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Fukushima leaking radioactive water for ‘2 years, 300 tons flowing into Pacific daily’

RT | August 7, 2013

The rate at which contaminated water has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean from the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant is worse than thought before, an Industry Ministry official said as PM Shinzo Abe pledged to step up efforts to halt the crisis.

“We think that the volume of water is about 300 tons a day,” said Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

Abe put the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in charge of the situation, while demanding that the plant’s operator, TEPCO take the necessary steps to deal with the cleanup, which is anticipated to take more than 40 years at a cost of US$11 billion.

On Wednesday TEPCO confirmed the leak but refused to confirm the quantity being emitted from the plant.

“We are not currently able to say clearly how much groundwater is actually flowing into the ocean,” Tokyo Electric Power spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi told Reuters when asked for an estimate.

Japanese authorities are working in crisis mode, attempting to assure the public both at home and abroad that the situation will not further deteriorate into a widespread environmental catastrophe.

Yoneyama said the government plans to reduce the leakage amount to 60 tons per day by as early as December, but given the Japanese government’s progress in the cleanup to date that goal may be difficult to achieve. Removing 300 tonnes of groundwater, however, would not necessarily halt leakage into the sea, he said.

The nuclear plant was severely damaged in an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. About 90,000 people within a 20km radius of the plant were forced to evacuate their homes due to the possibility of a full-scale nuclear meltdown.
Nearing boiling point?

Earlier, TEPCO said it detected 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter in water that is now leaking into the groundwater through cracks in the plant’s drainage system. This radiation level is roughly the same as that measured in April 2011.

The normal level is 150 becquerels of cesium per liter of water.

For the past two years, TEPCO has claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially-constructed storage tanks. However, the company was forced to admit late last month that radioactive water was still escaping into the Pacific Ocean. These consistent failures are testing the patience of Japanese authorities.

“You can’t just leave it [disposing of radioactive waste at the plant] up to TEPCO,” Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) told Reuters. “Right now, we have an emergency.”

Earlier this month, TEPCO was forced to go on the defensive after a scathing first-page article appeared in The Asahi Shimbun daily criticizing the company’s cleanup efforts.

“TEPCO did nothing for more than two years despite having pledged to seal a leaking hole between a turbine building [the leakage source] and an underground pit [a trench] in April 2011 when water contaminated with radioactive materials…was found to have leaked into the ocean; and the company only began preparing for shielding tests this summer after contaminated water was found to be leaking into the sea this time,” the newspaper stated on August 1, 2013.

TEPCO fired back with its own version of events, saying that despite “technical difficulties and a severe work environment” the company has been working to implement a plan “in order to further reduce the risk of having outflow of contaminated water beyond the trench.”

Although TEPCO engineers have constructed a barrier between the destroyed facility and the ocean, it only extends 1.8 meters below the ground, thus water continues to accumulate inside the plant vaults.

“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who has worked at several TEPCO plants, told Reuters. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”

TEPCO has pledged to begin pumping enough radioactive seepage to stop the water level from rising. But the company faces limitations, as its storage tanks are 85 percent full.

“New measures are needed to stop the water from flowing into the sea,” emphasized Kinjo, who accused TEPCO of failing to implement long-term solutions for a crisis that has been continuing for more than two years.

Not only is TEPCO running up against technical problems associated with the cleanup efforts, it must also deal with the unpredictable force of nature, specifically in the form of earthquakes.

On Sunday, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture, the same northeastern region of the island country that was devastated by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in 15,000 people killed and more than 3,200 missing.

No damage or injuries were reported in the latest earthquake, but some roads and railways were temporarily closed for safety inspections.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , | Comments Off on Fukushima leaking radioactive water for ‘2 years, 300 tons flowing into Pacific daily’

Pentagon doctors claim military suicides not related to combat

RT | August 7, 2013

Deployments to war zones and combat exposure have no effect on military suicides and fail to explain the increase in self-inflicted deaths that occurred from 2001 to 2008, concluded a new medical study, thereby contradicting previous research.

Military medical researchers on Tuesday published a paper that claims mental disorders, such as depression and alcohol abuse – not combat – are to blame for military suicides. US service members killed themselves at a record pace last year, with 350 taking their own lives. From 2011 to 2012, the military suicide rate increased by nearly 16 percent, and anti-suicide organizations feared that this number could increase as troops are drawn down in Afghanistan and are “not effectively integrated into suicide-prevention efforts,” Kristina Kaufmann, executive director of Code of Support Foundation, told NBC after the figures were released in January.

And it appears that the rate is continuing to rise: last year, a service member committed suicide every 25 hours, but in April, the rate increased to one suicide every 18 hours. The annual number of suicides last year surpassed the number of troops killed in Afghanistan and the number of military members who died in transportation accidents in 2012.

But the authors of the surprising new medical study, which was financed by the Defense Department and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, claim that military members kill themselves for the same reasons ordinary civilians do.

