Archive for Syria

Sunday Links

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

linksPhotos: Marco Di Fabio and Nelson Almeida/
Getty Images via NPR

Which Place Is More Sexist: The Middle East Or Latin America?

Turkey shoots down Syrian military jet

What medieval Europe did with its teenagers

Malaysia flight MH370: New images of 'possible debris'

Rare earths: Neither rare, nor earths (BBC News Service)

Three killed by a landslide in US state of Washington

Visa and MasterCard block Russian bank customers

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

What Would You Do? More Importantly, What Will You Do? SOS Children

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

SOS Children

Norwegian Boy Freezing - SOS Children


A social experiment was done recently in Norway. Hidden cameras were set up to cover it and the results show something in the human spirit, no matter whether in the US or abroad, that gives hope that we as people really care.

An 11-year-old boy sat shivering, freezing, and jacket-less at a bus stop in Oslo on a cold winter's day. Others saw him, alone and chilled to the bone. Watch and see how they reacted. How would you have handled this? What would you do?

HUFFPO:

The experiment was filmed by the Norwegian branch of the SOS Children's Villages International charity as part of a campaign to provide warm clothing for displaced children in Syria, according to The Nordic Page.

"People [everywhere] should care as much about children in Syria as they care about this boy," Synne Rønning, the information head of SOS Children's Villages Norway, told The Local. She also noted that the child was a volunteer who was never in any danger during the filming.

Doesn't this video show us that we do care? Now how about those hundreds of thousands of displaced children in Syria? Want to help? Here's how:

To learn more about SOS Children's Villages International click here.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Thursday Links

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

 

Photo: theguardian.com

Photo: theguardian.com

Pete Seeger Testimony Before HUAC - the House Unamerican Activities Committee - on August 18, 1955

Atlanta: Snow, Ice, Sand Send South's Flagship City Reeling (AP)

Excellent news!
BP Deepwater Supervisors Must Face Manslaughter Rep!

Terror Suspect Challenges NSA Surveillance Program

This is very serious:
Egypt to Put 20 Al-Jazeera Journalists on Trial

When 100,000 people sign a petition for you to be deported (from the US - petitioning the White House), don't you rethink your behavior? Apparently Justin Bieber doesn't: he just got arrested in Canada for assaulting a limo driver.
Justin Bieber Charged with Assault

US deep South snow storm maroons motorists

Movement Seen in Talks Over Syria, Despite Gap

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Tuesday Links

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Tuesday Links from The Political Carnival

GlampingInhabitat

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars

Proposed Abortion Restrictions in Spain Produce Backlash

Why Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream is Still Unfulfilled

The GOP's 2016 Presidential Roster Is Already Melting Down

Syria Peace Talks to Take Place without Iran

ArchiWorkshop Unveils Gorgeous 'Glamping' Tents Shaped Like Doughnuts

Hollande’s Romances Turn Into a Political Spectacle in France

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

When Will We Learn, McCain Is Not A Diplomat?

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Oops I did it again

It takes a big (wo)man, not necessarily a good (wo)man, to admit he/she's made a mistake. John McCain this weekend proved he's that (wo)man. He's admitted what we've all known for years -- he means well, but is prone to exaggeration gaffs.

So in the spirit of fairness, I'm willing to say John simply got caught up in the moment, took some time to reflect on his own actions of the past and decided Obama's handshake with Raul Castro wasn't the disgraceful act of "appeasement" on par with the Neville Chamberlain/Adolph Hitler handshake. Time to get past that.

With that settled, I think it's about time that the US Government reconsider it's policy of sending McCain and usually his personal valet Senator Lindsay Graham on official "fact finding" trips to political 'hot spots' on behalf of this country. This hawk and his sidekick have never found a place where they didn't feel the US should make it a flashpoint for war.

They were early and multiply times visitors to Iraq where we escalated our efforts there -- remember the "surge" of troops?

They visited Syria and voted against Obama's using peaceful means to negotiate the chemical weapons disarmament.

McCain made a number of official visits to Israel where each time the middle east country announced increased anxiety over Iran which lead to threats of a possible unilateral Israeli strike on their warring neighbor. McCain went so far as to refer to then current Iranian leader this way according to NBC news:

McCain made a joke comparing Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a monkey.

The Arizona senator even more recently has been vocal on pushing new sanctions against Iran which would most certainly derail the peaceful efforts to negotiate a shutting down of the nuclear weapons development program in Iran despite pleas by Secretary of State John Kerry to allow unfettered negotiations to take place. 

