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CISPA, aka SOPA 2.0, Pushed Forward By For-Profit Spying Lobby

internet spy graphic
© n/a
A cyber security bill moving swiftly through Congress would give government intelligence agencies broad powers to work with private companies to share information about Internet users. While some critics are beginning to organize online against the legislation, defense contractors, many already working with the National Security Agency on related data-mining projects, are lobbying to press forward. Like many bad policy ideas, entrenched government contractors seem to be using taxpayer money to lobby for even more power and profit.

The proposal, H.R.3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, introduced by Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), provides companies and the government "free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for 'cybersecurity purposes.'" Though the bill has been compared to SOPA given its potential to smother free speech on the Internet, the ill-fated copyright legislation that inspired an intense lobbying battle earlier this year, much of the tech community has has joined with copyright interests to support CISPA.


Propaganda Alert! US Drone Kills 7 al-Qaida Members in Yemen

© Reuters
Sanna, Yemen - A U.S. drone strike killed seven suspected al-Qaida members believed to be heading toward a restive province where Yemeni forces have been intensely battling the terror group, Yemeni officials said.

The unmanned U.S. drone targeted a vehicle in the province of Bayda, south of the capital of Sanaa, killing the seven people inside on the spot, according to two Yemeni military officials.

A statement from the Ministry of Defense said only that a jet fired a missile at a vehicle carrying al-Qaida members, destroying it and the people inside. The statement did not clarify whether the strike was American or Yemeni. The discrepancy could not be immediately clarified.

One of the Yemeni officials said the militants were heading to Abyan province where government forces are engaged in ongoing clashes with militants. Yemeni officials said more than 200 militants have been killed in fighting in the province over the last week, as Yemen tries to bring the restive area back under its control.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials, but Washington has carried out deadly airstrikes in Yemen in the past. Last year, an American drone strike killed U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist.


Airlines Cancel Activists' Flights to Israel

© The Associated Press/Dan BaliltyAn Israeli Security guard rides an escalator at the arrival terminal in Ben Gurion Air Port in Tel Aviv, Saturday, April 14, 2012.
A Palestinian activist said Saturday that a number of international airlines canceled flights for at least 100 people scheduled to arrive in Israel's main airport for a mass fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists, while Israel said those activists who manage to make it to the airport would be deported.

Campaign organizer Amira Musallam said activists from around the world notified her by email that Lufthansa, Jet2.com and Air France canceled their flight reservations.

EasyJet also announced it would refuse to fly passengers which Israel has marked on a no-entry list. Airline spokeswoman Anna Knowles said only a small number of passengers were affected.

Israeli television reported most airlines would not fly activists to Israel and only a trickle would arrive, though Musallam, the Palestinian organizer, said she still expects hundreds of activists to arrive beginning Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday.

The "Welcome to Palestine" project seeks to raise attention to how Israel controls access into Palestinian areas.

Visitors can only reach the West Bank through Israeli-controlled land crossings or Israeli airports. At any given time, hundreds of foreigners are in the West Bank, including activists, aid workers, volunteers, tourists and religious pilgrims. Israel limits entry through its border crossing to the Gaza Strip to foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers only.

Travelers who wish to visit the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank often report being detained and questioned, sometimes for hours, by Israeli border authorities - unless they fib about their intended destination.

Israel is nervous about a large influx of pro-Palestinian activists, following a series of deadly run-ins with such activists in recent years.


UN Security Council votes to send troops to Syria to enforce ceasefire

Un peacekeeper
© United Nations Photo / FlickrUN peacekeeper
The UN security council has voted unanimously to send to 30 military observers to Syria to monitor the country's fragile ceasefire.

Russia and China joined the other 13 security council members and voted in favour of the draft resolution on Saturday. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, made it clear Moscow would only support limited action from the UN.

"Out of respect for the sovereignty of Syria we have cautioned against destructive attempts at external interference or imposing any kind of illusory fixes," he said.

Sources at the UN said that the observers were poised to leave for Syria in the next couple of days.


Is Oil Smuggling and Organized Crime the Cause of Greece's Economic Crisis?

Oil smuggling is embedded into the social, political and economic fabric of Greece, with annual revenues generated from illegal fuel smuggling reaching €3 billion euros as of 2008, and some sources say that although Greece imports up to 99 percent of its fuel needs, it still manages to export more than it imports.

Greece thrives on its shipping industry and one of its main contraband markets is petroleum. Greek regulations have shipping oil priced at one-third the price of automotive and home heating oil. In response, smugglers transform low-cost "shipping oil" into higher-priced home and automotive oil, generating huge profits. The practice requires a vast criminal infrastructure including illegal depots near ports and major cities for the storage of the shipping oil, which is adulterated and resold as home and automotive oil.

An estimated 20 percent of fuel oil sold in the Greek market comes from illegal trade. Gas stations in Greece are said to offer fuel that is a more lucrative blend of legally purchased fuel and black market fuel, allowing retailers to realize higher profits and avoid excise duties.

Though Greece shows a mathematically impossible volume of petroleum exports to neighboring countries, the bills of laden do not add up, with oil tankers departing for their expressed destinations but then turning around and rerouting the ships back home for illegal sale on the domestic market.

Comment: Interesting angle on it, but we think people shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the dominant cause of the Greek/EU financial crisis remains Goldman Sachs and Wall Street malfeasance:

Bankers Have Seized Europe: Goldman Sachs Has Taken Over

What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe

Jon Stewart Blames the Greek Crisis on Goldman Sachs

What Chase & Goldman Sachs did to Greece

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Sarkozy's Comeback Hopes Crumble, Polls Show

Nicolas Sarkozy
© unknown
France, Paris - French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended his economic record on Friday as a slew of opinion polls suggested his prospects of re-election were crumbling just over a week from round one of a vote where Socialist Francois Hollande is the clear frontrunner.

Four polls published in less than 24 hours showed Hollande extending his lead, with the conservative incumbent's modest gains of the past month starting to evaporate ahead of a two-round contest taking place on April 22 and May 6.

A CSA poll showed Hollande winning the May 6 run-off with 57 percent of the vote. Three other polls also indicated that his chances of becoming France's first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand were improving.

Sarkozy maintained that he had helped France weather economic crisis over the past four years far better than countries such as Greece or Spain, and he renewed warnings of market turmoil if Hollande won power.

"What fires up the financial markets and speculation is when a country does not repay its debts, reneges on its commitments and embarks on a path of ill-considered spending," Sarkozy told TV news channel i>TELE.

"Mr Hollande, by promising to raise spending without any commitment to cutbacks, is setting the stage for a confidence problem (in financial markets)," he said.

Hollande, who says he can slash the public deficit but also promote jobs and education as he hikes tax on the rich, stuck to his line in three newspaper interviews published on Friday. He said austerity would be self-defeating if not accompanied by efforts to promote economic growth in France and Europe.

"This I say clearly: financial markets will not lay down the law in France," he told the business weekly La Tribune.


Obama Secret Service Agents Sent Home from Colombia Over Alleged Misconduct

© Enrique Marcarian/ReutersColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife Maria Clemencia Rodriguez receive U.S. President Barack Obama as they arrive at the San Felipe Castle for a state dinner before the start of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena April 13, 2012.
A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty over alleged misconduct.

A caller who said he had knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents sent home at 12. Secret Service was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The incident threatened to overshadow Mr. Obama's economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment, but also did not dispute the allegations.


North Korea's Rocket Failure a Setback for New Leader

© Chung Sung-Jun/Getty ImagesSouth Korean conservative protesters burn a mockup of a North Korean missile during an anti-North Korea rally Friday in Seoul.
Pyongyang, North Korea - A satellite launch North Korea had hailed as a moment of national pride ended in failure Friday when the rocket disintegrated over the Yellow Sea, earning Pyongyang embarrassment as well as condemnation from a host of nations that deemed it a covert test of missile technology.

The United States and South Korea declared the early morning launch a failure minutes after the rocket shot out from the North's west coast. North Korea acknowledged that some four hours later in an announcement broadcast on state TV, saying the satellite that the rocket was carrying did not enter orbit.

North Korea had held up the launch as a scientific achievement and even a gift for its late founder, Kim Il Sung, two days before the 100th anniversary of his birth. It pressed ahead even as world leaders vowed to take action in the UN Security Council against what they called a flagrant violation of international resolutions prohibiting North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the launch "is in direct violation" of Security Council sanctions "and threatens regional stability," spokesman Martin Nesirky said.


Washington's Psychopathic Kosovo strategy could destroy NATO

clinton kosovo nato
© EFE / ENDState Secretary Clinton at a press conference in Washington D.C. with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, 9 April 2012.
Not satisfied with having sponsored the artificial creation of Kosovo, the United States has now decided to ram the mafia state through NATO and the European Union. A new member with those characteristics is the last thing that Europe needs right now. However, it should work wonders for the consolidation of U.S. political and military agenda in the region, not to speak of the flourishing heroin trade from Afghanistan...both of which, as Engdahl points out in this sharp analysis, pose a threat to Russia and may backfire in the end.

In one of the more bizarre foreign policy announcements of a bizarre Obama Administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will "help" Kosovo to join NATO as well as the European Union. She made the pledge after a recent Washington meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Washington where she praised the Thaci government's progress in "European integration and economic development"[1].

Her announcement no doubt caused serious gas pains among government and military officials in the various capitals of European NATO. Few people appreciate just how mad Clinton's plan to push Kosovo into NATO and the EU is.


Best of the Web: What Israel Does

Israeli soldiers and Palestinian medics treat Nesreen Hash'hash, an 8-year-old Palestinian girl who was injured in the face by a rubber bullet in the Fawar refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Hebron, Tuesday, March 28, 2006. Nesreen was hit in the face by the rubber bullet fired by Israeli troops during a military operation in the camp, Palestinian officials said. The girl was on the roof of her home when she was hit.