Puppet Masters

Red Flag

New York fracking scandal: Seven groups demand conflict of interest investigation of Cuomo administration

© Shutterstock | tankist276
New York could soon become the newest state in the union to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technique used to enable shale oil and gas extraction. The green light from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could transpire in as little as "a couple of weeks," according to journalist and author Tom Wilber.

That timeline, of course, assumes things don't take any crazy twists or turns.

Enter a press conference today in Albany, where seven groups, including Public Citizen, Food and Water Watch, Frack Action, United for Action, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, and Capital District Against Fracking, called for an Albany County District Attorney General investigation of the Cuomo Administration.

They are asking "whether Lawrence Schwartz, Secretary to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has a conflict of interest between his stock investments and his involvement in the state's decision on whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas."
Bad Guys

Chinese troop movements signal war?

Tanks, one by one, moving along a main road in China's coastal Fujian province. Driving up speculations that the Chinese military may be warming up for war.

Local residents took these pictures between February 3 to February 6. At times, the line of tanks and artillery blocked traffic for several miles.

And it wasn't just in Fujian province. These military vehicles were spotted further up the coast, in neighboring Zhejiang province. According to dissident website, molihua.org, these tanks in Hubei province are being transported from a military base to the coast.

Liberal in domestic issues, Obama hawk on terror

© Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
For all of his liberal positions on the environment, taxes and health care, President Barack Obama is a hawk when it comes to the war on terror.

From deadly drones to secret interrogations to withholding evidence in terror lawsuits, Obama's Democratic White House has followed the path of his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush. The U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open, despite Obama's pledge to close it, and his administration has pursued leaks of classified information to reporters even more aggressively than Bush's.

"They have maintained momentum in a lot of important areas that we were focused on, and they've continued to build in those areas," said Ken Wainstein, the White House homeland security adviser and a top Justice Department lawyer under Bush. "You can see an appreciation for the severity of the threat, the need to stand up to it, and the need to go on offense at times."

John Brennan's confirmation hearing this week to be CIA director showed just how much Washington - and especially Democrats - has come to accept the same counterterrorism policies that drew such furor in the first years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Snakes in Suits

Brennan 'never expressed concerns over waterboarding' - former top CIA lawyer

© Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
John Brennan, Obama's nominee for CIA director, never expressed any concern over waterboarding techniques employed by the organization, former top CIA lawyer John Rizzo said. Brennan previously claimed that he voiced objections amongst colleagues.

Waterboarding is a method of torture in which a restrained individual's face is covered by a water-soaked cloth. Further water is then poured over it, forcing the individual to experience a sensation of 'dry drowning.'

Rizzo, a Central Investigation Agency's lawyer who retired in 2009, has declared that Brennan knew of the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' the CIA used, but voiced no moral objections whatsoever, despite a sort of friendship between the two and Rizzo's office being just "15 feet away." The lawyer also heard no objections from the FBI, or elsewhere.

"I just never heard from him directly or ever heard that he had expressed any concerns to colleagues," Rizzo said. "I've talked to other agency veterans. Because to tell you the truth, it did mean something to me."

U.S. demands Russia 'immediately' lifts meat ban

© Reuters/Jeff Haynes
Butcher Brett Marley dumps in a mixed variety of meats to make fresh ground beef at Casey's Market in Western Springs, Illinois, April 25, 2012.
he United States has urged Russia to "honor its obligations" as a WTO member and "restore market access for US meat and meat products immediately." Earlier the Russian food watchdog claimed the ban over additive ractopamine will be long-term.

"The United States is very disappointed that Russia has taken action to suspend all imports of US meat, which is produced to the highest safety standards in the world," US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a joint statement.
Star of David

Australian suspected of Mossad links dies in Israeli jail

Ben Zygier, thought to be Prisoner X
Evidence has been unearthed that strongly suggests Israel's infamous Prisoner X, who was jailed under extraordinary circumstances in 2010, was an Australian national from Melbourne.

Investigations by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program have revealed Ben Zygier, who used the name Ben Alon in Israel, was found hanged in a high-security cell at a prison near Tel Aviv in late 2010.

His body was flown to Melbourne for burial a week later.

The death goes part of the way to explain the existence in Israel of a so-called Prisoner X, widely speculated in local and international media as an inmate whose presence has been acknowledged by neither the jail system nor the government.
Cloud Lightning

A sign? Lightning strikes St Peter's Basilica as Pope resigns

Pope Benedict has shocked a billion Roman Catholics around the world, and his closest advisers, by announcing that he will resign at the end of this month.

Within hours of Pope Benedict announcing his resignation, lightning struck St Peter's Basilica.

The Pope, who is 85 years old, has been the head of the Church since 2005.
Eye 2

Cheney: Obama wants to do 'serious damage to our military' but drones are cool

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a fan of Barack Obama's decision to use drones for the targeted killing of American citizens, but says that the president "wants" to do "serious, serious damage to our military" by nominating former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be secretary of defense.

"I think it's a good program and I don't disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration is pursuing now in those regards," he told CBS host Charlie Rose in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

But Rose wondered if there should be some "checks and balances" by another branch of government on the president's ability to "take out" American citizens overseas.

Defiant North Korea warns of further action after third nuclear test

© AP Photo/Kyodo News
People watch a TV news in Osaka, western Japan, showing a North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with letters saying " North Korea, Third nuclear test" Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.
Defying U.N. warnings, North Korea on Tuesday conducted its third nuclear test in the remote, snowy northeast, taking a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States.

North Korea said the atomic test was merely its "first response" to what it called U.S. threats, and said it will continue with unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity" if Washington maintains its hostility.

The underground test, which set off powerful seismic waves, drew immediate condemnation from Washington, the U.N. and others. Even its only major ally, China, summoned the North's ambassador for a dressing-down.

President Barack Obama, who was scheduled to give a State of the Union address later Tuesday, said nuclear tests "do not make North Korea more secure." Instead, North Korea has "increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," he said in a statement.

From the use of drones to enhancing Policeman's Bill of Rights, Watch this Dorner case carefully

Christopher Dorner
There are three things all of us should be concerned about with this Christopher Dorner saga.. First they are now using drones to hunt this man down.. On the surface that seems like no big deal, but because they are hunting for a 'cop killer' who has stated via his manifesto that he has more in his sights, the police will equip drones with technology and use procedures that up till now are not allowed.

No I don't think they will 'shoot' him from the sky... But drones can be equipped with very intrusive snooping tools totally violate or constitutional and civil rights... Drones can be equipped to do everything from see behind walls to intercepting emails, text message etc.. Up til now the fight has been to limit law enforcement to use drones for search and rescue type operations.. They want search warrants and other legal documents to be in place before police use them...

But now the country's second largest police department, LAPD can go all out testing and setting a precedent on using drones on American soil..bypassing the fight against them and current limits placed on them..In the search for Dorner, how much of our privacy will be violated? What sort of record keeping will be done on any of us? The justification process has already started with media and law enforcement now dubbing Dorner as a 'domestic terrorist'... If he's a terrorist does that allow the indefinite detention provisions of NDAA National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 kick in? Can people who are suspected of being in association or sympathizing with Dorner now subjected to provisions in NDAA or other anti-terrorist laws?