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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Incendiary at a gunpowder storage

Revolutionary Guard: Syria Will Be ‘Second Vietnam’ for US Posted on August 29, 2013 by Arash Karami Share Shiitenews شیعت نیوز ( انٹرنیشنل ڈیسک ) مصر کے النھار نامی عرب روزنامے کی یہ خبر پوری دنیا میں تہلکہ مچا گئی کہ شام کے شہر حلب میں شامی دہشت گرد گروہ جبہۃ النصرہ کے ایک مرکزی لیڈر نے قطر کے الجزیرہ ٹی وی چینل کی اینکرپرسن غادہ عویس کے ساتھ جنسی زیادتی کی ہے۔واقعہ کچھ یوں تھا کہ وہ اپنے چینل کے عملے کے ساتھ کئی دنوں سے شامی حکومت کے مخالفین کی کوریج کررہی تھیں Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaffari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, spoke yesterday about the threat of an American military attack on Syria in response to accusations that Syrian forces used chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb. In an article published in Tasnim, Jaffari was quoted as saying, “The American government and some of its allies in recent years, by extensive support and equipping terrorists with all kinds of arms, were pursuing a strike against the line of resistance in the region.” Iranian authorities refer to Syria’s armed opposition as “terrorists” and include themselves, Syria and Hezbollah in an axis of resistance against American and Israeli hegemony in the region. Jaffari, who assesses that most of Syria’s armed opposition is in retreat, continued, “Now it appears that the disgraced failure of a proxy war by the terrorists against the resistant people of Syria has become a direct military threat.” He added, “America, despite the extremely bitter experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the face of military action against Syria, has completed its domino of failures and will experience in its history its most disgraceful failure, and Syria will become a massacre and battlefield much more dangerous than Vietnam and in reality, will become a second Vietnam for America.” “The Zionists should know” said Jaffari, “that an American military strike against Syria will not only not free this fake regime from the grip of resistance, but a strike against Syria will mean the imminent destruction of Israel.” According to the Tasnim article, this was said in reference to his statement that “It appears once again that under the influence of the Zionist lobby, that the American government is threatening a military strike.” In regard to the threat of military strikes in response to accusations that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Ghouta, Jaffari drew a comparison to accusations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of the country in 2003. “The people of the world, especially Muslims of the region, have not forgotten the lying excuse of the Americans for an attack against Iraq,” Jaffari said. “America attacked Iraq with claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction, and after years of a military presence and a massacre of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, stated that they made a mistake in their intelligence assessment.” Jaffari continued, “Some countries in the region and reactionary Arab regimes that support a military attack against Syria should also know that the fire of this warmongering will not be limited only to Syria but will [entangle] all the warmongers and their supporters.” Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been the Syrian opposition’s three staunchest supporters. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, also warned that this attack will be to the benefit of Israel and will not remain within the borders of Syria. “Any new operation in the region has always been followed by damages and has had no other outcome except gratification for the Zionists,” Firouzabadi said. “These have caused huge damages to humanity … They will not be limited to Islamic societies.” Yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned that American interference will be a “disaster” for the region and would act as an “incendiary at a gunpowder storage.” President Hassan Rouhani, who has walked the softest line among Iranian officials, warned against any “adventurism” in the region and urged United Nations inspectors to complete their work in regard to the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack. France says ready to punish Syria despite British no vote Fri, Aug 30 07:28 AM EDT 1 of 15 By Catherine Bremer PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Friday it still backed action to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for an apparent poison gas attack on civilians, despite a British parliamentary vote against it. An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close Assad ally, seized on the British no vote as evidence that "people are beginning to understand" the dangers of military action. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said his country would keep seeking an international coalition to act together on Syria, where hundreds of people were killed in last week's reported chemical attacks. Syria denies using chemical weapons. "It is the goal of President (Barack) Obama and our government ... whatever decision is taken, that it be an international collaboration and effort," he said. French President Francois Hollande told the daily Le Monde that he still supported taking "firm" punitive action over an attack he said had caused "irreparable" harm to the Syrian people, adding that he would work closely with France's allies. Asked if France could take action without Britain, Hollande replied: "Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France." The British parliamentary defeat on Thursday of a government motion on Syria has set back U.S.-led efforts to take military action against Damascus. Russia fiercely opposes any such action, backing the assertions of Damascus that Syrian rebels were behind the chemical attacks. Putin's senior foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said the British vote reflected majority opinion in Europe. "People are beginning to understand how dangerous such scenarios are," Ushakov told reporters. Any military strike looks likely to be delayed at least until U.N. investigators report back after leaving Syria on Saturday. Hollande is not constrained by the need for parliamentary approval of any move to intervene in Syria and could act, if he chose, before lawmakers debate the issue on Wednesday. "All the options are on the table. France wants action that is in proportion and firm against the Damascus regime," he said. "There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies," Hollande said. "CORE INTERESTS" Britain will not join any armed action in Syria after parliament voted 285-272 against a motion by Prime Minister David Cameron to authorize a military response in principle. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the United States would be disappointed that its close ally would not be involved, but said: "I don't expect that the lack of British participation will stop any action. U.S. officials suggested Obama would be willing to proceed with limited actions against Syria even without allied support. "President Obama's decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement after the British vote. "He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable." In a briefing with senior lawmakers on Thursday, Obama administration officials said they had "no doubt" Assad's government had used chemical weapons, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, who joined the call, told Reuters. Cameron said he would not override the British parliament. "I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons," he said after a vote that reflected misgivings stemming from Britain's role in the 2003 Iraq war. NO SMOKING GUN U.S. officials acknowledged on Thursday they lacked proof that Assad personally ordered last week's poison gas attack, and some allies have warned that military action without U.N. Security Council authorization may make matters worse. On the call with lawmakers, U.S. officials, including Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry, cited evidence of chemical weapons use including "intercepted communications from high-level Syrian officials", said Engel, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. After the 90-minute briefing, some lawmakers said the administration still had work to do to convince the public. "The president is going to have to make his case, I think, to the American people I think before he takes any action," said Republican Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Expectations of imminent turmoil eased as the diplomatic process was seen playing out into next week, and the White House emphasized that any action would be "very discrete and limited", and in no way comparable with the Iraq war. Syrian opposition sources said Assad's forces had removed several Scud missiles and dozens of launchers from a base north of Damascus, possibly to protect them from a Western attack, and Russia was reported to be moving ships into the region. Syria says rebels perpetrated the gas attacks, a version dismissed by Washington and its allies. U.N. chemical weapons inspectors visited a military hospital in a government-held area of Damascus on Friday to see soldiers affected by an apparent chemical attack, a Reuters witness said. The inspectors have spent the week visiting rebel-controlled areas on the outskirts of Damascus affected by gas attacks. Witnesses said the investigators were meeting soldiers at the Mezze Military Airport who state media said were exposed to poison gas after finding chemical agents in a tunnel used by rebels in the Damascus suburb of Jobar last Saturday. CHINA