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Fri Aug 30, 2013, 05:30 PM


Weekend Economists Get Syri-ous August 30-September 2, 2013

We watch the unfolding events in Syria, and wonder: what will this do to our world?

A nation self-destructing before our eyes can spread destruction beyond its borders. That is one of the problems with Globalism as a goal: cross-contamination. Pollution recognizes no borders, nor do refugees.

As a result of the ongoing Syrian civil war, there are currently two governments claiming to be the de jure government of Syria using different flags to represent the state. The incumbent government, led by Bashar al-Assad and the Ba'ath Party is using the red-white-black United Arab Republic flag in use since 1980 while the Syrian Interim Government, led by the Syrian National Coalition – seeking to overthrow the Assad government – readopted the green-white-black Independence flag in 2012.

History of Syria

The Syrian Arab Republic is a country in the Middle East, bordering Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq (with Kurdistan) to the east, and Turkey to the north. The modern state of Syria attained independence from the French mandate of Syria in 1936, but can trace its historical roots to the fourth millennium BC; its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mameluke Empire.--http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_Syria


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Reply Weekend Economists Get Syri-ous August 30-September 2, 2013 (Original post)
Demeter Aug 2013 OP
Demeter Aug 2013 #1
Demeter Aug 2013 #2
dkf Sep 2013 #76
Demeter Sep 2013 #77
dkf Sep 2013 #78
Demeter Sep 2013 #81
dkf Sep 2013 #82
Demeter Aug 2013 #3
Demeter Aug 2013 #4
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xchrom Aug 2013 #7
Demeter Sep 2013 #85
xchrom Aug 2013 #8
DemReadingDU Aug 2013 #10
Demeter Aug 2013 #15
DemReadingDU Aug 2013 #24
xchrom Aug 2013 #9
Demeter Aug 2013 #13
xchrom Aug 2013 #18
xchrom Aug 2013 #11
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Demeter Aug 2013 #14
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xchrom Aug 2013 #19
bread_and_roses Aug 2013 #31
xchrom Aug 2013 #20
xchrom Aug 2013 #21
xchrom Aug 2013 #22
xchrom Aug 2013 #23
Demeter Aug 2013 #25
bread_and_roses Aug 2013 #32
golfguru Aug 2013 #44
hamerfan Aug 2013 #26
hamerfan Aug 2013 #27
Demeter Aug 2013 #28
Demeter Aug 2013 #29
bread_and_roses Aug 2013 #30
Demeter Aug 2013 #34
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hamerfan Aug 2013 #41
Demeter Aug 2013 #46
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Fuddnik Aug 2013 #45
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Demeter Sep 2013 #97

Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 06:58 PM

1. No Bank Failures This Weekend, I'll Wager


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:01 PM

2. Detroit seeking to borrow $350 mln, terminate swaps deal



Detroit, which has filed for the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy in U.S. history, will issue a request for proposals on Thursday to borrow $350 million that will be used to terminate a complicated swaps deal and give funding for "quality of life" improvements in the city, the emergency manager's office said.

The termination payment would be made to Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America, said the spokesman for Kevyn Orr, emergency manager for the city who has most of the power once afforded to the mayor and the city council.

"Our goal is to fund the swap settlement and provide the city with adequate liquidity throughout the restructuring case to start reinvesting in Detroit today," said Bill Nowling, Orr's press secretary.

"The city is contacting a range of financial institutions, commercial banks, investment banks and hedge funds. This would be the first post-petition Chapter 9 financing of which we are aware," Nowling said in an e-mail to Reuters.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #2)

Sun Sep 1, 2013, 10:19 PM

76. Swaps deal? Detroit?


How widespread is this still I wonder.

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Response to dkf (Reply #76)

Mon Sep 2, 2013, 05:41 AM

77. They sold it to everyone they could gull


Why do you think the world nearly ended? And we aren't out of danger, even now, 4 years later.

I forget which country said it, but maybe it was China: we don't buy things we don't understand.

Too bad this country had too many people in awe of Goldman Sachs who thought the Vampire Squid was on their side.

But it wasn't just at home that GS sold their con games.
It was swaps that pulled Greece under. Swaps that GS sold them to paper over the holes in their income....which did the opposite of what the Greek govt. was told they would do.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #77)

Mon Sep 2, 2013, 05:46 AM

78. So what do you feel about Larry Summer, swaps and Harvard?


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Response to dkf (Reply #78)

Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:20 AM

81. Larry Summers is the greatest threat to our national security, bar none


He makes Edward Snowden look like an angel, by contrast.

Harvard had the good sense to dump him as soon as they caught wind of his insanity.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #81)

Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:22 AM

82. If you are saying he will be a disaster I agree.


He was a disaster for Harvard.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:26 PM

3. U.S. consults oil experts as it weighs action against Syria



Obama administration officials have contacted energy experts in recent days to discuss oil market conditions as the president weighs a military strike against Syria, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. There are no signs the government is preparing to tap emergency oil reserves soon in a bid to tame rising prices, according to the sources who spoke with Reuters this week, though the administration is closely monitoring the situation. Fears about Syria's civil war spilling over into other countries have helped propel international oil prices to their highest level in six months, rising more than $8 a barrel since the beginning of the month, and approaching a level that has slowed the global economy in the past.

That has spurred early market chatter about whether Obama might tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, a 700 million barrel resource last used in 2011 after months of supply disruptions during the Arab Spring. "I don't think a use of the SPR is either imminent or being strongly considered at this time," said one source who had spoken with administration officials as part of regular discussions with them about oil markets. "It probably wouldn't be unless the blowback from any strikes on Syria is more severe than anticipated," the source said.

Oil analysts have said a quick strike against Syria could push prices up to $125 to $130 a barrel, with Societe Generale saying prices could reach $150 a barrel if the crisis were to spill over into larger oil producing countries.
Energy markets are already nervous because of major supply disruptions in Libya, where armed groups and labor strikes have caused crude exports to be cut to their lowest level since the 2011 civil war. A UK official also said a strategic oil release, which would be coordinated by the International Energy Agency (IEA), was not on the radar in London, despite elevated oil prices. The Paris-based IEA, with which the Obama administration coordinated on a sale of 60 million barrels of U.S. and European reserves in 2011, said on Thursday the rise in oil prices this month does not call for a response, but that the agency stands ready to respond, "in the event of a major supply disruption.


President Barack Obama has made it clear that he plans to hold the Syrian government responsible for a chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb. A missile strike is among the options being considered by the Obama administration. "I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable," Obama told PBS Newshour in an interview on Wednesday. Even though the United States is in the midst of its biggest oil drilling boom in decades, with production at the highest level since 1997, prices would still likely spike if there was a major supply disruption in the Middle East. The North Sea Brent crude benchmark that helps set the majority of world oil prices traded around $114 per barrel on Thursday, near the $120 level that analysts say could push the White House to begin considering using the SPR. An administration official, speaking on background, declined to comment specifically on how closely it was watching oil prices. "We are continuously monitoring the global oil supply and demand situation," the official said.


Syria has not exported any oil since late 2011, when international sanctions came into force. Prior to the sanctions Syria produced 370,000 barrels per day (bpd), roughly 0.4 percent of global supplies, and exported less than 150,000 bpd, mainly to Europe...


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:39 PM

4. Microsoft, Google Say They're Moving Forward With NSA Lawsuit



Microsoft and Google say they will go forward with a lawsuit against the U.S. government that seeks to make information about surveillance requests public. The two giants filed the lawsuit earlier this summer, but were negotiating with the government to reach an agreement... Brad Smith, a Microsoft vice president and general counsel, said those negotiations failed. The U.S. government, said Smith, did announce that it would begin publishing the number of national security requests for customer data once a year. Smith said that's a "good start," but the "public deserves and the Constitution guarantees more than this first step."

Smith continues:

"For example, we believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email. These figures should be published in a form that is distinct from the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address. We believe it's possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk. And unless this type of information is made public, any discussion of government practices and service provider obligations will remain incomplete."

Tech companies have been on the defensive ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that allegedly show vast cooperation between the government and the companies. Google and Microsoft have denied reports that the government has direct access to its servers.

The issue here is that government is allowed to issue so-called national security letters, which prohibit the company from talking about the information they've been asked to provide.

The LATimes adds:

"James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said the government would begin releasing its own reports on NSA surveillance activity.

"But the Center for Democracy & Technology said the reports would fall short of the level of detail needed to provide 'meaningful transparency.'

'The new data that the government plans to publish is not nearly enough to justify the government's continued attempts to gag companies like Google and Microsoft and prevent them from engaging in meaningful transparency reporting of their own,' said Kevin Bankston, the CDT's director of free expression. 'This level of transparency is too little, too late, and is no replacement for hearing directly from Internet companies about how they and their users have been impacted by the NSA's programs.'"

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:48 PM

5. Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic


...a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains and deserts, it is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Turks, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shias and Arab Sunnis. The latter make up the majority of the population.

In English, the name "Syria" was formerly synonymous with the Levant (known in Arabic as al-Sham) while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate, and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.

The modern Syrian state was established after the First World War as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971. Between 1958 and 1961, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt, which was terminated by a military coup. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered to be non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1970 to 2000.

Syria is a member of one International organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it is currently suspended from the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.

Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in civil war in the wake of uprisings (considered an extension of the Arab Spring, the mass movement of revolutions and protests in the Arab world) against Assad and the neo-Ba'athist government. An alternative government was formed by the opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, in March 2012. Representatives of this government were subsequently invited to take up Syria's seat at the Arab League. The opposition coalition has been recognised as the "sole representative of the Syrian people" by several nations including the United States, United Kingdom and France.

The name Syria is derived from the ancient Greek name for Syrians: Σύριοι, Sýrioi, or Σύροι, Sýroi, which the Greeks applied without distinction to the Assyrians. A number of modern scholars argued that the Greek word related to the cognate Ἀσσυρία, Assyria, ultimately derived from the Akkadian Aššur. Others believed that it was derived from Siryon, the name that the Sidonians gave to Mount Hermon. However, the discovery of the Çineköy inscription in 2000 seems to support the theory that the term Syria derives from Assyria.

The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between Arabia to the south and Asia Minor to the north, stretching inland to include parts of Iraq, and having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder describes as including, from west to east, Commagene, Sophene, and Adiabene.

By Pliny's time, however, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire (but politically independent from each other): Judaea, later renamed Palaestina in AD 135 (the region corresponding to modern day Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan) in the extreme southwest, Phoenicia corresponding to Lebanon, with Damascena to the inland side of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria (or "Hollow Syria" south of the Eleutheris river, and Iraq.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 07:49 PM

6. Carry on, Weekenders


while I get some shuteye....and pick up the tale in the morning!

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 05:33 AM

7. Federal Reserve: Choosing The Chairman


Larry Summers and Janet Yellen would both lead the Fed well. But Ms Yellen is the safer choice

BARACK OBAMA will soon make one of the biggest economic decisions of his presidency: who should replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Since America’s monetary decisions reverberate far beyond its borders, the world has an interest in having the best person in that job.

The good news is that, for all the political circus that has surrounded the decision, Mr Obama is choosing from excellent candidates. The two leading contenders--Larry Summers, a former treasury secretary and presidential adviser, and Janet Yellen, the Fed’s current vice-chairman--are both top-notch economists with years of relevant experience (see "The Federal Reserve: Dove v dove". Mr Obama is said to be leaning towards Mr Summers. This newspaper would (narrowly) plump for Ms Yellen. Although Mr Summers is cleverer, she is better suited to this job now.

Two doves

For decades the art of monetary policy has been to control inflation and counter recessions by pushing short-term interest rates up or down. Now weak growth, not inflation, is the biggest challenge, and the Fed has to rely on less tested and more controversial tools, such as bond-buying. The next chairman will need the judgment to navigate this new world and persuade financial markets (and sceptical politicians) that the central bank knows what it is doing.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/federal-reserve-choosing-the-chairman-2013-8#ixzz2dXe4c2M3

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/federal-reserve-choosing-the-chairman-2013-8#ixzz2dXduhL8s

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Response to xchrom (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:56 AM

85. Summers’ Lending Club makes money by bypassing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act



Don’t know about you, but for some reason I have a sinking feeling when it comes to the idea of Larry Summers. Word on the CNBC street is that he’s about to be named new Fed Chair, and I am living in a state of cognitive dissonance. To distract myself, I’m going to try better to explain what I started to explain here, when I talked about the online peer-to-peer lending company Lending Club. Summers sits on the board of Lending Club, and from my perspective it’s a logical continuation of his career of deregulation and/or bypassing of vital regulation to enrich himself.

In this case, it’s a vehicle for bypassing the FTC’s Equal Credit Opportunities Rights.
It’s not perfect, but it “prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you get public assistance.” It forces credit scores to be relatively behavior based, like you see here. Let me contrast that to Lending Club. Lending Club also uses mathematical models to score people who want to borrow money. These act as credit scores. But in this case, they use data like browsing history or anything they can grab about you on the web or from data warehousing companies like Acxiom (which I’ve written about here). From this Bloomberg article on Lending Club:

“What we’ve done is radically transform the way consumer lending operates,” Laplanche says in his speech. He says that LendingClub keeps staffing low by using algorithms to screen prospective borrowers for risk — rejecting 90 percent of them – - and has no physical branches like banks. “The savings can be passed on to more borrowers in terms of lower interest rates and investors in terms of attractive returns.”

I’d focus on the benefit for investors. Big money is now involved in this stuff. Turns out that bypassing credit score regulation is great for business, so of course. For example, such models might look at your circle of friends on Facebook to see if you “run with the right crowd” before loaning you money. You can now blame your friends if you don’t get that loan! From this CNN article on the subject (hat tip David):

“It turns out humans are really good at knowing who is trustworthy and reliable in their community,” said Jeff Stewart, a co-founder and CEO of Lenddo. “What’s new is that we’re now able to measure through massive computing power.”

Moving along from taking out loans to getting jobs, there’s this description of how recruiters work online to perform digital background checks for potential employees. It’s a different set of laws this time that is subject to arbitrage but it’s exactly the same idea:

Non-discrimination laws prohibit employers from asking job applicants certain questions. They’re not supposed to ask about things like age, race, gender, disability, marital, and veteran status. (As you can imagine, sometimes a picture alone can reveal this privileged information. These safeguards against discrimination urge employers to simply not use this knowledge to make hiring decisions.) In addition to protecting people from systemic prejudice, these employment laws intend to shield us from capricious bias and whimsy. While casually snooping, however, a recruiter can’t unsee your Facebook rant on immigration amnesty, the same for your baby bump on Instagram. From profile pics and bios, blog posts and tweets, simple HR reconnaissance can glean tons of off-limits information.

Along with forcing recruiters to gaze with eyes wide shut, straddling legal liability and ignorance, invisible employment screens deny American workers the robust protections afforded by the FTC and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA ensures that prospective employees are notified before their backgrounds and credit scores are verified. Employees are free to decline the checks, but employers are also free to deny further consideration unless a screening is allowed to take place. What’s important here is that employees must first give consent.

When a report reveals unsavory information about a candidate, and the employer chooses to take what’s called “adverse action,”—like deny a job offer—the employer is required to share the content of the background reports with the candidate. The applicant then has the right to explain or dispute inaccurate and incomplete aspects of the background check. Consent, disclosure, and recourse constitute a straightforward approach to employment screening.

Contrast this citizen-empowering logic with the casual Google search or to the informal, invisible social-media exam. As applicants, we don’t know if employers are looking, we’re not privy to what they see, and we have no way to appeal.

As legal scholars Daniel Solove and Chris Hoofnagle discuss, the amateur Google screens that are now a regular feature of work-life go largely unnoticed. Applicants are simply not called back. And they’ll never know the real reason.

I think the silent failure is the scariest part for me – people who don’t get jobs won’t know why. Similarly, people denied loans from Lending Club by a secret algorithm don’t know why either. Maybe it’s because I made friends with the wrong person on Facebook? Maybe I should just go ahead and stop being friends with anyone who might put my electronic credit score at risk? Of course this rant is predicated on the assumption that we think anti-discrimination laws are a good thing. In an ideal world, of course, we wouldn’t need them. But that’s not where we live.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 05:37 AM

8. The Obama Administration Isn't Answering The Most Important Question About Attacking Syria


There was something really weird about the Obama Administration's message on Syria today: It was singularly focused on making the case that Syria really did use chemical weapons, and that our intelligence is right this time, unlike in Iraq.

I believe the Administration on this intel. But they are failing to explain why it follows that we should launch a military strike on Syria. What do they think our intervention will do to reduce human suffering in Syria or anywhere else?

Is the idea that our “limited and tailored” intervention will directly interfere with Assad’s chemical weapons capability? Do we hope that it will serve like a spanking, dissuading him from using chemical weapons again? Is the hope that a strike will discourage other wayward dictators from abusing their people, lest they get bombed too?

So far, all we're getting are variants on "something must be done."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-obama-administration-is-answering-the-wrong-questions-on-syria-2013-8#ixzz2dXf4UGNN

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Response to xchrom (Reply #8)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 05:59 AM

10. more from article

I'm not an expert on foreign policy. My usual M.O. is to say as little about foreign policy as possible. But over the last 20 years, foreign policy experts' record on "should we attack?" questions has been less than stellar. So, I don't think it's out of turn for me to ask for more clarity on our strategic goals.

I'm not automatically opposed to the use of force. In recent years, I can see a handful of limited military actions that seem to have improved situations in the impacted countries, particularly our campaigns in Kosovo and Libya. But in both of those cases, the objective was regime change. The objective in Syria is much less obvious.

The situation in Syria is obviously a humanitarian tragedy. But there are lots of terrible problems the U.S. government can't fix. It's not enough for the administration to explain that the Syrians need help; it needs to explain why a military strike would be helpful.


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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #10)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:38 AM

15. I liked andy borowitz's take on it (see friday's SMW)


I can't think that anything, short of assassinating Assad, will improve the situation. He decided to fight his own people, instead of taking the loot and going into exile.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #15)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 08:34 AM

24. The link for anyone to read again

8/29/13 Obama Promises Syria Strike Will Have No Objective Posted by Andy Borowitz


I hope for the U.S. it goes well, but it is a bad omen when Britain and NATO are not with us.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 05:45 AM

9. Developer Says $100 Million Sculpture At Hudson Yards Will Be 'New York's Eiffel Tower'


Related Companies founder Stephen Ross is predicting that a still-to-be-designed sculpture at Hudson Yards will be New York’s Eiffel Tower and more symbolic than the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center — and will be key in making his megaproject “the new heart” of the city.

Ross is putting the gigantic piece of artwork in the public plaza of the 13 million-square-foot neighborhood, which is being developed jointly by Related and Oxford Properties Group. The companies are holding a contest — six famous sculptors, including Richard Serra and Anish Kapoor, have been invited to submit drawings — and are putting the cost at nearly $100 million, Fortune reported.

“This sculpture will be the greatest tourist attraction in New York,” Ross told the magazine. “It will be more than the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, but 365 days a year. It will be to this city what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.”

THe 72-year-old Ross is the only developer willing to helm a project of Hudson Yard’s scope, according to Dan Doctoroff, a former city deputy mayor who now runs Bloomberg LP.

Read more: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2013/08/30/stephen-ross-sees-hudson-yards-as-new-heart-of-the-city#ixzz2dXh4ZNvX

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Response to xchrom (Reply #9)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:26 AM

13. Two new targets!


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Response to Demeter (Reply #13)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:55 AM

18. in his case -- i'm more afraid of an attack of the Ugly. nt

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:08 AM

11. India’s Rupee Has Worst Month Since 1992 on Slowdown Concern


India’s rupee completed its biggest monthly loss since 1992, the world’s worst currency performance, on concern a deepening economic slowdown will deter investors as the U.S. prepares to pare stimulus.

The currency slumped to a record this week as a surge in oil prices amid political tension over Syria threatened to widen the current-account deficit and push Asia’s No. 3 economy toward its biggest crisis in more than two decades. Global funds increased sales of local assets this week as UBS AG, BNP Paribas SA and Standard Chartered Plc cut growth forecasts for India. The rupee pared losses after the central bank said on Aug. 28 it will supply dollars directly to local oil importers.

“Markets are increasingly concerned about a negative feedback loop between the rupee and India’s fundamentals,” analysts at Standard Chartered, including Mumbai-based Samiran Chakraborty, wrote in a research report yesterday. “That said, we think that worries about a 1991-style balance-of-payments crisis are exaggerated.”

The rupee plunged 8.1 percent this month to 65.7050 per dollar in Mumbai, according to prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg. This is the biggest drop since March 1992 and the steepest among 78 global currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The currency rose 1.4 percent today, paring the week’s loss to 3.6 percent. The rupee touched an unprecedented 68.8450 on Aug. 28.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:09 AM

12. Air on the G String

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:32 AM

14. I'm sending this to the budget and finance committee!


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:48 AM

16. (try to) Prevent an Attack on Syria Now (petition)



#NoWarWithSyria Global Rallies on August 31, 2013


Opposition to Iraq War May Save Syria By David Swanson


Evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" is "no slam dunk," U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet.
Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it. A majority in the United States, still very much aware of Iraq war deceptions, opposes arming the "rebel" force in Syria, so heavily dominated by foreign fighters and al Qaeda. And a majority opposes U.S. military action in Syria.

But that public opinion is only just beginning to get expressed as activism. With Republicans more willing to actively oppose a war this time, and some section of Democrats still opposed, there's actually potential to build a larger antiwar movement than that of 2003-2006.

Thus far, however, what's discouraging an attack on Syria is the public uproar that was created back then over the disastrous attack on Iraq. The nation of Iraq was destroyed. Millions of refugees still can't safely return. As with every other humanitarian war thus far, humanity suffered, and the suffering will last for ages. While the damage done to the United States itself doesn't compare with the damage done to Iraq, it has been severe enough to make many a near-sighted potential war supporter cautious. The problem with attacking Iraq was not that the vast stockpiles of weapons were fictional. Had every claim been true, the war would have remained illegal, immoral, and catastrophic.

Were it true that the Syrian government really chose the moment of the U.N. inspectors' arrival to use chemical weapons, launching a U.S. war on Syria would still hurt the people of Syria -- who are overwhelmingly opposed to it, regardless of their level of support for their government. A regional or even global war could result. The U.S. military is planning for such scenarios, as if preparing for the apocalypse while igniting it makes the action less insane.

A war of supposed humanitarian philanthropy should consider the value to humanity of the rule of law. Launching a war in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, and the U.S. Constitution hurts the rule of law. A war of beneficial generosity should consider other possible medicines that lack the deadly side-effects of war. For example, the United States could easily stop supporting and arming abusive dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt, not to mention the horrors inflicted on Palestine by Israel.

A so-called good and noble war against the evil of chemical weapons should probably be launched by a nation that doesn't itself use chemical weapons.
Yet, the United States used white phosphorous and napalm as weapons in Iraq, not to mention such internationally sanctioned weapons as depleted uranium and cluster bombs -- weapons the United States also sells to other governments regardless of their human rights records (including a big shipment of cluster bombs now headed to Saudi Arabia).

A humanitarian and just war should perhaps show equal concern for those humans killed with any kind of weapon. Bombing Syria would inevitably kill significant numbers of people. Isn't that a problem even if they're killed with the "right" kind of weapons?

Both sides in the war in Syria have killed large numbers of people. We have heard as many serious accounts of the rebels using chemical weapons as the government. Should indisputable facts establish that both sides have used those forbidden weapons, surely the proper response will not be to bomb both sides. By joining in this war, on the side of an armed opposition dominated by people with no concern for democracy or human rights, the United States will make itself more hated in the region than its previous military actions already have. While this war has nothing to do with defending the United States, it will in fact endanger it.

Here's what should be done instead: Pressure Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and Turkey to stop arming one side, while pressuring Russia and Iran to stop arming the other. Insist on a cease-fire. Support U.N. inspections of the evidence of crimes by both sides. Provide humanitarian aid to Syria, Syrian refugees (now fleeing in greater numbers as the U.S. threatens to attack), and others suffering in the region. Support nonviolent democracy movements. And why stop there? End the occupation of Afghanistan, which we think of as "ending" but which is still twice as large as when President Obama was elected. Stop arming brutal dictatorships and calling the weapons "aid." Close Guantanamo and other lawless prison sites. Halt U.S. drone and other missile strikes worldwide. Bring U.S. troops home from 175 nations. Spend 10% of the U.S. military budget providing the world with clean drinking water, food, and assistance in sustainable agriculture and energy.

Our options are not to do nothing or to bomb Syria into the sort of disaster created in Iraq. There is an alternative that benefits Syrians, makes us safer, and costs less in money, lives, and morality.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #16)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:55 AM




What is happening in Syria feels like one of the last gasps of the age of the military dictators. An old way of running the world is still desperately trying to cling to power, but the underlying feeling in the west is that somehow Assad's archaic and cruel military rule will inevitably collapse and Syrians will move forward into a democratic age.

That may, or may not, happen, but what is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite - and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that "the Syrian people are naturally democratic" and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites - and a new world of "peace and progress" would inevitably emerge.

What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.

I thought I would tell that story...SEE LINK


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:01 AM

19. Jordi Savall plays the Celtic Viol - The Nathaniel Gow Set

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Response to xchrom (Reply #19)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:07 PM

31. That is too marvelous, X - TY (n/t)

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:07 AM

20. Cooler Spending in U.S. Signals Slow Start for Quarter: Economy


Consumer spending cooled in July as income growth slowed, indicating the world’s largest economy was off to a slow start in the third quarter.

Purchases rose 0.1 percent after a 0.6 percent June gain that was larger than previously estimated, according to Commerce Department data issued today in Washington. Other reports showed business activity picked up this month and consumer sentiment declined less than projected from July’s six-year high.

Gains in incomes are barely keeping pace with inflation, a sign employment will need to pick up for the expansion to strengthen. At the same time, rising home values are helping bolster household purchases of appliances and automobiles even in the face of rising mortgage rates, prompting Ford Motor Co. (F) to project sales this month will be the strongest since 2007.

It’s “an incrementally positive story,” said Jacob Oubina, a senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York, whose firm is the second-best consumer spending forecaster for the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “We’ve seen a very, very weak July, but the data that we have in hand for August suggest that we’re going to see a pretty significant rebound.”

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:12 AM

21. Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Fell Less Than Forecast in August


Consumer confidence in the U.S. dropped in August from a six-year high as interest rates rose and tensions in the Middle East intensified.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for this month fell to 82.1, a four-month low, from 85.1 in July, which was the highest since July 2007. Economists in a Bloomberg survey called for 80.5, according to the median projection after a preliminary reading of 80.0

Higher mortgage rates are threatening to stall momentum in the housing market, and turmoil in Egypt and the threat of potential U.S. intervention in Syria is raising the specter of higher fuel prices. Though stocks have dropped this month, increased personal wealth from rising home values may help to contain the decline.

“There was a good bounce in confidence a couple of months ago, and there has probably been a little bit of reversal in the last couple of months as mortgage rates have risen,” Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York and the top forecaster in Bloomberg data going back two years, said before the report.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:17 AM

22. What Syria Teaches Us About Hyperinflation


Syria is a humanitarian disaster, of course, but it's an economic catastrophe too. The latter doesn't get much attention for obvious reasons, but 290 percent inflation certainly qualifies. It turns out you can't have much of an economy when your country is a war zone, and the regime is attacking civilians.

But functioning economy or not, the government still has to pay its bills. So what does it do when there's nothing to run or tax? Easy: It prints what it needs. That's what the pariah Assad regime has done to cover the difference between what it has to pay, and what its few remaining patrons have paid it. The predictable result of all this new money chasing fewer goods has been massive inflation.

Now, the regime has tried to hide just how massive inflation actually is with its "official" numbers, but Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins, has estimated what it really is based off black market exchange rates. As you can see in the chart below, the ongoing civil war, foreign sanctions, and the threat of bombing have sent Syria's inflation rate well into the triple digits -- the latest reading, which isn't shown, has it at 292 percent, to be exact.

It's a depressing reminder that Milton Friedman didn't get it quite right. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. But hyperinflation is actually always and everywhere a political phenomenon.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:45 AM

23. Why China Will Oppose Any Strike on Syria



China and Russia feel burned by what happened in Libya

On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council voted 10 to 0 to establish a no-fly zone over Libya in order to protect Benghazi civilians from mass slaughter. Expected to veto the resolution, China and Russia instead abstained, and two days later a Western-led intervention began. When the skirmish eventually brought about the end of Muammar Gaddafi's presidency, beyond the original mission of the resolution, China made its displeasure known.

"The Chinese felt that the UN Resolution was essentially used to overthrow Gaddafi, and that it was far more expansive than what they envisioned," said Bonnie Glaser, an East Asia Senior Advisor at Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ever since, it's safe to say that China no longer trusts American intentions in cases of foreign intervention.

China wants a seat at the table

Although China's diplomatic profile in the Middle East has grown over the years—the country has a dedicated Middle East envoy and has even floated its own four-point proposal for Israel/Palestine peace—its reach in the region remains limited. However, China has consistently objected to American interventionism overseas.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 09:56 AM



Since approximately 10,000 BC, Syria was one of centers of Neolithic culture (known as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses of Mureybet culture. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gyps and burnt lime (Vaiselles blanches). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations. Cities of Hamoukar and Emar played an important role during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age. Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth.

Around the excavated city of Ebla which is near present day Idlib in northern Syria, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea north to Anatolia and east to Iraq from 2500 to 2400 BC. Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BC, and gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer and Akkad, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from Pharaohs, found during excavations, confirm Ebla's contact with Egypt. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be among the oldest known written Semitic languages, designated as Paleo-Canaanite. However, more recent classifications of the Eblaite language have shown that it was an East Semitic language, closely related to the Akkadian language. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2260 BC; the city was restored, as the nation of the Amorites, a few centuries later, and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Hittites.

During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans as part of the general disruptions and exchanges associated with the Sea Peoples. The Phoenicians settled along the coast of Northern Canaan (Lebanon). Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Hittites variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period; the land between their various empires being marsh. Eventually, the Persians took Syria as part of their hegemony of Southwest Asia; this dominion was transferred to the Ancient Macedonians and Greeks after Alexander the Great's conquests and the Seleucid Empire. Pompey the Great captured Antioch in 64 BC, turning Syria into a Roman province. Thus control of this region passed to the Romans and then the Byzantines.

The population of Syria during the heyday of the empire was probably not exceeded again until the 19th century. Syria's large and prosperous population made Syria one of the most important of the Roman provinces, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd centuries (AD). The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, who was emperor from 222 to 235, was Syrian. His cousin Elagabalus, who was emperor from 218 to 222, was also Syrian and his family held hereditary rights to the high priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa (modern Homs) in Syria. Another Roman emperor who was a Syrian was Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus), emperor from 244 to 249.

Syria is significant in the history of Christianity; Saulus of Tarsus, better known as the Apostle Paul, was converted on the Road to Damascus and emerged as a significant figure in the Christian Church at Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys.

Islamic Syria

By AD 640, Syria was conquered by the Rashidun army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid. In the mid-7th century, the Umayyad dynasty, then rulers of the empire, placed the capital of the empire in Damascus. The country's power dramatically declined during later Umayyad rule; due mainly to the totalitarianism, corruption and the resulting revolutions by the oppressed. The Umayyad dynasty was then overthrown in 750 by the Abbasid dynasty, which moved the capital of empire to Baghdad.

Arabic — made official under Umayyad rule — became the dominant language, replacing Greek and Aramaic in the Abbasid era. In 887, the Egypt-based Tulunids annexed Syria from the Abbasids, and were later replaced by once the Egypt-based Ikhshidids and still later by the Hamdanids originating in Aleppo founded by Sayf al-Dawla.

Sections of the coastline of Syria were briefly held by Frankish overlords during the Crusades of the 12th century, and were known collectively as the Crusader state of the Principality of Antioch. The area was also threatened by Shi'a extremists known as Assassins (Hassassin). Aleppo fell to the Mongols of Hulegu in January 1260, and Damascus in March, but then Hulegu needed to break off his attack to return to China to deal with a succession dispute.

A few months later, the Mamluks arrived with an army from Egypt and defeated the Mongols in the Battle of Ain Jalut in Galilee. The Mamluk leader, Baibars, made Damascus a provincial capital. When he died, power was taken by Qalawun. In the meantime, an emir named Sunqur al-Ashqar had tried to declare himself ruler of Damascus, but he was defeated by Qalawun on 21 June 1280, and fled to northern Syria. Al-Ashqar, who had married a Mongol woman, appealed for help from the Mongols. The Mongols of the Ilkhanate took the city, but Qalawun persuaded Al-Ashqar to join him, and they fought against the Mongols on 29 October 1281, in the Second Battle of Homs, which was won by the Mamluks.

In 1400, Timur Lenk invaded Syria, sacked Aleppo and captured Damascus after defeating the Mamluk army. The city's inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand. By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route through Syria.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:12 PM

32. Destroying the roots of civilization - as in Iraq

and elsewhere. Destroying our own history, the very foundations. It would sicken me even more if I could be more sickened than I already am by the inevitable-seeming slaughter we'll unleash on the Syrians (and its apologists on DU and elsewhere). Same old same old ... Bush in early 90's, Bush in Iraq, Obama in Afghanistan, Pakistan ....Libya ... I'm sure I'm forgetting some ....now Syria.

We have to kill the children to save them.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:48 PM

44. Syria, with such stalwart history sure has descended


into chaos, hyper-inflation, and a non-descript economy last during hundred years. That is what dictatorship will do to any country. Ditto with formerly communist countries such as China & Others. Now China has over Million new Millionaires, and on road to becoming largest economy in the world within a decade.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 10:18 AM

26. Musical Interlude, reprised

Viewer discretion is advised as Dubya and Cheney make appearances in this video.

The Restless Consumer by Neil Young:

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 11:54 AM

27. Musical Interlude II, more on-topic

Obama to Assad:
Can't You Hear Me Knocking by the Rolling Stones:

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 12:54 PM

28. America Totally Discredited By Paul Craig Roberts



A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria. But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.

What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?

Now Obama stands alone, isolated, trying to back away from his threat to attack without authorization from anyone--not from the UN, not from NATO, not from Congress who he ignored--a sovereign country. Under the Nuremberg Standard military aggression is a war crime. Washington has until now got away with its war crimes by cloaking them in UN or NATO approval. Despite these “approvals,” they remain war crimes. But his National Security Advisor and the neocon warmongers are telling him that he must prove that he is a Real Man who can stand alone and commit war crimes all by himself without orchestrated cover from the UN or NATO or a cowardly US Congress. It is up to Obama, they insist, to establish for all time that the President of the United States is above all law. He, and he alone is the “decider,” the Caesar, who determines what is permissible. The Caesar of the “sole superpower” must now assert his authority over all law or Washington’s hegemony over the world is lost. As I noted in an earlier column today, if Obama goes it alone, he will be harassed for the rest of his life as a war criminal who dares not leave the US. Indeed, a looming economic collapse could so alter the power and attitude of the United States that Obama could find himself brought to justice for his war crimes.

Regardless, the United States government has lost its credibility throughout the world and will never regain it, unless the Bush and Obama regimes are arrested and put on trial for their war crimes. Obama’s destruction of US credibility goes far beyond diplomacy. It is likely that this autumn or winter, and almost certainly in 2014, the US will face severe economic crisis. The long-term abuse of the US dollar’s reserve currency role by the Federal Reserve and US Treasury, the never-ending issuance of new debt and printing of dollars to finance it, the focus of US economic policy on bailing out the “banks too big to fail” regardless of the adverse impact on domestic and world economies and holders of US Treasury debt, the awaiting political crisis of the unresolved deficit and debt ceiling limit that will greet Congress’ return to Washington in September, collapsing job opportunities and a sinking economy all together present the government in Washington with a crisis that is too large for the available intelligence, knowledge, and courage to master.

When the proverbial hits the fan, the incompetent and corrupt Federal Reserve and the incompetent and corrupt US Treasury will have no more credibility than Obama and John Kerry. The rest of the world--especially Washington’s bullied NATO puppet states--will take great delight in the discomfort of “the world’s sole superpower” that has been running on hubris ever since the Soviet collapse. The world is not going to bail out Washington, now universally hated, with currency swaps, more loans, and foreign aid. Americans are going to pay heavily for their negligence, their inattention, their unconcern, and their ignorant belief that nothing can go wrong for them and that anything that does is temporary.

Two decades of jobs offshoring has left the US with a third world labor force employed in lowly paid domestic nontradable services, a workforce comparable to India’s of 40 years ago. Already the “world’s sole superpower” is afflicted with a large percentage of its population dependent on government welfare for survival. As the economy closes down, the government’s ability to meet the rising demands of survival diminishes. The rich will demand that the poor be sacrificed in the interest of the rich. And the political parties will comply. Is this the reason that Homeland Security, a Nazi Gestapo institution, now has a large and growing para-military force equipped with tanks, drones, and billions of rounds of ammunition? How long will it be before American citizens are shot down in their streets by “their” government as occurs frequently in Washington’s close allies in Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain?

Americans have neglected the requirements of liberty. Americans are so patriotic and so gullible that all the government has to do is to wrap itself in the flag, and the people, or too many of them, believe whatever lie the government tells. And the gullible people will defend the government’s lie to their death, indeed, to the death of the entire world. If Americans keep believing the government’s lies, they have no future. If truth be known, Americans have already lost a livable future. The neocons’ “American Century” is over before it begun.

Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal By Paul Craig Roberts

Obama, pushed by his Israeli and neocon masters, especially his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, who, in effect, functions as an Israeli agent, crawled far out on the limb, only to have it sawed off by the British Parliament. In response, the “socialist” president of France, Hollande, who lacks French support for France’s participation in a US/Israeli orchestrated military attack on Syria, has crawled back off the limb, saying that, while everything is still on the table, he has to see some evidence first.

As Cameron and Obama have made clear, there is no evidence. Even US intelligence has declared that there is no conclusive evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or even has control over the weapons. Even the US puppet government in Canada has disavowed participating in the Obama/Israeli war crime. This leaves Obama with support only from Turkey and Israel. Recently, the Turkish government shot down in the streets more of its own people--peaceful protesters, not imported mercenaries trying to overthrow the Turkish government--than were killed in the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. As the entire world is aware, the Israeli government has been committing crimes against the people in Palestine for decades. A distinguished Jewish jurist concluded in an official report that the Israeli government committed war crimes in its attack on the civilian population of Gaza.

No country regards the criminal states of Turkey and Israel as cover for a war crime. If Obama is pushed by Susan Rice and the evil neocons, who are strongly allied with Israel, into going it alone and conducting a military strike on Syria, Obama will have made himself an unambiguous War Criminal under the Nuremberg Standard created by the US Government. Unprovoked military aggression is a war crime under international law. That is completely clear. There are no ifs or buts about it. If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress, having ignored the House and Senate, Obama will stand before the entire world, starkly, as a War Criminal. Unless the world is prepared to flush international law, arrest orders for the War Criminal will have to come from the Hague. Obama will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no
more leg to stand on than did the Nazis. The evil neocons are telling Obama that he must prove that he is a man and go it alone. If Obama does, he will prove that he is a War Criminal.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #28)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:06 PM

29. Chemical Hallucinations By William Bowles



I think it’s true to say that the days of creating ‘dodgy dossiers‘ http://williambowles.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/ukdossier.pdf 1] are now over, at least if the latest ‘dodgy report’ is anything to go by. Put out by the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee, it purports to offer proof that Assad gassed his own people. But aside from the fact that it offers not a shred of proof, it’s also amateurish and clearly put together in a panic.

We…have a limited but growing body of intelligence which supports the judgement that the regime was responsible for the attacks and that they were conducted to help clear the Opposition from strategic parts of Damascus. Some of this intelligence is highly sensitive but you have had access to it all. – UK Joint Intelligence Organisation, 29 August 2013

The ‘intelligence’ report http://williambowles.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Jp_115_JD_PM_Syria_Reported_Chemical_Weapon_Use_with_annex.pdf is short, barely two pages of text and short not only in size, it’s also short of any real content that backs up the mantra,’Assad, the brutal dictator did it’. Not a single fact is presented. Here are are the relevant ‘proofs’ offered by the JIC’s report:

JIC assessment of 27 August on Reported Chemical Weapons use in Damascus

A chemical attack occurred in Damascus on the morning of 21 August, resulting in at least 350 fatalities. It is not possible for the opposition to have carried out a CW attack on this scale. The regime has used CW on a smaller scale on at least 14 occasions in the past. There is some intelligence to suggest regime culpability in this attack. These factors make it highly likely that the Syrian regime was responsible.

Run this past me again? “It is not possible for the opposition to have carried out a CW attack on this scale”, ergo, it must have been Assad. This is evidence? It’s a pathetic, not to say ludicrous attempt and obviously hastily assembled from thin air. Aside from anything else, it’s just not true, there is definitive proof that the ‘rebels’ had sarin gas.

Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb. – ‘Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists’ – reports’, – RT, 31 May 2013

Then the ‘report’ resorts to using the numerous videos to be found on Youtube as somehow proof that Assad used toxic gas on its citizens but again the videos don’t show who did it, how could they?

Extensive video footage attributed to the attack in eastern Damascus (which we assess would be very difficult to falsify) is consistent with the use of a nerve agent, such as sarin, and is not consistent with the use of blister or riot control agents. – JIC Report

This ‘report’ is pure hokum. After you take away all the padding which constitutes 90% of the document, there’s nothing left except the allegation that because the ‘rebels’ couldn’t have done it, it had to be Assad. I suspect that the political class here (and in the US) really didn’t expect to have so much trouble convincing people to support more Anglo-Saxon slaughter and got caught off-guard as it were, hence the paucity of the document, rushed out in a few days and aside from an alleged Syrian Army conversation (see below), nothing at all to work with.

Ok, I think I’ve dispensed with the disinfo put out by the UK Cabinet Office, it doesn’t amount to much. But I suppose the time constraints imposed by Cameron jumping the gun, all gung ho to kill some more ‘rag-heads’, forced the Empire’s hand.

The Israeli connection

To understand how this false flag operation got started we need to go back to the first article published on the debkafile website 21 August 2013.

Syrian opposition activists report between 200 and 650 dead and hundreds more wounded in a poison gas strike by Bashar Assad’s forces on rebel-held areas of eastern Damascus. They claim nerve gas canisters were dropped by Syrian Air Force fighter planes which were seen flying over the area after the attack, the most extensive reported till now. Their claim has not been verified. The regime denied the accusation, saying there was “no truth whatsoever” in reports that chemical gas was used near Damascus, and maintaining over state television that the Syrian army was conducting a conventional attack on rebel positions south and east of Damascus. – ’Reported Syrian gas attack killing hundreds after first US-trained rebel incursion from Jordan‘, debkafile, 21 August 2013 (my emph. WB)

The gas attack, according to debka was actually just part of a three-pronged attack (masterminded in Tehran), carried out to counter a major incursion from Jordan, commanded by US personnel, into Syria, in order to extend the Israeli-imposed ‘buffer zone’ between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights.[2]

debkafile reports exclusively that Assad is acting to counter the first organized incursion of US-trained Syrian rebels from Jordan into southern Syria. The first group of 250 rebels, trained in special operations tactics by US and Jordanian instructors, entered Syria Saturday, Aug. 17, armed with weapons of Russian provenance supplied by the US and Saudi Arabia.

They are fighting under US and Jordanian commanders based in the Hashemite Kingdom.

A second group of 300 fighters crossed into Syria from Jordan Monday.

They are linking up with local rebel groups chosen from amongst those with no ties with the jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria).

According to our military sources, the rebel units are advancing at speed along the Syrian-Israeli border. They have forced the Syrian brigades posted there into retreating from positions inside a strip of 1-25 kilometers from the border, and captured the villages of Raihaniya, Breiqa and Beer Ajam.

This tactic has moved the Syrian army back from the area opposite the Israeli Golan, and started marking out a buffer zone between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Horan province.


This Jordan-based rebel offensive was launched shortly after Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, visited US forces in Jordan and inaugurated the underground US war room near Amman for commanding the operation in Syria.

Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has more than once declared that if the Syrian capital Damascus came under threat, he would resort to chemical warfare and the entire Middle East including Israel would go up in flames. For now, his army is fighting to keep the rebels from taking control of southern Syria. -ibid

Enter the Dragon – sorry Tehran

But by 24 August, the situation had changed and so had debka’s story. Now the poison gas shells were,

…fired from the big Mount Kalmun army base south of Damascus, one of the three repositories of Syria’s chemical weapons. In response to a demand from Moscow last December, Assad collected his chemical assets in three depots. The other two are Dummar, a suburb 5 kilometers outside Damascus, and the Al-Safira air base, west of Aleppo. – ‘The sarin shells fired on Damascus – by Syrian 4th Division’s 155th Brigade – were followed by rockets on Israel and car bombings in Lebanon‘, debkafile, 24 August 2013

And here comes the alleged Iranian connection,

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented Thursday, Aug. 22 that Iran is using Syria as its testing ground while closely monitoring international responses to its actions [like gassing hundreds of people?].

His remark followed the four Grad rockets fired on northern Israel the day after the chemical attack in East Damascus. His words were scarcely noticed, mainly because Israel’s own spokesmen were busy spreading a blanket of disinformation over the attack, attributing it vaguely to “Global Jihad” (whatever that is). – ibid

debka were presented with a bit of conundrum to deal with here because obviously Netanyahu’s head was someplace else, not fixed firmly on Assad and his WMD like he should have been. Whatever else you can accuse Assad of, belonging to the ‘Global Jihad’ is not on the list.

The debka piece continues,

debkafile’s military sources affirm that, just as the Assad brothers orchestrated the chemical shell attack on Syrian civilians, so too did Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah set in motion the rocket attack on Israel.


Then, on Friday night, two car bombs blew up outside Sunni mosques in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli, killing 42 people and injuring 500.

The triple coordinated outrages added up to a dire warning from Tehran and Damascus about what they have in store for the region, and especially Syria’s neighbors, as payback for foreign intervention in the Syrian civil war. - ibid

Then there’s that conversation…

Then we have the ‘evidence’ leaked separately to Focus magazine in Germany, also from Mossad which I’ve dealt with elsewhere, concerning the alleged Israeli monitoring of Syrian communications. Remember all of this ‘intelligence’ originates with Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, no matter that it’s repeated by other, Western governments as ‘their’ intelligence. As I noted before, this monitored communication is interesting because apparently, the Israeli 8200 intelligence unit only started listening after the bombs/missiles had been launched. And why wait three days to inform the world (Focus published the story on the 24 August)? And given that Syria is on a knife edge, why not release these recordings now? (And we are still waiting for the US’ declassified report that we should have had yesterday, the 29 August, why the delay?) It’s all hearsay; talk of a panicked army officer, the implication being that it was a ‘rogue’ soldier wot did it? No identities, it’s all conveniently left vague. Not exactly a smoking gun. And I think it explains why the political class on both sides of the (polluted) pond are all stirred up and agitated.For once, they’ve not been able to to get their way, yet…

So there we have it, all the essential elements of a false flag operation, initiated by Mossad but with the obvious collusion of the US and possibly even the UK, that used the media to insert the story ‘sideways’, first via debka and Focus, followed by Ynet, the Times of Israel and then the leap across to the UK Guardian and all points West. But clearly, what started as a military/psyops campaign centred around the Golan Heights and designed to drag Iran into it, rapidly morphed into something far larger, perhaps because whoever was responsible for the carnage, ‘overcooked’ it and killed far too many people?[3] But the change does explain much about the nature of the propaganda campaign and how the story has ‘evolved’.

But the fact that the Empire is not lobbing cruise missiles in Syria’s direction just yet is a temporary victory for the forces of progress. Moreover, I think independent journalism is starting to have some impact on events, perhaps at last we can begin to think about neutralising or effectively countering the MSM and the state’s massive propaganda onslaught, especially if it’s as badly managed as this one has been.


1. It was more than ten years ago when Tony Blair, his spin doctor and MI5 cooked up the Dodgy Dossier that formed the basis for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

2. Could this have anything to do with extending the occupied Golan Heights, the illegal drilling for oil by Israel on Syrian territory?

Genie Energy (NYSE: GNE, GNEPRA), said today that the government of Israel has awarded its subsidiary, Genie Israel Oil and Gas, Ltd., an exclusive petroleum exploration license covering 396.5 square kilometers in the Southern portion of the Golan Heights, and look at who are on the board: Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, and Lord Jacob Rothschild. See: ‘Israel has granted oil exploration rights inside Syria, in the occupied Golan Heights‘ by Craig Murray, Global Research, 21 February 2013

3. There are reports that allude to this here, and here. SEE ARTICLE FOR MORE LINKS TO SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

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Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #30)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:20 PM

34. But, Will TRUTH make any difference in Real Time in this case? Must we always wait for History?


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:18 PM

33. 6 Things To Keep In Mind As Obama Confronts Syria



  • Warring over war powers — Obama faces pushback from Congress, which defends its prerogative to declare war, just as other modern presidents have when they've sought to exercise their commander-in-chief role...

  • Tea Party/libertarians —he debate over the constitutional powers of the president versus Congress when it comes to military action has only intensified as Tea Party and libertarian lawmakers have joined congressional Republican ranks. So Obama is dealing with an even more conservative Republican Party on these issues...

  • Liberals — As with Tea Party and libertarian Republicans, a noninterventionist strain exists among Congress' liberal Democrats, and Obama is bumping up against that.

    "We are not the world's policeman," Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said in Thursday. On MSNBC Friday, following Secretary of State John Kerry's presentation of the administration's case against the Syrian government, he continued to oppose military action against the Assad regime.

    "We still haven't heard anything that would explain why there's a vital U.S. national security interest in attacking Syria," he said.

  • The 2014 election — The midterm campaign has already begun. And while the second-term Obama doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected, plenty of others in Washington do. That means lawmakers will want to have as much daylight between themselves and Obama as possible on Syria if U.S. military strikes result in bad, unintended consequences...

  • Iraq flashbacks — The Obama administration is aware it's paying for the failure of the George W. Bush administration to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq...

  • Political payback — Obama catapulted to the U.S. Senate largely because of how well he campaigned on his opposition to the Iraq War. In 2007...

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:27 PM

    36. David Koch: Attacking Syria would be 'dead wrong'



    “I do not think we should get involved in attacks on Syria. It’s like putting your head into a hornet’s nest,” Koch told Yahoo News at a conference sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group he backs financially. “You’re going to get shot at from all directions. There’s all this talk about attacking the bad guys in Syria, but whom do you attack? Where do you find the people who put these chemical weapons together, this poisonous gas? To me it’s an impossibility, and we’re just going to generate a huge increase in the hostility to the United States in my opinion.”

    “If they’re going to do it, there should be a declaration of war debated by Congress in my opinion,” Koch told Yahoo News. “That’s what we’re getting into here, which I think is dead wrong.”



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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:32 PM

    37. I'm taking a break to make peach pie now


    A friend gave me some peaches from her tree and they are all ready for the crust. One of MY peaches is included...she said you have to feel the peaches every day to pick them ripe. So I did, and one fell off, so it's going into the pie.

    I have ten lovely peaches on my little dwarf tree. It grew 18 inches this year...I pruned it back away from the siding, which is a no-no for vegetation to touch. The fruit is getting softer today...

    Today, peaches. Tomorrow....

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #37)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:51 PM

    41. Mmmm!

    Peach pie. Invite me over. Please! Me favorite (except for lemon meringue, of course).
    Have a great one, Demeter, and thanks for everything you do here.

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    Response to hamerfan (Reply #41)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:52 PM

    46. Standing invitation--just RSVP--to Weekenders and Marketeers


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:38 PM



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    Response to Demeter (Reply #38)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 02:03 PM

    43. Muslims challenging 'no fly' list win partial court victory



    Thirteen Muslim Americans challenging the U.S. government's secretive "no-fly" list won a partial victory in federal court when a judge found they "have a constitutionally protected liberty interest" in traveling internationally by air.

    But U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has yet to decide whether the government violated their constitutional rights to due process under a policy that excludes individuals from commercial air travel if they are suspected of having ties to terrorism.

    In her ruling late Wednesday in Portland, the judge also asked both the plaintiffs and the Department of Justice for more information before deciding key parts of the case.

    The 13 plaintiffs, all U.S. citizens who deny any links to terrorism, say they were placed on the government's no-fly list without notice or any realistic avenue of appeal....MORE

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:43 PM

    39. TWOFER! Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:48 PM

    40. Meet The Saudi Prince Who Finances the Murderous Egyptian Military, and Crushes Democracy in the Mid


    Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz


    Now that the Arab Spring has been turned into a totally owned subsidiary of the Saudi royal family, it is time to honor Prince Bandar bin Sultan as the most effective Machiavellian politician of the modern era. How slick for this head of the Saudi Intelligence Agency to finance the Egyptian military’s crushing of that nation’s first-ever democratic election while being the main source of arms for pro-al-Qaida insurgents in Syria.

    Just consider that a mere 12 years ago, this same Bandar was a beleaguered Saudi ambassador in Washington, a post he held from 1983 to 2005, attempting to explain his nation’s connection to 15 Saudi nationals who had somehow secured legal documents to enter the U.S. and succeeded in hijacking planes that blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. How awkward given that the Saudi ambassador had been advocating that U.S. officials go easy on the Taliban government in Afghanistan, where those attacks incubated.

    The ties between Saudi Arabia and the alleged al-Qaida terrorist attacks were manifest. The terrorists were followers of the Saudi-financed branch of Wahhabi Islam and their top leader, Osama bin Laden, was a scion of one of the most powerful families in the Saudi kingdom, which, along with the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, had been the only three nations in the world to recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government in Afghanistan that provided sanctuary to al-Qaida. Yet Bandar had no difficulty arranging safe passage out of Washington for many Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family that U.S. intelligence agents might have wanted to interrogate instead of escorting them to safety back in the kingdom.

    But the U.S. war on terror quickly took a marvelous turn from the point of view of the Saudi monarchy. Instead of focusing on those who attacked us and their religious and financial ties to the Saudi royal family, the U.S. began a mad hunt to destroy those who had absolutely nothing to do with the assaults of 9/11....


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:57 PM

    42. Pentagon Can’t Afford Syria Operation; Must Seek Additional Funds



    The U.S. military, struggling after defense cuts of tens of billions of dollars, will be unable to pay for attacks on Syria from current operating funds and must seek additional money from Congress, according to congressional aides...

    U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria


    The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

    Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.

    Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

    Some questioned the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggested that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to fundamentalist rebels, they said, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous

    “There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.


    FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification


    $52.6 billion--The Black Budget


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #42)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:51 PM

    45. There's no doubt about it.

    Unintended consequences aka Blowback. Gaddafi was our new BFE, until the oil companies decided he wasn't.

    Assad was just fine when we needed someone tortured. We even supported Pol Pot when it was convenient.

    The more we keep meddling and stealing resources, and supporting dictators and terrorists, the more blowback we're gonna get.

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    Response to Fuddnik (Reply #45)

    Sat Aug 31, 2013, 08:04 PM

    47. The 1% Keep Trying to Repeal the Law--Even Nature's Law


    Newton's Laws of Conservation

    Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws that together laid the foundation for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship between a body and the forces acting upon it, and its motion in response to said forces. They have been expressed in several different ways over nearly three centuries, and can be summarized as follows:

    First law: When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.

    Second law: The acceleration of a body is directly proportional to, and in the same direction as, the net force acting on the body, and inversely proportional to its mass. Thus, F = ma, where F is the net force acting on the object, m is the mass of the object and a is the acceleration of the object.

    Third law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.

    The three laws of motion were first compiled by Isaac Newton in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), first published in 1687.Newton used them to explain and investigate the motion of many physical objects and systems. For example, in the third volume of the text, Newton showed that these laws of motion, combined with his law of universal gravitation, explained Kepler's laws of planetary motion.


    Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong".

    The perceived perversity of the universe has long been a subject of comment, and precursors to the modern version of Murphy's law are not hard to find. Recent significant research in this area has been conducted by members of the American Dialect Society. ADS member Stephen Goranson has found a version of the law, not yet generalized or bearing that name, in a report by Alfred Holt at an 1877 meeting of an engineering society.

    It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later, so it is not to be wondered that owners prefer the safe to the scientific .... Sufficient stress can hardly be laid on the advantages of simplicity. The human factor cannot be safely neglected in planning machinery. If attention is to be obtained, the engine must be such that the engineer will be disposed to attend to it.[1]

    Mathematician Augustus De Morgan on June 23, 1866 "Supplement to the Budget of Paradoxes," The Athenaeum no. 2017 page 836 col. 2 [and later reprints: e.g. 1872, 1915, 1956, 2000] wrote: "The first experiment already illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice, what-ever can happen will happen if we make trials enough." In later publications "whatever can happen will happen" occasionally is termed "Murphy's law," which raises the possibility—if something went wrong—that "Murphy" is "De Morgan" misremembered (an option, among others, raised by Goranson on American Dialect Society list).[2]

    American Dialect Society member Bill Mullins has found a slightly broader version of the aphorism in reference to stage magic. The British stage magician Nevil Maskelyne wrote in 1908:

    It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.

    The contemporary form of Murphy's law goes back as far as 1952, as an epigraph to a mountaineering book by John Sack, who described it as an "ancient mountaineering adage":

    Anything that can possibly go wrong, does.

    Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, has shown that in 1952 the adage was called "Murphy's law" in a book by Anne Roe, quoting an unnamed physicist:

    he described it as "Murphy's law or the fourth law of thermodynamics" (actually there were only three last I heard) which states: "If anything can go wrong, it will."

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:05 AM

    48. Employment Probably Picked Up in August: U.S. Economy Preview


    Employers probably added more workers in August and the jobless rate held at a more than four-year low, signaling a strengthening U.S. labor market that will help sustain growth, economists said before a report this week.

    Payrolls rose by 180,000 following a 162,000 gain the prior month, according to the median forecast of 71 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of Labor Department figures Sept. 6. Manufacturing probably cooled after expanding in July at the fastest pace in two years, other data may show.

    Faster hiring and income gains will help underpin consumer spending and allow the world’s largest economy to better weather the lingering effects of higher taxes and federal budget cuts. Federal Reserve policy makers are watching the job market as they debate scaling back monthly bond purchases meant to stimulate growth and cut unemployment.

    “We’re on track for a pretty solid payrolls report for August,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York. “It goes hand in hand with the improving economy.”

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:20 AM

    49. Wall Street’s Rental Bet Brings Quandary Housing Poor


    LaTanya Moore-Newsome, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Atlanta, has been calling Wall Street-backed landlords for months on behalf of her low-income clients with government housing vouchers.

    She said some of the area’s biggest homebuyers in the past two years, including Blackstone Group LP (BX), American Homes 4 Rent and Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp. (SBY), repeatedly told her they had nothing available for tenants who use subsidies under the federal Section 8 assistance plan. Last week, she finally got a positive response from Blackstone’s Invitation Homes unit, which said it would accept applications from her renters.

    “It’s a really uphill battle dealing with these investors,” Moore-Newsome said. “You already have to deal with some of the issues with owners not wanting to take Section 8 in nicer areas. Now you have these big companies come into their neighborhoods and they say we’re not renting to you either.”

    Private-equity firms, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have bought more than 100,000 U.S. homes, becoming dominant single-family landlords in markets hardest-hit by the housing crash such as Atlanta. As the companies seek thousands of tenants to fill newly renovated properties, their decision whether to lease to low-income Americans with Section 8 vouchers stands to affect both their profitability and poor residents who have been longtime renters.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:27 AM

    50. US flatters France as ‘oldest ally’ after UK vote on Syria


    US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday welcomed French support for possible military action against the Syrian regime, describing the country as America’s “oldest ally”.

    After the US’s traditional ally Great Britain ruled itself out of any military strikes against the Assad regime in a parliamentary vote Thursday, Washington has looked in danger of becoming internationally isolated in its efforts to push for a military intervention.

    However, French President François Hollande reaffirmed his country’s support for military action on Friday, telling French daily Le Monde that he supported taking “firm” punitive action in response to the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:47 AM

    51. Why Americans Aren't as Willing to Intervene Overseas as They Used to Be


    1. 9/11 is a distant memory. The threat of terrorism once exerted a strong sway on Americans, creating an automatic bias toward action. That's no longer the case. This is good! It's a sign of the success of the more than decade-long campaign against al-Qaeda. But it also means that the emotional backdrop of our thinking about external threats and obligations has shifted. In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, in particular, Americans are in the thick of a moment of reconsidering what they agreed to -- and what was done without their knowledge -- in their moments of greatest fear, and not an era of fearfully agreeing to things without debate. When George W. Bush warned in 2002 "we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud," his warning came against the backdrop of orange alerts and panicked runs on hardware stores for plastic sheeting and duct tape. Times have changed, and without engaging in Bush-style fearmongering about threats to the homeland or making a humanitarian case for intervention, as in Libya, it's going to be harder for any political leader to sell the once-burned, twice-shy public on the need for rapid action abroad.

    2. It's a new Congress. Three wave elections after the push to war in Iraq, we have a quite a different Congress. National Journal's Shane Goldmacher reports: "Only 32 current senators served in 2002 during the fall vote on the Iraq war resolution and only 38 were there when American troops launched the invasion in the spring of 2003. In the House, roughly 40 percent of current members -- 172 of them -- were sworn in at the time of the 2003 invasion. That means that, for many in the current Congress, this is the first time they've experienced the drumbeats of war, outside of the strikes that Obama authorized against Libya earlier in his presidency. And instead of marching in line, the fresh faces are among those most loudly demanding a public debate." On the Democratic side, in particular, you have a fair number of folks who were elected -- like Obama himself -- in hopes that they would take a different approach to foreign policy than Democrats took in the early Bush years. They are now doing that.

    3. The cost of raising questions is low, for the moment. Congress is on vacation. As Keith Koffler smartly points out, it is not going to come back to town until September 9 unless Obama or its leaders force it back. "Our elected representatives today are on Caribbean Islands and rolling green golf courses, or wandering about delightfully quaint European cities. They have no intention of breaking it off to come back and vote on some silly war. That's why you don't hear their leaders clamoring for Obama to stage a vote -- they'd be jeopardizing their positions as leaders," he notes. The people who are pressing Obama to call an emergency session of Congress might also think of calling on Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid, who thus far have not publicly indicated any need to reassemble their legislative bodies. As it is, talk is cheap for at least one more week. So is silence. While 116 members of the House have called on Obama to seek congressional approval before taking action in Syria -- a move that 80 percent of the public supports -- the outcome of White House's Syria briefing with 27 of the 535 members of Congress Thursday night was a call for the administration to do more to sell its proposed intervention, not a flurry of efforts to force a return to Washington ASAP and a vote.

    4. Obama never has to stand for election again, but the jockeying for 2016 is well under way. It's possible Obama's intervention in Libya would have earned louder opposition from Democrats and liberals if the president had not also still faced reelection, which doubtless tempered some voices. That he won't again opens up the floodgates of criticism from people who expect to be standing on the political stage long after he is gone, as well as by some who hope to take his chair.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:54 AM

    52. The Military as 'Abusive Parent': The View Toward Syria From an Exhausted Army


    I am violating my normal rules for frequency of posts (average one per day) and variety of subject (have some) because the Syrian news is happening in real time, and because so much response has come in. Here is the background to the very interesting note below.

    1) A reader whose name turns out to be Tim Russo argued for intervention, and said "we don't know war." 2) A serving officer wrote back bitterly. 3) Russo responded to that.

    I won't make this an open-ended back and forth, and you can read Russo's continuing views on his own site. But the note that follows is not personalized, and I think is very much worth reading as we consider another engagement of armed force. (Image of "Exhausted Army" from this site.) A reader writes:

    As an actively serving officer’s wife, I would like to offer a short explanation/response/defense for the frustrated officer (presumably NOT my husband!)[JF note: correct, NOT] that Mr. Russo responded to.

    I think that the frustration the officer expressed about the clueless “We don’t know war” stems from a general “last straw” feeling in the military community. Undeniably, any sort of military option in Syria exponentionally increases the risk that we are going to have a prolonged or extended military action/presence there. The current administration (and Congress, to fairly share the blame) treats service members like disposable minions.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 07:30 AM

    53. The Authority to 'Declare War': A Power Barack Obama Does Not Have


    The prime minister of the United Kingdom, armed with the Royal Prerogative, does not need Parliament's assent to lead Britain into war. The president of the United States, holder of an office designed to keep "prerogative" powers in check, assuredly does.

    Yet history will apparently write that, in the late summer of 2013, the prime minister sought permission and, when Parliament denied it, receded from the field -- and that a president scorned to ask, and went ahead with an act of war.

    This paradox shows that American intervention in Syria is fraught with legal, as well as military, danger -- and that constitutionally, as well as in foreign-policy terms, it may be a problem with no good solution.

    Before discussing American constitutional law, we should admit that the world situation is terrifying, and the arguments for American intervention -- alone, if need be -- are powerful. Syria has apparently used chemical weapons against civilians on a mass scale -- a crime against humanity. Use of chemical weapons is a "red line" not only to Obama but in international law; perhaps only the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be a worse violation of the laws of war. The United Nations, created and empowered to deal with just such an emergency, is paralyzed because two great powers, Russia and China, have shameless decided to pursue short-term self interest and defend the criminals in defiance of the world.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 07:59 AM

    54. Famed designer Oscar De la Renta criticizes ‘circus’ surrounding Fashion Week


    Couturier halves his guest list for show in New York as critics say too many poseurs crowd the runways

    Some of America’s most prominent fashionistas are calling time on the overcrowding, demand for endless “newness” and general hoopla that has become an obsession in the industry.

    Before this week’s opening round of New York spring-summer 2014 presentations, Oscar de la Renta, one of the most respected figures in American fashion, has announced that he will halve the number of people at his show. De la Renta, a former couturier for Jacqueline Kennedy, said decision-makers in the business should not have to fight their way through “30,000 people, and 10,000 who are trying to take pictures of all of those people, who are totally unrelated to the clothes”.

    His call for a new, sober approach to replace the traditional, celebrity-infused fashion week frenzy has struck a chord. In the New York Times, leading fashion journalist Suzy Menkes echoed his call, rueing the pace of high fashion, which she described as “a whirligig that seems to be spinning out of control”, with designers being asked to produce as many as 10 collections each year.

    In an earlier article, Menkes told of how she could hardly get into shows “because of all the photographers snapping at the poseurs”. She wrote: “There is a genuine difference between the stylish and the showoffs – and that is the dilemma. If fashion is for everyone, is it fashion?”

    ***i know that maybe not so many here are as into fashion as i am -- but because i love fashion -- i had to post this.
    i wasn't pleased when pierre cardin started the whole down market thing of fashion with leasing his name out.
    now front line designers put out denim and t-shirts -- THAT'S A DIFFERENT MARKET!
    anyway -- just me, i know.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:18 AM

    55. Under $652 million project code-named ‘GENIE’ U.S. conducted 231 ‘offensive cyberoperations’:


    Under $652 million project code-named ‘GENIE’ U.S. conducted 231 ‘offensive cyberoperations’: Washington Post

    US spy services conducted 231 “offensive cyberoperations” in 2011, mostly targeting Iran, Russia, China and North Korea, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

    The revelation is based on a classified intelligence budget provided to the paper by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden, as well as on interviews with former US officials.

    The Post also reported that, under a $652 million project code-named “GENIE,” US specialists hack foreign computer networks to secretly put them under American control.

    This involves placing “covert implants” in computers, routers and firewalls, it said, adding that by year’s end “GENIE” is projected to control at least 85,000 “malware” plug-ins in machines around the globe.

    ***damn -- now this is what i should have into instead of wasting my time with acting, fashion and interior design.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:04 PM

    56. Syria’s Other Army: How the Hackers Wage War by Matt Buchanan



    At 5:41 P.M. on Tuesday, a tweet from the account of the hacker collective known as the Syrian Electronic Army, which supports the regime of Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, said, “Media is going down…” It had been a couple of hours since the Web site of the Times had gone offline for the second time this month. Roughly forty-five minutes later, the account asked Twitter, “Are you ready?” Some users had noticed that the backgrounds of their Twitter profiles had been transformed to Syria-related pictures. While Twitter quickly recovered, the Times continued to be inaccessible to some users for a day; as of 6:20 P.M. on Wednesday, the Times’s Twitter account was still advising those readers to use an alternate Web address.

    The S.E.A.’s attacks on media organizations and journalists have been remarkably successful—in terms of collecting trophies, if nothing else. In 2012, it struck Al Jazeera several times, breaking into its English Web site, its Twitter accounts, and the network’s S.M.S. text service, which the S.E.A. used to broadcast multiple fake news alerts. This past March, it gained control of several BBC Twitter accounts. In April, it hijacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press, and tweeted, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured,” sending the Dow down around a hundred and fifty points that afternoon. It also defaced NPR’s Web site, and commandeered the Twitter accounts of “60 Minutes” and the Guardian. In May, it compromised the Twitter account of the Onion, tweeting vaguely Onion-ish headlines like “UN’s Ban Ki Moon condemns Syria for being struck by israel: ‘It was in the way of Jewish missiles’ onion.com/104PKAs.” That same month, it hacked the Financial Times’s Web site and several associated Twitter accounts, as well as the account of E! News. Then it took over the Reuters Twitter feed. And earlier this month, it broke into Outbrain, a third-party service that recommends stories on news sites, allowing the S.E.A. to vandalize the Web sites of Time, CNN, and the Washington Post “in a single strike.” And it redirected Post readers to one of its own sites; that attack had been its most sweeping to date.

    On Tuesday, the S.E.A. did not hack the Times or Twitter directly. Rather, it breached Melbourne IT, a domain-name registration service that the Times and Twitter both used to manage their Web addresses. Once it had access to Melbourne IT, it altered the domain records of the Times and Twitter. In the Times’s case, it sent some users who went to the newspaper’s Web site to one controlled by the S.E.A.; for Twitter, it listed itself as the owner of twitter.com, and redirected one of the company’s addresses, twimg.com, which Twitter uses to host backgrounds for profiles, to one of the S.E.A.’s addresses. As the networking company CloudFlare explained in a detailed post about the attack, the Times suffered a prolonged outage because the changes made by the S.E.A. resulted in a chain reaction, breaking things at multiple levels.

    The chief information officer of the New York Times Company told the paper that compared to previous attacks, the assault on the Times and Twitter through Melbourne IT was like “breaking into Fort Knox. A domain registrar should have extremely tight security because they are holding the security to hundreds if not thousands of Web sites.” Formed in 1996, Melbourne IT is the largest domain name registrar in Australia, and one of the oldest and largest globally; it manages millions of domain names. It did, moreover, “have a reputation of being one of the more secure, business-oriented registrars,” said Jaeson Schultz, a threat-research engineer at Cisco Systems who has been following the S.E.A.’s activities, which is one of the reasons the registrar counts the Times, Twitter, and other large organizations among its customers.

    But the S.E.A.’s method, though its execution was sophisticated, was rather simple conceptually: it began by gaining access to Melbourne IT’s system using the log-in of a U.S.-based domain reseller, which it obtained using a technique known as spearphishing. This is as much an exploitation of human weakness as it is a technical accomplishment: it’s a gambit designed to trick people into voluntarily revealing information in response to what appears to be a message from a legitimate Web site or service. For example, a link in an e-mail transports a user to what looks like Google’s log-in page, and then captures the user’s Google name and password.

    Spearphishing through e-mail has consistently been the S.E.A.’s tactic of choice, Schultz said in a phone call. The S.E.A.’s attempts can be “tough to spot” for the average user because they’re so carefully crafted. It’s not just that the fake log-in screens are well executed; Schultz notes that, at this point, “they’ve broken into several different media organizations’ inboxes, and there’s probably a lot of good info in there,” like names and places that can be used to make e-mails seem legitimate. For instance, in the attack on the Onion, one of the booby-trapped e-mails purported to be from Elizabeth Mpyisi at the U.N. Refugee Agency—a real person—and the one on the A.P. used the name of an A.P. staffer, according to Jim Romenesko. Still, Schultz does believe the S.E.A. will “face diminishing returns” if it continues to use the same kind of attacks. After the latest breach, for instance, Domain Name System providers—which do the work of translating the recognizable Web address you type into a browser to its actual address (nytimes.com translates to, for example)—could hunt for addresses used by the S.E.A. to re-register domains, and prevent further damage from occurring. Moreover, it’s likely that organizations will put in place additional measures to secure their domains—requiring, for instance, any change to the domain record to be authorized by one of a small number of individuals. “They’re going to have to adapt,” Schultz said.

    The S.E.A. already has adapted in a way that makes its attacks more punishing: while previous assaults focussed on media organizations directly, the S.E.A. has recently begun targeting third-party services and infrastructure that the media rely on, allowing it to hit multiple targets at once. The widespread use of third-party services for things like commenting or content recommendations makes each site only as secure as its weakest service. Last week, the S.E.A. compromised the GoDaddy domain account of ShareThis, a content-sharing company whose widget is on more than two million Web sites, and changed its domain records. Its occupation of Outbrain a couple of weeks ago is another example, as was its incursion into SocialFlow, a social-media management service used by a number of publishers.

    Few concrete facts are known about the S.E.A., but it has the appearance of a loose hacker collective. It formed in 2011, in the midst of the Syrian uprisings, and it is assuredly pro-Assad. It has targeted Web sites and services associated with dissidents and organizations it believes are aligned with rebels, as well as media organizations. It said, of Tuesday’s attack, that it “placed twitter in darkness as a sign of respect for all the dead #Syria-ns due to the lies tweeted it.” In what it called “an anti-war message” posted on Pastebin, the group stated, “The Syrian army, which has lost tens of thousands of soldiers who were defending their homeland with nothing more than a rifle, would never have been the one to use chemical weapons.”

    Whether the S.E.A. is under the control of the Syrian government is unclear. The Times notes that Syrian rebels and some security researchers consider the S.E.A. to be the “outward-facing campaign of a much quieter surveillance campaign focused on Syrian dissidents,” and note that Assad has publicly touted the group as “a real army in a virtual reality.” Moreover, the Syrian Computer Society, which regulates the Internet within Syria—and was headed by Assad before he became President—at one pointed hosted the group’s Web site at the address sea.sy, after its original domains were seized by a U.S.-based domain registrar. In May, the S.C.S. cut the group off, and in interviews, self-proclaimed leaders of the group have claimed to have no direct ties to the government, monetarily or otherwise. (While the S.E.A.’s Web sites are currently down, the security researcher Brian Krebs notes that the domains are now hosted in Russia.) In a recent interview with the Daily Beast, a supposed leader of the group, calling himself “SEA the Shadow,” said that the S.E.A. is made up of nine college students living in Syria. While Motherboard and Brian Krebs each claim to have unmasked a member of the group, the S.E.A.’s Twitter account has mocked them and called the Motherboard article “false.” (E-mails sent to the group have so far gone unreturned.)

    Regardless, it’s clear that the individuals who make up the S.E.A. are not simply technically savvy in a rote way. They are fully native products and producers of Internet culture. They use English, both on social media and in their phishing attacks, in the manner of young people who’ve spent their entire lives online; they deploy well-known memes when they hijack accounts; they crack jokes about Justin Bieber; and, of course, they relentlessly broadcast all of their doings on social media. (Their current Twitter account, @Official_SEA16, is, as the number implies, their sixteenth consecutive account, as previous ones were suspended. A Twitter spokesperson explained in an e-mail that the account remains active because “Our Trust and Safety team takes action only after someone reports a violation of our Rules and the report is investigated.”) Most profoundly, the S.E.A.’s campaign reflects the vigilantism of young aggressors steeped in the Web: it’s conducted not simply on widely viewed media sites or on social media itself but for them; the SEA knows how to capture a precise kind of attention from a particular kind of audience. This is in part, one suspects, because they are that kind of audience, one who lives on Facebook and Twitter. That’s what ultimately makes this group so remarkable: it has shifted the battleground from a single place to an infinite number of them, because it’s battling for attention, not power—even if it can be hard to tell the difference.

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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:32 PM

    57. City of the Lost In the world’s second-largest refugee camp, Syrians find that it’s not easy to flee



    ...Za’atari, a village six miles east of the city of Mafraq. Until a year ago, there was nothing much in the vicinity: some modest brick mosques and schools, a Royal Jordanian Air Force base. Za’atari, one aid worker told me, had been little more than “sand, snakes, and scorpions.” The uprising in Syria, which began twenty-five miles away, in Dara’a, changed all that. The flow of refugees from Syria into Jordan reached such a point of emergency—thousands every night, evading sniper fire, crossing the frontier on foot—that Mafraq, to take just one city, doubled in size. Jordan, with a population of six million, many of them displaced Iraqis and Palestinians, could not go on absorbing limitless refugees. It became necessary to build a camp. During Ramadan last summer, the U.N.H.C.R., the Jordanians, and a laundry list of international aid organizations built and opened the Za’atari refugee camp in two weeks. One of the first things to be done was to overlay the sand with gravel, an expensive project intended to prevent sandstorms in summer and rivers of mud in the rainy winter. It didn’t really work. There were sandstorms. There was mud. The snakes and the scorpions remained...

    ...When Za’atari opened, in July of 2012, its population numbered in the hundreds. By late August, it had fifteen thousand residents. Now that number is a hundred and twenty thousand—the population of Hartford, Connecticut, or Santa Clara, California. The main drag is on the western side of the camp, a boulevard of ramshackle shops, makeshift clinics, schools. The smells are city smells: sewage, sweat, cigarette smoke, eau de cologne, meat roasting on spits. The boulevard is known to the Syrians and the aid workers as the Champs-Élysées.

    Since the revolt began in Syria, more than two years ago, the death count has passed a hundred thousand. In Za’atari, the dispossession is absolute. Everyone has lost his country, his home, his equilibrium. Most have lost a family member or a close friend to the war. What is left is a kind of theatrical pride, the necessary performance of will. “This place is a graveyard for camels,” a refugee in his thirties named Ahmed Bakar told me one morning. “Camels can’t even live here. But Syrians can.”...


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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:39 PM

    58. Syria Intervention Plan Fueled by Oil Interests, Not Concern About Chemical Weapons



    Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines

    On 21 August, hundreds - perhaps over a thousand - people were killed in a chemical weapon attack in Ghouta, Damascus, prompting the US, UK, Israel and France to raise the spectre of military strikes against Bashir al Assad's forces. The latest episode is merely one more horrific event in a conflict that has increasingly taken on genocidal characteristics. The case for action at first glance is indisputable. The UN now confirms a death toll over 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom have been killed by Assad's troops. An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. International observers have overwhelmingly confirmed Assad's complicity in the preponderance of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people. The illegitimacy of his regime, and the legitimacy of the uprising, is clear.

    Experts are unanimous that the shocking footage of civilians, including children, suffering the effects of some sort of chemical attack, is real - but remain divided on whether it involved military-grade chemical weapons associated with Assad's arsenal, or were a more amateur concoction potentially linked to the rebels. Whatever the case, few recall that US agitation against Syria began long before recent atrocities, in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.

    In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had "cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations" intended to weaken the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. "The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria," wrote Hersh, "a byproduct" of which is "the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups" hostile to the United States and "sympathetic to al-Qaeda." He noted that "the Saudi government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria," with a view to pressure him to be "more conciliatory and open to negotiations" with Israel. One faction receiving covert US "political and financial support" through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

    According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business", he told French television: "I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria." The 2011 uprisings, it would seem - triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes - came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within." So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to "attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years", starting with Iraq and moving on to "Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran." In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region's vast oil and gas resources....MORE

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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 06:50 PM



    The Power to Reshape the Status Quo in America Lies With Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels By Lynn Stuart Parramore


    An interview with author Alissa Quart about her new book 'Republic of Outsiders.'

    In her new book, Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels, journalist Alissa Quart dives into American subculture, talking to vegans, trans-feminists, bipolar pride activists, amateurs, indie filmmakers, rebels, do-it-yourselfers, and various misfits. These are people failed by authority figures, and for whom traditional roles and paths don’t work. In her book, late-state capitalism is a place where, through the Internet and new technologies, outsiders can flourish and transform society. I caught up with Alissa to ask her about the triumphs of these outsiders, and some of the pitfalls they face in navigating the 21st century...


    The Poor and the Middle Class Will Save America Yet By Robert Reich


    A few days ago I had breakfast with a man who had been one of my mentors in college, who participated in the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s and has devoted much of the rest of his life in pursuit of equal opportunity for minorities, the poor, women, gays, immigrants — and also for average hardworking people who have been beaten down by the economy. Now in his mid-80s, he’s still active.

    I asked him if he thought America would ever achieve true equality of opportunity.

    “Not without a fight,” he said. “Those who have wealth and power and privilege don’t want equal opportunity. It’s too threatening to them.They’ll pretend equal opportunity already exists, and that anyone who doesn’t make it in America must be lazy or stupid or otherwise undeserving.”

    “You’ve been fighting for social justice for over half a century. Are you discouraged?”

    “Not at all!” he said. “Don’t confuse the difficulty of attaining a goal with the urgency of fighting for it.”

    “But have we really made progress? Inequality is widening. The middle class and the poor are in many ways worse off than they were decades ago.”

    “Yes, and they’re starting to understand that,” he said. “And beginning to see that the distinction between the middle class and poor is disappearing. Many who were in the middle have fallen into poverty; many more will do so.”

    “And, so?”

    He smiled. “For decades, those at the top have tried to convince the middle class that their economic enemies are minorities and the poor. But that old divide-and-conquer strategy is starting to fail. And as it fails, it will be possible to create a political coalition of the poor and the middle class. It will be a powerful coalition! Remember, demographics are shifting. Soon America will be a majority of minorities. And women are gaining more and more economic power.”

    “But the 400 richest Americans are now wealthier than the bottom 150 million Americans put together — and have more political influence than ever.”

    “Just you wait,” he laughed. “I wish I had another 50 years in me.”

    Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.


    Can the Obama Admin Actually Fix Our Broken Criminal Justice System?
    Can Eric Holder Reverse the 'Wheel of Misfortune'?


    Obama’s attorney general promised a new approach to criminal justice—but prosecutors can still block meaningful change.

    On Monday, August 12, the day Attorney General Eric Holder announced “a fundamentally new approach” to the criminal justice system in his speech before the American Bar Association in San Francisco, US District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett was in his office in Sioux City, Iowa, drafting a sentencing opinion in a drug case. An outspoken critic of mandatory minimums [see “Imposing Injustice,” November 12, 2012], Bennett is known for writing unusual opinions that criticize the sentences he must often hand down. “It’s about trying to make the system fairer,” he says, “not just for the defendant in front of you, but for others.” MORE


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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 07:18 PM



    Want a Job Where You Can Fail and Still Get Paid Lavishly? Try Corporate CEO By Pratap Chatterjee


    Shouldn’t we be asking companies’ boards of directors to tighten the rules on CEOs to make sure they don’t fail at such an astounding rate?

    Spare a thought this Labor Day holiday, when you fire up the barbecue for the last weekend of the summer and raise a beer for the workers in this country, for some of the notable men who have lost their jobs over the past 20 years. I'm thinking of Richard Fuld, Dennis Kozlowski and Eckhard Pfeiffer.

    They aren't union leaders who were fired for organizing for better wages or men who lost their jobs to sweatshop labor in Bangladesh. They aren't even the engineers who have been put out to rust by robot-run assembly lines. They don't really number among the almost 20 million who are estimated to be unemployed or underemployed.

    No, these three names popped up in a review of the "Bailed Out, Booted and Busted" – a study released Wednesday by the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC of the 241 people who have ranked as the highest paid CEOs in the US in the past two decades.

    An astonishing 38% of these titans of finance and industry have either been kicked out of their jobs, put in jail or had to have their companies be rescued from bankruptcy. Fuld, Kozlowski and Pfeiffer are three that top the list.

    “Outrageous pay packets seem to encourage outrageous behavior,” says Sarah Anderson, one of the authors of the new report.


    Where Have America's Wages Gone? By Richard Eskow


    Things won't start looking up for most Americans until most Americans send a clear message to their leaders: It's no longer acceptable to favor the few at the expense of the many....

    ...As Mishel and Shierholz note, "The wage-setting mechanism has been broken for a generation but has particularly faltered in the last 10 years ..." Corporate profits have reached historic levels and the top one percent of earners have captured virtually all income growth.

    We don't have a problem of inadequate wealth. The problem is inadequate wealth distribution. For 99 percent of Americans, wage growth has lagged significantly behind increases in productivity. As the authors note, this is true "regardless of occupation, gender, race/ethnicity, or education level." Since the Great Recession productivity has grown by 7.7 percent, while wages have actually fallen for the bottom 70 percent of earners.

    What's more, as Mishel and Shierholz observe, "This lost decade for wages comes on the heels of decades of inadequate wage growth." Between 2001 and 2012 productivity grew by 22.2 percent, while wages grew only 0.8 percent. This was "the norm in white-collar, blue-collar, and service jobs, with little variation among occupational categories." ....


    Richard (RJ) Eskow is a blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, a consultant, and a former musician.

    Is the Affordable Care Act Actually Affordable? For Millennials, Maybe Not By Alyssa Figueroa

    Young people are financially stretched as it is—will they be able to help chip in to the new health system?

    ...as the October enrollment date nears, the administration may see fewer young adults sign up than it hoped.

    “I imagine young adults mostly won’t like it,” said Benjamin Day, the director of organizing for Healthcare Now!, a grassroots organization advocating for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. “And not because they don’t want insurance or they need insurance … I think they are going to see it as a burden because it is just so expensive.”

    Conservatives have been increasingly using this factor to generate disdain for Obamacare among young people. The conservative Heritage Foundation targeted young people in a Buzzfeed post — gifs and all — titled, “That One Time I Was Really, Really Excited About Obamacare.” Meanwhile, liberals are hoping to enlighten millennials and push them to purchase healthcare. After all, the Commonwealth Fund’s recent report found only 27 percent of 19- to 29-year-olds were aware of the marketplaces. But this push is often made without an analysis of young people’s burdens. One article by Brian Beutler on Salon even argued that young adults should purchase healthcare to disprove their selfish stereotype and help out the country. He wrote: “There’s a more selfless reason they should enroll — one they might not be aware of, but that will nevertheless put the proposition that millennials are shiftless, selfish people to the test: The system needs their participation, in order for it to succeed.”

    But it’s perplexing to imply that young adults who don’t buy into the marketplace are selfish when they don't have the money to do so — mainly because of their country’s failure to address their needs. Only 5 percent of working adults ages 19 to 29 said they didn’t join their employer’s healthcare policy because they believed they didn’t need it, while 22 percent said the coverage was too expensive. (The rest of those surveyed already had health insurance through a parent or spouse.) ..


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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:50 PM

    65. Freedom From Jobs by ELLIOT SPERBER



    As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington DC – the March for Jobs and Freedom immortalized by Martin Luther King’s iconic I Have a Dream speech – is celebrated and discussed around the country, it is important to note that though some gains have certainly been made over the past half-century toward a more inclusive, egalitarian society, in many respects – particularly in economic matters – there has been little or no progress whatsoever. Indeed, by certain measures equality has diminished considerably. Accompanying a minimum wage that, when adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in 1968, and wages that – except for the wealthy – haven’t risen in decades, the economy has polarized wealth to a greater degree than ever, reducing the economic classes more and more to the two extremes of rich and poor, and squeezing the middle class into little more than a memory. This lack of change is observable in, among other places, the fact that it’s five decades later and people are still talking about jobs – coveting jobs as though jobs were those necessities and luxuries that work is obtained to secure.

    Notwithstanding this culture of work’s ideological claims to the contrary, however, jobs are less preconditions for freedom than impediments to freedom’s concrete realization. Beyond consuming most of workers’ waking hours (consuming that which constitutes the precondition for freedom – time), jobs also wreck people’s health, vitiating freedom in the sense of bodily movement as well. Moreover, that people are compelled to work a job – in spite of the job’s actual function – demonstrates the consanguinity of jobs and dependency, rather than in-dependency. Some may counter at this point that needing a job is just a natural, unavoidable fact – that people must work to live. But the inordinately excessive amount of time that people devote to work in the US is less a natural fact than a cultural one.

    Additionally, we shouldn’t neglect to consider the fact that when people talk about “good jobs” they are not necessarily discussing the correction of some pressing problem, or providing some truly desired service, or satisfying some actual need. When people discuss “good jobs” they are primarily discussing ways to make money. If one can turn a solid profit selling known carcinogens, such employment will count as a “good job” in spite of the fact that an enterprise like that wreaks more objective harm than good.

    Contrary to popular opinion, then, people don’t actually need jobs; we work jobs in order to acquire money. And money’s another thing we don’t in truth need – we need those things that this socioeconomic system only provides in exchange for money: food, housing, clothing, etc. Jobs are but a middleman – a means to acquire resources, not an end.


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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:51 PM

    66. Longshore union pulls out of national AFL-CIO, citing attacks at Northwest grain terminals



    The West Coast longshore union is pulling out of the national AFL-CIO, citing "attacks" in which the umbrella organization's members blatantly cross picket lines at Northwest grain terminals.

    Robert "Big Bob" McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, broke the news in a letter obtained by The Oregonian Friday. In the three-page letter sent Thursday, McEllrath told AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka the ILWU would sever its 25-year affiliation with the federation, cutting formal ties because organization members sabotaged dock workers.

    The defection exposes a major schism in organized labor as well as the increasingly embattled status of the dockworkers' union, a financially pressed organization threatened by automation that shrinks its base of almost 60,000 dues-paying members. Northwest conflicts, such as a 2011 challenge by an AFL-CIO affiliate that tried to displace longshoremen at a new grain terminal in Longview, Wash., are central to the historic fallout.

    McEllrath sent the letter a day after a federal administrative law judge issued a withering decision directing the San Francisco-based longshore union to stop disrupting Port of Portland operations and to quit seeking work that the judge said belonged to another AFL-CIO affiliate, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. McEllrath didn't mention the decision, but he cited numerous other perceived offenses as well as disenchantment with the AFL-CIO on policy issues ranging from taxes to immigration.

    "We will not let other affiliates jeopardize our survival and block our future as the primary waterfront workforce," McEllrath wrote.


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    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 07:00 AM

    86. ObamaCare Staggers Toward the October 1 Finish Line (2) By Lambert Strether



    Perhaps this will be a useful metaphor to explain how ObamaCare really works:

    Imagine you walk into a hospital seeking health care: Perhaps for something major, like heart failure, or something minor, like a broken arm. You sign in at the front desk and explain your situation to the nurse on duty. In response, they reach under the desk and pull out an extraordinary contraption: A combination, it seems, of a miniature steam engine, the Wheel of Fortune, a cuckoo-clock, and a football scoreboard. There’s a crank on the side of it, which the nurse, having rolled up their sleeves, turns vigorously with one arm, while feeding lumps of coal into the steam engine’s firebox with the other. Clutching your chest (or your arm) you notice two doors behind the desk. They have signs which read: Special Limited Facilities, and Service Grand Royale. The cranking stops: The steam engine emits three shrill whistles: The Wheel of Fortune judders to a halt at $500: you hear “Cuckoo, cuckoo”: and see (in lights) 42. The nurse notes these results, consults a large three-ring binder, and points you to the door marked Special Limited Facilities. Or perhaps it’s your lucky day, and Service Grand Royale is yours, all yours!

    Yes, that really is how ObamaCare works: ObamaCare is a machine that delivers random results; unfair results, unequal results. The health care will actually be available to you will vary capriciously by past (and projected (and reported)) income, jurisdiction, geography, family structure, employment on Capitol Hill, age, existing insurance coverage, jurisdiction, and market segment. But the suffering from heart failure (or from a broken arm) is the same for everyone, so why isn’t the same health care available to everyone? So, when ObamaCare apologists say that ObamaCare helped some people* — or, when they want to really pile on the emotional blackmail and start taking hostages, they ask “Why do you want my spouse to die?” — ask them “Why don’t you want to everyone to get the help that some do?” or “Why don’t you want everyone to get the help your spouse does”? And if you get a good faith answer, offer to write a joint letter to the editor with them, supporting single payer Medicare for All. (Congressional offices pay attention to Letters to the Editor as, you will find, do your neighbors.)**


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    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 08:59 AM

    95. Obamacare Delay? What Obamacare Delay?



    There have been many glitches and delays in the rollout. But the administration vows that, hell or high water, enrollment will open on time...When the Obama administration said it would delay the health reform law’s requirement that employers insure their workers or face a fine, its critics began to wonder what else might get delayed. The law’s big new piece of infrastructure—the online insurance marketplaces scheduled to go live Oct. 1—involves coordinating a massive trove of information technology and a ton of personnel training. So the doubters, reveling in the recent bad news, have begun casting doubt on the whole enterprise.

    Not so fast. The employer mandate was one of many ancillary provisions—not critical to Obamacare’s central mission—that the administration has jettisoned in its race to build the exchanges in time. But signing people up for new insurance plans and giving them tax credits to do so is the main idea. It will take a major calamity for the administration to delay this crucial piece of the law. The exchanges may not work smoothly in the early months, but the administration will hit the deadline, says Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a consultancy helping states build their exchanges. “Worst-case scenario: October 1, all exchanges open up.”


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    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:03 PM

    61. Conflict in Syria: President Pulls Lawmakers Into Box He Made



    President Obama’s aides were stunned at what their boss had to say when he summoned them to the Oval Office on Friday at 7 p.m., on the eve of what they believed could be a weekend when American missiles streaked again across the Middle East.

    In a two-hour meeting of passionate, sharp debate in the Oval Office, he told them that after a frantic week in which he seemed to be rushing toward a military attack on Syria, he wanted to pull back and seek Congressional approval first.

    He had several reasons, he told them, including a sense of isolation after the terrible setback in the British Parliament. But the most compelling one may have been that acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran.

    If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it?


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:30 PM

    62. America's private prison companies have expanded across the globe



    ...As the growth of the U.S. prison population has stalled, American private prison companies have expanded their reach across the globe, operating prisons and detention centers in at least 11 countries, according to a new report by The Sentencing Project, a non-profit advocacy group. The United States continues to house the highest total number of inmates in private prisons, but other — primarily English-speaking — nations use private prisons for a greater percentage of their inmates.

    Nearly one in five Australian inmates are housed in private prisons, according to the report. In Scotland, private prisons account for 17 percent of inmates and in England and Wales, 14 percent, according to The Sentencing Project.

    “As in the United States, immigrant detention has been a particular target of privatization in the United Kingdom, which has 73 percent of its immigrant detainees held privately,” the study notes.

    “And Australia, which has a wholly private immigrant detention system.”

    The study highlights The Geo Group, America’s second largest private prison company, for its international growth. About 14 percent of The Geo Group’s revenue in 2012 came from international services.

    SEE ALSO: sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_International%20Growth%20Trends%20in%20Prison%20Privatization.pdf

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #62)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:07 PM



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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:39 PM

    63. Google Received NSA Money, but That’s Not All By Natasha Hakimi


    The latest leaks on the NSA :http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/taxpayer_money_used_to_cover_prism_compliance_costs_20130823/

    disclosed that it gave millions of dollars to several tech companies for their help with PRISM, the data mining program that allows the agency to collect private information on seemingly anyone it chooses. It may come as a shock to many that Google’s among the companies that received a hefty monetary compensation for its compliance in these surveillance endeavors, especially after the company point-blank denied it, stating, “Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, however, is not surprised. He writes in The Stringer: http://thestringer.com.au/google-and-the-nsa-whos-holding-the-shit-bag-now/#.UhsmKWTwJG5 (AN INTERESTING READ IN AND OF ITSELF)

    Google started out as part of Californian graduate student culture around San Francisco’s Bay Area. But as Google grew it encountered the big bad world. It encountered barriers to its expansion in the form of complex political networks and foreign regulations. So it started doing what big bad American companies do, from Coca Cola to Northrop Grumman. It started leaning heavily on the State Department for support, and by doing so it entered into the Washington DC system. A recently released statistic shows that Google now spends even more money than Lockheed Martin on paid lobbyists in Washington.

    Assange explains that in 2011, he received a visit from Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google, along with several others heavily involved in D.C. politics, including Schmidt’s then-girlfriend, Lisa Shields of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Jared Cohen, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice who is currently director of Google Ideas. Assange cites disquieting information regarding Cohen doing the U.S. government’s dirty biddings in the Middle East and beyond, as revealed by WikiLeaks:

    Documents published last year by WikiLeaks obtained from the US intelligence contractor Stratfor, show that in 2011 Jared Cohen, then (as he is now) Director of Google Ideas, was off running secret missions to the edge of Iran in Azerbaijan. In these internal emails, Fred Burton, Stratfor’s Vice President for Intelligence and a former senior State Department official, describes Google as follows:

    “Google is getting WH [White House] and State Dept support and air cover. In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do…[Cohen] is going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and Google is left holding the shit-bag”

    In further internal communication, Burton subsequently clarifies his sources on Cohen’s activities as Marty Lev, Google’s director of security and safety and..Eric Schmidt.

    WikiLeaks cables also reveal that previously Cohen, when working for the State Department, was in Afghanistan trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto US military bases. In Lebanon he covertly worked to establish, on behalf of the State Department, an anti-Hezbollah Shia think tank. And in London? He was offering Bollywood film executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into Bollywood films and promising to connect them to related networks in Hollywood. That is the Director of Google Ideas. Cohen is effectively Google’s director of regime change. He is the State Department channeling Silicon Valley.

    Google was right in saying it doesn’t have a backdoor for government; its front door is wide open.


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #63)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:42 PM

    64. WIKILEAKS RELEASE Syria: 84,067 sensitive emails from US intelligence contractor Stratfor



    WikiLeaks has released 84,067 highly sensitive email conversations between agents of US intelligence contractor Stratfor.

    The release was announced by WikiLeaks on its official website according to which total 84,067 emails have been leaked out of which 1,181 are sensitive emails and 149 emails are very sensitive.

    All emails are available on Wikileaks site and can be read by clicking here: http://search.wikileaks.org/gifiles/?q=syria*+|+damascus+|+aleppo&mfrom=&mto=&title=¬itle=&date=&nofrom=¬o=&count=50&sort=0&file=&docid=&relid=0#searchresult

    A quick analysis of leaked emails shows conversation between the contractors over Syrian conflict, Syrian and Iran relationships along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s relationship with Syrian government.

    The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

    In past Wikileaks had released massive email conversation from Stratfor, exposing the company’s hidden face.

    WikiLeaks is an international, online, non-profit organisation which publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #64)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:27 PM

    74. The Troodos Conundrum



    The GCHQ listening post on Mount Troodos in Cyprus is arguably the most valued asset which the UK contributes to UK/US intelligence cooperation. The communications intercept agencies, GCHQ in the UK and NSA in the US, share all their intelligence reports (as do the CIA and MI6). Troodos is valued enormously by the NSA. It monitors all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East, ranging from Egypt and Eastern Libya right through to the Caucasus. Even almost all landline telephone communication in this region is routed through microwave links at some stage, picked up on Troodos.

