Puppet MastersS


Attention

Mike Bloomberg's New York: Cops in Your Hallways

NYPD Poster
© NYCLU

An amazing lawsuit was filed in New York last week. It seems Mike Bloomberg's notorious "stop-and-frisk" policy - known colloquially in these parts by silently-cheering white voters as the "Let's have cops feel up any nonwhite person caught walking in the wrong neighborhood" policy - isn't even the most repressive search policy in the NYPD arsenal.

Bloomberg, that great crossover Republican, has long been celebrated by the Upper West Side bourgeoisie for his enlightened views on gay rights and the environment, but also targeted for criticism by civil rights activists because of stop-and-frisk, a program that led to a record 684,330 street searches just last year.

Now he's under fire for a program he inherited, which goes by the darkly Bushian name of the "Clean Halls program." In effect since 1991, it allows police to execute so-called "vertical patrols" by going up into private buildings and conducting stop-and-frisk searches in hallways - with the landlord's permission.

According to the NYCLU, which filed the suit, "virtually every private apartment building [in the Bronx] is enrolled in the program," and "in Manhattan alone, there are at least 3,895 Clean Halls Buildings." Referring to the NYPD's own data, the complaint says police conducted 240,000 "vertical patrols" in the year 2003 alone.

If you live in a Clean Halls building, you can't even go out to take out the trash without carrying an ID - and even that might not be enough. If you go out for any reason, there may be police in the hallways, demanding that you explain yourself, and insisting, in brazenly illegal and unconstitutional fashion, on searches of your person.

USA

Planning a trip to Canada or the Caribbean? US Immigration may have other ideas...

New security checks are already in place - even for flights hundreds of miles from American airspace

One million British travellers planning to fly to Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico this year face the risk of being turned away at the airport - at the insistence of the US Department of Homeland Security.

New rules require British Airways and other airlines flying to certain airports outside America to submit passengers' personal data to US authorities. The information is checked against a "No Fly" list containing tens of thousands of names. Even if the flight plan steers well clear of US territory, travellers whom the Americans regard as suspicious will be denied boarding.

Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, told The Independent: "The concern by the US for its own security is entirely understandable, but it seems to me it's a whole different issue that American wishes should determine the rights and choices of people travelling between two countries neither of which is the US."

For several years, every US-bound passenger has had to provide Advance Passenger Information (API) before departure. Washington has extended the obligation to air routes that over-fly US airspace, such as Heathrow to Mexico City or Gatwick to Havana.

Now the US is demanding passengers' full names, dates of birth and gender from airlines, at least 72 hour before departure from the UK to Canada. The initial requirement is for flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and the Nova Scotia capital, Halifax - 150 miles from the nearest US territory. A similar stipulation is expected soon for the main airports in western Canada, Vancouver and Calgary.

Bulb

France shootings: Why Didn't French Intelligence Stop Merah? Was Merah The Shooter?

Security analysts have been asking whether French intelligence missed vital clues about Mohamed Merah that might have prevented his attacks or stopped him earlier.

Washington considered him dangerous enough to place on its no-fly list and French domestic intelligence was aware he was a risk.

However, he was able to make a trip to Pakistan unimpeded despite being effectively escorted out of Afghanistan on his first visit to the region.

Moreover, he managed to build up an arsenal of guns in Toulouse, which he used to deadly effect.

Questions over France's surveillance of Merah and similar suspects go to the very structure of the domestic intelligence service, the DCRI (Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence).

Some have asked whether the intelligence community, in its rush to adapt to the new threat of Islamist militancy in Europe after such attacks as Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, might not have neglected traditional police surveillance methods.

"The technical means are very advanced but they do not replace human sources," veteran French journalist Alain Hamon, who specialises in policing and terrorism, told the BBC News website.

Chess

Alain Juppé accused by his own Administration of having falsified reports on Syria

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé
© UnknownFrench Foreign Minister Alain Juppé
On 19 March 2012, a high French official invited Arab journalists based in Paris to inform them of the internal battle being waged within the French government and, in particular, the Quai d'Orsay [the French Foreign Ministry] regarding Syria. According to this person, the French Ambassador in Damascus, Eric Chevallier, whose embassy had just been shut down and who had returned to Paris, challenged Minister Juppé in front of his colleagues. He accused Alain Juppé of having ignored his embassy reports and of having falsified summaries of them to provoke a war against Syria.

In March 2011, at the beginning of the events currently besetting Syria, the Foreign Ministry hurriedly dispatched fact finders to Deraa to appraise what was happening. Their report, submitted to Paris, indicated that tensions had dissipated following several demonstrations, information that contradicted Al-Jazeera and France 24 reports that the city of Deraa was being violently torn apart. The ambassador requested the mission be extended in order to follow developing events. The Foreign Minister, furious about the first report, telephoned him and demanded that he alter it to state that a bloody repression of the city was occurring. The Ambassador then arranged a teleconference between the Chief of Mission in Deraa and the Minister and had him repeat that no such repression had occurred. The minister then threatened the ambassador and the conversation ended icily.

Immediately afterwards, Alain Juppé's cabinet pressured Agence France Press to publish cables aligned with the view of the Minister. During the months that followed, altercations between Ambassador Eric Chevallier and Alain Juppé continued to multiply, until the moment of the Iranian hostage crisis in January 2012 and the death of "journalist" Gilles Jacquier. At this moment, the Ambassador was ordered to pull the covert DGSE agents working under press cover out of Syria, at which point he realized the importance of the secret operation being carried out by Alain Juppé.1

Arrow Up

Euro zone unemployment reaches near 15-year high

Unemployment in the euro zone reached its highest level in almost 15 years in February, with more than 17 million people out of work, and economists said they expected job office queues to grow even longer later this year.


Joblessness in the 17-nation currency zone rose to 10.8 percent - in line with a Reuters poll of economists - and 0.1 points worse than in January, Eurostat said on Monday.

Economists are divided over the wisdom of European governments' drive to bring down fiscal deficits so aggressively as economic troubles hit tax revenues, consumers' spending power and business confidence which collapsed late last year.

February's unemployment level - last hit in June 1997 - marked the 10th straight monthly rise and contrasts sharply with the United States where the economy has been adding jobs since late last year.

Stormtrooper

Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

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© truthdig.com
The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists. And now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it. Our 16 national intelligence agencies and army of private contractors feed on paranoia, rumor, rampant careerism, demonization of critical free speech and often invented narratives. They justify their existence, and their consuming of vast governmental resources, by turning even the banal and the mundane into a potential threat. And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag.

This is why the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was contested by me and three other plaintiffs before Judge Katherine B. Forrest in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, is so dangerous. This act, signed into law by President Barack Obama last Dec. 31, puts into the hands of people with no discernible understanding of legitimate dissent the power to use the military to deny due process to all deemed to be terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, and hold them indefinitely in military detention. The deliberate obtuseness of the NDAA's language, which defines "covered persons" as those who "substantially supported" al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces," makes all Americans, in the eyes of our expanding homeland security apparatus, potential terrorists. It does not differentiate. And the testimony of my fellow plaintiffs, who understand that the NDAA is not about them but about us, repeatedly illustrated this.

2 + 2 = 4

SOTT Focus: Mohamed Merah: 'Liquidated' French Intelligence Asset

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'Sarko the American' gets his '9/11'
Since my on the spot analysis and speculations on the likely truth behind the recent shootings in South-Western France, more information has come to light that suggests that I was correct - Mohamned Merah was indeed a French intelligence asset who was groomed and then 'burned' in the service of a staged 'Islamic terror' attack and the re-election of Nicolas Sarkozy in the upcoming French Presidential elections.

Here's a quick recapitulation of the facts:

Merah has not been identified as the person who killed three soldiers, a Jewish teacher and three Jewish children in Toulouse and Montauban, because the shooter was wearing a motorbike helmet. On the contrary, eyewitnesses said the gunman was "quite fat" and "European looking" (according to an eyewitness who said he caught a glimpse of the gunman's face while his visor was down), while Merah is of slender build and clearly of North African descent.

The only evidence that Merah was the gunman is based on recordings of alleged conversations between police negotiators and Merah. These recordings have not been made public and probably never will be. While we can assume that a dialogue between Merah and police did take place, we have every reason to assume that the French authorities are not telling the truth.

Red Flag

Child witnesses to Afghan massacre say Robert Bales was not alone

Robert Bales
© unknownStaff Sgt. Robert Bales during an exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California
Here are two versions of what happened the night of March 11, when 17 Afghan villagers were shot to death.

First, the Army version: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, troubled by marriage woes, drunkenly left Camp Belambai, 12 miles from Kandahar, with a pistol and an automatic rifle and killed six people as they slept. Bales then returned to the base and left again for another village, this time killing 11. He acted alone and he admitted to the killings, according to the Army.

Then there is the account that child witnesses provided Yalda Hakim, a journalist for SBS Dateline in Australia. Hakim, who was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to Australia as a child, is the first international journalist to interview the surviving witnesses. She said American investigators tried to prevent her from interviewing the children, saying her questions could traumatize them. She said she appealed to village leaders, who arranged for her to interview the witnesses.

Bad Guys

Nations Pledge Aid to Syria Rebels

Hillary Clinton
© The Associated PressHillary Clinton speaks after a conference of foreign ministers in Istanbul, Turkey
A coalition of more than 70 partners, including the United States, has pledged to send millions of dollars and communications equipment to Syria's opposition groups.

The move signals deeper involvement in the conflict amid a growing belief that diplomacy and sanctions alone cannot end the Damascus regime's repression.

The shift by the US and its Western and Arab allies toward seeking to sway the military balance in Syria carries regional risks because the crisis there increasingly resembles a proxy conflict that could exacerbate sectarian tensions. The Syrian rebels are overmatched by heavily armed regime forces.

The summit meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" follows a year of failed diplomacy that seems close to running its course with a troubled peace plan led by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

X

Bales' lawyers blocked from massacre investigation

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Lawyers for Robert Bales, accused of the massacre of 17 Afghan citizens on March 11 are blaming the U.S. for blocking the team from interviewing witnesses in Kandahar.

The legal team representing Robert Bales are saying that the U.S. is stopping them from launching a fact-finding mission into the Kandahar incident. They have been obstructed from interviewing injured Afghan citizens at a hospital in Kandahar and the prosecution team is not cooperating.

According to John Henry Browne, who leads the legal team, prosecution investigators who had interviewed the injured had let them go freely, without keeping any contact information.

They are now impossible to contact and the prosecution is refusing to share any data with the defense team.

"It's outrageous," Browne told AP. "The only reason to hide evidence is if you don't have evidence."

Comment: For more information on this story read the Sott Focus: US Soldiers Look Deep Inside Their Souls - Find Vacuum - Decide To Kill Afghan Villagers by Joe Quinn.