Now today we find McCain (without his Graham valet) once again off to a foreign land as an official envoy, this time in the rioting Ukraine.

In all these these cases, the McCain visits have turned out, by his actions once he returned, to be the opposite of our best interests. How many times must this old warhorse be sent to gather intel and report back? It's not as if his efforts have netted us any qualitative or even quantitative findings. He may be a good guy, and his military background -- at least in years spent as a prisoner of war -- is laudable. But like the accountant today who forgoes contemporary computer technology to prepare your taxes, he's slow, prone to human error and basically just out of it. He's got his old ways and refuses to change with the times. Rather than input data in a computer and have it instantly analyzed and metadata mined for multiple uses, he's still got the pencil, a paper spreadsheet (with coffee stains) and a hand-pull adding machine at his side.

We'll all be served when he finally signals his retirement. He doesn't need to be put out to pasture just yet, but he certainly doesn't need to be our eyes and ears on the ground surveying our next possible moves in volatile locations. He could help us best by passing on his knowledge in improving the standards of living and assistance to soldiers returning from service as well as issues affecting our growing aging population.

Internation diplomacy needs a bit more than just having served for a long time or a Senator singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

It takes someone who thinks before he speaks. What it needs is diplomacy, not mockery. And lately, Senator McCain has proven he's doting with emotional lust for one final battle, not one grand peace. Let's stop putting our worst foot forward. Let's start putting our best.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Starve The Old, Feed War Fever

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

nuclear explosion 2

War costs money. And spending tax revenue on Defense is what the Republican party is all about. Certainly education, jobs, healthcare, immigration, women's right to chose, our infrastructure, science, technology, global warming, clean air, renewable energy can all go to hell in the GOP-run world. It's DEFENSE SPENDING that's the only thing that matters. They'll sacrifice all other things to keep war going and to stop peace at any cost -- even if it means killing seniors if that's what's necessary. Nothing has priority over the DOD. Go Pentagon!

If you don't believe me, The Huffpo reports this:

A pair of House Republicans have a new bill that would spare the military from sequestration by cutting the Social Security benefits of many Americans who already experience painful federal budget cuts.

Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) are introducing the Provide for the Common Defense Act on Tuesday. The legislation would cancel out the next two years of sequestration cuts for the Pentagon by putting a heavier burden on senior citizens and federal workers.

Through Secretary of State Kerry, the Obama administration has so far successfully avoided further confrontations in Syria over chemical weapons use -- the real WMD's that Bush only lied about. Those weapons, through negotiated peaceful means are being destroyed as of this writing. This, of course was done over the hawkish objections of the Republican party stalwarts and pro-war at any cost mouthpieces, McCain and Graham.

The cost of American human lives on that peaceful, negotiation front? Zero.

Now it comes to Iran -- our biggest threat in the middle east. For nearly 30 years, we weren't even directly talking. Now we are. On this Iran front, where the same GOP warmongers have been pushing for armed conflict, we've reached a tentative accord to curtail and perhaps even reverse the nuclear threat this country presents. A conflagration there would certainly lead to potential world war and resulting annihilation. One would think that a potential peaceful solution would meet with cheers and hosannas, but we're dealing in Congress with the GOP war merchants, and peace means they can't justify increases in military spending. Damn, they might have to legislate within their own designed sequestration restraints.

We're not finished with Syrian and Iranian threats by a long shot. But we've barely given peace a chance and the Republican military industrial complex is trying to starve our seniors, just in case. They want to cut their benefits substantially reducing their already meager existances. If there ever was, as Michele Bachmann claimed, death panels, it's got to this GOP goon squad. This time it's being chaired by Reps. Jim Bridenstine and Doug Lamborn. It's not called the Affordable Care Act. It's known as the Common Defense Act (CDA). The only thing common about it is the continuing war on the middle class and poor it propagates.

In the GOP/Tea Party world we need more nukes, less Grandmas and Grandpas.

BTW, rumor has it there's a secret bill being circulated as a fall back if this CDA doesn't pass. It's going to require the oldest Social Security recipients to work to qualify for senior benefits. Over 75 and you'll be forced to register to be outfitted with explosives and dropped as bombs in the Middle East if this bill doesn't pass.

