Thursday, September 18, 2014

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: At least it is not their #1 option (so they say) .... AP Interview: Hamas No. 2 Says War a Lesser Option (ABC News)

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.

Read more ....

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.

Read more ....

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.

After Scotland's Independence Vote, Who Is Next In Europe?

If Scotland Breaks Away, These 8 Places In Europe Could Be Next -- Washington Post

Given Europe's complicated history and cultural diversity, the existence of independence-minded groups and regions is understandable. Even so, the sheer number of separatist movements in Europe may surprise you.

Some of these groups have transformed their desire for separation into successful political movements; others are operating at a far lower level. Some are more violent (even building their own tanks, as was the case in Northern Italy) than others (as in Bavaria, where beer seems to be the only weapon which is used).

Despite the differences in methods and goals, here are some of the European regions that may best admire the Scottish bid for independence.

Read more ....

Update: Europe goes back to the Middle Ages: Map shows how patchwork continent would look if every separatist movement got their wish -- Daily Mail

My Comment: No mention of the pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

If Scotland Votes 'Yes' How Much Gold Will They Get From The The Bank Of England?

Gold bullion in the vaults at the Bank of England. The posters on the walls remain from the time during World War II when it was used an underground staff restaurant. Daily Mail

Ownership Of UK Gold Up For Negotiation If Scotland Votes "Yes" -- Reuters

(Reuters) - An independent Scotland could lay claim to a part of the United Kingdom's 310-tonne gold reserves if votes go in favour of the "Yes" campaign this month, with ownership of Britain's bullion hoard up for negotiation along with other assets.

"The distribution of the UK's assets in the event of Scottish independence would be subject to negotiation between an independent Scottish Government and the continuing UK government," a spokesman for the United Kingdom Treasury said on Monday.

The United Kingdom, whose reserves are worth 7.84 billion pounds ($12.6 billion) at today's prices, is currently the world's 18th largest official sector gold holder.

Read more ....

My Comment: Here is an easy prediction .... if Scotland does vote Yes (which I doubt) .... economic/financial/Gold/division of assets/debt/etc. .... this is where the fireworks between Scotland and Britain will really break out.

Will Scotland Vote For Independence?

My Comment: I do not live in Scotland .... and I will confess that I am slightly ignorant on the issues that have framed this independence vote. But .... I have experienced and lived through independence votes in the past (Ukraine, Quebec) ... and it is in this context that I am making this analysis. To begin .... I just do not feel that the passion is there for a Yes vote to succeed. There is also a great deal of uncertainty .... especially on economic issues. People want and need to feel reassured that if they vote for a change .... their standard of life will not change .... that life will go on (if not better). Have the Yes side made their case on this critical issue .... maybe .... but from where I am standing I am not getting that guarantee that would be important for me. But that is just me.

In the end ... people will vote Yes because to them it is a new start and a hope that their Scottish cultural identity will be preserved. The ones who will vote No will do so because of economic reasons .... and a loyalty towards the U.K..

My prediction .... the undecided will swing and vote No .... the final result will be 58% No, 42% Yes.

World News Briefs -- September 18, 2014

Four Hours To Save The Union: Queues Expected At Polling Stations As Scots On Their Way Home From Work Cast Their Vote On Historic Day -- Daily Mail

* Millions have headed to the polls today to decide the fate of Great Britain as voting across the country opened at 7am
* Voters have until 10pm to cast their vote in the historic referendum to decide the fate of the 307-year Union
* Thousands of police officers are at polling stations as the separatists are expected to use menacing tactics
* For the first time in history 16 and 17-year-olds will have their say, with students stopping to vote before class
* Pro-independence graffiti in Balloch branded 'shocking' by Scottish MSP for Dumbarton, Jackie Baillie
* She told MailOnline: 'Their actions are a shame on the democratic process in Scotland' urging people to vote No
* Yes supporter arrested in Clydebank this morning after allegedly assaulting a unionist trying to vote No

Voters in Scotland have only four more hours to decide on the future of Great Britain.

Ballots have been cast at the 5,579 polling stations - from Lerwick to Gretna - and they will remain open until 10pm today, with the result expected early on Friday morning.

Earlier today, the first attempts to intimidate No voters appeared scrawled across the walls at one polling station.

The message 'Vote Yes or else!' was spotted at a church hall in Balloch, at the foot of Loch Lomond by MSP for Dumbarton, Jackie Baillie.

She condemned the tactics as 'shocking' as she urged voters not to give in to the attempts to 'threaten and intimidate', encouraging people to #voteno on Twitter.

Read more ....


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.

Houthi rebels push into Yemeni capital.

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


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.


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.


Scottish independence: Voting under way in referendum.

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

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.

World briefing: Europe’s worsening migrant crisis.


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

Ukraine President addressing US Congress.

Obama, Ukraine president to meet at White House.

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.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has rare 'aggressive' cancer.


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?


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.

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

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 18, 2014

U.S. Ready To Strike ISIS In Syria, Military Officials Say -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. military has everything it needs to strike ISIS inside Syria and is awaiting President Barack Obama's authorization to do so, U.S. military officials tell CNN.

For weeks, intelligence and military targeting specialists have been working around the clock on a list of targets. It's expected the list will be presented to the President one more time, with some analysis of the risks of bombing inside Syria, as well as possible rewards in terms of destroying and degrading ISIS, according to the officials.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 18, 2014

After CENTCOM briefing, Obama outlines campaign against Islamic State -- Stars and Stripes

U.S. one step closer to arming, training Syrian rebels against ISIS -- CNN

Netherlands may contribute F-16 fighter planes to counter IS: report -- Reuters

Air strikes not enough to destroy Islamic State: U.S. general -- Reuters

The US is about to learn once again that air power alone can’t defeat an insurgency -- Time Fernholn, Quartz

Assad's army stretched but still seen strong in Syria's war -- Reuters

Ukraine's Poroshenko asks Congress for military aid -- USA Today

Time to give Ukraine defensive weapons -- Steven Pifer and Strobe Talbott, CNN

Why Military Aid To Ukraine Won't Accomplish Anything In One Chart -- Mark Adomanis, Forbes

Rapid Trident exercise takes place in Ukraine, a country at war -- Stars and Stripes

US to Send Troops, Tanks, Combat Vehicles to Latvia: Latvian Defense Ministry -- RIA Novosti

The Kremlin Is Practicing for Air War Over the Baltic -- Robert Beckhusen, War Is Boring

Israel's Worst-Kept Secret: Is the silence over Israeli nukes doing more harm than good? -- Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, The Atlantic

NSA shared Americans' private communications with Israel: Snowden -- AFP

Apple Gives Its Middle Finger to the NSA -- Mother Jones

Is NSA Planning to Beef up Cyber Response Capabilities? -- NextGov

US Report: China Hacked Into Key US Defense Contractors Site -- VOA

Chinese hacked U.S. military contractors: Senate panel -- Reuters

James Clapper said he spoke in error about NSA surveillance as he rolls out new intel strategy -- FOX News

SpaceX Steps Closer to Pentagon Launch Deals -- WSJ

Navy's America: New ship for new aircraft -- UT San Diego

B-2 Pilot’s Lessons For LRSB, America’s New Bomber -- Lt. Col. Jeff Schreiner, Breaking Defense

Pentagon Building Case for Air Force Fleet Upgrades --

USAF's Dubious Priorities Result In Axing Of F-15 Aggressor Squad -- Jalopnik

How Retirement Threatens the Future of the Pentagon’s Future Weapons -- Rear Adm. Michael Moran and Scott O'Neil, Defense One/Government Executive

What makes a good military truck? -- The Telegraph

Why Do We Need ‘Hypersonic’ Strike Weapons, Exactly? -- James Acton, Defense One

U.S. Submarines: Run Silent, Run Deep...On Diesel Engines? -- James Holmes, National Interest

Can the U.S. Army Degrade and Destroy Ebola? -- Laurie Garrett, Foreign Policy

Destroyer Commander, XO and CMC Removed At Sea Ahead of ‘Command Climate Investigation’ -- USNI

US schools given M16 rifles and grenade launchers under Pentagon programme -- The Telegraph

Pentagon is still overfunded -- William D. Hartung, The Hill

Think tank chief’s inviting of foreign envoys to classified meeting on Iraq is questioned -- Craig Whitlock and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post

Murder rate in global violence hotspots plunges 40% in 15 years as policing improves -- Daily Mail

How to Shoot Down a Drone: "Fixing" UCLASS May Hasten Its Demise -- Loren Thompson, Real Clear Defense

Australia Launches Massive Police Raids To Disrupt Alleged Terror Plot

Terror Raids To Continue In Sydney Suburbs -- Sydney Morning Herald

Backyards will be upturned and homes searched as the largest anti-terrorism raids in Australia's history continue.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP)has not ruled out further arrests following raids in Sydney and Brisbane on Thursday.

Police are expected to continue searching some properties on Friday as part of the major operation into alleged terror plots.

AFP acting commissioner Andrew Colvin said police would take their time digging up backyards and combing homes for "hides" - stashes of cash or firearms that could have been hidden.

Read more ....

Australia Launches Police Raids To Disrupt Alleged Terror Plot

Islamic State horror hits home: plot to abduct and behead Australians -- The Australian
Terror raids: 800 police, and only two men charged -- Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney man arrested in terrorist raids conspired with senior ISIL figure Mohammad Baryalei, court hears -- Sydney Morning Herald
ISIS-inspired beheading plot alleged in Australia, 6 in custody -- CBC/AP
Australian PM says police raids follow IS linked beheading plot -- Reuters
Australia raids over 'Islamic State plot to behead' -- BBC
Terrorism raids: Isis 'urging followers to behead Australians', says PM -- The Guardian
Australia foils Islamic State terror plot to commit Lee Rigby-style murders -- The Telegraph
Australia foils possible terror attack -- CNN
Australia anti-terrorism raid underway with more than 800 police -- L.A. Times
Islamic State extends reach? Australia thwarts alleged terror plot -- CSM
Australia Thwarts 'Violent' Terror Plot, Arrests 15 -- VOA
Terror raids in Australia nab 15 allegedly linked to Islamic State, some who planned public beheading -- Washington Post
Was this the lethal sword terror cell planned to use to behead an innocent victim on a Sydney street? -- Daily Mail
Australia police foil suspected ISIL-linked beheading plot -- Al Jazeera
Who is Mohammad Ali Baryalei, the man accused of conspiring to behead a stranger in Australia -- Sydney Morning Herald
EXCLUSIVE: 'If he is truly involved in this then someone else has turned his mind': From a talented soccer player and car mechanic student to the alleged ringleader of an evil plot to behead an innocent victim in a Sydney street -- Daily Mail
Who are Australia's radicalised Muslims? -- BBC
Australia's Foiling of an Alleged Islamic State Beheading Plot Raises Questions -- Scott Mitchell, Vice News

What Will Be The Impact On The U.K. Military If Scotland Votes For Independence

British Military Mulls Implications Of Vote For Scottish Independence -- The Guardian

Much negotiation lies ahead if Scotland leaves the UK, not least a debate about the strategic benefits of nuclear weapons

A vote for Scottish independence would place a question mark over the future of Trident and infuriate the US, the UK defence establishmentand the Royal Navy's top brass in particular. However, the likelihood is that an accommodation would have to be reached over conventional defence issues, such as air defence, maritime surveillance bases, radar stations, and air-sea rescue services and over Trident. The navy's nuclear submarine port at Faslane and nuclear warhead depot at nearby Coulport in western Scotland is the only Trident base in the UK.

Read more ....

