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Thu, 29 Jul 2021
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MIB

US gives fresh details of CIA agent who killed two men in Pakistan shootout

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© Reuters
Raymond Davis, held in Pakistan on double murder charges for a shooting in Lahore last month, is employed by the CIA as a contractor.
US reveals that CIA agent Raymond Davis worked for private security firm Xe, formerly known as Blackwater

US officials have provided fresh details about Raymond Davis, the CIA agent at the centre of a diplomatic stand-off in Pakistan, including confirmation that he had worked for the private security contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater. They also disclosed for the first time that he had been providing security for a CIA team tracking militants.

Davis was attached to the CIA's Global Response Staff, whose duties include protecting case officers when they meet with sources. He was familiarising himself with a sensitive area of Lahore on the day he shot dead two Pakistanis.

MIB

MI5 cropped 7/7 bomber out of picture shown to key informant

Unrecognisable version of photograph taken by agent a year before London attacks was sent to US supergrass.

MI5 photo of 7/7
© Press Association
The photo of Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammad Siddique Khan at a service station in 2004 and, right, the versions sent to a US informant.
Crucial surveillance photographs clearly identifying two of the 7 July bombers more than a year before the atrocity were cropped by intelligence officials in such a "speedy" manner as to render them unrecognisable to a key supergrass.

The inquests into the 52 victims of the attacks heard from a top MI5 officer that in April 2004 a photo that originally had Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer in it was shown to the informant Mohammed Junaid Babar, described as "one of the most significant sources the intelligence services had at that time". The pair were returning from meeting a known bomb plotter.

But instead of the original colour photograph, in which both men are clearly identifiable, an intelligence officer edited the photo to render Tanweer unrecognisable and crop out Khan altogether, and forwarded it to the US where Babar was in custody. The version was also converted to black and white. Babar had previously met Khan at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan but the photograph of Khan was not forwarded to the informant.

In uncharacteristically frank language, Hugo Keith, counsel to the inquests, told the MI5 officer: "I think one of my children could have done a better job of cropping out that photograph."

Comment: Smoke and Mirrors. When it comes to the London Bombings, the Facts Speak for Themselves


MIB

MI5 accused of trying to gag justice at 7/7 inquests

Lawyers for the families of those killed in the bombings argue coroner should be allowed to go into detail about murders.

July 07 bombing
© Martin Godwin for the Guardian
The families of those killed do not want 'a sterile, bare conclusion' to the inquests, their lawyers have said.
MI5 has been accused of attempting to gag justice by restricting the verdicts of the inquests into the victims of the 7 July attacks.

The families of those killed in the bombings do not want "a sterile, bare conclusion" to the inquests, their lawyers said, arguing instead that the coroner should be allowed to go into much greater detail about how the 52 victims were murdered.

MI5's legal team argued that by law only "brief, neutral and factual" verdicts can be recorded. But Patrick O'Connor QC, for the relatives, said that the bereaved families would be disappointed and the public "quite astonished if ... we were literally kept to the kind of one, one-and-a-half, two-sentence verdict in the inquisition that is suggested by some." He added: "The state of justice is very often depicted blindfolded, but never gagged."

The families are concerned that the coroner could deliver a brief verdict that their loved ones were unlawfully killed but fail to rule on whether the security agencies could have prevented the atrocities or whether the emergency services could have saved more lives.

Vader

Defiant Gaddafi vows to die as martyr, fight revolt

Tripoli - A defiant Muammar Gaddafi said on Tuesday he was ready to die "a martyr" in Libya, vowing to crush a growing revolt which has seen eastern regions break free of his 41-year rule and brought deadly unrest to the capital.

Swathed in brown robes, Gaddafi seethed with anger and banged the podium outside one of his residences that was damaged in a 1986 U.S. bombing raid that attempted to kill him. Next to him stood a monument of a fist crushing a U.S. fighter jet.

"I am not going to leave this land. I will die here as a martyr," Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protesters who braved a fierce crackdown to clamour in streets for him to go.

Bad Guys

Gaddafi's Next Move: Sabotage Oil and Sow Chaos?

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There's been virtually no reliable information coming out of Tripoli, but a source close to the Gaddafi regime I did manage to get hold of told me the already terrible situation in Libya will get much worse. Among other things, Gaddafi has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities. They will start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports. The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya's rebellious tribes: It's either me or chaos.

Two weeks ago this same man had told me the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt would never touch Libya. Gaddafi, he said, had a tight lock on all of the major tribes, the same ones that have kept him in power for the past 41 years. The man of course turned out to be wrong, and everything he now has to say about Gaddafi's intentions needs to be taken in that context.

