Friday, September 3, 2010

First Signs of Civil War in the US?

Sheriff Tony DeMeo Threatens Force Against Federal Agents
It began with one Sheriff speaking with other Sheriffs about their oaths to uphold the constitution. A new movement is growing in this country in support of limited government, constitutional principles, states rights and a stronger role for sheriffs to play against federal abuse of power. In this 3-part video interview with Tony DeMeo, Sheriff of Nye County, Nevada, he explains that he is a Constitutional Sheriff and that authority for public office holders is derived from the people:

In his own words Sheriff Tony DeMeo describes an incident where federal agents of the BLM threaten him with arrest while the Sheriff issues his own threats of an armed response if illegal seizures of private property in his county continue. Imagine if BLM authorities went ahead with their "normal" operations of seizing cattle found on public property in direct opposition to Sheriff Tony DeMeo warnings? We would witness a standoff with dire consequences.

~ Watch remaining videos here... ~

DARPA Soliciting Bids On Insider Threat Prevention

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new program aimed at quickly finding and stopping insiders from trying to steal information from Department of Defense (DoD) computer networks for use against the federal government.

To develop its Cyber Insider Threat program, or CINDER, DARPA is "soliciting novel approaches to insider threat detection that greatly increase the accuracy, rate, and speed of detection and that impede the ability of adversaries to operate within government and military interest networks," according to a presolicitation notice posted on

In the notice, DARPA describes an insider threat as any within the DoD's communications or computer-network environment being performed "in support of an adversary mission or goal."

For CINDER, DARPA is taking an approach that already assumes systems and networks have been compromised. Starting from there, the agency will take a three-phased approach, it said.

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The key to global British power

“GCHQ provides intelligence, protects information and informs relevant UK policy to keep our society safe and successful in the Internet
Age“, so reads the headline message on the Government Communication Headquarters website. This is a classic example of British understatement, effortlessly disguising what is in fact the most strategic asset in British foreign policy formulation and implementation.

If there is one single organization that explains the longevity of the United Kingdom's global reach in the post-colonial period, then it is surely the GCHQ, a massive worldwide eavesdropping enterprise, which obtains over 80% of the United Kingdom's intelligence and provides critical support to both the domestic Security Service (MI5) and the foreign Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), as well as the British armed forces.

Founded more than 90 years ago, the GCHQ specializes in the art of secret listening, and after America's National Security Agency (NSA), it is the most prolific signals intelligence (sigint) agency in the world.

It is against this backdrop of global dominance and strategic indispensability that Richard J Aldrich's GCHQ: The uncensored story of Britain's most secret intelligence agency, immediately attracts elevated significance. A scrupulous researcher, Aldrich's main achievement has been to construct an independent and non-official history of the GCHQ.

[ ... ]

While Aldrich recounts the exploits at Bletchley Park, he is keener to unravel the mystery of the post-war UKUSA Agreement, a much misunderstood subject, whose unraveling has not been helped by sensationalist and conspiracy-oriented reporting and analysis. Often referred to as "Echelon" by the global media, this agreement is widely understood to underpin Anglo-American domination of the sigint realm and by extension the world of secret intelligence.

Using declassified files and other sources Aldrich outlines the intricacies of the UKUSA Agreement as more a "complex network of different alliances built up from many different overlapping agreements" than a single treaty. UKUSA soon incorporated a second tier of Anglo-Saxon countries, namely Canada, Australia and New Zealand, thereby creating a massive sigint network with global coverage.

Aldrich's main contribution to the understanding of Echelon is his detailed description of the periodic tensions underlying the core UKUSA sigint agreement. Most importantly, he recounts the episode in July 1973 when the legendary American statesman Henry Kissinger ordered an abrupt termination to all intelligence cooperation with the UK as a retaliatory measure over disputes on European security policy.

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Looking for alien DNA

 Zecharia Sitchin says he's willing to stake everything he's written about alien astronauts on DNA tests that could be performed on the 4,500-year-old remains of a high-ranking Sumerian woman. It's the latest - and possibly the last - cause celebre for a fringe celebrity.

The way Sitchin sees it, the long-dead woman's genome could contain the signature of the gods and demigods he's been talking about since 1976.

The 90-year-old Sitchin was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in Palestine and now lives in a New York apartment. He has written 14 books about way-out subjects, starting out with claims that a "12th planet" named Nibiru swung past Earth thousands of years ago and dropped off alien visitors who were looked upon as gods by Middle Eastern cultures. Sitchin says these aliens were the Annunaki mentioned in Sumerian scriptures, and the Nephilim mentioned in the Bible.

Needless to say, Sitchin's ideas - like those of another ancient-astronaut author, Erich von Däniken - have been roundly scorned by the scientific community. But now Sitchin is asking that very community to help him with the mystery of Queen Puabi.

