Permalink HR 347 threatens freedom of assembly - restricts political protest

U.S. House passes bill giving the federal government new and sweeping powers to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country. Critics claim the bill, HR 347, would make free speech a felony, and restrict political protest. - HR 347, the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” also known as "First Amendment Rights Eradication Act," was passed by the House on Tuesday. Some speculate the bill is an attempt, at least in part, to silence and intimidate the Occupy Movement that began with Occupy Wall Street. The bill makes it a federal offense to disrupt or protest at any place or event attended by any person with secret service protection. The bill would make it a criminal offense to trespass on any "restricted buildings and grounds," and would seriously hamper any future political protests near the White House. However, the bill goes much farther than simply protecting the president.

AWIP: US Congress passes authoritarian anti-protest law

Permalink Groveling before AIPAC

Who needs diplomacy, or international law? On cue, John McCain calls for military strikes on Syria to get some brownie points from his old buddy Benny. Israel needs Syria to be neutered before it's on to Iran.

If anyone is interested in hearing some of the shameful dialog at AIPAC, here are a few videos: Kathy Ireland, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Joe Lieberman, Foreign Policy Roundtable. There's actually no need. We have heard it all before and self-torture is not healthy. If true and that's a big if, this is an interesting symbolic development. US President Barack Obama reportedly on Monday gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a copy of the Book of Esther in honor of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is celebrated on Thursday and Friday this week. The Book of Esther is of course a jewish false narrative. Purim is the celebration of a myth. A dangerous one.

Sheldon Richman: No to AIPAC, No to Israel, and No to War
Gilad Atzmon: Purim Special From Esther to AIPAC

Permalink Obama: We’ve Got Israel’s Back

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally held their much vaunted meeting today, with President Obama vowing that the US “will always have Israel’s back” regardless of the circumstances. - Netanyahu appeared to agree with the US president’s assessment that the US does indeed have his back no matter what, though he added that Israel’s government would always be the “master of its fate” on the decision of war. The meeting apparently resolved very little, however, as Netanyahu was said to have informed Obama that he “hasn’t decided yet” whether or not to attack Iran, while reportedly pushing Obama to make ever more hawkish statements about the possibility of war.

Robert Parry: Sloppy Comments on Iran’s ‘Nukes’
AWIP: Obama [Netanyahu] ‘Won’t Hesitate to Use Force’ Against Iran
Stuart Littlewood: ‘Ignore the intelligence reports, let’s make war’
PressTV: Israeli spies oppose Iran war: Former US envoy
Andrew Gavin Marshall: Economic Warfare and Strangling Sanctions

Patrick Martin: Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran war options - The political voice of the super-rich nods approvingly that Obama is coming around on Iran. The liberal cheerleaders for Obama delude their audience with a guarantee that there will be no war. In different ways, both are preparing to back the American president in the event he initiates one of the greatest crimes in world history—an unprovoked war of aggression on a country of 80 million people.

Permalink EU Oil Sanctions to Increase Iran's Oil Revenues $10bln

The illegal decision taken by the European Union to impose an oil ban on Iran which led to a 20-dollar hike in crude prices will add a sum of, at least, $10bln to Tehran's oil revenues. - One month after the EU decision to impose an oil ban on supplies from Iran, many international energy analysts have come to describe the decision as an inexperienced and immature move which will hit a heavy blow to the EU nations and inflict huge economic losses on the European states. This is while the price of Iran's oil has reached $125 in recent days which shows a 20-dollar increase in one month. Analysts also predict that crude prices in the world will further witness increase in the coming months.

Permalink East Libya leaders declare autonomy, urge federalism

Tribal and political leaders declared Libya's oil-rich eastern region of Cyrenaica as autonomous on Tuesday, raising fears the country may break up in the wake of Moamer Kadhafi's downfall. - At a conference attended by about 3,000 people in Benghazi, the major eastern city and cradle of an eight-month uprising against Kadhafi that ended in his capture and killing, they also called for a return to federalism in Libya.

"A federal system is the choice of the region" of Cyrenaica, which stretches from the central coastal city of Sirte to the Egyptian border in the east, the leaders said in a joint statement. "The interim council of Cyrenaica was established under the leadership of Sheikh Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi to manage the region's affairs and defend the rights of its population," read the statement, which was posted online.

Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, a member of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), was elected leader of the region.

Al Jazeera: Eastern Libya seeks semi- autonomy
CBS News: Oil-rich Libya region pushes for semi-autonomy

Permalink Pressurize Israel to Release Palestinian Detainee, Hana' Shalabi

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned for the life of Hana’ Shalabi, a detainee in Israeli jails who has been on hunger strike for approximately 2 weeks. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressurize Israel to release Shalabi, who has been placed under administrative detention, primarily for 6 renewable months, without trial.

