"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Putin gets Russian navy port deal in Cyprus

While Obama Golfs

  • Putin is building alliances with Orthodox Christian nations like Serbia and Cyprus and with Muslims nations like Egypt and Syria that protect their Orthodox Christian minorities.

(Al-Monitor)  -  At a time when the European Union has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia and is trying to isolate the Russian government, the Kremlin is clearly relishing every opportunity to draw attention to cracks in Europe’s unity. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Hungary — complete with a natural gas supply deal — is one example of this; the Cyprus talks are another.

What makes Moscow’s pursuit of this political symbolism most obvious is how Russia’s official media are handling the story. The headline at Sputnik — a relatively new government-sponsored media organization targeted at foreign audiences — conveys this quite directly: “Russia Signs Military Deal with EU Member State.” In other words, Sputnik is telling Europeans “you may think you can isolate us, but you can’t even keep your own members from hosting Russian military forces.”

Of course, Russian officials likely want to reach audiences beyond the EU or the West in general. Another audience is domestic — to whom the deal says, “We are not quite as isolated as Western leaders claim.” Beyond this, given the island nation’s strategic location, regularized Russian naval access to Cypriot ports sends a message across the eastern Mediterranean region of the Middle East: “We are here to stay.”

The deal, which cuts interest rates on a 2.5 billion euro Russian bailout loan to Cyprus and extends payments from 2016 to as late as 2021, also makes two other important statements in the eastern Mediterranean. The first is that the Kremlin takes care of its friends; Cyprus is a particularly special friend as an offshore banking haven and the second-ranking source of foreign investment in Russia, though as even Putin acknowledges, “a large part of this is repatriated capital.” 

The second message is that Russia is able to help friends like Cyprus even at a time of great economic distress. Russian officials may see this as the most consequential idea to communicate at a time when most news from Moscow is assessing the impacts of low energy prices and a much-reduced ruble.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has perhaps unintentionally reinforced the case that the deal is more symbolic than substantive by insisting that it was a “renewed agreement” rather than a new one. Still, the agreement is not exclusively about symbolism — access to ports in Cyprus does have value for Russia’s navy, even if only for what Anastasiades described as port “calls with humanitarian aims, which are supplies of provision and refueling of vessels, as well as for rescue of lives of Russian nationals and their evacuation from neighboring countries.” 

After all, Russia’s naval replenishment facility at Syria’s port of Tartus is only about 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Limassol, a major port on the southern coast of Cyprus. With Syria’s civil war continuing with no end in sight, having an alternative to Tartus makes good sense (particularly since no one knows what the outcome of the war will be). Moreover, despite much excitement early in the conflict about the “strategic” role of the Tartus facility, in reality it offers little more than what Cyprus is willing to provide.

The port access is especially important in view of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s declaration, “It has been decided to set up a navy department task force in the Mediterranean zone where naval forces will stay on a permanent basis.” The Moscow Times suggested that this “permanent” presence would allow Russia to “secure shipping access to the Suez Canal and extend its influence in the Middle East.” The paper added that the force would operate from either Sevastopol or Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, because Tartus could not support it.

A press officer from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet describes Russia’s current Mediterranean presence as a task force of 10 ships led by the destroyer Severomorsk, which has been detached from the Northern Fleet. It also includes vessels from the Black Sea Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. As Al-Monitor has previously reported, some of them participated in live-fire exercises with Cypriot and Israeli ships last fall.

Anastasiades said that Putin approached the agreement “delicately” and without putting Cyprus in a “complicated position” with its EU partners. He likewise made clear that Russia will not have a military base; some press reports had suggested this possibility. (Indeed, some Greek patriots hope for a permanent Russian naval base on this island. Before the trip, Anastasiades even suggested that Cyprus might provide Moscow with access to an air base for humanitarian missions, though subsequent reports do not suggest this was in the final agreement.

What remains unclear is how Turkey — a major Russian economic partner and a NATO member — will react if Greek Cyprus becomes a key logistical node for the Russian navy in the Mediterranean. Ultimately, however, Moscow doesn’t need much from Turkey beyond its treaty-based access to the Mediterranean; Ankara, by contrast, genuinely needs Russian natural gas. And Turkey’s role in NATO imposes sharp limits on its ties to Russia anyway, as does Cyprus’ EU membership. With both of these realities in mind, Putin may expect that he can manage the issue. After all, as Czar Alexander III famously said, “Russia has only two allies, its army and its navy.” Having signed the latest agreement with Cyprus, Putin has assured that one of those two long-standing allies will be in a somewhat better position to operate in the Mediterranean Sea.

Read more: Al-Monitor.com

A press officer from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet describes Russia’s current Mediterranean presence as a task force of 10 ships led by the destroyer Severomorsk, which has been detached from the Northern Fleet. It also includes vessels from the Black Sea Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. As Al-Monitor has previously reported, some of them participated in live-fire exercises with Cypriot and Israeli ships last fall.

ISIS loses 23 villages to the Syrians and Kurds

Hold on a Minute

  • Syria is attacking ISIS, but Comrade Obama and the Republicans want to overthrow the anti-ISIS government of Syria.  Call me a "crazy" Blogger but I can smell that bullshit all the way here to my home in the People's Republic of California.

The Daily Star - BEIRUT:  Syrian regime forces and Kurdish militia fought separate battles with ISIS militants in a strategic area near the Iraqi and Turkish borders, a monitoring group said.

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) launched uncoordinated offensives against ISIS in the northeastern province of Hassakeh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Observatory head Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP that after three days of clashes, regime forces bolstered by fighters from Arab tribes had secured control over 23 villages in the center of the province from ISIS. Syria’s official news agency SANA put the number at 31.

State television said the army offensive would continue until it controlled the main road linking the provincial capital Hassakeh and the city of Qamishli.

A video released by the New York Times shows Syrian rebels about to
execute stripped and bound soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad

Read more: The Times of Israel 

“ISIS has launched counterattacks on regime checkpoints, while the regime fortifies its positions with support from local Arab tribes,” Abdel Rahman added.

He said YPG fighters were meanwhile also battling ISIS alongside Arab tribes outside the village of Tal Tamr in Hassakeh’s southwest.  “The YPG fighters in Tal Tamr are shelling ISIS around the area to lure ISIS to respond, so they can identify their positions” and call for strikes by the U.S.-led coalition waging an air campaign against ISIS, he said.

“But ISIS is avoiding any response in order not to give away its positions.”

YPG spokesman Redur Khalil confirmed to AFP that the Kurdish fighters were conducting “attack-and-retreat” operations with ISIS on two fronts.“The first is around Tal Tamr, in order to retake Assyrian towns in the area, and the second is around Tal Brak,” a town between Hassakeh and Qamishli, he said.

ISIS launched an attack last week on the areas around Kurdish-controlled Tal Tamr and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians from 11 villages. Nineteen of them were freed Sunday after ransoms were paid.

Control of Hassakeh province is split among ISIS, regime fighters and Kurdish militia, with overlap at a number of points.

Read more at the Daily Star.

‘Huge’ WWII Japanese battleship Musashi has been found

Found at Last

  • It was an engineering marvel and one of the largest warships in naval history until it was destroyed by U.S. forces in WWII. For eight years, the sunken Japanese battleship Musashi was the subject of an exhaustive search by Microsoft co-founder and all-around renaissance man, Paul Allen.  He and his research crew discovered it Sunday. Underwater video of the wreckage shows a valve wheel with Japanese writing, a main gun turret, a catapult system for launching planes as well as the bow of the ship affixed with a teak chrysanthemum, the Imperial Seal of Japan.

(Washington Post)  -  The construction of a vessel that would come to represent the might of Japan’s navy was so secretive, according to historical accounts, that workers hid it underneath a camouflage of rope. There was good reason to try to keep construction secret. It would become a fearsome creature of war: Said to be at that time “the largest battleship in naval history,” it extended nearly 900 feet in length, weighed 73,000 tons and was equipped with a massive arsenal of guns.

“I couldn’t believe how enormous they were!” American Helldiver gunner Joe Anderlik recalled of the vessel during a massive naval battle that sank the beast. Musashi “was huge!” another gunner said, according to World War II Database. “I had never seen anything as big in my entire life. It was a magnificent sight.”

But despite such magnificence, the end of the Musashi would be as cloaked in opacity as its origins. Allied forces pummeled its mighty frame with 20 torpedoes and 17 bombs, and on that day in October 1944, it sank somewhere in the Sibuyan Sea near the Philippines. It took with it 1,023 lives. And it was never seen again.

Researchers believe this object was a catapult used to
launch float planes from the Musashi.
(PaulAllen.com/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

That was until this week, when the Musashi reemerged in the most unexpected of places: Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen’s Twitter page. “WW2 Battleship Musashi sank 1944 is FOUND 1,000 meters deep. … Huge anchor,” wrote Allen, who has been looking for the ship for more than eight years. “RIP crew of Musashi.”

The announcement brought a startling end to the story of the Musashi: sank by an American naval force, discovered by an American billionaire. “Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army,” Allen said in a statement. “The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and, as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction.”

Allen, 62, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and now owns, among other things, the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, uploaded a number of pictures of what he described as the ship’s rusty bow, with a Japanese seal clearly visible. According to the Japan Times, officials with the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Philippine navy were not aware of the reported discovery, which Allen said he found with his luxury yacht, the Octopus, which apparently has all sorts of gizmos for deep-ocean surveillance.

Read More . . . .

The wreck of the largest battleship ever constructed has been located off the Philippines by Paul Allen, the joint-founder of Microsoft, more than 70 years after it was sunk during the Second World War.
Avid underwater explorer Mr Allen posted images on his Twitter feed of the Musashi, the colossal Japanese warship sunk by US forces at the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf. 

Ben Carson: Being gay is a choice — just look at prison

Retard Alert!

"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay."

Dr. Ben Carson

(Editor  -  Why do good Conservatives say such stupid crap about gays and sex?  You are allowed to believe what you want, but it is also smart to keep your mouth shut.)
Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, says he believes homosexuality is a choice. His proof? Prison.
"A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight," Carson said in an interview with CNN Wednesday. "And when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."
Carson's belief is at odds with others in the medical community who say "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation," reports Yahoo News.
The 63-year-old said he's open to granting legal rights to same-sex couples but not to changing the legal definition of marriage.
"Why do gay people want to get married? Why do they say they want to get married? Because they want to have various rights — property rights, visitation rights," he said. "Why can't any two human beings — I don't care what their sexual orientation is — why can't they have the legal right to do those things? That does not require changing the definition of marriage."
That position also puts Carson at odds with a majority of the country. A Gallup poll conducted last year found 55 percent of Americans support recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid.
It's not the first time Carson has voiced his controversial views on gays. In a 2013 interview with Fox News, Carson compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia.
“It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group — be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality — it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition [of marriage],” Carson said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

50% of children to be minorities in five years

Demographics are a Bitch

  • I am already a proud minority group member here in the People's Republic of California.  Some 62% of the population of the Golden State is Latino, Black, Asian or Native American.  
  • As a minority I can never again be called a racist.  So there are some perks.

According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report released Tuesday, more than half (50.2%) of the nation’s children are expected to be a part of a minority race or ethnic group by 2020.

Entitled “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060,” the report examines the total U.S. population, native and foreign born.

Other major findings include the following:
  • The total U.S. population is projected to increase by 98.1 million between 2014 and 2060, from an estimated 319 million to 417 million respectively.
  • By 2030, all baby boomers will have reached age 65 or older. 
  • The percent of foreign born is expected to increase each decade, its rate of growth projected to outpace that of natives.
  • By 2044, the U.S. population as a whole is expected to become majority-minority.
  • By 2060, the nation’s foreign-born will reach nearly one in five of the total population, from 13 percent in 2014 to 19 percent.
  • Also by the year 2060, an estimated 36 percent of children (people under age 18) will be "single-race non-Hispanic White," compared with 52 percent today.


While Obama Golfs - Russia and Egypt's 'new partnership'

“The people of Egypt are aware of the fact that the USA has stabbed Egypt in the back with the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. It is nothing that Egypt will easily forget, or forgive”.

(al-Monitor)  -  Between Feb. 9 and 10, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Egypt, thus reciprocating an August 2014 Russia visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Shortly before Putin’s trip, Moscow's analyst community suggested that the Russia-Egypt relationship might be elevated to a strategic partnership. The makings of such a shift included the parties’ shared positions on a number of regional issues; closely aligned interests (particularly on fighting international terrorism); a successful track record of bilateral cooperation on various fronts; and a strong personal bond of trust between respective leaders.

The reader may be reminded that Moscow took time to lean toward support for the Egyptian military, which had assumed power through an unprecedentedly large-scale manifestation of the popular will. However, the waiting game did not take long, as Russia’s orientation toward support for Sisi in every possible way became obvious following Sisi's electoral victory. 

Already in 2014 trade and economic cooperation between the two nations developed at a brisk pace. According to Egyptian Ambassador to Russia Mohammed al-Badri, who described Russia-Egypt ties as “picking up” across all areas of cooperation, last year’s trade between the two countries stood at $3 billion. Meanwhile, Russia’s Federal Customs Service cites an even higher figure of $4.6 billion between January and December, including $4.1 billion in Russian exports.  
Egypt buys missile defense system from Russia

Notwithstanding certain misgivings about Egypt’s security situation and an overall drop in the number of Russian nationals traveling abroad, more than 3 million Russians toured the country last year. In fact, Egypt’s Tourism Minister Hesham Zazua has gone as far as to propose that settlements with Russia in this sphere may be carried out in Russian rubles and Egyptian pounds, thus bypassing the dollar. Given Russia’s sizable trade surplus, this does not appear implausible.
As Yuri Ushakov, an aide to the Russian president, told the press Feb. 5 that Egypt and the nations of the Eurasian Economic Community had agreed to set up a free trade area working group, and “a decision had been made to establish an appropriate research team that would examine this topic. Its first meeting will be held in Cairo in March or April this year.”
As Putin told Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily Feb. 8, “We have established mutually beneficial and effective cooperation in the field of agriculture. Egypt is the major buyer of Russian wheat, Russia provides about 40% of grain consumed in that country; as for us, we import fruits and vegetables.” According to the president, Russia “sees promising prospects in the field of high technology, particularly in the areas of nuclear energy, outer space use and sharing of Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system.”
To Cairo, this continued rapprochement with Moscow is taking place against the background of a difficult relationship with Washington. Indeed, when Barack Obama’s decision to invite Sisi to the White House was announced on July 14, 2014, Sisi excused himself and sent his prime minister instead, reminding observers of an interview he granted to Larry Weissman back in 2013. At the time, Sisi stated much more bluntly: “The people of Egypt are aware of the fact that the USA has stabbed Egypt in the back with the Muslim Brotherhood and [Mohammed] Morsi. It is nothing that Egypt will easily forget, or forgive.” 
On Oct. 24, 2014, the Russian website Inosmi quoted from an article titled "Egypt gets ready for Putin’s visit" published in the UAE daily Al-Bayan, which said: “As opposed to actions taken by Washington that considers a terrorist organization involved in pillage and looting as the lawful government and denounces its ouster as a coup, Russia is not ready to compromise, for it unabashedly calls a spade a spade.”
The Egyptian leadership was particularly peeved by the January 2015 tour of Washington taken by an Egyptian opposition delegation, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. They were received at the Department of State, according to political consultant Christof Lehmann

Read more: al-Monitor.com

Putin Bikinis
The photos were taken on a Crimean beach.

ICE Raids 20 ‘Maternity Hotels’ in California Full of Pregnant Foreign Women

Pop and Drop a New American

Tuesday Federal Agents forced entry into twenty Southern California locations believed to be orchestrating “maternity tourism” scams for pregnant alien women aiming to gain U.S. citizenship for their soon to be born child.

According to U.S. immigration officials, the “maternity hotels,” which housed predominantly women from China, cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on negotiated services.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, reported that locations for the “maternity hotels” included Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

No one was arrested in connection with the scheme, reported Reuters. It is not illegal for women coming from foreign countries to give birth to children in the United States. Moreover, the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship to children born in the United States regardless of where the parents are from.

However, other felonies such as visa and tax fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy are often attached to these types of operation. Wednesday ICE investigators will interview the women and any other material witnesses found at the locations.

Authorities contend that maternity tourism, also known as “birth tourism,” have been around for years using the internet, newspapers, social media, and other platforms to attract potential customers.  CNN Money reported that the number of Chinese women giving birth in the U.S. more than doubled to about 10,000 in 2012, up from about 4,200 in 2008.

Services other than housing are provided for the women. Prenatal care and actual deliveries are performed depending on the arranged contract.  ICE explained that more expensive packages “include recreational activities, such as visits to Disneyland, shopping malls and even an outing to a firing range.”


Motel Prego
A 'maternity hotel' is charging foreign mothers thousands of dollars so they can give birth to American citizens, it was revealed.
The popular Santa Anita Inn in Arcadia, California has allegedly been keeping guests who sign up for 'birth tourism' packages in two of its secluded buildings - at a cost of $20,000 for the service.
Motel guests reportedly have seen women receiving a 'pregnancy service' with 24/7 nurses and meals delivered to their rooms as they prepare to give birth. 