Puabi's remains were unearthed from a tomb in present-day Iraq during the 1920s and 1930s, roughly the same time frame as the discovery and study of Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt. Forensic experts at London's Natural History Museum determined that Puabi was about 40 years old when she died, and probably reigned as queen in her own right during the First Dynasty of Ur. Sitchin contends she was something more than a queen - specifically, that she was a "nin," a Sumerian term which he takes to mean "goddess."

He suggests that Puabi was an ancient demigod, genetically related to the visitors from Nibiru. What if these aliens tinkered with our DNA to enhance our intelligence - the biblical tree of knowledge of good and evil - but held back the genetic fruit from the tree of eternal life? Does the story of Adam and Eve actually refer to the aliens' tinkering? The way Sitchin sees it, the ancient myths suggest that "whoever created us deliberately held back from us a certain thing - fruit, genes, DNA, whatever - not to give us health, longevity, and the immortality that they had. So what was it?"

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What Is Consciousness?

What does it mean to be conscious?  It's a question that philosophers and scientists have puzzled over perhaps since there have been philosophers and scientists.

In his book "Consciousness Explained," Tufts University philosopher Daniel Dennett calls human consciousness "just about the last surviving mystery," explaining that a mystery is something that people don't yet know how to think about. "We do not yet have all the answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them," writes Dennett. "With consciousness, however, we are still in a terrible muddle. Consciousness stands alone today as a topic that often leaves even the most sophisticated thinkers tongue-tied and confused. And, as with all of the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist—and hope—that there will never be a demystification of consciousness."

On a base level, consciousness is the fact of being awake and processing information. Doctors judge people conscious or not depending on their wakefulness and how they respond to external stimuli. But being conscious is also a neurological phenomenon, and it is part of what allows us to exist and understand ourselves in the world.

Dr. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist from the University of Southern California who has studied the neurological basis of consciousness for years, tells Big Think that being conscious is a "special quality of mind" that permits us to know both that we exist and that the things around us exist. He differentiates this from the way the mind is able to portray reality to itself merely by encoding sensory information. Rather, consciousness implies subjectivity—a sense of having a self that observes one's own organism as separate from the world around that organism.

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COLLAPSE - Theatrical Movie Trailer

Theatrical trailer for director Chris Smith's documentary COLLAPSE. Featuring Michael Ruppert.

Rebel Soldiers: Dissent Grows in the British Military

... Returning home after his initial tour, he decided to read into the history of the conflict, which raised further doubts. After seven months at home, he was told he had to go back to Afghanistan, where his suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was ridiculed by his commander, who called him a “coward” for not wanting to continue a second tour.

Eventually he made his way out of the country and around Asia, where he suffered a mental breakdown and began drinking and using drugs. He later returned to the UK to face the music, handing a letter to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the process, informing the statesman that the war had “caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan”.

The note also stated that British soldiers were now a “tool of American foreign policy” and finished with a refusal to “believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right.”

The right wing has, predictably, attempted to brand Glenton as nothing more than a coward who deserted his fellow soldiers and his country. Far from being set upon in military prison by outraged patriots, however, other soldiers were remarkably supportive. At one point, the imprisoned soldier was receiving around two hundred letters a day, from all parts of the world, expressing admiration.

However, Glenton's case is only unique in the sense that he was caught in the process of defecting from the military. In an interview with the British newspaper, The Guardian, he claimed that: “11,000 have gone AWOL since 2003, but the army keep it quiet. The public needs to know because they're paying for court martials and military prisons. They need to know why people are refusing to fight.”

Chaos, Duplicity and Collateral Damage

Britain has shouldered much of the burden in terms of the conflict in Afghanistan; the nation is the second largest contributor of armed force after the United States. The official figure for serviceman killed in action stands at close to 300, a definite increase over fatalities suffered in Iraq.

In addition to the stress of military casualties, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has tried to downplay deaths of civilians, even going as far as to arrest one officer for allegedly leaking information on the death of non-combatants to a human rights organization. In 2009 Lt-Col Owen McNally was flown back to the UK after supposedly handing details of “collateral damage” to Rachel Reid, who was working for Human Rights Watch (HRW). Ms. Reid denies such an exchange took place, claiming she met with the Colonel just twice and each time in a professional capacity.

The MOD followed up the arrest with an allegation that Ms. Reid had somehow been romantically involved, perhaps manipulating the British officer into giving up information.

Although the Lt-Col McNally was released, HRW later published a 43-page report detailing Afghan civilian deaths: 939 in 2006 followed by a staggering 1633 in 2009. Of the latter figure, 321 were supposedly due to NATO air strikes. The Taliban, however, are said to be far ahead of the coalition forces in killing civilians.

