President Obama Issues Statement on Death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

President Obama Lauds Saudi King Abdullah's Search for Peace in Middle East

President Obama Lauds Saudi King Abdullah’s Search for Peace in Middle East

President Obama issues a statement on the death of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz:

“King Abdullah’s life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations.  He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavor that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region.  At home, King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.

As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship.  As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.  One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.  The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah’s legacy.”

Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality

Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality

Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality (Photo credit: Cristi Moise)

Morocco women march to demand gender equality (via AFP)

A group of around 800 Moroccans, mostly women, staged a march in the capital Rabat on Sunday demanding that a constitutional guarantee of gender equality be applied in the kingdom. The march from the city centre to parliament was led by the Civil Coalition…

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

An art collective to raise awareness about civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes, has installed a giant portrait of a child facing upward in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, which is frequently hit by drone strikes.  

The portrait, entitled #NotABugSplat, when viewed by a drone camera, shows the face of a child staring back, not seen by a screen in a control room as a dot against a grainy landscape. This has led to the creation of the term “bug splat.”

The campaign was launched by Reprieve UK and The Foundation for Fundamental Rights, in conjunction with JR’s Inside Out Project-connected artists collective.

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Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

A police unit commander is in custody after two female journalists working for the Associated Press were attacked in eastern Afghanistan leaving one dead and one wounded. Anja Niedringhaus was killed and Kathy Gannon wounded, BBC News reports.

The attack occurred in the Khost, located near the border with Pakistan.

The attack comes as Afghanistan steps up security ahead of the presidential elections on Saturday. The Taliban is threatening violence.

BBC News reports Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed immediately, while Kathy Gannon, 60, received medical treatment. The women came under attack while traveling with election workers who were delivering ballots i the Tanay district of Khost.

[Image credit:  Parstimes]


Eritrean Baby Stabbed in Head by Mordechai Zertzky Amid Racial Tensions in Israel

Eritrean Baby Stabbed in Head by Mordechai Zertzky Amid Racial Tensions in Israel

Eritrean Baby Stabbed in Head by Mordechai Zertzky Amid Racial Tensions in Israel

Jesus Take the Wheel: An Eritrean baby was stabbed in the head by a Tel Aviv resident, identified as Mordechai Zertzky, in an attack motivated by the ongoing racial tensions in Israel.

via Jerusalem Post

A man arrested for the stabbing of an Eritrean baby on Friday night in Tel Aviv was ordered kept in custody for six days so that the state can assess his mental well-being and fitness to stand trial.

The suspect, a Tel Aviv resident in his 50s named Mordechai Zertzky, appeared confused and somewhat agitated in court, and at one point shoved his attorney and was physically removed from the hearing by court security guards.

Contrary to police reports, Zertzky’s attorney said his client was not drunk at the time of the incident, which he said was caused by his mental illness.

Zertzky allegedly stabbed the baby in the head with a pair of scissors, penetrating its skull, according to an Israeli volunteer who has been assisting the infant’s parents at Ichilov Hospital.

The volunteer said that after the man stabbed the baby the mother handed it to her husband and then chased after the man, eventually drawing a crowd that held him until police arrived.

The baby, according to the volunteer, remains in serious condition.


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Reality TV: Bravo’s ‘Shahs of Sunset’ Really Concerns Me

Realty TV: 'Shahs of Sunset' Really, Really Concerns Me

Realty TV: ‘Shahs of Sunset’ Really, Really Concerns Me

There is a RealityTV show now into its 3rd Season that airs on Tuesday Evenings on BRAVO – SHAHS OF SUNSET

Now, I can’t tell you what made me watch a single episode of this show outside of the fact that a few weeks ago I had a couple of planned meetings in Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Strip and thought it necessary to sneak a peek to see if I would recognize any of the set locations.

Oh, yeah, you can follow me on Twitter | @dionisms #TeamFollowBack

I know you are asking – ok, what is the concern?  Is the concern the sexy ladies?  My answer: NO!  The ladies on SHAHS OF SUNSET have made me rethink some thoughts I held in the past.  They are beautiful and I have an affection for long natural hair.  Is the concern the gay-dude in an interracial relationship?  NO!!!  It’s not my cup of tea, but I can be friendly and friends with anyone regardless of their creed, sexual orientation, doctrinal beliefs, etc.

Is Reality Show 'Shahs of Sunset' a Negative Depiction of Persians?

Is Reality Show ‘Shahs of Sunset’ a Negative Depiction of Persians?

What does concern me are the lessons its viewers are potentially learning about Shahs, Persians and Iranians which may NOT be rooted in who they are as a people group nor the “realities” in which they wish to portray regarding their day to day lives.

When the Black Community first came on the cinema seen and were allowed to actually portray characters before the American population – the introduction of many of these characters distorted the true nature/identity of the entire people group.  #DoYourHomework

Early depictions of the Black community portrayed them as “Dangerous Men”, “Overly Sexual Women”, “Lazy Families”, “UnArticulate Leaders”, “An Inferior Race”, etc.  Sadly, those media images are still shaping and impacting the American mindset, creating irrational and divisive laws and stereotypes.

Don’t get me wrong, the Hispanic Community and the Asian Community have also had their share of media oppression, suppression and distortion, but nothing like the Black Community.  Ok, I hear the Jewish Community chiming in regarding the holocaust.

The Jewish Community, although outlandishly depicted falsely, experienced their holocaust in Germany under the rule of Adolph Hitler.  It is commonly reported that 6,000,000 (six million) Jewish settlers lost their lives in a 6 year period in Germany.  I don’t even dispute this report, but if we are going to compare “holocaust” to “American Slavery” I am sure the Black Community would TRADE with the Jewish Community in both time served and lives lost.  #IJS

My concern is that RealityTV is shaping our understanding of the Persian people as a whole via the SHAHS OF SUNSET show – what does the Persian community at large have to say about these depictions and how do Iranian Nationals view the portrayal being presented  before the American people?  Are their thoughts even being considered?

Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) is credited with producing this broadcast serving as one of the Executive Directors. Last I checked, Ryan Seacrest doesn’t have a single drop of “Shah” in his DNA but I guess that’s incidental as long as he’s able to cut the checks. What message is being given here?  As an aside, congratulations to Seacrest for introducting us to REZA FARAHAN (@RezaFarahan).

Now I must admit, I like Reza (In a very secure heterosexual way).  Although he is openly #VeryGay he appears to be someone who is cool to kick it and have great conversation and drinks with.  He is the broadcasts driving force and is credited by Lilly Ghalichi (@LillyGhalichi), also known as the “Persian Barbie,” for how she has risen to RealityTV Stardom.  As I watch the show, I wonder what Persian Men in Iran might think of Reza’s portrayal of their culture and style?  I wonder if young Persian boys will now be measured against this new Americanized paradigm of “The Reza.”

Make no mistake about it – SHAHS OF SUNSET has some of the most #EasyOnTheEyes women on television, period.  The potential problem is – they are so sexualized it makes me wonder if they know the history of Black women on the small screen.  I’ll be honest – when I now think of Persian women, because of this show, I think of women who are very carefree and ones who like to wear very form fitting clothing. I admit, it could just be my distorted view, but I doubt I am the only person who looked at Asa Soltan Rahmati (@AsaSultan) in her green fitted dress at Reza’s house party and thought “Ohhhh Emmmm Geeee!”  Or, who can forget Mercedes “MJ” Javid (@MercedesJavid), as she was frantically preparing a house for prospective buyers? She ran around the house in an outfit that could barely hold her “TIT-illating ASS-ets.”  In one scene she actually has to “adjust them” prior to opening the door for her clients.

What I find interesting is the quick temperament of many of the cast mates.  You have Mike Shouhed (@MikeShouhed), who truly understands the Persian impact on American Culture. In one episode he argues that the purchasing of a ring in excess of $50k for a potential fiancé is due only to cultural pressures.  Really!?  Instead of teaching us the truth of Persian Culture would he rather support the distortion?  #GrowUp

Anywho, we were speaking of quick tempers.  Mike is a foul mouthed quick tempered character who is currently in a funk over a failing business venture with Reza.  His choice language and thirst for quick finances is quite strange.  He has two other brothers who have seemingly followed the Persian way to expected success via hard work, education and dedication. Mike seems to be disinterested in that path.

As for tempers, there is no one more explosive than Golnesa Gharachedaghi (@GolnesaGG).  Golnesa is the epitome of the alcoholic RealityTV Starlet bent on being mean, hateful, wicked, obnoxious, rude, conniving – all wrapped up in the very small physical frame.  I couldn’t imagine any cast member desiring to befriend her if she weren’t Persian. Golnesa is probably better suited to be a cast member of the RealityTV show #BadGirls.

In the end, SHAHS OF SUNSET has taught me a lot, but if inaccurate, what I have been taught could be offensive to the Persian culture at-large.  True enough, people have the right to be who they want to be, but when you build a show around a particular cultural-group – we, the viewers, witness what we witness – learn what you teach us AND believe what you ingrain in our minds to believe.

I wonder if for only a slight minute, how my future Persian friends or neighbors would respond to me if I were to interact with them based upon what I have learned from the SHAHS OF SUNSET.

Good Day/Night & God Bless!

Globe & Mail’s Margaret Wente Slams Obama as a ’98-Pound Weakling’ Over Syria Policy

Globe & Mail's Margaret Wente Slams Obama as a '98 Pound Weakling' Over Syria Policy

Globe & Mail’s Margaret Wente Slams Obama as a ’98 Pound Weakling’ Over Syria Policy (White House/Pete Souza)

Margaret Wente wrote a scathing column in the Globe & Mail, dismissing President Obama and his handling of the Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in an August 21 attack as “a 98-pound weakling.” Ouch. Most people are surprised that he seems to be talking in circles on what to do about the dictator. The fact is that the U.S. has softened its line. We are no longer hearing any talk about Assad being forced out of office, but simply to take away all his chemical weapons. Here’s an excerpt from Margaret Wente’s article:

The moral imperative is clear, he argued. We cannot let dictators get away with this. On the other hand, the United States can’t be expected to solve all the world’s problems, either. Therefore, the way ahead is to outsource U.S. foreign policy on Syria to … Vladimir Putin!

So much for the credibility of the world’s only superpower. Mr. Obama’s staff have been tweeting that this delaying tactic is an incredible display of smart diplomacy. But to most of us, it just makes him look gullible. The President has allowed himself to be hog-tied and hornswoggled by Lilliputians. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when a blundering giant threw its weight around and only wound up showing the world how incompetent it is. But if there’s one thing worse than being a blundering giant, it’s being a 98-pound weakling. Source: Globe & Mail

Let me be clear, I don’t interpret Wente’s column as an attack on President Obama’s masculinity or his blackness. He came off as being punked by Vladimir Putin, of all people, and looks very weak on the international stage. As far back as I can remember, there has always been unrest in the Middle East. The U.S. simply can’t march in and attack country after country in order to liberate the people. That only creates more animosity towards the U.S.

Like most everybody else, I’m confused as hell over Syria. The trouble is, Mr. Obama is confused, too. This is not reassuring. He appears to be making it up as he goes along. The only thing that’s clear is that he hates – really hates – being commander-in-chief. He was the guy who was going to get the United States out of all of George W. Bush’s messes. And now this!

Mr. Bush’s problem was that once he made decisions, he never second-guessed himself. Mr. Obama’s problem is that he overthinks. He changes his mind and paints himself into a corner. At first, he said Mr. al-Assad had to go. Then he said regime change wasn’t in the cards. He said there was a red line Mr. al-Assad mustn’t cross. Then, when Mr. al-Assad crossed it, he said it wasn’t his red line, it was the world’s – even as it became excruciatingly clear that the world wasn’t about to do a thing about it.

