Syria In Ruins

A man walks past a burnt car and damaged buildings along a street at the al-khalidiya neighbourhood of Homs

UPDATE1: April 5, 2013 Battle of Armageddon

UPDATE2: June 20, 2013 Syria’s Endgame: Prospects Dim, Options Narrow

UPDATE3: July 4, 2014 Obama vetoed British plan to create a 100,000 strong Free Syrian force in 2012

Had Obama intervened with a no fly zone or provided arms to the secular forces last year he could have cut off oxygen to the jihadists and the revolution would be over by now. Syria could have a transitional government favourable to the West and the hope of a friendly regime in the future. Instead, we have mass death, destruction, and the increasing influence of Islamists. A great historical opportunity has been missed to the detriment of the United States and the cost of tens of thousands of Syrian lives.

“The White House rejected the Clinton-Petraeus proposal over concerns it could draw the United States into the Syrian conflict and the arms could fall into the wrong hands, the Times said, citing unnamed Obama administration officials.”

White House rebuffed Clinton-Petraeus plan to arm Syrian rebels: report
http://news.yahoo.com/white-house-rebuffed-clinton-petraeus-plan-arm-syrian-023937923.html

“Pentagon leaders told Congress on Thursday that they had supported a recommendation to arm Syrian rebels promoted by the State Department and CIA but which President Barack Obama ultimately decided against.

Obama’s government has limited its support to non-lethal aid for the rebels who, despite receiving weapons from countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are poorly armed compared to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army and loyalist militias.

Syria’s 22-month-long conflict has killed an estimated 60,000 people.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, has championed greater U.S. involvement and chided the Obama administration at a hearing, asking Pentagon leaders: “How many more have to die before you recommend military action?” ”

Pentagon backed plan for U.S. to arm Syrian rebels
http://news.yahoo.com/pentagon-backed-plan-u-arm-syrian-rebels-101637115.html

“Second, the lack of hope for an intervention by the West removed any impetus for maintaining a secular narrative. Many fighters who had pinned their hopes on NATO were greatly disappointed and angered that their suffering was ignored. It is not unusual for Syrian fighters to say something akin to, “What has the West done for us? We now have only God.”

When these ideological factors were combined with the infusion of money and arms that has been channeled to jihadist groups in Syria over the past year, the growth of Syrian jihadist groups accelerated dramatically. Not only are they a factor on the battlefield today, but they also will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”

The Consequences of Intervening in Syria
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/consequences-intervening-syria?

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Taking On Scientology

Scientology

For once, a country is seriously taking them on. It’s quite funny when the Scientologists accuse western democracies that have concerns about their behaviour of being “fascistic”.

“Scientologists may be facing their most daunting court case yet, and all it took was for someone to stop calling them a cult. After a years long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine. “The decision follows years of investigation that was triggered by a complaint by the Labour Mediation Service in the Brussels Region. Labour mediators were unhappy with a number of labour contracts,” reads the report from Flanders News. “The matter ended up on the desk of examining magistrate Michel Claise, who ordered raids on Church of Scientology premises in 2008. During the raids police managed to seize a wealth of evidence,” they add. And (with the help of Google translate) Belgian newspapers De Tijd and L’Echo are both reporting that the Belgian federal attorney is now seeking prosecution.”

Could Belgium Bring Down Scientology?
http://news.yahoo.com/could-belgium-bring-down-scientology-164921804.html

Burning-at-the-stake

They’re fortunate they started their cult in the 20th century

“There is the public face of an organisation . . . that claims to offer guidance and support to its followers and there is the private face of an organisation that abuses its followers and viciously targets its critics, and seems largely driven by paranoia.

“Scientology is not a religious organisation; it is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious belief.”

Senator Xenophon tabled a letter from Perth man Aaron Saxton, in which he admits to torture and blackmail while working for the Church of Scientology in Australia and at its American headquarters between 1989 and 1996.

Mr Saxton says he assisted in the “forced confinement and torture” of a female church member who was kept under “house arrest” on a farm in western NSW for a month.

“Several abortions were ordered as well,” his letter states.

“The staff that got pregnant were taken into offices and put under duress.” His letter says the victims were “always in fear” because they were told they could be expelled from the church and “severed” from their family.

“We had one staff member who used a coat hanger and self-aborted her child . . . all her files were destroyed.”

Scientology criminal, says senator Nick Xenophon
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/scientology-criminal-says-senator-nick-xenophon/story-e6frg6nf-1225799077820

Senator Nick Xenophon says Scientology is ‘a criminal organisation’
http://www.news.com.au/national-old/senator-nick-xenophon-says-scientology-is-a-criminal-organisation/story-e6frfkvr-1225799077790

Obama Retreats, Russia Steps In

UPDATE: December 6, 2012 Expert panel: NASA seems lost in space, needs goal

Despite economic problems, Europeans realise the importance of space exploration.

“Europe and Russia are cementing their plans to explore Mars together.

European Space Agency member states have approved the agreement that would see Russia take significant roles in Red Planet missions in 2016 and 2018.

The former is a satellite that will look for methane and other trace gases in the atmosphere; the latter will be a surface rover.

Russian participation fills a void left by the Americans who pulled back from the projects earlier this year.

For a while, it looked as though the ventures, known as ExoMars, might have to be cancelled. But Russian desire to pick up many of the elements dropped by the US means ExoMars is now on a much surer footing.

Esa member states indicated their happiness with the cooperation text on Monday. All that remains is for the documentation to be signed by both parties.

This is likely to happen before the end of the year.”

Russia and Europe joint Mars bid agreement approved
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20407902

“European Space Agency (Esa) member states have resolved key issues at their ministerial council and agreed a 10.1bn-euro programme of activities.

The big decisions included a go-ahead for an upgrade on Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket in parallel with design work on a replacement for the early 2020s.

Esa nations also approved the project to provide the propulsion unit for Nasa’s new manned capsule, Orion.

In the surprise of the meeting, even the UK put money into this project.

It has long stayed out of the agency’s human spaceflight activities, but agreed to a one-off, 20m-euro contribution because of the technology development it could enable in a number of British companies.

“We’re confident our interests will be reflected,” UK science minister David Willetts said.

Most of the meeting’s agenda had been worked out in advance. Great uncertainty however had remained over how much the 20 nations could commit to space in the midst of the Eurocrisis.

With that context in mind, Esa director-general Jean Jacques Dordain expressed great satisfaction at the outcome.

“Member states recognise that space is not an expense; it’s an investment,” he said.”

European Space Agency defines Ariane and space station plans
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20424858

One Giant Leap For Mankind
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/one-giant-leap-for-mankind/

One Giant Leap Backwards
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/one-giant-leap-backwards/

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/obama-hammers-the-last-nails-into-the-coffin-of-nasa/

NASA’s “Foremost” Mission Under Obama
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/nasas-foremost-mission-under-obama/

The Eagle Is Grounded
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/the-eagle-is-grounded/

Obama To Cut NASA’s Budget
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/obama-to-cut-nasas-budget/

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Or should that now be “The Great Leap Forward For Mankind”?

“The passing of Neil Armstrong is a sad occasion in the history of our nation. But it is also a reminder of one of the most glorious achievements in American history and in the whole history of humanity. Moreover, it’s a reminder of an era when the efforts of brave astronauts and brilliant engineers were spearheaded by a president with high horizons and an apt appreciation of American (and human) greatness.

Alas, President Obama is no JFK. As I wrote two years ago when the Obama administration decided to scrap funding for voyages to the moon and Mars:

You know those great pictures of Earth from outer space, showing our planet suspended against the blackness, a beautiful blue ball? No one has seen that view since the Apollo program ended 38 years ago. No astronaut has seen that view since then. We’ve all just seen the pictures.

Now, unless Congress rejects the president’s recommendations, the next people to see that view will likely be the Chinese.

Mitt Romney would do well to pledge to reverse this rather visible aspect of American decline. To do so would certainly be consistent with Armstrong’s hopes. In the obituary written on his behalf, the New York Times says:

Mr. Armstrong re-entered the public spotlight a couple of years ago to voice sharp disagreement with President Obama for cancelling NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the Moon. Later, he testified to a Senate committee, expressing skepticism that the approach of relying on commercial companies would succeed.

Last September, Mr. Armstrong testified to a House committee that NASA ‘must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force.’

Forty-three years have now elapsed since Armstrong, and hence humanity, first set foot on the moon. Amazingly, the country that sent him there is not currently capable of sending anyone else on a similar voyage–at least not in short order–and many of its fiscal and social problems now appear almost impossible to solve.

Yet the Apollo program remains a source of inspiration and an antidote to pessimism. Andrew Smith, the author of the wonderful book Moondust, sums up Armstrong’s thoughts, which are surely applicable to the moment at hand: “Armstrong hopes that Apollo 11 shows how seemingly impossible problems may be overcome if the will is there.” ”

One Giant Leap for Mankind
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/one-giant-leap-mankind_650947.html

One Giant Leap Backwards
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/one-giant-leap-backwards/

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/obama-hammers-the-last-nails-into-the-coffin-of-nasa/

NASA’s “Foremost” Mission Under Obama
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/nasas-foremost-mission-under-obama/

The Eagle Is Grounded
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/the-eagle-is-grounded/

Obama To Cut NASA’s Budget
https://simonjmeath.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/obama-to-cut-nasas-budget/

One Giant Leap Backwards

©William Warren

See updates below: Some NASA scientists are saying the latest budget will not allow for near future missions to Mars. People are naive if they think Obama is maintaining the legacy of JFK. His gradual gutting of NASA is a repudiation of everything JFK stood for.

“Washington – Scientists say NASA is about to propose major cuts in its exploration of other planets, especially Mars. And NASA’s former science chief is calling it irrational.

With limited money for science and an over-budget new space telescope, the space agency essentially had to make a choice in where it wanted to explore: the neighboring planet or the far-off cosmos.

Mars lost.

Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. NASA had agreed to pay $1.4 billion for those missions. Some Mars missions will continue, but the fate of future flights is unclear, including the much-sought flight to return rocks from the red planet.

The two scientists, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the budget, said the cuts to the Mars missions are part of a proposed reduction of about $300 million in NASA’s $1.5 billion planetary science budget. More than $200 million in those cuts are in the Mars program, they said. The current Mars budget is $581.7 million.

“To me, it’s totally irrational and unjustified,” said Edward Weiler, who until September was NASA’s associate administrator for science. “We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue.”

Weiler said he quit last year because he was tired of fighting to save Mars from the budget knife. He said he fought successfully to keep major cuts from Mars in the current budget but has no firsthand knowledge of the 2013 budget proposal.

Mars “has got public appeal, it’s got scientific blessings from the National Academy,” Weiler said in a phone interview from Florida. “Why would you go after it? And it fulfills the president’s space policy to encourage more foreign collaboration.”

Two years ago, President Obama said his ultimate goal was to send astronauts to Mars.

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Obama Sells Out Taiwan

See update below: Has the Obama administration effectively taken control of Taiwan’s defence budget? Why not just trust them to know what they need.

Hopefully Obama will be kicked out next year and America can return to its true values — standing up for its friends and against its enemies.

“So while the U.S. is willing to sell technologically advanced fighter jets to Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and other Asia-Pacific nations that feel threatened by China, Taiwan remains an unexplainable exception.

“We can see the U.S. abandoning its commitment to Taiwan,” said one senior U.S. defense industry executive told me. “It’s really criminal.” Another told me his peers all project that this is the last major blow before “Taiwan goes down the tubes.”

A NATO diplomat in Beijing told me last month that Washington does not understand the significance of what happens with Taiwan. “That little island is the line in the sand,” he said. Sadly, it is Taiwan with its carrier-killer missile that is daring China to cross that line—and not the U.S.”

Taiwan’s Aircraft Carrier Killer
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/taiwan-s-aircraft-carrier-killer_594591.html?nopager=1.

The Obama administration has established a new (even lower) standard for kowtowing to Beijing. In the first instance, the White House has decided against selling Taiwan 66 new F-16s the government in Taipei has been asking for over the last few years. With an aging inventory of Taiwan air force fighters and the continued buildup of Chinese advanced air defenses, fighters, and fighter-bombers, the sale was absolutely essential if the deteriorating air balance over the Taiwan Strait was to be addressed.

Ignoring his legal obligations under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military equipment it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities, the president has allowed Chinese threats of a rough patch in relations to dictate American – security policy.

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Deliberately Deceptive Poll On Climate Change

Most AGW skeptics accept we have some effect on climate, yet consider it to be local (e.g. Urban Heat Island Effect), not global, and certainly not catastrophic. Therefore, most skeptics find themselves in the 58% “partly caused by human activity” category.

If you cannot distinguish between the skeptics who believe it is “partly caused by human activity” (but not catastrophic), from those who believe it is partly caused by us (and catastrophic) then the survey is deliberately deceptive.

As a quantitative survey, rather than a qualitative one (which allows participants to say whatever they want), this is not a true reflection of what people think.

Here is the Newspoll question (PDF here):

DO YOU PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS…?*

• entirely caused by human activity: 14%
• partly caused by human activity: 58%
• TOTAL CAUSED BY HUMAN ACTIVITY: 72%

“Gillard press conference yesterday (5/5/11):

What today’s poll shows, and I don’t normally comment on polls but can I say this, if you look at today’s poll it confirms very clearly that Australians believe that climate change is real. That’s a pretty big contrast with Mr Abbott who has said in the past that climate change is absolute crap. So, Australians believe climate change is real.”

‘Farewell, old chum. Fairfax and the ABC work their way through the five stages of grief’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/farewell-old-chum-fairfax-and-the-abc-work-their-way-through-the-five-stages-of-grief/story-fn72xczz-1226050071841

“Now even I, as a writer of a climate sceptic blog, would have to be included in that 72% (actually the 58%), because I consider that man has a partial effect on the climate, like virtually everything else on the planet: plants and animals and buildings and cities etc etc. We can live with a modest 1 degree of warming – there may even be benefits from that warming, and from the increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

So the question that should have been asked is whether people believe that the effect that man has on climate is dangerous and requires action to reverse that effect. In other words, that the modest warming from increased CO2 is amplified by positive feedbacks (as the models would have you believe) into something that is dangerous.”

‘Newspoll’s questions mislead the media’
http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2011/05/newspolls-questions-mislead-the-media/

The Lesson Of Egypt

Obama, the so-called “man of the historical moment”, has allowed himself to be swept along by history, rather than become a shaper of it. His attempt to catch the zeitgeist of the Middle Eastern revolutions, in Tunisia and Egypt, and his late embrace of the Iranian peoples’ aspirations makes him more of a reactionary president than a visionary one.

“Barack Obama has dismissed claims about mixed messages from the White House during Egypt’s revolution, insisting his administration will be remembered for being on the right side of history “at every juncture”.

The US President also yesterday spoke out against Iran’s government for suppressing protests in solidarity with Egyptians.

He called on governments to respond to a “hunger for change” among their people in a way that did not lead to violence. “You can’t maintain power through coercion,” Mr Obama said.

The President rejected suggestions that his administration had been a step behind events in Egypt.

“I think history will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt that we were on the right side of history,” Mr Obama said.”

