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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 126593 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #9015 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 08:52am »

Guardian

Syria crisis: 'very little doubt' chemical weapon was used, US official says

US intelligence assessment to the White House comes as Obama debates options over military intervention in civil war

25 August 2013

A senior US administration official said there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least a hundred people last week.

The official said on Sunday that the US intelligence community based its assessment given to the White House on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, and witness accounts". The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

The statements came a day after President Barack Obama met his top military and national security advisers to debate options. US defense officials, meanwhile, have repositioned naval forces in the Mediterranean to give Obama the option for a missile strike on Assad's regime, which has been backed by Russia and China.

US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel offered no hints Sunday about likely US response, telling reporters traveling with him in Malaysia that the Obama administration is still assessing intelligence information about the deadly attack.

"When we have more information, that answer will become clear," he said when a reporter asked whether it was a matter of when, not if, the US will take military action against Syria.

Syria said any military action would be "no picnic".

"US military intervention will create a very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East," Syrian information minister Omran Zoabi was quoted by state news agency SANA as saying to Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

Obama has been reluctant to intervene in Syria's civil war, but reports of the killings near Damascus have put pressure on the White House to make good on the president's comment a year ago that chemical weapons would be a "red line" for the US.

President Bashar al-Assad's closest ally Iran also said Washington should not cross the "red line" on Syria, where doctors accused his forces of a poison gas attack that killed hundreds last week.

Syrian opposition accounts that between 500 and well over 1,000 civilians were killed this week by gas in munitions fired by pro-government forces, and video footage of victims' bodies, have stoked demands abroad for a robust, US-led response after 2-1/2 years of international inaction on Syria's conflict.

A Reuters Ipsos poll released Sunday found Americans strongly oppose US intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if the chemical weapons claims are confirmed.

About 60% of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9% thought Obama should act.

More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days – just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25% of Americans would support US intervention if al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46% would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for US action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2% of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6% did not.

Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb last week, may actually be hardening many Americans' resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East.

The results – and Reuters/Ipsos polling on the use-of-chemicals question since early June – suggest that if Obama decides to undertake military action against Assad's regime, he will do so in the face of steady opposition from an American public wary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some foreign and US officials – notably Republican senator John McCain, whom Obama defeated for the presidency in 2008 – have called Obama too hesitant in deciding whether to act in Syria.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/25/syria-chemical-weapons-little-doubt

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« Reply #9016 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 09:10am »

Reuters

Egyptian court adjourns trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders

CAIRO | Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:55am EDT

(Reuters) - An Egyptian court adjourned on Sunday the trial of three Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of inciting the killing of protesters because the defendants could not attend the hearing for security reasons, judicial and security sources said.

The judge case set October 29 as the date of the next hearing in the trial of Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's "General Guide", and his deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumy.

(Writing by Lin Noueihed)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/25/us-egypt-protests-brotherhood-trial-idUSBRE97O04L20130825?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=992637

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« Reply #9017 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 09:24am »

Geek.com

MIT performs the greatest unboxing ever: The Atlas Robot

News By Russell Holly Aug. 24, 2013 10:03 am

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to unbox a human-sized robot, gaze upon this video with extreme jealousy. Helios, the Atlas Robot MIT is using for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, was recently pulled from its box so that modifications and testing can begin.

In a world where disasters can happen with such severity that it is simply impossible for humans to wander in and fix things, there’s a real need for mechanical creations that can be controlled to rush in and save the day. In an attempt to speed up the process of creating these mechanical assistants, DARPA has created a competition to see who can build the best machine capable of entering a disaster area and either stopping further damage or making the area safe for humans.

MIT’s entry into this competition starts with an Atlas Robot, built by Boston Dynamics. To show off their shiny new toy they did what gadget geeks all over the world when they get a shiny new thing. They made an unboxing video.






