Puppet MastersS

Airplane Paper

Mini drones: Army deploys tiny helicopters

A tiny 4ins remote-control helicopter is being used for surveillance on the front line to detect enemy threats to British troops.
The mini drones can see over walls and around corners
British troops are using a nano drone just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams on the front line in Afghanistan to provide vital information on the ground.

They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full motion video and still images back to the devices' handlers in the battlefield.

The Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle is the size of a child's toy, measuring just 10cm (4 ins) by 2.5cm (1 inch), and is equipped with a tiny camera.

Red Flag

Mass shootings kill far more than Muslim terrorism in U.S.

© Reuters / Andrew Burton
Mass shooting fatalities by far exceed the number of those killed in Muslim-related terrorism in the US, new research says. The number of terrorist incidents involving Muslim Americans has shown a dramatic drop since 2009.

Fourteen Muslim-Americans committed or were charged with terrorist crimes in 2012, down from 21 in 2011, 26 in 2010 and 49 in 2009, according to the fourth annual report by North Carolina's Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Of the 14 offenders in 2012, only one was accused of executing a violent attack (the bombing of a Social Security office in Casa Grande, Ariz.). The other perpetrators were arrested at an early stage of their terrorist plots.

The author of the research, sociology professor Charles Kurzman, who has been studying the issue for the past three years, concluded that "the number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism - financing, false statements, and other connections with terrorist plots and organizations, aside from violent plots - fell from 27 individuals in 2010 to 8 in 2011, bringing the total to 462 since 9/11."

© Image from tcths.sanford.duke.edu

Bizarro Earth

Why police lie under oath

© Wesley Allsbrook
Thousands of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury's believing their word over a police officer's are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they're telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, "Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying."

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn't be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: "Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America."

Comment: It would seem that one way to reduce this rather commonplace activity is to actually punish the officer who gets caught lying on the stand. The average person gets charged with perjury. Why is it that when a case is dismissed because evidence proves the policeman's testimony to be not just wrong, but completely made up, that person is not charged with perjury? If there is no deterrent to lying on the stand, then police will continue to do so. Instead of promoting them, they should be charged and fired. That may help stop this epidemic of lying and destroying the lives of people who had the misfortune to cross the path of an officer needing to fill a quota.

Eye 2

Los Angeles archbishop describes city's clergy sex abuse files as 'sad and evil'

© Photograph: Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesEsther Millar, 54, joins a demonstration urgingvictims of alleged clergy sex abuse to come forward on Friday.
Church leaders read letter at masses across the city after Jose Gomez strips predecessor of his administrative duties

Roman Catholic parishioners in Los Angeles were read a letter from Archbishop Jose Gomez on Sunday in which he described newly released files on clergy sex abuse as "terribly sad and evil."

The archbishop's words were read by church leaders at masses across the city, the Los Angeles Times reported. The letter was made public late last week.
Gomez said the church needs to acknowledge the "terrible failure" of its handling of abuse cases.

At St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, parishioner Eric Nielsen praised Gomez for addressing the issue.

"I take my hat off to the archbishop," said Nielsen, 52. "He got on the ball and did what needed to be done."


French forces in Mali launch air strikes on Islamist camps

© Photograph: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty ImagesFrench troops patrol the streets of Gao, eastern Mali.
Planes have bombarded extremist camps and arms and fuel depots, French military says, as first aid convoy arrives

French aircraft struck Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali's far north, defence officials said on Sunday, as the first convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country.

The strikes also hit arms and fuel depots from Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday, according to army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard. "It was an important aerial operation to the north of the town Kidal and in the Tessalit region where we targeted logistical depots and Islamist training camps ... some 20 sites," said Burkhard. He said 30 planes were used in the operation , including Mirage and Rafale jets.

Although troops have succeeded in ousting the rebels from the three main northern cities they occupied, the aerial operation highlights the fact that the French still see militants in the northern area near the border with Algeria as a threat. "Here, there are still various Islamist groups like the MUJAO [Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa] and Ansar Dine," he said.


Paraguayan presidential candidate killed in helicopter crash

© Photograph: ReutersLino Oviedo pictured at a campaign rally before his fatal accident.
Lino Oviedo, 69, famed for his role in the overthrow of dictator Alfredo Stroessner, found dead in wreckage

Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Oviedo, one of the leaders of the 1989 coup that overthrew dictator Alfredo Stroessner, died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. A retired general known as a dynamic public speaker, the 69-year-old Oviedo was planning to stand in the presidential election scheduled for April.

Police rescuers found his body on Sunday in the wreckage of the crash in northern Paraguay where he was travelling for a campaign event. The day marked exactly 24 years since the coup that ended Stroessner's 35-year dictatorship.

War Whore

Middle East on the brink of multiple conflicts

The Mideast is stumbling into one of its most dangerous crisis in decades. I'm just back from the region - and as an old Mideast hand, I am very worried.

This region is always tense, but right now a series of separate conflicts are rapidly beginning to intersect. We see the Mideast, North Africa and the Sahara buffeted by revolutions and counter-revolutions. Old colonial powers France and Britain, and the US, are trying to reassert their domination in the region. The jihadist are back.

