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Queen Elizabeth hands over the reigns to Chuck, kind of

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Passing the baton: The Queen
Her Majesty to hand duties over to Prince Charles in an historic job share which experts say marks a gentle succession

It is being dubbed the "gentle succession" - as the Queen gradually begins to relinquish some of her traditional duties as monarch.

As she approaches her 88th birthday in April after almost 62 years on the throne, she has agreed to hand over part of her workload in a historic "job-share" arrangement with Prince Charles.

In a royal first, he will be taking on more head of state-style responsibilities as the Palace starts to make tentative plans for his eventual succession.

Courtiers yesterday described the softly-softly move as "wise" - and "just plain common sense".

The first sign of the partial power transfer will be the merging this week of the Queen and Charles's press offices.

In future any announcements concerning the monarch and her 65-year-old eldest son will now come from the same source. Palace sources insist the switch will be entirely seamless.

Rainbow

Spain's new cardinal says homosexuality a 'defect'

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© AFP/Curto de la Torre
An activist brandishes a rainbow-flag sticker as he protests against homophobia during a gay rights rally in Madrid.
Pope Francis' newly chosen Spanish cardinal, 84-year-old Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, has described homosexuality as a "defect" that can be corrected with treatment, sparking condemnation from gay rights groups.

"A lot of people complain and don't tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation," Sebastian told Malaga newspaper Sur.

The interview was published Sunday, a week after the Spaniard was named as one of 19 new cardinals chosen by the pope, to be officially appointed February 22.

"We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can," said Sebastian, who is the archbishop emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona.

"Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment. It is not an offence, it is esteem. When someone has a defect, the good friend is the one who tells him."

The archbishop was asked in the interview if he shared the view of Pope Francis, who said in July last year: "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"

Propaganda

Propaganda Alert! Syria photos may prove torture by Assad regime

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© Unknown
A team of internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts has found "direct evidence" of "systematic torture and killing" by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the lawyers on the team say in a new report.

Their report, based on thousands of photographs of dead bodies of alleged detainees killed in Syrian government custody, would stand up in an international criminal tribunal, the group says.

CNN's "Amanpour" was given the report in a joint exclusive with The Guardian newspaper.

"This is a smoking gun," said David Crane, one of the report's authors. "Any prosecutor would like this kind of evidence -- the photos and the process. This is direct evidence of the regime's killing machine."

Crane, the first chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, indicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Taylor went on to become the first former head of state convicted of war crimes since World War II. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the photographs, documents and testimony referenced in the report, and is relying on the conclusions of the team behind it, which includes international criminal prosecutors, a forensic pathologist, an anthropologist and an expert in digital imaging.

The bodies in the photos showed signs of starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, and other forms of torture and killing, according to the report.

Comment: Bashar Al-Assad is one of the few leaders in the world who actually cares for his people. This unconfirmed, seemingly manufactured torture business stinks to high heaven! To learn about the real Bashar Al-Assad, see:

The Real Bashar Al-Assad
Video: Charlie Rose interview with Bashar al-Assad (full interview and transcript)
Western journalists are just reporting lies about Syria: Assad has many sunny days ahead of him
Syria: Democracy vs. foreign invasion. Who is Bashar Al Assad?


Arrow Down

Why is a gigantic war-blimp about to fly above the skies of suburban Baltimore?

© Raytheon
One of the most disturbing and relentless trends over the past several years has been the redirection of war technology and equipment from the battlefield abroad toward domestic use in the USA.

This has resulted in a militarization of police across the nation and has encouraged small towns to use Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to purchase ridiculous items such as tanks.

Sadly, it appears this trend is only accelerating. With billions of dollars already spent, and failed wars abroad, the military-industrial complex needs to continue to generate cash flow. May as well just use it against the American people.

We find out from the Washington Post that:
They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard. But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.

The aerostats - that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground - are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October. From a vantage of 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C., to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft so they could be intercepted before reaching the capital.
Interesting, I didn't realize we were at war. When was the last time cruise missiles were shot into the United States?

Eye 1

Japanese WWII torture document eerily reminiscent of U.S. torture program

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photo from war crimes book with Japanese text of torture instructions
The following is taken from a 63 year old book published in the early days of the Cold War. Titled Materials on the Trial of Former Serviceman of the Japanese Army Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons (Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1950), the book contains trial summaries and testimony from the Khabarovsk war crimes trial in December 1949.

Derided as just another Stalinist show trial at the time, historians have since confirmed the evidence regarding the crimes prosecuted, including deadly biological experiments on prisoners by special units of the Japanese Imperial Army, the most famous of which was Unit 731.

The selection below is one of the exhibits contained in the book, collected in a section labeled "Documentary Evidence." The book itself has been out of print for decades, and is generally unavailable, except via some few libraries and antiquarian bookstores.

The selection included here is on the Japanese Army use of torture. The reader will notice that the Japanese Army demonstrated many of the same techniques and concerns the U.S. showed when it was implementing its own torture program under the CIA and the Department of Defense.

Comment: Not only eerily reminiscent! See:

Testimony of Colonel Larry C. James
Corruption of Science: How psychologists became the Pentagon's bitches


Megaphone

Testimony of Colonel Larry C. James

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In January 2003, Colonel Larry James left his Chair of the Department of Psychology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to become the senior psychologist at Guantánamo. There he served until May of that year.

In 2008, Colonel James published Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib, a book which details his experiences at Guantánamo and at Abu Ghraib, which was to be his next assignment. Fixing Hell chronicles the "culture of cruelty" he encountered at Guantánamo--a culture he credits himself with countering. CSHRA has lifted the testimony of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo found in his book and has posted it below.

(LJ1) Seeing little results from the inexperienced interrogators [at Guantanamo], the commanding general [...] brought a group of former CIA contract psychologists to Cuba--a few months before Major Leso's assignment--to teach the interrogators harsh and abusive interrogation tactics. The goal was to get detainees to talk--quickly. Results were marginal, but by the time Leso arrived [in June 2002] a culture of severe tactics had taken hold as the norm for much of the Joint Intelligence Group at Gitmo. The bar for what might be considered abusive was raised higher and higher, and the leaders at the base turned their backs on conduct that was, at a minimum, questionable. The interrogators learned that they could try pretty much whatever they wanted to get the prisoners to talk, and a lack of good information often just spurred them to attempt something more extreme (Fixing Hell, pp. 20-21).

Comment: Indeed, America is the Torture Nation. See also:

Corruption of Science: How psychologists became the Pentagon's bitches


Bizarro Earth

Corruption of Science: How psychologists became the Pentagon's bitches

But a few days later Muriel, reading over the Seven Commandments to herself, noticed that there was yet another of them which the animals had remembered wrong. They had thought the Fifth Commandment was "No animal shall drink alcohol," but there were two words that they had forgotten. Actually the Commandment read: "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."

Animal Farm, George Orwell.

"When the system works correctly, psychologists assess 'the character, personality, social interactions and other behavioral characteristics of detainees.' The psychologists . . . do not conduct the interrogations themselves, but instead 'coach and counsel the interrogator in a way that allows him or her to build a relationship with the detainee.'"

So says the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, William Winkenwerder Jr., in an interview with Mark Benjamin last July.
© Unknown
Prisoner 063 was called "unclean" and "Mo"[for Mohammed]. . .He was not told, despite asking, that some of the interrogation took place during Ramadan, a time when Moslems have special obligations. He was not allowed to honor prayer times...Transgressions against Islamic and Arab mores for sexual modesty were employed. The prisoner was forced to wear photographs of "sexy females" and to study sets of such photographs to identify whether various pictures of bikini-clad women were of the same or a different person. He was told that his mother and sister were whores. He was forced to wear a bra, and a woman's thong was put on his head. He was dressed as a woman and compelled to dance with a male interrogator. He was told that he had homosexual tendencies and that other prisoners knew this. Although continuously monitored, interrogators repeatedly strip-searched him as a "control measure." On at least one occasion, he was forced to stand naked with women soldiers present. Female interrogators seductively touched the prisoner under the authorized use of approaches called "Invasion of Personal Space" and "Futility." On one occasion, a female interrogator straddled the prisoner as he was held down on the floor... He was leashed (a detail omitted in the log but recorded by investigators) and made to "stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to a dog." He was told to bark like a happy dog at photographs of 9/11 victims and growl at pictures of terrorists... He was shown pictures of the attacks, and photographs of victims were affixed to his body.

Bad Guys

Corruption of Science: Medical Oaths Betrayed

© Matt Mahurin
In November 2003, an Iraqi guard smuggled a pistol into the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib and gave it to a prisoner, Ameen Saeed al-Sheik. Tipped off, military police quickly began a cell-to-cell search. When they reached his cell, Sheik went for the hidden pistol; gunfire was exchanged and a sergeant was hit. According to sworn testimony, the soldiers wrestled the prisoner to the floor and sent him to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder and shotgun wounds to his legs.

When Sheik returned to prison, he was beaten with a baton and his arms were handcuffed over his head, putting stress on his injured shoulder and leg. On a cold night, a medic, Sgt. Theresa Adams, saw Sheik naked and bleeding from a catheter that should have been connected to a bag to prevent infection. According to a sworn statement, the physician on call (who held the rank of colonel) agreed that the hospital had erred in leaving the catheter open but refused to remove it or to transfer Sheik to a hospital. When Adams asked him whether he had ever heard of the Geneva Conventions, the physician answered, "Fine, Sergeant, you do what you have to do; I am going back to bed."

In May 2004, photographs of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. When I saw the pictures, a simple question came to mind: Where were the prison doctors, nurses and medics while this abuse was happening?

Based on my review of tens of thousands of pages of declassified government documents, congressional testimony, press accounts and reports by human rights organizations, the answer is clear: Many armed forces physicians, nurses and medics have been passive and active partners in the systematic neglect and abuse of prisoners. At facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States often failed to provide prisoners with minimally adequate medical and health systems. Some physicians and psychologists provided information that was used to determine the harshness of physically and psychologically abusive interrogations, which were then monitored by health professionals. Some doctors responsible for the medical records of detainees omitted evidence of abuse from their official reports. Medical personnel who knew of this system of neglect, abuse and torture remained silent.

Light Saber

Nat Hentoff urges Obama impeachment!

The most destructive, dangerous president we've ever had

Worse than Richard Nixon. An unprecedented abuse of powers. The most un-American president in the nation's history.

Nat Hentoff does not think much of President Obama.

And now, the famous journalist says it is time to begin looking into impeachment.

Hentoff sees the biggest problem as Obama's penchant to rule by executive order when he can't convince Congress to do things his way.

Comment: The list of reasons to impeach Obama is getting longer by the day. Just a small sample:

Impeachment Resolution Filed Against Obama for Illegal War in Libya
Freshman Republican threatens to impeach Obama over gun control
Seymour Hersh Says bin Laden Death Story "One Big Lie" - Reason to Impeach Obama?

If you, as an American citizen, feel that the lies told, the murders committed worldwide, the denial of your rights and freedom instituted by president emperor Obama do not represent you, join with others who feel the same way and demand that justice be done:

Calling out the hypocritical, war-loving left
The silver lining, if ever there was one, is that as a result of all of this there will be more and more waking up to the complete charade of party politics and realizing that a true, honest anti-war movement will have to be built from scratch, completely outside of the two-party duopoly.



Gold Coins

Paul Craig Roberts: The Federal Reserve does not have any more gold

© Unknown
Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts is making some bold new claims about the Federal Reserve and its official government gold holdings. Dr. Roberts contends,
"They don't have any more gold. That's why they can only give Germany 5 tons of the 1,500 tons it's holding. In fact, when Germany asked for this delivery last year, the Fed said no. But it said we will give you back 300 tons . . . . So, they said we will give you back 20% of what you trusted us to keep for you over the next seven years, but they are not even able to do that."
Dr. Roberts goes on to say, "The stocks of gold at the Bank of England seem to be disappearing. The stocks of many of the gold trusts, such as GLD, are being looted . . . all of this gold is disappearing into Asian markets. The entire West is being drained of gold."

According to Dr. Roberts, this is an inflection point for the gold market.

Dr. Roberts says,
"The reason is: the ability to supply large amounts of gold to the bullion dealers to sell has diminished with the supply of gold and silver. What the Fed did was turn to massive 'naked shorts' of gold futures contracts. They don't have the real gold . . . so they come in and dump contracts, say in a period of 6 minutes, that are three times the amount of gold COMEX has to make delivery. . . . So, it drives down the price of gold. That's how they got the price down from $1,900 to $1,250."