● Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises.
● Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks.
● The officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel, who often struggled to articulate a clear viewpoint and was widely viewed as a passive defense secretary, was brought in to employ.
● Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises.
A leading computer security company says it has discovered one of the most sophisticated pieces of malicious software ever seen. ● Symantec says the bug, named Regin, was probably created by a government and has been used for six years against a range of targets around the world. Once installed on a computer, it can do things like capture screenshots, steal passwords or recover deleted files. Experts say computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been hit most. It has been used to spy on government organisations, businesses and private individuals, they say. Researchers say the sophistication of the software indicates that it is a cyber-espionage tool developed by a nation state.
A planned, but as-of-yet not introduced bill is being hyped by Israel’s far-right coalition, which would give the Interior Ministry broad power to revoke the residency of Arabs deemed to be a threat to “state sovereignty.” Incredibly, the bill will also allow the ministry to expel their relatives, even if they haven’t done anything. Though it’s being couched as an “anti-terror” measure, the bill also covers people who the government perceives as “inciting violence” through speech or activism, as well as “rioters” and rock-throwers. And obviously all of their families. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan embraced the idea to give him this huge new power, which Jerusalem’s mayor couched as granting the Israeli government to nullify citizenship or residency of “bad people.” Naturally, the bill only applies to Arabs, and seems to be focused squarely on occupied East Jerusalem.
Irish Times: Israel approves law that makes country a Jewish state ● The Israeli cabinet has endorsed a controversial Bill enshrining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, despite criticism by Israel’s Arab minority who fear the measure will leave them as second-class citizens. A divided cabinet voted 14-6 in favour of the Bill yesterday after a session that ministers described as a “shouting match”. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly banged on the table and said “it cannot be that Arabs can live in Jewish towns, but Jews can’t live in Arab towns. A country within a country is developing.” He said the law was needed because Palestinians refused to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and Israeli Arabs were seeking autonomy in the Galilee and the Negev.
Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events. ● If you’re a conspiracy theorist, then you’re crazy, right? That’s been the common belief for years, but recent studies prove that just the opposite is true. Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events. The most recent study was published in July 2013 by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK. Entitled “‘What about Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study of Online Discussion of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” the study compared “conspiracist,” or pro-conspiracy theory, and “conventionalist,” or anti-conspiracy, comments on news websites.
The Saker ■ On conspiracy theories and credibility
Russia’s Foreign Ministry regrets the U.S., Canada and Ukraine have voted against the UN resolution on fighting glorification of Nazism, and the EU countries’ delegations have abstained from voting. ● “Ukraine’s position is especially regretful. It is tough to realise how a country, which people had experienced the horrors of Nazism and had made a major input in the common Victory over it, could be voting against a document, which condemns is glorification,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement published on Saturday. “We hope adoption of this resolution will send a clear signal to the countries, which have been facing the necessity of most decisive measures to fight the growing attempts to glorify Nazism,” the statement reads.
Ecuadorian President reportedly announced that his accounts have been a target of cyber attacks that came from the United States. ● According to the president, these attacks were aimed at gaining access to personal data. He noted that the attacks targeted the computers of the people closest to him. The newspaper added that back in October Correa said that "organized networks" carried out several cyber attacks from Colombia trying to extract information from the government. In September, Ecuadorian authorities announced plans to set up a Cyber Defense Command, which is to be established by mid-2015. The $8 million of funding was to be used to recruit staff and provide necessary software and hardware.
Occupied Jerusalem, SANA, Israeli occupation forces transported last night two wounded terrorists from Syria to Nahariya hospital in Western Galilee to the north of occupied Palestine in a daily violation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions which are related to countering terrorism. The Israeli Walla website reported Sunday “Last night two wounded were transported from Syria to Nahariya hospital as they suffered moderate-to-serious wounds.” The website indicated that “Nahariya hospital has treated 443 persons wounded in Syria so far.” Members of “Jabhat al-Nusra” terrorist organization spread in the disengagement zone, and they are supported by Israel in spite of the UN condemnation of terrorist crimes perpetrated by this organization.
