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Boston runners were warned: Squamish man

Heiliger, 'stunned' by explosions, was back at hotel when marathon blasts occurred

Runners getting set to take part in the Boston Marathon were warned beforehand that they were going to die, said a Squamish resident who took part in the race.

Three people were killed and more than 140 were injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the famed 42.2-kilometre running event on Monday (April 15).

Mike Heiliger, 59, said a woman holding several bags was telling runners who were picking up their pre-race packages in downtown Boston on Saturday (April 13) that they were going to die if they participated in the event.

"I was downtown on Saturday and you know, you see these people on the street and think it's just some nutbar," he told The Chief from his Boston hotel on Monday. "It was a little creepy because you can identify who the runners are and I heard her say to this runner two feet away from me that, 'If you run tomorrow you're going to die.'"

At the time, Heiliger said he thought about telling the woman that the race was Monday, but decided not to correct her.
Star of David

FBI arrests Israeli billionaire's agent over bribery cover-up claim in battle over $10 billion iron ore mountain

Frenchman is accused destroying evidence of how an Israeli billionaire gained control of a mountain rich in iron ore in Guinea

A battle over one of the world's richest mineral deposits has taken a dramatic turn after the FBI announced the arrest of a representative of the billionaire businessman who had acquired it in deal that raised eyebrows, even within the buccaneering world of African mining.

The arrest follows years of bitter claim and counter-claim over Simandou, a mountain in the remote interior of the impoverished west African country of Guinea that is so laden with iron ore that its exploitation rights are valued at around $10bn.

Beny Steinmetz, one of the world's wealthiest men, acquired the rights to extract half the ore at Simandou by pledging to invest just $165m to develop a mine at the mountain. Shortly afterwards, he sold half of his stake for £2.5bn. It was hailed as the most stunning private mining deal for decades: the world's finest untapped iron ore deposit, one worth billions of dollars, had been snapped up for a song.

After the wind of democratic change swept through Guinea, however - and after the US justice department decided to mount an investigation into circumstances in which the glittering prize at Simandou changed hands - that deal was appearing to look distinctly less attractive.

On Sunday evening, Frederic Cilins, an agent for Steinmetz's company, was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, after federal agents had covertly recorded a series of meetings. The recording shows, it is alleged, that Cilins plotted the destruction of documents which it is claimed could have shown the Simandou exploitation rights were acquired after millions of dollars were paid in bribes to Guinea government officials.
Snakes in Suits

Westboro Baptist Church to picket Boston funerals, blames 'fag marriage' for bombings

© Flickr/John Lemieux
The anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church has blamed Monday's bombing of the Boston Marathon on same sex marriage and has promised to protest at the funerals of the victims.

In a press release posted to Twitter, Westboro thanked God for the attack and announced its plan to "picket the funeral of those killed."

"The federal government is classifying the bombs as a terrorist attack, but say it's unclear if it's of a domestic or foreign nature," the release said. "Here's a hint - GOD SENT THE BOMBS! How many more terrifying ways will you have the LORD injure and kill your fellow countrymen because you insist on nation-dooming filthy fag marriage?!"

By Tuesday morning, a "We the People" petition on the White House website had over 4,000 signatures from people asking that the church be banned from demonstrating at victims' funerals.
Eye 2

Fox News contributor Erik Rush calls for all Muslims to be killed for Boston marathon explosions

There were two explosions today at the Boston Marathon. So far, there are reportedly three people dead and more than 100 people injured.

It is not known who, or what, caused the explosions, but Fox News contributor Erik Rush suggested on Twitter that people from Saudi Arabia were likely responsible and tweeted "kill them all" in response to a tweet about Muslims.

First, Rush tweeted: "Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let's bring more Saudis in without screening them! C'mon! #bostonmarathon."
Bulb

California in statewide emergency alert to conserve energy after PG&E substation vandalized


This is the substation that was vandalized. April 16, 2013
About 10,000 gallons of oil began leaking Tuesday morning from a transformer at a San Jose PG&E substation, which authorities said was vandalized, possibly damaged by gunfire.

The damage prompted the California Independent Service Operator to issue a "Flex Alert" Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. for Silicon Valley because of the heavy damage at the substation on Metcalf Road.

The agency asked everyone in Northern California, but especially in Silicon Valley, to conserve energy as crews are working to fix the substation's damaged equipment. Power is being rerouted as the work is being done.

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Det. Kurtis Stenderup said it's too early to tell if the gunshots reported at 1:46 a.m. near Monterey and Blanchard roads were related to the leakage.
USA

The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions

© Stringer/REUTERS
Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race
As usual, the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear all instantly emerge

There's not much to say about Monday's Boston Marathon attack because there is virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why. There are, however, several points to be made about some of the widespread reactions to this incident. Much of that reaction is all-too-familiar and quite revealing in important ways:

(1) The widespread compassion for yesterday's victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid. My Guardian colleague Gary Younge put this best on Twitter this morning:

Juan Cole this morning makes a similar point about violence elsewhere. Indeed, just yesterday in Iraq, at least 42 people were killed and more than 250 injured by a series of car bombs, the enduring result of the US invasion and destruction of that country. Somehow the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of our own aggression against others.

One particularly illustrative example I happened to see yesterday was a re-tweet from Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso, proclaiming:
Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?"
Alarm Clock

Strategy of Tension - Boston Marathon bombing


Indiscriminate terrorist attacks on civilians have traditionally been used by authoritarian governments to spread fear in an effort to control the population.
'Marathon Monday' will never be the same for Bostonians. The 117th Boston Marathon ended abruptly when two bombs went off in quick succession at 2.50 pm EST near the finish line on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. As we go to press, 3 people have been confirmed dead, 17 are critically wounded and another 176 have been treated for injuries. The bombs - spaced some 500 yards and 10 seconds apart - went off on the same side of the street, where many spectators had gathered to cheer runners on to the finish line.

Flying limbs and streets awash in blood from what were effectively anti-personnel bombs, designed to maximise trauma, are daily occurrences in countries occupied by the U.S. military, but such gruesome scenes aren't usually seen on the streets of the 'homeland'. Until now.

As the initial shock subsides to make way for an official narrative that will no doubt squeeze every ounce of political capital from this heinous deed, we want to point out some of the inconsistencies we've noticed thus far.
War Whore

U.S. Secretary of State blackmails China over North Korea

In meetings with Chinese leaders last weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry engaged in a barely disguised form of blackmail to pressure Beijing to use "all options" to force its ally North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programs and destroy its nuclear weapons. Impoverished North Korea is completely dependent on China for vital imports, including oil and economic aid.

In recent weeks, Washington has aggressively ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's third nuclear test in February. As well as flying nuclear capable B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers to South Korea, the US has bolstered anti-missile ballistic systems in Alaska and Guam, and moved two Aegis-class destroyers, equipped with anti-missile defences, closer to Korean waters.

Beijing has in the past protested against the build-up of US anti-ballistic missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region, knowing that China is the primary target. Speaking in Seoul before arriving in Beijing, Kerry made clear that the US would continue to deploy such weapons, unless Beijing "put some teeth" into forcing North Korea to denuclearise.

After meeting with Chinese leaders, Kerry said the discussion had included "why we have taken the steps that we have taken" in missile defence. "Now obviously if the threat disappears - i.e. North Korea denuclearises - the same imperative does not exist at that point of time for us to have that kind of robust forward leaning posture of defence," he said.
Eye 1

Fighting drone wars behind our back: cheap, invisible and risk-free mass murder

The great advantage of drones for western governments is they can be used without domestic casualties and therefore, they hope, without the risk of popular opposition or protest.

RAF Waddington will soon be the control centre for British drone warfare. It may already be, we can't be sure.

The fact we don't know testifies to the secrecy that surrounds the operation of these remote control killing machines. Drones embody the sinister shift that has been taken in the West's wars post Iraq.

They blur the distinction between war and state execution, with no chance for public scrutiny.

Britain has been using drones in Afghanistan for some years. But by developing its drone capability, the British government is now stepping up its global ability to conduct arbitrary assassinations.

Official US language shows droes are normalizing such behaviour. There has been next to no public discussion about their use in Britain, but in the US drones are actualloy justified as precision weapons of international assassination. Their supporters say they are capable of surgically removing terrorist targets, so 'cleansing' weakened states of extremist leaders.
Health

Black Monday in Iraq: 55 killed, almost 300 injured in series of attacks


A string of bombings across Iraq has claimed at least 55 lives, injuring 300 more, on Monday. The surge in violence comes barely a week ahead of Iraq hosting elections for the first time since US withdrawal from the country.

Officials said bombings hit 12 different areas, leaving 55 people dead and making Monday the country's deadliest day since March 19, AFP reported.

The capital Baghdad and the surrounding area have seen 10 casualties, while the oil-rich Kirkuk, where tensions over resources have particularly spiked, has lost nine of its residents. The western Sunni city of Fallujah, the former Al-Qaeda stronghold of Baqouba and Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, also sustained attacks.

Most of Monday's deadly explosions were car bombings, including two blasts at Baghdad airport.

"Two vehicles managed to reach the entrance of Baghdad airport and were left parked there. While we were doing routine searches, the two cars exploded seconds apart. Two passengers travelling to the airport were killed," a police source said, cited Reuters.

Witnesses blamed authorities for being unable to provide adequate security: "I blame those who call themselves politicians in government [and] the security forces... for this bad security situation. They are doing nothing to help the people, and are only looking out for their benefits," said Qassim Saad, a Baghdad teacher who witnessed one of the blasts.
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