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Monday, July 28, 2014

Israel's actions in Gaza trample hopes of Arab Peace Initiative

Israel's actions in Gaza trample hopes of Arab Peace Initiative[English]&utm_campaign=42ad6883e3-July_28_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-42ad6883e3-100368361

The Bend of Power

The Bend of Power

How the U.S. military can overcome the challenges of complexity in a rapidly changing world.

Israel's moral defeat will haunt us for years

Israel's moral defeat will haunt us for years

We have passed 1,000 dead Palestinians. How many more?

By  Jul. 28, 2014 | Haaretz

After Abu Khdeir murder, an ugly collision of homophobia and racism

After Abu Khdeir murder, an ugly collision of homophobia and racism

Reckless Kerry risks causing escalation

Reckless Kerry risks causing escalation

If Israel is forced to undertake an expanded ground operation, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry.

The Millennials’ Moment: Why 2014 Does Matter

The Millennials’ Moment: Why 2014 Does Matter

Published on Sunday, July 27 2014
Written by Zogby
When Senator Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with a majority vote over Republican Senator John McCain, he was heralded as a possibly transformational President -- potentially in the same category as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. I know that argument well. I was one of the pundits making the case. It seemed very simple then: like his two iconic predecessors, Mr. Obama's election created a new demographic coalition, one so radically different than before and one that would surely dominate the national landscape for at least a generation. Not only did he receive the solid majority of Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans, but he was dominant among younger voters and the growing - strategically located - Creative Class.

‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left’ — Israeli chant

‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left’ — Israeli chant

Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive

Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive

28 Jul (Prefatory Note: Posted here is a Joint Declaration of international law experts from around the world who are listed below as endorsers. I am among the endorsers, and the text was initially drafted by several international law scholars. We welcome additional signatures that can be sent to me in the comments section, with affiliation noted for identification, and names will be periodically added to the text. I view this as an important expression of professional judgment and individual conscience relating to Israeli behavior in Gaza commencing on 8 July that has already taken so many innocent lives and caused such widespread devastation. Please join us and spread the word!)  
The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

House Appropriators Added Billions of Dollars For Weapons They Like

Budget schmudget.  Our military-industrial-congressional complex at play ...

U.S. Evacuation in Libya Shows Ill Effects of American Internventionism
Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty, The Independent Institute

U.S. Evacuation in Libya Shows Ill Effects of American Internventionism

Saudi poll shows massive support for Palestinian resistance

Saudi poll shows massive support for Palestinian resistance

Sunday, 27 July 2014

How the Export-Import Bank Debate is Destroying Our Understanding of Crony Capitalism

How the Export-Import Bank Debate is Destroying Our Understanding of Crony Capitalism 

BRICS Nations Set New Course for World Trade and Development

Middle East Briefing

BRICS Nations Set New Course for World Trade and Development

Despite Barack Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” the leading Eurasian countries met in Brazil this month to plot a new development course and a potential currency arrangement that bypasses the US dollar—all without the United States participation. This arrangement has a potential for a substantial wave of development and opportunities for the Middle East, Africa and Asia. From July 15-16, the heads of state of the five BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—met in Brazil to launch a new development bank and currency stabilization fund outside of the direct controls of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Federal judge overturns Washington DC ban on guns in public

Federal judge overturns Washington DC ban on guns in public
Washington (AFP) July 27, 2014 - A federal judge has ruled that a ban on citizens carrying handguns in public in the US capital Washington DC is unconstitutional. In a 19-page opinion, Judge Frederick Scullin on Saturday ruled that "there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under a ... more

Brazil to Israel: We are not dwarves

The Financial Times |

Brazil to Israel: We are not dwarves

Jul 26, 2014 12:39am by Joe Leahy
Israel and Brazil are locked in a diplomatic spat after Latin America’s biggest country issued a statement condemning Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for using “disproportional” force in Gaza but failed to mention the role of Hamas in the conflict.
An Israeli spokesperson called Brazil a diplomatic dwarf and described it as irrelevant in terms of international diplomacy.

