Friday, August 30, 2013

Top 10 "fastest growing jobs in America" portend a bleak future

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog,




Here’s another depressing list to ruin your day. You can tell a lot about a society by what they value, what they build and what they do. The only new buildings we see being built are banks and medical facilities.

That tells us a lot. We look around and see that we value fancy new leased or financed cars, financed McMansions, fastfood, and lots of shopping outlets. And now this list tells us a lot about where this country is headed. Among the ten fastest growing jobs in America, only one can be considered well paying. Only two of the jobs are in industries that produce something. Only one requires a non-liberal arts college degree. Most of the jobs barely pay a living wage. Most of these jobs are non-essential service jobs that add absolutely nothing to society. A society that does not produce is destined to decline.

We’re doomed.

Based on the list below, we would describe the United States as a service based nation of aging, vain, obese, shallow, financially illiterate boobs with bad skin and muscle aches, who love sports and entertainment, but can’t understand each other, and are addicted to their oil based suburban sprawl debt financed lifestyles. 

Welcome to Amurika.

10. Skin Care Specialists > Pct. 10-year job growth:104% > 10-year job growth: 16,230 > Total employed: 31,810 > Median annual pay: $28,640
The number of employed skin care specialists doubled in the 10 years ending in 2012. Specialists typically work in salons and spas, although many are self-employed. Among the services they provide are skin cleanings, advice on proper skin care and removal of unwanted hair. Vocational schools usually offer cosmetology programs, which skin care specialists typically complete. States typically require a license to work in the field. New skin care services and products have driven demand for such specialists.

9. Personal Care Aides > Pct. 10-year job growth: 118% > 10-year job growth: 534,190 > Total employed: 985,230 > Median annual pay: $19,910
Personal care aides are in extremely high demand as the baby boom generation ages and the number of elderly Americans rises. But while the total number of such aides doubled between 2002 and 2012, with nearly a million working in the field as of 2012, it remains a high turnover job because of the typically low pay and the high emotional toll. Even the top 10% of home care workers earned just $27,580 last year, when the median wage for employees across all occupations was $34,750.

8. Personal Financial Advisors > Pct. 10-year job growth: 128% > 10-year job growth: 98,460 > Total employed: 175,470 > Median annual pay: $67,520
The increased number of aging baby boomers approaching retirement and looking to manage their savings and assets has been one of the main drivers behind the growth in personal financial advisor jobs. Another key driver has been the rise in private sector retirement planning as a result of pension shortfalls. The resulting cuts to retirees’ benefits mean ever more individuals turn to financial planners in order to better plan for later in life. Becoming a financial advisor usually requires a bachelor’s degree. Backgrounds in math, accounting, economics, finance and law are all considered useful. Pay for many financial planners is quite high, with the top 25% of professionals taking home at least $111,450.

7. Coaches and Scouts > Pct. 10-year job growth: 130% > 10-year job growth: 114,080 > Total employed: 201,800 > Median annual pay: $28,360
The number of coaches and scouts rose from less than 100,000 in 2002 to more than 200,000 in 2012. Several factors have driven job growth of coaches and scouts, and the same factors are expected to continue to drive further growth. A growing number of retirees with time to participate in sports such as golf and tennis is a major source of demand for coaches. But schools and universities are actually the largest source of jobs for coaches, according to the BLS. Job growth in college sports, especially women’s sports, is expected to be a key driver of employment growth in the field going forward.

6. Human Resources Specialists > Pct. 10-year job growth: 134% > 10-year job growth: 225,830 > Total employed: 394,380 > Median annual pay: $55,800
Human resources specialists’ duties involve recruiting, hiring and placing workers. The number of workers employed as human resources specialist rose by more than 225,000 between 2002 and 2012. One major factor contributing to job growth – and that is expected to continue to contribute — is the increase of firms in the employment services industry as companies outsource human resources tasks. Most human resources roles require a bachelor’s degree, and interpersonal skills are also very valuable.

5. Massage Therapists > Pct. 10-year job growth: 162% > 10-year job growth: 43,880 > Total employed: 71,040 > Median annual pay: $35,970
The reason for the growth in massage therapists jobs has been a rise in the number of spas and massage clinics, according to the BLS. The Bureau also cites an increase in the nation’s elderly population as contributing to demand for massage therapists. The median salary for employed massage therapists was just under $36,000 last year, but the majority are self-employed and most work only part time. The median hourly wage for a massage therapist was $17.29 in 2012.

4. Interpreters and Translators > Pct. 10-year job growth: 171% > 10-year job growth: 31,720 > Total employed: 50,320 > Median annual pay: $45,430
As international trade expands and globalization continues, the need for interpreters and translators should continue to rise, according to the BLS. Already, the number of employed translators has jumped from less than 20,000 in 2002 to more than 50,000 in 2012. As the nation’s Hispanic population grows, interpreters and translators also will be needed. Translation pay varies considerably. The top-paid 10% of translators earned more than $91,800 annually last year, while the bottom 10% earned less than $23,570.

3. Music Directors and Composers > Pct. 10-year job growth: 178% > 10-year job growth: 15,960 > Total employed: 24,940 > Median annual pay: $47,350
It seems that Americans’ thirst for music is on the rise. This should drive job growth of music directors and composers. Another factor driving job growth for this occupation is the expected greater need for original music scores or transcriptions used in commercials and movies. In addition to musical talent and mastery of a variety of instruments, those in this occupation, especially the ones writing and conducting classical music, usually have a bachelor’s degree. About 10% of music directors and composers earned less than $21,450 annually, while the top 10% made more than $86,110, a high annual income compared with the same top 10% of other occupations on this list.

2. Petroleum Engineers > Pct. 10-year job growth: 227% > 10-year job growth: 25,280 > Total employed: 36,410 > Median annual pay: $130,280
Petroleum engineers are some of the highest paid workers in the nation, with a median wage that exceeded $130,000 in 2012. Their work typically involves assessing and planning drilling operations, as well as determining the equipment and methods necessary to extract oil and natural gas in the most efficient way possible. Petroleum engineers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and must pass a licensing exam and have four years of work experience to be licensed. Oil prices play a major role in determining job outlook for petroleum engineers, partially because higher prices improve incentives to explore and produce oil from newer, more challenging sources. In the past decade, oil prices have risen dramatically, possibly accounting for much of the profession’s estimated 227% job growth.

1. Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas and Mining > Pct. 10-year job growth: 365% > 10-year job growth: 44,870 > Total employed: 57,180 > Median annual pay: $41,970
No occupation has grown faster than service unit operators working in natural resources extraction, where the number of workers jumped from just over 12,000 in 2002 to more than 57,000 in 2012. Workers in these fields typically are responsible for overseeing and maintaining wells and other technology used in extracting natural resources. Workers are most often employed in oil and gas producing states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and North Dakota. There are several potential reasons for the profession’s explosive job growth, including rising energy prices and the increased extraction of non-conventional fuel sources.

What's else is happening with Obama while American eyes are closed to everything other than Syria?

From Simon Black, author of Sovereign Man




As Syria Distracts, Here’s What's Happening While No One Is Looking
As everyone is now completely distracted with the looming prospect of yet another illegal war to be waged by the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, let’s look at a few other things going on while no one is looking.

Gun control
Today, the Obama administration announced fresh measures to restrict the availability of firearms in the Land of the Free.

This time around, they want to ban the re-importation of firearms that have been exported from the US to allied nations. They also want to raise the bar on federal background checks.
But rather than go through Congress, the Obama administration is simply going to create a new ‘rule’.

‘Rules’ are a type of regulation created directly by agencies within the Executive Branch. They’re not laws, but they carry the same weight and effect as laws, complete with criminal and civil penalties.

Oftentimes, hundreds of new rules are proposed every single day in the Land of the Free. It’s the easiest way for the President to circumvent the Constitution and simply decree whatever he wants.

Debt ceiling

The US government is once again danger close to defaulting.

Bear in mind, at the start of the ‘credit crisis’ six years ago, US federal debt was just $8.9 trillion.

Today, US federal debt stands at $16.738 trillion– 88% higher.

Curiously, the statutory debt limit is $16.699 trillion… so the US government already breached its limit 39 billion dollars ago.

 For the last few months, the Treasury Department has been resorting to ‘extraordinary measures’ in order to avoid default (i.e. things that you and I would go to jail for).

But Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is about out of bullets. So the US could be in danger of defaulting at any moment, especially if an unexpected fiscal ‘surprise’ should arise… like, uh, war.

That’s the funny thing about war– they tend to be expensive. And starting another war might very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

No inflation to see here

As I write this letter, fast food workers across the US are protesting, demanding higher wages. Crazy.

Apparently you can’t live on $7.25/hour anymore.

Someone needs to tell these people that there’s no inflation, and that the Grand Wizard himself, Ben Bernanke, has everything under control.

Outright Collapse in many Emerging Markets

From India to Mexico, South Africa to Indonesia, emerging market currencies have practically been in freefall in the latest sign that the fiat experiment is drawing to a rapid close.

This movement has massive implications for gold– that ‘barbarous relic’ that people are scooping up in bulk right now as a means to preserve their savings.

It’s gotten so bad in India that the government there is imposing severe capital controls and gold restrictions– setting the standard for other nations in the future. Is confiscation to follow?

Related posts:

  1. Obama invades Cyprus in order to NOT invade Syria
  2. Eight signs the system is broken
  3. The US racked up $6,866,712,084,997.92 in debt since 2007
  4. Bankrupt nations try to stop the future from happening, fail

NATO to Obama: "Forget it."

Courtesy of ZeroHedge.com




They are falling like flies... following the British vote not to join Obama in his latest crusade, it s now NATO's turn as Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells Dutch TV2 that "NATO will have no role in any military action in Syria." Of course, there's still the French; and as Rasmussen notes, should any retaliatory action take place to endanger NATO member Turkey then the situation may well change. Quoted as urging a political resolution rather than military, and supportive of the UN inspectors, Rasmussen added "A sustainable solution is a political solution. But an international reaction is necessary."

Via TV2 (via Google Translate),
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, setting the stage for the defense alliance NATO will have no role in any military action in Syria.

...

"I predict not a NATO role in what I here call an international reaction to the regime in Damascus, says Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a press conference in Vejle.

However, it can change the situation if NATO member Turkey, which shares a border with Syria is attacked. At present, Nato keen rockets along the border in order to respond to any aggression.

But even Fogh therefore does not foresee that NATO should play a role, so he believes that some form of military intervention would be important to give a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

- There is not a long-term military solution to this. A sustainable solution is a political solution. But an international response is needed, says Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

He does not believe that there is no doubt that President Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons.

- Everyone knows that there has been a chemical attack place. Everyone has seen the terrible pictures, so there's no discussion about that there has been a chemical attack place.

- Then there is a discussion about who is behind. And when you look at who has stocks and capacity, it is the regime. There is not much to suggest that it is the opposition that is behind.

- And it requires a cynicism beyond what is reasonable to believe that the opposition stand behind a chemical attack in an area they already largely control, says Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Fogh stresses, however, that NATO countries support the study by UN weapons inspectors is currently doing. Inspectors are expected to leave Syria Saturday.

Don't Show Obama This Report About Who Really Is Behind The Syrian Chemical Attacks



 As we showed mere days ago, it appears the truth of who the real puppet-master in the Middle-East is becoming plainer to see. The incredibly frank discussion between Saudi's spy-chief Prince Bandar and Russia's Putin exposed a much deeper plot is afoot and the following details from the actual people on the ground in the chemically-attacked region of Syria suggest Obama is playing right into the Saudi's plan. While Obama is 'certain' that the chemical attacks took place on al-Assad's orders, as MPN reports, "from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack."
The narrative for public consumption is well-known and quite clear - it was all as-Assad's fault. And yet...
Via MPN,
... from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.
About the report authors: Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and the Associated Press. Gavlak has been stationed in Amman, Jordan for the Associated Press for over two decades. An expert in Middle Eastern Affairs, Gavlak currently covers the Levant region of the Middle East for AP, National Public Radio and Mint Press News, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at dgavlak@mintpressnews.com Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism,  He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.
For those who may have forgotten, here are the details that were exposed a few days ago...
what are some of the stunning disclosures by the Saudis? First this:

Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values ??and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

It is good of the Saudis to admit they control a terrorist organization that "threatens the security" of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses "in the face of the Syrian regime." Perhaps the next time there is a bombing in Boston by some Chechen-related terrorists, someone can inquire Saudi Arabia what, if anything, they knew about that.

But the piece de resistance is what happened at the end of the dialogue between the two leaders. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Arabia aimed squarely at Russia:

As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt's future.

The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”

At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.

