Old news perhaps, but as we listen to reports of Syrian defector "Caesar" and his 55,000 photographs (whose provenance may, or may not, be questionable), let's pause to remember a previous defector: "Curveball." When Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi was seeking political asylum in Germany in 1999, he claimed that he had overseen the construction of a mobile biological laboratory in Iraq, a testimony that was later used in 2003 by Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State, at the UN Security Council to help make the case for the invasion of Iraq.
Later, however, "Curveball" admitted that it was all a lie; when the BBC said to him, "we went to war in Iraq on a lie, and that lie was your lie" his reply was "Yes."
On the claimed systematic torture and execution of 11,000 detainees by the Syrian government, conveniently 'evidenced' by a report (funded by Qatar) on graphic photographs (from where?) delivered by a certain photographer code-named "Caesar" (who "was apparently happy to take photos of dead bodies for years before releasing them to be made public just 24 hours before the start of Geneva II"), Paul Joseph Watson writes with characteristic clarity.
Another MUST READ: Richard Lloyd (former UN Weapons Inspector) and Theodore A. Postol (Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have produced a persuasive study challenging Washington's accusations that Syrian government forces carried out chemical weapon attacks in August 2013. In a nutshell, the distances between the Syrian government-controlled areas and the targets in East Ghouta exceed the range of the delivery rockets...
If passed, the recently introduced Trade Priorities Act (in the US) would enable Obama to "fast-track" a number of global trade accords, including the controversial TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and TAFTA (the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement).
Often dubbed "NAFTA on steroids!", and as "corporatist power grabs", these accords, which purport to be all about "free trade" across large areas of the globe, have been heavily criticised for their secrecy, and for the undue power they are likely to give to corporations over nation states. As Washington's Blog puts it, the TPP:
"will increase the cost of borrowing, make prescription drugs more expensive, destroy privacy, harm food safety, and – yes - literally act to destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and the other nations which sign the bill."
The RT piece concurs, reporting the words of Fight For The Future, that the TPP is poised to:
“restrict, police and censor the Internet, stifling free speech and innovation; radically decrease access to affordable medicine; circumvent protections for workers and the environment; expand economic inequality; prevent corporations from properly labeling genetically modified food.”
On the day of JFK's funeral (25 November 1963), Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach sent a memo to Bill Moyers (then presidential assistant to Lyndon B. Johnson), calling for a campaign of action to satisfy the public that Oswald was the lone assassin, and that the evidence for this conclusion was compelling, well before the truth of the matter could possibly have been known.
"The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."
"We need something to head off public speculation or Congressional hearings of the wrong sort."
Seymour Hersh: "Whose Sarin?", London Review of Books, 19 December 2013.
A MUST READ - Seymour Hersh dismantles Washington's bogus case for an attack on Syria. Obama "omitted important intelligence" and "presented assuptions as facts." A key omission was this: US Intelligence had assessed that the al-Qaeda-connected al-Nusra Front was capable of producing significant amounts of sarin.
In his Christmas column, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts celebrates the historic role of Christianity in the West in empowering the individual and protecting citizens from tyranny through the rule of law and the right to free speech. These achievements, he insists, "all flow from the teaching that God so values the individual’s soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice." But, laments Roberts, much of this achievement is being undone as "political correctness" and "the war on terror" combine to destabilise the worldview foundations upon which our civilisation rests... and thus... "Tyranny has re-emerged."
A US federal court has just struck down the NSA's bulk metadata spying program. Quotations from the Memorandum Opinion [external PDF]:
"The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature."
"There is no indication that these revelations were immediately useful or that they prevented an impending attack."
"I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism."
"The Fourth Amendment typically requires "a neutral and detached authority be interposed between the police and the public," and it is offended by "general warrants" and laws that allow searches to be conducted "indiscriminately and without regard to their connection with [a] crime under investigation." "
"I cannot imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion" than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on "that degree of privacy" that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware "the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power," would be aghast."
Kevin Ryan, who was fired from his job as Site Manager at Underwriters Laboratories for publicly challenging the US Government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy, comments on The Wall Street Journal's recent coverage of the arrest of Terry Lee Loewen. That a Wichita avionics specialist, described by his neighbours as "normal", and by his ex-wife as "peaceful" and "easy-going" and as a man who "didn’t like confrontation", should convert to jihadist Islam (about six months ago) and then spend all his free time preparing to be a "lone wolf" suicide bomber for the sake of "Muslim brothers and sisters" whom he had never met, and apparently without the knowledge of his family, Kevin Ryan finds pretty difficult to believe. He concludes:
"If we can learn anything from the incident it is that the next terrorist could be anybody—you, your father, your neighbor—anyone at all.
And there won’t necessarily be any signs other than what the FBI provides about internet activity."
Madison Ruppert: "British MPs highlight Christianity as 'the most persecuted religion globally' ", EndTheLie.com, 05 December 2013.
During a three-hour debate in The House of Commons on Wednesday, UK Members of Parliament heard that every eleven minutes, somewhere in the world, a Christian is being killed. According to Christian Today, MP Stephen Pound remarked that it is "beyond doubt … [that] Christians are the most persecuted single group in the world today on grounds of religion", and MP Jim Shannon, that the persecution of Christians around the globe is "the biggest story in the world that has never been told." Shannon added that, this year alone, 200 million Christians will be targets for persecution, and that 500 million live in "dangerous neighbourhoods."
Kevin Ryan, who was fired from his job as Site Manager at Underwriters Laboratories for publicly challenging the US Government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy, takes issue with recent comments made by MIT professor Noam Chomsky at the University of Florida. In response to Chomsky's claims - for instance, that only "a miniscule number of architects and engineers" are sceptical about the official account of WTC7's fall, and that "a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious" - Kevin Ryan points up example after example the ways in which Chomsky, the celebrated public intellectual, seems to be ignoring the evidence and belittling those who question 9/11.
In this fascinating video - a little under three minutes in length - we see footage of JFK's Secret Service agents apparently being instructed to abandon the president's car prior to the assassination. Particularly striking is the reaction of the agent on the right: his behaviour seems to indicate that he simply cannot understand what's going on.
Hot off the press! Conspiracy theorists working at the highest levels of the US Government say they believe President John F. Kennedy was shot as the result of a conspiracy. In an amazing admission of tin-foil-hat wearing hysteria, they state:
"The Committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." *
Not content with this level of irrationality, the committee also concludes:
"The committee conducted a three-pronged investigation of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. On the basis of extensive scientific analysis and an analysis of the testimony of Dealey Plaza witnesses, the committee found there was a high probability that two gunmen fired at President Kennedy." *
What next? While it's a relief that the Committee didn't go down the route of blaming the Secret Service, FBI or CIA - each one a favourite target for conspiracy theorist paranoia - one cannot help wonder what they'll come out with next! Perhaps their second gunman will turn our to be Buddy Holly! Or the Yeti on a sightseeing trip from the Himalayas! Only time will tell.
According to Soeren Kern, the European Parliament is considering a proposal that could lead to EU citizens being surveilled for being "intolerant." The proposal, drafted by the Paris-based NGO 'European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation', calls for governments, groups and individuals to be "tolerant", where "tolerance" means something as vague as "respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group." According to Section 7, even acts such as "holding to ridicule" a group, or persons belonging to a group, shall be "regarded as criminal offences punishable as aggravated crimes." And Sections 8 and 9 call for governments to introduce measures to ensure that their entire education systems and media conform to such politically-correct standards.
But, as European Dignity Watch warns, if this were implemented, it could lead to the downward-spiralling disappearance of our fundamental right to feedom of expression as "individuals and groups... censor themselves, afraid that they might be prosecuted for expressing their own personal moral views."
Jonathan Turley, a top US expert on constitutional law and legal theory, writes with great concern about how easily the UK authorities have slipped into categorising David Miranda's carrying of documents from Edward Snowden as "fall[ing] within the definition of terrorism." The West is on a "slippery slope", he writes; "[U]nder this definition, the Pentagon Papers could be treated as the same act as the 9-11 bombings."
At a moment like this, let's pause to recall the often-quoted words of Pastor Martin Niemöller; but let's have them in the German this time...
For questioning the Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), Rick Gonzalez now has to put up with being shunned by members of his family. A photograph on the blog says it all: his eighty-year-old father will no longer sit at the same table to eat with him and his four-year-old grandson because "the organization says so."
"He feels he has to suffer through this intuitively wrong act to be loyal to what he thinks is "God’s organization" ", explains Gonzalez, but this shunning doctrine is affecting the whole family, and even damaging innocent children who have "no dog in the fight."
A US 'War on Terror' drone targets and kills a 67-year-old midwife and grandmother of nine while she tends her garden in Waziristan. Her daughter, whose three children were also injured in the October 2012 attack, would really rather like to know why. Did she pose a threat to the US?
Dr. Roberts warns that 2014 may well be the year in which the US economy - mishandled by a "neoconized and corrupted Washington" - takes a nosedive into economic emergency measures. Most likely, in order to keep afloat the destined-to-sink US economy, the working and middle classes will be plundered - not the 1% whose assets are secured offshore - leading to a break-down of social cohesion.
Then, says Dr. Roberts, the US people will "know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition... has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks. If you think the 'terrorist threat' in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America."