Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland Referendum: Live Updates



WNU Editor: This post on the results of Scotland's referendum will stay on top for the next 12 hours. For new posts/news stories .... scroll down.

Scotland Referendum On Independence: Live Updates

BBC 5: LIVE -- BBC Radio
Scottish independence: Live blog -- Scotsman
Scotland Decides: Live -- BBC
Scottish referendum: Live -- Reuters
Scotland referendum: Live Report -- AFP
Scottish referendum: Scotland decides 'yes' or 'no' to independence - live -- The Guardian
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland decides Yes or No -- Independent
Scottish Independence Voting Results: Live -- The Telegraph
Live: Scotland referendum poll results announced after historic independence vote -- Mirror
Scottish independence referendum LIVE -- Express
Live Scotland results: Referendum counts from 32 councils on day of reckoning for Yes and No voters -- Belfast Telegraph
LIVE: Scottish referendum -- Irish Times
Live Blog: Scotland Votes On Its Independence -- NPR
Live: Follow Scotland’s historic vote from an Edinburgh pub -- France 24
Watch live as Scotland makes history (VIDEO) -- Global Post
Live: Scottish independence verdict nears -- Euronews
Scotland referendum: Live updates on independence vote -- Toronto Star
Live coverage: Scottish independence vote -- CTV News (Canada)
Live: Scottish independence referendum result -- Sydney Morning Herald
LIVE: As Scots vote on independence from UK, each camp trying to expose other's 'lies' -- Zee News
Scottish independence referendum LIVE UPDATES -- RT

WNU Editor: Finally, for those who enjoy observing events on the ground, here is a live webcast from the ground in Scotland:

Scores Of Islamic State Militants Killed In Iraq While Loading A Chemical Warhead


14 IS Militants Killed As Their Rocket Explodes -- Business Standard

Baghdad, Sep 16 (IANS/EFE) At least 14 members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group were killed Tuesday near Baghdad when a rocket whose warhead they were filling with chlorine gas exploded.

Iraqi security officials said seven more IS militants were injured in the incident, which occurred near the town of al-Dhuluiya, about 90 km north of Baghdad.

Al-Dhuluiya was also where four members of the Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen suffered symptoms of asphyxiation after inhaling chlorine gas released by two improvised explosive devices.

Read more ....

My Comment: If these reports are true .... it raises the stakes dramatically in the war against the Islamic State.

U.S. Navy Removes Destroyer's Top Three Commanding Officers In Mid-Deployment

Cmdr. Curtis Calloway, left, CMC Travis Biswell and Cmdr. Ed Handley, former XO, (not pictured) of the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) have been reassigned amid an investigation, the Navy announced. (Navy)

Navy Removes Destroyer's Top Three Commanding Officers Mid-Deployment -- RT

In an extremely rare move, the US Navy removed a ship’s top three commanding officers from their posts while it is at sea. The Navy is conducting an investigation into the command climate aboard the USS James E. Williams (DDG-95).

Cmdr. Curtis B. Calloway was relieved as commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer, along with Executive Officer (XO) Cmdr. Ed Handley and Command Master Chief Travis Biswell. The three posts make up the leadership aboard the Williams, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that has been underway since May 30.

Read more ....

Update #1: Destroyer Williams' commanding officer, CMC and former XO reassigned amid investigation -- Navy Times
Update #2: Navy removes U.S.S. James E. Williams top officers, NCIS launches investigation -- Examiner

My Comment: No one is saying what the investigation is all about .... but it must be big if all of the senior commanders are removed during a deployment.

U.S. Senate: Chinese Hacked U.S. Military Contractors

The US Senate claims that hackers associated with the Chinese government attacked commercial and military targets.(Reuters)

Chinese Hacked U.S. Military Contractors: Senate Panel -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Hackers associated with the Chinese government have repeatedly infiltrated the computer systems of U.S. airlines, technology companies and other contractors involved in the movement of U.S. troops and military equipment, a U.S. Senate panel has found.

