Published time: June 06, 2014 04:17
Edited time: June 06, 2014 05:49
As is often the case with contemporary heroes, Edward Snowden has become a popular trend among creative types such as graffiti artists, musicians, writers and even filmmakers. Meanwhile, more down-to-earth people are hurrying to cash in on his fame.
The former NSA contractor who revealed the secret US snooping program, Snowden is viewed as a hero by some and a traitor by others. It’s been a year since he’s been hiding in Russia under conditions of temporary asylum, but his image has also been spotted in France, the UK, and even in the US – where he faces 30 years in prison.
The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon
By Jordan Michael Smith
| OCTOBER 19, 2014
THE VOTERS WHO put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.
But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.
Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.Read More
October 12th, 2014
by Stephen Lendman
Nobel tradition is horrific. Disreputable. Long and inglorious. War criminals win peace prizes. Past honorees include a rogue's gallery of some of the world's worst.
Peace advocates are spurned. Ignored. Shut out for doing the right thing. Especially in today's highly-charged atmosphere.
Selection is politicized. It's longstanding policy. It's no surprise.
Nobel Committee members violate their own rules. Alfred Nobel's will was clear and unequivocal.
It says Peace Prize recipients "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Worthy candidates are routinely passed over. History's most famous peace advocate never won.
Mahatma Gandhi was nominated five times. Nobel Committee members never recognized his accomplishments. They're hugely important to this day.
He championed nonviolent resistance. He did so for social change. His October 2 birthday (Gandhi Jayanti) is a national Indian holiday. It's commemorated worldwide as an International Day of Nonviolence.
Eleanor Roosevelt got three Nobel Peace Prize nominations. She never won.
She received 48 honorary degrees in her lifetime. Harry Truman called her "First Lady of the World." He honored her humanitarian achievements.
They were notable. "Do what you feel in your heart to be right," she said. She championed human rights, social justice and peace.
She was perhaps the driving force behind establishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She submitted its principles to UN General Assembly Member States, saying:
"We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind."
"This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all (mankind) everywhere."
Anyone can be nominated for Peace Prize recognition. Scoundrels passed over included Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Rush Limbaugh among others.
Henry Kissinger and Obama were perhaps the most notable war criminal winners. They bear responsibility for horrific high crimes against peace.
Millions of deaths. Mass destruction. Unspeakable human misery. Contempt for rule of law principles and democratic values.
It didn't matter. In awarding Obama its 2009 Prize, Nobel Committee members turned truth on its head.Read More
(Sky News) A debate in the House Of Commons is being hailed as a way to "rescue" the Palestinian cause from jihadists trying to exploit it.
By Tom Rayner, Middle East Reporter
A leading Palestinian politician has urged British MPs to vote in favour of recognising a Palestinian state when the issue is debated in Westminster later today.
Dr Hanan Ashrawi, executive committee member of the PLO, told Sky News the Palestinian cause must be "rescued" to prevent jihadists using it to fuel radicalisation and further extremism in the region.
In reference to the growing influence of groups like Islamic State, she said: "The Palestinian question has always been appropriated by others, and I've always said we need to rescue it from being 'up for grabs' by those looking for a cause, or who are trying to borrow our constituency or our legitimacy.
"It is imperative we remove one core issue from the region that has constantly fed… and send a clear message to the whole region and the rest of the world that justice can prevail and that we can make peace."
The debate in the House of Commons has been tabled by MP Grahame Morris, chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine.
"Not only is statehood the inalienable right of the Palestinian people, but recognising Palestine will breathe new life into a peace process that is at an impasse," Mr Morris told Reuters.
The Westminster vote will not be binding on the UK Government and is unlikely to change official policy, which states recognition of a Palestinian state must follow a bilateral negotiated process with Israel.
However, Dr Ashrawi said it was nonetheless "a very significant moment".Read More
by Christina Sarich
October 12th, 2014
Updated 10/12/2014 at 3:07 am
Are you invested in Monsanto stock like Bill Gates, who owns hundreds of thousand of Monsanto shares worth about $23 million? It might be time to pull out since the company just reported over $156 million in losses for the fourth quarter.
“For the quarter ended Aug. 31, Monsanto reported a loss of $156 million, or 31 cents per share, compared with a loss of $249 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year.”
It’s a tough time for biotech, and thank goodness. Monsanto’s losses were attributed to farmers in major agricultural zones favoring soy over GMO corn because of falling crop prices – largely caused by Syngenta’s release of MIR162 corn, which has been completely refused by Chinese officials repeatedly – which have depressed both local and foreign corn bushel prices.
There is a looming $1 billion dollar class action lawsuit Syngenta will face, currently pending in three states over the release of AGRISURE VIPTERA® 4. All three class action suits were filed this past week in Federal Courts by U.S. farmers.
Syngenta also just happens to be the company that has covered up the true toxicity of Atrazine, and the company has been sued in six different states to clean up more than 1000 water systems in six states where the herbicide has been found polluting rivers, streams, and lakes.Read More
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
Consumer Reports threw its support behind Oregon ballot Measure 92, which would require labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
The group joined OSPIRG at a press conference Tuesday to endorse the measure.
A study by Consumers Union, a policy division of Consumer Reports, found that many foods that claim to be "all natural," like corn chips and baby formula, in fact contain genetically engineered ingredients like corn and soy.
Consumers Union says consumers have a right to know what's in their food in order to make informed decisions.
The group is especially concerned about GMO ingredients because many such crops are engineered to be resistant to herbicides, meaning farmers end up spraying more of the weed-killing chemicals.
"We were told that these crops were going to increase yields and they're going to feed the world, but really it's about increasing the market for herbicides," said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist for Consumers Union.
"Look at the data," Hansen said. "Soybeans - 93 percent of U.S. soybeans are engineered. That's all herbicide-tolerant. Canola - it's all over 90 percent that's herbicide-tolerant. For corn, 93 percent is engineered - 89 percent of that is herbicide-tolerant. Sugar beets, which are grown here - 99 percent are engineered, all herbicide-tolerant."
Consumers Union says 64 countries currently require labels on foods that contain GMO ingredients, but the U.S. does not.Read More
As the Obama Administration prepared to bomb Syria without congressional or U.N. authorization, it faced two problems. The first was the difficulty of sustaining public support for a new years-long war against ISIS, a group that clearly posed no imminent threat to the “homeland.” A second was the lack of legal justification for launching a new bombing campaign with no viable claim of self-defense or U.N. approval.
The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.
The unveiling of this new group was performed in a September 13 article by the Associated Press, who cited unnamed U.S. officials to warn of this new shadowy, worse-than-ISIS terror group:
While the Islamic State group [ISIS] is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria — a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe — poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.
But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.
AP warned Americans that “the fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights.” It explained that although ISIS has received most of the attention, the Khorasan Group “is considered the more immediate threat.”
The genesis of the name was itself scary: “Khorasan refers to a province under the Islamic caliphate, or religious empire, of old that included parts of Afghanistan.” AP depicted the U.S. officials who were feeding them the narrative as engaging in some sort of act of brave, unauthorized truth-telling: “Many U.S. officials interviewed for this story would not be quoted by name talking about what they said was highly classified intelligence.”
On the morning of September 18, CBS News broadcast a segment that is as pure war propaganda as it gets: directly linking the soon-to-arrive U.S. bombing campaign in Syria to the need to protect Americans from being exploded in civilian jets by Khorasan. With ominous voice tones, the host narrated:
This morning we are learning of a new and growing terror threat coming out of Syria. It’s an Al Qaeda cell you probably never heard of. Nearly everything about them is classified. Bob Orr is in Washington with new information on a group some consider more dangerous than ISIS.
Orr then announced that while ISIS is “dominating headlines and terrorist propaganda,” Orr’s “sources” warn of “a more immediate threat to the U.S. Homeland.” As Orr spoke, CBS flashed alternating video showing scary Muslims in Syria and innocent westerners waiting in line at airports, as he intoned that U.S. officials have ordered “enhanced screening” for “hidden explosives.” This is all coming, Orr explained, from ”an emerging threat in Syria” where “hardened terrorists” are building “hard to detect bombs.”Read More
(RT) Washington will not be the one to decide Sweden’s policies, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said after the US criticized Stockholm’s plans to officially recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.
“It's not the US that decides our politics,” Wallström said, adding that the new Swedish authorities expected to “get criticism” after their announcement on Palestinian statehood.
