* HEADING FOR WAR ON SYRIA
By Stephen Lendman
Washington’s longstanding policy is regime change in Iran and Syria. At issue is replacing independent regimes with client ones and securing unchallenged control of valued Middle East resources.
On February 4, Russia and China vetoed a largely one-sided anti-Assad resolution. A previous article called him more victim than villain. Yet he’s falsely blamed for months of externally generated violence.
In fact, he confronted a Western-backed armed insurgency replicating the Libya model. By so doing he acted responsibly against a heavily armed insurrection. […]
* SYRIA VOTE : US ‘APPROPRIATED’ UN POWER – VIDEO
While officials in Washington tirelessly admonish Russia and China for blocking another resolution on Syria, Rick Rozoff of the Stop NATO group tells RT that the UN has been hijacked by the US and NATO.
On Saturday, the United Nations voted on a resolution on Syria, drafted by Morocco. In the end of the day, the document was vetoed by Moscow and Beijing. This move provoked a wave of anger from the West, with most harsh rhetoric heard from the US; American Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Washington was “disgusted” by the veto, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote a “travesty.”
But Rozoff says the US is going overboard in its pursuit for international democracy.
“The very name of the international community has been appropriated by the US and its NATO allies – now including the Arab world,” Rozoff told RT.
Syrian opposition groups operate with complete impunity inside Turkey – which is a NATO member – with a green light from the Turkish government. Without arms and sponsorship from outside Syria, the opposition would never dare to take up arms against the Syrian army, Rozoff concludes.
Thus, Damascus is stripped of its natural right to protect itself from foreign assault.
“Were armed groups to invade the territory of the United States from Mexico or Canada, I can assure you Washington’s response would not be limited to a domestic one,” Rozoff said. […]
READ and VIDEOS @ http://rt.com/news/syria-us-vote-russia-547/
* US CLOSES EMBASSY IN SYRIA
|The US has closed down its embassy in Syria and pulled all of its employees out of the country, amid reports that the Syrian military is intensifying its assault on the central city of Homs.The UK also announced on Monday it would recall its ambassador to Syria for what it called consultations.
Activists and witnesses said the Syrian army had stepped up its attacks on opposition fighters in Homs, after a UN Security Council resolution, aimed at ending the bloodshed in the country, was blocked by Russia and China on Saturday.
Abu Abdo Alhomsy, an activist of a revolutionary council in Homs, described to Al Jazeera an attack on Monday on the city as live pictures showed smoke billowing into the sky.
“It is horrible right here,” Alhomsy said. “Rockets are falling. There are massive explosions that shook buildings. We don’t know really what to do. […]
* THE GROWING IRANIAN MILITARY BEHEMOTH
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
The tranquility of my Saturday morning was disrupted — and that’s putting it mildly — when I read on Glenn Reynolds’ popular right-wing “Instapundit” blog that we can learn important “Lessons About Iran From Hitler.” To know that we have yet another New Hitler in our midst is alarming indeed. Reynolds’ link takes one to an even more jarring warning about the Persian menace, by David Goldman, that extensively compares the fallen Nazi leader to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and argues that because both figures are maniacal monsters presiding over a dying nation, only a full-scale military attack can stop them. ”However much it costs in Iranian blood and well-being, it’s still worth it,” Goldman casually decrees.
Sociopathic calls for aggressive attacks on other nations and cheap invocations of Hitler are not worth commenting on: neocons churn those out reflexively. But what is worth noting is the event Goldman is flagging as proof of Iran’s aggressive intentions: “Iran is planning to double its defense budget even though its currency is collapsing,” he warns. A doubling of its defense budget! Who among us can remain calm in the face of such naked militarism?
That Ahmadinejad claims that Iran will increase its military budget for next year by 127% was widely reported this week. For a variety of reasons relating to Iran’s economic difficulties, that plan is quite infeasible — typical Ahmadinejad blustering — but let’s assume for the moment that it will actually happen. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database, Iran’s total annual military spending is $7 billion; an increase of 127% would take it to $15.8 billion — also known as: less than 2% of total U.S. military spending (which was $698 billion for fiscal year 2010). […]
* ANNIVERSARIES FROM “UNHISTORY”
By Noam Chomsky, Truthout
[…] Right now we are failing to commemorate an event of great human significance: the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s decision to launch the direct invasion of South Vietnam, soon to become the most extreme crime of aggression since World War II.
Kennedy ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb South Vietnam (by February 1962, hundreds of missions had flown); authorized chemical warfare to destroy food crops so as to starve the rebellious population into submission; and set in motion the programs that ultimately drove millions of villagers into urban slums and virtual concentration camps, or “Strategic Hamlets.” There the villagers would be “protected” from the indigenous guerrillas whom, as the administration knew, they were willingly supporting.
Official efforts at justifying the attacks were slim, and mostly fantasy. Typical was the president’s impassioned address to the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27, 1961, where he warned that “we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence.” At the United Nations on Sept. 25, 1961, Kennedy said that if this conspiracy achieved its ends in Laos and Vietnam, “the gates will be opened wide.” […]
* NATO, G8 IN CHICAGO: SECURITY GROUPS RAMPING UP IN PREPARATION FOR EXPECTED PROTESTS – VIDEO
Just more than three months out from the start of the concurrent NATO and G8 summits in Chicago, both private and public security are ramping up their training in preparation for what could be massive protests in the heart of the city’s downtown area.
Tony Grano of Controlled Force, a group that trains Marines, police and private security groups alike, explained to Fox Chicago what some of those preparations are likely entailing.
Grano told Fox that the protesters will “need to be handled with kid gloves, but there’s a job that still needs to be done, and that is to maintain order.” Grano explained that officers are being trained to take arrestees down to the ground to handcuff them and remove them from the scene — without the use of a weapon. […]
* MEET GOV. SCOTT WALKER’S NEW POLITICAL HIT WOMEN
The embattled Wisconsin governor hires two young Republicans who are veterans of no-holds-barred campaigns and propaganda efforts.
By Brendan Fischer, AlterNet
As Wisconsin’s recall elections approach, Republican Governor Scott Walker has enlisted an eyebrow-raising pair of well-connected, out-of-state political operators to sell his administration’s policies and promote his reelection. Of the two young women, one cut her teeth with Karl Rove and the other promoting anti-abortion causes and working with Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle.
Late last year, the governor’s office announced it had hired 28-year-old Jocelyn Webster to serve as communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). The department manages the state buildings where most of the anti-Walker protests have been held, and its duties include setting rules for protests. Webster started her career with Rove’s notorious Office of Political Affairs in the George W. Bush administration.
A congressional investigation of the activities of that office yielded allegations — including specific allegations against Webster – that Rove’s team was involved in partisan campaigning on the public dime, a claim also leveled at aides of her newest boss during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive.
As activists gathered signatures to recall the governor in late 2011, Walker also hired new campaign staff, including Ciara Matthews as campaign communication director. Matthews, a 20-something Nevada native, has worked as spokesperson for an anti-abortion group as well as Angle’s 2010 senate campaign, where she defended Angle’s racially tinged ads and banned reporters from a candidate event for asking questions without permission. […]
* AT LEAST WE KNOW WE’RE FREE (WELL SOMETIMES)
By Digby, Hullabaloo
[…] In a stunning break with First Amendment policy, House Republicans directed Capitol Hill police to detain a highly regarded documentary crew that was attempting to film a Wednesday hearing on a controversial natural gas procurement practice. Initial reports from sources suggested that an ABC News camera was also prevented from taping the hearing; ABC has since denied that they sent a crew to the hearing.
Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland” was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building. […]
* “GASLAND” DIRECTOR JOSH FOX ARRESTED AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON NATURAL GAS FRACKING – VIDEO
Source: Democracy Now!
The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox was handcuffed and arrested Wednesday as he attempted to film a Congressional hearing on the controversial natural gas drilling technique, known as fracking, which the Environmental Protection Agency recently reported caused water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming. Fox directed the award-winning film, “Gasland,” which documents the impact of fracking to communities across the United States, and is now working on a sequel. Fox says he was arrested after Republicans refused to allow him to film because he did not have the proper credentials. “We wanted to report on what happened [at the hearing]. I was not interested in disrupting. It was not a protest action,” says Fox. “I was simply trying to do my job as a journalist and go in there and show to the American people what was transpiring in that hearing, so that down the line — as we know there will be a lot of challenges mounted to that [Pavillion, Wyoming] EPA report, and frankly to the people in Pavillion who have been sticking up for themselves and demanding an investigation into the groundwater contamination — to make sure that people could view that in a larger forum than usually happens.” […]
* ‘GASLAND’ JOURNALIST ARRESTED AT FRACKING HEARING – VIDEO
* WHY THE AG’s MUST NOT SETTLE: ROBO-SIGNING IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
By Ellen Brown, OpEdNews
A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6 th ; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign.
A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6 th ; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign. California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle.
That is good. She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted. The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008. It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.
The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here. The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below. […]
* CYBERGATE: WAS THE WHITE HOUSE STOLEN BY CYBERFRAUD?
By Simon Worrall, Kindle Store
[…] I am on my way to see a woman called Heather Connell. She is the recently widowed wife of Michael Connell, a prodigiously gifted computer expert who worked for Karl Rove and both George Bush Sr. and Jr. A month earlier, his Piper Saratoga plane had crashed at Akron airport on the way back from a trip to Washington, DC, killing Connell instantly.
I am on assignment for the London Sunday Times Magazine to investigate not just Connell’s death: but allegations that he may have been involved in the theft by cyber fraud of the Ohio, 2004 election, which put George Bush, not John Kerry, into the White House. If true it would be a bigger crime against American democracy than Watergate: a premeditated plot to hack the vote of tens of thousands of voters, which altered the course of American, and world, history. At the centre of that alleged plot may be the man whose plane fell from the sky.
My own journey began in December 2008, when my partner sent me a link to a news story about Michael Connell’s plane crash. I am a storyteller by profession. And the story of Connell’s fiery death in a Piper Saratoga, not long after he had given a deposition in a lawsuit that implicated Karl Rove in the conspiracy, struck a chord.
Not just a political chord. A human one. The image of his distraught widow waiting for a plane that never arrived captured my imagination. Who was Michael Connell? How did he die? Was it an accident? Or had he been murdered to keep him from saying what he knew about the hacking of the Ohio 04 election: and possibly others?
Like most people outside the Beltway, I had never heard of Michael Connell. But it didn’t take me long to discover that his name was all over the Web long before his plane crashed. In several websites, he was openly referred to as Karl Rove’s “vote rigger.” A YouTube video I downloaded showed an internationally respected cyber security expert named Stephen Spoonamore describing, in forensic detail, how in the middle of election night in 2004, IP addresses from the Secretary of State’s office in Ohio were rerouted to a server farm located in the basement of a former bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee, allegedly controlled by Karl Rove.
My first reaction was skepticism. I have an innate belief in American democracy. Surely, I thought, this could not happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? In Burma or Iran, yes. But in the most open and democratic country in the world? It must be another crazy conspiracy theory by a bunch of tin foil hatters. Like Roswell. Or the theory that the moon landings were filmed on a sound stage in Hollywood. After all, if these right-wing cyber thieves were so good at stealing elections why hadn’t they fixed it so that McCain beat Obama in 2008?
But, despite my skepticism, something about Connell’s plane crash seemed suspicious. Connell was an experienced pilot, the weather was not especially bad, yet he had inexplicably lost his way on his approach to Akron airport and crashed. Is that what really happened? Or had the plane been sabotaged? Certainly, as Karl Rove’s trusted cyber lieutenant, Connell posed a potential threat to many powerful people. He had deep inside information about Karl Rove and the Bush family. If Connell really were the invisible hand behind the theft of the Ohio 2004 election, he would be the most important witness in any criminal case against Rove. […]
* WHY DID KARL ROVE AND HIS GOP THUGS TARGET DON SIEGELMAN IN ALABAMA?
By Legal Schnauzer
As we set sail on 2012, a year in which political news will be dominated by the build up toward a presidential election, the mind drifts back to events that led us to this peculiar moment in American history. Our first black president is seeking re-election–and should be a shoo-in, even though he has disappointed huge numbers of his progressive base. The Republican Party counters with perhaps the weakest field of candidates any major party ever has put forth.
Why so much disarray and disgust on both sides of the political fence in an election year? I would propose that it’s because the nation still has not recovered from eight years of the disastrous George W. Bush administration. Obama has been hamstrung for four years by the economic, financial, and international messes he inherited from Bush. Republicans cannot hammer too hard on the nation’s woes without coming awfully close to admitting that one of their own caused them.
Here in Alabama, all of this has me thinking about one of the great political mysteries of the past generation. It’s a mystery that began to unfold before Bush ever took office, but it did not gain national attention until Dubya and his acolytes were in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice. […]
* JPM BUYS GREECE FOR $2.
By Peter Tchir, TF Market Advisors
[…] What I find interesting, is that finally some Greek citizens and even minor politicians seem to be getting the joke that the “bailouts” aren’t for Greece, it is for the people that lent Greece money. I do not think a Greek default is an economic disaster (stocks would sell off, probably 5% or more over a week or two, but that is not an economic disaster). A Greek default would be good for Greece. Greece wouldn’t owe the money. We all know the old saying about if you borrow a little and can’t pay it back, you have a problem, but if you borrow a lot and can’t pay it back, the lender has a problem. The Greek case is even stronger – they have borrowed a lot, and can’t pay it back, but the lenders have almost no way to enforce even the limited rights they have. The longer the negotiations drag on, the more people in Greece that will finally figure this out. When everyone was scrambling from desperate “plan” to desperate “plan” no one seemed to spend the time thinking about what a default would mean. The “Default” card would be played any time actual critical thinking reared its ugly head and with some gnashing of the teeth and wringing of the hands, new plans would be created. Now, more and more sensible people seem to be reaching the same conclusion – default would not be end of the world (heck, not even the end of the banking system) and might provide the best framework for future growth. […]
* TENSIONS BUILDING, AS THE PIGS AT THE TROUGH START TO SQUEAL
By Greek Correspondence
This has been a period of relative calm since the New Year as negotiations over the PSI (private sector involvement) grind on. This is a phony war as no-one really understands the discussions and what is involved, and do not see why they are relevant to everyday life. This discussions are about a deal between some banks and other banks, and central banks, and hedge-funds, investors etc. If the Greek government gets as much a write off of the national debt as possible then all is OK. No one can blame ordinary Greeks if these negotiations go wrong. Rather, ordinary people can find someone else to blame for the predicament Greece finds itself in. It has to be said ordinary Greeks are generally very tired of having to take the blame on behalf of their country, even though they remain committed to defend it. These PSI discussions have basically bored people into thinking things are moving in the right direction without realising that crunch time is upon us again.
The next few weeks will decide whether Greece will default completely or not, and whether the EU remains intact in its current form. The Troika has demanded more austerity measures before advancing the next tranche of the bailout, but the three leaders of the main political parties here will not agree to them. What’s on the table? The Troika want the minimum wage dropped by 25%, the abolition of the 13th and 14th salaries in the private sector (don’t ask), and a further cull of government jobs. The point of contention for the three political leaders? Losing more government jobs. That this is the stumbling block provides a unique insight into the rotten political culture and cronyism of the Greek State. The political class has so far been happy to reduce pensions and increase taxes for those honest enough to declare them, so this their objections are not for economic, pro-growth, reasons. However they have been reluctant to chase down tax evaders and have proved very adept at avoiding cutting the overall public sector payroll. Why is this? For the same old reasons – bribery, corruption and clientism. […]
* EUROPE-DEVELOPMENT: MAPPING OUT THE EU’s HARMFUL PROJECTS
Dozens of European Union-funded projects across several countries are ‘environmentally or socially unsound’, according to a map created by a joint effort between CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe.
By Bari Bates, Global Issues
The map highlighted projects in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland and Slovakia, which have been found to be particularly damaging to local biodiversity, to the future possibility of sustainable efforts and to human communities.
Twelve of the 33 projects studied were found in the Czech Republic, the highest number of harmful projects in any country.
These included plans for an incinerator in the East, where air pollution levels are already among the highest in Europe, which would ‘undermine EU targets for a 50 percent recycling ratio,’ as well as undercut efforts to reduce municipal waste as a whole.
Other projects, including several expressways, would infringe on Natura 2000 sites – areas across Europe that have been deemed by the EU to be ‘valuable’ by virtue of their wildlife and protected species’ habitats. […]