The Senate Armed Services Committee's year-long probe, concluded in March but made public on Wednesday, found the military's U.S. Transportation Command, or Transcom, was aware of only two out of at least 20 such cyber intrusions within a single year.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That Chinese Hackers Have targeted U.S. Military Contractors

S military contractors 'hit by Chinese hackers' -- BBC
Chinese hackers repeatedly attacked U.S. computers of firms involved in movement of American troops and equipment, Senate probe reveals -- Daily Mail
Chinese Hacked U.S. Military Contractors 20 Times in a Year -- WSJ
Chinese Hackers Infiltrate U.S. Military Contractors -- Bloomberg
China Hacks US Military Transport Contractors -- Defense One
Charges of China’s military hacking into corporate America piling up -- Ars Technica
US Senate: Chinese Hackers Targeting US Military Contractors -- The Diplomat
China Denies Hacking Charges by US Senate Committee: Reports -- RIA Novosti

My Comment: It looks like the Chinese are trying to predict U.S. troops movements.

US Accuses Syria Of Breaking The Chemical Weapons Agreement

US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syrian President of breaking global chemical weapons agreements. © REUTERS/ Jacquelyn Martin

Kerry: Assad Broke Chemical Arms Treaty -- The Hill

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday there is evidence Syrian President Bashar Assad is using chlorine gas, “in violation” of a global chemical weapons treaty.

"We believe there is evidence of Assad's use of chlorine," Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Chlorine gas is not on the list of chemicals Syria declared to the international community, but Kerry said its use is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The secretary said the U.S. also had “some questions” about Assad honoring other parts of the weapons treaty.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Wednesday there was "compelling confirmation" that chlorine, in some form, was used in attacks on villages in northern Syria earlier this year.

Read more ....

More News On The US Accusing Syria Of Breaking The Chemical Weapons Agreement

Kerry: Syria Uses Chlorine Gas Despite Chemical Weapons Agreements -- RIA Novosti
Syria's Assad broke chemical arms pact with chlorine gas -- AFP
Assad has broken chemical weapons agreement: Kerry -- Washington Times
John Kerry declares Syria regime has broken chemical weapons deal -- The Telegraph
US accuses Syria of chlorine gas attacks -- RT
Israeli official: Syria hid chemical weapons after giving up raw materials -- Haaretz
Israel Believes Syria Kept 'Significant' Chemical Munitions -- VOA
Exclusive: Syria reveals more chemical weapons facilities to watchdog - sources -- Reuters
Syria Comes Clean About Three More Chemical Weapon Facilities -- The Wire
Syria’s chemical war rages on -- Washington Post editorial

The CIA Prepares To Go To War Against The Islamic State Even Though They Think President Obama's Strategy Is Doomed To Failure

Inside The Ring: CIA Goes To War Against Islamic State -- Bill Gertz, Washington Times

Behind the scenes of the U.S. military preparations for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against the al Qaeda offshoot terrorist group Islamic State, the CIA is gearing up for new drone strikes and a surge in intelligence-gathering operations to support it, according to U.S. officials.

The agency is beefing up its presence in countries near Syria, including Jordan, as part of increased U.S. military operations in the region, said officials close to the agency. Liaison with regional spy services also is being increased.

The agency is slated to provide traditional clandestine support to the U.S. military through intelligence-gathering on Islamic State leaders, training bases, communications networks and other targets. The agency also is expected to set up new Predator and Reaper drone bases.

Read more ....

My Comment: Even as the CIA prepares for war .... they are now making their opinions on President Obama's war strategy against the Islamic State very clear and public .... CIA Privately Skeptical About New Syria Strategy, Sources Say (Huffington Post).

Update:
CIA to Obama: We Already Did Your Dumb Plan And It's 'Doomed to Failure' -- Reason

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The CIA Has Just Released A Trove Of Formerly Top Secret Documents

(Photo via cia.gov)

New Trove Of CIA Articles On al-Qaeda, The Cold War And The Beiruit Bombing, Among Many Subjects -- Washington Post

The Central Intelligence Agency has released a new, extensive collection of declassified articles from its in-house journal, providing glimpses into the spy organization’s thinking on everything from Al-Qaeda’s secrecy tactics in Afghanistan to how it has managed public relations crises.

