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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bush Nominates Negroponte As Intel Chief

Yahoo! News - Bush Nominates Negroponte As Intel Chief

President Bush has announced former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte as our first national intelligence director. While I do not particularly agree with Negroponte, he is at least a better choice that Goss would have been.

Bush to Name Intelligence Chief Today

Yahoo! News - Bush to Name Intelligence Chief Today

The President is is planning on naming our nation's first national intelligence director on Thursday. This director will be the person in charge of 15 separate agencies, e.i. the CIA.

Problem is, one of the two people he is thinking about selecting, the CIA Director Porter Goss doesn't even think himself qualified to work for the CIA at all, let alone be the Director, let alone be in charge of 15 separate intelligence agaencies.

In an interview that Michael Moore used for his movie Farenheit 911, Moore was interviewing Goss to understand why our intelligence was so off about 9-11 and Iraq. This is what then Representative Goss had to say:

"It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50's to approximately the early 70's. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services office and yes I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day, "Dad you got to get better on your computer." Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have." - Porter Goss

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bush Open to Talks on Raising Payroll Tax Cap

Bush Open to Talks on Raising Payroll Tax Cap

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a surprising but yet telling move, President Bush has admitted that he would be open to the idea of raising the $90,000 cap on income for Social Security payroll taxes.

The way it works now is that up to $90k the employer and the employee equally split the 12.4% tax on income that then goes to Social Security. Anything a person makes over $90k is not subjected to anymore tax than what would be taxed on $90k. Bush said he would not increase the tax rate but was open to other ideas. What this tells me is that he won't raise the percentage, or ratethat is taxed but will move the cap to somewhere beyond $90k.

My idea for fixing Social Security has to do with increasing the cap. If you make the cap for anyone that makes over $90k but under $1 million would be charged the regular percent for the first $90k, and then charged a smaller fee for anything they make over $90k to $1 million. This alone would probably fix the problem with Social Security. But Bush not only wants to allow people to be taxed on their income passed the cap of $90k, he wants to also allow privatized accounts that will hurt the seniors currently and completely change the concept of Social Security.

Yahoo! News - Russia to Sell Advanced Missiles to Syria

Yahoo! News - Russia to Sell Advanced Missiles to Syria


Hot on the heels of other news today of Syria being involved with Iran comes another story. It seems that Russia has come out and said that they will sell Syria advanced missile systems. Syria, and old Cold-War ally of Russia, will be receiving different types of weapons from Russia. One item in particular they are going to be purchasing is Strelets missiles, which are large two stage missiles designed to intercept high altitude targets like strategic bombers and spy planes.

One US diplomat was quoted as saying, "Our bottom line is that they (the Russians) should not be providing any military assistance to Syria since they are a sponsor of terrorism."

So it seems that Russia is trying to regain its control in the middle east that it had back in the Cold War. Just in the news today we can see an alliance forming.

1. Iran and Syria announce a front
2. The nuclear plant thought to be hit with a missile is being built by Russia
3. And now, Russia is supplying Syria with missiles.

Yahoo! News - Syria and Iran Say Will Build 'Common Front'

Yahoo! News - Syria and Iran Say Will Build 'Common Front'

(Raheb Homavandi/Reuters)

The following is the story I was going to start the day with before the whole Iran Missile scare thing. It also deals with Iran:

Iran and Syria have come out and said they will build a common front to face threats from other nations, including the United States. The representatives wanted to confirm that they are not building a front to directly take on the US and they will continue with negotiations with the country. Washington has recently removed its ambassador to Syria because of America's intent to blame Syria with the killing of the Lebanese former Prime Minister.

Speaking on Iran, President Bush has said it is, "the world's primary state sponsor of terror." Bush is also trying to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

This alliance that Iran has forged with Syria is definitely akin to the alliances struck in the buildup to World War II. Let's hope that the similarities do not continue.

Update on Iranian missile

Top News Article | Reuters.com

Apparently now Iranian officials are reporting that the explosions was NOT a missle, and NOT a falling fuel tank, but instead it was problems during the building of a dam. This is now Iran's 4th reported position on this.

1. Missile
2. Fuel tank
3. Friendly fire
4. Dam explosion

Very confusing. Will update as more details become available.

Yahoo! News - Iranian TV Reports Explosion Near Deylam

Yahoo! News - Iranian TV Reports Explosion Near Deylam

(Photo by Reuters Graphic)
State run Iranian TV has reported this morning that there was a missile explosion near Deylam, which is in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant. An Iranian official has come out saying that the explosion was caused by friendly fire and not a direct attack from another country. Both US and Israel has been denying that they had any involvement in the explosion.

