American Elephants


Noah’s Ark Takes to the Water, Once Again, 3,765 Years Later. by The Elephant's Child
September 2, 2015, 6:58 am
Filed under: History, Iran, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Here is a fascinating story of how an Englishman, going through some of his father’s possessions after his death. found a clay fragment that his father had bought from a bazaar with cuneiform writing on it. which he took to the British Museum to see if he could find out just what it was.  It was a clay tablet from 1,750 B.C. and Dr. Irving Finkel, Deputy Keeper of Middle East in the British Museum found it to contain a new account of the ancient Babylonian Flood story, containing actual directions for making a round ark.

There are many versions of the deluge myth in the ancient Near East. One features Zusudra, King of Sumer, as the Noah figure and is found on a single tablet from the 17th century B.C. excavated in Nippur, Iraq. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of Utnapishtim who was tasked by the god Enki-Ea to build a boat that would save his family, craftsmen, plants and animals from the flood the other gods were sending to destroy humanity. The earliest surviving Gilgamesh tablets date to the 18th  century B.C.

Dr. Finkel is one of the few people in the world who can sight  read cuneiform writing. “Wall, wall! Reed wall, reed wall! Atra-Hasis…” That passage is famous among Assyriologists as the opening lines of the Atra-Hasis Flood Story. Finkel was thrilled at such a rare find and asked to keep the tablet so he could translate the whole thing which is covered in cuneiform front and back, but Mr. Simmonds was unwilling to part with it. It wasn’t until 2009 when Dr. Finkel spotted Douglas Simmonds at the Babylon, Myth and Reality exhibition that the latter finally agreed to bring the tablet in for translation.

The story of what that tablet led to is an absolutely fascinating archaeological detective story told in the video. Simply stated, this show has everything: Mesopotamian history, issues in ancient urban water management, the Ziggurat of Ur, dangers military and ecological, southern Iraq’s enchanting marshlands, cuneiform tablets and the laser-scanning thereof, ship design, archaeological geology, traditional crafts, how reeds can be used to make an AMAZING house, bitumen drama, flood legends and their transmission from Babylon to Judea, the reality of regular flooding in the Fertile Crescent, several exceptional beards and at the end, a big ol’ round boat.

Watch it when you have the time, and when you can enlarge it to full screen.



Things Aren’t Going Well for Hillary, and She’s Getting Mean. by The Elephant's Child

hillary clintonBack when she was a United States senator, Hillary stated “I am , you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants.” She also called for the creation of a national entry/exit ID card to keep track of people who’ve been admitted to the country legally—and maybe not just those people. “Although I’m not a big fan of it, we might have to move towards an ID system even for citizens.”

Well, that was then, this is now—Hillary’s effort to appeal to Hispanics is to compare Republicans to Nazis. Name the issue, and Hillary’s been on both sides of it at one time or another. She has wanted to be president—the first woman president—ever since she tried to be co-president with Bill, and the people had to tell her that she was not elected.

What is inordinately depressing about that is that in the intervening 19 years she has not done any real thinking about the state of the republic and what good governance consists of. Nor did her sojourn in the Senate show any evidence that she had thought long and hard about being an effective senator, nor did she as Secretary of State.

Our chief ambassador to the world departed from that office bragging about her air-miles, and trying to pass off the people’s demand to know why four Americans died at Benghazi as some kind of Republican political attack.  “And I hope that this will be the last effort by some in the Congress to politicize the tragic events of Benghazi. And that we do what all the other investigations, both the congressional ones and the independent one, and press—and others who have examined this—we will do what we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And that’s always been my focus.” Uh huh.

Just before that, she was calling republicans “terrorists.””As well she should have. If the pen is mightier than the sword, the modern digital video camera and the associated editing suite is a thermonuclear warhead, and the Internet is an ICBM traveling at the speed of light. CMP’s investigation was deceitful — it was sneaky as all hell, in fact — and it was excellent journalism, the sort of thing that would win a Pulitzer prize if the Pulitzer committee weren’t manned by the gutless and the intellectually dishonest.” (That’s from Kevin Williamson)

Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be President of the United States, yet espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century for America. We are going forward. We are not going back. (David French)

And sending off boxes of baby heads in the mail is just so 21st century, Hillary? Well, perhaps it is. That’s how ISIS actually trains their children—to decapitate their dolls and stuffed animals—before they graduate to the real thing. Perhaps you should learn to distinguish between those who disagree with you and the real terrorist thing. It’s helpful if you are making policy proposals.



There Is No Iran Deal. It’s All Just a Pretense. They Pretend to Obey the Sanctions. We Pretend to Believe Them. by The Elephant's Child

Sardar-haj-qasem-soleimani-04Iran has never stopped violating the sanctions, never stopped violating the “agreement” that was reached in Brussels, and is continuing to do everything it can to demonstrate that it has the upper hand as a result of the deal it negotiated with the United States and its five partners. It twists understandings of the terms of the deal to justify its ‘misbehavior’ or just goes ahead and does what it chooses anyway.

President Obama and his Secretary of State are so eager for a deal that they are not pushing back, they are only pushing hard to get a veto-proof congressional vote of approval.

Iran plans to sign a contract for four advanced Russian surface-to-air S-300 missiles as early as next week, following a visit to Moscow by Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani (seen above) in violation of an international travel ban. The Quds Force is the designated arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to export the revolution abroad —which is just what they have been doing.

The sanctions against Qassem Soleimani “will stay forever” John Kerry said on Tuesday. “He oversaw the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, its efforts to destabilize Iraq, to support Bashar Assad in Syria, and the IRGC’s proliferation of WMD. The Quds Force supports the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah, Shiite militants in Iraq, and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Other than that, he’s not apt to pay much attention to sanctions.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is planning “a massive ballistic missile test” in the near future, according to the Fars News Agency.

Earlier this year, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajiadeh said they plan to upgrade and replace Iran’s existing Fateh, Qiyam, and Qadr missiles with a new generation of missiles — despite international sanctions on the Iranian Missile program.

The issue has arisen in the debate over the Iran Deal in Congress. Lawmakers have criticized the agreement for allowing the international arms embargo to be lifted after five years and the ballistic missile sanctions to be lifted after eight years. Perhaps they should criticize the IRGC for ordering new missiles from Russia last week, and having tests “in the near future.” Perhaps they should be arguing, not about what “the agreement says”— but about what Iran is actually doing.

Iranian leaders have declared that their arms shipments to allies in the region, such as their terrorist proxy Hezbollah will continue in spite of the UN Security Council arms embargo that is still in effect for five years.

Secretary Kerry said: “The arms embargo is not tied to snapback. It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms part of it.”

There isn’t any “snapback” anyway, that would require agreement among the other parties to the agreement, and that’s not going to happen. The other parties are busy planning trade negotiations with Iran as soon as they can send them off. With sanctions lifted and money flowing back to Iran, they will be in the market for all the interesting things the western nations produce. Nobody is shouting ‘Death to Germany,’ or ‘Death to France’— the Europeans need to sell more stuff, and they want to buy Iranian oil which will help to lift the energy blackmail that Putin favors. They don’t believe that Iran has any interest in nuking them, it’s our problem. And if Obama wants to be a patsy, that’s our problem too.

Democrats in the House and Senate are lining up to support Obama’s disastrous deal out of blind partisan loyalty to Obama. They are assuming that the inspections will deter Iran for at least another ten years, as Kerry claims. Yet the military sites such as Parchin, where they are working on militarization of nuclear weapons, will not be inspected by the IAEA. Instead the Iranians will inspect their own military sites, and provide soil samples to the IAEA with their own record of the inspection. That should work.

Chief negotiator Wendy Sherman is the one who successfully negotiated the agreement with North Korea —where Kim Jong Un is currently threatening to nuke South Korea. If this was a movie,  you might just walk out because it’s all so completely unbelievable, and sticking around to find out how it turns out is way too uncomfortable.

In spite of all this, President Obama envisions himself flying to Tehran to shake hands on the agreement with the Supreme Leader. He sees it as a triumphant moment when he turns over the Middle East to the sovereignty of the ancient nation of Persia, and brings all Americans home, never to interfere in the nasty world again. Even better than Nixon opening up China. Or something like that. When Iran sets off an EMP attack decimating the East Coast and killing millions of Americans Obama won’t even have finished raising the billion dollars he wants for his presidential library.



Hillary’s Troubles Grow, Her Poll Numbers Decline. by The Elephant's Child

140611-hillary_clinton_cantor-1246_b389bd4261f2ead53ddd871648b90ba8The speculation about Joe Biden’s entering the race has been heightened by his meeting at the Naval Observatory, with Senator Elizabeth Warren. It has undoubtedly caused some consternation in the Clinton campaign. Hillary has been doing her best to laugh off the notion that her email scandal is harming her chances of getting elected president. Bill could carry off that kind of good-ol’ -boy, lovable rogue kind of thing, but Hillary can’t.  She is not a good campaigner. Her speeches come across as lectures from Nurse Ratchet. Her jokes are lame — the one about Snapchat messages deleting themselves, and wiping her home server with a cloth — just fall flat.

Declining poll numbers, and even her disastrous press conference last week in which she arrogantly dismissed questions about her email problems haven’t disrupted the fact that she remains, so far, the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination. She’s reached back to blame it all once again on “the vast right-wing conspiracy.” but that really won’t work this time.

The emails and the private server, the tiny operation in Colorado she hired to manage the server or servers — are serious threats to national security. “Our ridiculous classification rules” are the real problem.”

Hillary Clinton
@HillaryClinton

………..
From a former @TheJusticeDept official: “Our ridiculous classification rules” are the real problem: http://hrc.io/1UXaWd7
5:13 AM – 21 Aug 2015

 Former intelligence and military officials were quick to reply Friday to Hillary’s contention the government over-classification of materials are “the real problem.”

It’s not up to her to decide what level it’s classified at. It’s up to her to obey the law, and clearly she did not,” Lt. Col. Col James Williamson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Williamson entered Special Forces in 1988 and retired in 2012.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Berquist said “she jeopardized every piece of information that went across her private server line. This is a very good example of how her ‘inconvenience’ put us at risk in the United States.”

Berquist added that “this is hubris. This is an example where people say, ‘I don’t play by the rules.’”

Berquist is a former CIA intelligence officer who was hand-picked by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the first president of the Joint Special Operations University, which trains intermediate and senior commanders in special operations. He also served as special operations staff director for the U.S. Central Command during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Jennifer Palmeri, Clinton campaign communications director, said that at the end of summer, Clinton will provide the public with more information about how federal records are classified, and she will turn her focus to more important issues like the Iran nuclear deal, the economy and women’s issues, and she will “go on offense” on her record as secretary of state.

Good luck with that. Clearly, Hillary really doesn’t get the seriousness of the problem, or she has assumed that the rules don’t apply to her.

[Petraeus] was tarred, feathered and ridden out of the CIA on a rail for sharing some information (his own notebook) with his biographer who was both in the military and had a top secret clearance. Yet, Petraeus did not have a secret server set up to house his classified and top secret information or digital satellite imagery; he destroyed nothing; and, there was no “leak.”

Over 300 emails from a small sampling of the Clinton emails have been judged classified. The tech firm she hired to deal with her server has no security clearance, her lawyer has a security clearance, but allowed staff to handle her correspondence and copy secure matters. The government permitted Clinton to use a private server, ignored the matter for months, allowed her attorney’s office staff to handle sensitive emails. People have lost jobs, paid enormous fines, been disgraced and gone to jail for lesser matters. The investigation would not be continuing without Obama’s approval.



Are We Thinking Clearly About the Iran Deal? Or Fooling Ourselves? by The Elephant's Child

On August 4 — David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the “Breakout Timelines Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action? (JCPOA) suggested that the likely breakout for a nuclear weapon for Iran is seven months.

Senator Menendez responded: ” [Six-to-seven months] would be concerning to me, because I already am a little concerned that what we bought here was a very expensive alarm system … [S]ix or seven months is not going to be helpful if they decide to break out, because by the time we re-impose sanctions … it [wouldn’t] be meaningful. The next president of the United States … will only have one choice: to accept Iran as a nuclear weapons state or to have a military strike.

The Institute analyzed the imprudent assumption on which the Obama administration bases its one-year contention:

The bare-boned limits on Iran’s centrifuge program provide for at least a 12-month breakout period. However, based on ISIS analyses the agreed limits do not guarantee a 12-month breakout timeline during the first ten years of the agreement, if Iran can relatively quickly re-deploy its already manufactured IR-2m centrifuges. The administration has taken the position that Iran will not deploy these IR-2m centrifuges, because they have assessed that they will not work well enough. However, this assessment depends on an assumption about Iran’s manufactured IR-2m centrifuges that may not hold. Moreover, available data indicate that the breakage rate of the IR-2m centrifuges are no worse than those for the IR-1 centrifuges. Uncertainties about the quality of the existing IR-2m centrifuges make a definitive resolution of this issue difficult. Nonetheless, straightforward prudence would argue to include these centrifuges in a breakout, since their redeployment would have a major impact compared to IR-1 centrifuges and the United States lacks high assurance that the IR-2m centrifuges will not work adequately if deployed. In this case, the 12-month breakout criterion does not hold during the first ten years of the agreement. At a minimum, it is arguable whether the breakout criterion holds. [Emphasis added].

Another witness was Gary Samore, executive director for research in Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  He said:

Senator, I don’t think re-imposition of sanctions is an effective response to breakout. I think the only effective response to breakout is military force. I mean, if the Iranians have decided to run the risk of openly dashing for a nuclear weapon, I don’t think sanctions are going to deter them or stop them.

Senator Menendez responded: So it seems to me that if Iran makes a political decision to move forward because it believes it’s the preservation of the regime, the revolution, or its place in the region, then ultimately … we are just kicking the ball down the road, but we will have a stronger, resurgent Iran with more money and greater defense capabilities than it has today.

There seems to be a basic assumption here that Iran wants to become an nuclear power to be — what?  merely a powerful nation among the powerful nations of the world. Not that Iran’s urgent desire is to destroy the United States of America, which the Ayatollah loathes, and the nation of Israel, — which he also loathes. In spite of all the evidence do we fail to understand Iran’s real aims? And prepare for that? They talk about increases in terrorism. They talk about Iraq and ISIS, and the other Gulf States. They even mention the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear state, as if that just places Iran in the world’s grouping of states that have nuclear weapons to insure that nobody attacks them.

One would think that observing the actions of ISIS, the beheadings, the immolations, the crucifixions, the destruction of the monuments of history and the behavior of al-Qaeda, there would be some recognition of the fact that these people don’t really observe the same standards nor conventions. We have been told that we worship life, while they worship death — but that makes no sense to the Western mind, so we ignore it.



Obama Is Not Just Wrong, He Is Dangerously Wrong, And Putting American Lives At Risk. by The Elephant's Child

640x392_63122_187994You have probably heard the old saying about “setting the fox to guard the henhouse”— a parable intended to tell you that the nature of a fox is to eat the hen, and you cannot put someone in charge of a task that they are by nature unqualified to fulfill. Which brings us, of course, to the startling news that Obama’s Iran Deal gives Iran the choice assignment of inspecting their own military sites such as Parchin and then to give the results to the IAEA.

Those old parables handed down from one generation to another are ignored at our peril. They represent hard-learned wisdom and form part of the guardrails of life.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Nuclear Physicist, says that we can tell from soil samples the extent to which Iran is developing a nuke. All very fine, except that Iran gets to  produce the soil sample.

Obama is quite sure that Iran would never actually set off a nuclear weapon. He has said so. He believes that when Iran’s funds are released from the sanctions, the money will be used to fix their economy because there has been a lot of hardship for the people and the Ayatollah will want to fix that. He has said so. He believes that Iran wants to become one among the community of nations, and will take care of the Middle East. defeating ISIS and bringing order to the region. He is wrong.

The American Foreign Policy Council’s Amanda Azinheira wrote of the risks in Defense News on Wednesday: “A nuclear warhead detonated 18 miles off the ground anywhere over the eastern seaboard could collapse the whole eastern grid, which generates 75% of the country’s electricity. The recovery time from a nationwide EMP event might be anywhere from one to 10 years. In the meantime, tens of millions of Americans would likely die from starvation and/or societal collapse.”

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies chairman and former CIA Director James Woolsey and EMP Task Force Executive Director Peter Vincent Pry wrote in the Washington Times about Iran and an EMP attack.

Iran has apparently practiced surprise EMP attacks, orbiting satellites on south polar trajectories to evade U.S. radars and missile defenses, at altitudes consistent with generating an EMP field covering all 48 contiguous United States,” according to Woolsey and Pry. “Iran launched its fourth satellite on such a trajectory as recently as February 2015.”

They also noted that the use of nuclear infrastructure permitted under the Iran deal makes getting an EMP weapon “relatively easy.”

Supposedly, we can harden off the grid to an EMP attack, but it has to be done by individual states, who are waiting for the federal government, but nobody seems to regard it as urgent. I have seen estimates of costs in the low billion range, but my knowledge ranges from scant to not much. No one wants to believe that such a thing could happen, because it sounds too much like a science fiction movie.

“Death to America” has never been, as Mr. Obama has claimed, simply a a public relations thing for public consumption. The Iranian people hate the tyrannical government. The Iranian military is planning to be able to make a nuclear EMP attack.

The urgent thing seems to be letting your representatives in Congress know how important it is that they oppose the Iran Deal in Congress, and override the President’s inevitable veto.



Now It’s The IRS Again, With 334,000 Stolen Identities. If They Haven’t Got You Yet, They Soon Will. by The Elephant's Child

The news about our favorite bureaucracies just keeps coming. In this case it is the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS reported a wee break-in to its computer systems back in May. Now they have admitted that an additional 220,000 taxpayer accounts have been compromised.

So if the ObamaCare Hospital required computer breach didn’t get you, you have another chance to get your identity hacked by the IRS — that trusted organization that deals so efficiently with your taxes. There were also 170,000 instances of “suspected attempts that failed to clear the authentication processes.” whatever that means.

So the number of stolen identities now adds up to 334,000 , nearly three tunes the IRS original estimate of 114,000.

Why, it was only about a month ago that it was the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that admitted that Chinese-origin cyber attacks on its computer networks compromised the personal data of 22.1 million Americans who had been employed by the government.

And earlier this month defense officials said that Russia had launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” on the Pentagon’s unclassified email system used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of July. That breach affected approximately 4,000 military and civilian employees, including Chairman General Martin Dempsey.

The IRS break-in occurred in an online service called “Get Transcript” an application that helps taxpayers get their prior year return information. It has been shut down. The IRS will notify taxpayers who were potentially affected as soon as possible and provide them with support — such as free credit protection.

It would be reassuring to hear a strong voice from Washington, telling us that tech experts are already hard at work hardening off or rendering government computer systems impregnable from enemy attack. Instead, we hear the Democratic candidate for president insisting that she never received, saw, or heard of a classified document, and certainly never sent one. That server of hers was all yoga exercises and wedding plans and baby showers and messages to Bill, who has never sent an email message in his life.

Can we expect Cyber-Security from the folks who gave us ObamaCare?




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