OPPOSES HASTY U.N. ACTION The United Nations says the team will leave Syria on Saturday and report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. France and Germany urged the world body to pass its report to the Security Council as soon as possible "so that it can fulfill its responsibility with regards to this monstrous crime". The United States, Britain and France have said action could be taken with or without a Security Council resolution, which would probably be vetoed by Russia. But some countries are more cautious: Italy said it would not join any military operation without Council authorization. Western diplomats say they are seeking a vote in the 15-member Council to isolate Moscow and demonstrate that other countries are behind air strikes. A report from Moscow that Russia is sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean underscored the complications around even a limited military strike, although Russia has said it will not be drawn into military conflict. Ambassadors of the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - have discussed a draft resolution that would authorize "all necessary force" in response to the alleged gas attack, but made no progress on Thursday, a council diplomat said. China said there should be no rush to force council action against Syria until the U.N. inspectors complete their work. "Before the investigation finds out what really happened, all parties should avoid prejudging the results, and certainly ought not to forcefully push for the Security Council to take action," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Ban in a phone call, Xinhua reported. "A political resolution is still the only way out," he said. The International Committee of the Red Cross joined a chorus of voices urging caution, saying further escalation would force more Syrians to flee and worsen the plight of civilians. According to the U.S. national security officials, evidence that forces loyal to Assad were responsible goes beyond the circumstantial to include electronic intercepts and some tentative scientific samples from the site. "This was not a rogue operation," one U.S. official said. In Damascus, residents and opposition forces say Assad's forces appeared to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in the centre as a precaution. People unable to decide whether to leave for neighboring Lebanon said the border was already jammed. "We're hearing people are spending hours - like 12 or 14 hours - waiting in line at the border," said Nabil, who was considering leaving town for Beirut with his wife and young daughter, "just until the strike is over". (Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Andrea Shalal-Esa, Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland, Thomas Ferraro and Jeff Mason in Washington, Erika Solomon and Oliver Holmes in Beirut, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Sarah Marsh in Berlin, Timothy Heritage in Moscow, Phil Stewart in Manila, Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Andrew Osborn, Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Peter Apps in London; Writing by Alistair Lyon; editing by David Stamp) ================ قناة سوريا ليوم -Syria channel today صورة نادرة من احدى الصحف العربية التي تعود لعشرينيات القرن الماضي وهي تندد بجريمة هدم الآثار الإسلامية في مكة المكرمة والمدينة المنورة من قبل اسرة آل سعود كما هو منشور انذاك و بما نصه 1 - هدم آل سعود، البيت الذي ولد فيه النبي العربي (محمد بن عبد الله)، بـ (شعب الهواشم) 2 - هدم آل سعود، بيت السيدة (خديجة بنت خويلد)، زوجة النبي وأول امرأة آمنت برسالته الإنسانية. 3 - هدم آل سعود، بيت (أبي بكر)، ويقع بمحلة (المسفلة) بمكة 4 - هدم آل سعود، البيت الذي ولدت فيه (فاطمة بنت محمد)، وهو في (زقاق الحجر) بمكة المكرمة 5 - هدم آل سعود، بيت (حمزة بن عبد المطلب) عم النبي وأول شهيد في الإسلام (الأصح أن حمزة هو سيد الشهداء، وليس أولهم) 6 - هدم آل سعود، بيت (الأرقم) وهو أول بيت تكونت فيه الخلايا الثورية المحمدية وكان يجتمع فيه الرسول سراً مع أصحابه 7 - هدم آل سعود، قبور الشهداء الواقعة في (المعلى)، وبعثروا رفاتهم 8 - هدم آل سعود، قبور الشهداء في (بدر). وكذلك هدموا مكان العريش « التاريخي » الذي نصب للنبي العربي القائد الأعظم وهو يشرف ويقود معركة الفقراء المسحوقين ضد أغنياء اليهود وقريش!… 9 - هدم آل سعود، البيت الذي ولد فيه (علي بن أبي طالب) و(الحسن) و(الحسين)… 10 - سرق آل سعود الذهب الموجود في القبة الخضراء ووضعوه سيوفاً وخناجر وأحزمة تربط في أسفلها أغطية ذهبية لفروج حريمهم ، وقباقيب ذهبية وأحذية وخواتم وخلاخيل وأساور. 11 - دمر آل سعود، (بقيع الغرقد) في المدينة المنورة حيث يرقد المهاجرون والأنصار من صحابة (محمد) وبعثروا رفاتهم… ولقد هّم بنو (القينقاع) (آل سعود) بتدمير القبة التي تظلل وتضم جثمان صاحب الرسالة (محمد بن عبد الله) ونبشوا ضريحه، لكنهم توقفوا حينما حدثت ضجة كبرى ضدهم، فارتدوا على أعقابهم خاسئين. كل ذلك بقصد أن لا يبقى أثر واحد من آثار أولئك المؤمنين الأبطال أجداد الإسلام الذين سحقوا أجدادهم (بني القينقاع) و(بني النضير) و(قريظة) وأمثالهم من اليهود ومن معهم ممن حاربوا رسالة نبينا محمد – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم- بالمال وشراء أشباه الرجال. هؤلاء من يدعمون متأسلمي هذا العصر Channel - day Syria -Syria channel today Rare picture of one of the Arab newspapers dating back to the twenties of the last century, which condemns the crime of the demolition of Islamic monuments in Mecca and Medina by the Al Saud family as published at the time and including text 1 - demolition of Al-Saud , the house where he was born Arab Prophet ( Muhammad bin Abdullah ), (b people Alhoashim ) 2 - demolition of Al-Saud , Ms. House ( Khadija ) , the wife of the Prophet and the first woman to believe in his message of humanity. 3 - the demolition of Al-Saud, House ( Abu Bakr ) , located Bmahlh the ( Misfalah ) in Mecca 4 - demolition of Al-Saud , the house where she was born (Fatima bint Mohammed ) , which is in the alley stone in Mecca 5 - demolition of Al-Saud , House ( Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib ) uncle of the Prophet and the first martyr in Islam ( rather that Hamzah is the master of the martyrs, and not the first of them ) 6 - the demolition of Al-Saud , House ( Al - Arqam ), which is the first house formed the Revolutionary Cells Muhammadiyah was the Prophet meets secretly with his companions 7 - the demolition of Al-Saud , the graves of the martyrs located in ( Alli ) , and scattered their remains 8 - the demolition of Al-Saud , the graves of the martyrs in the ( Badr ). And also tore down the place Arish ' historic ' of the Prophet - styled Arab Quaid - e - Azam which oversees and leads the battle of the downtrodden poor against the rich Jews and Quraish ! ... 9 - demolition of Al-Saud , the house where he was born ( Ali ibn Abi Talib ) and ( Hassan ) and ( Hussein ) ... 10 - Al-Saud stole gold in the green dome and put swords , daggers and connecting belts in the bottom of the golden covers Chicken Harimanm & Clogs , shoes and gold rings , anklets and bracelets. 11 - destroyed the Al-Saud ( Bakie Algrkd ) in Medina , where lying immigrants and supporters of the Companions (Muhammad) and scattered their remains ... We are the sons of ( Agaynha ) ( Al Saud ) destroyed the dome , which rises and includes the body of the author ( Muhammad bin Abdullah ) and نبشوا his tomb , but stopped when the big bang occurred against them , Vartdoa the at back foot خاسئين . All this in order not to stay the effect of one of the effects of those faithful heroes ancestors of Islam who crushed their grandparents (Brown Agaynha ) and ( Bani Nadir ) and ( Qurayza ) and their ilk from the Jews and with them who fought the message of our Prophet Muhammad - may Allah bless him and his family and him - money and buy semiconductor men. Those of support Mtaslma of this era

Muslim Teens Say Cops Ripped Off Their Hijabs During Brutal Bronx Arrest (Enemies Within)

The Patterson Houses (via) Two Muslim teenage sisters say the NYPD brutalized them and ripped off their hijabs after they were ordered to leave a Bronx park Monday night. In what appears to be an exclusive report, the Daily News says that Lamis Chapman, 12, and Khalia Wilson, 14, were thrown to the ground and had their head scarves ripped off by the officers at the Lester Patterson Houses in Mott Haven. Khalia says she was put in a choke-hold, telling the tabloid, "They said they asked for ID. I didn't hear them." When their brother Shytike Wilson, 15, tried to intervene, he says cops "slammed me on the floor" and arrested him. Jonathan Harris, an 18-year-old college student, was also arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He says he was pepper-sprayed, and that the police singled him out because he was documenting the arrest on his cellphone: "Come here, you little motherf—er," the cop said, according to Harris. "You like recording?" Harris said he sprinted towards a nearby building, but an officer caught him and tackled him, pushing his face in the dirt, and wrenching his arm behind his back. He said one officer punched him in his eye while he was down. "Where's the phone?" the officer screamed, Harris said. "I'll break your arm." So far Harris's video does not appear to be online. NYPD Internal Affairs is investigating the arrests, and the NYPD press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Check out the whole story on the Daily News site. Teens say they were beaten by cops in Bronx park Victims say they were playing handball when ordered to leave. They complied, but cops went on rampage, they say. By Jennifer H. Cunningham / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Thursday, August 29, 2013, 11:34 AM .Print Print.Comment... Pearl Gabel/New York Daily News L-R: Khalia Wilson, 14; Lamis Chapman, 13; Shytika Wilson, 15; Jonathan Harris, 18. The group was brutalized by the NYPD two days ago inside their neighborhood park - at East 145th Street and College Avenue - in Mott Haven, bronx. Photographed in the park on August 28, 2013. Three Bronx siblings say they were roughed up, then cuffed for apparently no reason Monday night — and cops punched, maced and arrested the 18-year-old who captured the fracas on video. Lamis Chapman, 12, and Khalia Wilson, 14, were playing handball at 9:30 p.m. in a park near their home in the Lester Patterson Houses in Mott Haven. The girls said police approached them, and told them to leave because the park was closed. Police followed them out, the girls said, and one grabbed Khalia from behind in a chokehold, wrestling her to the ground. "They said they asked for ID. I didn't hear them," Khalia said. Lamis said she told the cop to get off her sister, and the officer's female partner threw Lamis to the ground. As they lay on the ground, the girls, who are Muslim, said the cops ripped off their hijabs, a Muslim headscarf. "They didn't say anything," Khalia added. "I kept saying, 'I'm 14! What are you doing? We're not bad kids.'" A crowd quickly gathered, with many pleading with police to let the girls go, the sisters said. Police called for backup, and within moments, dozens of cops swarmed the scene. Pearl Gabel/New York Daily News Jonathan Harris, 18, was allegedly brutalized by the NYPD two days ago inside their neighborhood park - at East 145th Street and College Avenue - in Mott Haven, bronx. Photographed in the park on August 28, 2013. (Pearl Gabel/New York Daily News) The girls' brother, Shytike Wilson, 15, saw the cops straddling his sisters from his window and raced downstairs. "I asked them why my sisters were in handcuffs," Shytike said. "They charged me, picked me up, and slammed me on the floor." Jonathan Harris, an 18-year-old college student, said he heard the girls’ screams and ran to the park. He said he told the cops to leave the girls alone, then took out his cell phone to record the female officer atop Lamis. "Come here, you little motherf—er," the cop said, according to Harris. "You like recording?" Harris said he sprinted towards a nearby building, but an officer caught him and tackled him, pushing his face in the dirt, and wrenching his arm behind his back. He said one officer punched him in his eye while he was down. "Where's the phone?" the officer screamed, Harris said. "I'll break your arm." Harris said he was also pepper-sprayed during the melee. New York Daily News/New York Daily News Lajuana Wilson (left) and her children Shytike Wilson, 15, Khalia Wilson, 14, and Lamis Chapman, 12, say the kids were brutalized by cops on Monday night. A police source gave a very different account. "The officers told the kids to leave (the park) when they began acting disorderly," a police source said. The source said police were in the process of escorting the kids out of the park when Harris grabbed one of the girls away from the officers. Harris was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental function. Police claim two cops were hospitalized for scrapes, bruises and sprains. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident. "They treated us like criminals," Lamis said. "I was shocked because they're supposed to be helping us," added her sister, Khalia. With Thomas Tracy jcunningham@nydailynews.com Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/teens-mauled-cops-article-1.1440394#ixzz2dQJSa8Wq ======================================== 9 Secrets of the NYPD’s Spy Unit Revealed in ‘Enemies Within’ Aug 29, 2013 6:23 AM EDT In the wake of 9/11, the NYPD launched a huge surveillance program. In the new book Enemies Within, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman detail the radical counterterrorism plan that destroyed the city’s privacy. 17 inShare.1 (Page 1 of 2) While peering out onto the burning rubble at Ground Zero in the days after September 11, Ray Kelly (then an executive at Bear Stearns) had an epiphany: “The NYPD needs its own intelligence unit.” If the federal government continued to hold a monopoly on nationwide intelligence information, he theorized, the NYPD would simply be “waiting to respond to the next [terrorist] attack” and “helpless to prevent it.” Sworn in as New York City police commissioner just four months later in January 2002, the former Wall Streeter made it his mission to ensure that the NYPD would have the power—and intelligence—to stop something like this from happening on NYC soil again. People march in the American Muslim Day Parade in New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Doing so would require the creation of a secret, highly invasive intelligence unit in New York City that would “rival the FBI” and focus on the city in a way that that national organization never could. For this, he’d need the help of David Cohen, a retired CIA officer who had also gone to Wall Street. Together, Kelly and Cohen, whom he appointed as the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence, launched a top-secret spying unit in New York City—the first of its kind. To be effective at spotting “homegrown terrorists” and “thwarting their attacks,” the program wanted officers who could delve into the personal lives of innocent citizens in Muslim communities. And delve they did. In the forthcoming book Enemies Within, AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman rake through never-before-published NYPD documents and intelligence interviews to find out exactly how much damage this invasive spying unit did to innocent New Yorkers—most of whom were Muslims. The answer, Apuzzo and Goldman found, was a lot. Below, nine shocking revelations about the NYPD’s top-secret spying unit. 1. The NYPD labeled all Mosques "terrorism centers." In order to gain access to Muslim houses of worship, NYPD lawyers created a new case category, which they referred to as a “terrorism enterprise investigation” (TEI). Using this terminology, they were able to classify any mosque as a potential terrorist hub, and the worshippers inside as potential suspects. This gave them freedom to record sermons, photograph worshippers, and spy on imams—all in the absence of specific evidence of criminal activity. “A mosque is different than a church or temple,” one NYPD officer familiar with the effort explained. Since Muslims pray more than once a day at their places of worship, the officer continued, it makes it different than a church. “They pray five times a day ... If something bad is going to happen, they’re going to hear about it all in the mosques.” 2. They hired a CIA operative to feed them classified information and help run the program. The idea of putting a CIA officer inside a municipal police department had never been tried. But David Cohen knew that in order for a spying program of this caliber to work, he’d need someone who had access to “the latest raw federal intelligence.” That someone was Larry Sanchez, a CIA analyst in between assignments at Langley. After CIA Director George Tenet signed off, Sanchez was given the long-winded title of “CIA director’s counterterrorism liaison to the state of New York.” His actual job, Apuzzo and Goldman reveal, was to be Cohen’s “personal CIA representative.” The unprecedented move bridged a gap between the NYPD and CIA that, in retrospect, should not have been bridged. “NYPD officers are trained to uphold the law,” Apuzzo and Goldman write. “CIA officers are trained to subvert [it].” 3. The NYPD wanted to visit Internet cafes and join gyms to monitor "suspicious activity" in Muslim communities. After studying the dossiers of the 9/11 hijackers, Cohen and Sanchez became convinced that, if they had “eyes and ears” in the right communities, they’d be able to spot potential terrorists. Much of this came from studying the final moves of Mohamed Atta, one of the ringleaders of 9/11. Atta had traveled the country, attended mosques sporadically, visited Internet cafes, and joined gyms. Activities like this became a “roadmap” for the new spying unit. “If cops had a better handle on ... which Internet cafes were nearby ... or even which gyms a young Middle-Eastern man would attend ... maybe they could piece together the clues. Maybe they could prevent the next 9/11.” 4. They exploited Middle-Eastern-looking men to use as undercover officers. In order to successfully infiltrate Muslim communities in Brooklyn and Queens, the NYPD needed Middle-Eastern-looking officers who could (and were willing to) blend in. Unlike the CIA, whose new officers were subject to top-secret security clearance, the NYPD had access to a hotbed of middle-class workers, many of whom could speak Arabic. Since the men didn’t have to—officially— take on a different identity, they were not considered undercover by the NYPD. Because they were the ones “raking in the coals,” they were nicknamed “rakers.” (Later, some were referred to as “mosque crawlers”). 5. They sent “rakers” into restaurants, delis, barber shops, and gyms to spy on potential terrorists. Each day, a set of two rakers (they worked in pairs) would leave the intelligence office and head to different places in Muslim communities across New York City: restaurants, mosques, gyms, Internet cafes, etc. The rakers’ job was not only to “look like any other young man,” but to talk with whomever they met and determine two things: their ethnicity (Pakistani? Moroccan?) and mood (in the NYPD’s terminology this is called “gauging sentiment”). Once they had those nailed down, the rakers would talk to whoever they’d met, buy their products, and connect with them. What were these people talking about? Was Al Jazeera playing on TV? Were they selling fake IDs? Is there a computer, and if so, have they been watching jihadist videos? All of these details would be cataloged in a report that they’d send to Sanchez. Over time, the rakers were used to target different groups in NYC based on world events. “If there was a car bombing in Lebanon, a Predator drone strike in Pakistan, or a firefight in Afghanistan, the rakers would be in those neighborhoods, gauging sentiment and reporting back.” The NYPD hoped this would stop terrorist activity in its tracks. “If people in a Pakistani barber shop were enraged over a drone attack that killed nearby civilians, it might be a warning sign that retaliation was imminent.” 6. They considered the rakers program highly successful, and christened it the “Demographics Unit.” The in-depth, individualized reports on each one of New York City’s ethnic neighborhoods allowed Sanchez and Cohen to “visualize the city in a new way”—one they assumed would allow them to quickly zero in on terrorist activity as it was brewing. In just a few years, they’d transformed the NYPD from plain cops to intelligence officers. The “Demographics Unit,” as this program was christened, mapped out the hotspots (such as mosques and cafes) in each community. If young Muslim men were growing radicalized, for example, they’d know where. Or so they thought. 7. They used it to collect files on huge numbers of innocent citizens, hoping to “thwart homegrown terrorists.” What many of the NYPD officers learned over time was that “raking” didn’t bring any suspicious activity to light. Instead, it led to enormous files of “alleged terrorist activities” that were completely benign. Brooklyn’s Milestone Park, for example, was deemed a “location of concern” for the sole reason that middle-aged Albanian men frequent it during the early afternoon. What are they doing, you ask? “Getting together for a game of chess, backgammon, or just to have a conversation,” the rakers report reads. The clearest proof that the spying unit was a failure, Apuzzo and Goldman detail in the book, is the NYPD’s failure to discover suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi—considered the “single greatest threat to U.S. security since 9/11.” 8. They got Washington to pay for everything, even though it was illegal. In order for the NYPD’s men to look like ordinary customers, the Demographics Unit was given thousands of dollars for each member to spend on coffee, pastries, etc. The money, Apuzzo and Goldman explain, came from the government. “The Demographics Unit, like many intel operations, benefited from a little-known White House anti-drug grant that provided millions of dollars for cars and computers.” Over time, one former NYPD officer familiar with the program said, it became clear that some were focusing their investigation on the places “with the best food.” Such as the Kabul Kabob House in Flushing. How’s that taste, Washington? 9. The result: many Muslims in New York City now live in fear. While the Demographics Unit was renamed the “Zone Assessment Unit” in 2010, it is reportedly still very much the same. Rakers continue to troll through “ethnic neighborhoods,” filing multiple reports about “alleged terrorist activity.” The result is scared citizens. “The Muslim community is marbled by fear and isolation,” Apuzzo and Goldman write in the epilogue. “The NYPD is in their mosques, businesses, and student groups. Worshippers are afraid to congregate. Young men worry that growing beards will attract police attention.” =======================================

کہیں ایک اور " بھٹو " تو " ان دی میکنگ " نہیں ؟

کہیں ایک اور " بھٹو " تو " ان دی میکنگ " نہیں ؟ بلاول بھٹو کے ایک بیان نے ایسا جکڑا ، ایسا پکڑا کے بلاول کے نا نا شہید ذوالفقار علی بھٹو یاد آ گئے . باباۓ قوم کے بعد اگر کسی کو خوبصورت جملہ بولنا آتا تھا ، علامتی گفتگو کا ہنر اور سلیقہ تھا تو وہ صرف اور صرف بھٹو صاحب کو ہی تھے ، جن کی تقریریں ، بیانات اور پریس کانفرنسیں نثری نظموں کا سا لطف دیتی تھیں ، باقی تو گامے ماجے ہی تھے . بلاول کے اس تازہ بیان میں پہلی بار بھٹو کی سی چمک اور کھنک محسوس ہوئی ہے ، کوئی اتفاق کرے نہ کرے .....حسن بیان سے انکار ممکن نہیں - بلاول نے کہا " پنجابی سیاستدانوں کو بچانے کیلئے اردو الفاظ کے معنی تبدیل کئیے جاتے رہے تو میرے لئے بہتر اردو سیکھنا مشکل ہو جاۓ گا " کہیں ایک اور " بھٹو " تو " ان دی میکنگ " نہیں ؟ - حسن نثار

North Carolinians could be forced to accept fracking on their property

By John Upton Donald Lee Pardue Forced fracking could be coming to Chatham County, N.C. Not willing to sell out to frackers? If you’re a property owner living above natural gas reserves in North Carolina, you might not have a choice. A panel charged by the state’s legislature with developing hydraulic fracturing guidelines recommended Wednesday that property owners be forced to allow drilling beneath their property if enough of their neighbors want it. From the Associated Press: A panel commissioned by state government said Wednesday that forced fracking should be allowed in North Carolina. Forced or compulsory pooling allows the state to let energy companies drill into natural gas reserves under non-consenting property owner’s land. Property owners in the state receive a percentage of the profits from gas extracted from under their property. The study group recommended at least 90 percent of acreage of a drilling area be voluntarily leased before remaining property owners are forcibly pooled. The News & Observer reports that the recommendation is expected to be adopted by the state legislature this fall. More from the article: The proposal by a state study group endorses a rarely used 1945 law that’s never been tried here on the kind of scale that would be required for shale gas exploration, or fracking. Thousands of property owners could potentially be affected in the state’s gas-rich midsection in Lee, Moore and Chatham counties. … “We are talking about a for-profit industry taking away personal freedoms with the blessing of the government,” Therese Vick, a community activist with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, told the Compulsory Pooling Study Group. Taking away those personal freedoms is already the norm in some states. In Ohio, there’s an unofficial guideline stating that if 90 percent of property owners in an area consent to the sale of a gas deposit, everybody else has to sell out to frackers too, according to the Compulsory Pooling Study Group’s draft report [PDF]. In Kentucky, the figure is 51 percent. In Virginia, it’s just 25 percent. John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com. ============= Fracking boom could lead to housing bust By Roger Drouin thinkpanama When it comes to the real estate market in Bradford County, Pa., where 62,600 residents live above the Marcellus Shale, nothing is black and white, says Bob Benjamin, a local broker and certified appraiser. There aren’t exactly “fifty shades of grey,” he says, but residential mortgage lending here is an especially murky situation. When Benjamin fills out an appraisal for a lender, he has to note if there is a fracked well or an impoundment lake on or near the property. “I’m having to explain a lot of things when I give the appraisal to the lender,” he says. “They are asking questions about the well quite often.” And national lenders are becoming more cautious about underwriting mortgages for properties near fracking, even ones they would have routinely financed in the past, Benjamin says. That’s a real problem in Bradford County, where 93 percent of the acreage is now under lease to a gas company. Local banks are still lending because they have to if they want the business in the county, according to Benjamin, who has been involved in the area’s real estate market since 1980. But, he says, “The big boys, Wells Fargo and the other banks are probably pretty similar, they are going to protect their butt.” Lawyers, realtors, public officials, and environmental advocates from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to Colorado are noticing that banks and federal agencies are revisiting their lending policies to account for the potential impact of drilling on property values, and in some cases are refusing to finance property with or even just near drilling activity. Real estate experts say another problematic trend is that many homeowners insurance policies do not cover residential properties with a gas lease or gas well, yet all mortgage companies require homeowners insurance from their borrowers. “Well, that is a conflict,” says Greg May, vice president of residential mortgage lending at Ithaca, N.Y.-based Tompkins Trust Company. Last month, a landowner in Madison, N.Y., was surprised when their insurance company refused to renew their homeowners policy because there is a conventional gas well on their property. While the media and environmental groups have focused on shale drilling’s potential to poison the soil, water, and air, they’ve largely overlooked its potential to poison the real estate market. “I think we are on the tip of this,” says Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale coordinator for Clean Water Action in Pennsylvania. “Whether you are the homeowner trying to get homeowners insurance or the neighbor [to a fracking site] who is trying to refinance, there are just so many tentacles to this. I don’t think people are grasping all the impacts of natural gas drilling.” Benjamin doesn’t often hear property owners talk about the issue. “I don’t think most are concerned about it,” he says. “But I think they may have to be in the future.” The first denial Brian and Amy Smith live across the street from a new gas well in Daisytown in Washington County, Pa., an hour south of Pittsburgh. Last year, when they applied for a new mortgage on their $230,000 home and hobby farm, they were denied. According to ABC affiliate WTAE, this appears to be the first example in western Pennsylvania of a homeowner being denied a mortgage because of gas drilling on a neighbor’s property: In an email, Quicken Loans told the Smiths, “Unfortunately, we are unable to move forward with this loan. It is located across the street from a gas drilling site.” Two other national lenders also turned down Brian Smith’s application. “I think a lot of folks nationally are watching this case,” says Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a congressman who represents areas north and west of Denver. He noted that in his home district fracking leads to a “haircut on a property’s values.” “I think it is something that the banks would frankly be smart to look at,” Polis says. Elisabeth N. Radow, a lawyer and chair of the League of Women Voters of New York State’s Committee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment, says the Smiths’ story shows that property owners are clearly vulnerable to what happens on their neighbors’ land in fracking territory. “A [fracking] gas well brings commercial activity, can pollute drinking water and devalue the property.” Radow says it’s logical that high-volume horizontal fracturing — an operation in which millions of gallons of water mixed with hundreds of chemicals are pumped horizontally into layers of shale — has lenders worried. “They are trying to protect themselves,” she says. Radow advises people looking to purchase a home anywhere with drilling to do their homework before buying. She predicts that homeowners will start seeing mortgage provisions prohibiting gas drilling. She saw one earlier this month from New Jersey, where the gas industry is lobbying Gov. Chris Christie (R) to open the Delaware River basin to fracking. The Obama administration has so far taken a hands-off approach to regulating fracking, as have many states, so the banks are trying to figure out how to proceed in uncertain territory. “What is the federal government doing to protect the Smiths of the world?” asks John R. Nolon, a land-use and property professor at Pace Law School. “Banks are out there on the frontier of this regulatory chaos saying, ‘We can’t assure ourselves this is a safe technology because there is this fragmented regulatory process.’” A very clear stance The “Mineral, Oil and Gas Rights Rider” [PDF] on loan paperwork from Sovereign Bank says the mortgage will be automatically recalled if the property owner transfers any oil or gas rights or allows any surface drilling activity. It also specifies that owners must “take affirmative steps to prevent the renewal or expansion” of a current gas lease. A spokesperson for Sovereign Bank said the company would not comment for this story. May, the lending firm vice president from Ithaca, says he is neither pro- nor anti-fracking, but he thinks property owners and prospective buyers need to be aware of these kinds of mortgage issues. “That is one of the top lenders that has taken a very clear stance,” May says of the Sovereign Bank document. “We need to pay attention to this.” Another big unknown is how homeowners might be affected by horizontal drilling happening underneath their property, May said. “Horizontal drill bores radiate out from the vertical bore up to one mile in each direction, which could potentially impact other owners’ fee-simple real estate ownership,” May says. The problems are here Twelve hundred miles southwest of Bradford County, Connee Robertson and her husband run an animal rescue center on 1.6 acres overlooking Little Red River in Heber Springs, Ark. Robertson moved to the area in 1993 because she fell in love with this part of the Ozarks known for its pristine rivers and lakes. That was before gas companies such as Chesapeake Energy discovered the Fayetteville shale formation in the early 2000s. Once that happened, the majority of property owners in Heber Springs leased their gas rights. “Everyone saw dollar signs,” Robertson says. “Everyone ends up regretting it. The problems are here now.” Over the past few years, those problems have included earthquakes and drilling crews pulling water out of the Little Red River. One of Robertson’s horses died for unknown reasons, and her neighbors’ wells have been polluted. More recently, Robertson has heard about buyers unable to purchase homes in the area because they can’t secure financing. In the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, traditionally known for tourism and recreation, drilling is scaring off prospective second-home buyers before they even start thinking about mortgages, says Melissa Troutman of the Mountain Watershed Association. She knows of one buyer who left the market after they learned that there was drilling three and a half miles from a home they were looking at. In technical default Many of the largest mortgage institutions have already enacted policies that bar lending to certain properties near gas drilling and gas lines. The Federal Housing Administration’s lending guidelines prohibit financing for homes within 300 feet of a property with “an active or planned drilling site.” In an email response to a question from Grist, FHA spokesman Lemar Wooley explained the reasoning behind the guidelines: FHA is primarily concerned with the health and safety of the occupants of the dwelling. If the property is subject to smoke, fumes, offensive noise and odors, etc. to the extent they would endanger the health of the occupants then the property is ineligible. FHA is also concerned with the risk to the insurance fund. So if the property is subject to those same items and the health of the occupants is not endangered, but the marketability of the property is compromised, the property may not be eligible for FHA insurance. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also prohibit property owners from signing a gas lease. May said many owners are now in “technical default” under the terms of their mortgage if they signed a gas lease without first getting consent from their lender. Another clause in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages prohibits hazardous materials on a residential property. “It comes as a surprise to a lot of people. They weren’t aware that their mortgage came with those restrictions,” May said. Back in Bradford County, Benjamin, who plans to retire in 10 or so years, hasn’t decided whether he wants to keep his family in the area, where there are “good and bad points” to the drilling boom. But he knows one thing for sure: Fracking “changed everything” in the region’s real estate market. Roger Drouin is a freelance journalist who covers environmental issues. When he’s not reporting or writing, he is out getting almost lost in the woods. He blogs at rogersoutdoorblog.com. =======================

Not a ‘slam dunk’: US intelligence can’t prove Assad used chemical weapons

Published time: August 29, 2013 15:45 Get short URL Syrian President Bashar Assad (AFP/SANA) Trends Syria unrest Tags Bashar Assad, John Kerry, Obama, Syria, USA, War Only days after the White House suggested it was all but certain Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to gas hundreds of civilians, United States intelligence officials briefed on the situation say the evidence isn’t all there. Despite recent remarks from US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials, sources within the intelligence community are disputing the certainty that Assad ordered the use of chemical gas last week on innocent civilians outside of Damascus, Syria. Four US officials — including one senior member of the intelligence community — told the Associated Press this week that there’s confusion over where the reported chemical warheads are currently being held and who exactly possesses them. Citing a lapse in both signals and human intelligence reports, the officials all told the AP on condition of anonymity that US and allied spies “have lost track of who controls some of the country's chemical weapons supplies,” according to reporters Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo. Multiple officials, the AP reported Thursday morning, used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to discuss the credibility of intelligence linking chemical weapon use directly to Pres. Assad. In 2002, then-Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet infamously said Washington scored a “slam dunk” with regards to confirming Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Now more than a decade down the road, US officials hesitant to rush off to war are again questioning the credibility of the White House’s own report. According to an Office of the Director for National Intelligence report cited by the AP, the evidence against Syria “is thick with caveats” and contains gaps that are getting in the way of putting the chemical weapon use directly in the hands of Assad. But Carney, the administration’s press secretary, said earlier this week that the White House “established with a high degree of confidence that the Syria regime has used chemical weapons already in this conflict.” “It is our firm conviction that the Assad regime is responsible” for gassing civilians on August 21, Carney added. “Logic dictates that conclusion, as well as the hard facts. And the president is working with his national security team to evaluate the options available to him to respond, as well as consulting with international allies and consulting with members of Congress.” Those remarks echoed a statement made by Sec. Kerry this week as well in which he said the White House was certain Assad’s regime maintains custody of the chemical weapons used, and that the regime “has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place.” Kerry fell short of directly saying Assad ordered the attack, but Pres. Obama made that allegation during an interview with PBS’ NewsHour on Wednesday. "We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out," Obama said of the