CFR Daily News Brief July 28 Lull in Gaza as Pressure for Cease-Fire Mounts

Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 28, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Lull in Gaza as Pressure for Cease-Fire Mounts
Israeli forces and Hamas eased their fire on Monday (Reuters), which marks the end of Ramadan, even as international efforts for a formal truce faltered. The UN Security Council called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, a day after U.S. president Barack Obama called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express concern over the rising death toll, which has exceeded one thousand (NYT). The informal, unilateral lull comes a day after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry returned to Washington after a week of intensive meetings in the Middle East and Paris failed to yield an greement (WSJ).


"Israeli military officials know there is no simple solution — but that a political solution is always better than a military one. But to achieve that political solution, Israel must first arrive at cease-fire negotiations from a position of strength. For that, a significant price must be extracted from Hamas," writes former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin in the New York Times.


"Israel argues that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. It then declared the Gaza Strip to be 'hostile territory' and declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable. Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip," writes Noura Erekat in the Nation.


"A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel's intentions. Reversing the settlement project, and moving the West Bank toward eventual independence, would not only give Palestinians hope, but it would convince Israel's sometimes-ambivalent friends that it truly seeks peace," writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic.

FAS Roundup: July 28, 2014 Advanced nuclear reactors, U.S. sanctions on Russia and more.

Advanced nuclear reactors, U.S. sanctions on Russia and more.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Federation of American Scientists

FAS Roundup: July 28, 2014

Advanced nuclear reactors, U.S. sanctions on Russia and more.

From the Blogs

A Look Behind President Clinton's Veto of an Anti-Leak Bill: In 2000, both houses of Congress passed legislation that would have made any leak of classified information a felony. The provision, contained in the FY2001 intelligence authorization act, was designed “to ensure the prosecution of all unauthorized disclosures of classified information” said Sen. Richard Shelby, the primary sponsor of the provision, at the time. While some unauthorized disclosures of classified information were already prohibited by statute (including the Espionage Act), others have not been specifically outlawed, or else their legal status is uncertain, requiring strenuous efforts by prosecutors to fit a prohibition to the presumed offense. The Shelby provision would have removed all ambiguities and would have simply criminalized all leaks of classified information. But to the astonishment of nearly everyone, and to the relief of many, President Clinton vetoed the 2001 intelligence authorization bill because of the anti-leak measure.
U.S. Sanctions on Russia and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S. sanctions on Russia in response to events in Ukraine, use of force in Iraq and the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Advanced Nuclear Reactors Briefing

On July 24, FAS and the American Nuclear Society hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill that addressed the safety, science and technology of advanced nuclear reactors. Panelists included Dr. Peter Lyons, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy and Dr. George Apostolakis, former NRC Commissioner.
Presentation slides and briefing materials can be found below or on the event page. 
Presentation Slides: Past, Present and Future of Nuclear Power in U.S., Dr. Peter B. Lyons, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy
Fast Reactor Technology: A Path to Long-Term Energy Sustainability, American Nuclear Society
Enabling a Sustainable Nuclear Energy Future, Argonne National Laboratory
PROTEUS: Simulation Toolset for Reactor Physics and Fuel Cycle Analysis, Argonne National Laboratory
SHARP: Reactor Performance and Safety Simulation Suite, Argonne National Laboratory
Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), U.S. Department of Energy
A Look Inside America’s Source of Energy and Security Solutions, Idaho National Laboratory
Solving Big Problems: Science and Technology at Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

FAS in the News

Jul 21: Global Security Newswire"Senate Bill Mandates Study Of Nuclear-Arms Storage Sites"
Jul 21: NBC News"MH17: Why Com

Destroy Hamas? Something worse would follow: Pentagon intel chief

Destroy Hamas? Something worse would follow: Pentagon intel chief

Russia Bashing: Hatred, Hysteria and Humbug

A Tale of Three Aircraft Tragedies

Russia Bashing: Hatred, Hysteria and Humbug


"The Russian-Chinese Geopolitical Game" by Immanuel Wallerstein

"The Russian-Chinese Geopolitical Game"

Pope urges peace in Middle East, Ukraine for children's sake

Pope urges peace in Middle East, Ukraine for children's sake
Vatican City (AFP) July 27, 2014 - Pope Francis called Sunday on warring parties in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine to put an end to violence which is wounding and killing countless children. "Stop, please stop! I beg you with all my heart," the 77-year-old Argentine pontiff pleaded before pilgrims packed in St Peter's Square for the weekly Angelus prayer. "I think of the children, who are robbed of the hope of a dignif ... more

N. Korea defies UN censure to fire missile into sea

N. Korea defies UN censure to fire missile into sea
Seoul (AFP) July 27, 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un guided the military's latest rocket-firing drill, state media said Sunday, confirming the missile launch which was conducted in defiance of UN censure. Saturday's launch was the first since the UN Security Council on July 17 officially condemned Pyongyang for its recent series of ballistic missile tests, in violation of UN resolutions. The North's state ... more

My party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats

My party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats

A former Clinton aide on how Democrats lost their way chasing Wall Street cash, and new populism the party needs

Nasrallah promises 'all means of support' for Gaza 'resistance'

Nasrallah promises 'all means of support' for Gaza 'resistance'

Iran’s card in Gaza[English]&utm_campaign=8bb04280c5-Week_in_review_July_28_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-8bb04280c5-100368361

South Korea: Forever Dependent on America

South Korea: Forever Dependent on America

Doug Bandow
Defense, Military Strategy, South Korea, United States

"Sixty-one years after the end of the Korean War, the ROK still refuses to defend itself."

The Republic of Korea is one of the world’s great success stories. The war-torn former Japanese colony has become a high-tech industrialized nation with one of the world’s largest economies. Years of military dictatorship have given way to robust democracy.
But sixty-one years after the end of the Korean War, the ROK still refuses to defend itself. In fact, its officials appear determined to preserve America’s outdated security guarantee by keeping their nation militarily helpless and dependent.
South Korea’s ambitions are similar to those of any other major power. Its businesses operate around the globe. Its people go abroad as missionaries and tourists. Its diplomats participate in foreign forums. Its military contributes to international peacekeeping operations. And its government is creating armed forces capable of acting overseas, including a “blue water” navy for deployment well beyond the ROK’s own waters. The Park government is even considering constructing two light aircraft carriers in the coming decades.
Yet Seoul doesn’t exercise operational control over its own military in wartime. That authority remains with the United States as it has since the Korean War.
American control originally made sense, since the ROK’s authoritarian government was both feckless and reckless. But economic prosperity arrived in the 1960s. Democracy finally came a quarter century later.
Today, the South enjoys vast advantages over its decrepit antagonist to the north: forty times the economic strength, twice the population, a vast technological lead, easy access to international markets and almost unanimous diplomatic support. The so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea can’t even count on its traditional ally, China, in a military showdown on the peninsula.
Read full article

ISIS Goes to Business School? The Islamic State’s Leadership Advantage

ISIS Goes to Business School? The Islamic State’s Leadership Advantage

Patrick Devenny
Terrorism, ISIS, Iraq

Much of the group’s recent success can be credited to a leadership cadre that resembles a strong corporate board.

Much of ISIS’ recent success can be credited to a leadership cadre that resembles a strong corporate board.
Terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s appearance last month in a propaganda video garnered significant worldwide attention, to include in-depth analysis of his wristwatch. The interest is understandable; the leader of the Islamic State (IS) eschews the spotlight, audio clips and grainy photos having previously served as the only proof of his existence.
But the most tantalizing portion of the film may have come near its conclusion as the camera panned the blurred faces of several men standing behind Baghdadi. Given their proximity to the self-styled caliph, they were probably his senior lieutenants, charged with translating al-Baghdadi’s lofty vision into action. In recent years they have achieved much, effectively marshaling an array of resources and building a potent paramilitary force that threatens several regional actors. Indeed, the group’s effective leadership structure stands in stark contrast to those of Syrian insurgent factions or the Iraqi security apparatus, granting the IS key advantages over its opponents.
As the IS expands, the fortunes of the group will increasingly depend on these senior managers rather that its black-clad CEO. This natural devolution of authority is a quandary that faces many business leaders: success fuels expansion beyond the ability of one figure to manage, putting the fate of the company increasingly in the hands of the leadership team. While the mythos of the powerful and all-seeing CEO sells many a memoir, it is increasingly antiquated.
Read full article

Germany's Fatal Flaw: Strategic Blindness

Germany's Fatal Flaw: Strategic Blindness

Matthew Dal Santo
Grand Strategy, Foreign Policy, Germany

"In short, Germany failed to consider the strategic risk its Ukraine policy presented for itself and its neighbors and allies."