A US drone destroyed a house in Mada Khel village of North Waziristan today, killing six people and wounding three others. None of the slain were identified, but all were labeled “suspects.” ● If that story sounds awfully familiar, it’s because it is. Today’s attack marks the 500th confirmed US drone strike outside of actual warzones, with just about 10 years worth of strikes. The strikes were extremely rare at first, a couple a year in Pakistan during the waning years of the Bush Administration. Now the attacks are increasingly common, not just in Pakistan but in Yemen as well. The 500 attacks have killed some 3,674 people, and while only 473 are listed as confirmed civilians, the vast majority of the others slain have never been conclusively identified, remaining forever “suspects.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of seeking a regime change in Russia through its sanctions against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine. Lavrov made the remarks on Saturday while addressing a forum of political analysts in the Russian capital, Moscow. ● “
The West is showing unambiguously that they do not want to force (Russia) to change policy, they want to achieve a change of regime,” said Lavrov. “
Now public figures in Western countries are saying that it’s necessary to introduce sanctions that would destroy the economy and rouse public protests,” Lavrov added. ● The top Russian diplomat also rejected comments made by US Vice President Joe Biden on Friday that Russia risks “greater isolation” if it fails in its commitments to resolving the crisis in Ukraine. “
The vast majority of countries... we are continuing dialogue with them... There is no isolation,” said Lavrov.
Stephen Lendman ■ Lavrov: West Wants Regime Change in Russia
The WAFA News Agency said the child, Khader al-‘Ajlouni, 16 years of age, was pushed down a flight of stairs at the police station, and suffered serious injuries to his neck, arms and back. It added that the child was transferred to a hospital in the city after becoming unable to move one of his arms and one of his legs. Also in Jerusalem, small groups of Israeli extremists invaded the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the al-Magharba Gate, under heavy Israeli military presence. Late on Tuesday at night, Israeli soldiers invaded a number of homes in the occupied city, and kidnapped several children, before taking them to an interrogation facility.
PressTV: Israel continues to abuse, torture Palestinian minors || The Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC) said some 40 percent of Palestinian children are reportedly subjected to sexual abuse during interrogation. It said Israeli soldiers have arrested more than 600 Palestinian children in al-Quds (Jerusalem) since June 2013.
Former US President George W. Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said stated that US should provide lethal military assistance to the Ukrainian government. ● The United States should provide lethal military assistance to the Ukrainian government via the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), former US President George W. Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said. "
If I were in my old job I would be thinking of lethal assistance [to Ukraine], yes. But this is why you have a CIA. This is why you have covert action. I would be thinking: do we want to do it explicitly and send a message to [Russia's President Vladimir] Putin? Or do we want to do it covertly? I think we tend now to talk too much and act too little," Hadley said during a panel discussion "Dialogue on the Crisis with Russia" at the Aspen Institute on Friday when asked if the US should provide lethal aid to Kiev. The United States was not employing the type of "
integrated and vicious strategy" that was required in Ukraine, Hadley lamented.
A rookie NYPD officer “accidentally” shot and killed an unarmed African-American man in a staircase in a New York apartment block. It happened as Ferguson is tensely waiting for a grand jury decision on a police officer who shot Michael Brown. ● Akai Gurley, 28, and his girlfriend Melissa Butler were entering a staircase on the seventh floor in Pink House project in Brooklyn late Thursday evening when two policemen came down from the eighth floor. Peter Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau were doing a top-to-bottom patrol. Liang, a rookie on probationary assignment, fired a shot in Gurley’s chest without a warning, Butler said. “
They didn’t present themselves or nothing and shot him,” Butler told DNAinfo New York. “
As soon as he came in, the police opened the [door to the] eighth-floor staircase. They didn’t identify themselves at all. They just shot.” Gurley and Butler tried to go down the stairs but reached only the fifth floor where Gurley lost consciousness. There a neighbor called an ambulance. Butler says the policemen did not come to help nor called the ambulance. Gurley, who has a 2-year-old son, was pronounced dead on arrival to hospital.
