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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
July 31, 2013

Syrian Missiles Were Moved Before Israeli Strike, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts have concluded that a recent Israeli airstrike on a warehouse in Syria did not succeed in destroying all of the Russian-made antiship cruise missiles that were its target, American officials said on Wednesday, and that further Israeli strikes are likely.

Israel carried out an attack on July 5 near Latakia to destroy the missiles, which Russia had sold to Syria. While the warehouse was destroyed, American intelligence analysts have now concluded that at least some of the Yakhont missiles had been removed from their launchers and moved from the warehouse before the attack.

The officials who described the new assessment declined to be identified because they were discussing classified information.

Israeli officials have said that they do not intend to enter the civil war in Syria, but they have said they are prepared to prevent sophisticated weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, which has joined the war to support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and which controlled the warehouse where the missiles were stored.

American and Israeli naval officials consider the missiles to be a serious threat to their ships.



July 31, 2013

The 5 Most Shocking Revelations About The Government’s Prosecution Of Aaron Swartz You Haven’t Heard

By Megan Carpentier
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 17:23 EDT

Internet activist and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz’s suicide in January 2013 shocked friends, family and admirers alike. Friends, family and fellow activists blamed an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s office — an allegation prosecutors denied — over Swartz’s efforts to download the entire JSTOR academic database on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s servers via a hidden computer and a program which allowed him to do so remotely. MIT, which had an open guest access policy but maintained “neutrality” on the federal prosecution of Swartz, came under fire as well, prompting the university to undertake a review of its policies.

The much-delayed report is notable for its in-depth timeline of events, which document the events which led to Swartz’s arrest from the university’s perspective, the tick-tock of the prosecution as it made its way from the state to federal courts at the insistence of the U.S. Attorney’s office (USAO) — which denied the state access to evidence and forced them to drop their case against Swartz for accessing university property — and the series of meetings taken by the university leaders, its Office of General Counsel (OGC) and its outside counsel prior to Swartz’s suicide.

Taken together, it provides a clearer picture of the gaping holes in the prosecution’s case against Swartz, the prosecutor’s mindset — which appears to bear out at least some of the allegations of Swartz’s supporters — and MIT’s own utter lack of interest in what occurred on their own campus and for which a young man was being prosecuted with them as the alleged victim.

1. The U.S. Attorney blamed Demand Progress’s blogpost and petition effort for his decision to seek further charges and more jail time for Aaron than initially outlined.



July 31, 2013

Crude Oil Caps Biggest Monthly Gain Since August

By Moming Zhou and Mark Shenk - Jul 31, 2013

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed, capping the biggest monthly gain since August, as inventories at a major hub dropped to a 15-month low and the U.S. economy grew more than projected in the second quarter.

Prices advanced 1.9 percent after the government said supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York futures, slid 4.3 percent last week. They were at a record in January. Gross domestic product rose at a 1.7 percent annualized rate in a Commerce Department report. Futures extended gains in the last half hour of regular trading as the Federal Reserve said it would maintain monthly bond purchases.

“If we continue to see Cushing supplies drop, it could signify the end of the bottleneck there,” said Julius Walker, global energy markets strategist at UBS Securities LLC in New York. “It could signal that Cushing is being structurally drained, which would be supportive of WTI, although I don’t think we’re there yet.”



July 31, 2013

J.C. Penney Falls on Report CIT Stopped Funding Suppliers

By Matt Townsend - Jul 31, 2013

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP), the department-store chain seeking to rebound from its worst sales year in more than two decades, tumbled 10 percent after the New York Post reported that CIT Group Inc. (CIT) has stopped funding some of its suppliers.

Commercial lender CIT has stopped supporting deliveries from small manufacturers to J.C. Penney stores, the newspaper reported, without naming its source. The report didn’t say why CIT took this step.

Firms such as CIT provide money on a short-term basis for manufacturers to produce goods for retailers, and in return are paid a fee based on a percentage of the total order. If so-called factors like CIT stop funding suppliers, it can prompt other such lenders to follow suit.

It also may mean that J.C. Penney would have to pay for goods in cash when delivered, Liz Dunn, an analyst for Macquarie Group in New York, said in a note to clients. Less than 10 percent of J.C. Penney’s goods are funded by commercial lenders, of which CIT is the biggest, and if it had to pay up front for all these goods it would total about $300 million, Dunn said.



July 31, 2013

Obama Calls Summers Criticism Unfair in Capitol Meeting

By Kathleen Hunter and Michael C. Bender - Jul 31, 2013

President Barack Obama, asked about former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers as a candidate for Federal Reserve chairman, said Summers is being unfairly criticized in public debate about the selection, lawmakers said after a private meeting with the president.

In the meeting today with House Democrats, Obama also named former Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn and current Vice Chairman Janet Yellen as potential nominees to lead the central bank, said a Democratic aide who sought anonymity to discuss the private session.

The president “took a minute to stand up for Larry Summers,” said Representative Brad Sherman of California, following the meeting with House Democrats. Obama then met with Senate Democrats, and afterward Majority Leader Harry Reid said party members in his chamber will support the president’s choice for the Fed, “no matter who it is.”

Obama told House Democrats he hadn’t decided whom to appoint as Fed chairman -- though he said Summers was being unfairly criticized, Sherman said. People familiar with the search had previously said Summers and Yellen were the two leading contenders to replace Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires Jan. 31.

Representative John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, said the president was “very adamant in his defense of the service Larry Summers has provided.”



July 31, 2013

Effort To Get NSA Leaker Edward Snowden’s Father To Moscow Collapses

Jerry Markon, Tuesday, July 30, 8:07 PM

The FBI tried to enlist the father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to fly to Moscow to try to persuade his son to return to the United States, but the effort collapsed when agents could not establish a way for the two to speak once he arrived, Snowden’s father said Tuesday.

