* U.S. TROOPS QUIETLY SURGE INTO THE MIDDLE EAST
By David S. Cloud, SFGate
Washington — The Pentagon has quietly shifted combat troops and warships to the Middle East after the top American commander in the region warned that he needed additional forces to deal with Iran and other potential threats, U.S. officials said.
Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who heads U.S. Central Command, won White House approval for the deployments late last year after talks with the government in Baghdad broke down over keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, but the extent of the Pentagon moves is only now becoming clear.
Officials said the deployments are not meant to suggest a buildup to war, but rather are intended as a quick-reaction and contingency force in case a military crisis erupts in the standoff with Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons program. […]
* HERDING AMERICANS TO WAR WITH IRAN
By Robert Parry, Consortium News
For many Americans the progression toward war with Iran has the feel of cattle being herded from the stockyard into the slaughterhouse, pressed steadily forward with no turning back, until some guy shoots a bolt into your head.
Any suggestion of give-and-take negotiations with Iran is mocked, while alarmist propaganda, a ratcheting up of sanctions, and provocative actions – like Wednesday’s assassination of yet another Iranian scientist – push Americans closer to what seems like an inevitable bloodletting.
Even the New York Times now acknowledges that Israel, with some help from the United States, appears to be conducting a covert war of sabotage and assassination inside Iran. “The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on Wednesday when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour,” Times reporter Scott Shane wrote in Thursday’s editions.
Though U.S. officials emphatically denied any role in the murder, Israeli officials did little to discourage rumors of an Israeli hand in the bombing. Some even expressed approval. Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said he didn’t know who killed the scientist but added: “I am definitely not shedding a tear.”
The latest victim, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was the fifth scientist associated with Iran’s nuclear program to be killed in the past four years, with a sixth scientist narrowly escaping death in 2010, Fereydoon Abbasi, who is now head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. […]
* LIBYA AND GADDAFI (VIDEO)
* HOW TO START A WAR: THE AMERICANS USE OF WAR PRETEXT INCIDENTS
By Richard Sanders, Global Research
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott, Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 17
Pretext n. [Latin praetextum, pp. of praetextere, to weave before, pretend, disguise; prae-, before + texere, to weave], a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one; excuse.
Stratagem [Gr. Strategema, device or act of a general; stratos, army + agein, to lead], a trick, scheme or device used for deceiving an enemy in war.
Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going to war is a major first step in constructing public support for such deadly ventures. Perhaps the most common pretext for war is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. Such attacks, however, are often fabricated, incited or deliberately allowed to occur. They are then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers and build mass support for military “retaliation.”
Like schoolyard bullies who shout ‘He hit me first!’, war planners know that it is irrelevant whether the opponent really did ‘throw the first punch.’ As long as it can be made to appear that the attack was unprovoked, the bully receives license to ‘respond’ with force. Bullies and war planners are experts at taunting, teasing and threatening their opponents. If the enemy cannot be goaded into ‘firing the first shot,’ it is easy enough to lie about what happened. Sometimes, that is sufficient to rationalize a schoolyard beating or a genocidal war.
Such trickery has probably been employed by every military power throughout history. During the Roman empire, the causes of war — cassus belli — were often invented to conceal the real reasons for war. Over the millennia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent.
Pretext incidents, in themselves, are not sufficient to spark wars. Rumors and allegations about the tragic events must first spread throughout the target population. Constant repetition of the official version of what happened, spawns dramatic narratives that are lodged into public consciousness. The stories become accepted without question and legends are fostered. The corporate media is central to the success of such ‘psychological operations.’ Politicians rally people around the flag, lending their special oratory skills to the call for a military “response.” Demands for “retaliation” then ring out across the land, war hysteria mounts and, finally, a war is born.
Every time the US has gone to war, pretext incidents have been used. Upon later examination, the conventional perception of these events is always challenged and eventually exposed as untrue. Historians, investigative journalists and many others, have cited eyewitness accounts, declassified documents and statements made by the perpetrators themselves to demonstrate that the provocative incidents were used as stratagems to stage-manage the march to war.
Here are a few particularly blatant examples of this phenomenon. […]
* OBAMA’S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF JACK LEW A ‘UNION-BUSTER’
By Matthew Boyle, The Daily Caller
News broke last week that Obama had deployed the Coast Guard to protect grain ships from longshoremen union members and occupiers in Washington State, but now a more politically perilous anti-union revelation is surfacing: his new chief of staff has led at least one effort to bust a labor union. And Lew succeeded in destroying it.
Lew worked for President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, first as an assistant to the president before moving to the Office of Management and Budget. Lew quickly rose through the ranks at OMB to become its director for the last few years of Clinton’s presidency.
Lew also worked for the Obama administration in various roles and became Obama’s OMB director, before the president named him as the replacement for Bill Daley as White House chief of staff. […]
* WHY MAYOR EMANUEL’S PROPOSED ANTI-PROTESTER ORDINANCE IS EVERYONE’S CONCERN
By Andy Thayer, Chicago Independent Media Center
Even if you have no plans to protest against the G8 & NATO summits in Chicago this May, if you want to oppose a school closing, a greedy employer or a clinic shut-down, your rights are in the cross-hairs.