One claim is that an Iranian plane flew over the city of Deylam, which is 110 miles away from the nuclear facility, and its fuel tank fell off. Iranian spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said, "An airplane flew over Deylam today. Minutes later, there was an explosion. " "But we have no reason to say it's a hostile attack. There is a big possibility that it was a friendly fire by mistake. Several such mistaken friendly fire incidents have been reported there in recent days."

So, is there really no chance that this is an attack by US or Israel forces? Let's take a look at the meaningful questions:

1. Would either US or Israel send a strike with only one missile and one plane?
2. If they did would it just be a warning shot to Iran to let them know we mean business?
3. If this was not a strike what are the chances that it was an Israel or American spy plane that was fired upon and returned fire?
4. If it was a spy plane why did we not use unmanned drones to spy on them(as reported in the past few days)?
5. Let's assume that it was an attack, why would the Iranians deny hostile attacks?

I will be updating this story as it progresses.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Yahoo! News - Bush Requests $81.9B for Iraq, Afghan Wars

Yahoo! News - Bush Requests $81.9B for Iraq, Afghan Wars

(AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)

President Bush wants 81.9 billion more dollars to fight he wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At first sight it seems pretty bad. But then you think to yourself, "Well, at least he is still trying to get Bin Laden." Unfortunately, of the $81.9 billion he has requested, $77 billion of it goes straight to Iraq and Afghanistan, with the majority of the $77 billion going to Iraq. That is 94% of what the President is now asking for.

The difference between money going towards Afghanistan, the place where the guy who started the war on terra lives, and Iraq, the place where we had no right to go is staggering. Oh, and something I did forget to bring up, 1 billion dollars for tsunami aid. Hmmmm, so that's the third most important thing in the list of stuff Bush wanted, the horrible world tragedy.

President Bush said he wanted to help countries pursue "the path of democracy and freedom."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Yahoo! News - Bomb Kills Former Lebanese Prime Minister

Yahoo! News - Bomb Kills Former Lebanese Prime Minister

(AP Photo/Saleh Rifai)

By BASSEM MROUE and JOSEPH PANOSSIAN, Associated Press Writers

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a billionaire who helped rebuild his country after decades of war but resigned last fall after a sharp dispute with Syria, was killed Monday in a massive bomb explosion that tore through his motorcade. At least nine other people were dead and 100 wounded in the blast.

At least 20 cars were set on fire in a blast that devastated the front of the famous St. George Hotel, blowing off balconies, and damaged a British bank and the Phoenicia Hotel along the Mediterranean waterfront.

Hariri moved toward the opposition camp after leaving office in October — in large part because of a dispute concerning Syria's controversial role in Lebanon. Hariri had rejected a Syrian-backed insistence that a rival politician, President Emile Lahoud, remain in office as president for a longer period.

The United States has strongly criticized Syria's interference in the country.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, served 10 of 14 years in the postwar period starting in 1992 __ winning three separate elections.

The news agency, quoting a statement from American University Hospital, said Hariri was dead on arrival, his body mutilated in the massive explosion.

Beirut's main television stations reported Hariri's death, but his own station, Future TV, did not carry the report. However, it switched into readings from the Quran in a sign of mourning.

Nine other people were also killed in the massive blast and 100 were wounded, the news agency said. Several of Hariri's bodyguards were among those hurt or killed, Lebanese legislator Bassem Yammout told The Associated Press at the scene.

Syria's President Bashar Assad called the attack "a horrible criminal act," according to Al-Jazeera television. Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah told Al-Jazeera the assassination "targeted Lebanon and Syria," reflecting the closeness of the two countries' leaderships.

Hariri's motorcade of bulletproof vehicles was left a burning wreck by the blast, which blew a 30-foot crater in the street and shattered nearby windows.

Bystanders and ambulance workers made crude stretchers to carry the wounded to vehicles to take them to nearby hospitals. TV video showed several men dragging the body of a victim partially covered by a brown blanket through the rubble-strewn street before letting go of his arms and letting him fall to the ground. Flames still licked from his body, his face disfigured by burns.

Several young women with blood running down their faces had to be helped from the scene.

Heavily armed security forces cordoned off the area with yellow tape as rescue workers and investigators searched the scene for casualties or clues to what caused the huge explosion.

The explosion shortly before noon (5 a.m. EST) shook buildings in the city center and was heard in outlying hills overlooking the Lebanese capital.

Rubble and twisted debris covered a road lined with burning cars, with smoke enveloping the area as firefighters carrying hoses raced to douse flames.

Explosions in Beirut — while common during the 1975-90 civil war — have become rare since the conflict ended.

In October, however, amid rising tensions between the government and opposition groups, a car bomb seriously injured an opposition politician and killed his driver in Beirut.

Hariri, a self-made billionaire who was prime minister from 1992-98, and again from 2000-04, resigned in October and was considered to be in the opposition. He has been in a rivalry with Lahoud for years.