Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The first Fast and Furious fall guy

The Examiner
William Heuisler

Today Attorney General Eric Holder began the cover up for the Fast and Furious gun smuggling scheme that was the proximate cause of the murder of Tucson District Border Agent, Brian Terry.

Acting director Kenneth Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was demoted to a senior adviser in Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Policy. Supposedly, he will be advising the Attorney General (AG) on legal matters. Note: Melson was transferred, not fired and released from DOJ aegis.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney, Todd Jones will take over as acting ATF director.

Melson has become the first Obama Administration sacrifice to Congress’s investigation of ATF’s disastrous gun-walking scheme - born as Operation Gunrunner - called Fast and Furious in Arizona. ATF’s Fast and Furious initiated and carried out sales of thousands of firearms to straw purchasers who transferred them to Mexican drug cartels.

The Fast and Furious investigation began after ATF whistleblowers advised Congress they had been ordered to monitor sales of thousands of guns in Arizona and trace them to Mexican drug cartels. But agents said the weapons were just allowed to disappear. Last December, two of these Gunrunner/Fast and Furious weapons were found at the Arizona murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
Today Attorney General Eric Holder began the cover up for the Fast and Furious gun smuggling scheme that was the proximate cause of the murder of Tucson District Border Agent, Brian Terry.

Acting director Kenneth Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was demoted to a senior adviser in Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Policy. Supposedly, he will be advising the Attorney General (AG) on legal matters. Note: Melson was transferred, not fired and released from DOJ aegis.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney, Todd Jones will take over as acting ATF director.

Melson has become the first Obama Administration sacrifice to Congress’s investigation of ATF’s disastrous gun-walking scheme - born as Operation Gunrunner - called Fast and Furious in Arizona. ATF’s Fast and Furious initiated and carried out sales of thousands of firearms to straw purchasers who transferred them to Mexican drug cartels.

The Fast and Furious investigation began after ATF whistleblowers advised Congress they had been ordered to monitor sales of thousands of guns in Arizona and trace them to Mexican drug cartels. But agents said the weapons were just allowed to disappear. Last December, two of these Gunrunner/Fast and Furious weapons were found at the Arizona murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Obama DOJ: John Yoo Memos on Spying Must Stay Secret

The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

The American people should be allowed to know the legal reasoning offered to justify warrantless surveillance during the Bush Administration


What was Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo thinking when he wrote various legal memos declaring that the president has the power to spy on American citizens without getting a warrant or telling anyone about it?

The Obama Administration isn't telling:
The Obama administration has refused to declassify a secret memo from the George W. Bush presidency that justified the warrantless spying conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Matthew Aid, a writer who's covered the NSA and surveillance policy, requested a copy of a 2001 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion by John Yoo that discussed the legal grounds for electronic spying without permission from a special federal court. The Department of Justice mostly denied Aid's Freedom of Information Act request, saying the redacted information in the OLC opinion was "classified, covered by non-disclosure provisions contained in other federal statutes, and is protected by the deliberative process privilege."
They did release 8 sentences from a 21 page memo.

Said John Yoo: "Intelligence gathering in direct support of military operations does not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures."

In contrast, the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

It's no wonder that, evaluating other memos Yoo wrote, the ethics lawyers in the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that he was guilty of "professional misconduct," a judgment he escaped when a higher up concluded that his reasoning was "flawed" and "extreme" but sincerely held. By keeping Yoo's legal reasoning secret, the Obama Administration is once again siding with the Bush Administration and against the innocent Americans it victimized. When the executive branch takes an unprecedented action, in secret, that is later deemed illegal, the American people have an obvious, legitimate interest in understanding how it happened. Shame on the Obama Administration for standing in the way of transparency.


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Lawrence Solomon: Science getting settled

Financial Post
Lawrence Solomon

New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

The hypothesis that cosmic rays and the sun hold the key to the global warming debate has been Enemy No. 1 to the global warming establishment ever since it was first proposed by two scientists from the Danish Space Research Institute, at a 1996 scientific conference in the U.K. Within one day, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bert Bolin, denounced the theory, saying, “I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible.” He then set about discrediting the theory, any journalist that gave the theory cre dence, and most of all the Danes presenting the theory — they soon found themselves vilified, marginalized and starved of funding, despite their impeccable scientific credentials.

The mobilization to rally the press against the Danes worked brilliantly, with one notable exception. Nigel Calder, a former editor of The New Scientist who attended that 1996 conference, would not be cowed. Himself a physicist, Mr. Calder became convinced of the merits of the argument and a year later, following a lecture he gave at a CERN conference, so too did Jasper Kirkby, a CERN scientist in attendance. Mr. Kirkby then convinced the CERN bureaucracy of the theory’s importance and developed a plan to create a cloud chamber — he called it CLOUD, for “Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets.”

But Mr. Kirkby made the same tactical error that the Danes had — not realizing how politicized the global warming issue was, he candidly shared his views with the scientific community.

“The theory will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century,” Mr. Kirkby told the scientific press in 1998, explaining that global warming may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature.

The global warming establishment sprang into action, pressured the Western governments that control CERN, and almost immediately succeeded in suspending CLOUD. It took Mr. Kirkby almost a decade of negotiation with his superiors, and who knows how many compromises and unspoken commitments, to convince the CERN bureaucracy to allow the project to proceed. And years more to create the cloud chamber and convincingly validate the Danes’ groundbreaking theory.

Yet this spectacular success will be largely unrecognized by the general public for years — this column will be the first that most readers have heard of it — because CERN remains too afraid of offending its government masters to admit its success. Weeks ago, CERN formerly decided to muzzle Mr. Kirby and other members of his team to avoid “the highly political arena of the climate change debate,” telling them “to present the results clearly but not interpret them” and to downplay the results by “mak[ing] clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.” The CERN study and press release is written in bureaucratese and the version of Mr. Kirkby’s study that appears in the print edition of Nature censored the most eye-popping graph — only those who know where to look in an online supplement will see the striking potency of cosmic rays in creating the conditions for seeding clouds.

CERN, and the Danes, have in all likelihood found the path to the Holy Grail of climate science. But the religion of climate science won’t yet permit a celebration of the find.

Financial Post

LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com

- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

First of two parts. Next week: The end of the global warming debate.

