Puppet MastersS


TSA nude scanners might be coming to federal buildings

© AFP Photo / John MooreA traveler undergoes a full body scan performed by Transportation Security Administration agents as she and others pass through the security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.
The TSA is retiring 250 of their high-tech "backscatter" screening machines in the coming weeks, easing both healthcare and privacy woes from frequent travelers that don't trust the devices. Are they really going away for good though?

Backscatter makers Rapiscan and the Transportation Security Administration announced the ending of a partnership just last month, and by June 1 the TSA will have removed the space-age body screeners from around 200 airports across the country. In a recent interview with Federal Times, though, TSA spokesperson David Castelveter says that the roughly $40 million worth of machinery could be moved elsewhere to provide airport-style security outside of departure terminals.

"We are working with other government agencies to find homes for them," Castelveter tells reporter Andy Medici. "There is an interest clearly by DoD and the State Department to use them - and other agencies as well."

According to Medici, those machines may soon be coming to federal buildings to be used in routine, day-to-day security screenings for both visitors and employees.

Cow Skull

USA murders another 10 Afghan civilians in airstrike

At least 10 Afghan civilians, including women and children, have been killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Local officials said on Wednesday that the attack in eastern Kunar Province claimed the lives of "five children, four women and a man."

A spokesman for the US-led NATO forces said they have launched an investigation into the report.

Afghans have become increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of deadly assaults by US-led forces in the country over the past months. The killings have been the main source of friction between Kabul and Washington.

Comment: Insecurity remains in Afghanistan because of the presence of US-led forces. And the Western elite like that it remains that way.

Bad Guys

U.S. and Israel push the boundaries of international law

us, israel
© thewashingtonnote.com
In 2009, the former head of the international law department of Israel's military establishment, Daniel Reisner, said that "International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy."

In disagreeing with such justification in the New York Times, George Bisharat points also to the Israeli claim that its army's clashes with Palestinian protestors are "armed conflict' justifying weapons of war, rather than the limited police measures that international law authorizes in dealing with protesting residents of illegally occupied Palestinian territory.

Bisharat also cites Israel's definition of people who have not left a designated military strike area after warning as being "voluntary human shields," the killing of whom is warranted, and civilian employees of the Hamas administration in Gaza as "terrorist infrastructure" and therefore legitimate objects of military attack. These acts, hitherto considered war crimes, have subsequently been without effective international condemnation since Israel created "facts on the ground" with respect to their use.

The United States has emulated this strategy for "progress" in dismantling international law. Its military and clandestine operations in recent years have included torture, kidnap, the use of anti-personnel fragmentation weapons, and the mass armored and artillery "shock and awe" assault tactic employed against Baghdad and Fallujah in Iraq, whose purpose is terrorization of civilian populations as well as enemy troops.

Washington's adamant hostility to the creation or recognition of international war crimes courts, widely supported in the international community, has amounted to acknowledgement that American practices would be likely to expose troops and officials to international war crimes indictments, or civil actions similar to Italy's indictment and recent trial in absentia of CIA officers charged with the illegal apprehension and rendition for torture of an Italian resident.


Israel rattled by mysterious Australian prisoner

Prisoner X
© The Age
Jerusalem: An Australian man committed suicide in a high-security Israeli jail in 2010 after being held for months in great secrecy, Australia's ABC channel said on Tuesday, throwing new light on a case that has rattled Israel.

The unsourced ABC story named the man, known previously only as "prisoner x", as Ben Zygier. It added that it "understood" the 34-year-old from Melbourne had been previously recruited by the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

There was no official comment on the story in Israel.

However, within hours of the report surfacing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office summoned Israeli editors to ask them not to publish a story "that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency", Israel's Haaretz newspaper said.

"The emergency meeting was called following a broadcast outside Israel regarding the incident in question," Haaretz said, giving no further information.

Shortly afterwards, all reference to the Australian report vanished from Israeli news sites - including Haaretz itself.

Such a gag order is highly unusual in Israel, where state military censors normally allow local media to quote foreign sources on controversial incidents - such as an alleged attack on Syria last month by the Israeli airforce.


