My Common Sense Politics
This dramatic turn of events started with State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf claiming Monday that the State Department's certainty of Russian involvement in the apparent downing of the plane was primarily based on "social media" evidence.
That means with a likely budget of more than $100 billion, the US Intelligence Community is making decisions that may involve global nuclear war based on people's Tweets and YouTubes!
Asked in Monday's State Department briefing about US government evidence for its claims of Russian government involvement and separatist direct blame for the shooting down of the plane, Harf said:
You saw the Secretary yesterday speak very clearly about our assessment that this was an SA-11 fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory; that we know – we saw in social media afterwards, we saw videos, we saw photos of the pro-Russian separatists bragging about shooting down an aircraft.She added:
Based on open information which is basically common sense, right – we know where it was fired from, we know who has this weaponWho needs evidence — it's "common sense"! Right?
But then the Russian military command did an interesting thing. They held a press conference laying out the evidence they had, including information from air traffic controllers and satellites, and simply asked the US to do the same to prove its assertions of Russian complicity. They did not claim that the US-backed government in Kiev shot down the plane, they asked that government to explain why a jet fighter showed up on radar ascending rapidly toward the Malaysian plane shortly before it disappeared.
The Russians asked the US to share the intelligence upon which it based its claim that the Russians were directly or indirectly behind the attack on the passenger plane.
The State Department responded with its spokeswoman citing social media and secret information that could not be shared.
It was a near exact replay of similar US government claims about Syria's Assad using chemical weapons last year. That time, Secretary of State Kerry claimed dozens of times on television that "we know" Assad fired the chemicals into the village. Yet the US Intelligence Community refused to sign off on his claims and the Obama Administration was forced to release what it called a "Government Assessment" rather than the standard Intelligence Community consensus assessment.
Friday, July 25th, 2014
America today is the main sponsor of the Israeli regime and all its decades-old crimes against humanity. These crimes are once again on display in the most despicable and barbaric way. American citizens therefore have a heavy responsibility to bear. They must decide which side they are on: that of genocide or human rights.
US top diplomat John Kerry says a ceasefire deal in Gaza is close but there is still a way to go for one to be implemented.
What’s the hold-up? Men, women and children are being slaughtered in their hundreds. Hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, the wounded are being attacked against all norms of international law and morality.
The main Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, says that any truce must be the basis for further talks on the underlying issues of Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and by extension on other parts of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. That is inarguably reasonable and common sense.
But the Israeli regime doesn’t want to engage in discussions about the bigger issues. It says that a ceasefire should be negotiated first and then, at some unspecified later time, talks about underlying issues can be held. Of course, this seemingly two-part deal from the Israeli side is but a cruel, cynical joke. It will never talk to Hamas. Indeed, the Israeli regime will never seriously talk to any Palestinian faction about the wider issues. A ceasefire for them is just a punctuation mark in a long story of ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their historic homeland.
This is where the American government and the European allies are exposed as being on the side of the Israeli aggressor and genocidal regime. Apparent expressions of concern and huffing and puffing about “trying to pursue a ceasefire” are contemptible in the present abominable context.
There is a genocide going on. Simple as that. A genocide. It has been going on for the past 66 years with sporadic gear changes that accelerate and decelerate that genocide. The Western media talk disingenuously about the present Israeli military onslaught in Gaza as being the fourth major operation over the past seven years, when Hamas was elected as the government in that enclave and Tel Aviv began its collective punishment blockade on the 1.8 million civilians there. That blockade is a crime against humanity. Full stop.
Monday, July 21st, 2014
Within hours of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashing into a wheat field in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine last Thursday, Western governments and media have gradually stoked a frenzy of accusations that Moscow had a hand in the disaster.
In a devastating twist to emerge over the weekend it now seems that the Malaysian civilian airliner downed over Ukraine was most probably brought down as a result of sabotage by the US-backed Kiev regime.
The purpose of this audacious act of mass murder – in which 298 lives were lost – was carried out with the intention of framing the Russian government. Washington, the chief sponsor of the Kiev regime, must have known about the plot, if not being fully complicit in it.
The key to this dramatic twist is the identification of incriminating audio tapes over the weekend as fake – tapes that were created initially to implicate Moscow, as part of a massive black operation involving the destruction of the civilian airliner and all those onboard.
