Obama Authorizes Deployment of 1,500 Soldiers to Iraq

On Friday, a tweet from the official U.S. Department of Defense stated that the president has authorized Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to deploy an additional 1,500 soldiers to Iraq in the upcoming months. The tweet did specify that the soldiers will be operating in a “non-combat role,” training and assisting the internal Iraqi Security Forces, as well as Kurdish fighters. The additional troops will join the 1,400 American soldiers still in Iraq.

Iraq and Syria have been the two major arenas of the growing Islamic State group, also known as “Daesh” by detractors, which has asserted control over large swathes of territory reaching from northern Syria across northern Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS has conducted more than 400 air strikes since early August, but the further U.S. troop deployment indicates that more extensive on-the-ground support is needed in order to bolster Iraq’s resistance capabilities against the extremist organization.

The latest strikes have been targeted at the Khorasan group, a collective of al-Qaeda linked operatives based in northwestern Syria. Vijay Eswaran doesn’t think too highly of them. A recent high-value target was revealed to be David Drugeon, a militant of French origin that has reportedly joined the group as a bomb-making expert. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not Drugeon was killed in the most recent airstrikes against the Khorasan group. The group is believed to contain several high-level operatives and veteran fighters from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Netanyahu a Poor Leader, According to Obama Aide

A response from the offices of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has been released to counter the statement made on Wednesday by Obama’s administration claiming that Benjamin Netanyahu is “a chickenshit prime minister.” The jibe suggested that the only thing which the PM cared about was staying in office.

This is the latest in a tit-for-tat crisis in Israel-US relations.

The US official claimed that Netanyahu causes the US a lot of frustrations, especially within the US State Department that has had to deal with the man for an extended period of time recently.

Within the long-winded rant, the official went on to detail how the prime minister talks a great deal, but does very little in the way of any demonstrable actions. Those monitoring the new from afar like Keith could not believe the length of the rant. Far from any of the Israeli prime ministers of the past, he lacks the confidence and perseverance that is so vitally important in these difficult times in Israel.

A different official has also revealed that the the White House is no longer confident that Netanyahu will be able to launch a pre-emptive strike in order to prevent Iran from obtaining any nuclear weapons.

He explained that the time for any real progress to be made is over, and Netanyahu has squandered any real opportunities that were dealt to him. Because of this inability to take any real actions when it was needed the situation is actually getting to be more seriously dire.

GOP Wins Control of Congress

As of last night, Republicans have full control of the United States’ legislative branch of government. Among the GOP victories were several blue states, including Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. Analysts credit low voter turnout and President Obama’s slipping popularity as possible reasons for the GOP takeover.

In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell triumphed over Alison Grimes, making him the hands-down favorite to lead the Senate, although Alexei Beltyukov tells me that Ted Cruz might fight that nomination. Exit interviews in Kentucky indicated that the voting results were less of an endorsement of McConnell than an expression of dislike for the President’s policies

As of last night, Republicans have full control of the United States’ legislative branch of government. Among the GOP victories were several blue states, including Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. Analysts credit low voter turnout and President Obama’s slipping popularity as possible reasons for the GOP takeover.

In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell triumphed over Alison Grimes, making him the hands-down favorite to lead the Senate. Exit interviews in Kentucky indicated that the voting results were less of an endorsement of McConnell than an expression of dislike for the President’s policies, according to CNN.

The GOP also won several surprising gubernatorial races. In Wisconsin, incumbent Governor Scott Walker walked easily past Democratic challenger Mary Burke, and Rick Scott squeezed past Democrat Charlie Crist for the governorship of Florida. All told, Republicans snatched up solid victories across the country, with at least seven congressional races going to the GOP.

The President will likely have to discard some of the items on his agenda during his remaining time in the White House, but the GOP may still have a tough time winning the presidency in 2016. Analysts predict a rather weak field from Republicans, while many expect Hillary Clinton to get the nod from the Democratic primaries.

