“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."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Syrian forces begin ground offensive backed by Russia air and sea power

Nato ready to ‘defend' Turkey as Russia strikes Syria 

Alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, makes comment after violations of Turkish airspace by Russian jets conducting airstrikes in Syria 


Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and agencies 
Thursday 8 October 2015 05.46 EDT 
Last modified on Thursday 8 October 2015 06.58 EDT 

 Nato is ready to send troops to Turkey to defend against threats on its southern flank, the head of the alliance has said following violations of Turkish airspace by Russian jets conducting airstrikes in Syria. 

 Moscow’s growing military involvement in the Syria conflict – which on Wednesday involved its jets backing an offensive by ground troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad – is expected to be high on the agenda of a meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers. 

 “Nato is ready and able to defend all allies, including Turkey against any threats,” Jens Stoltenberg, the organisation’s secretary general, told reporters before the Brussels meeting on Thursday. 

 Britain to station troops in Baltic region 'to deter Russian aggression' Read more “In Syria, we have seen a troubling escalation of Russian military activities. We will assess the latest developments and their implications for the security of the alliance. This is particularly relevant in view of the recent violations of Nato’s airspace by Russian aircraft. 

 “Nato has already responded by increasing our capacity, our ability, our preparedness to deploy forces including to the south, including in Turkey.” 

 The ground offensive backed by Russian airstrikes was an escalation in Moscow’s week-long campaign, which had previously been restricted to bombing runs to soften up rebel positions near major loyalist strongholds. 

Syria’s chief-of-staff, General Ali Ayoub, on Thursday declared a wide-ranging ground offensive by Syrian troops was underway that he said had been facilitated by Russian air strikes. 

 Russian warships also fired missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea for the first time on Wednesday. The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said four warships launched 26 rockets at Isis targets. 

The missiles would have passed over Iran and Iraq to reach their targets, covering what Shoigu described as a distance of almost 900 miles. The terrain-hugging Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, known by Nato by the codename Sizzler, fly at an altitude of 50 metres and are accurate to within three metres, the Russian defence ministry said. 

 Syrian state television quoted a military source as saying the missiles targeted 11 Isis positions in Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib. 

 Russia’s air campaign in Syria has caught the US and its allies on the back foot and alarmed Syria’s northern neighbour Turkey, which says its air space has been repeatedly violated by Russian jets. 

 Turkey summoned Russia’s ambassador for the third time in four days on Wednesday over the reported violations, which Nato has said appeared to be deliberate and were extremely dangerous. 

 Turkey said Syria-based missile systems harassed its warplanes on Tuesday while eight F-16 jets were on a patrol flight along the Syrian border. The Russian ministry of defence said it was continuing to consult with Turkey to ensure there would be no repetition of the incident. 

 The Syrian push on the ground is the first time Assad’s forces have coordinated with the Russian airforce in an attempt to seize lost territory from opposition forces, leading to some of the fiercest fighting in months in a civil war that has now lasted four and a half years and killed more than 250,000 people. 

 The assault mirrors the US strategy in northern Syria, where coalition planes bombed Isis positions to pave the way for their allies on the ground to advance against the militants. It also poses the question of how much territory the regime’s army, exhausted and depleted by the conflict, can seize from the rebels. 

 Syrian activists said Russian fighter jets had on Wednesday bombed a series of towns held by the opposition in the countryside of Hama, in concert with a push by regime troops and armoured vehicles and the deployment of Russian helicopters, in what was described as the fiercest combat in months. 

 Most of the fighting appeared to be concentrated in Hama, a central province with a majority Sunni capital that has remained in the hands of the regime since the start of the war. It is key to Assad’s strategy of cementing control over major population centres in a strip of territory from Latakia in the north, through to Homs, Hama and Damascus. 

 The US Department of State repeated accusations that a large majority of Russia’s military strikes in Syria have not been aimed at Isis or jihadis tied to al-Qaida, and have instead targeted the moderate Syrian opposition. 

 “Greater than 90% of the strikes that we’ve seen them take to date have not been against Isil [Isis] or al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists,” said a spokesman, John Kirby. 

 Speaking in Brussels, the US ambassador to Nato, Douglas Lute, said on Wednesday that Russia’s buildup in Syria now included a “considerable and growing” naval presence, long-range rockets and a battalion of ground troops backed by Moscow’s most modern tanks. 

He said the Kremlin seemed to be intent on forging a new counter-coalition to the western-Gulf axis, bringing together the Russians, Iranians, Iraqis and Hezbollah behind Assad. 

 Moscow had managed a “quite impressive” military deployment over the past week to its Syrian naval base in Tartus and its army base in Latakia, Lute said. 

“There is a considerable and growing Russian naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, more than 10 ships now, which is a bit out of the ordinary,” he told a news briefing. 