Within hours of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashing into a wheat field in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine last Thursday, Western governments and media have gradually stoked a frenzy of accusations that Moscow had a hand in the disaster.
Nationals from more than 12 countries were onboard the doomed Boeing 777, most of them Dutch, Malaysian, Australian, as well as American, Canadian, British and several other European states.
Western fingers of blame began pointing at Russia the day following the crash when US President Barack Obama announced that unnamed American intelligence sources said that the suspected surface-to-air missile believed to have taken the jet down was fired from territory held by anti-Kiev self-defence militias. Or as Obama put it: «Russian-backed separatists».
The American president did not accuse Moscow outright then but he implied Russian involvement in the incident with the reasoning that Russia (allegedly) provided «technical assistance» in the firing of the sophisticated missile system, known as a Buk SA-11.
The missile system can fire warheads up to an altitude of 70,000 feet – well within range of civilian long-haul jumbo jets – with the armed projectile soaring at three times the speed of sound. The system is Soviet-era make, and is also used by the Ukrainian state forces.
House Members Vote To Limit Restrictions On State-Approved Marijuana Commerce
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Washington, DC: A majority of members of the US House of Representatives voted last week in favor of an amendment that restricts the Treasury Department's ability to take action against financial institutions that possess relations with businesses engaged in state-sanctioned activities specific to cannabis commerce.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) states, "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used ... to prohibit, penalize, or otherwise discourage a financial institution from providing financial services to an entity solely because the entity is a manufacturer, producer, or person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling marijuana or marijuana products and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State or a unit of local government."
Members of the House decided 231 to 192 in favor of the amendment. Forty-five Republicans and all but 12 House Democrats backed the measure. The amendment now awaits additional action by members of the US Senate.
In May, a majority of the US House of Representatives voted in favor of a budgetary amendment to the 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Appropriations Bill that restricts the Justice Department's ability to take action against those who are compliant with state medical cannabis laws. However, members of the US Senate have yet to take any action on the bill.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 483-5500 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting .
Published time: July 21, 2014 23:23
Edited time: July 23, 2014 12:36
Head of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov ( left) and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev ( right) at a media conference in Moscow, July 21 (RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitsky)
Russia has released military monitoring data, which shows Kiev military jets tracking the MH17 plane shortly before the crash - and posed yet another set of questions to Ukraine and the US over the circumstances of the tragedy.
Military officials – chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev - posed a number of questions to Kiev and Washington concerning the possible causes of the catastrophe in Eastern Ukraine that killed almost 300 people last Thursday.
1. Why did the MH17 plane leave the international corridor?
“Please note that the plane stayed within the corridor until it reached Donetsk but then it deviated from the route to the north,” said Kartopolov.
2. Was MH17 leaving the route a navigation mistake or was the crew following instructions by Ukrainian air traffic controllers in Dnepropetrovsk?
“The maximum deviation from the left border of the corridor was 14 km. Following that, we can see the plane maneuvering to return to the corridor, yet the Malaysian crew did not get a chance to complete the maneuver. At 17.20, the plane began to lose speed, and at 17.23 it disappeared from Russian radars.”
3. Why was a large group of air defense systems deployed to the militia-held area if the self-defense forces have no planes?
“As far as we know, the Ukrainian military had three or four air defense battalions equipped with Buk-M1 SAM systems deployed in the vicinity of Donetsk on the day of the crash. This system is capable of hitting targets within the range of 35 km at the altitude of up to 22 km.”
Buk missile defense units in Donetsk Region, 5km north of Donetsk city, on July 14, 2014. (RIA Novosti)
4. Why did Kiev deploy BUK missile systems on the edge of militia-controlled zones directly before the tragedy?
“We have satellite photos of the places where Ukraine had its air defense units deployed in the southeastern parts of the country. The first three photos were made on July 14. The first photo shows Buk launchers 8 km northwest of Lugansk. You can clearly see a TELAR and two TELs. The second photo shows radars 5 km north of Donetsk. You can see two TARs along with other equipment and technical structures. The third photo shows air defense systems north of Donetsk. You can clearly see a TELAR launcher and about 60 military and auxiliary vehicles, tents for vehicles and other structures.
By Laura Geggel, Staff Writer
July 22, 2014 04:22pm ET
There may be something to the cliché of lovebirds gazing into each other's eyes, new research suggests. A glance at a person's face tends to indicate romantic love, whereas looking at a person's body is associated with feelings of sexual desire, according to a new study.
These telling glances can last less than half a second, lead study author Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the University of Chicago High-Performance Electrical NeuroImaging Laboratory, said in a statement.
"Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers," Cacioppo said. [5 Ways Love Affects the Brain]
Feelings of romantic love and sexual desire activate different areas of the human brain, according to a 2012 review Cacioppo and her colleagues published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The new study examined whether researchers could identify the difference between feelings of love and lust, based on eye-tracking data.
In the first of two tests, the researchers showed 16 heterosexual students at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland, 120 black-and-white photographs. Each photograph pictured a young heterosexual couple interacting with one another. In the second test, the students looked at 40 photographs of attractive people of the opposite gender. The researchers did not use any nude or erotic pictures in the experiments.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Today Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa struck another blow against the US petrodollar in Fortaleza Brazil. Leaders of the five emerging nations officially agreed to form their own development bank to rival the World Bank and IMF. The bank will be centered in Shanghai, its first president will be Indian and it will begin with an initial capitalization of 100 billion dollars.
The five countries referred to as BRICS have long complained about the not-so-subtle economic warfare the US and Europe wage against developing nations via the World Bank and IMF.
The World Bank/IMF Protection Scheme
As John Perkins eloquently describes in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, these US-dominated agencies operate a mafia-like protection scheme on the global south. Economic hitmen like Perkins pressure leaders of developing nations to accept development loans for massive infrastructure projects (dams, bridges, super highways, etc.) they neither want nor need. If they accept, their economies are paralyzed by crushing debt repayments. If they refuse, they risk assassination or being overthrown through US military intervention or a CIA coup. In nearly every case, the loans go to specific US corporations who build the dams, bridges and super highways.
In addition to crushing debt repayments, the IMF also impose their notorious “structural adjustment” programs on debtor nations. As a condition to renewing their loans, these countries are forced to open their economies further to US and European investors and enact a variety of austerity measure. These typically include privatization of state-owned utilities (by selling them to US and European corporations) and reduction of public spending by laying off state workers and cutting pensions and food and energy subsidies.
Still At It in Ukraine
This is exactly what we saw happen in Ukraine. Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich declined the IMF loan and structural adjustment program he was offered as a condition of EU membership. For obvious reasons, he preferred Russia’s offering – a loan without structural adjustment strings attached and a generous energy subsidy in the form of low prices for Russian natural gas. Sure enough he was overthrown by a fascist coup engineered conjointly by the CIA and Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert Kagan, cosignatory of the neocon Project for a New American Century), Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
As a condition of the $17 billion IMF loan that followed the coup, the new puppet government has eliminated natural gas subsidies (resulting in a 50% increase in the price consumers pay). They have also frozen pensions and wages, as well as agreeing to a further cut government spending by 2% of GDP per year.
As if this tyrannical bullying weren’t enough, China and other BRICS nations are also repeatedly rebuffed when they request equal representation in the World Bank/IMF leadership. Ever since their founding in 1945 in Bretton Woods New Hampshire, the US has been wrongheadly uncompromising that the president of the World Bank must be American and the president of the IMF from Western Europe.
By Rania Khalek
Staff at al-Shifa Hospital treat a victim of Israel’s current attack on Gaza. (Basel Yazouri / ActiveStills)
Doctors treating patients in Gaza have accused Israel of using experimental weapons on Palestinian civilians.
Addressing reporters at a press conference on Sunday, Youssef Abul Resh, undersecretary of the health ministry in Gaza said, “Medical teams have registered injuries consistent with those caused by DIME [dense inert metal explosives] and other banned weapons.”
He added, “Israel has mercilessly targeted Palestinian civilians leaving many of them with life-threatening injuries and future handicaps.”
In the last week, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 190 people, eighty percent of them civilians, including at least 34 children.
