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US warns: hack us, and we might bomb you

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© Unknown
The US revealed its "International Strategy for Cyberspace" (PDF) yesterday. It's mostly blather about how terrific "cyberspace" is, but it gets more specific on a few key issues like national defense. Could our next war start because of a hack? The government says it's possible.

"States have an inherent right to self-defense that may be triggered by certain aggressive acts in cyberspace," says the policy. Indeed, such aggressive acts might compel a country like the US to act even when the hacking is targeted at an allied country.

"Certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners," says the document. "When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would any other threat to our country."

Gear

National Geographic Channel Show Ponders The Possibility of an Alien Attack

Alien Attack
© National Geographic

Pasadena, California. - What if there really ARE little green men out there in the vast universe who plan to plop their UFO in a cornfield in Nebraska? That's not just a question for science-fiction writers and 10-year-old boys, but for real scientists with alphabets after their names.

"It's my day job, of course, to look for them," says Dr. Seth Shostek, senior astronomer with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI.) "And I can assure you that I wouldn't do that if I didn't think that there was a good chance for success because it is not that lucrative," he says.

Shostek and several other scientists are taking the matter seriously when the National Geographic Channel presents When Aliens Attack, premiering May 22.

"NASA has a Kepler satellite orbiting the Earth right now. Within 600 days you will know what fraction of stars have planets that are somewhat like the Earth. And the expectation is that the number will come out to between 10 and 50 billion in our galaxy," says Shostek.

Chess

Israeli media reveals U.S. president's forthcoming Mideast speech, Obama will call on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders

Jerusalem -- U.S. President Barack Obama will call on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders and agree to additional concessions that will enable a resumption of the peace process, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth revealed on Tuesday.

The newspaper claimed to have obtained a draft of Obama's planned speech at the State Department on Thursday in which he will outline his administration's Middle East policy, in light of the anti-government protests that have swept the region over the past year.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Sunday that Obama would raise the need for progress in the peace process. However, he did not reveal whether the president planned to present a diplomatic initiative to revive the process, after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last September.

Star of David

Updated Report: Israel's Attack on Humanitarian Ship to Gaza

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© Perdana
The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as FINCH) carrying a humanitarian cargo to Gaza was attacked by an Israeli naval patrol within the so-called Palestinian Security Zone on May 15, at 10.54pm EDT.

In the course of the last few hours, Global Research has communicated several times with the Rachel Corrie vessel en route to Gaza. What is provided below is a detailed update. An earlier article was posted at 12.30am EDT

The vessel left the Greek Port of Piraeus, on Wednesday, May 11. The humanitarian initiative is sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), chaired by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad.

Participating in this mission are anti-war activists and journalists, consisting of 7 Malaysians, 2 Irish, 2 Indians and 1 Canadian. The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) is a partner in this endeavor. Global Research's Julie Lévesque is on board the Rachel Corrie:
The cargo ship The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as FINCH) is carrying 7.5 kilometers of UPVC (plastic) sewage pipes to help restore the devastated sewerage system in Gaza. The ship was named after the courageous American activist who was crushed and killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 while trying to prevent the demolition of another Palestinian home. She died at 23. ( Perdana's Second Press Release, Nakba and the Spirit of Rachel Corrie: Humanitarian Ship Attacked by Israel now within 1.5 nautical miles of Gazan Waters, Global Research, May 16, 2011)

Handcuffs

ACLU: National Defense Authorization Act permits worldwide war without end

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A little noticed provision in the House Armed Services Committee's National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the United States to use military force anywhere there are terrorism suspects, including within the U.S. itself, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Section 1034 was added to the bill [PDF] by the committee's chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA).

"Congress may soon vote on a new declaration of worldwide war without end, and without clear enemies," the ACLU warned in a statement. "A 'sleeper provision' deep inside defense bills pending before Congress could become the single biggest hand-over of unchecked war authority from Congress to the executive branch in modern American history."

The only opposition to the provision has come from Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who offered an amendment to strike Section 1034 while the House Armed Services Committee was reviewing the bill. The committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a 60 to 1 vote -- without the proposed amendment -- with Garamendi as the sole dissenter.

Heart - Black

Supreme Court refuses 'extraordinary rendition' torture case

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© Unknown
Sensory Deprivation, practiced by the United States and 'Allies'.
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would not hear the case of five men who said they had fallen victim to a Central Intelligence Agency practice called "extraordinary rendition," in which suspects are sent illegally to other countries to be tortured for information.

The men, some of whom are still imprisoned, brought the case against Jeppeson Dataplan, a unit of Boeing Inc., which they claim colluded with the U.S. government to illegally transport them to foreign countries for torture.

A San Francisco federal appeals court dismissed the case on a 6-5 vote, which was upheld by the Supreme Court today.

The nation's highest court said that trying the case would inevitably lead to state secrets being aired.

The Associated Press reported that this is not the only case to have been dismissed for fear of disclosing dangerous or top-secret information.

Dollar

Taxpayers on the Hook for BP's Gulf Spill

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The oil hearings last week revealed that BP (BP: 42.81, +0.35, +0.82%) is moving to cut its tax bill by about $11.8 billion by writing off the costs of its devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an ordinary business expense, a spill which wreaked havoc on the Gulf, killed wild life and damaged the local economy.

BP booked $11.8 billion in tax savings in its fourth quarter as it partly wrote off the costs for the clean-up, the $20 billion victim compensation fund, and legal expenses.

Without the move, BP's bottom line would have been deep in the red. BP says it has already taken a $40.9 billion total pre-tax charge to its income in 2010.

Evil Rays

Scientists Cast Doubt on TSA Tests of Full-Body Scanners

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© Scott Olson/Getty Images
A sign at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint instructs passengers about the use of the full-body scanner at O'Hare International Airport on March 15, 2010 in Chicago, Ill.
The Transportation Security Administration says its full-body X-ray scanners are safe and that radiation from a scan is equivalent to what's received in about two minutes of flying. The company that makes them says it's safer than eating a banana.

But some scientists with expertise in imaging and cancer say the evidence made public to support those claims is unreliable. And in a new letter sent to White House science adviser John Holdren, they question why the TSA won't make the scanners available for independent testing by outside scientists.

The machines, which are designed to reveal objects hidden under clothing, have the potential to close a significant security gap for the TSA because metal detectors can't find explosives or ceramic knives, which can be just as sharp as the box cutters that hijackers used on 9/11.

They are also important for TSA's public relations battle over the alternative, the "enhanced pat-down," which has bred an epidemic of viral videos: A 6-year-old girl is touched from head to toe. A former Miss USA says she was violated. A software programmer warns a screener, "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested."

After the underwear bomber tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day 2009, the TSA ramped up deployment of full-body scanners and plans to have them at nearly every security line by 2014.

Mr. Potato

Iran President Takes Over Oil Ministry Temporarily

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© Agence France-Presse / Mustafa Ozer
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.

"For now, I myself am the caretaker of the oil ministry," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech late Sunday, without elaborating.

On Saturday, Ahmadinejad dismissed oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, alongside two other ministers, whose portfolios are expected to be merged with other departments as part of a cabinet streamlining.

Then on Sunday, he appointed caretakers for the industry and social affairs ministries, but did not name anyone for the oil ministry which is to be integrated with the energy portfolio.

His decision to take charge of Iran's most-strategic sector came shortly before the 159th OPEC meeting scheduled for June 8 in Vienna, where the oil producers are represented by their ministers.

Attention

NATO Choppers Injure Pakistani Soldiers

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© unknown
NATO choppers have crossed into Pakistan, bombarding a police check post.
At least two Pakistani soldiers have been wounded when NATO helicopters targeted a security checkpoint in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.

The Western alliance choppers violated Pakistani air space early Tuesday and shelled a military post in Datta Khel district of North Waziristan Agency, local authorities told Press TV.

The motive behind the attack remains unknown.

On Monday, unauthorized US drone strikes killed at least 12 people in the same region in Pakistan.

The United States has carried out numerous attacks on Pakistan's tribal areas.

The aerial raids, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have been escalated under President Barack Obama.