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Tue, 29 Nov 2022
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Monkey Wrench

U.S. appeals court reverses CIA drone secrecy ruling


An armed MQ-9 Reaper drone
A US federal appeals court has struck down a lower court ruling that allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to refuse to confirm having information about the use of assassination drones.

Friday's ruling by a three-court panel returns the case to the lower court, which had sided with the CIA and dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Judge Merrick Garland noted that officials from President Barack Obama's administration and the CIA have already acknowledged the government's use of drones.
"Given these official acknowledgments that the United States has participated in drone strikes, it is neither logical nor plausible for the CIA to maintain that it would reveal anything not already in the public domain to say that the agency 'at least has an intelligence interest' in such strikes," Garland wrote.

The FOIA request seeks documents describing the legal basis for drone strikes and civilian casualties, particularly in Pakistan.

War Whore

The United States of murder: A cancer on the world

In my recent article "Chavez: Another CIA assassination victim?" I argued that when the top six anti-US-empire leaders in Latin America all get cancer at the same time, it isn't just coincidence.

The US government, and its bankster owners, have been overthrowing and/or murdering the best leaders in Latin America, and the world, for decades. Iran's Mossadegh, Guatemala's Arbenz, the Dominican Republic's Trujillo and Bosch, Ecuador's Velasco and Roldos, Zaire's Lumumba, Indonesia's Sukarno, Cambodia's Sahounek, Chile's Allende, and Panama's Torrijos are just a few examples.

The same killers, and the institutional forces they represent, murder the best American leaders too. John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Paul Wellstone are notable victims. Two excellent books have appeared in recent years proving, to any reasonable reader, that a shadow government working through the CIA, FBI, and organized crime killed JFK and Dr. King. Those books are JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass, and An Act of State by William Pepper.

Bad Guys

NSA chief says America is ready to cyberattack

Gen. Keith Alexander
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Gen. Keith Alexander
For the first time, NSA chief and head of the U.S. Cyber Command Gen. Keith Alexander admitted America is ready to attack in cyberspace. Never before has a U.S. official acknowledged that the U.S. government is working on or is in possession of malware capable of attacking a foreign nation in a cyber conflict, despite the fact that at least one attack - the famous Stuxnext worm - has been attributed to the U.S.

On Wednesday, in his annual testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Alexander took the cyberwar rethoric coming out of Washington up a notch. "I would like to be clear that this team, this defend-the-nation team, is not a defensive team," he said. "This is an offensive team." In other words, this cyber army is ready to retaliate in case of a cyber attack against the United States.

As part of the expansion of the cyber security force, Alexander also said that he is adding 40 teams, 13 focused on offensive operations and 27 for surveillance and training. Thanks to the expansion, the cyber command will grow from 900 to a corps of more than 4,000 employees.

Bad Guys

CIA must respond to request about secret drone program

© AFP Photo / Saul Loeb
A federal appeals court says that the Central Intelligence Agency was wrong to refuse a Freedom of Information Act request for details on the CIA's drone program.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a FOIA request with the United States' top spy agency in January 2010, and in September of the following year a district court said the agency could stay silent. The court agreed at the time that the CIA was not required to describe the existence of any official drone records within the agency and was given the go ahead to issue a "Glomar" response, a reaction which permits an agency to "refuse to confirm or deny the existence of records" in limited circumstances. Now, however, an appeals court says that ruling was wrong.

The ACLU filed an appeal to the Glomar response, and on Friday the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a response in which it overturns the earlier ruling that favored the CIA.

"The question on appeal is whether the Agency's Glomar response was justified under the circumstances of this case. We conclude that it was not justified and therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings," finds the court [.pdf].

Heart - Black

Donald Trump's remedy for America: Oil from Iraq to 'pay ourselves back'

© Pete Marovich/ZUMA Press/Corbis
Donald Trump at CPAC: 'If Mitt Romney made one mistake, he didn't talk enough about his success.'
Friday's CPAC keynote speaker gives rambling address, from the evils of immigration reform to an exhortation to re-invade Iraq

Every conference needs a good troll. And Donald Trump seemed happy to play the part at CPAC with a rambling speech on Friday that ranged from the evils of immigration reform to an exhortation to re-invade Iraq.

Trump gave the first keynote of the second day of the biggest annual gathering of conservatives in the US. He used it run against the tide of Republican opinion on immigration, to call for the expropriation of Iraq's oil, and to complain that the Obama administration turned down his offer of building a ballroom in the White House grounds.

In what would have been a damaging revelation if it had come from a more credible source, Trump said "high-level officials" told him before the Iraq war that the US was "going for the oil". The trouble was, it didn't get any. Trump's remedy: go back for it.

Eye 2

Monsanto continues expansion in Argentina


Cristina Kirchner, President of Argentina, has continued her husband's pact with the devil (a.k.a. Monsanto)
Community opposes the construction of transgenic seed factory

"It changed our lives," the people of Malvinas Argentinas are saying. They are referring to the arrival of the multinational agribusiness Monsanto, which announced the construction of a seed production plant that will be the "largest in the world," less than a kilometer (0.6 mile) away from this town in the central province of Córdoba. There is a fear of environmental damages, and through the Asamblea Malvinas en Lucha por la Vida, or the Malvinas Assembly Fighting for Life, the community is looking to stop the company's progress locally. Monsanto has been operating in Argentina since 1956. In 1980, the company started bottling the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup in Zárate, in the province of Buenos Aires, and in 1996 got government approval for RR soybeans, which are Roundup-resistant. Last June, Monsanto announced it would build a new plant to produce transgenic corn seed in Córdoba.