PressTV: US officer cracks man’s head - VIDEO
As Tuesday’s grisly murder of five Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinian assailants continues to dominate headlines, major media outlets are actively erasing the Israeli violence that preceded the attack and the surging anti-Palestinian assaults that have followed. In typical fashion, The New York Times buried information alluding to Palestinian death and suffering in the fourteenth paragraph, while CNN disappeared Palestinians from the discussion entirely. The Washington Post went even further, using the synagogue attack as an opportunity to erase Israeli violence against Palestinians both past and present. Noting that the attack site is located in what used to be Deir Yassin — a Palestinian village destroyed in 1948 after Zionist militias deliberately executed more than one hundred of its inhabitants, including children — the Post rendered the massacre an unproven accusation against Israel. [AWIP: Attack on synagogue kills 4 Israelis in West al-Quds]
Steven Salaita is suing the University of Illinois for its refusal to release emails related to administrators’ decision to fire him last summer. ● Salaita had been hired by the university for a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program, but he was fired after an outcry by pro-Israel donors and activists over his tweets critical of Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Attorneys at the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy filed suit in the Circuit Court of Champaign County in Illinois on Monday alleging that the university is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit asks the court to order the university to release thousands of emails and pay unspecified civil damages and legal costs.
NONSENSE. It's never easy to pick the most idiotic anti-Russian rant but here’s the latest: “Putin’s Russia is one of the most loathsomely misogynistic countries in the world”. Fact: Russia has more women in senior management than any one else. But, it’s Russia, what do facts have to do with it?
RUBLE. Has fallen quite a lot against the USD (but so have most other currencies). Here's an analysis of the pros and cons. But the ruble price of oil is about the same.
SANCTIONS. They’re hurting Russia, but Europe more. Industrial production continues to rise in Russia but inflation is too. In Europe industrial production is down. Remember, it’s not that Russia was such a big market for the EU but that it was about the only one that was growing: Russia can substitute; the EU cannot. So why is Europe ruining itself in such a questionable cause?
• "(Western media) ... prefers to dwell on ... “first world problems” like pouring buckets of ice water over our heads or the condition of Kim Kardashian's butt"
• It has also lied to the people about the Iraq war, the financial crisis, and now, what is going on in Ukraine
The mainstream media’s echo chamber claim about Russian media goes something like this: “Russian media is powerful and effective because it is well-funded propaganda.” Really? Having worked in Russian media for well over a decade, I observe it focussing on foreign audiences in a very different way: it challenges the West’s hegemonic grip on shaping and controlling the global media agenda. Up until recently, western media outlets enjoyed near monopoly in defining the news agenda. It also worked in lockstep with the powers that be. Reading the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times one will quickly notice they closely mirror the foreign policies of western governments. It has been a cozy arrangement too. A pliant media whitewashed foreign policy adventurism. In return, major media outlets were given a front row seat to cover wars to be packaged as the West saving the world. This model worked reasonably well until the power of the Internet made itself felt, and until the financial crisis hit, failed wars were exposed, and new and alternative media began to emerge.
