Puppet MastersS


Megaphone

'U.S. a police state, Obama consciously allows torture' - CIA veteran John Kiriakou


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© Reuters / Jim YoungDemonstrator Maboud Ebrahimzadeh is held down during a simulation of waterboarding outside the Justice Department in Washington
Ten years ago, the idea of the US government spying on its citizens, intercepting their emails or killing them with drones was unthinkable. But now it's business as usual, says John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent and torture whistleblower.

Kiriakou is now awaiting a summons to start a prison sentence. One of the first to confirm the existence of Washington's waterboarding program, he was sentenced last week to two-and-a-half years in jail for revealing the name of an undercover agent. But even if he had another chance, he would have done the same thing again, Kiriakou told RT.

RT: The judge, and your critics all seem to believe you got off lightly. Would you say you got off lightly?

JK: No, I would not say I got off lightly for a couple of very specific reasons. First of all, my case was not about leaking, my case was about torture. When I blew the whistle on torture in December 2007 the justice department here in the US began investigating me and never stopped investigating me until they were able to patch together a charge and force me into taking a plea agreement. And I'll add another thing too, when I took the plea in October of last year, the judge said that she thought the plea was fair and appropriate. But once the courtroom was packed full of reporters last Friday she decided that it was not long enough and if she had had the ability to she would have given me ten years.

Nuke

With no way to process it, U.S. will bury 70,000 tons of nuclear waste

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© Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin
With two decades to go before it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the US will have to bury nearly 70,000 tons of it, a research lab reports. It comes after Congress and the Obama administration defunded a planned nuclear waste repository in 2011.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a facility that does research for the Department of Energy (DOE), said that "about 68,450 [metric tons] or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes" in its report, published near the end of 2012. The rest of the waste, the report said, could be kept available for research on fuel reprocessing and storage.

The report was fairly obscure until being cited in a DOE document that showed plans to find a new permanent waste dump after Congress and the Obama administration cut funding for the Yucca Mountain repository in 2011.

Reprocessing has little support in Washington due to concerns that spent fuel could fall into the wrong hands. Nevertheless the DOE started looking into reprocessing methods in 2005.

Heart - Black

NASA flight director says personnel knew Columbia crew would die but chose not to tell them

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© Wikipedia
A NASA flight director has revealed that personnel on the ground knew in 2003 that the Space Shuttle Columbia would not survive re-entry, but chose not to inform the vessel's crew. According to an ABC News report from Thursday, when faced with the choice of letting the astronauts die trying to come home or leaving them to orbit until their air ran out, high-ranking NASA officials chose to let the Columbia crew die in ignorance of what was to befall them.

Wayne Hale, who became a Space Shuttle program manager in the years after the Columbia disaster, wrote on his blog Thursday about the meeting among ground personnel at Johnson Space Center as they grappled with the decision. Video of Columbia's takeoff showed a briefcase-sized chunk of foam breaking off an engine and colliding with the shuttle's wing, gouging a hole in the shield designed to protect the craft from the furious heat generated as it crossed from the vacuum of space into the atmosphere.

Heart - Black

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez releases abuse records, gives Cardinal Mahony a slap on the wrist

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© Shutterstock
The archbishop of Los Angeles stripped his predecessor of all church duties Thursday as he released files on more than 100 clerics, as required under a 2007 lawsuit deal over alleged sex abuse.

Archbishop Jose Gomez said retired Cardinal Roger Mahony will "no longer have any administrative or public duties," while Mahony's former top adviser on sex-abuse issues, Thomas Curry, has stepped down as a regional bishop.

"These files document abuses that happened decades ago. But that does not make them less serious," he wrote, releasing the personnel files online after prolonged wrangling over whether the names should be blanked out.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.

"The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed," Gomez added. "We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today."