 “The recent Russian reinforcements over the last week or so feature a battalion-size ground force ... There is artillery, there are long-range rocket capabilities, there are air defence capabilities,” Lute said. A battalion is typically made up of about 1,000 soldiers. 

A senior Turkish official said 18 Russian warships had passed through the Bosphorus strait at Istanbul en route to Moscow’s Syrian base, amid conflicting reports of Russian ground forces also being deployed. 

 Nato diplomats doubted the Russians were preparing any ground operations, but were sure that they were training and equipping Assad ground forces and were active on the ground beyond their military bases. 

 “The Iranians are on the ground, but not the Russians yet,” said the Turkish official. 

 The Turkish official and Nato diplomats said the Russians had also deployed air-to-air fighter aircraft which would not be used for bombing anti-Assad forces, but would engage in dogfights.


  1. .

    Russia is doing the same thing the US did in their first couple of months in Syria, using cruise missiles to take out fixed, hard targets While it's true they probably welcome the opportunity to showcase some of their new weapons, its unlikely they will be using them for too long since they are useless against movable targets.

    It interesting how fast Russia has moved to beef up their operations in Tartus and Latakia. They have enough equipment in Latakia to conduct a full range of missions. They are adding their own forward air base at the air base in Latakia they have been using. They are moving more equipment and troops into the area daily.

    The question becomes how long can they keep it up?

    Russia appears to have reached a stalemate in the Ukraine and their adventures there have cost them dearly. Now, they have shifted to Syria trying to hang on to their foothold their and attempting to regain the influence in the ME they lost decades ago. However, given Russia's shaky economy, the low price of oil, and the sanctions placed on them, you have to ask how much or how far are they willing or able to go.

    One thing you can count on is that it is going to get a lot bloodier in Syria with the arrival of the Russians. That's what you get when you try to conduct war on the cheap. Don't expect Moscow to be dropping a lot JDAM type guided bombs. Each one costs the US about $25,000. Syria uses barrel bombs because they are cheap and effective (here, effective isn't used in a positive way). Russia will probably switch to dumb bombs at $300 - $500 a pop. Of course, that's were it gets messy. Russia won't want to fly below 10,000 feet because of the risk to their planes. Above than accuracy goes down quickly. Result? More bombs, more collateral damage, more civilian deaths.

    Right now, IMO, with the incursions over Turkey, Russia is just testing how far they can go before the West pushes back with anything but words like calling them 'unprofessional'. However, they are playing a mighty dangerous game.


  2. .

    For some reason men jst don't seem to like Hillary...

    The latest round of polling for Clin­ton is bru­tal. This week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al/Mar­ist sur­vey in Iowa shows her fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing with men at a mere 27 per­cent, while two-thirds view her un­fa­vor­ably. Her minus-39 net fa­vor­ab­il­ity with men is 28 points worse than Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden and 27 points be­hind Sen. Bernie Sanders. The story is the same in New Hamp­shire, where the NBC/WSJ/Mar­ist poll found both Sanders and Biden with net-pos­it­ive rat­ings, while Clin­ton’s ap­prov­al is deeply un­der­wa­ter, stuck at 30 per­cent....

    And, gee whiz, I didn't realize that Joe Biden is 72. That would put him at almost 74 when he took office. Way too old, IMO.


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  3. .

    Dirty Bombs for Sale

    Looking for one more thing to keep you tossing in your sleep at night? Look no further than yesterday’s accounts of Russian linked mobsters dealing in nuclear materials — hoping to land clients in the Middle East.

    The Associated Press account of smugglers offering to sell some fairly high grade uranium — preferably to those with a connection to the Islamic State — likely doesn’t come as a surprise to security experts who have long warned about the ease with which a dirty bomb can be made and transported (think one of those enormous container ships).

    The cases documented in the AP report were centered in Moldova, apparently a hotbed of smuggling, and the uranium for sale was quite likely from the melted-down Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine. The sting operation went on for more than five years and involved the FBI and a small group of Moldovan investigators — the most recent arrest being last February.

    But this is not a story with a happy ending. The big guys got away. The wife of one kingpin (she made the handoff of materials) got a three-year sentence, another smuggler got five years in prison. The Moldovan investigative team was disbanded. And because the sting operations involved buying only small “samples” of the nuclear materials there is no telling how much of the stuff is left out there on the market just waiting for a real buyer with truly nefarious intentions...



  4. Re: Israel and B-52s

    Uncle Bob was asked yesterday by his ever emotionally young nephew Deuce whether Uncle supported USA giving Israel B-52's.

    Uncle Bob was tired and forgot a news item of recent date about a new type of conventional explosive being tested that yields as powerful a bomb as a bunker buster for about a tenth the weight.

    Israel would not need USA b-52's when this device comes on line.

    Whole thing is frightening, as in civilian terrorist hands this explosive could bring down a city block or two with a device the size of a shoe box..

  5. The China Debt Fizzle

    Remember the dire threat posed by our financial dependence on China? A few years ago it was all over the media, generally stated not as a hypothesis but as a fact. Obviously, terrible things would happen if China stopped buying our debt, or worse yet, started to sell off its holdings. Interest rates would soar and the U.S economy would plunge, right? Indeed, that great monetary expert Admiral Mullen was widely quoted as declaring that debt was our biggest security threat. Anyone who suggested that we didn’t actually need to worry about a China selloff was considered weird and irresponsible.

    Well, don’t tell anyone, but the much-feared event is happening now. As China tries to prop up the yuan in the face of capital flight, it’s selling lots of U.S. debt; so are other emerging markets. And the effect on U.S. interest rates so far has been … nothing.

    Who could have predicted such a thing? Well, me. And not just me: anyone who seriously thought through the economics of the situation, with the world awash in excess saving and the U.S. in a liquidity trap, quickly realized that the whole China-debt scare story was nonsense. But as I said, this wasn’t even reported as a debate; the threat of Chinese debt holdings was reported as fact.

    And of course those who got this completely wrong have learned nothing from the experience.

    With Cool Chart

  6. Talk about a fucked up situation -

    How Putin is Winning and Losing Syria
    No one is in Syria because of ISIS.
    October 8, 2015
    Daniel Greenfield

    Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

    The Russian line is that they’re in Syria to fight ISIS. But the Russians, like the Turks, Iranians and Europeans, don’t care about ISIS. By declaring itself a Caliphate, ISIS made itself non-aligned. The fighting in Syria isn’t about ISIS. It predated the rise of ISIS as a major player. It’s about Syria.

    ISIS has become a convenient excuse for converging on Syria. But no one is there because of ISIS.

    The Turks are bombing Syria for their old hobby of killing Kurds. Turkey will occasionally bomb supposed ISIS targets for propaganda purposes, but mostly its air force bombs the Kurdish enemies of ISIS. Russia will do the same thing, hitting ISIS for propaganda purposes, but focusing on Sunni anti-Assad groups.

    Turkey and Russia are bombing so many of ISIS’ enemies, that they might as well be backing ISIS.

    Putin and Erdogan aren’t there to fight ISIS, but neither is Obama. Obama’s campaign to “degrade” ISIS is another failure and no amount of cooked intel to make it seem like he’s winning can change that.

    Obama got into Syria to back Sunni Islamist coalitions. Russia is in Syria to back a Shiite Islamist coalition. We never got around to bombing the Shiites because Obama’s red line wavered and broke, but the Russians are making up for it by bombing the Sunni Islamists that Obama was backing.

    Obama is protesting to Putin on weak grounds. Granted, Moscow is lying about its agenda in Syria. It isn’t there to fight ISIS. It’s there to fight other Sunni Jihadists, some of whom are linked to Al Qaeda, which ISIS is also fighting. But then again Obama has lied just as much about Syria as Putin has.

    The US, Europe and Russia are fighting over which bunch of Islamic terrorists to support. It’s a lot like the Cold War. There are no good guys. Just bad guys that we support and bad guys they support.

    Putin is there to support Iran’s Shiite terrorists. Obama is there to support Saudi Sunni terrorists. No one is there to support ISIS which is why bombing it is not a major priority for either side in this contest.

    We’re the only ones bombing ISIS full-time, but that’s because Obama was caught shorthanded by ISIS genocide being televised and couldn’t think of anything else to do. His new alliance with Iran and his old alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood make it hard for him to bomb or not bomb Assad. Bombing ISIS is a compromise since both his new Iranian friends and his old Brotherhood friends oppose the group.

    Bombing ISIS allows Obama to pander to both Shiite and non-ISIS Sunni Jihadists and their backers.

    But Putin is thinking strategically. He wants to reduce Western influence by backing a Shiite axis. Obama has no coherent plan anymore. The original Arab Spring plan of backing the Muslim Brotherhood that caused the Syrian Civil War fell apart ages ago. Obama supports the Sunni Jihadists on paper, but has been hesitant about providing them with weapons or air support. Meanwhile he’s backing their Shiite Jihadist rivals in Iraq.

    While Putin acts as the Shiite air force in Syria, Obama acts as the Shiite air force in Iraq. It’s a good deal for Iran and less work for Putin, but it does nothing coherent for American national interests.

    1. The Shiite axis lets Russia expand its power in the region at bargain basement prices. Moscow can’t afford even those prices, but Putin has given up on economic development and is basing his entire regime on restarting the Cold War. Russian streets are full of angry old Communists holding up signs reading, “We are ready to perish to help Putin.”

      And the war has all sorts of interesting fringe benefits.

      The Muslim migrant invasion of Europe may not have been a calculated Russian strategy, but then again it just might be. Hungary is already talking about moving away from the EU and toward Russia. Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic feel betrayed by the EU.