What a difference a century makes. One hundred years ago last week, European capitals were in the grip of the “July Crisis”: on the 23rd, almost a month after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary finally delivered its ultimatum to Serbia. With bated breath, the world waited to see whether it would be war or peace. The answer would come soon enough and, with Germany’s coldhearted trampling of “gallant little Belgium” (whose only crime was happening to be located on the best invasion route into France), the Allies’ propaganda machines would swing into action, accusing the “vicious Hun” of a plot to subject the world to “Prussian militarism”.
Today, by contrast, Germany is probably having its best summer since 1914.
Reunified and at peace, it is indisputably Europe’s most dominant power, economically and politically. Leaving last year’s wobble behind, GDP growth hit 3.3 percent in the last quarter (compared to a measly 0.2 percent for France). And despite visceral British opposition, Germany-preferred candidate Claude Juncker has inevitably emerged as the next European Commissioner.
Internationally, German prestige has rarely been higher. Chancellor Angela Merkel—American president Barack Obama’s constant go-to in the Ukraine crisis—has acted more and more as if she were a joint leader of the ‘West’.
To many, Germany’s World Cup victory seemed to symbolize the country’s unique underlying strengths. In Britain, the Guardian’s Jochen Hung enthused that the German team showed us:
Today’s world lacks not leadership, but good teamwork. It may be less inspiring than one mighty nation dominating the field, but ultimately, like the squads built around Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar, such orders and the political deals they create are fragile constructs.
Read full article

US Complicity in Israel’s Crimes

US Complicity in Israel’s Crimes

A section of the barrier -- erected by Israeli officials to prevent the passage of Palestinians -- with graffiti using President John F. Kennedy's famous quote when facing the Berlin Wall, "Ich bin ein Berliner." (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)
Virtually the entire U.S. news media and almost every national politician bends to the desires of Israel’s government regardless of its behavior, a reality that enables the persecution and even slaughter of Palestinians, writes ex-Congressman Paul Findley.

Netanyahu’s Bloody Calculations

Netanyahu’s Bloody Calculations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security meeting with senior Israeli Defense Forces commanders near Gaza on July 21, 2014. (Israel government photo)
As the Israeli killing of Palestinians spreads from Gaza to the West Bank, Prime Minister Netanyahu weighs his pursuit of military objectives against growing world outrage. But his trump card remains the fear of U.S. politicians to voice any criticism of Israel, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

Blaming Russia as ‘Flat Fact’

Blaming Russia as ‘Flat Fact’

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a crowd on May 9, 2014, celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Crimean port city of  Sevastopol from the Nazis. (Russian government photo)
Exclusive: The American rush to judgment blaming ethnic Russian rebels and Russian President Putin for the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 continues unabated despite other possible explanations, writes Robert Parry.

Inside the Anti-Obamacare Carnival

Inside the Anti-Obamacare Carnival

Libertarian foes of the health care law are celebra

America's Lost Decade Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003 By Tyler Durden

America's Lost Decade
Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003

By Tyler Durden

Does it feel like you're poorer? There is a simple reason why - you are!

Libya's Destruction a Warning to Egypt, Syria, & Ukraine By Tony Cartalucci

Libya's Destruction a Warning to Egypt, Syria, & Ukraine

By Tony Cartalucci

For those wondering what will become of Egypt, Syria, or Ukraine, should NATO succeed, one needs only to look at Libya.

Israel's Propaganda War Secret Report Helps Israelis Hide Facts: By Patrick Cockburn

Israel's Propaganda War
Secret Report Helps Israelis Hide Facts:

By Patrick Cockburn

The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do.

We Don't Care Much About Palestinians, Do We? By Robert Fisk

We Don't Care Much About Palestinians, Do We?

By Robert Fisk

What if it had been 35 Palestinian dead, and 800 Israeli?

China’s perilous tangle of military and economic fortunes by Robert D Kaplan

China’s perilous tangle of military and economic fortunes

The House' DOD Appropriations Bill: A Cornucopia of Hardware Add-Ons

Note the gigantic additions for hardware by the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) while so many there claim the defense budget is short of money.
Note that while the HAC has clogged its bill with earmarks, it claims there are none.  There is a real need for the Congressional Research Service to resume its practice of scrubbing these bills and reporting all earmarks and their cost.
Note also the double talk on readiness spending, especially for Air Force air combat training.
July 26, 2014

House Appropriators Added Billions of Dollars For Weapons They Like
Winslow Wheeler
Fiscal discipline is a farce

Depending on how you calculate it, the House Appropriations Committee has added as much as $18.6 billion to the Obama administration's military spending request in the Committee's 2015 Department of Defense appropriations bill, HR 4870.

According to the committee's official report, this amount consists mostly of added hardware items in multiple accounts within the bill. A significant amount is for extra training and maintenance-supposedly. But as is typical of Congress, what the committee says it did and what it actually did . are two entirely different things.

While Congress claims it's doing everything it can to eliminate government waste, in reality the House appropriations bill is chock full of vague, sometimes highly misleading language supporting billions of dollars in added spending.

The $18.6 billion I mentioned above is the gross addition to the bill, not the net change taking into account the many "offsets" the committee identified. In fact, the bill's total for "base" non-war military spending is $201 million less than the $490.7 billion the administration asked for.

But because of various ruses and dodges, the actual non-war spending that probably will result from the committee's recommendations will be substantially higher.

Perhaps the most widely recognized gimmick is the so-called "place-holder" account of $79.4 billion for war operations above and beyond the $490.7 billion the administration formally requested for "base" non-war spending.

The Obama Administration refused to say how much it needed for Afghanistan and other foreign military operations until a couple of weeks after the House Appropriations Committee put together its own bill.

Having neither the collective intellect nor interest to make an independent calculation for war needs, the committee specifically appropriated the entire $79.4-billion Obama place-holder amount-the same amount he requested for 2014 to support a significantly larger U.S. troop presence and tempo of operations in Afghanistan than the Pentagon is planning for 2015.

Spending ideas

In its specific itemization of what the place-holder should include, the HAC made clear it has some definite ideas for extra spending. They total $9.4 billion and have almost nothing to do with the administration's ongoing global military operations.

For example, the HAC added $2 billion for new National Guard and Reserve hardware in the place-holder account, specifying on page 207 of the committee report precisely which programs the military should spend much of the money on.

Given traditional congressional support for unrequested National Guard and Reserve hardware, this in effect announces the committee's intent to include that money in whatever final amount gets appropriated for war funding.

The Senate Appropriations Committee added $1 billion for the National Guard in its mark-up of the war account in July. The House and Senate will resolve the difference when the bill goes to conference later this year.

Beyond to the extra money for National Guard and Reserve hardware, the HAC recommended an additional $6 billion for procurement over the 2014 war-fund procurement amount, but didn't identify the recipient programs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee added several hundred million to its equivalent procurement account, including $475 million for undisclosed classified programs.

The HAC provided still another $1.4 billion for spending vaguely entitled "other"-a designation it left completely unexplained.

The HAC also identified accounts in the war-funding proposal that it wanted to reduce or zero out, thereby making the room for the added $9.4 billion without exceeding the $79.4 billion place-holder total. The committee reduced spending for military personnel and operations and maintenance-in recognition of the reduced U.S. military presence in Afghanistan-and zeroed out all spending for an Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund and an Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.

The $79.4-billion place holder is $19.2 billion more than the $60.2 billion the administration ultimately requested on June 26-two weeks after the HAC reported its bill. However, the lesser amount doesn't mean that the additions the HAC recommended in fact will go away. In the past, Congress has reduced amounts requested for foreign countries-Afghanistan, mostly-and has added to the total spending level of war requests.

Thus, some significant portion of the $9.4 billion the HAC added to the place-holder could survive Senate and House appropriators' final adjudication of the account for 2015.

