Politics and Legislation
Mayor’s office buys 8,513 more face shields for NATO summit
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is buying 8,513 more face shields for Chicago Police officers at a cost of $757,657 — and demanding delivery in time for the May 20-21 NATO summit — to give every officer on the street a shield that fits over a gas mask and prevents them from being blinded by liquids thrown by protesters.
The supplemental purchase from Colorado-based Super Seer Corp. brings to $954,118 the amount of money spent to purchase 11,570 face shields twice as thick as the old ones with a larger surface and air-tight seal to keep liquids out.
The new contract was piggybacked onto an existing Fairfax County, Va. award with a third-distributor to expedite delivery. It makes it clear the Chicago Police Department is not scaling back its protest preparations even though President Barack Obama has shifted the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.
“It’s an urgent thing. They want ’em by May 15th. Their intent is to outfit all of the officers Chicago Police have with the new face shield for the NATO summit,” said Super Seer President Steve Smith, who is hiring a dozen employees to “ramp up” production.
An Administration Gone Rogue
By Rep. Ron Paul
March 23, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Have certain parts of the Constitution become irrelevant, as a former Republican leader once told me at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing? At the time, I was told that demanding a Congressional declaration of war before invading Iraq, as Article I Section 8 of the Constitution requires, was unnecessary and anachronistic. Congress and the president then proceeded without a Constitutional declaration and the disastrous Iraq invasion was the result.
Last week, Obama administration officials made it clear that even the fig leaf of Congressional participation provided by the 2003 “authorization” to use force in Iraq was to be ignored as well. In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated clearly and repeatedly that the administration felt it was legally justified to use military force against Syria solely with “international permission”. Such “international permission” could come by way of the United Nations, NATO, or some other international body. Secretary Panetta then told Senator Sessions that depending on the situation, the administration would consider informing Congress of its decision and might even seek authorization after the fact.
While Senator Sessions expressed surprise at the casual audacity of Panetta in making this statement, in reality his was just a bluntly stated explanation of what has been, de facto, the case for many years. When President Obama committed the US military to a pre-emptive war against Libya last year, for example, Congress was kept completely out of the process. Likewise, military action in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and so on, proceed without a Congressional declaration. In fact, we haven’t had a proper, constitutional declaration of war since 1942, yet the US military has been engaged in Korea, Lebanon, Iraq, Bosnia, Liberia, Haiti, and Libya with only UN resolutions as the authority. Congress’s only role has been authorizing funds, which it always does without question, because one must “support the troops”.
‘Big Government’ Isn’t the Problem, Big Money Is
By Robert Reich
March 23, 2012 “The Nation” — Conservatives love to rail against “big government.” But the surge of cynicism engulfing the nation isn’t about government’s size. It flows from a growing perception that government doesn’t work for average people but for big business, Wall Street and the very rich—who, in effect, have bought it. In a recent Pew poll, 77 percent of respondents said too much power is in the hands of a few rich people and corporations.
That view is understandable. Wall Street got bailed out by taxpayers, but one out of every three homeowners with a mortgage is underwater, caught in the tsunami caused by the Street’s excesses. The bailout wasn’t conditioned on the banks helping these homeowners, and subsequent help has been meager. The recent settlement of claims against the banks is tiny compared with how much homeowners have lost. Millions of people are losing their homes or simply walking away from mortgage payments they can no longer afford.
Homeowners can’t use bankruptcy to reorganize their mortgage loans because the banks have engineered laws to prohibit this. Banks have also made it extremely difficult for young people to use bankruptcy to reorganize their student loans. Yet corporations routinely use bankruptcy to renege on contracts. American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, plans to fire 13,000 people— 16 percent of its workforce—while cutting back health benefits for current employees. It also intended to terminate its underfunded pension plans, until the government agency charged with picking up the tab screamed so loudly that American backed off and proposed to freeze the plans.
Paul Ryan’s Focus on Dignity
By Greg Kaufmann
March 24, 2012 “The Nation” –“Promoting the natural rights and the inherent dignity of the individual must be the central focus of all government.”
That’s what Congressman Paul Ryan wrote earlier this month in an exclusive commentary for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. This week, he revealed exactly where his laser-like focus on dignity would lead this nation. He released his budget proposal, as clear a statement of one’s principles and priorities as there is in politics.
Here are the results, and they’re not pretty. Nation readers with young children should probably ask them to leave the room before reading onward.
Mr. Ryan’s focus on dignity… means a cut in food stamps of $133 billion over ten years, even though 76 percent of participating households include a child, senior or disabled person, nearly half of all recipients are children and 40 percent of single mothers use food stamps to help feed their families. It translates to as many as 2.2 trillion meals lost for low-income people, more kids at risk of being underweight or developmentally delayed, worse educational outcomes and more stressed-out parents.
The congressman would also block-grant the program so it would no longer be able to respond to rising need during times like these—in 2010 alone food stamps kept 3.9 million people out of poverty. If you liked the cash assistance for poor families (TANF) block grant—which resulted in a free-fall from 68 of every 100 poor families receiving help to 27 of every 100—then you will absolutely love the Don’t Worry Ryan Will Feed You block grant.
French President Sarkozy Sees Opportunity for Censorship, Seizes It
In the wake of a horrific rampage, in which Mohamed Merah (now dead after a 32-hour standoff with police) reportedly murdered three French soldiers, three young Jewish schoolchildren, and a rabbi, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has begun calling for criminal penalties for citizens who visit web sites that advocate for terror or hate. “From now on, any person who habitually consults Web sites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished,” Sarkozy was reported as saying.
Apart from the obvious flaws in Sarkozy’s plan–users, can, of course, use anonymizing tools to view the material or simply access it from a variety of locations to avoid appearing as “habitual” viewers–there are numerous other reasons to be concerned about criminalizing access to information.
Greece is Now Irrelevant. Watch Spain and Germany
Submitted by Phoenix Capital Research
Earlier this month, Spain began “rocking” the EU boat by telling the EU it wasn’t going to meet the new EU fiscal requirements.
Spain’s sovereign thunderclap and the end of Merkel’s Europe
As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).
Taking what he called a “sovereign decision”, he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011)……
Bank of America Getting Into the Landlord Business
Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest lender, is launching a pilot program this week that will offer a limited number of customers behind on their mortgages to transition from owner to renter.
The bank, which was saddled with thousands of delinquent loans when it took over mortgage giant Countrywide, says that beginning this week “in targeted hard-hit markets,” it will offer a limited number of mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure an opportunity to remain in their homes, and transition to tenant status. The program is called “Mortgage to Lease.”
“This pilot will help determine whether conversion from homeownership to rental is something our customers, the community and investors will support,” said Ron Sturzenegger, Legacy Asset Servicing executive at Bank of America in a statement. “This program may have the potential to further round out the broad set of solutions we offer our customers in need of assistance.”…….
Wars and Rumors of War
JOSEPH KONY, AMERICA’S PRETEXT TO INVADE AFRICA: US Marines Dispatched to Five African Countries
by Michel Chossudovsky
The hidden agenda in Uganda, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa is the conquest of oil and strategic mineral resources. Going after Joseph Kony and protecting Ugandan children is a cynical smokescreen, a pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” in a region where US sponsored “civil wars” (Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia) have in the course of the last 20 years resulted in more than eight million deaths:
“Through AFRICOM, the United States is seeking a foothold in the incredibly resource rich central African block in a further maneuver to aggregate regional hegemony over China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s largest regions without an effectively functioning government. It contains vast deposits of diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium, magnesium, and tin while producing over $1 billion in gold each year. It is entirely feasible that the US can considerably increase its presence in the DRC under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony.” (Nile Bowie, Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa, Global research, March 14, 2012)
In a recent decision, the Pentagon confirms the sending in of Marine Special Forces to train Ugandan troops in the fight not only against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but also against Al Shabab in Somalia. Joseph Kony is being used as a pretext for outright military intervention in five African countries.
New Samsung TVs Have Built-In HD Camera, Microphones, Face and Speech Recognition
Here’s a bit of context that most people won’t consider when purchasing these quasi telescreens:
Avi Rubin – All Your Devices Can Be Hacked:
Massive EU Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia Contribute to Fuelling International Aggression and Terrorism in the Middle East
By Julie Lévesque
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the European Union is the most important weapons exporter to Saudi Arabia. Of all EU member states, France comes first with Euro2168.6 million of exports in 2010. Italy is in second place with Euro435.3 million, before Great Britain, with Euro328.8 million.
By arming the Saudi kingdom, the member states of the European Union are breaking prevailing EU rules regulating the exports of weapons, notes Der Spiegel. The magazine quotes the relevant section of the legislation on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament titled Security-related export controls II – Military equipment, which states:…….
Former Mossad chief: Israel will know before Iran begins producing nuclear weapons
Nuclear talks between Iran, Western powers to begin next month; officials in Jerusalem estimate Israel will allow at least three months for discussions, until oil embargo on Iran comes into full effect in July.
By Barak Ravid, Natasha Mozgovaya and Haim Handwerker
Discussions between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program will begin on April 13, senior U.S. and EU officials informed Israel on Tuesday. The talks are likely to take place in Geneva.
Officials in Jerusalem estimate that Israel will allow at least three months for discussions, until the oil embargo on Iran comes into full effect in the beginning of July……
Japan Prepares to Intercept Possibly Errant N. Korean Missile
The Japanese parliament has approved a resolution condemning North Korea’s planned missile launch, and the country is also preparing contingencies should the missile veer off course and pose a threat to Japan.
Speaking in Tokyo Friday, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said the Japanese military will be prepared for any eventuality.
Tanaka says he is ordering officials to prepare deployment of PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles and Aegis destroyers carrying a state-of-the-art anti-missile system that could attempt to shoot down the rocket…..
Palestinian on Hunger Strike “in Mortal Danger”
Uploaded by TheRealNews on Mar 23, 2012
Hanaa Shalabi, a Palestinian prisoner under Administrative Detention without charge or trial enters 36th day of her hunger strike
After more than a month on hunger strike, Hanaa Shalabi is in “immediate
mortal danger” and at “risk of coma” according to a Physicians for Human Rights doctor. Shalabi’s strike came at the heels of another high profile campaign by Khader Adnan who survived a 66 day hunger strike before the Israeli authorities decided to release him. Both were arrested under Administrative Detention, a military order that allows Israeli authorities to arrest anyone and hold them indefinitely, without charge or trial. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky met with the families of the two prisoners and spoke to lawyers Shawan Jabarin for Al Haq and Sahar Francis of Addameer about the mass imprisonment of Palestinians
Inside Story – A coup underway in the West African state of Mali
Uploaded by AlJazeeraEnglish on Mar 23, 2012
Rebel soldiers in the West African state of Mali claim to control the country, ousted the president and suspended the constitution. How powerful are they and can the government sustain its grip on power? Guests: Akli Sh’kka, Baz Lecocq, Adam Thiam.
Terror Management: ‘US losing last credibility in Syria’
Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 23, 2012
The EU continues to pursue its strategy of pressure on the Syrian regime to force it out of power. Foreign ministers have agreed to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on the British-born wife of the country’s leader. Asma al-Assad is among 12 officials or family members to be added to a number of figures, including the president, who are already subject to sanctions.
Washington has also threatened to tighten the screws on the Syrian government and isolate it even more if President Assad doesn’t comply with the UN statement appealing for a ceasefire. With violence still raging in the country, the opposition has dismissed international calls on both sides to implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan – as not meeting the needs of the people.
Government consultant Christoph Hoerstel, who’s recently returned from Syria, says he’s deeply concerned that the sanctions may have been a response to recently leaked emails between the Assad family.
Worrisome Security Council Presidential Statement on Syria
By Stephen Lendman
March 23, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — After months of internal wrangling, Security Council members unanimously endorsed efforts to end Syrian violence. Or did they? More on that below.
Presidential statements are non-binding. However, with vague language, they risk potential slippery slope trouble. More on that below as well.
Media reports called unanimity a setback for Assad. The statement’s also characterized as “Western.”
Hillary Clinton called it “a positive step. The council has now spoken with one voice.” She also said Washington is working with Syria’s opposition “to strengthen its preparation to participate in the Syrian-led transition process that the Council has endorsed.” By any other name, she means regime change.
Israel and US Disagree on Timetable for Iran Attack
By Associated Press
March 24, 2012 “Washington Post” — JERUSALEM — Israel and the U.S. disagree on what would be a realistic timetable for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Israel’s defense minister said Thursday, but he stopped short of threatening unilateral Israeli action.
Ehud Barak reiterated concerns that Iran is trying to make its suspected nuclear weapons program immune from attack before taking a decision on assembling atomic bombs, and said Israel “cannot afford” to wait in such a situation.
However, Barak told Israel Radio that the Jewish state could hold off for several more months to allow sanctions and negotiations to work. During this period, it would become clear “if the Iranians intend or don’t intend to stop their nuclear weapons program.”
In the interview, Barak argued that superior U.S. military capabilities and Washington’s position as a world power account for its different stance toward perceived Iranian nuclear threats. The U.S. has urged Israel to give sanctions time to work.
Special Report – Intel Shows Iran Not Nuclear “Threat”
March 23, 2012 “Reuters” – The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.
Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
“They’re keeping the soup warm but they are not cooking it,” a U.S. administration official said.
Reuters has learned that in late 2006 or early 2007, U.S. intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped.
That led to a bombshell conclusion in a controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate: American spy agencies had “high confidence” that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.
Current and former U.S. officials say they are confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections.
Nuclear Watchdog Chief Accused of Pro-western Bias Over Iran
Former officials warn of parallels between IAEA approach to Iran and mistakes over Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction
By Julian Borger
March 23, 2012 “The Guardian” – -The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog at the heart of the growing Iranian crisis, has been accused by several former senior officials of pro-western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence and of sidelining sceptics.
Yukiya Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat, took command of the IAEA in July 2009. Since then, the west’s confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme has deepened and threats of military action by Israel and the US have become more frequent.
At the same time, the IAEA’s reports on Iranian behaviour have become steadily more critical. In November, it published an unprecedented volume of intelligence pointing towards past Iranian work on developing a nuclear weapon, deeming it credible.
However, some former IAEA officials are saying that the agency has gone too far. Robert Kelley, a former US weapons scientists who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, said there were worrying parallels between the west’s mistakes over Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction then and the IAEA’s assessment of Iran now.
Kurd militants threaten Turkey if it enters Syria
By Jon Hemming
(Reuters) – Turkish Kurd militants threatened on Thursday to turn all Kurdish populated areas into a “war zone” if Turkish troops entered Syria, a sign the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has allies in Syria may be taking sides in the conflict there.
A renewed alliance between Damascus and the PKK would anger Turkey and could prompt it to take an even stronger line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his brutal repression of anti-government protesters.
PKK field commander Murat Karayilan said Turkey was preparing the ground for an intervention in Syria.
“The Turkish state is planning an intervention against our people,” the Europe-based Firat news agency, close to the militants, quoted him as saying.
“Let me state clearly, if the Turkish state intervenes against our people in western Kurdistan, all of Kurdistan will turn into a war zone,” he said.
Western Kurdistan is the term Kurdish nationalists use to describe Kurdish areas of northeast Syria, while by Kurdistan they mean the Kurdish areas of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last week that setting up a “safe zone” or a “buffer zone” along the border with Syria to protect civilians from Assad’s forces was among the options being considered should the stream of refugees turn into a flood.
Monsanto ‘Biotechnology Book for Kids’ Caught Brainwashing Children
By Anthony Gucciardi
Facing direct opposition from the public, biotechnology giants like Monsanto and Dow are now making a disturbing attempt to brainwash developing minds into accepting their genetically modified foods using blatant lies and propaganda.
In a last ditch effort to potentially sway public opinion, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) has launched the “Biotechnology Basics Activity Book” for kids.
With the intent to be used by ‘agriculture and science teachers’, the activity book spreads absurd lies about GMO crops — even going as far as to say that they ‘improve our health’ and ‘help the environment’.
The book can be seen on the organization’s website, and makes it extremely apparent that it is full of misinformation and propaganda that completely ignores scientific research surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
In fact, let’s examine some claims made by this book that serves as an ‘educational’ tool to be used by teachers.
Trapped In The Grid: How Net-Centric Devices And Appliances Provide Voluminous Information To Intelligence Agencies And Their Business Partners
“The patent discusses the technology to analyze the background noise during your phone call and serve up ads for you based on the environmental conditions Google picks up on. Yeah, that’s creepy.” –Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls…..
In addition to this patent including the background noises of phone calls, it also talks about the backgrounds of photos and videos you’ve taken as well. So if you took a picture in the snow, you might be shown ads for snow shovels.”–Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls……
Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy” and prompt a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.” All of which is true — if convenient for a CIA director.”–CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher…….
Inside the Ring: Beijing coup rumors
U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring China’s Internet say that from March 14 to Wednesday bloggers circulated alarming reports of tanks ent
ering Beijing and shots being fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high-level political battle among party leaders – and even a possible military coup.
The Internet discussions included photos posted online of tanks and other military vehicles moving around Beijing.
The reports followed the ouster last week of senior Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who was linked to corruption, but who is said to remain close to China’s increasingly nationalistic military.
Chinese microblogging sites Sina Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the bulletin board of the search engine Baidu all reported “abnormalities” in Beijing on the night of March 19.
Activist Outrage Causes Major Supermarkets to Drop ‘Pink Slime’ Meat
We have been reporting on the staggering amount of “pink slime” used in the U.S. food industry over the last few months. Pink slime is a meat filler made from “ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings or similar products, which are considered unfit for human consumption until ammonia has been added.”
In early March, it was reported by ABC that a shocking 70% of ground beef at supermarkets contained this pink slime. Since this disgusting food additive has been exposed, natural health activists rallied to demand its removal from McDonald’s and school lunches. Now major grocery chains are falling to the pressure of activism.
Escobar on Fukushima email leak: ‘Deleting data a cover-up’
Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 23, 2012
It’s emerged that at the height of Japan’s nuclear crisis last March, the authorities in Fukushima concealed radiation data vital to safely evacuate people from that area. Japan has a computer system designed to predict the spread of radioactive releases. But local media reports say the prefecture’s government deleted the e-mails detailing it. RT talks to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.
Psy – Ops
Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control
Advances in neuroscience are closer than ever to becoming a reality, but scientists are warning the military – along with their peers – that with great power comes great responsibility
A future of brain-controlled tanks, automated attack drones and mind-reading interrogation techniques may arrive sooner than later, but advances in neuroscience that will usher in a new era of combat come with tough ethical implications for both the military and scientists responsible for the technology, according to one of the country’s leading bioethicists.
“Everybody agrees that conflict will be changed as new technologies are coming on,” says Jonathan Moreno, author of Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. “But nobody knows where that technology is going.”
French Terror Attack: All the Hallmarks of an Intelligence Psy-op and False Flag
by Kurt Nimmo
Mohammed Merah, the suspect in the killing of seven people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, fits the pattern of an al-Qaeda intelligence asset. According to the BBC, he was on the radar of French authorities because of visits he made to Afghanistan and the “militant stronghold” of Waziristan in Pakistan.
More specifically, Merah was handled by France’s DCRI intelligence service “for years,” according to Claude Gueant, the interior minister.
Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was arrested on December 19, 2007, and was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in the southern province of Kandahar in Afghanistan.
In April of 2011, the United States admitted it has operated secret military prisons in Afghanistan where suspected terrorists are held and interrogated without charges.
The notorious Bagram airbase detention center is operated by the Joint Special Operations Command and the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC)………