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Member since: Sun Jul 31, 2011, 04:36 PM
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'Obama signs secret order to support Syrian rebels'

Source: Jpost

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government, US sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some US allies do just that.

Read more: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?ID=279756&R=R1&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Not secret anymore ....

Justice Department shrugs off Fast and Furious report

Source: LA Times

WASHINGTON — Top Justice Department officials largely dismissed a new House Republican report on the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, saying Tuesday that they have moved ahead with major reforms to prevent future incidents of U.S. firearms being lost and smuggled across the border into Mexico.

Further, the attorney for the ATF special agent in charge in Phoenix, who oversaw Fast and Furious, lashed out at Republican congressional leaders, calling their report a "political witch hunt" aimed less at finding fault than pinning Democrats with negative political fallout from Fast and Furious.

The report by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, concluded that five supervisors at the federalBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were collectively responsible for Fast and Furious, which allowed about 2,500 weapons to be illegally purchased in Arizona.

But Tracy Schmaler, the top spokeswoman at the Justice Department, said the report was filled with "distortions and now-debunked conspiracy theories." She did, however, credit the report for acknowledging that the idea for "gun walking" — allowing illegal weapons sales on the border — originated under the Republican administration before her boss, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., took office in 2009.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fastandfurious-20120801,0,880902.story

Psychiatrist Called Threat Team About Aurora Shooting Suspect James Holmes

Source: ABC News

Aurora, Colo., shooting suspect James Holmes came to the attention of the threat assessment committee at the University of Colorado but no further action was taken because he left the school more than a month before the attack that killed 12 and injured 58, sources told ABC News.

ABC News has learned that Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who was treating Holmes, 24, at the school, was also a key member of the university's threat assessment team. The group of experts were responsible for protecting the school from potentially violent students.

KMGH-TV, ABC News' affiliate in Denver, reported exclusively that, according to sources, by early June, Fenton had informed other members of the team about her concerns regarding Holmes.

But on June 10 -- three days after Holmes bought an assault weapon and added it to his already growing arsenal -- he suddenly told the university that he was dropping out of the neurosciences doctoral program with no explanation.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/james-holmes-psychiatrist-schools-threat-assessment-team/story?id=16908862

When you thought it couldn't get any worse in American politics ...

The Texas GOP Just Nominated a Gay-Hating Conspiracy Theorist for US Senate

On Tuesday, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz walloped the state's lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, to ice the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. In a place where Democrats haven't won a statewide election since the 1990s, that all but guarantees Cruz will join the world's most deliberative body next January. The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan calls it "a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely." This is mostly true, but there's something else that's worth noting about the GOP's fresh young face: For someone with a reputation as an "intellectual force," he holds some pretty out-there views.

He thinks George Soros wants to ban golf: Like many conservatives, Cruz believes that the United States' sovereignty is under assault from an obscure United Nations agreement called Agenda 21. Although Agenda 21 does not have the force of law, right-wingers believe the treaty's sustainable-development precepts will force Americans to live in "hobbit homes" and forcibly relocate residents from rural areas into densely populated urban cores. "Agenda 21 sounds like absolute crazy conspiracy theory nut stuff, but it's not," explains Glenn Beck. As Cruz puts it on his website:

The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property. He has given millions to this project. But he is not the only one promoting this plan; in fact, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) now consists of over 600 cities in the United States.

Agenda 21 attempts to abolish "unsustainable" environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. Everyone wants clean water and clean air, but Agenda 21 dehumanizes individuals by removing the very thing that has defined Americans since the beginning—our freedom.


Boston priest arrested on child pornography charges

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - A South Boston priest was charged on Wednesday with possessing and distributing child pornography using a computer in his parish's rectory, authorities said.

Andrew J. Urbaniak was arraigned in South Boston District Court on one count of possession of child pornography and one charge of distributing images of a child in the nude, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office.

Police arrested Urbaniak, 39, at Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Polish church in the Archdiocese of Boston, on Tuesday.

