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Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion
Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.
“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”
Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.
Lessons from Today’s Senate Hearing on Syria
John Kerry twice said that if we don’t bomb Assad we’ll lose friends and/or allies. ”If we fail to act we’ll have fewer allies.”
That admitted something that has been acknowledged — usually not in print — in DC. We’re doing this not to retain our general credibility, but to retain “credibility” with Saudi Arabia and Israel. ...
Kerry and Obama have both said these attacks will be limited and don’t aim to oust Assad. But it became clear over the course of the hearing (as witnesses tried to balance those, like McCain and Ron Johnson, who wanted more war, and those, like Tom Udall, who wanted limits) that in addition to this strike there’s the pre-existing policy of increasing our support to the rebels, effectively to oust Assad. So while this strike is not about regime change, it exists on top of a strategy that is about regime change. ...
Both Menendez and Kerry both claimed we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt against Assad. Kerry even noted that’s the standard we use to send people away to prison.
Neither one, of course, explained why we weren’t referring (or trying to — it would take a Security Council referral) Assad’s crimes to the International Criminal Court.
US, the Biggest User of Chemical Weapons in History Asserts "Right To Protect" Syria
From 1961 to 1972 the US military executed the biggest and deadliest chemical warfare operation in history. It was Operation Trail Dust, in which more than 20 million thousands of tons of blended dioxon and other poisons, the most famous known as Agent Orange, were sprayed across 10% of the land area of South Vietnam, along with big tracts of Laos and Cambodia. ...
During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war the Pentagon provided Saddam Hussein with satellite intelligence so he'd know where to fire his nerve gas at Iranian troop concentrations.
In its two Gulf Wars, the US littered Kuwait and Iraq with radioactive depleted uranium munitions ...
There are treaties banning chemical weapons, but none of them authorize any nation to launch “preventive” or punitive strikes against those who do. Most Arabs, most of the world knows this history, and so do more than a few Americans, including much of the so-called left.
The foremost practicioner of chemical warfare in human history is about to bomb a country one-fifteenth its size, for its alleged use of chemical weapons. If the Bush-Cheney gang were still in power, we might see Melissa Harris-Perry and Rachel Maddow reminding us of this awful record. But there's a Democrat in the White House, so the hypocrisy detectors have been turned off and the history teachers silenced.
Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons
Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday particularly drew attention to the “massive stove-piping of various information aimed at placing the responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on Damascus, even though the results of the UN investigation have not yet been revealed.”
By such means “the way is being paved for military action” against Damascus, the ministry pointed out.
But the samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia.
Manning seeks U.S. presidential pardon in leaks case
U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning is seeking a presidential pardon for sending classified information to WikiLeaks, which she says she did "out of a love for my country and sense of duty to others," according to documents released Wednesday. ...
The White House said last month that any Manning request for a presidential pardon would be considered like any other. ...
Coombs wrote in a cover letter to Manning's petition that none of Manning's disclosures caused any "real damage" to the United States and that the documents were not sensitive information meriting protection.
Documents submitted in support of Manning's petition include a letter from Amnesty International, which said the leaks exposed potential human rights violations.
WikiLeaks releases documents on global surveillance industry
WikiLeaks has stepped up its campaign to expose the global surveillance industry with the release of a new collection of sensitive documents from private intelligence and information technology companies.
The transparency group has published 294 documents from 92 contractor firms providing surveillance and intelligence technology to governments around the world.
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said "Spy Files 3", the third tranche of documents released on the subject, was part of his organisation's "ongoing commitment to shining a light on the secretive mass surveillance industry".
"The files form a valuable resource for journalists and citizens alike, detailing and explaining how secretive state intelligence agencies are merging with the corporate world in their bid to harvest all human electronic communication," he said. ...
The WikiLeaks release shows internet spying capabilities now being sold on the intelligence market include detecting encrypted and obfuscated internet usage such as Skype, BitTorrent, VPN, SSH and SSL. The documents also reveal how contractors work with intelligence and police agencies to obtain decryption keys.
