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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 43,576

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Migrant crisis: Dutch alarm over child brides from Syria

Source: BBC

A 14-year-old girl has gone missing from a Dutch asylum centre. Police say Fatema Alkasem was nine months pregnant and may be in need of medical care.

She is also thought to be a "child bride", and her case has highlighted the problem that the Netherlands faces in providing asylum for girls who married in Syria but are below the Dutch age of consent.

The government in The Hague is rushing to close a loophole in the asylum law which has so far allowed child brides to be reunited with their husbands in the Netherlands. The practice has inflamed debate about how the Netherlands is responding to the refugee crisis, with some arguing it is condoning paedophilia.

As many as 20 girls between the ages of 13 and 15 have been given legal permission to join their older partners at Dutch asylum centres, according to regional news channel RTV-Noord. The figures were reportedly obtained from a leaked immigration service document.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34573825

1978 Lufthansa heist was the 'score of scores,' prosecution says as trial starts

A prosecutor called the $6 million Lufthansa terminal heist in 1978 the "score of scores" as the racketeering trial of alleged career mobster Vincent Asaro, the first person ever charged in the notorious "Goodfellas" robbery, began in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday.

Prosecutor Lindsay Gerdes told jurors that Asaro helped plan the heist at Kennedy Airport, waited in a "crash car" with plot mastermind Jimmy Burke -- the Robert DeNiro character in the movie -- while a crew carried it out, and received a $500,000 share.

"The defendant is a gangster through and through," she said in her opening arguments, explaining that his grandfather, father and son all were wiseguys. "He lived and breathed the Mafia ... What mattered to this defendant was money and power."

The Lufthansa heist is just one a series of crimes ranging from murder to loan-sharking that prosecutors have alleged that Asaro, 80, of Howard Beach, committed in his rise from a Bonanno family associate and "tough guy" to soldier and captain.

But a defense lawyer told jurors that Asaro was entitled to the presumption of innocence, and that the government's case was based on testimony from turncoat witnesses who have gotten $2 million in support from the FBI and who aren't believable.


Wait...We're only just *NOW* trying somebody for this after all these years?

A Response to the “Drone Papers”

The Intercept’s “Drone Papers” leaker “believes the public has a right to know how the U.S. government decides to assassinate people.” Maybe so—or maybe public safety and the need for secrecy trump the public’s curiosity. Unfortunately, the leaker has unilaterally decided for all of us. One person with a thumb drive again trumps the democratic process.

Tant pis; the “Drone Papers” are out there (the name suggests a massive archive; in fact, there are only four documents, one of which is a shorter version of another). So what do they tell us about how the U.S. Government is targeting terrorist leaders in Somalia and Yemen for drone strikes—or, as The Intercept would have it, “decid how to assassinate people”? Unsurprisingly, The Intercept is out to convict; its focus is on the “shortcomings and flaws” of the program, as supposedly exemplified by its ingenuous account of the life and death of al Qaeda commander Bilal el-Berjawi.

But the documents themselves are hardly as damning as the breathless tone of the reporting suggests. In fact, for those concerned about oversight and accountability in the targeting process for AUMF-based strikes, the documents should reassure rather than unsettle. The overall impression is of thorough, individualized review, at the highest levels of government, that meaningfully constrains those developing and carrying out these operations...

...These slides do not suggest operators run amok, “assassinat” targets with little forethought or oversight. To the contrary, the “Drone Papers” suggest that these operations go forward only after a deliberate, individualized process. They confirm that senior political decisionmakers, including the President, review and approve each individual operation. And they reveal that operators view this review process as a significant constraint—a constraint that distinguishes these operations from the (presumably more liberal) operating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Wow...It's almost like Scahill/Greenwald spun this story with as much sensationalized hysteria that they could muster to further an agenda... Why on Earth would they do that? Because that has certainly never happened before!

There’s Just One Problem with Those Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories

Without a shred of evidence, without contradicting a word that I wrote, Jonathan Mahler in The New York Times Magazine this week suggests that the “irresistible story” that I told about the killing of Osama bin Laden in my 2012 book, The Finish (excerpted in Vanity Fair), might well have been a fabrication—“another example of American mythmaking.” He presents an alternative version of the story written by Seymour Hersh as, effectively, a rival account, one that raises serious doubts about mine, which is all but dubbed “the official version.” It’s not meant kindly.

