Category Archives: USA

TSA Chief: Bad Hygiene ‘Degraded’ Underwear Bomb

Newser reports:

You likely remember the failed underwear bomb aboard a 2009 flight to Detroit that sent Umar Abdulmutallab to prison for life. What you may not know: The plot seems to have failed thanks in part to lousy hygiene. In a panel discussion yesterday, TSA chief John Pistole said Abdulmutallab had been wearing his underwear bomb for more than two weeks, the Telegraphreports. (That was apparently to get used to it, Detroit’sWXYZ previously reported.) When asked whether the bomb’s fuse had become “damp” as a result, Pistole said, “Let’s say it was degraded,” as the audience chuckled. “We’re getting kind of personal now.”

Pistole agreed when his interviewer joked, “Thank goodness for poor hygiene, right?” The TSA chief also said there’s no timeframe for lifting new security measures at overseas airports, including a focus on phone and shoe bombs, reports Fox News. He also worried about the perimeters of some foreign airports being vulnerable to shoulder-fired missiles, though he didn’t go into specifics.’

PETA Offers To Help Pay Water Bills For Struggling Detroit Residents — But Only If They Go Vegan

Think Progress reports:

‘Detroit residents are struggling to pay their water bills at such an alarming rate that the city’s utility announced a few months ago that it would cut off water for between 1,500 and 3,000 people every week. The situation has gotten so bad that the United Nations has had to step in and tell the city that such massive water shut-offs are a violation of human rights. People are desperate just to keep their taps turned on, as about half the city has fallen behind on its bills. As a resident recently told ThinkProgress, “when half of the city can’t do something, it tells you it’s a systemic problem.”

Now, an unlikely group seems to think it can step in and solve this systemic problem. PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will offer financial assistance to 10 families who can’t afford their water bills — if the families go vegan, that is.’

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U.S. court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims

The Associated Press reports:

A divided U.S. appeals court on Thursday threw out claims against produce giant Chiquita Brands International made by relatives of thousands of Colombians killed during years of bloody civil war.

A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that federal courts have no jurisdiction over the Colombian claims. The lawsuits accused Chiquita of assisting in the killings by paying $1.7 million to a violent right-wing paramilitary group known as the AUC, the Spanish acronym for United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

Chiquita, based in the U.S., formerly operated large banana plantations in Colombia through its Banadex subsidiary. Chiquita insists it was the victim of extortion and was forced to pay the AUC or face violence directed at its employees and assets in Colombia.’

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Suicide’s toll: Survey says half of vets know someone who has tried it

Jon Harper reports for Stars & Stripes:

‘Nearly half of all respondents to a major survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans know at least one veteran from those conflicts who has tried to kill himself.

The survey, released Thursday, was conducted earlier this year by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. IAVA received responses to an extensive list of questions from more than 2,000 of the nation’s younger veterans, the vast majority of whom served in the Army or Marine Corps.

Respondents ranked suicide and mental health as the biggest issue facing post-9/11 veterans.’

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Study: Childhood Traumas More Common Among Military Members

The Associated Press reports:

‘Childhood traumas are more common among military members and veterans than among civilians, according to a new study. Researchers say the results support the notion that for some, enlistment serves as an escape from troubled upbringings. The study is the largest to examine how common bad childhood experiences are among military men and women. Disparities were most striking among men during the volunteer era: More than 25 percent had experienced at least four childhood traumas, versus about 13 percent of civilian men.

“These results suggest that, since the beginning of the all-volunteer U.S. military in 1973, there has been a meaningful shift in childhood experiences among men who have served in the military,” said lead author John Blosnich, a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He said research is needed “to explore whether the differences in adverse childhood experiences are associated with health outcomes among men and women with military service history.”‘

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DHS Tells Firefighters, Paramedics Medical Treatment Provides an Opportunity to Identify Extremists

From Public Intelligence:

DHS-FBI-NCTC-MedicalTreatmentExtremists‘A joint bulletin released in March by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and National Counterterrorism Center instructs firefighters and paramedics to use emergency medical treatment as an opportunity to identify violent extremists.  The March 2014 bulletin obtained by Public Intelligence titled “Emergency Medical Treatment Presents Opportunity for Discovery of Violent Extremist Activities” is part of the Fire Line series distributed to firefighters, emergency medical service personnel and other first responders around the country.

