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Anarchists vs. ISIS: The Revolution in Syria Nobody's Talking About The Middle East today is the last place anyone in mainstream western thought would think to look for progressive political thought, and even less to see those thoughts translated into action. Our image of the region is one of dictatorships, military juntas and theocracies built on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, or hollow states like Afghanistan, and increasingly Pakistan, where anything outside the capitol is like Mad Max. The idea of part of the region being not just free, but well on its way to utopian, isn't one that you're going to find on mainstream media.
But you're not on the mainstream media right now, are you?
Along Syria's borders with Turkey and Northern Iraq, lies a mainly Kurdish area with a population of 4.6 million where a huge social experiment is taking place at the centre of a crossfire between Syria's dictatorship, ISIS's collective insanity and Turkey's ongoing hostility towards the idea of Kurdish autonomy, with the US and NATO looming large in the background. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) established in the region of Rojava a society that mixes fierce libertarianism (guns are everywhere and there are no taxes – none) and Occupy-friendly anarchist thought with a healthy dose of feminism. While most Kurdish groups, especially those the US is friendly with, would some day like to establish a Kurdish state, in Rojava they have leap-frogged over the idea of the nation state into a more advanced system that they call Democratic Confederalism. (CVLT Nation)
Debating How--Not Whether--to Launch a New War -- Missing perspectives on Obama's attack on ISIS Moments after Barack Obama’s September 10 primetime address laying out a military plan to attack ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, CNN featured a debate between Republican Sen. John McCain and former White House press secretary Jay Carney. The somewhat contentious exchange went viral. “Carney, McCain Spar on CNN Over ISIS Strategy” was the headline on the NPR website. “John McCain Has a Huge Fight With Jay Carney on CNN” was how it was billed at the Huffington Post.
But to anyone who actually listened, the two did not represent especially divergent positions: Both agreed that Obama should launch military attacks, although McCain—to no one’s surprise—thought they could be more aggressive.
The fact that such a narrow disagreement could be seen as a “huge fight” speaks volumes about how little debate exists in corporate media over this new phase of the “war on terror.”
To gauge the range of debate over the White House airstrikes plan, FAIR surveyed some of the key discussion/debate shows during what should have been the moment of most intense consideration of military options: Right after the release of the ISIS video beheadings of two American journalists, through Obama’s televised address and right up to the beginning of US airstrikes on Syria. - In total, 205 sources appeared on the programs discussing military options in Syria and Iraq. Just six of these, or 3 percent, voiced opposition to US military intervention, while 125 (61 percent) spoke in favor of US war.
On the high-profile Sunday talkshows, 89 guests were invited to talk about the war. But just one, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, could be coded as an anti-war guest. (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)
Noam Chomsky | The Leading Terrorist State "It's official: The U.S. is the world's leading terrorist state, and proud of it."
That should have been the headline for the lead story in The New York Times on Oct. 15, which was more politely titled "CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels."
The article reports on a CIA review of recent U.S. covert operations to determine their effectiveness. The White House concluded that unfortunately successes were so rare that some rethinking of the policy was in order.
The article quoted President Barack Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to conduct the review to find cases of "financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn't come up with much." So Obama has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.
The first paragraph of the Times article cites three major examples of "covert aid": Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the U.S.
Angola was invaded by South Africa, which, according to Washington, was defending itself from one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups" - Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. That was 1988. (Truth-Out)
Electronic Dance Music’s Love Affair With Ecstasy: A History -- The drug and the music evolved together over years, making EDM a radically different culture today than it was when it started. We don't know much about Meredith Hunter other than that he killed the American Hippie. We know that his friends called him Murdock, and that he was 18, and that there were three weeks until the last day of the 1960s. 300,000 people had gathered at the Altamont Raceway Park near San Francisco for Woodstock’s Pacific reincarnation, but of the increasingly violent masses, he was the only one who stormed the stage with a gun, and the only one who was stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel.
Today, we know Hunter mostly in the context of his death, but even there he’s just a metaphor. In the rise-and-fall narrative of hippie culture, he is simply the Altamont tragedy, and Altamont is known as the day the music died.
In his reflections on the recent anniversary of the September 11th attacks, John Cassidy discusses the human “saliency bias”—our habit of forming memories around jarring events rather than, say, a series of minor incidents whose impact nets about equal. This mechanism explains how and why history can link a generation’s implosion to one day at the end of the decade. For both sides of the culture, the tragedy’s gruesome rawness gave legitimacy to the concern that peace and love were quite literally killing the country.
Consider Olivia Rotondo, whose by-all-accounts-normal life suggests that her death could have happened to anyone. Four hours after tweeting her excitement about the Electric Zoo Festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island, she collapsed in front of a paramedic, saying the seven words that in the weeks since have become a macabre Exhibit A in the campaign against the drug that is said to have killed her.
“I just took six hits of Molly.”
She died that night. Jeffrey Russ, a 23-year old also believed to have taken MDMA (the drug’s proper name) had passed away 18 hours earlier. The following day—what would have been the grand finale to the three-day gyration of 100,000 neon-clad ravers—Randall’s Island was deserted and silent.
“If you look at electronic dance music culture, it seems to be more diverse, more accepting of the 'other', more welcoming of gay people—a counter-ethos of 'we’re in it together.' There’s a spiritual aspect to it.”
Since it first plugged in its equipment five summers ago, Electric Zoo has marked the end of the annual electronic festival season in the United States, the centerpiece each year of one of the country’s most mainstream and lucrative new artistic industries. In 2012, electronic dance music (EDM) spawned eleven platinum hits and increased the population of Miami by one quarter for one of the biggest American musical events since Woodstock. It has repackaged and commoditized the two-decade-old EDM mantra of “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect” (usually abbreviated to “PLUR”) that apparently captures what this whole vision, with its bass drops and Day-Glo campiness, and a certain synthetic chemical stimulant, has always been about. (The Atlantic)
Why You Don't Actually 'F*cking Love Science' So, you think you love science? What does that mean to you, exactly?
For most people, I’m guessing it means something like this:
Or perhaps something like this:
Image: National Institutes of Health
That’s not what science is, though. That’s data, and like countless “Principal Investigators” of the science world (the professors who are named on research grants), you’re confusing data with science. This is what science is:
Working in the laboratory
Image: iStockphoto, LajosRepasi
Science is people. It’s a collective human endeavor, in which people make theories, test them based on observation and refine the theory when the tests disagree with it. Data, as seen in the beautiful pictures above, is just a side object that confirms the process is working. Science is the process and the people. Data is the residue.
I’m not making it sound very nice, am I, to love a "residue?" Good. There’s a reason for that.
See, the things people love, they go to bat for — their children, their medical care, their homes, their countries. They sacrifice time, energy, money and life to take care of these priorities. They campaign for the government to take care of these things. There are decently paid people, hired by the government, who enact programs related to these well-loved priorities.
Meanwhile, the average salary for a postdoctoral scholar, the workhorse of the academic science world, is about $40,000.
Meanwhile, the average salary for a postdoctoral scholar, the workhorse of the academic science world, is about $40,000. Why am I focusing on academic science? Because it doesn’t have a “profit motive.” Private industry pays far, far more. It’s not dependent on the government, which restricts what postdocs may be paid. In industry, an equivalent position pays about $115,000. That’s about what a person with five to 10 years in graduate school ought to be paid. (Mashable)
Confirmed: Navy Yard Shooter Was On Anti-Depressant Trazodone -- Drug linked to previous mass shooting despite Washington Post declaring it "safe" It has been confirmed that Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis was on the anti-depressant drug Trazodone, providing yet another example of a connection between psychiatric drugs and mass shootings.
In verifying that Alexis was prescribed Trazodone by the Veterans Affairs Office, the Washington Post published a brief article downplaying the danger of the drug, quoting Miami physician Gabriela Cora who stated (almost too eagerly), “Honestly, it’s a very safe drug to use.”
However, the drug has been linked to a number of murders, including one mass shooting.
Trazodone is sold under the brand names Desyrel, Oleptro, Beneficat, Deprax, Desirel, Molipaxin, Thombran, Trazorel, Trialodine, Trittico, and Mesyrel. Although not strictly a member of the SSRI class of antidepressants, it shares many of the same properties and also serves to increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Despite the Washington Post’s attempts to portray the drug as being safe, it is linked with a whole host of side-effects including suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, depersonalization and anger. Symptoms of Trazodone withdrawal include aggression and violent behavior. (Prison Planet)
A Plea for Caution From Russia -- What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike 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. (New York Times)
Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. (Reuters)
The rush to judgment on Syria is a catastrophic and deadly error -- Britain and America show contempt for the lessons of the past in pressing for action It is more than 10 years since Parliament last voted on whether or not to go to war. This was on March 18 2003, when a stirring speech by Tony Blair convinced many sceptical MPs of the case for military action against Iraq.
But Mr Blair’s claim that Britain possessed “extensive, detailed and authoritative” evidence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nonsense, and we invaded the country on the back of a false prospectus. The consequences were terrible: countless Iraqis were killed in the civil war that followed, along with 179 British soldiers.
The similarities with today’s Commons vote are haunting. The Prime Minister is contemplating an attack on Iraq’s near neighbour Syria, also ruled by a Baathist regime. At the heart of the issue are allegations about weapons of mass destruction. Once again, Britain finds herself in alliance with the United States, and without the authority of the United Nations.
Many of the same voices are cheering us on. Most zealous of all is Tony Blair, while Alastair Campbell, the New Labour propagandist who spread the stories about WMD in Iraq, said yesterday that it would be “irresponsible and incredibly dangerous” not to intervene in Syria. (London Telegraph)
The Program (video) It took me a few days to work up the nerve to phone William Binney. As someone already a “target” of the United States government, I found it difficult not to worry about the chain of unintended consequences I might unleash by calling Mr. Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower. He picked up. I nervously explained I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to speak to him. To my surprise he replied: “I’m tired of my government harassing me and violating the Constitution. Yes, I’ll talk to you.”
Two weeks later, driving past the headquarters of the N.S.A. in Maryland, outside Washington, Mr. Binney described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004.
“The decision must have been made in September 2001,” Mr. Binney told me and the cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. “That’s when the equipment started coming in.” In this Op-Doc, Mr. Binney explains how the program he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on this country. He resigned over this in 2001 and began speaking out publicly in the last year. He is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying. (New York Times)
Taken -- Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”
They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.
He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.
No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.
Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.
The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)
The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services. (The New Yorker)
Soldier Writes Suicide Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served with Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. He ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee and interviewed Iraqis and insurgents alike. When he returned, he had PTSD as well as traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions.
On June 10, 2013, he wrote the letter below to his family. A heartfelt and heart-breaking account of pain and memories that he could not overcome. He tells his family that “I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” The letter is reproduced in full, below…
I am sorry that it has come to this.
The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term. (Political Blindspot)
Navy SEAL Extortion 17 EXPOSED -- Obama Failures (TrentoVision 5.9.13) May 9, Thursday 10:00 AM, National Press Club, Washington, DC:
Watch these Navy SEAL Team VI families and other family members as they reveal the Obama Administrations culpability in death of their sons in the fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan following the successful raid on bin Laden's compound. This is a powerful and riveting briefing that included some of America's most significant military leaders. (United West)
World Unites Against the Illuminati: Professor Griff on Fire! Infowars.com presents our groundbreaking interview with rap artist Professor Griff of Public Enemy.
Professor Griff lists Obama's lies, describes why hip hop stars are in the White House and breaks down some of the world's deadliest corporations.
Griff has always been an outspoken voice in the hip hop community and by combining forces with Alex Jones and Infowars, he attempts to break the public's mass-media induced coma. (Prison Planet)
Boston bombing suspect cites U.S. wars as motivation, officials say The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.
From his hospital bed, where he is now listed in fair condition, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has acknowledged his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15, the officials said. The first successful large-scale bombing in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era, the Boston attack killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.
Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were “self-radicalized” through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.
Obama has made repairing U.S. relations with the Islamic world a foreign policy priority, even as he has expanded drone operations in Pakistan and other countries, which has inflamed Muslim public opinion. (Washington Post)
Back at college, suspect called Boston bombs "crazy": classmate Working out at the gym at their sleepy New England college, two students chatted about how "crazy" it was that bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. Three days later, one of them was named a prime suspect.
Returning to campus on Sunday after being evacuated on Friday during a massive manhunt for the bombers, students at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth swapped recollections of seeing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, back in the dorm, at class and in the gym in the aftermath of the bombings.
Tsarnaev was working out in the gym from 8 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, listening to music on his iPod, when he struck up a conversation with fellow sophomore Zach Bettencourt.
"It's crazy this is happening now," Bettencourt recalled Tsarnaev telling him when the bombings came up. "This (these bombings) is so easy to do. These tragedies happen all the time in Afghanistan and Iraq." (Reuters)
Boston Bomb Suspect’s Dad Tells Him to Surrender, Warns 'Hell Will Break Loose' if Son Dies The father of suspected Boston Marathon bomber called on his son today to give up peacefully, but warned the U.S. that if his son is killed “all hell will break loose.”
Anzor Tsarnaev spoke to ABC News from his home in the Russian city of Makhachkala as Boston police carried out an intense dragnet for his son Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, survived a running gun battle with police during the night that left an MIT security officer dead and a Boston cop badly wounded. His older brother died in the shootout.
The father said he spoke to his sons by phone earlier this week. “We talked about the bombing. I was worried about then,” Anzor Tsarnaev said.
He said his sons reassured him, saying, “Everything is good, Daddy. Everything is very good.”
The elder Tsarnaev insisted that his sons were innocent, but said he would appeal to his son to “surrender peacefully.”
“Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you. Come home to Russia,” the dad said.
The father warned, however, “If they killed him, then all hell would break loose.” (ABC)
Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons I almost choked on my coffee listening to neoconservative Rudy Giuliani pompously claim on national TV that he was surprised about any Chechens being responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings because he’s never seen any indication that Chechen extremists harbored animosity toward the U.S.; Guiliani thought they were only focused on Russia.
Giuliani knows full well how the Chechen “terrorists” proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989. In fact, many neocons signed up as Chechnya’s “friends,” including former CIA Director James Woolsey.
For instance, see this 2004 article in the UK Guardian, entitled, “The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own.”
Author John Laughland wrote: “the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled ‘distinguished Americans’ who are its members is a roll call of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusiastically support the ‘war on terror.’ (Consortium News)
USA: The Creator & Sustainer of Chechen Terrorism ~ Boston Terror: Don’t Let the Media Fool You … Again- Climb Up the Chain and Meet the Real Masterminds of Global Terror. Here we go again- Déjà vu. Out of the blue we have a ‘terror event,’ a couple of pop-terrorists, and a new buzz-word nation-Chechnya. There they go again: USA Media tales made-in-government: Muslims, terrorists, fanatics, freedom-haters … this time from another exotic-sounding land-Chechnya.
They are going to tell you about the new frontiers in the so-called Islamic Terror Cells: The Caucasus and Central Asia. They’ve been planning this for a long time. In fact, the plans were in motion as early as the mid-1990s. Since 2002, despite the gag orders and attacks, I have been talking about: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I have been talking about our operations-grooming our very own terrorists in that region. I have been talking about Chechnya. In fact, just recently, I talked and talked and talked about it on record:
Sibel Edmonds on Operation Gladio Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
The government and its media will give you the tales. They will give you the roller-coaster-like spins. They will not give you what you need to know. Two years ago, we, at Boiling Frogs Post, provided you with the following article-analysis. Please read it: with the recent home-made terror incident and the new media buzz-word ‘Chechnya’, you need to arm yourself with facts. (Boiling Frogs Post)
Boston Marathon bombs have hallmarks of 'lone wolf' devices, experts say The devices used in the Boston Marathon attack Monday are typical of the "lone wolf:" the solo terrorist who builds a bomb on his own by following a widely available formula.
In this case, the formula seems very similar to one that al Qaeda has recommended to its supporters around the world as both crudely effective and difficult to trace. But it is also a recipe that has been adopted by extreme right-wing individuals in the United States.
The threat of the "lone wolf" alarms the intelligence community.
"This is what you worry about the most," a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. "No trail, no intelligence." (CNN)
Indisputable Torture (By The Editorial Board) A dozen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an independent, nonpartisan panel’s examination of the interrogation and detention programs carried out in their aftermath by the Bush administration may seem to be musty old business. But the sweeping report issued on Tuesday by an 11-member task force convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, provides a valuable, even necessary reckoning.
The work of the task force, led by two former congressmen — Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who served in the Bush administration as under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and James Jones, a Democrat, who was an ambassador to Mexico during the Clinton years — is informed by interviews with dozens of former American and foreign officials, as well as with former prisoners.
It is the fullest independent effort so far to assess the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons. Those who sanctioned the use of brutal methods, like former Vice President Dick Cheney, will continue to defend their use. But the report’s authoritative conclusion that “the United States engaged in the practice of torture” is impossible to dismiss by a public that needs to know what was committed in the nation’s name. (New York Times)
Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American ~ There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats As we now move into the official Political Aftermath period of the Boston bombing — the period that will determine the long-term legislative fallout of the atrocity — the dynamics of privilege will undoubtedly influence the nation’s collective reaction to the attacks. That’s because privilege tends to determine: 1) which groups are — and are not — collectively denigrated or targeted for the unlawful actions of individuals; and 2) how big and politically game-changing the overall reaction ends up being.
This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.
Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts. (Salon)
Conspiracy Theory Poll Results On our national poll this week we took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many of these theories are well known to the public, others perhaps to just the darker corners of the internet. Here’s what we found:
- 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at 41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax
- 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive
- 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup
- 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order. A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t
- 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not (Public Policy Polling)
NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.
Scientists at the University of California, Irvine; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.
The findings, to be published Friday, Feb. 15, in the journal Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region. Because obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, are essential. GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries.
"GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws." (National Aeronautics And Space Administration)
'Gates of Hell': France upping military presence in Mali conflict France is sending more troops to Mali to fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants. Paris claims the move is short-term, but delays to the deployment of an African security force have raised fears the conflict could spill over into neighboring nations.
The French government issued a statement that it would send 2,500 troops to support Malian government soldiers in the conflict against Islamist rebels. France has already deployed around 750 troops to Mali, and French carriers arrived in Bamako on Tuesday morning .
French president Francois Hollande hailed the latest overnight airstrikes on rebel targets as “achieving their goal,” but said that assembling an African force to reinforce French troops could take a “good week.” (Russia Today)
Obama's picks for defense, CIA signal new security era Obama's nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA signal second-term course adjustments at institutions that have been dominated by their lethal assignments during more than a decade of war. - President Obama is assembling a national-security team designed for an era of downsized but enduring conflict, a team that will be asked to preside over the return of exhausted American troops and wield power through the targeted use of sanctions, Special Operations forces and drone strikes.
Obama's nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA signal second-term course adjustments at institutions that have been dominated by their lethal assignments during more than a decade of war.
Those adjustments could include returning the CIA's focus to its core mission of gathering intelligence, even though it is expected to maintain its fleet of armed drones for years. The Pentagon faces an even more aggressive restructuring to balance budget cuts against threats, including China's ascendant military and emerging al-Qaida affiliates in North Africa and the Middle East.
The nominations also set the stage for confirmation fights driven not only by criticism of Hagel and Brennan but by the foreign-policy approach they represent.
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, shares Obama's aversion to military intervention. White House officials described him as ideally suited to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the shrinking Pentagon budget. But he has attracted fierce criticism from groups that question his support for Israel. (Washington Post)
Oil Slicks and Sleazy Dealings: The BP Settlement The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 was the single worst man-made ecological disaster at sea. Due to the epic scope of the accident, one would believe it would have a lasting impact on the company responsible, or at the very least increased environmental regulations. One would be mistaken.
Approximately $100 Million worth of advertising, spent by British Petroleum following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, essentially made the disaster a political and societal non-issue. The anger of gas consumers towards BP was short-lived, demonstrated by the company’s impressive third quarter gains of $5.4 billion.
As cars continued to line the company’s gas pumps, the focus of mainstream media shifted from the 9/11 of ecological devastation to something more sensationally substantial, like what those crazy Kardashians were up to. Without the continual news coverage, the public’s glaring disapproval was detoured in other directions. The unforgivable mistake British Petroleum had made was largely forgiven (or at least forgotten), even as tons of unrefined sludge were pumped into the Gulf of Mexico. (The Boston Occupier)
Dreams in Infrared -- The Woes of an American Drone Operator A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.
The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.
Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact. (Der Spiegel)
More Than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes More than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity “legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany,” the distinguished American international law authority Francis Boyle charges.
U.S. officials involved in an “ongoing criminal conspiracy” in the Middle East and Africa who either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others, Boyle said.
“In international legal terms, the U.S. government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international law,” Boyle said in an address Dec. 9th to the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. Boyle is a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and the author of numerous books on the subject. (Scoop)
Obama's Pot Problem: Now that states have started legalizing recreational marijuana, will the president continue the government’s war on weed? When voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in November, they thought they were declaring a cease-fire in the War on Drugs. Thanks to ballot initiatives that passed by wide margins on Election Day, adults 21 or older in both states can now legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The new laws also compel Colorado and Washington to license private businesses to cultivate and sell pot, and to levy taxes on the proceeds. Together, the two states expect to reap some $600 million annually in marijuana revenues for schools, roads and other projects. The only losers, in fact, will be the Mexican drug lords, who currently supply as much as two-thirds of America's pot.
Drug reformers can scarcely believe their landslide victories at the polls. "People expected this day would come, but most didn't expect it to come this soon," says Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief who campaigned for legalization. "This is the beginning of the end of prohibition."
But the war over pot may be far from over. Legalization has set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has shown no sign of backing down on its full-scale assault on pot growers and distributors. Although the president pledged to go easy on medical marijuana – now legal in 18 states – he has actually launched more raids on state-sanctioned pot dispensaries than George W. Bush, and has threatened to prosecute state officials who oversee medical marijuana as if they were drug lords. And while the administration has yet to issue a definitive response to the two new laws, the Justice Department was quick to signal that it has no plans to heed the will of voters. "Enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act," the department announced in November, "remains unchanged." (Rolling Stone)
A 'Party Drug' May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.
The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.
“I feel survivor’s guilt, both for coming back from Iraq alive and now for having had a chance to do this therapy,” said Anthony, a 25-year-old living near Charleston, S.C., who asked that his last name not be used because of the stigma of taking the drug. “I’m a different person because of it.”
In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment — which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA — write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA. (New York Times)
Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two. - On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against the Germans in Normandy under the command of Brigadier General Jay MacKelvie, MacKelvie’s superior officer, Major General J. Lawton Collins, went on foot to check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled with dismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was an ominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was still trying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back into the sea.
Just a day earlier, the 90th’s assistant division commander, Brigadier General “Hanging Sam” Williams, had also been looking for the leader of his green division. He’d found MacKelvie sheltering from enemy fire, huddled in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow. “Goddamn it, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” Williams shouted. “Go back to the [command post]. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have this goddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. The division remained bogged down, veering close to passivity.
American troops were fighting to stay alive—no small feat in that summer’s bloody combat. One infantry company in the 90th began a day in July with 142 men and finished it with 32. Its battalion commander walked around babbling “I killed K Company, I killed K Company.” Later that summer, one of the 90th’s battalions, with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of 50 men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements of more than 100 percent. (The Atlantic)
Will Iran Weather the Economic Storm? -- The depreciation of the rial is unlikely to change Iran's foreign-policy calculations. The conventional wisdom that the collapse of the Iranian rial will have disastrous consequences for the Islamic Republic has it wrong: On the contrary, it could be the best thing that has happened to the Iranian economy in years.
Iran is a classic case of the resource curse. OPEC founder Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, who served as Venezuela's oil minister, called oil "the devil's excrement" for the pernicious impact petroleum revenues had on his country's economy. The same is true for Iran, which faces the challenge of becoming a country that produces goods, not merely consumes them. Unfortunately, the current Iranian government shows few indications it will meet this challenge. Rather, history suggests that Tehran will instead persist in its populist policies, including its confrontation with the international community about its nuclear program. (Foreign Policy)
"Anti-Occupy" law ends American's right to protest I was stunned upon hearing a news report about a protest going on in China. Teachers, parents with their young, school-age children and pro-democracy activitists (one estimate was 90,000 people) marched in Hong Kong to government headquarters last Sunday to publicly protest a new required “Patriotism” class, to be taught in the school system starting in 2015. The protestors think that the effort of the Chinese government here is to brainwash their kids in favor of communism.
What stunned me was that this protest, in China, against the government’s upcoming policy, at the government headquarters, would not now be tolerated here in the United States of America.
Thanks to almost zero media coverage, few of us know about a law passed this past March, severely limiting our right to protest. The silence may have been due to the lack of controversy in bringing the bill to law: Only three of our federal elected officials voted against the bill’s passage. Yes, Republicans and Democrats agreed on something almost 100%.
We have lived through a number of protests, large and small, and if we are like most, we shrug because the protestors or their message is either irrelevant or objectionable to us, and does not affect us. This non-interest is the case even when some of the protestors and some of their messages are highly objectionable. (Washington Times)
Proposed Sacramento ordinance would restrict actions outside City Hall Strumming a ukulele on the front lawn of Sacramento's historic City Hall on a sunny afternoon last week, Michael Hanson broke one proposed law after another.
He was making noise with something other than his voice. He had signs, a table and a chair. He was harming what's left of the front lawn by, well, standing on it.
At least he didn't have a fog machine.
"We've never had a fog machine," he said. "At least not that I know of."
That's a relief, given that the city is exploring placing strict rules on how the land surrounding the historic and nearby newer City Hall is used – including prohibiting fog machines.
While city officials insist Hanson and his fellow Occupy Sacramento protesters were not the inspiration for the new guidelines, many of the proposed violations under debate are committed by Occupy members every day.
Under an ordinance to be considered by the City Council's Law and Legislation Committee later this month, violators would be subject to fines of $250 to $25,000 for breaking laws set forth in the proposed "Use of the City Hall Facility" ordinance. Those who defy the rules would be guilty of misdemeanors. (Sacramento Bee)
Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban: Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank. An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.
The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.
The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.” (Buzz Feed)
Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I. THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps (New York Times)
Fact Checking the Media During an interview last month on CBS' Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta set the record straight on Iran: "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." But if you read recent news reports lately, you'd think otherwise.
The media coverage on Iran is mirroring the coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq war: grand claims about a smoking gun that doesn't exist. For example, The New York Times incorrectly reported last month that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran concluded that their nuclear program had a military objective. The paper's public editor, Arthur Brisbane, was forced to acknowledge their mistake and wrote: "Some readers, mindful of the faulty intelligence and reporting about Saddam Hussein's weapons program, are watching the Iran nuclear coverage very closely." Other media outlets such as National Public Radio, PBS and The Washington Post have been challenged on their coverage too.
A recent publication from the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled "The IAEA's Iran Report and Misplaced Paranoia," noted that "With few exceptions, these revelations are not exactly new. More importantly, neither is the thrust of the report: that Iran is developing some capabilities that can only be understood as preliminaries to the development of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, early coverage of the report's release gives the opposite impression."
Many have recognized that the media failed to do its job in the lead-up to the Iraq war. The potential consequences of treading on that same path with Iran are grave. The U.S. has thus far spent over $1.2 trillion of borrowed money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military action against Iran would be disastrous for the region and for U.S. moral standing. A serious diplomatic track based on mutual trust and respect is the only way to achieve increased transparency. (Dennis Kucinich)
How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama: The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be.
When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”
I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It was this Act, above all, which let the US housing bubble blow up, far beyond the point where it was obvious that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would be likely to default. Yet, in 2005, no one more actively opposed moves to halt these reckless guarantees than Senator Obama, who received more donations from Fannie Mae than any other US politician (although Senator Hillary Clinton ran him close). (London Telegraph)
Iran: a quickly evolving geopolitical imbroglio As the days go by, the situation with Iran just gets increasingly complex and worrisome given the egregious saber rattling coming from both the West and Iran alike.
As I outlined in my article entitled “Positioning for war with Iran?”, it has become clear that the West is either arming surrounding neighbors as a deterrent, preparation for an unprovoked strike, or perhaps even to goad Iran into attacking Western interest first, thus justifying brutal retaliation.
My fledgling series about the global growth of NATO and the Western empire also covers aspects of this greater trend and how these issues constantly evolve and how so many seemingly disconnected events are in fact inseparably linked.
While these issues may seem disconnected for some, I think it is quite important to point out that in fact they couldn’t be more closely related in that they are both symptoms of the cancerous war profiteering industry that is not only robbing the American people blind in the name of freedom but also eliminating our civil liberties and slaughtering innocent people around the globe. (End The Lie)
Ecstasy trial planned to test benefits for trauma victims -- Scientists hope to overcome tabloid anger after US trial suggests clubbers' drug can bring dramatic improvements for PTSD sufferers Doctors are planning the first clinical trial of ecstasy in the UK, to see whether the drug can be beneficial to the traumatised survivors of child abuse, rape and war.
Ecstasy and other illegal drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms are potentially useful in treating people with serious psychological disturbance who cannot begin to face up to their distress, some psychiatrists and therapists believe. But because of public fear and tabloid anger about illegal drugs, scientists say they find it almost impossible to explore their potential.
Professor David Nutt, the psychopharmacologist who used to head the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs until he fell out with the Labour home secretary and was sacked, said: "I feel quite strongly that many drugs with therapeutic potential have been denied to patients and researchers because of the drugs regulation. The drugs have been made illegal in a vain attempt to stop kids using them, but people haven't thought about the negative consequences." (London Guardian)
The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy: The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class's venality US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that "New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers" covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that "It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk." (London Guardian)
Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot Iran's supreme leader and the shadowy Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, but hard evidence of that is scant, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The United States does not have solid information about "exactly how high it goes," one official said.
The Obama administration has publicly and directly blamed Iran's government for seeking to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, and has warned Tehran it will face consequences. The accusation has heightened tensions in the volatile, oil-rich Gulf.
Tehran has called the accusation a fabrication designed to sow discord in the region.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates. (Reuters)
Wartime Contracting Set To Spike Despite Rampant Fraud And Abuse Despite recent warnings about unchecked fraud and abuse associated with wartime contracting, the number of private contractors and the costs associated with them are set to dramatically increase in the coming transition from the military to the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, estimated that the State Department is set to increase its manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan from 8,000 to 17,000 — the great majority of whom will be contractors for security, medical, maintenance, aviation, and other functions.
The surge of wartime contractors comes after the Commission on Wartime Contracting issued its final report in late August that estimated that some $31 billion to $60 billion has been lost to contract waste and fraud.
“The waste and fraud associated with these expenditures is mind numbing,” Issa said Tuesday during a hearing to examine the Commission’s findings. “The State Department is building a virtual private army of security contractors in Iraq.” (Talking Points Memo)
US man charged with Pentagon bomb plot A US citizen has been charged with planning to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled airplanes into the Pentagon and the Capitol in Washington.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was arrested and charged with the aerial bombing plot and attempts to deliver bomb-making materials for use against US troops in Iraq, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in Boston.
''The conduct alleged today shows that Mr Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation's Capitol,'' Mr Ortiz said.
During the alleged plot, undercover FBI agents posed as accomplices who supplied Ferdaus with one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms that he allegedly envisioned using in a simultaneous ground assault in Washington.
However, ''the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees,'' the FBI said.
Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, near Boston, immediately after putting the newly delivered weapons into a storage container, the FBI said. (Agence France-Presse)
A Victory for the Libyan People? The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called “International Criminal Court”—the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths—that this war is a “humanitarian intervention,” one designed to “protect civilians”. Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society. (Counter Punch)
Memo reveals intelligence chief's bid to fuel fears of Iraqi WMDs: Sir John Scarlett wanted dossier to strengthen case for war The senior intelligence official responsible for Tony Blair's notorious dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction proposed using the document to mislead the public about the significance of Iraq's banned weapons.
Sir John Scarlett, who as head of the Joint Intelligence Committee was placed "in charge" of writing the September 2002 dossier, sent a memo to Blair's foreign affairs adviser referring to "the benefit of obscuring the fact that in terms of WMD Iraq is not that exceptional".
The memo, released under the Freedom of Information Act, has been described as one of the most significant documents on the dossier yet published.
The disclosure supports the evidence of the former intelligence official Michael Laurie, who told the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war that it was widely understood that the dossier was intended to make a case for war and misrepresented intelligence to this particular end. (London Guardian)
Jesse Ventura attacked by Nano-Thermite crowd over microwave possibility?
Should Jesse Ventura be challenged for suggesting that Nano-thermite (alone) did not bring down the towers?
If you haven’t heard his claims it’s worth getting some feedback and intelligent discussion going.
Jesse Ventura 6/7/11 -- “I was attacked by the 9/11 truthers, unbelievably because of a few things I’ve mentioned and asked questions about on 9/11. I was accused by them of selling out and I got upset over it…” - Ventura continues, “It’s a question that came to [me] on some of the reading I did on these toasted cars. It’s remarkable. Alex, there are over 1,000 of them and they were as far away as the FDR; which is probably six, eight blocks from the Trade Center and there were cars flipped over on their hoods; and in the photos you see the cars flipped on its back, but the leaves are still on the trees…how could this happen? What is the explanation for toasted cars all over Manhattan that day?”
“Well you’re not supposed to ask that,” says Alex with sarcasm. (We Are Change)
Tucson SWAT Team Kills Armed Homeowner in Drug Raid In a mid-morning drug raid May 5, a Pima County SWAT team executing a search warrant shot and killed a 26-year-old Afghan and Iraq war veteran after he confronted the intruders with a weapon in his hand. Jose Guerena become the 27th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year. (Actually, he was the 25th, but the Pima County Sheriff's office has been so dilatory in releasing information that we logged two more drug war deaths before we were able add this one to the list.)
According to the initial police account, when SWAT officers broke down the door of Guerena's home, which he shared with his wife and young child, he confronted them and opened fire. "The adult male had a long rifle, opened fire on the SWAT team. The SWAT team returned fire and the male is pronounced deceased. The woman and the child are unharmed," said Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ogan. (Drug War Chronicle)
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