      Non-EU members who might have seen the EU as a defense against a Russian invasion now feel they have to choose between a Russian invasion and a Muslim invasion.

      Unexpectedly, Syria has proven to be a major asset for Putin’s Eurasian expansion program. It has probably done more to help him get the old WarPac gang back together again than invading Ukraine.

      The more chaos Russia creates in the Middle East, the more Muslims flood into Europe, the shakier the European Union becomes. If Putin achieves nothing else in Syria, he can keep the flow of Muslim migrants going long enough to bring down the rest of Europe.

      And if Europe is in bad enough shape, his Eurasian Union becomes more viable.

      The Soviet Union became a major threat once the rest of Europe has been ruined by WW2. The Muslim migration isn’t quite WW2, but then Putin’s plans for the Eurasian Union are just a poor mashup of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union which will somehow uphold Russian power while being majority Muslim. It’s hard to imagine a worse and more unstable entity than the USSR, but a Eurasian Union with Russian ex-KGB rulers and Muslim armies subjugating Slavic countries might just be the ticket.

      Back in Syria, Putin has made Russian airpower into the protector of Assad and Hezbollah. The US will be expected to coordinate its moves with Russia. Israel has already worked out an arrangement under which it may have to coordinate air strikes against Russia’s Hezbollah terror allies with… Russia.

      It’s a dangerous game for Russia. Russian air power is no match for either the US or Israel. Quite a few Russian pilots were shot down and captured by the Israelis during major wars. But Putin is gambling that Obama won’t have the guts to push him and that Netanyahu has too many other things on his mind.

      He’s probably right about Obama, but he may be wrong about Netanyahu.

    2. Stopping Iranian weapons shipments to terrorists has been a primary goal of Israeli operations abroad. Israel has pursued that goal by hitting targets from Dubai to Sudan to Syria. If Putin expects to extend his umbrella over Shiite terror groups targeting Israel, he won’t be able to do that without a fight.

      Israel views Iranian aid to Hamas and Hezbollah as an existential threat. The ability of both groups to strike deep within Israel in ways that disrupt life in major cities has become a major crisis. If the situation escalates, Israel may be forced to go back to the territorial strategy of holding security zones.

      But Israel is one of the few players in this game that puts the terror threat first because it strikes close to home. For Obama and Putin, for Turkey and Iran, it’s all about geopolitical strategy and power blocs.

      Russia, Turkey and Iran want to rebuild old empires. Obama wants to undo colonialism by backing Islamists. The only common denominator in their goals is that they will all lead to more terrorism.

      The bigger question is how much water does Putin intend to carry for the Shiite axis.

      The Ayatollah Khomeini may have called America the “Great Satan”, but he called Russia the “Lesser Satan”. On the year of his death, he did send a letter urging Gorbachev to abandon Communism and study Islam. Gorbachev’s face reportedly turned redder than usual, but the letter served as the basis for a growing relationship between the Islamic Republic and the Lesser Russian Satan.

      Putin’s Eurasian Empire depends on seizing or controlling a lot of territories that were originally controlled by Iran. These include parts of Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Georgia and Armenia. Those may not be Iran’s major focus now, but a collision course between these two wannabe empires is inevitable.

      Russia and America are both playing an old disastrous Cold War game of building up Muslim terrorists and terror states. Russia helped innovate moderate Muslim terror tactics only to fall victim to them. The United States has backed a Muslim Brotherhood that intends to conquer the United States.

      Putin may be winning now in Syria, but it’s a victory that belongs to Iran. Its Shiite terrorists will strike at America and Israel, but they will eventually also strike at Russia.

      Putin is thinking longer term than Obama. But not by that much.

      Clear as a Buddhist bell, no ?

  7. Obama has given the green light to Russia, Iran, Assad and Hezbollah to do whatever is wanted to do to stabilize the corridor from the med to the caspian sea.

    The Sunni arabs are being slaughtered, which fits into the plan of Iran and now the Shiites of Iraq.

    Hezbollah is now getting air cover in lebanon and is taking delivery of even more impressive russia technology.

    This all is to give cover to Iran.

    The next war will be very bloody.

    It will be wider and more civilians will die.

    Israeli cities will burn and Israel will respond in kind.

    At the end of the day?

    Nations that have not investing in bomb cellars will have high causality rates.

    Once Hezbollah starts bombing Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities? All bets are off.

    Obama has green lighted the destruction of Israel's position in favor of Iran.

    1. Things look grim all around.

      I knew the USA made a major major error by electing -twice ! - a fraud, liar and insane deluded man such as Obama.

  8. More insanity -

    October 8, 2015
    What Really Drives Obama's Destructive Mideast Policy?
    By Selwyn Duke

    It’s not a stretch to say that what ex-president Jimmy Carter did for Iran, Barack Obama is doing for the whole Middle East and beyond. Islamic State is on the move; jihadism in general is raging and all the rage; and with the Iran deal, the man who helped enable the “Arab Spring” may give us a nuclear winter.

    A Mideast policy with such results has befuddled many. Why did Obama help overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and hurl Libya into turmoil? Why did he throw Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak under the bus? And why, as radio host Michael Savage asked late last week, does he have such a “vendetta” against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad?..................

  9. October 8, 2015
    Are Mideast Muslims Dying for a Myth?
    By Mike Konrad

    Islam claims that, during his lifetime, Mohammed took a night journey on a flying steed, called al Buraq, to Jerusalem to the Farthest (al-Aqsa) Mosque. The irony is that, according to Muslim sources, there was no mosque in Jerusalem for Mohammed to visit. So why are they fighting over what never was?

    Official Muslim history says Mohammed died in 632 AD – if one uses the Islamic calendar, the year 10. Of this, there is no debate among imams, mullahs, Shi'a, Sunni, Wahhabi, Sufi, etc. By every account, Western or Islamic, Arab armies did not reach Byzantine Roman Christian Jerusalem until 636 AD of our calendar, to immediately set a siege. The Arabs did not enter in until 637 AD, when Christians finally surrendered the city.

    Almost five years after Mohammed's death. Five years!

    Even were one to accept Islam, there were no mosques in Jerusalem until after Mohammed's death. Whenever and wherever Mohammed made his night journey, al-Aqsa could not have been in Jerusalem.

    This is only if one accepts Islam. If one does not accept Islam, the story unravels even further.

    Western deconstructionists now question the very existence of Islam's Mohammed. The British historian Tom Holland and America's Robert Spencer have done masterful jobs pointing out that the Mohammed of the Koran is a collection of biographic myths, appended centuries later. The Christian apologist Jay Smith has made a career of deflating Islamic claims. All three trace the legends of Mohammed back to the fertile imagination of Abd al Malik, the fifth caliph of the new Arab Empire – an empire that did not even call itself Muslim originally.

    Was there even a Mohammed?

    Probably! But the Koran exaggerates and inflates his life. And his teachings? In fact, much of Koranic doctrine can be traced to then centuries-old Gnostic texts that arose after the birth of Christianity.

    That is it. Soon after Christianity started, counterfeit Gnostic gospels arose in the second century. These were discredited early on by the Church, but the ridiculous legends remained floating around among the Arabs. Mohammed plagiarized from counterfeits for his own political motives. Hence, the Koran, rather than being revealed wisdom from God, was rather a bastardized recompilation of earlier counterfeits, which Mohammed jumbled for his own ends. What astounds us is that Mohammed used such ridiculous sources to counterfeit from.

    Further aggravating this are the Koranic references to Mecca that have been shown could apply only to the Nabateans in Petra. The Koran mentions olives, which do not grow in Mecca. The earliest mosques pointed to Petra, not Mecca.

    Did Mohammed exist? If he did, was Mohammed from Petra, or did he borrow Petra sources? We know he borrowed from the Gnostics. And why doesn't Mecca show up on any maps until 900 AD?

    But now, for the absolute coup de grace:

    The 'Birmingham Koran' fragment that could shake Islam after carbon-dating suggests it is OLDER than the Prophet Muhammad[.]

    Islam, and its prophet, may be a total fraud.

    By the way, with the help of Joseph Campbell, I have recently come across a monomythean moment in Jewish writings - I knew there had to be one ! - concerning Moses.

    If I succeed in working up a big head of steam I will type it out and post it.

  10. Highlights

    After holding at a long plateau at extremely low levels, initial jobless claims may now be breaking even lower to point to even less slack on the unemployment side of the labor market. Initial claims fell 13,000 in the October 3 week to 263,000 for the sharpest decline and lowest level in 2-1/2 months. The 4-week average is down 3,000 to a 267,500 level that is nearly 10,000 below the month-ago comparison which offers an early hint of strength for the October employment report.

    Turning to continuing claims which are reported with a 1-week lag, claims rose 9,000 to 2.204 million in the September 26 week but the 4-week average is down 14,000 to 2.222 million. The average is at its lowest level in 4-1/2 months and is down more than 25,000 from the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains at a rock bottom 1.6 percent.

    Estimates were made for South Carolina, which has been hit by heavy flooding, and Nevada submitted its own estimates. Otherwise there are no special factors in what is an especially standout claims report.

  11. Spencer Stone, one of three Americans who helped foil a terror attack on a French train in August, was stabbed in Sacramento on Wednesday night, the U.S. Air Force confirmed to NBC News.

    Airman First Class Stone was in stable condition on Thursday, an Air Force spokesperson said.

    "He is alive and in stable condition at this time," the spokesperson said. "We do not have any information as to the events preceding the incident."