In a brazen act of war, Israel launched airstrikes on Syria last Wednesday in a clear attempt to worsen the crisis in that war-torn nation and challenge Syria's ally, Iran. Israel's forces are on high alert and may invade Syria, whose strategic Golan Heights were seized and annexed by Israel. Will more Syrian land follow?

Goaded by Israel, Iran thundered "any attack on Syria is an attack on Iran." An Iranian general warned Tel Aviv might come under attack. Hot air, as they say in Farsi. Separated from ally Syria by Iraq, Iran's not very mobile ground forces would be unable to intervene in Syria in any substantial way. Israel's air force would devastate any Iranian columns advancing in open terrain.


The media Is lying to you about unemployment in America

Did you know that the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed has continually been falling since 2006 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics? Did you know that the increase in the number of Americans "not in the labor force" during Barack Obama's first four years in the White House was more than three times greater than the increase in the number of Americans "not in the labor force" during the entire decade of the 1980s? The mainstream media would have us believe that 157,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January. Based on that news, the Dow broke the 14,000 barrier for the first time since October 2007.

But if you actually look at the "non-seasonally adjusted" numbers, the number of Americans with a job actually decreased by 1,446,000 between December and January. But nowhere in the mainstream media did you hear that the U.S. economy lost more than 1.4 million jobs between December and January. It is amazing the things that you can find out when you actually take the time to look at the hard numbers instead of just listening to the media spin. Back in 2007, more than 146 million Americans were employed. Today, only 141.6 million Americans are employed even though our population has grown steadily since then.

When the government and the media tell you that we are in a "recovery" and that unemployment is lower than it was a couple of years ago, I encourage you to dig deeper. The truth is that even the government's own numbers tell us that the percentage of the U.S. labor force that is employed continues to fall and that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession. The Obama administration and the media have been lying to you about unemployment and about the true condition of our economy. After you see the numbers that I have compiled in this article, I think that you will agree with me.

Star of David

Academic freedom increasingly threatened over Israel event

© Photograph: AP/Sergei ChuzakovHarvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is leading the campaign against an event featuring Israel critics, sponsored by the Political Science department of Brooklyn College
New York politicians join the Alan Dershowitz-led campaign to dictate to colleges what academic events they can hold

On Tuesday, I wrote about a brewing controversy that was threatening the academic freedom of Brooklyn College (see Item 7). The controversy was triggered by the sponsorship of the school's Political Science department of an event, scheduled for 7 February, featuring two advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) aimed at stopping Israeli oppression of the Palestinians [one speaker is a Palestinian (Omar Barghouti) and the other a Jewish American (philosopher Judith Butler)]. The event is being co-sponsored by numerous student and community groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine, the college's LGBT group, pro-Palestinian Jewish organizations, and an Occupy Wall Street group.

When I wrote about this earlier in the week, opposition to the event was confined to the usual suspects devoted to so-called "pro-Israel" advocacy, including many with a long history of trying to destroy anyone critical of the Israeli government. The controversy was largely fueled by BC alumnus Alan Dershowitz, who denounced the event in a New York Daily News Op-Ed as a "hate orgy". Dershowitz - with whom I had a lengthy and contentious email exchange yesterday on this and other topics (see below) - previously led the successful campaign to pressure DePaul University into denying tenure to long-time Israel critic Norman Finkelstein (after his tenure had been approved by an academic committee), all but destroying Finkelstein's career as an academic.

Dershowitz has been joined in his current crusade by a cast of crazed and fanatical Israel-centric characters such as Brooklyn State Assembly member Dov Hikind. Ignoring the BDS movement's explicit non-violence stance, Hikind publicly (and falsely) claimed that the event speakers (to whom he referred as "Barghouti and...the lady") "think Hamas and Hezbollah are nice organizations, and they probably feel the same way about Al Qaeda".

Star of David

Best of the Web: "The Hagel circus": It's all about Israel

© ABC NEWSChuck Hagel faces senators in a confirmation hearing, Jan. 31, 2013, in Washington.
If former Defence Secretary-designate Sen. Chuck Hagel's lacklustre performance at his confirmation hearing Thursday heartened neo-conservatives and other hawks opposed to his nomination, those who argued that the Israel lobby has been exerting too great an influence on U.S. foreign policy were ecstatic.

Indeed, Stephen Walt, the Harvard international relations professor who co-authored the "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", issued a special thanks to the Senate Armed Services Committee that held the hearing on his foreignpolicy.com blog Friday, suggesting that controversial 2007 book should sell like hotcakes after what he called "the Hagel circus".

"I want to thank the Emergency Committee for Israel, Sheldon Adelson, and the Senate Armed Services Committee for providing such a compelling vindication of our views," wrote Walt, who, among other things, has been accused of anti-Semitism for writing a book that criticised the allegedly excessive influence the Israel lobby wields over U.S. foreign policy and the public debate that surrounds it.

As evidence, Walt cited the number of mentions of Israel and its most powerful regional foe, Iran, received in the course of Hagel's eight-hour ordeal - 166 and 144, respectively, according to a compilation by the Internet publication, Buzzfeed.

By comparison, he noted, the epidemic of suicides among U.S. troops - a necessary concern for any incoming Pentagon chief - was addressed only twice.