Category: World Stuff

How Many Taliban THIS Time or Speaking of “Super Geniuses in D.C.”

they’re at it again. (Although hoping Cuba will cement your “foreign policy legacy” when you’ve already allowed the WORLD to begin IMPLODING merely seems desperate scrabbling.)

Cuba releases American Alan Gross in prisoner swap

Washington (CNN) — U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.

President Obama is expected to announce Gross’ release at noon.

Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

President Barack Obama is also set to announce a broad range of diplomatic and regulatory measures in what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since the 1961 embargo was imposed.

For a President who took office promising to engage Cuba, the move could help shape Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

Bingley Update:

Well and predictably the Right Wing Smear Machine instantly lashes out

Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips. I fear that today’s actions will put at risk the thousands of Americans that work overseas to support civil society, advocate for access to information, provide humanitarian services, and promote democratic reforms.

This asymmetrical trade will invite further belligerence toward Cuba’s opposition movement and the hardening of the government’s dictatorial hold on its people.

Oops, my bad; that was actually the statement from my senior Senator Robert Menendez (D) NJ…

What Happens When The “Reset” Button Becomes…

…the “EJECT!” button?

Russia risks Soviet-style collapse as rouble defence fails

Russia has lost control of its economy and may be forced to impose Soviet-style exchange controls after “shock and awe” action by the central bank failed to stem the collapse of the rouble.
“The situation is critical,” said the central bank’s vice-chairman, Sergei Shvetsov. “What is happening is a nightmare that we could not even have imagined a year ago.”

…Michal Dybula, from BNP Paribas, said the rouble’s plunge risks setting off a systemic bank run. “A large-scale run on deposits, once under way, would make capital controls pretty much unavoidable,” he said, adding that the authorities may start by forcing state-controlled companies to sell foreign assets and repatriate funds.
In Washington, the White House said it had no intention of easing pressure on Russia to halt the freefall. “It is president Vladimir Putin’s decision to make. The aim is to sharpen the choice that he faces,” it said.
President Barack Obama will not veto a law passed by Congress imposing a raft of new sanctions against Russia, even though he warned previously that it goes too far for European leaders and risks splitting the trans-Atlantic front. The measures include $350m of military assistance to Ukraine, and authorize Mr Obama to impose curbs on energy companies investing in Russia, as well as to prohibit credit to Gazprom.

…After years of bluster and suggestions by Mr Putin that the US is a paper tiger, the Kremlin is now coming face to face with the cataclysmic consequences of what it has done by invading Ukraine and changing Europe’s borders by force. By the same token, Washington needs to move with care since it would be a geostrategic miscalculation of the first order to push a nuclear-armed Russia too far into a corner, or to perpetuatue a cycle of grievance.
Anthony Peters, from SwissInvest, said Russia’s leaders had misled their own people and have until now been in denial about the crisis engulfing them. “Not since Soviet times have we seen such steadfast refusal by the Kremlin to acknowledge the presence of severe political and economic problems while sacrificing the people in the name of orthodoxy. The Russian people are legendarily stoic in the face of hardships but beware if, and when, their patience runs out,” he said.
The rouble crash has doubled the cost of servicing nearly $700bn of external debt owed by Russian banks, companies and state bodies, mostly in dollars. They must repay $30bn this month and a further $100bn next year. Oil giant Rosneft has requested $49bn of state aid to weather the crisis.

I have complete confidence that our Super Geniuses in DC will manage to engender the worst possible outcome.

That’s the Gift they have.

These are dangerous times, and we are ruled by petulant children.

These Are the People Obama’s Negotiating With

…to leave Afghanistan.

Coming soon to a shore near you?

I’ve been reading that the US is getting ready to accept 7000 Syrian refugees, as the START of that refugee resettlement program.

SEVEN. THOUSAND.

I’m sure they’ll be as carefully and thoroughly vetted as everything else this administration touches.

In Other Presbyterian News

132 children peacefully slaughtered in Pakistan.

Taliban militants killed dozens of children in an attack on an army-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar that left 132 people dead so far, the country’s deadliest terrorist attack since at least 2007.

Two attackers are still holding 40 teachers and 20 students hostage, Mushtaq Ghani, information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said by phone. Four attackers blew themselves up and another was shot dead by soldiers, he said.

…Terrorism has killed more than 50,000 people in Pakistan since 2001 and complicated efforts to revive South Asia’s second-biggest economy.

“complicated”

Yeah, that’s one word for it.

Two Beautiful Lives Cut Short

Katrina Dawson.

Tori Johnson.

All by a scumbag they weren’t allowed to defend themselves from.

Remember: when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

Gunman Holding Hostages In Australia

He had at least 12 people at one point, it seems a few have gotten away thankfully, he’s making them hold up a black ISIS flag but his motives are, of course, “unknown.”

UPDATE: They’ve stormed the store

Dodged A Wee Bullet They Did

When the Scots were all ready to use that Sweet Sweet North Sea oil money to finance their independent dreams in September, Brent crude was at $96 per barrel.

Right now it’s $64.00

Much like Russia, Norway is hosed

The governor of Norway’s central bank says western Europe’s biggest oil producer is facing a major economic slowdown as crude prices continue to plunge.

“Our job now is that we need to prevent a severe downturn in the economy,” Oeystein Olsen said today in an interview after a press conference in Oslo. “Overall, that is presently the major concern of the board. That explains why we have reduced the rate.”

…Oil prices have plunged 44 percent from a June high, the worst decline since the financial crisis erupted in 2008. Norges Bank estimates oil investments will decline by 15 percent next year, with the risk of “spillover” effects on the rest of the economy and rising unemployment.

Norway depends on the oil industry for almost a quarter of its economic output and has built an $860 billion wealth fund from its offshore revenue.

I laugh every time I see a Prius.

And I wish I had bought that bigger SUV…

Remember

How Politically Incorrect! **sniff**

Oh, I could just EAT HIM UP, couldn’t you?! ;)

LOVE this guy!

Requires “A Different Set of Skills”?

First off, Chuckie HAS no skills. That’s a drawback.

But, secondly, I have NO IDEA WHERE Obama’s going to dredge up a more malleable mushroom than this guy.

Hagel Said to Be Stepping Down as Defense Chief Under Pressure

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises.

…The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.

ths update: I see people feel as I do… ;)

Duncan Hunter Eats Chuck Hagel

…alive.

Thanks to Ebola for the find.

Heartbreak

Bush League Lies and WMD Thoughts to Chew On

…from Ebola:

Imagine that you are witnessing a trial for public endangerment and a parole violation; the suspect is a prior convicted murderer and is a capable gunsmith, who killed his prior victims with a very specific and unique type of firearm. As part of his plea deal during the last set of murders he committed, the suspect agreed to give up his weapons not already seized or destroyed, all ammo and any facilities or utilities used in the production of weapons. Under this agreement, scheduled followups are made to check that he had indeed removed his arms and capability of creating more.

Through a grueling process over the course of a decade, the authorities have been witness to the suspects attempting to hide information and materials related to the violation his plea agreement. Recently, a family member has come forward and confirmed that not only is the suspect hiding ordnance he was supposed to have gotten rid of, but is reacquiring the items necessary to create more.

Under the premise that the man is a possible threat to the public safety, the authorities secure a search warrant and force entry into the house, leading to conflict with the suspect. Inside the house the authorities find weapons, ammunition and gunsmithing utilities the individual was supposed to have removed and actively hid from inspection; they find limited evidence to indicate that he has actively created or attempted to create additional ordnance in the meanwhile. Fearing the weapons might pose danger to their agents and the public, the authorities use controlled detonations to destroy the evidence. It sounds like a straight forward case, but the argument put forward by the defense has a very strange twist, they argue that the suspect is innocent. They base this on the fact that there were no new firearms or munitions, even though the evidence itself, outside of pictures, is destroyed. The logical disjunction from the charges and basis for the original warrant is staggering: welcome to Von Clausewitz post-2003 Iraq politics.

The popular argument, flying in the face of empirical evidence from over a decade of conflict, has been that no WMDs, general term, were found or used in Iraq, by either Iraqi forces or insurgents. The oft quoted pretext for war or the search warrant, in the earlier analogy, is put before the UN by President Bush on Sept 12, 2002. Let’s take a recent example of this type of defense citing the Bush speech, in a response to the New York Times article covering the massive amounts of chemical weapons, a WMD, found in Iraq over the last decade:

But on Septmeber 12, 2002, President Bush described a different threat while making the case for the 2003 Iraq invasion: “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.” The Times’ investigation doesn’t mention any findings of biological weapons.

He went on, “The regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”

According to the investigation, the chemical weapons discovered by U.S. soldiers after the 2003 invasion were all manufactured before 1991.

Directly addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Bush continued, “We have been more than patient. We have tried sanctions. We have tried the carrot of ‘oil for food’ and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

-No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade, Jessica Schulberg, New Republic.

It doesn’t take a logician to recognize the obvious red herring: the expansion and improvement of a facility does not equate to the actual production of arms, any more than our fictitious suspect having ownership of an ammo press means that ammo had been and continued to be produced. Another common usage of red herring is purposeful contextual misrepresentation. Miss Schulberg is purposely leaving out the next reason for invasion, specifically stripping it of context to continue the ”production” red herring.

