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Israel Lobby Calls for an 'Iranian Pearl Harbor'

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When the Bush-Cheney administration was in power, Dick Cheney tried hard to find an excuse for military attacks on Iran. After all, according to Gen. Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from 1997 to 2000, Cheney and other hawks had plans for attacking and destroying seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa over five years in order to transform them into U.S. client states, and he wanted to "accomplish" as much as possible before leaving office. Various options were considered. As reported by Seymour Hersh, in late 2007 the Bush-Cheney administration received congressional approval for its request for $400 million to launch major covert operations against Iran, and a presidential finding signed by Bush authorized a secret program for destabilizing Iran by supporting puppet groups purporting to represent the Iranian Arabs living in the oil province of Khuzestan, the Baluchi people, and other separatist "organizations." Aside from terrorist operations that killed many innocent Iranians, the program failed. Other venues were also tried, ranging from fabrications about Iran's alleged interference in Iraq to huge shows of force in the Persian Gulf and a campaign of lies and exaggerations.

Another option that was considered was provoking the Iranians to attack the U.S. forces, hence justifying counterattacks by the U.S. Given the long history of the attacks by the U.S. Navy on Iranian ships and offshore oil installations in the Persian Gulf, and the destruction by the U.S. Navy of the Iranian passenger jet in July 1988 that killed 290 people, creating an "incident" in the Persian Gulf to justify the attacks seemed only "natural." Then, in January 2008 five Iranian patrol boats supposedly made aggressive moves toward three U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. Bush called the incident "provocative" and "dangerous," and it appeared momentarily that Cheney's wish had been realized. But less than a week later the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the threatening radio transmission that the press had initially reported coming from the boats. In fact, it had come from a prankster.

Padlock

'This is travesty of American criminal justice': Supreme Court denies Holy Land Five appeal

 A rally for the Holy Land Five
© Unknown
A rally for the Holy Land Five in New York City, October 25, 2012.
The Supreme Court has denied the Holy Land Five appeal and will not be issuing a decision in the case. This almost definitely marks the end of the legal appeal process.

The Holy Land Five -- Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad el-Mazain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abulrahman Odeh -- were convicted of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza through zakat committees allegedly connected with Hamas. The case relied on "secret evidence" from an anonymous Israeli intelligence source. Four of the five defendants are now serving sentences in a Communication Management Unit, or CMU, an "experimental" detention facility outside of oversight from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where two-thirds of the inmates are Arab and/or Muslim. Detainees in these facilities are subject to arbitrary policies that restrict their movement within prison cells, and minimal contact with the families and attorneys.

Stormtrooper

New Mexico boy, 10, tasered by police for failing to do what he was told after refusing to clean officer's car at careers day

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© Google
Incident: The boy was shocked during a careers day at the Tularosa New Mexico Intermediate School

A police officer has appeared in court after it is alleged he used his Taser gun on a 10-year-old schoolboy who refused to clean his patrol car.

Officer Chris Webb is accused of saying to the boy he would be shown 'what happens to people who do not listen to police' during the event at Tularosa Intermediate School in New Mexico.

He is then reported to have fired the 50,000-volt weapon at the boy.

Rachel Higgins, legal representative for the seven-stone boy, known only as RD, told Santa Fe County Court he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident on May 4.

According to the complaint filed on behalf of the boy: 'Defendant Webb asked the boy, RD, in a group of boys, who would like to clean his patrol unit.

'A number of boys said that they would. RD, joking, said that he did not want to clean the patrol unit.'

Webb is accused of responding by aiming his Taser at the child before saying: 'Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.' He then allegedly stunned RD.

The complaint continued: 'Instead of calling emergency medical personnel, Officer Webb pulled out the barbs and took the boy to the school principal's office.'

Stock Down

The Virtual Economic Recovery

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Rigged Inflation Measure Understates Inflation

Since mid-2009 the US has been enjoying a virtual recovery courtesy of a rigged inflation measure that understates inflation. The financial Presstitutes spoon out the government's propaganda that prices are rising less than 2%. But anyone who purchases food, fuel, medical care or anything else knows that low inflation is no more real that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction or Gadhafi's alleged attacks on Libyan protesters or Iran's nuclear weapons. Everything is a lie to serve the power-brokers.

During the Clinton administration, Republican economists pushed through a change in the way the CPI is measured in order to save money by depriving Social Security retirees of their cost-of-living adjustment. Previously, the CPI measured the change in the cost of a constant standard of living. The new measure assumes that consumers adjust to price increases by lowering their standard of living by substituting lower quality, lower priced items. If the price, for example, of New York strip steak goes up, consumers are assumed to substitute the lower quality round steak. In other words, the new measure of inflation keeps inflation down by reflecting a lowered standard of living.

Eye 2

Israel accused of indiscriminate phosphorus use in Gaza

Human Rights Watch report claims Israel committed war crimes in its use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells.

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© Mohammed Abed/AFP
Palestinian civilians and medics run to safety during an Israeli strike using phosphorus shells at a UN school.
Israel's military fired white phosphorus over crowded areas of Gaza repeatedly and indiscriminately in its three-week war, killing and injuring civilians and committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a 71-page report, the rights group said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct".