The DARPA Robotics Trials will be taking place at the Homestead Speedway in Florida this December. Until that date, teams from MIT, NASA, Virginia Tech, and many others will be hard at work creating their versions of a robotic assistant to safely travel where we can’t.

http://www.geek.com/news/mit-performs-the-greatest-unboxing-ever-the-atlas-robot-1568361/

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« Reply #9018 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 09:34am »







Coast To Coast AM - Aug 23 2013 - Martian Head - C2CAM Radio


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« Reply #9019 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 4:10pm »

Posted on Facebook by Michael Reiche:

Jesse Marcel Jr.

It is with a sad heart that I have to break this bad news to the world.
At the age of 76 my Dad Jesse Marcel Jr.’s life on earth has ended.

Although it is a very sad time for our entire family I am happy to know that he lived an eventful life.
I am so proud to be his daughter. He had taught me so many things in life and one of the more important things I learned from my Dad was to never back down in the face of adversity.

For anyone who wants to know I will be posting, the funeral arrangements once they have been made.

He is survived by his wife Linda, his children Jesse Jr., Myself, John, Marissa, Mackenzie , Aimee, Ashley and Mark and all of his grandchildren.

Although my Dad and Grandpa are no longer with us….
The Roswell Legacy will live on FOREVER!!!
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« Reply #9020 on: Aug 25th, 2013, 5:45pm »

Wormhole Is Best Bet for Time Machine, Astrophysicist Says

Jillian Scharr, Staff Writer
August 25, 2013

The concept of a time machine typically conjures up images of an implausible plot device used in a few too many science-fiction storylines. But according to Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which explains how gravity operates in the universe, real-life time travel isn't just a vague fantasy.
Traveling forward in time is an uncontroversial possibility, according to Einstein's theory. In fact, physicists have been able to send tiny particles called muons, which are similar to electrons, forward in time by manipulating the gravity around them. That's not to say the technology for sending humans 100 years into the future will be available anytime soon, though.

Time travel to the past, however, is even less understood. Still, astrophysicist Eric W. Davis, of the EarthTech International Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, argues that it's possible. All you need, he says, is a wormhole, which is a theoretical passageway through space-time that is predicted by relativity.

"You can go into the future or into the past using traversable wormholes," Davis told LiveScience.
Where's my wormhole?

Wormholes have never been proven to exist, and if they are ever found, they are likely to be so tiny that a person couldn't fit inside, never mind a spaceship.

Even so, Davis' paper, published in July in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' journal, addresses time machines and the possibility that a wormhole could become, or be used as, a means for traveling backward in time.

Both general-relativity theory and quantum theory appear to offer several possibilities for traveling along what physicists call a "closed, timelike curve," or a path that cuts through time and space — essentially, a time machine.

In fact, Davis said, scientists' current understanding of the laws of physics "are infested with time machines whereby there are numerous space-time geometry solutions that exhibit time travel and/or have the properties of time machines."

A wormhole would allow a ship, for instance, to travel from one point to another faster than the speed of light — sort of. That's because the ship would arrive at its destination sooner than a beam of light would, by taking a shortcut through space-time via the wormhole. That way, the vehicle doesn't actually break the rule of the so-called universal speed limit — the speed of light — because the ship never actually travels at a speed faster than light.

Theoretically, a wormhole could be used to cut not just through space, but through time as well.
"Time machines are unavoidable in our physical dimensional space-time," David wrote in his paper. "Traversable wormholes imply time machines, and [the prediction of wormholes] spawned a number of follow-on research efforts on time machines."

However, Davis added, turning a wormhole into a time machine won't be easy. "It would take a Herculean effort to turn a wormhole into a time machine. It's going to be tough enough to pull off a wormhole," he told LiveScience.

That's because once a wormhole is created, one or both ends of it would need to be accelerated through time to the desired position, according to general relativity theory.

Challenges ahead

There are several theories for how the laws of physics might work to prevent time travel through wormholes.
"Not only do we assume [time travel into the past] will not be possible in our lifetime, but we assume that the laws of physics, when fully understood, will rule it out entirely," said Robert Owen, an astrophysicist at Oberlin College in Ohio who specializes in black holes and gravitation theory.
According to scientists' current understanding, keeping a wormhole stable enough to traverse requires large amounts of exotic matter, a substance that is still very poorly understood.

