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US: Bill Would Give DHS Broader Control of Cybersecurity, Follows Corporate-Sponsored MIT Study Recommendations

computer graphic
© n/a
In December of last year I covered a study conducted by MIT with the help of "advisers" from the exact corporations which would benefit from the implementation of the recommendations of the report, and now it appears that these ideas have made their way all the way to Capitol Hill.

This bill, which is reportedly currently before Congress, would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) significantly more monitoring power of the cybersecurity practices of private industries and services which are supposedly part of the United States' critical infrastructure.

The details of the bill have yet to be released, and I have not even been able to track down a number for the legislation yet so I can actually read it (if anyone can help me out with this I would be quite grateful).

The small portions of the bill which have been made public attempt to define which companies are covered by the bill, although it is hardly as precise as one might like.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Propaganda! US: FBI Warns of Threat from Anti-Government Extremists

FBI
© Somodevilla/Getty Images
Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

These extremists, sometimes known as "sovereign citizens," believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.

Routine encounters with police can turn violent "at the drop of a hat," said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI's counterterrorism division.

"We thought it was important to increase the visibility of the threat with state and local law enforcement," he said.

Chess

US: Obama Says Risky to Attack Iran, Wants Diplomatic Fix

Obama
© Reuters/Larry Downing
President Barack Obama said on Sunday there were important risks to consider before any military strike against Iran and made clear he does not want to see more conflict in the oil-producing Gulf region.

In a television interview, Obama also said he did not believe Tehran had the "intentions or capabilities" to attack the United States, playing down the threats from Tehran and saying he wanted a diplomatic end to the nuclear standoff.

"Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices. We've still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. And so our preferred solution here is diplomatic," Obama said.

His comments echoed concerns expressed by earlier by Iran's neighbor Turkey that an attack on Iran would be disastrous.

Obama, who is up for re-election in November, has ended the U.S. war in Iraq and is winding down combat in Afghanistan amid growing public discontent about American war spending at a time when the economy remains shaky.

He said Israel had not yet decided what to do in response to the escalating tension but was "rightly" concerned about Tehran's plans.

Attention

Romania's Government Collapses After Protests

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© The Associated Press/Vadim Ghirda Romanian Premier Emil Boc, front centre, leaves the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Liberal party in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, after announcing his immediate resignation with his government on Monday, saying he wanted to protect the stability of the country.
Romania's government has collapsed following weeks of protests against austerity measures, the latest debt-stricken government in Europe to fall in the face of raising public anger over biting cuts.

Emil Boc, who had been prime minister since 2008, said Monday he was resigning "to defuse political and social tension" and to make way for a new government. Thousands of Romanians took to the streets in January to protest salary cuts, higher taxes and the widespread perception that the government was not interested in the public's hardships in this nation of 22 million.

President Traian Basescu quickly appointed Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu, the only Cabinet member unaffiliated with a political party, as interim prime minister to serve until a new government is approved.

Basescu also nominated Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, the head of Romania's foreign intelligence service, as the country's new prime minister and asked him to form a Cabinet. Parliament must approve Ungureanu and his ministers in 60 days, or the legislature will be dissolved and new elections held.

Boc's party and his allies still have a majority in Parliament, but opposition parties late Monday called for Basescu to resign and for early parliamentary elections to be scheduled now.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: US: Sanctions in Gallop 9/11 Lawsuit Send a Message: Seek Justice at Your Own Risk

Pentagon cleanup
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The message is loud and clear. Go after justice for 9/11 in the courts, and not only will you lose, you'll be punished.

That's what April Gallop and her lawyer, William Veale, found out as their lawsuit against former vice-president Dick Cheney, former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard Myers concluded with a final slap in the face. This came in the form of a $15,000 fine levied against Veale for filing a "frivolous" appeal (the appeal had already been turned down in April of last year).

The decision was handed down by a three-judge panel headed by Justice John M. Walker, who just happens to be George W. Bush's cousin - proving that the American justice system has a twisted sense of humour at times.

In March 2010, a lower court threw the original case out, stating that it was based on "cynical delusion and fantasy."

Gallop, a former U.S. Army executive administrative assistant and her then two-month-old son were injured in the Pentagon event on 9/11 when an explosion in her office brought the ceiling down on them. Gallop's desk was in the Pentagon's E Ring, the outermost of the building's five rings. Her desk was reported to be just 40 feet from where Flight 77 is supposed to have hit the building shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Bad Guys

Koch Brothers Convene Super-Secret Billionaires' Meeting for 2012 US Elections

Koch plane
© AlterNet
Some of America's wealthiest Republicans flew into Palm Springs last weekend to update their stealthy political strategy for 2012.