Suspicions of Israeli involvement in the alleged suicide of a Palestinian bus driver continue to intensify, with the victim’s family lawyer telling RT that until independent forensics prove it to be a suicide, the death must be viewed as a homicide. ● The family of 32-year-old Yousuf Hasan al-Ramouni who was found hanged inside his bus at the Har Hotzvim terminal near Jerusalem insists that the father of two was murdered by Jewish settlers. They also argue that the Israeli authorities deliberately “contributed to this confusion” of the circumstances of al-Ramouni death by publicly proclaiming it a suicide without proper investigation. Following a post-mortem, Israeli police ruled it was not a criminal or nationalist attack and that there was “no suspicion of criminal activity.” Now, the family's lawyer, Muhammad Mahmoud is trying to fight the conclusion by the country's leading forensic lab, saying it is based on racial bias, and premature autopsy results. Palestinian pathologist, Dr. Saber al-Aloul, was present at the post-mortem conducted at Israel's central forensics lab. The controversy over al- Ramouni's death started after Ma'an reported earlier this week that the Palestinian coroner came to a different conclusion than his Israeli colleagues. On Thursday, Ma’an said Israeli police summoned al-Aloul to appear before authorities on Sunday for questioning.
James Petras ■ There are clear signs that a major war is about to break out in Ukraine: A war actively promoted by the NATO regimes and supported by their allies and clients in Asia (Japan) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). The war over Ukraine will essentially run along the lines of a full-scale military offensive against the southeast Donbas region, targeting the breakaway ethnic Ukraine- Russian Peoples Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk, with the intention of deposing the democratically elected government, disarming the popular militias, killing the guerrilla resistance partisans and their mass base, dismantling the popular representative organizations and engaging in ethnic cleansing of millions of bilingual Ukraino-Russian citizens. [...] An intensifying war fever is sweeping the West; the consequences of this madness appear graver by the hour.
Stephen Lendman ■ Kiev Plans Full-Scale War || Ukraine is the most serious post-WW II geopolitical crisis. At risk is escalated East/West confrontation. Possible global war. Obama bears full responsibility. Complicit EU partners share it. America goes all-out to advance its imperium. Millions of corpses attest to its barbarity. Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western stooge ones is longstanding US policy. Washington-supported Kiev putschists staged the most brazen coup d'etat since Mussolini's 1922 march on Rome. Ukraine is the epicenter of European fascist reemergence. Hardline rule masquerades as democracy. Elections are farcical when held. Illegitimate by any standard.
Sputnik News: Deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic stated that US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Kiev could put at risk crisis settlement in Ukraine. ● The US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Kiev could jeopardize crisis settlement in Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and its permanent envoy to the Minsk talks Denis Pushilin warned Friday. US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev Thursday evening to hold talks with Ukrainian leaders. "Biden's visit to Kiev is aimed at disrupting the peace process. Washington's offers to change the format of the Minsk talks to something else may result in a re-escalation of the conflict. Americans want to get into the process themselves, which will weaken the peacekeeping position of the European Union. At the same time, they want to exclude DPR and LPR from the process, which will lead to a deadlock situation," Pushilin said. Pushilin stressed that possible supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine by the United States would also contribute to an escalation of the crisis.
Michel Chossudovsky ■ The US led war against the Islamic State is a big lie. Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists. The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel. The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June.
Lord Monckton, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley || This memorandum sets out evidence of falsehood with intent to mislead a court by Dr Michael E. Mann in a case in the District of Columbia against the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Review.
■ First, it will be demonstrated that Dr Michael Mann, the plaintiff and appellee in the case, materially misled the court in his Brief of Appellee filed 3 September 2014 by falsely stating (1) that the finding of Sir Muir Russell in an inquiry into revelations of malpractice by climate scientists in the “Climategate emails” that a depiction of three graphs of northern-hemisphere temperature changes from 1000-2000 AD, reconstructed from tree-rings and published on the front cover of the World Meteorological Organization’s Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 1999 on the WMO’s 50th anniversary in 2000, was misleading “had absolutely nothing to do with Dr Mann or with any graph prepared by him”; and (2) that “Dr Mann did not create this depiction”.
■ Second, it will be demonstrated that Dr Mann had reason to know each of these two statements was false in every material particular and was calculated to mislead the court on issues central to the proceedings.
