Saturday, June 19, 2010

Russian Scientists Warn: Toxic Rain Could Destroy North America/ Due to BP Chemical??

The FCC’s Grand Plan to Control Your Internet, TV, and Phone?

This Thursday, the FCC opens up comments on its proposal regulate the Internet.  While no one is quite sure all that it will contain, Scott Cleland (a long-time telecom policy expert and insider) has pieced together recent FCC filings from Google to outline how Net Neutrality regulations could be part of a grand plan to control how virtually all media enters your home.  Here's a brief summary:

Under the guise of “Net Neutrality” and “consumer protection” the FCC would begin regulating Internet access for the first time under a completely new regulatory scheme (even though they lack the authority to create it).  Meanwhile, the FCC would push regulations – cloaked in the heart-warming language of competition and innovation – mandating that your cable box (known as a set-top box) become a “broadband gateway device” controlling access to your Internet, TV, and phone.  The FCC has already started looking at set-top box regulations in their National Broadband Plan.

The FCC would then begin setting rates for the total cost of all three services.  Chairman Genachowski said he does not intend to set prices for Internet access.  However, the legal maneuvering is so tenuous and the desire from left-wing groups so strong that a mere promise to “forbear” from rate setting is certainly no guarantee.  On top of this, it would open the door for the FCC to begin monitoring or censoring content on the Internet (in addition to your TV), something Free Press and other progressives, as well as the White House regulatory czar advocate.  The Songwriters Guild of America has a great op-ed on why government censorship is entirely possible if the Internet becomes regulated.

This plan outlines a dark hypothetical world that would effectively destroy any future competition for services and turn our nation’s networks into “dumb pipes” under government centralized control.  Everyone will buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves.  Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets.  And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim.

Worst of all, this extreme case of political favoritism for Google’s business model (which is developing set-top boxes and carrying all content to users for "free") is not out of the realm of possibility.  Both Google and the socialist organization Free Press have long pushed for such regulations and both are arguably the closest groups to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  They are also strong supporters of President Obama who are calling for their payoff.  The former head of Google’s policy shop is now Chief Technology Officer at the White House and Free Press’s former press director is the FCC’s spokesperson.

There are a lot of hurdles for the FCC should they choose this horrendously anti-free market route to take over the nation’s Internet networks and control the flow of media.  Already facing severe bipartisan opposition from Congress and the court, the FCC would certainly invite another legal challenge.  But if it works, Internet, phone, and TV service will simply become Google Chrome, Android/Google-Voice, and Google TV.

U.S. Testing Pain Ray in Afghanistan (Updated)

By Noah Shachtman

Wired, June 19, 2010

The U.S. mission in Afghanistan centers around swaying locals to its side. And there’s no better persuasion tool than an invisible pain ray that makes people feel like they’re on fire.

OK, OK. Maybe that isn’t precisely the logic being employed by those segments of the American military who would like to deploy the Active Denial System to Afghanistan. I’m sure they’re telling themselves that the generally non-lethal microwave weapon is a better, safer crowd control alternative than an M-16. But those ray-gun advocates better think long and hard about the Taliban’s propaganda bonanza when news leaks of the Americans zapping Afghans until they feel roasted alive.

Because, apparently, the Active Denial System is "in Afghanistan for testing."

An Air Force military officer and a civilian employee at the Air Force Research Laboratory are just two of the people telling Danger Room co-founder Sharon Weinberger that the vehicle-mounted "block 2″ version of the pain ray is in the warzone, but hasn’t been used in combat.

[Update: "We are currently not testing the Active Denial System in Afghanistan," Kelley Hughes, spokesperson for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, tells Danger Room.

So I ask her: Has it been tested previously? She hems and haws. "I'm not gonna get into operational," Hughes answers.

Hughes also disputes the assertion that Active Denial creates a burning feeling. "It's an intolerable heating sensation," she says. "Like opening up an oven door."]

For years, the military insisted that the Active Denial System — known as the "Holy Grail" of crowd control — was oh-so-close to battlefield deployment. But a host of technical issues hampered the ray gun: everything from overheating to poor performance in the rain. Safety concerns lingered; a test subject had to be airlifted to a burn center after being zapped by the weapon. (He eventually made a full recovery.) And then there were concerns about "the atmospherics" — how the locals might react — when they learned that the United States had turned a people-roaster on 'em. "Not politically tenable," the Defense Science Board concluded.

I pinged Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s staff about the use of Active Denial in Afghanistan. I’ll let you know if I hear anything back. But a few months ago, a source told me that a representative from the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was in Afghanistan. Did that mean Active Denial was about to be put into action? Nope, the source said. "She’s just out getting some atmospherics on the use of non-lethals."

Photo: JNLWD


"Americans Have a Right to Know"

By Ray McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg and Coleen Rowley

June 18, 2010 "Institute for Public Accuracy" Today, Washington is trying to shut down what it clearly regards as the most effective and dangerous purveyor of embarrassing information -- Wikileaks, a self-styled global resource for whistleblowers. It is a safe bet that NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies have been instructed to do all possible to make an example of Wikileaks leader, Australian-born Julian Assange, and his colleagues. Much is at stake -- for both Pentagon and freedom of the press.

"Those who own and operate the corporate media face a distasteful dilemma, both in terms of business decision and of conscience. They must choose between the easier but soulless task of transcribing government press releases, on the one hand; or, on the other, following Wikileaks into the 21st century by adapting high-tech methods to protect sources while acquiring authentic stories unadulterated by government pressure, real or perceived.

"Deference to the government seems largely responsible for the failure to explore the implications of particularly riveting reportage that gets millions of hits on the Web but has been, up to now, largely ignored by mainstream media. The best recent example of this is the gun-barrel video showing a merciless turkey-shoot of Baghdad civilians by helicopter gunship-borne U.S. soldiers on July 12, 2007. Like the humiliating and graphic but actual photos of Abu Ghraib, the publication of which Pullitzer-prize winning Seymour Hersh repeatedly defended as necessary to the story of Iraqi prisoner abuse, such raw footage is essential to people’s understanding of what is happening. Like Daniel Ellsberg's copying of 7,000 pages of the 'Pentagon Papers,' such whistleblowers are a great means of exposing the lies upon which the current wars are based.

"Assange went public this week with an email announcement that Wikileaks is preparing to release a classified Pentagon video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in May 2009, which left as many as 140 civilians dead -- most of them children and teenagers. He added that Wikileaks has 'a lot of other material that exposes human rights abuses by the United States government.'

"Wikileaks has also published a secret U.S. Army report of March 2008 evaluating the threat from Wikileaks itself and possible U.S. countermeasures against it. This will undoubtedly prompt American officials to redouble efforts to find Assange and to prevent Wikileaks from posting additional information they have classified to avoid embarrassment.

"Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name, and how important it is to protect members of the now-fledgling Fifth Estate so that it can continue to provide information shunned or distorted.

"Assange ended his email with an unabashed appeal for donations for his website. 'Please donate ... and encourage all your friends to follow the example you set; after all, courage is contagious.' His words sounded a bit like those of Edmund Burke: 'When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.'

"For the good to associate effectively, they need to know what is going on. It’s our hope the old Fourth Estate press will recall the good and high-calling that Burke, Jefferson and other leaders of democracy have extolled through the centuries and catch some of that 'contagious courage'."

Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who was one of Time Magazine's people of the year in 2002; Ray McGovern, CIA analyst for 27 years; and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers (top-secret government documents that showed a pattern of governmental deceit about the Vietnam War):


The G20, Capitalism and Austerity

The Group of Eight (G8) is an annual forum for the leadership of the leading capitalist countries. It was first created in 1975 (then as the G6, as Canada did not join until the next year to form the G7, and Russia was not added until 1997), at the instigation of the U.S. and France to deal with the economic crisis that had broken out in 1973, and the need to re-make the international economic order. In particular the international financial and trading systems had to be reconstructed in the wake of the falling apart of the gold-exchange system and of the fixed exchange rates between national currencies.

One of its objectives of the G7 was to re-affirm the U.S. dollar as the anchor to the global economy, and begin to co-ordinate an agenda among the leading powers to push-back against the encroachments being made by non-capitalist regimes around the world, particularly in the Global South, and by Left parties in the capitalist core countries. Its second agenda item was to begin forming the neoliberal policy agenda as the regulatory framework for economic policy-making. In other words, the work of the G8 has been central to the making of neoliberal globalization, and the various Summit resolutions can be read as a summary of that progress.

The Group of Twenty (G20) has origins within these same processes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank formed the Washington Consensus incorporating some key nations in the Global South that were allies of the U.S. in its deliberations. But more formally, the G20 emerged as a response to the Asian Crisis of 1997-98, and the need to widen the co-ordinative mechanisms between the leading capitalist powers, and incorporating emerging powers like Brazil, China, India, South Africa and so forth. As the G20, the core agenda remains the same – stabilizing the world capitalist system within the confines of neoliberal economic and social policies.

The Real Agenda

This is, indeed, what has given special urgency to the meetings of the G20 over the last few years, as the financial crisis of 2007-10 has required common efforts at rescues of the financial system and of fiscal stimulus. The G8/G20 meetings in Huntsville and Toronto, Ontario in the last week of June will continue on with this agenda. But in this case, it will be dominated by a focus of imposing austerity on the public sector, having the working classes pay for the bailout of the financial crisis, how to minimize new financial regulatory plans, and to try to push the emerging economies (and Germany) to play a larger role in stimulating world demand and away from the U.S. as ‘consumer of last resort.’ This will be an agenda to keep reconstructing and deepening neoliberal globalization.

Protest at Montebello

Canadians know well G8/G20 Summit politics. In returning from meetings of the G7 through the 1970s, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would affirm the shift of Bank of Canada policies toward monetarism that had occurred in 1975, bolster government policies of wage restraint and argue for the need for fiscal restraint. The meetings were integral to the ideological and policy consensus that led to the construction of the neoliberal state in Canada – begun by the Liberal Party and now reaching its highest development under the hard Right Conservative government of Stephen Harper. Political resistance to these Summits has a long history dating back to the G7 meeting in Montebello in 1981 and the major counter-Summit organized at the Toronto meeting of 1988 (one of the first of its kind). Indeed, large protests and resistance have become central symbols of the dissent to neoliberal globalization, of the need for social alternatives, and of a fledgling anti-capitalist movement deepening its campaigns and organizational capacities (in Canada, at Halifax in 1995 and Kananaskis in 2002).

This year’s meetings in Toronto are no exception, and there will be an enormous number of meetings, forums, discussions, cultural events and demonstrations across the week. Indeed, such meetings and protests will take place across Canada and Quebec over the week. They will be against all that is detestable in the government of Stephen Harper, and the provincial governments of Charest, McGuinty, Campbell, Williams, Selinger and the rest, as they protect Canadian bankers and punish Canadian workers and the poor. But they will also be protests in support of public sector workers on strike in Athens and Lisbon; the Red Shirts in Thailand; revolutionaries in Nepal and Venezuela; the Palestinian people under occupation and apartheid; the Chinese workers in the coastal factories bravely striking for liveable working conditions; and so many other struggles for social justice. They are all part of the growing insistence, by workers, by peasants, by the poor, that what the governments of the G20 are proposing is not an alternative we can live with anymore.


Obama, the Supreme Court and Maher Arar: No Accountability for Torture

June 18, 2010

I don’t have time to write about the US Supreme Court’s shameful refusal to hear the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who was rendered to Syria by the US in 2002, where he endured brutal torture for 10 months, so instead I’m cross-posting a suitably acerbic article by David Cole (one of Arar’s lawyers), as published in the New York Review of Books. Cole explains how, "In twenty-five years as a civil rights and human rights lawyer, I have never handled a case of more egregious abuse," and expresses palpable disgust that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration that was responsible for Arar’s torture, has had the effrontery to claim in court that "torture is never permissible, but [has] then [gone] on to argue at length that federal officials accused of torture should not be held accountable." As an additional note to readers, Maher Arar’s case is cited in the final part of the UN Secret Detention Report that I posted yesterday, which also discusses other men — and boys — rendered by the US to Syria up to eight years ago who have never been heard from since.

He Was Tortured, But He Can’t Sue
By David Cole, New York Review of Books, June 15, 2010

On Monday, June 14, the Supreme Court declined to hear Maher Arar’s case, conclusively shutting the door on the Canadian citizen’s effort to obtain redress from US officials who stopped him in September 2002 while he was changing planes on his way home to Canada and shipped him instead to Syria, where he was tortured and imprisoned without charges for nearly a year. In so ruling, the Court refused to reconsider the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sitting en banc, which had ruled in November 2009 [PDF] that Arar’s case raised too many sensitive issues of national security and confidential information to permit its adjudication in a court of law. If he is to obtain any remedy now, it must come from Congress and the President. The courts have washed their hands of the affair, but that does not mean that it is resolved.

I am one of Arar’s lawyers, along with others at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. In twenty-five years as a civil rights and human rights lawyer, I have never handled a case of more egregious abuse. US officials not only delivered Arar to Syrian security forces that they regularly accuse of systematic torture, but did everything in their power to ensure that Arar could not get to a court to challenge their actions while he was in their custody. When they finally permitted him to see a lawyer, on a Saturday ten days into his detention, the government hastily scheduled an extraordinary hearing for the next night — Sunday evening — and only "notified" Arar’s lawyer by leaving a voicemail on her office answering machine that Sunday afternoon. They then falsely told Arar that the lawyer had declined to participate, and questioned him for six hours, until 3 a.m. Monday.

When Arar’s lawyer retrieved the voicemail message later that Monday morning, she immediately called the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They told her falsely that Arar was being moved to New Jersey, and that she could contact him there the next day. In fact, he remained in New York until late that night, when he was put on a federally chartered jet and spirited out of the country. US officials never informed Arar’s lawyer that he had been deported, much less that he had been delivered to Syrian security forces.

Arar was beaten and tortured while Syrian officials asked him questions virtually identical to those US officials had asked him in New York. He was locked up for a year without charges and in complete isolation, most of the time in a cell the size of a grave. After a year, Syria released him, finding no evidence that he had done anything wrong. He returned to Canada — this time avoiding any change of planes in the United States.

