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Propaganda Alert! Britain, France claim Syria used chemical weapons

© George Ourfalian/Reuters
Syrian officials visit a victim of chemical weapons at a hospital in Aleppo, on March 21, 2013. Britain and France say that there is credble evidence Syria used chemical weapons in December. Syria says it is the anti-government fighters who have used chemical weapons.
Britain and France have informed the United Nations that there is credible evidence that Syria used chemical weapons on more than one occasion since December, according to senior diplomats and officials briefed on the accounts.

In letters to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the two European powers said soil samples, witness interviews and opposition sources support charges that nerve agents were used in and around the cities of Aleppo, Homs and possibly Damascus, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The European accounts are in part aimed at countering accusations by the Syrian government that opposition forces had fired chemical weapons during fighting in the town of Khan al-Asal near Aleppo on March 19, killing 26 people, including Syrian troops.

European diplomats acknowledge that Syrian forces may have been exposed to chemical agents during the attack, but they say it was a "friendly fire" incident in which the troops were hit when a government shell missed its opposition target.

The Syrian government has seized on the incident to make its case that opposition forces have introduced chemical weapons into the civil war.

A day after the alleged attack, Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, invited the world body to send an "impartial" technical team to the country confirm the opposition's use of chemical weapons. Russia strongly endorsed the Syrian request.

The U.N. chief agreed to establish a fact-finding team, but the effort has since been bogged down over a dispute about the scope of the investigation, with Russia backing the Syrian request for a limited probe into the Aleppo incident, and key Western powers, including Britain, France and the United States, proposing a broader investigation that examines the possible use of chemical weapons throughout Syria.

U.N. inspectors have not yet been permitted into the country.

President Obama has warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a "game changer" for the United States. After the Aleppo incident, Obama said that the United States would "investigate thoroughly exactly what happened" and that he had "instructed my teams to work closely with all other countries in the region and international organizations and institutions to find out precisely whether this red line was crossed."

But diplomats say the United States has responded more cautiously. The United States, said one Security Council diplomat, has been "less activist on this" than Britain and France.

James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, told a Senate panel Thursday that accusations that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons are still being evaluated.

"The increasingly beleaguered [Syrian] regime, having found that its escalation of violence through conventional means is not working, appears quite willing to use chemical weapons against its own people," he said. "We receive many claims of chemical warfare use in Syria each day, and we take them all seriously, and we do all we can to investigate them."

Comment: "President Obama has warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a "game changer" for the United States"....seems everything is proceeding toward another "regime change" as planned.
U.S. 'planned to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame Assad
Hogwash, Syria won't use chemical WMDs against its people
Syria chemical attack claims aim to justify foreign interference - Moscow

Shoe

Pakistan's Musharraf flees after bail revoked

© T. MUGHAL/EPA
A vehicle transporting former President and military strongman Pervez Musharraf, leaves Islamabad High Court after the court ordered his arrest, in Islamabad, on April 18, 2013.
Pervez Musharraf, an unlikely candidate for Pakistan's prime minister and certainly the country's only former military ruler to have appeared twice on Jon Stewart's talk show, took political theater to a new level Thursday with a wild flight from justice that transfixed the nation and ended with the fugitive holed up in his farmhouse savoring a cigar.

The weird saga began with Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and strode the world stage as Pakistan's top general and president for nine years, appearing in an Islamabad court to face treason charges related to his tenure in office. The case centers on his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, when he placed scores of judges under house arrest, deposed the chief justice of the Supreme Court and sparked protests that eventually ended with his self-exile.

Hearing the case Thursday, Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui essentially declared Musharraf a terrorist, revoked his bail and ordered him arrested. It was the latest setback for the former ruler, who returned home with great bravado last month to run in a historic general election next month, with the proclaimed goal of saving his troubled nation.

Arresting and confining judges "is not an ordinary act, rather it is an act of terrorism," Siddiqui wrote in his order. "This shameful act lowered the honor, prestige and status of the country" in the eyes of the international community, he added.

Rather than turning himself in, Musharraf retreated to an armored sport-utility vehicle, which took off with a member of his security detail hanging on to its side. Only days before, the former strongman had vowed that he was not afraid to face jail or death for returning to Pakistan.
Eye 2

The Psychopathic POV: AG Holder: Americans not worried enough about home-grown terrorists

© AP
Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) lies awake at night worrying about the threat to the homeland from home-grown terrorists.

"It's a very serious threat. I think what it says is that the scope, our scope, has to be broadened. We can't think that it's just a bunch of people in caves in some part of the world," Holder told ABC News on Wednesday. "We have to be concerned about the homeland to the same extent that we are worried about the threat coming from overseas."

The threat, as Holder sees it, is increased by the failure of the American people to fear the next attack.

"I worry a little that the American people, from the general population, has become a little complacent that we don't understand or realize that the threats are still real, that the danger is out there, is still tangible, that we still have to be as vigilant as we need to be," Holder told Pierre Thomas of ABC News.

The federal government remains vigilant, Holder proclaims.
Snakes in Suits

Corporate tax dodgers: 10 companies and their tax loopholes

A new report looks at 10 U.S. corporations that have used an array of tax loopholes and corporate subsidies to slash their tax bills: Bank of America, Citigroup, ExxonMobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell, Merck, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Verizon.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 10 CORPORATE TAX DODGERS

Bank of America
Had $17.2 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $4.3 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

Citigroup
Had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $11.5 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

ExxonMobil
Paid just a 15% federal income tax rate from 2010-2012, less than half the official 35% corporate tax rate - a tax subsidy of $6.2 billion. Had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes.

FedEx
Made $5.7 billion from 2010-2012 and didn't pay a dime in federal income taxes. Got a tax subsidy of $2.1 billion. Received $10.3 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

General Electric
Made $88 billion from 2002-2012 and paid just 2.4% in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion. Paid no taxes in 4 years. Had $108 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $21.8 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.
Bomb

FBI releases images of suspects in Boston Marathon bombing

© FBI
FBI has released images of the suspected bombers in the investigation of the explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line, April 18, 2013, in Boston.
The FBI today released images of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing the bureau still considers to be "armed and extremely dangerous."

At a press conference, FBI special agent in charge Richard DesLauriers referred to the two men as Suspect 1 and Suspect 2 and said Suspect 2 was spotted dropping a bag before a bomb exploded at the second bomb site. The two men appear to be "associated," DesLauriers said.

DesLauriers asked the public for their help identifying the suspects, but asked the public not to approach them. Though the men are considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said they still do not believe there is an imminent danger in the area.
Eye 1

New York psychiatrists served with subpoenas for patient records in New York gun confiscation

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Machiavellian Plot to ignore and subvert the Rights of potentially millions of NY State residents developed another layer late Sunday.

After breaking the story of Amhurst NY Area Resident David Lewis having his lawfully purchase and legally owned firearms confiscated by order of the State Police after a flagrantly illegal and Un-Constitutional review of his medical records , Word came to me in my capacity as in journalist late Sunday that NY Officials have apparently doubled down on their sinister plot and blatant abuse of power.

My sources revealed that two prominent and well regarded Buffalo Area Psychiatrists received subpoenas from State Officials, possibly on Friday April 12th 2013, commanding them to turn over all of their patient files to the State. Details are sketchy at this early stage, but I have been told that both Doctors have in house counsel as well as potentially consulting with the Law Firm of Jim Tresmond, Firearms Law Specialist and the Attorney of Record for Mr Lewis.

What is clear is that those subpoenas would have to have been issued by someone in the State's Attorney's Office. What remains unknown at this point is whether the order or request for the subpoenas originated with the Superintendent of the NY State Police, Joseph D'Amico or from the Office of the the Commissioner of the NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services or one of his lieutenants.
Pistol

Gun background check compromise, assault weapon ban fail in Senate


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
As the Senate began voting Wednesday on nine proposed changes to a gun control bill, the centerpiece proposal on background checks quickly failed to win enough support, despite broad public backing.

The vote on the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment was 54 in favor, 46 against - failing to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to move ahead. Four Republicans supported it, and four Democrats voted no.

A controversial Democratic plan to ban dozens of military-style assault weapons was also defeated by a vote of 40 to 60.

The votes were a setback for President Obama, who angrily blasted Republicans for defeating the background check compromise, saying, "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill."

"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Obama said, promising that "this effort is not over."
Dominoes

What's next for the 'Monsanto Protection Act'?

Despite the passage of the Monsanto Protection Act, food safety and transparency groups vow, 'We will not be stopped.'
© Win McNamee/Getty Images
Protesters of Monsanto demonstrate against the so-called 'Monsanto Protection' rider that was attached to a budget bill and signed into law last week. They held signs that said, 'Obama! Congress! Monsanto! We're Not Going Away!'
Despite loud public outcry, President Barack Obama signed into law a continuing budget resolution that included the controversial biotech rider that critics call "The Monsanto Protection Act." The rider requires the United States Department of Agriculture to approve the harvest and sale of crops from genetically modified seed even if a court has ruled the environmental studies on the crop were inadequate.

Since the President signed the bill last Tuesday, outrage has continued to echo, with dissent comming from environmental groups and the Tea Party alike. Critics say the provision coddles multinational companies like Monsanto and ultimately threatens the health of farmers and consumers who will be exposed to further bioengineered crops.
Sheriff

Secret Service and local law enforcement "ready" for dedication

Monday's bombings of the Boston Marathon raised questions about security for the upcoming dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on April 25.

All five living Presidents are scheduled to participate. Security planning started months, maybe even a year ago for the event.

Officially, agencies aren't saying much. But at least four police departments and the secret service are planning for it.

"You're always in a state of re-assessment," said Danny Defenbaugh, and he should know.

The former head of the Dallas FBI also led that agency's investigation of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He said physical security procedures and planning (that were evident today with Dallas police officers) are usually spot on.
Sherlock

Kerry 'not aware' of State Dept. impeding Congressional probe into Benghazi

© AP
Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry reminded the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday that he was "on the other side of the podium" when U.S. interests came under attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and he said if the State Department is trying to impede the committee's investigation into embassy security, he's "not aware" of it.

"There's certainly no position by me to delay anything," Kerry said, "and I was not aware that -- you know, if there's anything that is appropriate to turn over." Kerry said he wants to check "historical precedent" regarding investigative and FBI documents relating to the terror attack.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told Kerry that instead of handing over documents and records requested by the committee, as has happened in the past, the State Department "has insisted that the committee staff sift through thousands of pages of materials in a room in which they are monitored by the Department. And they can't remove any or make electronic copies of those documents," Royce said.

"Mr. Secretary, these are unclassified documents that relate to the critical issue of embassy security. And the Department is literally spending thousands of taxpayer dollars a week to slow the progress of the committee's review. So this has resulted in a great deal of wasted time and money. I think it runs contrary to the administration's promise of increased transparency. And I hope you will reconsider the department's position on this issue," Royce concluded.
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