The documents, posted on the agency’s website Thursday, are from “Studies in Intelligence,” the CIA’s in-house professional journal. The publication’s mission is “to stimulate within the Intelligence Community the constructive discussion of important issues of the day, to expand knowledge of lessons learned from past experiences, to increase understanding of the history of the profession, and to provide readers with considered reviews of public literature concerning intelligence,” the agency said.

At times, the work is extremely blunt. For example, George Tenet, who led the CIA from July 1997 to July 2004, says that its agents should be honest with themselves about what they do.

Read more ....

More News On The CIA Releasing A New Collection Of Declassified Documents

A Declassified CIA Paper Shows How Close The US And The Soviets Really Came To War In 1983 -- Business Insider
6 Of The Most Fascinating Stories From The CIA’s Huge Archive Of Now-Declassified Files -- Business Insider
Here Are The Traits Of Americans That The CIA Feared Could Make The Country Vulnerable To Economic Espionage -- Jeremy Bender, Business Insider
CIA Posts Hundreds of Declassified Journal Articles -- FAS

The CIA Is 67 Years Old Today

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). © AFP 2014/ Saul Loeb

Central Intelligence Agency -- RIA Novsoti

MOSCOW, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the principal US foreign intelligence and counterintelligence organization, marks its anniversary on September 18.

The CIA is an independent agency responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to top US policymakers. It was established by the National Security Act (NSA) of 1947, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1947, and came into force on September 18, 1947.

The United States has engaged in intelligence gathering since the end of the 18th century, when its first president, George Washington, was in office, but it was only during the World War II era that the overall intelligence effort came to be coordinated at government level. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed New York lawyer and World War I hero William J. Donovan as Coordinator of Information, promoting him to head the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), after the United States entered World War II in 1942.

Read more ....

My Comment: I did a Google news check .... and with the exception of RIA Novosti (a Russian news service at that) .... no other news service mentioned that today is the CIA's 67th anniversary. Not one.

How Artillery Was Used In The Ukraine Civil War

The outskirts of Mariupol on Sept. 4, 2014 under pro-Russian separatists heavy artillery action. Montreal Gazette

The Right (And Wrong) Way To Use Artillery: Ukraine Edition -- Popular Mechanics

When Russia-Ukraine becomes an artillery war, everyone loses.

It just wouldn't be a European war without the bang-whistle-bang of artillery shells flying back and forth. Maybe it’s something about nations warring with their neighbors, but European militaries have taken to bombarding each other with alarming frequency ever since the cannon was invented. That goes for the current battle in Ukraine, too. And these days, truck-mounted rocket artillery has joined the fight.

Tactically speaking, there are wise and unwise ways of using artillery. The good, bad, and ugly of artillery tactics can be seen in the battle for Donetsk. In general, the Ukrainians have not put artillery good use as the Russians, and are suffering because of it.

Read more ....

My Comment: A good analysis on how artillery was used in the Ukraine civil war. More to the point .... the Ukraine Army was not then .... and is not now .... in a position to counter what Russian artillery units can bring to the battlefield.

As Ukraine Disintegrates, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Gets A Standing Ovation In The U.S. Congress

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the US Capitol in Washington. © REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque

As Poroshenko Gets Standing Ovations in Western Capitals, Ukraine Disintegrates -- Dmitry Babich, RIA Novosti

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is touring the United States and Canada, addressing legislatures and getting standing ovations. The problem is, however, that such an enthusiastic reception in North America and the West in general is usually seen as sort of a bad omen for political leaders from the former Soviet Union.

Nearly ten years ago, the anti-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, was met with the same ovations and flowers on both sides of the Atlantic. Within four years, however, Yushchenko’s presidency had led to a chain of conflicts inside Ukrainian society and he lost the next election, getting a humiliating 4 percent of the vote. The last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, lost power in 1991 when his popularity in the West was at its peak: “Gorby-mania” culminated in his getting the Nobel Peace prize in late 1990, just as wars were being fought in Nagorno–Karabakh and Moldova.

So much for the kind of leaders who get praise in the modern West and for the “objectivity” of all sorts of committees and endowments (Nobel and otherwise) which lavish praise and prizes on these persons.

Read more ....

My Comment: I rarely post a commentary post (by itself) from RIA Novosti on this blog .... especially on the Ukraine crisis where it is overly pro-Russian and over the top critical of the Ukraine government. But there is a lot of truth in this commentary .... especially on the main point that Ukraine as a united country is now finished. Everyone that I know in Ukraine .... family and friends .... told me that they voted for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in May in the belief that he would pursue the compromises and accommodations necessary to bring peace .... that his election would be a new start to a new Ukraine. Unfortunately .... he pursued a different course .... a war policy against the east in the misguided belief that victory would be quick and that Russia would not intervene. He was wrong on all accounts, and what makes the entire situation even more tragic is that this civil war and the death and destruction that it caused should never have occurred.

Ukraine today is a country is in free-fall. Deeply divided along linguistic and regional lines. The stories that I hear from my family who are still living in Ukraine is truly heartbreaking. Unemployment is rising. Inflation is rising. Opportunity for the young disappearing. Small and medium businesses closing. No money or not enough .... and definitely not enough natural gas to heat ones home in winter. Rampant corruption. Tensions and worries rising.

So .... Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gets his standing ovations in the U.S. Congress and a brief visit to the Oval Office .... but back home .... in the real world .... everything is imploding.

Ukraine President Poroshenko Leaves The U.S. With No Commitment To Lethal Militatry Aid



Ukraine Leader Gets Support In U.S., But Not Lethal Aid -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- American leaders offered Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko a high-profile platform Thursday to advocate for greater support to his besieged military, though the levels of assistance ultimately offered by the United States fell short of his requests.

After an address to a joint session of Congress, Poroshenko met with Secretary of State John Kerry and later with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, where he requested help arming his troops to battle Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine -- a request that once again was rebuffed.

"They need more military equipment, both lethal and nonlethal," Poroshenko said of his military during his morning speech to U.S. lawmakers, saying Ukraine deserved special ally status that qualifies it for elevated levels of assistance.

Read more ....

More News On Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's Visit To The U.S.

Ukraine crisis: Obama praises 'excellent' Poroshenko -- BBC
Ukraine's pleas for lethal aid from US go unmet -- AP
Ukraine president secures U.S. military aid but not weapons -- Reuters
Ukraine Leader's Plea Nets Less Than He Wanted -- New York Times
Applause, but No Arms, for Ukraine -- WSJ
No Prospect of Weapons for Kiev After Obama's Meeting with Poroshenko -- RIA Novsoti
Obama declines to give Ukraine 'lethal aid' despite Poroshenko's plea -- RT
Obama Leaves Poroshenko’s Plea for Lethal Help Without Answer -- RIA Novosti
Ukrainian President Poroshenko asks Congress for military support -- Washington Post
Poroshenko asks US Congress for more help in Ukraine -- Irish Times
Why Ukraine's plight has yet to set off alarms at the White House -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

WNU Editor: The video below is today's address by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's to a joint session of Congress.

According To CNN The Scottish Referendum Vote Result Is 58% Yes, 54% No


My Comment: It looks like someone is definitely excited in CNN on Scotland declaring independence with 110% of the vote.

Hat Tip: Zero Hedge

First Results Declared In Scottish Referendum: No 54%, Yes 46%


Scottish Independence: First Referendum Results Declared -- BBC

The first results are coming in for the referendum to decide whether Scotland should stay in the UK or become an independent country.

Clackmannanshire was the earliest to declare, with "No" winning 19,036 votes and "Yes" on 16,350 on an 89% turnout.

Counting will be carried out through the night, with individual results announced for each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas.

The final national result is expected after 06:30 BST (05:30 GMT) on Friday.

A YouGov on-the-day survey published shortly after polls closed suggested "No" was on 54% and "Yes" on 46%.

The survey questioned 1,828 people after they voted, together with the postal votes of 800 people, although it is not a traditional exit poll.

