Friday, August 30, 2013

Saudi Prince Bandar behind chemical attack in Syria: Report

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Syrians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta say Saudi Arabia provided chemical weapons for an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group which they blame for the August 21 chemical attack in the region, a report says.

The article co-authored by a veteran AP reporter, said interviews with doctors, residents, anti-government forces and their families in Ghouta suggest the terrorists in question received chemical weapons via Saudi spymaster Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud.

The report quoted the father of a militant as saying that his son and 12 others were killed inside a tunnel used to store weapons supplied by a Saudi militant leader, known as Abu Ayesha.

The man described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Anti-government forces, interviewed in the article, complained they were not informed of the nature of the weapons they had been given, nor did they receive instructions how to use them.

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” said one militant.

Another militant accused the Takfiri militants of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front of refusing to cooperate with other insurgents or sharing secret information. “They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” he added.

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JOHN KERRY’S WAR: SYRIAN STRIKE MEANS BIG MONEY FOR LAWMAKERS

The Department of Defense’s missile and munitions budget is $9.2 billion so a missile strike on Syria means a big payout for defense companies like Raytheon and Boeing.

According to DefenseNews.com, the planned Syria strike wouldn’t be cheap. “A cruise missile strike against Syria could cost the Pentagon hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons,” according to experts and government documents.

A report by the Department of Defense states that the unit cost of a Tomahawk tactical missile costs $1.5 million.

Barak Obama, the Nobel Peace prize winning president just added the Syrian people to his kill list this summer and it is a defense contractor’s dream come true. Wall Street has rewarded their lobbying efforts with a positive uptick.

For example, according to Reuters, Raytheon generates more of its revenues overseas than any other large U.S. weapons maker. It has forecast a 20-percent increase in foreign bookings in 2013.

Congress loves the defense industry too because of their lobbying efforts and campaign contributions.

The defense sector’s biggest companies include Center for Responsive Politics “Heavy Hitters” Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics, as well as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

One of the major recipients of the defense sector campaign contributions went to Sen. John Kerry (D) who was confirmed Secretary of State on Jan 29, 2013.

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Move Over, Obamacare. Here Comes Obamaschool

The president gave a speech on August 22 in Buffalo outlining his proposal to “reform” the student loan program. He acknowledged that the program has some problems, but assured the audience they are easily fixed. Just take the principles behind Obamacare and apply them to education. The president personally “guaranteed” that his proposals would make college more affordable.

Here’s the plan. The government will rate colleges based on fees (the lower the better) and graduation rates (the higher the better) and student success in finding a job. Then student loan funds will be allocated to schools according to the rating. Students will also be guided to the best-rated schools via government web sites. And schools will get more funding if they set up demonstration projects to reduce costs. This will all encourage more “competition” among schools. Yes, you heard that right: more government control of colleges will increase market “competition.”

We don’t have a 2,000 page bill in Congress yet, but it’s all quite familiar: government will take even tighter control of higher education just as it has taken even tighter control of medicine, and use Obamacare as its operating manual. Of course, Obamacare not only rated medical insurance policies; it mandated what would be in them at what prices, which in effect put government in charge of defining what healthcare is. Presumably, the government rating of schools will in due course also lead to mandates and the government defining what higher education is. Obamacare also set up government sites where people would be steered to buy government approved policies, and set up demonstration projects, even though the history of government-inspired healthcare demonstration projects has been dismal.

There is a lot more in common between Obamacare and Obamaschool than these superficial characteristics. Obamacare came into being because of a crisis in medical care. As usual, that crisis had been caused by earlier government interventions in medicine, especially price controls. At present, Medicare price controls about 7,500 medical procedures. Because payment varies by location and practitioner (e.g., doctors employed by hospitals get paid more than other doctors), it has been estimated that Medicare price-controls six billion medical transactions at any one time. As government has come to dominate medicine and price-control it, prices have inevitably risen at a rate that threatens to bankrupt the economy. Obamacare has doubled down on the price controls, mandating allowed price increases under Medicare and installing a price control board. All of this will no doubt lead to the kind of legislation recently passed in Massachusetts where any “material” change in a medical practice, in either prices or services, must be approved by the state.

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White House Considers Awarding Obamacare Subsidies, Intended For The Uninsured, To Labor Unions

A few weeks ago, I discussed the fact that labor unions have been increasingly vocal about their objections to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare will “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class,” wrote three labor leaders in July. Now, according to a report from InsideHealthPolicy, the Obama administration is considering offering insurance subsidies—intended for the uninsured—to labor union members who already have employer-sponsored coverage.

The issue at hand is the way Obamacare affects multi-employer health plans, also known as Taft-Hartley plans. These plans consist of employer-sponsored health insurance that is arranged between a labor union in a particular industry, such as restaurants, and small employers in that sector. Approximately 20 million workers in the United States are covered under such arrangements, including 800,000 of the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, whose leader, Joseph Hansen, signed the letter I described above.

Workers with employer-sponsored coverage don’t qualify for subsidized coverage on Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Those subsidies are designed for low-income people who aren’t offered coverage from their employers, and have to shop for insurance on their own. But the labor union leaders want those subsidies to also apply to their members with employer-sponsored coverage, even though they already get those benefits tax-free due to the employer tax exclusion for health insurance.

Now, according to Rachana Dixit of InsideHealthPolicy, the administration is “working on regulations to address the issue” that people covered under Taft-Hartley plans aren’t eligible for subsidies. But it’s not an “issue” in the sense of being a glitch or a mistake; union leaders are seeking special treatment, and additional taxpayer subsidies, that other participants in employer-sponsored coverage don’t get.

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Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press journalist Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” one militant named ‘J’ told Gavlak.

His claims are echoed by another female fighter named ‘K’, who told Gavlak, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of an opposition rebel, also told Gavlak, “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” The father names the Saudi militant who provided the weapons as Abu Ayesha.

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