Using Gaza as a laboratory
DIME bombs contain tungsten, a cancer-causing metal that helps to produce incredibly destructive blasts which slice through flesh and bone, often decapitating the lower limbs of people within the blast radius.
Renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who witnessed the horrific injuries caused by DIME bombs during Israel’s 2009 Gaza onslaught, told The Electronic Intifada over the phone from al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City that patients are showing up with DIME-related injuries.
“A good number of the injuries seen here are consistent with the use of dense inert metal explosives, or DIME, that we saw during the 2009 attack and also in 2006,” said Gilbert. “The bodies are pretty much destroyed by enormous energy released by the explosives that are shot near them or at them.”
Gilbert first witnessed the effects of DIME munitions on the human body during Operation Summer Rains, Israel’s 2006 months-long attack on the Gaza Strip that killed more than four hundred Palestinians. “Large chunks of flesh, of muscles were cut away. We didn’t find any shrapnel and [the wounds] were delivering a strange fume. Gradually we came to understand these must have been the new DIME weapons developed by the US Air Force together with the Israelis.”
The experimental weapon was used on a larger scale during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including 352 children.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:55
By David Theo Goldberg, Truthout Op-Ed
Mourners bury the body of a person killed during an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 13, 2014. The airstrike killed an estimated 21 Palestinians. (Photo: Wissam Nassar / The New York Times)
Israel is at it again. It has been bombing Gaza and its inhabitants mercilessly, even indiscriminately. Some say disproportionately though that judgment is predicated on accepting that there is some self-defending legitimacy to killing almost at random women, children and men, even the unborn, simply to be rid of them in the name of "hunting out the terrorists." This, surely, is a deeply questionable rationalization at best.
To date upwards of 150 Gazans have been killed, while rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israel have killed one. Disproportion plays no part in the Israeli calculus, and to think, part of the logic at work is to take Israel at its disingenuous word. What is really at work is Israel's intermittent undertaking, bid up each time, to purge Palestine of a good deal of its people, to put them on notice that leaving would be better than living in Palestine, that for Palestinians, Palestine is a pipe dream evaporating in the pall of smoke rising above Gaza.
Three Israeli teenagers were murdered in the West Bank. Israeli militants retaliated by burning alive a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. The Israeli armed forces responded first by rounding up large numbers of Palestinian activists and then by reacting to Hamas rockets by obliterating swathes of northern Gaza. It doesn't matter that those apparently responsible for the teenage deaths were not Hamas members, even though Hamas seemed to approve of the disappearance. That one could ask what three teenage Israeli boys were doing hitchhiking in the West Bank speaks to the disproportionate sense of entitlement of Israelis to Palestinian turf; after all, three Palestinian teenage boys hitchhiking in Israel would quickly be picked up by the Israeli police. The boys should not have lost their lives for doing so; to say this is at once to acknowledge that Palestinian youth have lost theirs in much larger numbers at the hands of the Israeli state and population. This seems a moral consideration long lost on the Israeli government and increasingly on its citizens.
What seems new about the current bombardment of Gaza by Israel is not the extent of it, not the expanding number of deaths, alas, not the trapped experience of living in the Gaza concentration camp with no relief, no way out, no future but that dictated by Israel. All this has been standard state practice, increasingly if in fits and starts, at least since 1967 and especially since 2000. What is new is not so much the fact but the disturbing extent and depth, the openness and vehemence with which Israel's everyman and woman, its ordinary teenage boys and girls, are expressly supporting the extermination of Gazans, and of Palestinians more generally: Gaza should be the Arab graveyard, bombing women and children in Gaza is orgasmic, death to all Arabs, kill all Arabs so there will not be another generation, hating Arabs isn't racism, it's a commandment from God. These are accurate paraphrases of the very terms circulating on social media today.
The extraordinary ordinariness of these tweets by teenage girls figured alongside bikini'd photographs of themselves is reinforced by their parental celebration, eating popcorn and cheering the bombs dropping on Gaza from the safety of their Israeli suburban lawns. For disturbing our peace, for so much as undoing our absolute sense of self-righteous security, for reminding us of our history, for holding in question our right to be here, we will kill you, obliterate you, call for your extermination. And ejaculate at the thought of it. Obscenity doesn't begin to characterize the moral degradation at work.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:56
Border fence between the US and Mexico in Sasabe, Arizona.