America's Great Health Care Takeaway

Global Research
Shamus Cook

The health care crisis in the United States is getting worse with no visible end. The popular anger over unattainable or unaffordable health care has been diverted away from corporations by crafty politicians, always seeking to exploit a social disaster for their benefactors. Instead of making health care more affordable for the average person, politicians have successfully switched the messaging. Now, the purpose behind "reform" is to make health care less costly for governments and employers, at the expense of patients and workers.

This was the essence behind Obama's health care reform. And although Republicans exploited the "individual mandate" in Obamacare to gain populist credentials, they wholeheartedly agree with the deeper philosophy of the plan, which aspires to control health care costs -- for corporations and governments -- by providing less health care services to those who need it. This agreement to "ration" health care aligns the two parties over the coming cuts to Medicare in Obama's bi-partisan "Super Congress,” while also binding the two parties' approach to health care on a state and business level.

Most workers now understand that there is a difference between apparently having health care and actually having health care: if you are technically "insured" but cannot afford doctor visits due to high deductibles and co-pays, you really aren't insured.

This fact, applied to Medicare, has startling consequences. The New England Journal of Medicine found that, "For every 100 people enrolled in plans that raised co-pays, there were 20 fewer doctor visits, 2 additional hospital admissions and 13 more days spent in the hospital..."

When co-pays and deductibles are raised, people simply stop going to the doctor and use the emergency room as needed.

This dynamic pleased politicians because less Medicare money was being spent on doctors’ visits, but they were upset that hospital stays were more frequent. The answer? Stop paying Medicare payments to hospitals if they re-admit a patient after 30 days, a policy sure to "reduce costs.” And it worked! This aspect of Obama's Affordable Health Care Act gives hospitals financial incentives not to admit patients and, according to Bloomberg, is a major reason that Medicare costs have dropped significantly in the past year:

"Historically, nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients have been readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of being discharged... The Affordable Care Act included, among other remedies, a modest penalty for hospitals with high readmission rates." (August 24th, 2011).

The problem here is that re-admissions are usually medically necessary. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, only one out of ten hospital re-admissions were preventable. Hospitals are thus encouraged to deny hospital stays to those who need it, something they've already started. According to Case Management Monthly, hospital social workers have noticed this disturbing trend accelerate: "Several case managers have recently received readmission denial letters...they are surprised because the readmissions in question were actually appropriate and medically necessary." (October 1st, 2010).

Cost saving ideas like these are at the heart of Obama's health care plan -- which included massive cuts to Medicare -- and further cuts to Medicare can be expected in his Super Congress. Even if the bi-partisan Super Congress is unable to agree to make massive cuts to social programs, cuts to Medicare will be automatically "triggered.” Obama tells us not to worry because the triggered Medicare cuts will affect only providers -- hospitals and doctors -- not patients, as if the two could be so easily separated. The above example of denied hospital re-admissions is also a case where providers were targeted for cuts but patients were the most affected.

Another way that politicians are saving health care money is by slashing Medicaid, the shared federal-state health care program that serves low-income populations. The states' budget crises are quickly debilitating this already under-funded program, reducing availability and quality of health care for those low income people who qualify for the program. USA Today reports:

"With a shortage of doctors...[ Medicaid] patients have little choice but to use hospital emergency rooms for more routine care." (July 5th, 2011).

Higher income workers across the country are also seeing their health care rapidly deteriorate. The shoddy health insurance that includes high deductibles and co-pays are standard to most non-union workers who've suffered under this pseudo insurance for years. But even these plans are being shelved. Two studies recently show that employers plan to quit offering health care plans altogether: a survey by Towers Watson showed that one out of ten companies plan to eliminate health care coverage by 2014; while a different study by the McKinsey Company showed that, by 2014, 30 percent of companies will drop their health coverage for workers.

Much of this is due again to, Obama's Affordable Health Care act: companies were encouraged and given an excuse to drop their health care coverage because everyone would be mandated to buy their own shoddy coverage. Politicians recognized that high health care costs were hurting corporate profits, and they were determined to do something about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who is behind the Eilat terror attack?

972MAG
Joeseph Dana

The horrific terror attacks in Oslo some weeks ago provided a valuable lesson for journalists. Almost as soon as the attacks took place, journalists throughout the world rushed to place blame on Al Qaeda.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at the Washington Post known for her extreme views on Israeli politics, wrote that the attacks were committed by Al-Qaeda terrorists and used them to attack President Barak Obama’s foreign policy objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her piece was left unchanged on the Washington Post website for a full 24 hours despite evidence that the perpetrator of the attack was, in fact, a right wing Christian fanatic not connected to Al-Qaeda.

Yesterday morning, Israel was rocked by a triple terror attack which left eight people dead and moved the country to a state of high alert. Within hours of the attack, Israel began a series of aggressive airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, claiming that they were reprisal attacks against the Palestinian leadership who gave the order for the Eilat operations. However, Israeli officials and their spokespeople in the media failed to provide factual evidence clearly proving responsibility. The airstrikes killed a number of senior operatives in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a terror group with weak links to Hamas, as well as civilians including at least one child. The speed at which Israel began airstrikes in Gaza without providing factual evidence of PRC’s involvement raises questions concerning the existence of a premeditated Israeli plan to launch a summer offensive against the population of Gaza. For the record, Hamas has publicly stated numerous times in the past 24 hours that it had nothing to do with the terror attacks in Eilat.


Despite uncertainty over those responsible for the attacks yesterday, Israeli journalists were quick to pass on government hearsay as fact. Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz, rushed to place responsibility on the PRC for the terror attacks on his Twitter feed. When I asked him to provide factual proof for his claim other than citing anonymous sources, he responded, “This is what I know from my sources. You can choose to believe or not to, like every article I publish in Haaretz.”

Shouldn’t one evaluate Ravid’s reports and claims based on the factual material which he presents? Since when does “belief” play a central role in a reporter’s credibility on specific military issues? Without knowing Ravid’s sources, it is difficult to ‘believe’ and judge them on their credibility. Ravid was not alone in placing blame on PRC as most of the international media outlets adopted the Israeli government line.


In recent months, Ravid has relied on unsubstantiated Israeli government sources for pieces which amount to glorified hearsay without basis in reality. Earlier this summer Ravid wrote a piece propagating Israeli government rumors that activists on board this year’s flotilla “may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships.”

Oslo should be a warning that rushing to place blame on a group for a horrific terror act without factual proof reflects poor journalistic ethics. In the Israeli context, placing blame on the PRC effectively legitimatizes Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. At the time of this writing there has been no claim of responsibility and the only proof that PRC is behind these terror attacks comes from Israeli government officials who do not cite any specific or verifiable source.  The PRC very well might be behind these attacks but the “shoot first, ask questions later” principle, accepted as mantra in Israel, often results in the loss of innocent life and should not be a fixture of Israeli journalistic ethics.

UPDATE 18:16–

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the PRC has praised the Eilat terror attack but denied responsibility in carrying it out. Speaking with the AFP, a PRC spokesman in Gaza said, “”The occupation wants to pin this operation on us in order to escape its own internal problems.” Israel maintains that the PRC is responsible for the attacks but has yet to release any verifiable proof connecting the Gaza based group to the attack which has so far claimed eight lives.


Secret Recording: 9/11 Effects Wearing Off, Need Another Attack - Rumsfeld



Homeland Security: The Decade's Biggest Scam

Information Clearing House
Glenn Greenwald

August 29, 2011 "Salon" - - The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles.  All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:
"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: "undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism."  The March, 2011, Harper's Index expressed the point this way: "Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 -- Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29."  That's the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans -- even as they face massive wealth inequality -- are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints. 

Despite these increasing economic insecurities -- actually, precisely because of them -- the sprawling domestic Security State continues unabated.  The industry journal National Defense Magazine today trumpets: "Homeland Security Market ‘Vibrant’ Despite Budget Concerns."  It details how budget cuts mean "homeland security" growth may not be as robust as once predicted, but "Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman . . . have been winning more contracts from DHS"; as a Boeing spokesman put it: "You’ll still continue to see domestically significant investment on the part of the government and leveraging advances in technology to stand up and meet those emerging threats and needs.”

Of course, the key to sustaining this Security State bonanza -- profit for private industry and power for Security State officials --  is keeping fear levels among the citizenry as high as possible, as National Defense expressly notes, and that is accomplished by fixating even on minor and failed attacks, each one of which is immediately seized upon to justify greater expenditures, expansion of security measures, and a further erosion of rights:
Polls still show that there is increasing public concern about another terrorist attack. It is this fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk that will continue to propel some aspects of the market, analysts say. . . .
Small-scale attacks, whether successful or not, will continue to prompt additional spending, the market analysts at Homeland Security Research Corp. say. They point to the failed 2009 Christmas plot of a man trying to blow up a flight to Detroit with explosives sewn into his underwear and the attempted car-bombing in Times Square early the next year. Though unsuccessful, these events led to immediate White House intervention, congressional hearings and an airport screening upgrade costing more than $1.6 billion.
The LA Times, while skillfully highlighting these wasteful programs, depicts them as some sort of unintended inefficiencies.  That is exactly what they are not.  None of this is unintended or inefficient but is achieving exactly the purposes for which it is designed.  That's true for two reasons.

First, this wastefulness is seen as inefficient only if one falsely assumes that its real objective is to combat Terrorist threats.  That is not the purpose of what the U.S. Government does.   As Daniel Weeks explains today, the Congress -- contrary to popular opinion -- is not "broken"; it is working perfectly for its actual owners.  Or, as he puts it, "Washington isn't broken -- it’s fixed":
Our problem today is not a broken government but a beholden one: government is more beholden to special-interest shareholders who fund campaigns than it is to ordinary voters. Like any sound investor, the funders seek nothing more and nothing less than a handsome return -- deficits be darned -- in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.
The LA Times, and most people who denounce these spending "inefficiencies," have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn't the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it.  For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant.

Second, while the Security State has little to do with addressing ostensible Terrorist threats, it has much to do with targeting perceived domestic and political threats, especially threats brought about by social unrest from austerity and the growing wealth gap.  This Alternet article by Sarah Jafee, entitled "How the Surveillance State Protects the Interests Of the Ultra-Rich," compiles much evidence -- including what I offered two weeks ago -- demonstrating that the prime aim of the growing Surveillance State is to impose domestic order, preserve prevailing economic prerogatives and stifle dissent and anticipated unrest.

Pointing out disparities between surveillance programs and the Terrorist threat is futile because they're not aimed at that threat.  The British Government, for instance, is continuing its efforts to restrict social media in the wake of the poverty-fueled riots that plagued that country; as The New York Times reports today, it is secretly meeting with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and the company that owns Blackberry "to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest."  That revelation prompted taunting condemnations of British tyranny from China and Iran, both of which have been routinely excoriated for surveillance abuses and Internet suppression of the type increasingly common in the West.

Meanwhile, much of the anti-Terrorism weaponry in the U.S. ends up being deployed for purposes of purely domestic policing.  As the LA Times notes: those aforementioned BearCats are "are now deployed by police across the country; the arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical assault on insurgents in Baghdad."  Drones are used both in the Drug War and to patrol the border.  Surveillance measures originally justified as necessary to fight foreign Terrorists are routinely turned far more often inward, and the NSA -- created with a taboo against domestic spying -- now does that regularly.

Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street's ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title.  Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade's worth of fear-mongering  So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.

The "Liberation" of Libya: NATO Special Forces and Al Qaeda Join Hands "Former Terrorists" Join the "Pro-democracy" Bandwagon

Michel Chossudovsky

Extensive war crimes have been committed. NATO has blood on its hands. The heads of government and heads of state of NATO member countries are responsible for extensive war crimes

The "pro-democracy" rebels are led by Al Qaeda paramilitary brigades under the supervision of NATO Special Forces. The "Liberation" of  Tripoli was carried out by "former" members of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

The jihadists and NATO work hand in glove. These "former" Al Qaeda affiliated brigades constitute the backbone of the "pro-democracy" rebellion.

NATO special forces with "boots and the ground" pass unnoticed. Their identity is not known or revealed. They blend into the Libyan rebellion landscape of machine guns and pickup trucks. They are not highlighted in the photo ops.

Special forces composed of  US Navy SEALS, British Special SAS Forces and French legionnaires, disguised in civilian rebel garb, are reported to be behind major operations directed against key government buildings including Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

Reports confirm that British SAS were on the ground in Eastern Libya prior to the onset of the air campaign. Special Forces are in close coordination with NATO air operations. "Highly-trained units, known as ‘Smash’ teams for their prowess and destructive ability, have carried out secret reconnaissance missions to provide up-to-date information on the Libyan armed forces." (SAS 'Smash' squads on the ground in Libya to mark targets for coalition jets, Daily Mirror, March 21, 2011) 

NATO special forces and the CIA sponsored Islamic brigades under the command of "former" jihadists constitute the backbone of combat capabilities on the ground, supported by the air campaign, which now includes Apache helicopter raids.

The remainder of the rebel forces include untrained trigger happy gunmen (including teenagers) (see photo below), which serve the function of creating an atmosphere of panic and intimidation.

What we are dealing with is a carefully planned military intelligence operation to invade and occupy a sovereign country.

Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS

Killing the Truth. The Role of the Western Media

The Western media constitutes a major instrument of war. NATO war crimes are obfuscated. Popular resistance to the NATO led invasion is not mentioned.

A narrative of  "liberation" and  "opposition pro-democracy rebel forces" is instilled in the inner consciousness of millions of people. Its called the "NATO Consensus".

"The NATO Consensus" which upholds the "humanitarian mandate" of the Atlantic alliance cannot be challenged. The bombings of civilian areas as well as the role of a terrorist militia are either trivialised or not mentioned.

Killing the truth is an integral part of the military agenda.

Realities are turned upside down.

The lie becomes the truth.

Its an inquisitorial doctrine. The NATO consensus dwarfs the Spanish Inquisition by a long shot.

The criminal invasion and occupation of Libya is not mentioned. The lives of independent journalists in Tripoli who report on what is actually happening are threatened. The catch words are "Liberation" and "Revolution" with NATO's mandate limited to R2P ("Responsibility to Protect").

Liberation or Invasion? By camouflaging the nature of the military operation, not to mention NATO atrocities, the Western media has contributed to providing the Transitional Council with a semblance of legitimacy and international recognition. The latter would not have been forthcoming without the support of the Western media.

NATO special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground are in permanent liaison with military planners involved in coordinating NATO strike sorties and bombing raids on the Libyan capital.
NEW BOOK BY MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY
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- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2011-06

Intensive Bombing Raids over Tripoli

On August 27, NATO acknowledged the conduct of 20,633 sorties since March 31st, and 7,768 strike sorties. (These figures do not include the intensive bombing raids conducted in the two weeks prior to March 31st). Each fighter jet or bomber carries numerous missiles, rockets, etc. depending on the ordnance specification of the aircraft.

Multiply the number of strike sorties (7768 since March 31) by the average number of missiles or bombs launched by each of the planes and you get a rough idea of the size and magnitude of this military operation. A French Dassault Mirage 2000, for instance, can transport 18 missiles under its wings. America's B-2 Stealth bombers are equipped with bunker buster bombs


France's Mirage 2000 used in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya,

USAF Stealth B-2 Bomber used in Operation Odyssey Dawn

Pursuant to NATO's humanitarian mandate, we are informed by the media that these tens of thousands of strikes have not resulted in civilian casualties (with the exception of occasional "collateral damage").

Not surprisingly, already in mid April, three weeks into bombing campaign, the Atlantic Alliance announced that "NATO planes flying combat missions over Libya are starting to run out of bombs" (UPI, April 16, 2011);

    "The reason we need more capability isn't because we aren't hitting what we see -- it's so that we can sustain the ability to do so," one NATO official told the Post. "One problem is flight time, the other is munitions." (Ibid)

The bombing raids over Tripoli were intensified in the course of the last two weeks. They were intended to support ground operations led by NATO special forces and the Islamic paramilitary brigades. With limited NATO ground force capabilities, NATO strategists decided to intensify the bombing raids.

Global Research's Correspondent in Tripoli, whose life is threatened for revealing NATO war crimes described a shift in the pattern of bombing, starting in mid-July, with increasingly intensive air raids leading up to the ground invasion on August: 20th:

    "Until approximately 2:35 a.m EET [July 17], the strident noises of fighter jets over Tripoli could be heard. The bomb blasts triggered an atmosphere of fear and panic over the entire city, a poignant psychological and emotional impact on tens of thousands of people, from the young to the elderly. It also alerted people and brought them out onto their balconies while they witnessed the bombing of their country.

    One of the explosions resulted in a huge mushroom cloud, pointing to the possible use of bunker buster bombs. ... There was something unusual in the pattern of this NATO bombing operation.

    The bombings tonight were not like other nights. The sounds were different. The smoke plumes were different. In previous bombings the smoke would usually go up vertically like a fire, but tonight the smoke plumes were horizontal and hovering above Tripoli with a white cloud in the horizon.

    People who were not directly affected by the bombs, within a radius of 15 kilometres experienced burning eyes, lower back pain, headaches." (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, NATO Launches Bombing Blitzkrieg over Tripoli hitting Residential Areas , Global Research, July 17, 2011)

The mass killing of civilians in a Blitzkrieg environment as well as the creation of a generalized atmosphere of panic is intended to curtail the population's resistance to the NATO-led invasion.

The Death Toll

According to sources from our correspondent in Tripoli, the death toll in the course of the last week (20-26 August) is of the order of 3000. The hospitals are in a state of turmoil, unable to come to the rescue of the wounded. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirms that medical supplies are in short supply throughout the country.

Monday, August 29, 2011

CERN: 'Climate models will need to be substantially revised'

The Register
Andrew Orlowski


New atomsmasher research into cloud formation

CERN's 8,000 scientists may not be able to find the hypothetical Higgs boson, but they have made an important contribution to climate physics, prompting climate models to be revised.

The first results from the lab's CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation.

Current thinking posits that half of the Earth's clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.
This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.

Unsurprisingly, it's a politically sensitive topic, as it provides support for a "heliocentric" rather than "anthropogenic" approach to climate change: the sun plays a large role in modulating the quantity of cosmic rays reaching the upper atmosphere of the Earth.

CERN's director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer warned his scientists "to present the results clearly but not interpret them". Readers can judge whether CLOUD's lead physicist Jasper Kirkby has followed his boss's warning.

"Ion-induced nucleation will manifest itself as a steady production of new particles that is difficult to isolate in atmospheric observations because of other sources of variability but is nevertheless taking place and could be quite large when averaged globally over the troposphere."

Kirkby is quoted in the accompanying CERN press release:

"We've found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we've found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays."

The team used the Proton Synchotron accelerator (pictured here with Kirkby) to examine the nucleation using combinations of trace gasses at various temperatures, with precision. These first results confirm that cosmic rays increase the formation of cloud-nuclei by a factor of 10 in the troposphere, but additional trace gasses are needed nearer the surface.



Climate models will have to be revised, confirms CERN in supporting literature (pdf):

"[I]t is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by these vapours [sulphuric acid and ammonia] and water alone.

The work involves over 60 scientists in 17 countries.

Veteran science editor Nigel Calder, who brought the theory to wide public attention with the book The Chilling Stars, co-authored with the father of the theory Henrik Svensmark, has an explanation and background on his blog, here, and offers possible reasons on why the research, mooted in the late 1990s, has taken so long.

Svensmark, who is no longer involved with the CERN experiment, says he believes the solar-cosmic ray factor is just one of four factors in climate. The other three are: volcanoes, a "regime shift" that took place in 1977, and residual anthropogenic components.

When Dr Kirkby first described the theory in 1998, he suggested cosmic rays "will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth's temperature that we have seen in the last century."

More from CERN here, and a video here


Billions Meant for Struggling Homeowners May Pay Down Deficit InsteadBillions Meant for Struggling Homeowners May Pay Down Deficit Instead

ProPublica
Lois Becket

With housing prices dropping sharply [1], and foreclosure filings against more than 1 million properties [2] in the first half of this year, the Obama administration is scrambling for ways to help homeowners.

One place they won't be looking: an estimated $30 billion from the bailout that was slated to help homeowners but is likely to remain unspent.

Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door.

The low number reflects how little the government's home loan modification and other programs have actually helped homeowners [3] deal with the foreclosure crisis.

The programs have been marked by poor oversight [4] and consistent under-enrollment [5].

Homeowners have been forced to navigate an often bewildering maze at banks marked by slow communication, lost documents and other mistakes [6].

The amount of money spent is also low because the government pays out its incentive over a number of years. As of July, according to a Treasury spokeswoman, the government is on track to eventually spend $7.2 billion helping homeowners enrolled in its main loan modification program. That number doesn't factor in other homeowners who may enter the program before it ends in December 2012, but it does assume that all homeowners currently in the program will be able to continue making payments.

In November, the Congressional Budget Office lowered their estimate of the total amount of money the government would spend on its foreclosure relief programs from $22 billion to $12 billion. (The New York Times reported today that the government has "spent or pledged" $22.9 billion of the TARP money so far [7], a figure that's dramatically higher than ours and that the Treasury spokeswoman said was the Times' own number.)

According to the original TARP legislation, unused funds should be returned to the Treasury and used to reduce the debt [8]. While Congress has the power to re-route those funds into new programs, Republicans seem unlikely to endorse such a plan [9].

An Obama administration statement noted that they were continuing to look for ways to "ease the burden on struggling homeowners" through new proposals and reconsidering old ones.

The other ideas the administration is looking at have received mixed reviews. Among them: turning foreclosed homes into rental properties [10] or allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today's lower interest rates, an old idea that may not actually help a large new segment of homeowners [11].

"We have no plans to announce any major new initiatives at this time," the statement noted.

UN 'plan for post-Gaddafi Libya' leaked

Al Jazeera

Document appears to reveal plans for UN's role in post-conflict Libya, including deployment of military observers.

A leaked document apparently detailing United Nations preparations for its role in post-Gaddafi Libya reveals plans for the world body to deploy military observers and police officers to the North African country.

The 10-page document, apparently written by a special UN team led by Ian Martin, the former British head of Amnesty International, was obtained and published by Inner City Press, the UN watchdog website.

The document outlines plans for UN-assisted elections in the next six to nine months.

It also calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed military observers and 190 UN police officers to serve as trainers.

But it says such a deployment would only be implemented if it was requested by Libyan authorities and authorised by the UN Security Council.

"If requested by the Libyans and authorised by the Council, the UN could contribute to confidence-building and to the implementation of agreed military tasks, through unarmed UN military observer (UNMOs).

"Such confidence-building might be necessary for the troops of the Gaddafi government which will find themselves under the control of hostile forces. The UNMOs might also act as some deterrence against ill treatment of the former enemy by rogue elements."

It also calls for the deployment of 61 civilian staff who will also be stationed in Libya in the first three months, both at a headquarters in Tripoli and at an office in Benghazi.

The UN is pushing for the creation of an interim government ahead of the polls.

"If the stablisation of Tripoli after the collapse of the Gaddafi government becomes such a major challenge that the transitional authorities seek more robust international assistance, this is a task clearly beyond the capacity of the UN," the plan states.

"In this situation, the only viable option to ensure a safe environment in Tripoli are the transitional authorities themselves, with the advice of those who are already assisting or advising them.
"The Security Council's 'protection of civilians' mandate implemented by NATO forces does not end with the fall of the Gaddafi government, and there, NATO would continue to have some responsibilities."

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, has called on the international community to work together to restore order in Libya and for an end to fighting in the country.
 

Former MI5 Boss: Pre-War Iraq 'Was No Threat To U.K.'

Guardian

Operation "Shock and Awe" in Bagdad
Iraq posed no threat to the UK when then prime minister Tony Blair took Britain to war there, former MI5 boss Dame Eliza Manningham Buller has said.

The one-time security service boss has spoken out about the conflict previously, revealing the reservations she had about it at the time.

But in a new interview, she told the Radio Times: "Iraq did not present a threat to the UK. The service advised that it was likely to increase the domestic threat and that it was a distraction from the pursuit of al Qaida. I understood the need to focus on Afghanistan. Iraq was a distraction."

Ms Manningham-Buller, whose three Reith Lectures begin this week on BBC Radio 4, said it was "for others to decide" whether the war was a mistake.

But she added: "Intelligence isn't complete without the full picture and the full picture is all about doubt. Otherwise, you go the way of George Bush."

