Morning Must Reads: September 18

In the news: a partial government shutdown, Aaron Alexis, President Obama's troubles, the Fed 'taper,' and Syria's rebels

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The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • “Congress returns this week to its long-running civil war over the budget. By Sept. 30, lawmakers must pass a stopgap bill to keep the government funded. And around Oct. 15, Congress faces a deadline to lift the limit on U.S. government borrowing. With just two weeks until a partial government shutdown, and a month until the U.S. loses the ability to pay its bills, Democrats and Republicans seem further apart than ever, and this time their leaders may be powerless to prevent catastrophe.” [TIME]
    • “The House Republican leadership’s decision to try to defund Obamacare this week in its government funding bill, and their promise to wage a a no-holds-barred fight to delay the health care law as part of the debt ceiling fight, is a double-barreled strategy that could set Boehner, Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the House Republican Conference up for two big defeats.” [Politico]
  • “The revelations about [Aaron] Alexis’s troubled past—and his ability to pass the government’s security-check system—prompted multiple examinations Tuesday into how background checks are conducted and how long a security clearance can last without review. The system was already under scrutiny after leaks of classified documents by fugitive National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.” [WashPost]
    • “Navy officers were aware that in 2004 Aaron Alexis was arrested for shooting out the tires of a car in a black-out fueled by anger, and yet they admitted him into the Navy and granted him security clearance in 2007 anyway, a senior Naval officer told CNN.” [CNN]
    • “Nothing that gun-control advocates are pushing for in Congress would have prevented Monday’s shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard. And unless this country bans all personal ownership of guns, another mass shooting will occur. This is the greatest hurdle for the gun-control movement.” [National Journal]
  • “For four years, President Obama counted on fellow Democrats to rally to his side in a series of epic battles with Republicans over the direction of the country. But now, deep in his fifth year in office, Mr. Obama finds himself frustrated by members of his own party weary of his leadership and increasingly willing to defy him.” [NYT]
    • “A struggling President Obama is calling for help from members of his first-term A-Team, who have left the White House for other jobs.” [Hill]
  • “When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke talks, everyone around the world listens. That will be more true that usual on Wednesday when Bernanke announces whether the Fed will scale back, or ‘taper,’ its unconventional economic stimulus program known as quantitative easing, or QE for short. The torrent of dollars that bond-buying scheme has pumped out have found their way into every nook and cranny of the planet, influencing currency values, stock markets, investment choices and overall growth from South Africa to Japan to Brazil. Whenever the Fed chooses to taper, the impact will ripple through the entire global economy.” [TIME]
  • Syria’s Rebels Feel Hung Out to Dry by U.S. Russia Deal [TIME]
525 comments
collioure
collioure

"Now, this debt ceiling -- I just want to remind people in case you haven't been keeping up -- raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you've already racked up, Congress. It's a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved."    Barack Obama

You just can't make these things up.


sacredh
sacredh

OT, but World War Z is worth watching.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Piracy uses 24% of all bandwidth

NBC Universal-commissioned report reveals surging levels of online piracy, with 432m users seeking pirate content in a single month.

Global internet piracy is growing rapidly, according to a new report commissioned by NBC Universal.

In the three key regions of North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, which comprise 82.6% of all internet users and 95.1% of all bandwidth consumed, the report claims that infringing bandwidth use increased by 159.3% between 2010 and 2012, from 3,690 petabytes to 9,567 petabytes. This figure represents 23.8% of the total bandwidth used by all internet users.

A total of 13.9 billion page views were recorded on web sites focused on piracy in January 2013. This figure increased by 9.8% in the 15 months from November 2011.

Worldwide, 432m internet users explicitly sought infringing content during January 2013.

The 100-page report was prepared by the Piracy Analysis team at NetNames, formerly known as Envisional. In January 2011, Envisional published the report An Estimate of Infringing Use of the Internet.

Data was collected from sources including comScore, Sandvine, Cisco and NetNames.

According to the report, Bittorrent is the most popular peer-to-peer file distribution system worldwide and the protocol is one of the highest consumers of internet bandwidth. In North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, the amount of bandwidth consumed by the infringing use of bittorrent comprised 6,692 petabytes of data in 2012 - an increase of 244.9% from 2010.

I will openly admit that I sometimes pirate things.   I feel like the act of online piracy may be more of a generational thing, like younger people don't view digital content as a real commodity to be paid for (at least some of them don't to certain degrees).  Thoughts?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Wired in Running for Correction of The Year

Wired magazine has what might be the correction of the year, in an article on the people behind Dropbox:

Correction appended [2:37 P.M. PST/9/17]: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston saying ‘anyone with nipples’ instead of ‘anyone with a pulse.’

To be fair, most people with a pulse also have nipples, so really, same thing.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Starbucks to customers: Please don't bring your guns!

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has a message for gun owners: Please don't bring your weapons into our stores.

Schultz told CNN that the company is not instituting a ban, and is simply making a request "through the lens of civility and respect."

The company was roped into the gun debate last month when a group of gun owners announced plans online for a "Starbucks Appreciation Day" in recognition of the chain's policy of allowing gun owners to bring in their weapons where permitted by state law.

In response, the Newtown Coalition For Corporate Responsibility -- a group including family members of victims from last year's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School -- published an open letter calling on Schultz to ban guns in all Starbucks stores.One of those signing the letter was the father of Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher who was killed at the school who also worked at a nearby Starbucks.

"That hit home very hard for all of us at Starbucks," Schultz said. But he said the Newtown shooting did not prompt Starbucks' request to gun owners.

"We've seen advocates on both sides of this debate use Starbucks as a staging ground," Schultz said. "Starbucks is not a policy maker. We're not pro- or anti-gun," but believes that guns "should not be part of the Starbucks experience." He said people carrying guns into Starbucks have made other customers uncomfortable.

Muh Freedom! (muh coffee!)

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

One in 8 workers will never retire

A new global study finds nearly one in eight workers expect they will never be able to afford to retire fully. In the U.S. and U.K, the figures are even worse.

The report surveyed 16,000 people in 15 countries around the world, assessing their retirement and savings outlook.

On average, people expect to retire for 18 years but have only saved enough for 10 years.

Workers in the U.K. and the U.S. face the bleakest future. In both countries about one in five say they will never be able to give up work completely. The prospects are brighter in Asia, with less than half that number in China indicating they're likely to work forever.

The real question is how much of this is mismanagement of finances versus being over-burdened with debt (which isn't necessarily the same thing).

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Navy officer, NCIS agent arrested in multimillion-dollar bribery case

A U.S. Navy commander, an NCIS agent and a Singapore-based defense contractor face federal charges in two bribery schemes involving hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts with payoffs that included prostitutes and luxury travel, according to the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego.

The three men, Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz; Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II; and contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., were all arrested earlier this week.

According to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office, Misiewicz, 46, used a position as deputy operations officer of the U.S. Seventh Fleet to help schedule visits of U.S. Navy ships to ports where Francis' company provided services including tugboats, security, transportation, supplies, fuel and waste removal.

"In return, Francis provided Misiewicz with paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services," the U.S. attorney's office said.

The information Misiewicz passed on to Francis, a citizen of Malaysia who lives in Singapore, was "confidential," meaning its disclosure could cause serious harm to U.S. national security, the U.S. attorney's office said. It detailed Navy ship movements months in advance, according to the U.S. attorney.

He should have been a Senator - he could have done this "legally".

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Science does not support the American Taliban's claims. I'm shocked.

Fetal Fact Check The doctors cited by pro-lifers say their fetal pain research doesn’t support abortion bans.

In much of this country, over the last three years, pro-lifers have banned abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. They’ve justified these bans by asserting—contrary to the most authoritative studies—that fetuses at this stage of development can feel pain. Their assertions, in turn, are based on research by several doctors. But the doctors don’t buy the pro-lifers’ conclusions. They say their research doesn’t support the bans.

The 12 state bans (several of which have been blocked or limited by courts) begin with legislative “findings.” The findings parrot a 33-page report posted by the National Right to Life Committee and other pro-life organizations. The report cites the work of a number of researchers. Pam Belluck, an enterprising New York Times correspondent, contacted the researchers and asked them about the abortion bans. It turns out there’s a big gap between the science and the legislation.

The pro-life report cites Dr. Nicholas Fisk, a former president of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society, 27 times. According to the report, Fisk’s work shows fetal “stress responses” that imply sensitivity to pain. But Fisk tells Belluck that he doesn’t buy the inference from stress hormones and cerebral blood flow to pain. Neural studies, he says, have persuaded him that until 24 weeks gestation—the current abortion limit in many states—fetal pain “is not possible at all.”

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The report also cites Dr. Mark Rosen, a fetal anesthesia pioneer, 16 times. Rosen’s work, the report suggests, shows that painkillers and anesthesia are common during fetal surgery because unborn children can feel pain. But Rosen tells Belluck that the real purpose of such drugs during fetal surgery is to minimize dangerous movement and harmful stress hormones, thereby facilitating recovery. The drugs don’t signify medical belief in fetal pain. Dr. Scott Adzick, another fetal surgery expert cited in the pro-life report, makes the same point.

Dr. Bjorn Merker, a neuroscientist, gets 12 citations. The report argues that his work in children with severe brain defects shows that a fetus can feel pain before its cerebral cortex forms. But Merker tells Belluck that his research “did not deal with pain specifically” and has only “marginal bearing” on fetal capabilities. He says he wasn’t even “aware that I had been cited in connection with the abortion issue.”

Dr. Sunny Anand, a professor at the University of Tennessee, is the best-known mainstream proponent of the view that fetuses can feel pain as early as 18 weeks. The pro-life report cites him 25 times. Arizona’s fetal-pain ban quotes his work. NRLC and its allies often cite testimony he gave in 2004 and 2005. But Anand tells Belluck that “fetal pain does not have much relevance for abortion, since most abortions are performed before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain.” According to the most recent government data (see Table 8), only 3 percent of U.S. abortions were performed at 18 weeks gestation or later, and only 1 percent were performed at 21 weeks or later. Anand says that since 2005, he has turned down further requests to testify in regard to abortion legislation. That’s not his focus, he says, and the politicization of his work has “gotten completely out of hand.”

Anand doesn’t seem to like these sweeping bans. He tells Belluck that women and doctors should apply their judgment in the context of each case. “In the very few abortions where fetal pain could possibly occur,” he adds, we should “consider what can be done to avoid inflicting a lot of pain on the fetus.” One option, he notes, is to inject a lethal drug that quietly stops the fetal heart. Many late-term abortionists do precisely that. Another option is anesthesia. It’s easy to prevent fetal pain without forcing women to carry their pregnancies to term.

Pro-lifers don’t want to hear this. They want to channel your qualms about fetal pain into banning abortions, not regulating them. “The interest asserted here is not just one in diminishing or eliminating the unborn children's pain during an abortion,” says Mary Spaulding Balch, NRLC’s director of state legislation. “Rather, it is that the unborn child's capacity to experience pain is a significant developmental milepost, making the unborn child at that point sufficiently akin to an infant or older child to trigger a compelling state interest.”


DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

It's happening.  The rise of the machines.

‘Terminator’ polymer can spontaneously self-heal in just two hours

Researcher Ibon Odriozola at CIDETEC Centre for Electrochemical Technologies has created a polymer that has the potential to lead to such a future. The material is comprised of a poly (urea-urethane) elastomeric matrix, a network of complex molecular interactions that will spontaneously cross-link to “heal” most any break. In this context, the word “spontaneous” means that the material needs no outside intervention to begin its healing process, no catalyst or extra reactant. In the experiments, a sample cut in half with a razor blade at room temperature healed the cut, with 97% efficiency, in just two hours.

The reaction, called a metathesis reaction, has led Ibon to dub the material his “Terminator” polymer, in reference to Terminator 2′s T-1000. That’s an apt comparison, since this homogenous material resembles the thick liquid of T-1000′s interior. Unlike other self-healing materials, this one requires so catalyst and no layering. There’s currently no word on how well it can heal itself over multiple separations, but so long as it’s not cut in precisely the same place twice, that shouldn’t cause too many problems.

There is potential for this technology to help extent the lift-spans of some plastic parts, things that are under a lot of repetitive strain often slowly acquire minute but growing fractures. The group’s main goal now is to make a harder version, perhaps one that could be formed into such parts itself. As it exists today, the polymer is squishy and somewhat soft. The researchers couldn’t stretch a single piece to breaking by hand, either before or after the cut, but it’s not rigid enough to make parts from just yet.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Russia claims there is evidence that implicates the Syrian rebels in the gas attack.  Their evidence is an eye witness account by Putin himself.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Gates started as the war monger in the Bush 2 cabinet afer Donald "shock and awe" Rumsfield and can't just survive without seeing American bodybags coming home.  It wasn't enough from Afganhistan and Iraq-we need more.  Of course, all of them could send their relatives to help the rebels if they feel so strongly but Republicans don't actually fight-just send other people's kids to fight and die.

collioure
collioure

That's two of his Secretaries of Defense and a CIA Director.

yogi
yogi

@DonQuixotic I'm kind of surprised that BitTorrent is still the most popular peer-to-peer file distribution, its like a decade old (which is ancient in net time) and doesn't provide the user much anonymity. Although I haven't used it in probably 5 years, so maybe there have been more changes. I'd just assume there would be another evolution in file distribution protocols given how quickly others like napster, limewire came and went.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

I had to go to a wider computer monitor due to eye issues and there is no way I could, or would, watch anything like a movie on a 2" screen.  I have enough issues with the 36" screen across the room.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@DonQuixotic

http://www.project-disco.org/intellectual-property/091613-i-dont-think-that-number-means-what-you-think-it-means-how-to-not-screw-up-piracy-estimates/

According to the MPAA, the study claimed there was no lawful BitTorrent traffic: “Excluding pornography, Envisional project that 99.24% of all material on bittorrent was copyright infringing.”  This figure is somewhat difficult to reconcile with last week’s UK Ofcom report, which found that among Internet users 12 and older, just 1.6% were responsible for 79% of infringed content.