Wallström added that Sweden's new authorities expected to “get criticism” after their announcement on Palestinian statehood.
However, the minister stressed that Stockholm “will continue the constructive dialogue with the US to explain our motives and reasons for this,” Aftonbladet newspaper reported.
In his first speech before the country's parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven promised that Sweden will “recognize the states of Palestine.”
Israel's prime minister describes Iran, ISIL and Hamas as part of a single team, and compares them to Germany's Nazis.
(Al Jazeera) Israel's prime minister has warned the United Nations that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat than the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which he compared to the Palestinian group Hamas.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu described Iran, ISIL and Hamas as part of a single team, and compared them all to Germany's Nazis in World War II.
"The Nazis believed in a master race, the militant Islamists believe in a master faith," Netanyahu said. "They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith."
"Make no mistake, [ISIL] must be defeated," Netanyahu added. "But to defeat [ISIL] and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."
He also said that ISIL and Hamas are "branches of the same poisonous tree" and likened Israel's deadly bombings of Gaza to US-led airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
Iran, which is negotiating with Western powers to end economic sanctions, has rejected allegations that it is developing the capability to produce atomic weapons, and wants those sanctions lifted as part of any nuclear deal.
Netanyahu is expected to raise the same concerns when he meets with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.Read More
Ben Swann appeared on RT International, Thursday to discuss U.S. airstrikes in Syria. Among the issues discussed, why the U.S. claims it is attempting to preserve oil fields in Syria while simultaneously striking those fields.
Swann spoke about what makes this “war with ISIS” truly unique. The U.S., he says, is creating a perpetual state of war by attacking ISIS on one hand while simultaneously funding ISIS indirectly though the Free Syrian Army.
AlterNet writer Max Blumenthal describes what he saw in Gaza following a humanitarian ceasefire from last month.
September 26th, 2014 | On September 25, in Brussels, Belgium, the Russell Tribunal gathered to examine allegations of war crimes and genocidal intent by the Israeli military against residents of the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. I was among those invited to provide testimony before a jury that included Michael Mansfield, John Dugard, Roger Waters, Ken Loach, Vandana Shiva, Richard Falk, Ahdaf Soueif, and Ronnie Kasrils. The following day, I presented testimony in the European Parliament alongside Israeli journalist David Sheen and Mohammed Omer, a journalist from the Gaza Strip. (Two other invitees from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Committee on Human Rights director Raji Sourani and filmmaker Ashraf Mashharawi, were prevented from leaving the besieged coastal enclave by the Egyptian regime.) Here are the prepared remarks I delivered on September 25 before the Russell Tribunal:
I arrived in the Gaza Strip at the onset of a five-day humanitarian ceasefire on August 14. With the cessation of violence, I was able to gain unfettered access to residents who had borne the brunt of the Israeli ground invasion in the hardest hit border areas, places like Khuza’a, Shujaiya, Beit Hanoun, Rafah, and the villages surrounding Beit Lahiya. I recorded testimonies from scores of residents of these areas, documenting war crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces. The atrocities formed an undeniable pattern, suggesting that the crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were the product of stated military policies, or at least rules of engagement that enabled massacres, summary executions, wholesale residential destruction, the use of civilians as human shields, and abductions. I will describe these atrocities in as much detail as possible and allow the members of the jury to judge for themselves.
In the rubble of destroyed homes surrounding a dusty open field lined with destroyed homes in Shujaiya, my colleague Dan Cohen and I found a laminated map of the area left behind by invading soldiers in an ammunition box. This is the first time it has been publicly displayed. I have analyzed it with help from Eran Efrati, an Israeli combat veteran who testified earlier today on his interviews with participants in the massacre in Shujaiya. The map was produced by an Israeli company but as you can see in the upper-left-hand corner, it is dated according to American, not Israeli, standards — “7/17/14,” rather than “17/7/14.” To me this raises questions about assistance Israel received from America’s National Security Agency, especially given recent revelations about the longstanding relationship between the NSA and the Israeli military.Read More
Russell Brand The Trews (E153).
5 years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and campaigning on a platform that endorsed having “a nuclear-free world” in the not so distant future, Barack Obama's policies will now reportedly see $1 trillion in new nuclear defence spending over the next 30 years.
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