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Psst. No shutdown during a 'government shutdown'

trays of printed social security checks
© APIn this Feb. 11, 2005 file photo, trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed

Social Security checks would still go out. Troops would remain at their posts. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, though not until later. And virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open.

That's the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn't shut down.

And it won't on March 5, even if the combatants on Capitol Hill can't resolve enough differences to pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government while they hash out legislation to cover the last seven months of the budget year.

Fewer than half of the 2.1 million federal workers subject to a shutdown would be forced off the job if the Obama administration followed the path taken by presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And that's not counting 600,000 Postal Service employees or 1.6 million uniformed military personnel exempt from a shutdown.

Mr. Potato

Stark, Raving, Mad: First Gunfire, Then Gadhafi Blows Kisses

Libyan strongman Moamar Gadhafi blew kisses to a crowd of supporters in Tripoli today after his troops fired on demonstrators who had been chanting that Gadhafi must go.


The dictator appeared in Green Square, the city center, to proclaim, "I am here."

Although the past week has seen several bloody battles that have left anywhere from 300 to 1,000 dead, Gadhafi extorted the youth in the crowd, "Dance, sing, live your lives. Dance! Dance and Sing! Be happy! Ghadafi is here among his people."

He ended his speech by blowing kisses to the cheering crowd.

Bad Guys

Behind the Arab revolt is a word we dare not speak

Egypt protest
© unknown
Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared the President's daily intelligence brief. McGovern was at the apex of the "national security" monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to President George W. Bush that the "drumbeat for war" was based not on intelligence, but lies.

"It was 95 per cent charade," McGovern told me.

"How did they get away with it?"

"The press allowed the crazies to get away with it."

"Who are the crazies?"

"The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in Mein Kampf... these are the same people who were referred to in the circles in which I moved, at the top, as 'the crazies'."

I said, "Norman Mailer has written that that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What's your view of that?"

"Well... I hope he's right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode."

On 22 January, Ray McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration's barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. "Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq," he wrote, "I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly."

Vader

Zimbabwean army helping Gaddafi in Libya

Speculation that members of the Zimbabwe National Army are in Libya to help prop up cornered dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, has gained momentum. This follows Zimbabwe's Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa avoiding giving a straight answer to a question posed in Parliament.

With the eastern part of Libya having fallen to anti-Gaddafi protesters, it's being reported that mercenaries from several African countries, including Zimbabwe, are putting up a stand in the west of the country, including the capital Tripoli, on behalf of Gaddafi. They are reportedly gunning down unarmed civilians at random and Arab TV channel Al Jazeera said that Zimbabwe was helping to provide mercenaries, along with Chad and other African countries.

In Parliament on Wednesday MDC-T MP and Chief Whip, Innocent Gonese, asked Mnangagwa to respond to reports that soldiers from Zimbabwe are involved. Instead of giving a straight answer Mnangagwa said "...that there are mercenaries who are African and are in Libya - I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defence to investigate activities happening in another African country."

Wolf

Please help us, my good friend Tony Blair: Gaddafi's son asks for former PM's help to 'crush enemies'

gaddafi,blair
Deal in the desert : Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli in 2007.

Tony Blair is still a 'good friend' of the Libyan dictatorship and should broker a deal to keep it in power, according to a son of Colonel Gaddafi.

A close ally of Saif Gaddafi last night urged the former prime minister to help put his country on a 'stable footing'.

The Tripoli-based official told the Mail: 'Tony Blair was attending meetings with the Brother Leader until last year.

No Entry

Google to demote rankings of alternative media websites in favour of corporate media

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Change will affect about 12% of Google search queries in US in move designed to tackle so-called 'content farms'

Google is making a "pretty big" change that will demote "low-quality" or "shallow" websites from online search engine results, in a move designed to tackle so-called "content farms".

The change, which will affect around 12% of Google search queries in the US, follows pressure from the media industry and many of its users.

Although Google did not specify which sites would be affected, the search engine has come under fire for allowing content farm sites like Demand Media - which produces thousands of articles a day based on popular search terms - to "pollute" its results.