Read more: Daily Mail. 

'Star Trek' fans told to stop 'Spocking' Canadian $5 bill

It's not like Canada is a real country.  Have 
some fun with the money.

(Toronto Sun)  -  Bank of Canada executives have urged Star Trek fans to stop a campaign to deface currency as a tribute to late actor Leonard Nimoy.

A drive was launched in the aftermath of Nimoy’s death on Friday to ink the features of his most famous character, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, on five dollar bills showing a portrait of Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Large numbers of the notes in circulation now show Laurier with Spock’s pointy ears, trademark haircut and eyebrows, a Star Trek badge and the character’s mantra “live long and prosper”.

Bank of Canada spokeswoman, Josianne Menard, has confirmed the stunt is not illegal, but she urges Spock fans to stop.

She says in a statement, “It is not illegal to write or make other markings on bank notes... However, there are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.” 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Obama ships the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Ukraine

"Go ahead. Make my day."

  • Both Republicans and Democrats are conveniently silent as Comrade Obama ships six companies of US airborne troops to war-torn Ukraine on Russia's border.

The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday.

“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” Foster stated. “What we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.”

The training will take place at the level of US and Ukrainian national guard companies, Foster explained, adding that “we have nothing above battalion staff level” engaged in the military training.

The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission.

The current channels for military training set up between Ukraine and the United States would not be used for transferring defensive lethal aid if the United States decided to provide arms to Ukraine, Foster told Sputnik on Monday.

United Kingdom’s (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron announced last week that the UK will also be sending military advisors to Ukraine.

Read more: Sputnik News.

Obama ships U.S. airborne troops to the Ukraine.
What could possibly go wrong with that idea?

Admiral Lyons on Obama’s Strategy: ‘It’s Anti-American ... Pro-Islamic, Pro-Iranian'

"Until you recognize that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion, you’re never going to 
come to grips with it."
Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr.

(CNS News)  -  Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr. (Ret.), the former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that President Barack Obama does have a strategy for dealing with Islamic radicals in the Middle East and it is an “anti-American” and “pro-Islamic” strategy,” as well as “pro-Iranian” and “pro-Muslim Brotherhood” strategy.

In his remarks at a recent Defeat Jihad Summit sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, Admiral Lyons spoke of a number of failed opportunities the United States had, since the late 1970s, to deal a crippling blow to Islamic jihadism and “change the course of history.”

Towards the end of his comments, Admiral Lyons, who commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet under President Ronald Reagan in 1985-87, said, “You know, we all say we have to identify the threat. Well, I think the one who identified it the best was [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan from Turkey when he said, ‘Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers [e.g., Islamic extremism]. Democracy is the train we ride to our ultimate objective.’”

“He couldn’t have said it any plainer,” said Lyons. “And until you recognize that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion, you’re never going to come to grips with it. And as far as a strategy – let me just conclude one thing, as I just had in my latest op-ed -- the Obama Administration has a strategy.”

“It’s very simple, any thinking American should be able to grasp,” said the admiral.  “It’s anti-American, anti-Western, it’s pro-Islamic, it’s pro-Iranian, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood!”

Lyons, a Naval Academy graduate who served 36 years in the U.S. Navy,  currently is the president and CEO of Lion Associates, an international consulting firm that specializes in anti-terrorist security services.

Further commenting on the threat posed by Islamists, Admiral Lyons said, “We’ve had many opportunities to change the course of history. And it hasn’t mattered whether it’s been a Republican or a Democratic administration, we failed every one of them, starting with Carter and the takeover of our embassy [in Iran in 1979].”

“We could have cut off [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeni and Islamic fundamentalism at the knees,” said the admiral.  “We were going to take Kharg Island [in the Persian Gulf], and he [Carter] rejected it.   We could have walked in. The next time was the Marine barracks bombing [in Beiruit, Lebanon, 1983], and you all probably wonder why we never responded.”

“I won’t go into the long detail but the guy that sabotaged the strike – and I’m glad you’re all sitting down – was the Secretary of Defense [Caspar Weinberger],” said Lyons. “Not once, but twice. Reagan approved -- the French wanted to do a combined strike and Reagan approved it, and Weinberger wouldn’t issue the order.”

Read More . . . .