Miss Schulberg’s version in No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade :

…He went on, “The regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”…”

Direct from the speech:

“United Nations inspections also reveal that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard, and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

I’ve italicized the portion of the sentence that Miss Schulberg has misrepresented to make a point: this is feckless, purposely misleading politics posing as pseudo-journalism. Miss Schulberg is in no way unique, articles from Salon and other outlets have spoken in the affirmative that there were no WMDs, sometimes while actually including bits about WMD encounters, for virtually the entirety of the occupation and afterward. There has been regular media-Alzheimers, on all sides, for the past decade concerning the fact that there was plenty of documentation that Iraq had continued its development, while under sanction and inspections, into these weapons or that even before the New York Times piece, estimates on destroyed weapons caches put the numbers from five hundred weapons to well into the thousands.

The repeated assertion that the weapons were of pre-1991 manufacture is also entirely conjecture, especially given the documentation supporting the continued study of these weapons, due in large part that the evidence was purposely destroyed because of the threat it posed to allied troops. More importantly, it’s an inane case to forward due to the fact that the mere possession of these purposely hidden items vindicated the reasoning for invasion. It also raises the specter of what would have occurred as Saddam’s grip over the region continued to wane if we had not invaded.

President Bush’s rational for invasion was typically simple: Hussein had agreed to disarm and prove that he had disarmed, while removing his capability to rearm in the future. Hussein had proven with the invasion of Kuwait that he was willing to make unprovoked attacks in blitzkrieg fashion on his neighbors when the opportunity was presented. Hussein had made multiple agreements concerning human rights inside Iraq, then broke them. Iraq agreed not to sponsor terror, yet continued to hunt down and assassinate it’s dissenters and attempted to assassinate President Bush Sr, to which President Clinton made Tomahawk strikes against Iraq in response. After the defection of General Kamel al-Majid to Jordon, the Iraqi government admitted that they had retained a large bioweapons package from anthrax to botulin in violation of the agreed terms; these weapons were never accounted for. Iraq retained a large stockpile of chemical weapons, beyond their declared and then destroyed stockpile, which the New York Times account continues to show recent evidence of and examples of insurgents now using the weapons. President Bush pointed out that it had been four years since UN inspectors had been ejected from the country, “The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion. Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.”

The questions these journalists should be asking is why the administrations involved ignored almost three thousand years of military maxim to create a quagmire, with further bungling down the line, after a successful surge strategy mopped up the majority of the original strategic error. They should be asking why the Bush administration failed to defend themselves, outside the 2006 Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, that WMDs had indeed been found along with materials and research for making any number of CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) weapons in the future. Of course, given articles like Miss Schulberg there is more empirical evidence that the media simply wouldn’t allow that message to go forward leading to the populace believing largely that there was no vindication for the invasion.

To conclude, the vast majority pretense presented in the case for invasion has been vindicated. However, the populace has been spun to believe that these are not the things we went to find after years of “journalism” by those like Miss Schulberg, regardless of political stripe. The press, instead of asking pertinent questions on policy and execution thereof, attempted to force creation of non-legislated mob based policy: to the dishonor of this nation, they succeeded. I’ll leave you with a little more of President Bush’s speech.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and others — again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues as required by the Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis — a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections.

“Don’t Worry, We Got This” Update

The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has died.

The two health care workers who were brought back from Africa and survived were brought back under extraordinary circumstances, with the best medical care and an experimental vaccine ~ one we are currently out of of. What you haven’t heard much about is the two Spanish priests who received that vaccine and still perished.

…It is unclear why the rare drug is being given to the Norwegian woman rather than critically ill Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man diagnosed in the US, and the decision could prove controversial.

Two Spanish missionaries treated with ZMapp died and it is impossible to tell whether it helped cure the other patients or their recovery was down to other factors.

This Ebola patient and the NBC cameraman were/are receiving another experimental vaccine, whose development had nothing to DO with Ebola, but WHAT THE HELL. Give it a shot when it’s ALL YOU’VE GOT, right?

UN: OK to use untested Ebola drugs in outbreak

You know what I hate? I hate the thought that’s whapping ’round in my head right now.

We have FOUR thousand American troops headed over there ~ NOT medical professionals, but TROOPS. Do you know what they are? Guinea pigs. Lab rats. Because WHAT can a soldier, sailor or Marine NOT do? Refuse experimental treatment, nor can they sue for malpractice damages, regardless of DOD language saying a member “must give informed consent.” I vividly remember the explosion about the experimental anthrax vaccines (Section G) they started pumping into our guys when the first Gulf War started ~ both me and major dad, who WAS on his way to Saudi Arabia, were active duty United States Marines. (I believe there was a Supreme Court decision as well ~ or a refusal to hear ~ basically reasserting the govt’s rights to do as they saw fit.)