It said the Israeli military used white phosphorus in a "deliberate or reckless" way. The report says:

- Israel was aware of the dangers of white phosphorus.

- It chose not to use alternative and less dangerous smoke shells.

- In one case, Israel even ignored repeated warnings from UN staff before hitting the main UN compound in Gaza with white phosphorus shells on 15 January.

Bomb

Israel admits using phosphorus bombs during war in Lebanon

Israel has acknowledged for the first time that it attacked Hezbollah targets during the second Lebanon war with phosphorus shells. White phosphorus causes very painful and often lethal chemical burns to those hit by it, and until recently Israel maintained that it only uses such bombs to mark targets or territory.

The announcement that the Israel Defense Forces had used phosphorus bombs in the war in Lebanon was made by Minister Jacob Edery, in charge of government-Knesset relations. He had been queried on the matter by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz-Yahad).

Pistol

Man in Afghan police uniform shoots two British soldiers dead

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© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Bay Ismoyo
Troops on patrol in Helmand in June 2010. The families of the killed soldiers have been informed.
Two Gurkhas shot at Helmand checkpoint, bringing to 11 the number of UK troops killed in 'green-on-blue' attacks this year.

Two British soldiers were killed when a man wearing an Afghan police uniform opened fire on them in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

The soldiers, from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, were shot dead at a checkpoint in Nahr-e Saraj on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence said. Their families had been informed.

Major Laurence Roche, spokesman for taskforce Helmand, said: "The loss of these soldiers is a huge blow to The Royal Gurkha Rifles and everyone serving in taskforce Helmand. Our thoughts are with their families, friends and fellow Gurkhas at this time."

An investigation has been launched into what appears to have been the latest insider or "green-on-blue" attack on coalition troops by members of Afghan security forces, a trend that Nato's secretary general has admitted is sapping trust and has already forced the US military to limit joint operations with Afghan troops.

The surge in attacks has also led to doubts that Afghan forces will be ready for the planned takeover from international troops in 2014.

Airplane

Polish military prosecutors deny explosives found on jet wreckage

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© Reuters/Peter Andrews
Polish military prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag, left, and press spokesman Zbigniew Rzepa arrive for a news conference in Warsaw on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012.
Polish prosecutors denied a newspaper report that investigators found traces of explosives on the wreckage of the government jet that crashed in Russia two years ago, killing Poland's president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others.

Rzeczpospolita daily said on Tuesday that Polish investigators who examined the remains of the plane in Russia found signs of TNT and nitroglycerine on the wings and in the cabin, including on 30 seats.

The report strengthened accusations by rightists groups that investigators ignored evidence of outside involvement and prompted opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Lech, to call for the government to resign.

But Polish military prosecutors said they were sticking to their finding that the crash was not an assassination and no explosives were found on the remains of the government Tu-154 that crashed during its approach to a small airport near the Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010.

"It is not true that investigators found traces of TNT or nitroglycerine," said Colonel Ireneusz Szelag from the military prosecutors' office.

Colosseum

New Italy law tackles rampant corruption

Mario Monti
© The Associated Press/Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
Rome - Italy passed an anti-corruption law on Tuesday, the latest move by the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti to shed the country's image tarnished by former leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti, who took office last November to replace the scandal-plagued Berlusconi, made approval of the law a confidence motion in his administration in order to speed its passage through both houses of parliament.

The new law increases prison sentences for public officials convicted of demanding bribes, abuse of office or influence peddling. It also increases penalties for corruption in the private sector.

The law bans those who have been definitively convicted of corruption from running for public office and obliges local and regional administrations to institute an anti-corruption plan and renew it every year.

It guarantees anonymity for whistle blowers and obliges local administrations to post their budgets and the cost of public works on their internet sites.

The law, which has been kicking around parliament for more than a year, became definitive when the lower house passed the provision with a vote of 460 for and 76 against.

Gear

The unfolding human catastrophe in Iran

Iranian money @ market
© EPA
Sanctions imposed on Iran's banks and financial institutions could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

During their debate about foreign policy last Monday, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney both agreed that the crippling unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the the United States and its allies must continue, until the Islamic Republic recalibrates its nuclear ambitions.

Both seem to have also adopted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's favoured refrain that "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear capability" and that such a capability constitutes a "red line" not to be crossed at any cost. Previously the inveterate refrain had been "Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon".

The definition of "capability" has continued to remain vague and ill-defined, and a number of analysts have concluded that the Islamic Republic is already nuclear capable and has all the necessary components it would need in order to assemble a bomb if it so desired. Once a country has mastered enrichment technology it is generally accepted that the decision to weaponise largely becomes a political one.

Both Israeli and American intelligence continue to hold that Iran has not yet taken any such a decision. A crucial caveat is of course is that as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with all its enrichment sites subject to IAEA inspections, if it desired to make a dash for the bomb, Iran would have to withdraw from the NPT. An act that would immediately raise alarm bells across the world and most likely provoke a rapid Western military response.

Apart from the vague and shifting red lines which continue to afflict the thick fog of Western national security rhetoric vis-a-vis Iran, not a single word was uttered by either men about the plight and suffering of the Iranian people who have had no role in the decisions made by the Islamic Republic's leaders. But, the fact is that the sanctions, exacerbated by government incompetence, have the potential to give rise to a major human catastrophe.