Mahler’s think piece about the iffiness of reporting and the hazards of trying to shape history into a narrative is a great gift to conspiratorial thinkers everywhere. It’s not often that the most distinguished journalistic institution in America wades so fully into the crackpot world of Internet theorizing, where all information, no matter its source, is weightless and equal. Mahler is careful not to side with either Hersh or me, but allows that “Hersh’s version doesn’t require us to believe in the possibility of a government-wide conspiracy.”

In fact, that’s exactly what it does.

Hersh’s story, based on two unnamed sources: Bin Laden was being sheltered in Abbottabad by the Pakistani government. His whereabouts were reported to the U.S. government by a Pakistani source. The Pakistani government confirmed bin Laden was in the Abbottabad compound and allowed the SEAL team to raid it and kill him; the team later tossed his dismembered body from a helicopter. The Obama administration then concocted an elaborate lie, which they successfully peddled to a gullible American press (primarily, me).


My story, based on on-the-record interviews with primary sources: Osama bin Laden was traced to a compound in Abbottabad by a decade-long international intelligence effort by the C.I.A. and the military. While keeping the suspicion a secret from the Pakistani government, the C.I.A. tried for months without success to confirm with certainty that bin Laden was hiding in the compound. After weighing various alternatives, President Obama launched a very risky secret raid into Pakistan. A SEAL team successfully evaded Pakistani defenses to raid the compound, kill bin Laden, and fly his body out for burial at sea.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting.

“A few weeks ago at work,” Jennifer Lawrence wrote in an essay for Lenny (yup, I guess I’m subscribed to Lenny now! Well played, Lena Dunham). “I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no- way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, ‘Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!’ As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.”

Nailed it.

“Woman in a Meeting” is a language of its own.

It should not be, but it is. You will think that you have stated the case simply and effectively, and everyone else will wonder why you were so Terrifyingly Angry. Instead, you have to translate. You start with your thought, then you figure out how to say it as though you were offering a groveling apology for an unspecified error. (In fact, as Sloane Crosley pointed out in an essay earlier this year, the time you are most likely to say “I’m sorry” is the time when you feel that you, personally, have just been grievously wronged. Not vice versa.)

To illustrate this difficulty, I have taken the liberty of translating some famous sentences into the phrases a woman would have to use to say them during a meeting not to be perceived as angry, threatening or (gasp!) bitchy.

“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”


Iraqi Forces Add Russian Guns to US Tanks for ISIL Fight

TEL AVIV, Israel — Earlier this month, Shia militiamen in Iraq dropped off an American-supplied Abrams tank at a US-supported repair facility where workers were surprised to find an attached Russian machine gun plus Iranian ammo, Defense News has learned.

The MIA1 main battle tank — one of 146 frontline tanks the US sold to Baghdad — was transported through the Green Zone to a US-supported Iraqi service facility at al-Muthanna that was established as part of the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

The tank was equipped with a Russian .50-caliber machine gun and Iranian-stamped 12.75-mm ammunition, according to a source at the facility.

“They brought it in through Iraqi checkpoints, back-rolled it off the trailer and then drove away,” recounted the source.

“Once all the ammo was removed, as per procedure, by Iraqi personnel, we noticed Iranian markings on the back of the shell casings. Seems they put a Russian machine gun with Iranian ammunition on an Abrams tank.”

As Washington scrambles to adapt to the myriad, Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting alongside its US-trained and -supplied partners in Iraq, new manifestations of shifting alliances may threaten the relevance of US end-use monitoring in that war-torn country.



Source: AP

PETISOVCI, Slovenia (AP) -- Thousands of migrants surged into tiny Slovenia on Saturday as an alternative route opened in Europe for them after Hungary sealed its border for their free flow, adding another hurdle in their frantic flight from wars and poverty toward what they hope is a better life in Western Europe.

The closure of Hungary's border with Croatia early Saturday caused redirection of thousands of people - including women and small children soaked in cold rain - further west toward Croatia's border with Slovenia.

The small European Union-member state has limited capacity to process large numbers wishing to head toward richer European Union countries such as Germany, Austria or Sweden.

