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Sun, 24 Feb 2019
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CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA

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© Md Nadeem/EPA
CIA organised fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad to try and find Osama bin Laden.
Senior Pakistani doctor who organised vaccine programme in Abbottabad arrested by ISI for working with US agents

The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found.

As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the "project" in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor's arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor's safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.

Star of David

Thou shalt not shun us! Israel passes law banning citizens from calling for boycotts

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Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott means anyone proposing boycott could be sued

The Israeli parliament tonight passed a law in effect banning citizens from calling for academic, consumer or cultural boycotts of Israel in a move denounced by its opponents as anti-democratic.

The "'Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott" won a majority of 47 to 38, despite strong opposition and an attempt to filibuster the six-hour debate. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not take part in the vote although the bill had the backing of the cabinet.

Under the terms of the new law, an individual or organisation proposing a boycott may be sued for compensation by any individual or institution claiming that it could be damaged by such a call. Evidence of actual damage will not be required.

The law aims to protect individuals and institutions in Israel and the Palestinian territory it has occupied, illegally under international law, since 1967.

Bad Guys

Australian Propaganda! Carbon Tax: Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Address to the Nation

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© Getty Images
The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, who has just unveiled a new carbon tax.
READ the full text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's address to the nation following the carbon tax plan:

I WANT to talk to you tonight about why the Government is putting a price on carbon and what this means for you.

The decisions I announced today mean:

AROUND five hundred big polluters will pay for every tonne of carbon pollution they put into our atmosphere.

BY 2020 this will cut carbon pollution by 160 million tonnes a year.

AND because some businesses will put prices up, there will be tax cuts, increased pensions and increased family payments.

We have had a long debate about climate change in this country.

Most Australians now agree our climate is changing, this is caused by carbon pollution, this has harmful effects on our environment and on the economy - and the Government should act.

Economists and experts agree that the best way is to make polluters pay by putting a price on carbon.

The first Australian Government to announce a plan for a carbon price was John Howard's back in 2007.

A lot has happened since then; the debate has been difficult and divisive.

And no government - no political party or leader - can claim to have got everything right during this time.

But we have now had the debate, 2011 is the year we decide that as a nation we want a clean energy future.

Now is the time to move from words to deeds.

That's why I announced today how Australia's carbon price will work.

From 1 July next year, big polluters will pay $23 for every tonne of carbon they put into our atmosphere.

They now know how much they will pay unless they cut their pollution.

And they can start planning to cut pollution now.

By 2020 our carbon price will take 160 million tonnes of pollution out of the atmosphere every year.

That's the equivalent of taking forty five million cars off the road.

Some of the cost paid by big polluters will be passed through to the prices of the goods you buy.

The price impact will be modest but I know family budgets are always tight.

So I have decided most of the money raised from the carbon price will be used to fund tax cuts, pension increases and higher family payments.

These will be permanent, matching the carbon price over time.

Comment: While the climate is changing, carbon pollution is not the culprit. For a better understanding of the real causes of climate change and the agenda to extort more money from already financially stressed populations, see:

Climate Change Swindlers and the Political Agenda

What You Never Hear About Global Warming


Question

Wait, Did the USDA Just Deregulate All New Genetically Modified Crops?

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© MotherJones
A Kentucky bluegrass trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas
In a surprise move, the agency green-lights Roundup Ready lawn grass - and perhaps much, much more.

It's a hoary bureaucratic trick, making a controversial announcement on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend, when most people are daydreaming about what beer to buy on the way home from work, or are checking movie times online. But that's precisely what the US Department of Agriculture pulled last Friday.

In an innocuous-sounding press release titled "USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass," agency officials announced their decision not to regulate a "Roundup Ready" strain of Kentucky bluegrass - that is, a strain genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto's widely used herbicide, which we know as Roundup. The maker of the novel grass seed, Scotts Miracle Gro, is now free to sell it far and wide. So you'll no doubt be seeing Roundup Ready bluegrass blanketing lawns and golf courses near you - and watching anal neighbors and groundskeepers literally dousing the grass in weed killer without fear of harming a single precious blade.

Rocket

Iran fired two missiles into Indian Ocean earlier this year

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Shkval (Squall) torpedo
Tehran - Iran fired two long-range missiles into the Indian Ocean earlier this year, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Division announced on Saturday.

"During the (Iranian calendar) month of Bahman (Jan. 21-Feb. 19), we fired two missiles with a range of 1900 kilometers from the Semnan desert to the entrance of the Indian Ocean, and U.S. warships observed them hitting the mock targets," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said at a press conference in Tehran.

Since the region is in international airspace, Iran allowed U.S. spy planes to be present, but the U.S. did not release the information they gathered to the public, Hajizadeh noted.

"We have an appropriate space of about 1000 square kilometers in (our) deserts for test-firing missiles... our missile range is at most 2000 kilometers and we do not need (missiles with) a longer range since our targets are within a shorter radius," he added.

Comment: Nila Sagadevan writes:
One thing is for certain: a US-Israeli invasion of Iran will be far from a cakewalk. For Israel it would prove utterly disastrous; there is no ABM system on earth that's proven to be consistently anywhere near even 50% reliable. All major Israeli population centers will take direct hits. Where the US is concerned, over 70% of American bases in the region will take hits from a concerted Iranian missile strike, taking out thousands of our soldiers. Our aircraft carriers and other vessels will also be very vulnerable to Iran's ultra-high-speed torpedoes that travel at speeds of up to 100 meters a second -- four times as fast as conventional torpedoes, and is thus nearly "unavoidable" by its intended target.

This new Iranian weapon is based on Russia's VA-111 Shkval (Squall) torpedo. The Shkval is a high-speed supercavitating rocket-propelled torpedo originally designed to be a rapid-reaction defense against US submarines. Basically an underwater missile, the solid-rocket propelled torpedo achieves its speed by producing an envelope of supercavitating bubbles from its nose and skin, which coat the entire weapon surface in a thin layer of gas. This drastically reduces metal-to-water friction. The torpedo leaves the tube at nearly a hundred kilometers an hour, then lights its rocket motor. In tests in the 1990s the Shkval reportedly had an 80 percent kill probability at a range about seven kilometers. US aircraft carriers would be toast. This is the weapon the West fears most.

And now Iran has successfully tested a new supersonic anti-ship missile (much faster than conventional Cruise-types). While we're at it, let's not totally dismiss rumors about North Korean-supplied nuke warheads already mounted in Iran's ICBMs safely ensconced in deep silos spread out across the country. Finally --- and very importantly -- let's not forget their recently deployed Russian S-300-cloned long-range phased-array radar systems, each of which can simultaneously target up to 30 inbound enemy aircraft at a range of 200 miles... Yup, whichever way one slices it, this is one confrontation that's bound to get very ugly very quickly --- nothing at all like traipsing into Iraq and Afghanistan. This is one scenario where Moshe Dayan's "mad dogs" will certainly meet their doom should they initiate hostilities --- which would hardly bring a tear to my eye but for the fact they'd also be (willfully) sucking America into their maniacal lunacy...



Star of David

Ten Israeli aircraft enter Lebanon

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Ten Israeli military aircraft have once again penetrated Lebanese airspace and flown over parts of the country in blatant violation of a UN Security Council resolution.

Six Israeli warplanes flew over the border village of Kfar Kila, located 96 kilometers (59 miles) south of the capital Beirut, at 9:50 a.m. (0650 GMT) on Sunday and conducted several unwarranted flights above areas in southern Lebanon, a statement released by the Lebanese military read.

The Israeli warplanes left the Lebanese airspace at 11:00 a.m. local time (0800 GMT) while flying over the southern border town of Alma al-Shaab.

Meanwhile, two Israeli fighters violated Lebanese airspace at 10:05 a.m. local time (0705 GMT), and flew over southern part of the country. The jets left at 11:45 a.m. local time (0845 GMT).