However, this may not occur until after the November elections. Time, and close scrutiny, will tell.

Only about half of the HAC's add-ons are in the place-holder. In the base portions of the bill, there are scores of individual additions amounting to $9.2 billion.

In the base bill's procurement account alone there are 45 specific add-ons totaling $4.6 billion. Some of them are minor, such as $5 million the appropriators added for Army Training Devices, $10 million for low-band transmitters for the Navy and $2.5 million for B-2 bomber ejection seat improvements.

But $3.7 billion of the $4.6 billion-80 percent-is for big-ticket additions worth more than $100 million apiece.

For the Army, the HAC added $119 million 11 additional Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for the National Guard and Special Operations Command. These National Guard UH-60s are on top of the $2-billion hardware fund in the war account.

The Army also gets an extra $148 million for Raytheon's Patriot missiles. There's also a separate $52-million increase for radar digital processors for the Patriot.

The HAC also tacked on $120 million to continue General Dynamics' M-1 Abrams tank upgrade program, which the Army actually wants to suspend. The ground combat branch also benefits from $100 million the House added for an unspecified number of Oshkosh and other medium and heavy tactical trucks.

There's another $100 million for extra Army National Guard AM General Humvee modifications.

For the Navy, the HAC added $975 million for 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, $255 million added for two additional Lockheed F-35C aircraft, $125.5 million more for one extra Boeing P-8A Poseidon patrol plane and $789 million to continue Huntington Ingalls Industries' effort to refuel and overhaul the nuclear aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

To boost the Air Force, House appropriators added $224 million to buy two additional Lockheed F-35A aircraft, $115 million added for upgraded Raytheon AESA radars for Air National Guard F-15s and $203 million as a "classified adjustment" for an unidentified program.

Thanks to the HAC, Pentagon-wide activities could get an extra $209 million for Lockheed-Raytheon Aegis ballistic missile defense. Israel enjoys an additional $175 million for its Iron Dome rocket-defense program.

The HAC also recommended $1.5 billion in additional gross, not net, add-ons in the research-and-development account of the base bill. A liquid rocket engine development program receives $220 million the Pentagon never asked for.

The Air Force's newly Lockheed-Sikorsky Combat Rescue Helicopter gets $100 million. Israeli missile-defense programs receive $172 million more than the military requested. Two classified programs receive a combined $238 million, and a "Defense Rapid Innovation Fund" gets $250 million.

That Defense Rapid Innovation Fund is the subject of a very vague explanation in the Committee Report. It states the fund is for unspecified "specific purposes" that are "subject to certain requirements" that the appropriators never explain.

Those familiar with such funds in the past will recognize this Defense Rapid Innovation Fund as a slush account. After enactment, the Pentagon will start receiving letters, e-mails and phone calls from Hill staff and Congresspersons to make sure it knows precisely what programs should receive this money.

Whatever programs the Rapid Innovation Fund ultimately enables, they are in addition to the six over-$100 million R&D add-ons I've identified above.

Thus, the total amount the HAC added for hardware varies somewhere between $6.1 billion and $15.5 billion. That's $4.6 billion in the base budget procurement account and $1.5 billion in R&D, plus an additional $9.4 billion in the place-holder-making the potential grand total $15.5 billion.

Despite all the hot rhetoric in Congress about how poorly funded the Pentagon is after the modest spending reductions, there's actually a torrent of money flowing into lawmakers' favorite programs.

Some readers will identify many of these add-ons as earmarks that materially-interested members of Congress slipped into the bill. The committee, however, would have you believe that is not so. Page 324 of the report informs us that "neither the bill nor the report contains any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits or limited tariff benefits as defined in Clause 9 of Rule XXI [of House Rules]."

Clause 9 of Rule XXI is interesting. Its authors wrote it very carefully to allow plenty of earmarks. The loopholes are myriad, but perhaps the biggest allows earmarks as long as they don't direct money "to a specific state, locality or Congressional district." That the spending might just happen to end up in a particular member's state, locality or congressional district would, of course, be purely coincidental.

There are a lot more of these non-earmark earmarks in the committee report than I've identified here. Some of them specify dollar amounts. Others simply exhort the Defense Department to sort out the amount.

The tables, which the committee explicitly instructs the Pentagon to scrupulously observe, require $2.4 million on the Civil Air Patrol, $10 million for high school drop-out program called Youth Challenge, $25 million for another youth program called STARBASE and $40 million for "impact aid" for primary and secondary education.

The general-provisions section of the bill shows Section 8076 directing $44 million to the Red Cross and USO, Section 8129 sending $1 million to the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership. Separately, there are 23 earmarks worth a combined $591 million for the Defense Health Program, including $120 million for breast cancer research and $12 million for Alzheimer research.

Some of these non-earmark earmarks are annual favorites that used to be on everybody's list of defense-budget pork. Congress added many of the hardware earmarks because the Defense Department couldn't fit them into the normal budget. The Joint Chiefs circulated wish lists of extra spending to guide the additions. That's an old gambit that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resurrected, after his predecessor Robert Gates, to his great credit, forbade it.

Hagel has resumed making Pentagon budgets a floor, not a ceiling, for service spending ambitions.

In addition to the dollar-specific earmarks, there are various rhetorical "precursor" earmarks throughout the committee report. For example, page 122 contains exhortations for a High Mobility Engineer Excavator, Tactical Power Sources and Mobile User Objective System Terminals that the committee "urges" without attaching a specific amount of money.

In past years, an experienced analyst at the Congressional Research Service would scrub defense bills, compile all the earmarks and their cost and report on them-but no longer.

Readiness contradictions
The many earmarks in a bill that Congress declared to have no earmarks are just one of the internal contradictions in the HAC bill. Another is in the operations-and-maintenance portion of the bill.

The tables that direct spending show multiple additions for certain categories of readiness-related spending, such as for depot maintenance -$90 million-and $720 million worth of "facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization."

Section 8137 in the general-provisions part of the bill further directs another $1 billion for readiness for both active duty and reserve forces, and the committee directs yet another $135 million for Army Reserve and National Guard readiness and an addition $68 million for Army National Guard Combat Training Center rotations.

And yet, after $2 billion in additions to O&M specifically for readiness, the net amount for O&M in the HAC bill is $400 million below Obama's request. There are large cuts resulting from "overestimation" of civilian employees, various forms of "unjustified growth," classified adjustments and more.

The HAC does not explain how depots and maintenance facilities are supposed to ramp up their work . with fewer employees.

Such contradictions are plainly evident in the committee's recommendations for Air Force pilot training. Per-month flying hours for air combat training have been notoriously low for years-now as low as eight hours per month for F-22 and F-16 pilots, less than half of what experts deem adequate.

The committee professes its support for "robust funding for flying hours and other training required to achieve pilot competence, safety and combat readiness," and yet it cuts the funding for Air Force flying hours by $82.7 million, associated fuel costs by $100 million and "Fleet Air Training" by $10.1 million.

The committee complained that the Air Force didn't execute the planned training program in the past. Its solution is to reduce training in the future!

The House Appropriations Committee declared its support for military readiness, including air combat training, while reducing the money for the same. It packed its bill full of earmarks and declared there were none.

Adding up to $15 billion for hardware that couldn't make the grade for the official Obama Administration budget request, committee members complained that funding was scarce.

After adopting various-mostly inconsequential-amendments, the House of Representatives passed the bill, HR 4870, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 340 to 73 on June 20.

The bill is warped by special interests in the Pentagon, Congress and industry. It's an example of duplicity, not transparency.

The time for reform is long overdue.

Winslow Wheeler
is director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, a part of the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C.

Ban the bomb?

Ban the bomb?

Decades after several nuclear weapon states committed themselves to pursuing disarmament "in good faith" and "at an early date," frustration over the pace of disarmament is growing more conspicuous. For example, calls are emerging to establish a treaty banning nuclear weapons, essentially making outlaws of nuclear-armed nations. Below, authors from Mexico, India, and Chile address this question: How would prospects for disarmament be affected if non-nuclear nations established a treaty that banned nuclear weapons outright—and how might such a ban be enforced?

