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Number of posts: 16,255
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By Tony Capaccio - Aug 22, 2013
The Defense Department may have to fire at least 6,272 civilian employees if automatic cuts known as sequestration slice $52 billion from its fiscal 2014 budget, according to a Pentagon planning document.
Additional budget analysis is “likely to produce further reductions” as the services focus on shrinking their contract labor forces, according to a Pentagon “execution plan” obtained by Bloomberg News. The job cuts, although less than 1 percent of the non-uniformed workforce, would mark an escalation from the unpaid leave mandated under sequestration in the current fiscal year.
The services should expect a $475 billion budget after sequestration cuts for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, almost 10 percent less than the pending $526.6 billion request, according to the document dated Aug. 1. Sequestration would result in 16 percent reductions in the Pentagon’s procurement and research spending and 12 percent cuts in operations, maintenance and military construction.
For the most part, major weapons programs aren’t being targeted for extensive reductions, according to the plan, which was a presentation by Pentagon budget and cost-assessment officials for generals and admirals who oversee force structure and resources for their respective services.
Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-22/pentagon-weighs-firing-thousands-under-2014-spending-cuts.html
Quick somebody...get the US involved in Syria and go ahead and start lobbing missiles into Iran.
That'll bring out the 'good ole USA, USA' fighting spirit and a return to full funding plus for the MIC.
Now just where did I put that US flag to mount on the roof of my pick-em up truck?
Posted by Purveyor | Thu Aug 22, 2013, 06:36 PM (23 replies)
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: August 21, 2013
The 35-year sentence a military judge imposed on Pfc. Bradley Manning Wednesday morning was in some sense a vindication of his defense: following his conviction last month on charges of violating the Espionage Act, Private Manning faced up to 90 years in prison. He had previously pleaded guilty to lesser versions of those crimes that exposed him to 20 years behind bars. For a defense lawyer, a sentence of one-third the potential maximum is usually not a bad outcome. But from where we sit, it is still too much, given his stated desire not to betray his country but to encourage debate on American aims and shed light on the “day to day” realities of the American war effort.
Certainly, Private Manning faced punishment.
In providing more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks — extensive excerpts of which were published in The New York Times and other publications — he broke the law and breached his responsibility as a military intelligence analyst to protect those files. It was by far the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, and thus it is not surprising that the punishment would be the longest ever on record for leaking such information.
But 35 years is far too long a sentence by any standard. In more than two weeks of hearings, government lawyers presented vague and largely speculative claims that Private Manning’s leaks had endangered lives and “chilled” diplomatic relations. On the other hand, much of what Private Manning released was of public value, including a video of a military helicopter shooting at two vans and killing civilians, including two Reuters journalists. By comparison, First Lt. Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years for the 2008 killing of an unarmed Iraqi man who was being questioned about suspected terrorist activities. Lieutenant Behenna’s sentence has since been cut to 15 years. Private Manning has already been held for more than three years, nine months of which were in solitary confinement. It is some comfort that he has several opportunities to avoid serving out his full term — including a sentence reduction by a military appeals court; the possibility of parole, for which he will be eligible in about eight years; or a grant of clemency by a board that considers requests from service members.
Army Col. Denise R. Lind, the judge who sentenced Private Manning, also reduced his rank to the lowest in the military and dishonorably discharged him. Those are appropriate punishments. But the larger issue, which is not resolved by Private Manning’s sentencing, is the federal government’s addiction to secrecy and what it will do when faced with future leaks, an inevitability when 92 million documents are classified in a year and more than 4 million Americans have security clearance.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 11:52 PM (7 replies)
WASHINGTON — A federal judge sharply rebuked the National Security Agency in 2011 for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year, according to a secret ruling made public on Wednesday.
The 85-page ruling by Judge John D. Bates, then serving as chief judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, involved an N.S.A. program that systematically searches the contents of Americans’ international Internet communications, without a warrant, in a hunt for discussions about foreigners who have been targeted for surveillance.
The Justice Department had told Judge Bates that N.S.A. officials had discovered that the program had also been gathering domestic messages for three years. Judge Bates found that the agency had violated the Constitution and declared the problems part of a pattern of misrepresentation by agency officials in submissions to the secret court.
The release of the ruling, the subject of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, was the latest effort by the Obama administration to gain control over revelations about N.S.A. surveillance prompted by leaks by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.
The collection is part of a broader program under a 2008 law that allows warrantless surveillance on domestic networks as long as it is targeted at noncitizens abroad. The purely domestic messages collected in the hunt for discussions about targeted foreigners represent a relatively small percentage of what the ruling said were 250 million communications intercepted each year in that broader program.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 11:45 PM (3 replies)
MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized Wednesday a British crackdown on The Guardian newspaper over its publication of secret documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, has claimed that he was ordered by the British government to destroy or return some of the newspaper's Snowden files or face a court action.
In addition, David Miranda, a Brazilian national who has been working with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald on Snowden’s intelligence leaks, was held and questioned Sunday at London’s Heathrow Airport as he traveled from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro.
“The steps taken by the British authorities against The Guardian newspaper conflict with their claims of respect for human rights, including freedom of the press, journalists’ rights and the protection of human life,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
“It is a manifestation of double-standard policies applied by London regarding human rights,” he said.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 07:38 PM (6 replies)
* Russia calls for investigation into alleged chemical attack
* Says rocket was released from area controlled by opposition
* Alleged attack could be "provocation" (Adds details, quotes)
MOSCOW, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry called for a thorough investigation on Wednesday into reports that Syrian government forces had launched a chemical attack, suggesting that rebels could have staged the assault to provoke international action.
Syria's opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of gassing many hundreds of people - by one report as many as 1,300 - on Wednesday in what would, if confirmed, be the world's worst chemical weapons attack in decades.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that its sources in Syria said that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition.
"All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation," Lukashevich said in a statement.
Read more: http://www.trust.org/item/20130821155453-ycrwu
I agree that these reports are suspicious, indeed.
Assad has no reason to use chemcial weapons at a time when UN inspectors are on the ground in Syria and because...he is winning against the militant rebels.
Just doesn't add up...
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 07:35 PM (24 replies)
Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the biggest U.S. home lender, is cutting 2,300 jobs from its mortgage-production unit because higher interest rates are reducing demand for refinancings, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Other smaller cuts had been made in the past few weeks around the country, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the changes haven’t been publicly disclosed. The cuts would equal about 20 percent of the 11,406 mortgage loan officers employed by the San Francisco-based company at the end of March, according to a presentation.
Wells Fargo has said mortgage lending will slow for the rest of this year as higher interest rates make refinancing less attractive. Those loans, which made up 70 percent of the mortgage market during the first half, slid to about 50 percent of applications recently and could fall further in the months ahead, according to a staff memo from Franklin Codel, the bank’s head of mortgage production.
“We’ve had to recalibrate our business to meet customers’ needs -- and to ensure we’re operating as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Codel wrote. “Unfortunately, displacements within our team are necessary.”
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 07:18 PM (0 replies)
WASHINGTON: Egypt has entered a dark tunnel, and it is difficult to say when, and in what condition, it will emerge.
Many Americans, in the meantime, are outraged that the Obama administration has not exerted its supposed leverage, in the form of military aid, to pressure the Egyptian army to restore a democratic form of government.
But it is time for some realism about that leverage. A yearly sum of $1.3 billion may seem persuasive, but this money has always been intended to secure foreign policy outcomes, not domestic political arrangements that the United States favors. For $1.3 billion per year, America has ensured peace with Israel, priority access to the Suez Canal and, more recently, counterterrorism cooperation.
This worked under the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak and under the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi, with whom President Obama had an effective enough working relationship to broker a deal to end the latest outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Despite the fact that American military aid to Egypt has always been intended as an inducement to strategic cooperation, successive presidents have been tempted to use it in other ways.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:48 PM (1 replies)
Last week, IDF forces removed, with hardly any noise, settlers from the lands of Muhammad Ibrahim ‘Ali Shabana, a resident of the village of Sinjil in the West Bank. The removal took place after the invasion by settlers Yonathan Rothschild and Yehuda Elitzur. Thus ended a long legal saga which proves, yet again, the incompetence of the Israeli authorities when it comes to defending the rights of Palestinians in Area C.
The story begins in 2003, at the height of the Second Intifada. Suicide bombers blow up in the streets of Israel without the IDF or the Shin Bet being able to stop them. At the same time, the IDF kills thousands of Palestinians. And the settlers, with close government support, use the media smoke screen provided by the greatest bloodletting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948 to erect a series of outposts. One of these is Givat Ha’Roeh, situated partly on the private Palestinian lands of the villagers of Sinjil.
Here events follow a familiar path: In 2004, the military commander issues a demarcation order for the area of the outpost but, lo and behold, fails to enforce its own edict. A Demarcation Order, a means to deal with the evacuation of unauthorized outposts by demarcating and forbidding entry into the area, is yet another tool the army uses very rarely (less than a dozen have been issued).
As a result of the lack of enforcement, the outpost – like many others – rapidly grows at the expense of more illegally-grabbed Palestinian land, with the authorities looking the other way. In 2006, a first petition demanding the enforcement of the demarcation order is tabled. The state, lying as usual, promises the court that it will enforce the order, and so the petition is dismissed. The order is – surprise! – not enforced, and a year later, in 2007, a new petition is filed. This time the state openly declares it has no intention of enforcing the orders, citing political considerations.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 03:26 PM (2 replies)
Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were to seize power right now, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to a congressman in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
Dempsey said the military is clearly capable of taking out Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force and shifting the balance of the country's 2 1/2-year war back toward the armed opposition. But he said the approach would plunge the United States into another war in the Arab world and offer no strategy for peace in a nation plagued by ethnic rivalries.
He effectively ruled out U.S. cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn't require U.S. troops on the ground.
"Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides," Dempsey said in the letter Aug. 19 to Rep. Eliot Engel. "It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favour. Today, they are not."
Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/general+says+Syrian+rebels+unready+back+interests+rejects/8813544/story.html
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:43 PM (20 replies)
Israel has urged the US to back the Egyptian military, saying losing Egypt to Islamists could pose a risk the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
According to an Israeli official quoted by the paper, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have traditionally played an important role in providing the Palestinians the support to stay in the negotiations and to make concessions, and without them there is a chance the talks will fail
The paper also reported on a parallel effort by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to influence the US into backing the Egyptian military.
According to the report, Israel and the US’s Gulf allies are urging the Obama administration to encourage the Egyptian military to confront rather than reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel is interested in an Egyptian government that will aggressively fight the Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula and protect the border, the report said.
Posted by Purveyor | Wed Aug 21, 2013, 12:38 PM (5 replies)