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sad sally

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Terminator Planet: A Drone-Eat-Drone World

With Its “Roadmap” in Tatters, The Pentagon Detours to Terminator Planet
by Nick Turse

U.S. military documents tell the story vividly. In the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, an unmanned mini-submarine deployed from the USS Freedom detects an “anomaly”: another small remotely-operated sub with welding capabilities tampering with a major undersea oil pipeline. The American submarine’s “smart software” classifies the action as a possible threat and transmits the information to an unmanned drone flying overhead. The robot plane begins collecting intelligence data and is soon circling over a nearby vessel, a possible mother ship, suspected of being involved with the “remote welder.”

At a hush-hush “joint maritime operations center” onshore, analysts pour over digital images captured by the unmanned sub and, according to a Pentagon report, recognize the welding robot “as one recently stolen and acquired by rebel antigovernment forces.” An elite quick-reaction force is assembled at a nearby airfield and dispatched to the scene, while a second unmanned drone is deployed to provide persistent surveillance of the area of operations.

And with that, the drone war is on.


n some ways, of course, the future is now. When the first Terminator movie was released in 1984, its HKs seemed as futuristic as its time-traveling cyborg title-character. Nearly three decades later, we’re living in an age in which armed robots do regularly surveil, track, and kill people. But instead of a self-aware computer network known as Skynet, it’s the American president or his intelligence officials and military officers who determine the human targets to be terminated by unmanned hunter-killer craft.


Study Suggests Yemen Strikes Are Radicalizing Population

May 30, 2012, 2:05 pm ET by Azmat Khan

The escalating campaign of U.S. air strikes targeting suspected Al Qaeda militants in Yemen — where most of the organization’s significant, known terror plots in the last few years have originated – has brought ”a marked radicalization of the local population” and is “driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States,” according to a new study reported in The Washington Post today. (View our interactive map of the strikes and plots in Yemen over the last decade.)

The study was based on more than 20 interviews with “tribal leaders, victims’ relatives, human rights activists and officials from four provinces in southern Yemen,” who said civilians had also died in the U.S. strikes.

In last night’s report, Al Qaeda in Yemen, correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad went deep inside the country’s radical heartland to investigate Al Qaeda’s rapid rise in southern Yemen, and its efforts to win over the local population. In the clip above, he observes how in dangerous areas like the Shabwa region, surviving or being killed in a U.S. strike is seen as a badge of honor. In the city of Aden, Abdul-Ahad also saw how thousands of Yemenis have been displaced by army shelling, aerial bombardment, drones and Yemeni army fighter jets.

Critics are concerned that the ramped-up U.S. strikes in Yemen — which have killed top Al Qaeda targets including USS Cole suspect Fahd al-Quso and American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, but have also killed civilians — are in fact strengthening Al Qaeda.


Human Rights Report and Targeted Killings

Today—eighty-nine days past its legal deadline—the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. The new, user-friendly interface allows you to find and read individual country chapters much more quickly and easily (and might explain the delay). For all its flaws, the report remains a must-read for its reporting and candor. It serves as a generally honest counter to the rosier assessments of U.S. partners and allies’ human rights practices.

From my vantage point of trying to understand the Obama administration’s policies and practices of target killings, the report is also notable for what it does not include; namely, any mention of U.S. involvement in or responsibility for such operations.

The chapter on Yemen, for instance, has an entire section dedicated to “killings:”
The government also employed air strikes against AQAP and affiliated insurgents in Abyan, with some strikes hitting civilian areas. Although some accused the government of intentionally striking civilians in Abyan, most if not all noncombatant casualties from these bombardments were attributed to a lack of air force training and technical capability.
But the most remarkable and hypocritical aspect of U.S. unwillingness to acknowledge its role in civilians killed during counterterrorism operations, is that it reports other air strikes with collateral damage. The chapter on Somalia, for example, contains this finding:

On October 30, a Kenyan military airstrike in the town of Jilib, Middle Juba, reportedly hit an IDP camp. According to Doctors Without Borders, its clinic received five dead and 45 wounded, mostly women and children, from the incident. The Kenyan military spokesperson dismissed reports of civilian casualties and instead claimed the aerial bombs had hit al-Shabaab targets who used the IDPs as human shields.