After obtaining a search warrant, detectives seized Urbaniak's computer, where pornographic images of girls between the ages of 8 and 10 were found, according to the Boston Police Department.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/01/us-usa-priest-pornography-idUSBRE8701NE20120801

Happy looking chap...


The Federal Reserve today announced that it will take no additional action to boost the economy’s current rate of growth, even though the Fed board admitted that it “anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only slowly toward levels that it judges to be consistent with its dual mandate.” There had been significant speculation before the announcement that the Fed would take additional steps, potentially including a new round of so-called quantitative easing. Republicans have been warning since the financial crisis hit that the Fed’s actions will spark inflation, despite persistently low inflation rates.


Court blocks Arizona 20-week abortion ban from taking effect

Source: Politico

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction that will block an Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks from going into effect this week.

Responding to an emergency appeal filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU after a federal district court judge upheld the law on Monday, the circuit court Wednesday temporarily blocked the law from being implemented on Aug. 2 while the court considers the case against it.

“Today we have won a critical victory,” CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement. “We will continue this battle now to ensure that the private and personal decisions of Arizona women are not subject to arbitrary and dangerous restrictions advanced by an extreme anti-choice agenda.”

The Arizona law bans abortions from 20 weeks, except in the case of a medical emergency in which abortion is necessary “to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79280.html

The real problem isn't price; it's politics ...

Meet Cannibalistic Capitalism: Globalization's Evil Twin

"Out of the frying pan, into the fire" is an apt description of our current place in history. No matter what you think of globalization and economic growth, I believe we'll soon discover that capitalism without them is much, much worse.

Of course, no one has to convince establishment economists, politicians and pundits that the absence of economic growth spells trouble. They've always extolled globalization as the Viagra of economic growth. But globalization has never been popular with everyone. Many believe that capitalism generates tremendous wealth and power for a tiny fraction of the Earth's seven billion people, makes room for some in the middle class, but keeps most of humanity destitute and desperate, while trashing the planet and jeopardizing human survival for generations to come.

A loose alliance of ecology and labor activists, small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights advocates has disrupted international economic summits for many years. They say malignant capitalism demolishes habitats and poisons ecosystems, wreaks havoc with the climate, destroys indigenous cultures, pushes farmers off their land and into slums and erodes wages by pitting desperate workers around the globe against one another. At annual World Social Forums, these social movements voice their opposition to globalization and growth and unite around the belief that "Another World Is Possible!" They work toward the day when neoliberal globalization is replaced by a more democratic, equitable, Earth-friendly society.

Since globalization is so damaging, most activists assume that any future without it is bound to be an improvement. But now, it appears that this assumption may be wrong. In fact, for all of its depredations, future generations may someday look back on capitalism's growth phase as the halcyon days of industrial civilization, a naïve time before anyone realized that the worst was yet to come.



Americans got poorer as Congress' wealth doubled

SALT LAKE CITY -- The financial divide between Americans and their lawmakers in Congress, which was wide a generation ago, is even wider now.

The Washington Post examined the net worth of members of the U.S. House of Representatives using financial disclosures. The newspaper found that while the wealth of an American family went down a bit since the mid-80s, precisely the opposite has been happening for the nation's lawmakers.

Over the last twenty five years, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, to nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

In the wake of the financial crisis the U.S. saw political protests: First, the Tea Party, later, the Occupy Wall Street movement. A theme common to both was a disconnect between the nation's leaders and the average person.



Another one bites the dust....

Ohio Republican to retire from Congress, citing gridlock

Reuters) - Representative Steven LaTourette, an Ohio Republican, announced on Tuesday he will retire from Congress, citing the lack of compromise in Washington.

LaTourette, a moderate who has been in office since 1995, told reporters Tuesday that the partisan climate in Congress has put a strain on him.

"I do feel that the current climate has increased the toll that it takes on the person," LaTourette said.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett said in a statement Tuesday that LaTourette is a "proven leader with a lifetime of service" who "will be missed by all Ohioans." Republican leaders must choose a new candidate for the November election.

LaTourette's comments echo remarks made this year by U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate Republican who decided to retire, citing the "atmosphere of polarization" in Congress.



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