    Ston was stabbed multiple times in the torso after a fight near some popular bars in downtown Sacramento, police told NBC affiliate KCRA.

    Homicide detectives were called to the scene, the station reported, adding that a man and a woman were questioned in the attack. Police have not released a description of the suspect, the station said.

    Stone, 25, tackled Morocco-born Ayooub El-Khazaani after the heavily armed terror suspect opened fire on a Paris train in August.

    1. Alek Skarlatos, who helped thwart attack on train, attends Oregon school where shooting happened

  12. Russia GDP -

    GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
    - Total $1.176 trillion[6] (15th)
    - Per capita $8,184[7] (74th)

    About 1/2 that of California

    Russia Wikipedia

  13. Benghazi Committee aims at Hillary, hits McCarthy.

  14. McCarthy drops out of House Speaker race.

    Whoopie !

    Long long call from Niece.

    Triple whoopie !

    Everything well with her......

    She has a new boy friend of the best sort now.

    Uncle Bob still has his 'Uncle Veto' over any marriage, she confirms.......though I am not going to exercise it ever.......I kinda like the idea..... she 'fired' her other uncles who used to have the veto ....they were for her marrying bozo, who tormented that I've got the veto, I kinda like this tradition......I can't tell her who to marry, but I got the veto.....makes me feel really important !

    She is wonderful.

    I was telling her about Huck Finn, and how he went against his society at the time by refusing the social pressure to return Jim to slavery....."all right then, I'll go to hell" said Huck......she picked up on this immediately.....

    Her parents have come around to supporting her point of view. And, they seem to love Uncle Bob. I hope to meet them sometime.

    Her father heads to the Himalayas to meditate regularly.

    She says the Himalayas are wow wow wow.....


    She is happy now......."It's not an ending if it's not a happy yet, Uncle Bob"

    All REAL Americans should be an 'international uncle', or at least a Big Brother to someone.....

    She threatened to quit Max Planck in Dresden without a pay increase.

    They immediately gave her the pay increase.....

  15. .

    Speaking of too old for the job. Time for the 'wolfman' to hang up his spurs.

    Just saw Wolf Blitzer interviewing Ben Carson. Very confrontational. Wolf just wouldn't let things drop.

    I think some of Ben Carson's past problems have come from assuming that the press will try to understand his comments within the context of his overall discussion on any particular subject when, in fact, all they are really looking is some sound bite they can excise from his complete comment; i.e. that a Muslim shouldn't be president. (Not to say Carson doesn't legitimately get into trouble for comments that are hard to misunderstand.)

    Wolf is the worst. And it's not just with Carson. I've seen Blitzer play the fool before.

    He has been downgraded at CNN just not far enough.


    1. The Wolf Man Blitzer is one reason I watch Fox.

      Never could stand the guy.

  16. ahem

    At least four Russian cruise missiles, headed for Syria, have reportedly crash-landed in Iran, Pentagon sources tell CNN and other outlets.

    So far neither Russian nor Iranian sources have confirmed the incident, though Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency is carrying the story (but crediting CNN).

    It is not known whether the missiles detonated or whether there are any casualties. Iran has enough empty space that it's possible the missiles crashed harmlessly.

    Russia has been launching cruise missiles from its fleet in the Caspian Sea, firing them over Iran and Iraq toward Syria, so northwest Iran is on their normal flight path. This state media video shows earlier launches and their path:

    Russia's high-tech military gear is just not that great

    For all Russia's military might — its force, one of the largest in the world, has been modernizing in recent years — its higher-tech equipment such as cruise missiles has long lagged behind Western standards.

    Cruise missiles are particularly difficult technology, flying many hundreds of miles at high speed, often automated. Early American cruise missiles also crashed often, requiring many years of testing and refining before they worked as well as they do now, and the Russian land-attack cruise missiles here are recently developed.

    This is a helpful reminder of a fact that is often forgotten in Washington but is remembered all too well in Moscow: The Russian military is formidable, but it is a generation or more behind American forces. After a week of hyperventilating American coverage of Russia's Syria intervention, this should be a reality check.

    It is also a worrying indication that inaccurate Russian launches risk increasing already sky-high civilian casualties in Syria.

    1. What ?

      The Rooskies said they launched 26 just yesterday without any civilian casualties.

      I do like the idea some are crashing into Iran though.

  17. A big question: Will this have political ramifications in Iran?

    Iran and Russia are on the same side in Syria, both supporting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, but there have been growing reports of tension and competition between them over Syria's future. And there is a long history of bitterness between Russia and Iran, the latter of which has not forgotten Russia's imperialist history in its country, nor Russia's support of crippling UN sanctions.