16 Anti-Gay Politicians Caught Being Gay

Caleb Hesse
Caleb Hesse
Caleb Hesse

First grade teacher and volunteer youth leader Caleb Douglas Hesse has been a longtime anti-gay activist and even donated to Prop 8 in California to ban gay marriage. In August 2012, he confessed to sexually abusing "numerous underage boys," usually during overnight trips with the Evangelical Free Church youth group in Yucca Valley, CA. Investigators believe Hesse's inappropriate contact with young boys may have spanned up to three decades, occurring in "the early 1980s and as recently as a week ago."

[Ed. Note: Some readers have noted that there is a difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Very true. The people on this list were caught in homosexual acts (characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex). Pedophilia is a condition in which persons are attracted to children. That distinction is clear.]

Comment: As a general rule of thumb, we can say that the more vocal and insistent the politician's anti-gay stance is, the more likely it is that they are "in the closet". The same would hold true for anyone in the public eye.


Officials able to eavesdrop on private conversations between 9/11 suspects and their lawyers in court: expert witness

© AFP Photo
The United States was capable of eavesdropping on what were thought to be private conversations in court between the suspected plotters of 9/11 and their lawyers, a witness testified Tuesday.

Maurice Elkins, director of courtroom technology at the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern tip of Cuba, said 32 microphones had monitored such legal hearings, until changes were made on Monday.

Even whispered conversations, spoken in "a very, very low tone," could be picked up on an unfiltered audio feed being handled by a government agency, he said, confirming defense lawyers' worst fears.

Their contention that client-attorney privilege could have been breached by such arrangements dominated the second day of the latest pre-trial hearing.

Elkins's admission came during questioning from James Connell, the attorney for one of the five men accused of orchestrating the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and led to US-backed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The unfiltered circuit was controlled by computer software that recorded everything said in court, Elkins said, unlike the "filtered circuit" relied on by journalists who cover the proceedings from behind a glass screen.

Eye 2

Former Utah city councilman charged after shooting a second dog while intoxicated

© Shutterstock
Former Tabiona, Utah city councilman Rickey Evin Wilberg was charged yesterday with possession of a firearm by a restricted person, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, intoxication and discharge of a firearm after he was arrested on February 6, 2013 in the shooting of his dog.

Michael McFall of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that someone in the area heard gunfire and called 911, and Wilberg allegedly told the responding officers that he'd shot his dog twice. Officers then reportedly noticed a marijuana pipe and that Wilberg smelled of alcohol, and said that, upon request, Wilberg showed them his marijuana in a prescription bottle and was arrested.

Eye 1

Nevada state senator booted from legislature after threatening his wife

Las Vegas Democratic Assemblyman Steven Brooks, 40, is not welcome in the state legislature anymore following his arrest Sunday for allegedly threatening his wife.

Brooks was arrested January 19 on a felony charge after allegedly threatening Assembly Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, then detained by police several days later on a domestic disturbance call at his grandmother's home.

An investigation was launched at that point and lawmakers began moving forward with plans to bar him from the legislature, and he was kicked out of the Democratic caucus.


Republican-backed for-profit school caught deleting bad student grades

A for-profit school that was hyped by Republican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee's education problems recently admitted deleting bad grades to "more accurately recognize students' current progress."

A December email obtained by WTVF showed that Tennessee Virtual Academy's vice principal instructed middle school teachers to delete "failing grades" from October and September.

"After ... looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays," the email says, adding that each teacher needed to "take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress."

"If you have given an assignment and most of your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade out."

Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson said she was horrified because the school's instructions amounted to cheating.

Snakes in Suits

Rubio one of 22 male GOP senators to vote against Violence Against Women Act

The U.S Senate has renewed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), with 78 votes in favor and 22 against. According to Think Progress, all of the 22 votes against renewing the Act were Republican men, including rising GOP star, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R).

Republicans had threatened to obstruct VAWA, which is renewed every five years, over new provisions that would enshrine protections for LGBT people, immigrants and women on Native American reservations into the law. House Republicans proposed their own, watered down version of the legislation in 2012, but the House and Senate, unable to reconcile their versions of the legislation, allowed the VAWA to expire for the first time since its inception.

The VAWA was first passed in 1994 to address violence against women through stiffer sentences for violent perpetrators, guaranteeing women access to civil proceedings should prosecutors decline to press charges in a domestic violence case and by otherwise buttressing protections for women within the law. It was renewed without controversy in 2000 and 2005, but came up against Republican resistance this year.