"This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites - sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful," said Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, head of the company's spam-fighting team, wrote in a blog post late on Thursday.

Gear

Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan orders probe into psy-ops against US Senators and international diplomats

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© AFP/Jim WatsonChairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, seen here in January 2011
Washington - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is ordering an investigation into charges that an army unit trained in psychological operations was improperly told to manipulate American senators to get more money and troops for the war.

A senator allegedly targeted said Thursday that he's confident there will be a review of the facts, but played down the idea that he was manipulated.

The staff of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, head of the effort to train Afghan security forces, ordered the information operations unit to compile profiles, voting records and other information on visiting lawmakers to leverage in a campaign to get more assistance, said a story Thursday on Rolling Stone's website. It says the campaign also improperly targeted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and others.

Caldwell's office denied that the command used information operations cell to influence distinguished visitors. But a press statement from Kabul said that the commander of forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus would order a probe "based on the information" in the article.

Star of David

Israeli drone raid wounds 6 Palestinians

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An Israeli unmanned plane has reportedly launched a missile attack on the southern Gaza Strip, inflicting injuries on six Palestinians.

The Thursday drone strike hit a vehicle that was travelling in the southern city of Rafah along the coastal sliver's border with Egypt, Xinhua reported.

It followed several aerial assaults across the besieged enclave, which was reported to have caused no casualties.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel's F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters carried out multiple airstrikes across the Gaza Strip.

In June 2007, Israel and Egypt placed the territory under siege and imposed an unprecedented blockade on nearly all movement and supplies in and out of the coastal strip.

Eye 2

Investigating BP Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Dead / Jailed Scientists Affiliated With The BP Oil Disaster

Can so much tragedy be merely coincidence?

LSU scientist Gregory Stone
© UnknownFebruary 17, 2011 - LSU scientist Gregory Stone, 54 - Unknown Illness

BP Anthony Nicholas Tremonte
© UnknownJanuary 26, 2011 - Anthony Nicholas Tremonte, 31 - Mississippi Department of Marine Resources officer, from Ocean Springs arrested on child porn charge

BP Thomas B. Manton
© UnknownJanuary 19, 2011 - Dr. Thomas B. Manton former President and CEO of the International Oil Spill Control Corporation - imprisonment and subsequent murder while jailed

BP John P. Wheeler III
© UnknownDecember 31, 2010 - John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and presidential aide and a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons - was beaten to death in an assault, body was discovered in a Wilmington landfill

Light Saber

Best of the Web: The Last Word on Terrorism

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James Corbett of 'The Corbett Report' with the last word on 'terrorism', a weapon, not a word:


Comment: While we understand the motivation of people like James Corbett in their efforts to expose the truth behind the 'terrorism threat', if we have learned anything in the last ten years (since 9/11) it is that attempting to enlighten the masses via 'politics' doesn't really work. Because people have been so completely programmed to believe, and believe in, 'authority' in general, the task of disabusing anyone of their belief in authority or 'officialdom' is rather difficult. But when you take the battle one level further down to the domain of politics, it becomes virtually impossible.

Politics is closely associated (or dissociated) in many people's minds with nationality, nationalism, family and ultimately, their own identity. Try to convince an American, for example, that American governments have been a force for evil rather than good in the world, and you immediately challenge in him (or her) a whole host of very personal and dearly held beliefs that extend as far as their childhood experiences of 'mom and Apple pie'.

Lay out to your British friend all the reasons that the 'Great' in Great Britain is not really deserved and he may suddenly be reminded of his grandmother telling him, in harrowing detail, how much she suffered during the London 'Blitz'.

And just try telling the average member of the Jewish diaspora or, if you're feeling particularly brave, an Israeli Jew, how Israel is an apartheid state that was established on stolen land and, needless to say, your point will be entirely lost on him. In fact, he'll only really be there in body, because, at the first inkling of criticism of this type, his mind and emotions will be instantly propelled back to Nazi Germany or, perhaps, some mythical BCE event in the Arabian desert.

