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Fri, 17 Nov 2017
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I traveled to Palestine-Israel and discovered there is no 'Palestinian-Israeli conflict'

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The mind has a way of making traumatic experiences seem like distant dreams to those who survive them. As it goes, the more traumatic the experience, the quicker the paramedics in one's mind rush to dress wounds, resuscitate and stabilize the victim; the victim being you.

Since returning from Palestine 36 hours ago, I find myself confronted with feelings of detachment and minimization of what I encountered. My subconscious has decided the horrors I witnessed in the 'Holy Land' were nothing serious-horrors which include a 26-foot-tall concrete wall enclosing the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, and the sniper towers seemingly on every other corner of this open-air prison.

This was my first trip to Palestine-most westerners call it Israel, but I'll address that topic shortly. I had never been to the country, but I read enough to know the basics: Palestinians and Israelis were fighting over land. The Israeli government was formed in 1948 as part of a vision set forth by a secular European colonial political movement called Zionism, founded by Hungarian Theodor Herzl in 1896. Herzl, an atheist, sought to free the Jews from European oppression and anti-Semitism, with the ultimate goal being the creation of a Jewish state. He first proposed East Africa's Uganda as the location of the Jewish state. This proposal also found the approval of the British government which controlled Palestine since the First World War. Herzl, however, later identified Palestine as the country of choice. I knew this.

The history of Palestinians was something I was familiar with as well, only because in high school, my friend's parents were Moroccan Jews with staunch right-wing Zionist views. They'd go on about how Palestinians were worth shit and how they were sucking off the land they stole, and how they were not from Palestine, but Jordan. Truth be told, my friend's parents' passion about their 'homeland' made me sick. As a black person living in the United States, I could not relate to their love for their proclaimed homeland because I never had one. My ancestors were captured from various regions of Africa and forced onto ships bound for the Americas. Therefore, when questioned about the geographic origins of my ancestors, my answers were as vague as Africa is big.

Pistol

Gangster Bankers: World-scale money laundering for drugs and terrorism but too big to jail

© Illustration by Victor Juhasz
How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine - $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit - but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching­ sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated­ with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder - well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.

For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years - people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that "they make the guys on Wall Street look good." The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.

"They violated every goddamn law in the book," says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. "They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business."

That nobody from the bank went to jail or paid a dollar in individual fines is nothing new in this era of financial crisis. What is different about this settlement is that the Justice Department, for the first time, admitted why it decided to go soft on this particular kind of criminal. It was worried that anything more than a wrist slap for HSBC might undermine the world economy. "Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a press conference to announce the settlement, "HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized."

It was the dawn of a new era. In the years just after 9/11, even being breathed on by a suspected terrorist could land you in extralegal detention for the rest of your life. But now, when you're Too Big to Jail, you can cop to laundering terrorist cash and violating the Trading With the Enemy Act, and not only will you not be prosecuted for it, but the government will go out of its way to make sure you won't lose your license. Some on the Hill put it to me this way: OK, fine, no jail time, but they can't even pull their charter? Are you kidding?

V

6 anti-NSA technological innovations that may just change the world

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© Unknown
Rather than grovel and beg for the U.S. government to respect our privacy, these innovators have taken matters into their own hands, and their work may change the playing field completely.

People used to assume that the United States government was held in check by the constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and which demands due process in criminal investigations, but such illusions have evaporated in recent years. It turns out that the NSA considers itself above the law in every respect and feels entitled to spy on anyone anywhere in the world without warrants, and without any real oversight.

Understandably these revelations shocked the average citizen who had been conditioned to take the government's word at face value, and the backlash has been considerable. The recent "Today We Fight Back" campaign to protest the NSA's surveillance practices shows that public sentiment is in the right place. Whether these kinds of petitions and protests will have any real impact on how the U.S. government operates is questionable (to say the least), however some very smart people have decided not to wait around and find out. Instead they're focusing on making the NSA's job impossible. In the process they may fundamentally alter the way the internet operates.

USA

10 Prison security techniques being implemented on the American people

© SOTT
Americans are not typically aware of how their federal and state prison systems work. What we think we know, we learned from watching television.

When I took my first walk through at FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) El Reno Oklahoma as a new employee, I was surprised at how non-Hollywood real prison life is.

Frankly, all I knew about prison life was what I saw on television or at the movies. Not even close.

As I got closer to retiring from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), it began to dawn on me that the security practices we used in the prison system were being implemented outside those walls.

"Free worlders" is prison slang for the non-incarcerated who reside in the "free world." In this article I am going to compare a number of practices used in federal prisons to those being used today in the "free world."

You might find that our country may be one giant correctional institution.

Attention

Government labels those who grow their own food 'extremists'

© NaturalSociety
Those who mean to lord over us, such as the Department of Defense, have now called people who grow their own food 'radical' and extremists. Sound familiar? It's just like the US calling other nations terrorists when our government has terrorized more of the 'free' world than we could even imagine. It has basically called its own citizens terrorists already with NSA spying.

How in the world has it come to this? Americans are becoming 'serfs' to their own government much the same way that the British monarchy forced self-sufficient farmers to divide up their land into mono-cropping plots so that they could tax the heck out of everyone and make them reliant upon the same system of tenet farming which then enslaved the masses.

What's worse, even the founding fathers are considered 'extremists' by the Pentagon, according to a new training manual that labels farmers as such. This bit of information was discovered by the legal watchdog, Judicial Watch, as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, and was included in over 133 documents provided by the Air Force.