AP IMPACT: Almost half of new vets seek disability

Source: Associated Press

America's newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.

What's more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.

It's unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims — the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/ap-impact-almost-half-vets-seek-disability-160656481.html

Has the FBI Launched a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Movement?

AlterNet / By Arun Gupta - Is the government unleashing the same methods of entrapment against OWS that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans? May 24, 2012 |

With the high-profile arrest of activists on terrorism charges in Cleveland on May Day and in Chicago during the NATO summit there, evidence is mounting that the FBI is unleashing the same methods of entrapment against the Occupy Wall Street movement that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans for the last decade.

In Cleveland the FBI announced on May 1 that “five self-proclaimed anarchists conspired to develop multiple terror plots designed to negatively impact the greater Cleveland metropolitan area.” The FBI claimed the five were nabbed as they attempted to blow up a bridge the night before using “inoperable” explosives supplied to them by an undercover FBI employee.

Then on May 19, the day before thousands marched peacefully in Chicago to protest NATO-led wars, the Illinois State Attorney hit three men with charges of terrorism for allegedly plotting to use “destructive devices” against targets ranging from Chicago police stations to the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Defense attorneys for the Chicago activists claim their clients, like the Cleveland activists, were provided with supplies for making Molotov cocktails by undercover agents in an operation that included the participation of the FBI and Secret Service. This was followed up on May 20 by the arrest of two other men on terrorism charges in Chicago for statements they made, which critics say amount to thought crimes. The Chicago cases are also reportedly the first time the state of Illinois is charging individuals under its post-September 11 terrorism law.


In the case of the five Chicago activists who have been swept up on terrorism charges, defense attorneys charge that two police informants nicknamed “Mo” and “Gloves” were the masterminds. In the post-9/11 era the FBI has up to 60,000 informants and spies around the United States, according to an expose by Mother Jones. The FBI cut its teeth as a repressive police force during the Red Scare after World War 1, raiding homes and deporting thousands of legal foreign-born radicals in the labor, anarchist and socialist movements. After World War II, the FBI destroyed thousands of lives and decimated the left during the McCarthy Era. The FBI famously spied on Martin Luther King, Jr., during the 1960s and at one point thousands of agents were devoted to disrupting and sabotaging the anti-Vietnam War, student and black liberation movements.


The fact that the FBI sprang cases during the biggest Occupy events this year – May Day and NATO – indicates it has the Occupy movement in its sights. They are hardly the only ones. Reams of federal government documents secured by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal widespread government surveillance and information gathering on the movement ranging from the Department of Homeland Security to the Pentagon. The public interest legal organization asserts that the documents regarding Occupy Wall Street “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with 'anti-terrorism' funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement."

the full article is at: http://www.alternet.org/rights/155581/has_the_fbi_launched_a_war_of_entrapment_against_the_occupy_movement?page=entire

Is is okay for the administration to leak classified material to the Osama bin Laden film makers

but criminally charge whistleblowers who expose corrupt and illegal classified material? It's good the release of the film has been moved to after the election, but still seems kind of wrong.

from the Salon article:

As part of a court order in the Judicial Watch lawsuit, the Obama administration yesterday disclosed dozens of emails from the DoD and the CIA documenting that, as NBC News put it, “the Obama administration leaked classified information to filmmakers on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.” Politico‘s Josh Gerstein added: “Just weeks after Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency officials warned publicly of the dangers posed by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, top officials at both agencies and at the White House granted Hollywood filmmakers unusual access to those involved in planning the raid and some of the methods they used to do it.”

The internal administration documents — which pointedly note that the film has a “release date set for 4th Qtr 2012 (Sep-Dec)” — reveal enthusiastic cooperation with the filmmakers by top-level DoD officials, including Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, all done at the direction of the White House. The very first DoD email indicates the request to work with the filmmakers came from the White House. Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta is deemed “very interested in supporting” the film. The documents also reveal a meeting between the filmmakers and Obama’s chief counter-Terrorism adviser John Brennan and National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, at which the two White House officials shared information about “command and control.” The DoD officials meeting with the filmmakers were given the White House talking points from the night of the raid, which including hailing the President’s actions as “gutsy” and stressing the heavy involvement of the White House in the raid.

In a meeting with Bigelow and Boal, Defense Undersecretary Vickers promised that, from Vickers, “you are going to get a little bit of operational stuff,” but the bulk of operational details would have to come from “Secretary Gates, Adm. Mullen, Hoss Cartwright.” At that meeting, they even plotted how to get the filmmakers classified information without appearing to do so. Here is the CIA’s transcript of that part of the discussion (MV is Undersecretary Vickers; MB is Boal; KB is Bigelow):


How to Forget on Memorial Day - Whistling Past the Graveyard of Empires

By Tom Engelhardt

It’s the saddest reading around: the little announcements that dribble out of the Pentagon every day or two -- those terse, relatively uninformative death notices: rank; name; age; small town, suburb, or second-level city of origin; means of death (“small arms fire,” “improvised explosive device,” “the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform,” or sometimes something vaguer like “while conducting combat operations,” “supporting Operation Enduring Freedom,” or simply no explanation at all); and the unit the dead soldier belonged to. They are seldom 100 words, even with the usual opening line: “The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.” Sometimes they include more than one death.

They are essentially bureaucratic notices designed to draw little attention to themselves. Yet cumulatively, in their hundreds over the last decade, they represent a grim archive of America’s still ongoing, already largely forgotten second Afghan War, and I’ve read them obsessively for years.

Into the Memory Hole

May is the official month of remembrance when it comes to our war dead, ending as it does on the long Memorial Day weekend when Americans typically take to the road and kill themselves and each other in far greater numbers than will die in Afghanistan. It’s a weekend for which the police tend to predict rising fatalities and news reports tend to celebrate any declines in deaths on our roads and highways.

Quiz Americans and a surprising number undoubtedly won’t have thought about the “memorial” in Memorial Day at all -- especially now that it’s largely a marker of the start of summer and an excuse for cookouts.


Add to this all the forgotten Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni and who knows how many other innocent people killed during this decade plus of US wars on their countries.

New York wants to ban anonymous speech online

Published: 23 May, 2012 - Reuters/Mike Segar

Lawmakers in New York State are proposing a new legislation that involves the Web, and no, it’s not SOPA-esque or another CISPA-like spy-bill. Politicians in the Empire State want to outlaw anonymous speech on the Internet.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte says that the legislation he co-sponsors, Bill no. S06779, would cut down on “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

Mean-spirited? Baseless? In other words, Mr. Conte is one of a handful of elected officials in New York wanting to make the Internet a more attractive place by ensuring that people looking to speak their mind aren’t afforded that right unless they want their personal identity exposed to the world.
The bill was proposed back in March and is described as “an act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting a person's right to know who is behind an anonymous internet posting.”

According to the proposed legislation, the administrator of any website hosted in New York State shall, upon request, remove comments that were “posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agreed to attach his or her name to the post and confirm that his or her IP address, legal name and home address are accurate.” Additionally, the bill calls for all website administrators to have their own contact information “clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted” to allow for irked readers to demand censorship.


On the War Path: The Nearly $1 Trillion National Security Budget

do you feel more secure now?

Published on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by TomDispatch.com - by Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the U.S. defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.

Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion -- a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5% cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the U.S. spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Quiet Drama in Philadelphia

Published on Sunday, May 20, 2012 by Common Dreams
by Ellen Brown

“You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised. . . .
The revolution will be live.”

--From the 1970 hit song by Gil Scott-Heron

Last week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced that it expects to close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of experienced, qualified teachers.

But corporate media in other cities made no mention of these massive school closings -- nor of those in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York City. Even in the Philadelphia media, the voices of the parents, students and teachers who will suffer were omitted from most accounts.

It’s all about balancing the budgets of cities that have lost revenues from the economic downturn. Supposedly, there is simply no money for the luxury of providing an education for the people.

Where will those children find an education? Where will the teachers find work? Almost certainly in an explosion of private sector “charter schools,” where the quality of education -- from the curriculum to books to the food served at lunch -- will be sacrificed to the lowest bidder, and teachers’ salaries and benefits will be sacrificed to the profits of the new private owners, who will also eat up many millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.

Why does there always seem to be enough money for military expansion, prisons, bank bailouts and tax cuts for the wealthy, but not enough for education—or for jobs, housing, healthcare, or old age pensions? These are not “welfare” but are part of the social contract for which we pay taxes and make social security payments.


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