Since we know all about this, it means no more talks, an implicit warning that the Chechens operating in proximity to Sochi may just become a loose cannon (with Saudi's blessing of course), and that about a month ago "there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate." Four weeks later, we are on the edge of all out war, which may involve not only the US and Europe, but most certainly Saudi Arabia and Russia which automatically means China as well. Or, as some may call it, the world.

And all of it as preordained by a Saudi prince, and all in the name of perpetuating the hegemony of the petrodollar.
Again we remind: Russia and Saudi Arabia account for 25% of global oil production, but far more importantly absent the Qatari natgas (and a potential pipeline crossing under a receptive Syrian regime - i.e., not Assad -  and going into Turkey), Europe will remain beholden to every rate-hiking whim by Putin and Gazpromia.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Parliament to British Military / Industrial / Orwellian Complex: "Drop Dead"

Courtesy of wsj.com



LONDON—British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a preliminary vote on Syria, an early sign of the pushback Western governments may face as they prepare to launch an attack.

Thursday evening's vote was nonbinding, but in practice the rejection of military strikes means Mr. Cameron's hands are tied. In a terse statement to Parliament, Mr. Cameron said it was clear to him that the British people did not want to see military action.

Facing vocal opposition from politicians and the public, Mr. Cameron had told parliament earlier that military action was justified on humanitarian grounds and the need to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria. He said the case for action wasn't about taking sides in the Syrian conflict or about changing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The prime minister said no decision to act had been made and that the U.K. wouldn't become involved in military action until a further parliamentary vote, due next week, after inspectors from the United Nations report their findings on the use of chemical weapons last week. Western governments have said the Assad regime carried out the attack.

But, he said, military intervention would be legally justified and pointed to the government's legal advice, which says that even if the U.N. Security Council can't agree on action, the U.K. would still be permitted under international law to act.

Mr. Cameron pointed to an assessment from the government's Joint Intelligence Committee that said there is "little serious dispute" that chemical weapons were used and concluded "it is highly likely that the [Assad] regime was responsible" for the attacks that caused hundreds of deaths. The body, which brings together the heads of Britain's intelligence agencies and advises the prime minister, said that it believes the Syrian government has used lethal chemical weapons 14 times, albeit on a smaller scale, since 2012.

Mr. Cameron didn't provide detailed evidence to support those conclusions, but highlighted "open source" evidence such as extensive video footage and the fact that Assad regime was capable of such an attack and the opposition wasn't.

"Intelligence is part of this picture but let's not pretend there is one smoking piece of intelligence" that proves the Syrian government was responsible for the use of chemical weapons last week, said Mr. Cameron. "I am saying this is a judgment, we all have to reach a judgment about what happened and who is responsible," he said.

Thursday's vote is a precursor to a further parliamentary vote due early next week specifically on whether the U.K. should get directly involved.

The timing of the latter for next week could delay any military response by the British. It also could make it more difficult for U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western allies to convince their own publics—already weary from years of difficult military intervention in the Middle East—of the need for intervention in Syria.

The situation also raises the question of whether the U.S. would go ahead with military action without British support. France's parliament is due to hold an emergency session on Sept. 4 to debate the Syrian situation, though the country's president, François Hollande, can engage French troops in a battle or order overseas airstrikes without seeking prior parliamentary approval. France's defense minister said the country's military was "in position" to participate in possible strikes against the Syrian regime.

Mr. Cameron indicated he won't proceed without parliamentary approval. "Our actions won't be determined by my good friend and ally the American president, they will be decided by this government and votes in this House of Commons," Mr. Cameron said.

The prime minister had hoped to secure parliamentary support for U.K. military action following Thursday's debate, but he was forced to change tack late Wednesday by making a key concession by saying politicians would be able to vote before any direct British involvement in military action occurs. That vote is due to take place early next week after the U.N. weapons inspectors report their findings, in an effort designed to avoid a repeat of the country's swift backing for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Assad has repeatedly said his country will defend itself against any aggression.

Mr. Cameron faces pressure from the main opposition Labour Party, as well as from some politicians in his own Conservative Party and the governing coalition's junior partner, the Liberal Democrats.
Among key concerns raised during Thursday's parliamentary debate involved whether military action would prevent the future use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and what the implications there would be for the stability of the Middle East region. John Baron, a Conservative politician and among skeptics on intervention, said that no matter how clinical the strikes there is a real risk that military action would escalate the violence and suffering in Syria.

U.N. officials said weapons inspectors will be done with their work in Syria by Saturday and that their conclusions will be shared with members of the Security Council.

Damascus was quiet Thursday, with the shelling and rocketing from the military offensive on the suburbs appearing to have stopped. People were out and about shopping and stocking up on essential goods amid a more robust military presence on the streets and some roads where government officials reside are closed. Newspaper headlines in Syria continued to be defiant against a military strike by the U.S. and allies.

Until Wednesday Mr. Cameron and his government had been moving ahead with urgency. Mr. Cameron in recent days returning early from vacation, recalled parliament to debate the issue, and introduced a draft proposal to the U.N. Security Council seeking authorization for military action against Syria to protect civilians.

The British military also undertook contingency plans, which continued Thursday with the deployment of six RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets to Cyprus. A defense ministry spokesman described it as "a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria."

—Nicholas Winning in London, Sam Dagher in Damascus and Stacy Meichtry in Paris contributed to this article.
Write to Cassell Bryan-Low at cassell.bryan-low@wsj.com

The truth about Syria's poison gas incident in one paragaraph

This one paragraph says all that needs to be said about what happened in Syria with the poison gas incident.

The rational for attacking Syria is to punish Assad. But what if he didn't order, or know about the attack in advance?

In that case it becomes an internal matter of military discipline within the Syrian Army.

We don't expect other countires to attack the US when our military personanel commit a crime against humanity.

Neither should Syria.

Courtesy of bloomberg.com, here is the paragraph that sums it all up (emphasis mine):

"Speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified intelligence, the three U.S. officials said intercepted Syrian communications provide no ironclad evidence that Assad or members of his inner circle ordered the attack. Two of them said the intercepts indicate that he didn’t know about it in advance and demanded that his subordinates explain what had happened."

Greenland canyon proves global warming and climate change are scams

Global warming and climate change are natural rhythms of nature according to a major finding by NASA scientists.

Beneath one-mile of Greenland ice sheet, they found a canyon 460 miles long  and 2,600 deep.