    Troodos is highly effective – the jewel in the crown of British intelligence. Its capacity and efficiency, as well as its reach, is staggering. The US do not have their own comparable facility for the Middle East. I should state that I have actually been inside all of this facility and been fully briefed on its operations and capabilities, while I was head of the FCO Cyprus Section in the early 1990s. This is fact, not speculation.

    It is therefore very strange, to say the least, that John Kerry claims to have access to communications intercepts of Syrian military and officials organising chemical weapons attacks, which intercepts were not available to the British Joint Intelligence Committee...


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 08:56 PM

    67. Scary Thought on Labor Day Weekend: Obama's Economic Team Think They Are Doing a Good Job





    SOURCE: Summers Pick Fits Obama’s Preference for Beaten Path


    At this point, Larry Summers isn’t just the favorite for Federal Reserve chairman. He’s the overwhelming favorite. Unless something truly unexpected shows up in the vetting process (a paid toast at Bashar al-Assad’s birthday party, for example) or the administration comes to believe Senate Democrats will revolt against a Summers nomination, he’s going to get the job....

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #67)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:03 PM

    68. Why Wall Street Wants Larry Summers (and Why the Rest of Us Should Not) By Laurence Kotlikoff and


    HOW DO I REJECT THEE, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS... By Laurence Kotlikoff and Jeffrey Sachs


    On the surface the debate about the Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve is about the merits of the two leading candidates, Lawrence Summers and Janet Yellen. But looks can be deceiving. President Obama leans toward Summers not on the merits but because the Wall Street bankers want him. Summers is one of the boys, and the bankers know that Summers will do their bidding, at the expense of everybody else. Obama has declared that the two candidates’ attitudes to inflation and unemployment are his main concern, entirely glossing over the fact that the Fed oversees and regulates the US banking system. Our recent near-death experience under Alan Greenspan’s anti-regulation Fed chairmanship, aided and abetted by the deregulation pushed by Summers, should cause the President to think hard about banking regulation. Yet Obama and his tight-knit circle of advisors, almost all of whom are from Wall Street, are apparently too beholden to Wall Street to contemplate any serious regulation of an industry that continues to be out of control.

    The case for Yellen

    On the merits, Janet Yellen is the obvious candidate. For six years, 2004 to 2010, she was President of the San Francisco Fed. She is Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Board and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. Her academic record is exemplary and distinguished. Her leadership of the Fed was widely admired, while Summers’ Presidency of Harvard ended in a debacle. Yellen correctly foresaw the risks of the 2008 financial meltdown, while Summers famously missed it. She, not Summers, has hands-on experience running the Fed. Moreover, she has not played the revolving door by cashing in on government service for personal wealth. That, of course, is why she is suspect on Wall Street. Yellen has proven herself to be less interested in her personal wealth than in her nation’s monetary policy. For that reason, Wall Street leaders view her as dangerous.

    Summers, the bankers' best friend

    Summers, on the other hand, is safe and reliable, the bankers’ best friend in politics. From the bankers’ point of view, his record is perfect. Summers late 1990s' advocacy of financial deregulation is of course legendary. In the Obama years, he championed the bank bailouts while also fighting attempts to cap the bankers’ bonuses and to set limits on risky bank behavior, including Summers’ opposition to the Volcker rule to limit banks from trading on their own account. Summers not only shot down proposals by Senator Dodd and others to limit Wall Street bonuses, but took an even more audacious stand: that the AIG unit that helped trigger the entire calamity by writing reckless credit default swaps should also get their mega-bonuses after the fact. Summers explained to a shocked nation that he did not want to “violate the contracts” of these employees, even as the world economy lay in ruins at their handiwork. Even Gordon Gekko would not have had such audacity.

    When Summers left the Obama White House, he made a beeline back to Wall Street, just as he had done after leaving the Treasury in 2001. In a normal moral universe, a leading candidate for the Fed Chairmanship would hesitate to pass through the Washington-Wall Street revolving door so quickly and boldly, for fear of triggering public concerns about financial conflict of interest. Yet Summers quickly took up not just one Wall Street position but many, including with DE Shaw, Citigroup, NASDAQ, and other companies.

    Conflicts of interest?

    As Summers’ colleague and former Harvard dean Harry Lewis has recently noted, Summers did all of this while being a full-time professor with the limited right to consult “one day per week.” Moreover, Lewis describes how Summers’ lucrative consultancies reflect a persistent pattern in which Summers has shown a completely dismissive attitude towards financial ethics and financial conflict of interest. When a Harvard colleague of Summers was caught in a financial conflict of interest, Summers, shrugged it off under oath (at the time he was President of the University): “In Washington I wasn’t ever smart enough to predict them {ethics rules] … things that seemed ethical to me were thought of as very problematic and things that seemed quite problematic to me were thought of as perfectly fine.” Summers testified that in his view, ‘’there was no aura of wrongness of any kind {in the US Treasury] that would be associated with providing advice on a financial issue in which one had an interest.” Unseemly, yes. Problematic for Summers’ public credibility as a bank regulator? You bet. A problem for Obama to select Summers as Fed chair? Sadly not. The Administration has long ago blurred any boundaries between itself and Wall Street.

    If Summers had demonstrated some magical powers of macroeconomic judgment over the years, his revolving-door approach to personal enrichment might be held in a different light, at least partially. Yet Summers has not displayed such magical powers. He has failed repeatedly to anticipate financial crises, whether in Mexico, Russia, and East Asia in the 1990s, when he had the Treasury’s international portfolio, or in the sub-prime crisis.
    His crisis responses have been undistinguished as well. Most recently, Summer’s Keynesian policies piled on trillions of dollars of public debt but did very little to restore robust growth or reign in risky bank behavior. Behind the scenes Summers has also been on the biggest foes of responding effectively to climate change, another example of his big-business bias. Many cynics have put the Fed issue far more succinctly. Since the banking lobby is already so powerful in the White House and Congress, why not simplify matters and just turn the Fed over to Wall Street. In fact, Obama seems on the verge of doing so.

    Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University and author of "Jimmy Stewart Is Dead" and Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor of economics and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of "To Move the World: JFK's Quest for Peace."

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:11 PM

    70. San Bernardino Becomes 3rd California City to Get Bankruptcy Protection



    ...San Bernardino follows Vallejo, which was awarded Chapter 9 protection in 2008, and Stockton, which was granted protection in April of this year. (Mammoth Lakes, a California resort town, filed for bankruptcy in 2012, but won dismissal of its case after settling the $43 million development lawsuit that initially forced the city to seek protection from its creditors.)

    The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) remains the lone objector to San Bernardino's Chapter 9 claim -- the local union withdrew its objection last month after the city dropped its effort to reject collective bargaining agreements. As the nation's largest retirement system, the $260 billion CALPERS fund presents a formidable opponent. Vallejo did not attempt to reduce its pension obligations when it declared bankruptcy, a decision many believe was made to avoid a fight with CalPERS.

    In her ruling, Judge Meredith Jury said it had been obvious for months that the city's finances were beyond rescue. "I don't think anyone in this courtroom seriously thought the city was anything but insolvent," she said, according to news accounts. ...

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:15 PM

    71. Wall Street’s Rental Bet Brings Quandary Housing Poor



    LaTanya Moore-Newsome, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Atlanta, has been calling Wall Street-backed landlords for months on behalf of her low-income clients with government housing vouchers.

    She said some of the area’s biggest homebuyers in the past two years, including Blackstone Group LP (BX), American Homes 4 Rent and Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp. (SBY), repeatedly told her they had nothing available for tenants who use subsidies under the federal Section 8 assistance plan. Last week, she finally got a positive response from Blackstone’s Invitation Homes unit, which said it would accept applications from her renters.

    “It’s a really uphill battle dealing with these investors,” Moore-Newsome said. “You already have to deal with some of the issues with owners not wanting to take Section 8 in nicer areas. Now you have these big companies come into their neighborhoods and they say we’re not renting to you either.”

    Private-equity firms, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have bought more than 100,000 U.S. homes, becoming dominant single-family landlords in markets hardest-hit by the housing crash such as Atlanta. As the companies seek thousands of tenants to fill newly renovated properties, their decision whether to lease to low-income Americans with Section 8 vouchers stands to affect both their profitability and poor residents who have been longtime renters. ..


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:17 PM

    72. Income Gap Grows Wider (and Faster)



    INCOME inequality in the United States has been growing for decades, but the trend appears to have accelerated during the Obama administration. One measure of this is the relationship between median and average wages. The median wage is straightforward: it’s the midpoint of everyone’s wages. Interpreting the average, though, can be tricky. If the income of a handful of people soars while everyone else’s remains the same, the entire group’s average may still rise substantially. So when average wages grow faster than the median, as happened from 2009 through 2011, it means that lower earners are falling further behind those at the top.

    One way to see the acceleration in inequality is to look at the ratio of average to median annual wages. From 2001 through 2008, during the George W. Bush administration, that ratio grew at 0.28 percentage point per year. From 2009 through 2011, the latest year for which the data is available, the ratio increased 1.14 percentage points annually, or roughly four times faster. The reasons for the widening income gap aren’t entirely clear. Yes, the nation has had a big recession, but recessions typically tend to lessen inequality rather than increase it.

    “We’re seeing the continued effects of the weak labor market and the long-term trends involving technology and globalization,” said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard, “Our self-inflicted wounds from austerity are also exacerbating things.”

    It’s always possible that the data for 2012 will show a narrowing of the gap, but Professor Katz says he wouldn’t count on it.


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 09:22 PM

    73. Senate to vote on Syria resolution no later than week of September 9: Reid



    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Saturday that he would hold a vote on authorizing President Barack Obama to use limited military force against Syria no later than the week of September 9.

    Reid said the Senate would hold public hearings on the issue next week with senior Obama administration officials, and would hold classified and unclassified briefings for senators throughout the week.

    "I believe the use of military force against Syria is both justified and necessary," Reid said in a statement, saying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had committed "atrocities" against civilians with a chemical weapons attack.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #73)

    Sun Sep 1, 2013, 10:11 PM

    75. The ONION features Commentary from Assad: So, What’s It Going To Be?



    Well, here we are. It’s been two years of fighting, over 100,000 people are dead, there are no signs of this war ending, and a week ago I used chemical weapons on my own people. If you don’t do anything about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. If you do something about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. Morally speaking, you’re on the hook for those deaths no matter how you look at it.

    So, it’s your move, America. What’s it going to be?

    I’ve looked at your options, and I’m going to be honest here, I feel for you. Not exactly an embarrassment of riches you’ve got to choose from, strategy-wise. I mean, my God, there are just so many variables to consider, so many possible paths to choose, each fraught with incredible peril, and each leading back to the very real, very likely possibility that no matter what you do it’s going to backfire in a big, big way. It’s a good old-fashioned mess, is what this is! And now, you have to make some sort of decision that you can live with.

    So, where do I begin? Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but let’s start with the fact that my alliance with Russia and China means that nothing you decide to do will have the official support of the UN Security Council. So, right off the bat, I’ve already eliminated the possibility of a legally sound united coalition like in Libya or the First Gulf War. Boom. Gone. Off the table.

    Now, let’s say you’re okay with that, and you decide to go ahead with, oh, I don’t know, a bombing campaign. Now, personally, I can see how that might seem like an attractive option for you. No boots on the ground, it sends a clear message, you could cripple some of my government’s infrastructure, and it’s a quick, clean, easy way to punish me and make you look strong in the face of my unimaginable tyranny. But let’s get real here. Any bombing campaign capable of being truly devastating to my regime would also end up killing a ton of innocent civilians, as such things always do, which I imagine is the kind of outcome you people would feel very guilty about. You know, seeing as you are so up in arms to begin with about innocent Syrians dying. Plus, you’d stoke a lot of anti-American hatred and quite possibly create a whole new generation of Syrian-born jihadists ready to punish the United States for its reckless warmongering and yadda yadda yadda.

    Okay, what else? Well, you could play small-ball and hope that limited airstrikes to a few of my key military installations will send me the message to refrain from using chemical weapons again, but, c’mon, check me out: I’m ruthless, I’m desperate, and I’m going to do everything I can to stay in power. I’d use chemical weapons again in a heartbeat. You know that. And I know you know that. Hell, I want to help you guys out here, but you gotta be realistic. Trust me, I am incapable of being taught a lesson at this point. Got it? I am too far gone. Way too far gone.

    Oh, and I know some of you think a no-fly zone will do the trick, but we both know you can’t stomach the estimated $1 billion a month that would cost, so wave bye-bye to that one, too.

    Moving on.

    I suppose you could always, you know, not respond with military force at all. But how can you do that? I pumped sarin gas into the lungs of my own people, for God’s sake! You can’t just let me get away with that, can you? I mean, I guess you easily could, and spare yourself all of this headache, but then you would probably lose any of your remaining moral high ground on the world stage and make everything from the Geneva Conventions to America’s reputation as a beacon for freedom and democracy around the world look like a complete sham.

    And, hey, as long as we’re just throwing stuff out there, let’s consider a ground invasion for a moment. Now, even if you could reasonably fund a ground invasion, which I’m pretty sure you can’t, what exactly would such an invasion accomplish in the long term? I suppose it’s possible that you could come in and sweep me out the door and that would be the end of it. It’s possible. You know, like, in the sense that seeing a majestic white Bengal tiger in the wild is possible. Or, more likely, you could find yourself entrenched in a full-blown civil war that drags on for 15 years and sets off further turmoil in the rest of the region, leading to even more dead bodies for your country and mine, and even more virulent hatred of America. In fact, boy, maybe this is the one option that should be totally off the table.

    Oh, and speaking of me being toppled from power, let’s say, just for fun, that tomorrow I were to somehow be dethroned. Who’s in charge? Half of these rebel groups refuse to work with one another and it’s getting harder to tell which ones are actually just Islamic extremists looking to fill a potential power vacuum. We’ve got Christians, Sunnis, and Shias all poised to fight one another for control should I fall. You want to be the ones sorting through that mess when you’re trying to build a new government? I didn’t think so.

    So, all in all, quite the pickle you’re in, isn’t it? I have to say, I do not envy you here. Really curious to see where you go with this one.

    I’ll leave you with this: I am insane. Not insane enough to generate worldwide unanimity that I cannot remain in charge of my own country. That would make this a lot easier. No, unfortunately, I’m just sane and stable enough to remain in power and devise cunning military and political strategies while at the same time adhering to a standard of morality that only the most perverse and sociopathic among us would be capable of adopting. But nevertheless, I am insane, so do with that information what you will.

    Long story short, I’m going to keep doing my best to hold on to my country no matter what the cost. If that means bombing entire towns, murdering small children, or shooting at UN weapons inspectors, so be it. I’m in this for the long haul. And you will do...whatever it is you’re going to do, which is totally up to you. Your call.

    Anyway, let me know what you decide. I’ll be waiting.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 05:56 AM



    Snowden Document: NSA Spied On Al Jazeera Communications


    It makes sense that America's National Security Agency (NSA) would be interested in the Arab news broadcaster Al Jazeera. The Qatar-based channel has been broadcasting audio and video messages from al-Qaida leaders for more than a decade. The United States intelligence agency was so interested, in fact, that it hacked into Al Jazeera's internal communications system, according to documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden that have been seen by SPIEGEL.

    One such document, dated March 23, 2006, reveals that the NSA's Network Analysis Center managed to access and read communication by "interesting targets" that was specially protected by the news organization. The information also shows that the NSA officials were not satisfied with Al Jazeera's language analysis.

    In addition to cracking the airline reservation services for Russian airline Aeroflot, accessing "Al Jazeera broadcasting internal communication" was listed as a "notable success," the document shows. The NSA said these selected targets had "high potential as sources of intelligence."

    The encrypted information was forwarded to the responsible NSA departments for further analysis, according to the document, which did not reveal to what extent the intelligence agency spied on journalists or managers of the media company, or whether the surveillance is ongoing...Previous documents seen by SPIEGEL have not specified that the media were spied on by the NSA. But as more information emerges, the massive scope of the organization's international surveillance of telephone and Internet communication continues to grow.

    The NSA hacks other countries by buying millions of dollars’ worth of computer vulnerabilities


    Like any government agency, the NSA hires outside companies to help it do the work it’s supposed to do. But an analysis of the intelligence community’s black budget reveals that unlike most of its peers, the agency’s top hackers are also funneling money to firms of dubious origin in exchange for computer malware that’s used to spy on foreign governments.

    This year alone, the NSA secretly spent more than $25 million to procure “‘software vulnerabilities’ from private malware vendors,” according to a wide-ranging report on the NSA’s offensive work by the Post’s Barton Gellman and Ellen Nakashima.

