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Pakistan: Floods uncover evidence of feudalism's impact on poor

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© Oxfam
Land reform hampered by the fact that many politicians are also landowners
The floods that swept across vast tracts of land from July to September 2010 covered many fields, houses and roads in a sea of swirling water - but they also played a part in exposing the depth of existing poverty and deprivation in Pakistan.

"The malnutrition we are seeing is not new. It has nothing to do with the floods; it is just that we are seeing it now as people come into contact with medical teams," Shershah Syed, a gynaecologist who has devoted himself to caring for impoverished women requiring care during pregnancy and birth, told IRIN.

Some of the ways in which powerful feudal families - in many cases linked to the political and bureaucratic elite - acted to protect their own interests at the cost of ordinary villagers have been well documented. Feudal overlords have been accused, both in the southern Punjab and in Sindh Province of influencing decisions regarding the diversion of floodwater or the breach of over-flowing dams to protect their own land.

A judicial investigation continues into allegations that in other places protective dykes were breached by wealthy landowners to save their farms, while flooding those of impoverished - and powerless - villagers.

USA

Mad as a Hatter: The Hidden Roots of the Tea Party Movement - Part 1

[Note: This article appeared in issue 12 of The Dot Connector Magazine. Part 2 will appear in Issue 13, coming soon! Get your subscription today!]

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"Today Christians ... stand at the head of [this country]... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years."
- Adolf Hitler
Since WWII, many people, groups and nations have been compared to the Nazi regime and the personalities therein. In fact, the analogy is overdone in American culture to the point of being meaningless. There is even a satirical law called Godwin's Law which states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis goes to 1." This is quite true. I've witnessed this law in action in online discussions, and it tends to be sardonically humorous when somebody calls it out. Despite the comedic value, the main point Godwin makes is that many Nazi comparisons tend to be baseless, and many others employ a good deal of pseudo-logic. A better understanding of history, while fostering a saner world, would probably prevent a good deal of invocations of Godwin's Law too.

When it comes to bad Nazi comparisons, few have been more boisterous and outright buffoonish than the vituperations of Tea Party mouthpiece and Fox News host Glenn Beck. One of Beck's recent Nazi comparisons involved taking a closer look at the concept of empathy in politics and - get this - how Hitler used 'empathy' to euthanize baby Knauer, a child born with significant birth defects in 1938 Germany, amid the debate over Hitler's eugenics policies. Beck's conclusion: "Empathy leads you to bad decisions every time." While Glenn Beck's logic is certainly twisted, I think we can safely say that he takes Godwin's Law to new heights.

Alarm Clock

The Disclosure!

A jaunty romp through all the lovely things our governments have thrown at us and where they might one day lead to in the not so far off future.


Eye 2

US: Government pedophiles let off the hook

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Pentagon employees who view child pornography continue to operate without the prospect of investigation, even though several of them used military e-mail address as part of their payment information.

Upon discovering that 264 Pentagon employees or contractors had downloaded child pornography, only 70 workers were investigated, including nine who had top security clearances. But the Department of Defense has failed to explain the lack of further action. So Pat Trueman, CEO of Morality in Media, tells OneNewsNow it is imperative to conduct the probe "because if someone is a collector of child pornography, they are subject to blackmail by those who want material that the Pentagon might have -- and we know various spy agencies from other countries have used tactics like this."

Trueman also points out that a credibility issue arises if Pentagon violators are not prosecuted.

"What you have is the federal government enforcing very strictly the child pornography law on others in society. But if it's the federal employees themselves [who have violated the law], the federal government [doesn't] seem to take it very seriously," he laments. "Doesn't the law apply equally to people in federal government as well as common citizens?"

Vader

Propaganda Alert: Israel Claims Iran Warships to Transit Suez Canal

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© Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo
Israel's President Shimon Peres speaks with the press in Jerusalem. Peres on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 praised the anti-government protesters in Iran and said calls in Iran's parliament to execute the demonstrators is an ugly reminder of a corrupt Iranian regime.
Jerusalem - Israel's foreign minister claimed Wednesday that Iran is about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years, calling it a "provocation," but he offered no evidence. The Egyptian authority that runs the canal denied it.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the ships would cross later Wednesday, en route to Syria. He offered no evidence and did not say how he knew it.

"This is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing," he said in a statement.

The Egyptian body that runs the Suez Canal denied the claim.

Ahmed el-Manakhli, head of the canal operations room, said warships must get permission 48 hours before crossing, and "so far, we have not been notified."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an e-mailed statement that "Israel is closely following the movements of the Iranian ships and has updated friendly states on the issue. Israel will continue to follow the ships movements."

Heart - Black

Beware the Psychopath, My Son

Psychopaths
© SOTT.net
The following is largely extracted from two articles:

Twilight of the Psychopaths, by Dr. Kevin Barrett and The Trick of the Psychopath's Trade by Silvia Cattori. Both articles are recommended. Both articles reference the book Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, by Andrzej Lobaczewski. Cattori's article is longer and includes an interview with the book's editors, Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See.

I make the effort to share this information because it gives me, at last, a plausible answer to a long-unanswered question: Why, no matter how much intelligent goodwill exists in the world, is there so much war, suffering and injustice? It doesn't seem to matter what creative plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. Since the dawn of civilization, this pattern repeats itself over and over again.

The answer is that civilization, as we know it, is largely the creation of psychopaths. All civilizations, our own included, have been built on slavery and mass murder. Psychopaths have played a disproportionate role in the development of civilization, because they are hard-wired to lie, kill, cheat, steal, torture, manipulate, and generally inflict great suffering on other humans without feeling any remorse, in order to establish their own sense of security through domination. The inventor of civilization - the first tribal chieftain who successfully brainwashed an army of controlled mass murderers - was almost certainly a genetic psychopath. Since that momentous discovery, psychopaths have enjoyed a significant advantage over non-psychopaths in the struggle for power in civilizational hierarchies - especially military hierarchies.

Dollar

US: Madoff: Banks 'had to know'

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© UPI Photo/Monika Graff
Ponzi-scheme financier Bernard Madoff
Bernard Madoff, in a prison interview Tuesday, told The New York Times his family knew nothing of his schemes but the banks he dealt with "had to know." The interview was Madoff's first since he was charged with running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme in December 2008. The Times said he spent 2 hours with a reporter in a visitor's room at the prison in Butner, N.C.

Madoff said he did not realize how the tumbling of his financial house of cards would destroy his family. His son, Mark, hanged himself in December, and neither Mark Madoff nor Bernard Madoff's surviving son had spoken to either of their parents since their father's arrest. While the whole family worked for Bernard Madoff's company, he said Ruth Madoff and his sons did not realize what he was up to. But he said the funds that steered their clients' money to him and the banks and hedge funds had information from regulatory filings and other sources to figure it out.

Vader

Gates, Rumsfeld Sued Over U.S. Military's Rape Epidemic

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© Unknown
A landmark lawsuit filed Tuesday against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, alleges that the military's repeated failures to take action in rape cases created a culture where violence against women was tolerated, violating the plaintiffs' Constitutional rights.

"There are three types of women in the Army," says Rebecca Havrilla, a former sergeant and explosive-ordnance-disposal technician. "Bitch, dyke, and whore." During the four years that Havrilla was on active duty, she was called all three - by fellow soldiers, team leaders, even unit commanders. Once, during a sexual-assault prevention training, the 28-year-old South Carolina native claims, she watched a fellow soldier - male - strip naked and dance on top of a table as the rest of the team laughed. While deployed in Afghanistan, Havrilla spent four months working under a man she alleges bit her neck, pulled her into his bed, and grabbed her butt and waist - on a daily basis. When, on the last day of her deployment, she alleges she was raped by a soldier she considered a friend, it was, she says, "the icing on the cake."

Yoda

Anonymous hack reveals HBGary plan to destroy WikiLeaks

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© V3
Data released as part of a hacking attack by the Anonymous group has shown what appears to be a corporate plan to destroy WikiLeaks.

Aaron Barr, head of security services firm HBGary Federal, claimed last week to have infiltrated the Anonymous hacking group's leadership and to have identified key players.

Less than 24 hours later the group attacked HBGary Federal's servers and posted their content on file sharing sites.

An analysis of the content revealed what appears to be a proposal, written for leading US legal firm Hunton & Williams by HBGary Federal, on how to bring down WikiLeaks (PDF) through a combination of hacking and disinformation.

It was prepared in conjunction with data analysis firm Palantir Technologies and consultants Berico Technologies

The document suggests a campaign of misinformation involving feeding false documents into WikiLeaks and exposing them to discredit the site's output. Hacking attacks against the central WikiLeaks document server in Sweden were also suggested.

The presentation recommended researching the backgrounds of those involved in WikiLeaks to identify "risky behavior", and a media campaign which would " create concern and doubt among moderates".

Yoda

Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack

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© Arstechnica
It has been an embarrassing week for security firm HBGary and its HBGary Federal offshoot. HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr thought he had unmasked the hacker hordes of Anonymous and was preparing to name and shame those responsible for co-ordinating the group's actions, including the denial-of-service attacks that hit MasterCard, Visa, and other perceived enemies of WikiLeaks late last year.

When Barr told one of those he believed to be an Anonymous ringleader about his forthcoming exposé, the Anonymous response was swift and humiliating. HBGary's servers were broken into, its e-mails pillaged and published to the world, its data destroyed, and its website defaced. As an added bonus, a second site owned and operated by Greg Hoglund, owner of HBGary, was taken offline and the user registration database published.

Over the last week, I've talked to some of those who participated in the HBGary hack to learn in detail how they penetrated HBGary's defenses and gave the company such a stunning black eye - and what the HBGary example means for the rest of us mere mortals who use the Internet.