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Vader

Syrian Protesters Come Under Fire from Security Forces

Thousands demonstrate in Deraa as frustration mounts at Bashar al-Assad's failure to deliver reforms

doctor treating injured man
© Hussein Malla/AP
A doctor treats a man injured in Sunday's violence between security forces and protesters in Latakia, Syria.
Security forces fired shots and used teargas to disperse up to 4,000 protesters in the volatile Syrian city of Deraa on Monday as frustration mounted at the slow pace of promised reforms.

Despite the widespread presence of security forces, protesters appeared to consolidate their positions in Deraa in the deep south and in the northern port city of Latakia, which are the two main fronts in the challenge to the Syrian regime.

According to human rights activists, more than 150 people have been killed in 11 days of unrest, which have seen protesters calling for increased freedoms.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, who has not been sighted during the protests, is expected to deliver a speech within days.

The government has pledged to lift an almost five decade old emergency law, which - among other things - severely limits citizens' rights to demonstrate. That and other reforms are yet to be implemented.

Vader

UK: Fears of crackdown on right to protest in wake of anti-cuts violence

Are Prince's nuptials being used as cover for a crackdown on dissent?
royal wedding couple
© AP
Anti-cuts agitators will be barred from Westminster for the royal wedding

Ministers and police provoked anger and dismay as they signalled tough new security measures aimed at public rallies after the violence that marred the TUC anti-cuts demonstrations.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was warned against a "knee-jerk reaction" to the trouble amid fears that moves to ban "known hooligans" from demonstrations could be abused by over-zealous officers. The Metropolitan Police is also planning the widespread use of "stop and search" powers against extremists attempting to disrupt the royal wedding on 29 April.

Ms May spelt out the plans in an emergency Commons statement into Saturday's events, when the TUC's peaceful protest was hijacked by gangs of violent anarchists and anti-capitalists.

Comment: A knee jerk reaction, or pre-planned?

See related article: UK 'anarchists' are part of MI5


Laptop

Crude, Inconsistent Threat: Understanding Anonymous

Dubious Disclaimer

Most of the time I cover technical topics. I regularly give classes and presentations on "how this protocol works" or "how do I hack X?", those sorts of things. This time, I want to delve into a little psychology/sociology. Normally I like to stick to technology because the answers are easier to test and less subjective. When people are being measured things become a lot more muddy and less definitive. When I think of the social sciences I think of the Ernest Rutherford quote:

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."

My general impression of the social sciences is that there is a lot of room for personal beliefs to skew the results via bad experiment design, faulty assumptions, confirmation bias and the like. I likely have biases of my own so take this paper with a boulder of sodium chloride. Also please note that to better immerse you into the Internet culture Anonymous comes from I will be linking off to many "not safe for work" (NSFW) sites. After reading enough excerpts from "chan" culture you will hopefully begin to get a better feel for the nature of Anonymous.

Abstract

A lot has been said and written about a "group" referred to as Anonymous. This paper will go into Anonymous' motivations, organization (or lack thereof) and how the term "group" is sort of a misnomer. Unfortunately, "group" is a misnomer I will use throughout the paper because I lack a better word. For those familiar with "chan" culture, this article may not be of much use, but for those that read about Anonymous and just don't get it, this paper may be of assistance. The paper is not intended to condemn nor promote, but just to help folks understand "cyber-lynch mobs" and perhaps [a]their security ramifications. Mostly I'm just tired of hearing the news get it wrong concerning the nature of the "organization".

Arrow Down

Biden vacations in Aspen amid Libya questions and Florida reporter's detainment

Joe Biden
© unknown
Joe Biden
On the eve of President Barack Obama's address to the nation on U.S. military action in Libya and a recent story about a local Florida reporter who was locked in a storage closet during a fundraiser he attended for Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, Vice President Joe Biden can only be found vacationing in the ritzy resort city of Aspen, Colorado, reports the Aspen Times.

According to theAspen Times' article published on Friday, Mr Biden was described as "vacationing" in Aspen by a local sheriff after the Vice President flew in from headlining two fundraisers for Sen.Nelson in Florida:

Biden's motorcade left the Eagle County airport headed west and picked up Interstate 70 in Gypsum, traveling through Glenwood Canyon and eventually to Snowmass.

"It's a pretty low-key visit, definitely a vacation," according to Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo.

His office and the Snowmass Village Police Department will handle Biden's local security. They'll also get lots of Secret Service protection, DiSalvo said.

Over the Presidents Day weekend, first lady Michelle Obama, her daughters and some friends visited Vail, also flying in and out of the Eagle County airport.

Document

Donald Trump: I've got my birth certificate, where is President Barack Obama's?

Donald Trump
© unknown
Donald Trump
Donald Trump now sees himself as something of a patron saint for the birthers - and he's even released his own birth certificate as he steps up criticism of the president.

Seeking to pump more energy into the birther movement and quirky chase for the White House, Trump on Monday provided a copy of his birth certificate to the conservative website Newsmax - which has played a leading role in trumpeting birther mythology.

And in an interview on Fox News, Trump cast himself as something akin to the rebel leader of the birther movement.