Remember Slim Pickets in Dr. Strangelove? Just picture John McCain playing that iconic role of Major King Kong.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Gitmo's Penny Lane Marriott - A Terrorist's "Home Away From Home"

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Guantanamo Bay

Ah, the spy game. When it comes to our national security, who better than George W. Bush and his neo-cons to oversee top secret programs? You remember GW, the man who ignored warnings of a possible attack on 9-11; the chief executive who felt it more important to read to kindergarten students when told of the attack than move to defend this country; the President who ordered Air Force One to the wrong position after the terrorists attack; and the man who raged war against the wrong country for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Let's face it, this dude was in over his head. But only now are we finding out the further adventures in counter-terrorism of our former leader. Seems, according to the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the early years after 9/11, the CIA turned some Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents then sent them home to help the U.S. kill terrorists, current and former U.S. officials said.

The CIA promised the prisoners freedom, safety for their families and millions of dollars from the agency's secret accounts.

It was a risky gamble. Officials knew there was a chance that some prisoners might quickly spurn their deal and kill Americans.

For the CIA, that was an acceptable risk in a dangerous business. For the American public, which was never told, the program was one of the many secret trade-offs the government made on its behalf. At the same time the government used the risk of terrorism to justify imprisoning people indefinitely, it was releasing dangerous people from prison to work for the CIA.

The idea that infiltrating Al Qaeda to prevent more attacks is very sound. But how you do it takes some really well thought out assessment. And GW wasn't the guy to make that decision. Nor were his cohorts, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

So the pool of candidates was the Gitmo prisoners. Okay, maybe they were a logical place to start. But with all the torture and waterboarding going on, could these prisoners be trusted? What was to stop them from just lying and making it easier on themselves?

Candidates were ushered from the confines of prison to Penny Lane's (the cottages used for the double-agent trainees) relative hominess, officials said. The cottages had private kitchens, showers and televisions. Each had a small patio.

Some prisoners asked for and received pornography. One official said the biggest luxury in each cottage was the bed - not a military-issued cot but a real bed with a mattress.

The cottages were designed to feel more like hotel rooms than prison cells, and some CIA officials jokingly referred to them collectively as the Marriott.

Marriott Hotel

So, those were the conditions at the Gitmo Marriott. With treatment like that, I'm sure the program was a huge success -- so many volunteers that you had to beat them off with a stick -- if you weren't already beating them with a stick.

This was sure to be a successful program.

The U.S. government says it has confirmed that about 16 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoined the fight against America. Officials suspect but have not confirmed that another 12 percent more rejoined.

That would make for a potential of roughly 3 in 10 returned to their old ways and killed American soldiers. A 70% win rate might be good in baseball or basketball, but it sure isn't in counter-intelligence. Each mistake made there could have cost hundreds of lives. But what can you expect from these hijacked soldiers, cuffed and hooded and whisked off to the balmy shores of Cuba?

Vice President Dick Cheney called the prisoners "the worst of a very bad lot." Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said they were "among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth."

Now isn't that a great pool of volunteers. I guess Bush and company saw something in these truly dangerous men that the outside world might find hard to see. It must be like trying to train people to have charisma or to grow taller, or develop a discerning sense for smell.

The U.S. government had such high hopes for Penny Lane that one former intelligence official recalled discussions about whether to secretly release a pair of Pakistani men into the United States on student or business visas. The hope was that they would connect with al-Qaida and lead authorities to members of a U.S. cell.

Of course. What a great plan! Finance, arm and set up the worst of the worst on American soil, setting them free to roam among us. No risk there. That's the surest way for the Al Qaeda guys in the middle east to pick up former freedom fighter ex-patriots and enlist them to run the domestic cells here. Surely nobody in the Al Qaeda hierarchy would be suspicious that these guys who were captured in Iraq, held prisoner in Guantanamo, then set free on U.S mainland soil with walking around money might have cut a deal and been secret double agents.

George W. must have thought the masterminds of the 9-11 attack would be pretty ignorant? Maybe he was looking at a group picture of his own cabinet and thought, hey, it's worked on these idiots.

So, how successful was the genius executive branch plan for counter-intelligence, code named, Penny Lane?

There's not a single shred of evidence than any of these turned double agents provided any intel that caused a disruption in any of the Iraq war plans. So much for the Republican brain trust and the neo-cons who actually ran our country and choreographed the war.

And these are the same people, the same party, that are imploring us to not seek out a peaceful solution the the nuclear potential in Iran. Let's see, trust the administration that ended the war in Iraq, is winding down the war in Afghanistan, tracked down Bin Laden, found a peaceful means of removing Syria's chemical weapons... or the people who started the war in Iraq to start with -- over faulty intelligence or just plain lies?

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare