Weekly News Archive
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MONDAY DECEMBER 30, 2013
- no news edition -
TUESDAY DECEMBER 31, 2013
U.S. and Iran's First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq
With the Geneva Nuclear Accord still far from implementation a month after it was signed in Geneva, the United States and Iran are moving into stage two of their rapprochement: They are now fighting together to crush al Qaeda terror in Iraq, DEBKAfile’s exclusive military sources report.
Iraq is two weeks into a major offensive for cutting al Qaeda down - the first major military challenge the jihadists have faced in the past six years. Three armies are fighting alongside Iraq: the United States, Iran’s al Qods Brigades officers and Syria.
Their mission is to foil al Qaeda’s drive to spread its first independent state in the Middle East across the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. Its Iraqi and Syrian branches - ISIS and the Nusra Front - have declared a holy war to this end under their commanders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu Mohammed al-Golani.
The Anbar province of Western Iraq is the scene of the fiercest combat, close to Iraq’s borders with Syria and Jordan.
To counter al Qaeda’s superiority in speed and surprise, the US has sent the Iraqi army Hellfire surface-to-air missiles. They are already in use against al Qaeda camps on the Syrian border. Next, Washington is sending out small, long-endurance unmanned aerial ScanEagles. These drones are best suited to combat in Anbar’s deep wadis and the halophyte thickets lining the Euphrates River.
In this topsy-turvy scenario, Washington and Tehran share another surprising motive: to save the Assad regime in Damascus from al Qaeda’s long arms.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted approvingly on December 26: “Attitudes are changing in Western countries; they are becoming more realistic in their approach towards the Syrian crisis. The threat of terrorism in Syria, of jihadists coming to power, of creating a caliphate with extremist laws, these are the main problems.”
Since the Syrian chemical issue was addressed in September, Russian-Iranian-American collaboration is going strong. The joint US-Iranian war on al Qaeda is strengthening Tehran’s grip on Iraq as well [as] Syria. It gives Russian President Vladimir Putin hope for keeping al Qaeda away from the Winter Olympics at Sochi – an ever-present menace as a female suicide bomber, a Dagestan national, demonstrated Sunday, December 29, by blowing up the railway station at the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing up to a score of people.
The other incentive for US President Barack Obama is the hope of transposing his collaboration with Tehran and Moscow to improve US chances of a reasonable accommodation in the Afghanistan arena. [no further content]
Source: debka.com LINK
Note: see also Iran And World Powers Resume Nuclear Talks LINK
U.S. 'framework' calls for 80,000 Israeli West Bank evacuations to the big settlement blocs
The State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington Tuesday, December 31, that Secretary John Kerry would discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a “proposed framework” to serve as “a guideline for addressing all core issues” in the decades-long dispute.
“Some people say this would be an interim agreement. No, that’s not the case,” she said. The core issues she listed were “borders between Israel and a future Palestine; security arrangements; the fate of Palestinian refugees; and conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.”
Kerry leaves for Israel and Ramallah on New Year’s Day to continue his shuttle, after Monday night, December 30, Israel released from jail 26 Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences for murder.
DEBKAfile reported earlier that the US Secretary does not expect Israeli and Palestinian leaders to approve the proposed framework – only to contribute their comments. We also reported that Abbas had indicated to the Secretary that Palestinians were preparing to reject his proposals by demanding their referral to the various pan-Arab forums.
. . . The document continues to be molded by Kerry’s ongoing back-and-forth communications with the two parties.
Nevertheless, the nine points disclosed hereunder stand as the basic guidelines of the proposed US framework:
(1) Nearly all its content draws on the proposal Ehud Olmert, then Prime Minister, submitted to Abbas on August 31, 2008, which he never accepted; nor was it approved by any Israeli authority.
(2) Territory: Israel will annex 6.8% of the West Bank including the four main settlement blocs of Gush Etzion with Efrata; Maale Adummim; Givat Zeev;and Ariel, as well as all of the “settlements” of East Jerusalem and Har Homa - in exchange for the equivalent of 5.5% of Israeli territory.
(3) The Safe Passage: The territorial link between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would cut through southern Israel and remain under Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian control.