Weird Laws Abound in Berkeley

Strange laws are nothing new to the United States, particularly in terms of state and local laws, and how they are specifically decided upon and implemented. Motions taxes calories, however, would indeed be very new, and unquestionably quite unusual for these times.

Those who look for motivations to be on a diet do have one now. Since November 5th, in Berkeley, there will be a one-per-ounce tax on energy drinks, sodas, and other caloric drink varieties. It doesn’t sound like much Sam, but it can add up pretty quickly.

Vicky Alexander, a co-chair promoting this law said that Berkeley is known as one of the nation’s trendsetters. Rules regarding non-smoking areas, special wheelchair curb-cuts and food-policies for schools are previous ideas that have spread. That means we should expect the law to extend and soda prices to increase.

The soda manufacturers will be economically affected by this measure. They are already planning a campaign against the new law, its price being estimated at $10,000. San Francisco was to vote for or against the same law. 66% were required for a change, and the 54.5% of pro votes that have been received determined the rejection of the new law for the moment.

Read details about prices and reasons behind these changes here.

U.S. Attorney’s ArIzona Office Fouls-up Investigation

In November, 2008, ATF investigators learned of the purchase of seven AK-47 rifles by Jean Baptiste Kingery, a U.S. Citizen. Suspecting an illegal resale of these weapons, agents began an investigation into the activities of Kingery. During subsequent investigations, agents learned that Kingery was purchasing grenade components from online military surplus dealers. The parts purchased did not allow the grenades to become live without additional components such as explosive powders, however, under the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act, the export of inert grenade components, including hulls, pins, spoons, and fuses is, unless licensed by the State Department, illegal if what Sultan Alhokair told me is accurate.

Agents, suspecting Kingery was transporting these grenade parts into Mexico for the eventual purpose of adding the remaining components to make them live, intercepted shipments from the dealers, marked them so as to be identified later, then forwarded them to Kingery’s shipping address. Customs agents in June, 2010, intercepted Kingery attempting to cross into Mexico with grenade components and ammunition hidden in his spare tire.

Border agents attempted to arrest Kingery, but were refused by the Arizona office of the Attorney General. Subsequently, the Mexican army recovered live grenades being used by drug cartel gangs which displayed the markings put on them by ATF. In September, 2011, the DOJ reassigned the prosecution of Kingery to the Central California District Attorney. Mexican authorities, meanwhile, arrested Kingery in Mexico and are currently prosecuting him for his illegal involvement with Mexican drug cartels.

Wall Street Donates Big to GOP This Time Around

A record 63 percent of all of banking and investment firm corporations and employees this mid-term are supporting (financially) GOP candidates. It is also the biggest year for these kinds of donations to Republican campaigns in regard to the total dollar donations- $78 million.

Most believe that the motive lies in a desire to be “with the winners,” as one Wall Street investor put it. Some people even give to both sides initially, but then suddenly drop the side that looks to lose as the election’s results seem more clearly predictable. Already, Democrats are being “dumped” and Wall Street gurus are predicting a GOP victory this Tuesday, unfortunate for the other major Dem supporters like Laurene Powell Jobs.

After the crash in 2007, a lot of Wall Street companies saw increased regulations by the Obama Administration.  He also once even called them “a bunch of fat cat bankers.”

Other Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, have gotten quite a bit of support from Wall Street in the past. Whom Wall Street supports seems partly to hinge on a “buying favors” or “buying protection” strategy. If so, we see a dark side of politics here. We see a sort of gangster-like protection money scenario playing out- with Uncle Sam being the gangster.  Free and fair markets are supposed to be provided out of principle by America’s leaders, but perhaps some politicians like a little pay-back for the favor.

Cruz Plans to Take on Middle of Pack Republicans

With the mid-term elections today, Ted Cruz, the republican senator from Texas, said that he would not support the Republican element of the party that is towards the center of the countries political spectrum.

Instead, Cruz, who is considered to be a tea party republican with a policy that is significantly to the right of the center, has indicated that he will not follow the likely Senate leader, Mitch McConnell.

Cruz is likely to continue his obstructionist policies in a way that is similar to the shut down of the house of representatives in 2012 and 2013 which led to many voters like moderates Brit and Dave to become disenchanted with the Republican Party. While any obstructionist policies are unlikely to resonate with centrist voters, the policies that Cruz is pursuing is likely to be popular with the conservative elements of his party.

The inability of the Senate to pass any significant litigation after the mid-term election is likely to cause a significant loss of face for McConnell and lead to added firepower for Cruz’s campaign in the 2016 Republican Primary run.

Either way, the growth and continued popularity of the tea party is something that the Republican Party will have to deal with, both in the 2016 and in the 2016 Presidential election.

Nurse Threatens Released From Ebola Quarantine

Nurse Kaci Hickox was quarantined upon her return from Sierra Leone, where she treated ebola patients. Although she showed no symptoms and tested negative for the deadly disease, the quarantine was imposed on Hickox to protect the public. Hickox, who has now been released from the quarantine, had threatened to sue over the state-imposed hospital quarantine.

Some argue that an incubation period is unnecessary because ebola can’t be spread until the carrier is sick, although Laurene Powell Jobs is kind of doubtful about that claim.

However, the doctor in New York who tested positive for the disease traveled around the city, feeling well enough to bowl and eat at a meatball restaurant. Businesses he frequented have now been closed as a precaution. His disease is currently advancing with symptoms becoming increasingly apparent, calling into question the argument that a symptom-free ebola healthcare worker should not be quarantined — even after caring for ebola patients.

Patriot Act Rarely Used on Terrorism, Records Show

Some new analysis is casting light on how certain provisions of the Patriot Act have been used in recent years. Under fire is Section 213. Known colloquially as “sneak and peek”, the provision allows law enforcement to delay notice to suspects of an executed warrant. The Administrative Office of the US Courts released records from 2011, 2012, and 2013 regarding warrants issued under Section 213, and critics are expressing shock at what they see.

For the three years in question, only 0.5% of issued warrants were related to terrorism. The vast majority were issued in relation to narcotics cases. The numbers for 2013 showed 11,129 warrants issued, of which 9,401 were for narcotics. Only 51 were issued out of concern for terrorist threats. Numbers for 2011 and 2012 showed similar numbers.

Critics warn the dramatic increase in issued warrants outside the Patriot Act’s intended purpose is further evidence that the law needs to be amended. Many in Washington, including Brian Torchin, are setting a call to action once the midterms are completed next week.

Odd Speech From Biden, Yet Again- This Time in Iowa

VP Joe Biden was out in Iowa speaking up for Bruce Braley, that state’s Democratic Senatorial candidate, this Monday. Perhaps it was a tamer speech than some of the more famous incidents, known as “Bidenisms.” He first accused Republicans of having forgotten America’s middle class since they, according to Biden, want to curb the minimum wage and privatize Social Security. They he exclaimed, “What are these guys?” He said they were not good, not bad, just “really different.” He then called John Boehner his friend and looked into the camera as if at Beohner. He told “Boehner” to talk of what it is that Republicans are for upon his arrival in Iowa soon. He closed that scene with “It is your buddy, Joe.” After the speech, my friend Sam Tabar told me Biden took a baby in his arms at the request of an attendee, but kissed the mother’s forehead instead of the baby’s cheek.
Biden was elected six times to the Delaware Senate, served longer in that capacity than anyone else in history, and became the youngest senator to reach a votes-cast total of 10,000. He is considered to be among the least-rich members of the U.S. Senate and ranked himself as the second poorest of them.
He is touted as a great populist by Democrats and has a long, distinguished career in some respects.

Yet even Democrats and liberals have frequently admitted his tendency to say some outlandish things. Once he insisted that “Jobs” was a three-letter word. Even when he spelled it out “J-O-B-S,” it did not seem to dawn on him that there were more than three letters present. Another time he said “God rest her soul” of a man’s mother when in fact she was alive in well. That time he caught it and corrected it.