At a retreat last weekend, dozens of wealthy donors convened in a large golf resort in Indian Wells, Calif. for a four day conference to raise money and plot out election year strategy, the Republic Report has confirmed. We traveled to the conference, and spoke to a few of the attendees.

The summit, organized by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, was cloaked in secrecy. Helicopters, private security and police officers from neighboring cities patrolled the area constantly. In previous years, Supreme Court justices, some of the wealthiest businessmen in the country and Republican politicians like Congressman Paul Ryan have all gathered at these twice-annual events. The Esmerelda Renaissance, the conference venue this year, was guarded carefully with every entrance blocked and the entire 560-room resort rented out. I arrived at the hotel the night before the event, but was followed closely by security and asked to leave the next morning before the Koch meeting guests arrived.

Though the donors will funnel tens of millions of dollars into the election this year, they will not have to disclose a single cent. Using an elaborate array of foundations, nonprofits and other legal entities, the Koch network sponsored bus tours, attack ads, think tanks, and hired Tea Party organizers to shape the midterm elections two years ago. Now, they appear to be expanding their effort.

Propaganda

BBC censors words "Free Palestine"‎ from rap video

What rapper MC Righteous was actually trying to say was 'Free Palestine'. But Palestine, it seems, is now a dirty word on the BBC.


Press TV's Hassan Ghani reports from London.

Comment: According to international law Palestine is under illegal occupation. Palestinians are subject to a Zionist system of apartheid, men women and children are killed and injured with impunity, lands and livelihoods are stolen, property destroyed. The BBC, under the influence of Zionism, would rather you didn't hear about any of that though. Truth is 'contentious' after all.


Blackbox

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: British ambassador to Syria Recalled for 'Consultations'

Foreign Secretary William Hague says the U.K. has recalled its ambassador from Syria for consultations on the escalating violence in the country.

Hague told lawmakers Monday that Britain is using multiple channels to express its "abhorrence" at the violent crackdown on dissent by President Bashar Assad's regime, and has summoned Syria's ambassador to the Foreign Office to convey that message.

His remarks came after the U.S. said it has closed its embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria.

The Assad regime's crackdown on anti-government protesters has left thousands dead over the past year.

Source: The Associated Press

Blackbox

U.S. closes embassy in Damascus due to Syria violence

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© Reuters
The United States announced on Monday it was closing its embassy in Syria due to the worsening security situation, further isolating Damascus over its bloody crackdown on anti-government protests.

The State Department, which warned late last month that it would close the embassy unless security concerns were addressed, said it had suspended embassy operations and withdrawn all embassy personnel including Ambassador Robert Ford.

"We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian government but the regime failed to respond adequately," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

Nuland said that Ford would retain his position as the U.S. ambassador to Syria and would work together with his team from Washington.

"Together with other senior U.S. officials, Ambassador Ford will maintain contacts with the Syrian opposition and continue our efforts to support the peaceful political transition which the Syrian people have so bravely sought," Nuland said.

Comment: Given that US embassies abroad are often just CIA station offices, the Syrian ambassador here is being rather laconic on the reasons why the security situation has deteriorated so much in Syria. Of course, there isn't much chance of him mentioning the fact that the armed 'revolutionaries' in Syria are all bought and paid for US mercenaries posing as 'Arab revolutionaries'.


Gear

Best of the Web: Bizarre, Unexplained Marine Colonel 'Suicides': What the Hell's Going on?

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© MCAS El ToroCol James Sabow USMC
A highly decorated Vietnam War pilot and one of the highest ranking officers to be killed in the Iraq War...

What explains the tendency of 'full-birds' in the Marine Corps- men who attained the rank of colonel, to commit suicide when they are at the pinnacle of a spotless career?

It is a haunting question that should be studied and the results published. There aren't very many Marine colonels in the first place. One source I checked (ask.metafilter) states that the Marine Corps is authorized to maintain 35 brigadier generals, the rank of colonel is the next one down, you get the idea.

Also demanding research, are the amazing macabre things that these Marine colonels manage to do when they commit 'suicide'. The stories conjure up visions that Hollywood could scarcely replicate; even if the official government stories seem like they evolved from rejected 'b' movie scripts.

Col James Sabow

The government says Colonel James Sabow committed 'suicide' in 1991 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. This would have had to have been an extremely technical 'suicide'; one that would have taken great, painstaking planning. According to the official reports, this man who flew 220+ missions in Vietnam and was a proud father, husband and third Marine in charge of his base, shot himself in his own backyard when he was actually either dead, or near death.

A unique story indeed. Exactly how Mr. Sabow managed to do this is something the government could never explain, however they did accept the matter as a 'suicide' without any argument.