Author Archive: mrdsk

Map: NATO Expansion 1990 to 2009

Terence McKenna: What Did You Do To Help Save The World?

John Pilger: From China to Ukraine, the US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass

John Pilger writes for The Guardian:

Men wearing military fatigues in the eastern Ukrainian city of KramatorskI watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ “King” Kong goes “toe to toe with the Rooskies” and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it’s left to General “Buck” Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and “you got no more than 10-20 million killed, tops”. President Merkin Muffley: “I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.” General Turgidson: “Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with your image in the history books.”

The genius of Stanley Kubrick’s film is that it accurately represents the cold war’s lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant, yet the dangers are the same. The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same “invisible government”, as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.

In 1964, the year Dr Strangelove was made, “the missile gap” was the false flag. To build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, President John F Kennedy approved the CIA’s propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This filled front pages as the “Russian threat”. In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in production of the missiles, the Russians never approached them. The cold war was based largely on this lie.

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Talib Kweli Breaks the Set on the Obama Presidency, the Prison Industrial Complex & Real Hip Hop

Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with hip hop artist Talib Kweli, discussing the role of government, Obama’s presidency, the prison industrial complex, and establishment hip hop.’ (Breaking the Set)

Putin: “We don’t need Alaska, sold it once, have enough cold territories”

The Neocon Money Machine

DSWright reports for Firedoglake:

In 2003 writer Eli Lake declared that the neoconservatives were the “most influential wing in the current administration,” and that those empowered neoconservatives were chiefly responsible for the expedited time table to launch what would become the disastrous Iraq War. A war that would, among other things, bring Barack Obama to power as the American public near-universally rejected not just the blunders and false promises that sold the war, but the ideology underpinning it. Americans no longer saw trying to bring “democracy” by the barrel of a gun to every corner of the world as a good idea, let alone a duty worth killing and dying for.

Despite the public rejection of neoconservatism, the ideology continues to permeate throughout Washington policy circles. The results of national elections and the blood of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, and marines can not wipe away the sepsis. But why?

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Graham Hancock: 3 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Snowden asks Putin whether Russia has mass surveillance system similar to U.S. during live Q&A

Micah Zenko: “Most reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by Assad regime”

Micah Zenko writes for the Council on Foreign Relations:

Syria-StatsEstimates released today [April 1st] by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Despite the potential bias and the methodological challenges it faces, SOHR has unrelentingly compiled casualty data since the start of the conflict in Syria more than three years ago. While the United Nations (UN) last updated its estimated death toll in July 2013 at 100,000 killed, and has since stated it will no longer provide updates, SOHR’s update released today estimates a total of 150,344 people killed since March 2011. SOHR’s estimates are presented below.

There are two noticeably provocative elements of SOHR’s estimates. First, while estimates for rebel force casualties were a separate category in SOHR’s previous estimates, SOHR has now included rebel force casualties (24,275) within civilian casualties, totaling 75,487. Above, rebel forces have been listed separately, which reveals that, according to SOHR’s estimates, more pro-regime forces than civilians have been killed during the Syrian civil war.

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Syria: A shift for fading insurgency as foreign backers look to reverse months of military defeats at the hands of government soldiers

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Jihadist rebels have reportedly come into possession of anti-tank weaponry supplied by the United StatesIn the wake of a series of battlefield defeats for the Syrian rebels over the past few months, there are signs that the opposition’s foreign backers are trying to reverse the tide and salvage what is left of the waning insurgency. The removal of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the architect of Riyadh’s efforts to overthrow the Syrian government over the last three years, shows frustration within Saudi Arabia – one of the biggest backers of the rebels – at the failure of his policies.

The royal decree announcing the removal of Prince Bandar, for 22 years the highly influential Saudi ambassador in Washington, said that he had stepped down at his own request and was being replaced in the job he has held since 2012 by his deputy General Youssef  al-Idrissi as “head of general intelligence.” Western experts on Saudi Arabia had variously reported that Prince Bandar is genuinely ill or has been discredited by the failure of Syrian rebels to make headway against President Bashar al-Assad. What is clear is that his policy of funding and supplying the rebels fighting against Assad has failed to have a meaningful impact.

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Jim Hightower: NSA Spying Is Here to Stay

Jim Hightower writes for Creators.com:

[...] The three billion phone calls made in the U.S. each day are snatched up by the agency, which stores each call’s metadata (phone numbers of the parties, date and time, length of call, etc.) for five years. Each day telecom giants turn over metadata on every call they have processed. Every out-of-country call and email from (or to) a U.S. citizen is grabbed by NSA computers, and agents are authorized to listen to or read any of them.

The agency searches for and seizes nearly everything we do on the Internet. Without bothering with the constitutional nicety of obtaining a warrant, its XKeyscore program scoops up some 40 billion Internet records every month and adds them to its digital storehouse, including our emails, Google searches, websites visited, Microsoft Word documents sent, etc. NSA’s annual budget includes a quarter-billion dollars for “corporate-partner access” – i.e., payments to obtain this mass of material from corporate computers.

Snowden says that in his days as an analyst, he could sit at his computer and tap into any American’s Internet activity – even the President’s. The sheer volume of information sucked up by the agency is so large that as of 2008, it maintained 150 data processing sites around the world. NSA’s budget is an official secret, but a Snowden document shows that it gets about $11 billion a year in direct appropriations, with more support funneled through the Pentagon and other agencies.

President Obama recently announced an “overhaul” of the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records. The reform may require phone companies to store metadata it collects for 18 months for the NSA’s use with the approval from a special court. This might sound reasonable, but it is still gathering bulk data on millions of innocent Americans – by corporations for the government. And what about Internet, email and other surveillance? NSA is too heavily vested in its programs; it is not going to give up spying on us.

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#TrackoftheDay ~ Lineri by The Notwist (2014)

Tehran – the secret party town

From The Guardian’s Tehran Bureau:

Tehran after darkThe streets of Tehran turn deceptively quiet after midnight, but one anomalous corner in the affluent part of the city offers a rare glimpse of what goes on between four walls. In contrast to the deserted sidewalks and shopfronts lining Tehran’s boulevards, the block around the late-night grocery store Super Jordan buzzes with activity. Traffic is denser here, as drivers line up behind Porsches and Mercedes Benzes whose owners swerve in and out of lanes, either because they are drunk or because they can. While a strictly enforced law compels other shopkeepers to close by midnight, Super Jordan stays open through the wee hours, monopolizing late-night refreshment sales. It is rumored that the owner has exquisite connections to the municipal government; in any case, shoppers in various stages of inebriation complete their purchases without police intervention.

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Demand for ethical goods and services continues to grow despite recession

From Ethical Consumer:

The annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report reveals that demand for ethical consumer goods and services continues to defy recessionary pressures and grew by more than 12% in 2012 whilst the mainstream UK economy grew by just 0.2%.

Total ethical spending in the UK is now worth £54 billion, an amount greater than that spent on both cigarettes and alcohol.

The Ethical Consumer Markets Report has been acting as an important barometer of green spending since 1999 by tracking sales data across a wide range of consumer sectors from food to fashion.

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Support grows for surveillance transparency

From Big Brother Watch:

commons dayLast November we launched our ‘Time for Transparency’ campaign, revealing new polling that showed 66% of people want more information about how surveillance powers are used, with 70% wanting companies like BT and EE to publish their own reports about the requests they receive, as companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft now regularly release.

Today [April 7th] we are publishing a paper detailing further proposals to improve transparency, following wide ranging discussions with companies, regulators and political figures, as well as discussions with people in the United States. The paper outlines how the Interception of Communications Commissioner should publish a breakdown of how individual agencies use powers to access communications information – currently just one total figure is published – as well as calling for clarification about whether British companies are handing over data ‘in bulk’ on thousands or millions of customers.

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Study Finds Global Surge in Murders of Environmental Activists

‘A new reports finds the killings of environmental and land rights activists worldwide has tripled over the past decade. The group Global Witness documented 147 activists who were killed in 2012, compared to 51 in 2002. The death rate is now an average of two per week. Almost none of the killers have faced charges. We air interviews with some of the late activists featured in the report, including José da Silva, a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clear-cutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest. In 2011, José and his wife, Maria, were murdered by masked gunmen. “This could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the scale of the real problem,” says Global Witness campaigner Oliver Courtney, who says details about the murders were nearly impossible to locate.’ (Democracy Now!)

Michael Bloomberg: “I have earned my place in heaven” with work on gun safety reform

The everyday lives of Ukrainian snails

Vyacheslav Mishchenko, a photographer from Ukraine, has been documenting the everyday lives of snails (and other creatures) using macro-photography. You can check out more of his fantastic work at his website and over on his Facebook page.

Vyacheslav Mishchenko

French scientists: We’ve lost SARS virus vials

From The Local:

Photo: Frederic Brown/AFPFrance’s distinguished Institut Pasteur, which was among the first to isolate HIV in the 1980s, admitted on Monday that it has lost some 2,349 vials in 29 boxes, containing samples of the deadly SARS virus.

During a recent inventory researchers realized the vials were unaccounted for and so called in France’s drug and health safety agency “l’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé” to help with the search, according to a statement from Institut Pasteur.

The drug and health safety people spent four days, from April 4th-12th, doing an ‘in depth’ investigation at the unnamed lab in question and came up empty handed as well.

SARS is not the kind of virus you’d want floating around.

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Can U.S. elections be rigged? A computer programmer testifies

Bryan Fischer tells poor people: ‘Kiss the ground’ beneath the richest one percent

David Edwards reports for Raw Story:

Bryan Fischer (AFA)Bryan Fischer, the director of Issues Analysis for the fundamentalist American Family Association (AFA), said on Tuesday that people who used welfare and other government services needed to “kiss the ground” beneath the richest 1 percent of Americans.

On his April 15 broadcast, Fischer opined that President Barack Obama was using the Internal Revenue (IRS) service to “go after the 1 percent.”

“The top 1 percent are funding 30 percent of the government!” the radio host explained. “So, rather than the poor, the low income and the middle class being resentful of these people, they should be kissing the ground on which they walk!”

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Russians warned if they go abroad, US might snatch them

Fred Weir reports for the Christian Science Monitor:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is warning that Russians should refrain from traveling abroad because they could be entrapped by US secret services who are actively “hunting” for Russians to persecute in punishment for Moscow’s recent annexation of Crimea, according to an official notice published on the Ministry’s website.

The message seems directed at the approximately 15 million Russians, most of them middle-class, who leave the country each year for tourism.

It says the US, which “unreasonably” refuses to accept the reunification of Russia and Crimea, is seeking revenge by “trying to make a routine practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens in third countries with the goal of extraditing them to the US, where they will be convicted [and jailed] on what are usually doubtful charges.”

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John Glaser: The Intoxicating Pull of Proxy War Will Worsen Ukraine

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

P050310PS-0374POD1The White House has just confirmed what had been reported in Russian media that CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev over the weekend.

“Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is accusing the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force,” AP reports. “But the CIA denies that Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations.”

One would have to be incredibly gullible to believe that the CIA Director was in Kiev for benign reasons, just to catch up and have tea with the new leadership.

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John McCain: “We ought to at least give them some weapons so they can defend themselves”

The first confirmation of Russian boots on the ground in Ukraine?

Skip to 6:40 to see a man puported to be a Lieutenant Colonel from the Russian army giving police in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka their new orders.

Eric Margolis: Patriotism Is the First Platform of Fools

Eric Margolis writes:

shutterstock_116696656A century ago, crowds in Paris were cheering, “on to Berlin!” Crowds in Berlin cried, “on to Paris.” World War I, the supreme example of nationalist/militaristic stupidity, was about to begin.

One hundred years later we hear cries across America to “get tough” with Moscow over fragmenting Ukraine. A dozen US F-16 fighters are being sent to the Baltic, a squadron of F-15’s to Poland, and a US warship to the Black Sea. In short, just enough to spark a war but certainly not enough to win one.

No one seems to have remembered – except Vlad Putin, of course – that the roughly 50,000 US troops and officials now based in Afghanistan are in large part at the mercy of Russia which controls their major supply and exit routes.

As the Ukraine crisis continues to build, it’s absolutely horrifying to recall that most of the American politicians and general public now lustily shouting “on to…where was it again?….oh yes….Kharkov” had no idea where Ukraine is, never mind Kharkov or Luhansk.

Ignorance is a primary fuel of nationalism and aggression. Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel, as Dr . Johnson observed, and the first platform of fools.

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House Democrat Renews Push To End Controversial 9/11 Rules Of War On Terror

Carlo Munoz writes for BuzzFeed:

Department of the NavyRep. Adam Schiff, a top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, plans to introduce legislation that would curtail or completely eliminate the administration’s rules of war on terrorism, known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). “Congress never intended to authorize a war without end, and the existing AUMF provides an increasingly precarious legal basis for the use of force against groups uninvolved in 9/11 or unaffiliated with al-Qaeda,” Schiff said in a statement to BuzzFeed on Tuesday.

Schiff’s office has yet to reach out to House leadership to schedule a vote on the pending bill, which could also be introduced as an amendment to the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2015 budget plan currently before Congress. Additionally, the Senate is quietly considering legislative options that would include changes to the counterterrorism rules as part of their version of the pending Pentagon budget bill.

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Privacy fears over FBI facial recognition database

From BBC News:

FaceCampaigners have raised privacy concerns over a facial recognition database being developed by the FBI that could contain 52m images by 2015. The civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained information about the project through a freedom of information request. It said it was concerned that images of non-criminals would be stored alongside those of criminals. The FBI say the database will reduce terrorist and criminal activities.

The facial recognition database is part of the bureau’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme which is a large biometric database being developed to replace the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The programme, which is being rolled out over a number of years, will offer “state of the art biometric identification services” according to the bureau’s website. As well as facial recognition images the programme is being developed to include the capture and storage of finger prints, iris scans and palm prints.

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New York Police End Muslim Surveillance Program

Jake Pearson and Tom Hays report for AP:

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, FileA special New York Police Department unit that sparked controversy by tracking the daily lives of Muslims in an effort to detect terror threats has been disbanded, police officials said Tuesday.

NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis confirmed that detectives assigned to the unit had been transferred to other duties within the department’s Intelligence Division.

An ongoing review of the division by new Police Commissioner William Bratton found that the same information collected by the unit could be better collected through direct contact with community groups, officials said.

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MorpHex: A Hexapod Robot That Transforms Into a Ball