HRW later carried an article detailing “leaked documents” which alluded to indications that the “US underreported civilian casualties by US and NATO forces because of incorrect information in after-action reports.”

HRW also complained of a particularly callous attitude on the part of military fact-finders that only served to further inflame anti-western sentiments. Ms. Reid spoke of a consistent practice of "ignoring the protests of the families of the dead and the Afghan government” which she claimed only serves to “compounds the outrage that Afghans feel when civilians are killed.” ...

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Torture cases get hearing, but not in U.S.

In June, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Canadian man who contends that U.S. authorities mistook him for an al-Qaida operative in 2002 and shipped him to a secret prison in Syria, where he was beaten with electrical cables and held in a gravelike cell for 10 months.

Four years earlier, however, the Canadian government had concluded an exhaustive inquiry and found that the former prisoner, Maher Arar, was telling the truth. Canada cleared Arar of all ties to terrorism and paid him $10 million in damages, and his lawyers say he's cooperating with an investigation into the role of U.S. and Syrian officials in his imprisonment and reported torture.

Arar's case illustrates what lawyers and human rights groups call a shameful trend: While U.S. courts and the Obama administration have been reluctant or unwilling to pursue the cases, countries that once backed former President George W. Bush's war on terrorism are carrying out their own investigations of the alleged U.S. torture program and the role that their governments played in it.

Judges in Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland and Lithuania are preparing to hear allegations that their governments helped the CIA run secret prisons on their soil or cooperated in illegal U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects. Spanish prosecutors also have filed criminal charges against six senior Bush administration officials who approved the harsh interrogation methods that detainees say were employed at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other sites.

Another former prisoner whose case the Supreme Court dismissed, Khaled El-Masri of Germany, has sued the government of Macedonia for handing him over to CIA agents, who he charges tortured him in Afghanistan. His case is pending in the European Court of Human Rights, in France.

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Money trail links the war on terrorism to the global financial crisis

American combat troops have headed home from Iraq, leaving behind a democracy without a government and an ethnically divided nation. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continue to advance and Osama bin Laden is still at large.

Far from winning the ''war on terror'', the US and its closest allies are broke. Plagued by overwhelming debts and suffering from the worst recession since 1929, these countries now live in fear the ratings agencies will downgrade their economies. Is there a link between these events? To answer, we need to revisit bin Laden's theory that September 11 would inflict a mortal blow on the US economy. Though the attack did negligible damage to Wall Street, George W. Bush's response set in motion a chain of negative events.

The Patriot Act, introduced a few weeks after the destruction of the twin towers, failed to curb terrorist financing but it did prompt a massive flight from the dollar: fearing prosecution, Muslim investors repatriated investments worth $US1 trillion.
Advertisement: Story continues below

Then, to avoid the scrutiny of US authorities, banks suggested their clients switch from dollar to euro investments. Finally, criminal and terrorist organisations relocated most of their money laundering activities from the US mainland to Europe.

By December 2001, these events caused global demand for dollars to shrink, reducing the value of the greenback. In 1993, Dick Cheney clearly stated the neocon desire to relaunch America's world hegemony.

Ironically, the ''war on terror'' provided a much-sought-after opportunity to achieve this desire. Regime change in Iraq was deemed necessary to secure a friendly base at the heart of a strategically important region.

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Farmers in India pay the ultimate price for their debt

An estimated 200,000 farmers in India have committed suicide in the past 13 years, or, roughly one every thirty minutes. These farmers, immersed in crippling debt, are taking their own lives, leaving their families grief-stricken and with even less resources.

“Vidarbha, known as the cotton belt of India, is more recently known as the 'suicide belt'.” Lata Sharma, director of Navdanya Mumbai, an NGO promoting organic farming and farmers rights told MediaGlobal. “The epidemic of farmers' suicides is the real measurement of the stress under which Indian agriculture and Indian farmers have been put by policies of neglect and indifference.”

While India's urban regions have grown at a remarkable rate over the past decade, millions of its farmers, who make up more than half of the population, have been left to live in deplorable conditions with poverty rates equal to those of sub-Saharan Africa. This leaves little room for farmers to make mistakes when growing their crops.

Since 2002, a large number of farmers in India have invested in genetically modified seeds. Companies including Monsanto, Cargill, and Syngenta, often advertise their seeds with Bollywood stars and charge up to ten times the cost of traditional seeds. The seeds claim to bring unprecedented harvest sizes and considerably higher income. Many farmers take out high risk loans from banks or money lenders, often being charged excessively high interest rates to purchase the seeds.