assault. "And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences." Earlier this week, Foreign Policy reporter Noah Shachtman wrote that the US intelligence community recently intercepted conversations in Syria that suggested the Aug. 21 assault could have been not necessarily ordered by Assad, but perhaps “the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds.” "It's unclear where control lies," one US intelligence official told Foreign Policy. "Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?" "We don't know exactly why it happened," the official added. "We just know it was pretty fucking stupid." Pres. Obama is briefing members of Congress on the Syrian situation on Thursday using conclusions made by US intelligence, after which a declassified report is expected to be released to the public. ============ Wednesday, August 28, 2013 OOPS! NO GAS ATTACK BY ASSAD The US and UK are facing a fight to keep their Syria attack plan on track The UN and the UK Labour party want to delay any possible action. A growing number of 'honest' commentators have turned against Obama and Cameron. Dr Tim Stanley, a historian of the United States, writes in the UK Telegraph: Syria: why would Assad invite a Western intervention by using WMDs Dr Tim Stanley writes: First, we've yet to ascertain that chemical weapons really were used by Assad – specifically we've not determined a) what kind of WMDs they were or b) who actually did it... Second, why would the Assad regime do something so stupid? It must know that by using chemical weapons it would isolate itself from any international support and invite a Western military response. More importantly, Assad was already winning the war – so why bother to use WMDs during the last lap to victory? Indeed, the only people who have anything to gain by Assad using chemicals are the rebels, because that would internationalise the conflict in a way that they have long lobbied for. Girl raped and murdered by John Kerry's rebels. Third, why is the West obliged to act even if Assad did use chemical weapons? We are not under any such treaty obligations and the subject sure doesn't feature as a trigger for war in the US constitution... John Kerry ... We've got one very good reason to doubt his accuracy: Iraq. Remember that back in 2003, the then US secretary of state, Colin Powell, told the UN in no uncertain terms that Iraq definitely had WMDs. Definitely, definitely, definitely. We now know that it didn't. ~~ brian refers us to the article entitled: Sarin Gas : a new propaganda campaign against Syria According to VOLTAIRE NETWORK: The YouTube the video evidence of the massacre of August 21st was posted by the "Majles Rif" account ... the day before, on August 20th . On these videos, one quickly detects a setup: 1. The wounded children appear haggard or drugged, and do not have parents who accompany them. 2. Boys are often naked, while the girls are all dressed. 3. We see no hospital structure, not even a clandestine one, except screens and pockets of serum. ~~ Some or all of these children may be children kidnapped by the rebels and then killed.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BP set to sign deal to revive Iraq's Kirkuk oilfield

BP asks judge to reconsider 'gross negligence' ruling Thu, Oct 02 22:28 PM EDT image HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) on Thursday asked a U.S. court to reconsider a September ruling that found the company "grossly negligent" for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a finding that boosted its potential liabilities by about $18 billion. The motion filed in Louisiana contends that U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier's ruling was based on evidence he had agreed to exclude from the ongoing trial. As such, the oil major said, he should review his decision or give it a new trial. The evidence in question surrounds expert testimony about how the Macondo well's casing was weakened and breached, part of a series of eight alleged errors linked to the blowout. "BP respectfully requests that the Court eliminate its theory that this series of acts amounted to gross negligence," the company said in its motion. "In the alternative, BP would be entitled to a new trial." The motion is one of many BP has filed to curb fines stemming from the case. Barbier has rejected most of them. The company has already taken more than $42 billion in provisions for the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, which killed 11 workers, and its fines could swell as much as $18 billion when Barbier assigns damages under the federal Clean Water Act next year. The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179. (Reporting by Terry Wade; Editing by Clarence Fernandez) =================================== Published: Wednesday, 28 Aug 2013 | 12:15 PM ETBy: Peg Mackey LONDON, Aug 28 (Reuters) - BP expects to sign an initial deal in early September to revive Iraq's northern Kirkuk oilfield, an industry source said, a move that could affect regional politics because the field straddles the border with the autonomous Kurdish region. A deal at Kirkuk would allow the British major - already at work at Iraq's biggest producer, Rumaila, in southern Iraq - to negotiate access to significant reserves in the north. Baghdad would get a trusted, experienced partner to help arrest a huge decline in output from Kirkuk. "It's an initial 18-month deal to offer support, which will provide an opportunity for BP to negotiate a longer-term development contract," said the source, who is familiar with the negotiations. BP declined to comment. The company would work on the Baghdad-administered side of the border on the Baba and Avana geological formations. Kirkuk's third formation, Khurmala, is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and being developed by the Iraqi Kurdish KAR group. BP's involvement at Kirkuk has been under negotiation for more than a year. When Baghdad first revealed the preliminary arrangement in January, the KRG rejected the pact as illegal, because it had not been consulted. The UK major is comfortable with its decision to proceed, the source said. "BP expects some noise from the KRG, but it's confident the government in Baghdad has a sensible way forward over Kirkuk." Among the world's international oil companies, BP could have the best relationship with Baghdad through its contract at the huge, $30 billion Rumaila oilfield project. Baghdad hopes BP will eventually sign a technical service contract at Kirkuk like the one for Rumaila, an Iraqi oil source said. The company expects, however, to negotiate better commercial terms for this contract, the industry source said. Iraq awarded a series of service contracts in late 2009 to the likes of BP, Eni and Exxon Mobil, which receive slim margins on Iraq's fee-based development contracts. "The terms will have to reflect the complexity of the field and the need for intervention to arrest the decline," said the source, who requested anonymity. At the start, BP will spend up to $100 million to help stop Kirkuk's decline and carry out surveys to get a clear picture of the field. A small team of up to 30 people from the company will visit and work in Kirkuk once the final contract is signed. Output at this 78-year-old field has slumped to around 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 900,000 bpd in 2001 after years of injecting water and dumping unwanted crude and products into the field. Iraqi officials have said they would like BP to raise production capacity to around 600,000 bpd in five years. But the pace of development at Kirkuk will be slower than at the giant southern fields of Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna-1 where BP, Eni and Exxon have helped to raise output by 600,000 bpd in just two years. "There will be no radical development," said the industry source. "This is an old, big field that's in decline and needs a lot of attention." Kirkuk's oil riches are at the centre of a crisis within the national government of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish parties over how to share power. But that has not deterred the UK major. "BP's sense is that everyone in Kirkuk is highly dependent on the resources there, so the development of the oilfield is extremely important," the industry source said. Exxon, Chevron and Total, among other companies, have angered and alienated Baghdad by signing lucrative production-sharing contracts with the KRG on better operating conditions than in the south. The KRG's oil exports and contracts are at the heart of a wider dispute with Baghdad's Arab-led government over territory, oilfields and political autonomy. Iraq's government insists it alone has the sole authority to sign deals and export crude oil, but Kurdistan says the constitution allows it to agree to contracts and ship oil independently of Baghdad. BP has no interest in pursuing upstream opportunities in Kurdistan, although Air BP is taking part in a tender to supply fuelling services at an airport in the Kurdish capital of Arbil, industry sources said.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

West readies attacks after Syria gas 'obscenity'