On 16 February 2012, IOF raided the house of Hana' Yehya Saber Shalabi, 30, in Burqin village near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. IOF arrested Shalabi and transferred her to Hasharon women's prison. An order was issued by IOF to place Shalabi under administrative detention for 6 months. Shalabi has been on hunger strike since the first day of her detention. It should be noted that Shalabi was released from Israeli jails in the recent prisoners swap after serving two years in administrative detention.

According to Fawwaz Shalloudi, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner Club Society, who visited Shalabi on Sunday, 26 February 2012, Shalabi was beaten, subjected to maltreatment and subjected to a naked search during her arrest by the IOF. Shalloudi reported that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) placed Shalabi in solitary confinement. Sherin Iraqi, a lawyer from the Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners, visited Shalabi in detention. Iraqi reported that Shalabi's health conditions are deteriorating and that she is in solitary confinement and has not undergone any medical examinations since she has started her hunger strike. She also reported that Shalabi was beaten and subjected to maltreatment while IOF were arresting her and that IPS has threatened to transfer Shalabi to the criminal section in al-Ramla prison if she continues her hunger strike.

The case of Shalabi reminds of the case of Khader Adnan who went on hunger strike for 66 days starting from 17 December 2011 after an Israeli court had issued a decision placing him under administrative detention for 4 months. Adnan stopped his hunger strike on the 66th day in exchange for releasing him on 17 April 2012.

Stephen Lendman: Hana Shalabi: Hunger Striking for Justice

Permalink Attorney General Holder Says Murder Is Legal

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday explained why it's legal to murder people -- not to execute prisoners convicted of capital crimes, not to shoot someone in self-defense, not to fight on a battlefield in a war that is somehow legalized, but to target and kill an individual sitting on his sofa, with no charges, no arrest, no trial, no approval from a court, no approval from a legislature, no approval from we the people, and in fact no sharing of information with any institutions that are not the president.

Steve Hynd: Holder: "The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process"
Jason Ditz: Holder: Assassinating Americans ‘Legal and Constitutional’
Tom Eley & Barry Grey: Attorney general defends presidential assassinations of US citizens
John Glaser: Legal Case for Due-Process-Free Murders: Indefinite War Without Borders

Permalink Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants' Facebook passwords

Employers and colleges find the treasure-trove of personal information hiding behind password-protected accounts and privacy walls just too tempting, and some are demanding full access from job applicants and student athletes. - In Maryland, job seekers applying to the state's Department of Corrections have been asked during interviews to log into their accounts and let an interviewer watch while the potential employee clicks through wall posts, friends, photos and anything else that might be found behind the privacy wall. Previously, applicants were asked to surrender their user name and password, but a complaint from the ACLU stopped that practice last year. While submitting to a Facebook review is voluntary, virtually all applicants agree to it out of a desire to score well in the interview, according Maryland ACLU legislative director Melissa Coretz Goemann.

Permalink Canada: Privacy Commissioner slams provincial surveillance program

Canadians question police authority: What does collecting information on our blood types and financial transactions have to do with catching unlicensed drivers? - It began in November of 2006. A BC government press release announced the ALPR program, and stated “the federal privacy commissioner has reviewed the technology.” Soon, the Richmond Review, Burnaby News Leader, Chilliwack Progress and other news outlets covered the story, reporting that, according to then-Solicitor General John Les, “the system was approved by the federal privacy commissioner.” In mid-2009, when ALPR expanded to more BC police forces and RCMP detachments, the Victoria Times Colonist and Nanaimo Daily News reported that RCMP Sgt Warren Nelson told them, “Both federal and provincial privacy commissioners have approved the system[.]” However, the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has never officially reviewed the ALPR program. And confidential correspondence from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to the RCMP, obtained through an access to information request, contradicts these government and RCMP claims.

Permalink Child Hunger in Afghanistan Among Worst in the World

Starvation of children is only one measure of the savage, unnecessary U.S. war in Afghanistan. Last month, Amnesty International found that an average of four hundred people are displaced in every day in Afghanistan, bringing the total displaced population to approximately 500,000. Amnesty Afghanistan researcher Horia Mosadiq said: “Thousands of people are finding themselves living in freezing, cramped conditions and on the brink of starvation, while the Afghan government is not only looking the other way but even preventing help from reaching them.”

Permalink Richard Forer, Author, Breakthrough - The Autograph

In this edition of the show Susan interviews Richard Forer, author of Breakthrough.

Richard Forer is one of those people who are very reflective, very self analytical. He also is one of the strongest voices of Anti-Zionism in the United States.

His book, Breakthrough, is a critical account of Zionist policies in the Middle East for years and also analyzes why and how the Zionist government of Israel and their supporters in the US create fear against the Palestinians to gain support.

Ever wonder what goes on inside the head of a Zionist? Anyone who is concerned about the Palestine-Israel conflict, about the Middle East, who has heard about the influence of the Zionist lobby on US politics, has probably wondered why so many people support Israel unconditionally. And if the way to achieve peace in the Middle East is to convince people who think Israel can do no wrong to take a hard look at the facts, to convince them to learn what happened during the bloody formation of Israel, to make them see what is still happening to the Palestinian people today, you might want to know what makes a Zionist tick.

