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Sat, 08 May 2021
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Security Forces Kill Dozens in Uprisings Around Syria

© Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A picture taken by a mobile phone shows anti-government protesters in Banias in northeastern Syria on Friday.
Security forces in Syria met thousands of demonstrators with fusillades of live ammunition after noon prayers on Friday, killing at least 73 people in the bloodiest day of the five-week-old Syrian uprising, according to protesters, witnesses and accounts on social networking sites.

From the Mediterranean coast and Kurdish east to the steppe of the Houran in southern Syria, protesters gathered in at least 20 towns and cities, including the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

The breadth of the protests - and people's willingness to defy security forces who deployed en masse - painted a tableau of turmoil in one of the Arab world's most repressive countries. In scenes unprecedented only weeks ago, protesters tore down pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and toppled statues of his father, Hafez, in two towns on the capital's outskirts, according to witnesses and video footage.

But despite the bloodshed, which promised to unleash another day of unrest as the dead are buried on Saturday, the momentum of the protests seemed to fall short of the popular upheaval that revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia represented. Organizers said the movement was yet in its infancy, and the government, building on 40 years of institutional inertia, still commanded the loyalty of the military, the economic elite and sizable minorities of Christian and heterodox Muslim sects who fear the state's collapse.


Is Japan's Elite Hiding a Weapons Program Inside Nuclear Plants?

© Unknown
Confused and often conflicting reports out of Fukushima 1 nuclear plant cannot be solely the result of tsunami-caused breakdowns, bungling or miscommunication. Inexplicable delays and half-baked explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) seem to be driven by some unspoken factor.

The smoke and mirrors at Fukushima 1 seem to obscure a steady purpose, an iron will and a grim task unknown to outsiders. The most logical explanation: The nuclear industry and government agencies are scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan's civilian nuclear power plants.

A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events.

Alarm Clock

Libya: Media Propaganda and "Humanitarian Imperialism"

Since the beginning of the crisis in Libya, the media has taken sides in favor of the rebels. The media relies almost solely on the rebellion's claims, while totally dismissing information emanating from the Gaddafi government.

Ascertaining the truth of statements is not to be condemned; quite the contrary, this verification should be systematic, and applied to the claims of Western governments and rebels of all sorts. Yet, the Western media shows virtually no scepticism with regard to the Libyan rebels' assertions and those of the "benevolent" governments who come to their rescue.

The Rixos Hotel Scene

The most striking example of this bias is the Hotel Rixos scene in Tripoli. On March 26, an unknown woman named Eman al-Obeidy went to this hotel, to bring to the attention of foreign journalists that soldiers of the Libyan regime were involved in acts of rape and torture.

Comment: So, Gaddafi was right. The "rebels" ARE actually being led by Al Qaeda (the CIA).


Goldstone breathes new life into Gaza report

goldstone gaza destruction
© Europäische Presse Agentur
Critics say the Goldstone Report's emphasis on Hamas violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza unfairly compares war crimes by Palestinians to those of Israel
The Goldstone Report fails to justly present the facts about Israel's war crimes in Gaza.

Ever since it first struck the raw nerve of Israeli political consciousness, I thought it misleading to associate the Goldstone Report so exclusively with its chair, Judge Richard Goldstone. After all, despite his deserved prominence as an international jurist, he was the least substantively qualified of the four members of the mission.

Part of the intensely hostile Israeli reaction undoubtedly had to do with the sense that Goldstone - a devoted Zionist - had been guilty of betrayal. Perhaps even the betrayal of 'a blood libel,' because he seemed to be elevating his fidelity to the 'law' above tribal loyalties; he should never have been mixed up with such a suspect entity as the UN Human Rights Council in the first place.

What should be observed - and what stands out over time - is the degree of importance that even the extremist Israeli leadership attaches to avoiding stains on its reputation as a law-abiding political actor. This seems true even when the assessing organisation is the UN Human Rights Council, which Israel, as well as the US government, never misses a chance to denounce and defame.

Implicit in their fury is a silent acknowledgement that the UN is a major site of struggle in the ongoing war of legitimacy being fought against Palestinian claims of self-determination.

Cloud Lightning

USA: Texas governor calls for prayers for rain amid fires

© Reuters
Texas Governor Rick Perry called on Texans to pray for rain as cooler temperatures on Thursday helped firefighters contain wildfires that have charred more than 1.5 million acres across the state.

Perry, a Republican, sought increased federal help in combating the blazes last weekend and urged Texans to ask the same from a higher power over the Easter holiday weekend.

"Throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer," Perry said in a statement.

"It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires."

A wave of moisture and cooler weather had already helped the roughly 1,800 firefighters and support crews contain nine fires and make headway against many more by Thursday morning.

But conditions fueling the fast-moving wildfires that killed two volunteer firefighters and destroyed 200 homes this month would not ease for good, officials warned.

Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Jerry Norton


Psychopathology in Canadian Politics: Stephen Harper's Ruthless Drive for Power

Stephen Harper - Obey
© unknown
It seems irrefutable to me after 20 years of analyzing the career of Stephen Harper that he is incapable of providing democratic governance. Harper arguably shows some traits of what psychologists refer to as malignant narcissism, a dangerously heightened sense of self importance. Otto Kernberg, a leader in the study of personality disorders, describes malignant narcissism as "extreme self-absorption and insensitivity that often result in a trail of victims -- emotional wreckage left in the narcissist's wake." The victims Kernberg refers to are, of course, individuals, but in our case the principal victim is the Canadian nation -- its humanist accomplishments, its art and culture, the foundation of its science, its international standing and its democratic governance.

Murray Dobbin, Sept 10th 2009, The Tyee
Canada is in the the middle of another federal election, and this time there is a good chance that Stephen Harper's Conservative Party will win a majority government. This is very bad news for the Canadian people and the country as a whole.

From his beginnings as Chief Policy Officer of the western protest Reform Party and President of the ultra right-wing National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper has always espoused staunchly conservative views that mirror those of his ideological heroes in the U.S. A closet fundamentalist zealot, he has been consistently supportive of stronger government control and tax cuts for big corporations. He's anti-union, anti-immigration, pro-privatization of health care, pro-military, tough on crime, in favour of building more prisons, cutting funding for the arts, social services and education, an advocate for free trade and establishing closer political, economic and military ties with the United States.

Canada is on the verge of losing its national sovereignty and being ruled by a dictator with a hidden agenda and an iron fist. Yet a large segment of the Canadian public seems dimly aware of the many possible negative consequences as they continue to be in thrall to this proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

Black Cat

US: Mysterious Military Choppers Over Miami

If you live in downtown Miami, you've probably noticed something unusual in the sky the past few nights.

Residents have been posting videos on YouTube of unmarked military helicopters flying through Brickell at late night hours, creating lots of noise and a little concern.

The videos, titled "Miami Under Attack" and "POLICE STATE 2011: Homeland Security/ARMY Black Helicopters in Drill Over Downtown Miami," show the black choppers navigating through the high rises, hovering in place and flying pretty low.


How police have obtained iPhone, iPad tracking logs

© cnet
A peek at location data stored on an iPhone.
Law enforcement agencies have known since at least last year that an iPhone or iPad surreptitiously records its owner's approximate location, and have used that geolocation data to aid criminal investigations.

Apple has never publicized the undocumented feature buried deep within the software that operates iPhones and iPads, which became the topic of criticism this week after a researcher at a conference in Santa Clara, Calif., described in detail how it works. Apple had acknowledged to Congress last year only that "cell tower and Wi-Fi access point information" is "intermittently" collected and "transmitted to Apple" every 12 hours.

Cell Phone

No, iPhone location tracking isn't harmless and here's why

Secret Apple database already being tapped by cops

It didn't take long for the blogosphere to pooh pooh research presented on Wednesday that detailed a file in Apple iPhones and iPads unknown to the vast majority of its users that stored a long list of their time-stamped locations, sometimes with alarming detail.

On Thursday, a forensics expert who sells software to law enforcement agencies gave a first-hand account why scrutiny of the location-tracking database is crucial. We'll get to that in a moment. But first, let's take a sampling of the rampant naysaying.

The most common criticism was that the contents of the SQLite file, which is stored on the phone and on any computer backups, were wildly imprecise. Blogger and web developer Will Clarke, for instance, used the researchers' freely available software to map the coordinates gathered by his own iPhone during a recent round-trip bike tour he took from Philadelphia to New Jersey. When he compared the results to the actual route, he found that "almost all the points were way off."


Stuxnet-like attacks beckon as 50 new Scada threats discovered

Cyber criminals appear to be ramping up their interest in industrial control systems after research from application security management firm Idappcom found 52 new threats in March targeted at supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) systems of the sort hit by the infamous Stuxnet worm.

Tony Haywood, chief technology officer at Idappcom, told V3.co.uk that hackers could be going for the systems as they are typically less well defended than more mainstream public facing IT systems.