That clearly means the warm era necessary to allow the canyon to develop was not a short-term event.

Note to Al Gore: You're going to see this example in your face a lot. Don't cash those carbon-tax credit checks yet.

Here's a video on the finding:


Feds throw in the towel on marijuana prohibition; will not prosecute in legalized states

Courtesy of washingtonpost.com




The Obama administration on Thursday said it will not stand in the way of Colorado, Washington and other states where voters have supported legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational use, as long as those states maintain strict rules involving distribution of the drug.

In a memo sent Thursday to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole detailed the administration’s new stance, even as he reiterated that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.


The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus their resources on eight specific areas of enforcement, rather than targeting individual marijuana users, which even President Obama has acknowledged is not the best use of federal manpower. Those areas include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the sale of pot to cartels and gangs, preventing sales to other states where the drug remains illegal under state law, and stopping the growing of marijuana on public lands.

A Justice Department official said that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had called the governors of Colorado and Washington around noon Thursday to inform them of the administration’s stance.


The official said Holder also told them that federal prosecutors would be watching closely as the two states put in place a regulatory framework for marijuana in their states, and that prosecutors would be taking a “trust but verify” approach. The official said the Justice Department reserves the right to revisit the issue.


Washington state and Colorado last fall approved initiatives to decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Those laws go beyond provisions for the medical use of marijuana. The District and 18 states have passed laws making it legal to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.


Until Thursday, the Justice Department and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy had remained silent about those initiatives, despite repeated requests for guidance from state officials.
Obama told ABC News’s Barbara Walters in a December interview that recreational pot smoking in states that have legalized the drug is not a major concern for his administration.


“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”

The issue has been percolating since Obama took office, and he has repeatedly faced questions about the tension between differing federal and state laws.

When the White House created an online petition program called “We the People” in 2011, marijuana-related petitions were so prevalent that the administration issued four responses to 13 petitions, which had garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Black Racists strike again: Senate's only Black senator, Tim Scott, snubbed for 50th anniversary of March on Washington - because he's a Republican!

Courtesy of Washingtonexaminer.com




Sen. Tim Scott, R.-S.C., the only African American serving in the United States Senate, wasn't invited to the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's march on Washington, though a host of Democratic luminaries spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“Senator Scott was not invited to speak at the event,” Greg Blair, a spokesman for the South Carolina lawmaker, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

“The senator believes today is a day to remember the extraordinary accomplishments and sacrifices of Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis, and an entire generation of black leaders.

Today’s anniversary should simply serve as an opportunity to reflect upon how their actions moved our country forward in a remarkable way.”

The event organizers didn't completely exclude Republicans from the event — former President George W. Bush, for instance, received an invitation, but he couldn't attend as he is recovering from surgery — but the slate of speakers was filled with names such as former President Clinton, Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Foxx and others.
President Obama was the keynote speaker of the event, of course, which is held in honor of the achievements of Dr. King and other civil rights leaders.

Wouldn't it have made sense to have the first black president joined by the first black senator from South Carolina, which was a Jim Crow state when the original march on Washington took place?

The Washington Examiner contacted MLK Dream 50 to ask why Scott wasn’t invited, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

Westerrn asset placement and Syrian air defenses

Courtesy of ZeroHedge.com



Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that US forces are "ready to go" if the administration decides to strike against alleged Syrian chemical weapon use. As Bloomberg notes in the infographic below, US Navy guided missile destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea are within range of Syrian targets.. and the ships have a combined inventory of more than 200 cruise missiles.

On the other side, the Syrian Air Defense system is very robust, and as Stratfor notes, with an estimated 54,000 personnel, Syria's air defense network is twice the size of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force. Here is the Syrian theater of operations...

(via Bloomberg)



(via Stratfor)


As the United States weighs a military response to the Syrian regime's reported use of chemical weapons, one of the largest concerns will involve countering Syria's robust air defense network. With an estimated 54,000 personnel, Syria's air defense network is twice the size of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force and air defense command combined at the start of the NATO campaign in 2011. Syria's Air Defense Command consists of the 24th and 26th anti-aircraft divisions, which comprise thousands of anti-aircraft guns and more than 130 surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries.

The bulk of Syria's SAM weaponry is composed of the SA-2, SA-3, SA-5, SA-6 and SA-8 SAM systems, which were also operated by Gadhafi's forces. However, the Syrians operate these systems in far greater numbers, have devoted significant resources to maintaining and upgrading these missile batteries and have also successfully deployed their SAM systems in a dense and overlapping layout that would complicate operations to suppress enemy air defenses.

Though also a Russian ally, Gadhafi did not have the more advanced Russian air defense systems that the al Assad regime possesses. For example, Iran reportedly financed Syria's acquisition of 50 SA-22 systems first delivered in 2007 -- 10 of which allegedly ended up in Iranian hands. The Syrians are also thought to operate several SA-11 systems, which the Libyans did not have. Syria's defenses against an air campaign are not restricted to the ground. Its air force can contribute dozens of fighter aircraft and interceptors, which any intervention force would also have to contend with.

Ron Paul scores again: Nobody knows who set off the poison gas attack; US intrelligence finally concedes he's correct






The AP reports that US intelligence officials are admitting that linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack is no "slam dunk," as opposed to Obama (and Kerry) who are 'unequivocal' of the fact.
Via AP,
The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack is no "slam dunk," with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria's chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.

...

an intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.

So while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that links between the attack and the Assad government are "undeniable," U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad's orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.

...
Perhaps more concerning...
Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government's control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war.
"The danger of escalation with Russia is very high," Ron Paul warns in this brief Fox News interview. After casting doubts on the government's 'knowledge' and reasoning in the region, Paul gets straight to the point. Simply put, he notes, despite the ongoing headlines of 'proof' and 'dreadful videos', Paul states "We're not positive who set off the gas," and indeed - who is set to benefit most from any Assad-regime-smackdown? Al-Qaeda.

Why all empires eventually collapse - including the USA's

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,




On August 19th, 43 BC, 2056 years ago to the day, a twenty year old soldier born Gaius Octavius Thurinus assumed control of the most powerful civilization on the planet.

Standing in front of his Army that he had just marched into Rome, Gaius forced the Senate to ‘elect’ him to the highest political office in the land at the time.

And once in power, he never let go.

From August 19, 43 BC until his death (which coincidentally was also on August 19th) in 14 AD, Gaius deftly increased his authority until he wielded total control over Rome.

