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Saturday, March 22, 2014

In Just Over A Year, Hillary Runs Away From Obama On Russia And Iran. She Must Be Running For President, Think So?

Hillary Clinton Distances Herself From Obama

Saturday, 22 Mar 2014 10:34 AM

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Just over a year after leaving her job as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has offered views on foreign policy that analysts said seem part of an effort to distance herself from the Obama administration as she prepares a possible 2016 White House run.In appearances this month, Clinton struck a hawkish tone on issues including Iran and Russia, even while expressing broad support for the work done by Obama and her successor as secretary of state, John Kerry.
Clinton said in New York on Wednesday night she was "personally skeptical" of Iran's commitment to reaching a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear program.
"I've seen their behavior over (the) years," she said, saying that if the diplomatic track failed, "every other option does remain on the table."

Just two weeks earlier, Clinton was forced to backtrack after she drew parallels between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler at a closed-door fundraiser. In comments leaked to the media by a local reporter who attended the event, Clinton said Putin's justifications for his actions in the Crimean region were akin to moves Hitler made in the years before World War Two.
"I'm not making a comparison, certainly, but I am recommending that we can perhaps learn from this tactic that has been used before," she said the next day at an event in Los Angeles.
As secretary of state, Clinton was a key player in a U.S. effort to reset relations with Russia, a policy that critics say now appears to be a glaring failure.
Clinton's recent rhetoric on Iran and Russia is part of a renewed focus on foreign policy for the former first lady and New York senator, who is widely considered the Democratic presidential front-runner in 2016 if she chooses to run.
She has been giving speeches across the country since leaving the State Department, but Wednesday's address was her first on-the-record event in recent months focused solely on international relations.
"Secretary Clinton is distancing herself a bit on foreign policy matters from the administration recently," said John Hudak, a Brookings Institution fellow and expert on presidential campaigns. "This is a pretty standard practice for anyone looking to succeed the sitting president, even within the same party."
"It's one of the first steps for her to say, 'We're not the same candidate,'" he said.
Clinton's office did not respond to questions about the issue.
Creating space between her position and Obama's is a "smart move," said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic strategist who worked for the 1996 presidential re-election campaign of Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton.
"The present administration is in a no-win situation with Russia, with Syria and in the Middle East," Sheinkopf said before Clinton's New York speech. "Making a distance from them can only help."
During her four-year tenure in the State Department, Clinton helped lead the charge on imposing strong sanctions on Iran, which she mentioned in her New York speech to a pro-Israel audience - including several Democratic lawmakers - at an American Jewish Congress dinner honoring her.
In late January, Clinton sent a letter to Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, calling herself a "longtime advocate for crippling sanctions against Iran," but urging that Congress not impose new sanctions during negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program.
She said that like Obama, she had no illusions about the ease or likelihood of reaching a permanent deal with Iran following an interim agreement reached under Kerry.
"Yet I have no doubt that this is the time to give our diplomacy the space to work," a stance she reaffirmed on Wednesday.
Republicans have promised to make Clinton's State Department record an issue if she runs for the White House, focusing on the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
The Republican National Committee has condemned Clinton's handling of the Benghazi assault, suggesting in a recent research note that "Benghazi is still the defining moment of Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."
Some political analysts see her toughening rhetoric as more than a campaign tactic, and fitting with her foreign policy statements before joining the Obama administration. They said that could broaden her appeal to voters if she chooses to run, a decision she has said will not come until the end of this year.
Clinton, while a senator, voted in 2002 for a resolution authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq, a position that hurt her with liberal primary voters in her losing battle with Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
"Making a credible and forceful case for America's place in the world - that's the kind of thing she's likely to say and continue to say," said Josh Block, a former Clinton administration official and now an executive at the Israel Project in Washington. "Those are messages that will resonate with Democrats and independents, as well as some Republicans." (Editing by Peter Cooney and Douglas Royalty)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Chinese Satellite Shows Large Piece Of Debris. Could It Be Part of Malaysian Flight MH370?

China Spots Large Object in Indian Ocean During Search for Jet

Saturday, 22 Mar 2014 04:14 PM

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China said on Saturday it had a new satellite image of what could be wreckage from a missing Malaysian airliner, as more planes and ships headed to join an international search operation scouring some of the remotest seas on Earth. The development rekindles hopes of a breakthrough in the mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, which entered its third week, with still no confirmed trace found of the Boeing 777 or the 239 people on board.
The new potential sighting was dramatically announced by Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, after he was handed a note with details during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, scooping the official announcement from China.
"Chinese ships have been dispatched to the area," Hishammuddin told reporters.
China said the object was 74 feet long 43 feet wide, and spotted around 75 miles "south by west" of potential debris reported by Australia off its west coast in the forbidding waters of the southern Indian Ocean.
The image was captured by the high-definition Earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" early on March 18, two days after the Australian satellite picture was taken, China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said on its website.
There was no official comment on whether the two images could show the same object.

“It is a very remote area but we intend to continue the search until we are absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile,” Warren Truss, deputy to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said Saturday at a Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce near Perth. “That
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled flight to Beijing.
Investigators believe someone on board shut off the plane's communications systems, and partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.
That has led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but they have not ruled out technical problems.
Since Australia announced the first image of what could be parts of the aircraft on Thursday, the international search for the plane has focused on an expanse of ocean more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) southwest of Perth.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said one of its aircraft reported sighting a number of "small objects" with the naked eye, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of five km.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft took a closer look but only reported seeing clumps of seaweed. It dropped a marker buoy to track the movement.
"A merchant ship in the area has been tasked to relocate and seek to identify the material," AMSA said in a statement.
The search area experienced good weather conditions on Saturday with visibility of around 10 kilometers and moderate seas.
Australia, which is coordinating the rescue, has cautioned the objects in the satellite image might be a lost shipping container or other debris, and may have sunk since the picture was taken.
"Even though this is not a definite lead, it is probably more solid than any other lead around the world and that is why so much effort and interest is being put into this search," Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters, before latest Chinese image was reported.
China said its icebreaker "Snow Dragon" was heading for the area, but was still around 70 hours away. Japan and India were also sending more planes and Australian and Chinese navy vessels were steaming towards the southern search zone.
But the area is known for rough seas and strong currents, and Malaysia's Hishammuddin said a cyclone warning had been declared for Christmas Island, far off to the north.
"There are vessels heading in that direction. They may have to go through the cyclone," he said.
"Generally, conditions in the southern corridor are very challenging," said Hishammuddin. "The ocean varies between 1,150 meters and 7,000 meters in depth."
Where the missing plane went after it flew out of range of Malaysia's military radar off the country's northwest coast has been one of the most puzzling aspects of what has quickly become perhaps the biggest mystery in modern aviation history.
Electronic "pings" detected by a commercial satellite suggested it flew for another six hours or so, but could do no better than place its final signal on one of two vast arcs: a northern corridor from Laos to the Caspian Sea, and a southern one stretching from Indonesia down to the part of the Indian Ocean that has become the focal point of the search.
Malaysia has said the search will continue in both corridors until confirmed debris is found.
Hishammuddin said that, in response to a formal diplomatic request from Malaysia, China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan had all said, based on preliminary analysis, that there have been no sightings of the aircraft on their radar.
Aircraft and ships have renewed the search in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand, going over areas in the northern corridor that have already been exhaustively swept.
The Pentagon said it was considering a request from Malaysia for sonar equipment. The P-8 and P-3 spy planes, which the United States is already deploying in the search, also carry "sonobuoys" that are dropped into the sea and use sonar signals to search the waters below.
The search itself has strained ties between China and Malaysia, with Beijing repeatedly leaning on the Southeast Asian nation to step up its hunt and do a better job at looking after the relatives of the Chinese passengers.
For families of the passengers, the process has proved to be an emotionally wrenching battle to elicit information.
In a statement on Saturday, relatives in Beijing lambasted a Malaysian delegation for "concealing the truth" and "making fools" out of the families after they said they left a meeting without answering all their questions.
"This kind of conduct neglects the lives of all the passengers, shows contempt for all their families, and even more, tramples on the dignity of Chinese people and the Chinese government," they said.
Some experts have argued that the reluctance to share sensitive radar data and capabilities in a region fraught with suspicion amid China's military rise and territorial disputes may have hampered the search.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Liberals Are So Uncreative They Have To Steal Ideas To Promote ObamaCrapCare.

Conservatives Will Not Be Pleased That Obama’s Former Campaign Is Now Using This Symbol to Sell Obamacare

Organizing for America, the nonprofit group founded out of President Barack Obama’s former campaign, is now using its own version of the popular “Don’t Tread on Me” symbol to sell Obamacare.
In an email sent out to supporters on Friday, OFA writes: “We’ve been trying to come up with the perfect way to show how proud we are of Obamacare.”
Apparently, they feel like it’s this bumper sticker:
The group is offering the stickers free to Obamacare supporters, saying “it’s a message that should be sent far and wide, so we’re giving them away” to “everyone who’s tired of hearing the other side talk smack about the health care reform.”
The symbol is borrowed from the “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsen flag that’s very popular among conservatives. Many times, it’s used in support of the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights.
A Gadsen flag waves in the wind. (Source: AP)
A Gadsen flag waves in the wind. (Source: AP)

Second Amendment Is Always Under Attack. Gun Haters Write Workbook That Misrepresents The Rights.

Middle School Workbook Reportedly Includes What Could Be the Most Outrageous Definition of the Second Amendment Yet

An Illinois father claims a workbook that teaches the Second Amendment comes with a requirement to register firearms was handed out to seventh-graders at Grant Middle School in Springfield, including his own son.
An image posted on the Illinois Gun Owners Rights Facebook page shows a worksheet that defines the Second Amendment as the following:
“This amendment states that people have the right to certain weapons, providing that they register them and they have not been in prison. The founding fathers included this amendment to prevent the United States from acting like the British who had tried to take weapons away from the colonists.”
The parent reportedly spoke anonymously to and the Examiner about the workbook, which he says includes a summary of the entire Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
“My son was given a workbook at school that is a compilation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When they covered the Second Amendment, he saw that they were stating that only ‘certain guns’ could be owned and that they had to be ‘registered,’ which he knew was false,” the parent reportedly said.
The parent says he confronted Grant Middle School officials and told them that they “can’t reword the Constitution to what you think it should be.”
In an email to TheBlaze, the parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, confirmed that his son received the workbook and immediately brought it to his attention.
The following day, the parent says he went to the school and talked to his son’s history teacher and the head of the history department. After a “civil conversation,” he was informed that two teachers no longer with the school created the workbook several years ago, but it has continued to be used. The officials also assured him they are taking his concerns seriously and vowed to “go to the proper people to have it changed.”
“I feel this situation will be resolved, and very soon,” he told TheBlaze.
The Second Amendment as written in the U.S. Constitution states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The parent said the school is now getting “bombarded with messages” about the material from concerned parents across the country.
Responding to speculation that the information was linked to Common Core, the dad told the Examiner that the workbook was created by two former teachers at Grant Middle School before the controversial national standards were implemented. The workbook, he claims, was only intended for use at the one school.
We made several attempts to contact the school, but it was after hours.
This story has been updated with additional information.

If The Obama Crew Is Not On Official Business, Why Are We Paying For Their China Trip?

Beijing Hotel Staff Already Reportedly ‘Fed Up’ With Michelle Obama’s Entourage: ‘We Can’t Wait for This to Be Over’

First Lady Michelle Obama, her mother and two daughters have reportedly already outstayed their welcome with some of the staff at a $8,350-per-night presidential suite in Beijing. They arrived on Thursday.
A “well-placed” staffer at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel told the Daily Mail that the Obama women have inconvenienced “pretty much everyone” while the first lady’s mother, Marian Robinson, has been “barking at the staff” since she arrived.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, front left, her daughters Sasha, front right, Malia, right in the back, and Michelle Obama’s mother Marian Robinson, left in the back, arrive at Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 20, 2014. Michelle Obama has arrived in Beijing with her mother and daughters to kick off a seven-day, three-city tour where she will focus on education and cultural exchange. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, Pool)
“We can’t wait for this to be over, to tell you the truth,” the staffer said. “We entertain many important people here, but this has been, I think, very different.”
Now the hotel workers are about “fed up.”
The Daily Mail has more details:
Government security forces from both China and the U.S. started Thursday to screen everyone who entered the building, including paying guests, setting up checkpoints that resemble those at airline concourse entrances.
The Secret Service’s monopoly on the hotel’s highest floors has meant the Westin had to boot guests with previous reservations out of their executive-level rooms.
Secret Service agents are also monopolizing hotel elevators long before the Obamas need them, added the staffer, who identified himself as a member of the concierge staff and spoke English during a phone call on Friday.
The Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel’s website describes the 3,400-square-foot suite Michelle Obama and her family are staying in as an “oasis of comfort.” It includes a “private steam room, corner sofas with silk pillows” and in-room dining for six. They also reportedly have a 24-hour butler at their disposal.

Satellites Show Debris But What Is It? The Problem With Technology In South Indian Ocean

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 search tests limits of satellites

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has exposed the technological limits of satellites, which can see a license plate from space — if not necessarily read it — but struggle to find a missing jetliner.
These limits are shaped by physics, money and practicality. Military and commercial satellites are not closely observing and amassing data about the blank places on the map in lightly traveled seas — such as remote areas of the Indian Ocean thousands of miles from where Flight MH370 vanished from radar.
<caption> As the hunt for the missing jet expands across land and sea, here's a chronology of the baffling aviation mystery. Updated as of Mar. 21, 2014. </caption>
As the hunt for the missing jet expands across land and sea, here's a chronology of the baffling aviation mystery. Updated as of Mar. 21, 2014.

Possible airliner debris spotted off Australian coast

Possible airliner debris spotted off Australian coast
Dozens of ships and planes scour a part of the Indian Ocean where a satellite photographed two objects.
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There’s also a trade-off when scrutinizing the surface from space: You can go wide or you can go deep, but you can’t do both. The most sophisticated spy satellites are essentially looking down straws, trying to resolve small details in a narrow field of view.
“Imagine driving down the street at 70 miles an hour with a pair of binoculars and trying to look at every single mailbox,” said Brian Weeden, technical adviser to the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to space policy. “You can’t slew your binoculars around fast enough.”
The satellites may yet prove triumphant in this baffling case. There is tantalizing imagery of possible debris from the missing plane that has been made public by Australian officials, taken by WorldView-2, a high-resolution commercial satellite circling the planet at an altitude of 470 miles.
It’s unclear what’s in the images. The primary object, if it is an object and not some trick of light, was seen on March 16 — eight days after Flight MH370 disappeared — in the southern Indian Ocean about 1,500 miles west of Perth, Australia.
Nothing has been spotted by aircraft or satellites in that location in the days since, officials have said. If the mystery object is part of the plane, it means the Boeing 777 flew from the Equator almost halfway to the South Pole.
“It looks to me like possibly just an exceptionally large patch of sun glint,” said John Amos, president of SkyTruth, which uses satellite imagery to raise awareness of environmental issues. “We’re down in the subtle and ambiguous weeds of human image analysis, where we desperately are trying to find patterns in what we’re seeing.”
The company that owns WorldView-2, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, said the lengthy period of analysis between the day the satellite obtained the image and when the Australians released it to the public is a reflection of the daunting nature of combing through so much data.
“Our constellation of five high-resolution imaging satellites captures more than 3 million square kilometers of earth imagery each day, and this volume of imagery is far too vast to search through in real time without an idea of where to look,” the company said in a statement.
DigitalGlobe has also used a subsidiary company, Tomnod, to crowdsource the search for the plane among volunteers around the world who have looked over the company’s imagery.
“The efforts of millions of online volunteers around the world allowed us to rule out broad swaths of ocean with some certainty,” DigitalGlobe said.
WorldView-2 was launched in 2009 on a polar orbit. As the satellite goes around the planet, pole to pole, every 100 minutes, the planet turns beneath it. Over the course of a day, the spacecraft will pass over most of the surface, including the southern Indian Ocean.
DigitalGlobe calls WorldView-2 “the first high-resolution 8-band multispectral commercial satellite.” The satellite can see something as small as 20 inches across.
A satellite has also proved crucial to understanding what might have happened to the plane after it vanished from radar.
About three hours after Flight MH370 went missing, Inmarsat, a British-based satellite company, began tracking the Boeing 777 through an on-board data system called Aero Classic. Every hour, Inmarsat’s satellites would try to communicate with the aircraft, pinging it with a computerized question asking, in effect, “Are you there?”
For several hours, Flight MH370 responded “Yes, I am,” notifying engineers on the ground with a so-called handshake that the plane was still powered up.
Using that series of pings, Inmarsat engineers and other analysts were able to piece together two broad, arcing regions where the plane could have been located when it last communicated with the satellite.
“Our engineers looked at the time between the handshakes, and they realized that the object wasn’t stationary under a satellite but moving away from it,” Christopher McLaughlin, senior vice president of Inmarsat, said Thursday. “Over time, the engineers here recognized that there were a number of data points and that it had flown for several hours. We didn’t know if it was on the northern or southern corridor.”
An official close to the investigation, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case, said American and British intelligence services checked with the governments of India, Russia and China, as well as U.S. military officials at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, to determine if any objects the size of a Boeing 777 had crossed into their airspace and if any jets had been scrambled to intercept an aircraft.
With no reports of an aircraft crossing into that airspace, investigators ruled out the northern route and turned their attention to the southern axis, pointing toward the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
Many nations have tasked their satellites to help in the search. NASA is contributing data from multiple scientific satellites as well as from a camera on the International Space Station. Patrick Ventrell, a National Security Council spokesman, said Thursday, “We have put every necessary resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process.”
There are satellites in geostationary orbits that can see huge swaths of the planet, but they’re 22,000 miles above the surface, and lack the resolution of the satellites in low Earth orbit.
“Weather satellites can see the whole world, but can’t see anything much smaller than a hurricane,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who also runs a Web site tracking all the satellites currently in orbit.
Confounding the search is that no one is sure what, exactly, to look for.
“It’s very hard to find something in the middle of the ocean,” Weeden said. “We don’t know the size and shape of the object we’re looking for and there’s lots of stuff in the ocean. There’s debris from shipping — containers and other stuff blown overboard. There’s natural stuff like trees and everything else.”
And there’s a lot of ocean out there.
“The Earth is big,” said Weeden. “The Earth is really big.”
Alice Crites, Brian Fung, Ashley Halsey III, Greg Miller and Julie Tate contributed to this report.