“I said, ‘I want to be able to speak with my son. .?.?. Can you set up communications?’ And it was, ‘Well, we’re not sure,’?” Lon Snowden told The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, folks, I’m not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.’?”

In a wide-ranging interview, the elder Snowden offered a vehement defense of the young man some have labeled a traitor. He said that Edward, who is holed up at an airport in Moscow, grew up in a patriotic family in suburban Maryland, filled with federal agents and police officers, and that he “loves this nation.’’

Asked what triggered his son’s decision to leak top-secret intelligence documents, Snowden, a retired Coast Guard officer, said he didn’t know. Although Edward had seemed troubled in April during their final dinner together, he said his son had recently put up a “firewall between himself and his family.”

“We had no idea what was coming,’’ he said.



July 30, 2013

Intel Experts Say It's Unlikely The US Helped New Zealand Spy On Reporter In Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — A U.S. official said Monday that the National Security Agency did not monitor phone conversations between a New Zealand journalist and his Afghan sources, following claims by the journalist that his reporting was monitored by the U.S. intelligence programs revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden on behalf of New Zealand's military.

Officials in the intelligence community and experts said if any surveillance was done, it was more likely that his phone calls were caught up by standard military intelligence monitoring of enemy communications in war zones.

The Obama administration brushed off new allegations of NSA surveillance overreach, this time focusing on freelance reporter Jon Stephenson, who was in Kabul, Afghanistan, working for American news service McClatchy and other media outlets when his phone records were reportedly seized.

It was the latest revelation in the ongoing debate over government snooping since Snowden in June revealed two top secret U.S. programs that monitor millions of Americans' telephone and Internet communications each day.

In a short statement to The Associated Press, the U.S. government official said NSA did not target Stephenson or collect his phone records. A U.S. intelligence official suggested that any surveillance could have been run by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which oversees war zone intelligence missions. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program. The DIA did not comment.



"Unlikely, indeed..."

July 30, 2013

In Egypt, Security State Is Resurrected After Provoking Fear In 2011 Revolution

By Michael Birnbaum, Updated: Monday, July 29, 9:12 PM

CAIRO — The brutality of Egypt’s once-feared security state helped spark Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Now those security forces are swinging back into action, and this time they are being hailed as heroes by many of the secular activists and liberals who once campaigned against them.

The reversal started when police in crisp white uniforms joined the successful effort to oust President Mohamed Morsi four weeks ago, drawing cheers from crowds. Since then, police officers who were chased off the streets after the 2011 revolution have been back in force. Meanwhile, the interim government has restored the mandate of the domestic counterterrorism agency to scrutinize religious and “extremist” activity. Those powers were stripped after the revolution because they were widely interpreted as justifying the torture of Islamists and other government opponents.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, called on its supporters Monday to protest the revived power of the security forces by demonstrating in front of Interior Ministry offices around the country, raising fears of further violence after police and their plainclothes allies killed at least 80 Morsi supporters Saturday.

Egyptian authorities detained two leaders of the moderate Islamist al-Wasat party on Monday, in an apparent broadening of a crackdown on Islamist political activity. The arrests occurred even as the Obama administration condemned the violence and called for Catherine Ashton, a top European Union official visiting Cairo, to be granted access to Morsi. He has been held incommunicado since the Egyptian army deposed him on July 3.

In a striking sign of the widening split in Egyptian society, many of the liberal and secular groups that revolted in 2011 are welcoming the resurrection of the forces they had once joined the Islamists in condemning.


July 30, 2013

NASA Turns 55: Iconic Moments in America’s Space Program

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Suleiman Wali for RIA Novosti) — Spurred to action by the Soviet Union’s successful space program that sent the world’s first satellite into orbit, US President Dwight Eisenhower knew that America needed a more organized and focused effort that could compete with the country’s Cold War adversary. That realization led to the creation 55 years ago of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

With the Cold War over, and with space cooperation replacing the space race, NASA has had many milestones since its creation in 1958—the early ventures of which were initiated merely to keep up with the Soviets.

Here are 15 iconic moments in NASA’s 55-year history.

1. After Russia launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik (Russian for “traveling companion”), NASA immediately began work on its own design. Following three months of development, Explorer 1 was launched and began circling the earth 12 times per day for a dozen years. Here, the scientists who created the satellite hold up a full-scale model of Explorer 1 in Washington in 1958, after confirmation that it was successfully in orbit.

2. The X-15 rocket aircraft—a joint program by NASA, the US Air Force and Navy, and North American Aviation—made 199 flights to the edge of space between 1959 and 1968, breaking speed and altitude records at the time. Among its pilots was a young Neil Armstrong, pictured here.



July 30, 2013

Cast Of Characters Familiar As U.S. Launches New Mideast Peace Bid


WASHINGTON — With a cast of characters that has presided over numerous failed Middle East peace efforts, the Obama administration launched a fresh bid Monday to pull Israel and the Palestinians into substantive negotiations.

Despite words of encouragement, deep skepticism about the prospects for success surrounded the initial discussions, which were opening with a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. He named a former U.S. ambassador to Israel to shepherd what all sides believe will be a protracted and difficult process.

Former envoy Martin Indyk, who played key roles in the Clinton administration's multiple, unsuccessful pushes to broker peace deals between Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians, will assume the day-to-day responsibility for keeping the talks alive for the next nine months.

Kerry called Indyk a "seasoned diplomat" and said he "knows what has worked and he knows what hasn't worked." Neither Kerry nor the State Department would say what has worked in the past, although the fact that there is no peace deal now would seem to indicate that nothing has worked in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian standoff.



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