“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, April 01, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris for talks with French officials about aid to the Syrian opposition. Kerry arrived in the French capital Tuesday on the last leg of a five-nation trip that also took him to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan with President Barack Obama and then on his own to Iraq and Afghanistan. He will see the French foreign minister on Wednesday. France is one of several European nations that would like to send military aid to the Syrian rebels. It also has been urging the U.S. to boost its assistance: - HERE IS A GRAPHIC VIDEO OF OUR NEW ALLIES IN ACTION




  1. A senior Syrian opposition figure has attacked the United States for its inaction against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, saying that Britain and France were now the best hope for salvaging the rebellion.

    Mr Walid Saffour, the opposition’s official envoy to London, said the refusal of Barack Obama’s administration to intervene in the two-year Syrian civil war was “humiliating to the Syrian people”.

    “The British and French stance [on Syria] is better and more advanced. It is better than the US which refuses to take action,” Mr Saffour told The Daily Telegraph.

    Britain, along with France, has in recent months launched a concerted effort to breathe life back into the ineffective, political opposition, the Syrian National Coalition.

  2. US Patriots, not the old fashion kind but US surface-to-air missiles that NATO (US) already has positioned in Turkey, are allegedly there to protect Turkey from attacks by the Syrian army. As if the Syrians are ready to invade Turkey. Recently others ( any guesses as to who “they” are?) have suggested in recent weeks is that these Patriots could also be used to protect Syrian airspace, to stop Syrian planes and scud missiles from dropping bombs on Syrian territory. : )

    The US Patriots could protect civilians, and eventually tip the balance against Assad, and again, prepare the way for that political transition that sees Assad out of power. This from the Syrian opposition figures ( the same lot that murdered the prisoners in the clip above) and increasingly from some U.S. politicians as well.

  3. Syrian rebels continued to gain ground in the area near the Israeli border on Thursday, according to media reports that spoke of several towns near the Golan Heights falling under their control.

    Israel has long been on high – yet quiet – alert on its border with Syria, as the IDF observes the battles taking place. Contingencies the IDF is prepared to deal with include a permanent withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping force stationed in the Syria- Israel buffer zone; the peacekeepers have already ceased their patrols.

    Other scenarios include coming face-to-face with radical jihadi elements across the frontier.

    Groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (“The Salvation Front”), a rebel organization set up by al-Qaida in Iraq, are among the rebels gaining ground.

    “We have been attacking government positions as the army has been shelling civilians, and plan to take more towns,” said Abu Essam Taseel, from the media office of the “Martyrs of Yarmouk,” a rebel brigade operating in the area that kidnapped the peacekeepers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force earlier this month.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group monitoring the conflict in Syria, said rebels had taken several towns near the Golan plateau.

    It said that on Wednesday night rebels captured Khan Arnabeh, which sits on the Israeli-Syrian disengagement line and straddles a main road leading into Israeli-held territory.

    Rebels also took Mashati al-Khadar and Seritan Lahawan, two villages near the cease-fire line, it said.

    Rebel sources say the Syrian army intensified shelling of villages in the area of Saham al-Golan at dawn on Thursday.

    They said that rebels in the Kuneitra region, next to the Golan, were stepping up attacks on roadblocks to gain more territory but added that the strategic town of Kuneitra – which was largely destroyed and abandoned during Israeli-Syrian clashes in 1974 – was still in Syrian government hands.

    On Wednesday, the IDF provided medical care to four wounded Syrians who approached the border fence with Israel on Wednesday, evacuating two of them to Israeli hospitals for further treatment.

    1. The Israeli are, instinctively, anti-Assad. With some reason.

      They will be looking back with longing to his family's tenure as rulers of Syria, soon enough.

      The Islamoids have focused upon their "Near Enemy", with great success.
      Those focused upon the Iranian threat, looking in the wrong place.

      If Islam is considered the premier threat to the "West".

    2. We and the Sauds, a team, in Syria.

    3. Not just in Syria, doug.
      All across the Arc.

    4. In the Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Eygpt ...

      All the way to the US consumer.