Argentina produces 20 percent of the world's soy crop, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, which reflects the company's expansion at a global level. Started in 1901, US-based Monsanto has 400 locations in 66 countries. It's number one in the sale of seeds (with 27 percent of the global market) and fourth in agrochemicals. The company sells 90 percent of soybean seeds, according to the March 2012 report "Combatting Monsanto," by La Vía Campesina, an international coordinator for rural organizations.


Argentina, the GMO Soy Republic of Monsanto

The country's soya industry is booming, but what is the impact on Argentinians and their land?

Filmmakers: Glenn Ellis and Guido Bilbao
For much of the past decade Argentina has seen a commodities-driven export boom, built largely on genetically-modified soy bean crops and the aggressive use of pesticides.

Argentina's leaders say it has turned the country's economy around, while others say the consequences are a dramatic surge in cancer rates, birth defects and land theft.

People & Power investigates if Argentina's booming soy industry is a disaster in the making.

Cristina Kirchner, president of the Republic of GMO Soy
As I flew in to Buenos Aires to make this film, all the talk was of President Cristina Kirchner's latest gambit. Her foreign minister had pulled out of a meeting with the British foreign secretary to discuss the Falklands (or the Malvinas depending on your outlook). And for the people I rubbed up against in Argentina's smart and chic capital, on discovering I was English, this, along with Maradona's 'hand of god' moment, was the topic on everybody's lips. "We won the war", they would say. "After the fighting we got rid of our dictators but you had another 10 years of Thatcher."

When I explained I was in the country to cover the soya boom, which has given Argentina the fastest growth rate in South America, but also allegedly caused devastating malformations in children, there was a look of disbelief. "Here, in Argentina? Why haven't we heard about it?"

A good question: why had not anyone heard about it? And when I ventured a little further explaining I also wanted to cover what is best described as a dirty war in the North of the country where campesinos are being driven off their land, and sometimes killed, to make way for soya plantations - the bemusement increased. "That's historical" people would say, "it's been going on since the time of the conquistadores." So when I arrived with my crew at Argentina's second city, Cordoba, 700 kilometres North West of the capital, to meet Alternative Nobel Laureate Professor Raul Montenegro, I was not quite sure what to expect.

Comment: For more on humanity's imminent destruction due to agriculture (and today, Big Agribusiness a.k.a. the Biotechnology GMO industry), check out our latest SOTT Talk Radio show on this topic.

Bad Guys

Chinese authorities crack down on 18-day village uprising over landgrabs

© Reuters
An upturned car lies beside Shangpu's Communist party headquarters, with a slogan on the roof calling for a 'harmonious society'.
Nine arrested and dozens injured as security forces storm the village of Shangpu in southern Guangdong province

Chinese authorities have violently cracked down on an 18-day uprising over landgrabs in a southern Chinese village, arresting nine people and hospitalising dozens.

This weekend, security forces stormed the village of Shangpu, a farming community of 3,000 in southern Guangdong province, cut the electricity supply and phone service, beat demonstrators and fired tear gas into crowds, injuring 30 to 40 people.

According to wire reports and microblog posts, the confrontation between Shangpu residents and the authorities began last month when the village's Communist party chief, Li Baoyu, leased a 33 hectare (81 acre) plot of land to his friend, the owner of an electric cable company, without the villagers' consent.

The authorities have arrested Li and eight other people, reported Agence France-Presse, and are still pursuing another 21, including the company owner. County-level authorities overseeing the village have agreed to nullify the land deal, village authorities told the agency. Two officials have been removed from their posts.


Jaw-dropping crimes of the big banks

© William Banzai
Preface: Not all banks are criminal enterprises. The wrongdoing of a particular bank cannot be attributed to other banks without proof. But - as documented below - many of the biggest banks have engaged in unimaginably bad behavior.

You Won't Believe What They've Done ...

Here are just some of the improprieties by big banks:
  • Shaving money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide. Details here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Take 2

Iran to sue Hollywood over a series of films, including the Oscar-winning Argo

© Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who said: 'I’ll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country’s image, such as Argo.'
Tehran hires French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre to bring case over Hollywood 'distorting image' of Islamic republic

Iran has hired a controversial French lawyer to file a lawsuit against Hollywood over a series of films, including Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo, that have allegedly portrayed the Islamic republic in a distorted and unrealistic manner.

Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, described by the Iranian media as an "anti-Zionist" lawyer, has travelled to Tehran to meet the authorities in order to lodge a case in an international court against Hollywood directors and producers that officials say have promoted "Iranophobia".

Coutant-Peyre is the wife of the notorious Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, whom she is also representing. Ramírez, a self-styled international revolutionary, is serving a life sentence for the killings in 1975 of two French policemen and a suspected informant. Coutant-Peyre and Ramírez married in a ceremony held in jail in 2001 after she converted to Islam.

"I'll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country's image, such as Argo," she said, according to quotes carried by the semi-official Isna news agency