She also described Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as "a horror" but appeared torn about military interventions like the current Nato foray into Libya.

"It's very difficult - do you just stand by and watch people being murdered?" she said.

Asked about Britain's friendlier approach to Col Gaddafi in the recent past, she replied: "There was a point to cosying up to him, to get him to forfeit his stockpiles of WMD (weapons of mass destruction). It was the right thing to do. But yes, you do have to be aware of who you're dealing with."

Defending MI5 against suggestions that it could have prevented the July 7 terror attacks on London, she said: "In intelligence, you can know of someone, without knowing exactly what they are going to do. The next time there is an attack, the same could be true - though I hope it won't be."

And in a bleak warning about future British bombings, she said: "I assume there will be. This isn't a 'war' you win in a military sense, and you can't anticipate everything."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The West Wants to take Control of Libya's Oil Wealth

Global Research
Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Interview with Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Centre for Research on Globalization.

video

While Libyan revolutionaries have not yet won the war in the oil-rich country, Western powers are already discussing the post-Gaddafi period on such issues as how the interim government there needs to honor its oil contracts. 

In case of internal fighting in Libyan crisis, will the US and its coalition NATO allies deploy boots on the ground to protect their oil interests? 

In a Press TV interview, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Center for Research on Globalization, shed more light into the development. The following is a rush transcription of the interview: 

Press TV: Western powers have said the international  community will support the political transition to a free and democratic Libya: In what form will this "support" come? A "Western" democracy imposed on Libyans? What is that going to means for the Libyans? They used the same language when they attacked Afghanistan 10 years ago and Iraq 8 years ago. The US still insists it soldiers should have immunity in these countries. How will it be in Libya? 

Chossudovsky: Well I think we have to understand both the nature of this military operation, the covert intelligence behind the rebels, as well as the extensive bombings of civilians infrastructure, residential areas, as well as schools, universities, hospitals which has taken place in the course of the last few months. 

And particularly virtually continuous bombings, at night in Tripoli in the course of last few days. We are talking about 20,000 sorties, 8,000 strike sorties, In another words what has happened in the course of these last months, particularly in a last few weeks, is the destruction of an entire country, its infrastructure, institutions, very targeted, involving a lot of civilian casualties. 

In other words, the Western "pro democracy" NATO supported rebels, as well as the NATO supported heads of states and heads of governments, they have blood on their hands, they have a lot  of blood on their hands, because they have killed a lot of women and children. 

Our correspondent has been reporting form the Rixos Hotel, just a few hours ago, he and several other Journalists, were extracted from the hotel, they were liberated from the Hotel, which they were held for several days, and they are safe now. 

Chossudovsky. But I can tell you, my understanding is, first of all this is not a revolution. These are NATO trained gunman, and they are Al Qaeda related paramilitaries, mercenaries. 

They have very little support within civil society in Libya. Whether we like the Gaddafi regime or not, I do not think that this is the issue. The large majority of the population are against the rebellion, and the only thing that sustains the rebellion, are the NATO bombings. And these are criminal bombings; let's say what they are. They are in derogation of international law, actions that are criminal in terms of their consequences: the killings of children, the killing of people in their own homes, and this has been well documented.

And what is criminal in this process, is the fact that this war is presented to the media as a humanitarian operation, 

Realities are turned upside down.  We are told, that war is peace, The lie becomes the truth, essentially that is what has happened. 

Press TV: But the way this operation is going on Professor, many Western countries including France, they talked about the success of this operation and its knock off effect in the region. Doesn't that pose the threat of abuse of what is called RTP, the Right to Protect under humanitarian motives for their own gains, and in terms of RTP of other countries, such as Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia? If that is the way to go about it why don't they mention those countries? Why mentions only Syria, as French President Sarkozy said in his meeting with NTC? 

Chossudovsky: Well you know, I have been studying dictatorship for more than 30 years, I've lived in Latin America. 

The US has never been concerned with the actions of dictators. In fact it was the US which installed the dictators. As long as the dictators follow their orders, and establish a proxy state and serve US interests, they will continue their support.. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Extreme Prejudice - CIA Whistle Blower Susan Lindauer



Amazing testimony of ex CIA Asset Susan Lindauer, who had 5 years of legal troubles, 1 year in prison for daring to tell the truth. During the Bush era the top controllers of the governmental mechanics of Defense and national Security wanted to have a war with Iraq. They got their wish and anyone who got in the way were dealt with severely no matter if they violated a law or not. Not brought to trial she was jailed under the "Patriot Act" which amounted to summary punishment outside a Verdict in a court of law. She was punished in jail without a Trial at all This is part of her story that is just unfolding now. She has waited 10 years to tell this story.


Sun Causes Climate Change Shock

James Delingpole

If Michael Crichton had lived to write a follow-up to State of Fear, the plotline might well have gone like this: at a top secret, state of the art laboratory in Switzerland, scientists finally discover the true cause of “global warming”. It’s the sun, stupid. More specifically – as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark has long postulated – it’s the result of cosmic rays which act as a seed for cloud formation.

The scientists working on the project are naturally euphoric: this is a major breakthrough which will not only overturn decades of misguided conjecture on so-called Man Made Global Warming but will spare the global economy trillions of dollars which might otherwise have been squandered on utterly pointless efforts to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, these scientists have failed to realise just how many people – alarmist scientists, huckster politicians,  rent-seeking landowners like (the late Michael Crichton’s brilliant and, of course, entirely fictional creation) the absurd, pompous Sir Reginald Leeds Bt, green activists, eco-fund managers, EU technocrats, MSM environmental correspondents – stand to gain from the Man Made “Climate Change” industry. Their discovery must be suppressed at all costs. So, one by one, the scientists on the cosmic ray project find themselves being bumped off, until only one man remains and must race against time to prove, etc, etc…

Except of course in the real world the second part wouldn’t happen. No one would need to go to the trouble of bumping off those pesky scientists with their awkward, annoying facts and their proper actual research. That’s because the MSM and the scientific “community” would find it perfectly easy to suppress the story anyway, without recourse to severed brake cables or ricin-impregnated hand-washes or staged “suicides”.

This is exactly what has happened with the latest revelations from CERN over its landmark CLOUD experiment, whose significance Lawrence Solomon explains here:
The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.
So if it’s so great, why aren’t we hearing more about it? Well, possibly because the Director General of CERN Rolf-Dieter Heuer would prefer it that way. Here’s how he poured cold water on the results in an interview with Die Welt Online:
I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.
Nigel Calder, who has been following the CLOUD experiment for some time, was the first to smell a rat. He notes:
CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation.
and
The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results
Lubos Motl, too, detects some double standards here:
One could perhaps understand if all scientists were similarly gagged and prevented from interpreting the results of their research in ways that could be relevant for policymaking. However, the main problem is that many people who are trying to work on very different phenomena in the climate are not prevented from interpreting – and indeed,

overinterpreting and misinterpreting – their results that are often less serious, less reliable, and less rigorous, perhaps by orders of magnitude, than the observations by the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Moreover, this sentence by Heuer

One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.is really a proof of his prejudice. Whether the cosmic radiation is just one player or the only relevant player or an important player or an unimportant player is something that this very research has been supposed to determine or help to determine. An official doesn’t have the moral right to predetermine in advance what “one has to make clear” about these a priori unknown scientific results.
But then, as Lawrence Solomon reminds us, this was never an experiment the scientific establishment wanted to happen in the first place.
The hypothesis that cosmic rays and the sun hold the key to the global warming debate has been Enemy No. 1 to the global warming establishment ever since it was first proposed by two scientists from the Danish Space Research Institute, at a 1996 scientific conference in the U.K. Within one day, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bert Bolin, denounced the theory, saying, “I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible.” He then set about discrediting the theory, any journalist that gave the theory cre dence, and most of all the Danes presenting the theory — they soon found themselves vilified, marginalized and starved of funding, despite their impeccable scientific credentials.

The mobilization to rally the press against the Danes worked brilliantly, with one notable exception. Nigel Calder, a former editor of The New Scientist who attended that 1996 conference, would not be cowed. Himself a physicist, Mr. Calder became convinced of the merits of the argument and a year later, following a lecture he gave at a CERN conference, so too did Jasper Kirkby, a CERN scientist in attendance. Mr. Kirkby then convinced the CERN bureaucracy of the theory’s importance and developed a plan to create a cloud chamber — he called it CLOUD, for “Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets.”

But Mr. Kirkby made the same tactical error that the Danes had — not realizing how politicized the global warming issue was, he candidly shared his views with the scientific community.

“The theory will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century,” Mr. Kirkby told the scientific press in 1998, explaining that global warming may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature.

The global warming establishment sprang into action, pressured the Western governments that control CERN, and almost immediately succeeded in suspending CLOUD. It took Mr. Kirkby almost a decade of negotiation with his superiors, and who knows how many compromises and unspoken commitments, to convince the CERN bureaucracy to allow the project to proceed. And years more to create the cloud chamber and convincingly validate the Danes’ groundbreaking theory.
Still, as you’d expect, the BBC remains dutifully on-message.  Read this report by its science correspondent Pallab Ghosh and you’ll be left in little doubt that a) the latest results are dull beyond measure  and b) that if they do mean anything at all, it’s that global warming is still very much man-made. Here’s their tame expert, Reading University’s Dr Mike Lockwood, on hand to provide them the perfect pull-quote:
Does this mean that cosmic rays can produce cloud? – No”

Video: Dr. W. Randy Short: "Baltimore is the Greatest Black Community!"



Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney (D-GA,) brought her "Truth Tour" to the historic Union Baptist Church, in Baltimore, MD, on August 25, 2011. Ms. McKinney has just returned from a fact-finding mission to war-torn Libya. On the trip with her as part of the delegation was the historian/researcher, Dr. W. Randy Short. In his remarks at the event, Dr. Short said: "Baltimore is the greatest Black community in America!" To learn more about Dr. Short, go to: DrRandyShort.


Smart Meters -- they know when you've been sleeping

Lovely County Citizen
Nicky Boyette

Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation (CECC) announced on its website that it intends to install digital smart meters in 100 percent of its residential and commercial meters by the end of 2012. You might already have one.

Smart meters are electrical devices that record and monitor electrical energy usage in a home or business, and have the capability to transmit that information back to the utility company. Smart meters are seen as a vital part of futuristic smart grids which, in theory, will gather information from all over an electrical grid, make decisions based on the data collected, and hopefully make more efficient use of our resources.

Only a small percentage of meters in the United States are smart meters, but some sources expect 15-20 percent of meters each year to transition to smart technology. In fact, grant funds for smart-grid technologies were part of the federal government's economic stimulus package in October 2010.

The idea of a smart meter is that it can collect data on not only how much energy is being used but when you use it. Advocates point to the fact that smart meters can help customers make wise choices about when to use appliances and electronics in order to control energy costs. You would know your energy use by either looking at the digital readout on the device or, eventually, looking up your energy use on the utility website.

Detractors say collecting this amount of information about our activities and putting it in the hands of the utility company is a breach of privacy. The meters will know when we get up and go to bed or if we are even home and relay this information to a computer possibly far away.

Plans also call for antennae to be installed in appliances and electronics so they can communicate wirelessly with the smart meter. Naysayers say this would mean that you will not be the only one who knows how often you make toast or blow dry your hair. This would also mean that homes would have several extra sources of radio frequency radiation, and citizens are not comfortable with assurances from the utility companies. Some people are extra-sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and experience headaches, sleeplessness and fatigue, not to mention the problems with pacemakers and other implanted electronic devices.

Many states employ wireless smart meters which use radio frequencies to transmit their information back to the utility company. There have been countless protests over wireless smart meters from Maine to California, where town hall meetings have been rocked by shouts of concern over health issues connected to radio frequency radiation.

During a public forum in Maine in which many citizens voiced distrust of the safety of wireless devices, even the representative from the Maine Center for Disease Control acknowledged that there is little long-term evidence to prove the safety of smart meters, but there is also little evidence to prove consistently that the meters have adverse health effects.

CECC says on its website that "the smart meters being installed by Carroll Electric do not use radio frequencies to communicate. All communication to and from the smart meter is transmitted on existing power lines by using a secure embedded digital signal."

If this continues to be the case, that would mean that Carroll County citizens will not have to worry about another wireless device in and around our homes. Some observers notice that there is a hue and cry about the radio frequencies from smart meters by folks who customarily use cell phones, laptops, wireless routers and really enjoy their Nintendo Wii.

The CECC website also states that smart meters will be installed on all accounts. In some states, customers can opt out of having the devices installed. Other conveyance media like fiberoptic lines, phone lines and internet connections could be used to deliver the information.

CECC says customers will not incur increased costs to pay for this transition, but this has not been the case in other states. Portland, Ore., expects utility rates for residential customers to increase 1.2 percent to pay for the installation of its smart meters. Some residents of Naperville, Illinois, were up in arms because their utility bills doubled after they got smart meters, and some of the trouble was inaccurate meters. It is difficult for the utility company and individual billpayers to resolve these disputes.

According to some detractors, another inevitable outcome of smart-grid technology is that utility companies can implement time-of-use pricing, which means higher costs during peak use times, such as 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. This would be an unfair hardship for seniors who are home during that time, for people who work from home or at night, or folks home raising their kids.

Besides the fiery speeches at public forums across the country, there are also pyrotechnics related to smart phones. In April of this year, newly installed smart meters at a mall in Santa Rosa, Calif., "literally blew up" causing a fire which led to the evacuation of the mall. This is not the only case of smart meters either smoking, exploding, catching fire by arcing, or sending "bursts" through electrical lines causing damage to appliances and electronics.

Also, there is the vulnerability of the data that smart phones can collect, especially when it is transmitted wirelessly. We hear regularly of hackers getting personal information, so there is a natural sensitivity to knowing data about us can be stolen and misused.

And what about the meter readers, labeled as "carbon-unfriendly" by one source? It will take awhile for all utility companies to fully implement the smart meter technology, so manpower will have to do in the meantime. But at some point, meter readers will go the way of the eight-track tape, replaced by an upgrade.

There is a Facebook site devoted to stopping smart meters. There is also plenty of financial support pushing this kind of technology. We have only just begun to explore what they are good for or not good for, and some problems will be resolved as technology continues to unfold it secrets.

Attorney general to investigate NoW 9/11 phone-hacking allegations

Guardian
Dominic Rushe

US attorney general Eric Holder has promised relatives of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks he will begin a preliminary criminal investigation into reports that News Corporation journalists tried to gain access to the phone records of the dead.

Family members who lost loved ones on 11 September 2001 met Holder at the Justice Department on Wednesday to discuss allegations first reported by the Daily Mirror that News of the World reporters attempted to gain unauthorised access to 9/11 victims' voicemails.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing some of the families, told reporters that the attorney general had said it was "very disturbing" that phones of 9/11 victims and their family members might have been hacked. The relatives met Holder for over an hour to discuss the allegations.

The hacking allegation was made in an article in the Mirror last month. The paper said NoW journalists had approached a former New York police officer working as a private detective and asked him to do the hacking, which he declined to do.

So far, no evidence has emerged to corroborate the story, which has been strenuously denied by News Corp. If the Justice Department finds any truth in the claims, News Corp would face a damaging battle with the US authorities as well as a rash of civil law suits from family members.

The US authorities have considered investigating News Corp, a company listed on the US stock markets, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over payments allegedly made to police . But the 9/11 allegations are the most serious issue the firm has faced in the US over the scandal.

The Mirror story was based on unnamed sources, including one described as a former New York police officer who became a private investigator. Heclaimed to have rejected requests by journalists from the now closed NoW to retrieve private phone records of victims.

News Corp has dismissed the report as "anonymous speculation" with "no substantiation" and said earlier this month that the company was fully co-operating with all investigations into the firm.
Ahead of the meeting Siegel told Associated Press the families were working with the FBI to determine if hacking "was attempted, and/or occurred".

"We are going to the meeting with the attorney general to listen to what he can tell us about the investigation and to ascertain the scope, the goals and timetable of the inquiry," Siegel said.
Rupert Murdoch was asked about the 9/11 hacking claims when he was questioned by parliament last month. He said: "we have seen no evidence at all and as far as we know the FBI haven't either". He said he did not know if NoW employees or the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire took it upon themselves to do it.

US Vows to Stop All Aid If Palestinians Seek Statehood

AntiWar
Jason Ditz

Independence or Dependence, the US Offers a Choice

According to a statement detailing the content of the meeting, US Consul General for Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein informed the Palestinian Authority today that any effort to upgrade themselves to full statehood at the United Nations will result in a loss of all US aid.

Rubinstein, who was meeting with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, told him that the UN bid was “useless” and that the US would use its veto if they approach the Security Council for recognition. An effort to find recognition in the General Assembly, though likely to pass would mean “punitive measures” from the US.

The Palestinians have promised to approach the Security Council in September and have raised the possibility of trying to move on to the General Assembly if (now apparently when) the US vetoes their bid for statehood. US officials maintain that no Palestinian state can exist until Israel formally approves of it, something which is extremely unlikely under Israel’s current right-far-right coalition.

If Rubinstein’s threat is authentic, and there seems to be some dispute of that, it gives the Palestinian Authority a stark choice: either they push through with their bid for independence at the cost of massive amounts of US money, or they accept their continued status as an occupied nation, dependent on the international community for occasional funding.

Nokia and Siemens Helping Torture in Bahrain

AllGov
Noel Brinkerhoff

Being known as a facilitator of secret police and torturers is not ideal branding for any company. But that is the reputation that Germany’s Siemens and Finland’s Nokia are developing, as a result of their partnership that’s provided spy technology to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

The latest sordid news comes out of Bahrain, where the government used voice- and data-recording technology sold by a Nokia Siemens Networks’ business (Trovicor) to gather incriminating text and voice messages of dissidents. According to Bloomberg, government interrogators not only used the software to track down activists, but also to show those being tortured the information that’s been gathered on them.

Trovicor’s equipment reportedly is used in at least 12 Middle Eastern and North African nations, and the company’s monitoring centers have been sold to Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, reports Bloomberg.

It’s been previously reported that the government of Iran, too, has used a Trovicor monitoring center to go after political protesters and members of the local media. Journalist Isa Saharkhiz, a one-time reporter for the Islamic Republic News Agency, sued Nokia and Siemens in U.S. federal court claiming the European companies facilitated his capture and torture at the hands of Iranian agents.