Of course, Gaius ultimately became known as Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. So one could argue this was the day the Republic ‘officially’ died and was replaced with a succession of incompetent megalomaniacs.

This includes an infamous cast of characters, from the morally depraved Caligula to the certifiably insane Nero, to the tax-mongering Vespasian, to the oppressive tyrant Domitian.

This trend continued for hundreds of years. Tyranny. Oppression. Overspending. Hyperinflation. Civil war. External war. Debilitating taxes. Punitive regulations. And a terminal decline in people’s freedom and standard of living.

This is such a familiar story. Empires throughout history have always gone through this life cycle of rise, peak, decline, and collapse. Rome. Egypt. The Habsburg Empire. The Ottoman Empire.

And the salient points are almost always the same– out of control government spending, a rapidly debased currency, costly foreign military campaigns, burdensome regulations, etc.

More importantly, in almost every instance, there’s always been a tiny elite who thinks they should control the entire system.

Yet history is very clear: societies that organize themselves in this way suffer a 100% failure rate, without exception.

Curiously, these same mistakes are repeated over and over again.

There’s always a new elite showering themselves with unchecked dictatorial powers– from control of the money supply to control of the military.

For example, four men control over 70% of the world’s money supply in our modern central banking system. They have the power to conjure unlimited quantities of currency out of thin air in their sole discretion.

Meanwhile, the “richest” countries in the world (US, Europe, Japan, etc.) are so deeply in debt that they have to borrow money just to pay interest on the money they’ve already borrowed.

This isn’t rocket science. Predicting the end of this system is not attention-seeking sensationalism; it’s just common sense.

During the housing boom just a few years ago, everyone thought that home prices would go up forever.

Then suddenly it all crashed. And afterwards, everyone said, “Duh, it doesn’t make sense to loan millions of dollars to dead people.”

This too will seem obvious in hindsight.

And even the staunchest advocates of the system (like Paul Krugman) will look back and say, “Sure, I knew that would happen. Obviously you can’t spend and print that kind of money without consequence.”

Meanwhile, the controlling elite will keep careening towards its historical destiny.

That’s because today’s system shares similar fundamentals as nearly every other case of failed empire. And it’s foolish to think that this time will be any different.

Prostitution like newspapers - both losing revenue to the Internet

 Courtesy of Bloomberg.com





In a dim parlor furnished with red velvet couches and a stripper pole, Brooke Taylor is having a sale on herself. 

“I offer a lot more specials and discounts and incentives for people to come in to see me,” said Taylor, 32, a brunette prostitute in a short, green dress at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch outside Carson City, Nevada. “People are looking for deals.”

Nevada’s legal brothels, which took root in the mid-1800s silver-mining boom, are dwindling, down to about 19 from roughly 36 in 1985, according to George Flint, an industry lobbyist. Many have been the highest-profile businesses in their sparsely populated regions, and their decline hurts already-stretched county budgets and marks the end to local institutions -- though not the universally beloved sort.

The state’s flagging economy, decreased patronage by truckers squeezed by fuel costs and growing use of the Internet to arrange liaisons are to blame, managers say.

“A lot of our clients don’t have the discretionary income they had six years ago, five years ago,” said Susan Austin, 63, the madam of the Mustang Ranch in Sparks, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Reno. “The ones that can come in, they aren’t spending quite what they were spending before.”



Lonely Outposts

Recent years have not been kind to Nevada. The 18-month recession that began in December 2007 still holds a grip on the state. It had America’s highest unemployment rate in July, 9.5 percent, compared with 7.4 percent nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the last quarter of 2007, the state’s economic health has declined 46 percent, according to the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States. That’s second-worst in the nation behind New Mexico.

Most brothels are in rural areas with few people and employers. If Manhattan had the density of Lyon County, home to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the population would be 594.

The brothels pay little to the state, sending most of their fees and tax payments to the counties that oversee them.

Every dollar helps. In Lyon County, where the largest private employers are an Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) distribution center and a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) outlet, total revenue fell from $33 million in fiscal 2009 to $29 million in 2012, according to Josh Foli, its comptroller. In the past five years, the county’s staff has been cut about 25 percent, Foli said.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, Lyon’s four brothels paid it $369,600 in business-licensing fees and $17,800 from work permits for the prostitutes, Foli said. The brothels also pay room and property taxes to the county, along with sales tax to the state on merchandise, including t-shirts.

 

Steady Clientele

Then there’s the main transaction: Visitors select from a lineup of women, negotiate a price and pay a cashier in advance. The women, independent contractors, say they typically give half to the house.

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, said his customers spend $200 to $600 on average.
Austin, who said she became a prostitute at 49 before becoming a madam, said the Mustang Ranch is seeing fewer clients than five years ago, though she wouldn’t provide figures.

“They’re getting less services because they’re paying less, but they’re still seeing their favorite ladies,” Austin said in the brothel’s Italian suite, which features a four-poster bed, tiger-print carpet and hot tub. “It’s like anything: When the economy takes a dive, you just live with less frills.”

 

Siegel’s Vision

Some say the downturn is overdue.

“Legal prostitution creates a cultural acceptance,” said Melissa Farley, executive director of Prostitution Research & Education, a San Francisco-based group that fights the sex trade. “The evidence tells us prostitution is profoundly harmful.”

The decline of the bordellos threatens an emblematic industry in a state that, since gangster Bugsy Siegel envisioned Las Vegas’s casinos in the 1940s, has cultivated a global reputation as a sinner’s paradise of gambling and louche delights.

The houses were woven into the fabric of the American West in the days of the pioneers, said Barb Brents, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While some states banned them, Nevada left the question to local governments in counties with fewer than 700,000 residents.

Ten of the state’s 17 counties allow them.

“They don’t bother anybody,” Brents said. “Brothels operate on an idea that men are a certain way and women are a certain way and there’s a need for these services.”

 

Phoenixxx Twirls

In the Mustang Ranch’s Wild Horse Saloon, scantily clad women put that idea into action, approaching men on barstools and at tables. A woman leads a customer through a locked door. A 41-year-old redhead who calls herself Phoenixxx twirls on a pole atop the bar in a tight striped dress, then moves to a corner where she repeats the moves, this time in the nude. Gwen Stefani’s

“Hollaback Girl” booms from the stereo.

The spectacle masks the fall of the fleshpot. Prostitution is shifting online, said Scott Peppet, who teaches law at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and writes about technology and markets.

