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Health

Paraguayan presidential candidate killed in helicopter crash

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© 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

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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.

Attention

The media Is lying to you about unemployment in America

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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

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© 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

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© 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.

Sherlock

Flashback Matt Simmons has died - heart attack or murder?

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Matt Simmons
Its starting to look as if Simmons gave up his position at Simmons & Co. to expose the situation in the Gulf and paid for it with his life. We are checking into this and we will keep you posted with the latest updates as the situation unfolds. Most news stations are reporting that he died of a heart attack, but at least two are reporting that he drowned. This does not look good. I am predicting that after today no one will ever talk about the reports that he drowned. Why would different news stations be reporting a different cause of death?

Here at the Intel Hub we have been somewhat critical of a few of Simmons theories, but recently his two well theory was proven to be accurate. Simmons has been very vocal in declaring the Gulf a dead zone.

Magnify

Huge new slick at site of BP's 2010 gulf oil spill

Wings of Care provided new photos of an oil slick in the area of the Gulf oil spill, noting:
Here is the large surface slick that has been sitting over the Macondo area since last autumn, with as yet no explanation from BP or the US Coast Guard as to its origin. Its persistence, even after the weeks of rough weather we have had in recent weeks and months, suggests that its flow is substantial. Scientists who have sampled it have found evidence of manmade products such as drilling mud.

Bizarro Earth

Gay asylum seekers feeling increased pressure to prove sexuality, say experts

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© Photograph: Chris Radburn/PAImmigration experts say gay asylum seekers being assessed by the UK Border Agency are resorting to desperate measures to prove their sexuality
Assessment changes by UK Border Agency has led immigrants fleeing persecution to even show film of themselves having sex

Gay asylum seekers are increasingly going to extreme lengths to meet immigration officials' demands that they prove their sexual identity or else be returned to countries where they face persecution.

Changes introduced by the UK Border Agency following a landmark supreme court judgment in 2010 have shifted the emphasis of official assessments to establishing whether or not claimants are genuinely lesbian or gay, according to immigration experts.

In a lecture to be delivered this week at the Law Society, S Chelvan, a barrister who specialises in asylum cases and works with the UKBA, will detail the extraordinary methods to which individuals are resorting - including filming themselves having sex - to justify requests for refuge.

The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, which supports up to 1,000 applications a year, says altered official guidelines are a significant improvement but that they result in an excessive focus on the sexuality of individual claimants.

Telephone

Nebraska Lt. Gov. Sheehy quits after revelation of 2,000 improper late-night calls

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© Flickr CC
Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy (R) resigned on Saturday morning after a newspaper investigation revealed that he had made thousands of late-night phone calls to women who were not his wife over a four-year period.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that Sheehy made around 2,000 such calls on his state-issued cellular phone over the past four years to four women.

Gov. Dave Heineman (R) announced Sheehy's resignation Saturday morning but did not elaborate on the details, instead saying that it involved "personal decisions" made by Sheehy. Heineman said the two men met on Friday to discuss the issue before Sheehy handed in a terse resignation letter a day later.

Health

Dozens killed as suicide bomber, gunmen attack police HQ in northern Iraq

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© AFP Photo / Marwan IbrahimIraqi rescuers and firefighters work at the scene after a car bombing followed by an assault by grenade-throwing gunmen on a police headquarters in a disputed northern city of Kirkuk, on February 3, 2013, killing some 30 people
A suicide bomber and a group of gunmen have besieged a police station in northern Iraq, killing at least 33 people. The ensuing gun battle between militants and officers wounded a further 70 people.

The suicide attacker detonated a car bomb, and a group of gunmen then stormed a police headquarters in the city of Kirkuk. The assailants were reportedly disguised as police officers.

Brigadier General Natah Mohammed Sabr told AFP the militants had been unsuccessful in their attempt to seize control of the compound.

"A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives hit the entrance of the headquarters and after the blast gunmen in explosive vests attacked with AK47s and grenades, but the guards killed them," a police official said.