    Companies such as Microsoft already tell the government about gaps in their product security before issuing software updates, reportedly to give the NSA a chance to exploit those bugs first. But the NSA is also reaching into the Web’s shadier crevices to procure bugs the big software vendors don’t even know about — vulnerabilities that are known as “zero-days.”


    NSA intimidation expanding surveillance state


    ... If you run a business, and the FBI or NSA want to turn it into a mass surveillance tool, they believe they can do so, solely on their own initiative. They can force you to modify your system. They can do it all in secret and then force your business to keep that secret. Once they do that, you no longer control that part of your business. You can't shut it down. You can't terminate part of your service. In a very real sense, it is not your business anymore. It is an arm of the vast U.S. surveillance apparatus, and if your interest conflicts with theirs then they win. Your business has been commandeered.

    For most Internet companies, this isn't a problem. They are already engaging in massive surveillance of their customers and users -- collecting and using this data is the primary business model of the Internet -- so it's easy to comply with government demands and give the NSA complete access to everything. This is what we learned from Edward Snowden. Through programs like PRISM, BLARNEY and OAKSTAR, the NSA obtained bulk access to services like Gmail and Facebook, and to Internet backbone connections throughout the US and the rest of the world. But if it were a problem for those companies, presumably the government would not allow them to shut down.

    To be fair, we don't know if the government can actually convict someone of closing a business. It might just be part of their coercion tactics. Intimidation, and retaliation, is part of how the NSA does business. Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio has a story of what happens to a large company that refuses to cooperate. In February 2001 -- before the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- the NSA approached the four major US telecoms and asked for their cooperation in a secret data collection program, the one we now know to be the bulk metadata collection program exposed by Edward Snowden. Qwest was the only telecom to refuse, leaving the NSA with a hole in its spying efforts. The NSA retaliated by canceling a series of big government contracts with Qwest. The company has since been purchased by CenturyLink, which we presume is more cooperative with NSA demands.

    That was before the Patriot Act and National Security Letters. Now, presumably, Nacchio would just comply. Protection rackets are easier when you have the law backing you up....

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #79)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:18 AM



    Snowden impersonated NSA officials, sources say By Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole and Robert Windrem
    NBC News


    Edward Snowden accessed some secret national security documents by assuming the electronic identities of top NSA officials, said intelligence sources.

    “Every day, they are learning how brilliant Snowden was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”

    ..The NSA still doesn’t know exactly what Snowden took. But its forensic investigation has included trying to figure out which higher level officials Snowden impersonated online to access the most sensitive documents. The NSA has as many as 40,000 employees. According to one intelligence official, the NSA is restricting its research to a much smaller group of individuals with access to sensitive documents. Investigators are looking for discrepancies between the real world actions of an NSA employee and the online activities linked to that person’s computer user profile. For example, if an employee was on vacation while the on-line version of the employee was downloading a classified document, it might indicate that someone assumed the employee’s identity.

    The NSA has already identified several instances where Snowden borrowed someone else’s user profile to access documents, said the official. Each user profile on NSAnet includes a level of security clearance that determines what files the user can access. Like most NSA employees and contractors, Snowden had a “top secret” security clearance, meaning that under his own user profile he could access many classified documents. But some higher level NSA officials have higher levels of clearance that give them access to the most sensitive documents. As a system administrator, according to intelligence officials, Snowden had the ability to create and modify user profiles for employees and contractors. He also had the ability to access NSAnet using those user profiles, meaning he could impersonate other users in order to access files. He borrowed the identities of users with higher level security clearances to grab sensitive documents.

    Once Snowden had collected documents, his job description also gave him a right forbidden to other NSA employees– the right to download files from his computer to an external storage device. Snowden downloaded a reported 20,000 documents onto thumb drives before leaving Hawaii for Hong Kong on May 20.

    “The damage, on a scale of 1 to 10, is a 12,” said a former intelligence official.

    ...Snowden has been charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. He is now in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

    Richard Esposito is the Senior Executive Producer for Investigations at NBC News. Matthew Cole is an investigative reporter at NBC News. He can be reached at matthew.cole@nbcuni.com. Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter at NBC News. He can be reached at robert.windrem@nbcuni.com.


    New Snowden Leak Reports ‘Groundbreaking’ NSA Crypto-Cracking


    The latest published leak from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lays bare classified details of the U.S. government’s $52.6 billion intelligence budget, and makes the first reference in any of the Snowden documents to a “groundbreaking” U.S. encryption-breaking effort targeted squarely at internet traffic. Snowden, currently living in Russia under a one-year grant of asylum, passed The Washington Post the 178-page intelligence community budget request for fiscal year 2013. Among the surprises reported by Post writers Barton Gellman and Greg Miller is that the CIA receives more money than the NSA: $14.7 billion for the CIA, versus $10.8 billion for the NSA. Until this morning it’s generally been believed that the geeky NSA, with its basements full of supercomputers, dwarfed its human-oriented counterparts.

    The Post published only 43 pages from the document, consisting of charts, tables and a 5-page summary written by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The Post said it withheld the rest, and kept some information out of its reporting, in consultation with the Obama administration to protect U.S. intelligence sources and methods. One of those methods, though, is hinted at in the Clapper summary — and it’s interesting. Clapper briefly notes some programs the intelligence agencies are closing or scaling back, as well as those they’re pouring additional funds into. Overhead imagery captured by spy satellites was slated for reduction, for example, while SIGINT, the electronic spying that’s been the focus of the Snowden leaks, got a fresh infusion.

    “Also,” Clapper writes in a line marked “top secret,” “we are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic.”

    The Post’s article doesn’t detail the “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities” Clapper mentions, and there’s no elaboration in the portion of the document published by the paper. But the document shows that 21 percent of the intelligence budget — around $11 billion — is dedicated to the Consolidated Cryptologic Program that staffs 35,000 employees in the NSA and the armed forces. In a WIRED story in March of last year — the pre-Snowden era of NSA reporting — James Bamford reported that the NSA secretly made some sort of “enormous breakthrough” in cryptanalysis several years earlier. Previous Snowden leaks have documented the NSA and British intelligence’s sniffing of raw internet traffic. But information on the NSA’s efforts to crack the encrypted portion of that traffic — which would include much of the email transiting the net — has remained absent; conspicuously so, given the NSA’s history as world-class codebreakers. The leaked budget document is the first published Snowden leak to touch upon the question of how safe routinely encrypted traffic is from cutting-edge nation-state spying. The Post is silent on when Snowden leaked the black budget. As a condition of his asylum, Snowden agreed not to release any more U.S. documents while in Russia. But he may well have passed the budget to the paper in May at the same time that he turned over documents on the NSA’s PRISM program.

    Kevin Poulsen is the investigations editor at Wired and author of Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground (Crown, 2011). His PGP fingerprint is A4BB A435 2FE1 B4A8 46E1 7AF6 DA4B 5DFA FF09 4870


    Edward Snowden leaks again: five takeaways from the 'black budget'


    ...The former National Security Agency data professional leaked a secret-filled 178-page summary of the US intelligence community budget to Post reporters Barton Gellman and Greg Miller, who published online a lengthy story about the document, illustrated with great charts and graphics, on Thursday....Here’s our quick take on significant things in the story:

    The CIA is still first among equals.
    The nation’s human-oriented intelligence agency got $14.7 billion for 2013. The eavesdropping NSA, despite its need for expensive electronics, got less: $10.8 billion. The National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and maintains signal and photo intelligence satellites, received almost as much as the NSA, at $10.3 billion. That means those secret eyes and ears in the sky are really, really expensive.

    Predicting the future: priceless. OK, maybe “priceless” isn’t quite the right word. There is a price tag here, a big one. The biggest single item in the breakdown of the budget by mission objective is “Provide Strategic Intelligence and Warning,” which gets 39 percent of intelligence community’s $52 billion. That means they are putting a lot of effort into the predictions that go into the president’s morning security briefings. “Combat Violent Extremism” is the second-biggest function, with 33 percent of the budget. “Counter Weapons Proliferation” is third, with 13 percent.

    Will Israel be insulted? The budget summary included discussion of the intelligence community’s priorities, successes, and failures, as well as numbers. For instance, it noted that the US takes an “interest” in countries that are allies, as well as countries that aren’t. Among the nations listed as counterintelligence “priority targets” are China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and ... Israel. Pakistan, a nominal ally, is also listed as an “intractable target." That’s not too surprising, is it, given that’s where Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight...Why so many Spanish-speaking spies? Intelligence agencies pay bonuses to employees who maintain proficiency in foreign languages. The No. 1 bonus language is Spanish, with 2,725 bonuses dispersed. That’s more than twice as many as were paid out to the second-ranking language, Arabic. Arabic speakers got 1,191 bonuses. Chinese speakers got 903, and Russian speakers got 736.

    Did Manning make Snowden possible? Near the end, the Post story notes that the intelligence community had budgeted for a “major counterintelligence initiative” in 2012 that would have tried to guard against insider threats by reinvestigating the activities of thousands of “high-risk, high-gain applicants and contractors.” Mr. Snowden himself might well have fallen into that category. But the initiative never got carried out, the Post notes, because those resources were diverted to an all-hands-on-deck response to the leak of thousands of documents by WikiLeaks. Those documents were provided by Bradley Manning (who has recently asked to be known as a transgender woman named Chelsea).

    “The government panicked so strongly about the threat caused by leaking documents classified at a lower level than this budget] document that it diverted resources from the very program that possibly would have exposed Edward Snowden before he could have leaked,” notes national security journalist Joshua Foust on his blog.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:36 AM

    83. Financial Psalm No. 16



    16:1 Preserve me, Gold, for in you do I take refuge.

    16:2 My portfolio, you have saveth, and it sayeth: “You are my Saviour.
    Apart from you, I have no good thing...not even Bitcoins”

    16:3 As for the Silver and Oil which is in the earth,
    they are also excellent ones in whom is my delight.

    16:4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied who diversifyeth into other assets.
    Their offerings of bonds I will not accept, nor hold such paper on my lists.

    16:5 Gold, well-assayed, is my preference and made-eth my cup.
    You made my lot secure.

    16:6 Your prices are now rising (again) making pleasant our faces.
    Yes, our offspring will have a good inheritance.

    16:6.1 Beware the false prophet, paper gold, promising false profits.

    16:6.2 Bow not before any other Gold but It, for they are but false and wicked idols.

    16:6.3 Trusteth in the Golden revelations of the Chronicles of Zerohedge and heedeth in thy Beck-ster and Faber, for they are the Righteous Ones and sayeth only the purest of truths.

    16:6.4 Follow NOT the path of tribes of Paulson and Soros who, being weak in their hearts, smite-eth Gold, giving succor to the heathen.

    16 Blessed be Chris Wood, who resembleth Jesus, and who hath given me wise counsel.
    My heart instructs me to stay long during the right seasons.

    16:8 I have set Gold always before other assets. Because It is is heavy in my right hand, and shall not be moved from It's Swiss vault without countersigned instructions.

    16 Therefore my heart is glad, and my relative purchasing power rejoices.
    My portfolio shall also dwelleth in safety so long as Bernanke ruleth.

    16:10 For you, Gold, will not leaveth my portfolio in Zimbabwe, or Weimar
    neither will you allow my portfolio to become holey due to political corruption, or crony capitalism.

    16:11 You, Gold, will show me the path of wealth preservation during times of war, inflationary woe and political uncertainty.
    In your lustrous presence, I feel the warmth and joy of your security.
    So that my hand can exchangeth you for pleasures forevermore.


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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 06:45 AM

    84. in honor of the funeral for seamus heaney today

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #84)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 07:11 AM

    87. Liam O'Flynn - Eire

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 07:17 AM



    This Aug. 8, 2013 publicity photo provided by courtesy of Maria Pinto shows fashion designer Maria Pinto, in Chicago. Pinto, famous for dressing first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, is back with a new, more affordable collection that she plans to launch with the help of an online funding campaign three years after a poor economy forced her to close her namesake Chicago boutique. Pinto is trying to raise $250,000 within 45 days for her M2057 line when it goes live on the Kickstarter crowd-funding website this weekend. (A Photo/Courtesy Maria Pinto, Brian Kuhlmann)

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Fashion designer Maria Pinto - famous for dressing first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey - is back with a new, more affordable collection that she plans to launch with the help of an online funding campaign three years after a poor economy forced her close her Chicago boutique.

    Pinto is trying to raise $250,000 within 45 days for her M2057 line when it goes live on the Kickstarter crowd-funding website this weekend. According to Kickstarter rules, Pinto won't get any funding if she doesn't reach the $250,000 mark within 45 days.

    "It's just the way of the future," Pinto said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think there's something here to embrace, the fashion meeting technology."

    The capsule collection debuts just days before New York Fashion Week begins Thursday. It includes seven dresses, two jackets, a shrug, a wrap, and two scarves made from Italian jersey and priced at between $75 and $250. Pinto's pieces once retailed at more than $900.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 07:29 AM



    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- After four decades of farming, Kevin Carley was ready to pass along his dairy operation in central New York. And his son-in-law was eager to take charge.

    But simply selling operating farms - pricey pieces of land with barns and animals - can be costly and complicated. So the pair structured a deal that phased in control to son-in-law Dan Dimon, leaving Carley as an employee.

    "I just didn't want to give up, so we both had to do a trust thing where I just handed him the steering wheel and I said, `OK, I'll ride shotgun," said Carley, 57, taking a break from work at the farm in Pompey.

    The need to be innovative in selling farms to the next generation is becoming more urgent as farmland prices rise and farmers get older. Some farmers have come up with different strategies to make sure the younger generation can continue to work the land.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 07:45 AM

    90. Donal Lunny Andy Irvine Liam O'Flynn Paddy Glackin The Blacksmith

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 08:11 AM

    91. Falling Indian factory activity adds to rupee's woes


    (Reuters) - The Indian rupee remained frail after last week's record low, as pessimism generated by dismal economic growth data was compounded on Monday by survey showing factory activity in August shrank for the first time in over four years.

    Investors want bold reforms to restore confidence in India, spur growth, reduce a record current account gap, while keeping a worryingly high fiscal deficit under control.

    Measures taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's minority government since the rupee began its slide in May have left the market unimpressed, and there are fears that the ruling coalition will put politics before the urgent needs of the economy with an election due by May next year.

    Quoted at 66.09 per dollar by midday, the rupee was just a touch weaker than Friday's close of 65.70/71, and still within easy striking distance of the all time low of 68.85 to the dollar struck on August 28.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 08:14 AM

    92. Regulators ease derivatives rule to avoid harming economy


    (Reuters) - Global regulators have eased the impact of new rules designed to make the $630 trillion derivatives market safer as they seek to avoid too-tight controls on the sector that some banks argue could harm economic recovery.

    The Basel Committee of regulators and central bankers published their final rule for requiring banks and brokerages to post an initial margin on trades in derivatives known as swaps, if those trades don't pass through a "clearing house" which in itself generates a backup if one party to the trade goes bust.

    The reform, which now envisages a threshold on the value of a trade below which no collateral is required, is part of a wider shake up of derivatives which is underway among the top 20 economies (G20), including the mandatory clearing of trades where possible, and for all transactions to be recorded.

    Regulators want to apply lessons from the 2007-09 financial crisis in which the opaqueness of derivatives such as credit default swaps - used to insure against falls in bond prices - played a central part in creating market uncertainty.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 08:21 AM

    93. BOJ to hold policy, debate emerging market risks


    (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan may hold off on declaring the world's third-largest economy has cemented its recovery at a policy review this week as it waits to see the fallout on activity from slowing growth and capital outflows in emerging nations.

    No change is expected in the massive monetary stimulus that the BOJ launched in April, which will see it nearly double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen ($2.75 trillion) by the end of 2014 to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.

    Increasingly bright economic signs at home have been overshadowed by geopolitical risks in Syria and sharp outflows of capital from some emerging markets on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon start trimming its monetary stimulus.

    The central bank is thus expected to maintain its view the economy is "starting to recover moderately," instead of offering a more upbeat assessment declaring that the recovery has already taken hold, according to sources familiar with its thinking.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 08:23 AM

    94. look out now -- cause i might get my belly dance on

    New Arabic Dabke Music: Best 2013 Dabke Mix (Lebanese Palestinian Syrian)

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 01:31 PM

    96. Whew! Just taking a break from yard work.

    Three days (so far) of trimming tree branches, and cutting them up into small enough pieces to fit into garbage bags. Removed a few trees that are really weeds. Got a lot more to do.

    Maybe stop in during the next water break. It's in the friggin' 90's out there.

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    Response to Demeter (Original post)

    Mon Sep 2, 2013, 05:41 PM

    97. So, we went to see Elysium


    and I cried at the end. It was a good story, despite the violence.

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