YouGov said its responses suggested there had been a small shift from "Yes" to "No" on polling day, and also that "No" supporters were slightly more likely to turn out to vote.

Read more ....

My Comment:  If these results hold .... the dream of Scottish Independence is going to be put on hold for next few years .... if not longer.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 18, 2014



‘Scotland Will Never, Ever Be The Same’ -- Corinne Purtill, Global Post

Scotland finally has its chance to seize independence. Will it take it? Nobody here feckin knows.

LOCHGELLY, UK — A gray drizzle slicked the pavement outside as Gavin Loudon dropped into a chair at the public library in this Fife, Scotland town.

He wore a crossing-guard-style blue vest emblazoned with the Yes logo of Scotland’s pro-independence campaign. He also had a Yes messenger bag, Yes bracelets ringing both wrists and a stack of Yes pamphlets under one arm.

The former boxer looked tired but dogged, having knocked on 1,000 doors that day with fellow volunteers. In the last two years, Loudon estimated, the local Yes branch has distributed some 400,000 leaflets extolling the virtues of a sovereign Scotland.

He’s dedicated to this movement nearly four years of his life, some $3,000 of his own money and a $1,600 bet on Yes with the local bookie.

And on Thursday, it will all be over.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 18, 2014

Need a last-minute primer on Scotland's vote? Here's what you should know. -- Anne Steele, CSM

Alone, Scotland Will Become a Failed State -- Niall Ferguson, Telegraph

European Integration Emboldens Europe's Separatists -- Stephen Fidler, WSJ

Europe’s Secession Panic -- Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast

A Caledonian utopia or a nation divided? -- Alistair Crighton, Al Jazeera

How Islamic State Uses Syria's Oil to Fuel its Advances -- NDTV/Reuters

Why ISIL keeps growing -- Martin Reardon, Al Jazeera

A NATO ally stays on sidelines of fight against Islamic State -- Andrew Finkel, Reuters

Confronting ISIL: Why bombing is doomed to fail -- Rachel Shabi, Al Jazeera

From D.C. to Syria, a Mess: The ISIS Campaign Is Off to a Shaky Start -- Nicholas Kristof, NYT

Airstrike Uncertainties: Obama's Dangerously Vague New War -- Markus Feldenkirchen, Christoph Reuter and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online

As Iran talks resume, it’s time to play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ -- Daryl Kimball, Kelsey Davenport and Ali Vaez, Reuters

Is Egypt Doomed to Autocracy? -- Alaa Al Aswany, NYT

Afghanistan’s stability depends on two presidential contenders reaching a deal -- Washington Post editorial

Why Ukraine's plight has yet to set off alarms at the White House -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

You’re not really famous until you’ve quit Twitter – at least once -- Jack Shafer, Reuters

Breaking News: Scotland Exit Poll Suggests 54% Scots Voted No, 46% Voted Yes

WNU Editor: This news is from The Guardian.

World News Briefs -- September 18, 2014 (Evening Edition)



Scottish Independence: Counting Begins In Referendum -- BBC

The polls have closed and counting is under way in the referendum to decide whether Scotland should stay in the UK or become an independent country.

Counting will be carried out through the night, with individual results announced for each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas.

The final national result is expected after 06:30 BST (05:30 GMT) on Friday.

A YouGov on-the-day poll published shortly after polls closed suggested "No" was on 54% and "Yes" on 46%.

A "Yes" vote in the ballot would end the 307-year-old union between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

A record turnout is anticipated, with 4,283,392 people - 97% of the electorate - having registered to vote.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. ready to strike ISIS in Syria, military officials say.

France to strike ISIL in Iraq but not Syria.

Peshmarga General: US, NATO needed to defeat IS in Iraq.

Islamic State militants seize Kurdish villages in northern Syria.Islamic State seizes villages in Syria as drone scouts skies.

Islamic State militants cannot be defeated by air strikes, says Iran FM.

Kerry suggests Iran could lead Isil fight.

West tells Iran it must address nuclear bomb fears.

Syria conflict keeps 2.8 million children out of school.

Israel believes Syria kept 'significant' chemical munitions.

Israeli navy fire wounds Gaza fisherman.

Gaza war spurs more Palestinians to risk dangerous migration to Europe.

Hamas says indirect truce talks with Israel to resume within week.

Houthi rebels push into Yemeni capital.

Saudi clerics declare Isis terrorism a 'heinous crime' under sharia law.

ASIA

Australia foils possible terror attack. Australia raids over 'Islamic State plot to behead'.

Afghan power-sharing accord held up by last-minute wrangle over election results.


China's Xi Jinping signs landmark deals on India visit. China not warlike, says Xi, as border standoff dominates India trip.

Fiji election: Bainimarama headed for outright majority.

Pakistan rescues thousands as floods hit south.

Bangladesh passes law to impeach judges.

China sees jihadist inspiration coming from abroad by way of the Web.

AFRICA

UN: 5 peacekeepers killed, 3 wounded in Mali blast.

Ebola outbreak: Health team 'found dead' in Guinea. Deadly attack in Guinea on Ebola team.

Death toll in West Africa Ebola epidemic reaches 2,622: WHO.

WHO: 700 new Ebola cases emerge in one week.

Ivory Coast battles to keep Ebola out.

U.N. leader plans stronger presence in Ebola zone.

Nigerian troops mark rare victory over extremists.

Nigeria 'uses torture officers to extract confessions'.

Libya's elected parliament rejects PM's new cabinet: parliamentary spokesman.

Moroccan 'rancorous' rapper freed from jail.

EUROPE

Polls close as Scotland's voters make their choice in independence referendum.

Pound's 2-year high points to bets that Scotland will vote ‘No’.

Annual military exercise takes on new meaning for Ukraine troops.

Kiev, Donetsk cancel prisoner exchange on Thursday.

Ukraine leader warns of Russia threat, seeks US support.

Russia's Putin says sanctions violate principles of WTO.

Putin's aggression has left Europe in pre-war state, says top Russian writer.

Polish fears of Russia run high on war anniversary.

NATO to fast-track rapid-reaction force.

France ready for greater EU integration with Germany: Hollande. French president stakes out more forceful international role even as domestic troubles mount.

World briefing: Europe’s worsening migrant crisis.

AMERICAS

Obama reaffirms commitment to Ukraine. Obama, Ukraine president to meet at White House.

Obamacare: Seven million pay premiums.

U.S. Senate voting on rebel aid after House backs Obama.

Ukraine President addressing US Congress.

US silent on Venezuela's Security Council bid.

Arrests in Chile bomb attack focus on anarchists.

New evacuations ordered in face of raging California wildfire. California wildfire doubles in size overnight.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has rare 'aggressive' cancer.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

British journalist, now ISIS hostage, sends message from terror group.

US government investigating young people joining Mideast Jihadists.

National security officials cite progress against domestic terrorism threat.

Who are the 'terrorists' the world needs to fight?

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Global population predicted to reach nearly 11 billion by 2100.

Oracle's Larry Ellison steps down and two CEOs named.

Super-rich rush to buy 'Italian Job' style gold bars.

US Attorney General to propose more rewards, agents to fight Wall St crime.

Alibaba set to price shares as investors gear up for flotation. It's official: Alibaba prices at $68.

US Central Bank expects to wnd direct support of economy in October.

Is Hamas About To Recognize Israel?


Hamas Would Abide By PLO Recognition Of Israel, Legislator Says -- Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas will keep trying to join the Palestine Liberation Organization even though it would be required to honor the PLO's recognition of Israel, a lawmaker representing the militant Islamist group says.

Ahmad Attoun, elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council from east Jerusalem in 2006, said in an interview that Hamas wants to move beyond the unity agreement it struck in June with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party to govern the West Bank and Gaza together. Joining the PLO would place it in the umbrella organization that determines foreign policy and is fighting for Palestine to be accepted as an independent state.

Israel condemned the Hamas-Fatah unity deal when it was first presented in April after the breakdown of peace talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry. The breach set the stage for the eruption of tensions with Israel that led to a 50-day military conflict in Gaza, leaving more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis dead and the coastal territory devastated.

Read more ....

My Comment: Ahmad Attoun's position has not been publicly backed by the Hamas leadership in Gaza or by the group's political chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar. But if this report is true it is a small opening .... correction .... a very very small opening .... that maybe (just maybe) .... a level of talks and discussions will start among Palestinian groups that they may need to pursue other strategies and policies that does not include violence in their decades long conflict with Israel.

Update #1: At least it is not their #1 option (so they say) .... AP Interview: Hamas No. 2 Says War a Lesser Option (ABC News)
Update #2: Hamas says indirect truce talks with Israel to resume within week -- Haaretz

Russian President Putin 'Privately Threatened To Invade Poland, Romania And The Baltic States'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talking during 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Benouville Castle, France. Regis Duvignau / Reuters

Putin 'Privately Threatened To Invade Poland, Romania And The Baltic States' -- The Telegraph

German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reports that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told European Commission that Putin made the threat in a recent conversation.

President Vladimir Putin privately threatened to invade Poland, Romania and the Baltic states, according to a record of a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.

"If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest," Mr Putin allegedly told President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, reported Süddeustche Zeitung, a German newspaper.

If true, this would be the first time that Mr Putin has threatened to invade Nato or EU members. Any threat to send Russian troops into the capitals of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Romania would cause grave alarm among Western leaders.

Read more ....

Update #1: EU silent on reported Putin threat against east Europe -- AFP
Update #2: Putin's Bullying Gets Scarier and Subtler -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

My Comment: This threat is similar to the one that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Putin made a few weeks ago in a telephone conversation .... but it should be noted that those remarks were then "clarified" by Moscow a few days later .... Kremlin Official: Putin's 'I Can Take Kiev In Two Weeks' Remark Was Taken Out Of Context.

Now .... according to a German source .....Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is saying the same thing (but expanded to include the Baltics and Poland) .... an accusation that he apparently made after having a meeting with the same EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who accused Putin of making the remark that he could "take Kiev in two weeks". Consider me skeptical .... but this is an incredibly serious accusation .... and considering the gravity of it all I am hopeful that more information is released soon (like a taped record of the conversation) .... rather than just hearsay.

Western Sanctions Are Hurting The Russian Economy



Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions -- Voice of America

WASHINGTON — A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.

While some worry the country’s weak currency will fuel higher prices, others say Russian consumers, who tend to buy few imports, are not likely to feel the impact yet.

“They affect state enterprises, state companies; they affect banks; they now affect a broad number of individuals, but less so, much less so - rank and file Russians,” said Maria Lipman, a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.

Read more ....

More News On The Impact Of Sanctions On The Russian Economy

Russia Admits Sanctions Are Hurting -- WSJ
Russia's Medvedev: Western Sanctions Taking their Toll -- FOX News
Russia's Putin says sanctions violate principles of WTO. -- Reuters
Sanctions against Russia 'violate' core principles of WTO – Putin -- RT
Russia has no plans to punish West with retaliatory sanctions — Putin -- ITAR-TASS
Russia approves tough budget as sanctions restrict growth -- Reuters
Russian government approves 2015-2017 budget draft -- ITAR-TASS
Russia demands changes to Ukraine-EU trade deal -- Reuters
Western Economic Sanctions Come at a Price for Russia, Europe – Hollande -- RIA Novosti

My Comment: When sanctions first started .... I mentioned in this blog that they were going to hurt. Official Russian reaction was "blase" .... discounting it's impact. Now we know the truth .... sanctions are hurting Russia .... but they are also hurting the rest of Europe. The question that now needs to be answered is .... how long will this last.

This Is What the U.S. Miltiary Will Be Facing When They Go To Africa To Fight Ebola



The US Military Is Going to Africa to Fight Ebola. Here's What It's Up Against. -- Mother Jones

The virus isn't the only threat troops will face.

