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World Stands Disgraced’ as Israel Bombs Another UN-Designated Shelter in Gaza

July 31st, 2014 - by admin

Jon Queally / Common Dreams & Ali Abunimah / Global Research & Gaza Ministry of Health – 2014-07-31 02:46:55

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/07/30/world-stands-disgraced-israel-bombs-another-un-designated-shelter-gaza

‘World Stands Disgraced’ as Israel Bombs Another UN-Designated Shelter in Gaza
An intensified Israeli bombardment promises no place to hide for Palestinians living in walled-off enclave as even refugee centers are repeatedly hit

Jon Queally / Common Dreams

(July 30, 2014) — A United Nations school in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians were seeking refuge from Israeli bombing, was itself hit by missile strikes on Wednesday night, killing at least 16 people and wounding close to one hundred others.

“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza,” said Pierre Krahenbuhl, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in a statement. “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

Krähenbühl voiced outrage over the behavior of the Israeli military, who he says was repeatedly given the coordinates of the school:

The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.

This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck. Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.

We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.

The devastating strike came shortly after new promises by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — despite international calls for an end to the bombing — that his military forces are prepared for a “protracted” campaign and just hours after Gaza’s sole power plant — which provided the population’s main source of drinking water — was destroyed by Israeli missiles on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza reports that nearly 60 people were killed across the Gaza Strip since midnight on Wednesday, continuing what has been the deadliest 48-hours for Palestinians since fighting first began on July 8.

According to the Ma’an News Agency:
In another attack later Wednesday morning, four Palestinian children and three others, all from the Khalili family, were killed in an Israeli shelling on the al-Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Israeli army said in a statement around 8:00 a.m. that it had targeted “75 terror sites in the Gaza Strip” overnight.

The latest killings brought the number of dead since the start of Israel’s assault on Gaza to more than 1,283, according to health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.

UN figures indicate at least three quarters of the dead were civilians.

The more than 240 Palestinian children who have died represent at least 29 percent of civilian casualties, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said in a statement, adding that another six children in Israel had been wounded from Gaza rocket fire.

So far, UN figures show more than 215,000 people have fled their homes in a territory which is home to 1.7 million Palestinians, leaving one in eight people homeless.

On the implications of Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s power plant on Tuesday, historian and Middle East expert Juan Cole writes:
Without electricity, the water purification plants cannot operate and the drinking water ends up being mixed with sewage or salt water. Without electricity, patients on life support in the hospitals just die, even if Israel does not bomb the hospital, as it has in some instances.

The power plant will take the good part of a year to rebuild even after the war ends. Gaza gets some electricity from Israel and Egypt, but many of those lines have been damaged in the fighting. […]

While one can argue about whether this mortar fire or or that aerial bombing was justified, the destruction of the power plant and therefore of civilian water-purification is certainly a war crime.

Babies in particular are vulnerable to dirty water, and often take revenge on their parents for the inability to give them clean water by dying. Israel is, as Rashid Khalidi argues, collectively punishing the entire Palestinian population of Gaza to punish it for being insufficiently cowed and for refusing to accept being ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel.


“Gaza is a Graveyard! There’s no School Tomorrow, All the Children Are Dead!” Sing Joyful Israeli Youths
Ali Abunimah / Global Research

(July 30, 2014) — In her latest post, my colleague Rania Khalek makes reference to “a new racist chant mocking the more than two hundred children slaughtered by Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in Gaza: ‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.'”

This video shows an Israeli mob actually singing in celebration of children’s deaths in the style of a soccer fans’ song: “In Gaza there’s no studying, No children are left there, Ole, ole, ole-ole-ole.”

The mob also incites directly against Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, two prominent Palestinian citizens of Israel who are members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The video of the 26 July event in Tel Aviv was published by Israeli journalist Haim Har-Zahav.

The words of the repulsive song have been translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra:

Tibi — Ahmed Tibi
I wanted you to know
The next kid to be hurt will be your kid
I hate Tibi
I hate Tibi the terrorist.
Tibi — is dead!
Tibi — is dead!
Tibi — is dead!

Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.

They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
Ole, ole, ole-ole-ole
In Gaza there’s no studying
No children are left there,
Ole, ole, ole-ole-ole,

[Three lines, not entirely clear]

Who is getting nervous, I hear?
Zoabi, this here is the Land of Israel
This here is the Land of Israel, Zoabi
This here is the Land of the Jews
I hate you, I do, Zoabi
I hate all the Arabs.
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard


Israel Delivers Death and Destruction: The Deliberate Killing of Palestinian Children by the IDF
Global Research News

GAZA MINISTRY OF HEALTH, Palestine (July 29, 2014) — Eid al fitr. The end of Ramadan, the end of the fast. New clothes, lots of sweets, family visits. Celebrations of life and love.

Not in Gaza. Instead, Israelis delivered a hefty dose of death and destruction in al-Shati Camp, splitting families and bodies alike.

Two adults and eight children killed as they rode the Ferris wheel or in a TukTuk in the park, over 40 injured, one of whom has since died.

This barbaric and deliberate attack on children in a public place on one of the two most significant Muslim holy days seals the Israeli reputation as one of the most perverse war criminals imaginable.

Many considered the calculated murder of the four children playing football on the beach on July 16, 2014 to be an atrocity and a clear war crime — nine more dead children in al-Shati’s park is an even more gross excess.

And still the international community does nothing.

How many more young lives must be stolen before the world says “Enough!”

How many more before the United Nations (UN) enforces international law without fear or favour, and demands the rogue ‘state’ of Israel comply with international law?

When will the UN impose sanctions, and an arms embargo, to prevent the Israeli enabler, the United States, from furnishing it with the tools of death? From financing the pathological Zionist expansionist project?

When will the UN expel this rogue ‘state’ from amongst its ranks — this rogue ‘state’ that claims all the benefits of UN membership but scorns each and every responsibility incumbent upon it to act with even the barest modicum of civilised behaviour or humanity?

For the United Nations to remain silent now is for it to be complicit in these war crimes.

Contacts:
Dr Yousef AbuAlrish, Deputy Minister of Health
Dr Medhat Abbas, Director General, Ministry of Health


Gaza Genocide: Last 24 Hours, 120 People Killed
Global Research News

Press Release
Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine

Muslim holy days marred by genocide in Gaza

(July 29, 2014) — The Ministry of Health Gaza is pained to express its deep sadness and outrage at the Israeli attacks on Gaza on our holy days of Eid al-Fitr. In the last 24 hours, 120 people have been killed, bringing the total to 1,156.

Particularly distressing was the death in Al Bureij refugee camp of Diana Abu Jaber and her unborn baby only a week before his estimated date of delivery. Diana’s home was struck by an F-16 airstrike.

“As it collapsed a concrete pillar fell on her,” reported Dr Kamal Khatab, Medical Superintendent of Al Aqsa Hospital. “A shell ripped her abdomen open, the unborn baby fell out and was hit in the head with shrapnel, and his brain matter was extruded. Both mother and baby died immediately.”

Dr Khatab added that Diana, in her mid-twenties, was one of 19 members of the same family to die in that airstrike, and there are still other family members missing.

The entrance to the Outpatient Clinic of Shifa Hospital in Gaza city was shelled yesterday afternoon, bringing the number of attacks on medical facilities to 34. Windows in the Medical Library were shattered, an exterior wall was partially destroyed, and several trees were severely damaged. It is pure good fortune that none of the displaced people sheltering in the outpatients area, or staff working in the library, were killed or injured.

“There is a deliberate strategy of attacking to kill Palestinians in two ways — one in their homes with bombs and bullets, and the other by depriving them of essential medical services,” observed Deputy Minister of Health Dr Yousef Abu Al-Rish.

Israeli airstrikes before dawn on the sole Gaza power plant destroyed fuel tanks, and put the plant out of production. This will have an immense impact on the provision of services in Gaza’s hospitals, and significantly contribute to a looming humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip.

Despite numerous appeals by both Palestinian and international organisations to cease attacks on children and women, to cease attacks on medical facilities, and to cease attacks on civilian infrastructure

Israeli military strikes on civilian targets have not abated.

The Ministry of Health Gaza calls on the United Nations, the international community, human rights organisations, and all people of good conscience wherever they may be to act immediately to stop the genocide in Gaza.