The bulletin states that efforts to “gain expertise with explosive, incendiary, and chemical/biological devices may lead to injuries and emergency treatment, which may provide potential indicators of violent extremist activities to responding emergency medical service (EMS) personnel.”  An initial “size-up” of the scene and “patient assessment” provide first responders with the ability to “evaluate whether an injury is a genuine accident or related to violent extremist activity.”  For example, “hastily or expediently treated injuries” observed by first responders “may be an indicator of illicit activity as actors injured in nefarious activity are often not inclined to seek legitimate medical attention, or use efforts that are designed to mislead or obscure the genuine nature of the injury.”  Other indicators include “shock or infection accompanying healing wounds, or corrective treatment for healed wounds” often without plausable explanation “may be signs of suspicious activity.”’

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Blacklisted: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux report for The Intercept:

‘The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security.”’

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Jordan is America’s ‘Habibi’

André Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

The formula is simple: Jordan is helping the West to destabilize nations of the region, including Iraq and Syria. As a result, hundreds of thousands of refugees are crossing its borders, flooding its deserts and cities. Refugee camps are growing into sizeable cities. Local people get hard-hit by high prices, despondent salaries for the poor, and scarcity of basic services. As a result, the Jordanian government and its elites go out of their way demanding money ‘to tackle the refugee crises’; money from the donors, mainly those in the West and the United Nations. Later, part of this money disappears into the deep pockets of the Jordanian rich, burned in outrageously posh shopping and ‘lifestyle malls’, or on inflated salaries for those working for major ‘international organizations’. There are more and more luxury cars on the streets, while the situation in most of the refugee camps – those that are housing Syrians, Palestinians and others – remains appalling.’

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European Court of Human Rights Holds Poland Responsible for Allowing CIA Torture & Rendition

Kevin Gosztola writes for Firedoglake:

‘The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland had violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture when it allowed the CIA to torture and abuse prisoners on its territory. It also ruled that the country had violated the Convention by allowing the CIA to transfer prisoners, even though they would likely be subject to undisclosed detention. And the court ruled that Poland had violated the Convention by transferring prisoners to a country where they had a real risk of facing a “flagrant denial of justice.”

The complaints of violations of the torture convention came from Abu Zubaydah [PDF] and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [PDF]. Poland was ordered to pay 130,000 euros to Zubaydah and $100,000 to Nashiri for “enabling US authorities” to subject the two men to torture and ill-treatment. ECHR also sought to hold the country accountable for its “failure to carry out an effective investigation,” a violation of the torture convention as well. The Polish government has not decided whether it would like to appeal. Throughout the ECHR proceedings, the government consistently refused to constructively participate and provide information that would help the court make a fair ruling.’

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CNN Poll: One in 10 Americans happy to go to war with Russia over downing of MH17

CNN reports:

INSANE: 1 in 10 Americans Wants War With Russia Over Downed Airliner ‘Most Americans say Russia is directly or indirectly responsible for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine, and unfavorable opinions of Russia have surged, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey conducted Friday through Sunday also indicates that nearly nine in 10 say that Moscow and pro-Russian rebels that control the area where Flight 17 crashed last week will try to cover something up in any international investigation.

But only one in 10 say the United States should take military action if there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the shooting down of the plane, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.’

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General Breedlove calls for a retooling of NATO’s Response Force

Steven Beardsley reports for Stars & Stripes:

breedlove 722‘[...] The general also used the news conference, attended mostly by Italian journalists, to underline the need for changes to NATO posture during the alliance’s summit in September. Breedlove said Russian actions in Ukraine require a retooling of the NATO Response Force — a military unit combined from member nation forces stationed across Europe — as well as the creation of new headquarters focused on Article 5 military response in Europe’s north and south. Article 5 requires NATO members to support one another in case of attack. He also said that NATO needs to position resources forward on its eastern flank in response to the concerns of nations close to Ukraine.

“Pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces,” he said. “And how we man that in a rotational or nonpermanent basis is what we’re looking at now to propose in NATO and we will be looking at that with the (North Atlantic Council).” Poland, in particular, has argued for forward supplies and permanent bases to be moved to eastern member states, a measure opposed especially by Germany, which claims a 1997 agreement between Russia and NATO prohibits such a shift. Poland argues the agreement, known as the Founding Act, is no longer valid after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in the spring. Italy, like Germany and France, has balked at harsh measures toward Russia favored by countries like Poland.’

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Time and Newsweek covers “flock to the jingoist consensus”

Hat tip to Media Lens for drawing attention to these

Blackmail Insurance Sale & The Germ Code

‘In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss reputational apartheid and delusion insurance as we all become blackmailable. In the second half, Max interviews microbiologist, Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Code, about what germs can teach us about the modern economy and about the similarities between Las Vegas and C.Dificile.’ (Keiser Report)

Darth Vader polling higher than all potential 2016 U.S. presidential candidates

star-wars-fav

SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON POST

Israel’s military by the numbers

Netanyahu said to have offered Lewinsky tapes for Pollard

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil reports for the Times of Israel:

‘Israel attempted to use tapes of former US president Bill Clinton’s steamy conversations with intern Monica Lewinsky to leverage the release of Jonathan Pollard, a new book on the Clinton family’s political enterprises has claimed. In the book, titled “Clinton Inc: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine,” author Daniel Halper relies on on-the-record interviews with former officials together with a close analysis of documents termed “the Monica Files” to paint a salacious – and uncomplimentary – picture of one of the most prominent political families in the United States

Halper reviewed hundreds of pages of documents compiled as a contingency to use in case the former intern ever was involved in legal action against Clinton. According to the author, the documents indicate that during the Wye Plantation talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, held in Maryland in 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled Bill Clinton aside to press for Pollard’s release. Halper said that Israel had found new leverage to push for Pollard’s release.’

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Occupy Silicon Valley & the Facebook Cop: Interview with Robbie Martin

Abby Martin speaks with journalist and host of Media Roots Radio, Robbie Martin, going over why Facebook is hiring police officers to aid in surveillance, as well as why more people aren’t outraged about private sector surveillance.’ (Breaking the Set)

UN Human Rights Council voting on investigation into Israel’s war on Gaza

Who Gets to Speak on Cable News?

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Media diversity demographics‘A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.

FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN‘s Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin Burnett, All In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel‘s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

Guests were coded by gender, race/ethnicity and occupation, as well as the affiliations of partisan guests-those who are identified with a party as current or former government officials or campaign professionals.’

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Pepe Escobar: A chessboard drenched in blood

Pepe Escobar writes for the Asia Times:

‘ [...] The Big Picture spells out the Empire of Chaos elites as extremely uneasy. Take Dr Zbigniew “The Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who as a former foreign policy mentor has the ears of the increasingly dejected White House paperboy. Dr Zbig was on CNN this Sunday challenging Europe’s leaders to “stand up to Putin”. He wonders if “Europe wants to become a satellite” and worries about “a moment of decisive significance for the future of the system – of the world system”.

And it’s all Putin’s fault, of course: “We’re not starting the Cold War. He [Putin] has started it. But he has gotten himself into a horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia’s status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia’s economically beginning to fail, that Russia’s threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia’s becoming self-isolated and discredited.”

Obviously Dr Zbig is blissfully unaware of the finer points of the Russia-China strategic partnership, as well as their concerted voice inside the BRICS, the G-20 and myriad other mechanisms. His trademark Russophobia in the end always gets the better of him. And to think that in his latest book, Strategic Vision (2012), Dr Zbig was in favor of an enlarged “West” annexing Turkey and Russia, with the Empire of Chaos posing as “promoter” and “guarantor” of broader unity in the West, and a “balancer” and “conciliator” between the major powers in the East. A quick look at the record since 2012 – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, encirclement of China – reveals the Empire of Chaos only as fomenter of, what else, chaos.

Now compare a fearful Dr Zbig with Immanuel Wallerstein – who was a huge influence in my 2007 warped geopolitical travel book Globalistan. In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can’t accept its geopolitical decadence – and that’s why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that’s where the whole “policy” that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground.

In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.’

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Times Are Good – For Investment Bankers, Anyway

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Roger Altman (cc photo: Ralph Alswang/CAP)‘Time magazine (7/17/14–subscription required) has some good news for you, courtesy of investment banker and former Clinton Treasury official Roger Altman: “Surprise: The Economy Isn’t as Bad as You Think.”

After noting that “in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 63 percent of respondents said the US is on the wrong track,” Altman insists that “despite the pessimistic mood, America is experiencing a profound comeback.”‘

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Citigroup Just Bought a $7 Billion Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

Robert Scheer reports for Truthdig:

Citibank‘Barack Obama’s Justice Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting public, causing vast damage to the economy.

Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression.

Those filled with Clinton nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal.’

