Thursday, July 24, 2014

Congresswoman sees 'threat' in Constitution

http://www.wnd.com/2014/07/congresswoman-sees-threat-in-constitution/

Arizona Takes Nearly 2 Hours to Execute Inmate - NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/us/arizona-takes-nearly-2-hours-to-execute-inmate.html

Smartphone Apps Claim To Repel Mosquitoes < CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/07/23/smartphone-apps-claim-to-repel-mosquitoes/

Study casts doubt on rate of Antarctic sea ice growth - LA Times

A new study suggests that scientists must reexamine records that show increases in Antarctic sea ice since 1979. Researchers found that something changed in the way satellite data get converted into ice cover, but they can't yet identify the exact nature of the change, or whether it fixed a problem or introduced one.

They can say that their results show either Antarctic sea ice has not expanded as much as previously reported or it has been gaining ground for longer than scientists realized. The study was published this week in the journal The Cryosphere.

The paradox of expanding Antarctic sea ice has troubled scientists for many years. Although climate models predict southern sea ice should shrink, it has stubbornly refused to do so. In fact, between the last two reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which came out just seven years apart, the rate of Antarctic sea ice growth more than doubled.

The prevailing explanation held that extending the relatively short sea ice record by a few more years had simply revealed an accelerating trend.

"It's really noisy," said lead author of the new study, Ian Eisenman of UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "Adding more data could change it. It's not that surprising."

But when Eisenman dug into the individual papers that informed the IPCC reports, he saw that a jump in growth rates took place in just one year, between studies that came out in 2006 and 2007.

In fact, a change had occurred: scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who process the raw data, had tweaked the procedure they used to convert satellite measurements into ice cover. Specifically, they issued an update to a computer algorithm known as Bootstrap and with it, reprocessed the entire 35-year sea ice record.

More here http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-satellite-antarctic-sea-ice-20140724-story.html

Drought drains critical US water supply - FT.com

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/257fc542-135a-11e4-84b7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz38Rn1qbbK

Video: The 'selfie' is dead. Introducing the 'dronie' - Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/skiing-news/10988393/The-selfie-is-dead.-Introducing-the-dronie.html

20 Signs The Epic Drought In The Western United States Is Starting To Become Apocalyptic

 

When scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad.  Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age.  The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that. 

And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us.  Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go.   Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices.  The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic...

#1 According to the Los Angeles Times, downtown Los Angeles is now the driest that it has been since records began being kept all the way back in 1877.

#2 The California State Water Resources Control Board says that nearly 50 communities are already on the verge of running out of water.

#3 In a desperate attempt to conserve water, the state of California is considering banning watering lawns and washing cars.  Once implemented, violators will be slapped with a $500 fine for each offense.

#4 It has been reported that a new social media phenomenon known as "drought shaming" has begun in California.  People are taking videos and photos of their neighbors wasting water and posting them to Facebook and Twitter.

#5 Climate scientist Tim Barnett says that the water situation in Las Vegas "is as bad as you can imagine", and he believes that unless the city "can find a way to get more water from somewhere" it will soon be "out of business".

#6 The water level in Lake Mead has now fallen to the lowest level since 1937, and it continues to drop at a frightening pace.  You can see some incredible photos of what has happened to Lake Mead right here.

#7 Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity believes that the city of Las Vegas is going to be forced to downsize because of the lack of water...

The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It's not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).

#8 In some areas of southern Nevada, officials are actually paying people to remove their lawns in a desperate attempt to conserve water.

#9 According to Accuweather, "more than a decade of drought" along the Colorado River has set up an "impending Southwest water shortage" which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.

#10 Most people don't realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.

#11 Lake Powell is less than half full at this point.

#12 It is being projected that the current drought in California will end up costing the state more than 2 billion dollars this year alone.

#13 Farmers in California are allowing nearly half a million acres to lie fallow this year due to the extreme lack of water.

#14 The lack of produce coming from the state of California will ultimately affect food prices in the entire nation.  Just consider the following statistics from a recent Business Insider article...

California is one of the U.S.'s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country's produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world's almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

#15 As underground aquifers are being relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.

#16 It is being projected that the Kansas wheat harvest will be the worst that we have seen since 1989.

#17 The extended drought has created ideal conditions for massive dust storms to form.  You can see video of one female reporter bravely reporting from the middle of a massive dust storm in Phoenix right here.

#18 Things are so dry in California right now that people are actually starting to steal water.  For example, one Mendocino County couple recently had 3,000 gallons of water stolen from them.  It was the second time this year that they had been hit.

#19 At the moment, close to 80 percent of the state of California is experiencing either "extreme" or "exceptional" drought.

#20 National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt says that this is "the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime".

Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been "megadroughts" throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.

If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.

And the frightening thing is that much of the rest of the world is dealing with water scarcity issues right now as well.  In fact, North America is actually in better shape than much of Africa and Asia.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled "25 Shocking Facts About The Earth's Dwindling Water Resources".

Without plenty of fresh water, modern civilization is not possible.

And right now, the western United States and much of the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with the fact that we could be facing some very serious water shortages in the years ahead.

So what is the solution?

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/20-signs-the-epic-drought-in-the-western-united-states-is-starting-to-become-apocalyptic

How a solar storm two years ago nearly caused a catastrophe on Earth

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/07/23/how-a-solar-storm-nearly-destroyed-life-as-we-know-it-two-years-ago/

Cruz, Sessions sound alarm on Obama's plan to expand amnesty program | TheBlaze.com

http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2014/07/24/cruz-sessions-sound-alarm-on-obamas-plan-to-expand-amnesty-program/

BAGHDAD: New Iraqi president wins accolades as mediator, but task is huge

Iraq's Parliament on Thursday elected a soft-spoken Kurdish Islamic scholar as president amid hopes – and some uncertainty – that he will be able to save this oil-rich country from dismemberment at the hands of a radical Islamist army.

A veteran politician who's known as a moderate and a conciliator, Fouad Massoum, 76, co-founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party along with Jalal Talabani, the country's outgoing president, and served as the first prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

While many politicians had warm words for Massoum, a respected Kurdistan analyst cautioned that the longtime opponent of ousted leader Saddam Hussein is widely viewed as weak. "He's a compromise candidate in Irbil," said Hiwa Osman, referring to the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government. "If people want a compromise, they use him."

The post of president was weak to begin with, Osman said, and "with him it will be weaker."

Since the overthrow of Saddam in the U.S. invasion 11 years ago, the post of president has traditionally gone to a Kurd, and by a political arrangement among Kurds from the PUK.

But Massoum's path to the position wasn't smooth. With Kurds uncertain if they want to remain part of Iraq or pursue independence, the PUK originally named two candidates.

It wasn't until late Wednesday, hours after Parliament was called into session for the vote, that the party picked Massoum as its candidate over former Prime Minister Barham Saleh. But another PUK member, Kirkuk Gov. Najimaldin Karim, also tossed his hat in the ring.

Massoum received 211 votes in the 328-seat Parliament in the second-round vote, with 17 members casting ballots for an unknown politician and 41 members submitting blank ballots. Some 102 men and women were on the first-round ballot.

Iraq's crisis is almost unparalleled. As much as half the country is under the control of the Islamic State, an al Qaida spinoff that has declared an Islamic caliphate that stretches into Syria. The Iraqi army is in a state of collapse, and the prime minister who personally controlled the army insists on retaining his position.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who met Thursday with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, said Iraq's very survival as a state was at risk.

Standing alongside Maliki, who at times seemed to be scowling, Ban waded into Iraq's domestic politics in a manner rare for a U.N. chief. He called for "a thoroughly inclusive government," implying that Maliki's was anything but, and urged the central government and the Kurdish government to resolve their differences.

"Iraq is facing an existential threat, but it can be overcome through the formation of a thoroughly inclusive government – a government that can address the concerns of all communities, including security, political, social and economic matters," he said. "It must be a government in which all Iraqis, regardless of background, feel represented."

The carnage continues daily. On Thursday, 52 prisoners, most likely Sunni Muslims, died while being moved from Taji prison, west of Baghdad, along with nine policemen. The Iraq Interior Ministry said the bus carrying the prisoners was hit by unknown gunmen, but in at least one previous massacre of detainees being moved the police themselves had executed their prisoners.

Two car bombs were detonated in Baghdad's upscale Karrada neighborhood Thursday evening, one close to the area's premier shopping area, crowded with families shopping at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and the other outside a Roman Catholic hospital. Iraqi news media reported that 10 people were killed and 25 were wounded, some seriously.

Massoum's first major task is to direct the creation of a new government, which will be no minor challenge. Maliki has a valid claim to staying in the top post after his Shiite coalition won a plurality in the April 30 elections, but Kurds and Sunnis are united in demanding that he be replaced.

In Washington on Thursday, a senior State Department official said Massoum's election reflected the consensus of the country, as did that of the new speaker of the Parliament, Salim al Jabouri, a Sunni. But he indicated that Maliki staying on would not.

"Leaders do have to have a very inclusive agenda to pull the country together," Brett McGurk, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It remains to be seen whether the existing prime minister could build such a consensus, but that remains very much in question."

With the radical Islamists almost at the gates to the capital, the biggest question is whether Massoum is the man who can steer the country back to stability.

"I have witnessed him in action," said Mithal al Alusi, a secular Sunni politician with the Iraqi Democratic Movement. In 2004, when U.S. forces and the Iraqi army were in a dire confrontation with the Shiite Mahdi Army militia in Najaf, Massoum "saved the day," Alusia said. "He has a calm demeanor and nerves of steel. He has a capability of finding solutions far from the extremes."

Part of the high-wire act Massoum will have before him is to keep the country together, which runs counter to the drive in Kurdistan for independence.

But Laith Shubbar, a politician with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite political movement, said Massoum had played a prominent role in drafting the new Iraqi constitution following the American invasion. That document made Kurdistan a largely autonomous province. "I believe he will be active in preserving the provisions of the constitution, which will put him in a strong negotiating position with all sides," he said.

Massoum, who studied Islamic Shariah law as an undergraduate and received his doctorate in Islamic philosophy, "commands great personal respect from politicians in all the political blocs," Shubbar said.

"The Kurds have not spelled out yet exactly how they want to get out of Iraq, or if they want to get out of Iraq," said Osman, the political analyst. "At the same time, the Kurds are bound to the constitution."

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/07/24/3762454/iraq-attack-on-prisoner-convoy.html?sp=/99/215/734/217/&ihp=0

Al Qaeda Targeting U.S. Infrastructure for Digital 9/11

 Washington Free Beacon

ASPEN, Colo.—Al Qaeda, nation states, and criminals are preparing for major cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure that could be comparable to the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, a senior Justice Department official said on Thursday.

"We're in a pre-9/11 moment, in some respects, with cyber," said John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security in the Justice Department.

Carlin also said during remarks at a security conference that China's government dared the Obama administration to provide court-level evidence of Chinese military hacking against the United States.

The dare resulted in the May 1 indictment of five members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) hacking group known as Unit 63198, he said.

On cyber terrorist attacks, Carlin said: "It's clear that the terrorists want to use cyber-enabled means to cause the maximum amount of destruction to our infrastructure."

"It's clear because they have said it," he told the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering at the mountain resort town of senior, current, and former national security and military officials.

Carlin said al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently issued a videotape statement indicating the group is planning cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure—such as the electrical grids or financial networks.

Terrorists, nation states Carlin did not specify, and sophisticated criminal groups "have the capability now to cause significant damage" through cyber attacks.

One example of the kind of damaging infrastructure attack that can be expected in the future was the recent cyber attack against Saudi Arabia's state-run oil company Aramco that destroyed some 30,000 computers used to control key elements of that country's energy infrastructure.

The recent Justice Department takedown of a cyber crime group code-named Game Over Zeus is another example of the kind of cyber attacks that terrorists could conduct in the future.

In Game Over Zeus, cybercriminals used a botnet—a network of hundreds of thousands of hijacked computers—to steal U.S. corporate data and encrypt the information and then extort payments from the companies that owned the data to release it.

"And I think many of the people and the industries that are in in this room would pay because of the important information we keep and sometimes life-saving information if we think of medical records," Carlin said, noting that the operation was conducted for profit.

"If a terrorist group gets that same type of access or capability, they're not going to ask for money and they are not going to wait till they try to destroy the data," Carlin said.

"So there's a real urgency I think now and it is going to require private and public sector cooperation given how much of the infrastructure is in private hands."

Carlin said it would be "a shame" if current debates over national security prevent dealing with the cyber threat to infrastructure "before we're looking backward at what happened and how we got there."

On Chinese military hacking, Carlin said the case of the five PLA hackers grew out of Chinese government appeals to prove U.S. charges of military hacking into American companies and other organizations.

Carlin said the Justice Department has begun to approach cyber attacks using methods similar to its efforts to counter terrorism and since the early 2000s the government has learned more about intrusive cyber penetrations in the United States.

"We've become much much better at observing what is currently going on in terms of the information that as we speak is being taken from hard working Americans who are looking to create and innovate, and it's being stolen, day in and day out, and used by their competitors to the disadvantage of the American companies," he said.

"From our perspective we have to apply the same type of approach that we did to terrorism to the national security cyber threat."

That approach ultimately led to the indictment of the PLA hackers. China's government denied its military was involved in the hacking and responded by accusing the United States of hacking Chinese companies.

"We heard directly from the Chinese who said, 'If you have evidence, hard evidence that we're committing this type of activity that you can prove in court, show us.' So we did," Carlin said.

The indictment revealed that PLA Unit 61398 hacking activity was "cutting across the span of different American businesses—nuclear to solar, to steel to labor," Carlin said.

The indictment, however, is only a first step in what Carlin called a multi-pronged strategic approach that set up a "red line" for the Chinese that was designed to dissuade future attacks.

"We will continue to increase the cost of committing this type of activity on American soil where it is occurring, where they are taking the information, until it stops," Carlin said. "And we need to maintain that commitment."

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/al-qaeda-targeting-u-s-infrastructure-for-digital-911/

WASHINGTON: US and Islamic State: 'We did see this coming' | World | Merced Sun-Star

Like the rest of the world, the U.S. government appeared to have been taken aback last month when Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, fell to an offensive by jihadis of the Islamic State that triggered the collapse of five Iraqi army divisions and carried the extremists to the threshold of Baghdad.

A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn't surprised at all.

In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who'd infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.

The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group's declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn't handle it.

The group's operations "are calculated, coordinated and part of a strategic campaign led by its Syria-based leader, Abu Bakr al Baghadi," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee on Feb. 5, four months before fighting broke out in Mosul. "The campaign has a stated objective to cause the collapse of the Iraqi state and carve out a zone of governing control in western regions of Iraq and Syria."

The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State's ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?

In fresh testimony before Congress this week, McGurkrevealed that the administration knew three days in advance that the attack on Mosul was coming.

He acknowledged that the Islamic State is no longer just a regional terrorist organization but a "full-blown" army that now controls nearly 50 percent of Iraq and more than one-third of Syria.

Its fighters have turned back some of the best-trained Iraqi units trying to retake key cities, while in Syria, it's seized nearly all that country's oil and natural gas fields and is pushing the Syrian military from its last outposts in the country's east.

"What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications," Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.

Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.

"We did see this coming," said Royce, adding that Iraqi officials and some diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad began urging the administration in August 2013 to launch U.S. drone strikes against Islamic State bases near Iraq's border with Syria.

"This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect," said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.

"This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy," said Nasr. "It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism."

Administration officials deny the charges of inaction. U.S. policy, they contend, was aimed at helping the Iraqi government deal with the growing threat.

"That was also the desire of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government wanted to act on its own with our assistance," McGurk told Congress this week. He insisted that Baghdad didn't formally request U.S. airstrikes until May.

The situation, however, was far beyond the Iraqi government's ability to cope.

One complicating factor was the administration's approach to Syria and the uprising there to topple President Bashar Assad, a goal President Barack Obama adopted as America's own in an August 2011 statement that said Assad had lost all legitimacy to rule and must go.

Some experts argue that Obama committed a key error in 2012 by rejecting calls from top national security aides, lawmakers and others to train and arm a moderate rebel force to fight Assad.

Obama administration officials say that rejection was based on a variety of concerns, including that weapons passed to moderate rebels might end up in the hands of more radical elements such as the Nusra Front, an al Qaida affiliate that by mid-2012 had taken the lead in many of the anti-Assad movement's major victories.

But without a well-armed moderate force, the battlefield was left open to increasing jihadi influence, others respond.

"This crisis was allowed to fester and get worse in many ways due to inaction against Assad and ISIS," said Phillip Smyth, a Middle East researcher at the University of Maryland.

A review of the record shows, however, that support for the anti-Assad movement also hampered U.S. action to quash the Islamic State, which until earlier this year rebels considered an ally in the push to topple Assad.

In testimony in November, McGurk said that one of the reasons the United States had not granted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's request for assistance against the Islamic State was Maliki's refusal to close Iraqi airspace to Iranian planes flying arms to Assad's military.

While Maliki's fears about the Islamic State "are legitimate," McGurk said then, "it's equally legitimate to question Iraq's independence given Iran's ongoing use of Iraqi airspace to resupply the Assad regime."