The “quarter of all traffic” is even harder to reconcile with the fact that “World of Warcraft” game developer Blizzard, the Internet Archive, Linux distributors, NASAWikipedia, and artists like the Counting Crows use BitTorrent for distribution of authorized content, 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@DonQuixotic I rely entirely on Archive.org for any and all music content that I download and I buy physical media for any content I DO care to own. Furthermore any original content I've created is freely available to download. 

I'm also quite confident that the Piracy Analysis team at NetNames is vastly overstating the problem.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic 

I find it ironic that a corporate prostitute got paid in actual prostitutes. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@outsider 

Media tells us it's the poors fault is more accurate.

'So you're getting screwed by a system where they got all the resources and breaks and you got a plate of dirt for rent? Here - look at some cute puppies and we tell you that you should envy people with good jobs and have their standards lowered to yours - like good intended'.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@outsider 

Mumbai has a population of over 20 million people, nearly all of which live in absolute squalor in slums while the few ultra rich billionaires of the city have (literally) the largest and most expensive houses in the world overlooking the rest of the destitute population.  It's a thing to behold: the 99.9999% living off the trash of the 0.0001%.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

The pro-fetus (don't call them "pro-life" as they only want to get them born and then they are on their own) may cite all of their religious "standards" but NOT LYING isn't among their standards.  They cite the Old Testament so much you would think that they were a Jewish conservative movement but never seem to have read the sequel, the NEW TESTAMENT.  I would expect to see a synagogue on every corner around here but all I see are Baptist churches (name your brand of SBC) or banks in support of the two main religions of teh South-football and MoMoney!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@DonQuixotic Based on what I am hearing, I'm not sure the Syrian government was involved. The timing was too convenient and the benefit to the opposition too great.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

They also knew it wasn't the Syrian Government because the gas canisters found didn't say "Made in Russia".

fitty_three
fitty_three

@DonQuixotic  

Get ready for the delay game.  I was pretty sure Putin was going to weasel out of the spirit of the thing.

I don't think he cares if Syria keeps their WMD.

collioure
collioure

@ARTRaveler 

As for warmongers the incompetent community organizer reopened and escalated the smoldering conflict in Afghanistan for reasons that are still unexplained.

sacredh
sacredh

, Amen. I know people that watch movies on their phones. Totally pointless. I've got a 22" LCD computer screen and I refuse to watch a movie on a screen that small even if I'm sitting right in front of it.

sacredh
sacredh

@DonQuixotic, I do downoald crazy photos a lot. I don't remember seeing anything that said  not to however. 

curt3rd
curt3rd

@mantisdragon91 @DonQuixotic Really, thats what your Mossad buddy is telling you?   It was obvious from day one.  Assad is winning, why would risk the pissing off the international community, especially after Obama made his red line comment?  Mossad needs to get their act together.  That is horrible intelligence gathering if they are just now figuring it out.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@mantisdragon91 @DonQuixotic 

I'm not sure about that. It might not be Assad, but it's not like you can roll out a couple of barrels and call it a day. I mean most rebels are making home made weapons of wars like home made mortars and stuff. I wouldn't put it past most radicals to do something like this, but the question is if the radical is wearing a government uniform or simply a full radical beard. 

collioure
collioure

@outsider  "Yet it was bush who perpetrated both wars. Where is your scorn for that?"

Wrong again, but thanks for playing

Al Qaeda initiated Afghanistan I (2001-2002) on 9-11-2001.

Afghanistan II (2009-present) is Obama's war.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@curt3rd @mantisdragon91 @DonQuixotic Actually, my family in the Mossad is saying nothing on this, which makes me suspicious. Israel would dearly love for us to strike Assad and thin out his Hezbollah allies in the process.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@MrObvious @mantisdragon91 @DonQuixoticHere is what is really fascinating and clearly show how keen they are to get us involved.

Gulf Governments Offer Financing for U.S. Strike on Syria

Like pieces fitting together in a jigsaw puzzle, Arab governments – presumably from the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council – offered to finance a U.S. military strike on Syria, according to comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry during testimony September 4 with the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In an exchange with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on the potential cost of U.S. military action in Syria, Kerry said,

With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes. They have. That offer is on the table. In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost. That’s how dedicated they are to this…They’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.

That these unnamed governments, likely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, would have floated with Washington their willingness to finance military action – wholly or partially – demonstrates how closely the interests of these countries and the United States are now aligned despite other regional challenges. The three Gulf governments, along with Turkey, have taken the lead in supporting the spectrum of Syrian rebel groups fighting the al-Assad regime and for over two years have been urging the United States to become more decisively involved in the conflict. While there is already close coordination and consultation between the United States and the Gulf countries regarding actions on the ground, Gulf officials have complained bitterly about what they perceive to be woefully insufficient military assistance from Washington. With its horrific August 21 chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs, the Syrian government effectively pushed Washington to the place where the Gulf governments have been urging it to go.

Secretary Kerry reported that Saudi Arabia endorsed a U.S. strike, and that Qatar joined a statement already signed by 11 U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia, holding al-Assad responsible for the chemical attack, following a September 8 meeting in Paris with ten senior Arab officials. Kuwait has since formally joined the statement.  Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah said his government also was considering how it could further assist the United States. In a meeting September 10, GCC foreign ministers called on the UN to take “deterrent action” against the al-Assad government, which they hold responsible for the poison gas attack, and to protect Syrians and help them defend themselves.

And why wouldn’t the wealthy, politically engaged Gulf governments offer to defray the costs of an American strike? It wouldn’t be the first time they have done so. The Gulf states collectively funded U.S. military action during the 1990-1991 Gulf war; the United States reportedly made a profit in that conflict. That collaboration and the resulting relationship-building and joint planning, exercises, and operations ultimately led several Gulf governments to offer to host American military forces in the long term, particularly after Saudi Arabia was no longer available as of 2003. Kuwait has been particularly generous, providing base access, fuel, and other material support since its liberation from Saddam Hussein’s occupation in 1991 through the end of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in December 2011. The future presence of U.S. military forces in Kuwait, and the Kuwaiti government’s support for them, undoubtedly will be an agenda item during President Obama and Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah’s September 13 Oval Office meeting.

Some have questioned whether Gulf money going toward U.S. military action in Syria in some way compromises U.S. principles or objectives. But whatever the Washington debate may be about, it’s not money, even in this era of sequestration. The focus has been on the right issues – strategic objectives, exit strategy, international coalition, UN role – and has not and should not be shunted off into the blind alley of whether Gulf governments are buying influence. Washington will, or will not, take action in Syria to defend and promote U.S. interests. That Gulf states would want to assist the United States speaks to our shared strategic objectives and the comparative advantages of those involved – the United States with the world’s most advanced military, and available financing from the Gulf.

Meshing our interests is healthy, getting us back on a better path following the friction that was injected into U.S.-Gulf relations as a result of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster and the Egyptian military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were particularly strong backers of action taken by the Egyptian military, including with regard to the Brotherhood and its supporters. Working together on Syria helps bring the United States into closer and more productive collaboration with the Saudis and Emiratis, effectively nudging from center stage the disagreement on the approach to Egypt, at least for now.

And what of Qatar, with its outsized influence in arenas near and far? Since the late June transition of power from “Father Emir” Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to his son, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar has played a less visible, lower profile role in regional affairs. Indeed, many have said that Qatar suffered two black eyes in the days following the transition – Morsi’s departure removed a close partner from the presidency of the Arab world’s largest country, and Qatar’s preferred candidate, Mustafa Sabbagh, lost a close election for president of the Syrian National Coalition. The new emir and Foreign Minister al-Attiyah may be seeking to prioritize their policies and focus on their core competencies – targeting interventions and valuing quality over quantity. In any analysis, Syria (and Egypt) rises to the top of Qatari national interests, and Qatar has a unique and potentially beneficial role to play in Syria through its contacts with rebels on the Islamist end of the spectrum. If carried out with an eye toward the rebels’ areas of control and their capabilities, the United States’ use of force in Syria has the potential to empower the more moderate center, represented by General Idris and the Free Syrian Army, and rally each of the major Gulf backers – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar – around the FSA cause.

There are many valid points for Congress to consider as it deliberates over the president’s request to send the al-Assad regime a strong response to its inhumane use of chemical weapons against its own people. But opponents who claim that the United States does not have the backing of its Arab allies are flat wrong.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@DonQuixotic @mantisdragon91 Yes. Remember there are multiple groups fighting under the rebel umbrella. Some are foreign interests that could care less about Syria or its people. Merely about taking down a sect of Islam they see as heretical.