Some Wild, and not so Wild, Photos

Felix the polar bear chews on a $2,000 camera lens dropped into his enclosure at Nuremberg Zoo, Germany. .

A white-tailed eagle catches an eel at the wildlife park Feldberger Seenlandschaft (‘Feldberg Lake District’) in Feldberg, Germany

A baby pygmy hippopotamus keeps close to her mom in their enclosure in Wroclaw Zoo, Wroclaw, Poland

Nile Croc tries to steal dinner fron Lioness and her cubs

An otter shows of his catch, Shetland Islands, Scotland

An adult bonobo stares into the camera at Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary at Petites Chutes De La Lukaya, in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Emperor penguins, Ross Sea, Antarctica

A European brown bear relaxes at the Bavarian Forest National Park in Eastern Bavaria, Germany

A monkey rests inside in a bowl, Kamakhya temple in Gauhati, India

Eighteen pound giant Tasmanian king crab, Sea Life Center in Birmingham.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

World Leaders for Barack

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Over the past several months, President Obama has been amassing the support of famous world leaders and other international notables (not to mention Hollywood Mensa members like Eva Longoria).

Well, I for one, think that’s terrific. It’s great to hear the rest of the world has as much confidence in our dear president as we do.

It’s not often, nor conventional, for foreign dignitaries to do such a thing. Most world leaders prefer to stay neutral so that they might have an opportunity to work with whichever side emerges victorious.

But these bold leaders are different. They choose not to “sell out” to convention.

So who might these world leaders be, you ask?

Well, there’s Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who, just recently, assured us he’d vote for Obama if he were from the United States. The America-bashing dictator made the announcement on state-owned television, saying “Obama is a good guy” and that if Obama was from Caracas, he’d surely return the favor by voting for Chavez.

Actually Hugo could just catch a flight into Los Angeles the morning of November 6th, cast his ballot (several times, if he so chooses) and catch the next flight back to Caracas.

Earlier in the year the government-official daughter of Cuban military dictator Raul Castro proclaimed her country’s support for Obama during a visit to the U.S. “I believe that Obama needs another opportunity and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart,” Mariela Castro said during a cable news interview.

I agree that they come from the bottom of something.

Was the word “Forward” used intentionally or, in the words of the later painter, Bob Ross, ” just a happy accident”?

“Forward” is the official Obama re-election slogan and, if you recall, “forward” was also a well-known communist slogan. You may read about it here.

Putin called his U.S. counterpart “a genuine person” who “really wants to change much for the better.” Speaking to Russia’s state-run RT television channel, he said a second Obama term could help solve disputes over missile defense. By “solving” disputes, he means, we would unilaterally disarm, as Obama is already doing and Vlad would retain all Russia’s arsenal by not cutting their nuclear warhead stockpile. There, dispute solved.

As an aside; how come Obama can’t have a state-run television network like his contemporaries? Oh wait, he does. NBC, ABC, CBS, etc.

And why shouldn’t Puty Pute endorse Barack, after the now infamous chat between Obama and then president Dmitri Medvedev, where Barack told Dimitri, ” This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility”. Dimitri then reassures Obama, ” I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladamir”.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the benevolent president of Iran favors Barack over Mitt.

The French Socialist leader is a fan of Barack, yet the famous freedom fighter from Poland, Lech Walesa is not. He is supporting Mitt Romney. Lech probably just wants to take away Polish womens’ right to contraception, like Mitt. What a jerk.

United Nations special rapporteur (investigator) on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson came out and took aim at Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Friday telling The Canadian Press, “There is no doubt that the Romney administration would be able to claim — in the event of a Romney presidency — a democratic mandate for torture.” “That would put Romney as the first world leader in history to be able to claim a democratic mandate for torture,” Emmerson said. This is the same Emmerson who helped defend the radical cleric and terrorist Abu Qatada, as well as other terror suspects. Sounds like an Obama endorsement to me.

All these stalwarts of the free world endorsing one man. Barack must be so proud. After all, he says he favors coalition building and what a great one he has built.

Seriously, how is it these evil people all support the same American candidate? Does this not tell us something?

It would be like Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and O.J. all supporting the same person for Chief of Police. You know, the one who arrests the bad guys. Would that not be strange?

Would you not think, if these evil criminals are supporting the same individual as am I, at the very least, should I take another, more critical look at my candidate?

Kutno, 1940

The old man looks relaxed, almost happy chatting with the soldiers. He and most of the other Jewish citizens pictured here in 1939 and 1940, are smiling, seemingly pleased to pose for photographer Hugo Jaeger.

Yet we know, 40 years later, that these people, and thousands of others like them, were in fact prisoners, to be despized as ‘rats’ and ‘parasites’ in Nazi propaganda.

Even more surprising, Jaeger was Hitler’s personal photographer, enjoying unprecedented access to the Third Reich’s upper echelon, traveling with the Fuhrer to his massive rallies and photographing him at intimate parties and during private moments.

An elderly man with a yellow Star of David fixed to his chest, speaks with German officers as he and other Jews are rounded up in Kunto, German-occupied Poland in 1939 An elderly man with a yellow Star of David fixed to his  chest, speaks with German officers as he and other Jews are rounded up in Kunto,  German-occupied Poland in 1939The photos, released to mark the official establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940, were taken in the town of Kutno, 75 miles west of the Polish capital Warsaw.Although a staunch Nazi, Jaeger as  photographer perhaps perceived the Polish Jews as fascinating subjects  and his  work depicts their tragic circumstances while at the same time  allowing them to  retain their humanity and dignity.

Apart from the odd soldier, there is very little German military presense. Instead the series shows the devastation in the landscape of the German invasion of Poland, while revealing very little of the ‘master race’ itself.

Exactly what Jaeger had in mind is of course a matter of guesswork, but from the reactions of the people portrayed in these images in Warsaw and Kutno, there appears to be  surprising little hostility between the photographer and his subjects.

Innocent victims: These young Jewish girls couldn't possibly have imagined horrors lay ahead as pose outside their tent in another haunting photograph taken by the ardent Nazi Hugo JaegerInnocent victims: These young Jewish girls couldn’t  possibly have  imagined horrors that lay ahead as pose outside their tent in  another  of Jaeger’s haunting photographs
Ghetto boys: In their tattered rags the two boys smile for the camera, but the man in the centre, most probably their father, has a look of distrust etched across his face Ghetto boys: In their tattered rags the two boys smile  for the camera, but the man in the centre, most probably their father, has a  look of distrust etched across his faceJaeger’s photos made such an  impression on  the Führer that he announced, upon first seeing his work: ‘The future belongs to  color photography.’But beyond recording Hitler’s endless travels, Jaeger also documented the progress of the Reich, including  the Nazi  invasion of Poland in 1939.

The Kutno pictures serve as a unique curiosity. Why, instead of focussing on the glories of Hitler’s third Reich, did a staunch Nazi like Jaeger chose to take pictures of conquered Jews?

In June 1940, all 8,000 of Kutno’s Jews were rounded up and taken to what would be their new home – the grounds of an old sugar factory – where hundreds would die of hunger and Typhus.

Poles and Jews, friends and neighbors, were separated from one another. A Jewish council, the Judenrat, was created and tasked with forcing Jews to obey their German overlords.

While most photographs taken by the Nazis focus on the glory and triumphalism of the Reich, in this unusual set of pictures, Hugo Jaeger has chosen instead to capture the misery of the conquered While most Jaeger’s photographs focus on the glory and  triumphalism of the Reich, here he  has chosen instead to capture the misery of  the conquered people instead
With their clean clothes and hair neatly coiffured, these three young women do not at first glance appear to be Jewish. But look closer and you find a star of David on the coat of the girl on the leftWith their clean clothes and hair neatly coiffured,  these three young  women do not, at first glance, appear anything like Jaeger’s  other subjects. But look closer and  you find a star of David on the coat of the  girl on the left
An elderly Jewish woman bends over outdoor rubble that serves as a kitchen while a man, his Star of David badge clealry visible, watches over her in the Kutno GhettoAn elderly Jewish woman bends over outdoor rubble that  serves as a kitchen while a man, his Star of David badge clealry visible,  watches over her in the Kutno Ghetto
Makeshift dwelling: Jewish inhabitants of the Kutno Ghetto stand near a car which has been converted into a makeshift house in early 1940Makeshift dwelling: Jewish inhabitants of the Kutno  Ghetto stand near a car which has been converted into a makeshift house in early  1940
A young woman clutches a jug as she escorts an elderly Jewish man through the Kutno Ghetto in early 1940A young woman clutches a jug as she escorts an elderly  Jewish man through the Kutno Ghetto in early 1940
Daily life: An aerial view of the Kutno Ghetto which was set up on the grounds of a sugar factoryDaily life: An aerial view of the Kutno Ghetto which was  set up on the grounds of a sugar factory
A Jewish woman uses a washing board to clean clothes in the Kutno. Unusually for an ardent Nazi, Jaeger's allowed his Jewish subjects to retain their dignity and humanityA Jewish woman uses a washing board to clean clothes in  the Kutno. Unusually for an ardent Nazi, Jaeger’s allowed his Jewish subjects to  retain their dignity and humanity
Despite the awfulness of her predicament, this Jewish woman manages to smile brightly for the camera as she poses for JaegerDespite the awfulness of her predicament, this Jewish  woman manages to smile brightly for the camera as she poses for Jaeger

A lucky few managed to escape and were sheltered by their Polish friends. Most were not so lucky.

In 1942, as part of Hitler’s ‘final solution’  the Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland’s Jews. In the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was ‘liquidated.’ The majority of its inhabitants were sent to the Chelmno extermination camp.

The unique set of pictures could have been lost forever were it not for a bottle of brandy. As the allies advanced into Germany in 1945, Jaeger hid his photographs in a leather suitcase.

He was then confronted by a group of American soldiers. Luckily they were distracted by a bottle of Cognac which they opened and shared with the photographer.

Had they searched the case further, and found so many pictures of Hitler, Jaeger would have most likely been arrested on the the spot and tried as a war criminal.

After such a close shave, Jaeger decided to bury the pictures inside 12 glass jars outside Munich. He would periodically return to their burial place to check they were safe.

In 1955, he dug them up and stored them in a bank vault. Ten years later, in 1965, he sold them to Life magazine.

Fate: In 1942, as part of Hitler's 'final solution' the Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland's Jews. In the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was 'liquidated'Fate: In 1942, as part of Hitler’s ‘final solution’ the  Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland’s Jews. In  the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was ‘liquidated’

Attribution: Daniel Miller

Here’s the October Surprise!

Obama cuts deal with Iran over Nukes

from: WND

Iranian and U.S. negotiators have reached an agreement that calls for Iran to halt part of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many of the U.S. sanctions against the Islamic regime, according to a highly placed source.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expects a letter from President Obama in a few days guaranteeing the details of the agreement, arrived at recently during secret negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and is highly placed in Iran’s regime, said that once Khamenei receives Obama’s guarantees, he will authorize an announcement by Iran on a solution to the nuclear crisis before the U.S. presidential elections.

The agreement calls for Iran to announce a temporary halt to partial uranium enrichment after which the U.S. will remove many of its sanctions, including those on the Iranian central bank, no later than by the Iranian New Year in March. Iran is in the throes of massive inflation and citizen unrest because of the sanctions.

French intelligence verified today that Yukiya Amano, the current director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. to be ready to travel to Iran and announce the agreement, according to Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former intelligence officer in the regime who has defected to Europe.

The source in Tehran said Khamenei has made it clear that unless he receives Obama’s written guarantees, he will not begin the process, which would dramatically boost Obama’s re-election chances. If the guarantees are not given, Khamenei has warned, Iran will speed up its nuclear program.

The guarantees would ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove many of the sanctions, accept that Iran’s nuclear program does not have a military dimension and relieve international pressure on the regime while it continues its nuclear program. Also, the U.S. would announce that the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of a foreign country, though Israel would not be named, to increase legal pressure on Israel.

According to the Iranian source, a previous Obama letter to Khamenei indicated that it’s best for the regime not to give any motive to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, a message that was re-emphasized in the Qatar negotiations.

As reported exclusively by WND Oct. 4, a three-person delegation led by a woman on behalf of the Obama administration traveled to Qatar about Oct. 1 and met with Iranian counterparts, including Ali Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister of the Islamic regime and a close adviser to Khamenei on international matters.

In the meeting, according to the source, the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only on a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections to help Obama get re-elected. A Romney presidency, the delegation said, would surely move more toward Israel, and the Iranians were reminded that Obama has stood up to Israel against any plans to attack Iran. The regime’s delegate was urged to understand that if Iran does not stand by Obama, Israel will attack Iran.

Days after the WND report, Ali Akbar Salehi, the regime’s foreign minister, in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, stated, “If our right to enrichment is guaranteed, we are prepared to offer an exchange.”

The same message was relayed by several other officials of the regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently in Kazakhstan that the sanctions can be lifted immediately if Tehran worked with world powers to address questions about its nuclear program.

In the Qatar meeting, according to the Iranian source, the American woman delegate, who has had several meetings with Velayati during the past several years, jokingly told Velayati that she will be the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a second Obama administration and that it would be wise for Iranians to invest in U.S. real estate.

In the past five months, four meetings were held in the U.S. with the Islamic regime’s surrogates to hash out what was to be discussed at the Doha meeting. The source identified Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser (and radical), as the head of the U.S. effort to engage Iran. Also identified was Cyrus Amir Mokri, assistant secretary of the Treasury Department for financial institutions, as another member advising the president on the issue.

Jarrett’s family has known the Velayati family since their stay in Iran in the 1950s, the source added. Jarrett’s father worked at the Namazi hospital in Shiraz, owned by an Iranian family that has been influential with the regime after the Islamic Revolution.

WND contacted both the U.S. State Department and the White House, asking about the Doha negotiations, who led the delegation from the U.S., whether Obama will provide the written guarantee, what negotiations the U.S. has pursued on its own and what is known about Amano’s plan to travel to Iran for the announcement.

The State Department declined to respond to multiple calls as well as email inquiries. A spokeswoman said the White House would not comment.

The European Union, which increased sanctions on Iran last week, fears back-channel negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran will leave it out. EU leaders are seeking to send a group of representatives from seven European countries to Tehran to strengthen their position with the regime over the nuclear program and their economic interests.

The Iranian currency, meanwhile, has hit another historic low, falling to 43,000 rials to one U.S. dollar. As reported recently, a secret memo by the Intelligence Ministry to regime officials has warned of major riots in Iran due to dire economic conditions.

Another internal report by the government’s Economic Commission indicated that government foreign currency reserves will run out in the coming months and that it will have difficulty meeting payrolls for public employees who could lose 50 percent of their pay.

Many within the Iranian opposition believe that if the West continues to pressure the Islamic regime and supports the aspirations of the majority of the Iranian people who resent the regime and its ideology, the regime will face a nationwide uprising and will collapse from within, changing the geopolitics of not only the region but the world.

However, if the regime is provided a lifeline for whatever reason, not only will it get the bomb but it will take Iranians and the world hostage for decades to come, they believe.

And an, oh by the way: An Oct. 8 WND report revealed another secret nuclear site in Iran. The regime’s nuclear scientists have successfully completed testing of a neutron detonator and have nearly completed design of a nuclear warhead.

Now, let me see a show of hands who think Iran will live up to the agreement after the election. You’re a moron if you raised your hand. Maybe they’ll tape it to the top of a warhead.

Could this be a more obvious attempt by Obama to win reelection? It is and he is despicable.

America in Their Sights

On October 9th, North Korea warned that mainland America is now within range of its missiles as it accused the U.S. of conspiring with South Korea.

It comes after Seoul, South Korea, announced that it has reached a deal with Washington allowing it to nearly triple the range of its missiles to better cope with North Korean nuclear threats.

North Korea claims the move proves that the allies are plotting to invade the country, calling the deal a ‘product of another conspiracy of the master and the  stooge’ to ‘ignite a war’ against the North.

Warning: North Korea, which displayed an array of missiles during a military parade in honour of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, claims it has missiles capable of reaching mainland AmericaDisplaying an array of  missiles during a military parade in honor of the 100th birthday of the late  North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang
South Korea, pictured displaying missiles with a maximum range of 180 kilometers during a parade marking the country's Armed Forces Day in Seoul, has made a deal with the U.S. to nearly triple the range of its missilesA parade marking the country’s Armed Forces Day  in Seoul

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman at the powerful National Defense Commission said the North would bolster its military preparedness.

He said: ‘We do not hide… the strategic rocket forces are keeping within the scope of strike not only the bases of the puppet forces and the US imperialist aggression forces’ bases in the inviolable land of Korea but also Japan, Guam and the US mainland.’