Here's a pertinent excerpt from Barbara Oakley's book Evil Genes
A recent imaging study by psychologist Drew Westen and his colleagues at Emory University provides firm support for the existence of emotional reasoning. Just prior to the 2004 Bush-Kerry presidential elections, two groups of subjects were recruited - fifteen ardent Democrats and fifteen ardent Republicans. Each was presented with conflicting and seemingly damaging statements about their candidate, as well as about more neutral targets such as actor Tom Hanks (who, it appears, is a likable guy for people of all political persuasions). Unsurprisingly, when the participants were asked to draw a logical conclusion about a candidate from the other - "wrong" - political party, the participants found a way to arrive at a conclusion that made the candidate look bad, even though logic should have mitigated the particular circumstances and allowed them to reach a different conclusion. Here's where it gets interesting.

When this "emote control" began to occur, parts of the brain normally involved in reasoning were not activated. Instead, a constellation of activations occurred in the same areas of the brain where punishment, pain, and negative emotions are experienced (that is, in the left insula, lateral frontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex). Once a way was found to ignore information that could not be rationally discounted, the neural punishment areas turned off, and the participant received a blast of activation in the circuits involving rewards - akin to the high an addict receives when getting his fix.

In essence, the participants were not about to let facts get in the way of their hot-button decision making and quick buzz of reward. "None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," says Westen. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones." {...}

Ultimately, Westen and his colleagues believe that "emotionally biased reasoning leads to the 'stamping in' or reinforcement of a defensive belief, associationg the participant's 'revisionist' account of the data with positive emotion or relief and elimination of distress. 'The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data,'" Westen says. Westen's remarkable study showed that neural information processing related to what he terms "motivated reasoning" ... appears to be qualitatively different from reasoning when a person has no strong emotional stake in the conclusions to be reached.

The study is thus the first to describe the neural processes that underlie political judgment and decision making, as well as to describe processes involving emote control, psychological defense, confirmatory bias, and some forms of cognitive dissonance. The significance of these findings ranges beyond the study of politics: "Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,'" according to Westen. 
To the above we would add that, other than it being a painful process, the reason a person does not change their fundamental beliefs when confronted with conflicting information, even if that information can be proven to be true, is that there isn't enough motivation or 'reward' for them to make the effort. If there were, they would 'bite the bullet' and do it.

Politics is now a dead end street. The entire political debate has long since been co-opted by (sometime paid) hysterical shills and noise makers. But, for argument's sake, let's say you try anyway, and succeed in initiating someone into the political reality-based community, what will you have achieved? At this point in time, at this point in human history, with a sixth extinction looming, knowing that Henry Kissinger (for one example among many) is a degenerate ape, an inveterate liar and a psychopathic nut job to boot, will do nothing to stave off the encroaching cyclical cosmic catastrophe that threatens the very existence of man and ape alike.

While some readers have theorized that Sott.net's recent change in focus from politics to the coming earth changes etc. was a protective measure due to the dangers posed by exposing political skulduggery, let us just say that this is not the case. In fact, it is our understanding that the powers that be are only too happy to have those with a penchant for truth-telling should, on the eve of major earth changes, waste their energies on efforts to correct an historical slate that will soon be wiped clean anyway.

The time for wrangling over the rights or wrongs of politics, modern or historical, has passed. It's time (or rather long past time) to focus our efforts on bringing into sharp relief the fact that the clock is ticking down on human life on planet earth. At stake are not just our political persuasions, cultural identifications or childhood memories, but rather the entire past, present and future of all humankind. Of course, convincing people of this view of reality is unlikely to be a walk in the park. Unlike politics, or political history with its phony dialectic, there is no earthly authority to which anyone can align themselves, or appeal, to save their buns from cosmic catastrophe. And the great cosmic mix-master cares not if you are a Republican or a Democrat. As such, spreading the word about the strong (and growing) evidence for an approaching extinction level event on earth is much more likely to provide the required level of motivation for the masses to break their programming and awaken to reality.