A resident of Tabqa city touring the streets on a motorcycle waves an Islamist flag in celebration after ISIS militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014
Republicans on Sunday called for more aggressive U.S. action to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, accusing President Barack Obama of policies that have failed to thwart potential new threats on U.S. soil.
Representative Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House of Representative Intelligence Committee, urged the administration to work with Arab partners on robust steps to disrupt the operations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He said the group is drawing support from Europeans and Americans who could travel undetected to Western countries to carry out attacks.
“They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores,” Rogers said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
“We have the capability to defeat (ISIS). We now have to have the political will and we have to have the policy to do it. We have the first. We don’t have the second two.”
Rogers and other Republicans including Senator John McCain have been relentlessly critical of Obama’s security policy, including accusations that the president has shown a lack of leadership against terrorism since ordering the military operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
But a leading Senate Democrat cautioned against overstating the dangers ISIS could pose to the United States.
“I don’t think we can simply dismiss them. But to jump from what they have done, which is horrific … to the assumption that they’re going to be an immediate, and within days, a threat to us here in our homeland, I think you don’t jump to that,” said Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
“The proper strategy is a comprehensive strategy, and its foundation is political, not just military,” he added.
U.S. officials have identified ISIS as a major threat since it emerged from Syria’s civil war and swept into Iraq this summer. Obama has ordered limited air strikes against the group in northern Iraq. But alarm raised by the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley has been followed by calls for action to defeat ISIS, including attacks on its operations in Syria.
Officials have not ruled out escalating military action.
“The president has to articulate the challenge, what we need to do to meet it and describe exactly to Congress what those missions are. And unfortunately, so far, he seems to be strangely detached,” McCain told Fox News on Sunday.
“I am heartbroken about what has happened to the Syrian people and a lot of that is due to our total inaction, and that’s going to be one of the more shameful chapters in American history.”
Rogers blamed Obama for a change in policy that he said has inhibited the ability of U.S. intelligence and defense agencies to “disrupt” ISIS operations and other militant groups overseas.
“We have missed dozens and dozens of opportunities to take really bad people off the battlefield,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the president to take a step back, change his presidential guidance on how we disrupt terrorism around the world.”
(Source / 24.08.2014)
Yesterday, a petition was created to have Laverne Cox removed from “Orange is the New Black,” a show released on Netflix following the stories of characters in a women’s prison, after he led a campaign in support of Synthia China Blast, who was convicted for the rape, murder, and desecration of a thirteen year old girl. Cox partnered with the transgender rights organization the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and created a video wherein he read a letter from the convicted child murderer who now identifies as a woman.
Although it is unlikely that Cox will be removed from the show, the petition now has over 750 signatures at the time of this post. I consider it to be a monumental success: It is extraordinarily rare to see people in such numbers band together and speak against a transgender man’s actions.
Cox has since written an apology on his blog and asked that the Slyvia Rivera Law Project take down the video, saying he did not know the crimes of the man he was campaigning for when he recorded the video.
This almost makes it worse.
Blast was not doing a six-month stint in the county jail for DUI charges. He has been in prison for over 20 years for the rape, murder, and desecration of the body of a child. That Cox would be willfully ignorant of the crimes of the people he is campaigning for speaks to how little he values the lives of all those hurt by their hands. Like many other powerful men, his only concern is the continued fulfillment of men’s desires when they are in line with his own.
This is not the first time that Cox has campaigned on behalf of a woman-abuser. Cox recently promoted the case of Robert/Michelle Kosilek, a man who strangled his wife and sought genital alteration surgery during his time in prison.
So at least we know that Cox does have some limits on the degree of filth that he is willing to defend. It’s somewhere below the rape and murder of a child, but above the attempted murder of a woman.
You can sign the petition here:Petition: Remove Laverne Cox from the Cast of “Orange is the New Black”
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto says he likely has failed to collect enough signatures to get onto the ballot as a petitioning candidate for governor.
He said on his website Saturday that his campaign has identified a significant number of signatures that were inappropriately or illegally rejected by local officials. Still, he says he will probably fall short of the 7,500 valid signatures required for the ballot.
He said his campaign would not likely succeed even if it went to court to overrule local actions.
Pelto has been a critic of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, especially his education policies. He denies wanting to be a spoiler and help Malloy lose.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced last week that gun rights advocate Joseph Visconti has qualified for the ballot.
On the net: http://jonathanpelto.com/
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The photo below shows Ilse Koch at her trial before an American Military Tribunal in 1947. Ilse had somehow become pregnant while she was a prisoner of the Allies. I previously blogged about Ilse Koch here.
After World War II ended, Ilse Koch did not go into hiding. When former prisoners in the camp began telling stories about her behavior to the American military, it was easy to track her down and arrest her as a war criminal. Starting on April 11, 1947, she was put on trial by an American Military Tribunal, along with 30 men associated with the Buchenwald camp, who were charged with participating in a “common design” to violate the Laws and Usages of war under the Hague Convention and the Geneva Convention of 1929. The specific charge against Ilse Koch was the crime of selecting Buchenwald prisoners to be killed by her alleged lover, Dr. Waldemar Hoven, in order to have lamp shades made from their tattooed skin. Dr. Hoven was put on trial at a later date.
The American Military Tribunal proceedings against the staff at Buchenwald included only crimes committed against Allied nationals between January 1, 1942 and April 11, 1945, the day that Buchenwald was liberated. This was roughly the period of time during which America was at war with Germany. The charges against the accused in the proceedings of the American Military Tribunal did not include Crimes against Humanity, Crimes against Peace, nor War Crimes, as defined in Control Council Law No. 10 at the Nuremberg IMT.
The Buchenwald camp had been in existence since July 1937, and Ilse Koch had been at the camp since August 1937, but there were no charges against her that involved crimes committed in the camp before January 1, 1942, nor were there any charges involving crimes committed against German citizens at Buchenwald. Any lamp shades made from human skin that came from prisoners killed at Buchenwald before January 1, 1942, if any existed, could not be included in the evidence against Ilse Koch at Buchenwald.
According to Jack Werber’s story, Ilse Koch ordered a lampshade made from the skin of a German prisoner. Would Ilse Koch have ordered a lampshade made from a German citizen, even though this was not a crime, according to the ex-post-facto laws of the Allies?
Frau Koch had been previously investigated for 8 months by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS judge who had been assigned in 1943 to look into accusations of corruption and murder in the Buchenwald camp. She had already been put on trial in December 1943 in a special Nazi Court where Konrad Morgan was the judge. The rumor, circulated by the inmates at Buchenwald, that lamp shades had been made out of human skin, was thoroughly investigated by Dr. Morgen, but no evidence was found and this charge against Frau Koch had been dismissed by Morgen.
Even though Ilse Koch had been acquitted in Morgen’s court, the former inmates at Buchenwald were convinced that she had ordered prisoners to be killed, so that their tattooed skin could be made into lamp shades. When the American liberators arrived, they were told about the gory accessories found in Frau Koch’s home. A display table was set up and a film, directed by Billy Wilder, was made to document the atrocities in the camp.
The photograph below is a still shot from Billy Wilder’s film. It shows two shrunken heads, along with preserved pieces of tattooed skin laid out on a table, and a table lamp with a shade allegedly made from human skin. Notice that there are no tattoos on the lampshade and the base is not made from a human bone. This is obviously not the lampshade described earlier by Jack Werber. However we do realise being a prisoner at the time he couldn’t take a picture and he used this one since he couldn’t find the real one just so that we can get a mental picture of how he felt.
In the photograph above, taken on July 8, 1947, Ilse Koch points out the location the Commandant’s house, where she lived, just outside the Buchenwald camp. In the lower left-hand corner of the map, the buildings shown in a semi-circle are the barracks of the SS soldiers. To the right, down the hill from her home, are the barracks for the prisoners. Lt. Col. Denson, the chief prosecutor, is standing to her left, with his back to the camera. Members of the press are sitting at a table on the left. An interpreter is standing to the right of Frau Koch.
According to Joshua M. Greene, author of the book Justice at Dachau, the prosecution introduced ten witnesses who testified against Ilse Koch. One of these witnesses, Kurt Froboess, testified that he had seen Frau Koch’s photo album, which he said had a tattoo on the cover. He said that he had seen this tattoo on a piece of preserved human skin, which he said had been removed from a fellow prisoner, in the pathology department at Buchenwald, and he later recognized this same tattoo on the cover of the photo album.
At least two witnesses testified about a lamp with a shade fashioned out of human skin and a base made from a human leg bone, which they claimed had been delivered to Frau Koch. One of these witnesses, Kurt Wilhelm Leeser, testified that he had previously seen the tattoos on this lamp shade on the arms of a fellow prisoner, Josef Collinette, before he died. This lamp was not introduced into evidence in the courtroom and there were no witnesses from the American military who testified about its existence.
The Jewish religion frowns upon tattoos and a Jew who is tattooed cannot be buried in consecrated ground, so it would have been unusual for a Jewish prisoner at Buchenwald to have had a tattoo. During the trial, it was pointed out by defense counsel that Dr. Wagner was doing a study of tattoos and criminal behavior at Buchenwald. Tattooed skin had been removed from dead criminals and preserved at the pathology department where autopsies were done.
In the photo above, prosecution witness Dr. Kurte Sitte identifies 3 pieces of tattooed skin
Three pieces of tattooed skin and a shrunken head were exhibited in the courtroom at Dachau as evidence of the ghastly crimes committed by the staff at Buchenwald. The photograph above shows Dr. Kurte Sitte, on the far right, who is identifying the three pieces of tattooed skin, found in the pathology department at Buchenwald. This same exhibit was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on December 13, 1945 as evidence of Crimes against Humanity.
According to the forensic report prepared for the American Military Tribunal proceedings, the three pieces of skin were determined to be human. Joseph Halow, a court reporter for some of the other Dachau trials, claims that he saw a lamp shade that was part of the evidence at the proceedings against Ilse Koch, but if this lamp shade was tested, the results were not included in the forensic report. No one else, that I know of, ever mentioned seeing a lamp shade in the Dachau courtroom.
In the testimony given at Dachau, there was no reference by any of the attorneys to a lamp being on display in the courtroom during the proceedings. Dr. Sitte identified the shrunken head that was exhibited in the courtroom, but he did not mention a lamp being in the courtroom during his testimony.
Dr. Sitte, who had a Ph.D. in physics, was one of the star witnesses against Ilse Koch. He had been a prisoner at Buchenwald from September 1939 until the liberation. He testified that tattooed skin was stripped from the bodies of dead prisoners and “was often used to create lampshades, knife cases, and similar items for the SS.” He told the court that it was “common knowledge” that tattooed prisoners were sent to the hospital after Ilse Koch had passed by them on work details. Dr. Sitte’s testimony of “common knowledge” was just another word for hearsay testimony, which was allowed by the American Military Tribunal.
According to Joshua M. Greene, in his book Justice at Dachau, Dr. Sitte testified that “These prisoners were killed in the hospital and the tattooing stripped off.”
Under cross-examination, Dr. Sitte was forced to admit that he had never seen any of the lampshades allegedly made of human skin and that he had no personal knowledge of any prisoner who had been reported by Frau Koch and was then killed so that his tattooed skin could be made into a lampshade. He also admitted that the lampshade that was on the display table in the film was not the lampshade made from human skin that was allegedly delivered to Frau Koch. Apparently the most important piece of evidence, the lampshade made from human skin, was nowhere in sight during the trial.
During his cross examination of Dr. Sitte, defense attorney Captain Emanuel Lewis tried to introduce a plausible explanation for the removal of tattoos at Buchenwald when he asked:
“Is it not a fact that skin was taken from habitual criminals and was part of scientific research done by Dr. Wagner and into the connection between criminals and tattoos on their bodies?”
Dr. Sitte answered:
“In my time, skin was taken off prisoners whether they were criminal or not. I don’t think that a responsible scientist would ever call this kind of work scientific.”
he trial of Ilse Koch was a big event, which attracted world-wide attention. I can remember seeing news reels about it. The photo above shows 14 American Clergymen who traveled to Dachau, where the American Military Tribunal proceedings were held.
On April 16, 1947, five days after the start of the trial against the Buchenwald war criminals, an SS man named Werner Fricke took the stand to testify for the prosecution. Fricke had served as a clerk at Buchenwald from 1937 to 1945.
Fricke said the following in his testimony at the Buchewald trial, according to the book The Beasts of Buchenwald by Flint Whitlock:
When the action against the work slackers started in the fall of 1940, I believe, a prisoner was sent into the camp on account of Paragraph 175, Homosexuality. This prisoner, who was totally insane, did not, in my opinion, belong in a concentration camp but in an asylum. That prisoner was tattooed all over his body from face to toe. In fact, even his sexual organs were tattooed. Koch made a show out of this man in front of the camp gate, having him stand there nude.
About two or three weeks later, when I had to see the camp commandant on account of a matter of vital statistics [Fricke worked in the camp's Vital Statistics office], I saw a book bound in human skin lying on his desk. The tattoos seemed so familiar to me that I suspected right away that it was the skin of the prisoner mentioned. The trusted friend of Koch, SS-Master SergeantMichael [and, according to Eugen Kogen, a nephew of Commandant Koch] confided to me upon a question after that prisoner that this book which I had seen in Koch’s place was actually bound with the skin of this prisoner. He said that the prisoner had died and that he had received instructions from Koch to have the skin tanned in camp and have a book bound with it. I do not know about a lampshade or a hand bag, and I never saw those either. However, I freely admit the possibility, for nothing was impossible with Koch.
Did I mention that hearsay evidence was allowed in all the trials before the American Military Tribunal, as well as at the Nuremberg IMT?
Apparently the infamous photo album, that was seen by the SS man and some of the prisoners, was confiscated by the American liberators, but it was not introduced into evidence in the courtroom.
In her plea for mercy from the court, Ilse Koch pointed out that Newsweek magazine had published an article in which it was stated that the US military government in Germany was in possession of her photo album. Frau Koch claimed that the album contained several photos of her home which showed lampshades made from dark leather; Frau Koch said the photos showed that the lampshades were clearly not made from human skin and since the actual lampshade was never produced Ilse was sentenced to only four years but due to pubic outrage she was resentenced to life.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor
We have read in recent weeks and months about the continued movement of corporate profits by US corporations to their overseas subsidiaries in order to avoid paying taxes here on those profits. Walgreens almost went that route recently but they decided to not do what is called an “inversion” to avoid taxes. At least for now.
You may be wondering what the picture is all about. The building in the attached photo is one of the main buildings on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. And Microsoft has also been busy working on their taxes.
Microsoft, made news recently, by admitting that they have stashed $92 Billion dollars overseas in an attempt to avoid paying $29 Billions in taxes! While Microsoft has not officially “inverted” its profits, they have done the next best thing.
Many large US corporations have complained that they have to move profits overseas because they cannot be competitive in the world market without a lower tax base. Just how true is that claim?
“At the New York Times’ Dealbook Andrew Ross Sorkin looks at this issue in “Tax Burden in U.S. Not as Heavy as It Looks, Report Says.” Sorkin looks at a paper, “‘Competitiveness’ Has Nothing To Do With it,” by Edward D. Kleinbard. Kleinbard is a professor at the University of Southern California and used to be chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Sorkin quotes Kleinbard:
“Despite the claims of corporate apologists, international business ‘competitiveness’ has nothing to do with the reasons for these deals,” he [Kleinbard] writes. “Whether one measures effective marginal or overall tax rates, sophisticated U.S. multinational firms are burdened by tax rates that are the envy of their international peers.”
Our tax rates are “the envy of their international peers?” Sorkin explains:
Professor Kleinbard contends that most United States multinational companies don’t pay anywhere near 35 percent. Companies paid, on average, 12.6 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office, which last measured it in 2010, by deliberately stashing piles of cash abroad.” Crooks and Liars
If the large corporations are really only paying, on the average, 12.6% on their profits, why would they be claiming that can’t be competitive? The only reason I can come up with is good old-fashioned Greed. Of course, it can be argued that these corporations only answer to what their shareholders demand, better performance on their stock earnings. Do you believe that argument?
Just how does a large multinational corporation like Microsoft go about moving their profits overseas?
“Because Microsoft has not declared itself a subsidiary of a foreign company, the firm has not technically engaged in an inversion. However, according to a 2012 U.S. Senate investigation, the company has in recent years used its offshore subsidiaries to substantially reduce its tax bills.
That probe uncovered details of how those subsidiaries are used. In its report, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations described what it called Microsoft’s “complex web of interrelated foreign entities to facilitate international sales and reduce U.S. and foreign tax.” The panel’s report noted that “despite the [company’s] research largely occurring in the United States and generating U.S. tax credits, profit rights to the intellectual property are largely located in foreign tax havens.” The report discovered that through those tax havens, “Microsoft was able to shift offshore nearly $21 billion (in a 3-year period), or almost half of its U.S. retail sales net revenue, saving up to $4.5 billion in taxes on goods sold in the United States, or just over $4 million in U.S. taxes each day.”
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said at the time: “Microsoft U.S. avoids U.S. taxes on 47 cents of each dollar of sales revenue it receives from selling its own products right here in this country. The product is developed here. It is sold here, to customers here. And yet Microsoft pays no taxes here on nearly half the income.” ‘ Reader Supported News
Whether you are talking about an inversion which requires the US corporation to claim that its base of operations is actually no longer in the United States, or deferral tactics like the ones used by Microsoft, the bottom line is that many large US multinational corporations have avoided paying billions in taxes. While Microsoft has stashed $92 billion overseas, they are not the worst offender.
“Apple and General Electric, which also employ offshore subsidiaries, are the only U.S.-based companies that have more money offshore than Microsoft, according to data compiled by Citizens for Tax Justice. In all, a May report by CTJ found that “American Fortune 500 corporations are likely saving about $550 billion by holding nearly $2 trillion of ‘permanently reinvested’ profits offshore.” The report also found that “28 these corporations reveal that they have paid an income tax rate of 10 percent or less to the governments of the countries where these profits are officially held, indicating that most of these profits are likely in offshore tax havens.” Reader Supported News
It seems that it is fair game for US corporations to hide from their duty as “citizens” of the United States by using legal tactics that actually harm the Treasury of the United States, while at the same time taking advantage of the infrastructure created by the state and Federal entities. I wonder if non-corporate citizens can use the same inversion tactic to avoid paying income taxes?
Maybe we should all incorporate and sell out to a foreign “corporation” and invert our income to the home country of that foreign “owner’. Sounds crazy, but maybe that is the next step. Maybe we can start a whole new cottage industry of foreign “corporations” designed to house individual Americans income to elude the taxman here in the United States. On second thought, maybe not! However, just how much do these corporate inversions and deferrals cost the rest of us taxpayers?
“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”
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