Our sources add that out of all other options, the American sponsors of the accord prefer to build an express railway line from Gaza to Hebron, without stops, which would be paid for by Washington. Abbas has already informed John Kerry that he wants the train to go all the way to Ramallah.
There will be a special road connecting Bethlehem with Ramallah that bypasses East Jerusalem. This is mostly likely the same route currently planned to go around Maaleh Adummim.
Since the safe passage will cross through Israel, accounting for 1% of its territory, this area will be deducted from the land Israel concedes, leaving 4.54% for the land swap with the Palestinians.
(4) Jerusalem: East Jerusalem will be divided territorially along the lines of the Clinton Parameters with the exception of the “Holy Basin,” which comprises 0.04% of the West Bank.
Sovereignty over this ancient heart of Jerusalem, with its unique and historic concentration of Jewish, Christian and Muslim shrines, will pass to an international commission comprised of the US, Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
(5) Refugees: This issue will be addressed according to guidelines proposed by President Bill Clinton at Camp David in the year 2000 - and rejected by Yasser Arafat.
An International Foundation will be established to resettle the bulk of the Palestinian refugees in Canada and Australia, except for a small portion to be accepted in Israel in the framework of family reunification.
(6). Security: The Olmert package made no mention of security. However the Kerry draft deals extensively with this issue and Israel’s concerns. It calls for the evacuation of all 10,000 Jewish settlers from the Jordan Valley leaving behind a chain of posts along the Jordan River. Security corridors cutting through the West Bank will maintain their land and operational links with Israel.
Border crossings will be set up between Palestine and Jordan with an Israeli security presence. The security section of the draft assigns the use of West Bank and Gaza airspace by Israel and the Palestinians. There will be no Israeli military presence inside the Palestinian state.
(7) Taxes: The present arrangement for Israel to collect customs levies and distribute the revenues to the Palestinians will continue. (DEBKAfile: That is about the only clause which the Palestinians accept.) Israel will carry out security checks on goods bound for Palestinian [territories] that are unloaded at Haifa and Ashdod ports, and levy customs at rates fixed by the Palestinians to be disbursed in the Palestinian state.
(8) Settlements: Eighty percent of all Jewish settlers on the West Bank will be confined to the major settlement blocs as defined in 2. The remaining 20% amounting, according to American calculations to 80,000 people, will have to decide on their own whether they prefer to stay where they are under Palestinian rule or move to Israel.
DEBKAfile’s sources report that Secretary Kerry advised the Israeli Prime Minister bluntly that he need not promise to force settlers to leave their homes - as the Sharon government did when he executed the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Netanyahu replied that it was unacceptable for Israel to abandon the settlers to their fate. He therefore proposed that instead of forcing them to cross back into Israel, they would be absorbed in the larger settlement blocs remaining under Israeli sovereignty.
(9) Timelines: Different timetables are proposed in the US framework for implementing different sections: The Palestinian leader says he is willing to give Israel three years as a transition period for relocating settlers.
When he submitted the paper to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders earlier this month, the Secretary of State told them that he saw no point in the two negotiating teams holding meetings consumed by interminable debates on one point or another. He therefore asked both parties to henceforth send him their comments in writing.
Source: debka.com MORE
Abbas threatens legal, diplomatic action against Israel settlements
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday threatened diplomatic and legal action against the "cancer" of Israeli settlement building, a day before US Secretary of State John Kerry visits.
"We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in (east) Jerusalem, and we will use our right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it," he said during a speech in Ramallah to mark the 49th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah party.
"We have entered negotiations amid Israeli escalation on all fronts - the Israeli army steps up its hostilities against the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, leading to the killing of dozens of citizens in the last few months," said Abbas.
"These actions show a lack of seriousness on the Israeli side in the negotiations and threaten to destroy the two-state solution."
Kerry is due in the region on New Year's Day for his 10th visit since becoming the United States' chief diplomat in March, in an effort to revive faltering talks.
Kerry's myriad obstacles to an agreement in the US-brokered talks which began in July include the issue of settlements and Israel's insistence on maintaining a military presence in the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement.
