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Member since: Thu Dec 6, 2012, 02:13 PM
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"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." James A. Baldwin

Journal Archives

One of the smartest moves our President has ever made!

The President's speech just now was a brilliant political move. He not only advanced his agenda to attack the Assad regime, he also gave himself an out, should he choose to use it, by including the Congress in his decision to strike. If the Republican House votes not to approve an attack, our President can then, should he choose to do so, cancel his decision and announce he is bowing to the will of the people as represented by their elected representatives. He has given himself an exit from the corner he painted himself into.

I do not agree with the President's decision to attack Syria, and I do not know how the House and Senate will vote, but I can only admire the deft manner in which he handled one of his most important speeches. That is the man I voted for. He was brilliant today.
Posted by another_liberal | Sat Aug 31, 2013, 02:13 PM (170 replies)

Obama readies for Syrian strikes in shadow of Iraq War.

Source: Al Jazeera America

The scenarios at first sound hauntingly familiar: an American president preparing to attack a Middle Eastern country without a United Nations Security Council resolution, without broad international backing and, this time, not even with congressional support. It's not the position that President Barack Obama ever hoped to find himself in during a presidency he said would be focused on nation-building at home. But mounting evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons – a violation of international law – against his own people appears to have changed the administration's calculus.

Obama has waffled on intervention for months, even after saying a year ago, in August 2012, that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would constitute crossing a "red line" that would force Washington's hand. White House officials now say the U.S. is ready to pursue limited military strikes in Syria, even with a reluctant Congress at home, and a rebuke from the British Parliament Thursday, rejecting a call for military involvement.

In the Obama administration's maneuvers, some see echoes of the way in which President George W. Bush unilaterally, without a U.N. resolution and despite international critics, marched into war in Iraq in 2003 – a war that ended up costing hundreds of American lives [sic], thousands of Iraqi casualties and nearly $1 trillion. The White House has understandably pushed back against those comparisons, as officials have tried to build support among allies abroad and Congress.


Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/30/obama-presses-forsyrianinterventioninshadowofiraqwar.html

Tell me this is not happening, that it's just a dream. Tell me that I will wake up and feel relieved it was all a nightmare born of an undigested buffalo wing.
Posted by another_liberal | Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:37 PM (5 replies)

Syrian civilians in desperate need, as threat of US strike looms.

Source: Al Jazeera America

Any escalation of the Syrian crisis in response to last week's reported chemical weapons attack will aggravate civilian suffering, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday, as UNESCO warned that Syria's rich cultural heritage is being destroyed and archaeological sites looted.

The ICRC, an independent humanitarian agency, said it was appalled by reports of a poison gas attack on Aug. 21 that left hundreds dead -- which the U.S. said was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's regime. A U.N. investigation at the site of the alleged attack is ongoing. The ICRC urged warring parties in Syria's two-year civil war to respect the absolute ban on chemical weapons use under international law. Magne Barth, head of the ICRC's delegation in Syria, said proposed Western military action would "likely trigger more displacement and add to humanitarian needs, which are already immense." Some 2 million people have already fled Syria, including 1 million children. Human rights groups estimate that 100,000 people have been killed since the war began.

Areas plagued by heavy fighting -- including the countryside around Damascus, eastern Aleppo and Deir Ezzor province -- are also reeling from breakdowns of basic services such as water, electricity and garbage collection, the ICRC said in a statement. "In large parts of rural Damascus for example, people are dying because they lack medical supplies and because there are not enough medical personnel to attend to them," said Magne Barth, head of the ICRC's delegation in the country. "They also go hungry because aid can't get through to them on a regular basis."

The United Nations says that in the besieged areas of Damascus and its outskirts, 600,000 people are believed to be in a critical situation due to frequent power cuts, lack of water supplies and shortages of basic goods.


Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/30/icrc-military-strikeswillworsensyrianciviliansuffering.html

Remind me please, who is it again that our attacking Syria is supposed to help?
Posted by another_liberal | Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:36 AM (8 replies)

Syria asks UN to immediately investigate three new ‘chemical attacks’ by rebels.

Source: RT News

The Syrian government is demanding that the United Nations immediately investigate three alleged chemical attacks carried out by rebel groups on the outskirts of Damascus last week, Syria’s envoy to the UN said. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said he had requested UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the team of experts currently in Damascus investigating an alleged use of chemical weapons last week also investigate these other attacks.

The attacks took place on August 22, 24 and 25 in Jobar, Sahnaya, and al-Bahariya, Bashar Jaafari told journalists Wednesday. The “militants” used toxic chemical gas against the Syrian army, the diplomat said. "We are asking UN to incorporate 3 more locations where the Syrian soldiers inhaled the nerve gas also in the suburbs of Damascus. So the spectrum of investigation is increasing compared to the initial phase of investigation," Jaafari said.

Jaafari spoke shortly after an informal meeting of the UN Security Council, where its five permanent members discussed the UK’s proposed draft resolution. The text blames Assad’s government for an alleged chemical attack on August 21, and demands a swift response.

“There is no consensus in the Council on any draft of the resolution, whether it is British or French or American... because members of the Council do not believe the authenticity of the accusations provided by this delegation or that delegation,” the Syrian diplomat said. Jaafari also accused the US, UK and France of being “part of the problem,” rather than “a solution to the crisis.” These Western states are providing “armed terrorists groups” in Syria with weapons and all kinds of logistical support, he stated.


Read more: http://rt.com/news/syria-investigate-un-chemical-116/

Thank heavens the swift and terrible application of military force can solve all uncertainties and problems with proof. What does it even matter who is really at fault? We have the most bombs, missiles and warplanes, so we are certain to win . . . or something, right?
Posted by another_liberal | Wed Aug 28, 2013, 09:09 PM (24 replies)

Former U.N. weapons inspector: West has 'no authority' in Syria.

Source: Al Jazeera America

Western powers have threatened military action against the Syrian government following an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week that left hundreds dead. Both the Syrian opposition and President Bashar al-Assad have denied responsibility for the attack – which crossed what President Barack Obama called a "red line," necessitating a direct response from the U.S.

But Ambassador Richard Butler, former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, has called on the West to await evidence from a team of inspectors who on Monday were granted access to the site of the alleged Syrian attack. One issue, Butler said, is the timing of the inspection. The inspectors had been kept from the site of the alleged attack in the eastern suburbs of Damascus for five days – raising questions about the viability of the investigation. "The chemicals involved degrade fairly rapidly … those five days make it difficult," Butler told Al Jazeera in a television interview.


Butler worked with the leader of the U.N. team currently in Syria while he was an inspector in Iraq in the 1990s. He expressed confidence in the Syria team's abilities, but added: "No matter how good they are, they need proper access in a timely fashion, and I think they have been denied that." The Aug. 21 attack on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital was first reported by Syrian activists who claimed that government forces carried out a "poisonous gas" attack. Hundreds were left dead, and graphic photographs flooded the media. "The pictures seem very clear, that chemical weapons do certainly appear to have been used," Butler said. "But the second question … where do they come from and who authorized or directed they be used … has become the crucial question in determining what action should be taken."

Although both sides continue to deny responsibility for the attack -- while the U.N. inspectors continue to investigate -- the U.S. and other Western leaders appear to have accepted Assad's guilt as a fact.

Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/28/former-u-n-weaponsinspectorwesthasnoathoritywithinsyria.html

Can't we wait to start this war until we at least know for certain who we need to attack? I would hate to see us caught in another never-ending, Middle Eastern military campaign, only to find out in a month or two that Assad had nothing to do with the chemical attacks after all.
Posted by another_liberal | Wed Aug 28, 2013, 08:35 AM (9 replies)

Amid domestic opposition, Obama mulls Syria.

Source: Al Jazeera America

U.S. intelligence officials sought Saturday to determine whether Syria's government unleashed a deadly chemical weapons attack on its citizens last week while the Obama administration prepared for a possible military response by moving naval forces closer to Syria. President Barack Obama has emphasized that quick intervention in the years-old Syrian civil war is problematic because of the international considerations that should precede a military strike.

Obama is also likely to encounter national resistance to a military intervention. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Saturday evening found that about 60 percent of Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, with only 9 percent in favor. Obama discussed the situation in Syria by telephone with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday, the White House said. It was Obama's first known conversation with a foreign leader about Syria since the reports this week that hundreds of Syrians had been killed by an alleged chemical attack in a suburb of Damascus, the country's capital. The White House said the two leaders expressed "grave concern" about the reported chemical weapons use, which both of their countries oppose.


The Syrian government vehemently denies the claims. It also has warned the U.S. against taking military action, saying such a step would set the Middle East ablaze. But Obama is under mounting pressure to act following reports of the alleged chemical weapons attack, which opposition groups say killed more than 1,000 people.

Bart Janssens, operations director for Doctors Without Borders, said Saturday that hospitals the medical charity works with in Syria had reported thousands of patients displaying "neurotoxic symptoms" in line with mass exposure to nerve gas. Around 3,600 patients have been treated in the three hospitals, he added. Of those, 355 have reportedly died, according to DOB. If confirmed, it would be the largest chemical weapons attack since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988.


Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/24/us-moves-forces-towardsyriaconsultswithcameron.html

Only nine percent of Americans think attacking Syria is a good idea? That's a lower approval rating than the Republicans in Congress!
Posted by another_liberal | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 10:39 PM (35 replies)

US naval forces move toward Syria as Obama considers options.

Source: Al Jazeera America

U.S. naval forces edged closer to Syria on Saturday as President Barack Obama weighed possible military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government. Obama has previously emphasized that a quick intervention in the Syrian civil war is problematic, given the international considerations that should precede a military strike. Nonetheless, the president met with his national security team Saturday to consider possible next steps by the United States. It comes as the U.N.'s disarmament chief Angela Kane arrived in Damascus to further press the Assad regime into allowing weapons inspectors access to the purported site of a chemical assault earlier this week.

“The President has directed the intelligence community to gather facts and evidence so that we can determine what occurred in Syria,” a White House official told reporters . “We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we're making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria.”

Following the shift of U.S. naval forces toward Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria without going into specifics. U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria. "The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options — whatever options the president might choose," Hagel told reporters traveling with him to Asia.


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, the top-ranking uniformed officer in the U.S. military, has twice urged caution on U.S. involvement in the conflict in two public letters within the last month. In a July letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee laying out U.S. military options, Dempsey warned of “unintended consequences” of direct U.S. action. “We could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control,” he said. While in an Aug. 19 letter to Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Ny, Dempsey said that U.S. involvement is not about “choosing between two sides” but choosing between multiple sides. He added that the Syrian opposition would not currently support American interests were they to displace the Assad government.

Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/24/us-naval-fleet-positionstowardsyriaasobamaconsidersoptions.html

"Unintended consequences" indeed! The Russian Federation, after all, does have a fleet based on the Syrian coast.

Despite intense rivalries, we have managed to avoid a war with Russia (or the Soviet Union) for nearly seventy years. Surely we are not going to let a civil war in Syria plunge us into one?
Posted by another_liberal | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 02:12 PM (7 replies)

Russia tells Syria to allow UN investigation of chemical attack.

Source: Al Jazeera America

Russia has called on the Syrian regime to allow a mission of United Nations inspectors to investigate a possible chemical attack, and gaurantee safe passage for UN workers coming into the country, according to Reuters. Russia has also called on forces opposed to the government of president Bashar al-Assad to guarantee the safety of investigators. Video footage, which has not been independently verified by Al Jazeera, shows what appears to be the reminants of a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the Syrian government to allow UN inspectors to investigate "without delay" the latest alleged chemical attack in the country's civil war. Ban said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would constitute a "crime against humanity", and warned Bashar al-Assad's government of "serious consequences" if their use was proven. "Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law," he said.

Opposition groups alleged Assad's goverment on Wednesday fired rockets with chemical warheads into the Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, Zamalka and Ein Tarma. The attack reportedly left hundreds dead. "This is a grave challenge to the entire international community -- and to our common humanity, especially considering it occurred when the United Nations expert mission is in the country," Ban said. "I can think of no good reason why any party, either government or opposition forces -- would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter," the UN chief told a diplomatic forum in the South Korean capital, Seoul.


Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/23/russia-tells-syriatoallowuninvestigationintochemicalweaponsattac.html

This is a change of policy which may have a fundamental impact on the Syrian Civil War overall, not just the use of chemical weapons. Without Russian backing, Assad would soon be hard-pressed to fight on.
Posted by another_liberal | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 06:35 AM (3 replies)

People are leaving organized religion in greater numbers than ever.

I ran across a fascinating article on the decline in church membership over the last twenty years. I had assumed, just from casual contacts, that membership had declined to some extent, but never would I have guessed just how much:


One can speculate on the cause for this dramatic overall reduction in those affiliated with an organized religion. My best guess is disenchantment with the increased politicization of many mainstream faiths, and their embracing of Right Wing causes.
Posted by another_liberal | Thu Aug 22, 2013, 08:22 PM (13 replies)

A question concerning Snowden versus the NSA:

Why is what Edward Snowden did always described as a, "Theft of NSA property?" Wouldn't it be much more accurate to call what he did an effort to protect evidence of the crimes committed by the spy masters against thousands, if not millions, of his fellow American citizens?

When one has evidence of a crime committed by those in authority, isn't it legally justifiable to secret that evidence away, so it can be delivered it to those who can prosecute such high level wrong-doing? Looking at it this way, wouldn't the harassment of Glenn Greenwald, his spouse and The Guardian newspaper all be acts of complicity in the NSA's crimes?
Posted by another_liberal | Tue Aug 20, 2013, 07:50 AM (14 replies)
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