And as NBC News has reported, senior intelligence officials in 2012 proposed a covert operation to oust Bashar Assad in Syria, but Obama decided not to move forward with it.
-- Josh Meyer contributed reporting to this story
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton's Illness Revealed - YouTube
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 21:35
VIDEO-Gary Johnson on The View Talks The Millennial Vote, His Faith, and Immigration | The Libertarian Vindicator
Thu, 08 Sep 2016 20:09
Governor Gary Johnson appeared on The View this morning to talk about his candidacy for the Presidency.
Here is that interview with morning with the ladies of The View:
The follow clip is his response to this morning's ''What is Aleppo'' comment.
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Hillary Clinton has 'medical episode' at 9-11 ceremony, source says.mp3

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Admiral James 'ACE' Lyons on Bengahzi kidnapping plot.mp3

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Citi-Oil Trader says YES to more 'talks' good for volatility=money in the bank-CNBC.mp3

Elections 2016

Bill Clinton Mocks Middle Class “Coal People” for Opposing Hillary Clinton….mp3
Clinton in NYC-Baskets of Trump supporters.mp3
Clinton on Israeli TV-Baskets of Trump supporters.mp3
Joy Reid drops the hammer on Trump advisor David Malpass lying about Clinton as interview goes off the rails.mp3
Kaine- Russians are trying to delegitimize U.S. election results, at the very least.mp3
Louie Gohmert- Hillary Clinton Is ‘Mentally Impaired,’ Needs Our Prayers.mp3
NBC Chet MTP-Stephanie Cutter- Clinton should have said all of Trump's supporters are deplorable.mp3

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Wolf Blitzer Is Worried Defense Contractors Will Lose Jobs if U.S. Stops Arming Saudi Arabia.mp3
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