Over the past few weeks Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pulled a classic Chicago bait-and-switch.
Last month, while introducing draconian amendments to sections of the Chicago code and a wholesale rewrite of the parade permit ordinance, he in effect said, “Don’t worry, this is just for those ‘bad people’ coming to Chicago to disrupt the G8 and NATO summits. This won’t affect the good people of Chicago. Go back to sleep.”
But then came the classic switch: when the actual language of the proposed legislation was produced, there were no sunset clauses in most of the proposed “temporary” measures.
A “mistake,” said Rahm.
“He lied,” I said at a Tuesday press conference. […]
Aside from the penalties for violations, the new ordinance would also impose a host of new requirements on demonstration organizers, most of which would be difficult if not impossible to fulfill. This sets the stage for – you guessed it – piling on of more fines:
* Virtually every street protest in the downtown would be designated a “large parade” requiring $1 million liability insurance and for organizers to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or to city property arising out of or caused by the parade”;
* Large parade or not, organizers would be required to provide the city with “a description of any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade” at least a week in advance of the march;
* Every contingent in the march and the order in which they would appear would have to be registered at least a week in advance with the City;
* Demonstration organizers would be required to have one marshal for every 100 participants; and,
* Under a wholly new section of the municipal code (10-8-334), even gatherings on sidewalks, with no presence in the streets, would now be subject to demands that they get permits, giving the City extraordinary latitude to dictate what union and other pickets occur or get shut down by police action. Conceivably, each General Assembly meeting of Occupy Chicago would require a separate City permit, each with its $50 application fee, weeks’ long application process, etc. […]
That’s where you come in:
1. Contact the aldermen on the committees responsible for the new legislation — the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation (overseeing the new parade permit and public gatherings ordinances, 10-8-330 and 10-8-334) and the Committee on Budget and Government Operations (overseeing the provisions for no-bid contracts, deputizing “law enforcement,” and the proposed revisions to the resisting arrest ordinance). And whether or not your alderman is on either committee, contact him or her.
Share your concerns with them about why Emanuel’s proposed legislation is not the kind of retreat to a more repressive city that you would like.
2. Attend the Tuesday, January 17th committee meetings of the City Council that will be hear the proposed ordinance changes:
a) 10 AM, Jan. 17 at 121 N. LaSalle Street, 2nd floor City Council chambers — meeting of the Committee on Budget and Government Operations
b) 1 PM, Jan. 17 at 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 201A — meeting of the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation and,
3. Attend the Wednesday, January 18th City Council meeting which is scheduled to vote on Emanuel’s ordinances — meeting starts at 10 AM, but in order to get in the City Council Chambers, we suggest getting there at 8 AM or earlier — 2nd floor of 121 N. LaSalle Street. […]
* WHY CONSERVATIVES CAN’T DO JOURNALISM
Source: Media Matters For America
Another year, another concerted effort by conservative leaders to play catch-up with liberals and to finally launch effective media and messaging tools online. They can keep trying, but until conservatives change their behavior, their goals will remain elusive and their established trend of failure will continue indefinitely.
The news this week came in the form of a Politico article announcing the launch an outpost called Center for American Freedom, which will house a conservative news outlet called the Washington Free Beacon. Its founders are touting the launch as an effort to match the impressive gains progressives have made at places like Center for American Progress, the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo. The founders are also candid about how their side has been getting lapped by progressives for years in this arena.
The reason remains simple: Partisan conservatives have routinely shown they have neither an interest in genuine journalism, nor the skills to practice it. Conversely, progressives over the last decade have put in the hard work, held themselves to professional standards of conduct, and have reaped the rewards. So it’s no surprise that year after year conservatives moan that progressives have built a new media infrastructure and are outclassing them, especially online. […]
* NEW JAMES O’KEEFE HOAX VIDEO PURPORTS TO DETAIL FRAUDULENT CASES OF ‘VOTER FRAUD’ IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
By Brad Friedman, TheBradBlog
Long ago discredited, federally convicted criminal, Rightwing con-artist, pretend journalist, and accomplished liar James O’Keefe is pimping another secretly-taped and selectively-edited video sure to be a sensation on Fox “News” and at other Republican propaganda venues. It purports to show several voters showing up at polling places during New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday and giving the names of recently deceased voters to poll workers before procuring ballots to vote under those names.
The video, about which O’Keefe lies on his own website, is certain to add more phony fuel to Republicans’ long-unsupported claims that people are regularly impersonating dead people at the polling place in order to vote illegally, an allegation which has absolutely no evidence to support it. The aim of the video is clearly is to shore up GOP attempts to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, meant to do little more than disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as the elderly, minorities and student voters, under the fraudulent guise of curbing “voter fraud.”
As New Hampshire does not require a Photo ID before one is allowed to cast a legal vote, O’Keefe uses the video to try and create the impression that voting under the name of a recently deceased person is both simple and regularly done. It isn’t. But that’s his scam this week. […]
FAKE SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A NON-EXISTENT PROBLEM
The videos are meant to buttress the Republican push to implement polling place Photo ID restriction laws in states across the county, in the name of curbing massive “voter fraud” (only by Democrats, apparently, because in last week’s GOP Iowa Caucuses, where Republicans set all of their own rules, they chose not to require photo ID of their own voters, even of those registering and voting for the first time on the same day).
By Republicans’ own evidence, polling place impersonation by voters — the only crime that could theoretically be prevented by such laws — is exceedingly rare, if it even occurs at all. For example, from October 2002 to September 2005, using unprecedented resources to ferret out “voter fraud,” the George W. Bush administration’s own Dept. of Justice found “scant evidence” of the supposed criminal epidemic. In all, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast across the nation during that period, the DoJ successfully convicted just 23 people for “voter fraud.” None of them were for polling place voter impersonation.
While there is almost no evidence that polling place voter fraud occurs, where it does, it is usually a case of election fraud, not voter fraud — cased where election insiders, who would not be deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions, carry out the crimes, as in the infamous example of ballot box stuffing that is said to have occurred in Chicago in 1960. […]
READ and VIDEO @ http://www.bradblog.com/?p=9059
* CONTEMPT, THY NAME IS FITZGERALD
By Brian @ Badger Blue, Times Two
This blog entry is dedicated to Lori Compas and her Recall Fitz team. Lori single-handedly created a truly grassroots effort to recall State Senator Scott Fitzgerald from Wisconsin’s 13th Senate District. She did so on her own, without the backing or machinery of any of the large political organizations until the very end. Lori embodies the warrior spirit I wrote about in “Not your average liberal,” and speaks truth to power. Due to my work schedule (cops4labor sometimes has to be just “cop”) and being spread incredibly thin among various efforts, I was not able to join the canvass in the 13th District, but I have a tremendous amount of admiration for Lori and her team. This post is for them.
I was there in the committee room on the evening of March 9, 2011, the night a partial Wisconsin Senate rammed through the bill killing collective bargaining for public employees. Not in the hallway. Not in the gallery. In the room. I was standing ten feet from Fitzgerald, on the other side of the table at which he was seated. Don’t ask me how or why, it is a long story for a different day. What matters is that I was THAT close. Close enough to observe him, evaluate his body language, and hear his words without amplification. For those who don’t work with me, I and my coworkers make our living in part by watching and evaluating people to determine their credibility and truthfulness. It is a skill that comes unconsciously to police officers.
That night I watched in utter horror as Scott Fitzgerald ran the sword through the belly of Wisconsin democracy. With Fitzgerald at the helm, he and his Republican cohorts steamrolled, at breakneck speed, what should have been a deliberative, transparent, and reflective process. I bore witness as the rule of law disintegrated in this man’s grasp.
I watched him ignore another warrior in this fight, Representative Peter Barca, as Barca asked those pesky and annoying questions such as “what exactly is in this bill we are voting on?” (Fitzgerald himself said “changes” had been made, and Barca clearly had not been given the opportunity to READ IT before voting). Or another obnoxious question of “why are we violating the open meetings law and not providing proper notice,” while Barca clutched a copy of the REPUBLICAN Attorney General’s opinion on the issue. When I say Scott Fitzgerald ignored Barca, I mean that he literally spoke over him as if he wasn’t even in the room. In Fitzgerald’s world, there is no room for dissent, and the rule of law can be broken at will to further an agenda. However, in my world, ignoring a colleague, and dismissing his very presence as a human being, is disrespectful beyond words.
As this unfolded in front of me, I looked in Scott Fitzgerald’s eyes. What I saw was pure, unmitigated contempt. It was so apparent that it almost dripped off of him. He couldn’t begin to hide it, and I seriously doubt he even knows how. […]
* FITZGERALD RECALL ORGANIZER LORI COMPAS MAKES A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT (VIDEO)
Lori Compas the organizer of the Fitzgearald Recall had a press conference announcing they had more than enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election.
* WISCONSIN RISING: GRASSROOTS DOCUMENTARY FILM FOLLOWS THE PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT IN MADISON FROM REVOLT TO RECALLS
By Sarah Jaffe, AlterNet
|Just under a year ago, Republican governor Scott Walker was sworn in in Wisconsin. One of his first moves was to push for a bill that would strip state and local employees of their right to bargain collectively, which would have effectively ended their union protections.But Wisconsinites fought back, and a working people’s movement sprang up in Madison that quickly spread across the state and the country. Sam Mayfield, a video journalist from Vermont, was dispatched to cover the growing protests in Madison for The Uptake, and decided to stay and turn her work into a full-length feature documentary, Wisconsin Rising.
“The thing that moves me about this story is that when teachers and nurses and firefighters, the people who sustain our communities, tell us that they are not being treated fairly and they are thinking about not going to work tomorrow, we have no other choice but to listen to them,” Mayfield said. She’s using the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to finish post-production on the film, and she took a few minutes to talk to AlterNet about the project, and why she’s committed to grassroots funding and distribution. […]