Puppet MastersS

Bizarro Earth

Drones to target suspected LAPD killer Chris Dorner?

© Reuters / HandoutChristopher Dorner
As authorities intensify the manhunt for accused LAPD-killer Christopher Dorner, law enforcement agencies are doing everything under the sun to search for their suspect, apparently even deploying drones.

The specifics regarding the tools being used to track Dorner, a 33-year-old former Los Angeles Police Department officer suspected in three recent murders, is a mystery for now. But with a $1 million bounty out for his arrest and a nation at high-alert, it's no surprise that the search for Dorner is on the way to becoming one of the most remarkable in ages. Now according to some reports, police are relying on high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles to snoop from the sky.

Britain's Daily Express cites a senior police source in a report this week as saying that the surveillance capabilities of UAVs might be the only option for locating Dorner, who has been at large since a string of murders that began last Sunday.

"The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack," the source tells the paper.

Comment: One can't help but think of the possibility that the LAPD is intentionally botching the manhunt for Chris Dorner in order to further ramp up the momentum towards using drones on the civilian population of the U.S.


At least 13 killed, 33 wounded in bomb blast near Turkish-Syrian border

© Reuters / Cem Genco / Anadolu AgencyDamaged cars are seen after an explosion at Cilvegozu border gate on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province February 11, 2013
At least 13 people have been killed and 33 others wounded in a bomb blast near the Turkish-Syrian border.

The blast occurred near the Turkish town of Reyhanli, at the Cilvegozu border gate. A Turkish government official has confirmed that the explosion originated from a vehicle, and was not a mortar round. "There was an explosion in the no-man's zone. It was not a mortar attack. It was very strong," a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The bomb reportedly went off in a car carrying a Syrian plate, Today's Zaman reporter Mahir Zeynalov quoted Turkish media as saying. Witnesses say they saw the car drive up to the border post shortly before the explosion. Television footage and photographs show heavy damage to cars at the border, where a gate was blown open and part of the roof collapsed.

Star of David

Israel approves construction of 90 settler homes in the West Bank

© AFP Photo
Israel has given final approval for 90 new homes in Beit El settlement near Ramallah in a move likely to spark tension ahead of a top-level visit by US President Barack Obama, officials and an NGO said Monday.

Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now settlement watchdog said the plans had been published for validation in an Israeli newspaper in what was the "final stage of approval", meaning construction of the new homes could begin "within a few days."

The plans were signed off by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in August but received the final rubber stamp on Sunday by the Civil Administration's planning committee, she said.

The move comes just days after the White House announced that Obama would make his first-ever visit to Israel as president on a trip expected to take place in late March.


United States the target of a massive cyber-espionage effort: report

© Shutterstock
The US intelligence community has concluded that America is the target of a massive cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening its competitiveness, The Washington Post reported.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the conclusion is contained in the National Intelligence Estimate, a classified report that represents the consensus view of the US intelligence community.

The report identifies China as the country most aggressively seeking to penetrate the computer systems of US businesses and institutions to gain access to data that could be used for economic gain, the paper said.

Comment: Maybe if the United States wasn't breaking international law by invading and occupying multiple sovereign countries there wouldn't be countries that engage in these alleged cyber-espionage crimes. There's also the possibility that this report will be used as an excuse to further tighten controls in the U.S. when in reality there is very little espionage actually occurring.

Snakes in Suits

Drone strikes against our own citizens: Should Americans care?

On UP with Chris Hayes on Sunday night, the panel discussed the recent white paper on drone strikes obtained by NBC News and how concerned we should be regarding distinctions between citizens and non-citizens.

Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project, said that with regard to U.S. citizens, there are supposed limits of "imminence," as defined by a recent memo released by NBC News. However, the administration's definition of imminence seemed at odds with how most people define the term.

"Those terms are redefined in such a way that they are vague, elastic, and robbed of their plain meaning," Shamsi said.

Heart - Black

Los Angeles Archdiocese used cemetery funds to pay for abuse settlements

© Shutterstock
In order to help pay for a $660 million settlement for the victims of molestation by Catholic priests, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles moved $115 million from the fund for cemetery maintenance, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The money in the cemetery fund comes from the families of those buried by the church or kept in church mausoleums - families who "have contributed to a dedicated account for the perpetual care of graves, crypts and grounds since the 1890s," reported the LAT.

Those families were not notified that 88 percent of the fund was being used for the settlements, and the church did not mention the funding source in public statements.


Why we should all worry about being tracked online

© Dominic Lipinski/PA'By extracting location details from Facebook, check-ins and photos it builds it builds a picture of where someone’s been, who they’ve been there with, and where they might go next.
'Riot' software developed to monitor people on social networks is as sinister as it sounds. We need legal safeguards, and fast

Separating paranoia from healthy caution in the 21st century is only getting harder, as it gets easier and easier for governments and corporations to track our online behaviour. The latest development, revealed by the Guardian, is that defence giant Raytheon has created software capable of tracking people based on information posted to social networks.

Its capabilities are impressively creepy: by extracting location information from Facebook, check-ins, and even latitude and longitude details from photographs in which targets are tagged (did you know cameras stored that?), it builds a picture of where someone's been, who they've been there with, and where they might go next.

This software, named Riot, is the latest in a long line of products offered to track people online, whether through spyware on their machines or by generating fake online personas who befriend dissidents. In the past, tracking individuals was difficult and costly, and so kept well targeted. Today, it's so easy that mass-surveillance is feasible - and so-called "big data" makes it seem tempting and innocuous.

Snakes in Suits

DOJ kill list memo forces many Dems out of the closet as overtly unprincipled hacks

© Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/ReutersFormer Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm speaks at the 2012 Democratic convention. About the DOJ white paper, she admitted this week: "if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms" because "we trust the president".
Last week's controversy over Obama's assassination program forced into light many ignored truths that were long obvious

This past week has been a strangely clarifying political moment. It was caused by two related events: the leak of the Justice Department's "white paper" justifying Obama's claimed power to execute Americans without charges, followed by John Brennan's alarming confirmation hearing (as Charles Pierce wrote: "the man whom the administration has put up to head the CIA would not say whether or not the president of the United States has the power to order the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen within the borders of the United States"). I describe last week's process as "strange" because, for some reason, those events caused large numbers of people for the first time to recognize, accept and begin to confront truths that have long been readily apparent.

Illustrating this odd phenomenon was a much-discussed New York Times article on Sunday by Peter Baker which explained that these events "underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush's approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces." It began this way:
"If President Obama tuned in to the past week's bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.

"Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country's core values in the name of security."


Weariness, not serious health problems, causing Pope Benedict to step down: Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI
© Gregorio Borgia/Associated PressPope Benedict XVI celebrates the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on April 1, 2012.
When he became pope at age 78, Benedict XVI was already the oldest pontiff elected in nearly 300 years. He's now 85, and in recent years he has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences.

The pope now travels to the altar in St. Peter's Basilica on a moving platform to spare him the 100-metre walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane. Late last year, people who were spending time with the pontiff emerged saying they found him weak and too tired to engage with what they were saying.

The Vatican stressed on Monday that no specific medical condition prompted the Pope's decision to become the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. Still, the Pope said his advanced age means he no longer has the necessary mental and physical strength to lead the world's more than one billion Roman Catholics.

That the Pope is tired would be a perfectly normal diagnosis for an 85-year-old pope, even someone with no known serious health problems and a still-agile mind.


Pope Benedict XVI resigns due to age and declining health

© APPope Benedict XVI: the pontiff admitted: 'I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited' to the role.'
Pontiff, 85, who has arthritis, says he will step down on 28 February after nearly eight years as head of Catholic church

Pope Benedict XVI is to step down as head of the Catholic church at the end of this month, the Vatican has announced.

The move, which came without warning, will take place on 28 February and leave the papacy vacant until a successor is chosen.

The pope announced his decision in Latin on Monday morning during a meeting of cardinals. He informed them of "a decision of great importance for the life of the church".

Comment: A pope has not resigned since the Middle Ages, so this announcement looks to be about more than just declining health.