More News And Analysis On What Will Be The Impact On The U.K. Military If Scotland Votes For Independence

Naval chiefs: Scottish independence will do 'immense damage' to Forces -- The Telegraph
Hard Times Await UK Armed Forces if Scotland Secedes -- RIA Novosti
If Scots vote for independence, Britain’s nuclear subs might need a new home -- Stars and Stripes
Royal Navy Faced With Tough Sub Choices If Scotland Leaves U.K. -- USNI
UK’s Nuclear Missiles Could Be Headed for the US if Scotland Wins Independence -- Vice News
EXCLUSIVE: Send British nukes to US if Scotland votes Yes say military chiefs -- Express
Farce of part-time air force: Independent Scotland would be forced to run air force that could operate only in office hours, military analysts suggest -- Daily Mail
How easily could Scotland set up its own armed forces? -- The Telegraph
Salmond demands £10bn tartan army: Ships, jets, helicopters, troops...they're all in SNP's sights if Scotland votes Yes -- Daily Mail
Scottish independence: Ex-military warn over 'Yes' vote -- BBC
Scottish independence: 'Heroes, generals and rank-and-file soldiers' appeal to voters to reject separation -- Auslan Cramb, The Telegraph
Scottish Soldiers Join Battle Over Independence -- Newsweek/Reuters
Ex-NATO commander blasts ‘dangerous’ defense plan for independent Scotland -- RT
UK Ex-Military Chiefs Warn Scotland’s Separation to Undermine Common Security -- RIA Novsoti
Scottish independence: Defence is new battleground -- Scotsman
Scotland Warned Armies Don't 'Grow Overnight' -- SKY News
An independent Scotland will need its own army, navy, and air force — and that could be a problem -- Peter Vine, The Week/War Is Boring
Scottish independence will weaken British defence and security - but it'll be worse for Scotland -- Mirror
Scottish independence: You and whose army? -- The Economist
UK Ministry of Defence Has ‘No Contingency Plan’ for Scottish Referendum Split -- Damien Sharkov, Newsweek
Scotland Risks Swiss-Like ‘Hollow Force’ With Separate Military -- Kari Lundgren, Bloomberg Businessweek
Future of Scotland's Defense Enters Debate -- FOX News
Vote for Scottish independence would make 'UK more vulnerable to terror attack' -- Dion Dassanayake, Express
A Scottish 'Yes' Also Means Exit from EU, NATO -- John-Thor Dahlburg,
Scottish Independence Would Make The Whole UK Vulnerable To Terror Attack, Military Officials Warn -- Huffington post
Scottish independence: how would Scotland defend itself? -- Claire Phipps, The Guardian
Why the Pentagon Should Care About Scotland's Referendum -- Emma Ashford, Foreign Policy
Daily question: What might a Scottish defence force look like? -- Cameron Buttle, BBC
Factbox: How UK and an independent Scotland might split up a nation -- Reuters
How Does The British Military Split With An Independent Scotland? -- Christopher Harress, IBTimes

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On Scotland Going To The Polls To Vote On Independence

Scotland's Faultlines: What The Yes And No Camps Think Of Their Country's Future -- Dara Doyle, Ben Sills and Svenja O'Donnell Sydney Morning Herald

Scotland is divided on critical issues about the country's future. We take a look at the positions of the Yes and No camps.


Yes Alex Salmond says the pound is just as much as Scotland's currency as the rest of Britain. The Bank of England will continue to decide monetary policy day to day, with Scotland seeking input in the bank's remit and governance.

No If Scotland leaves the United Kingdom it loses the pound. It says Salmond can't guarantee what money Scots would use, and it's not clear if an independent Scotland would seek to adopt the euro.

North Sea oil

Yes Since the 1970s, the oil and gas in the North Sea has contributed £300 billion in tax receipts to the British Treasury. The industry will produce jobs and revenue until "well after 2055". An independent Scotland would set up a Norwegian-style oil fund.

No Even with oil, Scotland has run a deficit in 20 of the last 21 years, so every penny is already spent on public services like schools, hospitals and pensions, according to Better Together. And nobody knows how much oil is left.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On Scotland Going To the Polls To Vote On Independence

5 things to know about Scotland and its vote -- AP
This is Scotland’s velvet revolution and we should listen to the people shouting -- Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
Scotland independence referendum: If Yes side wins, what happens next? -- Kazi Stastna, CBC News
Scotland referendum: What a 'Yes' vote could mean for the rest of the U.K. -- CBC
Scotland votes: Should it stay or should it go? -- Kevin Lees, Suffragio
Opinion: Historic chance for Scotland -- Deutsche Welle
A chance to end artificial alliance -- Hugh Reilly, Scotsman
Scotland, Be Brave and Go It Alone -- Clive Crook, Bloomberg
Why Scottish independence is a bad idea -- Amanda Taub, VOX
The NO comment: We cannot risk our children’s future -- The Independent
The YES comment: A fairer Scotland is within our grasp -- The Independent
Alone, Scotland will be a failed state' -- Niall Ferguson, The Telegraph
Scotland faces 'decade of economic decline' if it votes yes -- The Telegraph
AEP: Scotland may find it has no EU, no currency and not much oil -- The Telegraph
Could Scotland become the 194th UN member state? -- Dr Natasha Kuhrt, The Telegraph
Scottish referendum: Who says 'yes' and who says 'no' -- UPI
Scottish independence: Celebrities speak out -- Scotsman
Scottish Independence: How the Better Together Campaign Threw It All Away -- Alex Renton, Newsweek
Scotland’s Referendum on Austerity -- John Nichols, The Nation
The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum -- George Friedman, Stratfor
Independence for Scotland? It's my heart vs. my head -- K.T. McFarland, FOX News
What Russian public opinion can tell us about the Scottish independence referendum -- Daniel W. Drezner, Washington Post
Scotland’s Yes side has channelled its energies and David Cameron’s gamble doesn’t look very clever now -- John Ivison, National Post
Gambling on Scottish Independence -- RIA Novosti
Getting to yes: What to watch for on Scottish referendum night -- Paul Fairie, Special to The Globe and Mail
Selling Healthcare for Oil in Scottish Independence Referendum -- RIA Novosti
Markets Show No Panic as Vote Starts: Scotland Reality -- David Goodman and Lukanyo Mnyanda, Bloomberg Businessweek
The Divided Kingdom: who else wants to break away from the UK? -- Olivia Goldhill, The Telegraph

Scotland Goes To The Polls To Vote On Independence

Scots Vote On Independence, United Kingdom's Fate On Knife-Edge -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Scotland voted on Thursday on whether to stay within the United Kingdom or end the 307-year-old union with England and become an independent nation in a finely balanced referendum with far-reaching consequences.

From remote highlands and islands to the tough city estates of Glasgow, people were almost equally divided over a vote watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad.

Pre-voting opinion polls gave the "No" campaign - those in favor of remaining in the United Kingdom - a slight edge. But hundreds of thousands of people still making up their minds held the key as polling stations opened.

Read more ....

More News On Scotland Going To The Polls To Vote On Independence

Scottish referendum: Live -- Reuters
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
LIVE: As Scots vote on independence from UK, each camp trying to expose other's 'lies' -- Zee News
Scottish independence referendum LIVE UPDATES -- RT

Scottish independence: Voters turn out in droves -- Scotsman
Scottish independence: Voting under way in referendum -- BBC
Scottish independence: decision day arrives with many still undecided -- The Guardian
Scottish independence campaign - live -- The Telegraph
Scots decide whether to declare independence -- AP
Scotland independence referendum: Voters line up to decide fate of U.K. -- CBC/AP
Scotland Heads to the Polls for Independence Vote -- NYT
Scots turn out to vote in independence referendum -- Washington Post
Record Turnout Expected as Scots Vote in Independence Referendum -- NBC
Scotland's voters make their choice in independence referendum -- CNN
Scotland Heads to the Polls to Vote on Independence -- Time
Scotland Votes in Pivotal Independence Referendum -- WSJ
Scotland independence vote underway -- Al Jazeera

Scottish independence: Poll gives No slender lead
-- Scotsman
Support for Scotland staying in United Kingdom at 53 percent: Ipsos -- Reuters
Final poll puts No ahead by six percentage points -- Independent
Scotland set to REJECT independence... but only just, as 'No' campaign takes a six point lead over Alex Salmond -- Daily Mail
Scotland 'to Remain in UK' - Last Poll -- Novinite

Enthusiastic Dundee Yes campaigners confident of win -- Irish Times
Voter Intimidation Grips Scotland as It Votes on Independence -- Daily Beast
The man determined to shatter the UK: He is a gambler and former Maoist rabble-rouser who favoured direct action. Whatever else Salmond might lack, it is not self-belief -- Daily Mail
Newspapers mark Scotland's historic day with Burns and banners -- Reuters
Yes or No, Edinburgh hotels and bars win big in Scottish vote -- Reuters
Scottish referendum ballot explained -- RTE

Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls -- Voice of America
Scottish independence: How the world has reacted -- The Telegraph
Obama weighs in on Scottish independence vote -- CNN
Obama urges UK to remain 'strong robust and united' in last-minute intervention on eve of referendum -- Daily Mail
French split on Scottish independence -- The Telegraph

In pictures: Scotland goes to the polls -- BBC
Scotland decides - in pictures -- The Guardian
Scotland Independence Vote In Photos: Minister Alex Salmond, Alistair Darling Head To The Polls -- IBTimes

What time will we know if it is a Yes or a No win? -- The Telegraph
When will the result be announced -- The Independent

Editor's Note

Stuck in meetings this morning. Blogging will return at 11:00 EST.

The Crisis In Ukraine Continues -- News Updates September 18, 2014

Ukraine PM Tells Army To Be On Full Battle Alert Despite Ceasefire -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Ukraine's prime minister told government forces to remain on full battle alert on Wednesday as fighting in the rebel-held eastern city of Donetsk killed at least two civilians and further strained a ceasefire with Russian-backed separatists.

"Russia definitely will not give us either peace or stability. It is not their goal. So I am asking the defense minister for full battle readiness," Arseny Yatseniuk, who is emerging as a policy 'hawk' in President Petro Poroshenko's leadership, told a government meeting.

The pro-Western Poroshenko, who will be looking for U.S. support for his strategy in handling the separatist rebellions and Russia when he addresses the U.S. Congress on Thursday, called the ceasefire on Sept. 5 after heavy battlefield losses which Kiev ascribes to Russian military intervention on behalf of the rebels.

Read more ....

The Crisis In Ukraine Continues -- News Updates September 18, 2014

Fighting in Donetsk as eastern Ukraine granted more autonomy -- Deutsche Welle
E. Ukraine casualties rise as rebels spurn deal -- AP
Ukraine rebels say ceasefire has broken down -- The Telegraph
Russian Military Denies Presense of 4 Army Battalions in East Ukraine -- RIA Novosti
Ruins and Rising in Luhansk -- Foreign Policy

Security Council estimates damage from Ukraine war at more than $2 bln -- ITAR-TASS
Poroshenko’s Aide: East Ukraine Operation Costs Kiev $5 Bln. -- RIA Novosti

Ukraine crisis: Rebels granted self-rule and amnesty -- BBC
Ukraine Parliament Grants Self-Rule to Eastern Regions -- VOA
Ukraine approves special status for rebel-held east -- Deutsche Welle

Russia Praises Ukraine's Autonomy Law for Rebel Areas -- WSJ
Russia Sees Positive Step in Law for Eastern Ukraine -- Bloomberg
Russia applauds Ukraine's autonomy law as two die in Donetsk -- Deutsche Welle

Ukraine PM against Donetsk and Luhansk republics' legalisation -- ITAR-TASS
Yatsenyuk: Donetsk, Luhansk people's republics not to be legalised or funded from budget -- ITAR-TASS

MEPs asking EU countries to strengthen OSCE observer mission in Ukraine -- ITAR Tass
Ceasefire means little in suffering Donetsk -- Euronews
Ukraine crisis: Luhansk residents picking up the pieces -- BBC

Russia, West delay key element of EU-Ukraine trade deal -- Deutsche Welle
Ratification of landmark EU deal brings Ukraine closer to West -- CNN
Donetsk, Luhansk People’s Republics Discuss Russian Gas Deliveries: DPR -- RIA Novosti

Ukraine crisis: One million civil servants to be screened -- BBC
Ukraine To Screen One Million Civil Servants For Loyalty -- Huffington Post/Reuters

Ukraine crisis: President Poroshenko in key US visit -- BBC
Ukrainian President Poroshenko will visit White House, Congress to seek more aid -- Washington Post
Under Pressure, Ukraine Leader to Seek Aid on U.S. Visit -- NYT
Ukraine President Poroshenko to deliver House address in Canada -- CBC
Ukrainian President Poroshenko thanks Canada for its support
-- Toronto Star

Why is Ukraine at war? -- Laurence Peter BBC News
Grim Luhansk wary of Ukraine's shaky truce -- Paul Adams BBC
Ukraine needs money not arms -- Eugene Rumer, Financial Times

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

President Obama's Strategy To Defeat ISIS In Iraq (As Outlined By General Dempsey)

Mapping Obama's Strategy To Defeat ISIS In Iraq -- ABC News

The Obama administration's strategy for defeating ISIS in Iraq envisions the Islamic terror group squeezed on three sides and from the air, making their grip on northern Iraq "untenable."

The strategy was laid out Tuesday by Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a Senate hearing.

The plan includes:

Read more ....

Update: Dempsey Discusses Anti-ISIL Strategy at Senate Hearing -- US Department of Defense

My Comment: It "sounds good" .... but I doubt that it will be that easy. To begin .... our allies who must work together in coordination do not have a good history of actually working together .... and I doubt that they do so in this case.

Should The U.S. Deploy Combat Troops To Iraq?

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, right, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testify on U.S. policy regarding the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2014. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton

Should The U.S. Deploy Ground Troops in Iraq? -- Rachel Brody, US News and World Report

Obama's top military adviser said he'd consider sending combat troops to fight the Islamic State group.

U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday he will consider sending ground troops to Iraq if airstrikes do not prove effective in combating the threat from the jihadist Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Dempsey told members of Congress he believes the current coalition of U.S. and allied forces would prove successful but left open the possibility of an expanded U.S. military presence. “[I]f [my view] fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces,” he said.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly asserted that the U.S. will not send ground troops to Iraq. Speaking to members of the U.S. military at Central Command in Tampa, Florida, Obama said Wednesday, “I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq." In a speech last week, Obama stressed the difference between the current effort in Iraq and “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” saying “it will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

Read more ....

My Comment: As I have said many times before .... religious/sectarian conflicts have been occurring in this region for centuries .... sending in a few warplanes will not change the dynamics on the ground at all .... and even if combat troops are sent .... unless you are willing to commit hundreds of thousands of soldiers and trillions of dollars with an occupation time period of a few decades .... do not get involved. Bottom line .... the people in the region will have to sort out their problems amongst themselves.

President Obama Insists That There Will Be No Combat Ground Troops In Iraq

Obama Insists: No U.S. Ground Combat Troops In Iraq -- USA Today

President Obama doubled down Wednesday on an increasingly questioned pledge: There will be no U.S. ground combat troops back in Iraq.

"I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq," Obama told troops at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

After a briefing with military leaders at CENTCOM, Obama said forces in Iraq and Syria must fight ground battles against the Islamic State, a jihadist group also known as ISIL and ISIS.

Read more ....

More News On President Obama Insisting That There Will Be No Combat Ground Troops In Iraq

Obama, Kerry: No U.S. troops will be sent into combat against ISIS in Iraq, Syria -- CNN
Obama Rules Out Another Ground War In Iraq -- NPR
Obama Persists: No U.S. Ground Troops -- US News and World Report
White House: No ‘combat role,’ but US troops could ‘forward deploy’ with Iraqis -- FOX News
Obama: U.S. Won't Commit Ground Troops to Combat in Iraq -- WSJ
Obama Rules Out U.S. Troops in Iraq, Syria -- Time
Obama: No US combat mission against IS in Iraq -- BBC
Obama: US will not fight ground war in Iraq -- Al Jazeera
Obama Says No U.S. Ground War Against ISIS But 'Mission Creep' Looms -- Mashable
U.S. boots are already on the ground against the Islamic State -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

U.S. Congress Approves Arming Syrian Rebels

The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

House Approves Arming Syrian Rebels To Fight Islamic State -- Wall Street Journal

Amendment to Stopgap Spending Bill Passes With 273-156 Vote

WASHINGTON—The House on Wednesday approved a measure to train and arm Syrian rebels, in the first broad test of congressional sentiment about President Barack Obama's plans to expand U.S. military engagement in the Middle East.

The measure, which passed 273-156, was an amendment to a bill to fund the government until Dec. 11. The House was expected to vote on the spending bill shortly after passing the amendment.

The vote followed a six-hour debate that reflected ambivalence among lawmakers who want to stop the violent Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, but are reluctant to restart military action in a part of the world that they thought the U.S. had exited. Others worry that arming Syrian rebels for combat will backfire, with weapons ending up in the wrong hands and further inflaming tensions in the Middle East. Meanwhile, a set of Republicans is concerned the strategy doesn't go far enough.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Congress Approving The Arming Of Syria's Rebels

House Votes to Authorize Aid to Syrian Rebels in ISIS Fight -- NYT
House Passes Bill to Train and Equip Syrian Rebels -- Time
House OKs arms for Syrian rebels to combat ISIS -- CBS
U.S. House backs plan to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels -- Reuters
House approves arms, training for moderate Syrian rebels -- FOX News
House Approves Measure to Arm and Train Syrian Rebels -- Defense One/National Journal
White House 'gratified' by vote -- The Hill
Why Congress moved so fast on Syria: It's the election, stupid -- Francine Kiefer, CSM
Here's Who Voted to Fund Syrian Rebels and Get This ISIS Conflict Really Cooking -- Slate

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 17, 2014

'Boots On The Ground' In Iraq: Are Obama And Pentagon Really At Odds? -- Brad Knickerbocker, CSM

President Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey seem to be at odds over possible use of US ground troops in Iraq to fight Islamic State militants. But this is just how civil-military relations are supposed to work, says one analyst.

There’s a long history of US presidents taking issue with their top generals (and vice versa).

During the Civil War, President Lincoln asked of a foot-dragging Gen. George B. McClellan, "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time." Eventually, Lincoln relieved McClellan of command.

During the Korean War, President Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had publicly argued for an expansion of the war in Asia, which bordered on insubordination.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 17, 2014

U.S. boots are already on the ground against the Islamic State -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

Back for more: The US and Iraq -- Crispian Cuss, Al Jazeera

As U.S. lawmakers vote on arming Syrian rebels, big questions remain -- Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan, Reuters

Why Congress moved so fast on Syria: It's the election, stupid -- Francine Kiefer, CSM

Take a Deep Breath: ISIS and the Arab World -- Thomas Friedman, NYT

The Islamic State’s Vulnerability -- Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, War On The Rocks

Islamic State in Court: Germany Struggles to Deal with Returning Fighters -- Spiegel Online

How Blocked Hamas Paychecks Could Reignite Gaza -- World Crunch

Russians love their children, too – but that alone won’t stop a nuclear war -- Masha Gessen, Reuters

On eve of secession vote, UK's fate hangs on a divided Scotland -- Guy Faulconbridge and Alistair Smout, Reuters

The Man Behind Scotland's Independence Movement -- Christoph Scheuermann, Spiegel Online

As Scots debate independence, some in England say 'good riddance' -- Ian Evans, CSM

The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum -- George Friedman, Stratfor

Europe goes back to the Middle Ages: Map shows how patchwork continent would look if every separatist movement got their wish -- Daily Mail

How Islamic State is wielding the Internet in new ways -- Harry Bruinius, CSM

Can the U.S. Army Degrade and Destroy Ebola? -- Laurie Garrett, Foreign Policy