This could leave thousands stranded in Croatia and further east and south in Serbia and Macedonia - the countries on the so-called Balkan migrant corridor. The Hungarian border closure is the latest demonstration of EU's uncoordinated response to the flow of people reaching its borders.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_EUROPE_MIGRANTS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-10-17-09-32-06

God’s TV, Russian style

On a sunny afternoon in Moscow, the Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeev is holding court in the studios of his newly launched television channel Tsargrad TV, dressed in a designer suit, a blue silk handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket. Above him is a makeshift cathedral cupola weighing in at half a tonne. Behind him are 24ft-high windows through which the Kremlin’s red towers are visible, their glass communist stars glistening.

Malofeev, who has the cheeks and figure of a man who likes a good meal, is in a buoyant mood. In a sign of his growing clout, he has just had lunch with two of the richest oligarchs on the Forbes list. Yelena Mizulina, a leading conservative senator, who has come to Tsargrad’s offices, is patiently waiting for the businessman to fit in a tête-à-tête before he departs on his summer holiday.

Over the past few years, Malofeev, 41, has morphed into one of Russia’s most influential businessmen and lobbyists, in part thanks to his devout Russian Orthodox faith and conservative values, now back in vogue during Vladimir Putin’s third term. As the founder of private equity firm Marshall Capital Partners, Malofeev accumulated substantial personal wealth, largely through an investment in the Russian telecoms giant Rostelecom. (His friend Igor Shchegolev, a fellow Russian Orthodox and now Putin adviser, was telecoms minister at the time.) Now he is paying it back as a self-styled Christian philanthropist and one of Putin’s loudest ideological supporters.

It is as part of this next act that Malofeev has launched Tsargrad TV, his own Russian Orthodox TV channel, which aims to put a conservative yet modern spin on global news. In June, Tsargrad began broadcasting daily on Spas, a religious channel run by the Russian Orthodox Church, in addition to an online platform. According to Malofeev, Tsargrad’s closest international equivalent is Fox News in the US, making him something of a Russian Roger Ailes.


Don’t Chase Putin Out of Syria — Let Him Fail On His Own

With each Russian escalatory step in Syria, the situation only seems to get worse. Critics pile on, citing it as an example of President Barack Obama’s “failed” foreign policy, calling for Obama to “do something” — confront Moscow, punish it for its reckless behavior, reassert leadership. But what would that something be?

Across the political spectrum, there are calls for a more muscular U.S. approach in Syria. Some are talking of proxy battles, while others are calling it a new Cold War and declaring a need to act tough to restore American credibility. But before the U.S. tumbles into something, it’s worth taking a step back and asking what Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to get out of this, and whether, if measured by his own goals, this brazen military intervention will work. I think the answer is no – which should guide how the U.S. should respond.

Let’s start with Putin’s stated objective for his intervention in Syria: fighting ISIS. This claim is preposterous. Few Russian strikes are taking place in Islamic State-controlled territory; the air campaign is focused on the opposition that is primarily fighting Assad. This is consistent with Putin’s inverted logic of the conflict, which — as he stated at his UN General Assembly speech last week — is as follows: Assad not only has a right to stay in power, but he in fact is the key to solving the ISIS problem. Unlike the United States and most of the rest of the world, who see the Syrian leader as a driver of the conflict, Putin asserts that Assad is the solution.

Russia’s motivation is simple: to protect Assad. Putin believes he is defending a basic principle against “outside intervention” that seeks to bring down an allied government—as he’s angrily watched happen over the last 15 years in Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. And Russia’s military role in the Syrian conflict is hardly new. They’ve been there from the beginning as one of Assad’s only allies and chief weapons suppliers. Russian personnel have been on the ground throughout.


Containing The Putin Syndicate

The signs of the times are everywhere.

Estonia is erecting a 2.5-meter-high metal mesh fence reinforced with barbed wire along much of its border with Russia -- and backing it up with high-tech drones, sensors, radars, and cameras.

Neighboring Latvia has also announced plans to build fences along its eastern frontier. Poland plans to build new state-of-the art watchtowers on its border with Russia's Kaliningrad exclave.

And, of course, Ukraine has floated plans to build a wall along its Russian frontier.

A new era of containment, it appears, has begun.

Russia's neighbors, wary of polite little green men appearing to stir up new nondeclared hybrid wars, are building walls and becoming vigilant.

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