August 23rd, 2014
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2nd Plague Breaks out:
The Last Pope: Pope Francis' Persecution of Conservative Clergy Ties Disturbingly into End Times Era
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August 22nd, 2014
As they say...timing is everything....don't discount the US Attorney General's race-baiting in Ferguson, as not being operative in this sudden document demand....
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with a list of documents that are at the center of a long-running battle over a failed law enforcement program called Operation Fast and Furious.
In a court proceeding Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set an Oct. 1 deadline for producing the list to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Justice Department says the documents should remain confidential and President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege in an effort to protect them from public disclosure.
The House panel says the Justice Department documents might explain why the department took nearly a year to admit that federal agents had engaged in a controversial law enforcement tactic known as gun-walking.
The Justice Department has long prohibited the risky practice. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used it with disastrous results in a federal law enforcement probe in Arizona, Operation Fast and Furious.
In the operation, federal agents permitted illicitly purchased weapons to be transported unimpeded in an effort to track them to high-level arms traffickers.
Federal agents lost control of some 2,000 weapons and many of them wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Two of the guns were found at the scene of the December 2010 slaying of border agent Brian Terry near the Arizona border city of Nogales.
After Wednesday's court proceeding, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said that "we are pleased the judge recognized that executive privilege includes a deliberative process beyond presidential communications" — a point the department has been arguing in its dispute with Congress.
In court papers, the Justice Department has said that if the courts were to reject a confidentiality claim, Congress could have unfettered access to all information from the executive branch of government aside from presidential communications.
Such a development would be in contravention of the constitutional separation of powers and over two centuries of dealings between the legislative and executive branches, the department said.
The need for some confidentiality in the executive branch is particularly strong in the current case, which involves a congressional demand for information that would reveal the process by which the executive responds to congressional inquiries, the Obama administration added.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House panel, said that the privilege log "will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of border patrol agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens."
August 22nd, 2014
US P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft
Washington Free Beacon
The Pentagon on Friday called a Chinese jet’s encounter with a U.S. anti-submarine warfare aircraft an “aggressive” and “dangerous” act and said it has protested the action with Beijing.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that the incident took place Tuesday in international airspace.
“We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept, which posed a risk to the safety and the well-being of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law,” Kirby said, adding that the incident was “very, very close, very dangerous.”
“Also—and we’ve made this clear—that it undermines efforts to continue developing military-to-military relations with the Chinese military.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool said the aerial incident took place 135 miles east of Hainan Island when a Chinese J-11, a version of the Russian Su-27, came within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Chinese SU-27 fighter/interceptor
“The intercept was aggressive and demonstrated a lack of due regard for the safety and well-being of the U.S. and Chinese aircrews and aircraft,” Pool said in a statement, noting it was one of the most dangerous aerial encounters with the Chinese since the April 2001 EP-3 mid-air collision with a Chinese J-8.
Pool called the encounter with the armed Chinese fighter “a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon that was on a routine mission.”
“On three different occasions, the Chinese J-11 crossed directly under the U.S. aircraft with one pass having only 50 to 100 feet separation between the two aircraft,” the spokesman said.
“The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90 degrees with its belly toward the P-8 to show its weapons loadout,” he added.
“In doing so, the pilot was unable to see the P-8, further increasing the potential for a collision,” Pool said. “The Chinese pilot then flew directly under and alongside the P-8 bringing their wingtips within 20 feet and then before he stabilized his fighter he conducted a roll over the P-8 passing within 45 feet.”
According to the Pentagon, the latest encounter is part of a rising trend of “nonstandard, unprofessional and unsafe intercepts of US aircraft” that began in late 2013.
The Chinese jet originated from the same PLA air force unit in Hainan that was responsible for other close intercepts in March, April and May, Pool said.
“We are concerned that the intercepting crews from that unit are acting aggressively and demonstrating a lack of regard for the regard for the safety of our aircrews,” he said. “We have raised our concerns over this unsafe behavior to the PRC.”
At Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing, Deputy White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes also criticized the Chinese for the incident that he described as a “provocation.”
“It’s obviously a deeply concerning provocation, and we have communicated directly to the Chinese government our objection to this type of action,” Rhodes said.
The incident could further complicate efforts to develop closer military relations. “What we’ve encouraged is constructive military-to-military ties with China, and this type of action clearly violates the spirit of that engagement, and we’ve made our concerns known directly to Beijing,” Rhodes said.
Defense officials said the latest encounter highlights China’s continued aggressiveness in the region.
The P-8, a new, militarized Boeing-737 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, was conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the South China Sea, not the East China Sea as initially reported by the Free Beacon.
Other defense officials said the Chinese Su-27 interceptor carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft—a move described by officials as dangerous and meant to threaten the surveillance aircraft.
It was the second threatening encounter of a U.S. surveillance aircraft....
August 22nd, 2014
While national news media continue to focus on race in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, they apparently don’t think a similar case in Utah with the races reversed is that newsworthy.
Police in Salt Lake City are continuing their probe into an Aug. 11 shooting outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when a black police officer, whom local media are referring to as “not white,” shot and killed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, who was unarmed at the time, according to his supporters.
Police Chief Chris Burbank said the entire incident was captured on the body camera of the officer who shot Taylor.
“You will see on camera … the actions of everyone involved, including up to the point where our officer utilizes deadly force and his response thereafter,” Burbank told reporters.
He said the video, along with the officer’s identity, will be released at the “appropriate” time, adding it could be days, weeks or months.
“It would be wholly inappropriate to take the most vital piece of evidence that we have and put it out to the public prior to the officer having some due process,” he said.
The chief indicated he has personally viewed the footage, but would not comment on whether he believed the shooting was justified.
“I do not send officers out to use deadly force. That’s never our intention. In fact, our policy specifically says that is the last resort,” he said. “The officer in this circumstance did not set out to use deadly force. We have an unfortunate incident where Dillon Taylor lost his life.”
Burbank also refused to say whether Taylor had a gun, but the victim’s family and friends maintain he was unarmed.
“It didn’t make sense to me when I first heard everything, and they tried to say he had a gun,” Taylor’s friend, Aaron Swanenberg, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I knew Dillon. He never packed a gun.”
Police said officers were responding to a report of a man “waving a gun around.”
When officers arrived, they found three men leaving the convenience store, with one, later identified as Taylor, reportedly matching the description of the person reported in a 9-1-1 call.
Witnesses say Taylor was wearing headphones at the time and may have been trying to pull his pants up when he was gunned down.
August 22nd, 2014
Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen': Pentagon
BY MISSY RYAN
(Reuters) - The sophistication, wealth and military might of Islamic State militants represent a major threat to the United States that may surpass that once posed by al Qaeda, U.S. military leaders said on Thursday.
"They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.
Hagel's assessment of Islamic State, which gained strength during Syria's civil war and swept into northern Iraq earlier this summer, sounded a note of alarm several days after the group posted a video on social media showing one of its fighters beheading an American hostage kidnapped in Syria.
Asked if the hardline Sunni Muslim organization posed a threat to the United States comparable to that of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hagel said it was "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen."
"They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."
Hagel spoke as the United States continued attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq. In the past two weeks, U.S. drones and fighter jets have conducted 89 airstrikes against militant targets in northern Iraq.
So far, President Barack Obama has sought to limit his renewed military campaign in Iraq to protecting American diplomats and civilians under direct threat. Obama ended the war in Iraq that killed thousands of American soldiers and consumed U.S. foreign policy for nearly a decade,
Even after the gruesome killing of U.S. journalist James Foley, Obama is seen as unlikely to deepen his near-term military involvement in either Iraq or Syria as he seeks to avoid becoming embroiled in another messy Middle Eastern conflict.
But U.S. officials say they have not ruled out escalating military action against Islamic State, which has increased its overt threats against the United States since the air campaign in Iraq began.
'APOCALYPTIC, END-OF-DAYS VISION'
"We haven't made a decision to take additional actions at this time, but we truly don't rule out additional action against ISIL if it becomes warranted," Ben Rhodes, a senior Obama aide, told National Public Radio earlier on Thursday, using another name for Islamic State.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were worried about the possibility that European or U.S. nationals, radicalized after fighting in Iraq or Syria, would return to their home countries.
Dempsey suggested Islamic State would remain a danger until it could no longer count on safe havens in areas of Syria under militant control.
"This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of- days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated," Dempsey said.
"To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border."
More from Reuters