In the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Contacts:
Dr Yousef AbuAlrish, Deputy Minister of Health
Dr Medhat Abbas, Director General, Ministry of Health

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Top US Intelligence Figures Challenge White House to Release “Evidence” on MH17 Downing

July 31st, 2014 - by admin

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity / Common Dreams – 2014-07-31 02:45:23

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/07/29/obama-should-release-ukraine-evidence

Obama Should Release Ukraine Evidence
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity / Common Dreams

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane
DATE: July 29, 2014

Executive Summary
US-Russian intensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from US government sources.

Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible — much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists.

Your administration has not provided any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling — or unable — to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of US intelligence:

We, the undersigned former intelligence officers want to share with you our concern about the evidence adduced so far to blame Russia for the July 17 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. We are retired from government service and none of us is on the payroll of CNN, Fox News, or any other outlet. We intend this memorandum to provide a fresh, different perspective.

As veteran intelligence analysts accustomed to waiting, except in emergency circumstances, for conclusive information before rushing to judgment, we believe that the charges against Russia should be rooted in solid, far more convincing evidence. And that goes in spades with respect to inflammatory incidents like the shoot-down of an airliner. We are also troubled by the amateurish manner in which fuzzy and flimsy evidence has been served up — some it via “social media.”

As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information. As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay.

In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to “poison the jury pool.”

Painting Russia Black
We see an eerie resemblance to an earlier exercise in US “public diplomacy” from which valuable lessons can be learned by those more interested in the truth than in exploiting tragic incidents for propaganda advantage.

We refer to the behavior of the Reagan administration in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983. We sketch out below a short summary of that tragic affair, since we suspect you have not been adequately briefed on it. The parallels will be obvious to you.

An advantage of our long tenure as intelligence officers is that we remember what we have witnessed first hand; seldom do we forget key events in which we played an analyst or other role.

To put it another way, most of us “know exactly where we were” when a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down Korean Airlines passenger flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983, over 30 years ago. At the time, we were intelligence officers on “active duty.” You were 21; many of those around you today were still younger.

Thus, it seems possible that you may be learning how the KAL007 affair went down, so to speak, for the first time; that you may now become more aware of the serious implications for US-Russian relations regarding how the downing of Flight 17 goes down; and that you will come to see merit in preventing ties with Moscow from falling into a state of complete disrepair. In our view, the strategic danger here dwarfs all other considerations.

Hours after the tragic shoot-down on Aug. 30, 1983, the Reagan administration used its very accomplished propaganda machine to twist the available intelligence on Soviet culpability for the killing of all 269 people aboard KAL007. The airliner was shot down after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated Russia’s airspace over sensitive military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island.

The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity — a US spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier — Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire.

The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. US intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which President Ronald Reagan dismissively explained as an “understandable accident”).

To make the very blackest case against Moscow for shooting down the KAL airliner, the Reagan administration suppressed exculpatory evidence from US electronic intercepts. Washington’s mantra became “Moscow’s deliberate downing of a civilian passenger plane.”

Newsweek ran a cover emblazoned with the headline “Murder in the Sky.” (Apparently, not much has changed; Time’s cover this week features “Cold War II” and “Putin’s dangerous game.” The cover story by Simon Shuster, “In Russia, Crime Without Punishment,” would merit an A-plus in William Randolph Hearst’s course “Yellow Journalism 101.”)

When KAL007 was shot down, Alvin A. Snyder, director of the US Information Agency’s television and film division, was enlisted in a concerted effort to “heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible,” as Snyder writes in his 1995 book, “Warriors of Disinformation.”

He and his colleagues also earned an A-plus for bringing the “mainstream media” along. For example, ABC’s Ted Koppel noted with patriotic pride, “This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the US government propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks.”

“Fixing” the Intelligence Around the Policy
“The perception we wanted to convey was that the Soviet Union had cold-bloodedly carried out a barbaric act,” wrote Snyder, adding that the Reagan administration went so far as to present a doctored transcript of the intercepts to the United Nations Security Council on September 6, 1983.

Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the US presentation were false.

The intercepts showed that the Soviet fighter pilot believed he was pursuing a US spy aircraft and that he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. Per instructions from ground control, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to order the aircraft to land. The pilot said he fired warning shots, as well. This information “was not on the tape we were provided,” Snyder wrote.

