Thursday, September 12, 2013

Night Watch

South Korea-North Korea: South Korean and North Korean envoys agreed to resume the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex next week, Seoul's Unification Ministry announced Wednesday, 11 September.

Operations will "resume on a trial basis from 16 September", a statement from the Unification Ministry said. "The institutional foundation has now been laid for Kaesong to develop into an internationally competitive and stable industrial complex."

South Korean firms will be exempt from taxes for the rest of the year to offset losses incurred while the complex was closed, it said.

The ministry also said that the two Koreas planned to host a roadshow to try and attract foreign investors to the zone in October.

Comment: The North's charm offensive continues, manifest in the Rodman visit, but some hard headed economic thinking managed to prevail over ideological petulance. Perhaps the most unnerving aspect of this agreement is the prospect of economic managers from both Koreas targeting together the rest of the world to entice investment.

Six Party Talks: At the daily Foreign Ministry press conference, the spokesman was asked about the Six Party Talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs.

"Q: The ROK and US chief delegates to the Six-Party Talks said on the 10th that there is no way the Six-Party Talks can be restarted if the DPRK (North Korea) does not change its attitude on the nuclear issue. Does the Chinese side have any comment?"

"A: The Chinese side has always advocated remaining committed to achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving related issues through dialogue and consultations. In the current situation, the parties concerned should keep the broad picture in mind, do more things that will help ease the situation, make joint efforts to create favorable conditions for restarting the dialogue, and remain committed to resolving related issues within the framework of the Six-Party Talks."

Comment: One of the drawbacks to the policy of persuading the Chinese to get engaged in a problem is their propensity to solve it their way without compromise. The answer provided by the Foreign Ministry spokesman is a restatement of Chinese policies enunciated at the National People's Congress.

They mean that the North Korean proposal for four party talks is a non-starter and that the US conditions are also not acceptable. There will be talks because the Chinese are in the catbird's seat. They have become the indispensable middle man who has leverage over every one else. While they prefer a non-nuclear North Korea, they can live with a nuclear North Korea. What they find intolerable is instability unless it is of their making.

Syria:Update. Opposition sources say government forces attacked the hills around Ma'aloula village early on Monday under the cover of heavy shelling. The Christian village is reported to be almost empty after most of its residents fled following the arrival of the foreign-backed militants last week. According to a resident, who left the area in the past days, only around 50 people remain there.
Militants from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and the Qalamun Liberation Front are reported to be in control of some parts of the historic village, which is located about 70 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

Comment: Since 1999 this village has been on UNESCO's Tentative List of World Heritage sites.

Politics.The Syrian government has accepted a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control to avoid a possible U.S. military strike,Interfaxnews agency quoted Syria's foreign minister as saying on Tuesday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Mu'allim said, "We held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening we agreed to the Russian initiative." He said Syria had agreed because this would "remove the grounds for American aggression."

Before leaving Moscow, the Foreign Minister made several astounding announcements reported by Russian media. He said,

-- Syria is willing to join the Chemical Weapons Convention;
-- Syria is ready to disclose the location of its chemical weapons;
-- Syria is willing to halt production of chemical weapons, and,
-- Syria is willing to show its facilities to representatives of Russia, the United Nations and other states.

Comment: These are astonishing concessions because they signify that the Asad government is willing to agree to never wage war with Israel. Syrian forces never stood a chance of fighting Israel -- either attacking or defending -- without the threat of chemical weapons delivered by North Korean-made/designed missiles or without some other force multiplier, such as nuclear weapons.

In 2007 Israel destroyed Syria's vestigial plutonium weapons program, when it destroyed the reactor under construction with North Korean assistance. Since then, Syria's only deterrent and equalizer against Israel has been its chemical weapons and delivery systems.

No media analysts have appreciated the significance and implications of Mu'allim's announcements. They represent a partial disarmament agreement and a de facto non-aggression or peace agreement, deals Israel could never achieve on its own. This is a once in a century opportunity.

The exchange of value requires the US to agree to not attack Syria. There are some profound ramifications.

American strategists must recognize that this deal is only good so long as the Ba'athist government survives in Damascus. Thus, the US promise to not attack Asad would amount to a protection agreement because the Islamists and the moderate Islamists will not make a similar guarantee. Yesterday, even so-called moderate rebel groups announced that they recognized Israel as their enemy and would attack it if they came to power.

The US protective umbrella would also apply to Israel for the same reason it applies to the US. If the Islamists win, Israel would be under a chemical warfare threat. That threat goes away only if the Ba'athist government remains in power.



Rick Newman, writing for Yahoo!Finance Exchange says Obamacare Could Be a Fraudsters’ Free-For-All
Have any idea where to find a health insurance exchange? Up to speed on what a healthcare “navigator” is? Know whether you'll need a new government-issued ID card to qualify for Obamacare when it goes live on October 1?

Scam artists hope you're as clueless as possible, because they're counting on widespread confusion about the Affordable Care Act to tap fresh opportunities for milking the unwary.

Scams are nothing new, but three factors make the Affordable Care Act a uniquely rich opportunity. First, the law affects nearly every American in some way, since it requires most people to have health care coverage. Second, it won’t be standardized nationwide, the way Medicare and Social Security are, since states have the freedom to administer the law in different ways. Third, the law is brutally complex, which has sown confusion even among health care experts. The result is a sweeping new law that’s shrouded in confusion and varies based on where you live, which is an invitation for abuse.

The proper response to fraudulent marketing, of course, is to hang up, delete or slam the door and then contact the FTC. But Obamacare comes with a few wrinkles that make it a bit harder to tell who’s legit and who’s bogus. The law, for instance, requires each health-insurance exchange to develop a network of “navigators” whose role is “to educate the public about qualified health plans, distribute information on enrollment and tax credits, facilitate enrollment, and provide referrals on grievances, complaints, or questions.” Among other things, navigators will make sure people know they need insurance, and help enroll them in Obamacare if necessary.
Network of "Navigators" = Network of Fraud

Newman cited several instances where "navigator" had an icon for "healthcare.gov" that instead landed on a page where people could get "navigator help" for $40.

One site was shut down, two others changed the logo following complaints. But $40 is small potatoes compared to those out to steal your personal information and credit cards.

Overseas operators have already started their phone calls.

HealthCare.Gov

For those interested, here's the real link to HealthCare.Gov. Plan and cost information will be available October 1.

I went through a series of questions that I answered honestly. Here was the bottom-line result for me: Don't expect to save any money.

Specifically ...

"You may be eligible to get quality health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. But based on the information you provided, you probably won’t qualify to save money on your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs. You'll find out for sure when you apply for coverage starting October 1, 2013."

Pre-Existing Conditions

I do not have Pre-Existing Conditions. For the purpose of this article, however, I checked a a box stating that I wanted information about them.

Here are some snips:
  • Being sick doesn't keep you from getting coverage
  • Starting in 2014, being sick won't keep you from getting health coverage. An insurance company can't turn you down or charge you more because of your condition.
  • Once you have insurance, the plan can't refuse to cover treatment for pre-existing conditions. Coverage for your pre-existing conditions begins immediately.
  • This is true even if you have been turned down or refused coverage due to a pre-existing condition in the past.

The Pre-Existing Condition Exception

Grandfathered individual health insurance plans--the kind you buy yourself, not through an employer, do not have to cover pre-existing conditions. And I suspect they won't.

ObamaMarket Insurance

People with pre-existing conditions and their own healthcare plans will be forced into "ObamaMarket Insurance" either because of rising costs or because the plans will drop people with pre-existing conditions.

ObamaMarket Open Enrollment
  • You can apply for Health Insurance Marketplace insurance when open enrollment starts on October 1, 2013. Coverage starts as soon as January 1, 2014.
  • Open enrollment ends on March 31, 2014. Outside of open enrollment, you can't enroll in Marketplace coverage unless you have a qualifying life event.

Qualifying Life Event

The ObamaMarket glossary defines "Qualifying Life Event" as follows:

A change in your life that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in health coverage. Examples of qualifying life events are moving to a new state, certain changes in your income, and changes in your family size (for example, if you marry, divorce, or have a baby).

Curiously, the QLE glossary says nothing about change in job status by you or a significant other, self-employment changes, massive hikes in insurance rates, or other such events.

Syrian jihadis fume: Russian initiative "dirty deal," only good for Israel

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Wait a minute. Five minutes ago, the Syrian intervention was being engineered by shadowy Israeli forces. The Jews, the worst enemies of the Muslims according to the Qur'an, are all-purpose objects of Islamic supremacist paranoia, no matter how self-contradictory.

"Syrian rebels: Russian initiative 'dirty deal', only good for Israel," by Roi Kais for Ynet News, September 11:
Syria's opposition and rebel forces are fuming over US President Barack Obama and the West's handling of the Syrian crisis, specifically the latest developments regarding the US attack on Syria. 
Qassim Saad al-Din, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition military command, told the London-based paper Asharq Al-Awsat that the Russian compromise with the US regarding Syria's chemical arms was reached "at the expense of the blood of the Syrian people."
According to al-Din, "the only thing the West is interested in is protecting Israel and disarming the arms threatening it. The 100,000 killed in Syria do not top their priorities."...
Op-ed:
America checkmated thanks to Obama
By: Diane Sori

Today the world has a major new power player and US foreign policy is NO longer dictated by our president…for Vladimir Putin is now doing both.

As Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s failed Middle East policies and in-your-face support of muslim terrorist groups (like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda) remains the main cause of upheaval and instability in the Middle East, Vladimir Putin snuck in to ‘save the day’ while throwing a wrench into Obama’s saber-ratting.  With a proposal to Bashar al-Assad that was really quite brilliant in its simplicity…place Syria’s chemical weapons cache under international control as in under UN auspices…add in a smattering of other diplomatic measures…and have Obama take all military options off the table…Putin hopes this NOT only helps resolve the Syrian crisis but also establishes him as the major power broker in the Middle East.

And after Putin's plan was announced the Obama ‘rah-rah team’ was called in to implement ‘face-saving’ measures...but what in reality is Putin pulling Obama’s butt out of the fire by giving him a way out…and it started with a statement given early Tuesday morning by Secretary of State John ‘Swiftboat’ Kerry that set the stage for Tuesday night’s bloviations by Obama.

Kerry squawked that this Russian proposal was brought to the table and even accepted by the Syrians only after and because of the threat of force coming from Obama.

Now nobody with even one working brain cell believes that and Kerry knows it.

But truth be told Obama is only ‘standing down’ because he does NOT have the needed votes in Congress to support US military intervention in Syria…and for that reason alone. By Putin now allowing him to delay the Congressional vote on military action, Obama avoids the almost certain political defeat he would have gotten, which in turn would have rendered him a politically impotent lame duck while still having three plus years left in his presidency.

Obama’s inability to effectively deal with the Syrian crisis along with his failure to define the actual mission has made him look weak not only on the international front but also with many in his own Democratic base.

And so while muslim countries throughout the world continue laughing at Obama’s leading from behind (if what he does can even be called leading), al-Assad has agreed…in principle at least…to Putin’s proposal and will account for and turn over his chemical weapons. But understand this…and this is extremely important…al-Assad will turn over his chemical weapons but NOTHING has been said about the chemical weapons in the hands of the rebels…NOTHING at all.

And I would bet this has Obama written all over it.

So right now the winner in all this is Vladimir Putin who has proven to be more of a leader…more of a man…than our miserable excuse of a president…our president who could easily have brokered the exact same deal Putin did…that is if he really wanted an end to the chemical gas attacks…instead of allowing Putin to dominate center stage and have all the world’s eyes focused on him at this all-important junction in time…the world’s eyes now seeing a strong Russian leader and a now quivering, cowering American president with serious credibility issues both on the international and domestic fronts.

So the bottom line is this…if Putin’s deal actually comes to pass Syria basically stays as is, Assad remains in power but minus his chemical weapons, the rebels will have to back down to some degree but will still have their chemical weapons (and believe me they have them), Israel will be in an even more precarious situation regarding Syria than ever before, Iran will continue to advance their plans for acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities, Russia gets to keep its strategically important military installation in Syria (its last foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union), and Russia… especially Vladimir Putin…wins the big prize as they and he now will have garnered the position as the dominate power broker in the Middle East.

And Barack HUSSEIN Obama owns this…he owns it all for his impotency in foreign affairs caused this, for Syria is but another Arab Spring gone horribly wrong.

And what can I say about Obama’s teleprompted address to the nation…his usual whining about al-Assad, and that he used the word ‘children’ over and over to tug at America’s heartstrings.  But did anyone notice this one critical sentence that blew Obama’s whole rhetoric to sheds…Obama said ‘look at the videos and photos of fathers crying over their dead children’. ‘Crying over their dead children’…well if their children were gassed and are dead why are the parents they were with alive and kicking…why didn’t they die with their children…why…I’ll tell you why…the videos and photos of dead children neatly lined up in a row are both posed phonies and photos from when Saddam gassed the Kurds is why…and Barack HUSSEIN Obama knows it.

So while Obama has now asked the Senate to delay its vote on authorizing immediate military action he still did NOT discount future military action if he did did NOT like the timetable or way Syria’s disarmament was going. And now Putin has written an editorial…appearing in the New York Times…to the American people making a better plea against the use of American military action than Obama make for it.

In an editorial titled, 'A Plea for Caution From Russia', Putin writes that a strike against Syria “will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.”  He added that if the United Nations Security Council does not approve of such force, it would be classified as “an act of aggression".

Putin also said what many of us have always suspected…that it’s possible the chemical warfare was used by opposition forces to incite international intervention.

And that is something I have always claimed.

Putin continued, “The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders…would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

And how right he is as the Israelis, thanks to Obama, have basically lost trust in the America when it comes to Iran, and that Obama has weakened his credibility with NOT only the Syrians, but also with the Iranians, who know that his ‘red lines’ mean absolutely NOTHING.

So even with al-Assad now agreeing to turn over his chemical weapons and agreeing to sign the chemical weapons ban, World War III still looms as a possibility as long as Barack HUSSEIN Obama continues to saber-rattle and side with the enemy.