“A brothel is an intermediary,” Peppet said. “It’s pulling together women so it’s easy for buyers to find them.” That role is now being filled by the Internet, he said.

Craigslist, the free online classified-advertising site, eliminated its adult-services section in 2010 in response to pressure from state attorneys general. Many ads shifted to closely held Backpage.com.

Did life on Earth start on Mars?

Public Domain from NASA



Life on Earth may have started millions of miles away on Mars, according to scientists.
An element believed to be crucial to the origin of life would only have been available on the surface of the Red Planet.

These "seeds" of life probably arrived on Earth in meteorites blasted off Mars by impacts or volcanic eruptions, Geochemist Professor Steven Benner claims.

Prof Benner, from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in the US, said: "The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock."

Speaking at the Goldschmidt 2013 conference in Florence, Italy, he said: "It's lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life.

NASA's Curiosity rover celebrates one year on Mars
Images from NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars
"If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell."

Prof Benner said the element molybdenum was thought to be a catalyst that helped organic molecules develop into the first living things.

"This form of molybdenum couldn't have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did.

"It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet."

He added: "Analysis of a Martian meteorite recently showed that there was boron on Mars; we now believe that the oxidised form of molybdenum was there too."

Another reason why life would have struggled to start on early Earth was that it was likely to have been covered by water, said Prof Benner.

Guest post: Does Aristotle think Obama is a tyrant?




Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,


Nearly 2,400 years ago, Aristotle wrote one of the defining works of political philosophy in a book entitled Politics.

It’s still incredibly relevant today, particularly what he writes about tyranny.

The ancient Greeks used the word ‘turannos’, which referred to an illegitimate ruler who governs without regard for the law or interests of the people, often through violent and coercive means.

Aristotle attacks tyrants mercilessly in his book, and clearly spells out the criteria which make a leader tyrannical. You may recognize a few of them:
  1. Artistotle suggests that a tyrant rises to power by first demonstrating that he is a man of the people:
    “He ought to show himself to his subjects in the light, not of a tyrant, but of a steward and a king.”
    and
    “He should be moderate, not extravagant in his way of life; he should win the notables by companionship, and the multitude by flattery.”
  2. But once in power, a tyrant uses all available means to hold on to power, including spying on his people:
    “A tyrant should also endeavor to know what each of his subjects says or does, and should employ spies . . . and . . . eavesdroppers . . . [T]he fear of informers prevents people from speaking their minds, and if they do, they are more easily found out.”
  3. Furthermore, Aristotle tells us that a tyrant thrives by creating division and conflict– “to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables [the rich]. . .”
  4. Controlling the economy and stealing the citizens’ wealth is also another mark of a tyrant:
    “Another practice of tyrants is to multiply taxes. . . [and] impoverish his subjects; he thus provides against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring.”
  5. And as Aristotle points out, a tyrant also attempts to disarm the people such that “his subjects shall be incapable of action” because “they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if they are powerless.”
  6. Naturally, a tyrant “is also fond of making war in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in want of a leader.”
  7. Aristotle also tells us that tyrants hunt down those who oppose their power:
    “It is characteristic of a tyrant to dislike everyone who has dignity or independence; he wants to be alone in his glory, but anyone who claims a like dignity or asserts his independence encroaches upon his perogative, and is hated by him as an enemy to his power.”
  8. Ultimately, though, Aristotle concludes that “No freeman, if he can escape from [tyranny], will endure such a government.”
    He’s right. And in the past, people had to rise up in the streets to defeat tyranny.
Fortunately, there are many tactics available to freedom-oriented people today that don’t involve violent revolution.

For rational, thinking people who find themselves living in a state that is rapidly sliding into tyranny, one of the most important steps to take is reducing exposure to that government.

If you live, work, bank, invest, own property, run a business, hold your precious metals, store your digital data (email), etc. all in the same place, you are running some serious ‘sovereign risk’.

In many cases, you can move precious metals overseas, set up a foreign bank account, or create an offshore, encrypted email account with a few mouse clicks.

Take a look back at Aristotle’s points. If the majority of them look familiar, it may be time that you look around the world for alternatives.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest post: Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?


So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too?

 

 By Robert Fisk
 

If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.


Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.

This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Maybe the Americans should ask al-Qa’ida for intelligence help – after all, this is the group with “boots on the ground”, something the Americans have no interest in doing. And maybe al-Qa’ida could offer some target information facilities to the country which usually claims that the supporters of al-Qa’ida, rather than the Syrians, are the most wanted men in the world.

There will be some ironies, of course. While the Americans drone al-Qa’ida to death in Yemen and Pakistan – along, of course, with the usual flock of civilians – they will be giving them, with the help of Messrs Cameron, Hollande and the other Little General-politicians, material assistance in Syria by hitting al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front.

And our own Prime Minister will applaud whatever the Americans do, thus allying himself with al-Qa’ida, whose London bombings may have slipped his mind. Perhaps – since there is no institutional memory left among modern governments – Cameron has forgotten how similar are the sentiments being uttered by Obama and himself to those uttered by Bush  and Blair a decade ago, the same bland assurances, uttered with such self-confidence but without quite  enough evidence to make it stick.

In Iraq, we went to war on the basis of lies originally uttered by fakers and conmen. Now it’s war by YouTube. This doesn’t mean that the terrible images of the gassed and dying Syrian civilians are false. It does mean that any evidence to the contrary is going to have to be suppressed. For example, no-one is going to be interested in persistent reports in Beirut that three Hezbollah members – fighting alongside government troops in Damascus – were apparently struck down by the same gas on the same day, supposedly in tunnels. They are now said to be undergoing treatment in a Beirut hospital. So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too? Blowback?

And while we’re talking about institutional memory, hands up which of our jolly statesmen know what happened last time the Americans took on the Syrian government army? I bet they can’t remember. Well it happened in Lebanon when the US Air Force decided to bomb Syrian missiles in the Bekaa Valley on 4 December 1983.

I recall this very well because I was here in Lebanon. An American A-6 fighter bomber was hit by a Syrian Strela missile – Russian made, naturally – and crash-landed in the Bekaa; its pilot, Mark Lange, was killed, its co-pilot, Robert Goodman, taken prisoner and freighted off to jail in Damascus. Jesse Jackson had to travel to Syria to get him back after almost a month amid many clichés about “ending the cycle of violence”. Another American plane – this time an A-7 – was also hit by Syrian fire but the pilot managed to eject over the Mediterranean where he was plucked from the water by a Lebanese fishing boat. His plane was also destroyed.

