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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.


Vader

Qaddafi Strikes Back as Rebels Close In on Libyan Capital

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© Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Benghazi, Libya - Thousands of mercenary and other forces struck back at a tightening circle of rebellions around the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, trying to fend off an uprising against the 40-year rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who blamed the revolt on "hallucinogenic" drugs and Osama bin Laden.

The bloodiest fighting centered on Zawiya, a gateway city to the capital, just 30 miles west of Tripoli. Early Thursday, Colonel Qaddafi's forces arrived and unleashed an assault using automatic weapons and an anti-aircraft gun on a mosque occupied by rebels armed with hunting rifles, Libyans who had fled the country said.

An exiled Libyan who had been in contact with members of the opposition in Zawiya said the battle lasted four hours and had killed at least 100.

Star of David

Hillary Clinton: Israeli Settlements 'Illegitimate'

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli settlements "illegitimate" shortly before the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal.


In an exclusive interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour taped on Friday afternoon, Clinton said, "I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians."

The U.N. resolution failed as a result of the United States' veto. The Security Council vote was 14 countries in favor of the resolution and one country, the United States, opposed. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution risked harming the peace process.

Star of David

Best of the Web: Who is the Superpower, America or Israel?


Comment: The following article, by Reuters columnist Bernd Debusmann, gives one of the most clear and straightforward explanations of the real source of the Middle East problem that you're likely to find.


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The Palestinian West Bank (surrounded by an Israeli wall) with illegal Israeli settlement areas in purple.
On February 18, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. The vote raises a question: Who dominates in the alliance between America and Israel?

Judging from the extent to which one partner defies the will of the other, decade after decade, the world's only superpower is the weaker partner. When push comes to shove, American presidents tend to bow to Israeli wishes. Barack Obama is no exception, or he would not have instructed his ambassador at the United Nations to vote against a policy he himself stated clearly in the summer of 2009.
"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop," he said in a much-lauded speech in Cairo.
Compare this with the text of the resolution that drew 14 votes in favor and died with the U.S. veto: "Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace."

Linguists may quibble over the difference between "illegal" and "illegitimate" but the substance of the two statements is pretty much the same. So why the veto? It followed an energetic campaign by the Israeli government and its allies in the United States to keep the issue out of the United Nations, seen by Israel as a reflexively anti-Israeli body.

Binoculars

Gaddafi's son denies bombing civilians

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© UnknownSaif al-Islam, the son of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi
The son of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi has denied the air force having attacked pro-democracy protesters, claiming the aim of reported air raids as targeting ammunitions depots.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said that no one had been injured in the air attacks, Libyan state radio reported late Wednesday.

Witnesses, however, said that fighter aircraft opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the second largest city of Benghazi.

According to the Libyan newspaper Qurina, a pilot who had been ordered to bomb oil fields southwest of Benghazi refused to do so and instead ejected from the plane.

USA

Hypocrite Obama: Libya bloodshed outrageous

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© UnknownUS President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama has condemned the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Libya, saying the perpetrators should be held accountable.

Obama said the recent clampdown by Muammar Gaddafi's regime is "outrageous and unacceptable" and must stop, AFP reported on Wednesday.

"Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need and to respect the rights of its people," Obama said.

The US president also slammed the Libyan government's threats and orders of punishing and shooting the protesters and said these actions "violate international norms and every standard of common decency."

Stop

Gaddafi - Out of control raving lunatic: 130 Libyan soldiers executed for mutiny

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© UnknownLibyan army soldiers and other protesters standing on an army van chant slogans in Tobruk, Feb 23.
Scores of Libyan soldiers have been executed for refusing to open fire on pro-democracy protesters, International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) says.

An amateur video shows the bodies of some 130 slain soldiers with their hands tied behind their backs. The mutinous soldiers were shot dead in al-Baida near the eastern city of Benghazi.

This comes amid more reports of defiance among army ranks and soldiers who have refused to obey orders by embattled Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to shoot peaceful protesters.

The IFHR said the brutal crackdown on protesters in Libya is "crime against humanity has to be referred to the International Court of Justice," dpa reported on Wednesday.