The documents detail bulk interception methods for voice, SMS, MMS, email, fax and satellite phone communications. The released documents also show intelligence contractors are selling capabilities to analyse web and mobile interceptions in real-time.
Patriot Act author says NSA’s bulk data collection is “unbounded in its scope”
In one of the most prominent legal challenges to government intelligence gathering since the Edward Snowden disclosures, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against four top Obama Administration officials. The case, known as ACLU v. Clapper, asks a federal judge to declare the entire metadata sharing program unlawful, halt it, and purge all related records.
On Thursday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), with representation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), filed an amicus brief with the court. He noted that the vast data handover is not at all what Congress intended to happen. And Sensenbrenner should know, too, because he authored the Patriot Act in October 2001 and supported its subsequent reauthorizations. In particular, Section 215 of that law, which expanded government surveillance power of business records, is what the government argues gives it the authority to collect metadata in bulk.
Sensenbrenner writes:The vast majority of the records collected will have no relation to the investigation of terrorism at all. This collection of millions of unrelated records is built-in to the mass call collection program. Defendants’ theory of “relevance” is simply beyond any reasonable understanding of the word. And it certainly is not what amicus intended the word to mean. …
Defendants do not explain why Congress would have enacted such meaningless provisions. The bulk data collection program is unbounded in its scope. The NSA is gathering on a daily basis the details of every call that every American makes, as well as every call made by foreigners to or from the United States. How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?
Judge’s Gag Order Cuts Off Press From Receiving Reports on Barrett Brown’s Case
A district court judge in Dallas, Texas, has issued an order prohibiting journalist and activist Barrett Brown and his defense team from discussing the case with the media. ...
As the Free Barrett Brown group highlights on its website, at stake is the right to link, because one of the offenses stems from Brown’s decision to share a link to something released online from the Stratfor emails. It also implicates the First Amendment, as Brown is charged with concealing information related to journalistic sources and his own work products. It also raises issues of press freedom and selective prosecution, since it appears that in the three indictments handed down against Brown the government is targeting him for daring to expose the operations of private security and intelligence companies.
District Court Judge Sam Lindsay’s order applies to Brown and all government and defense attorneys and any “employees, representatives or agents of such attorneys” and is intended to “remain in force during the pendency of these actions or until further order of this court.” (Currently, Brown’s trial is scheduled for the spring of next year.)
“No person covered by this order shall make any statement to member of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organizations about this case, other than matters of public record, that could interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice Defendant, the Government or the administration of justice except that counsel for the Defendant may consult with Mr. Kevin Gallagher regarding the finances needed for Mr. Barrett Brown’s defense,” according to the order.
The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water
Like dot-com moguls in the '90s and real estate gurus in the 2000s, farmers in western Kansas are enjoying the fruits of a bubble: Their crop yields have been boosted by a gusher of soon-to-vanish irrigation water. That's the message of a new study by Kansas State University researchers. Drawing down their region's groundwater at more than six times the natural rate of recharge, farmers there have managed to become so productive that the area boasts "the highest total market value of agriculture products" of any congressional district in the nation, the authors note. Those products are mainly beef fattened on large feedlots; and the corn used to fatten those beef cows.
But they're on the verge of essentially sucking dry a large swath of the High Plains Aquifer, one of the United States' greatest water resources. The researchers found that 30 percent of the region's groundwater has been tapped out, and if present trends continue, another 39 percent will be gone within 50 years. As the water stock dwindles, of course, pumping what's left gets more and more expensive—and farming becomes less profitable and ultimately uneconomical. But all isn't necessarily lost. The authors calculate that if the region's farmers can act collectively and cut their water use 20 percent now, their farms would produce less and generate lower profits in the short term, but could sustain corn and beef farming in the area into the next century.
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at the White House, Sat, Sep 07, 2013 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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