U.S. debates security vs. privacy 12 years after 9/11

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Read Time:6 Minute, 27 Second
DES MOINES, Iowa — Twelve years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and amid a summer of revelations about the extent of the surveillance state built up to prevent others, leaders, experts and average Americans alike are searching for the right balance between security and privacy.
 
Recent news reports have uncovered programs within the U.S. National Security Agency to collect and analyze Internet and communication data generated by millions of Americans.
 
They illustrate in never-before-known detail the extent to which innocent civilians are caught up in the dragnet for international terrorists.
 
Disclosure of such clandestine operations — with spy-novel names like "Prism" and "XKeyscore" — has sparked a "fundamental change" in the debate over civil liberties and national security, one observer says. At the same time, public support for anti-terrorism efforts remains strong, proving once again the long shadow of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
 
"If something is being done without our knowledge that truly is to protect us as citizens of the United States, then I'm more forgiving of that," said Robert Ford, a playwright and composer from Des Moines. "But I don't like the idea that the government, or any entity, has the ability to intentionally snoop into our private lives."
 
Polling suggests such ambivalence is shared nationally.
 
Iowans and others this week described awareness of the threat of terrorism and even an expectation of government intrusion as regular aspects of life.
 
Samantha Carlson, 21, was in fourth grade when the attacks happened. This week, she described growing up with a heightened awareness of her surroundings that she attributed to concerns over terrorism. The recent Drake University graduate talked of flying on four separate occasions this summer, and the way in which security is at once invasive and routine.
 
"It's still very present in our lives, 12 years later," she said.
 
There must be, she said, a "happy medium between knowing what's going on in our society and being too invasive."
 
At Des Moines International Airport on Monday were Ken and Joan McMahon, a Freehold, N.J., couple in town visiting family. Being as close to the attacks as they were — Ken McMahon was in Manhattan that day, and their daughter lived there at the time — they have been quite ready to make sacrifices for security.
 
"Do whatever's necessary," Joan McMahon said. "We've got nothing to hide. Giving up privacy is the price we pay."
 
An age-old debate
 
Among national security experts, divided public sentiment exemplifies the ongoing struggle to find an appropriate balance between security and liberty — a dilemma as old as the republic.
 
Al-Qaida's attacks on the U.S. created a spike in concern over terrorism that has yet to fully recede, said Paul R. Pillar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served 28 years as a CIA intelligence officer.
 
"The spike was so high that even though we've come down quite a bit — leading to the kinds of controversies that we've gotten into here — we still haven't come down anywhere near where we were on Sept. 10, 2001," Pillar said.
 
As long as concern remains high, the efforts of the NSA and the nation's broader security apparatus can be seen as merely carrying out the orders of the American people, he said. As anxiety over terrorism wanes, the political system can be trusted to dial back the emphasis on counter-terrorism and how invasive its methods are.
 
"It really is a matter of striking balances and deciding where to have policy when there are inevitable tradeoffs between conflicting values," Pillar said. "That's a political question. It is one where we have to accept that the mood of the American public is going to change, and we have to look to our representatives in Congress to reflect that mood."
 
But John Mueller, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute and researcher at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State University, worried that when it comes to national security, it's not always realistic to count on the political process to change course and restore civil liberties.
 
The NSA programs revealed this year exemplify an unaccountable security state, he said. The immediate fear and anger generated after the attacks allowed the construction of a surveillance system that has remained mostly hidden from public scrutiny and public opinion. As long as the programs remain secret, they continue to grow, he said.
 
In his research, Mueller has calculated the increased cost of domestic security operations at more than $1 trillion since Sept. 11, with little scrutiny, oversight or evaluation to determine whether they're actually making Americans safer.
 
"The real question should be: How safe are we?" Mueller said. "But that question is essentially never asked."
 