It was later determined that these genetically modified seeds use up to 13 times as much pesticide as conventional seeds and require fertilizer and irrigation systems, meaning farmers are no longer able to rely solely on rainfall. In most cases the farmers are unaware of these extra expenses until after they have paid for the seeds and are suddenly forced into buying extra fertilizers and pesticides, dragging themselves deeper into debt.

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Invisible War: How Thirteen Years of US-Imposed Economic Sanctions Devastated Iraq Before the 2003 Invasion

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: The US invasion and occupation of Iraq over the past seven years has inflicted multiple disasters on the country. But many argue that the US war against Iraq really began more than twenty years ago. In August 1990, the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait. The United States was instrumental in imposing and keeping the sanctions in place until May 2003. While they had a devastating impact on Iraq and its people, the sanctions are often overshadowed by the 2003 US invasion when pundits examine US policy on Iraq.

Our next guest writes of the sanctions, quote, "U.S. policymakers effectively turned a program of international governance into a legitimized act of mass slaughter." Joy Gordon is a professor of philosophy at Fairfield University and author of the new book Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions. She joins me now from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Joy Gordon. Can you take us back to 1990, how these sanctions were put in place, and what effect they had on Iraq over the thirteen years that they were held there?

JOY GORDON: Sure. The sanctions were imposed in August of 1990, so almost exactly twenty years ago, after Iraq had invaded Kuwait. The sanctions were almost completely comprehensive. They precluded Iraq from any imports and any exports, with very limited exceptions. They allowed medicine, and they allowed food, quote, "in humanitarian circumstances." But that phrase wasn't defined. In fact, what happened for the first eight months is that within the Security Council committee that maintained the sanctions—it was called the 661 Committee, after the resolution. Each country had veto power. It operated by consensus. And for the first eight months, the US, accompanied by a couple of others, but absolutely the US, would not even allow Iraq to import food. This is a country that had been importing two-thirds of its food. There was a fight, for example, that went on for weeks and weeks over whether or not Iraq could import a shipment of powdered milk, and the US opposed that just intransigently.

After March of 1991, after the bombing of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq was allowed to import food without restriction, but the real problem was infrastructure, because in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the US-led allied forces bombed all of Iraq's infrastructure—water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, telecommunications towers, roads, bridges. The country was reduced to a dysfunctional country in every regard almost overnight. UN envoys going into Iraq reported that Iraq has been reduced to a preindustrial country. One described the situation as "near apocalyptic." And it was that combination of things, the massive bombing of all infrastructure combined then with the sanctions, that made it impossible for Iraq to ever recover. It was reduced a level of development from a sophisticated country with a very high standard of living to a country that was, in the words of the envoy again, a "preindustrialized country."

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And Joy Gordon, what effect did the sanctions have on things like mortality, on public health, on education?

JOY GORDON: The sanctions—again, this is in combination with this initial devastation of all of Iraq's infrastructure—the impact was enormous. Child mortality spiked, increased by 250 percent. A country that had had negligible levels of things like cholera and typhoid, those were off the charts. There were epidemics of waterborne diseases that never really came down. The bankrupting of the state, which was one of the direct goals of the sanctions, had enormous consequences, as well, because all fundamental public services in Iraq were centralized, were dependent on the state. Food had been available in markets prior to the sanctions, but under the sanctions, the state instituted a rationing system. And according to all the UN agencies and NGOs that commented on this, they said that was the single factor that prevented famine in Iraq. But it was a state-run process. So when the state was bankrupted by the sanctions, because they could not export oil and they could not import equipment for the country to function, the result was that all public services collapsed, as well. Even the ration system started to decrease. Teachers and doctors lost wages, lost salaries. And there was a mass exodus of engineers, professionals, everything you need to run the country at a fundamental level.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And the estimates that at least half-a-million children were killed as a result of these sanctions?

JOY GORDON: It's called the excess child mortality figure, which is—which means, really, how many children under five died during sanctions who would not have died without the sanctions. And that number is highly contested. The Iraqi government claimed one thing for a while; other groups claimed things for a while. But in the end, if you look at the best data and the most reliable data, it seems that it must in fact be over half-a-million children under five were dead as a result of sanctions. A medical demographer who has done the most thorough study of this puts the estimate at somewhere between—I think it's 660,000 and 880,000 children under five who died as a consequence of the sanctions. And remember, that's just children under five, because those are more easily measurable by epidemiologists. But that would include an unmeasurable number of persons over five, of the elderly, of the sick, and that would be in addition to this somewhere between half and three-quarters of a million children under five.

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INSIDE JOB Official Trailer

From Academy Award nominated filmmaker, Charles Ferguson ("No End In Sight"), comes INSIDE JOB, the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, INSIDE JOB traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Matt Damon, INSIDE JOB was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.


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