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Tag Archive: Blackwater


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Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:15AM
A tank operated by Saudi-led forces fires at a position of Yemeni fighters in the Labanat area, between Yemen's northern provinces of al-Jawf and Marib on December 5, 2015. (Reuters photo)
A tank operated by Saudi-led forces fires at a position of Yemeni fighters in the Labanat area, between Yemen’s northern provinces of al-Jawf and Marib on December 5, 2015. (Reuters photo)

A new report says mercenaries and military advisers from the infamous US security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, are replacing UAE troops in the Saudi war in Yemen.   

The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper said on Thursday UAE forces are being gradually replaced by recruits from the US-based private military contractor, which now goes by the name, Acamedi.

The move came after the UAE evacuated some of its military sites in Yemen following its failures in several operations, the Lebanese daily added.

According to al-Akhbar, UAE’s move to involve the private military contractor in the Yemen conflict has raised objections among some members of the Saudi-led coalition.

On Wednesday, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah news website said the commander-in-chief of Blackwater mercenaries in the country was killed in the al-Omari district of Ta’izz Province.

 

Read More Here

 

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Blackwater: Shadow Army

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9 April 2014, 09:47
NATO trains terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine - analyst

Contractors from private security companies are supposed to do what NATO cannot do openly, they train terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

“Those organizations (private security companies) will do what NATO cannot do openly. They can train people to be terrorists,” Chossudovsky said, adding that in Syria private contractors were training al-Qaeda.

“We are talking about the continuation of US policy of military intervention in Ukraine and a preparatory stage for a massacre in southeastern Ukraine,” Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense monthly Russian-language magazine said, adding that the deployment of mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd. may be financed by Ukrainian oligarchs and organized in coordination with the US State Department.

Michel Chossudovsky told RIA Novosti that mercenaries are normally hired by governments, but options are numerous as they operate covertly and do not identify themselves.

“Private contractors could be hired by NATO, or by Ukrainian government or by an intermediary. Anyone can hire Greystone, they operate covertly, they don’t identify themselves, and make money,” Chossudovsky said.

“Considering that Ukraine’s security services show their obvious incompetence, foreign mercenaries are supposed to suppress the protests in the southeastern part of the country,” Korotchenko said.

Michel Chossudovsky expects Graystone to recruit Ukrainians for the operation and reminded that the company recruits different nationalities, who are trained by professional military personnel.

“Within the Ukrainian National Guard there are western military advisors, they have senior military people. They are supposed to train protective services, but in fact they train terrorists,” Chossudovsky said.

“NATO and the US won’t acknowledge the presence of these special forces. What is happening is an influx of special forces in Ukraine which are there with the purpose to sustain the current government, but also to sustain the state of destabilization,” Chossudovsky said stressing that mercenaries would infiltrate with grassroots movements to trigger violence across Ukraine.

Canadian expert also said that NATO advisors are already present in Ukraine and have been brought by Kiev authorities.

“We have reports that there were mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine in early March. Some of these mercenaries are used for sophisticated sniper operations which characterize Euro Maidan,” Chossudovsky said, adding that the similar operations have been seen in other countries.

Greystone Ltd. is a private company registered in Barbados that “provides the skilled professionals and program management services necessary to deliver rotary wing, protective security and training solutions.”

It used to be a subsidiary of Blackwater private security services provider, and now operates as a separate entity but still has links to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has earlier voiced concerns over the buildup of Ukrainian forces in the southeastern part of the country involving some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the Ukrainian special task police unit Sokol. Moscow called this move violation of Ukraine’s legislation.

 

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‘Kiev govt lost control of security forces in Eastern Ukraine’

Published time: April 08, 2014 11:53

Pro-Russian protesters gather at a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, April 8, 2014.(Reuters / Maks Levin)

Pro-Russian protesters gather at a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, April 8, 2014.(Reuters / Maks Levin)

Kiev has hired foreign mercenaries to take over law enforcement duties as well as most covert operations in eastern Ukraine, as the country struggles to regain control of its security apparatus, economist Michel Chossudovsky told RT.

RT: Activists in Kharkov are saying that policemen from other Ukrainian regions arrived in the city and they were the ones, who provoked the violence. What were they trying to achieve in your opinion?

Michel Chossudovsky: First of all the Kiev government has lost control of its security forces, its law enforcement in Eastern Ukraine. And this, they’ve realized several weeks back, because Ukraine’s interim government confirmed they were hiring a private military company, named Greystone Ltd, a company that was founded by (former) British SAS in the heyday, but actually they’re bringing in private mercenaries, which are now most probably integrating with the police forces, but they are also acting outside the realm of official law enforcement agencies.

 

Read More Here

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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.

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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.]

Politics and Legislation

Secret justice plan crumbles: Clegg says he’ll block it, report by MPs and peers damns it and now ministers are close to a U-turn

By James Chapman, Political Editor

Plans for a huge extension of ‘secret justice’ are close to ruin after Nick Clegg warned the Prime Minister he cannot support them as they stand… The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are conducted behind closed doors, in any civil or inquest hearing. Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate rather than their own lawyer. The procedure is currently used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Green Paper proposes giving ministers sweeping powers to order closed hearings whenever they feel the public interest is threatened.

Read Full Article Here

DOJ must explain Obama healthcare remarks

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to write a letter describing the administration’s position on the judiciary’s power to overturn laws. A judge on the three-judge 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the department to provide a letter of “at least three pages, single-spaced, no less,” detailing the department’s understanding of the judiciary’s power to overturn unconstitutional laws by noon CDT Thursday, a United Press International review of an audio recording of the oral arguments indicated. Judge Jerry Smith, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, ordered the department Tuesday to make sure the letter specifically address comments President Barack Obama made Monday that he was “confident” the Supreme Court would not “take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” of overturning the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Read Full Article Here

As justices weigh healthcare decision, lawmakers bolster high court security

By Debbie Siegelbaum

As Congress continues to look for ways to cut costs to lower the national deficit, one place where lawmakers are refusing to scrimp is security for the Supreme Court.

Congressional appropriators ponied up nearly $1 million in fiscal 2012 to hire 12 new Supreme Court police officers after justices reported receiving a significant number of threats.

Security for the high court has been back in the news as the justices deliberate whether President Obama’s healthcare law is constitutional. Supporters and critics of the healthcare overhaul held protests in front of the Supreme Court last week.

In April 2010, Justice Clarence Thomas told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the court required greater security due to the “volume” of threats it receives, claiming that its security personnel ideally wanted 24 new officers.

Thomas said he recognized the ongoing fiscal constraints the government was operating under, however, and sought funding for 12 officers.

But the funds Thomas requested for new officers were not allocated in fiscal 2011, according to Court Public Information Officer Kathleen Arberg. During fiscal 2012 budget hearings the following year, Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy reiterated the need for additional court security.

“We have eight acres of grounds which have to be protected, and a number of our officers now have to spend time learning about cybersecurity threats and so forth,” Kennedy told lawmakers in April 2011.

“We need — actually, our people said we needed 25, and the chief justice and the staff went over it — and we can live with the 12 [additional officers],” he added. “We do consider the 12 urgent.”

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First DC lobbying firm to sign with Libyan rebels is rewarded with new contract

By Kevin Bogardus

The first Washington firm to sign up with the Libyan rebels during the successful revolution against Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be working for free.

The Harbour Group has signed a new $15,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Libya, according to documents the firm has filed with the Justice Department. The agreement is set to run from March 1 to the end of the year.

Richard Mintz, managing director of the public-relations firm, told The Hill that he and others at the firm are eager to help Libya transition toward democracy.

“We are proud to have played a modest role in helping the Libyan opposition to replace 40 years of dictatorial rule. Now we look forward to supporting free Libyans in their democratic transition,” Mintz said.

Harbour Group first signed with the Libyan National Transitional Council in April of 2011.

The firm worked on a pro-bono basis for the council over the past year. It helped organize visits to Washington for council leaders and contacted think tanks and media on the council’s behalf.

The firm helped support Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib’s trip to Washington last month, where he met with President Obama, and is also working on having U.S. business delegations visit Libya.

The new contract supersedes the agreement the Harbour Group signed last year with the council.

“The Harbour Group is pleased to have been able to volunteer its services to the Libyan National Transitional Council and the Embassy of Libya for the last year in its historic efforts to establish democracy in Libya and to build new and important bridges to the United States. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your request to present this scope of services and budget to support the Embassy of Libya’s public diplomacy and communications efforts in 2012,” the contract says.

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Republicans See No Rush to Fill $4.6 Trillion Blank in Tax Plan

By Richard Rubin

U.S. House Republicans just passed a budget that would require eliminating $4.6 trillion in tax breaks over the next decade. They’re in no rush to show which benefits they would cut.

Republicans cite political wariness during an election campaign, slim prospects for an agreement with President Barack Obama and a lack of consensus within their own party for their reluctance to say before November whether they would drop popular items such as the home mortgage interest deduction to make up for lower tax rates.
Republicans See No Rush to Fill $4.6 Trillion Blank in Tax Plan

A House Budget Committee member holds a copy of the House fiscal year 2013 budget during a news conference in Washington. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

“The president and the Senate would love for us to do that, because they would release every special interest group they could get onto us and say, ‘Go sic ‘em,’” said Representative James Lankford, a freshman Republican from Oklahoma on the Budget Committee. Lawmakers need to “let Americans start talking about what does that really mean, which deductions are appropriate and what’s not appropriate.”

When House Republicans return from a two-week recess in mid-April, they will begin planning sessions on details of their tax overhaul. Because prospects for a tax rewrite are dim before the election, they also will discuss dozens of tax breaks that ended in December and begin crafting a strategy for extending the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts that expire at the end of this year.

The budget that passed the House 228-191 on March 29 with no Democratic support would replace the six individual tax brackets — and the 35 percent top rate — with two brackets at 10 percent and 25 percent. The alternative minimum tax would be repealed. The corporate tax rate would drop to 25 percent from 35 percent.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

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

The US is arming the Gulf. Against whom?

Volkhonsky Boris

On Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Saudi Arabia, attended the first Strategic Cooperation Forum between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The six countries comprising the GCC are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The most important outcome of the session on Saturday was the decision to establish a common missile defense shield against Iran.

Now, the issue is really worth looking deeper into.

At first sight, establishing a missile defense shield in the Gulf area seems at least a little bit more logical than establishing a similar shield in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. That is, if the shield is really targeted at a possible threat coming from Iran.

On the other hand, a decision to launch such kind of a shield at this particular moment, when it is Iran’s turn to be scared of a possible attack – be it from the U.S. or from Israel – breaks the above logic. But the logic is restored when we look at the problem from another angle.

In fact, for any unbiased outside observer it became clear a long time ago that the real purpose of the whole U.S. activity around Iran is not aimed at diverting any kind of threat, either nuclear or missile. The real purpose is regime change. And this explains both the U.S.’ desire to overthrow Iran’s last remaining ally – the Assad regime in Syria, and the close relationship with the Gulf monarchies.

Against the background of the U.S. crackdown on Assad, Ms. Hillary’s references to democracy at the Saturday’s Forum seem ridiculous. She expressed “regret” about the UAE’s March 28 raid on the offices of several foreign pro-democracy groups, including a U.S. organization, the National Democratic Institute.

Also, if we remember the events of spring 2011 in Bahrain, when the ruling Sunni regime launched a bloody crackdown of Shiite protesters, the case went almost unnoticed in the U.S. The reason was that Bahrain serves as one of the most important bases for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Definitely, other Gulf monarchies can hardly be called exemplary democracies. But it’s OK with the U.S. when it comes to protecting them against Iran.

The question is who is to benefit? On the one hand, it gives the U.S. new opportunities for selling their weapons to the stalwarts of democracy in the Gulf region. But, on the other hand, one cannot get rid of the impression that the whole wave of the so called “revolutions” in the Middle East initiated in Tunisia in December 2010 and having Iran as its ultimate aim serves the interests of only one geopolitical player in the region – that is Saudi Arabia with its satellites.

Read Full Article Here

Taliban claim downing American chopper in east Afghanistan

The Taliban say they have shot down an American helicopter in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Ghazni, Press TV reports. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed on Monday that at least 14 US soldiers were killed after the chopper was downed in Andar district on Sunday. He said that the militants targeted the helicopter with an “82mm rocket.”

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

ICC rejects Palestinian bid to investigate Israeli war crimes during ‘Cast Lead’ Gaza operation

International Criminal Court in The Hague says reason for decision is that Palestine is currently recognized by the United Nations as an ‘observer,’ not a ‘Non-member State’.

By Barak Ravid

The International Criminal Court prosecutor announced Tuesday that he has rejected a bid by the Palestinian Authority to have the war crimes tribunal investigate Israeli conduct during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza.

The reason for his decision was that under the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, only internationally recognized states can join the court.

In an official statement released Tuesday afternoon, the ICC said that “the current status granted to Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly is that of “observer”, not as a “Non‐member State”,” and that only “relevant bodies at the United Nations” or the group of states that make up the court could determine whether Palestinians can sign up to the Rome Statute.

“[T]he Office has assessed that it is for the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the Assembly of States Parties to make the legal determination whether Palestine qualifies as a State for the purpose of acceding to the Rome Statute and thereby enabling the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court,” the statement said. “The Rome Statute provides no authority for the Office of the Prosecutor to adopt a method to define the term “State””.

Read Full Article Here

[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.]

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

Politics and legislation

Obama Admin Cites ‘Int’l Permission,’ Not Congress, As ‘Legal Basis’ For Action In Syria

Uploaded by SenatorSessions on Mar 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 7—Under question from Sen. Sessions at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey indicated that “international permission,” rather than Congressional approval, provided a ‘legal basis’ for military action by the United States.

FBI director: Have to check whether targeted killing rule is outside US only

FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday said he would have to go back and check with the Department of Justice whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s “three criteria” for the targeted killing of Americans also applied to Americans inside the U.S.

Pressed by House lawmakers about a recent speech in which Holder described the legal justification for assassination, Mueller, who was attending a hearing on his agency’s budget, did not say without qualification that the three criteria could not be applied inside the U.S.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/07/mueller-have-to-check-with-holder-whether-targeted-killing-rule-is-outside-us/#ixzz1ofCPdMO8

Second House panel clears bill to repeal Medicare board

A second House committee agreed by voice vote Thursday to repeal a key cost-cutting board in President Obama’s healthcare law.

The Ways and Means Committee voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel tasked with cutting Medicare payments. The Energy and Commerce Committee passed the same repeal bill earlier this week.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/214935-ways-and-means-clears-bill-to-ax-health-laws-cost-cutting-board

Judge Bars Voter ID in Wisconsin
Sandra Khalifa, News Analysis:

“Voter ID laws have been sweeping the country state by state in the last year, deliberately barring many progressive-voting citizens from access to the polls. Although it’s less likely to commit voter fraud than be struck by lightning, conservatives in state government have been using voter fraud as an excuse to disfranchise people without specific photo identification. The people affected range from students, seniors, low-income communities, the disabled, transgender individuals, and communities of color.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/judge-bars-voter-id-wisconsin-1331218357

Student Loan Forgiveness Act Introduced in Congress
Sandra Khalifa, Video Report:

“Yesterday Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI) released HR4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act. The bill aims to stimulate the economy and protect those struggling with their student loan payments. Clark announced, ‘It’s time for Congress to stand for the rights of student loan borrowers. It’s time to forgive these student loan debts.’ The bill provides that if a student loan borrower makes payments equal to 10% of their discretionary income for a period of 10 yrs, the balance of their federal student loan debt will be forgiven.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/student-loan-forgiveness-act-introduced-congress-1331318490

China to elect lawmakers on equal ratio of rural, urban representation

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) — China will elect deputies to its top legislature next year based on the same population ratio in rural and urban areas, if a draft decision on lawmaker election tabled for deliberation on Thursday is approved.

For the first time, the quota of 2,000 deputies to the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) will be given to urban and rural residents based on the same population ratio.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-03/08/c_131454226.htm

Economy

Huge Spike in Repeat Foreclosures

Thousands of foreclosures that were stuck in process due to delays over the so-called “Robo-signing” paperwork scandal are working their way through a revamped banking system and heading toward final bank repossession.

Foreclosure starts surged 28 percent in January from December, according to a new report from Lender Processing Services. More than 230,000 loans began the foreclosure process in January.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/46641784

Claims for jobless aid up; low 4-week average also rise

WASHINGTON (AP) – Slightly more people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. But the overall level stayed low enough to suggest the job market is strengthening.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000.

The four-week average, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations, remained at roughly 355,000. That’s essentially unchanged from last week’s level, which was the lowest in four years.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-03-08/unemployment-benefits-claims-0303/53410434/1

Consumer borrowing nearly at pre-recession levels

WASHINGTON – Americans stepped up borrowing in January to buy more cars and attend school.

Consumer borrowing rose by $17.8 billion in January, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. That followed similar gains in December and November.

The gains for those three months were the largest in a decade and helped consumer borrowing climb to a seasonally adjusted $2.5 trillion. That nearly matches the pre-recession borrowing level.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-03-07/january-consumer-borrowing/53401334/1

Why Job Growth Might Mean High Unemployment

Payroll processing firm ADP reported Wednesday that private employment grew by 216,000 last month, a bump of 43,000 jobs over January’s figure. ADP’s numbers suggest improvement in even the economy’s weakest areas: construction has sustained five consecutive months of job growth, and there have also been seven consecutive months of growth in financial services. Both of those industries sustained heavy job losses as a result of the housing and financial crises. Manufacturing, which had seen more than a decade of decline before the recession, also added 21,000 jobs.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-job-growth-might-mean-160233717.html;_ylt=An.BIhHr4C91JO.0FOl4_zyiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTRiY2hwMm9sBG1pdANGUCBDb21tZW50YXJ5IGFuZCBBbmFseXNpcwRwa2cDNDI5OGI5NTEtZTZjZi0zMzViLTg4MWQtYjY4YjRmNDU4NTA4BHBvcwM0BHNlYwNNZWRpYVNlY3Rpb25MaXN0BHZlcgM3MTFjYjFiMC02ODZmLTExZTEtYWQzZC0yZWIzMTlmNDQ0NTc-;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Switzerland Wants Its Gold Back From The New York Fed

Earlier today, we reported that Germans are increasingly concerned that their gold, at over 3,400 tons a majority of which is likely stored in the vault 80 feet below street level of 33 Liberty (recently purchased by the Fed with freshly printed money at far higher than prevailing commercial real estate rates for the Downtown NY area), may be in jeopardy,and will likely soon formally inquire just how much of said gold is really held by the Fed. As it turns out, Germany is not alone: as part of the “Rettet Unser Schweizer Gold”, or the “Gold Initiative”: A Swiss Initiative to Secure the Swiss National Bank’s Gold Reserves initiative, launched recently by four members of the Swiss parliament, the Swiss people should have a right to vote on 3 simple things: i) keeping the Swiss gold physically in Switzerland; ii) forbidding the SNB from selling any more of its gold reserves, and iii) the SNB has to hold at least 20% of its assets in gold.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/switzerland-wants-its-gold-back-new-york-fed

Critical Mass: The Mispricing of Derivatives Risk & How the Financial World Ends

CURATOR: JOHN ROLLS. Jim Sinclair does a good job of explaining the difference between the notional and real value of derivatives, and how that real value comes to bear on the financial system in the event of a default. You can read this…

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1870/061/NL/

Obama touts jobs report as evidence of manufacturing success

By Jonathan Easley

President Obama tied Friday’s positive jobs report to his administration’s success in rebuilding the manufacturing industry during a visit to a Rolls-Royce plant in Virginia.

“Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” the president said. “We just had another good month last month in terms of adding manufacturing jobs, and this facility is part of the evidence of what’s going on.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/215235-obama-touts-jobs-report-as-evidence-of-his-manufacturing-agenda

IT’S OFFICIAL: ISDA TRIGGERS GREEK CREDIT EVENT IN UNANIMOUS DECISION

It’s for real this time.

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association determined today that Greece’s bond swap has triggered a credit event.

That will lead to payouts of credit default swaps—essentially, insurance contracts on holdings of Greek bonds under Greek law—that investors purchased to hedge against the risk of holding Greek sovereign debt.

http://www.businessinsider.com/its-official-isda-triggers-greek-cds-2012-3#ixzz1ogPxivz7

Greek Debt Swap Sees 95.7% Participation With Clauses

March 9 (Bloomberg) — The Greek government said it reached its target in the biggest sovereign restructuring in history, with a 95.7 percent participation rate among investors after it received approval to activate collective action clauses.

Bondholders tendered 152 billion euros of Greek-law bonds, or 85.8 percent, after the government offered to swap their holdings for new securities under the debt exchange. Twenty billion euros of foreign-law bonds were also tendered, according to an emailed statement from the Greek Finance Ministry.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/03/08/bloomberg_articlesM0LT3D6S972801-M0LV0.DTL#ixzz1ogRa9zJh

Wars and Rumors of War

Libya’s Big-Oil PM Rolls Over for Western Masters

Libya’s Prime Minister, and British Petroleum, Total, and Shell-funded Petroleum Institute chairman Abdurrahim el-Keib, flatly denied allegations by Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin that Libya was directly funding, training, and arming militants in Syria. El-Keib’s denial stands in direct contradiction of reports like the London Telegraph’s “Leading Libyan Islamist met Syrian Army Opposition Group,” where it was revealed that “the new Libyan authorities had offered money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad.”

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Libya%27s_Big-Oil_PM_Rolls_Over_for_Western_Masters/18359/0/38/38/Y/M.html

62 dead in Syria as diplomatic efforts continue

(CNN) — At least 62 people were killed Thursday in Syria as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned against outside military intervention, saying it could worsen an already precarious situation.

But, Annan told the Arab League summit in Cairo, “the violence and killings must stop immediately.”

Annan, the joint special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, began a visit to the region in Cairo on Wednesday. The U.N. said he will visit Damascus on Saturday “to seek an urgent end to all violence and human rights violations and to initiate efforts to promote a peaceful solution.”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/08/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html?eref=igoogledmn_topstories

US State Department Hands Terror-Cult US Base in Iraq

In an unbelievable act of high treason and overt criminality, the US State Department, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has finalized arrangements to move the US State Department-listed foreign terror organization, Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), into the former US military base “Camp Liberty’ in Iraq.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/US_State_Department_Hands_Terror-Cult_US_Base_in_Iraq/18358/0/38/38/Y/M.html

US offered Israel advanced weaponry in exchange for delaying Iran attack: report

WASHINGTON — The US offered to give Israel advanced weaponry — including bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes — in exchange for Israel’s agreement not to attack Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported Thursday.

President Obama reportedly made the offer during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week.

Under the proposed deal, Israel would not attack Iran until 2013, after US elections in November this year. The newspaper cited unnamed Western diplomatic and intelligence sources.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/attack_offered_israel_advanced_weaponry_vJzadL8Qw5XoQ7akSRO9yK

Netanyahu: Strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities possible within months

An attack on Iran could take place within a matter of months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a series of television interviews on Thursday. “We’re not standing with a stopwatch in hand,” he said. “It’s not a matter of days or weeks, but also not of years. The result must be removal of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands.” Netanyahu gave separate interviews to all three Israeli television stations, the first he has given since his return from Washington earlier this week.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/netanyahu-strike-on-iran-s-nuclear-facilities-possible-within-months-1.417417

Israel asks U.S. for arms that could aid Iran strike

Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday. “Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” Israeli reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46673712/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/#.T1qM67QycdQ

Panetta: U.S. Has Potential Military Plans for Iran

The Pentagon is preparing an array of military options for striking Iran if hard-hitting diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told National Journal in an interview on Thursday. Panetta said such planning had been under way “for a long time,” a reflection of the Obama administration’s mounting concern over Iran’s [alleged] continued progress towards a nuclear weapon. Panetta said in the interview that a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran would be less effective than one conducted by the U.S., which has a significantly larger air force and an array of advanced weapons more powerful than any possessed by Israel.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/panetta-u-s-has-potential-military-plans-for-iran-20120308

Obama asks Pentagon for military plans on Syria: Gen. Dempsey

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey says President Barack Obama has requested from the Pentagon military options against the Syrian government. According to a Wednesday report by The New York Times, Dempsey declared in a US Senate committee hearing in Washington that the Department of Defense was preparing military alternatives with regards to the existing situation in Syria for Obama’s review. The top American military chief made the remarks during a Wednesday hearing of US Senate’s Armed Services Committee. Dempsey added that potential measures considered by the American military ranged from “aerial surveillance of the Syrian military, the establishment of a no-fly zone, naval monitoring and humanitarian [sic] airlifts.”

http://presstv.com/detail/230546.html

CNN attempts to counter scandal over “Syria Danny” propaganda

Anderson Cooper attempted, and miserably failed, to mitigate the damage from the discovery that one of the poster boys for foreign intervention in Syria was manufacturing complete propaganda for Western consumption.

The video below is the original video exposing “Danny” as a vicious propagandist actively working against the interests of the Syrian people.

This is just more exploitation of the good intentions of people around the world for nefarious ends.

http://EndtheLie.com/2012/03/07/cnn-attempts-to-counter-scandal-over-syria-danny-propaganda/#ixzz1ofxXGwnU

Deal or No Deal? U.S. Denies Obama-Netanyahu ‘Package Deal’

White House denies the reports that Obama offered Netanyahu missiles if Israel agreed not to attack Iran during 2012.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/153582#.T1rSx7QyegZ

Environmental

Fukushima Disaster Anniversary Finds U.S. Nuclear Regulation Debate Still Raging
Corbin Hiar, News Report:

“One year ago on Sunday, an earthquake off the coast of Japan and the resulting tsunami triggered a month-long partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. In the days leading up to the anniversary of the crisis, advocates and opponents of nuclear power are squaring off in a fight over the lessons U.S. regulators should learn from the disaster.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/fukushima-disaster-anniversary-finds-us-nuclear-regulation-debate-still-raging-1331219767

Misc

Daniel Ellsberg Arrested Protesting the ‘American Nuclear Doomsday Machine’
Jane Ayers, News Analysis:

“In the wee hours of Saturday, February 25th, nuclear expert (and Pentagon Papers whistleblower) Daniel Ellsberg, along with David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), Cindy Sheehan, Fr. Louis Vitale, four members of CodePink, and six other concerned citizens, were all arrested for trespassing on military property while conducting an act of civil disobedience at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/daniel-ellsberg-arrested-protesting-american-nuclear-doomsday-machine-1331224456

US assassination drone crashes in Somalia’s Hobyo seaport

Another US assassination drone has crashed in Mudug region near Somalia’s seaport city of Hobyo, Press TV reports. A Somali official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the US spy drone had flown from the nearby USS Taylor warship. Recently, the US is using a new kind of drone, called a kamikaze drone, in Somalia. It functions both as a missile and an intelligence-gathering reconnaissance aircraft.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/230501.html

Afghanistan, U.S. to sign prison transfer deal: officials –Agreement will be the framework for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan beyond 2014

The United States and Afghanistan are expected to sign a deal on the transfer of U.S.-run detention centers to Afghan authorities on Friday, two Afghan officials said, improving the prospects of a strategic partnership allowing long-term U.S. involvement in the country. The Foreign Ministry later said Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak and Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, would sign an MOU. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, which Washington and Kabul have been discussing for over a year, will be the framework for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the last foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/09/us-afghanistan-usa-prisoners-idUSBRE8280BU20120309

U.S. firm linked to civilian deaths hired to train Canadian soldiers –Military has had relationship with Blackwater/Xe for years – documents

An American mercenary firm whose employees have been implicated in the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan was paid nearly $2.4 million to train Canadian soldiers last year. Documents tabled in the House of Commons show Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, was providing select troops specialized training in precision shooting and defensive driving at the company’s North Carolina facilities. Other soldiers were trained in bodyguard and close-quarter combat skills.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/firm+linked+civilian+deaths+hired+train+Canadian+soldiers/6266933/story.html

Navy Submariner( MoD Official) Accused Of Leaking Secrets

A Ministry of Defence official is due to appear in court today charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, Scotland Yard has said. Edward Devenney, 29, is accused of communicating information which could be deemed to be useful to an enemy of the state. He was arrested by officers in Plymouth on Tuesday morning before being charged last night, the Metropolitan Police said. A Met spokesman said a number of searches had been completed in connection with the arrest.

http://news.sky.com/home/uk-news/article/16184600

Obama to Simulate Cyber Attack on New York Power to Lobby Senate

The Obama regime will simulate a cyber attack crippling New York City’s electric supply during a summer heat wave to drum up support for cybersecurity legislation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and Justice Department are among agencies in Washington involved today in a Senate briefing on the New York scenario, said Vincent Morris, a spokesman for Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, are taking part.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-07/at-t-joins-comcast-favoring-incentives-over-cybersecurity-rules.html

White Powder Mailed to New England Schools, Including 3 In Connecticut

FBI investigating incidents 08 Mar 2012 Schools throughout New England, including three in Connecticut, have been targeted by someone mailing envelopes containing white powder. The envelopes arrived at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Enfield on Monday, and at Anna Reynolds School in Newington and Island Avenue School in Madison on Wednesday. In each case, the envelopes disrupted the school day and prompted responses by police and firefighters.

http://www.courant.com/community/newington/hc-madison-school-powder-0308-20120307,0,7211112.story

Cyber Space

LulzSec’s Sabu: ‘ask me about the CIA’

When the Guardian spoke to the hacker last year, he was keen to discuss claims he worked for the authorities By James Ball

[Sabu] asked me to join him in an off-the-record internet chat – a conversation that happened seven weeks after Sabu, now unmasked as Hector Xavier Monsegur, had already been picked up by the FBI. Given the latest revelations about Sabu’s activities, that he worked as an informer from after his arrest on 7 June until just a few days ago, I think it is appropriate to publish a few extracts from our conversation. Sabu – and we cannot even be sure that our correspondent was the real Monsegur and not a US agent – was not representing himself accurately to the newspaper. If anything, he was testing the Guardian out, openly flirting with the notion that he worked for the CIA – and then inviting me to knock him down.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/mar/07/lulzsec-sabu-informer

Elite hacker arrested in NY cooperated from Day 1

In his Twitter postings, the elite computer hacker known as “Sabu” urged followers to resist the U.S. government and its agents. But court papers made public Thursday reveal that Hector Xavier Monsegur put up no such fight when FBI agents first knocked on his door on June 7. From almost that first moment, he began talking, naming names and helping investigators pick apart the international community of Internet saboteurs [heroes]. He was arrested at 10:15 p.m. By the next day, federal prosecutors had told a judge that Monsegur had given them detailed information on other hackers suspected of breaking into the computer systems at several big corporations.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j0Mbvu9DeKoYrZTzliPdqz9HbCZg

Irish police free student accused of breaking into top cybercop’s email, US-UK security call –FBI affidavits

Student is Internet infiltrator responsible for recording and posting online Jan. 17 trans-Atlantic conference call between American and British anti-hacking detectives 07 Mar 2012 An Irish computer hacker accused of breaking into the email account of Ireland’s top cybersecurity cop, then using its contents to eavesdrop on American and British anti-hacking detectives, was released without charges Wednesday. Irish police said they were preparing a new evidence file for state prosecutors to use against Donncha O Cearbhaill. He’s been arrested and released once before over alleged hacking attacks in Ireland last year.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/hackers-hit-spanish-firm-panda-security-claiming-revenge-for-fbi-arrests/2012/03/07/gIQA415hwR_story.html

Monsanto

Monsanto’s Blatant Corruption and Disregard for Health (video)

CONTRIBUTOR: ACTIVISTPOST. It is well known that Monsanto’s GMO crops provide a very real threat to both public health and the environment as a whole, but the depth of Monsanto’s corruption is often a less covered topic. It has been…

It is well known that Monsanto’s GMO crops provide a very real threat to both public health and the environment as a whole, but the depth of Monsanto’s corruption is often a less covered topic. It has been revealed by WikiLeaks that Monsanto not only has key figureheads stationed in powerful government positions inside the United States, but also has many — if not all — U.S. diplomats on their payroll.

Monsanto’s Corruption Exposed (2/4)

Monsanto’s Corruption Exposed (3/4)

Monsanto’s Corruption Exposed (4/4)