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Iraq: Death toll reaches 57 in strike against Iraq officials that US Embassy calls 'horrific'

© The Associated Press / Karim Kadim
An Iraqi soldier inspects the scene of a rocket attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March, 29, 2011. The rocket landed near a small hotel across the Tigris River from the heavily fortified area that houses government offices and foreign embassies.
The death toll for a grisly hostage situation at a government building in northern Iraq continued to rise Wednesday as grieving families buried the victims and Iraqi officials questioned how it could have happened.

Gunmen wearing explosives belts under military uniforms charged into the provincial council building in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, Tuesday afternoon, shooting hostages execution-style, and spraying bullets and grenades throughout the building during the five-hour standoff.

Dr. Raied Ibrahim, the health director for Salahuddin province where the attack took place, said 57 people have so far been counted dead and 98 wounded.

Funeral processions on Wednesday crisscrossed the nearby city of Samarra, where officials said many of the victims lived, while those from Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometres) north of Baghdad, had mostly already been buried.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he would launch an investigation into how the government compound could so easily be overrun by insurgents.

"Such crimes will not deter our people and security forces from chasing and eliminating them," al-Maliki said. "The criminals who planned and carried out this crime will not escape punishment."


Propaganda! Threats Claim Nuclear Bombs Hidden All Over U.S.

© unknown
The threats came in the mail and to date, there have been 25 letters that warn of nuclear bombs destroying America.

People who got them called the FBI and CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman learned, the Bureau's Chicago office is leading the investigation.

FBI Special Agent Andre Zavala said, "Yes, they alarmed a lot of people."

Attorney Tracy Rizzo was alarmed. A number of days ago, an envelope, with a Chicago postmark and a hand-written address to her private investigations firm, came in the mail.

Comment: A great number of comments on this article showing a healthy number of American's see this propaganda stunt for what it is:
I got one! And I'm also waiting for that Nigerian to transfer that darn $100 million to my bank account. And my inheritance from that poor old fella in Wazirastan. And oh, yeah, that balanced budget... - Pat
Well I guess we're supposed to be shaking in our boots and begging the government to protect us from the bogeymen. (Never let a crisis - real, faked or imagined - go to waste.) - Bob W
Is this Onion News? - PaulG


Nightly News stays mum on GE's $0 tax bill

© Matt Sayles/AP
As the New Yorker's former press critic, A.J. Liebling, famously said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." Perhaps that quotation is framed somewhere in a boardroom at the General Electric Corp., which owns NBC News.

In spite of robust profits of $14.2 billion worldwide, GE has calculated a corporate tax bill for 2010 that adds up to zero, via a creative series of tax referrals and revenue shifts. (This was, indeed, the second year running that the company - which has an enormous, and famously nimble, 975-employee tax division, led by former Treasury official John Samuels - paid nothing in U.S. taxes; indeed by claiming a series of losses and deductions, GE came up with a negative tax of 10.5 percent in the admittedly dismal business year of 2009, and realized a $1.5 billion "tax benefit.")

The curious thing about this year's tax story is that it turned up in many major news outlets, with one key exception: NBC News. As the Washington Post's Paul Farhi notes, the network's Nightly News broadcast, hosted by Brian Williams, has not mentioned anything about its corporate parent's resourceful accounting, even though the story has been in wide circulation in the business and general-interest press for nearly a week. "This was a straightforward news decision, the kind we make daily around here" network spokeswoman Lauren Kapp told the Post.

One press critic who begs to differ: Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who noted that the Nightly News found the time for a dispatch on the inclusion of slang expressions in the Oxford English Dictionary, such as "LOL" and "OMG." Of course, Comedy Central's corporate parent, Viacom, is also no slouch when it comes to tax strategy: Earlier this year it sold its struggling videogame unit Harmonix for $50 - so that it could claim a tax credit of $50 million.


Syria: Assad Sees Unrest "Plot," Unyielding on Emergency Law

President Bashar al-Assad defied calls on Wednesday to lift a decades-old emergency law and said Syria was the target of a foreign conspiracy to stir up protests in which more than 60 people have been killed.

Syrian president
© Reuters/Syrian State TV via Reuters TV
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad addresses the parliament in Damascus
Speaking in public for the first time since the start of the unprecedented demonstrations, inspired by uprisings across the Arab world, Assad said he supported reform but offered no new commitment to change Syria's rigid, one-party political system.

"Implementing reforms is not a fad. When it just a reflection of a wave that the region is living, it is destructive," Assad, making clear he would not concede to pressure from mass protests which toppled other Arab leaders.

Ending emergency law, the main tool for suppressing dissent since it was imposed after the 1963 coup that elevated Assad's Baath Party to power, has been a central demand of protesters.

They also want political prisoners freed, and to know the fate of tens of thousands who disappeared in the 1980s.


CIA Psychologist's Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush's Torture Program

Dr. Bruce Jessen's handwritten notes describe some of the torture techniques that were used to "exploit" "war on terror" detainees in custody of the CIA and Department of Defense.

Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on "war on terror" detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

War Whore

"Operation Odyssey Dawn" breaking for Washington

© Unknown
Axis of Evil: At the London summit of 2 November 2010, France decided to pool defense assets with the British, who depend on the United States.
The French strikes against Libya are not a French operation, but a subcontracting component of Odyssey Dawn Operation under the authority of U.S. AfriCom. Their objective is not to rescue Libyan civilians, but to serve as a pretext to pave the way for the landing of U.S. forces on the Black continent, notes Thierry Meyssan.

It was France, the United Kingdom and the United States who submitted to the UN Security Council the text which was adopted as resolution 1973, establishing a no-fly zone over Libya.

This initiative must be understood in two ways:

First, vis-à-vis public opinion at home Barack Obama could not afford to take on a third war in the Muslim world after those in Afghanistan and Iraq, where his country is still mired. Washington thus preferred to delegate this operation to its allies.

Secondly, acting on behalf of U.S. interests favourable to the "special relationship" between London and Washington, Nicolas Sarkozy's priority since the beginning of his mandate has been to bring French and British defenses closer together. He achieved this through the defense agreements of 2 November 2010 and found in the Libyan crisis an opportunity for joint action.


UK: Why did police charge only 11 rioters over the anti-cuts protests?

UK protester
A protester smashes a window of The Ritz in Piccadilly last Saturday

MPs are demanding to know why the police arrested and charged so many peaceful protesters at Saturday's anti-cuts demonstration, while letting off those who attacked shops and banks and damaged monuments.

Demonstrators who took part in the sit-in at luxury grocer Fortnum & Mason, organised by campaign group UK Uncut, are bearing the brunt of police and prosecutors' attentions.

The Metropolitan Police detained 201 people on Saturday, as they battled break-away factions of activists targeting shops in London's West End. A total of 149 have been charged in connection with the protests - 138 of them (94 per cent) face criminal charges of aggravated trespass at the high-end store, with only 11 charged for the more violent protests elsewhere in the capital, including serious disturbances in the West End during which police were pelted with ammonia-filled lightbulbs.

Campaigners insist no major criminal damage was committed inside the store, whose management said the only physical losses from the protest consisted of the theft of an unspecified number of bottles of wine and champagne. The company said the closure of its business on Saturday afternoon had cost it £80,000 in lost trade.


Saudi Arabia Prints 1.5m Copies of Religious Edict Banning Protests

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh
© AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Arabia's grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh.
Fatwa calls for united front under leadership following aborted attempt to stage mass demonstration earlier this month

Saudi Arabia is printing 1.5m copies of an edict by religious scholars outlawing protests in the conservative kingdom as un-Islamic, the state news agency said.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and a major US ally, is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any form of public dissent.

It managed to stifle an attempt to stage a mass protest on 11 March with a large security presence on the streets.

Religious scholars issued their fatwa, or religious edict, and senior princes issued warnings in advance.


US and Britain may arm Libya rebels if Gaddafi clings to power

Clinton Hague
© The Guardian
Hillary Clinton and William Hague claim arming rebel groups may be legal under the recent UN resolution

The US and Britain have raised the prospect of arming Libya's rebels if air strikes fail to force Muammar Gaddafi from power.

At the end of a conference on Libya in London, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said for the first time that she believed arming rebel groups was legal under UN security council resolution 1973, passed two weeks ago, which also provided the legal justification for air strikes.

America's envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, said earlier the US had "not ruled out" channelling arms to the rebels.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, agreed that the resolution made it legal "to give people aid in order to defend themselves in particular circumstances".

Comment: The truth translation of the headline should read: "US and Britain will continue to arm Libya rebels if Gaddafi doesn't fully submit."


Canada: Koch Industries registers to lobby Alberta government for access to crude oil reserves

Koch Industries, a powerful American energy conglomerate which helped found the Tea Party movement, has now registered to lobby the Alberta government.

Records show the company hired Global Public Affairs, one of the most influential lobby firms in Canada, to represent its interests.

The registration was made on March 15, making Koch Industries legally able to lobby provincial policymakers on the issues of "energy and resource development", "economic development" and "taxation policy."

The privately-owned company, run by Charles and David Koch, is the second largest in the United States. In addition to manufacturing household products like Brawny paper towels, it also refines an estimated 25 percent of all oil sands crude entering America.

The company also owns a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, and operates a subsidiary called Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, which it claims to be "among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters."