• tsai3904

      by Published on 09-30-2014 06:14 AM

      As the tide of war rises again in the Middle East, the military’s rank and file are mostly opposed to expanding the new mission in Iraq and Syria to include sending a large number of U.S. ground troops into combat, according to a Military Times survey of active-duty members.

      On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.

      The reader survey asked more than 2,200 active-duty troops this question: “In your opinion, do you think the U.S.
      by Published on 09-29-2014 03:44 PM

      Fed Rate Policies Aid Foreign Banks

      Lenders Pocket a Spread by Borrowing Cheaply, Parking Funds at Central Bank

      Banks headquartered outside the U.S. have been unlikely beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve's interest-rate policies, and they are likely to keep profiting as the Fed changes the way it controls borrowing costs.

      Foreign firms have received nearly half of both the $4.7 billion in interest the Fed paid banks so far this year for the money, called reserves, they deposit at the U.S. central bank, and the $5.1 billion it paid last year, according to an analysis of Fed data by The Wall Street Journal. Those lenders control only about 17% of all bank assets in the U.S.

      Moreover, the Fed's plans for raising interest rates make it likely banks will see those payments grow in coming years.

      Though small in relation to their overall revenues, interest payments from the Fed have been a source of virtually risk-free returns for banks including Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG, Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, according to bank regulatory filings. U.S. banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Well Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. are also big recipients of Fed interest payments, according to the filings.

      "It is a small transfer from U.S. taxpayers to foreign taxpayers," said Joseph Gagnon, a former Fed economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The transfer, he added, was a side effect of Fed policy, not a goal.

      by Published on 09-29-2014 11:16 AM

      Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai in the country's first transfer of power since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban.


      The change in presidents will allow Afghanistan to sign a deal Tuesday to allow American soldiers to remain in the country past the end of the year, said John Podesta, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham was to sign the agreement, while it was not immediately clear if Ghani Ahmadzai or a lower member of government would sign it.

      The deal will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends Dec. 31. Karzai had refused to sign it despite U.S. threats of a full withdrawal in the absence of legal protections for American forces. U.S. officials have said that the delay in the deal's signing does not affect plans for next year.

      by Published on 09-29-2014 08:45 AM

      The Senator has fought to go mainstream with the ideology that he shares with his father. How far can that strategy take him?


      At 8 A.M. on a Friday in late July, Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, stood before a predominantly African-American audience of about a hundred at an Urban League conference in Cincinnati. An ophthalmologist before he was a senator, Paul has spent much of his career in surgical scrubs, but he was dressed nattily, in a charcoal suit and a red rep tie. His typically unkempt curls, which give him the look of a philosophy student lost in thought, were restrained with the help of a hair product. His aides had been promoting the talk for weeks, as part of a yearlong effort to reintroduce himself to political constituencies—on both the left and the right—that may have reason to distrust him. In the next few months, he is planning to deliver a major speech on foreign policy; like race, it is an area in which Paul has encountered strident opposition.


      In some respects, Paul is to Republicans in 2014 what Barack Obama was to Democrats in 2006: the Party’s most prized fund-raiser and its most discussed senator, willing to express opinions unpopular within his party, and capable of energizing younger voters. The Republican National Committee, which in 2008 refused to allow his father, Ron Paul, to speak at its Convention, recently solicited donations by offering supporters a chance to have lunch with Rand Paul. The only potential obstacle to a Paul Presidential candidacy in 2016 is his wife, Kelley. Douglas Stafford, Paul’s top political adviser, said, “Unless Kelley says no, he’s running.” Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, told me this summer, “He is objectively one of the three most likely people to get the nomination.”

      by Published on 09-20-2014 08:25 AM

      9th Circuit judges say Naval Criminal Investigative Service has routinely probed the computers of civilians in Washington and elsewhere looking for evidence of crimes.

      Navy criminal investigators repeatedly and routinely peeked into the computers of private citizens in Washington state and elsewhere, a violation of the law so “massive” and egregious that an appeals court says it has no choice but to throw out the evidence against an Algona man sentenced to 18 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.

      The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision handed down last week, said the 2012 prosecution of Michael Allan Dreyer by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle demonstrated Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents “routinely carry out broad surveillance activities that violate” the Posse Comitatus Act, a Reconstruction-era law that prohibits the military from enforcing civilian laws.

      The court called the violations “extraordinary” and said evidence presented in Dreyer’s prosecution appears to show that “it has become a routine practice for the Navy to conduct surveillance of all the civilian computers in an entire state to see whether any child pornography can be found on them, and then to turn over that information to civilian law enforcement when no military connection exists.”

      by Published on 09-18-2014 07:40 AM

      Amash: What have we learned from the last decade of war?

      Those years should have taught us that when going to war, our government must:

      (1) be careful when defining a military mission,

      (2) speak forthrightly with the American people about the sacrifices they will be called to make,

      (3) plan more than one satisfactory end to the conflict, and

      (4) be humble about what we think we know.

      These lessons should be at the front of our minds when Congress votes today on whether to arm groups in Syria.

      Today’s amendment ostensibly is aimed at destroying ISIS—yet you’d hardly know it from reading the amendment’s text. The world has witnessed with horror the evil of ISIS: the public beheading of innocents, ...
      by Published on 09-17-2014 05:14 PM

      U.S. Representative Massie Votes Against Intervention in Syria

      WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Massie voted against the President's plan to arm and train Syrian rebels. The amendment passed the House, 273-156.

      “It is immoral to use the threat of a government shutdown to pressure Members to vote for involvement in war, much less a civil war on the other side of the globe,” said Rep. Massie. “Because the Syrian resolution is contained within the Continuing Resolution, Representatives and Senators must tacitly approve the President's aggressive intervention in order to vote to fund all government programs.”

      Rep. Massie added, “Also, it is disingenuous for the Administration to tell the American public that we are arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIS when the Administration's stated objective is to topple the secular government of Syria, a government which has not committed aggression against the United States.”

      Congressman Massie also questioned the effectiveness of supporting the rebels.

      “If the goal of arming and training so-called moderate Syrian rebels is to eliminate ISIS, the plan will not work,” said Massie. “Military experts know this, and the President acknowledged as much five weeks ago when he stated that the idea that arming rebels would have made a difference has ‘always been a fantasy.’”

      The amendment to arm and train Syrian rebels was attached to the Continuing Resolution to fund the government (H.J. Res 124), which passed 319-108.

      Rep. Massie’s floor speech in opposition to the amendment can be viewed here.

      by Published on 09-12-2014 07:20 AM


      H.Res. 428 picked up two more cosponsors (Sanford and McGovern) yesterday. There are now 13 cosponsors:

      Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] - 3/13/2014
      Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] - 9/8/2014
      Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] - 7/31/2014
      Rep Grimm, Michael G. [NY-11] - 1/31/2014
      Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-20] - 2/11/2014
      Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-8] - 12/2/2013
      Rep Massie, Thomas [KY-4] - 2/4/2014
      Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-2] - 9/10/2014
      Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-13] - 7/24/2014
      Rep Rohrabacher, Dana [CA-48] - 1/31/2014
      Rep Sanford, Mark [SC-1] - 9/10/2014
      Rep Stockman, Steve [TX-36] - 2/5/2014
      Rep Yoho, Ted S. [FL-3] - 7/10/2014
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