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it has no official comment on the North’s statement but Seoul and Washington have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking North Korea.

North Korean long-range rockets are believed  to have a range of up to about 4,160 miles (6,700km), putting parts of Alaska within reach, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

But the North’s patchy record in test launches raises doubts about whether it is truly capable of an attack.

Launch pad: The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies claims these structures represent gantry footings, a flame trench and propellant buildings for a new launch pad near the village of Musudan-ri on the northeast coast of North KoreaStructures represent gantry footings, a flame trench and propellant buildings for a new launch pad near the village of  Musudan-ri on the northeast coast of North Korea
Earlier launch: A rocket lifts off from Musudan-ri, North Korea, in 2009A rocket lifts off from Musudan-ri,  North Korea, in 2009

Pyongyang shocked Japan in 1998 when it sent a rocket over Japan’s main island and into the Pacific. That also alarmed Washington because about 50,000 US troops are deployed in Japan and their bases could be within the North’s range. Tokyo and Washington  have since intensified their ballistic missile defenses.

But the North’s most recent rocket launch, in April, ended in humiliating failure shortly after lift-off.

North Korea said it was trying to launch a satellite, but the US and other countries said it was actually a test of long-range missile technology.

The failure suggests that Pyongyang has yet to master the technology it needs to control multi-stage rockets, a key capability if it is to threaten the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

And although North Korea is believed to have a small nuclear arsenal, experts do not believe it has mastered the miniaturization technology required to mount a nuclear weapon on a long-range rocket.

It is unusual for the North to say its missiles are capable of striking the US, but North Korea has regularly issued harsh rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.

Kim Jong-un pays a visit to Unit 158 of the navy of the North Korean People's Army.Kim Jong-un pays a visit to Unit 158 of the navy of the North Korean People’s Army
Deal: South Korean mock missiles are silhouetted at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, as the country reveals the U.S. has agreed to allow it to develop longer-range missiles that could strike all of North KoreaSouth Korean mock missiles are silhouetted at the  Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korean studies professor based in Seoul, said the North had no choice but to respond to South Korea’s extended missile range but it is unlikely to launch a provocation, as it is waiting for the results of US and South Korean presidential  elections.

Under the new deal with the US, South Korea will be able to possess ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 miles  (800km). South Korea will continue to limit the payload to 1,100lb (500kg) for  ballistic missiles with a 500-mile (800km) range, but it will be able to use heavier payloads for missiles with shorter ranges.

A previous 2001 accord with Washington had barred South Korea from deploying ballistic missiles with a range of more than 186 miles (300m) and a payload of more than 1,100lb (500kg) because of concerns about a regional arms race.

The Korean Peninsula remains officially at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.  The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against possible aggression from North Korea.

Attribution: Mail Online

Assassination Attempt

AP: Lined pages with a doodle of the Liberty Bell  and a CIA document outlining a Mafia-connected plan to assassinate Fidel Castro  for $150,000 are among thousands of Robert F. Kennedy documents made public on Thursday.

The National Archives and Records  Administration and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston released  some 2,700 pages of documents Kennedy compiled as attorney general from 1961 to 1964, offering a glimpse into Cold War decision-making.

Though the documents, released just shy of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, don’t rewrite Cold War  history, they do provide insight into the personal thoughts of the era’s key figures, historians say.

Band of brothersBand of brothers: U.S. President John F. Kennedy, right,  confers with his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy at the White House  on Oct. 1, 1962 during the buildup of military tensions between the U.S. and the  Soviet Union, that became the Cuban missile crisis later that month
RevolutionaryRevolutionary: Cuban leader Fidel Castro (at a speech on  October 22, 1962, during the Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis) was described as  ‘not very stable … touchy, impatient and rash,’ in a CIA profile that was  recently released

Robert Kennedy advised John F. Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis, key moments during his brother’s  presidency.

His title as attorney general ‘disguised his real position, which was the closest adviser to the president and the president’s confidant and the person the president trusted most,’ said  journalist and historian Michael Dobbs, who blogs for Foreign Policy.

‘That’s the interesting point of this, that  he kind of reflects his brother’s thinking.’

The seven boxes of newly released material  include telegrams, reports, meeting transcripts and handwritten notes by Kennedy, some with doodles and quotes in the margins.

‘It gives you a sort of insight into what was  on his mind, what he doodled,’ Dobbs said. ‘It’s interesting from a human perspective.’

Cold WarCold War: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President  John F. Kennedy met on June 3, 1961 during their summit meetings in Vienna  before the Soviet began to build bases in Cuba to launch nuclear missiles

One page, sandwiched between lined pages of  notes on the Bay of Pigs invasion, includes a sketch of the Liberty Bell with a  summarized quote from a Polish World War II memorial in Italy.

‘We the Soldiers of Poland for your liberty and ours give our souls to god, our bodies to Italy and our hearts to Poland,’  Kennedy wrote in pencil.

The 1961 botched invasion sought to oust communists with the help of anti-Castro Cuban exiles and veiled U.S. support.  More than 100 members of the CIA-sponsored invasion team were killed and many  were captured by Cuban forces.

One CIA document offers a profile of Castro:  It calls him intelligent but ‘not very stable’ and ‘touchy, impatient and  rash.’

A case for actionA case for action: A U.S. official shows aerial  photographs of one of the Cuban medium-range missile bases, taken October 1962,  to the members of the United Nations Security Council
LaunchLaunch: This newspaper map (from October 1962 during the  Cuban Missile Crisis) shows the distances from Cuba of various cities on the  North American Continent

Another outlines plans to assassinate Castro,  including a 1964 plan with connections to the Mafia.

The mob and ‘patriotic Cuban exiles’  eventually settled on a payment of $100,000 for assassinating Castro, $20,000  for his brother Raul and $20,000 for revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, plus  $2,500 for expenses.

Another prominent thread throughout the documents is the 13-day crisis over Soviet missiles in Cuba.

On one white page from a meeting on Oct. 16,  1962, the first day of the crisis, Kennedy wrote out two columns: proponents of a blockade against Cuba and supporters of a military strike.

‘It’s interesting to see in his handwriting who’s on which side,’ Dobbs said.

The blockade won out.

The materials are available online and at the Boston library. Some are still classified and aren’t available.

The documents’ release is important to  historians, said University of Maine history professor Nathan  Godfried.

‘This is the raw materials we use in order to  reconstruct the past,’ he said. ‘The more documents from different perspectives  give us a clearer sense of what happened.’

Gulf Oil Spill

Iran is considering the possibility of spilling oil in the Persian Gulf in order to contaminate the waters of the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, German weekly Der Spiegel reported on Sunday. The spill would be a way of “punishing” the West and forcing it to decrease the economic sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Citing Western intelligence sources, Der Spiegel reported that the plan, codenamed “Murky Waters,” is meant to block international oil tanker shipping routes in the Gulf.

In addition to driving up oil prices, the resulting environmental disaster would force Western countries to start a large-scale cleanup operation in cooperation with Iran, which could reduce the sanctions currently placed on the country.

According to the report, the plan was developed by the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, and Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi.

Der Spiegel reported that the decision on whether or to implement the plan was now in the hands of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In an additional attempt to ease the sanctions imposed on it by the West, Tehran said it would seek to cut imports of non-essential goods and urged its citizens to reduce their use of foreign-made mobile telephones and cars.

The policies suggest the government is moving the economy onto an austerity footing to resist the sanctions, which have been imposed over Iran’s controversial nuclear program and have slashed its income from oil exports this year.

Authorities have divided imports into 10 categories based on how essential they are, and will provide importers with dollars at a subsidized rate to buy basic goods, Deputy Industry Minister Hamid Safdel was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Meanwhile, importers of goods in two non-essential categories will have to obtain dollars at much more expensive rates on the open market, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported him as saying.

Goods in these two categories include cigarette papers, wallpaper, mobile phones, luggage, clothing and cars, ISNA reported. It said about $10 to $12 billion was spent annually on importing luxury and non-essential goods into Iran.

Industry Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari urged Iranians on Saturday to limit their use of such goods and turn to domestic manufacturers to help the government cope with sanctions.

“If we move towards reducing the import of goods in these categories, which are not so necessary, we can save foreign exchange,” Ghazanfari said, according to the Mehr news agency. “If people do not use these goods, the need for currency for them would drop to zero.”

Attribution: Jerusalem Post, Reuters

Too Close for Comfort

They might be one of the most hated insects in the world but as these extraordinary images show, even wasps can look good – if you capture them with the right lighting.

These remarkable pictures show the insects in a completely different way, revealing a more tranquil and beautiful side to the humble wasp.

Photographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her garden.

Another creature, caught in a split-second, heads for a drink from a suspended drop of waterAnother creature, caught in a split-second, heads for a drink from a suspended drop of water
Join the party! Wasps hold a gathering on top of a berry, and were captured by macro-photography
 
Join the party! Wasps hold a gathering on top of a berry, and were captured by macro-photography
Glorious colour: A wasp tackles another bead of water as it explores Irina's garden in Moscow, RussiaGlorious color: A wasp tackles another bead of water as it explores Irina’s garden in Moscow, Russia
Photographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenPhotographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her garden

The 35-year-old from Moscow, who was stung three times in the process, waited patiently for the wasps to succumb to her tasty treats before snapping away.

Strangely, the mother-of-two admitted she didn’t even like wasps before taking these pictures.

She said: “I usually prefer to photograph ants but this year I decided to try and make friends with the wasps too.

“The wasps are actually much smarter than I thought they were.

“I had to wait up to half-an-hour each time for one to come over but it was well worth the wait.’

The remarkable pictures show the pesky insects in a more tranquil light as they flit from flower to flowerThe remarkable pictures show the pesky insects in a more tranquil light as they flit from flower to flower
Hang on! A wasp grabs onto a single stalk of grass to grab a treat from the bud at the topHang on! A wasp grabs onto a single stalk of grass to grab a treat from the bud at the top

“As with all other animals, wasps like you to talk to them. They like a calm voice and don’t like quick movements.

“Their behavior seemed to depend on the weather. The better the weather, the friendlier the wasps were.

“While I was taking these pictures I was stung three times but it was always my fault. They would never sting without a reason.

“I just kept in mind that I was on their territory and I was a guest there.”

Life through a lens: Irina Kozorog with her set-up, including a DSLR camera and a ring flashLife through a lens: Irina Kozorog with her set-up, including a DSLR camera and a ring flash
The wasps at play
Lining up the shot: Irina sometimes had to wait half an hour to get the perfect picture, making a stage on where the wasps could play
 Lining up the shot: Irina sometimes had to wait half an hour to get the perfect picture, making a stage on where the wasps could play
Wasp's eye view: A wasp flies directly past the camera, giving us a little insight of the world it lives inWasp’s eye view: A wasp flies directly past the camera, giving us a little insight of the world it lives in
A wasp sucks at a bud on top of a single blade of grass, hovering delicately in placeA wasp sucks at a bud on top of a single blade of grass, hovering delicately in place
Choose a petal: To the wasps, the world is a big, big place, with every flower a brand new adventure
Buzzy work: Irina enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenIrina enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenAttribution: Eddie Wrenn

Our Hundred Years’ War

by: John Myers

with a few comments thrown in by the Common Constitutionalist [ ]

The race for the Presidency has been interesting, not because of what either GOP nominee Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama has said, but because of what has been ignored.

The most notable taboo topic is the Nation’s continued involvement in Afghanistan as well as the progressive deterioration of American strategic goals for the Mideast.

Neither candidate has been candid on a geopolitical blunder in Afghanistan that continues to rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in additional debt and potentially thousands of American deaths.

Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, contends that neither candidate has a way for America to extricate itself from Afghanistan. [ I do. Like every superpower before, admit it is a fools errand and leave ]

In an interview1, Bennis said:

Candidate Obama has now stopped talking about Afghanistan this time around. Candidate Romney has said that Obama is not tough enough, but what he has called for has not been different in any substantive way. He has said that we should keep troops there, not pull out right away. President Obama is not pulling out right away, so there’s very little substantive difference.

What is inescapable is that this month marks the beginning of the 12th year of war in Afghanistan; it is America’s longest war. What has been ignored by American strategists is that Afghanistan is a desolate, Stone Age nation that refuses to be civilized and has successfully resisted past and present superpowers, a group that includes not only the United States but also the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

Washington has ignored this historical truth and has so far invested nearly over a half a trillion dollars in fighting a losing struggle that has cost us more than 2,000 dead. [ Not so fun fact: 1) Cost of Afghan war in 12 years is over $580 billion, but over $360 billion has been spent in just 3-1/2 years under Obama. 2) More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers killed; 69% killed in just 3-1/2 years on Obama’s watch ]

Obama has promised to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by December 2014, although the United States has pledged to continue some undefined military and economic support well beyond that date. How far the United States will offer support beyond that date is open to speculation. Given the growing conflict with millions of radical followers of Islam, it doesn’t seem impossible that right now America has a future President who is in college and who, decades from now, will be deciding his strategies to defend America from an ever-expanding Muslim mob. [ Myers is right and that is sad. The way I see it, we either stay and finish the job, which can’t be done, or pack up everyone and everything and leave. So I guess that’s really only one choice ]

Afghan war strategists in the Obama Administration agree there is little chance of negotiations with the Taliban that would bring a political settlement to the war.

The question is why would the Taliban want to negotiate with the United States? Some 12 years into this war, American soldiers on patrol can’t determine who the biggest threat is: the enemy fighters in the countryside or their Afghan allies who once protected their backs but have increasingly been taking aim at them. [ The real question is, why would we think we could negotiate with them? What would we negotiate? That they would be so kind as to kill us last? ]

Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative journalist on U.S. foreign and military policy, said: “The Taliban have been able to carry out spectacular attacks on U.S. bases that have gotten much farther and done much more damage than anything the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were ever able to do during the Vietnam War.” [ Of course they have, considering how pitifully weak and restrictive our rules of engagement are ]

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper2, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted the killings of almost 50 allied troops this year by Afghan security forces has damaged the relationship between the international forces and the Afghan police and military. [ Damaged our relationship? Screw our relationship. Our all-volunteer heros are being murdered ]

The Much Bigger War

Unspoken by both Presidential candidates is how America can win the war far beyond Afghanistan, a war without borders against elusive enemies with unspecific goals united only in their hatred of the United States. [ They have very specific goals; kill all of us ]

“The enemies we face in the future will look a lot like al Qaeda: transnational, globalized, locally franchised, extensively outsourced–but tied together through a powerful identity that leaps frontiers and continents,” wrote Mark Steyn in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.

“All dominant powers are hated–Britain was, and Rome–but they’re usually hated for the right reasons. America is hated for every reason. The fanatical Muslims despise America because it’s all lap-dancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it’s all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it’s controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too godless, America is George Orwell’s Room 101: whatever your bugbear you will find it therein; whatever you’re against, America is the prime example of it.” [ As usual, Steyn is dead-on right ]

We no longer face a monolithic enemy like communism. What we do face is an enemy that will persist in its extremism and its hatred of the United States long after the upcoming occupant leaves the Oval Office.

And yet our policymakers continue to be like old generals and persist with fighting the last war. That war was won by outspending the enemy. Eventually, the Soviet Union imploded because that empire simply could not afford the cost of the Cold War. Today, America’s strategists are spending even more money on everything from nuclear aircraft battle groups to ultra-sophisticated fighter-interceptors like the Raptor F-22 which costs $420 million per plane.

Expenditures on these types of weapons put the Pentagon’s budget at $670 billion this year, about 18 percent of total Federal spending. The dollar amount has more than doubled since 2001 when the United States began its wars against Islamic extremists. It is hard for me to see how jet inceptors or nuclear submarines can effectively combat the growing radical contingent within Islam which continues on its jihad. [ They can’t, but Jihadists won’t always be the only threat to America. As long as there are communist countries we will need to also retain those convential forces ]

From Yemen to Libya, revolt rolls forward. Not long ago, nations like Egypt were our vanguards, influencing at least some stability on the region. In the past three years, one regime after another has been toppled, and there is growing radicalization inside the governments of almost each of these former allies. That could, as Steyn suggests, leave America alone. [ I might add, as bad as these regimes were, their successors are worse, and virtually all have been toppled with the help of our idiot government. We have absolutely no business getting involved in any of these overthrows. We have no stragetic or national interest there ]

When I was a kid, there was a joke about the IQ test for dummies. One of the questions was: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? Another was: How long did the Hundred Years’ War last? This second question isn’t so easy because it turned out to be a series of conflicts between England and France that lasted from 1337 to 1453.

That is trivia. But there is another question we should all be asking: How long will America’s war with Islam last? Tragically, we are into the second decade of this conflict and there is no end in sight.