The researchers said they tracked 150,000 soldiers between 2001 and 2008, and found that those who killed themselves were usually heavy drinkers, suffering from depression, or had been diagnosed with manic depression. It remains unclear whether their deployments or combat exposure prompted their mental conditions – an important fact that could shed further light on the military’s effect on its members. A 2011 study published by the Journal of Psychiatry Research concluded that deployment increases the likelihood of self-destructive behavior and psychiatric problems. The report also showed an increase in mental illness among those in active-duty service since 2005.

But this week’s study found that those who were deployed for longer than a year had a lower risk of suicide. As a result, the researchers suggested that rather than seek an early discharge, depressed soldiers should remain in the military and seek mental health care – a procedure that could put soldiers’ careers on the line, but that Col. Charles Engel of the Army Medical Corps believes would be more effective than an early discharge.

“The answer has to be an effort to approximate civilian standards of confidentiality,” Engel told Bloomberg News. “Unless we’re dealing with an imminent risk to combat or a tactical mission, really we should be using civilians’ standards.”

But the sharpest increase in the suicide rate occurred after 2008 – a period that the military study failed to examine. Critics claim that because the analysis ended right at the time that the suicide level spiked dramatically, it might underestimate the impact that multiple deployments and traumatic brain injuries may have on military service members.

“Why would the authors repeatedly insist that there is no association between combat and suicide?” Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist and a retired Army brigadier general, told the New York Times. “The careful analysis of bad data generates poor evidence.”

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Israel/Palestine and the Queer International – A Book Review by Gilad Atzmon

By Gilad Atzmon | August 7, 2013

Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, a new book by writer/professor Sarah Schulman, tells the story of Schulman’s transformation from a “Jewish, lesbian New Yorker” into a “Cosmopolitan queer and avid BDS[1] advocate.” Her book is a must read—and not because it offers original ideological or political outlook, not at all. Schulman actually provides us with a unique and invaluable window into Jewish secular progressive thought. It unveils the structure of LGBT[2] politics and its operation within the Palestinian solidarity movement. Schulman also provides the reader some crucial and juicy references to the direct involvement of George Soros’ network in promoting a gay rights revolution in the Arab world in general, and in Iran and Egypt in particular.

Schulman is a fluent writer, her narration is smooth and flowing. But more than anything, she is astonishingly honest in her attempt to describe her journey. Indeed, her genuine openness is almost suicidal at times. This fact alone may explain why, despite its sensational title, her book has received little attention from the usually loud Jewish progressive network.

In the very beginning of the book, Schulman provides us with an amazing confession most Jews would prefer to shove far under the carpet.

“We were raised with two Yiddish concepts about Christians: kopf and punim. Yiddishe kopf and Goyishe kopf. To say that someone had a Yiddishe kopf (A Jewish mind) was to say admiringly that he was a genius, that he was analytical and conceptual and an original thinker. To say that someone had a goyishe kopf was to say that he was dull-witted, conformist and slow” (p. 2).

One must admit that only rarely do Jews volunteer such intimate information that confirms the depth of racism and supremacy embedded within Jewish culture.

A few pages later Schulman is honest enough to admit that she also is immersed in some deep biological determinist thinking.

“Of course, like many Jews, I do think of myself in biological terms, despite how convenient that is for anti-Semitism. There is after all, a genetic component, since Jewish Identity—from the Jewish point of view is biologically essentialist, dependent on having a Jewish mother” (p. 10).

It goes without saying that evolutionary psychologist Prof. Kevin MacDonald and Right Wing author David Duke are hounded relentlessly by the ADL and the progressive Jewish network for basically agreeing with Schulman.

Ideological Collectivism 

Interestingly enough, despite her honesty, Schulman rarely thinks for herself on her path toward universal justice. Instead she always consults with such progressive luminaries as Judith Butler, who is ‘on the top’ of her “list of credible LGBT people.” As an activist and campaigner, Schulman always builds fronts and forms leagues. She always seeks advice, she always consults with someone who knows better. These facts are actually very significant: Schulman is telling us a story about someone who thinks and operates “as a Jew,” “as a lesbian,” “as a Queer International,” “as a progressive,” etc. The truth of the matter is that people who “think” and “act” “as a something” hardly think for themselves. Instead they operate within the parameters set by an imaginary political and ideological collective (the gay, the Jew, the progressive, the Queer International’ the Black, the Muslim) instead of thinking authentically and operating autonomously.

To a certain extent Schulman’s extended monologue helps us grasp marginal politics as a powerful attempt to reduce the individual to a mere “pile of signifiers.”

Jewish Victimhood and Homo-centrism

Two years ago Jewish pro-Palestinian blogger Philip Weiss was brave enough to admit to me in an interview that it is Jewish self-interest that motivates his pro-Palestinian activism. For Weiss it wasn’t an “altruistic” concern for the oppressed—he actually believed that his activism was ‘good for the Jews.’ Schulman reminds me of Weiss. Like Weiss she is brave and honest to say it all. But she is also interested in promoting her ‘queer political agenda’. For Schulman, Palestinians are simply a means toward her sacred progressive end. “If people like me are going to turn our backs on [Israeli] queer events in support of the boycott [BDS], then we must be assured that the boycott both recognizes queer support and acknowledges Palestinian LGBT organizing,” she writes.

In short, it is the primacy of “queer and LGBT interests” that determines Schulman’s commitment to a battle for “universal justice.” As one would expect, Schulman’s solidarity has a clear price tag—one attuned primarily to the benefit of the LGBT movement. To my mind the meaning of this is simple: Schulman has managed to successfully transfer her Jewish tribalism into a form of sexually oriented political affinity.

Schulman isn’t just a “boring gay” activist. She is also an Ashkenazi (European) Jew, with all the necessary victim paraphernalia which she waves proudly in the very beginning of her book. “I was born in 1958, 13 years after the end of the Holocaust” begins the third paragraph. “I was born only three years after my maternal grandmother finally confirmed that her two brothers and two sisters had been exterminated by the Nazis and their collaborators 10 to 15 years before,” she continues (p. 1). Her choice of words leaves no room for speculation: Schulman is a traumatized Ashkenazi Jew. She is an adherent and follower of what Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir defines as the Holocaust religion. Her entire universe is codified in reference to the “primacy of Jewish suffering.” Needless to say, this amalgam of Jewish suffering and gay victimhood translates in Schulman’s case into a solipsistic political argument.

I guess at this point I should admit that I have never been convinced that “the personal is political,” as many marginal ideologists insist. I’ve always been certain that the personal is actually personal—and, as such, consider an individual’s sexual orientation to be his or her own business—and that when it becomes political it stops being personal. But for Schulman, as for so many other political activists within her milieu, the ‘personal’ certainly is ‘political.’ She celebrates each of her symptoms publicly and politically and, if this is not enough, she is kind enough to share it all with us.

Homonationalism, the Queer International and Joseph Massad

Schulman’s political universe is divided into binary oppositions: Homonationalism vs. the Queer International is one example.

Homonationalism describes a contemporary phenomenon most prevalent in some liberal Western countries where “white gays, lesbians and bisexuals won a full range of rights…they become accepted and realigned with patriotic or nationalistic ideologies of their countries” (p. 104).

The notion of Homonationalism is particularly relevant to Israel, for the Zionist state has been very successful in mobilizing its patriotic gay community. It has managed to recruit the vast majority of its gay population in order to convey the perception that it is way ahead of its neighbors as far as gay rights are concerned. Being a “progressive Jew” and committed to the notion of “Tikkun Olam” (fixing the world), Schulman is very upset by Homonationalism in general and Israeli Homonationalism in particular. She would prefer that gays and lesbians be primarily committed to a universal political discourse defined by their sexual orientation. This is precisely where the notion of “Queer International” comes in. Schulman is aiming at a “worldwide movement that brings queer liberation and feminism to the principle of international autonomy from occupation, colonialism, and globalized capital.”

And yet, one question remains: How is it possible that so many gays prefer to identify with their national and patriotic environment rather than with a ‘universal’ sexually oriented ideology? Apparently most people, including gays and lesbians, accept a clear dichotomy between their sexual orientation and their political identification. It also seems natural to me that a country’s LGBT citizens would be thankful to a society or culture that liberates them and respects their needs and rights.

From a heterosexual perspective (as if that exists), the above observation seems very natural. Since the vast majority of healthy people spend most of their time out of bed, it only makes sense that one’s sexual orientation is not a primary focus of one’s civil and political life. Furthermore, Schulman’s so-called ‘progressive’ expectation of homosexuals that they be devoted primarily to queer ‘universal’ issues is in itself a form of oppression that borders on abuse, since it imposes on the individual an ideological collectivism and epistemological mantra.

As an enthusiastic advocate of Queer International, Schulman is up against Palestinian academic Joseph Massad. According to Massad, the heterosexual/homosexual binary opposition is itself foreign to the Orient – it is basically “a Western apparatus imposing concepts of homosexuality on Palestinian sex between men” (p.  66). For Massad gays and lesbians are not universal categories, and the attempt to universalize them is the direct outcome of human rights activists who project their own symptom at the expense of their ‘solidarity subject.’

I am far from being an admirer of Massad, yet his argument here is coherent and deserves attention. Like Heidegger and other developed minds, Massad considers the human subject to be a product of his/her culture, language, rituals, geography and so on. Schulman’s approach, on the other hand, is the outcome of the most simplistic phenomenological anthropocentric and Judeo-centric school of thought. Like many others, she naively believes that people are actually the authors of their own biography, and that this biography is somehow universal, transferable and translatable.

This ideological clash obviously is crucial, for if Massad is correct then the “universalization” of the queer condition suggested by Schulman and the Queer International is obviously a form of interventionism. It imposes Western liberal categories on the oppressed.  As we will soon see, this exact agenda is far from being kept secret; to be precise, it is actually funded largely by the liberal Zionist George Soros and his Open Society Institute.

Schulman clearly views Massad as a threat, referring to him and his criticism at least twice in her book. Yet, she doesn’t make a single theoretical effort to counter Massad’s argument. Instead she informs us that Massad had never met with the “new wave of young queer Palestinian activists.” Schulman may well be correct here, yet this is far from being an argument. It is merely an anecdote. In other words, the fact that a few young Palestinian gays adopt some Western liberal ideas delivered to the region by an Israeli gay ideologist, an American Jewish lesbian activist, or even George Soros’ Open Society only proves that Massad is actually correct—the ‘universalization’ of marginal thought is in itself a form of crude cultural intervention.

Queer International and George Soros

A year ago I was shocked to discover that the BDS National Committee in Ramallah had made a crucial change to its goal statement. It changed the wording of its original (June 2005) mission statement from “demanding that Israel end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands[3] to demanding that Israel end “its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967.”[4]

The BDS National Committee thus basically abandoned the most precious Palestinian right—it drifted away from the commitment to 1948 and limited its struggle to the liberation of lands occupied in 1967. An attempt to clarify who exactly made the change and what process was involved revealed that this significant change was made in a clandestine manner—it appeared only in English. It has never appeared in Arabic or any other language. It didn’t take long before it became evident that the change took place behind the back of the Palestinian people. Despite BDS’ claim to be a ‘civil society’ representing more than 170 Palestinian organizations, Palestinians are still unaware of the BDS National Committee’s compromise on their behalf.

Being an expert on Jewish marginal politics, it was clear to me that the radical change in the BDS goal statement and the non-democratic way in which it was introduced was meant to appease BDS’ Jewish adherents. Further investigation revealed that BDS—like most Palestinian NGOs—is funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Yet, for obvious reasons, BDS National Committee (BNC) remained silent on the topic. It has never revealed its finances or the identity of its funders. The only reference to Soros’ links with BDS was made available by the Israeli right-wing NGO Monitor.

Now, however, thanks to Schulman’s book, this issue has been resolved. In her search for funding for a young Palestinian Queer USA tour in support of BDS, Schulman writes that she was advised to approach George Soros’ Open Society institute. The following account may leave you flabbergasted, as it did me:

“A former ACT UP staffer who worked for the Open Society Institute, George Soros’ foundation, suggested that I file an application there for funding for the tour. When I did so it turned out that the person on the other end had known me from when we both attended Hunter [College] High School in New York in the 1970s. He forwarded the application to the institutes’s office in Amman, Jordan, and I had an amazing one-hour conversation with Hanan Rabani, its director of the Women’s and Gender program for the Middle East region. Hanan told me that this tour would give great visibility to autonomous queer organizations in the region. That it would inspire queer Arabs—especially in Egypt and Iran…for that reason, she said, funding for the tour should come from the Amman office” (p. 108).

What we see here is clear and embarrassing evidence of a blunt intervention made by George Soros’ institute in an attempt to shape Arab culture and political life. We also learn about the manner in which Soros’ Open Society Institute introduces gay and queer politics to the region. Apparently money for a tour promoting Palestine and BDS is traveling from Soros’ Open Society to Jordan and then back to the USA with the hope that such a maneuver would “inspire” gays in Iran. At least now we know who stands behind the Arab gay revolution.

The moral is very clear: BDS had a very “good reason” to remain silent regarding its funding sources. After all, being funded directly or indirectly by a liberal Zionist philanthropy, a man who also funds the openly Zionist JStreet,   is indeed slightly embarrassing. Furthermore, it seems as if this new evidence of Western intervention presented as a “Jordanian queer initiative” proves that Joseph Massed was more than correct—
Queer International is a farce. In practice it is a network of proxy operations attempting to introduce liberal ideas to Arabs and Muslims in an attempt to undermine their culture.

Intellectual Integrity vs. Materialism

Since she is not a philosopher, Schulman is not interested in arguments or any kind of theoretical depth. Instead she specializes in marginal campaigns and Queer International activism. She is obviously very good at forming alliances and making things happen. When Schulman realizes, for instance, that Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT film festival, is funded by the Israeli Consulate, she offers to “fund-raise to replace the (Israeli) money.” This isn’t exactly an intellectual approach, yet it provides us with precious and intimate information about marginal politics and the way in which it operates behind the scenes. We are dealing here with a little solidarity industry. Sometimes it is Israel and Zionists who pay the bill, other times it is Soros and other liberal Zionists who fund the “opposition.”

Schulman’s personal journey toward BDS and Justice throws light on the path taken by the BDS in Ramallah toward the Jewish crowd, the queer movement and especially liberal Zionist money.

While during the early stage of Schulman’s campaign BDS leader Omar Barghouti was clearly reluctant to openly support or integrate queer politics into BDS, by the time the book ends Schulman is convinced by Barghouti’s “liberal credentials.” “Omar and I,” she says, “had both been motivated by love and need for justice to transform ourselves so that we were now reaching each other.” And, she continues, “now I know that there is a significant Palestinian ‘civil society’ that supports a nonviolent strategy for change and is feminist and now pro-gay.”

Mazal Tov is probably the most appropriate way to congratulate Barghouti, BDS, Soros—and Sarah Schulman, of course.

I am very impressed with this revelation about a leading Palestinian civil society becoming ‘pro-gay’ and ‘feminist. I guess that Soros and his institutions indeed have reason to be optimistic about their chance to change the face of the Arab society.

