When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
Posted by Owen at 2028 hrs
About 500,000 Jews served in the Soviet Red Army during World War II. Most of those still alive today — about 7,000 — are said to live in Israel.
Every year on Victory Day, which falls on Thursday this year, they parade in uniform throughout Israel to celebrate Nazi Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union.
Afterward, they return home to their modest apartments, where some tick off the days in solitude — and poverty.
One has to wonder if the evidence that the U.S. is a paper tiger had anything to do with Israel taking the initiative.
The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the latest developments are a significant escalation in Israel’s involvement in the conflict.
The Syrian foreign ministry statement said three military sites had been hit - a research centre at Jamraya, a paragliding airport in the al-Dimas area of Damascus and a site in Maysaloun.
Looks like another Arab Spring where we get to choose to back either a brutal dictator or an Islamist cabal. Wonderful.
Posted by Owen at 0550 hrs
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday.
Israel had long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, reaching his Hezbollah allies or Islamist rebels taking part in a more than two-year-old uprising against his government.
Israelis are worried that if Assad is toppled, Islamist fighters could turn his guns on them next door, after four decades of relative calm along the Golan Heights border zone.
But Israeli security concerns have risen since Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda assumed a prominent role in the insurrection against Assad.
They have also worried that Hezbollah could eventually obtain his chemical arsenal and other advanced weaponry. But there is no risk of that happening for the time being, a senior Israeli official said on Saturday.
The number of people considered long-term unemployed — out of a job for more than a year — increased to 3.5 million, while the unemployment rate for those aged under 25 was a staggering 57 percent. The government body also said its survey found the number of households without anyone working rose by 72,400 to a 1.91 million.
Generally speaking, if you are smuggling endangered species, you should try to avoid running your ship aground on a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
Posted by Owen at 1634 hrs
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Chinese vessel that ran into a protected coral reef in the southwestern Philippines held evidence of even more environmental destruction inside: more than 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of meat from a protected species, the pangolin or scaly anteater.
The steel-hulled vessel hit an atoll on April 8 at the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site on Palawan island. Coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said Monday that 400 boxes, each containing 25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins, were discovered during a second inspection of the boat Saturday.
The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said the Chinese vessel F/N Min Long Yu could have been carrying up to 2,000 of the toothless, insect-eating animals rolled up in the boxes, with their scales already removed.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — One of China’s oldest and biggest medicine companies agreed Monday to sell only genuine Wisconsin ginseng at its 1,800 retail stores, an estimated $200 million deal that was finalized during Gov. Scott Walker’s trade mission to the world’s second-largest economy.
Under the agreement with the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, Tong Ren Tang Health Pharmaceutical — a 364-year-old Chinese pharmacy — will pay for trademark seals indicating that for the next decade the company is selling genuine Wisconsin ginseng at its stores in China.
All products will be purchased from the Ginseng and Herb Cooperative, a Wausau-based association representing Wisconsin ginseng producers.
Wisconsin produces more than 95 percent of the ginseng in the United States, and China is the biggest foreign importer. Many Chinese consumers know Wisconsin for its high-quality ginseng products as herbal medicine and gifts.
Well, that’s worrisome.
After the North Korean launch, U.S. Navy ships managed to recover the front section of the rocket used in it, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation. That part of the rocket in turn provided useful clues about North Korean warhead design, should the next payload be a warhead rather than a satellite.
The same basic engineering and science needed to launch a satellite into space is also used in the multi-stage rockets known as inter-continental ballistic missiles. The front of the satellite rocket, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation, gave tangible proof that North Korea was building the missile’s cone at dimensions for a nuclear warhead, durable enough to be placed on a long-range missile that could re-enter the earth’s atmosphere from space.
“Having access to the missile front was a critical insight we had not had before,” one U.S. non-proliferation official told The Daily Beast. “I have seen a lot of drawings, but we had not seen the piece of that missile at that time.” This official continued: “we looked at the wreckage from the launch and we put it together with other kinds of intelligence and came to this judgment that they had figured out the warhead piece.”
And to think Scott Walker didn’t cause this.
A short drive away, teachers marched by the thousands through the streets of the state capital, some masked and brandishing metal bars and sticks in an escalating showdown over education reform that’s become a key test of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s sweeping project to reform Mexico’s most dysfunctional institutions.
The fight is dominating headlines in Mexico and freezing progress on a national education reform that Pena Nieto hoped would build momentum toward more controversial changes. Those include opening the state-owned oil company to foreign and private investment and broadening Mexico’s tax base, potentially with the first-ever sales tax on food and medicine.
Ah, the compassionate and tolerant Left...
LONDON (AP) — The BBC is in a bind after opponents of Margaret Thatcher pushed the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” to the top of the British charts in a posthumous protest over her divisive policies.
The online campaign to drive the “Wizard of Oz” song to the No. 1 spot on the U.K. singles chart was launched by Thatcher critics shortly after the former prime minister died Monday of a stroke at age 87.
Heh. But… we must not underesimate them. Even armed with sticks, a million men crossing that border will create havok.
Posted by Owen at 0637 hrs
DANDONG, China (Reuters) - A single, ancient-looking North Korean helicopter dropped five paratroopers on their side of the Chinese border on Friday in a rather less-than-defiant, lonely show of force following weeks of angry war rhetoric from Pyongyang.
North Korea has ramped up its threats after being hit by new U.N. sanctions since carrying out a third nuclear test in February, prompting the United States to fly stealth jets over the peninsula and to prepare anti-missile systems for Guam and Alaska.
Posted by Owen at 0623 hrs
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Bewilderment, scorn, resentment. Women’s rights activists across the Middle East are reacting with everything but joy to topless demonstrations in Europe by a Ukrainian feminist group held in solidarity with a Tunisian woman who posted topless photos of herself protesting religious oppression.
They fear the bare breasts may hurt their cause more than help it, after FEMEN activists protested in front of mosques and Tunisian diplomatic missions last week to support 19-year-old Amina Tyler, who caused a scandal in her country with her Facebook postings.
What a difference she made in the world.
Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has died at 87 following a stroke, her spokesman has said.
Lord Bell said: “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning.”
Baroness Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990.
She was the first woman to hold the post. Her family is expected to make a further statement later.
Wow. Bureaucracy at it’s finest.
The Minerva Inn in Plymouth, UK is a famous landmark, with part of its structure made of wood from sunken 16th Century Spanish Armada ships in 1588.
But the historical location is now facing a mandatory makeover, with city officials saying the 500-year-old wood is a fire hazard and must be painted over with a flame-resistant coating. In addition, the paint could conceal hand-carved messages written by thousands of servicemen and celebrities over the years.
Posted by Owen at 1333 hrs
And as international funding dries up and with many international companies due to shut down after the departure of foreign troops, Afghanistan’s economy is set to shrink dramatically. Foreign embassies are also being scaled down.
“Fear of instability in 2014 is driving emigration of the very people and money that could prevent instability,” STATT, an NGO that does research and polling, said in its January 2013 Afghan Migration in Flux report. “Most foresee a future of conflict, instability and chaos as fait accompli for the country.”
Some Afghans scrambling to get out any way they can are paying $30,000 to 50,000 on the black market for fake passports and passage to another country, an exorbitant sum in a country where average annual income is estimated to be under the $500 a year. A recent Afghan police raid picked up dozens of false Canadian, Pakistani and Afghan passports and numerous forged visas.