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NSA is collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily under top secret order issued in April and it lasts into July

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Double bind: Part of the order mandated that Verizon not tell its' customer's about the record transfer nor could they admit that the order existed
The National Security Agency is collecting telephone records for millions of Americans without informing the individuals involved, it was revealed late on Wednesday night.

A copy of a secret order to obtain phone records for all Verizon customers was obtained, showing that the NSA was monitoring all incoming and outgoing calls made on that network.

The backlash will not stop with the millions of Americans who are Verizon customers, as there is no way of knowing if other phone companies have had the same clandestine order placed upon them as well.

The Guardian obtained a copy of the order that forces the phone company to hand over records of phone calls starting in late April for all of its customers on a 'ongoing, daily basis' without giving specific parameters.

Because of the lack of distinction, it means that the phone records are not just being collected for suspected terrorists, but the company's entire consumer base.

The only restriction set forth in the order seems to be the duration of the exchange. It was approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and it denoted that it would only hold water until July 19, so just shy of three months.

Verizon is believed to have nearly 150million customers across the U.S., all of whom could potentially be affected by the controversial court order.

Stormtrooper

The Untouchables: New York Senate passes bill making 'annoying' police a crime

NYPD
© AFP Photo / Monika Graff
Members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) scuffle with protestors as they guard the entrance to a Citibank as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators march along 42nd Street to protest various businesses during May Day on May 1, 2012 in New York.
The New York State Senate passed a controversial bill on Wednesday that aims to classify 'aggravated harassment of a police officer' as a crime, but will it give the authorities the green light for strong-arm tactics if passed?
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Sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, Bill S.2402 would make it a felony to "harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty."

"Our system of laws is established to protect the foundations of our society," Senator Griffo said. "Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions."

Griffo said that New York police require extra safeguards because "too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer.... We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty."

The bill, which will now move to the State Assembly, would make it a crime for a person to make any type of physical action aimed at intimidating a police officer. Harassment of a police officer would be recognized as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Not surprisingly, the bill has won accolades from police.

Stormtrooper

Out of Control: Deaf woman calls 911 as she's beaten black and blue by Washington police officers 'because she didn't hear their orders'

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Battered: Megan Graham, 36, suffered black and blue bruises to her face and sustained a concussion following an altercation with a police officer
A Washington woman suffering from mental and hearing disabilities was left with severe bruises on her face after she claims an officer punched over and over her because she could not understand his orders. Megan Graham, 36, of Federal Way, dialed 911 while being arrested last Monday to complain about police brutality after being pulled over by an officer and hit in the face.

Things quickly spiraled out of control during Graham's run-in with police officers, whom the 36-year-old disabled woman had accused of hitting her several times in the face while attempting to restrain her.

The Federal Way Police Department, however, insists that it was Graham who was violent and disorderly. The 36-year-old woman now faces a felony assault on an officer charge. She is set to be arraigned June 10. It all started at around 7.15pm last Monday when Graham pulled into the parking lot of Forest Cove Apartments, where her friend lives. Moments after the woman stopped the car, a police cruiser drove up behind her with its lights flashing.

Graham was under the impression that the officer spotted her using her cell phone while driving. Police records indicate that Officer Justin Antholt approached Graham and asked for her license and registration. Graham showed the officer her license, along with an expired insurance card.

Whistle

Ink Blot Tests and 'actors' at the Boston bombings

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Advocates of 'actors' at the Boston bombings tend to use a highly subjective approach to analysis of the evidence, similar to the way Rorschach inkblot tests are used to analyze a person's personality and emotional functioning.
I recently wrote an article explaining the reasons why I think there were no 'actors' used in place of victims at the Boston Marathon bombings. In that article I made reference to other websites and researchers who had taken up the 'actors' meme and run with it. In this article I'll be looking more closely at the 'evidence' that has been presented in support of the 'actors' theory. Before I begin though, I should explain how and why my approach differs from the approach that the 'actors' advocates have taken.

When trying to decide whether a particular conspiracy theory, or particular angle on a conspiracy theory, is likely to be true or false, my approach is to first look at the plausibility of the theory in question. In terms of the Boston bombings, the idea that 'actors' took the place of real victims is the theory. When I first was forced to consider this theory, it took me about 3 minutes of rumination before it began to make no logical sense whatsoever. I more or less spelled out the lack of logic in my previous article, but it can be summed up as: why would a US intel agency choose to use actor victims at a bombing that is designed to terrify the US population into believing that evil terrorists are out to kill them when they could very easily just plant a bomb and let the bomb do what bombs do best, kill and maim people?

Why would a US intel agency choose to do this when, if you think about it, it massively complicates the planning of such an operation and greatly increases the chances of the official story falling apart? To date, no one has offered a sensible answer to this question.

Some bloggers have claimed that the use of 'crisis actors' at the Boston bombings is an attempt to further blur the lines between what is real and what is false, between fantasy and reality, and usher us all into a 'reality TV' world.

That's a reasonable enough idea, but hasn't that fantasy world already been achieved, to a great extent, with the long list of US/Israeli/British false flag "Muslim terror attacks" over the past 15 years? Isn't the yawning chasm between what most people believe about "Muslim terror attacks", and the likely truth behind them, wide enough that it constitutes an already massive break with reality?

What do the PTB have to gain, vis a vis the public, by adding the 'actor victims' element into the mix. If the average person in the street is none the wiser about the presence of 'actors', isn't that functionally the same, from a psy-ops point of view, as if victims were real people and not actors? If people believe the 'actors' to be real victims, what's the point in having actors rather than real victims? Maybe the answer is that US intel agencies have suddenly grown a conscience and an aversion to killing people, hence their use of 'actors'? But the last time I checked, those high-level intel and government types were still a bunch of conscienceless, blood-thirsty, murderous bastards who delight in the suffering of others.

So basically, that's where I was coming from when I began to look at the 'actors' theory. I could find no logical reason for the inclusion of 'actors' and many reasons why they should not be used. In addition, I found the alleged evidence for 'actors' at Boston sorely lacking in that it relied on conjecture, supposition and a good measure of imagination, all to make the evidence fit what appears to be a pre-established theory. Basically, all of the 'actors' theorists seem to have used an "ink blot test" approach to their analysis of the photographic evidence from the Boston bombings.

Note, it wasn't that I was averse to the idea of the Boston bombings being staged by some element of US intel agencies - far from it. I was more or less fully convinced (based on the hard evidence and historical context) that the Boston bombings were a dyed-in-the-wool, false flag "homegrown terrorism attack", designed, like all others, to justify US imperial warmongering and to terrorize the American people into trusting their authorities and looking to them for protection.

USA

Pentagon has no idea what 108,000 private contractors are doing or spending in Afghanistan

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© AP Photo/Gervasio Sanchez
The number of contractors working in Afghanistan now vastly outnumbers American troops stationed there, according to a Congressional Research Service report. CRS, along with the Government Accountability Office, also determined that the Pentagon is unable to properly document the work these contractors are doing. And the information DOD is receiving is often unreliable and inaccurate.

According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier.

Given the size of the private forces, it's not surprising that CRS found that in recent years, the Defense Department spent more than any other agency to support contractor work.

"Over the last six fiscal years, DOD obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency," CRS found.

V

Spanish civil war monument must be pulled down, Spain's right-wing court rules

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Spain's government wants to remove this memorial in order to appease the far-right
Judges say memorial to 35,000 international volunteers who fought Franco breaks planning laws after rightwing outrage

Less than two years after a monument was raised in Madrid to the 35,000 volunteers who joined the International Brigades to fight the fascist-backed forces of General Francisco Franco during the Spanish civil war, a court has ordered that it be pulled down.

The monument to the volunteers from 53 countries, paid for by public subscription and placed in the gardens of the Complutense University, where many died defending Madrid and Spanish democracy against Franco's rebels, has enraged some rightwingers.

A case brought by the lawyer Miguel García has now succeeded where political protest failed. Judges have decided the university broke planning laws and must remove the monument.

Topped by the brigades' three-pointed star, the monument bears the words of Dolores Ibárruri, the communist firebrand better known as La Pasionaria: "You are history; you are legend; you are an heroic example of solidarity and of the universality of democracy."

David Lomon, then the last surviving British-based veteran, travelled to Madrid for the inauguration in October 2011 and asked those present to remember the up to 10,000 volunteers who died.

Comment: Cause that's exactly what an extremely unpopular government needs to be doing with protesters amassing on Parliament's doorstep and 50% youth unemployment. The sheer stupidity of psychopaths in power!


Arrow Down

Meet the 'Friends of Jihad'

Rebel Forces
© SANA
Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry their national flag as they walk along a street in Qusair, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about "the Syrian people" and congratulate themselves within the "Friends of Syria" framework for defending them from "tyranny".

Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels", including those of the kidnapping, lung-eating, beheading jihadi kind.

The data was provided mostly by independent relief organizations working in Syria. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) received a detailed report in late May - but, predictably, was not too keen on releasing it.

As Asia Times Online has been stressing for months, the Sunni business classes in Damascus and Aleppo are either neutral or pro-Assad. And most Sunnis now regard the gangs of foreign mercenaries weaponized by Qatar and the House of Saud as way more repellent than Assad.

Meanwhile, in Britain - where David of Arabia Cameron remains gung ho on a no-fly zone to protect the "Syrian people" - only 24% of Britons are in favor of further weaponizing the "rebels" (although 58% support humanitarian aid).

And at a rally in Doha, perennial al-Jazeera star and Muslim Brotherhood icon Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi - now pontificating at Al-Azhar in Cairo - has called for a jihad of all Sunni Muslims against Damascus. As he also branded Hezbollah as "the party of Satan" and condemned Iran for "pushing forward arms and men to back the Syrian regime". He has in fact condoned a jihad of Muslims against Muslims, even though he insisted his call to fight Hezbollah is "not against all Shi'ites".

Alarm Clock

Supreme Court ruling: police can take DNA without a warrant

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It is now legal for police to take a DNA sample from anyone they arrest, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime or gone to trial. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday to uphold the practice of DNA swabbing arrestees.

Investigators believe the practice, used in 26 states, will help them close unsolved cases.

Justice Samuel Alito called the case "the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades."

"DNA identification of arrestees is a reasonable search that can be considered part of a routine booking procedure," said Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is - like fingerprinting and photographing - a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

Bad Guys

Wisconsin GOP wants to spy on bank accounts of the unemployed

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Republicans in Wisconsin are pushing legislation that would allow the government to view the bank accounts of anyone seeking unemployment and freeze those accounts if it believes the person has been overpaid on benefits.

"This is to protect the workers and lessen the burden on employers who are paying all the bills," said co-author of the bill, Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown.

The bill was introduced in the assembly and senate on Friday. It is scheduled for committee hearings on Wednesday in both houses.

Bad Guys

Court-martial for Pfc. Bradley Manning shrouded in secrecy, security

Bradley Manning
© Associated Press
Fort Meade, Maryland - The court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the central figure in a massive leak of government documents, is focused on secrecy and government security. Yet his trial has become a secretive drama that allows the public little insight into what's going on in the military courtroom.

One of the pretrial hearings was closed to the public. Many court documents have been withheld or heavily redacted. Photographers were blocked from getting a good shot of the soldier and even some of Manning's supporters had to turn their T-shirts inside out.

Military law experts say some of it is common for a court-martial, while other restrictions appear tailored to the extraordinary nature of the case. Manning has garnered an outpouring of support from whistleblowers, activists and others around the world.

"I think the judge is very concerned about not turning this trial into a theater, into a spectacle," said David J.R. Frakt, a military law expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer. "I cannot remember a situation where there was such a high degree of civilian interest, people not affiliated with the military, having intense and passionate interest in the outcome of the case."

Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws, but the most serious offense the military has accused him of is aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence. His supporters call him a hero; opponents say he is a traitor for leaking the material the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The trial for the soldier from Crescent, Okla., began Monday under a barrage of heavy restrictions.