Just yesterday, General Rodriguez of AfriCom had to walk back statements he made (I heard them live and about pooped ma drawers) that (Get this):

General: U.S. military could be in Liberia for one year to help contain Ebola outbreak
Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said nearly 4,000 U.S. service members will have direct contact with victims. Military personnel will provide logistical support to Liberia.

He scuttled backwards faster than a crab from boiling water about 40 minutes later.

But WHO you gonna believe?

ths update: Re: checking sniffly noses and puke bags at a couple airports. Let me add one more cheerful thought for your day, from someone whom I respect immensely:

SOUTHCOM Commander: Ebola Outbreak in Central America Could Cause Mass Migration to U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) warned an Ebola outbreak in Central America or the Caribbean could trigger a mass migration to the U.S. of people fleeing the disease and implied established Central American illegal trafficking networks could introduce the infected into the U.S., during remarks at a Tuesday panel on security issues in the Western Hemisphere at the National Defense University.

If it comes to the Western Hemisphere, the countries that we’re talking about have almost no ability to deal with it — particularly in Haiti and Central America,” SOUTHCOM Commander, Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, said in response to a question of his near term concerns in the region.

It will make the 68,000 unaccompanied minors look like a small problem.

“Almost NO ability to deal with it” and that’s saying we DO… :(

It Seems An Iranian Nuclear ‘Facility’

…has experienced a noisy and somewhat destructive mishap. How awful.

Semper Latte Aside

YOUR President was REALLY on his game in New York

Obama Praises Muslim Cleric Who Backed Fatwa on Killing of U.S. Soldiers

Research is hard when he has so MUCH important stuff to say.

Who’s The Cowboy Now?

Mr. Smart Power Peace Prize goes off to war

(CNN) — The United States and several Arab nations rained bombs on ISIS targets in Syria on Tuesday — the first U.S. military offensive in the war-torn country and a forceful message to the militant group that the U.S. would not stand by idly while it carried out its rampage of terror.
The airstrikes focused on the city of Raqqa, the declared capital of ISIS’ self-proclaimed Islamic State. But other areas were hit as well.
The operation began with a flurry of Tomahawk missiles launched from the sea, followed by attacks from bomber and fighter aircraft, a senior U.S. military official told CNN.
‘There are five Arab nations involved’
The goal: Taking out ISIS’ ability to command, train and resupply its militants.

Evul Schtupid Illegal Bush: Congress Approval? Check. UN Approval? Check.

Unicorn Whisperer Obama: I won.

It’s Lovely to Be a Superior Being

That way you get to be dismissive of all SORTS of normally worthy folks who might otherwise be regarded in a different light.

“…You know what that is? That is not a scandal. Because we have this notable and important thing in this country in which the guys in uniforms, no matter how many medals and stars and fancy hats and all those things that they have, they do not get to decide whether or how the United States conducts a war…”

Rachel Maddow is one such “superior person” apparently.

President Obama FINALLY Answers Question Quickly and Honestly

Is there a douchebag in the house? Raise your hand!

Lurch Declares “Religion Matters”

…and then he kept talking.

…Secretary of State John Kerry said it was the United States’ Biblical “responsibility” to “confront climate change,” including to protect “vulnerable Muslim majority counties.”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy File: Obama Says ISIS is a “Manageable Problem”

Like, not running out of toilet paper or accounting for ELEVEN missing Libyan jetliners or IRS hard drives.

As long as we’re cool and don’t lose our heads, we can unicorns and rainbows them into submission…or vapor.

It Turns Out President No StraTEEgery

…HAD read it in the morning papers. Or COULD have, if he could get his nose out of the comics.

What’s More Fun Than Ebola?

Why, an Ebola that has mutated, obviously

The Ebola virus sweeping through West Africa has mutated repeatedly during the current outbreak, a fact that could hinder diagnosis and treatment of the devastating disease, according to scientists who have genetically sequenced the virus in scores of victims.

The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, also offer new insights into the origins of the largest and most deadly Ebola outbreak in history, which has killed more than 1,500 people in four countries and shows few signs of slowing. It also provided another reminder of the deep toll the outbreak has taken on health workers and others in the affected areas, as five of the paper’s more than 50 co-authors died from Ebola before publication.

Just not a whole lot of good news for those poor folks.

Counting Corpses: “Well, Allah DAMN IT!

It’s HOT UNDER HERE!!!”

…that move.

I’m Sure Glad…

…SOMEone is.

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