On Tuesday, the White House officially announced that it would be sending US troops to Liberia to fight the Ebola outbreak. The military has already requested to use $500 million from its Overseas Contingency Operations budget to deal with Ebola in West Africa and ISIS in Iraq, and plans to request another $500 million to combat the epidemic, which United Nations officials have said is needed to keep the number of cases in the "tens of thousands." (So far, the World Health Organization is aware of about 5,000 people who it believes have been infected in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, although it says the actual toll is probably much higher.)

Read more ....

My Comment: The U.S. military personnel that are going to Africa to assist in trying to contain the epidemic are mostly engineers, medical specialists, and support staff. The fears is .... what happens if the situation deteriorates and the governments in the region start to go to extreme measures like declaring Martial Law. Will U.S. forces be involved? What will be their rules of engagement? These questions and many more are now rising .... and no one from the White House or the Pentagon is answering them.

The Death Toll From The Ebola Epidemic Continues To Rise -- News Updates September 18, 2014



U.N. To Deploy Ebola Mission As Death Toll Reaches 2,630 -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United Nations unveiled plans on Thursday for a special mission to combat the worst Ebola epidemic on record in West Africa, as the death toll hit 2,630 and France became the latest Western nation to step up its support.

French President Francois Hollande announced the deployment of a military hospital to remote Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, where the outbreak was first detected in March.

Since then the virus has infected at least 5,357 people, according to World Health Organization (WHO), mostly in Guinea, neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has also spread to Senegal and Nigeria.

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More News On The Ebola Epidemic

West Africa: Acceleration Seen in Ebola Outbreak, Death Toll Exceeds 2,600 -- VOA
Ebola Deaths Doubled in a Month, Health Group Says -- New York Times
Number of Ebola Cases Accelerating, Says World Health Organization -- WSJ
Ebola tightens grip on West Africa -- Deutsche Welle
Ebola lockdown to begin in Sierra Leone -- CBC
Fear and hope as Sierra Leone braces for three-day Ebola lockdown -- Reuters
Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola -- Washington Times/AP
Concerns Rise Over Black Market for Ebola Treatment -- US News and World Report
Ebola is now a threat to all our security, says Obama, as 3,000 US troops head to West Africa to combat epidemic -- Daily Mail
Ebola by the Numbers -- CNBC

The Growing Rift Between President Obama And His Generals

White House photos 2/27/09 by Pete Souza

The Rift Between Obama And His Generals On ISIS -- Zack Beauchamp, VOX

There's no mistaking what President Obama's Wednesday speech at MacDill Air Force Base was: a gigantic slap in the face to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. But to be fair, Dempsey slapped first when he publicly dissented from the administration's position on deploying combat troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Obama's latest speech shut him down.

The font of the disagreement was Dempsey's Tuesday testimony at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, during which he said he'd "recommend" a US combat deployment to fight ISIS under certain circumstances. In a short, fiery portion of his Wednesday remarks — the above video — Obama restated his opposition to this plan in no uncertain terms. "I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq," the president said definitively.

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More News On The Growing Rift Between President Obama And His Generals

Barack Obama silences generals on US ground troops in Iraq -- The Telegraph
White House Responds To Dempsey’s Comments: Obama ‘Will Not Deploy Ground Troops In Combat Role’ -- CBS
Can Obama Keep His Generals in Check in the War Against ISIS? -- Eli Lake, Daily Beast
Obama, generals part ways on ground war in Iraq -- Trib Live
Obama’s isolation deepens over Isis -- Geoff Dyer in Washington, Financial Times
Mark Levin: "A Revolt Going On With Top Generals And Obama" -- Real Clear Politics
Obama vs. the generals -- Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post
On Ground Troops in Iraq, Obama and his Generals Appear at Odds -- Ernesto Londoño, New York Times

My Comment: The backtracking and denials from some Generals of what they may have said is now starting .... Odierno did not call for U.S. ground forces to fight Islamic State, spokeswoman says (Navy Times). I guess they have figured out that in this battle .... they are going to lose to this White House.

On a side note .... the group that I have found to be very silent on the White House ISIS strategy in the past few weeks is the U.S. intelligence community. Now if they start to leak stuff .... that is when you know that President Obama is in trouble.