To teach our military to root out 'extremism' in a 'student guide', those who would decide to grow some organic cabbage, non-GMO corn, and tomatoes, for example, would be considered a threat to national defense. Even though the document says that this is 'for training purposes only' and 'do not use on the job,' why on earth would such a reference be made? It is simply preposterous.

MIB

Sochi Olympic Games and the threat of a terrorist attack: Who is behind the Caucasus terrorists?

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Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab
In the weeks leading up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Western Media has released a dribble of "trustworthy reports" examining "the likelihood" of a terrorist attack at the height of the Olympic games.

In late January, the British government warned "that more terrorist attacks in Russia (following the Volgograd attack in December) are "very likely to occur before or during the Winter Olympics in Sochi". (BBC, January 27, 2014).

As the Olympic torch reaches Sochi, CNN released, in a timely fashion, the results of an "authoritative" opinion poll (based on a meager sample of 1000 individuals): "57% of Americans think terror attack likely at Sochi Games".

Earlier news reports focussed on the mysterious menace of a so-called "Black Widow" terrorist attack emanating from Chechnya, Russia's hotspot of Islamic terrorism. According to a so-called "catastrophe expert" Dr Gordon Woo, a Black Widow attack "is almost certain to happen":
"Because of the history between the Russians and the Chechen people who splintered to form the Caucasus Emirate, Sochi is a prime target for terrorism," said Woo, who has advanced insurance modelling of catastrophes, including designing a model for terrorism risk. (International Business Times)

Chess

US regime-change operation in Ukraine exposed in leaked diplomatic phone call


A leaked phone conversation between Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, has exposed the anti-democratic and colonialist character of the Obama administration's intervention in the former Soviet republic.

The discussion between the two officials includes a detailed review of which right-wing opposition figures Washington is working to install in office, and how it is using the United Nations to rubber-stamp the operation. While Germany and other European powers have worked closely with the Obama administration in promoting the violent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, the leaked phone call reveals tensions between the imperialist powers. At one point Nuland tells Pyatt, "Fuck the EU."

The discussion, posted anonymously on YouTube, underscores the thoroughly cynical character of Washington's public diplomacy. The Obama administration's rhetoric about "democracy" and the Ukrainian people's right to determine their own future is a charade, concocted for public consumption. Behind the scenes, government officials speak frankly with one another about the real agenda - advancing Washington's geo-strategic and economic interests in Eastern Europe by installing pro-US and anti-Russian puppet figures in the Ukrainian capital.

Bad Guys

Social inequality and the war against the working class

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Today, President Obama will sign a bill to cut $8.7 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, slashing almost $100 per month in benefits for nearly a million households.

The attack on food stamps comes as Obama and the Democrats posture in the run-up to this year's mid-term elections as opponents of social inequality and defenders of the poor and jobless. Nowhere in the establishment media is the glaring contradiction between what the Democrats say and what they do even discussed.

Obama's action on food stamps is indicative of the state of politics and the reality of social life in America. It is the second cut in three months to a program that provides minimal assistance for the most vulnerable sections of society. The lie that there is simply no money for basic social programs is repeated even as new reports document the unprecedented rise in the wealth of the financial elite.

The levels of wealth accumulated by a tiny layer of society - in the United States and internationally - are almost unfathomable. A report commissioned by Bloomberg last month found that the world's 300 richest people (0.000004 percent of the world's population) had a net wealth of $3.7 trillion in 2013, an increase of $524 billion (13 percent) in one year alone.

USA

Wars to continue, NSA to keep spying on everyone, new anti-smoking campaigns rolled out - but sorry, no money left for the 35% unemployed

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© Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

The Senate failed to move forward on a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, leaving it unlikely that Congress would approve the measure soon while undercutting a key aspect of President Obama's economic recovery plan.

Fifty-nine senators, including four Republicans, voted to advance the legislation, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster effort.

Republicans and Democrats, many from the nation's most economically depressed states, had been trying to reach a solution that would allow people who have exhausted their unemployment insurance to continue receiving benefits as long as the government offset the $6 billion cost.

Ultimately, how to pay for the program proved too big a hurdle for senators to overcome.

Galaxy

Signs of Change in January 2014

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Dazzling green fireball filmed above Belgium, January 2014
Mysterious booms across the US, often occuring in and around earthquakes - A series of unusual earthquakes in Australia - More 'strange sky sounds' - More meteor fireballs raining down - Massive sinkholes swallowing houses, cars and people - Storm after storm battering the UK and Western Europe, bringing massive waves, widespread flooding and landslides - Mass whale stranding in New Zealand - Polar Vortex (twice!) freezing most of the US in ice age conditions and making it colder than Mars - Major flooding in Florida, while hurricane-force winds smash into Oregon and the Carolinas - Tonga flattened by most powerful cyclone to hit the region half a century - A strong earthquake hit Puerto Rico - 100,000 people affected by major flooding in the Philippines, while another 40,000 were displaced by heavy rainfall in Indonesia - Bats falling out of the sky as wildfires rage in Australia's record heatwave - 'Winter wildfires' raging across snow-covered US - An eerily quiet Sun that hasn't been seen since the 17th Century - Several volcanic eruptions in Indonesia causing multiple deaths and the evacuation of thousands - Another strong earthquake in New Zealand - More mass animal deaths, including a whole pod of pilot whales off the coast of Florida - Record-breaking snowfall across the US...

2014 has stated with a bang, literally, with a surge of loud booms being heard and felt throughout much of North America. But then again, didn't the last few years start this way? This video includes strange and extreme weather, geological and cosmic events, covering most of the month of January. Things aren't looking good for certain few heavily populated areas...