■ Third, it will be demonstrated that a graph by Dr Mann and a depiction by him and others of his graph together with two similar graphs on the front cover of a widely-circulated official publication gravely misrepresented the scientific data so as to mislead policymakers into the adoption of costly regimes of taxation and regulation calculated to occasion substantial losses to taxpayers, and that Dr Mann knew the depiction was misleading, and that he was given an opportunity to correct it but did not correct it.
A little-known provision of the Patriot Act, overlooked by lawmakers and administration officials alike, appears to give President Obama a possible way to keep the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records program going indefinitely — even if Congress allows the law on which it is based to expire next year. Senate Republicans on Tuesday night used a filibuster to block consideration of a bill to end and replace the N.S.A. phone records program. The debate about what may happen next has played out based on a widely held premise: that the legal basis for the program, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, will expire on June 1, so if Congress remains gridlocked, the program will automatically shut down.
Patrick Martin ■ Senate blocks any limit to NSA spying on phone calls || The effect of the vote is to delay consideration of any legislation on NSA spying until the next session of Congress, when Republicans will be in the majority and will control key committees like Intelligence and Judiciary, which originate and write legislation. The defeated measure, drafted by the outgoing chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, would have placed very slight restrictions on the NSA program that collects metadata on virtually ever phone call placed in or through US telecommunications companies or the Internet.
More than 10,000 Palestinian children have served time in Israeli jails since 2000, PA Minister in charge of prisoners’ affairs Issa Qaraqaa said in a press release on Wednesday. ● The statement came on the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989 and entered into force on 2 September 1990. 300 Palestinian children are currently held behind Israeli bars, according to the statement. ● Since June 2014, Israeli occupation forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian citizens, 30% of whom were children. Most of the reported arrests were carried out in occupied Jerusalem, where 850 Jerusalemites were nabbed during the reporting period. ● 95% of the detained children were subjected to torture and severe beating during their arrest and investigation process as part of the Israeli policy to forcibly extract confessions from the detainees, Qaraqaa added. ● The minister for prisoners’ affairs called for cancelling the Israeli bill to impose additional penalties on Palestinian children, who throw stones at Israeli soldiers, that could reach 20-year imprisonment sentences. Israel does not provide any immunity for children and regularly violates international agreements on children's rights by humiliating and torturing them and denying them fair trials, the PA official concluded.
Sherwood Ross ■ Review of Michel Chossudovsky's Book: "Towards a World War III Scenario. The Dangers of Nuclear War" || U.S. plans to attack Iran with a mix of nuclear and conventional weapons have been in readiness since June, 2005, according to Michel Chossudovsky. a distinguished authority on international affairs. “What is unfolding (in Iran) is the outright legitimization of war in the name of an illusive notion of global security. America’s mini-nukes, with an explosive capacity of up to six times a Hiroshima bomb, are upheld as a ‘humanitarian’ bomb, whereas Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are branded as an indisputable threat to global security,” Chossudovsky writes. He points out that a U.S.-Israeli strike against Iran would probably not be limited to Iran’s nuclear facilities but likely would be “an all-out air attack on both military and civilian infrastructure, transport systems, factories and public buildings.” Employed would be “the entire gamut of new advanced weapons systems, including electro-metric weapons and environmental modification techniques (ENMOD),” Chossudovsky writes. [...] “It is not Iran and North Korea which are a threat to global security by the United States of America and Israel,” he adds. What’s more, Western European governments have joined the bandwagon and “have endorsed the U.S.-led military initiative against Iran.”
Individuals from 17 countries urge the UN General Assembly to debate the Hammarskjöld Commission Report
Leading individuals from seventeen countries, many having served the United Nations in senior positions, have urged the UN General Assembly to re-open the UN inquiry of 1961-62 into the cause of the death of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has suggested the General Assembly may wish to consider three options in pursuing the matter further. He also called on Member States ‘in the light of the passage of time, to declassify any relevant records in their possession.’
:: Next >>