Puppet MastersS


USA

Conservative warns The Daily Show: U.S. will invade 'entire continent of Africa' due to Muslims

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Al Madrigal of The Daily Show mocked an anti-Islam conservative activist on Thursday night amid a report on the M1 Abrams tank.

More than 100 members of Congress have called on the Pentagon to build 300 more of the massive tanks at a cost of $3 billion. But the Army has said it has no need for them.

"Well, we need more tanks for the simple reason that we may have to use them," conservative author Alan Caruba explained.

Retired Major General Paul Eaton disagreed emphatically. He noted the U.S. military already had 3,000 tanks "sitting in a boneyard near Reno," causing Madrigal to wonder if Nevada had ever been attacked.

Bizarro Earth

North Dakota Senate approves 'fetal personhood' amendment

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© AFP Photo
The Senate of North Dakota approved a measure on Thursday that would outlaw abortion by defining a fetus as a person.

"North Dakota is leading the way for equal rights and protections for all human beings," Jennifer Mason, spokesperson for Personhood USA, said. "After the struggles to pass life-affirming amendments in the Senate in the past four years, we are very pleased that the North Dakota Senate has chosen to protect all living human beings. This is a historic day in North Dakota."

Eye 2

The law of war does not shield the CIA and John Brennan's drone kill list

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© Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesCIA director nominee John Brennan confronts protesters at the US Senate.
The US prosecuted Omar Khadr in Guantánamo for not being a lawful combatant. Exactly the same applies to the civilian CIA

The disclosure Tuesday evening of the Department of Justice white paper on targeted killing (pdf) has sparked a lot of debate, much of it focused on the Obama administration's extraordinarily broad interpretation of what constitutes an "imminent" threat that justifies lethal force as an act of self-defense. As Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday, "only a team of lawyers could define 'imminent' to mean the exact opposite" of what the word means in the real world.

There are, no doubt, many Americans alive today who should be thankful their healthcare providers did not apply the administration's interpretation of "imminent" to decide if they had crossed over the line of imminent death and said pull the plug.

Some people have acquired power and profits in post-9/11 America by pandering to and perpetuating fear. As has been the case on a range of legal issues - torture, indefinite detention, warrantless surveillance, kill lists - all it takes is for someone to say "terrorism" and "threat to security" in the same breath for the vast majority of the public to handover its principles. Rather than a serious discussion on the proper law/liberty/security balance, too often the public accepts the false syllogism that whatever it takes to stop "them" from hurting "us" is obviously, as White House spokesman Jay Carney might say, "legal, ethical and wise".

Magnify

George Bush's family emails hacked

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© Photograph: Getty ImagesGeorge HW Bush: the emails were said to contain details of the state of the ex-president’s health and his family's phone numbers
An investigation has been launched into how a hacker managed to access the email accounts of the former US president George HW Bush and members of his family.

A number of Bush family photographs and personal emails were posted online by the hacker, who goes by the name of Guccifer.

According to the Smoking Gun website, the emails - which were sent between 2009 and 2012 - contain details about the state of the former president's health as well as the home addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of dozens of members of the Bush family.

Stormtrooper

U.S. media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets

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© Photograph: AlamyThe Washington Post this week admitted it was part of an "informal arrangement" to conceal from its readers a US drone base in Saudi Arabia.
The collective self-censorship over a US drone base in Saudi Arabia is but the latest act of government-subservient 'journalism'

The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality.

One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered - thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower - that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. But after George Bush summoned to the Oval Office the paper's publisher (Arthur Sulzberger) and executive editor (Bill Keller) and directed them to conceal what they had learned, the NYT complied by sitting on the story for a-year-and-a-half: until late December, 2005, long after Bush had been safely re-elected. The "national security" excuse for this concealment was patently ludicrous from the start: everyone knew the US government was trying to eavesdrop on al-Qaida communications and this story merely revealed that they were doing so illegally (without warrants) rather than legally (with warrants). By concealing the story for so long, the New York Times helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans.

The Washington Post's Dana Priest, in a superb act of journalism, reported in 2005 that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret "black sites" where detainees were interrogated and abused beyond the monitoring scrutiny of human rights groups and even Congress. But the Post purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions: "the Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials."

Pistol

Russia sells weapons to Mali authorities - official

Moscow is supplying small arms to Mali, director of the Federal Agency for Military-Technical Cooperation Aleksandr Fomin said Friday. "We are supplying assault rifles and grenade launchers," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. There were reports earlier that Russia could provide transport services to Mali, but the Foreign Ministry said only private companies could provide these during the military operation.

V

Senate intelligence hearing on Brennan's CIA nomination halted by protesters

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© Andrew Harnik/The Washington TimesAnti-war protesters yell and hold signs as John O. Brennan arrives to testify in front of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at a hearing on his nomination to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Thursday, February 7, 2013.
John O. Brennan couldn't even finish introducing his family before he was interrupted four times by protesters at his confirmation hearing Thursday to become the new director of the CIA.

Intelligence committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein halted the hearing and pulled Mr. Brennan from the room until it could be cleared of protesters, who she said were affiliated with Code Pink, the anti-war group.

Mr. Brennan, who is President Obama's homeland security adviser, is one of the chief architects of U.S. policy in the war on terror, and senators said they are eager to question him about the administration's program to use drones to execute American citizens deemed to be part of the war on terror overseas.

"Think about the mothers," cried one female protestor.

USA

Best of the Web: On war lovers in a pathological society and manufacturing the American legacy

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American Foreign Policy - Have our war lovers learned anything?


Over the past four decades, of all the reasons people over a certain age have given for their becoming radicalized against US foreign policy, the Vietnam War has easily been the one most often cited. And I myself am the best example of this that you could find. I sometimes think that if the war lovers who run the United States had known of this in advance they might have had serious second thoughts about starting that great historical folly and war crime.

At other times, however, I have the thought that our dear war lovers have had 40 years to take this lesson to heart, and during this time what did they do? They did Salvador and Nicaragua, and Angola and Grenada. They did Panama and Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan and Iraq. And in 2012 American President Barack Obama saw fit to declare that the Vietnam War was "one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history".1

So, have they learned nothing? When it comes to following international law, is the United States like a failed state? The Somalia of international law? Well, if they were perfectly frank, the war lovers would insist that the purpose of all these interventions, and many others like them, was to keep the atheists out of power - the non-believers in America's god-given right to rule the world - or to at least make life as difficult as possible for them. And thus the interventions were successful; nothing to apologize for; even the Vietnam War achieved its purpose of preventing that country from becoming a good development option for Asia, a socialist alternative to the capitalist model; precisely the same reason for Washington's endless hostility toward Cuba in Latin America; and Cuba has indeed inspired numerous atheists and their alternatives for a better world.

Crusader

Concession on birth control not sufficient, bishops say

Affiliates still not free of mandate

Timothy Dolan
© The Associated PressArchbishop Timothy Dolan
America's Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected President Obama's latest contraception mandate upon religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities, saying the rules still don't ensure that people won't be forced to pay for contraceptives to which they morally object.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he appreciated the Health and Human Services Department's latest effort to try to work out a compromise that lets women obtain free birth control without religiously affiliated organizations having to pay for it. But Cardinal Dolan said it still doesn't treat religiously affiliated charities and other groups the same as churches and temples themselves.

"HHS offers what it calls an 'accommodation' rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches," he said.

The administration's latest offer was an attempt to end a public and politically draining dispute for Mr. Obama with the nation's Catholic hierarchy, one that has spilled over into the courts. But finding a workable middle ground has been difficult for both sides.

Under Mr. Obama's health care law, most employers are required to provide health insurance that provide women with free contraceptive coverage, including sterilization and access to morning-after pills that some ethicists say amounts to abortion.

Houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated employers, such as Catholic universities or hospitals, are not.

Light Saber

Seattle mayor ends police drone efforts

Mike McGinn
© Dean Rutz/The Seattle TimesSeattle Mayor Mike McGinn
Seattle's mayor on Thursday ordered the police department to abandon its plan to use drones after residents and privacy advocates protested.

Mayor Mike McGinn said the department will not use two small drones it obtained through a federal grant. The unmanned aerial vehicles will be returned to the vendor, he said.

"Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority," the mayor said in a brief statement.

The decision comes as the debate over drones heats up across the country. Lawmakers in at least 11 states are looking at plans to restrict the use of drones over their skies amid concerns the vehicles could be exploited to spy on Americans.

The Seattle Police Department previously said it would use drones to provide an overhead view of large crime scenes, serious accidents, disasters, and search and rescue operations. It had conducted demonstrations of the drones to show the public their capabilities.

The program drew strong criticism from residents Wednesday at a meeting of the City Council, which was considering an ordinance giving police the authority to use drones.

The proposed measure would have allowed the use of drones for data collection but barred police from using them over "open-air assembly of people" or for general surveillance. The drones would have carried no weapons, but the proposal would have allowed police to use face-recognition software in them.