However, I would really like to know whether the Palestinians are aware of all this. For some reason I have a feeling that, as in the case of BDS surreptitiously changing its goals statement, the same Palestinian civil society now has become ‘pro-gay’ and ‘feminist’ without anyone in Palestine knowing about it. I can only say that I hope I am wrong.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel/Palestine and the Queer International – A Book Review by Gilad Atzmon

TSA expands role beyond airports amid growing cases of misconduct

RT | August 7, 2013

Cases of misconduct among airport screeners employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) increased by 26 per cent between 2010 and 2012, according to a new report. It comes as the agency expands its services beyond airport security gates.

The report, which was released last week by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), found 9,622 cases of misconduct among TSA workers from 2010 through the 2012 fiscal year. It concluded that the agency had insufficient procedures for reviewing and recording the outcomes of misconduct cases.

At the same time, fresh attention has been cast on TSA’s expanding its roles into train terminals and even sporting events in the form of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response squads, or VIPR teams, which have been assigned to counterterrorism security checks at transportation hubs in the US since 2005.

According to a profile published this week by The New York Times, TSA’s VIPR program now boasts a $100 million annual budget and is growing quickly. The scheme has grown since 2008, consisting of 37 teams in 2012.

Meanwhile, the agency’s records show that it has provided security for over 8,800 “unannounced checkpoints” and other search operations in conjunction with local law enforcement outside of airports. Such events have included the Indianapolis 500 race and both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

VIPR teams usually comprise of federal air marshals, explosives experts, and baggage inspectors. The squads move through crowds at events and transportation hubs with bomb-sniffing dogs and perform random stops on individuals. Plainclothes members of VIPR teams monitor crowds for suspicious behavior.

“Our mandate is to provide security and counterterrorism operations for all high-risk transportation targets, not just airports and aviation,” TSA administrator John S. Pistole said. “The VIPR teams are a big part of that.”

However, members of Congress and officials at the Department of Homeland Security question whether the teams are properly trained while civil liberties groups wonder what the VIPR teams have to do with TSA’s original mandate to provide security at the nation’s airports.

“The problem with TSA stopping and searching people in public places outside the airport is that there are no real legal standards, or probable cause,” said Khaliah Barnes, administrative law counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“It’s something that is easily abused because the reason that they are conducting the stops is shrouded in secrecy.”

Representative Bennie Thompson, a ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee with oversight of TSA, supports the VIPR teams but remains concerned about warrantless searches and the process of detecting suspicious behavior.

“This is a gray area,” he said. “I haven’t seen any good science that says that is what a terrorist looks like. Profiling can easily be abused,” Thompson told The New York Times.

As for the rising number of offenses among TSA workers, the majority of those listed in the report include attendance and leave violations and excessive absences or tardiness. Only a small fraction represented instances of theft.

Specific violations of screening and security rules were outlined in 20 per cent of the cases profiled in the report. One of those offenses included sleeping while on duty.

Although the GAO report does not indicate high occurrences of issues such as theft, there have still been some high profile cases among the 56,000-strong staff which is spread out among 450 airports across the US.

For example, a TSA officer at Orlando International Airport pleaded guilty to embezzlement and theft after stealing 80 laptop computers and electronics from passenger luggage in 2011. The items were worth $80,000.

Another TSA employee was arrested after allegedly stealing some $50,000 worth of electronics at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport the same year, although the GAO does not cite that incident.

It remains to be seen whether the occurrences of misconduct listed in the report will carry over into TSA’s growing role. For the most part, the presence of VIPR teams seems to mostly confuse and irritate the public.

A joint operation in 2012 involving VIPR, Houston police, and local transit officers led to complaints of stops and searches of bags. The deployment yielded a few arrests, mostly for passengers with existing warrants for prostitution and minor drug possession, according to The Times.

“It was an incredible waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Robert Fickman, a local defense lawyer who attended a subsequent meeting in the city packed with angry residents. “Did we need to have TSA in here for a couple of minor busts?”

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on TSA expands role beyond airports amid growing cases of misconduct

Greenwald claims up to 20,000 Snowden documents are in his possession

RT | August 7, 2013

The journalist involved in the publication of leaks provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden said in a testimony to the Brazilian government that he possesses up to 20,000 secret US government files.

Glenn Greenwald testified before a Brazilian Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday. The Brazil-based American reporter – who was approached by Snowden while the whistleblower still worked as a contractor for the NSA – has published details of US electronic surveillance programs taking place domestically and abroad.

“I did not do an exact count, but he gave me 15,000, 20,000 documents. Very, very complete and very long,” Greenwald told Brazilian lawmakers.

“The stories we have published are a small portion. There will certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the US government and allied governments… on how they have penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin America,” he said.

In addition to his reporting for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Greenwald has also been a fixture on O Globo, where the journalist shared the alleged details of US electronic surveillance of Brazil and virtually all of Latin America.

During his testimony, Greenwald alleged that Brazilian companies have agreements in place with American telecoms to collect data for the National Security Agency (NSA), and stressed that their complicity should be investigated by that country’s government.

O Globo recently published claims that Washington had at least at one time maintained a spy center in the capital of Brasilia, as part of a network of 16 similar facilities worldwide designed to intercept foreign satellite transmissions.

Allegations of widespread US surveillance of Brazil prompted US Vice President Joe Biden last month to call Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to provide an explanation. US Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon had earlier denied the NSA was tapping into telecoms in the country.

The additional files in Greenwald’s possession are believed to have been handed over when Snowden took refuge at a hotel in Hong Kong before fleeing to Moscow.

“The pretext [given by Washington] for the spying is only one thing: terrorism and the need to protect the [American] people. But the reality is that there are many documents which have nothing to do with terrorism or national security, but have to do with competition with other countries, in the business, industrial and economic fields,” Greenwald said on Tuesday.

On Monday, foreign ministers of the South American trade bloc Mercosur raised the issue of alleged NSA surveillance throughout Latin America with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The ministers discussed with Ban a statement adopted by the bloc on July 12 following a summit in Montevideo, Uruguay. The statement called for UN members to propose ways to halt spying and potentially pursue sanctions against the United States.

But doing so would be impossible under the current framework, as only the Security Council can impose legally binding sanctions and the US holds veto privilege over any such resolution as a permanent member of the council.

One of the most recent leaks provided by Snowden – published last month – refers to a secret surveillance system named XKeyscore which is allegedly used by the NSA to monitor internet traffic.

In his Tuesday testimony, Greenwald described the system as not only able to collect metadata “but also the content of emails and what is being discussed in telephone conversations. It is a powerful program which frightens.”

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Greenwald claims up to 20,000 Snowden documents are in his possession

Four Israeli soldiers wounded by landmine after crossing into Lebanon

Al-Akhbar | August 7, 2013

Four Israeli soldiers were injured on Wednesday by a landmine after having crossed into Lebanese territory, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

“As a new violation of the Lebanese sovereignty, a pedestrian patrol belonging to the Israeli enemy breached the Blue Line at the Labboneh border area, for a distance of 400 meters inside the Lebanese territory, and during the infiltration, an explosion occurred and injured a number of the patrol elements,” a Lebanese army command statement read.

“Afterwards, the [Lebanese] army units deployed in the region mobilized and took the necessary field measures, while a special military commission of the Lebanese army took charge of the investigation into the circumstances of the incident and the type of the explosion, in coordination with the UNIFIL,” it added.

An Israeli military spokesman told AFP that the Israeli troops were “carrying out nocturnal activities in the Lebanese border area when the explosion occurred,” adding that the wounded had been hospitalized.

South Lebanon is riddled with tens of thousands of landmines and cluster bombs, many of which were placed there by Israeli forces at the end of Israel’s occupation of the region in 2000 and during the July 2006 war.

Israel’s army regularly violates Lebanese sovereignty, crossing over the blue line demarcating the disputed border between Lebanon and Palestine, as well as sending war planes over Lebanese territory.

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s army registered two violations of the Lebanese airspace, as four Israeli planes flew over the northern city of Tripoli, the NNA reported.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 2 Comments

Kerry’s Success Worse than His Failure

By Nicola Nasser | August 6, 2013

The critical issue of the ever expanding illegal Israeli colonial settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the West Bank (WB), which are peace killing in eastern Jerusalem in particular, will make or break the newly resumed Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.

On July 29, 2013, those negotiations were resumed in Washington, D.C.; they are scheduled to begin in earnest in mid-August. President Barak Obama hailed them as a “promising step forward.” However, in view of more than twenty years of failed U.S. – sponsored peace making, the new talks “promise” nothing more than being a new round of failure and “conflict management,” in spite of Obama’s belief that “peace is both possible and necessary.”

According to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is “insanity,” but that is exactly what John Kerry seems to have achieved after six tours of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East since he was sworn in as the U.S. Secretary of State.

Unless the issue of settlements is addressed in accordance with international and humanitarian law as well as in compliance with the resolutions of the United Nations, Kerry will be shooting himself in the legs and his success in his peace mission would be worse than his failure. The EU’s recent anti-settlement move highlighted this fact.

However, Kerry seems and sounds determined to pursue his mission on the basis of contradictory terms of reference, laid down by the official letter sent by the former U.S. president George W. Bush to former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in April 2004, whereby the United States pledged to annex the major Jewish settlements to Israel, to redraw its borders accordingly and to exclude the right of return of Palestinian refugees from any agreement in the future on solving the Arab – Israeli conflict in Palestine peacefully.

Top on the agenda of the resumed negotiations are borders and security; Israel has never defined its borders nor respected the borders set by the United Nations resolution No. 181 of 1947; in the name of security, it demands borders that compromise the viability of any independent Palestinian state on the WB.

From U.S. and Israeli perspectives, “the resumption of negotiations is seen as an objective in itself,” in the words of Ghassan al-Khatib, the former spokesman of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

David Ignatius on August 2 described kerry’s efforts as a “mission impossible,” which if it fails “this time, it will cost the parties dearly;” he described the ensuing negotiations as “a kind of a benign trap, once the prey have been lured inside, it’s difficult for them to escape without either accomplishing .. peace or damaging themselves.”

