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Light Sabers

Russia, Europe propose rival resolutions on Syria observers

demonstrations in syria
© Associated Press/Rodrigo AbdPeople attend a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime in Kafar Taharim, northern Syria, in this file photo.
European nations and Russia have proposed rival UN resolutions that would expand the number of UN cease-fire monitors in Syria from 30 to 300.
The key difference in the texts - circulated Friday morning to the Security Council and obtained by The Associated Press - is whether there should be any conditions on the deployment of the larger observer force.

The draft proposed by Russia, Syria's closest ally, does not include any conditions.

The European draft says the expanded force would be deployed "expeditiously" after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notifies the council that Syria has implemented its pledge to withdraw all troops and heavy weapons from cities and towns "to his satisfaction."

Penis Pump

US to provide Israel with $680 million for Iron Dome anti-missile system

iron dome battery
© ReutersIron Dome Battery
So far, the United States has provided $205 million to support the Iron Dome effort; Obama administration plans to request unspecified level of funding from Congress to help expand the system.

The United States would spend an additional $680 million through 2015 to strengthen Israel's short-range rocket shield under a plan crafted by Republicans from the House of Representatives, two congressional staff members disclosed on Friday.

The figure could put election-year pressure on President Barack Obama's administration to spell out what it deems suitable support for the "Iron Dome," which has played an increasingly important role in Israeli security.

Comment: Israel is the only country in the region with nuclear weapons, and the only aggressor among her neighbours. Not only it does not need any "defense" systems, but the US government could use all those millions they have been spending on Israel to help their own starving, homeless, ailing population.


A New Record is Set for Military Spending: The Shame of Nations

military spending graphic
© n/a
On April 17, 2012, as millions of Americans were filing their income tax returns, the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its latest study of world military spending. In case Americans were wondering where most of their tax money - and the tax money of other nations - went in the previous year, the answer from SIPRI was clear: to war and preparations for war.

World military spending reached a record $1,738 billion in 2011 - an increase of $138 billion over the previous year. The United States accounted for 41 percent of that, or $711 billion.

Some news reports have emphasized that, from the standpoint of reducing reliance on armed might, this actually represents progress. After all, the increase in "real" global military spending - that is, expenditures after corrections for inflation and exchange rates - was only 0.3 percent. And this contrasts with substantially larger increases in the preceding thirteen years.

But why are military expenditures continuing to increase - indeed, why aren't they substantially decreasing - given the governmental austerity measures of recent years?

Amid the economic crisis that began in late 2008 (and which continues to the present day), most governments have been cutting back their spending dramatically on education, health care, housing, parks, and other vital social services. However, there have not been corresponding cuts in their military budgets.

Bad Guys

The Globalization of Hollow Politics

T-shirt depicting Francois Hollande
© AP/Francois MoriA supporter wears a T-shirt depicting French Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande and the legend “H is for hope,” echoing the Obama campaign of 2008.
I went to Lille in northern France a few days before the first round of the French presidential election to attend a rally held by the socialist candidate Francois Hollande. It was a depressing experience. Thunderous music pulsated through the ugly and poorly heated Zenith convention hall a few blocks from the city center. The rhetoric was as empty and cliché-driven as an American campaign event. Words like "destiny," "progress" and "change" were thrown about by Hollande, who looks like an accountant and made oratorical flourishes and frenetic arm gestures that seemed calculated to evoke the last socialist French president, Francois Mitterrand. There was the singing of "La Marseillaise" when it was over. There was a lot of red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag. There was the final shout of "Vive la France!" I could, with a few alterations, have been at a football rally in Amarillo, Texas. I had hoped for a little more gravitas. But as the French cultural critic Guy Debord astutely grasped, politics, even allegedly radical politics, has become a hollow spectacle. Quel dommage.

The emptying of content in political discourse in an age as precarious and volatile as ours will have very dangerous consequences. The longer the political elite - whether in Washington or Paris, whether socialist or right-wing, whether Democrat or Republican - ignore the breakdown of globalization, refuse to respond rationally to the climate crisis and continue to serve the iron tyranny of global finance, the more it will shred the possibility of political consensus, erode the effectiveness of our political institutions and empower right-wing extremists. The discontent sweeping the planet is born out of the paralysis of traditional political institutions.

The signs of this mounting polarization were apparent in incomplete returns Sunday with the far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, winning a staggering vote of roughly 20 percent. This will make the National Front the primary opposition party in France if Hollande wins, as expected, the presidency in the second round May 6. Jean-Luc Melenchon's leftist coalition, the Front de Gauche, was pulling a disappointing 11 percent of the vote. But at least France has a Melenchon. He was the sole candidate to attack the racist and nationalist diatribes of Le Pen. Melenchon called for a rolling back of austerity measures, preached the politics "of love, of brotherhood, of poetry" and vowed to fight what he termed the "parasitical vermin" who run global markets. His campaign rallies ended with the singing of the leftist anthem "The Internationale."

Star of David

Israeli War Propaganda: 'Moment of truth is near', Israeli Air Force set to attack Iran

Israeli Air Force fighter F-16
© AFP Photo / Menahem KahanaIsraeli Air Force fighter F-16C taking off from the Uvda Air Force base in the southern Israel
Israel has once again demonstrated its readiness to launch a massive assault on Iran's nuclear facilities. The Israeli Air Force is geared up and ready to strike as soon as the order is given, a major Israeli TV station reported.

­A reporter from Israel's Channel 10 TV station has spent several weeks interviewing pilots and other military personnel at an Israeli air base. Dozens of pilots are inspired with the prospect of Israel's first full-scale air campaign in 30 years. Most of the interviewees spoke openly about the "year's preparations" that are now almost over, as the country heads towards a hot and tense summer.

Eye 1

Chris Hedges, activists, sue Obama and others over National Defense Authorization Act

© AP Photo/David Goldman / April 17, 2012Activists have sued the president for signing a military authorization bill which they claim threatens civil liberties.
A coalition of well-known journalists, activists and civil libertarians have sued President Obama, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other members of the U.S. government to push them to remove or rewrite this year's defense appropriations bill, saying it chills speech by threatening constitutionally protected activities such as news reporting, protest and political organizing in defense of controversial causes such as the Wikileaks case.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was launched by former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges, claim that the new provisions, which went into effect March 1, not only put them at risk of arrest but also allows indefinite detentions of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and that the provisions are too vague.


Mandatory GMO Labeling Bills Introduced by Hawaii and Vermont State Representatives

© blog.friendseat.comFDA Ignores 1 Million Signatures Supporting GMO Labeling
Two women legislators representing the people of their state by introducing a Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill, now find themselves facing GMO seed maker Monsanto in two different ways. One faces a long-standing physical presence and the other a lawsuit.

Elle Cochran, Maui Council Member and Kate Webb, Representative for the State of Vermont are both facing corporate giant Monsanto head on by filling state bills for mandatory labeling of all their genetically modified products (GMOs) sold in Hawaii and Vermont. Elle and Kate have filed the bills in response to an overwhelming outcry from the people they serve who say they want to know if GMOs are in their food.

Public upset is increasing as more people become aware of the replacement of traditional crops with GMO crops over the past ten years with some as high as 96% of the total crop grown in United States. When you learn 80% of processed foods found on store shelves contain GMOs, consumers feel they are helpless to get away from them. Surveys show that as many as 90% of consumers want GMO information on labels so they can make a choice. Organic is currently the only way of being sure GMOs are not added to products.

When it became clear that the Kate Webb's Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill was probably going to pass because of strong support from other Representatives, Monsanto then publicly came out with a statement saying they would sue the state of Vermont if the bill passed.

Alarm Clock

North Korea Vows to Turn Seoul to Ashes

© UnknownNorth Korean Army
North Korea vowed today in an alarming announcement to "soon" reduce parts of South Korea's capital to "ashes" for insulting North Korea's leadership.

Regular programming was interrupted on North Korea's state TV today by a special report declaring that "special actions" will be carried out "soon" and aimed at parts of the South Korean capital Seoul.

It said the military attack will use "unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style."

"All will be reduced to ashes in three to four minutes," and will involve "form of fire."

"The special actions of our revolutionary armed forces will start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors," read the statement.

The targets Pyongyang pinpointed are South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and "the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion."

Alarm Clock

Pedophilia Coverup? Secret Service "Prostitutes" were children

Columbia prostitution
© Unknown
A not so funny thing happened on the way to the Summit; the emerging scandal involving the U.S. military and the Secret Service presidential advance team's procurement of prostitutes during a night of drinking and carousing preceding the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Columbia will leave a trail of victims as long as the Amazon River.

Despite the Secret Service's denial, the scandalous and irresponsible actions jeopardized the protection of the President and his entourage and brought disagrace on the U.S. government. At the very least, their actions were a gross dereliction of duty, and quite possibly, illegal.

The duties of the 11 Secret Service Agents who arrived in Cartegena in advance of the President's trip to the Summit of the Americas should have kept them busy 24/7. Like every country visit, this Summit had a vast array of critical assignments to ensure the safety of the President. The U.S. Secret Service website clearly delineates the complicated and formidable requirements of a presidential advance team:

Comment: Worse than shameful, it's pathological if true. For more information on child sex rings and pedophilia, see these Sott articles:

Dutroux Cover-up Protected Pedophile Networks

Government officials in Montenegro pimped hundreds of women in major sex trafficking operation

UN Peacekeepers and 42 NGOs Under Investigation for Sexual Abuse of Children at Refugee Camps

Portuguese Pedophile Network: Popular TV host and UN Ambassador among those sentenced for raping children

6,000 children adbucted annually for European pedophile networks

Arrow Down

Dutch Cabinet Resigns After Austerity Talks Fail - Another One Down?

© Dennis Flaherty / Getty ImagesAmsterdam, the Netherlands
Prime Minister Mark Rutte meet the Dutch queen on Monday afternoon and tendered his government's resignation after talks on austerity collapsed at the weekend.

The Dutch government's failure to reach an agreement in talks to achieve tough spending cuts could see ratings agencies cut the country's prized AAA-rating and nervous investors push up the country's borrowing costs, and it will also have wider implications for the euro zone as a whole, analysts said on Monday.

Dutch Finance Minister Jan-Kees de Jager sought to reassure investors on Monday, telling CNBC in The Hague that the Netherlands had always displayed budget discipline and would continue to do so.

"The perception of financial markets is always important...and that's why I also have the message for financial markets that for decades the Netherlands have shown a solid fiscal budgetary policy and this will not change. In any government we have seen in the past we have seen solid policy and this will remain in the future," de Jager said.