NSA partnering with Saudi regime ‒ Snowden leak

NSA partnering with Saudi regime ‒ Snowden leak

Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning?

Why Is Israel Losing a War It's Winning? // Jeffrey Goldberg

Five reasons why Israel is losing the battle of perception over its Gaza offensive, even as it wins the battle against rockets and tunnels. By Jeffrey Goldberg

The Number of Foreign Fighters in Syria Now Exceeds 12,000 and Rising

The Number of Foreign Fighters in Syria Now Exceeds 12,000 and Rising // Kevin Baron

Syria is now the 'predominant battleground for extremists' plotting Western attacks as foreign fighters increase 50 percent since April, says U.S. counterterrorism director. By Kevin Baron

1 pct of Chinese own one-third of national wealth: report

1 pct of Chinese own one-third of national wealth: report

What's the use of the word 'balance' in such an asymmetric war?

What's the use of the word 'balance' in such an asymmetric war?

Actual context should have a bigger say in the BBC's coverage

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In Tel Aviv, thousands protest against the Gaza operation

In Tel Aviv, thousands protest against the Gaza operation

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role
Paris (AFP) July 27, 2014 - Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station. The 20-tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) dubbed Georges Lemaitre, the size of a double-decker bus, is set to blast off from South America with fuel, water, oxygen, food, clean clothes and 50 kilogr ... more

Russia Expresses Rage Over Latest Sanctions

Russia Expresses Rage Over Latest Sanctions

Russian officials expressed rage Saturday at a new round of Ukraine-related
sanctions imposed by the European Union, which targeted some of Russia's top
security officials and many operating in and around Ukrainian territories.

The sanctions, announced by the EU on Friday, are designed to attack those who
have undermined the "territorial integrity" of Ukraine. The new [...]
* Hamas Breaks 12 Hour Cease fire, Israel Resumes Bombing

Israel's Latest Fib: 'Gaza Tunnels Were Surprise'

Israel's Latest Fib: 'Gaza Tunnels Were Surprise'

By J.J. Goldberg

Nahum Barnea, commonly described as Israel’s most respected political journalist, has spent much of the past two weeks with the troops in Gaza and talking to general command in Tel Aviv. His weekly column in today’s Yediot Ahronot weekend supplement, which I have translated below, happens to say some of the things I’ve been writing over the past few weeks, so a bit of what you’ll read might sound familiar. But his sources are better than mine, better than anyone’s in fact, and he brings you up to date.

But the third section of his column is something new: He says Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has known for a long time about the network of tunnels under Gaza and the threat they pose, but he punted because he had other things on his agenda. Now he’s shocked — shocked! — to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza!

Gaza pulverised beyond recognition

Gaza pulverised beyond recognition

During a brief ceasefire, Gazans return to the places they knew as home, only to be met with the stench of death and sight of destruction

Rock stars Peter Gabriel and Bobby Gillespie urge arms embargo on Israel

Rock stars Peter Gabriel and Bobby Gillespie urge arms embargo on Israel

Submitted by Amena Saleem on Fri, 07/25/2014
The rock star Peter Gabriel and film-maker Ken Loach are among 21,000 people who have signed an open letter to David Cameron, the British prime minister, demanding an immediate halt to the arms trade between the UK and Israel.
The letter was delivered today, directly to Cameron’s residence at 10 Downing Street in London by Loach and three members of parliament — Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Jim Fitzpatrick.

Palestinians Have a Right to Defend Themselves -- Why Is This Obvious Truth Suppressed?

Palestinians Have a Right to Defend Themselves -- Why Is This Obvious Truth Suppressed?

Amid the dire crisis in Gaza, the failure of the international community to respond has left the Palestinians with no choice.
Chris Hedges

John Kerry: The betrayal

John Kerry: The betrayal

Times of Israel Op-ed: Astoundingly, the secretary’s intervention in the Hamas war empowers the Gaza terrorist government bent on destroying Israel


When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

Pentagon expert: Getting rid of Hamas will only make things worse


Sunday, July 27, 2014 Tammuz 29, 5774

Pentagon expert: Getting rid of Hamas will only make things worse

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn says that if Israel eliminates Hamas a terrorist group like ISIS could take its place.