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Facing mass protests, Detroit temporarily halts water shutoffs

‘Detroit is temporarily suspending its policy of cutting off water for low-income residents who are delinquent on their bills. In March, the city sent out 45,000 shutoff notices and began turning off water for thousands of citizens. After a public backlash, rallies against the policy and even calls to the UN for humanitarian assistance, the bankrupt city decided it may need to reevaluate how it is handling the situation.’ (Meghan Lopez)

NYC Approves Apartment Building With Separate Entrance for Poor People

Andy Cush reports for Gawker:

NYC Approves Apartment Building With Separate Entrance for Poor People‘It would be difficult to come with a more on-the-nose metaphor for New York City’s income inequality problem than the new high-rise apartment building coming to 40 Riverside Boulevard, which will feature separate doors for regular, wealthy humans and whatever you call the scum that rents affordable housing.

Extell Development Company, the firm behind the new building, announced its intentions to segregate the rich and poor to much outrage last year. Fifty-five of the luxury complex’s 219 units would be marked for low-income renters—netting some valuable tax breaks for Extell—with the caveat that the less fortunate tenants would stick to their own entrance.’

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US Intelligence: No direct Russian involvement, rebels likely downed MH17 by mistake

Editor’s Note: When you understand the context of what has been happening in eastern Ukraine, how Willy Wonka’s military forces from Kiev have been shelling the shit out of the area for months killing innocent people, the idea that the jet shoot down was a mistake makes much more sense than the cartoonist super villain propaganda that Putin blew it out of the sky just for kicks. I put forward the theory that it was an accident a couple of days ago on several threads in the midst of all the hysteria so many people were certain it was a deliberate act and that Russia had be be directly involved. The same idea was put forward in an article in Time that quoted Austin Long, professor of political and international affairs at Columbia.

The Associated Press reports:

‘Senior U.S. intelligence officials say they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. They say the passenger jet was likely felled by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that Russia “created the conditions” for the downing by arming the separatists.

The officials briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week’s air disaster, which killed 298 people. They said they didn’t know if any Russians were present at the missile launch, and they wouldn’t say that the missile crew was trained in Russia. A senior official said the most likely explanation was the plane was shot down by mistake.’

Are People Who Shoot Down Passenger Planes ‘War Criminals’–or ‘Hard to Fault’?

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

‘The New York Times (7/22/14) didn’t mince words in its editorial on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: “Whoever unleashed a lethal missile not knowing how to distinguish between a military and a civilian plane is not only irresponsible and stupid, but a war criminal.”

That seems pretty unequivocal. But if you look at the New York Times‘ archives, you’ll see that some people who unleash lethal missiles without knowing how to distinguish between military and civilian planes aren’t irresponsible, stupid or criminal–they’re just doing what they had to do. Of course, if you’re going to shoot down a civilian jetliner–from the Times‘ point of view–it helps to be working for the US Navy when you do it.’

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Ethical Journalism Network Director Speaks to Russia Today About Ethics in Journalism

The downing of Flight MH17: A plea for objectivity

Nile Bowie writes for Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia for RT:

A piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)‘[...] For any international investigation to succeed, all possibilities should be scrutinized and considered, including the theory that rebels brought down the aircraft. Western media outlets have worked tirelessly to create the perception that Russia governs the conduct of rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. Any objective analysis of the conflict up until now suggests that Moscow only has influence among these groups; it does not control them. Militia groups fighting in eastern Ukraine would be damaging their own cause if they fail to cooperate with the investigators.

While the party responsible for the crime has not yet been established, the incident has proven most opportune for those figures that have been calling for stinging sanctions on Russia, and this tragedy is already being exploited to put maximum political pressure on Moscow.

Malaysia and the Netherlands, the countries that bore the brunt of this terrible incident, have chosen not to antagonize and assign blame. When asked by a report if he agreed with President Obama’s assessment that Moscow should be held responsible, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, said, “We need verification on that.” Malaysian officials have also stated that Russia has done its level best to ensure access to the crash site.

More evidence is expected to surface in the coming days that will provide a clearer picture into the vicious killing of the 298 people onboard MH17. This incident should be an impetus for all sides to implement a negotiated ceasefire that would put an end to this horrible fratricidal conflict, but in all likelihood, this incident will only protract Ukraine’s war.’

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Nomi Prins: Dodd-Frank Turns Four and Nothing Fundamental has Changed

Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. You can read an abridged version of her remarks at her website. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her new book “All The Presidents’ Bankers“, one of the best works on the history of America’s financial elite that has ever been written. She is also author of “It Takes A Pillage” and the novel “Black Tuesday“.

Porn Sniffing Police Dogs