    One thing that will be worth watching, then, is whether this incident uncovers or provokes any Iranian backlash against Russia. Will this be brushed off as an innocent mistake, or will it prompt public criticism from Iran's often-noisy political system? So far, there's no noise out of Tehran one way or the other, but the possibility of Iran-Russia tension over Syria is worth looking out for.


  18. Obama Admin’s Iran Point Man Promotes Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theories
    Personal posts promote anti-Semitic authors, websites

    Alan Eyre / Twitter

    BY: Adam Kredo
    October 8, 2015 5:00 am

    A State Department official closely involved in the Obama administration’s Iran push has been promoting publications from anti-Semitic conspiracy sites and other radical websites that demonize American Jewish groups and Israel, according to sources and documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

    Alan Eyre, the State Department’s Persian-language spokesman and a member of the negotiating delegation that struck a nuclear deal with Iran earlier this year, has in recent months disseminated articles that linked American-Jewish skeptics of the deal to shadowy financial networks, sought to soften the image of Iranian terrorists with American blood on their hands, and linked deal criticism to a vast “neoconservative worldview.”

    Eyre described the one article, penned by the anti-Israel conspiracy theorist Stephen Walt, as having an “interesting thesis.”

    Insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about Eyre’s private postings pointed to a pattern of partisanship and called it a sign that key officials at the State Department are biased against the state of Israel. Such criticism has dogged the team Obama since the early days of the administration.

    Eyre regularly briefed U.S. officials at the negotiating table and was responsible for proofreading draft texts of the recent Iranian nuclear agreement.

    While Eyre has a public Facebook page officially sponsored by the State Department, screenshots taken from his private personal account obtained by the Free Beacon include content that insiders described as concerning.

    In one Feb. 13 posting, when Iran talks were at a critical stage, Eyre disseminated a link to an article praising Iranian Quds Force Chief Ghassem Suleimani, who is directly responsible for the deaths of Americans abroad.

    Image 1

    Suleimani, who is listed as a terrorist by the U.S. State Department, will have international sanctions against him waived under the parameters of the nuclear accord.

    In another posting from Feb. 5, Eyre links to the website LobeBlog, which is viewed by critics as anti-Israel and regularly attacks neoconservative pundits.”

    1. The article Eyre links to, “Who Are the Billionaires Attacking Obama’s Iran Diplomacy,” attacks opponents of the Iranian deal and insinuates that wealthy Jewish donors are behind this push.

      The article puts particular emphasis on the Israel Project (TIP), a non-profit advocacy organization run by Josh Block, a longtime Democrat, and claimed that wealthy Jewish individuals were behind a stealth campaign to kill the deal. TIP is portrayed as playing a crucial role in discrediting the deal and convincing lawmakers to take a stance against it.

      The article was penned by a former ThinkProgress blogger, Eli Clifton, who was forced out of the Center for American Progress-backed blog following a scandal in which several writers accused Iran deal critics of being “Israel firsters.”

      Image 2

      In another posting, Eyre links to an article by Stephen Walt, co-author of the book The Israel Lobby, which has been branded by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as an “anti-Jewish screed.”

      Walt lashes out in the piece at neoconservative critics of the Iran deal, writing that “no one should listen to their advice today.”

      Eyre linked to the piece with the comment, “interesting thesis.” He then quoted Walt at length, according to a screenshot:

      The real problem is that the neoconservative worldview — one that still informs the thinking of many of the groups and individuals who are most vocal in opposing the Iran deal — is fundamentally flawed. Getting Iraq wrong wasn’t just an unfortunate miscalculation, it happened because their theories of world politics were dubious and their understanding of how the world works was goofy.

      Image 3

      Eyre also appeared to express disappointment online in March, when Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican lawmakers penned an open letter to Iran opposing the nuclear talks.

      Eyre links to a March 9 Washington Post article by Paul Pillar, an Israel critic who backs boycotts of the Jewish state, titled ‘The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran.’ He then opined in the post, “Seriously. Can someone write them a letter telling them that the most fundamental duty of Congress is to pass a budget?”

      Image 4

      At least one of Eyre’s Facebook friends has quibbled with his postings.

    2. When Eyre linked to a Talking Points Memo article claiming that “49 percent of Republicans don’t believe in evolution,” one critic commented: “This post is total crap. Some 300 people were polled, and the polling criteria were, of course, not specified. This outfit has a deserved reputation as a left-leaning, professionally anti-Republican Flak Tank.”

      Eyre dismissed that criticism, responding, “If you are going to fact check every incendiary posting I put up, it is going to detract from the sum total of my facebook-derived frivolity.”

      In addition to his postings, Eyre has appeared as a keynote speaker at the National Iranian American Council’s Washington, D.C., conference.

      The council, which has been accused as serving as a pro-Tehran lobbying shop, has helped the Obama administration disseminate pro-Iran talking points and champion the deal in the public sphere. Its top officials also have insinuated that Jewish lawmakers who oppose the deal have more loyalty to Israel than America.

      One senior official at a Washington, D.C., pro-Israel organization expressed disappointment but not surprise at Eyre’s posting.

      “The easiest way to explain the State Department’s behavior toward the Middle East is to assume that they don’t like the Israelis very much and they have this romantic fascination with Iran,” the source said. “That’s what you’re seeing here.”

      “Of course they can’t admit that out loud, because the American people believe exactly the opposite, so they do it through passive-aggressive Facebook posts and occasional slips of the tongue about how moderate and sophisticated the Iranians are,” the source added.

      A State Department spokesman declined to comment on Eyre’s personal postings when contacted by the Free Beacon.

      “Alan Eyre is the Department’s Persian Language Spokesperson,” the official said. “In that capacity, he maintains his official page on Facebook here,” the spokesman continued, providing a link to the page.

      The Facebook page in question, however, is separate from Eyre’s public-facing personal page referenced by the State Department, which said it had no knowledge of the second page.

      “We’re not aware of any such content that you refer to posted on that account,” the official said.

      The official did not respond to follow-up requests asking for comment from Eyre on the postings.

  19. October 8, 2015
    Trump as your drunk uncle
    By James Arlandson

    I've known a few people who boast and brag about big or small things.

    The video clip Friend Dog Studios recently produced is a montage of Trump's statements and speeches and interviews, lip-synched by two comics.

    It's only two minutes long.

    It illustrates better than I could say why I don't believe that the man is a serious candidate and is therefore unworthy of the White House.

    Hat tip: Powerlineblog

    James Arlandson has written a supernatural historical fiction about his ancestor and the seventeenth-century real founding of America: Will Clayton: Founder, Quaker, and Demon Breaker. His website is Live as Free People, which is updated almost daily.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook


    1. Heh, kinda funny alright.

      I wish The Donald would shut the f up about eminent domain.

      Some of it is necessary, no doubt, but give the government an inch they take 10 miles.

  20. Ben Carson: Darwin’s Evolution Theory ‘Was Encouraged by the Adversary,’ Satan

    Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon and author of six best-selling books, gave a talk about creationism vs. evolution and said he believes the theory Charles Darwin “came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary,” Satan, the Devil.

    “Interestingly enough, this [evolution theory] is a . . . . .

    Darwin meet Debil

  21. Ben's got his point, you debil. It is extremely hard for evolutionary ideas of the crude Darwinian sort to explain how and why compassion and concern for the other entirely outside of one's own group arose, and how consciousness itself arose, another good quandary.

    If Ben took up a little Hindu reading on such subjects I think it would firm up his position on these issues.

  22. McCarthy accused of affair on WIKIPEDIA...
    Edits came from 'Homeland Security' IP address...
    DHS investigates...
    House members weeping in Capitol...
    'Banana republic'..............Drudge


    Banana Republic........that about right, isn't it ?

    1. More from The Banana Republic files -

      Armed guards protect Senate Democrats as they demand new gun-control laws............Drudge


    Moscow will soon start paying the price for its escalating military intervention in Syria in the form of reprisal attacks and casualties, the US defence secretary has warned, amid signs that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are preparing to counter the Russian move.

    Syrian troops launch ground offensive backed by Russian airstrikes
    Read more
    Ashton Carter was talking at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday during which the ministers agreed to increase a Nato response force intended to move quickly to flashpoints.

    There were no plans to deploy the force to Turkey, though the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, suggested its existence alone should discourage future Russian or Syrian incursions into Turkish territory.

    “We don’t have to deploy the Nato response force or the spearhead force to deliver deterrence,” Stoltenberg said. “The important thing is that any adversary of Nato will know that we are able to deploy.”

    Saudi Arabia, a leading supporter of Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, was said by diplomats to be preparing to step up its support, having despaired of the US. Ministers from Qatar and Turkey, the Saudis’ partners in the fight against Assad, are holding talks on their next moves.

    Riyadh’s anger over Vladimir Putin’s intervention was reflected in a statement by 55 leading clerics, including prominent Islamists, urging “true Muslims” to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to the fight against Assad’s army as well as Iranian and Russian forces.


    “Russia has created a Frankenstein in the region which it will not be able to control,” warned a senior Qatari source. “With the call to jihad things will change. Everyone will go to fight. Even Muslims who sit in bars. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. Imagine what will happen if 1% of them join.”

    We have attacked Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. Does the same math work for us?


    2. Well you constantly lecture us that Israel will be besieged by Islam.

      Funny, Russia has killed more in a week than Israel has in a decade. Assad and Iran? Have killed more than anyone since Saddam Hussein.

    3. 15% of Russia is moslem now...


      What percentage of Russia is Muslim?
      There are about 20 million indigenous Muslims living in the Russian Federation where the total population is over 140 million (about 15 percent of the total population).