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Tag Archive: Assist Syrian opposition


Environmental

 

Colorado farms planning for dry spell losing auction bids for water to fracking projects

Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers. At Colorado’s premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.

Read Full Article Here

 

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Cyber Space

SOPA changes name to CISPA

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 3, 2012

The latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet is no longer known as SOPA but CISPA: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The SOPA-like bill would give companies the power to collect information on their subscribers and hand it over to the government and all they have to do is request it. Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow for the Center for Democracy and Technology, joins Liz Wahl to talk about what this means for online freedoms.

 

Data Mining You

How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World

By Tom Engelhardt

I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years. (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.) This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington. George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”

For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists. Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years — or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence think it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part — and it hardly made a ripple.

If Americans were to hoist a flag designed for this moment, it might read “Tread on Me” and use that classic illustration of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. That, at least, would catch something of the absurdity of what the National Security Complex has decided to swallow of our American world.

Oh, and in those nine days abroad, a new word surfaced on my horizon, one just eerie and ugly enough for our new reality: yottabyte. Thank National Security Agency (NSA) expert James Bamford for that. He wrote a piece for Wired magazine on a super-secret, $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center the NSA is building in Bluffdale, Utah. Focused on data mining and code-breaking and five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, it is expected to house information beyond compare, “including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”

The NSA, adds Bamford, “has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.”

Which brings us to yottabyte — which is, Bamford assures us, equivalant to septillion bytes, a number “so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.” The Utah center will be capable of storing a yottabyte or more of information (on your tax dollar).

Large as it is, that mega-project in Utah is just one of many sprouting like mushrooms in the sunless forest of the U.S. intelligence world. In cost, for example, it barely tops the $1.7 billion headquarters complex in Virginia that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with an estimated annual black budget of at least $5 billion, built for its 16,000 employees. Opened in 2011, it’s the third-largest federal building in the Washington area. (And I’ll bet you didn’t even know that your tax dollars paid for such an agency, no less its gleaming new headquarters.) Or what about the 33 post-9/11 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work that were under construction or had already been built when Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin wrote their “Top Secret America” series back in 2010?

In these last years, while so many Americans were foreclosed upon or had their homes go “underwater” and the construction industry went to hell, the intelligence housing bubble just continued to grow. And there’s no sign that any of this seems abidingly strange to most Americans.

Read Full Article  Here

 

 

Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password

By Tecca

Kimberly Hester, a grade school teacher’s aide in Michigan, was fired for refusing to hand over her Facebook password to her supervisors. Hester posted a picture of a co-workers’ shoes and pants bunched around her ankles on Facebook in April 2011 with the caption, “Thinking of you.” She posted the picture in jest, but a parent [nutjob] who’s on her Facebook friend list saw the image and reported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed, prompting the investigation. Teachers have gotten in trouble for Facebook status messages before, but in Hester’s case, it’s her refusal to hand over her password that actually got her fired.

Read Full Article Here

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Radiation

 

Camera that can ‘see’ radiation will assess danger levels at stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor

‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ developed for X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H
Scan comes as radiation detected 370 miles from plant

By Ted Thornhill

There are still dangerously high radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor – but now the plant’s owner is able to see the normally invisible threat.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype ‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles.

This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the agency’s next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H.

It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing equipment.

It can also detect particles that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses.

Last month JAXA, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company conducted a successful field test of the camera at the Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture.

Read Full Article Here

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Whistle Blowers

 

US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition

 

By: Yazan al-Saadi

 

US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.

James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”

“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)

In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”

Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.

In a profile of Walid Phares published in Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war.

Sue Myrick, who allegedly was providing “air cover” for the “fact finding team”, is a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina who has a track record of extremist pro-zionist and anti-Islamic views.

These include leading the charge against Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy major American ports in 2006 – labeling the Islamic Society of North America as a group of “radical jihadists” – and demanding that former President Jimmy Carter’s citizenship be revoked for daring to meet with Hamas leaders in 2008.

Currently, Myrick is a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a congressional committee charged with overseeing the American intelligence community, and is also involved with the Department of Defense and the US military.

In his email, the “true mission” for the “fact finding” team, Smith told Burton, was how “they can help in regime change.”……..

Read Full Article Here

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Activism

 

When Bankers Rule the World

How we can call out the myths, restructure the banking system, shut down the con game, and take back America.

 

by David Korten

 

The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.
Wall Street’s World of Illusion

Why has the public for so long tolerated Wall Street’s reckless abuses of power and accepted the resulting devastation? The answer lies in a cultural trance induced by deceptive language and misleading indicators backed by flawed economic theory and accounting sleight-of-hand. To shatter the trance we need to recognize that the deception that Wall Street promotes through its well-funded PR machine rests on three false premises.

We best fulfill our individual moral obligation to society by maximizing our personal financial gain.
Money is wealth and making money increases the wealth of the society.
Making money is the proper purpose of the individual enterprise and is the proper measure of prosperity and economic performance.

Wall Street aggressively promotes these fallacies as guiding moral principles. Their embrace by Wall Street insiders helps to explain how they are able to reward themselves with obscene bonuses for their successful use of deception, fraud, speculation, and usury to steal wealth they have had no part in creating and yet still believe, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously proclaimed, that they are “doing God’s work.”

The devastation created by Wall Street’s failure affirms three truths that are the foundation on which millions of people are at work building a New Economy:

Our individual and collective well-being depends on acting with concern for the well-being of others. We all do better when we look out for one another.
Money is not wealth. It is just numbers. Sacrificing the health and happiness of billions of people to grow numbers on computer hard drives to improve one’s score on the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s richest people is immoral. Managing a society’s economy to facilitate this immoral competition at the expense of people and nature is an act of collective insanity.
The proper purpose of the economy and the enterprises that comprise it is to provide good jobs and quality goods and services beneficial to the health and happiness of people, community and nature. A modest financial profit is essential to a firm’s viability, but is not its proper purpose.

The critical distinction between making money and creating wealth is the key to seeing through Wall Street’s illusions……

David Korten (livingeconomiesforum.org) is the author of Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Eyes on the Prize: MLK’s Lessons for Occupy

 

At the time of his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. was planning a campaign around economic injustice—including a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C.

 

by Valerie Schloredt

 

When he was assassinated in April, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. had just begun “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This focus on economic injustice, which included plans for a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C., was remarkably similar to that of today’s Occupy movement. The connection is clear to present-day activists Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis, who are promoting King’s philosophy of nonviolence to Occupy groups, both for moral guidance and practical strategy.

Both studied “Kingian” nonviolence with Dr. Barnard Lafayette, a civil rights organizer and an associate of King’s in the 1960s. “Kingian nonviolence,” or nonviolence as it was defined by King, is the focus of a training program Lafayette developed with David Jehnsen to institutionalize King’s philosophy at all levels of society. The training’s pay-it-forward ethos encourages participants to spread the word by becoming Kingian nonviolence trainers themselves.

Lewis and Haga have been carrying their own training forward by teaching nonviolence strategies in jails, community groups, and to groups of at-risk youth. They were also involved with Occupy Oakland, where they organized Kingian nonviolence workshops in response to concerns over confrontations between police and protesters. Haga and Lewis spoke to YES! Magazine about the relevance of King’s nonviolence to embattled communities, and the Occupy movement.

Valerie Schloredt: Your work is based on the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. I can’t imagine any better legacy for movements in the United States. Sometimes it seems that King is praised, without a meaningful understanding of his beliefs.

Kingian nonviolence workshop, photo courtesy Kazu Haga

Kazu Haga at the Seattle Kingian nonviolence workshop. March 2012

Photo courtesy Kazu Haga

Kazu Haga: We do him, and ourselves, a disservice by not looking into that. Everything he said is so applicable today.

Jonathan Lewis: In his last speech, down in Memphis, he talks about taking your money out of the corporate banks, and into smaller banks.

Haga: We forget about how much of a radical he was. He called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” and he was calling for an encampment in Washington, D.C. to shut down the city. We forget all that.

Schloredt: It seems very appropriate to be talking about King’s nonviolence right now, when there is great concern over the police response to the case of Trayvon Martin. You work with young people in communities that don’t always get fair treatment by law enforcement. How do you relate King’s nonviolence to that sort of injustice?

Lewis: One thing that Dr. Lafayette tells us about the [civil rights] movement is that it was always about the future. The struggles, the sacrifices, the actions—they aren’t to benefit the present population as much as to prevent future populations from having to deal with the same type of suffering that we’re going through.

Society right now takes out aggression on people. Blaming the folks for their behavior, and whatever it is that’s happening in the world. In contrast, we try to put our compassion towards the people, and we put our aggression towards the conditions. It sounds corny. When I first got started, “keep your eyes on the prize” didn’t mean much to me. But it really is all about that.

Valerie Schloredt wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Valerie is associate editor at YES!

Read Full Article Here

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Survival  / Sustainability

 

Just In Time: When the Trucks Stop, America Will Stop (With Immediate and Catastrophic Consequences)

Most Americans take for granted the intricate systems that make it possible for us to engage in seemingly mundane day to day tasks like filling up our gas tanks, loading up our shopping carts at the local grocery store, obtaining necessary medications, and even pouring ourselves a clean glass of water. When we wake up each morning we just expect that all of these things will work today the same way they worked yesterday. Very few have considered the complexity involved in the underlying infrastructure that keeps goods, services and commerce in America flowing. Fewer still have ever spent the time to contemplate the fragility of these systems or the consequences on food, water, health care, the financial system, and the economy if they are interrupted.

A report prepared for legislators and business leaders by the American Trucking Associations highlights just how critical our just-in-time inventory and delivery systems are, and assesses the impact on the general population in the event of an emergency or incident of national significance that disrupts the truck transportation systems which are responsible for carrying some ten billion tons of commodities and supplies across the United States each year.

A shut down of truck operations as a result of elevated threat levels, terrorist attacks, or pandemics would, according to the report, have “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors.”

So too would events such as an EMP attack or a coordinated cyber-attack that could shut down global positioning systems and the computers responsible for inventory control. Another potential scenario that is more likely now than ever before is liquidity problems within the financial system stemming from currency crisis or hyperinflation. All of our just-in-time delivery systems are built upon the unhindered transfer of money and credit, but when credit flow becomes restricted or money becomes worthless, no one will be able to pay for their goods. Likewise, no one will trust the credit worthiness of anyone else. This is exactly the scenario playing out in Greece right now and the consequences on the health care industry in that country have left many without life saving drugs. When there’s no money, no one will be transporting anything.

The effects of a transportation shutdown for any reason would be immediate (in some cases, within hours) and absolutely catastrophic.

Excerpted from the American Truckers Associations report

Food

Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic.
Consumer fear and panic will exacerbate shortages. News of a truck stoppage—whether on the local level, state or regional level, or nationwide—will spur hoarding and drastic increases in consumer purchases of essential goods. Shortages will materialize quickly and could lead to civil unrest. (We’re seeing this in the UK right now)

Read Full Article Here

Rethinking Water: Greywater Guerrillas Workshop

Uploaded by on Mar 14, 2008

We had the privilege of attending a very hands on greywater workshop courtesy of The Greywater Guerrillas, a local Bay Area crew of experts who are passionate about teaching folks to use their water (twice) wisely. Greywater is water that has been used once in your home and only contains a little soap, dirt (from laundry or skin) or kitchen particles like food or grease. Unlike blackwater, which is water that has touched excrement, like toilet water, greywater is safe to use in watering your garden. As Laura Allen, co-editor of the book Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground, and our amazing instructor points out in this video: You don’t want to put the greywater onto the part of the plant that you’re going to eat…if you get the water going into the ground, there are no more health risks than would be [if you are] going out and eating dirt from your garden. So you want to get the greywater into the ground soaking down to irrigate the roots of your plants.

We were able to do just this in home owner Tara Hui’s backyard. We replaced her kitchen sink pipe with a 3 way valve giving her the choice to send her sink water back to the sewer or out to the greywater system of pipes and mulch basins surrounding four fruit trees. The system was relatively simple and inexpensive. Total price was $200 for all new pipes which included a $60 top of the line 3 way valve, a bunch of 2 way splitters and under a hundred feet of piping. If you live close to a salvage yard or are savvy on Freecycle or Craigslist you can get these materials for way cheaper or even free.

Laura touches on some of the legality of systems like this: California has a greywater code so greywater theoretically is legal…some states have no code so greywater is not legal. In California, you have the potential to do greywater…that said, the code that’s written down for greywater is very, very wasteful, it’s very bad, most people don’t follow it. In California most people have unpermitted systems which are…technically illegal, just as building anything unpermitted is technically illegal.

There are a few states, like Arizona, that encourage safe and resourceful greywater systems like the one we built here. So find out what your state allows before cutting into your pipes. But if you’re like these Californians and your state codes are no good, you’ll want to find some greywater experts to consult and keep in touch with to help change the codes for better.

 

 

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

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Politics and Legislation

NSA denies eavesdropping on Americans

A recent article regarding the National Security Agency’s new secret eavesdropping facility in Bluffdale, Utah has caught the attention of members of the House.

The article which was published last week by Wired explains how the NSA “will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”

The article goes on to explain how the “Utah Data Center” which is a project surrounded by “immense secrecy is the final piece of a complex puzzle assembled in the past decade.”

The heavily fortified $2 billion building is said to have the capabilities “to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks,” the article added.

EndtheLie.com

http://EndtheLie.com/2012/03/22/nsa-denies-eavesdropping-on-americans/#ixzz1puDZLP5a

Marine charged for criticizing Obama

On Wednesday Marine Sgt. Gary Stein was notified by the Marine Corps that he was in violation of the Pentagon’s policy for blatantly condemning President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Stein’s actions could now lead to his dismissal and a possible downgrade in ranking.

The Marine who is based in Camp Pendleton, California, created a Facebook page called “Armed Forces Tea Party,” which currently has approximately 19,000 likes and has photos showcasing slogans such as “NObama” and “One Nation, under Obama, with poverty and unemployment for all,” has been under the microscope since 2010.

Stein was first warned by his superiors two years ago after he launched the social media page on Facebook critiquing Obama care. Stein offered to remove the page while he revised the rules at the bidding of his superiors.

According to Stein, after the revision of the rules he determined he was not in violation.

http://rt.com/usa/news/marine-stein-page-president-219/

GOP leadership rankled by resolution calling for attorney general’s head

By Jordy Yager

More than 100 Republicans in the House are clamoring for Eric Holder’s head, but GOP leaders are reluctant to vote on a measure suggesting the ouster of the U.S. attorney general.

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/217475-house-gop-leadership-rankled-by-calls-for-attorney-generals-head

McCaskill deals serious blow to BRAC

By Jeremy Herb

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that she will not let new rounds of base closures pass her subcommittee this year, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the Pentagon’s plans for the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in its 2013 budget.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/217421-sen-mccaskill-deals-serious-blow-to-bracs-chances

Courtly battle in healthcare case

By Jess Bravin

The fight over President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul has featured nearly three years of name-calling and shouting matches. But don’t expect to hear supporters accused of creating “death panels,” or opponents of preferring the uninsured to “die quickly,” when the issue lands at the Supreme Court next week.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577291420805600542.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1

House approves the repeal of cost-cutting healthcare board

By Pete Kasperowicz

The House on Thursday afternoon approved legislation that would repeal a government board tasked with finding Medicare savings, and institute medical tort reform across the country.

Members approved H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act, by a 223-181 vote in which only seven Democrats supported the bill and 10 Republican opposed.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/217583-house-passes-health-board-repeal-medical-tort-reform-bill

Senate passes bill on insider trading, sends measure to Obama

By Alexander Bolton

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation barring lawmakers from using insider information for personal profit, sending the bill to the White House.

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act already approved by the House passed the upper chamber easily by a vote of 96-3.

The Senate action circumvents a thorny amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) requiring political intelligence operatives to regularly report their activity. The Senate adopted the Grassley proposal by a vote of 60-39 in February, but the GOP-controlled House opposed the Grassley’s language and did not include it in its version.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/217639-senate-passes-insider-trading-bill-sending-measure-to-obama

On the News With Thom Hartmann:Obama Announces Fast-Track Approval of Keystone Pipeline Segment, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Only five banks control more than half of all the industry’s assets, President Obama announced the fast-track approval of the southern leg for the existing Keystone pipeline today in Oklahoma, Democrats try to curb influence of SuperPACs, and more.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8046-on-the-news-with-thom-hartmann

Economy

Nigel Farage on the Euro

Uploaded by MightyDemocracy on Mar 13, 2012

Nigel Farage commenting on Barroso’s message that the signing of the European Fiscal Compact treaty signifies the “irreversibility of the euro.” 13/03/2012
Van Rompuy re-‘elected’ as president of Europe: http://mightydemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/11/emperor-of-europe-and-future-of-n…

Spain’s Economy, Front and Center

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.:

“I’ve always viewed Spain, not Greece, as the quintessential euro crisis country. With Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government balking – rightly – at further austerity, the focus is now where it arguably should have been all along. And with Spain now front and center, the essential wrongness of the whole European policy focus becomes totally apparent. Spain did not get into this crisis by being fiscally irresponsible; see the little comparison on the chart on this page.”

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8034-spains-economy-front-and-center

Wars and Rumors of War

After Bales’ Arrest, Military Tried to Delete Him From Web

David Goldstein and Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Newspapers:

“Besides waiting nearly a week before identifying the Army staff sergeant who’s accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers, the US military scrubbed its websites of references to his combat service. Gone were photographs of the suspect, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, as well as a recounting in his base’s newspaper of a 2007 battle in Iraq involving his unit that quoted him extensively. But not really.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8038-after-bales-arrest-military-tried-to-delete-him-from-web

Bahrain Medics Show Trial: This Is Not Syria, Therefore No Western Outcry

by Finian Cunningham

Bahrain’s disgraceful show trial of medical staff is set to continue, with news this week that 20 doctors and nurses are to be retried in a civilian court on trumped-up charges of subversion against the US-backed regime.

The medics were already sentenced by a military tribunal (a military tribunal!) to up to 15 years in prison after months of being held in illegal detention, denied legal counsel and subjected to torture.

Moving their case to a civilian court is presumably meant to signal a concession by the regime. But what it illustrates is that the Al Khalifa royal rulers of Bahrain are unreconstructed despots who are implacably set against accepting any kind of democratic reform.

The persecution of the majority Shia population – 70 per cent of the island – by an unelected Sunni elite is business as usual as epitomized by the vindictive targeting of medics whose only “crime” was that they treated hundreds of people injured in the state’s brutal crackdown against the pro-democracy movement.

Recently, Washington has been doing its PR best to present the monarchy in the Persian Gulf kingdom as being belatedly open to reform – this after a year of unrelenting repression against a largely peaceful pro-democracy uprising.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29903

US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition

US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.

James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”

“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)

In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/blackwater-veteran-took-part-gaddafi-killing-asked-us-help-syrian-opposition

Environmental

About That Dimock Fracking Study: Result Summaries Show Methane and Hazardous Chemicals

Christine Shearer, Truthout:

“Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3 issued a statement last week that its preliminary tests of water samples near drilling and fracking sites in the Pennsylvania town of Dimock showed no health concerns, the group Water Defense and ‘Gasland’ director Josh Fox went to Dimock to look at the EPA summaries themselves, which they say do report high levels of explosive methane, heavy metals and hazardous chemicals.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8021-about-that-dimock-fracking-study-results-did-show-methane-and-hazardous-chemicals

Whistle Blowers

Bradley Manning Prosecution Incurably Infected by Government Misconduct

Kevin Zeese, Bradley Manning Support Network:

“Last week I spent two days in court for a pretrial motions hearing in the court martial of Bradley Manning, the private accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks that showed widespread unethical and illegal behavior by the Department of Defense and State Department. Manning has suffered the fate the Queen put on Alice when she was in Wonderland, ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ By the time his court martial is actually held he will have been incarcerated for more than two years, one of those years was spent in solitary confinement. But, that is only one of many obvious injustices Manning is being subjected to.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8039-bradley-manning-prosecution-incurably-infected-by-government-misconduct

Activism

What happened to our government? (opinion)

(NaturalNews) When I was a little kid growing up in Newark and going to Bergen Street elementary school, I remember a teacher reading something to us in class one day. It went something like this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

These words are from our Declaration of Independence, and unfortunately, not from our Constitution. And from these principles, we Americans, lay claim to a rather unique and somewhat revolutionary legacy. That being that every person can lay claim to his or her own sovereignty just by being born, and that these rights don’t come from any government or person.

One of the basic principles on which our country was founded is that individuals have all these rights. Unfortunately, we give away some of them to our government. This is done voluntarily as it is not the law.

http://www.naturalnews.com/035302_government_liberty_happiness.html#ixzz1puM7vMRm

Misc

Obama threatens rare earth trade war against China – but why?

By Jonathan Benson, March 22 2012

(NaturalNews) In the spirit of election season political posturing, the Obama White House has announced that it is filing a trade lawsuit against China for restricting exports on rare earth metals and other materials used in the production of touchscreen mobile phones, military weapons, laptop computers, and various other high-tech devices. The poster child administration of meaningless political rhetoric, Obama and Co. has taken a convenient interest in China’s misdealings with the U.S. and…

http://www.naturalnews.com/035313_Obama_trade_war_China.html

The Invisible Poverty of “The Other America” of the 1960s Is Far More Visible

Peter Dreier, Truthout:

“Fifty years ago (in March 1962) Michael Harrington wrote a book, ‘The Other America: Poverty in the United States’ – a haunting tour of deprivation in an affluent society – that inspired Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to wage a war on poverty. This slim, 186-page volume became a best-seller and became required reading for social scientists, elected officials, college students, members of study groups sponsored by churches and synagogues, reporters and intellectuals, the new wave of community organizers and the student activists who traveled to the South to join the civil rights crusade.”

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8040-michael-harrington-and-deprivation-in-an-affluent-society