    Syria Analysis: International Aid Fuels Key Insurgent Victories in South EA Worldview

    Today, insurgents from the Dawn of Islam Brigade captured several key checkpoints across a town named Dael (often written Da’el) in Daraa Province (map). There are reports that the fighters have control of the entire town.

    Dael’s fall is significant. It may be the defining example of how the international effort to give military assistance to the rebels, led by Saudi Arabia and the US, is rapidly changing the face of the war.

    Control of Daraa Province gives the rebels access to Syria’s border with Jordan, from where outside forces are providing military assistance.


    Syria Comment Announces a new web service: Syria Video, which can be found at

    Syria Video is a web application that maps and aggregates Syrian war videos by tracking a large number of YouTube channels. The channels have been identified as reliable and tied to specific towns or regions of Syria. Syria Video collects all new videos released on these channels and attempts to identify their location in Syria and then displays them in chronological order. Since going online in early January, Syria Video has collected over 40,000 videos from 42 Syrian cities and 10 governates. Syria Video is an automated system, and thus, gathers videos in an unbiased manner.

    Syria Video is our first attempt to bring order to the online Syrian war-sphere and has the potential to provide valuable insight to the conflict.

    The Syrian government has tried to exploit the fog of war to gain advantage over its opponents by barring foreign journalists, restricting what Syrian journalists can report, and attacking its own citizen journalists.

    Opposition activists have struggled to counter this blackout by posting a growing stream of YouTube videos. They are intended to keep the international community abreast of the revolution’s progress, to produce sympathy for their cause, raise money, and advertise their exploits and victories.

    The footprint of the Syrian conflict on the web has been tremendous. The daily barrage of videos, tweets and Facebook posts coming out of Syria, has the potential to provide great insight into events occurring in any given area across the country. The lack of clarity that we face in following these events is not so much due to the lack of information, but to the overwhelming amount of it.

    *Syria Video is a Syria Comment project and is funded by the Center of Middle Eastern Studies, the Director of which is Joshua Landis. CMES is part of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

  5. Hooking kids on sex: Planned Parenthood starts “saturation process” in kindergarten

    WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 ― While the White House says sequestration has eliminated funds for children touring the White House, President Obama has no problem spending $350 million federal tax dollars for sexual indoctrination programs starting in kindergarten for those same children.

    This is not your grandmother’s sex education about how things work and what can go “wrong.” In fact, the exact opposite is the essence of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): Obamacare funnels $75 million annually into PREP, which must be used exclusively for Planned Parenthood-style “comprehensive” sex ed programs where no type of sex is wrong and the only sexual behavior PP considers “unsafe” is becoming pregnant.

    More than one-fourth of the funds ‒ $20 million ‒ has been awarded to a coalition of six Planned Parenthood affiliates, operating under the name Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health, to implement HHS’s TOP program across Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska at over 50 sites. In Oregon schools, Planned Parenthood is paying children cash incentives to participate.

    PP is funded with our tax dollars to market sex to our children in our schools under the guise of sex education, anti-bullying, diversity, and tolerance. Once sexualized, those children then become PP sex customers for contraceptives, STD testing, and abortion.

    1. .

      Brave New World redux. The government maintains control through directed consumerism, drugs, permanent division of classes (elite and workers), the elimination of marriage, and societal dictates towards free love.


  6. Consider one of the historical episodes that Stockman views as turning point on the United State’s road to perdition: the Roosevelt administration taking the dollar off the gold standard in 1933. The country was in a dire position at that time: a quarter of the population jobless, desolation rampant, the hopelessness fueling political extremism. A surprising number of people in the United States and Western Europe were starting to consider Communism a more attractive option, and in Germany this despair led directly to the rise of Nazism.

    The consensus macroeconomic view, best established by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz in their “Monetary History of the United States,” is that the economic collapse was driven by a steep contraction in the money supply. Banks had been allowed to fail by the hundreds, contracting credit, and the commitment to the gold standard meant that the Federal Reserve was unable or unwilling to use other means to pump money into the economy to offset it. Prices were falling; while people were starving in the cities, grain sat in silos in farm country because prices had dropped so low. The gears of capitalism had stopped turning. The result was a catastrophe.

    Stockman seems to think that the very practical step that the Roosevelt administration took to unshackle Americans from the gold standard was the beginning of an . . . . . . .

    The Diametrically Opposite Viewpoint

  7. Maybe President Barack Obama will be allowed to focus his second term on the great quest to smooth out the country's fiscal path, revamp the nation's immigration system and craft the appropriate 21st century relationship with China, the planet's other, emerging superpower.

    On the other hand, his second term just might be hijacked by problems in three crisis spots, all on the boil right now, and all places where the U.S. seems to have frustratingly limited control.

    Those three spots? North Korea, Syria and Iran.

  8. The roots of April Fool’s Day trace back to the 16th century, when France shifted to a new calendar that moved New Year’s Day to Jan. 1, as opposed to April 1. The legend says some people either didn’t want to accept the change, or they weren’t aware of it.

  9. Britain’s farmers are facing the third poor harvest on the run as the coldest March in 50 years plays havoc with crop planting – already significantly down because of last year’s wet weather.


    Tomato farmer Paul Simmonds of East Anglia added: “Light is significantly down on levels expected for this time of the year.”

    Flower growers are facing huge energy bills as they struggle to keep crops warm and supplied with light.

  10. Sexual activity among younger teens is rare, and those having sex at 10 or younger are usually victims of coercion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.


    If children younger than 10 reported having sexual intercourse, it typically was coerced or nonconsensual, according to Lawrence B. Finer, PhD, and Jesse M. Philbin, BA, of the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization based in New York City.

  11. If, for example, the Joint Special Operations Command secrets a team into Iran and taps into an Iranian military communications cable, the notification matrix will be small and after the fact. After all, conflict with Iran, overt conflict, is anticipated.


    The military can also be more flexible when it comes to redesigning structures to allow for more accountability. It can resource these missions more easily, and better integrate them into counter-terrorism policy.

    SOCOM, after all, is the executive agent for external counter-terrorism. That's what it does.

  12. One of the most dangerous cities in America has just declared bankruptcy, leaving creditors out hundreds of millions of dollars.

    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said the bankruptcy declaration was needed to allow the city to continue to provide basic services.


    Its salaries, benefits and borrowing were based on anticipated long-term developer fees and increasing property tax revenue. But those were lost in a flurry of foreclosures beginning in the mid-2000s and a 70 percent decline in the city’s tax base.

    Stockton, CA

  13. British soldiers and airmen who helped to operate a secretive US detention facility in Baghdad that was at the centre of some of the most serious human rights abuses to occur in Iraq after the invasion have, for the first time, spoken about abuses they witnessed there.


    The abuses they say they saw include:

    • Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.

    • Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.

    • Prisoners being routinely hooded.


    Today, 10 years after the invasion and the creation of the joint US-UK taskforce that detained and interrogated large numbers of Iraqis, the MoD responds to questions about their abuse by stating that it is aware only of "anecdotal accounts" of mistreatment, and that "any further evidence of human rights abuse should be passed to the appropriate authorities for investigation".

  14. Mr. Ahmadinejad has been a staunch defender of Iran's nuclear program but has also shown a willingness to negotiate, U.S. and European officials said. In late 2009, Tehran initially agreed with world powers to a deal to ship out the majority of its enriched uranium to a third country, in diplomacy that was seen as backed by Iran's president.


    Iran's supreme leader has regularly voiced opposition to bilateral talks with Washington on the nuclear issue. He has historically said giving ground on the nuclear question could only embolden the opponents of the Islamic Republic to seek regime change, and his orientation toward the red line could be reversed after the election.

    "The supreme leader might feel he's in a stronger position as far as the next steps in the nuclear program," said Gary Samore, who was Mr. Obama's top adviser on nuclear issues during his first term. "You could imagine, later this year, a confrontation."