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Bales' lawyers blocked from massacre investigation

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Lawyers for Robert Bales, accused of the massacre of 17 Afghan citizens on March 11 are blaming the U.S. for blocking the team from interviewing witnesses in Kandahar.

The legal team representing Robert Bales are saying that the U.S. is stopping them from launching a fact-finding mission into the Kandahar incident. They have been obstructed from interviewing injured Afghan citizens at a hospital in Kandahar and the prosecution team is not cooperating.

According to John Henry Browne, who leads the legal team, prosecution investigators who had interviewed the injured had let them go freely, without keeping any contact information.

They are now impossible to contact and the prosecution is refusing to share any data with the defense team.

"It's outrageous," Browne told AP. "The only reason to hide evidence is if you don't have evidence."

Comment: For more information on this story read the Sott Focus: US Soldiers Look Deep Inside Their Souls - Find Vacuum - Decide To Kill Afghan Villagers by Joe Quinn.


Phoenix

Three Children Burn to Death as Gaza Energy Crisis Bites

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© Agence France-Presse/Mohammed AbedView of Gaza's sole power plant in Nusairat in March
Gaza City, Palestine - Three Palestinian children were found dead Sunday in a fire in their room caused by a candle being used due to lack of electricity in Gaza, an emergency services official said.

"A fire broke out in the children's room," said Adham Abu Selmiya, emergency services spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

"Apparently the fire was caused by a candle which was being used after the electricity was cut," he said, adding that the tragedy occurred in the town of Deir Balah, in the centre of the coastal strip.

A fourth child, aged six months, was badly burned and taken to hospital, added Selmiya.

The children, aged two, five and six, were members of the Bashir family, a relative said.

The Gaza Strip's sole power station shuddered to a halt a week ago, running out of fuel just 48 hours after some 450,000 litres were delivered to the coastal strip from Israel.

The Red Cross on Thursday said it would ship emergency supplies of fuel to help alleviate the worsening energy crisis in Gaza, which is hitting medical services hard.

Che Guevara

Suu Kyi's Party Declares Victory as Myanmar Shifts to Democracy

Suu Kyi
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Christophe ArchambaultOpposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is surrounded by supporters and journalists as she visits a polling station in Kawhmu, Myanmar on April 1, 2012.
Myanmar dissident Aung San Suu Kyi will become a lawmaker for the first time after a victory in by- elections yesterday that may prompt the U.S. and European Union to lift sanctions and end the country's global isolation.

"The Lady has won," Nyan Win, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy party, said by phone from Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, amid loud cheers from her supporters. "This is a big victory for us."

Suu Kyi's party won at least 35 of 45 seats in the first vote it contested since the army discarded a 1990 victory, Nyan Win said. Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle, won at all but one polling station in her district, he said.

The vote may open the door for the end of sanctions that prevent companies from General Electric Co. (GE) to Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) from investing in the country of 64 million people bordering China and India. President Thein Sein has moved to modernize Myanmar's political and economic system since taking power a year ago, including a managed float of its currency set to take effect yesterday.

"While it may be an imperfect election, the direction is very clear that the government is opening up," said Jim Della- Giacoma, Southeast Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, a policy research organization. "It's incumbent on the international community and particularly the countries that have been imposing sanctions to think about how to keep up the momentum and encourage change. Now is not the time to keep the big stick waving in the air."

Handcuffs

Confirmed: CIA secret prison in Poland

Another CIA-run interrogation 'black site' has been exposed after the confessions of top-ranking Polish officials blew the lid on the dirtiest secret in Eastern Europe.


­The former head of Poland's intelligence service secret Zbigniew Siemiatkowski has been charged with taking part in establishing a secret prison for the CIA in a remote part of the country. Allegedly, foreign prisoners in the detention center were tortured in connection with America's global war on terror.

Cow Skull

The real hunger games: How banks gamble on food prices - and the poor lose out

In the last decade, financiers have speculated billions of pounds in food, helping to make prices dearer and more volatile

children
© Unknown
Speculation by large investment banks is driving up food prices for the world's poorest people, tipping millions into hunger and poverty. Investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from $65bn to $126bn (£41bn to £79bn) in the past five years, helping to push prices to 30-year highs and causing sharp price fluctuations that have little to do with the actual supply of food, says the United Nations' leading expert on food.

Hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital now dominate the food commodities markets, dwarfing the amount traded by actual food producers and buyers. Purely financial players, for example, account for 61 per cent of investment on the wheat futures market, according to the World Development Movement report Broken Markets.

Speculative investment in agricultural commodities in 2011 was 20 times the amount spent by all countries on agricultural aid. Goldman Sachs, the largest player in the agricultural commodities market, earned £600m from food speculation in 2009, and Barclays Capital, the world's third-largest player and largest British bank in this market, earned up to £340m in 2010, according to the report. Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital declined to comment.

Comment: A prime example of how a few psychopaths can ruin the lives of millions.


Coffee

Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all

Curveball
© BBCIraqi defector Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka 'Curveball'
Defector tells how US officials 'sexed up' his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq - starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds - will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

"Curveball", the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi's lies used to justify the Iraq war.

Cult

Destroy all churches in the Arabian Peninsula - Saudi Grand Mufti

mufti grand saudi sheikh
© AFP Photo / Hassan AmmarSaudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula must be destroyed. The statement prompted anger and dismay from Christians throughout the Middle East.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah made the controversial statement in a response to a question from a Kuwaiti NGO delegation. A Kuwaiti parliamentarian had called for a ban on the construction of new churches in February, but so far the initiative has not been passed into law. The NGO, called the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage, asked the Sheikh to clarify what Islamic law says on the matter.

The Grand Mufti, who is the highest official of religious law in Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Scholars, cited the Prophet Mohammed, who said the Arabian Peninsula is to exist under only one religion.

The Sheikh went on to conclude that it was therefore necessary for Kuwait, being a part of the Arabian Peninsula, to destroy all churches on its territory.

Comment: If this statement came from one of the muslim countries that the US, UK, Israel etc. were targeting, you can bet it would be all over the newspapers. Since it comes from an "ally", the story is ignored. All of which just goes to show that the war on terror is a farce, and is, instead, a war of conquest for profit.


Eye 1

Financiers and Sex Trafficking

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© Damon Winter / New York TimesNicholas D. Kristof
The biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States appears to be a Web site called Backpage.com.

This emporium for girls and women - some under age or forced into prostitution - is in turn owned by an opaque private company called Village Voice Media. Until now it has been unclear who the ultimate owners are.

That mystery is solved. The owners turn out to include private equity financiers, including Goldman Sachs with a 16 percent stake.

Goldman Sachs was mortified when I began inquiring last week about its stake in America's leading Web site for prostitution ads. It began working frantically to unload its shares, and on Friday afternoon it called to say that it had just signed an agreement to sell its stake to management.

Comment: For more information on Backpage, see this Sott link:

Schools Called Hotbeds for Luring Young Sex Slaves


Propaganda

Propaganda Alert! Al-Qaeda 'plotting another 9/11' from Afghanistan claims US Ambassador

Al-Qaeda fighters have returned to Afghanistan and will use the country as a base to launch September 11-style attacks on Western cities, according to the American ambassador to Kabul.

Ryan Crocker
© UnknownRyan Crocker, the American ambassador to Kabul, said the West could not give up on the country
Ryan Crocker told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: "If we decide we're tired, they'll be back.

"Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city."

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change.

Handcuffs

Daylong Tussle on 'Homeland Battlefield' Law

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© Unknown
Manhattan - Overcoming an initially "skeptical" federal judge, opponents of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act - which allows the military to indefinitely detain anyone it suspects "substantially supported" al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces" - brought strong arguments Thursday to a case once believed to be quixotic.

Prominent writers and activists - led by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges - met in court for the first time for a hearing challenging the law, which President Barack Obama signed on New Year's Eve. The bill is also known as the Homeland Battlefield law.

Buried within the 565-page statute, opponents said, is a short paragraph that makes political activists and muckraking journalists susceptible to indefinite military detention for exercising free speech.
Section 1021 (b)(2) allows the military to detain anyone it suspects "substantially supported" al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces," and to keep them detained until "the end of hostilities."

Hedges and others claim those words are so vague they could justify indefinite detention of political dissidents without due process.