"Now, this guy either has a birth certificate or he doesn't," Trump said. "And I didn't think this was such a big deal, but I will tell you, it's turning out to be a very big deal because people now are calling me from all over saying, please don't give up on this issue."

Trump's insistence that he's being encouraged to continue on his birther crusade has led to what he says is the startling revelation that, "all of a sudden, a lot of facts are emerging and I'm starting to wonder myself whether or not [Obama] was born in this country."

USA

President Obama Libya Speech Video: March 28, 2011 Address at National Defense University


The full speech text as prepared for delivery is below.

Good evening. Tonight, I'd like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya - what we have done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved. Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda around the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I am grateful to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, as are all Americans.

For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world's many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt - two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant - Moammar Gaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world - including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.

Last month, Gaddafi's grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, "For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over."

Light Sabers

The Battle for Biodiversity: Monsanto and Farmers Clash

Image
© Robert Pratta/Reuters
French farmers and activists reap what they called an "illegal" plot of genetically modified rapeseed developed by the agribusiness company Monsanto.
Does genetic modification lead to more and better crops? Or will it destroy the foundations of our food systems?

Two weeks ago, Monsanto announced the latest genetically engineered crop it hopes to bring to market: a soybean rejiggered to resist the herbicide dicamba. The new product, says Monsanto, will aid in weed control and "deliver peace of mind for growers."

Meanwhile, half a world away, La Via Campesina, a farmers' movement of 150 organizations from 70 countries, had a slightly different idea about what would bring peace of mind to its millions of members: protecting biodiversity. In its statement to those gathered in Bali for the United Nations treaty on plant genetics, the organization urged treaty drafters to reevaluate the legal framework that allows seed patenting and the spread of genetically engineered crops, like those Monsanto soybeans. These genetically modified crops and the international patent regime, La Via Campesina said, block farmers' ability to save and share seeds, threatening biodiversity and food security.

Video

The Criminal Tale of Monsanto

Image
© foodfreedom.wordpress.com
The World According to Monsanto a film by Marie-Monique Robin
"What counts for us is making money," said a Monsanto vice-president to a new employee at an induction session in 1998, reminding the idealistic novice that there is a simple, and crude, capitalist philosophy at the heart of the US chemical and biotechnology giant.

All Monsanto's talk about the ecological and humanitarian miracles of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is so much hot air, says Marie-Monique Robin in The World According To Monsanto.

The reduction of pesticide pollution, the end of world hunger, plants producing biodegradable plastics, corn containing antibodies against cancer - none of these promised GMO solutions have been delivered.

This is because what really matters to Monsanto, as Robin documents, is control of the world seed market and the genetic engineering of those seeds to be resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide with the real miracle; gigantic profits.

Comment: Part 1 of the docu begins here:




Magic Wand

Puppets to the right and left: France's next presidential race may pit Jewish socialist against extreme rightist

Image
© AFP
Playing the left off the right: Marine Le Pen with her father.
In January, the 82 year old neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen resigned as leader of the far rightist National Front party and was succeeded by his youngest daughter Marine. At the beginning of March, the French political system underwent a major shock. A Louis Harris poll showed that Marine Le Pen would score highest in the first round of the 2012 presidential elections. She would receive 23% of the votes as opposed to 21% each for President Nicolas Sarkozy of the right of center UMP and the socialist leader Martine Aubry.

This shock is not due to the fear that the younger Le Pen will become France's president. This is highly unlikely. What caused it was that this would mean either Sarkozy or a socialist candidate would not be present in the second round of the election, as only the two candidates with the highest score in the first round participate. It reminded the French of April 2002 when Jean-Marie Le Pen confronted President Jacques Chirac in the second round of the presidential elections. Le Pen was heavily defeated and got only about 20% of the votes.

Vader

Libya: Largest Military Undertaking since the Invasion of Iraq - Towards a Protracted Military Operation

Image
© Ian Langsdon, Press Association / AP Photo
Heads of state pose for a group photo during the Summit for the Support of the Libyan People at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Outright lies by the international media: Bombs and missiles are presented as an instrument of peace and democratization...

This is not a humanitarian operation. The war on Libya opens up a new regional war theater.

There are three distinct war theaters in the Middle East Central Asian region. Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

What is unfolding is a fourth US-NATO War Theater in North Africa, with the risk of escalation.

These four war theaters are functionally related, they are part of an integrated US-NATO military agenda.

The bombing of Libya has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for several years as confirmed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark.

Operation Odyssey Dawn is acknowledged as the "biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq began exactly eight years ago." (Russia: Stop 'indiscriminate' bombing of Libya - Taiwan News Online, March 19, 2011).

This war is part of the battle for oil. Libya is among the World's largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.

The underlying objective is to gain control over Libya's oil and gas reserves under the disguise of a humanitarian intervention.

The geopolitical and economic implications of a US-NATO led military intervention directed against Libya are far-reaching.

"Operation Odyssey Dawn " is part of a broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which consists in gaining control and corporate ownership over more than sixty percent of the world's reserves of oil and natural gas, including oil and gas pipeline routes.

With 46.5 billion barrels of proven reserves, (10 times those of Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria (Oil and Gas Journal). In contrast, US proven oil reserves are of the order of 20.6 billion barrels (December 2008) according to the Energy Information Administration. U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves).