Permalink HR 347: One more step towards Neo-Feudalism

In feudal times, you could be put to death if you didn't kneel when the carriages of the nobility passed by. This is a step in that direction (although very few people care).

This new bill, about to be signed by the President, is called the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. It is not as innocent as its name. Essentially, it makes it a federal offense to be anywhere near, from being in the area or in the same building, somebody protected by the secret service. That's from the President to candidates for political office (Romney or Santorum) to senior government officials to foreign dignitaries (G20). In other words, lots and lots of people. While being sold as a way to close a loophole in the current law regarding White House security, it is actually much more than that. It changed one word that made a world of difference. What's the difference? To be arrested and imprisoned, all you need to do is be the same building or area around a person that has secret service protection. You don't even need to know you are breaking the law to be arrested and imprisoned. If you are merely walking in an area "secured" for a person being protected, you can be legally jailed for up to one year. If you are carrying something that can be seen as a weapon (legally or not), that imprisonment can be extended to ten years. In short, if you are within the same building or neighborhood being secured to protect a political or foreign personage without their expressed permission, you can be imprisoned.

AWIP: HR 347 threatens freedom of assembly - restricts political protest
Video Rebel's Blog: List of 388 Who Voted To End Your First Amendment Rights
Alexander Higgins Blog: Obama Set To Sign Protest Banning “Trespass Bill” Into Law

Permalink Obama asks Pentagon for military plans on Syria

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey says President Barack Obama has requested from the Pentagon military options against the Syrian government. - According to a Wednesday report by prominent US daily The New York Times, Dempsey declared in a US Senate committee hearing in Washington that the Department of Defense was preparing military alternatives with regards to the existing situation in Syria for Obama’s review. The top American military chief made the remarks during a Wednesday hearing of US Senate’s Armed Services Committee. Dempsey added that potential measures considered by the American military ranged from “aerial surveillance of the Syrian military, the establishment of a no-fly zone, naval monitoring and humanitarian airlifts.” The top general’s latest remarks on the Syrian issue come a few days after veteran US Senator and the previous Republican presidential nominee John McCain urged Washington to conduct airstrikes against Syria in collaboration with allied Arab regimes as well as other NATO countries.

Stephen Lendman: NATO Intervening in Syria
Stephen Lendman: Imperial Rage for War

John Glaser: Stratfor Emails: Covert Special Ops Inside Syria Since December
Thomas Knapp: Syria: There Are No ‘Good Guys’
Alexander Higgins Blog: Secret Warning of Military Strike Against Syria Issued?

Permalink 'US Army suicides jumped by 80% following Iraq invasion'

American military doctors say the number of suicides in the US Army jumped by 80 percent after the Iraq invasion.

Before 2003, the percentage of Army suicides was below civilian rates, but it started to climb in 2004, one year after the US-led invasion, according to the doctors’ analysis, which was expected to appear in the British journal Injury Prevention on Thursday. In 2008, 140 Army servicemen committed suicide, a rate, which reflected an 80 percent increase from 2004, the article noted. The suicide rate was also a lot higher than that of the civilian society’s, it said. "This increase, unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records, suggests that 30 percent of suicides that occurred in 2008 may be associated with post-2003 events following the major commitment of troops to Iraq, in addition to the ongoing operations in Afghanistan," said the paper. It noted that more than one-fifth of all active-duty troops suffered from some kind of mental disorder.

Permalink Israeli authorities raze Araqib village in Negev for 36th time

The Israeli authorities continued their demolition streak in the Negev, occupied since 1948, and razed two houses in Laqiya village and the entire village of Araqib for the 36th time. - Eyewitnesses said that Israeli occupation forces escorted the bulldozers in the destruction of the Araqib village, which is always rebuilt by its inhabitants after each time it is leveled. They said that two homes for a 75-year-old woman and a father of three children were razed in Laqiya out of 11 houses threatened with demolition. Political official of the Islamic movement in the Negev Sheikh Talab Abu Arar lashed out at the Israeli authorities for deliberately razing Palestinian homes in the Negev while ignoring thousands of unlicensed houses owned by Jews.

Permalink Obama's Kill Doctrine

Trust us, Attorney General Eric Holder says -- we'll only assassinate Americans after administrative "due process." That's not how the Constitution works, buddy. - What Holder is describing is a model of an imperial presidency that would have made Richard Nixon blush. If the president can kill a citizen, there are a host of other powers that fall short of killing that the president might claim, including indefinite detention of citizens -- another recent controversy. Thus, by asserting the right to kill citizens without charge or judicial review, Holder has effectively made all of the Constitution's individual protections of accused persons matters of presidential discretion. These rights will be faithfully observed up to the point that the president concludes that they interfere with his view of how best to protect the country -- or his willingness to wait for "justice" to be done. And if Awlaki's fate is any indication, there will be no opportunity for much objection.

Tom Carter: Military tribunals and assassination
Tom Eley & Barry Grey: Attorney general defends presidential assassinations of US citizens

Permalink Pentagon Preparing for Venezuela

US Southern command watchful of political turbulence in "Latam". - United States Air Force Commander, General Douglas Fraser, in charge of the US Southern Command, stated before Congress that the Department of Defence is “watchful for potential geopolitical turbulence that could impact US citizens,” and highlighted the uncertainties of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez health and economic instability.

Permalink Foreign policy and war profiteering

Last week we uncovered how many billions of dollars the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are costing the American taxpayers. We all know that war costs a lot of money. What we don't know is that the same people who profit off the wars we create have a direct influence in shaping the foreign policy that keeps America at war while putting millions of dollars in their own pockets.

Here is the way our government system is supposed to work: foreign policy is supposed to be drafted between the President and Congress, and the Secretary of State. In the present administration, this is Hillary Clinton. She is supposed to serve as the President's main foreign policy advisor. What is foreign policy? Foreign policy is a set of goals outlining how a country will interact with other countries economically, politically, socially and militarily. These days, many of our elected representatives have become merely the messengers of foreign policy prescriptions that were created by councils and think tanks comprised of CEOs and executives from the biggest corporations in the world. On these councils sit executives from every major industry from food to media and, most shockingly, national defense.

Is if there is a conflict of interest when CEOs of the largest defense corporations are advising our lawmakers on foreign policy? Before you decide ask yourself this: if you were the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the largest defense corporation in America, and 95% of your company's $35 billion dollar annual profit came directly from government contracts that employ you to supply war materials, would you want the war to end? Especially if you personally enjoyed a $21 million increase in compensation from 2005 to 2008 as a result of the War on Terror? Between 2001 and 2005, defense corporations' annual profits climbed 189%, and the CEOs of these corporations that benefited the most from this profit increase sit on councils together with our politicians to "recommend," "suggest" and "prescribe" foreign policy. (Source: Media Roots/brasscheck tv)

Permalink Dennis Kucinich loses seat in primary after the gerrymandering of his district

Dennis Kucinich is out and Marcy Kaptur has captured the Democratic primary in the new 9th District, according to data analysis from cleveland.com - Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in Congress, has apparently won the Democratic primary. According to the official Ohio Secretary of State site, Kaptur had won four of the five counties -- except for Cuyahoga -- although not all of the ballots have been counted in the five-county district. But based on the vote totals around 11:15 p.m., even a big win in Cuyahoga County would not be enough for Kucinich to overtake Kaptur. A big reason is that Kaptur carried 94 percent of the vote in her home Lucas County, while Kucinich won 73 percent of the vote on his home turf, Cuyahoga County.

Permalink U.S. treatment of "Cuban Five" denounced before UN council

Adriana Perez, the wife of one of the five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly held in the United States, denounced on Tuesday before the UN Human Rights Council the illegalities committed in this case. - In an intensive dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Perez recalled that the Group already declared itself against the imprisonment of Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez. Although almost seven years have passed since the Working Group ruled arbitrary the imprisonment of The Cuban Five, the US government has yet to comply with it, said the wife of Gerardo, whose visa application has been repeatedly refused by Washington. "I would like this to be the last time I let my voice be heard in this plenary to denounce the violations committed against our relatives and demand their return home," she said. Fourteen years would have gone by since the start of an unfair, painful proceeding, lacking the least credibility in the US judicial system.

AWIP: Washington Should Immediately Release the Cuban Five
Stephen Lendman: The Cuban 5: Victims of US State Terrorism

Permalink EU figures show crisis-busting arms sales to Greece

Official figures show that EU countries sold Greece over €1 billion of arms at the same time as negotiating its first bail-out back in 2010. - France was by far the biggest seller, with a €794 million aircraft deal, according to recently-released European Council data on arms licences granted by member states. It also sold €58 million of missiles and €19 million of electronics used for aircraft countermeasures and target acquisition. Pro-austerity advocates the Netherlands and Germany together sold almost €90 million of mostly electronics and ground vehicles. Italy sold €52 million of rifles and aircraft parts, while Spain sold €33 million of military-grade chemicals. Greece is currently trying to shave every possible centime off its budget, but it still remains one of the biggest arms spenders in the region due to a perceived threat from Turkey. The then Greek deputy defence minister, Panos Beglitis, in 2010 told Reuters that fellow member states did not put pressure on Athens to buy the arms in order to get the bail-out. "This [large scale arms purchases] has always been the case with these countries. It is not because of the crisis, there is no link," he said. But an aide to the then Greek leader, George Papandreou, who asked to remain anonymous, told the news agency: "No one is saying 'Buy our warships or we won't bail you out.' But the clear implication is that they will be more supportive if we do."

Permalink Hedge funds speculate on Greek default

Today is the deadline for private investors in Greek government bonds to decide to what extent they will voluntarily participate in a debt relief deal. The Association of International Finance (IIF), which negotiated the so-called “haircut” with the Greek government, has warned of catastrophic consequences should the debt swap agreement fail to be implemented. IIF President Charles Dallara said Tuesday that an uncontrolled default of Greece would cost more than a trillion euros, as the resulting panic on the markets spread to Spain and Italy. Under the headline “Fear of a Trillion Bankruptcy”, the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt reported Wednesday that some banks were “speculating on a decline of the euro”.

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