Tue, Aug 27 08:04 AM EDT 1 of 9 By Erika Solomon and William Maclean BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S. allies were drafting plans for air strikes and other military action against Syria on Tuesday, as President Bashar al-Assad's enemies vowed to punish a poison gas attack that Washington called a "moral obscenity". Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that will complicate hopes for a united front backed by international law, and keen to win over wary voters at home, Western leaders seem in no rush to pull the trigger. British Prime Minister David Cameron called parliament back from recess for a session on Syria on Thursday. U.N. experts trying to establish what killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last Wednesday were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors - despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday. However, U.S. officials said President Barack Obama already had little doubt Assad's forces were to blame. Turkey, Syria's neighbor and part of the U.S.-led NATO military pact, called it a "crime against humanity" that demanded international reaction. The Syrian government, which denies using gas, said it would press on with its offensive against rebels around the capital. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said U.S. strikes would help al Qaeda allies but called Western leaders "delusional" if they hoped to aid the rebels to create a balance of power in Syria. In Britain, whose forces have supported the U.S. military in a succession of wars, Cameron called for an appropriate level of retribution for using chemical weapons. "Our forces are making contingency plans," a spokesman for Cameron told reporters. London and its allies would make a "proportionate response" to the "utterly abhorrent" attack. Top generals from the United States and European and Middle Eastern allies met in Jordan for what could be a council of war. GASSING "UNDENIABLE, INEXCUSABLE" On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: "President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people ... What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. "The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. "And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable." How such an intervention, likely to be limited to some form of air strike, would affect the course of Syria's civil war is far from clear. Obama, Cameron and French President Francois Hollande face tough questions on how far they want to use force to achieve a long-stated common goal of forcing Assad from power. Turmoil in Egypt, whose 2011 uprising inspired Syrians to rebel, has underlined the unpredictability of revolutions. And the presence of Islamist militants, including allies of al Qaeda in the Syrian rebel ranks, has given Western leaders pause. They have held back so far from helping Assad's opponents to victory. Russia, a major arms supplier to Assad, has said rebels may have released the gas and warned against attacking Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov criticized Washington for cancelling bilateral talks on Syria that were set for Wednesday. "Working out the political parameters for a resolution in Syria would be exceptionally useful now, when the threat of force hangs over this country," Gatilov wrote on Twitter. REGIONAL CONFLICT The Syrian conflict has split the Middle East along sectarian lines. Shi'ite Muslim Iran has supported Assad and his Alawite minority against mainly Sunni rebels, some of them Islamists, who have backing from Gulf Arab states. In Tehran, a foreign ministry spokesman said: "We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region. "These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region." Syrian foreign minister Moualem, who insisted the government was trying to help the U.N. inspection team, told a news conference in Damascus that Syria would hit back if attacked. "We have means of defending ourselves, and we will surprise them with these if necessary," he said. "If we face aggression, we will defend ourselves. We will not hesitate to use any means available. But I will not specify what those would be." Assad's forces made little or no response to three attacks by Israeli aircraft earlier this year which Israeli officials said disrupted arms flowing from Iran to Lebanon's Hezbollah. China, which has joined Moscow in vetoing measures against Assad in the U.N. Security Council, is also skeptical of Western readiness to use force to interfere with what it sees as the internal affairs of other countries. Beijing's official news agency ran a commentary on Tuesday recalling the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 on the grounds that it possessed banned weapons - which were never found. "The recent flurry of consultations between Washington and its allies indicates that they have put the arrow on the bowstring and would shoot even without a U.N. mandate," the Xinhua agency said. "That would be irresponsible and dangerous." DAMASCENES ANXIOUS The continued presence of United Nations experts in Damascus may be a factor holding back international military action. A U.N. statement said the investigators had put off a second visit to the affected areas until Wednesday to prepare better. Some residents of the capital are getting anxious. "I've always been a supporter of foreign intervention but now that it seems like a reality, I've been worrying that my family could be hurt or killed because they live near a military installation," said one woman, Zaina, who opposes Assad. "I'm afraid of a military strike now." But another woman who supports the president but did not want her name published said she refused to let herself worry: "Bombing, kidnapping, killing - we face it every day already," she told Reuters. "If it brings an end to this faster, frankly I'd welcome it. But honestly I don't really believe the Americans will do it." The Washington Post cited senior U.S. officials as saying Obama is weighing a military strike that would be of limited scope and duration, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in the civil war. Such an attack would probably last no more than two days and see cruise missiles launched from ships — or, possibly, long-range aircraft — striking military targets not directly related to Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, the newspaper said. Such a move was, it said, dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing the Syrian government's culpability in the chemical attack, consultation with allies and the U.S. Congress, and determination of a justification under international law. U.S. warships armed with cruise missiles are already positioned in the Mediterranean. Opposition activists have said at least 500 people and possibly twice that many were killed when rockets laden with poison, possibly the nerve gas sarin or something similar, landed in areas around Damascus where rebels are holding out in the face of heavy bombardments by government forces. If confirmed, it would be the worst chemical weapons attack since Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Iraqi Kurds in 1988. In Israel, citizens have been queuing up for gas masks in case Assad responds to a Western attack by firing on Israel, as Iraq's Saddam did in 1991. (Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Andrew Osborn in London, John Irish in Paris, Timothy Heritage in Moscow, Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Seda Sezer and Daren Butler in Istanbul, Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai and Lesley Wroughton, Steve Holland and Paul Eckert in Washington; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Will Waterman) ============= Iran's Khamenei says U.S. intervention in Syria would be disaster Wed, Aug 28 05:11 AM EDT DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday U.S. intervention in Syria would be "a disaster for the region", the ISNA state news agency reported, as Western powers made plans to hit Damascus over a chemical weapons attack. After supporting Arab uprisings across the Middle East and north Africa in 2011 as examples of what Khamenei called an Islamic awakening, Tehran has steadfastly supported the secular President Bashar al-Assad, its main strategic ally in the Middle East, against a two-and-a-half-year-long rebellion. "The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region. The region is like a gunpowder store and the future cannot be predicted," the agency quoted Khamenei as saying. Iran is concerned that if Assad were overthrown, he would be replaced by either allies of the West or by radical Sunni Muslims tied to Saudi Arabia, both seen as hostile by the Shi'ite Muslim Iranians. Syria is also a conduit for Iranian supplies to Shi'ite Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Iranian officials have condemned the use of chemical weapons - deployed against its troops during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war - but have blamed Syrian rebels for the August 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds in the embattled suburbs of Damascus. "As a victim of chemical weapons the Islamic Republic of Iran does not tolerate the use of such weapons. In addition, it also does not tolerate a group of countries giving themselves the permission to wage a campaign in the region," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state television. "This fire of sectarianism, tribal conflicts, and conflicts that ... are exacerbated for short-term interests cannot be restricted to one region. "If (Obama) gets stuck in this trap, he will certainly leave behind bad memories of his presidency." (Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Mark Heinrich) ======================= August 27, 2013 Pentagon Sees Syrian Military, Not Chemical Sites, as Target By MICHAEL R. GORDON WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering a range of limited military actions against Syria that are designed to “deter and degrade” the ability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to launch chemical weapons, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. Although no final decisions have been made, it is likely that the attacks would not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, even though the Obama administration says the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military is the trigger for the planned attack. They said any effort to target chemical sites risks an environmental and humanitarian disaster and could open up the sites to raids by militants. Instead, the American assault would be aimed at military units thought to have carried out chemical attacks, the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks and the headquarters overseeing the effort, the officials said. One key question facing Mr. Obama and his advisers is whether such a limited attack would compel a change in tactics of the Assad regime — which has killed tens of thousands of civilians with conventional weapons — or weaken Mr. Assad to the point that he would seek a negotiated settlement to Syria’s civil war. An American official familiar with the military planning said that the initial target list has fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed. The list includes command and control locations as well as a variety of conventional military targets, official said. Like several other military officials contacted for this report, the official agreed to discuss planning options only on condition of anonymity. Planners said that although suspected chemical weapons depots are seductive targets, they are too risky. “That is a hairy business,” the official said. “Our interest is in keeping the chemical weapons secured. You hit a bunker that holds chemical weapons and all of a sudden you have chemical weapons loose.” Even within the limited mission envisioned for now by the Obama administration, there are some American officials who are urging expanding the target list to include at least military units commanded by Assad family members and loyalists and even presidential compounds. Officials anticipated that a first round of attacks would be followed by a pause to assess the damage and the regime’s response before a potential second wave of strikes would be ordered. With few human intelligence assets on the ground, the inspection of targets after the strike would be conducted by satellite or surveillance aircraft capable of flying above the range of Syria’s highly regarded integrated air-defense system. Officials also cautioned that arguments for a more limited strike included the fear that the refugee flow to American allies Turkey and Jordan — where the influx already is causing political concern — would increase. And there are worries that Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants might step up terrorism around the region in retaliation. Voices across the administration urging no action have all but silenced. But, at the other extreme of military options, a sustained air campaign designed to decapitate the leadership and allow rebels to topple the regime, also has been rejected. The Air Force maintains a vast fleet of fighter jets and long-range bombers in Europe and the Middle East that are capable of striking Syria, but a range of officials said that, for now, the strike plans were focusing solely on sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and that there was no intention of putting up strike aircraft, which require a large cast of supporting aircraft, including refueling tankers, combat search-and-rescue craft and early warning or electronic jamming planes. The Navy has traditionally kept two destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean but quietly increased that number to three over recent months. By accelerating the arrival of one replacement and delaying the return of another, the Navy now has four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers within striking range of Syria: the Mahan, Barry, Gravely and Ramage. Each carries about two dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles, a low-flying, highly accurate weapon that can be launched from safe distances of up to about 1,000 miles and was used to open the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya Attack submarines also carrying Tomahawks are assumed to be on station in the Mediterranean as well. But Tomahawk missile strikes, while politically and psychologically significant, can have a starkly limited tactical effect. The weapons are largely fuel-and-guidance systems and carry relatively small high-explosive warheads. One conventional version contains about 260 pounds of explosives, the other carries about 370 pounds. This is less than the explosive power of a single 1,000 pound air-dropped bomb. The weapons also present certain technical risks. Naval officers and attack planners concede that the missiles are not entirely controllable for elevation near the target, and when they fly slightly high carry the risk of blast effect to structures and people behind or near the targets. Planners also have difficulty timing the strikes — which fly from different release points and fly different routes by GPS way points — so they arrive at their targets simultaneously, which means that the first strikes can alert troops at follow-up targets that attacks are imminent. Thus they are much more effectives against fixed targets, like buildings or infrastructure than against military units or commanders. ===================== Wednesday, August 28, 2013 SYRIAN GOVERNMENT TAKEN BY SURPRISE - INTERCEPTED PHONE CALLS Intercepted phone calls indicate that the Syrian government was taken by surprise when the gas attack took place in Damascus. Intelligence Suggests Assad Not Behind Chemical Weapons Attack Paul Joseph Watson, at Infowars.com, writes: Phone calls by the Syrian Ministry of Defense intercepted by Mossad and passed to the US reveal that Syrian government officials, 'exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people,' in the hours after last week’s attack. Why would the Syrian Ministry of Defense be making panicked phone calls 'demanding answers' about the attack if they had ordered it? The fact that the highest levels of the Syrian government apparently had no knowledge of the attack strongly suggests that they did not order it, with the worst case scenario being that the attack was 'the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds,' writes Foreign Policy’s Noah Shachtman. Houla “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” a US intelligence official told Foreign Policy. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.” So despite not knowing exactly what happened, why it happened, or who ordered it, while sabotaging the UN’s investigation of the incident, the US is about to launch cruise missile attacks and potentially enflame the entire region based on evidence that actually suggests the Syrian government had no idea who was behind the chemical weapons attack. Meanwhile, previous evidence that suggests the US-backed rebels prepared and used chemical weapons on numerous occasions has been completely forgotten in the rush to war. The last time the United Nations investigated evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria, inspectors concluded that it was likely the rebels and not Assad’s forces who were behind the attacks. In addition, leaked phone conversations that emerged earlier this year between two members of the Free Syrian Army contain details of a plan to carry out a chemical weapons attack capable of impacting an area the size of one kilometer. There are also multiple other examples of video footage which shows US-backed rebels preparing and using chemical weapons. The notion that Washington has any credibility when it comes to laying blame about weapons of mass destruction is ludicrous. The last time the world believed the United States’ claims about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, hundreds of thousands of innocent people died as a result. The Obama administration is about to launch the United States headlong into a conflict that could spark a new war in the Middle East, yet the very justification for the assault is being blithely accepted by the mainstream media, who have learned nothing from how their obsequious and unquestioning behavior prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq helped grease the skids for a decade of bloodshed and disaster. Intelligence Suggests Assad Not Behind Chemical Weapons Attack ======================= Syrian Electronic Army takes down New York Times website Published time: August 27, 2013 21:31 Get short URL Share on tumblrThe New York Times’ website has been disabled for the second time in under a month, with the newspaper attributing the outage to a “malicious external attack” widely thought to have come from hackers affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army. “Many users are having difficulty accessing the New York Times online,” the paper wrote on its Facebook page. “We are working to fix the problem. Our initial assessment is the outage is most likely the result of a malicious external attack. In the meantime we are continuing to publish key news reports.” The SEA, a shadowy group of hackers sympathetic to the Syria’s President Bashar Assad, has launched cyber-attacks on a number of media outlets in recent months including the associated Press’ Twitter feed, which falsely reported that US President Barack Obama was injured in an attack on the White House. The Times’ page was last unavailable on August 14, although the several-hour outage was later blamed on “a failure during regular maintenance.” Syria asks UN to immediately investigate three new ‘chemical attacks’... The Syrian government is demanding that the United Nations immediately investigate three alleged chemical attacks carried out by rebel groups on the outskirts of Damascus last week, Syria’s envoy to... #Iraq-is wake to deadly attacks as government goes on ‘high alert’ over possible #Syria strike