Mueller attempted to provide an answer by saying that the chances of an American being killed by a terrorist in a given year were one in 3.5 million. National media, including the Washington Post and Reason Magazine, have cited a 1-in-20 million figure. The National Safety Council, which puts out a chart each year on the odds of dying from one of dozens of causes, has declined to provide a figure for terrorism in recent years because there haven't been enough deaths from which to draw reliable estimates.
 
"Virtually no one ever says that your chance of being killed (by a terrorist) is one in 3.5 million," Mueller said. "Should we consider that to already be pretty safe, or are we going to spend a lot of money to become even safer?"
 
The issue of transparency also was raised by Ford, the Des Moines playwright.
 
"What I would wish for, which would never happen, is just more transparency," he said. "It's difficult to have an informed opinion about how much privacy we're willing to sacrifice for our safety when these surveillance programs are veiled in secrecy."
 
Transparency, scrutiny and open debate may indeed be coming.
 
In July, Congress only narrowly defeated an amendment to a defense spending bill that would have cut funding for one of the NSA surveillance programs. The proposal drew unusually bipartisan support from small-government Republicans and civil liberty-minded Democrats.
 
Further debate on the nature and scale of national security efforts is all but assured in the months to come.
 
"This is one place where I connect with (Republican Iowa Rep.) Steve King and some others," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "I'm telling you, this is not good for our country to have all of this meddling by the government into our daily lives and personal effects. This is not good. And we have to nip this in the bud."
 
Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, predicted "tremendous interest" in the issue this fall.
 
"We need to have intelligence. We need to find people who want to do us great harm," he said. "But we also have to appreciate that we are American citizens and that we have privacy."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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De Blasio leads in first round of NYC’s mayoral voting

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Read Time:3 Minute, 15 Second
Bill de Blasio was the clear leader in the Democratic race for New York City mayor early Wednesday, teetering near the 40% mark he needed to advance to the general election against Republican Joe Lhota without a runoff.
 
William Thompson, de Blasio's closest rival and the 2009 Democratic nominee for mayor, refused to concede until the last vote is counted.
 
The Associated Press reported that it may take a week or more before de Blasio emerges as his party's nominee.
 
The only sure thing about the first round of balloting in New York City was that voters rejected Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, who were seeking redemption after sex scandals derailed their once-promising careers.
 
Voters also turned back City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's historic bid to be the city's first female and first openly gay mayor, and relegated the one-time front-runner to third place behind de Blasio and Thompson.
 
As he thanked his supporters in Brooklyn, de Blasio sounded confident and outlined his vision for the nation's most populous city. Standing beside him were his wife, Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante, who became a mini-celebrity after his starring role in a much-talked about campaign ad for his dad.
 
"Our mission is to change our city in the name of progress," de Blasio said, as his supporters chanted, "Mayor Bill."
 
He promised to end the striking economic imbalance that has widened the gap between rich and poor in New York City. "The tale of two cities will be in our past," de Blasio vowed.
 
In one of the main subplots of the primary election, former congressman Weiner and ex-governor Spitzer have had their comeback bids shot down by voters. Weiner finished a distant fifth among the major Democratic mayoral hopefuls. Spitzer was defeated by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in a close race to be the Democratic nominee for city comptroller.
 
Weiner briefly led public opinion polls in the mayor's race. His support dwindled after he admitted he continued to send salacious messages to women through the Internet — even after his sexting habit forced him to resign from Congress in 2011. Spitzer, who resigned as governor in 2008 after admitting he paid for sex with prostitutes, also briefly led the comptroller's race.
 
"We had the best ideas," Weiner told his supporters. "Sadly, I was an imperfect messenger."
 
Democrats have a 6-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans, meaning the Democratic nominee will be heavily favored to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Despite the city's political tilt, a Democrat hasn't been elected mayor since David Dinkins defeated Ed Koch in 1989.
 
Tuesday's primary was the first since 1997 without Bloomberg, an independent, on the ballot but he still loomed large in the race.
 
Quinn took shots for supporting Bloomberg on overturning the city's term limits law, which allowed him to seek and win a third term. De Blasio, meanwhile, said he was the candidate who could "offer an unapologetic progressive alternative to the Bloomberg era."
 
De Blasio "peaked at the right time," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
 
In the comptroller's race, Stringer will face Republican John Burnett in the fall. Burnett is a longtime wealth manager at Wall Street firms.
 
Turnout was light among the city's 3.2 million registered Democrats and 510,000 Republicans. Some voters reported problems with the city's old voting machines, including jams and breakdowns of levers, causing some people to have to write down their election choices on a piece of paper.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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9/11 anniversary a time of commemoration, reflection

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Read Time:6 Minute, 22 Second
A nation that stepped back from the brink of war with Syria Tuesday paused Wednesday to honor and reflect on the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11, the day terrorist attacks spurred two other long-running conflicts in the Middle East.
 
In New York, hundreds of friends and families of the victims stood silently – many holding up photos of their loved ones – as bagpipes played. Relatives of those killed were to recite the names of those killed when two hijacked commercial airliners slammed into World Trade Center's Twin Towers, another crashed the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a fourth plunged into the ground near Shanksville, Pa.
 
"No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year – and it's always the same," said Karen Hinson of Seaford, N.Y., who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee. "My brother was never found, so this is where he is for us."
 
Denise Matuza, 46, from Staten Island, lost her husband, Walter, on 9/11. She plans to keep returning to the memorial ceremony each Sept. 11. "We'll still keep coming back," she said, as her 21-year-old son, also named Walter, and two other sons stood nearby.
 
In Shanksville, dozens of relatives of those who perished aboard United Flight 93 gathered at the crash site.
 
"This allows us to reconnect with each other and share the day together and the sorrow," said Gordon Felt, who lost his brother Ed. "We reignite the memories of that day, so that we don't forget what happened."
 
What happened on United 93, according to a federal commission, was as heroic as it was tragic.
 
After four hijackers seized control, passengers rebelled and rushed the cockpit.
 
The plane, which the commission said the hijackers probably planned to fly into the U. S. Capitol, crashed into the Somerset County countryside. The hijackers and all 40 passengers and crew were killed. Their names will be read and bells will be rung at a ceremony to start at 9:45, a.m., about the time investigators say passengers tried to re-take the plane.
 
Sally Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham was on the flight, agreed with Felt that the anniversary serves a purpose. "I dread the day but I also welcome it, because we reconnect and because it's easier to be sad with other people who are, too."
 
She was one of thousands around the nation who volunteered to work on various projects as part of a 9/11 National Day of Service, a campaign launched in 2002 by victims' relatives and supporters.
 
"It helped turn around 9/11 for me," by making the anniversary a more positive occasion, said Hoagland, who planned to help fix up a fire training facility.
 
The observance here was low key compared to recent years. The event was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010; by President Obama on the 10th anniversary in 2011 and by Vice President Joe Biden last year.
 
But there were several milestones for the families to applaud: ground was broken Tuesday for the memorial visitors center, and a National Park Service charity announced that
 
$40 million had been raised to finish the building the memorial.
 
While preparations for New York's ceremony were underway, with police barricades blocking access to the site, life around the World Trade Center looked like any other morning, with workers rushing to their jobs and construction cranes looming over the area.
 
Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes also will be held at the Pentagon – including a morning ceremony for victims' relatives and an after observance for Pentagon employees – and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where construction is beginning on a visitor center.
 
President Obama was expected to be at the World Trade Center and later at the Pentagon.
 
Wednesday began as a normal weekday for many New Yorkers. They walked their dogs, went for morning runs, got their kids ready for school and griped about the late summer heat and humidity.
 
In the downtown financial area, hordes of professionally dressed workers scurried down the streets and into towering buildings.
 
But in the nearby Sept. 11 memorial – where families and friends of those who died gatherers to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks — the atmosphere was calmer and more serene. Noise from the memorial waterfalls could easily be heard above the voices of the small crowd that had gathered by 8 a.m. At times, bagpipes played.
 
Some people invited to the memorial – which contained a much smaller group of attendees than this time during last year's anniversary – hugged and kissed each other. Others held photos of their loved one who had perished.
 
One woman wore a shirt that was emblazoned with the image of a woman's face. "We love & miss you" it said.
 
Like she has done in years' past, Kent Place School teacher Reba Petraitis will have a special lesson about remembrance and memorials on Wednesday. Since the majority of her 12th graders at the Summit, N.J., school don't have clear memories of 9/11, Petraitis tells them to think about another loss that affected them, such as the death of a grandparent, and then talk about the need to memorialize others.
 
"It's really a highly emotional lesson," Petraitis says.
 
For most of those students, "Sept. 11 is history – they don't remember it," she says. "I also ask them to go home and ask their parents what are their memories of the day to foster family discussions."
 
Throughout the school year, Petraitis and her students also discuss domestic and international terrorism, school shootings, what makes someone decide to become a terrorist and what students can do "to make this world a better place to live."
 
The class is a senior elective on contemporary history, she says, but it has a large focus on terrorism and 9/11.
 
She notes that as time goes on, the attacks will become "more history than a living event."
 
But "as long as there are museums and memorials, then there are reminders (of Sept. 11, 2001)," she says. "And that's the reason for the memorials."
 
In New York City's firehouse Engine 20, Ladder 20, there was solace in the air. Tuesday night. About a dozen people stood in front of a Yet at nearby New York City firehouse Engine 20, Ladder 10, there was an air of solace. Just about a dozen people stood in front of a bronze memorial wall dedicated to the 343 firefighters who were killed on 9/11.
 
Two women approached the six-foot high memorial and rubbed their hands over the etched faces of the firefighters. One man, who had just been looking at the firefighter names listed beneath, did the sign of the cross.
 
Next to the bronze plaque, a lone, lit candle flickered in front of a framed display that had rows of photos of the deceased New York City firefighters.
 
In front of the bronze wall sat a few bouquets of fresh flowers as well as one large red, white and blue floral arrangement.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Sen. John McCain: “Very skeptical” about Syria chemical weapons handover

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Read Time:2 Minute, 16 Second

Despite his longtime support for military intervention, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that Congress will have to delay consideration of a military strike on Syria in order to let the possibility of a U.N. resolution aimed at forcing Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program to "play out." 

 The Republican senator emphasized that he is "extremely skeptical" that the compromise will rule out a strike and defended his support of U.S. involvement, telling "CBS this Morning" that the momentum around military action likely added to the development of the proposed resolution.

"Perhaps this would not have come about if it hadn't been for the threat of a military strike," McCain said. "So there is some credibility to that course of action."

"I'm very skeptical [about the efficacy of the resolution]," McCain said, "because Bashar Assad has refused to acknowledge that he even has chemical weapons."

"The best test right away would be the Syrian acceptance of international monitors to go to these chemical weapons sites and get them under control immediately…while the details of whatever disposal and other modalities are being considered and agreed upon."

If Assad is seriously committed to avoid the possibility of U.S. military intervention, "then let the monitors in there right away," McCain said. "We know where these chemical weapons sites are and [we need to] get them under control immediately."

On Capitol Hill, he added, "Some of us are already working on a modification to a Congressional resolution that would require strict guidelines that would have to be met."

McCain also took aim at the lack of clarity provided by the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry when it comes to explaining to the American people just how a strike would unfold.

Monday night, President Obama told CBS News' Scott Pelley that a military option would be "very narrow" and have a "very specific objective." The president also ruled out a "largescale invasion or involvement or boots on the ground."

Kerry has also called for an "unbelievably small" strike and McCain asked Tuesday morning, "What does that mean?"

There is an "incoherence about the message" as to exactly what the U.S. is trying to do in Syria, McCain insisted, explaining his own vision. "I still strongly believe that the only way Bashar Assad leaves power is if there is a momentum change which leads to negotiations and his departure."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Syria Upstages 9/11

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Read Time:2 Minute, 20 Second

PRESIDENT Barack Obama is in a bind. He has vowed to punish Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad, for allegedly unleashing poisonous gases on his people – many are unconvinced.

The 12th anniversary of September 11, America’s excuse for attacking spots round the world since 2001, is taking a back seat.

The war drums are beating again. Washington is angry and the world is not at ease. Russia and China are not in support, so are traditional allies Britain and France.

Germany is lukewarm. Americans at home and abroad wonder if regime change in Syria is a worthy enterprise. It is a war that may produce another anti-American regime.

Their stance has played a major role in the deal that Russia has broken to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision. Obama would seek Congress’ approval and can only strike Syria if it reneges on the deal.

September 11 marked one of the most horrendous attacks on people. Nineteen young Arabs rammed four passenger planes into the Pentagon, America’s seat of military power and the World Trade in New York, killing 2,996 and injuring 6,000. Syria is upstaging this year’s memorials.

For two years, Bashar has been waging a war of survival with Syrians opposed to the hegemony of the Assad dynasty. Bashar succeeded his father Hafiz Assad who was in power for 30 years.

The gale of social discontent that swept through Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen since 2011, has found a next stop in Syria. A mass protest degenerated into a full blown war with the Free Syrian Army, an amalgam of groups opposed to Bashar.

The bloody war has seen over two million Syrians flee to neighbouring Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, and Egypt. The killed or injured are over two million.

Reports of chemical weapon attacks on August 21, which the social media alleged killed over 1,000 Syrians, have given Obama renewed reasons to invade Syria.

America in embracing diplomacy in the Syrian crisis also expects Assad would respect the agreement. The Russians should hopefully see to it.

Departures of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt created more instability in the global system. Precarious security in West Africa, indeed Nigeria, has strong links to the terrorism wars in the Middle East.

Al-Qaeda groups are fighting Assad. The deployment of American might to weaken Assad would benefit Al-Qaeda backed groups that want Damascus under a fundamentalist regime.

Military strike should be a final option. We expect things would never get to that dangerous point.

September 11 is about to be remembered as the day America re-appraised its strategies on terrorism. Diplomacy may be the key to success.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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May God Strike Me Dead If I Ever Had Sex With That Gucci Mane” – Nicki Minaj

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Read Time:1 Minute, 31 Second

Rapper Gucci, 33, went on a bizarre Twitter rant criticising Eminem and Drake before bragging about his alleged sexual encounters with Minaj.Nicki Minaj has denied rapper Gucci Mane’s claims he had sex with her –  tweeting the rapper is in “dire need of rehab”.

Gucci spent an entire day criticising other artists including Drake, Eminem and 2 Chainz before writing about his alleged sexual conquests in the music industry.

The Gooch boasted about his relationship Minaj and claimed he lived with her when she was staying in Atlanta while being managed by his former manager Deb Antney – who was his pal and estranged Brick Squad crew member Waka Flocka Flame’s mother.

The curvy songstress reacted after the MC wrote: “Me and waka [estranged crew member Waka Flocka Flame] f*** nikki minaj dats nothing [SIC]”

In the broken English posts, the 33-year-old rapper also bragged he has pictures of Minaj in his bed.

But the Super Bass singer quickly responded: “May God strike me dead if I ever had sex wit that man,” also mocking his “#ugliness.”

She then added: “Ok Gee called me. *goes back to playing nice* that was fun tho I’m praying 4 him. 4real. He’s sick and in dire need of rehab.  #Love .”

Not taking too kindly to the suggestion of rehab Gucci replied:

“Tell. Her intervention my d**k in her throat I moved dat b***h to atl. B***h u sleepin n d car. B***h I pulled dat b***h off wayne bus.”

The controversial meltdown comes during a difficult time for Gucci who has been feuding with artists and former associates on his record label The Brick Squad.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Mel Gibson’s Daughter Marries a Jewish Man

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Read Time:2 Minute, 42 Second
The daughter of actor and noted anti-Semite Mel Gibson married a devout Jewish man over the weekend.
 
In a ceremony Saturday at the Temple Emmanuel of Beverly Hills, 36-year-old Mary-Catherine Regina Gibson married 42-year-old Ezekiel Sharon, a prominent record producer.
 
The couple has been secretly engaged for two years and are planning a long honeymoon in the south of France before meeting up with relatives in Israel. Mary-Catherine has reportedly already converted to Judaism.
 
Mel Gibson was asked about the surprise nuptials during an interview with E! News this morning while promoting his upcoming documentary on how the Rothschild family killed Abraham Lincoln. The acclaimed actor and director said that although he is disappointed in his daughter's decision, he hopes that eventually she will see the error of her ways and get a divorce.
 
"You know I've got nine kids," Gibson told E! anchor Melana Scantlin. "So I guess it's not surprising that one of them turned out to be a complete f*****g loser. But when I think about all the time and treasure I put into that one: the Catholic school tuition, the monthly private jet to Lourdes, the rosaries made of diamonds … and then she goes and does something like this?
 
 
"I can tell you one thing: that greedy little challah lover is not getting one god damned cent of my money. I've worked too long and too hard for that. Too long and too damn hard. Let's hope this doesn't last."
 
Mazel Tov Mel
Mel Gibson has faced accusations of antisemitism since a 2006 incident in which he infamously told a police officer that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
 
Mel's father, Hutton Gibson, for his part is a radical traditionalist Catholic who has flirted with Holocaust denial and promotes various conspiracy theories involving Jewish people.
 
Although Gibson has never used such language himself, he came perilous close today when asked why he though his daughter had chosen to defy him.
 
"They're all in on it," he proclaimed. "Emmanuel, Redstone, Eisner, Spielberg, Geffen — all the big Hollywood Jews got together and arranged this marriage just to try and screw me over. It's not enough they destroyed my career by blacklisting me from good projects, now they're out to destroy my family too.
 
"I should have seen it coming. It's all so clear now in hindsight. But that's the thing with these guys. They're sneaky. They hit you when and where you least suspect it."
 
In a statement released though the groom's publicist, the newlyweds responded to Mel's unhinged comments.
 
"We're sorry to hear that Mary-Catherine's father disapproves of our union, but lucky for him he now has several psychiatrists in the family though his daughter's in-laws. Feel free to stop by any time free of charge."
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Syria: Syrian President Bashar al Assad Charlie Rose Interview September 9, 2013

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PBS’ Charlie Rose interviews Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday, September 9, at 9 p.m. in a special presentation of CHARLIE ROSE. In this global television exclusive, Assad gives his only television interview since President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve the use of force against the Syrian regime for alleged use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

{youtube}H_hhpGSZi84#t{/youtube}

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. says strike on Syria would help deter North Korea from using chemical weapons

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Read Time:2 Minute, 6 Second

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (C) attends a parade of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and a mass rally …

BEIJING (Reuters) – A strong response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack would help deter North Korea from using its "massive chemical weapons arsenal", a senior U.S. defense official said in Beijing, as Washington presses its case for a military strike on Syria.

The United States and France say forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the attack last month in which more than 1,400 people are estimated to have been killed, and that they are considering air strikes to try to deter him from using such weapons again.

U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller said he felt compelled to stress that norms against the use of chemical weapons be upheld in scheduled talks with China's Defense Ministry on Monday.

"I emphasized the massive chemical weapons arsenal that North Korea has and that we didn't want to live in a world in which North Korea felt the threshold for chemical weapons use had been lowered," Miller told reporters on Tuesday.

"I went through that case and made the argument that it was strongly, not just in American national interests but in Chinese and international interests, that there be a strong response to Assad's clear and massive use of chemical weapons," he said.

Miller said Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of General Staff of China's People's Liberation Army, took his comments "on board" but Wang told Miller he had to defer to China's Foreign Ministry on questions about Syria.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged Washington to proceed with "extreme caution" on Syria and Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama at a G20 summit in Russia on Friday that a military strike could not solve the problem.

Beijing has repeatedly called for an impartial investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors into the attack in Syria, and has warned against pre-judging the results. It has also said that whoever used chemical weapons had to be held accountable.

Miller said he also discussed cyber security with Wang and urged China to pressure impoverished and isolated North Korea, which has tested nuclear weapons three times since 2006, toward "credible and authentic" denuclearization talks.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Okey Goodluck Nwankwo

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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How Israel Is driving the US to War in Syria

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Read Time:3 Minute, 41 Second

The threat of a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran if the US does not act on Syria is slowly seeping into American media.

What is the driving force in the building U.S. campaign to launch attacks on Syria? Max Blumenthal below argues that Israel's military intelligence and political leadership are forcing the issue, and a recent New York Times article described the Israel lobby as a powerful presence in the White House's deliberations. Other journalists, like the Guardian's Nafeez Ahmed have suggested that the impetus for attacking Syria is part of a larger regional multi-year project to sustain control over the production of oil and gas by Western oil companies. Noam Chomsky, long-time scholar and commentator on the Mideast has argued persuasively that the Israel lobby's influence in the United States is overstated; essentially arguing that Israel is a satellite of US power, and that its priorities are addressed to the extent that the US is in agreement with its wishes.

How Israel Is driving the US to War in Syria by Max Blumenthal

President Barack Obama’s August 31 announcement that he would seek congressional authorization to strike Syria has complicated an aggressive Israeli campaign to render a US attack inevitable. While the Israelis are far from the only force in bringing the US to the brink of war – obviously Assad’s own actions are the driving factor – their dubious intelligence assessments have proven pivotal.

On April 25, the head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence research and analysis division, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, delivered a high profile  lecture at the military-linked Institute for National Security Studies. “To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime has used lethal chemical weapons,” Brun declared, referring to March 19 attacks near Damascus and Aleppo.

“The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction,” Brun said, “is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate.”

The stunning statement by the Israeli army’s top intelligence analyst was significantly stronger than suspicions expressed days before by the UK and France about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. It was clearly aimed at Obama, who had declared in the summer of 2012 that chemical weapons attacks on civilian targets would transgress a “red line” and trigger US military action. But the White House pushed back against the Israeli ploy, dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supply more conclusive evidence.

“I don’t know yet what the facts are,” Kerry said after a phone call with Netanyahu, “I don’t think anybody knows what they are.”

Specious intelligence brightens the red line

Flash forward to the August 21 Ghouta massacre, where over 1000 Syrian civilians died without any sign of external wounds in a series of attacks. As in April, Israel has come forward with intelligence supposedly proving that the victims of the attacks died from nerve gas deployed by units from Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

On August 24, Israel’s Channel 2 broadcast a  report claiming that the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of Assad’s SAA fired the nerve gas shells on Ghouta. Channel 2 added that Israel was relaying its concerns to Washington, suggesting an urgent demand for US action. The report was echoed by an August 30  article in Germany’s Focus magazine claiming that Israeli army’s Unit 8200 — a cyber-warfare division that functions much like the American NSA — had intercepted communications of top Syrian officials ordering the chemical attack.

Oddly, neither outlet was able to reproduce audio or any quotes of the conversation between the Syrian officials. Channel 2 did not appear to cite any source at all – it referred only to “the assessment in Israel” – while Focus relied on an unnamed former Mossad official for its supposed bombshell. The definitive nature of the Israeli intelligence on Ghouta stood in stark contrast to the kind introduced by other US allies, which was entirely  circumstantial in nature. At the same time, it relied on murky sources and consisted of vague assertions.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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