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People

Best of the Web: Anonymous Vows Crusade Against Israel

The International hacker group Anonymous threatened to launch a crusade against Israel's government on Thursday.

The group released a video on YouTube overnight accusing Israel of "crimes against humanity", amid an escalating Internet war between Israeli and Arab hackers.


USA

US: Four Wisconsin Republican Lawmakers Challenge Recall Signatures

Scott Fitzgerald
© Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesRepublican Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald
Four Wisconsin lawmakers targeted for possible recall later this year filed challenges on Thursday to the validity of thousands of signatures gathered to force the special elections, the state's Government Accountability Board said.

Organizers of the drive to recall the four Republican state senators submitted more than 18,000 pages of signed petitions with the board last month. Thursday was the deadline for the four lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, to lodge objections with the board.

In a statement, Fitzgerald cited "a wide range of irregularities, errors and outright falsehoods" in the petitions submitted to force him to defend his seat. He said he planned to challenge 4,300 of the signatures, which could be enough to derail the effort to unseat him.

All four Republicans supported the controversial curbs on public-sector union collective bargaining powers that were enacted in Wisconsin last year.

The measure, which greatly reduces the power of most public-sector unions in the state, triggered nine recall elections of state senators last summer. Two Republican senators were recalled.

Star of David

Best of the Web: U.S. officials tell NBC News: 'Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran's nuclear scientists'


Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel's secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran's leaders.

The group, the People's Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims' cars.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible - Israel and the People's Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describes what Iranian leaders believe is a close relationship between Israel's secret service, the Mossad, and the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.


Bacon

SOTT Focus: Syria's Bloody CIA Revolution - A Distraction?

Image
Hundreds of thousands of people have been repeatedly taking to the streets of Damascus to show their support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo taken October 12, 2011
While the mainstream media is going to great lengths to convince the world that events in Syria are the result of yet another 'people's revolution', the facts point clearly to yet another US government-sponsored bloody 'regime change'. Given that the US has been a de facto global empire for at least 60 years, with all of the power, infrastructure and influence that entails, how difficult do we think it would be for agents of the empire to manufacture a 'revolution' in any given country? The answer, surprisingly, is 'not so easily'. But it is doable, as long as the empire is willing to murder innocent civilians to create the impression of a brutal regime in need of removal. And the USA has never balked at murdering a few hundred, a few thousand, or even a few million civilians to ensure it gets its geo-political way, to the delight of psychopaths in power everywhere.

Attention

US: Why the Foreclosure Deal May Not Be So Hot After All

AG's
© Mark Wilson/Kevin Winter/Getty Images New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who agreed to join more than 40 other states in a nationwide settlement, announced today.

So the foreclosure settlement is through.

A few weeks back, I was optimistic about it - I had been worried that it was going to contain broad liability waivers for all sorts of activities, and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that its scope had essentially been narrowed to robosigning offenses.

However, now that the settlement is finalized, and I've had time to think about it and talk to people who know far more than I do about this, I'm feeling pretty queasy.

It feels an awful lot like what happened here is the nation's criminal justice honchos collectively realized that a thorough investigation of the problem would require resources they simply do not have, or are reluctant to deploy, and decided to accept a superficially face-saving peace offer rather than fight it out.

So they settled the case in a way that reads in headlines like it's a bite out of the banks, but in fact is barely even that. There will be little in the way of real compensation for stuggling homeowners, and there are serious issues in the area of the deal's enforceability. In fact, about the only part of the deal we can be absolutely sure will be honored in full is the liability waiver for the robosigning offenses.

Bad Guys

US, California: LAPD Pioneers High-Tech Crime-Fighting 'War Room'


The LAPD is fighting crime from a high-tech war room that gives it eyes all over the city. The surveillance hub is now a model for police forces around the world and KCAL9 got an exclusive tour inside from Chief Charlie Beck.

"We are targets on our own soil," says Beck. "We have to be ready."

What began as a grass roots idea following the 9/11 terrorist attacks is now a state-of-the-art real-time analysis critical response center. It's called RACR, and it's located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

"This is a system that cuts through the red tape, that gets information to the people that need it," says Chief Beck. He calls it "the brains of the department, twenty-four/seven."

Police in the activity center monitor live feeds of city and traffic cameras, counter-terrorism information, and real-time crime mapping, with cutting edge software.

Attention

Russia: Gorbachev Talks! (And Putin Won't Like What He's Saying.)

Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who knows something about losing control of Russia, met with students today and warned of swelling protests against Vladimir Putin if he retakes the presidency.


It may be time to add a familiar old face to the gallery of fresh pro-democracy leaders that's been created by Russia's growing anti-Putin street protest movement: the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, now an octogenarian, was one of the first Russian political figures to start warning - more than a year ago - that Vladimir Putin's autocratic, top-down Kremlin-centric regime risked repeating many of the errors that led to the downfall of the USSR and could face a mass challenge from the streets if it failed to implement democratic reforms.

Now that protest movement has materialized and Gorbachev, who faced a popular groundswell of opposition in the dying days of the Soviet Union, is advising Mr. Putin to drop his bid for election to a third presidential term in March 4 polls and leave.

With society turning against him, Putin is no longer able to handle the burdens of the presidency, Gorbachev said during a meeting with students at Moscow's International University today.

War Whore

Propaganda Alert! Iran Helping al Qaeda? War "Hysteria" Builds

Iran US flags
© CBS/AP
Reported concerns among some U.S. officials that Iran may have essentially freed a group of al Qaeda militants held for almost a decade under house arrest in the Islamic Republic are adding Friday morning to the escalating war-rhetoric pouring out of Washington and Israel.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some government officials believe Iran's move to allow the men greater freedom - which may include permission to leave the country - suggests the nation's hardline rulers are trying to bolster a link between themselves and the radical Muslim terror group as Western pressure mounts on both entities.


Comment: In other words, unsubstantiated rumors from unnamed sources, AKA Propaganda.


The report is particularly disconcerting as it follows closely on the heels of America's intelligence chief James Clapper warning U.S. lawmakers that Iran is, "more willing to conduct an attack in the United States" as sanctions hit its economy and talk of Israel attacking its military and nuclear installations gains volume.

MIB

Germany Expels Four Syrian Diplomats in Spy Case

Guido Westerwelle
© Reuters//Guido KrzikowskiGerman Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
As tensions mount between Western nations and Syria, the German authorities said Thursday that they had ordered the expulsion of four Syrian diplomats after arresting two men accused separately of spying on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

The police here arrested the two men on Tuesday, saying they were "strongly suspected of investigating Syrian opposition members in Germany for a Syrian intelligence service over a period of years."

The men were identified, under standard German procedures, only as Mahmoud El A., 47, of Lebanese descent, and Akram O., 34, a Syrian.

State and federal police officers searched the homes of six other suspects "believed to be involved in espionage," prosecutors said.

In a statement on Thursday, Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said the four diplomats - three men and a woman who were not identified by name - had been given three days to leave Germany. Mr. Westerwelle did not go into detail about the expulsions, but officials said the embassy personnel were suspected of carrying out activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, a formulation that usually refers to espionage.

Dominoes

Greek deputy minister quits over EU/IMF bailout terms

Greek deputy labour minister, Yannis Koutsoukos
© Syracuse UniversityGreek deputy labour minister, Yannis Koutsoukos
A Greek deputy minister resigned on Thursday in an early sign of resistance to tough austerity and reform measures which party leaders accepted as the price of a new international bailout.

Deputy Labour Minister Yannis Koutsoukos, a member of the socialist PASOK party and former trade union leader, said he was quitting because the measures were "painful for working people," and accused Greece's foreign lenders of blackmail.

He released his resignation letter to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos after the premier announced that leaders of the three parties in his coalition had signed up to conditions demanded by the European Union and IMF.

Parliament must approve the agreement in a vote expected to be held on Sunday or Monday.

"Our lenders ignored the arguments and concrete proposals made by the Labour Ministry and in a blackmailing way are crushing the edifice of labour relations," Koutsoukos wrote.