He said Syria poses no threat to America, but also that attacking it would be in the national interest. On his own, he decided to seek Congressional approval – then trapped himself when it turned out Americans had no taste for another foreign (mis)adventure of the kind he had promised to extricate them from. Source: Globe & Mail

I am very surprised that well into his second term President Obama can’t seem to find his footing on the Middle East. He’s coming across as a neophyte next to the biggest bully in the world — Vladimir Putin, who would like to be seen as a world leader. He’s coming across as a peacemaker on the world’s stage. The fact is, President Putin will be on the hook if Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons again.

Separately, President Obama appeared on ABC’s ‘This Week’ with George Stefanopolous and seemed to destroy the Republican myth that Putin got the better of him. Here’s the transcript of that interview (H/T Politicususa):

President Barack Obama…with respect to Mr. Putin- I have said consistently that where the interest of the United States and Russia converge, we need to work together. And I had talked to Mr. Putin a year ago- saying to him- the United States and Russia should work together to deal with these chemical weapons stockpiles, and to work to try to bring about a political transition-



GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: -he has the same goal? Do you really trust that?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Oh, I don’t think that- Mr. Putin has the same- values that we do. And I think- obviously, by- protecting Mr. Assad- he has a different attitude about- the Assad regime. But what I’ve also said to him directly- is that we both have an interest in preventing chaos, we both have an interest in preventing terrorism, the situation in Syria right now is untenable, as long as Mr. Assad’s in power, there is gonna be some sort of conflict there, and that we should work together to try to find a way in which the interests of all the parties inside of Syria, the Alawites, the Sunnis, the Christians, that everybody is represented and that there is a way of bringing the temperature down so that- that horrible things that are happening inside the country…

PR Giant Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial Op-Ed in NY Times

PR Giant Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin's Controversial Op-Ed in NY Times

PR Giant Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial Op-Ed in NY Times

It seems that U.S. public relations firm Ketchum is responsible for placing Russia President Vladimir Putin’s controversial op-ed in the New York Times in which he assailed President Obama for talking about America’s exceptionalism.

Buzzfeed reports “The op-ed came through the PR firm (Ketchum) and went thought the normal editing process,” said New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy.  Buzzfeed also reports that Ketchum is the main public relations firm used by the Russian government.

Paddy Blewer, an employee at Ketchum, appeared to reference the work being done on the Putin op-ed in a tweet he sent last week:

President Obama Syria Speech Doesn’t Change Minds of Many, Including MSNBC Hosts

President Obama Syria Speech Doesn't Change Minds of Many, Including MSNBC Hosts

President Obama Syria Speech Doesn’t Change Minds of Many, Including MSNBC Hosts (Photo credit: Screengrab)

President Obama’s address to the nation on Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and the potential for military strike didn’t move me one iota from my belief we shouldn’t be engaging in another military incursion in the Middle East, no matter how limited. When even the hosts at MSNBC who commented on his speech are doubtful, you know Obama has problems. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad pulled a fast one after Secretary of State John Kerry’s goof demanding he turned over his chemical weapons and the U.S. wouldn’t attack.

Most of the MSNBC hosts, while appearing sympathetic to President Obama’s predicament, didn’t believe that America could enforce a global norm in Syria unilaterally and without obtaining the authorization of the United Nations. Chris Hayes said, “The problem is that international norms cannot be enforced by unilateral by unilateral military action of the U.S. in contravention of the United Nations charter which outlines very distinctly two appropriate lawful uses of force.”“Direct self-defense or under U.N. Security Council.” Chris Matthews said any military action would end up in lost lives.

Washington Post:  Obama’s speech did not immediately appear to change minds on Capitol Hill. A number of Democratic senators expressed support afterward for his diplomatic approach, while remaining wary of military action. Most Senate Republicans who were on the fence remained unconvinced.

“I don’t think the case for military action has been made,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). But, he added, “the Russian proposal to force Assad to turn over chemical weapons to international monitors presents a possible alternative.”

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said they regret that Obama “did not speak more forcefully” about providing military assistance to moderate opposition groups in Syria and for not laying out “a clearer plan to test the seriousness” of the Russian proposal.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that the administration’s threat of force has already yielded benefits.

“The president using the credible threat of American military action to bring diplomatic solutions back to the table demonstrates the strength of his leadership and his willingness to exhaust every remedy before the use of force,” she said.

Here’s the full text to President Obama’s speech:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to talk to you about Syria — why it matters, and where we go from here.

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over 100,000 people have been killed. Millions have fled the country. In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition, and to shape a political settlement. But I have resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening: Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas. Others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. A father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons, and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits — a crime against humanity, and a violation of the laws of war.

This was not always the case. In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe. In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust. Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.

On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity. No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack, and humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas.

Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gasmasks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. We know senior figures in Assad’s military machine reviewed the results of the attack, and the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. We’ve also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin.

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those people — to those children — is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.

Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians.

If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction, and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran — which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path.

This is not a world we should accept. This is what’s at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.

That’s my judgment as Commander-in-Chief. But I’m also the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. So even though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress. I believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress. And I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.

This is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the President, and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the people’s representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force.

Now, I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. After all, I’ve spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them. Our troops are out of Iraq. Our troops are coming home from Afghanistan. And I know Americans want all of us in Washington

— especially me — to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home: putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class.

It’s no wonder, then, that you’re asking hard questions. So let me answer some of the most important questions that I’ve heard from members of Congress, and that I’ve read in letters that you’ve sent to me.

First, many of you have asked, won’t this put us on a slippery slope to another war? One man wrote to me that we are “still recovering from our involvement in Iraq.” A veteran put it more bluntly: “This nation is sick and tired of war.”

My answer is simple: I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons, and degrading Assad’s capabilities.

Others have asked whether it’s worth acting if we don’t take out Assad. As some members of Congress have said, there’s no point in simply doing a “pinprick” strike in Syria.

Let me make something clear: The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver. I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force — we learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad, or any other dictator, think twice before using chemical weapons.

Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. We don’t dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. Any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. And our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakeable support of the United States of America.

Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated, and where — as one person wrote to me — “those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?”

It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death. The majority of the Syrian people — and the Syrian opposition we work with — just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.

Finally, many of you have asked: Why not leave this to other countries, or seek solutions short of force? As several people wrote to me, “We should not be the world’s policeman.”

I agree, and I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. Over the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warning and negotiations — but chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime.

However, over the last few days, we’ve seen some encouraging signs. In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin, the Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.

I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control. We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies from Europe to the Americas — from Asia to the Middle East — who agree on the need for action.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight, I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements — it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.

And so, to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.” Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.

America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Courtesy of the White House

Report: Bashar al-Assad May Not Have Ordered Chemical Weapons Attack Against Syrians

Report: Bashar al-Assad May Not Have Ordered Chemical Weapons Attack Against Syrians

Report: Bashar al-Assad May Not Have Ordered Chemical Weapons Attack Against Syrians

Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper is reporting that Syrian government forces may have carried out the chemical weapons attack near Damascus without the authorization of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the paper said.

This could mean Assad may not have personally approved the attack close to Damascus on Aug. 21 in which more than 1,400 are estimated to have been killed, intelligence officers suggested.

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) could not be reached for comment.

Bild said the radio traffic was intercepted by a German naval reconnaissance vessel, the Oker, sailing close to the Syrian coast.

Last week the head of the BND, Gerhard Schindler, gave confidential briefings to the German parliament’s defence and foreign affairs committees. Bild said Schindler told the defence committee that Syria’s civil war could continue for years. Source: Reuters

So, if Germany was able to intercept such such intelligence, then wouldn’t the American intelligence also come up with similar information? You don’t know who to believe in this mess. This reminds me a lot of what led up to the Iraqi war.