Israel has announced thousands of new Israeli settler homes on Palestinian territory in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since the talks began, often in tandem with the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners.
The Palestinians and the international community have slammed Israel's continued settlement building on land the Palestinians want for their future state.
Kerry will have to quell tensions that rose after an Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday gave initial approval to a bill annexing Jordan Valley settlements, a largely symbolic move expected to be shot down by the government.
Abbas reiterated total rejection of Israel's demand to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley, where the West Bank borders Jordan.
"We have said that the Palestinian people is the one most in need of security, and is the one who needs guarantees of protection against the aggression of the occupation (Israel) and the settlers." [no further content]
Source: AFP / chanelnewsasia.com LINK
U.S. prepares to pay Netanyahu back for Iran campaign, using Palestinian issue as bludgeon
The Obama administration is preparing to settle scores with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his campaign against US-led nuclear diplomacy with Iran, by holding him to blame for the impasse in Israel-Palestinian negotiations. This will ignore the uniform assessments by US and Israeli intelligence analysts that it is the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who is holding out against all Secretary of State John Kerry’s Herculean efforts for a peace accord with Israel, say DEBKAfile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources.
Abbas (Abu Mazen) is sure that he can get more from the international community by diplomatic manipulation and effective propaganda. He believes he holds enough cards and leverage to manage without having to reach terms for deals with the US or Israel.
He is only playing along with the Americans and Israelis for one purpose - not to lose US and other Western financial assistance. Earlier this month, the European Union said it would discontinue the $1 billion annual contribution to the Palestinian Authority if a peace accord with Israel was not signed within a year. Abbas appreciates that the Europeans would follow the American lead for an aid cutoff.
The US-EU aid packages totaling $1.5 billion account for nearly all of the PA’s regular revenue. The most up-to-date intelligence data reaching Washington and Jerusalem confirm that if Abbas were to find an alternative source of income, he would grab it and drop out of the peace negotiations like a shot.
But the Obama administration and Netanyahu government alike are ignoring these assessments and pressing on with the talks, mindful of the end-of-April deadline set for reaching the finishing line.
This gap between reality and wishful thinking provides fertile ground for groundless speculation, such as the conjecture which drags the long-serving Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard into the equation in the form of a rumor that Washington may consider releasing him as a reward for Israel’s consent to release certain convicted Palestinian terrorists, including Israeli Arab citizens.
Another such rumor is that the US will put before the parties next month [i.e. in January] a final plan for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
According to DEBKAfile’s Washington sources, Kerry refuses to be discouraged by Abbas’ evasions and has indeed drafted a non-binding five-page working paper, which is not a plan. He will put it before Netnayahu and Abbas early next month without asking for any commitments for or against the outline.
Both will be invited to record their reservations and comments. This will supply the fodder for extending the negotiations for several more months after the first six-month period expires.
Sitting on Netanyahu’s desk too, according to our sources, is a confidential report on the Obama administration’s plans for personal retribution for the offensive he pursued against the signing of an accord to provide Iran with legitimacy for its nuclear program.
Washington plans to get back at the Israeli prime minister by pinning on him - not Abbas - the blame for the inevitable impasse in the talks with the Palestinians. He will be depicted as a political failure who heads a dysfunctional government and a serial denier of peace.
This smear campaign will be conducted internationally and in Israel, by rallying Israel’s foes abroad and Netanyahu’s political enemies at home . . . .
Netanyahu is well aware that the Palestinian question is not the issue. He knows he is facing the music – politically and personally - from the Obama administration for his effort to sway the US Congress against the policy of US rapprochement with a regime in Tehran which is dedicated to Israel’s extinction.
Administration sources explain that Netanyahu will be receiving a dose of his own medicine and this is legitimate.
Source: debka.com MORE
Note: see also White House Furious With Netanyahu Over Jordan Valley Vote LINK
Iran says nuke deal to be implemented in late January
DUBAI (Reuters) -- World powers and Iran have agreed to start implementing in late January an agreement obliging Tehran to suspend its most sensitive nuclear work, an Iranian official was quoted as saying on Tuesday. There was no immediate confirmation of the agreement from the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - or the European Union, which oversees contacts with Iran on behalf of the six. The reported agreement follows nearly 23 hours of talks between nuclear experts from Iran and the six powers held in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday. The seven countries have met several times since striking the breakthrough accord on November 24 to iron out practical details and decide when the deal would be implemented. An Iranian nuclear negotiator, Hamid Baeidinejad, said a date was agreed on Tuesday. "Based on the conclusions [reached in] the talks held with ...expert delegations, the implementation of the Geneva accord will start in the third ten-day of January," Baeidinejad was quoted as saying by Iranian Press TV. "The two sides managed to reach an understanding on the implementation of the agreement and now, their views and interpretations are the same," he said. The EU and British and U.S. governments indicated, however, work remains to be done on how to implement the November accord. Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the experts would report back to their capitals and contacts would continue to "finalise a common understanding of implementation". He declined comment on Iran's assertion that there was an agreement on the timetable for implementing the accord. MORE
Abbas ready to reject the U.S. peace framework
DEBKAfile’s exclusive Washington sources disclose that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has given Secretary of State John Kerry to understand that, when he visits Ramallah later this week to present the US framework accord with Israel, he will be rebuffed by the Palestinian side. They will tell him to first refer the plan to a pan-Arab forum and only if it is approved, present it to the Palestinians for their consideration. [no further content] LINK
Search for Assad alternative clouds Syria prospects
BEIRUT -- The Geneva II talks and scheduled presidential election in Syria have the potential to make 2014 a defining year in the Syrian crisis. But, analysts say, the absence of political will on the part of all stakeholders for a genuine settlement risks reducing key events to merely more diplomatic theatrics. Moreover, the rising role of al-Qaeda-inspired armed groups has convulsed an already chaotic situation, shifting the priorities of stakeholder countries, compromising the original aims of the talks and making for awkward allegiances. After several delays, the long-touted U.S. and Russian sponsored talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition are scheduled to convene in Montreux in Switzerland on January 22. The talks are aimed at establishing the circumstances for a transitional government in the country in the run-up to presidential elections in 2014. But there is as yet no agreement on how to implement the agenda. The regime in Syria demands that talks go ahead without preconditions, and is increasingly insistent that Syrian President Bashar Assad be allowed to run in the presidential election. The mainstream opposition-in-exile Syrian National Coalition remains bitterly divided and, having failed to establish legitimacy and support from Syrians inside the country, demands Assad’s resignation as an end and a means for constructive talks. But the opposition has yet to form a united front and settle on a delegation to send to the conference. Islamist fighters inside Syria reject the authority of the coalition’s military wing the Free Syrian Army and the Geneva II process outright. Fierce fighting between rebel factions in recent months has also cast doubt on the opposition’s ability to negotiate credibly. MORE
U.N.: Syria chemical deadline 'unlikely' to be met
UNITED NATIONS -- Syria is "unlikely" to meet a December 31 deadline to move its most dangerous chemical arms out of the country, the United Nations acknowledged for the first time on Saturday. The UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said "important progress" has been made on eliminating Syria's banned weapons, but called on President Bashar al-Assad's government to "intensify efforts" to meet internationally set deadlines. The year-end deadline was the first key milestone under a UN Security Council-backed deal arranged by Russia and the United States that aims to wipe out all of Syria's chemical arms by the middle of 2014. "Preparations continue in readiness for the transport of most of the critical chemical material from the Syrian Arab Republic for outside destruction. However, at this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical material before 31 December is unlikely," said a joint UN-OPCW statement. Syria's worsening civil war, logistical problems and bad weather had held up the operation to move chemical agents to the port of Latakia, the two bodies said. MORE
