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The government is spying on you - What's the big deal?

Recent polls show that, despite the Senate's torture report, most Americans still support the Central Intelligence Agency's use of torture on suspects. Obviously the mainstream media misinform the public, neglecting to tell them that such torture techniques do not even produce reliable information and are mainly used to extract false confessions from innocent detainees.

And on the National Security Agency's spying on innocent Americans, people love it, and then they hate it, and now they're back to loving it again. Alas, Most people are ignorant of the actual criminality being committed by the federal goons.

Comment: It's the old argument: "If you have nothing to hide ...", but only the most gullible and naive (or corrupt) people really believe that. Imagine your neighbour having full access to your home, laptop, email, etc. Would you tolerate that?

Certainly not!

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IDF is itching for another round of slaughter and strikes Gaza in retaliation to rocket fire

© Reuters/Amir Cohen
An Israeli air force F-15 fighter jet
The Israeli Defense Forces have launched an attack on Gaza allegedly striking a weapons cache near Khan Yunis in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day.

There were at least two strikes by the Israeli Air Force, Jerusalem Post reports. Residents reported hearing two explosions in an "area that contains training sites for Palestinian militants," according to AP. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The attack allegedly comes in retaliation to a rocket fired from Gaza earlier in the day into an open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council.

"The IDF will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well being of the civilians of Israel. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible and accountable for today's attack against Israel," said the IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, cited by Haaretz.

Comment: Notice that as usual no one claimed responsibility (except when a new and "unknown before" terror group suddenly does that). Read the following articles to understand why.

Magnify

The return of US-Cuba relations: An unlikely victory for Cuba

The announcement by the Obama administration in the United States of the re-opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba shows that the contest between the irresistible force and the immovable obstacle has been won by the latter.
© Reuters/Enrique De La Osa
The restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States has provoked enormous interest.

This is in no way surprising. Since the rupture in diplomatic relations in 1961 the United States and Cuba have been the most consistent adversaries on the international stage.

In that period relations between the United States and other countries with which it has had adversarial relationships such as Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq or Vietnam, have gone through ups and downs. This has not been true of relations between the United States and Cuba. Relations between them have always been bad.

This hostility between the United States and Cuba has been one of the most stable factors in international relations over the last half-century. Though its effect in Europe and elsewhere is mitigated by distance, this hostility has had an enormous influence in shaping the present political geography of Latin America especially.

The possibility that this hostility may change has therefore come to many people as a surprise if only because the general expectation was that there would be no significant improvement in relations between the two countries at least until the two Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, had died.

What explains this enduring hostility and this abrupt shift in relations? Will it endure or is it as many appear to think a trap the United States has laid for Cuba preparing the grounds for regime change there?


Comment: To read more about such analysis of the renewed U.S.-Cuba ties see: The implications of renewed US-Cuba ties


The breakdown in relations between the United States and Cuba was the consequence of the Castro Revolution of 1959. This was a revolution launched from the countryside against a corrupt oligarchic elite based in Havana.

That elite in turn had extremely close connections with the United States. These extended back decades to Cuba's liberation war against Spain in the 1890s. The United States intervened in that war in a manner that achieved for it a dominant position in Cuba right up to the point of Castro's revolution in 1959. It would not be an exaggeration to say that throughout this period Cuba was essentially a protectorate of the United States.

Comment: See also: Cuba not returning to capitalism despite U.S. deal: Castro's daughter
Cuba will defend its socialist principles and will not return to capitalism just because it has agreed a detente with the United States, the daughter of President Raul Castro said, dispelling any notion that U.S. companies would be free to roll into Cuba.


Handcuffs

U.S. sends four Guantanamo prisoners home to Afghanistan

© Reuters/Bob Strong
The frontier road parallels the security fence leading to the Northeast gate at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 8, 2013.
Four Afghans held for over a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent home, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in a gradual push by the Obama administration to close the jail.

The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009.

With the repatriation of the four Afghans, Guantanamo's detainee population has been whittled down to 132. Several more prisoners of "various nationalities" are expected to be transferred before the end of the year and a further unspecified number in succeeding weeks, according to a senior U.S. official.

Obama promised to shut the internationally condemned prison when he took office nearly six years ago, citing the damage it inflicted on America's image around the world. But he has been unable to do so, partly because of obstacles posed by Congress.

Comment: So now if there is an upswing of fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, the US can say "see, it's because we released those prisoners". Closing the prison is a good thing but it is too little too late to clean up the US's reputation around the world.

2 + 2 = 4

Stratfor head: Yanukovich overthrow "most blatant coup in history"

stratfor
In a December 19th interview in the Russian magazine Kommersant, George Friedman, who is the Founder and CEO of Stratfor, the 'Shadow CIA' firm, says of the overthrow of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych that occurred on February 22nd of 2014: "It really was the most blatant coup in history." Perhaps he is saying this because of the videos that were uploaded to the Web which showed it to be so, but this statement by him contradicts the description that is asserted by the U.S. White House and the European Union, and the Western press, which description is that Yanukovych's overthrow was instead just the result of the U.S. Government's $5+ billion expense since 1991 to establish 'democracy' in Ukraine.

Friedman further says that "The Russian authorities can not tolerate a situation in which western armed forces will be [in Ukraine] a hundred kilometers from Kursk or Voronezh [in Russia]", and that the goal of the U.S. is to "maintain the balance of power in Europe, helping the weaker party," which he says is Europe. He furthermore says, "The United States considers the most dangerous potential alliance to be between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources." So: the U.S. is trying to antagonize Germans against Russia. This will weaken both of them. However, that would be not a "balance of power" but an increasing imbalance of power in favor of the United States. The Russian interviewer failed to catch his inconsistency on that.

Comment: Funny how the truth seeps out of the most unexpected places! More on Stratfor:

Network

North Korea says it can prove it wasn't behind Sony hack

Kim Jong Un
© Reuters/KCNA
Kim Jong Un
North Korea has proposed a joint investigation with the United States into the hack attack against Sony Pictures, according to the state news agency, KCNA.

The offer comes as the FBI formally accused Pyongyang of the attack on Friday and US President Barack Obama promised to "respond proportionally" to the online breach.

North Korea says it can prove it has nothing to do with the cyberattack on Sony, the KCNA news release said.

Comment: Certainly it's no mere coincidence that just as the US is 'considering' putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror an attack is made on a US corporation that the FBI blames on North Korea, with no evidence mind you. Perhaps it has something to do with North Korea broadening cooperation with Russia to prevent dangerous military activities? At the same time, this phony 'terrorist' hack makes for the perfect headline to bury the latest Israeli offensive.

Eiffel Tower

SOTT EXCLUSIVE: Is President Hollande growing a spine? French leader calls for scaling back economic war against Russia

Two weeks ago, French president Hollande decided to make an impromptu visit to Russia's president Putin. The visit in itself was, if not courageous, at least different from Western leaders' previous tactics of isolating the Russian president. The good mood of the Russian president made people wonder if something had happened and whether Hollande had been cured of the Bulgarian symptoms.

Hollande Putin
© EPA/LETA
Has Hollande after the meeting with Putin started to stand up and act in favour of the interests of his country?
At the Brussels summit, which finished yesterday, it was Hollande who voiced the desire to scale back the sanctions regime on Russia. In doing so, he caused a split in EU unity, as Bloomberg reported:
Europe stumbled into a debate over the end of sanctions on the economically distressed Russia after French President Francois Hollande became the first major leader to dangle the prospect of easing the curbs. [...]

Hollande urged the EU to offer early "de-escalation" to reward expected peace overtures by Russian President Vladimir Putin in eastern Ukraine, while others including German Chancellor Angela Merkel put off sanctions relief until a settlement emerges.
It's obvious that the sanctions would hurt the EU badly, but that has been known all along by anyone with two neurons firing, so the timing by the French President is interesting, especially given that Canada and the US have announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, although they have yet to be implemented:
Hollande warned that declining demand from Russia knocks out one of the props of Europe's economy.
No doubt! But the fact that a major European leader dared to question the sanctions regime is significant and made it easier for others to follow suit:
Europe's divisions were on display yesterday, with Austria joining the call for early sanctions relief and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying: "New sanctions? Absolutely no!"
That Poland and the Baltic states want tougher sanctions, or at least to keep the existing sanctions, shouldn't come as any surprise, but their voice in the EU does not carry much weight.
Attention

Paul Craig Roberts - Russia's black swan card(s) and the end of NATO

financial collapse economic
Today Dr. Paul Craig Roberts warned King World News that the Russians are going to unleash what he called the "ultimate black swan" against the West. Dr. Roberts also discussed how a terrifying series of events would then bring the Western financial system to it knees as the banking system completely collapses.

Dr. Roberts: "I was listening to the news today and there were all these self-righteous people just happy as all get out that they had finally stomped Russia into the ground and 'Russia is now finished,' and Russia was broken and 'would soon be an American vassal state where it belongs.' And I was listening to this rot and got to thinking, 'How can people be so utterly stupid?' But they are, and they are just as stupid in Washington.

And in the meantime, as part of this process, Eric, we may see Russia unleash the predicted black swans that bring down the Western house of cards...

"Suppose the Russian government says, 'Well, since the attack on the ruble is political and you guys are attacking the ruble and causing us so much trouble, we are just not going to pay off the next tranche of our debt that comes due early in 2015.'

Comment: Paul Craig Roberts gives a shrewd assessment of the political and economic maneuvering between Russia and Washington. When the facts are laid out it's clear Washington is operating from a fantasy world. Unfortunately, the rest of us in the real world will have to live with the consequences.

Info

Israel bombs Gaza in alleged response to a rocket attack

© Unknown
The Israeli military forces have conducted the first airstrikes on targets in Gaza Strip after the August ceasefire agreement, the BBC Israel reports.

Residents of the Khan Yunis area in Gaza reported hearing two explosions, the Associated Press news agency said.

The attack was carried out on a Hamas infrastructure site in response to a rocket, fired from Gaza several hours earlier, a statement from the Israeli defense reads.

No casualties were reported as a result of the attack.

Israel and Palestine agreed on an open-ended ceasefire, brokered by the Egyptian government, on August 26.

The truce followed an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which happened in June after Israel laid the blame for the death of three Israeli schoolboys on Hamas, a radical Palestinian Islamic organization and the de facto authority in Gaza. In response, Israel launched its operation "Protective Edge." Over 50 days of hostilities, 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis lost their lives.

Comment: Recently, EU took Hamas off their list of "terrorist" organizations and the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon responded with the following:
The Israeli army might be forced to attack Gaza again, said the Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday, according to the army's radio channel.

Ya'alon met with Israeli soldiers and told them that they need to be ready for another war in Gaza anytime, the Israeli news radio reported. Ya'alon reportedly said, "The army might be forced to attack Gaza with all its power."
And something to keep in mind whenever you hear about 'Hamas Rockets.'
The false image of Palestinians as 'terrorists' who want to 'destroy Israel' is promoted by Israel as a bulwark against the emergence of a genuine movement for Palestinian rights that can be accepted internationally. To perpetuate the idea that Paestinian = terrorist, Israel has to launch periodic 'anti-terrorist' operations against the Palestinian people. When such operations are politically expedient, Israel manufactures a 'provocation' to justify the operation.
See also: Hamas blames 'Israeli collaborators' for launching rockets
The Hamas rulers of Gaza Strip on Tuesday lashed out at gunners who fire rockets at Israel from the Palestinian territory in violation of a seven-week-old calm, calling them Israeli collaborators. "About the rocket-firing, I think those who are responsible are those who collaborate with Israel because there is a consensus by all Palestinian groups to respect the truce," said Dr. Mahmud Zahar, a senior leader of the Hamas movement.
Is the latest attack by Israel another attempt at demonizing Hamas?
Nobody has claimed responsibility so far for the rocket attack, but the former deputy defense minister Danny Danon rushed to announce that the incident once again proves that Hamas, ruling Gaza, is a terrorist organization. "If anyone doubted this then they received the answer now with the [rocket] fire,"Danon said.


Whistle

Where's the evidence? U.S. accuses North Korea for Cyberattack on Sony

© Reuters / Jason Lee
Kim Jong-un.
A Japanese company with some offices in California was hacked. Several terrabytes of data were copied off its internal networks and some of it was put on file sharing sites. One of the items copied was a film produced in Canada that depicts as comedy the terror act of killing of a current head of state. The U.S. State Department applauded that movie scene. But there were tons of other data like social security numbers, payroll data, and internal emails stolen all of which that might have been the real target of the hackers.

The tools to hack the company are well known and in the public domain. The company, Sony, had lousy internal network security and had been hacked before. The hackers probably had some inside knowledge. They used servers in Bolivia, China and South Korea to infiltrate. There is zero public evidence in the known that the hack was state sponsored.

But the U.S. is claiming that the event is a "national security matter". Who's national security? Japan's? Canada's? Why? A private Japanese entertainment(!) company left the doors open and had some equipment vandalized and some of its private property stolen. Why, again, is that of U.S. "national interest"? Why would the U.S. even consider some "proportional response"?


Comment: Maybe it has something to do with this:
At the same time, though, Obama said the attack should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and prompt lawmakers in Washington, DC to get serious about implementing cybersecurity legislation in the wake of what is only the latest hack to be endured by a major American company.

The White House is anonymously accusing the state of North Korea of having done the hack. It provides no evidence to support that claim and the government of North Korea denied any involvement. The FBI and Sony say they have no evidence for such a claim.

Still the New York Times editors eat it all up:
North Korean hackers, seeking revenge for the movie, stole millions of documents, including emails, health records and financial information that they dished out to the world.

Comment: After stating that the U.S. government has no evidence to implicate North Korea in the hacking, the following New York Times article would admit that the NSA has been trying to hack and infiltrate North Korea's computer network for years. And if that wasn't enough the U.S. government is considering relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Double standards and exceptionalism at work.
American officials have concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North's leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.

Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism attack. Sony capitulated after the hackers threatened additional attacks, perhaps on theaters themselves, if the movie, "The Interview," was released.

Officials said it was not clear how the White House would respond. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Kim Jong-un must be confronted directly. But that raises questions of what actions the administration could credibly threaten, or how much evidence to make public without revealing details of how it determined North Korea's culpability, including the possible penetration of the North's computer networks. [...]

It is not clear how the United States determined that Mr. Kim's government had played a central role in the Sony attacks. North Korea's computer network has been notoriously difficult to infiltrate. But the National Security Agency began a major effort four years ago to penetrate the country's computer operations, including its elite cyberteam, and to establish "implants" in the country's networks that, like a radar system, would monitor the development of malware transmitted from the country.


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