Shena Gutierrez was already cuffed and in an inspection room in Nogales, Arizona, when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent grabbed her purse, opened it, and dumped its contents onto the floor right in front of her. There couldn’t be a sharper image of the Bill of Rights rollback we are experiencing in the U.S. borderlands in the post-9/11 era.
Tumbling out of that purse came Gutierrez’s life: photos of her kids, business cards, credit cards, and other papers, all now open to the official scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security. There were also photographs of her husband, Jose Gutierrez Guzman, whom CBP agents beat so badly in 2011 that he suffered permanent brain damage. The supervisory agent, whose name badge on his blue uniform read “Gomez,” now began to trample on her life, quite literally, with his black boots.
“Please stop stepping on the pictures,” Shena asked him.
A U.S. citizen, unlike her husband, she had been returning from a 48-hour vigil against Border Patrol violence in Mexico and was wearing a shirt that said “Stop Border Patrol Brutality” when she was aggressively questioned and cuffed at the CBP’s “port of entry” in Nogales on that hot day in May. She had no doubt that Gomez was stepping all over the contents of her purse in response to her shirt, the evidence of her activism.
Perhaps what bothered Gomez was the photo silkscreened onto that shirt -- of her husband during his hospitalization. It showed the aftermath of a beating he received from CBP agents. His head had a partially caved-in look because doctors had removed part of his skull. Over his chest and arms were bruises from Tasering. One tooth was out of place, and he had two black eyes. Although you couldn’t see them in the photo, two heavily armed Homeland Security agents were then guarding his hospital door to prevent the father of two, formerly a sound technician and the lead singer of a popular band in Los Angeles, from escaping -- even in his comatose state.
Jose Gutierrez Guzman's has become an ever more common story in an American age of mass expulsions. Although he had grown up in the United States (without papers), he was born in Mexico. After receiving a letter requesting his appearance, he went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Los Angeles and was promptly arrested and deported. Customs and Border Protection agents later caught him crossing the border in San Luis, Arizona, near Yuma, in an attempt to reunite with his wife and children.
“Stop... stepping... on... the... pictures,” Shena insisted.
As she tells the story, Agent Gomez looked at her shirt for a second, then looked up at her and said, “You have that mentality about us. You think we go around abusing.” His tone remained faux-friendly, but his boots didn’t -- and neither did those cuffs another CBP agent had put on her. Forcing her hands behind her back, they cut uncomfortably into her wrists. They would leave deep red circular marks.
On display was a post-9/11 world in which the usual rights meant to protect Americans from unreasonable search and seizure and unwanted, as well as unwarranted, interrogation were up for grabs.
While such constitutionally questionable intrusions into people’s privacy have been increasing at border crossings in the post-9/11 years, this type of hardline border policing has also moved inland. In other words, the sort of intrusions that once would have qualified as unconstitutional have moved in startling numbers into the interior of the country.
Imagine the once thin borderline of the American past as an ever-thickening band, now extending 100 miles inland around the United States -- along the 2,000-mile southern border, the 4,000-mile northern border, and both coasts -- and you will be able to visualize how vast the CBP’s jurisdiction has become. This “border” region now covers places where two-thirds of the U.S. population (197.4 million people) live. The ACLU has come to call it a “constitution-free zone.” The “border” has by now devoured the full states of Maine and Florida and much of Michigan.
In these vast domains, Homeland Security authorities can institute roving patrols with broad, extra-constitutional powers backed by national security, immigration enforcement, and drug interdiction mandates. There, the Border Patrol can set up traffic checkpoints and fly surveillance drones overhead with high-powered cameras and radar that can track your movements. Within 25 miles of the international boundary, CBP agents can enter a person’s private property without a warrant. In these areas, the Homeland Security state is anything but abstract. On any given day, it can stand between you and the grocery store.
“Border Patrol checkpoints and roving patrols are the physical world equivalent of the National Security Agency,” says attorney James Lyall of ACLU Arizona puts it. “They involve a massive dragnet and stopping and monitoring of innocent Americans without any suspicion of wrongdoing by increasingly abusive and unaccountable federal government agents.”