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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,002

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Guest Lineups For The Sunday News Shows

“Meet the Press” on NBC

• Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
• Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)
• Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R)
• Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

“Face the Nation” on CBS

• Lewis
• Booker
• Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

“This Week” on ABC

• Lewis
• Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young (D)

“Fox News Sunday” on Fox

• Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
• Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
• Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

“State of the Union” on CNN

• Lewis
• Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
• Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
• Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)

Even Amid Uproar Over Alleged Chemical Attack, Syria Regime Seems Confident It Has Upper Hand

The signs would seem bad for President Bashar Assad. Blasts echo all day long over the Syrian capital as troops battle rebels entrenched on its eastern doorstep. The government admits the economy is devastated. Allegations of a horrific chemical attack have given new life to calls for international action against his regime.

Yet the regime appears more confident than ever that it weathered the worst and has gained the upper hand in the country's civil war, even if it takes years for victory.

Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil traces a slow arc in the air with his hand to show how the country has reached a turning point in "the events" _ the most common euphemism here for 2 1/2 years of bloodshed.

"If the previous trajectory was all negative, it is now on a new course of a gradual reduction of violence, until it goes back to zero," he told The Associated Press.

"The turning point changes the course of things, but it will take a while," he said. "I don't think the path downward will take as long as the path of escalation did."



Iran Slams ‘US Uranium Scenario’ as Bid to Scuttle P5+1 Talks

Source: RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - The US allegation about an attempt by a man from Sierra Leone to sell uranium to Iran is designed to thwart Tehran’s upcoming talks with a group of international mediators, Press TV reported on Saturday, citing a senior Iranian lawmaker.

On Friday, Western media reported that US prosecutors have charged Patrick Campbell, 33, of Freetown with attempting to sell to undercover agents 1,000 tons of yellowcake uranium he believed would be shipped to Iran. He was arrested Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport with a sample of the toxic substance concealed in his baggage.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the “US scenario” as a “joke,” the agency reported.

The Islamic Republic does not need to buy yellow cake from the citizens of other countries, he was quoted by Press TV as saying.

Read more: http://en.rian.ru/world/20130824/182945748/Iran-Slams-US-Uranium-Scenario-as-Bid-to-Scuttle-P51-Talks.html

Brings back memories...

Air War in Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack

WASHINGTON — As President Obama weighs options for responding to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, his national security aides are studying the NATO air war in Kosovo as a possible blueprint for acting without a mandate from the United Nations.

With Russia still likely to veto any military action in the Security Council, the president appears to be wrestling with whether to bypass the United Nations, although he warned that doing so would require a robust international coalition and legal justification.

“If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?” Mr. Obama said on Friday to CNN, in his first public comments after the deadly attack on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama described the attack as “clearly a big event of grave concern” and acknowledged that the United States had limited time to respond. But he said United Nations investigators needed to determine whether chemical weapons had been used.

Kosovo is an obvious precedent for Mr. Obama because, as in Syria, civilians were killed and Russia had longstanding ties to the government authorities accused of the abuses. In 1999, President Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the rationale of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes.



Lawyers Say Gitmo Computer Problems Make Defending 9/11 Accused Impossible

Source: Huffington

Files have been lost, computer searches monitored and e-mails "disappeared into the ether" at Guantanamo Bay since January, say lawyers for the five co-defendants in the 9/11 case.

One after another, defense lawyers stood before Judge James Pohl in a Guantanamo courtroom on Friday to claim the government-provided computer system has made modern-era legal practice impossible. They say they've had to hand-write complex legal documents, travel to send e-mails from their personal laptops over the Starbucks wifi system, and struggle to reconstruct lengthy legal briefs that disappeared without explanation from their computers.

Major Jason Wright, a military defense attorney for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described how his defense team learned prosecutors had had access to their e-mails, and that once, a case-related computer search caused a Pentagon official to search that individual's computer system. As a result, the Chief Defense Counsel ordered them to stop using the government system for any case-related matters.

"We were basically put back in the 19th century," said Wright.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daphne-eviatar/lawyers-say-gitmo-compute_b_3806590.html

U.S. Preps For Possible Cruise Missile Attack On Syrian Gov't Forces

Source: CBS NEWS

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - CBS News has learned that the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces. We say "initial preparations" because such an attack won't happen until the president gives the green light. And it was clear during an interview on CNN Friday that he is not there yet.

"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country, without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented," the president told CNN, "then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it -- 'do we have the coalition to make it work?' Those are considerations that we have to take into account."

Launching cruise missiles from the sea would not risk any American lives. It would be a punitive strike designed not to topple Syrian dictator Bashir Assad but to convince him he cannot get away with using chemical weapons.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is expected to present options for a strike at a White House meeting on Saturday.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57599944/u.s-preps-for-possible-cruise-missile-attack-on-syrian-govt-forces/

Private Gain to a Few Trumps Public Good for the Many

By Robert Reich

Congress is in recess, but you’d hardly know it. This has been the most do-nothing, gridlocked Congress in decades. But the recess at least offers a pause in the ongoing partisan fighting that’s sure to resume in a few weeks.

It also offers an opportunity to step back and ask ourselves what’s really at stake.

A society — any society —- is defined as a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions: public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.

Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who are better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted from many of these same public institutions) help pay for everyone else.

"Privatize" means "Pay for it yourself." The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than at any time in the past 90 years is to make high-quality public goods available to fewer and fewer.

In fact, much of what’s called “public” is increasingly a private good paid for by users — ever-higher tolls on public highways and public bridges, higher tuitions at so-called public universities, higher admission fees at public parks and public museums.



The DOJ Has Corrupted the Rule of Law by Not Prosecuting Wall Street Financial Looters

Journalist and scholarly muse Thomas Frank noted in a recent e-mail to colleagues,

September 15 will mark five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the official beginning of the slump that never ends. It was a moment that smashed the faith of millions of people. And so it’s time for a look back: What did the nation learn from that moment of complete disillusionment?

Well, basically nothing. We came to the turning point and didn’t turn.

Frank was referring to his September dateline Harper's Magazine article (only available in the print edition and behind an online paywall), in which he concluded:

But a society that believes good government to be an impossibility is unlikely to do what is necessary to keep industry honest. Instead, its regulators will come to see the regulated, rather than the public, as their main clients. They will imagine that industry can police itself. They will party with their private-sector pals and spin happily through the revolving door. And the rest of us will resign ourselves to scandal after scandal, as a new generation of looters rises up to claim positions at the trough when the old looters retire. Indeed—to repurpose an immortal statement by a certain Bush Administration economist—given what we now think we know about the system, it would be irrational for them not to loot....

There is one way, however, in which the changes brought about by 2008 have been permanent—one way in which the center will probably never hold again. We are a society that watched as those who obeyed the rules got played by Wall Street and Washington. And it has not only hardened us, made us more blasé about corruption; it has corrupted us. We be held our powerlessness at the hands of the mighty, and we decided that the thing to do was to make Wall Street even stronger. We accepted our powerlessness and then magnified it. Today we all know that another bubble will soon inflate and burst, but we have chosen to live with that— five years from the last, five years to the next! Just grab your cash and hang on.



Snowden Effect Prompts Release of Info Showing Illegal NSA Domestic Surveillance

For months, the Obama administration fought to prevent the release of details about unlawful NSA surveillance of Americans. But now it has finally caved—publishing a startling secret court opinion that slams the NSA for illegally obtaining thousands of domestic emails sent to and from people with no link to terrorism.

Prior to the leaks of secret documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the existence of the classified opinion had been revealed by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. This prompted rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation to pursue Freedom of Information Act litigation to obtain the opinion, which the Justice Department fought aggressively in the courts, as I reported here back in May. The DOJ argued that the release of the material would pose “exceptionally grave and serious damage” to national security.

However, the administration has been under extreme pressure to embrace greater transparency on surveillance since Snowden’s leaks, and the DOJ faced a severe setback in June when a court ruling effectively gave it little option but to publish some of the details. Consequently, the administration finally decided to release a declassified version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion Wednesday, swiftly undermining previous claims that it needed to stay secret.

Far from being sensitive on national security grounds, it appears likely that the opinion was previously withheld only because it could have been perceived as politically damaging. In the 85-page ruling, FISA court judge John Bates blasts the government for withholding key information about a program involving the mass sifting of data about emails and other Internet communications directly off of Internet cables. Bates found that the NSA was “likely acquiring tens of thousands of discrete communications of non-target United States persons and persons in the United States,” violating Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. And the judge noted that it wasn’t the first time that the secret court was misled about the scope of NSA surveillance:



Nuclear Regulators Declare Fukushima Leak A Level-Three ‘Serious Incident’

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, August 23, 2013 16:41 EDT

Nuclear watchdog inspectors who toured Japan’s crippled Fukushima plant following the discovery of a huge radioactive leak declared Friday that water storage at the site was “sloppy”.

Earlier this week around 300 tonnes of radioactive liquid is believed to have escaped from one of the hundreds of tanks holding liquid used to cool the broken reactors, in an episode dubbed the most serious in nearly two years.

“I can’t help but say it was sloppy,” said Nuclear Regulation Authority committee member Toyoshi Fuketa of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) management of contaminated water, according to Jiji Press.

Fuketa was part of a 15-member team, including experts on radiation and water flow, who visited the wrecked power station to see for themselves how the polluted water had escaped.

The one-day inspection finished late Friday, an agency official told AFP. “We will analyse results of the inspection and discuss them at a working group next week,” the official said. “We may carry out further on-site inspections if necessary.”


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