General relativity can't account for exotic matter — according to general relativity, exotic matter can't exist. But exotic matter does exist. That's where quantum theory comes in. Like general relativity, quantum theory is a system for explaining the universe, kind of like a lens through which scientists observe the universe.

However, exotic matter has only been observed in very small amounts — not nearly enough to hold open a wormhole. Physicists would have to find a way to generate and harness large amounts of exotic matter if they hope to achieve this quasi-faster-than-light travel and, by extension, time travel.

Furthermore, other physicists have used quantum mechanics to posit that trying to travel through a wormhole would create something called a quantum back reaction.

In a quantum back reaction, the act of turning a wormhole into a time machine would cause a massive buildup of energy, ultimately destroying the wormhole just before it could be used as a time machine.
However, the mathematical model used to calculate quantum back reaction only takes into account one dimension of space-time.

"I am confident that, since [general relativity] theory has not failed yet, that its predictions for time machines, warp drives and wormholes remain valid and testable, regardless of what quantum theory has to say about those subjects," Davis added.

This illustrates one of the key problems in theories of time travel: physicists have to ground their arguments in either general relativity or quantum theory, both of which are incomplete and unable to encompass the entirety of our complex, mysterious universe.

Before they can figure out time travel, physicists need to find a way to reconcile general relativity and quantum theory into a quantum theory of gravity. That theory will then serve as the basis for further study of time travel.

Therefore, Owen argues that it's impossible to be certain of whether time travel is possible yet. "The wormhole-based time-machine idea takes into account general relativity, but it leaves out quantum mechanics," Owen added. "But including quantum mechanics in the calculations seems to show us that the time machine couldn't actually work the way we hope."

Davis, however, believes scientists have discovered all they can about time machines from theory alone, and calls on physicists to focus first on faster-than-light travel.

"Until someone makes a wormhole or a warp drive, there's no use getting hyped up about a time machine," Davis told LiveScience.

Accomplishing this will require a universally accepted quantum gravity theory — an immense challenge — so don't go booking those time-travel plans just yet.

http://www.livescience.com/39159-time-travel-with-wormhole.html
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« Reply #9021 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 10:10am »

on Aug 25th, 2013, 4:10pm, Swamprat wrote:
Posted on Facebook by Michael Reiche:

Jesse Marcel Jr.

It is with a sad heart that I have to break this bad news to the world.
At the age of 76 my Dad Jesse Marcel Jr.’s life on earth has ended.

Although it is a very sad time for our entire family I am happy to know that he lived an eventful life.
I am so proud to be his daughter. He had taught me so many things in life and one of the more important things I learned from my Dad was to never back down in the face of adversity.

For anyone who wants to know I will be posting, the funeral arrangements once they have been made.

He is survived by his wife Linda, his children Jesse Jr., Myself, John, Marissa, Mackenzie , Aimee, Ashley and Mark and all of his grandchildren.

Although my Dad and Grandpa are no longer with us….
The Roswell Legacy will live on FOREVER!!!


Thanks for letting us know Swamprat. May he rest in peace.

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« Reply #9022 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 10:12am »

Associated Press

UN says nations are barred from spying on it

By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN
— Aug. 26 11:05 AM EDT


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations did not directly comment Monday on reports that the U.S. hacked U.N. and European Union internal communications, saying only that international treaties protect its offices and all diplomatic missions from interference, spying and eavesdropping.

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday that documents it obtained from American leaker Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency secretly monitored the U.N.'s internal video conferencing system by decrypting it last year. In three weeks, Der Spiegel said, the NSA increased the number of decrypted communications at the U.N. from 12 to 458.

Der Spiegel also reported that the NSA installed bugs in the European Union's office building in downtown Washington and infiltrated the EU's computer network.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that "the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law."

Haq added, "Therefore, member-states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions."

