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Photos by: joanneleon. August, 2013.


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Could U.S. Military Action Turn Syrian Civil War Into a "Widespread Regional War"?

The west's threat to attack Syria is an idiotic gesture

The reason a missile attack on Syria is proving so unpopular on both sides of the Atlantic has nothing to do with neoimperial hubris. The reason is that it is a bad idea. "Punishing" a dictator for killing his own people by simply killing more of his own people seems beyond cruel. It seems stupid. It leads nowhere.

Public opinion may be a poor guide to the minutiae of state policy. But that opinion has been saddled with two long wars, both failures. As a result, leaders in London and Washington (and possibly Paris) have been sufficiently nervous to pass decision to their national assemblies. In British the result was a rebuff. In Washington, President Obama has decided to refer Syria to Congress and France's president, François Hollande, may do likewise. ...

In Syria, an attack would be in retaliation for a proven breach of international law on chemical weapons. No one has the will to topple the Assad regime. Action is described as merely punitive and a "deterrent", directed purely at a past incident of a chemical massacre. This is gesture war. It will not punish the guilty, such as members of the Assad regime, who should be arraigned before a war crimes court. It will merely destroy buildings and kill people. It seems peculiarly pointless.

Chomsky - Syria Strike Without UN Approval a War Crime

A U.S.-led attack on Syria without United Nations support would be a war crime regardless of congressional approval, Noam Chomsky, the antiwar activist and author, said in response to President Barack Obama's announcement that he would seek Hill approval.

"As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world," Chomsky told HuffPost in an email.

German intel has 'evidence' to back US war push in Syria

Hat tip dharmafarmer.  It appears that Bandar Bush has been a busy boy.  I bet he didn't have to threaten the French with terrorist attacks.  I guess this explains why Hollande is so hot and bothered to fall into line on bombing Syria...
France wins a billion euro defence contract with Saudi Arabia

France has won a billion euro defence contract with Saudi Arabia to overhaul four frigates and two refuelling ships, sources said on Thursday.

A source close to the matter confirmed a report on the La Tribune website saying negotiations that had dragged on for years were now over.

Obama’s and Kerry’s Big Lie

The document released on the White House web site to “prove” to the American people that the Syrian government had used poison gas — allegedly the neurotoxin Sarin — to kill hundreds of civilians, is so flawed and lacking in real proof that if it were being used to make a case against a terrorist group it would be too weak to justify an indictment.

For starters, there is no documentary proof offered. Only assertions about evidence which is never actually shown. No maps. No satellite or aerial spy-plane or drone surveillance photos. No identified witnesses with verifiable expertise. All there is in this document is a narrative with assertions like: “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”

There are coy explanations for the lack of any hard evidence, like: “To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis.”

Remember, we’re talking about a debate over whether to have the US launch a war of aggression against a sovereign nation that poses absolutely no risk either to the US or even to its allies directly abutting Syria. The reality is that this is about launching a war against a country wracked by civil war, not a country that is threatening its neighbors, or US interests and citizens. ... {A]fter a closed session Sunday in which the White House made its case for war, members reportedly exited the room with some saying the case had not been made and that the evidence presented was sketchy. As Rep. Bennie Thompson, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee put it, “”In terms of whether not a lot of questions were really answered today? I’d say no.”

Something smells here. If this is the best the White House can come up with to make a case for starting a war with a country that poses no threat to the US, at a time when a majority of Americans opposes starting yet another war in the Middle East, and when most of the world, including America’s closest allies, are backing away from support for an attack, the conclusion has to be that there is no real case against Syria.

'I didn't join Navy to fight for Al-Qaeda': US servicemen against Syria strike

Iraqi Government Rejects US Strike on Syria, Fears Civil War

In his speech on Saturday on the Syria crisis, President Obama instanced Iraq among the countries that might suffer if the Baath regime were allowed to get away with using chemical weapons.

The elected government of Iraq, however, says thanks but no thanks. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki categorically rejects a Western strike on Syria. Sectarian struggles lie behind this reaction.

The Iraqi government has announced that it won’t permit the US to fly over Iraqi territory in the course of any operation against Syria.

Israel claims joint US missile launch in Mediterranean for 'target practice'

Israel says it carried out a “joint” US missile launch in the Mediterranean, having earlier claimed ignorance. Russian radars detected two ballistic rockets fired in the region on Tuesday, sparking widespread speculation over who was behind the launch.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army confirmed that a launch of a missile had been carried out 9:15am local time (06:15 GMT), adding that US forces in the Mediterranean had been given prior warning of the drill.

A fighter jet launched the ‘anchor’ missile as part of a drill to test a missile defense system. However, earlier, when the Russian government announced it had detected the firing of two ballistic objects in the area, Israel insisted it had no “information on this issue yet.”

Despite Israeli claims of a “joint US” missile launch, the American Navy maintained that no rockets were launched by US forces in the region. ...

Other members of the international community were quick to follow suit with France, UK and Italy denying any knowledge of the test launch. NATO says it is currently investigating the incident.

WikiLeaks Launches Criminal Investigation ahead of Wednesday’s Obama Visit to Sweden

Tomorrow morning, 3 September 2013, WikiLeaks will file a criminal complaint in Sweden, ahead of the arrival of the US delegation. The complaint concerns the likely unlawful seizure of WikiLeaks property on 27 September 2010, following its publication of thousands of classified US intelligence documents on the war in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange said: "Swedish authorities have the opportunity to demonstrate that no one, including state officials, is above the law." ...

The complaint, to be filed with Swedish police at 10 am tomorrow morning, details a number of matters not previously made public and which WikiLeaks decided to withhold until the conclusion of the court martial of PFC Chelsea Manning.

The property seized included evidence of a war crime perpetrated by US forces in Afganistan in which more than sixty women and children were killed, known as the Garani massacre. The filing follows the revelation of unlawful FBI and US intelligence activities against WikiLeaks in Europe that have been forced onto the public record through a Parliamentary inquiry in Iceland and the Manning court martial.

The 186-page affidavit now made public details ongoing and illegal attempts by US authorities to interfere with WikiLeaks’ publishing and journalistic activities. Attacks such as those that WikiLeaks has endured have become a concerning trend, as exemplified by the recent abuse of the UK Terrorism Act to seize electronic devices and other materials belonging to those working on the Edward Snowden US mass surveillance revelations.

Brazilian president wants to cancel operating licenses of companies that cooperate with American espionage

[translation by google]

President Dilma Rousseff wants to include in Brazilian law that allows a device to suspend the operation of companies that cooperate with international espionage schemes . The president also ordered the strengthening of the internal government communications , because today many of his aides use vulnerable services such as e- mail service from Google, Gmail.

The two measures were discussed on Monday during a meeting with Rousseff's ministers directly involved in the case of suspected U.S. spy." It may be the bank, phone company," said Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo , the newspaper O Estado de S. Paul, on the suspension of operations of companies." If you cooperate with these schemes, have the license to operate canceled here in Brazil."  ...

Besides the possibility of punishment to companies, it wants to force foreign sites like Facebook and others to store Brazilians' data in Brazil . Today, they are stored in the U.S.

In Secret AT&T Deal, U.S. Drug Agents Given Access to 26 Years of Americans' Phone Records

Taxpayers Pad Military Contractor CEO Pockets

The Institute for Policy Studies recently released a report examining the performance of the corporate chief executives who have ranked among America’s 25 highest-paid CEOs in one or more of the past 20 years. CEOs from leading government contractors comprise more than 12 percent of the top-paid chief executives in the Institute’s report. In the same years that these CEOs received some of corporate America’s fattest paychecks, their firms snagged $255 billion in taxpayer-funded federal contracts.

Five of the companies with the highest-paid CEOs made the top 100 U.S. government contractors list every year over the past 20 years. These firms include two big military contractors — Lockheed Martin and United Technologies — along with IBM, General Electric, and Honeywell. These five companies have received $671 billion in federal contracts over the past 20 years. ...

A massive chunk of these public funds has wound up in the pockets of the company’s executives. Five times over the past 20 years Lockheed CEOs ranked among America’s top 25 highest-paid chief executives, earning sums that dwarf the pay levels of any U.S. military general or, for that matter, the commander in chief.

These taxpayer dollars haven’t inspired superior CEO performance. Lockheed Martin stands responsible for one of the most wasteful military projects of all time, the F-22 Raptor. At a cost of $339 million each, this plane became the most expensive fighter jet ever built— and never saw action in actual fighting.

Lockheed Martin has now turned its attention to a new fighter jet program: the F-35. Plagued by serious defects, the F-35 project is seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over its initial cost estimate.

Out-Dated Dam Killing Thousands Of Fish Near Tacoma

Right now there are tens of thousands of salmon - including endangered species - dying at the base of an out-dated dam on the White River east of Tacoma. The Buckley Diversion Dam is blocking their homeward journey to spawn in the Mt. Rainier watershed. Local tribes say the federal government is failing in its responsibility to transport the fish around the dams on this river.

If you follow the Puyallup river inland from Commencement Bay and hang a left up the White River you will eventually come to the Buckley diversion dam. It’s a small dam, only about 15 feet high, but it’s very old and very dangerous for fish. Russ Ladley stands in the shallows below the dam with a haunted look in his eye. He’s a fisheries biologist with the Puyallup Indian Tribe. Pink salmon carcasses litter the rocks around his feet. ... The silty waters writhe with fish, still fighting. Some of them are visibly battered and lethargic. Others continue to heave themselves onto the lower section of the dam – their bodies scraping over old exposed nails. ...

Ladley estimates that up to 200,000 fish will die here in the next month, during the height of the pink salmon run. ... The Army Corps traps fish here and then loads them into trucks and drives them around a much larger dam six miles upriver. That dam was built in the early 1940s for flood protection, without any way for fish to get around it. The recovery of salmon in this river depends on their ability to get above these dams to spawn. But the Buckley dam hasn’t been updated since the 40s and the fish kills have gotten worse in the last decade as pink salmon have started coming up the White River by the hundreds of thousands.

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