Canada responded to Arar’s case as a nation who has wronged a human being should. It established a blue-ribbon commission to investigate his case, which wrote a 1,100-page report fully exonerating Arar, and faulting Canadian officials for erroneously telling US officials that Arar was the target of an investigation into possible al-Qaeda links. In fact, Arar was merely listed as one of many persons "of interest" to the investigation, because he was thought to know one of the individuals who was targeted. The commission found, however, that Canadian officials did not know that the United States was planning to send Arar to Syria. That decision was made by US officials with the Syrians and not shared with the Canadians.

Canada, in other words, played a relatively small part in Arar’s injuries, as compared to the United States. Yet Canada’s Parliament issued a unanimous apology, and the government paid Arar $10 million (Canadian) for its role in the wrong done to him.


Israel threatens to arrest and try passengers of international ships bound for Gaza

MEMO, June 18, 2010 Israeli authorities have warned that they will arrest any peace activists who participate in international aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip and put them on trial. According to Maarif Hebrew newspaper, "Israel sent a clear warning to the international community with the announcement that it plans to arrest, conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute any person on board the ships that are expected to arrive soon." This was a reference to Lebanese and Iranian ships allegedly being sent to break the illegal blockade of Gaza, and a second Freedom Flotilla later in the year. A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, "We have asked foreign ambassadors to send a message to the citizens of their countries asking them to reconsider being on board similar aid ships given that the treatment they will encounter will vary from that used with the last flotilla that sailed from Turkey." Any ships sailing from Lebanon would, the spokesperson said, face the possibility of hostile treatment. "Turkey is not defined as an enemy country", the spokesperson added, whereas Lebanon is regarded as such by Israel. Israel is apparently keen to send threatening letters explaining that passengers detained will not be deported after 24 hours at the expense of taxpayers in Israel, as with the Freedom Flotilla, "but will stand trial and will be jailed".


BP Oil Spill Methane Hydrate Sea Floor - Godzilla - Highway 61 - All Along the Watchtower

Greenspan Says U.S. May Soon Reach Borrowing Limit

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the U.S. may soon face higher borrowing costs on its swelling debt and called for a “tectonic shift” in fiscal policy to contain borrowing.

“Perceptions of a large U.S. borrowing capacity are misleading,” and current long-term bond yields are masking America’s debt challenge, Greenspan wrote in an opinion piece posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website. “Long-term rate increases can emerge with unexpected suddenness,” such as the 4 percentage point surge over four months in 1979-80, he said.

Greenspan rebutted “misplaced” concern that reducing the deficit would put the economic recovery in danger, entering a debate among global policy makers about how quickly to exit from stimulus measures adopted during the financial crisis. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said this month that while fiscal tightening is needed over the “medium term,” governments must reinforce the recovery in private demand.

“The United States, and most of the rest of the developed world, is in need of a tectonic shift in fiscal policy,” said Greenspan, 84, who served at the Fed’s helm from 1987 to 2006. “Incremental change will not be adequate.”

Rein in Debt

Pressure on capital markets would also be eased if the U.S. government “contained” the sale of Treasuries, he wrote.

“The federal government is currently saddled with commitments for the next three decades that it will be unable to meet in real terms,” Greenspan said. The “very severity of the pending crisis and growing analogies to Greece set the stage for a serious response.”

Yields on U.S. Treasuries have benefitted from safe-haven demand in recent months because of the European debt crisis, a circumstance that may not last, said Greenspan, who now consults for clients including Pacific Investment Management Co., which has the world’s biggest bond fund.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes yielded 3.20 percent as of 12:11 p.m. in Tokyo today, down from the year’s high of 4.01 percent in April and compared with as high as 5.32 percent in June 2007, before the crisis began. Yields have remained low “despite the surge in federal debt to the public during the past 18 months to $8.6 trillion from $5.5 trillion,” Greenspan said.

The swing in demand toward American government debt and away from euro-denominated bonds is “temporary,” he said.

“Our economy cannot afford a major mistake in underestimating the corrosive momentum of this fiscal crisis,” Greenspan said. “Our policy focus must therefore err significantly on the side of restraint.”




In 2006, North Korea exploded a plutonium based nuclear weapon, an unsuccessful test of either a  “found” nuke in poor repair, or something poorly designed.  America had predicted that they were at least five years from this capability, we always hear the same story, everyone is five years from having nuclear weapons.  On May 25th, 2009, North Korea exploded its second bomb, its first clearly identifiable nuclear weapon, a “Hiroshima sized” bomb, tiny by US standards.  What we didn’t say is that the signature of this bomb had been seen before.

An identical nuclear weapon, manufactured at the same facility, same design, same impurities,  had been exploded in September 22, 1979, in a test in the Indian Ocean conducted jointly by Israel and South Africa.  
When UN inspectors were asked to come to South Africa in 1990 to arrange to dismantle their nuclear weapons, ten bombs were admitted to having been built with one tested.  Today we claim six existed, none were tested and three never existed.  One of those three exploded in North Korea.  The mystery is, how did it get there?   Are American “broken arrow” nukes, recovered, sold and traded?  What “special country” might do this?

The cover story was that Pakistan through nuclear scientist,  Dr. A. Q. Khan, had supplied Korea with the required highly specialized centrifuges along with nuclear triggers and advanced missile technology.  Investigations have shown, however,  that the US had asked, or rather demanded, President Musharraf  “convince” Khan to confess to this and a seemingly endless series of nuclear proliferation violations from South Africa to Libya to Germany.  The deal was that Khan had to confess but would be immediately pardoned.  We have another mystery, who was the US covering for and why?  Who wanted it to seem like North Korea had a real nuclear program, who would profit by this?  What could be more comical than “Cardboard Lothario” Kim Jung-il, war mongering mastermind terrorizing the world from one of the most isolated and poverty stricken nations on earth.  I could carve a better “axis of evil” dictator out of a banana.

Who are the Cardboard Lotharios?  They are world leaders and conflict driven icons who simply don’t seem to fit.  We knew where Hitler came from, we understood Napoleon, Mussolini, even George W. Bush.  With a world bereft of “prime movers,” no major ideological struggles, no national races for dwindling resources, only multi-national corporations carving away the world, today’s chaos is purely manufactured and the cardboard cutout bad-boys aren’t even good actors.  Who invented Osama bin Laden, Bibi Netanyahu, Mullah Omar, Kim Jung-il, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?  Do we add Hameed Karzai to the list?  How to people like Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi simply quit, get taken off the list and retire as though they had been to some sort of “terrorist mastermind rehab?”  Remember Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi cleric whose Mahdi army was the caused mayhem in Iraq?  How can Gulbuddin Hekmatyar be number one on the world terror list and be asked by Americans to open negotiations with the Taliban at the same time?  Anyone smelling a rat?


"Holocaust denier" found dead in parking lot

By and Michael Hoffman

Opole, Poland, June 16, 2010 -- The body of a former Polish history professor, Dariusz Ratajczak, convicted by a Polish court in 2002 of claiming that mass gassings of human beings in Auschwitz-Birkenau was impossible, has been found dead in a shopping center parking lot in the western Polish city of Opole.

Prof. Ratajczak was suspended in April 1999 from his teaching post at Opole University's Historical Institute after state prosecutors opened an investigation into the publication of his book Tematy niebezpieczne ("Dangerous Themes").

"The body, which was severely decomposed, has been identified by Ratajczak's family, so additional DNA tests will not have to be carried out," says Lidia Sieradzka from the Prosecutor's Office in Opole.