‘Washington ‘on the right side of history’: Barack Obama’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/washington-on-the-right-side-of-history-barack-obama/story-e6frg6so-1226007182685

4th of November, 2009 protests in Tehran:

“Obama, you’re either with the Iranian regime or you’re against the Iranian people

Obama, Obama, ya ba oona, ya ba ma
(Obama, Obama, you’re either with them or with us)”

‘obama ya ba oona ya ba ma – 13 aban iran – 4 nov’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAxF28bTIFc&feature=player_embedded

” “Obama, Obama, ya ba oona, ya ba ma,” chanted the brave and bruised youths in the streets of Tehran last week. “You’re either with them or with us.” There is no hint that the President was listening.”

‘Berlin anniversary too few remember’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/berlin-anniversary-too-few-remember/story-e6frg6zo-1225795558989

‘Reagan – Tear Down This Wall’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjWDrTXMgF8

Krauthammer: “The regime is weakening. This is a hinge in history. Everything in the region would change if the regime is changed. Obama ought to be strong out there in saying it’s an illegitimate government; we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in the street. When he talks about diplomacy he should be urging our Western allies that have relations to cut them off. He ought to be going into the UN every forum denouncing it. This is a moment in history, and he’s missing it.“

‘Video: Krauthammer Not Impressed With Obama’s Statement On Iran’
http://nicedeb.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/video-krauthammer-not-impressed-with-obamas-statement-on-iran/

18 February, 2011

http://apps.facebook.com/journaling/view.php?item=73442

WikiLeaks: US-Egypt Relations Under Obama

These cables are self-explanatory. I don’t think I need to add much, except to say that the Obama administration’s strategy versus the public criticism of Mubarak by the Bush administration made very little difference. Egypt would still have been a reliable ally, as they had been during Bush’s “name and shame” policy.

“A new batch of cables made public by WikiLeaks shows the delicate manoeuvring between the US and Egypt, and how the Obama administration avoided “public confrontations” with Hosni Mubarak on human rights.

A cable from US ambassador Margaret Scobey, cited by The New York Times yesterday, advised Hillary Clinton before a visit not to thank Mr Mubarak for releasing an opposition leader from prison. The March 2009 cable said the Secretary of State should not even name Ayman Nour, whose imprisonment in 2005 had been globally condemned, including by the US under George W. Bush. The cables show diplomats repeatedly raised human rights issues with officials, the newspaper reported, in particular following cases of police brutality. In the case of several Hezbollah members detained in late 2008, lawyers claim the men were subjected to electric shocks and sleep deprivation, which reduced them to a “zombie state”.

But the cables make clear that relations warmed between the two nations after Barack Obama wound back his predecessor’s “name and shame” policy.

One 2009 cable notes that the US avoided “the public confrontations that had become routine over several years”.

Other cables show Mr Mubarak’s concern with Iran and its proxies, including Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood.”

‘Barack Obama ‘avoided face-off on rights’ ‘
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/barack-obama-avoided-face-off-on-rights/story-e6frg6so-1225996407924

29 January, 2011

http://apps.facebook.com/journaling/view.php?item=73298

Obama Hammers The Last Nails Into The Coffin Of NASA

Yonatan Frimer, copyright 2010

Obama revives the dangerous/failed shuttle program, kills the new rocket program, gives up the moon to the Chinese, uses NASA to do PR work with the Muslim world, and monitors “Global Warming”. What’s more, his administration expects private companies to do the work for them without proper incentives. NASA might as well be broken up after this! I don’t think it’s going to survive the damage.

“The act will mark a sea change in the way Nasa does some of its business, particularly in the realm of human spaceflight.

The legislation calls for $1.3bn to be allocated to the development of commercial crew services over the next three years.

The money will seed private companies to design and build rockets and capsules capable of delivering astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The legislation also signals a formal end to the Constellation programme begun under President George Bush that sought to return humans to the Moon with a new spaceship called Orion and two new rockets called Ares 1 and Ares 5.”

‘Obama signs Nasa up to new future’
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11518049

‘NASA’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA

17 October, 2010

http://apps.facebook.com/journaling/view.php?item=72435