The source went on and told me that Gaddafi's desperation has a lot to with the fact that he now can only count on the loyalty of his tribe, the Qadhadhfa. And as for the army, as of Monday he only has the loyalty of approximately 5,000 troops. They are his elite forces, the officers all handpicked. Among them is the unit commanded by his second youngest son Khamis, the 32nd Brigade. (The total strength of the regular Libyan army is 45,000.)

Cult

Supreme Court rejects vaccine lawsuit

supreme court
© Tim Sloan /AFP/Getty Images
The justices of the US Supreme Court sit for their official photograph on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today gave vaccine manufacturers greater protection from lawsuits by parents who say vaccinations harmed their children, ruling that Congress had blocked those types of claims against drug makers.

In a 6-2 decision, the justices said Congress had effectively shut the courthouse door to these lawsuits in 1986, when it created a special vaccine court designed to compensate victims of vaccine injuries.

The decision immediately was hailed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said it would safeguard the nation's vaccine supply by protecting vaccine makers from potentially crippling legal liability--which could have driven manufacturers out of the vaccine market.

Smoking

Honduras law lets police be called on home smokers

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Tegucigalpa, Honduras - The last refuge is vanishing for besieged smokers - at least in Honduras. A new law that took effect Monday says family members can call in the police on people who smoke at home.

The new measure bans smoking in most closed public or private spaces and orders smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers in any open space.

The law explicitly bans smoking in schools, gas stations, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, buses, taxis, stadiums and cultural centers but it doesn't clearly ban smoking at home.

Comment: Health Benefits of Smoking


Heart - Black

Outrageous! Petraeus Accuses Afghan Parents of Burning Kids to Make US Look Bad

Attempt to Downplay Kunar Massacre Sparks Outrage

One would think that the effort to downplay the killings of as many as 64 civilians, including a large number of children, would be enough to spark considerable anti-US outrage, but apparently saw an opportunity to make things even worse, and took it.

Gen. David Petraeus
© Unknown
Gen. David Petraeus
In a closed door meeting aimed at explaining why they had killed so many civilians, Gen. Petraeus actually accused parents in the region of burning their own children in an attempt to raise the death count and make the US look bad.

Of course if there is one thing the occupation forces don't need any help with, it's looking bad, and the shocking accusation sparked considerable anger amongst the Karzai government. It was quickly dismissed by provincial officials, of course, but did immeasurable damage to US credibility on the matter of the rising civilian toll.
The US has a long history of making up ridiculous hypotheticals that might explain away massive civilian death tolls, including the May 2009 Farah Province massacre, in which the US initially claimed the Taliban had "pre-killed" a large number of civilians and stored them in buildings before tricking the US into bombing them, scattering the bodies. They later admitted the claim was entirely made up.

The US has also regularly accused Afghan civilians of "making up" stories of dead relatives in an effort to claim the paltry reparations that the military offers for accidently killing a civilian. This appears, however, to be the first time they actually accused parents of killing their children just to make the US occupation look bad.

Heart - Black

Japan unearths site linked to human experiments

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© Itsuo Inouye/AP
Toyo Ishii, a former military nurse, broke her 60-year silence about Unit 731 in 2006 Toyo Ishii, a former military nurse, broke her 60-year silence about Unit 731 in 2006.
Former Tokyo medical school site is linked to Unit 731, branch of imperial army which used prisoners in germ warfare programme

Authorities in Japan have begun excavating the former site of a medical school that may contain the remains of victims of the country's wartime biological warfare programme.

The school has links to Unit 731, a branch of the imperial Japanese army that conducted lethal experiments on prisoners as part of efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The Japanese government has previously acknowledged the unit's existence but refused to discuss its activities, despite testimony from former members and growing documentary evidence. In 2002 a Japanese court said Tokyo was under no obligation to compensate victims.

The government agreed to launch a ¥100m (£741,000) investigation after Toyo Ishii, a former nurse, said she had helped bury body parts on the site as the US occupation forces moved into Tokyo at the end of the second world war. Officials said so far there was no evidence the site had been used for experiments.

Chess

Why Monsanto Always Wins

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© Unknown
The recent approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa is one of most divisive controversies in American agriculture, but in 2003, it was simply the topic at hand in a string of emails between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Monsanto. In the emails, federal regulators and Monsanto officials shared edits to a list of the USDA's questions about Monsanto's original petition to fully legalize the alfalfa. Later emails show a USDA regulator accepted Monsanto's help with drafting the initial environmental assessment (EA) of the alfalfa and planned to "cut and paste" parts of Monsanto's revised petition right into the government's assessment.

 It's unclear if such internal cooperation continues under the current administration, but regulators still openly rely on data and research provided by the biotech industry when approving GE technology.

A federal judge temporarily banned the alfalfa in 2007 as a result of the CFS lawsuit, but last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the USDA could reconsider deregulating the GE alfalfa after completing an environmental impact statement (EIS). The USDA fully deregulated the alfalfa on January 27, 2011.