Judging by the state of the body and recent high temperatures, the man has been dead for up to two weeks, say police. Security guards at the Karolinka shopping centre claim, however, that the historian's Renault Kangoo was left at the car park on the same day, June 11, that it was discovered. In the car police found documents which belonged to 48-year-old revisionist historian Ratajczak. Recordings from CCTV are being examined.

The cause of Ratajczak's death remains uncertain. Police think it is unlikely that he was murdered because it is alleged that no injuries were found on the body during the autopsy.

Police established that the historian, who had problems finding employment in Poland, planned to go to Holland or Belgium to work in a company to do menial labor. For that purpose he acquired a Renault Kangoo automobile, in which his body was found stuffed between the front and rear seats. It is reported that he may have been living in his car. He worked at odd jobs for food.

In 2000, Dariusz Ratajczak was fired from the University of Opole, where he worked for eleven years, and banned from teaching at other universities for three years after the publication of Tematy niebezpieczne, in which he claimed that it was not scientifically possible to kill millions of people in alleged Auschwitz death camp gas chambers.

Earlier in 1999, a Polish court found Ratajczak guilty of "public denial" of German war crimes – which is against the law in Poland – but because the book was self-published with a print run of only 260 copies it was not thought to be able to create a "social annoyance" and he was not punished. In his defense, Prof. Ratajczak told the court that his book was merely a survey of many dissenting views on the "Holocaust," including revisionist works by British historian David Irving and others. "Holocaust denial" is a crime in Poland, Germany, Hungary, France, Switzerland and Austria.

Mr. Ratajczak is survived by a son and a daughter.


Friday, June 18, 2010

James Fox on the BP Oil Spill - Part I and II

How the ultimate BP Gulf disaster could kill millions

Disturbing evidence is mounting that something frightening is happening deep under the waters of the Gulf of Mexico—something far worse than the BP oil gusher.

Warnings were raised as long as a year before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that the area of seabed chosen by the BP geologists might be unstable, or worse, inherently dangerous.

What makes the location that Transocean chose potentially far riskier than other potential oil deposits located at other regions of the Gulf? It can be summed up with two words: methane gas.

The same methane that makes coal mining operations hazardous and leads to horrendous mining accidents deep under the earth also can present a high level of danger to certain oil exploration ventures.

Location of Deepwater Horizon oil rig was criticized

More than 12 months ago some geologists rang the warning bell that the Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig might have been erected directly over a huge underground reservoir of methane.

Documents from several years ago indicate that the subterranean geologic formation may contain the presence of a huge methane deposit.

None other than the engineer who helped lead the team to snuff the Gulf oil fires set by Saddam Hussein to slow the advance of American troops has stated that a huge underground lake of methane gas—compressed by a pressure of 100,000 pounds per square inch (psi)—could be released by BP's drilling effort to obtain the oil deposit.

Current engineering technology cannot contain gas that is pressurized to 100,000 psi.

By some geologists' estimates the methane could be a massive 15 to 20 mile toxic and explosive bubble trapped for eons under the Gulf sea floor. In their opinion, the explosive destruction of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead was an accident just waiting to happen.

Yet the disaster that followed the loss of the rig pales by comparison to the apocalyptic disaster that may come.

A cascading catastrophe

According to worried geologists, the first signs that the methane may burst its way through the bottom of the ocean would be fissures or cracks appearing on the ocean floor near the damaged well head.

Evidence of fissures opening up on the seabed have been captured by the robotic submersibles working to repair and contain the ruptured well. Smaller, independent plumes have also appeared outside the nearby radius of the bore hole itself.

According to some geological experts, BP's operations set into motion a series of events that may be irreversible.


$7-a-gallon gas?

President Obama has a solution to the Gulf oil spill: $7-a-gallon gas.

That's a Harvard University study's estimate of the per-gallon price of the president's global-warming agenda. And Obama made clear this week that this agenda is a part of his plan for addressing the Gulf mess.

So what does global-warming legislation have to do with the oil spill?

Good question, because such measures wouldn't do a thing to clean up the oil or fix the problems that led to the leak.

The answer can be found in Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's now-famous words, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste -- and what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before."

That sure was true of global-warming policy, and especially the cap-and-trade bill. Many observers thought the measure, introduced last year in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), was dead: The American people didn't seem to think that the so-called global-warming crisis justified a price-hiking, job-killing, economy-crushing redesign of our energy supply amid a fragile recovery. Passing another major piece of legislation, one every bit as unpopular as ObamaCare, appeared unlikely in an election year.

So Obama and congressional proponents of cap-and-trade spent several months rebranding it -- downplaying the global-warming rationale and claiming that it was really a jobs bill (the so-called green jobs were supposed to spring from the new clean-energy economy) and an energy-independence bill (that will somehow stick it to OPEC).

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) even reportedly declined to introduce their new cap-and-trade proposal in the Senate on Earth Day, because they wanted to de-emphasize the global-warming message. Instead, Kerry called the American Power Act "a plan that creates jobs and sets us on a course toward energy independence and economic resurgence."


Debtors Prisons Return

You committed no crime, but an officer is knocking on your door. More Minnesotans are surprised to find themselves being locked up over debts.

By CHRIS SERRES and GLENN HOWATT , Star Tribune staff writers

Last update: June 9, 2010 - 7:58 AM

As a sheriff's deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer's purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother.

No one had an answer. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense -- missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt. "They have no right to do this to me," said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. "Not for a stupid credit card."

It's not a crime to owe money, and debtors' prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals. Consumer attorneys say such arrests are increasing in many states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, driven by a bad economy, high consumer debt and a growing industry that buys bad debts and employs every means available to collect.

Whether a debtor is locked up depends largely on where the person lives, because enforcement is inconsistent from state to state, and even county to county.

In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man "to indefinite incarceration" until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.


Robert Gates Has Finally Lost It

Iran could fire 'hundreds' of missiles at Europe: Gates

(AFP) – 22 hours ago

WASHINGTON — US intelligence has shown Iran could launch an attack against Europe with "scores or hundreds" of missiles, prompting major changes to US missile defenses, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said on Thursday.

President Barack Obama in September cited a mounting danger from Iran's arsenal of short and medium-range missiles when he announced an overhaul of US missile defense plans.

The new program, called the "phased adaptive approach," uses sea and land-based interceptors to protect NATO allies in the region, instead of mainly larger weapons designed to counter long-range missiles.

"One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array was the realization that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn't be just one or two missiles or a handful," Gates told a senate hearing.

"It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles."

Top US generals have said the new anti-missile system was meant to guard against a potential salvo of missiles from states such as Iran or North Korea.

Gates made the comment when asked by Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss if he supported deploying improved missile defenses, including plans for an upgraded SM-3 missile by 2020, even if Russia objected.

Gates said he backed the 10-year plan, despite possible resistance from Moscow, saying the new missile defenses "would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities and our allies in Europe."

Gates, along with other top deputies in the Obama administration, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to argue for ratification of a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, trying to reassure Republican lawmakers the agreement posed no threat to the missile defense program.


BP and the Pentagon's Dirty Little Secret

Tom Engelhardt & Nick Turse

June 17, 2010

It couldn’t be worse, could it? In the Gulf, BP now claims to be retrieving 15,000 barrels of oil a day from the busted pipe 5,000 feet down. That’s three times the total amount of oil it claimed, bare weeks ago, was coming out of that pipe. A government panel of experts now suggests that the real figure could be up to 60,000 barrels or 2.5 million gallons a day, the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill every four days -- and some independent experts think the figure could actually be closer to 100,000 barrels a day.

In the meantime, we just learned from the Los Angeles Times that -- go figure -- the "primary responsibility for safety and other inspections" on the oil rig that blew in the Gulf "rested not with the U.S. government but with the Republic of the Marshall Islands," and that those impoverished islands had outsourced their responsibilities to private companies. Go BP! We also learned that the relief wells sure to staunch the flow of oil by "early August" could take far longer, fail, or even make matters significantly worse; that BP cut every corner in the book to save money when drilling its well; and, oh, that evidently even the heavens are angry at the oil giant, since on Tuesday a lightning strike put its sole drill/retrieval ship in the Gulf out of action for hours, leaving all that oil pouring into the water unimpeded. However bad the bad news is, each new dawn it only seems to get worse, as does the "collateral damage," whether to pelicans or the Gulf's beaches and wetlands.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, that war equivalent of BP’s Gulf disaster, things are similarly trending downward at a startling pace as the news from there grows ever grimmer. The model American offensive in the southern town of Marja, declared a "success" in early May, has faltered badly and has been labeled by Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal a "bleeding ulcer"; the "government in a box" that he claimed the U.S. would merrily roll out after U.S. and Afghan troops decisively shoved the Taliban aside, is still in absentia, and the Taliban remain all too present; Afghan President Hamid Karzai now openly indicates that he thinks the Americans can’t win in his country and he’s planning accordingly; the much ballyhooed American "offensive" in Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar, has once again been delayed; corruption increases; American and NATO death tolls grow worse by the month as support for the war in the U.S. sinks; the "collateral damage" only increases; and this week, in a piece in the New York Times, we were told things are so bad that a serious drawdown of forces in 2011 is considered unlikely. Go figure (again)!

And oh, the heavens are evidently not so happy with our Afghan operations either, since Centcom commander General David Petraeus fainted while under what one commentator called "withering" questioning about drawdown schedules for U.S. troops in a Senate hearing room Tuesday.

To make matters more complicated, as Nick Turse, TomDispatch regular and author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, points out, America’s two distant disasters are not only out of control and seemingly unstaunchable, but more intimately connected than we might imagine. The American disaster in Afghanistan runs, in significant part, on BP-produced fuel, and government payments for that fuel are bolstering BP while it lives through its purgatory in the Gulf.

In addition, lest the American people learn the absolute worst, BP, evidently working hand-in-hand with the government, has put great effort into avoiding unnecessarily ugly photos, potentially negative stories, and unwanted information from the Gulf, by adopting methods of news control pioneered by the Pentagon in Iraq and Afghanistan. These include the "embedding" of reporters with government minders on public beaches, in the water, and in the air. It has even evidently become the norm in the Gulf now for officials to speak of reporters covering the scene as "media embeds." In this way do our disparate disasters merge in corporate and government hands.


Meet the Israeli Intelligence Services That ‘Protect’ Panama

The SPI gets trained to shoot Arabs. Photo by the Presidencia

Who is this security firm that Martinelli hired?

by Eric Jackson

Since an alleged plot to kidnap him that was said to involve at least one member of the SPI presidential guard, President Martinelli has been watched over by Israelis as well as Panamanians and has announced the hiring of an Israeli firm to train Panama's elite bodyguards and national security apparatus. There have been a number of published reports that this involves current or former members of Israel's external spy and assassination agency, the Mossad. It's an emotional allegation, given that when the Mossad last had a relationship with the Panamanian government, through its former Latin America station chief Mike Harari, its job with the Noriega regime was to conduct a bloody purge of suspected disloyal elements within the Panama Defense Forces and to organize a thuggish "anti-terrorism" unit that abducted and killed a couple of non-combatant US citizens during the 1989 invasion.

It seems, however, that this time the suspicion falls upon the wrong Israeli paramilitary organization. The Martinelli administration identifies the Israeli company it hired as MLM Protection Ltd. Israel's leading newspaper, Ha'aretz, identifies the company as a 2003 creation of Sharon Botzer and Ofer Bar, former officers with the VIP protection service of Israel's "internal" security police, the Shin Bet. (Quotation marks are used around "internal" because Shin Bet's beat includes the occupied Palestinian territories, where it has frequently been accused of torture and assassination techniques.)

So is MLM Protection Ltd a private company, or a front for the Israeli government? Given the nature of Israel's mixed economy and especially the workings of its arms and security industries, this would not be an easy question to answer. Formally private, the company is advertised on the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL) website. In that ad the company boasts of "broad expertise and operational experience accumulated within the framework of the Israel General Security Service (Israeli Secret Service)." The company offers consulting, training, security guards, technology and equipment to potential clients.

MLM Protection is not in the news a lot, but back in 2008 it was mentioned in relation to business dealings with a company called ML1 - International Trading Company, Ltd. It seems that in a stint between government jobs, and then later when he was a member of the Knesset, far-right Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman was on the payroll of ML1, which on the books is owned by his 20-something daughter. He was making an average of more than $25,000 per month from M.L.1 while out of office, but what goods or services the company actually produced or sold was a mystery. The payments to Avigdor Lieberman continued after he took his parliamentary seat, and that's a problem under Israeli law because members of the Knesset are not supposed to hold other employment. The police began investigating and the payments that Lieberman received were characterized as "severance pay" --- for three years of work, spread out over two years. 

In the investigation it was revealed that one of the companies with which ML1 did business was MLM Protection --- for what was never made entirely clear, but it appeared to be for security services to Lieberman's racist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Depending on the details of the transaction, that could be another scandal, Lieberman's private profiteering from a political party that he controls.

The police recommended that Avigdor Lieberman be prosecuted for fraud and money laundering, but by that time Israel was in another political crisis, about to go to war in Gaza and headed for new elections, so the matter was put on the back burner for political expediency. It's still lingering out there, and could be all the more explosive because Lieberman's now the Israeli foreign minister --- with whom, it should be presumed, Ricardo Martinelli has public and possibly private dealings.

Avigdor Lieberman, Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela. Photo by the Presidencia


Wikileaks Soldier Reveals Orders for "360 Rotational Fire" Against Civilians in Iraq

For OpEdNews: Ralph Lopez - Writer
Still breaking as there is no MSM reportage so far. Please Facebook/crosspost

Ethan McCord, one of the soldiers seen in the now-famous Wikileaks video in which two American Apache helicopters fire upon a relaxed, unhurried gaggle of men in Baghdad, has stated in an interview with World Socialist Website that he witnessed numerous times the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in Iraq after IED attacks. McCord is on of the soldiers seen helping two wounded children after the attack. He has stepped forward with open opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and written a letter of apology for his part in the incident to the mother of the children, who has accepted his apology. The mother's husband was killed in the attack and found with his body shielding that of one of his children.

McCord said to reporter Bill Van Auken:
"we had a pretty gung-ho commander, who decided that because we were getting hit by IEDs a lot, there would be a new battalion SOP [standard operating procedure].He goes, "If someone in your line gets hit with an IED, 360 rotational fire. You kill every motherf*cker on the street." Myself and Josh and a lot of other soldiers were just sitting there looking at each other like, "Are you kidding me? You want us to kill women and children on the street?" And you couldn't just disobey orders to shoot, because they could just make your life hell in Iraq. So like with myself, I would shoot up into the roof of a building instead of down on the ground toward civilians. But I've seen it many times, where people are just walking down the street and an IED goes off and the troops open fire and kill them."
The deliberate killing of civilians is a war crime (Nanking 1937, Hankow 1938, German Invasion of Poland 1939.) McCord is one of a growing number of soldiers and support groups who have renounced their actions in Iraq. He said:

"I was the gung-ho soldier. I thought I was going over there to do the greater good. I thought my job over there was to protect the Iraqi people and that this was a job with honor and courage and duty.

I was hit by an IED within two weeks of my being in Iraq. And I didn't understand why people were throwing rocks at us, why I was being shot at and why we're being blown up, when I have it in my head that I was here to help these people."
McCord says the scenes captured in the Wikileaks video are "an every-day occurrence in Iraq."
McCord says that when he found the two children wounded in the van, another soldier began to vomit and ran off. Then he recounts:
"That's when I saw the boy move with what appeared to be a labored breath. So I stated screaming, "The boy's alive." I grabbed him and cradled him in my arms and kept telling him, "Don't die, don't die." He opened his eyes, looked up at me. I told him, "It's OK, I have you." His eyes rolled back into his head, and I kept telling him, "It's OK, I've got you." I ran up to the Bradley and placed him inside. My platoon leader was standing there at the time, and he yelled at me for doing what I did. He told me to "stop worrying about these motherfucking kids and start worrying about pulling security." So after that I went up and pulled security on a rooftop.
McCord says about his mental state afterwards:
"I went to see a staff sergeant who was in my chain of command and told him I needed to see mental health about what was going on in my head. He told me to "quit being a pussy" and to "suck it up and be a soldier." He told me that if I wanted to go to mental health, there would be repercussions, one of them being labeled a "malingerer," which is actually a crime in the US Army."
McCord says the greater story is being overlooked, and that rather than blame individual soldiers, the Army itself should be examined, and its system of training soldiers.
"Instead of people being upset at a few soldiers in a video who were doing what they were trained to do, I think people need to be more upset at the system that trained these soldiers. They are doing exactly what the Army wants them to do."
McCord echoes Major General Smedley D. Butler, the double Medal of Honor winner who resigned his commission and in 1935 became a critic of the nations wars, traveling the country with his book and famous speech "War is a Racket." McCord said in the interview:
"I am not part of any party. Was I hopeful? Yes. Was I surprised that we are still there? No. I'm not surprised at all. There's something else lying underneath there. It's not Republican or Democrat; it's money. There's something else lying underneath it where Republicans and Democrats together want to keep us in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns

Jun 18, 10:24 AM (ET)


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - It is an overlooked danger in the oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.

The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.

"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said.

Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery. That's exactly what BP has done as it has captured more than 7.5 million gallons of crude from the breached well.

A BP spokesman said the company was burning about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the source of the leak, adding up to about 450 million cubic feet since the containment effort started 15 days ago. That's enough gas to heat about 450,000 homes for four days.

But that figure does not account for gas that eluded containment efforts and wound up in the water, leaving behind huge amounts of methane. Scientists are still trying to measure how much has escaped into the water and how it may damage the Gulf and it creatures.

The dangerous gas has played an important role throughout the disaster and response. A bubble of methane is believed to have burst up from the seafloor and ignited the rig explosion. Methane crystals also clogged a four-story containment box that engineers earlier tried to place on top of the breached well.

Now it is being looked at as an environmental concern.

The small microbes that live in the sea have been feeding on the oil and natural gas in the water and are consuming larger quantities of oxygen, which they need to digest food. As they draw more oxygen from the water, it creates two problems. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the breakdown of oil grinds to a halt; and as it is depleted in the water, most life can't be sustained.

The National Science Foundation funded research on methane in the Gulf amid concerns about the depths of the oil plume and questions what role natural gas was playing in keeping the oil below the surface, said David Garrison, a program director in the federal agency who specializes in biological oceanography.

"This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know," Garrison said. "It's a complex problem."

BP CEO Tony Hayward on Thursday told Congress members that he was "so devastated with this accident,""deeply sorry" and "so distraught."

But he also testified that he was out of the loop on decisions at the well and disclaimed knowledge of any of the myriad problems on and under the Deepwater Horizon rig before the deadly explosion. BP was leasing the rig the Deepwater Horizon that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the environmental disaster.

"BP blew it," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the House investigations panel that held the hearing. "You cut corners to save money and time."

In early June, a research team led by Samantha Joye of the Institute of Undersea Research and Technology at the University of Georgia investigated a 15-mile-long plume drifting southwest from the leak site. They said they found methane concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than normal, and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent or more.

The scientists found that some parts of the plume had oxygen concentrations just shy of the level that tips ocean waters into the category of "dead zone" - a region uninhabitable to fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine creatures.

Kessler has encountered similar findings. Since he began his on-site research on Saturday, he said he has already found oxygen depletions of between 2 percent and 30 percent in waters 1,000 feet deep.


Time for world to confront Israel: Gilad Atzmon

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Gilad Atzmon Interviewed by Shabana Syed:  “I come from them, and I know how they think.”

Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon

According to the famous Israeli-born Jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon, “The ideology that carried out execution-style killings on the Gaza aid flotilla the ‘Mavi Marmara’ is the same ideology that carried out the massacres at Deir Yassin, Qibya, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana, Gaza, Jenin and the murder of Rachel Corrie — more than that it is the same ideology that killed Christ.” He continues: “there is no biological, racial or ethnic continuum between the ancient Israelites and the contemporary Israelis. The attack on the aid convoy is a continuum of the same ideology that killed Christ. Christ’s killing is a symbol of a brutal assault against goodness, in the same way the attack on the aid convoy was against humanity and compassion.” Speaking to Arab News after the deadly attack on the aid Flotilla where 9 peace activists were shot dead and around 50 injured Atzmon was scathing against Israel’s actions and demanded that it should be stripped of its UN membership.

Atzmon is a former Israeli soldier who now lives in London. He is not only a renowned author and writer but also a famous award-winning jazz musician. Described as a musical genius he has recorded with the likes of Robbie Williams, Sinead O Connor, Robert Wyatt, Paul McCartney, Tunisian singer Dhaffer Youssef and countless others.

With a strong presence on and off stage and a disarming smile, Atzmon has a huge following not only for his music but for being a unique thinker and philosopher.

Admired for his fearless stance against oppression, he is also at the forefront of a taboo discourse that many will not venture into out of fear of being branded anti-Semite; and that is the discourse on the Jewish identity, Zionism and Israel.

Because of this stance, he has been branded a “Jew self-hater.” Atzmon smiles: “in fact I correct them ‘I am not only a self-hater but a proud self-hater.’”

The accusations do not deter him as he is quite vocal about the self-hatred he feels for the Israeli part of him.

He argues: “We are dealing here with a morbid collective that sets itself against humanity.” He believes the reason why he is at the forefront of this discourse is because he is more able than others to understand Israeli mentality because, “I come from them, and I know how they think.”

He himself has studied for many years the issue of the Jewish identity, and in his talks is often found quoting philosophers like the Austrian Otto Weininger, Kant, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Lacan, Marx as well as Eastern philosophers.

He explains: “Israel has violated all international laws, it has never been held accountable for the countless massacres.” However, he argues the latest massacre of peace activists on the aid flotilla with the emerging forensic reports which suggest Israeli execution-style killings of the 9 peace activists has resulted in shock horror around the world.

“The remarkable fact is they don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others.”


Ashkenazi Racism Against Sephardi Jews Alive And Well

100,000 Ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest school integration

Around 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews on Thursday rallied in Jerusalem, police said, in a show of mass defiance over a school integration ruling by Israel's highest court.

The streets were flooded with men in trademark black, wide-brimmed hats and lined with police as the rally stretched several blocks and paralysed traffic in and around the heart of the Holy City.

A similar protest in Bnei Brak near the seaside city of Tel Aviv earlier drew about 20,000 people, according to police.

Thousands of police were put on high alert on Thursday for the ultra-Orthodox protests over a supreme court ruling to jail a group of parents of European origin, or Ashkenazis, for refusing to send their daughters to a school with Jewish girls whose families originate from Arab countries, known as Sephardis.

Although the ruling effectively pits the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazis against the Sephardis, the two communities came together for a mass protest against what they see as the intolerable intervention of the secular state in their religious affairs.

In Jerusalem, protesters massed in a celebratory atmosphere near the western entrance to the city, the vast majority of men wearing the traditional black suits and hats of the ultra-Orthodox.

As the defiant parents arrived to address the throng, the fathers, dressed in their holiday finery, were swept up onto the shoulders of supporters as the crowd broke into spontaneous dancing.

Some held banners proclaiming "The Torah Rules!" referring to the supremacy of biblical law over the secular justice system.

Others carried placards reading "The Prisoners of Immanuel are representatives of Israel," in reference to the defiant parents, all of whom come from the Jewish settlement of Immanuel in the occupied West Bank.

The parents and ultra-Orthodox leaders addressed the crowd from a makeshift stage made out of two lorries straddling a road.

The parents, who represent more than 40 families, were to begin a two-week jail sentence for contempt of court after their detention was delayed from midday until the evening to allow the protests to play out peacefully.

Later on Thursday, two busses with the fathers on board arrived at Maasiyahu prison in the central Israeli city of Ramle. About two dozen protesters sang and danced as the prison gates shut behind the vehicles.

Israel media said police were searching for 22 of the mothers who had failed to respond to the court summons.

The incident began when the supreme court intervened in a dispute at an ultra-Orthodox school in Immanuel settlement, where parents from the strictly observant Slonim Hassidic sect of Ashkenazi Jewry refused to let their girls go to school with girls of Sephardi descent.

The court had given the parents until Wednesday to send their children back to school or face jail for contempt of court. The parents refused.

The dispute was described by the liberal Haaretz daily as "the most dramatic state-religion clash to break out here," and the protests were the largest ultra-Orthodox demonstration seen in the city in a decade.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed for calm, and President Shimon Peres earlier met deputy education minister Meir Porush, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi party United Torah Judaism (UTJ), in an unsuccessful bid to reach a compromise.

The Slonim parents say their objections are not racist but are based on differences in religious observance between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions.



And here's the original from CNN

BP: All Political Recipients (Guess Who's #1?)

Among Federal Candidates, 1989-2010

Total: $3,533,398
Source of Funds:
Individuals PACs
Party Split:
Dems   Repubs

Name Total Contributions
Obama, Barack (D-Ill) $77,051
Young, Don (R-Alaska) $73,300
Stevens, Ted (R-Alaska) $53,200
Bush, George W (R-Texas) $47,388
McCain, John (R-Ariz) $44,899
Voinovich, George V (R-Ohio) $41,400
DeWine, Mike (R-Ohio) $37,550
Dingell, John D (D-Mich) $31,000
Landrieu, Mary L (D-La) $28,200
Barton, Joe (R-Texas) $27,350
Coats, Daniel R (R-Ind) $25,000
Martin, Lynn (R-Ill) $24,450
Murkowski, Frank H (R-Alaska) $24,000
Gramm, Phil (R-Texas) $23,800
Nickles, Don (R-Okla) $23,750
Inhofe, James M (R-Okla) $22,300
McConnell, Mitch (R-Ky) $22,000
Hastert, Dennis (R-Ill) $21,100
Culberson, John (R-Texas) $20,950
Domenici, Pete V (R-NM) $20,800
McCrery, Jim (R-La) $19,799
Bush, George (R-Texas) $19,500
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-Texas) $19,500
Thomas, Craig (R-Wyo) $19,450
Murkowski, Lisa (R-Alaska) $19,300
Bond, Christopher "Kit" (R-Mo) $19,200
Lincoln, Blanche (D-Ark) $19,000
Tauzin, Billy (R-La) $18,500
Oxley, Michael G (R-Ohio) $18,100
Campbell, Ben Nighthorse (R-Colo) $18,050
Breaux, John (D-La) $18,000
Lott, Trent (R-Miss) $18,000
Rangel, Charles B (D-NY) $18,000
Conrad, Kent (D-ND) $16,500
Craig, Larry (R-Idaho) $16,500
Burns, Conrad (R-Mont) $16,000
Hoyer, Steny H (D-Md) $16,000
Lugar, Richard G (R-Ind) $15,250
Boehner, John (R-Ohio) $15,200
Hall, Ralph M (R-Texas) $14,500
Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) $14,000
Boschwitz, Rudy (R-Minn) $14,000
Dole, Bob (R-Kan) $14,000
Shelby, Richard C (R-Ala) $14,000
Warner, John W (R-Va) $13,750
Conway, Jack (D-Ky) $13,600
Cubin, Barbara (R-Wyo) $13,500
DeLay, Tom (R-Texas) $13,100
Upton, Fred (R-Mich) $13,100
Blunt, Roy (R-Mo) $12,500
Heflin, Howell (D-Ala) $12,500
Johnston, J Bennett (D-La) $12,250
Brownback, Sam (R-Kan) $12,000
Dooley, Cal (D-Calif) $12,000
John, Chris (D-La) $12,000
Fields, Jack M Jr (R-Texas) $11,750
Laughlin, Greg (R-Texas) $11,550
Coverdell, Paul (R-Ga) $11,500
Allard, Wayne (R-Colo) $11,250
Brown, Hank (R-Colo) $11,000
Enzi, Mike (R-Wyo) $11,000
Pombo, Richard W (R-Calif) $11,000
Saiki, Patricia Fukuda (R-Hawaii) $11,000
Smith, Gordon H (R-Ore) $11,000
Ensign, John (R-Nev) $10,900
Abraham, Spencer (R-Mich) $10,500
Clyburn, James E (D-SC) $10,500
Edwards, Chet (D-Texas) $10,500
Schuette, Bill (R-Mich) $10,500
Sessions, Pete (R-Texas) $10,400
Didrickson, Loleta (R-Ill) $10,250
Gillmor, Paul E (R-Ohio) $10,200
Brown, Sherrod (D-Ohio) $10,050
Grams, Rod (R-Minn) $10,000
Helms, Jesse (R-NC) $10,000
Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $10,000
Tauscher, Ellen (D-Calif) $10,000
Tanner, John (D-Tenn) $9,800
Chambliss, Saxby (R-Ga) $9,600
Chandler, Rod (R-Wash) $9,600
Visclosky, Pete (D-Ind) $9,550
Hatfield, Mark O (R-Ore) $9,500
Kerry, John (D-Mass) $9,500
Kyl, Jon (R-Ariz) $9,500
Ortiz, Solomon P (D-Texas) $9,500
Simpson, Alan K (R-Wyo) $9,500
Specter, Arlen (R-Pa) $9,500
Wilson, Heather A (R-NM) $9,500
Allen, George (R-Va) $9,250
Spratt, John M Jr (D-SC) $9,250
Stenholm, Charles W (D-Texas) $9,250
Williamson, Richard S (R-Ill) $9,250
Ashcroft, John (R-Mo) $9,000
Bayh, Evan (D-Ind) $9,000
Bennett, Robert F (R-Utah) $9,000
Biggert, Judy (R-Ill) $9,000
Cleland, Max (D-Ga) $9,000
Fitzgerald, Peter G (R-Ill) $9,000
Gorton, Slade (R-Wash) $9,000
Kustra, Robert W (R-Ill) $9,000


Imaging, Spy-Cams and Drones: The New Hi Tech Homeland Security State

by Tom Burghardt

As "gee-whiz" high-tech wonders seamlessly morph into "your papers, please!," more often than not in "new normal" America science and technological innovation are little more than deranged handmaids serving corporate crime and political power.

In the interest of "keeping us safe," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a spiffy new surveillance cam "that puts others to shame," CNET breezily reported last week.

The Imaging System for Immersive Surveillance (ISIS) is a hemispherical group of cameras roughly the size of a basketball that, if one believes giddy accolades by enthusiasts touting the system, will lovingly wrap us in a "high-res video quilt," a DHS press release gushes.

The ultra-wide camera undergoing field-tests since December at Boston's Logan International Airport, streams distortion free, real-time stitched video and has a resolution capacity of approximately 100 megapixels which our guardians say is "as detailed as 50 full-HDTV movies playing at once, with optical detail to spare. You can zoom in close...and closer...without losing clarity."

But with an abundance of acronyms, and a decided lack of imagination from a gaggle of secret state agencies, one shouldn't confuse Homeland Security's ISIS with one incubating beneath the dark wings of the Pentagon's "blue sky" office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

That program, Integrated Sensor Is Structure, also known as ISIS, is being shepherded along by Lockheed Martin, America's No. 1 defense corp. DARPA's ISIS promises to build an autonomous airship powered by solar fuel cells for American warfighters, one capable of staying aloft for a decade above 70,000 feet, well out of the way of an adversary's surface to air missiles.

According to the description on the Strategic Technology Office's web site, their ISIS "will develop the technologies that enable extremely large lightweight phased-array radar antennas to be integrated into an airship platform." This would enable ground commanders "to track the most advanced cruise missiles at 600 km and dismounted enemy combatants at 300 km."

Pentagon gurus and the corporations they so lovingly serve, recently awarded Lockheed Martin and subcontracting Raytheon Corporation, a $400 million dollar contract for Phase III work on the radar system, Defense Systems reported in April. DARPAcrats claim the high-flying airship will provide "theatre-wide, persistent area surveillance and tracking capabilities" to America's Borg Army of resource grabbers.

And with The New York Times reporting June 14 that the "United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself," it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that sometime soon the corrupt Karzai regime, the Taliban, their ISI paymasters and their American overlords will cozy up and play "let's make a deal"!

Nor should either project be confused with the failed "secure border" scheme known as the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System or ISIS (there it is again!) or its successor, America's Shield Initiative. No, that corporatist boondoggle which cost taxpayers some $439 million between 1997 and 2006, eventually morphed into the equally useless Secure Border Initiative or SBInet.

Fully in keeping with the tenor of the times, to wit, that government should get "out of the way" and let business work its magic, DHS's own Inspector General described the troubled history of the project in critical testimony to Congress. The IG criticized lax practices that led the Department to allow the contractors, led by Boeing Corporation, decide what the system would look like and what technology would be used to build it.

Needless to say, that didn't work out well! Just this week Washington Technology reported that Boeing "could see its lucrative, but troubled Secure Border Initiative contract scaled back as Homeland Security Department officials consider stopping future construction of the 'virtual-fence' security systems along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Like predecessor ISIS, the $800 million program has suffered from delays, technical glitches and "changes" in direction. In March, Home Sec Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the program was "being re-evaluated as part of an ongoing reassessment." No matter, with cash in hand Boeing, and a string of disappointed subcontractors, can afford to "move on."

But I digress...

No dear readers, the Heimat Security project I'm describing is close to earth, perhaps only a few feet above the congested street where you trod, oblivious to the legion of minders busily stripping you of your rights; above all, the right to be left alone. Ah, but there's the rub. Why should any of Oceania's proud citizens have anything to fear? After all, only evil-doers have something to hide, don't they? Why wouldn't you leap with joy at the prospect of being enwrapped in a vid-quilt cocoon lovingly designed by America's finest minds?

"Traditional surveillance cameras can be of great assistance to law enforcement officers for a range of scenarios," DHS flacks croon. "Canvassing a crowd for criminal activity during a Fourth of July celebration, searching for who left a suitcase bomb beneath a bench, or trying to pick out a terrorist who has fled the scene and blended into a teeming throng in the subway."

Who'd oppose that?

But why stop there? Surely there are other applications for the privacy-killing gizmo. Where did that political malcontent go after handing out "subversive" leaflets at the mall? And that flash mob of miscreants protesting an oil firm's board meeting or, heavens forbid!, bum-rushing grifting merchants of death at an industry trade show; where'd they scram to? Multitasking is the name of the game and DHS has got it covered!

A joint project of the Science and Technology Directorate's Infrastructure and Geophysical Division, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, ISIS was built with off-the-shelf cameras, image processors and readily-available commercial software. No need to reinvent the wheel here in these tough economic times!

The innocent-looking array points in all directions and captured images are "stitched" together, creating a creepy "god's eye" view that allow CCTV operators to easily track people back and forth through the HD "quilt" files without losing a single suspect, I mean American, as they pass from one field to the next.

"Other neat tricks" enthusiasts effervesce, "will be provided by a suite of software applications called video analytics. One app can define a sacrosanct 'exclusion zone,' for which ISIS provides an alert the moment it's breached. Another lets the operator pick a target--a person, a package, or a pickup truck--and the detailed viewing window will tag it and follow it, automatically panning and tilting as needed." (emphasis in original)

We're told that "video analytics at high resolution across a 360-degree field of view, coupled with the ability to follow objects against a cluttered background, will provide"--wait!--"enhanced situational awareness as an incident unfolds."

"We've seen that terrorists are determined to do us harm," Dr. John Fortune, the I&G's head honcho told contractors lining up to get a slice of the vid-quilt pie. "ISIS is a great example of one way we can improve our security by leveraging our strengths."

And should things, pardon the pun, pan out, "ISIS creators already have their eyes on a new and improved second generation model, complete with custom sensors and video boards, longer range cameras, higher resolution, a more efficient video format."

"Eventually," we're told, "the Department plans to develop a version of ISIS that will use infrared cameras to detect events that occur at night."