Sure, we are told that it will be a short strike on Syria, in and out, a couple of days. That’s what Obama likes to think. But think Iran. Think Hezbollah. I rather suspect – if Obama does go ahead – that this one will run and run.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Meet the man behind the scenes of the possible war with Syria - Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Guest post: ZeroHedge.com

 

Yesterday the Telegraph's Evans-Pritchard dug up a note that we had posted almost a month ago, relating to the "secret" meeting between Saudi Arabia and Russia, in which Saudi's influential intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan met with Putin and regaled him with gifts, including a multi-billion arms deal and a promise that Saudi is "ready to help Moscow play a bigger role in the Middle East at a time when the United States is disengaging from the region", if only Putin would agree to give up his alliance with Syria's al-Assad and let Syria take over, ostensibly including control of the country's all important natgas transit infrastructure. What was not emphasized by the Telegraph is that Putin laughed at the proposal and brushed aside the Saudi desperation by simply saying "nyet." However, what neither the Telegraph, nor we three weeks ago, picked up on, is what happened after Putin put Syria in its place. We now know, and it's a doozy.

Courtesy of As-Safir (translated here), we learn all the gritty details about what really happened at the meeting, instead of just the Syrian motives and the Russian conclusion, and most importantly what happened just as the meeting ended, unsuccessfully (at least to the Saudi). And by that we mean Saudi Arabia's threats toward Russia and Syria.

First, some less well-known observations on who it was that was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt even as US support was fading fast:
Bandar said that the matter is not limited to the kingdom and that some countries have overstepped the roles drawn for them, such as Qatar and Turkey. He added, “We said so directly to the Qataris and to the Turks. We rejected their unlimited support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. The Turks’ role today has become similar to Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war. We do not favor extremist religious regimes, and we wish to establish moderate regimes in the region. It is worthwhile to pay attention to and to follow up on Egypt’s experience. We will continue to support the [Egyptian] army, and we will support Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because he is keen on having good relations with us and with you. And we suggest to you to be in contact with him, to support him and to give all the conditions for the success of this experiment. We are ready to hold arms deals with you in exchange for supporting these regimes, especially Egypt.”
So while Saudi was openly supporting the Egyptian coup, which is well-known, it was Turkey and most importantly Qatar, the nation that is funding and arming the Syrian rebels, that were the supporters of the now failed regime. One wonders just how much Egypt will straing Saudi-Qatari relations, in light of their joined interests in Syria.
Second, some better-known observations by Putin on Russia's relationship with Iran:
Regarding Iran, Putin said to Bandar that Iran is a neighbor, that Russia and Iran are bound by relations that go back centuries, and that there are common and tangled interests between them. Putin said, “We support the Iranian quest to obtain nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And we helped them develop their facilities in this direction. Of course, we will resume negotiations with them as part of the 5P+1 group. I will meet with President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Central Asia summit and we will discuss a lot of bilateral, regional and international issues. We will inform him that Russia is completely opposed to the UN Security Council imposing new sanctions on Iran. We believe that the sanctions imposed against Iran and Iranians are unfair and that we will not repeat the experience again.”
Then, Putin's position vis-a-vis Turkey, whom he implicitly warns that it is "not immune to Syria's bloodbath."
Regarding the Turkish issue, Putin spoke of his friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; “Turkey is also a neighboring country with which we have common interests. We are keen to develop our relations in various fields. During the Russian-Turkish meeting, we scrutinized the issues on which we agree and disagree. We found out that we have more converging than diverging views. I have already informed the Turks, and I will reiterate my stance before my friend Erdogan, that what is happening in Syria necessitates a different approach on their part. Turkey will not be immune to Syria’s bloodbath. The Turks ought to be more eager to find a political settlement to the Syrian crisis. We are certain that the political settlement in Syria is inevitable, and therefore they ought to reduce the extent of damage. Our disagreement with them on the Syrian issue does not undermine other understandings between us at the level of economic and investment cooperation. We have recently informed them that we are ready to cooperate with them to build two nuclear reactors. This issue will be on the agenda of the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Moscow in September.”
Of course, there is Syria:
Regarding the Syrian issue, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”
Alas, that has failed.
So what are some of the stunning disclosures by the Saudis? First this:
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values ??and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
It is good of the Saudis to admit they control a terrorist organization that "threatens the security" of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses "in the face of the Syrian regime." Perhaps the next time there is a bombing in Boston by some Chechen-related terrorists, someone can inquire Saudi Arabia what, if anything, they knew about that.

But the piece de resistance is what happened at the end of the dialogue between the two leaders. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Arabia aimed squarely at Russia:
As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt's future.

The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”

At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.
Since we know all about this, it means no more talks, an implicit warning that the Chechens operating in proximity to Sochi may just become a loose cannon (with Saudi's blessing of course), and that about a month ago "there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate." Four weeks later, we are on the edge of all out war, which may involve not only the US and Europe, but most certainly Saudi Arabia and Russia which automatically means China as well. Or, as some may call it, the world.

And all of it as preordained by a Saudi prince, and all in the name of perpetuating the hegemony of the petrodollar.

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam Use Chemical Weapons

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

- From Foreign Policy’s excellent article: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran
Remember all of the propaganda ahead of the USA’s “democracy unleashing” invasion of Iraq in 2003. It went something like this: “We have evidence that Saddam Hussein has stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and even worse he has a histroy of using them, even against his own people!”
Well unsurprisingly, Mr. Hussein had a little help from his friends. The United States of America.

Let’s bear this in mind as our Noble Peace Prize winning President attempts to involve us in another unconstitutional war based on the fact that chemical weapons have been used.

Let’s be adults here and recognize that every single thing we have been told about Syria has been a lie. Let’s also admit that the “rebels” that we are allies with have al-Qaeda elements to them, and that Saddam Hussein was a close ally in the 1980?s before we decided he was the most evil dictator on the planet 20 years later for engaging in chemical attacks we were actually a party to.

Please spread this far and wide, since I believe we can avoid this useless war if enough people get the joke. From Foreign Policy:
The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.
Next you’re going to tell me Santa Claus isn’t real.
The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.
War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength and Not Commenting is Transparency.
In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. “If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,” the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

And the full documents from Foreign Policy

Get to know the US warships in the Middle East bringing you the possibility of WW III

Courtesy of ZeroHedge.com



With a US attack on Syria now seemingly inevitable, it is useful to get familiar (and in some cases follow in real time using their "social networking" sites) the US Naval forces amassing around Syria, ready to deliver either a lethal payload of Tomahawk cruise missiles (carried by the four destroyers listed below), a deployment of marines (located in the USS Kearsarge big-deck amphibious warfare ship), or one or more squadrons of airplanes sitting on the deck of the Truman and Nimitz aircraft carriers.

As a reminder, here is how the core naval forces look like currently in the region (next update due tomorrow).



And here are the various "social media" and other pages of the US naval force:
  • Aircraft Carriers
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) is the eighth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, named after the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. The ship's callsign is Lone Warrior, and she is currently homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

Harry S. Truman was launched on 14 September 1996 by Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, and commissioned on 18 July 1998 with Captain Thomas Otterbein in command. President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker, and other notable attendees and speakers included Missouri Representative Ike Skelton, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton.

Harry S. Truman was initially the flagship of Carrier Group Two and, beginning 1 October 2004, of Carrier Strike Group Ten.

Beginning in 2001, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Battle Group participated in Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Deny Flight, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Summer Pulse '04, and NATO Operation Medshark/Majestic Eagle '04.

FB page:



USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is a supercarrier of the United States Navy, and is the lead ship of her class. She is one of the largest warships in the world. She was laid down, launched and commissioned as CVAN-68 but she was redesignated CVN 68 (nuclear-powered multimission aircraft carrier) on 30 June 1975 as part of the fleet realignment.

The ship was named for World War II Pacific fleet commander Chester W. Nimitz, who was the navy’s third fleet admiral. Unlike all of the subsequent Nimitz class aircraft carriers, Nimitz only uses her namesake's surname as is common for naval officers. She is also the first carrier of her class and the most recent supercarrier in service not to be named for someone who held elected office in the United States.

Nimitz had her homeport at Naval Station Norfolk until 1987, when she was relocated to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Following her Refueling and Complex Overhaul in 2001, her homeport was changed to NAS North Island in San Diego, California. The home port of Nimitz was again moved to Everett, Washington, in 2012. This move is expected to save the Navy $100 million.

FB page


* * *
  • Big-Deck Amphibious Warfare Ship
USS Kearsarge (LHD-3)
USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) is the third Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy. She is the fifth ship to be named (the fourth actually commissioned) in honor of the USS Kearsarge, a sloop-of-war that gained fame during the American Civil War, which was in turn named for Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire.

On 2 March 2011, Kearsarge, along with USS Ponce (LPD-15), traveled through the Suez Canal in response to the 2011 Libyan civil war. Robert Gates had said days earlier that he ordered the two warships into the Mediterranean, along with an extra 400 Marines, in case they are needed to evacuate civilians or provide humanitarian relief. As of 20 March, AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from the Kearsarge have been reported attacking Libyan targets as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

On 22 March, V-22 Ospreys from the Kearsarge conducted a successful CSAR operation to recover the crew of a USAF F-15E Strike Eagle after it crashed in Libya due to a mechanical failure during a combat mission. The Daily Telegraph reported a military source as stating that during the rescue strafing runs were carried out and two Harriers dropped two 500 lb bombs on a convoy of Libyan vehicles, with other reports alleging that Libyan civilians were wounded in the operation. The ship returned to home port at Norfolk on 16 May 2011.

Following a three day delay due to weather, Kearsarge deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on March 11, 2013 for a scheduled eight month deployment. One of her first port visits was to cash-strapped Cyprus. The Kearsarge later docked at the Israeli port of Eilat for several days beginning May 14, 2013 before continuing her deployment

FB Page



* * *

  • Destroyers (each equipped with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles):
USS Barry (DDG-52)
USS Barry (DDG-52) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, commissioned in 1992. Barry is the fourth United States Navy ship named after the "Father of the American Navy", Commodore John Barry (1745–1803). Barry is homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

Several improvements over Arleigh Burke exist on this ship and all following Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. They include the ability to refuel a helicopter and several other small improvements.
Barry has received many awards, including the Battenberg Cup for the years 1994, 1996, and 1998—making Barry one of only three ships (as of 2008) to have won the prestigious award three times, and the only Aegis destroyer to have won the award thus far—earning her the nickname "Battenberg Barry" in the late 1990s. She has also been awarded the Battle E award 4 times, and received the Golden Anchor and Silver Anchor Awards for retention. More recently, in 2004 the Barry received the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy for being the most improved ship in the Atlantic Fleet.

* * *
USS Ramage (DDG-61)
USS Ramage (DDG-61) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy. The ship is named for Vice Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, a notable submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II.

Ramage was laid down 4 January 1993 at the Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, launched 11 February 1994, sponsored by Barbara Ramage (wife of the admiral), and commissioned 22 July 1995.

On August 8, 2013, Ramage departed for an eight month deployment into the US Navy 6th Fleet area of responsibility to assist with ballistic missile defense. Its last deployment was from May, 2012 to January, 2013[4][5]

The USS Ramage entered the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a response to the Syrian civil war. It was specifically deployed after allegations that President Bashar al-Assad's regime had used chemical weapons on its own people in suburbs of Damascus. The Navy destroyer USS Ramage has arrived in the region, a defense official said late Friday 23rd August 2013. It was intended to replace the USS Mahan, but the Mahan will remain temporarily along with the USS Gravelly and USS Barry. All four are equipped with cruise missiles.

* * *
USS Gravely (DDG-107)
USS Gravely (DDG-107) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named after Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.

Gravely is the 57th destroyer in her class. She was authorized on 13 September 2002 and her keel was laid down on 26 November 2007 at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Gravely was launched on 30 March 2009.She successfully completed sea trial in June 2010.

Gravely was commissioned at Wilmington, North Carolina on 20 November 2010 under the command of Commander Douglas Kunzman. She is currently part of Carrier Strike Group Two. In late August 2013 along with her sister ships USS Mahan (DDG-72) USS Barry (DDG-52), and USS Ramage (DDG-61), Gravely was sent to patrol the eastern Mediterranean Sea in response to rising rumors of an imminent military intervention in the Syrian civil war.

* * *
USS Mahan (DDG-72)
USS Mahan (DDG-72) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer currently in service with the United States Navy


Summarizing the destroyer's capabilities: