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Wed, 25 May 2016
The World for People who Think

MIB

CIA cancer weapon killed Chavez?

© Unknown
US Senators Frank Church and John Tower examine a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) poison dart gun that causes cancer and heart attacks, during the US Senate Select Committee's investigation into the assassination plots on foreign leaders in 1975.
The heart of the matter

It was a case destined for the X-Files and conspiracy theorists alike, when Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez speculated that the US might have developed a way to weaponise cancer, after several Latin American leaders were diagnosed with the disease. The list includes former Argentine president, Nestor Kirchner (colon cancer) Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff (lymphoma cancer), her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (throat cancer), Chavez (undisclosed), former Cuban president Fidel Castro (stomach cancer) Bolivian president, Evo Morales (nasal cancer) and Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo (lymphoma cancer). What do they have in common besides cancer? All of them are left-wing leaders. Coincidence? In his December 28, 2011 end-of-year address to the Venezuelan military, Chavez hinted that the US might have found a way to give Latin American leaders cancer. "Would it be so strange that they've invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?" Chavez asked. "It is very hard to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America.

It's at the very least strange," he said. Chavez said he received warning from Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, who has survived hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts. "Fidel always told me, 'Chavez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat ... a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what'," he said.

Light Saber

10 years later, Dixie Chicks right all along


Two days past 18

He was waiting for the bus in his Army green ...

Those are the first two lines from one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard, . If you don't know it, I encourage you to look it up -- unless you're one of those folks who still hates the group that made the song popular, in which case, its beauty might be lost on you.

It was 10 years ago this week -- as the country was barreling toward war with Iraq -- that Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, stood in front of a packed house in London and said:
"Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
It didn't matter that the evidence to invade Iraq was questionable or that Maines later apologized. The damage was done, and one of the most popular acts in the country became its most hated. Its music was banned from radio, CDs were trashed by bulldozers, and one band member's home was vandalized. Maines introduced "Soldier" with a call for peace, but she would soon find that the group needed metal detectors installed at entrances to shows on its stateside tour because of death threats.

It was a classic case of freedom of speech meeting the irrational repercussions of that speech. "Soldier" is not only their last No. 1, it's still their last single to chart in the top 30. Officially, they've been on hiatus since 2006, but Maines, who is planning on releasing a solo CD in May, recently said, "I just don't feel like it's the Dixie Chicks' time."

Dollars

Wealth inequality in America

The following video presents infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.


V

We Are Bradley Manning

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Bradley Manning, persecuted by the US government to deter other potential whistleblowers from coming forward, anonymously or publicly
I was in a military courtroom at Fort Meade in Maryland on Thursday as Pfc. Bradley Manning admitted giving classified government documents to WikiLeaks. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as government misconduct. A statement that Manning made to the court was a powerful and moving treatise on the importance of placing conscience above personal safety, the necessity of sacrificing careers and liberty for the public good, and the moral imperative of carrying out acts of defiance. Manning will surely pay with many years - perhaps his entire life - in prison. But we too will pay. The war against Bradley Manning is a war against us all.

This trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter, war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth - the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings - are from now on to be charged with "aiding the enemy." All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the U.S. government's use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.

Light Sabers

Sequestration cuts crisis makes me want to strangle both sides

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© Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Speaker of the House John Boehner holds a news conference on the looming sequester in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25th, 2013.
If you can get past how horrifying it is, the looming "sequestration cuts" crisis is fascinating. It's like watching a bunch of gambling addicts play craps by throwing dice into a four-dimensional wormhole. There are so many variables that neither side can possibly know the true outcome of a failure to make a deal - which means the only certainty is that what we're watching is irresponsibility on an epic scale, wherein both of our major political parties seem to prefer government by random outcome over one managed by sensible compromise.

Obviously, most of the problem was originally driven by the intractability of a Republican Party energized politically by its Tea Party base, which preferred the nuclear option of a default or a government shutdown to increased debt and/or new taxes. These fine folks taped sticks of dynamite to their chests and threatened to blow the government, its credit rating and our entire budget mechanism to the moon if we didn't make massive spending cuts - a wild ploy that may not have made a ton of patriotic sense given the catastrophic possibilities of, say, a default, but certainly helped the party solidify its relationship with its base.

Watching the original Republican debt-ceiling warriors furiously shake their fists over this business reminded me of that great line by Claude Rains in Casablanca, when his Captain Renault character tells Humphrey Bogart why he had to be so rough in tossing Rick's nightclub in search of the missing letters of transit. "I told my men to be especially destructive," Rains said. "You know how that impresses Germans."

Yoda

Why is Bradley Manning pleading guilty?

"The U.S. Army private accused of providing secret documents to the WikiLeaks website pleaded guilty on Thursday to misusing classified material he felt "should become public," but denied the top charge of aiding the enemy."*

Bradley Manning is facing prosecution for giving military information to Wikileaks. He's plead guilty to some charges. He maintains that he did release the information and that he did it because he wanted to help the country. What will happen with the other treasonous charges against him that could net a life sentence? Cenk Uygur breaks it down.


Gold Seal

The REAL source of cavities and gum disease

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Prehistoric Man Had Much Healthier Teeth and Gums than Modern Humans

Our modern stereotype is that - until recently - people were plagued with rotting teeth, cavities and gum disease.

But the truth is that prehistoric people had much better oral health than we do today.

As NPR reports:

TV

Media fakes war propaganda all day, every day

Abby Martin takes a look at MSNBC's recent documentary about the lies leading up the Iraq war, and the closer look at the corporate media's complicity in selling war to the American people by highlighting multiple staged events.


Arrow Down

UK collaboration with U.S. assassination program: British terror suspects quietly stripped of citizenship... then killed by drones

© The Independent, UK
The Government has secretly ramped up a controversial programme that strips people of their British citizenship on national security grounds - with two of the men subsequently killed by American drone attacks.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent has established that since 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revoked the passports of 16 individuals, many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.

Critics of the programme warn that it allows ministers to "wash their hands" of British nationals suspected of terrorism who could be subject to torture and illegal detention abroad.

They add that it also allows those stripped of their citizenship to be killed or "rendered" without any onus on the British Government to intervene.

At least five of those deprived of their UK nationality by the Coalition were born in Britain, and one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years. Those affected have their passports cancelled, and lose their right to enter the UK - making it very difficult to appeal against the Home Secretary's decision. Last night the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader Simon Hughes said he was writing to Ms May to call for an urgent review into how the law was being implemented.

Stormtrooper

Afghan President: U.S. maintaining death squads and torture militias in Afghanistan

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In 2010, as WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents relating to the conduct of the US government, government defenders dismissively claimed that they revealed nothing new. Among the many documents disproving that claim were ones relating to a US policy in Iraq set forth in "Frago 242", which ordered coalition troops not to stop or even investigate torture and other war crimes by the Iraqi forces they were training, but simply to "note" them.

And note them they did: the logs record thousands of cases of Iraqi forces severely beating, brutalizing and torturing Iraqi civilians while US forces, with rare exception, did nothing to stop it (when the documents were released, the Guardian detailed just some of the illustrative cases). As the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote at the time, the documents contain "incredibly awful reports of systematized detainee abuse by Iraqi soldiers and security forces right under the noses of the American-led coalition, which appears to have had virtually no incentive to put a stop to them" (as usual, these documents were classified not to safeguard US national security but rather to conceal bad and embarrassing acts on the part of the US government: that is why it is not hard to understand why the US government is so aggressive about punishing Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and other whistleblowers and journalists who expose these secrets).

In Afghanistan on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai alleged that the US is doing something much worse: not merely standing by and watching their trained forces torture and kill, but actively and systematically participating. As the Guardian's Golnar Motevalli reported:

Comment: See also:

JSoc: Obama's secret assassins

Dirty wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley's new film exposes hidden truths of covert U.S. warfare