In another misstep, some experts said, the Obama administration appears to have turned a blind eye as U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others provided arms and money that allowed Islamist groups to hijack the Assad opposition and ultimately provide Baghdadi with a secure patch in Syria from which he eventually would send men and weapons back into Iraq.

Smyth disputed that idea in part, noting that the Islamic State was largely self-sufficient financially, although the influx of foreign fighters provided a crucial boost to its manpower.

What is indisputable, Smyth said, is that the White House became immobilized by the complexity of the crisis: Having declared that Assad had to go, it found that there was no opposition group that didn't have some ties to jihadists, and actively backing the rebels would put the United States on the same side as al Qaida.

"When you have a policy that was paralyzed by a number of different things, the result is a confused policy," he said.

On Iraq, meanwhile, the public testimony shows that the administration moved slowly to respond to the rising Islamic State threat. One complication: Doing so would have put the United States effectively on the same side as Iran, the main regional ally of Baghdad and Damascus.

Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim majority dominated Iraq's government, formally sought stepped-up U.S. military and counterterrorism assistance in October 2013. But he had been asking privately for help much earlier.

One such appeal came after a March 4, 2013, attack inside Iraq by Islamic State forces on Iraqi army troops who were escorting back to the border dozens of Syrian soldiers who'd fled into Iraq to escape an attack on their post by anti-Assad rebels. While still inside Iraq, their buses drove into bombs and gunfire. At least 49 Syrians and 14 Iraqis died. It was one of the first documented instances of the Islamic State coordinating attacks on both sides of the border.

Ali al Mousawi, Maliki's spokesman, called then for the United States to immediately give priority to arming Iraq with weapons that the country already had requested so that it could fend off any future incidents.

"We need equipment as fast as it was delivered to Turkey," Mousawi said, referring to the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries by the United States and several NATO allies after Syrian missiles landed in Turkish territory.

"They managed to install the Patriot systems within two weeks. We need something like that," he told McClatchy the day after the incident.

Instead, the White House stuck with a policy that tried to make use of the crisis to pressure Maliki into replicating the U.S. success late in the 2003-2011 occupation of enlisting Sunni tribes to help fight al Qaida's Iraqi affiliate, which eventually became the Islamic State.

"We made it clear to Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that the fight against terrorists and militias will require a holistic – security, political, economic – approach," McGurk told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 13 in describing talks held with the Iraqi leader during a visit he'd made to Washington a week earlier.

The approach called for Maliki to be more accommodating to his Sunni Muslim political rivals. The administration called on Maliki to end a harsh crackdown on Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, restore their political rights and provide salaries and other benefits to Sunni tribes that agreed to fight the Islamic State. Maliki failed to make good on numerous assurances that he'd comply.

Washington also had other priorities: trying to mediate a feud between Maliki and Kurdish leaders over oil revenues, boost the country's petroleum industry and promote ties between Iraq and its Arab neighbors.

It was only after Islamic State assaults in December on the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi that the administration began stepping up military aid to Baghdad. It sent unarmed spy drones and 75 Hellfire missiles – which had to be dropped from propeller-driven passenger planes – for use against Islamic State bases in western Iraq.

And the United States has yet to deliver helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq already had purchased. It also dragged its feet on Baghdad's request for U.S. military advisers, some 300 of whom were dispatched only after Mosul fell.

While there are many reasons for the Obama administration's failure to tackle the rise of the Islamic State earlier, lacking intelligence is not among them.

By early 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies began delivering more than a dozen top-secret high-level reports, known as strategic warnings, to senior administration officials detailing the danger posed by the Islamic State's rise, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. The reports also covered the threat to Europe and the United States from the return of thousands of battle-hardened foreign fighters, including dozens of Americans, who'd fought to topple Assad.

Intelligence analysts well into this year "continued to provide strategic warning of (the) increasing threat to Iraq's stability . . . the increasing difficulties Iraq's security forces faced . . . and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq's declining stability," said the senior U.S. intelligence official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive issue.

On Feb. 11, Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in public that the Islamic State "probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014."

Flynn warned then that Iraqi forces were "unable to stem rising violence in part because they lack mature intelligence, logistics and other capabilities." They also "lack cohesion, are undermanned, and are poorly trained, equipped and supplied," leaving them "vulnerable to terrorist attack, infiltration and corruption," he said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said his committee had been regularly briefed on both Syria and Iraq.

"I do not think it was an intelligence failure. I think that we got the information we needed to have," he said recently when asked his assessment of the developments in the region. "I don't feel like I could lay responsibility at the feet of the intelligence community for not seeing this coming, because they were aware of the growing risk."

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/07/24/3763979/us-and-islamic-state-we-did-see.html

September in July: Big cold front to bring stellar weather next week

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/07/24/september-in-july-big-cold-front-to-bring-stellar-summer-weather-next-week/

America's Top Threats in Space Are Lasers and Nukes - Defense One

http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2014/07/americas-top-threats-space-are-lasers-and-nukes/89519/

New Google Project Seeks to Define Healthy Human - WSJ

GOOGLE has embarked on what may be its most ambitious and difficult science project ever: a quest inside the human body.

Called Baseline Study, the project will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people—and later thousands more—to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be.

The project will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people. Getty Images

The early-stage project is run by Andrew Conrad, a 50-year-old molecular biologist who pioneered cheap, high-volume tests for HIV in blood-plasma donations.

Dr. Conrad joined Google X—the company's research arm—in March 2013, and he has built a team of about 70-to-100 experts from fields including physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.

Other mass medical and genomics studies exist. But Baseline will amass a much larger and broader set of new data. The hope is that this will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness.

"With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems," Dr. Conrad said. "That's not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like."

The project won't be restricted to specific diseases, and it will collect hundreds of different samples using a wide variety of new diagnostic tools. Then Google will use its massive computing power to find patterns, or "biomarkers," buried in the information. The hope is that these biomarkers can be used by medical researchers to detect any disease a lot earlier.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/google-to-collect-data-to-define-healthy-human-1406246214?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories

Facebook Gain Makes Zuckerberg Wealthier Than Google Guys - Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-24/facebook-gain-makes-zuckerberg-wealthier-than-google-guys.html

To Ease Crisis, U.S. May Vet Young Refugees Inside Honduras

NYTimes.com

Hoping to stem the recent surge of migrants at the Southwest border, the Obama administration is considering whether to allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making the dangerous trek through Mexico, according to a draft of the proposal.

If approved, the plan would direct the government to screen thousands of children and youths in Honduras to see if they can enter the United States as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds. It would be the first American refugee effort in a nation reachable by land to the United States, the White House said, putting the violence in Honduras on the level of humanitarian emergencies in Haiti and Vietnam, where such programs have been conducted in the past amid war and major crises.

Critics of the plan were quick to pounce, saying it appeared to redefine the legal definition of a refugee and would only increase the flow of migration to the United States.

By moving decisions on refugee claims to Honduras, the plan aims to slow the rush of minors crossing into the United States illegally from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, which has overwhelmed the Southwest border this year. More than 45,000 unaccompanied minors from those three nations have arrived since Oct. 1, straining federal resources to the point that some agencies will exhaust their budgets by next month, the secretary of Homeland Security has said.

Many of the children, particularly in Honduras, are believed to be fleeing dangerous street gangs, which forcibly recruit members and extort home and business owners. The United Nations estimates that 70,000 gang members operate in the three nations.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/world/americas/administration-weighs-plan-to-move-processing-of-youths-seeking-entry-to-honduras-.html

Hamas murders 25 Palestinians, blames Israel

Used cease-fire to execute suspected collaborators during 'humanitarian' truce

 

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[PLAY]

14 Reasons Obama Is Lying When He Claims The World Is 'More Stable' And 'Less Violent' Than Ever

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/14-reasons-obama-is-lying-when-he-claims-the-world-is-more-stable-and-less-violent-than-ever

With a straight face, Barack Obama has been repeatedly telling us that the world is "more stable" and "less violent" than ever.  In fact, he believes that this is the best time in history to be alive because of how peaceful and stable everything is. 

And of course Obama is more than happy to take credit for his role in bringing all of this "stability" about.  Just this week, his press secretary told the media that this administration has "substantially improved" the "tranquility of the global community".  Apparently these guys don't think that we will notice all of the violence, war and terrorism constantly raging all around us. 

It would be wonderful if the planet actually was becoming a more peaceful place, but instead the exact opposite is happening.  The world is becoming increasingly unstable, and if we aren't really careful we could see World War III break out before too long. But if you listen to Obama, he makes it sound like we are living in an emerging global utopia.  The following is an excerpt from remarks that he made during a White House event in June...

The truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be — if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you'd choose this time. The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it's ever been. It is more educated than it's ever been.

You can watch video of him making those remarks at the link below with much more on this

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/14-reasons-obama-is-lying-when-he-claims-the-world-is-more-stable-and-less-violent-than-ever