It became abundantly clear to Snyder that, in smearing the Soviets, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. In his book, Snyder acknowledged his own role in the deception, but drew a cynical conclusion. He wrote, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”

The tortured attempts by your administration and stenographers in the media to blame Russia for the downing of Flight 17, together with John Kerry’s unenviable record for credibility, lead us to the reluctant conclusion that the syndrome Snyder describes may also be at work in your own administration; that is, that an ethos of “getting your own lie out first” has replaced “ye shall know the truth.” At a minimum, we believe Secretary Kerry displayed unseemly haste in his determination to be first out of the starting gate.

Both Sides Cannot Be Telling the Truth
We have always taken pride in not shooting from the hip, but rather in doing intelligence analysis that is evidence-based. The evidence released to date does not bear close scrutiny; it does not permit a judgment as to which side is lying about the shoot-down of Flight 17.

Our entire professional experience would incline us to suspect the Russians — almost instinctively. Our more recent experience, particularly observing Secretary Kerry injudiciousness in latching onto one spurious report after another as “evidence,” has gone a long way toward balancing our earlier predispositions.

It seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed “evidence” that can be checked — like the forged anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine — the “proof” goes “poof” as Kerry once said in a different context.

Still, these misrepresentations seem small peccadillos compared with bigger whoppers like the claim Kerry made on Aug. 30, 2013, no fewer than 35 times, that “we know” the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical incidents near Damascus nine days before.

On September 3, 2013 — following your decision to call off the attack on Syria in order to await Congressional authorization — Kerry was still pushing for an attack in testimony before a thoroughly sympathetic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. On the following day Kerry drew highly unusual personal criticism from President Putin, who said: “He is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”

Equally serious, during the first week of September 2013, as you and President Vladimir Putin were putting the final touches to the deal whereby Syrian chemical weapons would be given up for destruction, John Kerry said something that puzzles us to this day. On September 9, 2013, Kerry was in London, still promoting a US attack on Syria for having crossed the “Red Line” you had set against Syria’s using chemical weapons.

At a formal press conference, Kerry abruptly dismissed the possibility that Bashar al-Assad would ever give up his chemical weapons, saying, “He isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.” Just a few hours later, the Russians and Syrians announced Syria’s agreement to do precisely what Kerry had ruled out as impossible. You sent him back to Geneva to sign the agreement, and it was formally concluded on September 14.

Regarding the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down of July 17, we believe Kerry has typically rushed to judgment and that his incredible record for credibility poses a huge disadvantage in the diplomatic and propaganda maneuvering vis-a-vis Russia. We suggest you call a halt to this misbegotten “public diplomacy” offensive. If, however, you decide to press on anyway, we suggest you try to find a less tarnished statesman or woman.

A Choice Between Two
If the intelligence on the shoot-down is as weak as it appears judging from the fuzzy scraps that have been released, we strongly suggest you call off the propaganda war and await the findings of those charged with investigating the shoot-down.

If, on the other hand, your administration has more concrete, probative intelligence, we strongly suggest that you consider approving it for release, even if there may be some risk of damage to “sources and methods.” Too often this consideration is used to prevent information from entering the public domain where, as in this case, it belongs.

There have been critical junctures in the past in which presidents have recognized the need to waive secrecy in order to show what one might call “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” or even to justify military action.

As senior CIA veteran Milton Bearden has put it, there are occasions when more damage is done to US national security by “protecting” sources and methods than by revealing them. For instance, Bearden noted that Ronald Reagan exposed a sensitive intelligence source in showing a skeptical world the reason for the US attack on Libya in retaliation for the April 5, 1986 bombing at the La Belle Disco in West Berlin. That bombing killed two US servicemen and a Turkish woman, and injured over 200 people, including 79 US servicemen.

Intercepted messages between Tripoli and agents in Europe made it clear that Libya was behind the attack. Here’s an excerpt: “At 1:30 in the morning one of the acts was carried out with success, without leaving a trace behind.”

Ten days after the bombing the US retaliated, sending over 60 Air Force fighters to strike the Libyan capital of Tripoli and the city of Benghazi. The operation was widely seen as an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who survived, but his adopted 15-month-old daughter was killed in the bombing, along with at least 15 other civilians.

