Obama Plans ‘Shock and Awe’ in Syria

Obama Plans ‘Shock and Awe’ in Syria

Bob Dreyfuss on September 9, 2013 – 10:35 AM ET

President Barack Obama talks with bipartisan congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House. (Reuters/Larry Downing)

President Obama’s plan to have Congress approve his ill-considered war on behalf of Al Qaeda in Syria will shock everyone, when it happens, with its sheer intensity. Those expecting a “limited” strike against a handful of Syrian military installations, including those involved in delivering chemical weapons, are in for a rude awakening. Instead, what the president will order will be a lot closer to President George W. Bush’s “shock and awe” bombardment of Baghdad before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

That isn’t to say that Obama is planning an invasion of Syria. He’s not. (Although if the state collapses, and Syria descends into chaos, the United States may very well end up with “boots on the ground” and body bags for American soldiers.)

In trying to market his war plans to Congress and the American public, Obama has repeatedly stated that he’s seeking authority for a limited war, and some officials have suggested—especially at the beginning of Obama’s war push—that “the strike,” as the belligerent Secretary of State John Kerry calls it, might involve only a couple of dozen cruise missiles. Don’t believe that for a second.

Even the drafts of resolutions being circulated in Congress suggest that Obama will get the “authority” to wage war against Syria for up to sixty days, with the possibility of an extension. That’s war, folks, not a “strike.”

Continue reading Obama Plans ‘Shock and Awe’ in Syria

Frack Waste Injection Wells Blamed for Earthquakes in OH & PA

Confirmed: Fracking practices to blame for Ohio earthquakes

Charles Q. Choi LiveScience

Sep. 4, 2013 at 3:54 PM ET


This map shows the intensity of shaking in the area of a magnitude-3.9 earthquake that struck near Youngstown, Ohio, on Dec. 31, 2011. Research has linked this earthquake to the underground injection of wastewater from fracking.

Wastewater from the controversial practice of fracking appears to be linked to all the earthquakes in a town in Ohio that had no known past quakes, research now reveals.

The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting water, sand and other materials under high pressures into a well to fracture rock. This opens up fissures that help oil and natural gas flow out more freely. This process generates wastewater that is often pumped underground as well, in order to get rid of it.

A furious debate has erupted over the safety of the practice. Advocates claim fracking is a safe, economical source of clean energy, while critics argue that it can taint drinking water supplies, among other problems.

One of the most profitable areas for fracking lies over the geological formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which reaches deep underground from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York. The Marcellus Shale is rich in natural gas; geologists estimate it may contain up to 489 trillion cubic feet (13.8 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas, more than 440 times the amount New York State uses annually. Many of the rural communities living over the formation face economic challenges and want to attract money from the energy industry.

Youngstown quakes
Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.

Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.

The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.

Continue reading Frack Waste Injection Wells Blamed for Earthquakes in OH & PA

Obama Plan to Bomb Syria Protested in Pittsburgh

Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette: Protesters gather Friday on the corner of Bigelow Boulevard and Forbes Avenue in Oakland in disapproval of possible U.S. military action against Syria.

By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith

Beaver County Peace Links via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sept 7, 2013 – Weary of nearly two decades of intermittent wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, protesters met in Oakland on Friday to tell the Obama administration not to bomb Syria in retaliation for its apparent use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb last month.

Chanting slogans such as "more money for jobs, not for war!" and waving signs with slogans such as "Obushma" and "These Colors Don’t Run the World," the group of approximately 100 demonstrators organized by the Thomas Merton Center Antiwar Committee clogged the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard and repeatedly crossed the streets in front of stopped vehicles.

Among them, Syrian native Elaine Khalil, 47, said the United States — and all the other countries trying to influence the outcome of the conflict between Syrian President Bashir Assad and the rebels trying to oust him — should stop meddling and let the Syrian people make their own peace.

"With [President Barack] Obama supporting this war, our fear is it would actually explode into World War III," Ms. Khalil said, citing the possibility that military strikes might incite retribution by other countries in the region. "If they would pull their hands out of it, the Syrian people would resolve their own problems."

Continue reading Obama Plan to Bomb Syria Protested in Pittsburgh

Major US Churches to Obama: Do Not Attack Syria

July 31, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As leaders of Christian communions and organizations throughout the United States, we are compelled to write to you out of our grief for the crisis within Syria. We feel deeply the pain of all who are caught in the midst of war. We pay heed to the reminder of our Christian brothers and sisters that they are part of the fabric of Syrian history and society, with a desire to live in peace with all their neighbors. The rich religious and ethnic tapestry that has characterized Syria for centuries is at risk of fraying beyond repair.
Already more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed as a result of the war. More than 4 million people have been displaced from their homes within Syria, and an additional 1.7 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, placing a great strain upon local economies.
Churches within the region and many of our own churches, congregations and organizations have responded generously to the needs of Syrians who are suffering as a result of the war. But the needs are enormous and they continue to grow.
We are grateful for the humanitarian assistance provided thus far by the U.S. government and encourage an ongoing and robust response. These funds must be used in an impartial manner, in keeping with international standards. Furthermore, these monies must be in addition to, and not instead of, funding for the ongoing needs of refugees and internally displaced people in other countries. In addition, all parties to the conflict must allow immediate access to all persons in need.

Continue reading Major US Churches to Obama: Do Not Attack Syria

Presbyterians: No Military Attack on Syria

Stated Clerk issues statement in the wake of the escalating violence in Syria

August 30, 2013

Office of the General Assembly

Gradye Parsons

Stated Clerk


The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued a statement today (August 30) in the wake of the escalating violence in Syria, calling upon U.S. and world leaders to refrain from military action.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We are deeply concerned about events in Syria. We grieve for our brothers and sisters who have suffered so deeply for so long. We yearn for an end to the bloodshed and renew our call for a cease-fire and a mediated process involving all parties to provide new choices for all Syrians.

We condemn the use of chemical weapons. Regardless of who perpetrated the attack, such a usage violates a longstanding international norm.  We recognize the authority and the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to deal with this violation of international law. We call all nations to encourage the Security Council to address this illegal and immoral act. We do not doubt that justice is needed, but question the unilateral and inevitably selective role the United States has too often played, too often leading to greater violence, terrorism, and instability.

We call upon the President and the members of Congress to follow the example of other strong leaders in the past by exercising the courage and wisdom to refrain from military action that is likely to escalate the conflict further, and to bring our country directly into another war in the Middle East.

Continue reading Presbyterians: No Military Attack on Syria

Methodist Church: Oppose US Military Action in Syria

General Board of Church & Society


Peace with Justice
Oppose U.S. military action against Syria
Urge Congress to support vigorous peace negotiations
We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ.
We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy. — 
United Methodist Social Principle on War & Peace

The U.S. Congress is expected to vote early next week on authorization of military force against Syria, whose use of chemical weapons against its own citizens is abhorrent. A U.S. military strike on Syria, however, is a false choice between bombing and impunity. Only a political solution to the conflict in Syria will end the suffering of its people.

As Christians we are called to be disciples of peace.

Contact Congress now!
September 4, 2013

Tell your members of Congress you oppose attacking Syria

The U.S. needs to support vigorous peace negotiations

As Christians we are called to be disciples of peace. Contact your Senators and Representative today to oppose U.S. military action against Syria. Tell them to:

  1. Vote against an authorization of military force against Syria. U.S. military action would mean the U.S. government is taking sides in a civil war, would cause further destruction, and would push the Syrian people further into relentless civil war.
  2. Support an alternative response to the conflict through vigorous peace negotiations among the Syrian government, rebel groups and civil society; provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria fleeing the conflict; and work through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to bring those responsible for use of chemical weapons to justice.

Contact your members of Congress now.

On July 13, 2013, Christian leaders sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to pursue military force against Syria. The letter stated:

“Military involvement will only further escalate an already brutal war and will, in fact, undermine the prospect of negotiations to ensure a just and sustainable future for all Syrians. Rather, the U.S. should call for all parties to cease all military activities in Syria and work urgently to de-escalate the crisis, together with other actors in the region and beyond.”

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ecumenical Officer of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, was among 24 Christian faith leaders who signed the letter. Read a copy of the letter.

Please share this action alert with other United Methodists.

If you have any questions, contact Mark Harrison, Director of the Peace with Justice Program at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, mharrison@umc-gbcs.org or (202) 488-5645.

Rep. Rothfus: Military Action not Appropriate

Rothfus: U.S. shouldn’t rush into Syrian fight

Keith Rothfus

Keith Rothfus

Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 7:05 pm | Updated: 8:08 pm, Sat Aug 31, 2013.

By BRUCE SIWY Daily American Sunday Editor bruces@dailyamerican.com | 1 comment

Posted on August 31, 2013

Keith Rothfus said he believes the response to war crimes in Syria shouldn’t necessarily include cruise missiles.

The U.S. congressman, R-Sewickley, was in Somerset on Friday, where he discussed conflict in the Middle East and a variety of other topics.

Like millions of others in America and across the world, Rothfus said he’s simply waiting for more information and details from President Barack Obama.

“U.S. military action I don’t think is appropriate at this time,” the first-term representative said. “You need to ask, What is the objective of military action, and you need to ask, What is the likely outcome of military action?

“We’re waiting to hear what further thoughts (Obama is) giving to the situation over there.”

Syria is in the midst of a civil war that has endured for more than 30 months and, according to United Nations estimates, has claimed the lives of more than 100,000. Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary John Kerry said Friday that they have evidence that the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons on civilians in spite of international warnings.

Continue reading Rep. Rothfus: Military Action not Appropriate

‘Evidence’ of Syrian Gas Attack Fraudulent

How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

Tuesday, 03 September 2013 09:05 By Gareth Porter, Truthout |

In a White House handout photo, President Barack Obama meets with his national security staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 31, 2013. (Photo: Pete Souza / The White House via The New York Times)In a White House handout photo, President Barack Obama meets with his national security staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 31, 2013. (Photo: Pete Souza / The White House via The New York Times)

Secretary of State John Kerry assured the public that the Obama administration’s summary of the intelligence on which it is basing the case for military action to punish the Assad regime for an alleged use of chemical weapons was put together with an acute awareness of the fiasco of the 2002 Iraq WMD intelligence estimate.

Nevertheless, the unclassified summary of the intelligence assessment made public August 30, 2013, utilizes misleading language evocative of the infamous Iraq estimate’s deceptive phrasing. The summary cites signals, geospatial and human source intelligence that purportedly show that the Syrian government prepared, carried out and “confirmed” a chemical weapons attack on August 21. And it claims visual evidence “consistent with” a nerve gas attack.

But a careful examination of those claims reveals a series of convolutedly worded characterizations of the intelligence that don’t really mean what they appear to say at first glance.

The document displays multiple indications that the integrity of the assessment process was seriously compromised by using language that distorted the intelligence in ways that would justify an attack on Syria.

Spinning the Secret Intelligence

That pattern was particularly clear in the case of the intelligence gathered by covert means. The summary claims, “We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.”

That seems to indicate that U.S. intelligence intercepted such communiations. But former British Ambassador Craig Murray has pointed out on his blog August 31 that the Mount Troodos listening post in Cyprus is used by British and U.S. intelligence to monitor “all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East … ” and that “almost all landline telephone communications in this region is routed through microwave links at some stage [and] picked up on Troodos.”

All intelligence picked by the Troodos listening post is shared between the U.S. and British intelligence, Murray wrote, but no commmunictions such as the ones described in the U.S. intelligence summary were shared with the British Joint Intelligence Organisation.  Murray said a personal contact in U.S. intelligence had told him the reason was that the purported intercept came from the Israelis. The Israeli origin of the intelligence was reported in the U.S. press as well, because an Israeli source apparently leaked it to a German magazine.

The clumsy attempt to pass off intelligence claimed dubiously by the Israelis as a U.S. intercept raises a major question about the integrity of the entire document. The Israelis have an interest in promoting a U.S. attack on Syria, and the authenticity of the alleged intercept cannot be assumed. Murray believes that it is fraudulent.

Continue reading ‘Evidence’ of Syrian Gas Attack Fraudulent

Catholic Bishops to Congress: Vote No on Bombing

usccb-emblem-w300USCCB asks Catholics to urge Congress vote against military intervention in Syria

Thomas Reese  |  Sep. 3, 2013 NCR Today

The United States Conference of Catholics Bishops has asked Catholics to urge Congress “to vote against a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria. Instead, ask them to support U.S. leadership, in collaboration with the international community, for an immediate ceasefire in Syria and serious, inclusive negotiations for peace.”

In an “Action Alert,” the conference asks Catholics to tell their representatives and senators:

As Congress debates a resolution authorizing military force in Syria, I urge the Senator/Representative instead to support U.S. leadership for peace.

Both the Holy See and Conference of Bishops have condemned the chemical attack, but remain convinced that only dialogue can save lives and bring about peace in Syria.

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In a recent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace,  wrote: “‘[T]he path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict….’  We ask the United States to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance, and encourage building an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.”

The bishops note that:

During the week of September 9, Congress is expected to take up a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria in response to heinous chemical weapons attacks on innocent civilians.

Providentially, Pope Francis has declared September 7 a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the World.  In solidarity with our Holy Father, USCCB will engage in prayer, fasting and advocacy for peace in Syria.



USCCB Policy Letters on Syria:

Pope Francis’ Declaration of a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria

Position of the Holy See on Syria:

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

PDA to Rothfus: Vote No on Bombing


September 4, 2013

The Honorable Keith Rothfus

250 Insurance Street, Suite 203

Beaver, PA 15009

Dear Representative Keith Rothfus,

The use of chemical weapons on August 21 near Damascus is a grave breach of international law that has rightfully outraged the world community.

The United States and some of its European allies are calling for military strikes on Syria, but apparently without support from NATO or the Arab League.  At Syria’s invitation, a U.N. investigation is already underway and will soon make its report.

A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war. It will only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process to put an end to the catastrophic violence.

Instead, all should seek to leverage the consensus among the entire international community, including Russia and Iran, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and bringing under U.N. oversight the country’s stockpile of such weapons.

It is imperative to determine the facts of the attack and present them to the public. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must bear personal responsibility. The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution.

The Syria Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) President Obama sent to Congress doesn’t prohibit the use of U.S. ground troops. It isn’t limited in duration. It isn’t even geographically limited to Syria.  If this AUMF passes, it is likely to remain. The Syria AUMF isn’t a mandate for limited strikes. It’s a blank check for war.

Therefore we oppose any Congressional military authorization and favor instead a forceful diplomacy based on path to a cease-fire and power-sharing arrangements under international supervision.

In peace,

Tina B. Shannon
PA 12th Congressional District Chapter