Two remote-controlled Israeli drones also entered the Lebanese airspace and carried out covert surveillance fights over the village of al-Naqoura, located 91 kilometers (57 miles) south of Beirut, and the southern village of Rmeish.

The aircraft flew over the southern areas of Lebanon at 2:10 p.m. local time (1110 GMT) and 4:00 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) on Sunday and left.

Vader

US suspends military aid to Pakistan

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A senior official in President Barack Obama's administration says Washington is suspending a large portion of its military aid to Pakistan.

"They've taken some steps that have given us reason to pause on some of the aid which we're giving to the military, and we're trying to work through that," Obama's chief of staff William Daley said on Sunday.

This comes after senior American officials told the The New York Times on Saturday that a total of 800 million dollars in military assistance and equipment could be affected.

Tensions between the two countries increased following a secret US raid on Pakistan in May that allegedly killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Some White House officials suggest that Islamabad was aware of bin Laden's location.

Anti-US sentiments have grown among the Pakistani government and public since the raid.

Pakistani lawmakers have recently passed a resolution, demanding a review of ties with the US and other Western countries.

Bad Guys

Australia linked to Abu Ghraib abuses: documents

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© Unknown
Australia's military conspired with US guards to deny the Red Cross access to prisoners held at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib jail, including a high-value detainee, said documents published Tuesday.

Its officials also misled the public on the legality of interrogations, before prisoner abuse was exposed in photographs that shocked the world in May 2004, a year after the US-led invasion, a Sydney-based legal lobby group said.

The declassified documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, showed a "disturbing response by Australian officials regarding detainee mistreatment" the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) said.

Bizarro Earth

Sri Lankan Atrocities Exposed: 'It's like Israel and Palestine'

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© unknown
Tamils mourn the dead in Jaffna.
A British TV documentary and a United Nations-commissioned report have confirmed long-standing Tamil allegations that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) committed large-scale war crimes in the course of its May 2009 victory over the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Atrocities perpetrated by the army during and after its recapture of the rebel-held areas of Tamil Eelam (Tamil areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka) included shelling civilians, depriving civilians of access to food, water and medicine, executing and torturing prisoners of war, systematic rape and holding civilians in concentration camps.

The Channel 4 documentary, screened in Britain on June 14, catalogued how the army declared "no fire zones" ― areas behind rebel lines that they undertook not to attack if civilians gathered there ― and then bombed them relentlessly when they were overcrowded with displaced people.

Hospitals were targeted after Red Cross workers had supplied the army with their coordinates.

The program included gruesome "trophy footage" shot by Sri Lankan soldiers on their mobile phones. An edited version of some of this footage, showing the beating and shooting of bound, blindfolded prisoners ,was released by Channel 4 in December.

The government's response to the abuse of Tamils has been more muted, although foreign minister Kevin Rudd did tell ABC radio's PM on July 5: "No-one watching this program could emerge from that undisturbed and we don't either."

Bad Guys

Canada Opposes Palestinian Bid for Recognition of Statehood

Stephen Harper
© unknown
Canada is rejecting a Palestinian effort to win recognition at the United Nations as an independent state.

The move is not surprising given that the Harper government has forcefully highlighted its loyalty to Israel and the United States. Both oppose the Palestinian initiative.

The Palestinian Authority, which controls most of the West Bank, launched a campaign last month that will see it pursue a vote on statehood at the United Nations General Assembly in September - an effort borne out of its frustration over a peace process that is stalled.

The top Palestinian diplomat in Canada says her official delegation will still push hard for the support of Ottawa.

"On the conflict, we would like to see the Canadian government taking a neutral stand, supporting the creation of the state of Palestine, supporting the recognition of Palestine as a full member state in the UN in September," Linda Sobeh Ali, head of the Palestinian delegation, told The Canadian Press.

Sobeh Ali also said her delegation is pushing Canada to recognize Israel's pre-1967 borders - something Prime Minister Stephen Harper forcefully opposed, and managed to block from being part of the final communique of G8 leaders at their recent May summit in France.