The 1961 Vienna Convention regulates diplomatic issues and status among nations and international organizations. Among other things, it says a host country cannot search diplomatic premises or seize its documents or property. It also says the host government must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country.

However, wiretapping and eavesdropping have been rampant for decades, most dramatically between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/un-says-nations-are-barred-spying-it

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« Reply #9023 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 10:16am »

Der Spiegel

Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
26 August 2013

The European Union building on New York's Third Avenue is an office tower with a glittering facade and an impressive view of the East River. Chris Matthews, the press officer for the EU delegation to the United Nations, opens the ambassadors' room on the 31st floor, gestures toward a long conference table and says: "This is where all ambassadors from our 28 members meet every Tuesday at 9 a.m." It is the place where Europe seeks to forge a common policy on the UN.

To mark the official opening of the delegation's new offices in September 2012, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy flew in from Brussels, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was on hand as guest of honor. For "old" Europe -- which finances over one-third of the regular UN budget -- this was a confirmation of its geopolitical importance.

For the National Security Agency (NSA), America's powerful intelligence organization, the move was above all a technical challenge. A new office means freshly painted walls, untouched wiring and newly installed computer networks -- in other words, loads of work for the agents. While the Europeans were still getting used to their glittering new offices, NSA staff had already acquired the building's floor plans. The drawings completed by New York real estate company Tishman Speyer show precisely to scale how the offices are laid out. Intelligence agents made enlarged copies of the areas were the data servers are located. At the NSA, the European mission near the East River is referred to by the codename "Apalachee".

The floor plans are part of the NSA's internal documents relating to its operations targeting the EU. They come from whistleblower Edward Snowden, and SPIEGEL has been able to view them. For the NSA, they formed the basis for an intelligence-gathering operation -- but for US President Barack Obama they have now become a political problem.

Just over two weeks ago, Obama made a promise to the world. "The main thing I want to emphasize is that I don't have an interest and the people at the NSA don't have an interest in doing anything other than making sure that (...) we can prevent a terrorist attack," Obama said during a hastily arranged press conference at the White House on August 9. He said the sole purpose of the program was to "get information ahead of time (...) so we are able to carry out that critical task," adding: "We do not have an interest in doing anything other than that." Afterward, the president flew to the Atlantic island of Martha's Vineyard for his summer vacation.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/secret-nsa-documents-show-how-the-us-spies-on-europe-and-the-un-a-918625.html

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« Reply #9024 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 10:20am »

Scientific American

Sensation Seekers Stomach Spicier Sustenance

Those who score high on a test for how much a person desires novel and intense stimulation and risky behavior will enjoy food that's spiced well past others' ability to tolerate it. Amy Kraft reports.

26 August 2013

The more adventurous the risk-taker, the hotter the wings. That's according to a study presented at the 2012 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting in Chicago. [Nadia Byrnes and John Hayes, Personality May Predict If You Like Spicy Foods]

Researchers assessed 184 participants using the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking, a test for how much a person desires novel and intense stimulation and risky behavior.
The subjects were then given food kicked up with capsaicin, which puts the heat in chili peppers. They were asked to rate how much they liked the spicy meal as the burn from the compound increased.

Those volunteers who rated high on having a sensation-seeking personality continued to enjoy the meal as the burn intensified. Non-sensation seekers couldn’t take the heat and eschewed rather than chewed. A third group of mild thrill seekers did not like the spicy meal either, but not nearly as much as those with risk-averse personalities.

The researchers say that people who enjoy risky behavior including gambling or thrill rides might be getting the same kind of danger rush when biting into a hot pepper. Just be sure to digest all that spicy food before hitting the roller coaster.

—Amy Kraft

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=sensation-seekers-stomach-spicier-s-13-08-26

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« Reply #9025 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 10:23am »






Published on Aug 26, 2013


The LAST official interview with the man who actually held the wreckage from the most famous name in UFOlogy, the Roswell crash. In 1947, Col. Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr. (Ret.) as an 11 year old boy saw the wreckage his father, Jesse Marcel Sr. brought home on the way back from the Foster Ranch where 1 of the discs was found. In June 2013, Thirdphaseofmoon interviewed Jesse Marcel Jr. & his daughter live on thirdphaseofmoon radio Thursdays 8-10 pm EST (GMT-4) at www.freedomslips.com & as fate would have it, this would be his last interview on the radio with his daughter as he passed away August 23, 2013. In its full uncut broadcast, enjoy this to mark the beginning of a new era: a disclosure movement led by his daughter Denice Marcel using the same courage that ran through the Marcel bloodline. Jesse Marcel Jr. inspired many & this man full of integrity & unimpeachable on every account told the truth of this historic event, never once wavering from his original account, detail to detail, everything remained the same until the end. His soul will live on forever & his impact in ufology will stay in the hearts of all. His name will forever be linked with the most famous event in UFO history & hence, will forever be earmarked as one of the truest of true heroes, side by side with his father Jesse Marcel Sr. Jesse Marcel Jr. will be missed by all & we at thirdphaseofmoon ask that everyone remember this historic man & what he stood for: truth.

~

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« Reply #9026 on: Aug 26th, 2013, 3:46pm »

LiveScience


Mysterious Large Cat Stalks Detroit Neighborhood

By Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor
August 26, 2013 02:04pm ET

The city of Detroit certainly has its share of woes, including bankruptcy, crime and other concerns. You can now add "large cat" to that list, if recent reports are to be believed.



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A Detroit resident snapped this photograph of a large spotted cat stalking a neighborhood in northeastern Detroit.



Residents of Detroit's northeastern area have been calling the Michigan Humane Society and local animal-control officials to report sightings of some kind of cat that may be as large as 100 lbs. (45 kilograms).

Detroit resident Cynthia Hogan saw a feline about as big as her 85-pound (39 kg) Doberman pinscher lying down in her neighbors' backyard. "It was a large cat. It didn't look like a bobcat," Hogan told CBS Detroit. "I was able to see if it had the tufts on its ears, and it wasn't big like a cougar — it wasn't as meaty as a cougar … I have no idea what this was."

http://www.livescience.com/39171-large-cat-stalks-detroit.html?cmpid=514645

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« Reply #9027 on: Aug 27th, 2013, 09:11am »

Science News

Babies learn words before birth

Brain responses suggest infants can distinguish distinct sounds from altered versions

By Laura Sanders
Web edition: August 26, 2013

Parents-to-be better watch their language. Babies can hear specific words in the womb and remember them in the days after birth, a new study reports. The results add to the understanding of how the early acoustical environment shapes the developing brain.

Earlier studies have found that fetuses can hear and learn certain sounds. Nursery rhymes, vowel sounds and mothers’ voices can all influence a developing baby. But the new study, published August 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a fetus can detect and remember discrete words, says study coauthor Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki. “The fetal learning capabilities are much more specific than we thought,” he says.

Partanen and colleagues used a fake word, tatata, to test whether a particular word can worm its way into the fetal brain. Five to seven times a week during their third trimester, 17 pregnant Finnish women were instructed to blast a recording of a woman saying the word in two bursts of four minutes. The pregnant women were instructed to turn the volume up so loud that a conversation would be difficult, but not so loud that it hurt. Most of the recording was the same delivery of tatata, but every so often, there was a curveball. The pitch in the middle syllable would change, something that rarely happens in spoken Finnish.

Five days after their birth, babies once again heard the recordings. Electrodes attached to the babies’ heads allowed Partanen and his colleagues to look for a specific sign of recognition: An outsized neural jolt, called a mismatch response, tells the brain to pay attention because something is different. This response indicates a level of familiarity, Partanen says. Adults acquire similar neural reactions as they learn a new language, for instance.

When the recording reached the altered version of tatata, babies who had been exposed to the recordings in utero showed this mismatch response, while the 16 babies who hadn’t heard the recordings didn’t, the team found. These results suggest that babies could learn and remember the normal version of tatata.

It’s not clear how long these word memories last. In the study, the fetuses last heard the recording five days before birth, but the memory could be older than that.

The study goes beyond earlier work, much of which relied on indirect behavioral changes such as sucking on a pacifier or turning the head, and instead reveals effects in the brain, says psychologist Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. “We’ve had quite a bit of research on behavior and not so much on the brain,” she says.

The finding has implications for early intervention in kids who might be at risk of language problems, which can accompany certain kinds of dyslexia, says Partanen. Carefully designed words or features of speech played during pregnancy might prove beneficial, he says.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/352781/description/Babies_learn_words_before_birth

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« Reply #9028 on: Aug 27th, 2013, 09:20am »

Reuters

West could hit Syria in days, envoys tell rebels

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Erika Solomon
AMMAN/BEIRUT | Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:04am EDT

(Reuters) - Western powers could attack Syria within days, envoys from the United States and its allies told rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, sources who attended the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday.

U.S. forces in the region are "ready to go", Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, as Washington and its European and Middle Eastern partners honed plans to punish Assad for a major poison gas attack last week that killed hundreds of civilians.

Several sources who attended a meeting in Istanbul on Monday between Syrian opposition leaders and diplomats from Washington and other governments told Reuters that the rebels were told to expect military action and to get ready to negotiate a peace.

"The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva," one of the sources said.

Ahmad Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition, met envoys from 11 states in the Friends of Syria group, including Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, at an Istanbul hotel.

United Nations chemical weapons investigators, who finally crossed the frontline to take samples on Monday, put off a second trip to rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. But Washington said it already held Assad responsible for a "moral obscenity" and President Barack Obama would hold him to account for it.

However, with Russian and Chinese opposition complicating efforts to satisfy international law - and Western voters wary of new, far-off wars - Western leaders may not pull the trigger just yet. British Prime Minister David Cameron called parliament back from its summer recess for a session on Syria on Thursday.

He and Obama, as well as French President Francois Hollande, face tough questions about how an intervention, likely to be limited to air strikes, will end - and whether they risk handing power to anti-Western Islamist rebels if Assad is overthrown.

In an indication of support from Arab states that may help Western powers argue the case for war against U.N. vetoes from Moscow and Beijing, the Arab League issued a statement holding Assad's government fully responsible for the chemical attack.

U.S. FORCES READY

Asked if U.S. forces were ready to strike Syria just "like that", Hagel told the BBC: "We are ready to go, like that."

"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take."

Top generals from the United States and European and Middle Eastern allies met in Jordan for what could be a council of war.

Hagel said the United States would have intelligence to present "very shortly" about last week's mass poisoning. But he noted after calls with his British and French counterparts that there was little doubt among U.S. allies that "the most base ... international humanitarian standard was violated".

Turkey, Syria's neighbor and part of the U.S.-led NATO military pact, called it a "crime against humanity" that demanded international reaction.

The Syrian government, which denies using gas or obstructing the U.N. inspectors, said it would press on with its offensive against rebels around the capital.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said U.S. strikes would help al Qaeda allies but called Western leaders "delusional" if they hoped to help the rebels reach a balance of power in Syria.

In Britain, whose forces have supported the U.S. military in a succession of wars, Cameron called for an appropriate level of retribution for using chemical weapons.

"Our forces are making contingency plans," a spokesman told reporters. London would make a "proportionate response".

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: "President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people ... What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world.

"The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable.

"And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable."

How an intervention, likely to be limited to air strikes, would affect the course of Syria's two and half year old civil war is far from clear. The conflict is largely at a stalemate.

Turmoil in Egypt, whose 2011 uprising inspired Syrians to rebel, has underlined the unpredictability of revolutions. And the presence of Islamist militants, including allies of al Qaeda in the Syrian rebel ranks, has given Western leaders pause. They have held back so far from helping Assad's opponents to victory.

REGIONAL CONFLICT

Russia, a major arms supplier to Assad, has said rebels may have released the gas and warned against attacking Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov criticized Washington for cancelling bilateral talks on Syria that were set for Wednesday.

"Working out the political parameters for a resolution in Syria would be exceptionally useful now, when the threat of force hangs over this country," Gatilov wrote on Twitter.

The Syrian conflict has split the Middle East along sectarian lines. Shi'ite Muslim Iran has supported Assad and his Alawite minority against mainly Sunni rebels, some of them Islamists, who have backing from Gulf Arab states.

In Tehran, a foreign ministry spokesman said: "We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region.

"These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region."

Syrian foreign minister Moualem, who insisted the government was trying to help the U.N. inspection team, told a news conference in Damascus that Syria would hit back if attacked.

"We have means of defending ourselves, and we will surprise them with these if necessary," he said. "If we face aggression, we will defend ourselves. We will not hesitate to use any means available. But I will not specify what those would be."

Assad's forces made little or no response to three attacks by Israeli aircraft earlier this year which Israeli officials said disrupted arms flowing from Iran to Lebanon's Hezbollah.

China, which has joined Moscow in vetoing measures against Assad in the U.N. Security Council, is also skeptical of Western use of force to interfere with what it sees as the internal affairs of other countries.

Beijing's official news agency ran a commentary on Tuesday recalling the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 on the grounds that it possessed banned weapons - which were never found.

"The recent flurry of consultations between Washington and its allies indicates that they have put the arrow on the bowstring and would shoot even without a U.N. mandate," the Xinhua agency said. "That would be irresponsible and dangerous."

more after the jump:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/27/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE97K0EL20130827

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The Hill


Treasury tells Congress nation will breach debt ceiling in mid-October

By Peter Schroeder
08/26/13 04:53 PM ET

The Treasury Department told Congress on Monday it must raise the $16.7 trillion national debt limit by mid-October.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in a letter to lawmakers said his department would exhaust the "extraordinary measures" it holds to keep the U.S. from breaching the limit at that time.

"Congress should act as soon as possible to meet its responsibility to the nation and to remove the threat of default," he wrote. "Under any circumstance — in light of the schedule, the inherent viability of cash flows, and the dire consequences of miscalculation — Congress must act before the middle of October."

Lew's deadline would set up a crucial few weeks for the White House and Congress when lawmakers return to Washington next month. The government will shut down on Oct. 1 unless Congress approves a measure to keep it funded. Only nine legislative days are scheduled in September.

Shortly after Lew's letter became public, the White House reiterated its stance on raising the debt limit — it is not up for debate.

"Let me reiterate what our position is, and it is unequivocal — we will not negotiate with Republicans in Congress over bills Congress has racked up," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "We have never defaulted and we must never default."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) fired back, saying the debt limit is "a reminder that, under President Obama, Washington has failed to deal seriously with America's debt and deficit."

Republicans have signaled an interest in joining the debate over government funding with the debate over raising the debt ceiling, which could give the party more leverage in talks with the White House.

Boehner told his conference Thursday that he wanted to advance a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded for one or two months. The measure would be set at the level of the sequester, which imposed automatic spending cuts on the government.

Conservative members want to use the government funding measure to defund ObamaCare, a move Boehner has not embraced.

Democrats want to replace sequester spending cuts with a mix of revenue increases.

After the release of Lew's letter, they began quickly calling for Republicans to agree to promptly hike the debt limit, citing the 2011 debt limit standoff that roiled markets and led to the first-ever downgrade of the nation's credit rating.

"Republicans must return to Congress prepared to move beyond the kind of brinksmanship that undermined our economic recovery two years ago," said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "It is time for Republicans to do the right thing – not the far right thing – and put the American economy first."

Lew said the government would have about $50 billion cash on hand in mid-October, putting the nation in an "unacceptable position" if Congress does not act to raise the debt ceiling.

He wrote that he could not predict how long that cash would last or whether the government would bring in enough money on a given day to cover bills come due.

The Treasury began employing "extraordinary measures" to free up cash to keep the nation up to date with its existing obligations in May.

Justin Sink contributed to this story.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/318841-lew-tells-congress-debt-limit-deadline-is-mid-october

Crystal




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