Radar

Israeli warplanes violate Lebanon airspace

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© Photograph: Gil Cohen Magen/ReutersAn Israeli fighter jet takes off from an airbase in southern Israel.
Israeli fighter jets violate Lebanese airspace two days after launching air strikes on targets inside Syrian territory

Israeli warplanes flew over Lebanon again on Friday, two days after air strikes targeted a convoy of arms or a weapons research base inside Syrian territory.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UN forces in Lebanon, Unifil, confirmed that Israeli forces had continued to violate Lebanese airspace, but said this was routine. "On Tuesday [ahead of the air strikes] there were a high number of violations, but since then it has not been unusual," he told the Guardian.

Under UN security council resolution 1701, passed following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, Israeli planes are forbidden from flying over Lebanon.

Israel has maintained silence over Wednesday's bombing, despite a statement from the Syrian regime that a "scientific research centre" between Damascus and the Lebanese border had been hit. Reports described the centre as a large military complex with training and communications facilities. Western diplomatic and security sources said Israel's target was a convoy of trucks carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Bomb

Suicide bombing at U.S. embassy in Turkey kills 2

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© REUTERS/StringerTurkish police bomb experts inspect the site after an explosion at the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Ankara February 1, 2013. A suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives in an attack which killed two people at the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Friday, the provincial governor Alaaddin Yuksel told reporters.
A suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive Friday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing himself and a guard at the entrance gate, officials said.

U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardione told reporters that a Turkish citizen was also wounded in the 1:15 p.m. blast in the Turkish capital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but both Kurdish rebels and Islamic militants are active in Turkey.

The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the side entrance to the embassy, but did not damage the inside of the embassy itself.

TV footage showed the embassy door blown off its hinges. The windows of nearby businesses were also shattered by the power of the blast, and debris littered the ground and across the road.

Police swarmed the area and immediately cordoned it off and several ambulances were dispatched.

Bad Guys

Nine Philadelphia judges arrested on charges of corruption

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© RON TARVER / Staff PhotographerWilliam J. Brennan (left), the attorney representing former Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary (center), takes questions from reporters before entering federal court.
The charges are essentially grassroots corruption -- that an entrenched system in Philadelphia fixed the tickets of connected drivers while severely punishing drivers with no clout.

Nine traffic court judges, virtually everyone who wore the robe in the city's traffic court between July 2008 and September 2011, were arrested today and forced to stand on the other side of the bench and be accused by federal prosecutors of cheating the average citizen out of a fair shake.

Among them, the judges face charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, making false statements to the FBI, and aiding and abetting. They could be punished by 60 to 490 years behind bars and face millions of dollars in fines.

Defendant William Hird, who could face 315 years in prison and a $4.5 million fine on nearly 20 criminal counts, said only "no comment" today when leaving his arraignment. But his lawyer said the former judge was "being indicted for essentially doing his job."

Heart - Black

Forced contraception of Jewish Ethiopian women is tip of global iceberg

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© Dan Balilty/APThe hands of an Ethiopian Jewish woman during 'Sigd' prayers in Jerusalem. A report has revealed 'Ethiopian women have been given injections of Depo-Provera without sufficient understanding of the purpose or side effects of the drug'.
A report claims Israel pressured women to reduce its poor black population. Reproductive rights need defending across the world

Should gynaecologists need to be told not to give women contraceptive injections without establishing fully informed consent? Of course not. But that is what has happened in Israel after it was revealed in a report by a women's rights organisation that Ethiopian women have been given injections of Depo-Provera without sufficient understanding of the purpose or side effects of the drug. Some Ethiopian women in transit camps were refused entry to the country if they refused the injection, and others wrongly believed they were being inoculated against disease. While Israeli demographers discuss the need to "preserve a clear and undisputed Jewish majority among Israel's total population", it may seem anomalous that women in the Jewish Ethiopian population are forced or coerced into using this highly effective contraceptive method.

However, the conclusions of the report, written by Hedva Eyal, are that the injections given to Ethiopian women are "a method of reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor".

Many people may be unaware that the Israeli case is merely the tip of a global iceberg of human rights abuses in the field of reproductive health. Forced sterilisation of people with learning disabilities and people of minority ethnic groups was documented across Europe and the US in the 20th century. Under the state of emergency in India between 1975 and 1977, thousands of men and millions of women were bribed, coerced and sometimes forced to undergo sterilisation. As recently as 1996 in Peru, a demographic policy led to a sevenfold increase in sterilisations in just two years, effected through widespread violations of women's rights. A provider explained: "Many [providers] did not inform women that they were going to be sterilised - they told them the procedure was something else. But I felt this was wrong. I preferred to offer women a bag of rice to convince them to accept the procedure and explained to them beforehand what was going to happen."

Eye 2

Hasbara and the control of narrative as an element of strategy

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Remarks to the Jubilee Conference of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)

December 1, 2012 | Moscow, Russia - Many topics have been proposed for discussion in this session. In the brief time available to me as a panelist, I would like to put forward some thoughts about the control of narrative and the manipulation of information as an essential element of modern warfare. The Israelis call this "hasbara." Since they are without doubt the most skilled contemporary practitioners of the art, it seems appropriate to use the Hebrew word for it. And, since Israel's most recent war (against the Palestinians in Gaza) sputtered to an end just ten days ago, I'll cite a few examples from that war to illustrate my main points.

Before I get to specifics, let me provide a general description of hasbara and its purposes. Hasbara is usually translated as "explanation." That does not do the concept justice. Hasbara links information warfare to the strategic efforts of the state to bolster the unity of the home front; ensure the support of allies; disrupt efforts to organize hostile coalitions; determine the way issues are defined by the media, the intelligentsia, and social networks; establish the parameters of politically correct discourse; delegitimize both critics and their arguments; and shape the common understanding and interpretation of the results of international negotiations. Hasbara is multifaceted and well-adapted to the digital age. It embodies a public-private partnership in which the state leads and committed volunteers follow in implementing an information strategy. In its comprehensiveness and complexity, it bears the same relationship to unidimensional public diplomacy as grand strategy does to campaign plans.

Hasbara has its roots in earlier concepts of propaganda, agitprop, and censorship. Like them, it is communication calculated to influence cognition and behavior by manipulating perceptions of a cause or position with one-sided arguments, prejudicial substance, and emotional appeals. Unlike its progenitors, however, hasbara does not seek merely to burnish or tarnish national images of concern to it or to supply information favorable to its theses. It also seeks actively to inculcate canons of political correctness in domestic and foreign media and audiences that will promote self-censorship by them. It strives thereby to decrease the willingness of audiences to consider information linked to politically unacceptable viewpoints, individuals, and groups and to inhibit the circulation of adverse information in social networks.

Vader

Chuck Hagel and the American empire

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© Photo: Luke Sharrett / The New York Times
Hagel's legislative record belies his potential role as bit player on the stage of the American empire, unlikely to wield the kind of influence suggested by the controversy over his nomination.

Ideological elements of both the Left and the Right have inflated the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense to symbolize far more than he can possibly achieve in office, good or bad. The controversy over his nomination is based on a handful of his comments and valedictory Senate addresses. His actual legislative record is a lot thinner. From my time as a Senate staffer, I do not remember any significant legislation he was personally responsible for, nor did he involve himself to any great extent in floor debates on authorization or appropriation bills having to do with national security.

His supposedly inflammatory statements on Iraq, in particular, are after-the-fact criticisms of Bush administration policy that belie his actual legislative behavior when it counted. In October 2002, after the debate on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, he dutifully lined up to vote in its favor like all but one of his GOP colleagues. Perhaps Hagel felt the Bush administration had deceived him with faked evidence, as many another Senator has claimed thereafter. But as the casualties piled up, he was not quick to join critics of the war - at least not until March 2007, four years after the invasion, when Hagel supported legislation to begin withdrawing from Iraq in 120 days. That was already after the 2006 electoral debacle for the GOP, and at the point when most thinking people had long since sought an exit strategy. He also voted for the Patriot Act that progressives and libertarians alike abhor, and for the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts which, along with the Iraq war, have left us in our present fiscal hole.