Hollande to meet Syria, Lebanon opposition chiefs in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH -- French President Francois Hollande will meet former Lebanese premier Saad Hariri and Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba in Saudi Arabia, where he arrived on Sunday, said a member of his entourage. The meeting with Hariri, a fierce critic of the Syrian regime, comes amid heightening tensions in Lebanon after the assassination of his close aide, ex-minister Mohammad Chatah, in a car bomb on Friday in Beirut. Hariri, the son of former premier Rafiq who was assassinated in a massive car bomb in February 2005, lives outside Lebanon due to security fears. The Sunni Muslim leader is also a strong critic of the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria's civil war. In an interview published Sunday in pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Hollande called for the respect of "constitutional deadlines" in Lebanon, starting with "holding presidential elections in May 2014". MORE
Saudi funding for Lebanese army upgrade only for non-U.S. arms
DEBKAfile reports exclusively that Saudi King Abdullah Sunday offered $3 billion for upgrading the Lebanese army’s arsenal provided that Beirut did not purchase new arms in America but from France or Italy. The French and Lebanese Presidents, Francois Hollande and Michel Suleiman, arrived in Riyadh together Sunday to assure the king that Lebanon was to acquire its Saudi-funded weapons from France. [no further content] LINK
Abe stepping up [Japan's] military agenda
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing ahead with his long-time goal of removing constitutional restrictions on a military buildup, despite worldwide criticism over his visit last week to the Yasukuni Shrine for the war dead, analysts said. The steps Abe will take may include allowing Japanese armed forces to join other countries in patrolling maritime routes on the high seas - a move currently unconstitutional - and engaging US help to eliminate procedural obstacles to rewriting Japan's pacifist Constitution, according to Tokyo's policy insiders. Shinichi Kitaoka, a former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations and a key security adviser to Abe, told leading Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday that the "right to collective self-defense" - illegal under the existing official interpretation of Japan's Constitution - should be allowed, to enable Japanese Self-Defense Forces to participate in joint patrols safeguarding the "sea lanes" for crude oil shipping. Joint patrols along high-sea routes - spanning from the Middle East via the South China Sea to Japan - are part of the "proposal summary" of a key governmental security policy consulting panel, said Kitaoka, acting president of the advisory panel. MORE
Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries
LONDON (AP) -- A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's internal reporting system to spy on their targets. Der Spiegel's revelations relate to a division of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which is painted as an elite team of hackers specializing in stealing data from the toughest of targets . . . Der Spiegel said TAO had a catalog of high-tech gadgets for particularly hard-to-crack cases, including computer monitor cables specially modified to record what is being typed across the screen, USB sticks secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals on the go . . . Old-fashioned methods get a mention too. Der Spiegel said that if the NSA tracked a target ordering a new computer or other electronic accessories, TAO could tap its allies in the FBI and the CIA, intercept the hardware in transit, and take it to a secret workshop where it could be discretely fitted with espionage software before being sent on its way. MORE
Note: see also Shipping Companies Largely Silent On NSA Intercepting Packages LINK
FAA names 6 sites for testing drones
The Federal Aviation Administration named six teams across the nation that will host the development and testing of drones to fly safely in the same skies as commercial airliners. The announcement represents a major milestone toward the goal of sharing the skies by the end of 2015, in what is projected to become an industry worth billions of dollars. But technical hurdles and privacy concerns remain in a regulatory program that's already a year behind schedule . . . The FAA will work with the chosen groups to get at least one drone site operating within the next six months. Out of 25 applicants, the winners are:
· The University of Alaska, which has a diverse climate and a variety of test sites, including in Hawaii and Oregon. The university plans to work on state monitoring, navigation and safety standards.
· The state of Nevada, which plans to study standards for operators and certification requirements. The state will also study how air-traffic control procedures will evolve to handle drones.
· New York's Griffiss International Airport near Utica, which plans to research how drones and passenger aircraft will sense and avoid each other, to prevent collisions, particularly in the congested Northeast airspace.
· North Dakota Department of Commerce, which plans to develop airworthiness data and validate the reliability of links between pilots and unmanned aircraft.
· Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, which plans to develop safety systems for drones.
· Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which has test locations in Virginia and New Jersey, plans to test failure modes and technical risks for drones, to ensure they land safely if they lose their connection with a pilot. MORE
Note: see also The Future Of Drone Swarm 'Awareness' LINK
Doesn't ADD Up: Doctors behind ADHD study question drug treatment
The co-authors of a 20-year-old study promoting the use of prescription drugs to combat the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are now claiming the report may have overstated medication’s benefits. According to a report in the New York Times, at least two co-authors of the highly influential study - called the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD – have come forward to express concern that the original report also downplayed the benefits of behavioral therapy. “There was lost opportunity to give kids the advantage of both and develop more resources in schools to support the child - that value was dismissed,” said co-author Dr. Gene Arnold, a child psychiatrist and professor at Ohio State University. “I hope it didn’t do irreparable damage,” added a second co-author, Dr. Lilly Hechtman of Montreal’s McGill University. “The people who pay the price in the end is the kids. That’s the biggest tragedy in all of this.” The report originally claimed that not only was medication like Adderall and Ritalin more effective than therapy, but also that combining the two treatments offered little to no benefit to the patient. MORE
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Op-Ed: The Year Washington Fled Reality (Senator Tom Coburn)
The past year may go down not only as the least productive ever in Washington, but as one of the worst for the republic.
In both the executive branch and Congress, Americans witnessed an unwinding of the country's founding principles and of their government's most basic responsibilities. The rule of law gave way to the rule of rulers. And the rule of reality - in which politicians are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to say - gave way to some politicians' belief that they were entitled to both their own opinions and their own facts. It's no wonder the institutions of government barely function.
On health care, President Obama oversaw a disastrous and, sadly, dishonest launch of his signature achievement. The president gave an exception to employers, but not to individuals, without any legal basis, and made other adjustments according to his whim. Even more troubling was his message over the past three years that if you like your plan, you can keep it, and that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. We now know that the administration was aware that these claims were false, yet Mr. Obama continued to make them, repeatedly.
In 2014, millions of Americans will likely discover that the president's claim that the average family will save $2,500 on health insurance was equally disconnected from reality . . . .
Taking unilateral, extralegal action - like delaying the employer mandate for a year when Mr. Obama realized the trouble it would cause for businesses - is part of a pattern for this administration. Immigration and border-security laws that might displease certain constituencies if enforced? Ignore the laws. Unhappy that a deep-water drilling moratorium was struck down in court? Re-impose it anyway. Internal Revenue Service agents using the power of the state to harass political enemies? Deny and then stonewall. Unhappy with the pace of Senate confirmations for nominees? Ignore the Constitution and appoint people anyway and claim that the Senate is not in session.
The Obama administration hardly has a monopoly on contributing to Washington's dysfunction. Congress more than earned its 6% national approval rating, a historic low.
Congress' most significant action this year was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to undo 200 years of precedent that requires a supermajority to change Senate rules. To speed the approval of executive appointments and judicial nominations, Senator Reid resorted to raw political power, forcing a vote (52-48) that allows the Senate majority to change the rules whenever it wants. In a republic, if majorities can change laws or rules however they please, you're on the road to life with no rules and no laws.
The supermajority safeguard that prevented senators from destroying the institution in which they serve is now largely gone. Gone also are members of the majority who understood the need to protect minority rights. There are no more Robert Byrds to quote Cicero, who said, "In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power."
Instead, we have a majority leader who has appointed himself a Rules Committee of one. Referring to the right of the minority to offer changes to bills under consideration, Mr. Reid said: "The amendment days are over." Like President Obama, Mr. Reid is great at message discipline but weak on the rule of law and reality . . . .
How the nation's leaders perform in Washington is a reflection of the country, and culture, they represent. Moral relativism and postmodern disregard of truth has been promoted by academia for decades; sometimes it seems that the best students of that thinking can be found in Washington. We live in a time when laws and rules are defined however the holders of power decree, and "messaging" is paramount, regardless how far the message is from reality.
The coming year presents an opportunity to Americans who hope for better. Despite Washington's dysfunction, "We the People" still call the shots and can demand a course correction. In 2014, here's a message worth considering: If you don't like the rulers you have, you don't have to keep them. [emphasis added]
Source: wsj.com MORE
ADDITIONAL NEWS & ANALYSIS
Year End stuff:
2013 Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it' LINK
For four of the past five years, PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year has revolved around the health care law
[And in second place: DNI James Clapper, for lying to Congress -Ed.]
And The Country Posing The Greatest Threat to Peace as 2013 Ends is … LINK
Yes, it's the United States
[analysis]: The NSA is Building the Foundation for a Global Police State LINK
Unrestricted information technology (IT) power in the hands of the US government is a future threat which dwarfs anything the NSA has done to date
State Department whistleblower has email hacked, deleted LINK
Frenemy Alert: New Bombshell Report On Benghazi Finds No Evidence Al-Qaeda Was Involved LINK
[Why is the New York Times doing this? - Ed.]
[New York Times]: 'A Deadly Mix in Benghazi' LINK
Intelligence Committee Members Dispute New York Times Assertion That al-Qaeda Had No Role in Benghazi Attack LINK
Israel hits back after rockets fired from Lebanon LINK
Iranian Official Calls for Direct Talks With U.S. LINK
Officials: Lebanese forces fire on Syrian planes LINK
Egypt urges Arabs to act against Brotherhood LINK
Egypt urged Arab League members Monday to enforce a counter terrorism treaty that would block funding and support for the Muslim Brotherhood after Cairo designated it as "terrorist" group
Russia on alert after second deadly suicide bombing LINK
Russian-Led Alliance to Spend $1 Billion on Weapons in 2014 LINK
Putin vows to wipe out 'terrorists' after suicide bombings LINK
“I am certain that we will fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation"
[analysis]: The Russian Bear steps in as the American Empire Unravels in the Middle East LINK
[analysis]: DHS Insider: 'Preparations Have Been Finalized to Respond to a Crisis of Unprecedented Magnitude Within the United States' LINK
Michigan nullifies NDAA's indefinite detention LINK
[analysis]: People Against the NDAA: 'The Resistance is Just Getting Started' LINK
The number of states taking action against the indefinite detention provision contained within the National Defense Authorization Act is growing ... Additionally, the strong wording of legislation, like that of New Hampshire's bill to be introduced in early 2014, is a positive sign that the federal government is being put on notice that tyranny in America will not be tolerated ... In fact, supporting such tyranny will be outright banned, and the local officers that cooperate with illegal federal dictates will be subjected to possible criminal prosecution
It won't stop at the airports (Video) LINK
Reading Your Palm for Security's Sake LINK
“The centralized database is the scary part ... That’s where the risk is ... If it’s hacked into, suddenly everyone’s biometrics are stolen”
[analysis]: Don't Want Your Laptop Tampered With? ... Just Add Glitter Nail Polish LINK
MOLON LABE: How The Second Amendment Guarantees America's Freedom (Video) LINK
An in-depth exploration of the role of the Constitutional militia of the several states
[analysis]: Establishment-Made Heroes, Blind Seekers of Saviors and Suckers LINK
[analysis]: 2014 Will Bring More Social Collapse LINK
[analysis]: The FBI Appears To Be Involved In Staging Or Covering Up Active Shooter And Terror Hoax Events Every Six Weeks LINK
[analysis]: Sandy Hook Police Report Contains No Evidence That Mass Shooting Took Place And Strengthens Notion That Event Was A Fabricated Hoax LINK
10,988,269: 2013 Closes With Record Number on Disability Getting Highest-Ever Monthly Benefits LINK
Sun has 'flipped upside down' as new magnetic cycle begins (Video) LINK
Chinese doctor admits stealing, selling newborns LINK
Telescope eye implant helping eyesight LINK
Helps patients with macular degeneration
[analysis]: Looming Health Crisis: Wireless Technology and the Toxification of America LINK
Dr. George Carlo: “When you put the science together, we come to the irrefutable conclusion that there’s a major health crisis coming, probably already underway ... Not just cancer, but also learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and psychological and behavioral problems - all mediated by the same mechanism ... That’s why we’re so worried ... Time is running out”
[analysis]: Soft Killing The American People Using Toxic Food, Toxic Water And Toxic Vaccines LINK
HEALTH HIGHLIGHTS: Join the Sound Body Yahoo group (part of the Christian Media ministry) to receive regular health eblasts LINK
"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear."
Marcus Tullius Cicero
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 1, 2014
- no news edition -
THURSDAY JANUARY 2, 2014
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FRIDAY JANUARY 3, 2014
- no news edition -
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Worldwatch was edited this week by Editor Robert Ellis with help from Claire Mason.