In telling the story of how he himself went from being a diehard supporter of Israel, from someone raised in a Reform Jewish household who saw Israel as that plucky little democracy trying to provide a secure home for the long-beleaguered Jews to someone who now supports the Palestinians in their struggle for justice, he provides us with an inside look into the mind of a Zionist -- his own -- and how being confronted with the more grim reality changed his mind and the reality of the Palestinian struggle.

Richard Forer's blog
Richard Forer: Cutting through the confusion about Israel/Palestine

Permalink Thirteen French officers 'captured by Syrian Army'

Thirteen French officers have been captured by Syrian forces according to the Lebanon-based Daily Star newspaper, the first mainstream media outlet to report on rumours of Western troops on the ground. - The French foreign ministry dismissed the report, however, telling the Daily Telegraph that not a single French soldier is on Syrian soil. But the defence ministry was less categorical, saying it neither confirmed nor denied the claim. A photographer who recently escaped from the besieged Syrian city of Homs also dismissed suggestions French soldiers had intervened to secure his evacuation and that of three other Western reporters. The report came on Monday as the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reached two neighbourhoods of Homs where they were distributing food and blankets to civilians, including families who had fled the battered district of Baba Amr. The teams still do not appear to have been allowed into Baba Amr itself. The report claiming that French officers are on the ground came from the Daily Star, a reputable newspaper in Beirut. The Daily Star cites a Damascus-based Pro-Syrian Palestinian source as alleging that the French troops are being held in a field hospital in Homs. The source claimed officials in Paris and Damascus are brokering a deal on what to do with the French nationals.

Permalink McCain Demands Immediate US War on Syria

Speaking today on the Senate floor, Senator John McCain (R – AZ) demanded that the United States launch an immediate war against Syria, starting with air strikes across the northern half of the country. - Just two weeks ago McCain was on TV calling for the US to start providing arms to Syria’s rebel faction, in particular the Free Syrian Army (FSA). In today’s speech he insisted that the “only realistic way” to aid the FSA was a war. McCain claimed to be in contact with the Syrian National Council (SNC), a Turkish-based faction that styles itself the leaders of the rebel movement, and said that a US bombing campaign would give rebel forces a chance to plan new military advances against the Assad regime. McCain further predicted that Syria’s neighbors would join the nation’s civil war “with or without the US,” though other than Turkey, none of Syria’s neighbors has expressed any particular interest in intervention.

Josh Rogin: Obama administration moves to aid Syrian opposition
Russia Today: McCain calls for US-led strikes on Syria without UN mandate
The Telegraph: Secret footage showing 'torture' of Syrians in Homs hospital

Permalink Russian protesters fear Putin resorting to force

Russian opposition leaders accused Vladimir Putin of changing tactics to crack down on dissent after riot police detained hundreds of protesters challenging the legitimacy of his presidential election victory.

The pattern appears clear: Putin will allow a few isolated protests, the place and time of which is agreed with the authorities, as a safety valve for disillusionment with his 12-year domination of Russia among mainly urban demonstrators. He could also offer some conciliatory gestures to appease the opposition. In one such move, the Kremlin has ordered a review of 32 criminal cases including the jailing of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the refusal to register a liberal opposition group which has been barred from elections. But Putin, a former KGB spy, will do his utmost to prevent what he regards as more radical protesters undermining his return to the Kremlin for a third term as president after four years as prime minister. Dissent will be dealt with forcefully.

RIA Novosti: Russia Disputes Election Observer Report

Stephen Lendman: Putin Wins - Whatever irregularities occurred were minor. Polls showed Putin heavily favored to win. He did slightly better than expected. As a result, Washington, its rogue NATO partners, and complicit media scoundrels have Putin to kick around for the next six years. Expect them to take full advantage. Putin's outspokenness won't stop. He'll continue saying "nobody can impose anything on us" and opposing Western efforts "to destroy Russia. Today our people have proven that such scenarios are not going to work in our country." As president, his job is to assure they don’t. It's also to serve all Russians responsibly. Hopefully, he's up to the task.

Permalink Thyroid gland irregularities found in young Fukushima evacuees

Hormonal and other irregularities were detected in the thyroid glands of 10 out of 130 children evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, a Japanese NGO said today. - The Japan Chernobyl Foundation and Shinshu University Hospital, which is dedicated to aiding victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, did blood and urine tests on youngsters aged up to 16 including babies under the age of one for about a month through the end of August in Chino, Nagano, when the children stayed there temporarily after evacuating from Fukushima. One child was found to have a lower-than-normal thyroid hormone level and seven had thyroid stimulation hormone levels higher than the norm. The remaining two were diagnosed with slightly high blood concentrations of a protein called thyroglobulin, possibly caused by damage to their thyroid glands. Three of the 10 children used to live within the 20-km no-go zone around the nuclear plant and one was from the so-called evacuation-prepared area in case of emergency in areas between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant, while six others were from towns outside such zones.

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