Indeed in the long run, success of the resumed negotiations warn of creating a political environment that would give “legitimacy” to a new Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip to remove the “armed resistance” there to their outcome, with the overt blessing of the U,S. sponsor of the negotiations and the discreet blessing of the Arab “peace partners.”

However, the expected failure of kerry’s efforts could be worse than the failure of the Camp David summit meeting in September 2000 of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and U.S. former president Bill Clinton.

By sending his negotiators to Washington, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is again compromising his personal credibility, but worse still he risks a Palestinian implosion in the case of success, but in case the negotiations fail he risks a Palestinian explosion in rebellion against both his PA and the Israeli occupation.

Abbas has already antagonized his old allies among the members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is considered the third influential Palestinian power after the two rivals of Fatah and Hamas – who accuse him of reneging on their consensus not to resume negotiations without a stop to the expansion of Israeli colonial settlements first.

National reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas will be put on hold for at least the nine months which the negotiators set as the time frame for their negotiations.

His decision put on hold as well any Palestinian new attempt to join international organizations to build on the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in September 2012.

The new talks are merely “the beginning of the beginning” of “a long process” in which “there is no guarantee” for success, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

All this boils down to winning Israel more time to dictate whatever borders it deems “secured,” by creating more facts on the OPT. For Palestinians, this is a waste of time that makes their dream of a national homeland in an independent state more remote. No surprise then the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on July 27 saw in the resumption of negotiations “a vital strategic interest of the state of Israel.”

Kerry’s personal success seems to have pressured Palestinians into being fooled again into jumping to “final status” negotiations as the best way to absolve Israel from honoring its commitments in compliance with the “interim” accords it had signed with the PLO.

Bitter Past Experience

The Palestinian wide –spread opposition to the resumption of talks is accusing Abbas of being a “believer” in peace who is about to get “stung from the same hole twice,” in reference to the bloody outcome of the U.S. – hosted Camp David summit in September 2000.

Then, the U.S. administration of Clinton pressured Arafat into “final status” negotiations. Barak, then the Israeli prime minister, found in the Camp David final status talks a golden pretext not to implement the third stage of the Oslo accords, namely to withdraw the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from about 95% of the West Bank (WB) area and hand it over to the PA.

Linking the WB and Gaza by a “corridor” that allows free movement of people and goods between them was another commitment that has yet to be honored by Israel.

“Trying” and failing is better than “doing nothing,” Kerry said, but the failure of the Camp David trilateral summit led to the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising); ever since both the failure and the uprising were additional pretexts for the successive Israeli governments not to honor both commitments; moreover, both pretexts were the justification they used to reoccupy militarily all the PA areas and to coordinate with the U.S. the “removal” of Arafat and the “change” of his regime.

The critical issue of the illegal Israeli colonial settlements on the WB will make or break the new Kerry – sponsored talks. On July 29, James M. Wall wrote: “Israel plays the peace process game not to give away ill-gotten gains, but to protect them;” settlements come on top of those “gains;” they were “gained” under the umbrella of the “peace process,” with the tacit blessing of the well – intentioned Palestinian negotiator who did not make their removal a precondition to the resumption of peace talks right from the start.

The 2000 summit collapsed because of the Israeli insistence on continued building of colonial settlements, especially in eastern Jerusalem, which doomed to failure the peace process launched in Madrid in 1991. kerry’s resumed negotiations opened while the settlement expansion continues unabated. Now Abbas seems too late to rectify this grave mistake. No surprise the failure of the negotiations seems inevitable and will only revive the Palestinian – Israeli stalemate.

Israel’s 2013 Herzliya Assessment concluded: “The status-quo in the Palestinian territories is not sustainable, and definitely not durable… the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is untenable. It will lead to a Palestinian mass public uprising with sporadic violence.”

Obama appealed to the negotiators to “approach these talks in good faith,” but the Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, questioned the “good faith” of the U.S. and Israel who were “conferring about security” without the Palestinians, as if it was “their bilateral security,” although security is “a central and fundamental issue of ours and concerns our future as a whole.” Abed Rabbo’s Israeli partner in the Geneva Initiative, former cabinet minister Yossi Beilin, writing in The Jerusalem post on July 30, questioned the “good faith” of Netanyahu who “has reneged on all that he has said throughout his political career.”

Defying the bitter experience of twenty – year old peace process and strong opposition at home, Abbas seems voluntarily dragged into his last test of U.S. credibility as the peace broker, which will make or break his political career at the age of 76 years.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Kerry’s Success Worse than His Failure

Netanyahu urges increased US pressure on Iran, Rouhani regrets “warmongering group” blocking constructive talks

Aletho News | August 7, 2013

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening urged increasing pressure on Iran relating to her nuclear program and warned that “if the pressure will drop, nothing would deter Iran from achieving its nuclear goals” according to Israeli media reports.

During a meeting with a delegation of 36 American congressmen headed by Congressman Steny Hoyer, Netanyahu claimed that though Iran’s president said pressure wouldn’t help, in the last two decades pressure was the only thing that helped.

Addressing Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s speech regarding the nuclear issue, Netanyahu said in a Tuesday statement that pressure on Iran had, in fact, been effective.

“Iran’s president said that pressure won’t work. Not true! The only thing that has worked in the last two decades is pressure,” the prime minister stressed.

“And the only thing that will work now is increased pressure. I have said that before and I’ll say it again, because that’s important to understand. You relent on the pressure, they will go all the way. You should sustain the pressure”.

In its latest measure against Iran, the US House of Representatives last Wednesday approved a bill to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports and financial sector.

The bill, which must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law, seeks to cut Iran’s oil exports by one million barrels per day over a year.

Meanwhile, Press TV reports that in his first press conference since he took office on August 4, Rohani expressed regret that the “warmongering group” in the US opposes constructive Tehran-Washington talks by serving the interests of “a foreign regime.”

The Iranian chief executive said Iran is closely monitoring all measures taken by the United States and will respond properly to Washington’s “practical and constructive” moves. He further expressed the Islamic Republic’s readiness to hold talks with any country within the framework of Iran’s national interests.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Big Historical Lie


By orwellwasright | August 6, 2013

It is perceived wisdom throughout the Western world – particularly America – that the dropping of two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was “necessary” to end the war with Japan. Printed throughout textbooks in the post-war world, the understanding is that, had these targets not been struck, the war would have waged on indefinitely, with potentially untold American soldier and Japanese civilian deaths.

As the world commemorates the 68th anniversary of the attacks, however, it is important to take a step back and view the catastrophic event not through the prism of propaganda and mythologizing, but instead through the lens of historical scrutiny. For, as is often the case, the disparity between “Official History” and reality is characterized by lies and deceptions bolstered by patriotism and American exceptionalism.

We are told repeatedly that, without the use of weapons which current Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui refers to as the “ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil”, Japan would never have surrendered. We are told that President Truman was troubled by the mounting Allied casualties, and that the Joint Chiefs had told him to expect 1,000,000 dead Americans in the pending attack on the Japanese home islands. Yet this figure is a complete fabrication, invented by Secretary of War Stimson. No such claim was made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Truman himself, in different statements, asserted “thousands of lives would be saved,” and “a quarter of a million of the flower of our young manhood was worth a couple of Japanese cities,” and also “I thought 200,000 of our young men would be saved by making that decision.” None of these statements were based on any evidence.

The alleged indefatigability of the Japanese military and their unwillingness to surrender is also a proven myth. By the summer of 1945 their position was hopeless and numerous attempts to surrender had already been made. Brigadier Gen. Carter W. Clarke stated: “We brought them down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.”

Truman knew weeks before the Potsdam Conference, which began in July, 1945, that the Japanese were making overtures to surrender, the only condition being the retention of the Emperor. But Truman was determined to test the new bombs. In the words of General Douglas McArthur: ”The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.” In the end, the US agreed to the terms of the Japanese surrender anyway – but not until they had tested their new weapons and caused the deaths of 100,000s of innocent civilians.

In reality, most of the military top brass were disgusted at the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki and understood completely that it served no military purpose whatsoever. Admiral William D. Leahy, the President’s Chief of Staff said, “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.” This view was reiterated by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who said, “The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace… The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan.”

So what is the truth about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Why, when intelligence agencies knew months in advance that contingency plans for a large-scale invasion were completely unnecessary and that Japan desperately sought peace, did they, as Admiral Leahy put it, adopt “an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages”?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, the Russians had entered the Japanese war and were making striking advances through Manchuria, decimating the already weakened Japanese army. Indeed, their role was pivotal – as Air Force General Claire Chennault stated: “Russia’s entry into the Japanese war was the decisive factor in speeding its end and would have been so even if no atomic bombs had been dropped.” The last thing the American leadership wanted was for Russia to receive equal spoils of war and emerge from the war as a superpower equal to the US.

In this sense, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are more accurately perceived as the opening salvos of the Cold War, rather than the final shots fired in the Second World War – the Cold War was, after all, defined essentially as a balance of nuclear powers; realpolitik and the primacy of power where the arms race and military insanity took supremacy over diplomacy.

The other, far more sinister reason, was one of scientific curiosity. After making such a huge investment in the Manhattan Project (2 billion in 1940) and with three bombs completed, there was little to no desire to shelve the weapons. The fissionable material in the Hiroshima bomb was uranium, while the Nagasaki bomb was plutonium, and subsequently there was intense scientific curiosity as to the different effects these bombs would produce. As the US Army director of the project, General Leslie Groves pondered: “what would happen if an entire city was leveled by a single uranium bomb?” “What about a plutonium bomb?” For the science experiment to go ahead, surrender was not an option.

Perhaps Stanley Kubrick in his movie Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb expressed his understanding more than most of the mentality of those who pushed for the use of atomic weapons on the Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki – it was a decision based on a kind of hell-bent fanatical militarism combined with the worst kind of scientific endeavor devoid of any sense of humanity. Small wonder that the history books and the propaganda machine went into overdrive in the following years, endlessly justifying the use of what President Eisenhower described as “that awful thing”.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Big Historical Lie