Three decades ago, there was more shame attached to the killing of children. As world abhorrence grew after the US bombing strikes, the Reagan administration produced the intercepted, decoded message sent by the Libyan Peoples Bureau in East Berlin acknowledging the “success” of the attack on the disco, and adding the ironically inaccurate boast “without leaving a trace behind.”

The Reagan administration made the decision to give up a highly sensitive intelligence source, its ability to intercept and decipher Libyan communications. But once the rest of the world absorbed this evidence, international grumbling subsided and many considered the retaliation against Tripoli justified.

If You’ve Got the GoodsÅ 
If the US has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public — even at the risk of compromising “sources and methods.” Moreover, we suggest you instruct your subordinates not to cheapen US credibility by releasing key information via social media like Twitter and Facebook.

The reputation of the messenger for credibility is also key in this area of “public diplomacy.” As is by now clear to you, in our view Secretary Kerry is more liability than asset in this regard. Similarly, with regard to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, his March 12, 2013 Congressional testimony under oath to what he later admitted were “clearly erroneous” things regarding NSA collection should disqualify him. Clapper should be kept at far remove from the Flight 17 affair.

What is needed, if you’ve got the goods, is an Interagency Intelligence Assessment — the genre used in the past to lay out the intelligence. We are hearing indirectly from some of our former colleagues that what Secretary Kerry is peddling does not square with the real intelligence.

Such was the case late last August, when Kerry created a unique vehicle he called a “Government (not Intelligence) Assessment” blaming, with no verifiable evidence, Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attacks near Damascus, as honest intelligence analysts refused to go along and, instead, held their noses.

We believe you need to seek out honest intelligence analysts now and hear them out. Then, you may be persuaded to take steps to curb the risk that relations with Russia might escalate from “Cold War II” into an armed confrontation. In all candor, we see little reason to believe that Secretary Kerry and your other advisers appreciate the enormity of that danger.

In our most recent (May 4) memorandum to you, Mr. President, we cautioned that if the US wished “to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control.”

On July 17, you joined the top leaders of Germany, France, and Russia in calling for a ceasefire. Most informed observers believe you have it in your power to get Ukrainian leaders to agree. The longer Kiev continues its offensive against separatists in eastern Ukraine, the more such US statements appear hypocritical.

We reiterate our recommendations of May 4, that you remove the seeds of this confrontation by publicly disavowing any wish to incorporate Ukraine into NATO and that you make it clear that you are prepared to meet personally with Russian President Putin without delay to discuss ways to defuse the crisis and recognize the legitimate interests of the various parties.

The suggestion of an early summit got extraordinary resonance in controlled and independent Russian media. Not so in “mainstream” media in the US Nor did we hear back from you.

The courtesy of a reply is requested.

Prepared by VIPS Steering Group

William Binney,
former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Larry Johnson,
CIA & State Department (ret.)

Edward Loomis,
NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael,
National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern,
former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray,
Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Coleen Rowley,
Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Peter Van Buren,
US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret)

Ann Wright,
Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is a group of current and former officials of the United States Intelligence Community, including some from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US State Department’s Intelligence Bureau (INR), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

It was formed in January 2003 as a “coast-to-coast enterprise” to protest the use of faulty intelligence “upon which the US/UK invasion of Iraq was based.” The group issued a letter before the 2003 invasion of Iraq stating that intelligence analysts were not being listened to by policy makers.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

US-NATO “Fast-Track War Plans” with New Propaganda Push

July 31st, 2014 - by admin

21st Century Wire & RT News & Melissa Melton / Global Research & Activist Post – 2014-07-31 02:36:30

After Failed MH17 False Flag, Washington Attempts Bold New Moves to Frame Russia

After Failed MH17 False Flag,
Washington Attempts Bold New Moves to Frame Russia

21st Century Wire

(July 29, 2014) — After their total failure to blame eastern Ukrainian Rebels and Moscow for what appears to be Kiev forces shooting down Fight MH17 on July 17th, Washington and its NATO allies have shifted their propaganda strategy in a new attempt to implicate Russia for international war crimes. . .

Over the weekend, Washington used its US ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, to launch another fabricated social media post designed to blame Russia for “firing artillery over its border into the Ukraine”.

Twitter Bombed: Pyatt’s tweeting turned out to be a bad joke. It’s a wonder he still has a job.

Moscow’s Defense Ministry came out immediately to demonstrate that the images posted by Pyatt on his Twitter account were in fact “faked”, as ITAR-TASS reported. It was simple to see that Pyatt had simply grabbed a series of images off of the Google World-style satellite mapping website Digital Globe, claiming it was “evidence” of Russia artillery fired into eastern Ukraine. Here is Jeff’s rather flamboyant, and ultimately embarrassing Tweet:

It turns out, Pyatt’s Twitter gaff, was part of an “disinformation merry-go-round” currently on heavy rotation in Kiev. Unlike to too-eager media drones in the US and Europe, Russian officials have been able to explain the mechanics of the Washington-Kiev fiction mill:

“This scheme is called “an informational merry-go-round,” Konashenkov added, using an expression commonly uttered in Russia relating to feeding the information to the media.

“It’s no secret to anyone that fakes like this are made by a group of US counselors staying in the Kiev building of the Security Council, led by General Randy Kee,” he noted.

The general outlined the cycle as follows: the US counselors in the Kiev feed the disinformation to the Ukrainian media, with the news being taken by the Washington official representatives and presented as statements.

Afterwards, the Ukrainian media cite the US authorities and publish articles like as “objective.”

Washington Raises the Stakes
Clearly, war planners in Washington are determined to fabricate a case against Russia in order to enable one of two outcomes:

1. Create a ‘global’ mandate for wider international sanctions against Russia.
2. Create a UN Security Council Crisis by implicating Russia via an “international violation”.

The first outcome is already in motion, but has failed to gain any real traction, not least of all because the US last expended most of its credibility and goodwill as a result of lying its way into successive wars and being caught doing, as was the case in Syria last September.

With the first outcome set firmly in place, the second desired outcome was set into motion by ‘Lawyer-n- Chief’, President Barrack Obama, who has accused Russia of Violating a 1980′s international missile treaty:

“In an escalation of tensions, the Obama administration accused Russia on Monday of conducting tests in violation of a 1987 nuclear missile treaty, calling the breach ‘a very serious matter’ and going public with allegations that have simmered for some time.” New sanctions from world leaders are imminent “amid worries that Moscow is stepping up its intervention in Ukraine and may be setting the stage for an outright invasion.” Moscow appears to be preparing for “deeper international isolation.” [AP]

Evidently, this is just the latest desperate lunge by Washington, dipping back into Soviet era legalese in order to bolster and intensify the idea of a ‘Russian Threat’ to the US.

What Obama fails to mention is that Washington is able to conveniently side-step any of the US treaty obligations by going via the NATO route. Obama himself has been a key driver in pushing NATO ‘defensive missiles’ into eastern European countries right on Russia’s own doorstep.

When the US began this push to militarize the European border with the Russian Federation, it used the rather incredulous excuse that their new encirclement was to protect against, “an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile threat”, even though no such threat exists. Obama’s phase two is set to be implemented this year:

Phase Two (in the 2015 time frame) — After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats.

Expect more of the same for Washington over the next 60 days, as it angles for an open door to restart its military engagement of Syria, beginning from the fall of 2014. Already, the US have its Naval assets and air strike assets firmly in position around the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and only require another false flag incident, or random encroachment over either Turkish, or Israeli borders by some entity in Syria, in order to initiate plans already made to bomb Syria last September 2013.

US, NATO Are Fast-Tracking War Plans
Following 21WIRE’s initial independent investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, hundreds of thousands of readers now have a clearer insight into what appears to be a failed false flag operation designed to assign blame for the tragedy — to eastern Ukrainian rebels and Moscow.

Fortunately, the world is waking up fast to this latest tale of overt deception by neo-fascists in Kiev, Washington and its NATO allies, but the danger stakes are now higher than ever, as western planners are even more desperate to expedite their plans to re-polarize the globe into a binary conflict.


Ukraine TV Cuts Live Interview after
HRW Rep Refuses to Admit ‘Russian Aggression’

RT News

(July 29, 2014) — A live interview with an HRW representative on Ukraine’s Hromadske TV came to an unexpected close when the host terminated the conversation after the guest refused to validate claims of Russia’s alleged “indisputable war crimes.”

Hromadske TV journalist Danilo Janevsky abruptly cut off a live interview with Tatiana Lokshina, a representative of Human Rights Watch (HRW) after she refused to provide what she called a “political assessment” on the situation in eastern Ukraine.

HRW is tasked with the objective reporting of human rights violations as set out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These impartial reports do not produce a political verdict; rather, they are used as the basis for drawing international attention to abuses.

The interview — which began on a predetermined note to blame Moscow for the internal armed struggle in Ukraine — ended with the sudden, uncommon practice of cutting the guest off live on-air. It happened just as Lokshina was about to provide an impartial assessment of the abuses in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

“How does [the HRW] estimate rocket, heavy artillery and air attacks on the territory of the bordering sovereign state? Does it constitute a war crime, from your point of view? Yes or no?” Janevsky asked his program’s guest.

Lokshina tried to explain that Human Rights Watch does not comment on matters of political responsibility.

Just as she began to say “If you want to hear what we have found…,” the conversation was abruptly cut off by Janevsky. “Thank you very much, our conversation is over,” he said.

That was Janevsky’s last attempt to force the HRW representative to lay the blame on Russia during the course of the interview — but the journalist relied on a clearly anti-Russian rhetoric from the very beginning.

“How are Human Rights Watch and you personally estimating the atrocities of the Russian military thugs and their accomplices among the local population, who have been torturing, kidnapping and killing people for months and bombing international airlines?,” was the host’s first question. He then drew his own conclusion that “there are no war crimes that they haven’t already committed.”

The Russian HRW spokesperson reminded viewers that the situation in Ukraine has been qualified as an “internal armed conflict,” both by HRW and the International Committee of the Red Cross — which of course was fervently rejected by the interviewer, who tried to get the conversation back on track by mentioning “Russia’s aggression against Ukrainian people.”

“What does [internal conflict] effectively mean? It means that right now during the conflict, there are international humanitarian laws, the rules of war, which should be observed. These rules ban certain actions. And they are banning them for all sides in the conflict,” Lokshina tried to continue.

Following the awkward interview, which has drawn much criticism in social media, Janevsky wrote on his Facebook page that he considers it “unacceptable” for guests such as Lokshina to “deny the reality of eastern Ukraine, humiliate our soldiers who bleed in the Donbas, deterring the Russian aggression.”

The post, written in Ukrainian, has already received more than 2,400 ‘likes,’ with most comments approving Janevsky’s harsh line of questioning of Lokshina. Some users accused her of being on a Russian government payroll for her refusal to provide a political assessment of the bloody conflict.

A small minority of comments said that Lokshina was just doing her job. That assessment seems to hold ground, as HRW did designate Ukraine’s conflict to be “an internal, or non-international, armed conflict under international humanitarian law (the laws of war).”

In its recent report on Ukraine, HRW confirmed that the Ukrainian army is using indiscriminate Grad missiles to attack densely populated areas in Donetsk — which violates international law — while blaming the local militias. HRW did not report any evidence that militias were responsible for any Grad attacks on civilian-populated areas, but warned that they should avoid operating in those areas.


US Senate Bill 2277:
“Green Light” to Wage War on Russia?

Isn’t Just about “Russian Aggression”.
It’s Also about Oil, Gas and Propaganda

Melissa Melton / Global Research & Activist Post

(July 29, 2014) — The full name of Senate Bill 2277, introduced on May 1st, 2014, is “To prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.” It starts out claiming to be about the Department of Defense creating “a strategic framework for U.S. security assistance and cooperation in Europe and Eurasia”.

Currently, the bill is listed on Congress.gov as having been read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. The bill’s full text can be found here.

As Paul Craig Roberts has pointed out, “Washington’s incessant lies alleging ‘Russian aggression’ have created Russian aggression out of thin air.”

So, for the purposes of this article, let’s go ahead and focus on the “for other purposes” part mentioned in the bill’s title.

This is the part that involves exploiting natural gas resources and inundating the former countries of the Soviet Union with American propaganda regarding the coming conflict on behalf of not just our government, but you, the American public.

It’s written right there in the bill.

Sections 305 and 306 — “Expediting natural gas exports” and “European and Eurasian energy independence” — discuss the exploitation and exploration of natural gas and oil resources by America’s private sector.

So the U.S. government is going to “help” by allowing American corporations to exploit existing natural gas reserves and conduct additional exploration for oil and gas. . .you know, while we’re busy combating that pesky Russian aggression.

Well, it seems Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter made the right move at just the right time when he decided to join the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, not even two weeks after this bill was introduced.

The bill also involves lots of propaganda, and if you are American, the opinion expressed in that propaganda will be presented to these people as if you agree with it.

Section 309 “Expanded broadcasting in countries of the former Soviet Union” discusses how, while the United States government is doing all this, there will simultaneously be a propaganda campaign aimed at these countries to “convey” the American government and public’s “perspective”.

The section begins, “Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Director of Voice of America shall provide Congress with a plan, including a cost estimate, for immediately and substantially increasing and maintaining through fiscal year 2017 the quantity of United States-funded Russian-language broadcasting into countries of the former Soviet Union.”

The focus of the “programming” will be “conveying the perspective of the United States Government and public regarding ongoing events in those states to Russian language audiences.”

So not only will our government be “preventing further Russian aggression” by allowing our corporations to exploit natural gas reserves in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, but they will launch a massive propaganda campaign at the same time in the name of the government and American citizens telling these people America is awesome for doing so.

I for one think this is little more than crony capitalism masquerading as war — war for empire without a single legitimate reason (unless exploiting natural gas is a good enough reason to potentially provoke World War III).

Well, I’m an American citizen, and that propaganda does not speak for me. No wonder so many people around the rest of the world think all Americans are a bunch of greedy warmongers.

In other news, at a recent Aspen Institute conference, US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey — who has been busy dusting off 20-plus-year-old war plans — actually found it within himself to utter, “You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Is Killing Civilians Part of Israel’s Plan?

July 31st, 2014 - by admin

Jonathan Cook / Global Research & Tony Seed / Global Research – 2014-07-31 02:17:17

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=716936

Is Killing Civilians Part of Israel’s Plan?
Jonathan Cook / Global Research

(July 30, 2014) — Another day, another UN school hit by Israeli shelling in Gaza. Israel’s attack this morning killed at least 16 civilians sheltering at the school and wounded dozens. The casualties figures are expected to rise.

Israel and even most of its critics tell us that the civilian casualties are accidental, caused by Israel’s need to wage its war against Hamas in heavily built-up areas of Gaza. Israel is accused of “disproportionality”, or of recklessness, or of inflicting unfortunate collateral damage.

But here’s another possibility: that the people of Gaza, not just Hamas, are the target. That Israel’s generals don’t see much difference between the two.

Israel’s army is “degrading” — or “mowing the lawn”, in even worse military parlance — Gaza’s ability’s to resist. Not Hamas’ abilities, but Gaza’s. Because the problem lies not with Hamas. Hamas is simply a symptom, of the people of Gaza’s determination to liberate themselves from Israel’s siege.

That is why the power plant was destroyed yesterday. That is why Israel has been starving Gaza for years through its siege, limiting the entry of basic foods and counting the minimum calories people need for bare survival — putting them on a diet, as one senior adviser jokingly termed it. That is why Gaza’s infrastructure is being trashed — the notorious Dahiya doctrine, devised by Israeli generals in 2006 as way to force hostile populations back into the Stone Age, keeping them preoccupied with the essentials of life rather than demanding, or fighting, for their rights.

Israel knows it cannot destroy Hamas’ will to resist without destroying Gaza’s will to resist too. And that is what it looks like we are seeing played out here day-in, day-out. Civilians, it seems, must die to teach Gaza a lesson: you will submit.


Israel’s Crimes as of July 27
Tony Seed / Global Research

(July 28, 2014) — Reports indicate that as of Sunday, July 27, 8:35 p.m., the death toll in Gaza as a result of Israel’s attacks stood at 1,032. On July 26, just before a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinian resistance came into force, Israeli missiles hit a home in the town of Beit Hanoun killing an entire 18-member family inside.

Six thousand two hundred and thirty three Palestinians have been injured since the assault began, including 1994 children, 1169 women and 257 elderly.

According to al-Qudra, 189 Palestinians were killed in north Gaza, 297 in central Gaza, 129 in al-Wista, 306 in Khan Younis, and 111 in Rafah. From the 6233 injured, 1912 were injured in north Gaza,1853 in central Gaza, 851 in al-Wista,906 in Khan Younis, and 711 in Rafah.

Al-Qudra also posted the latest Gaza casualty statistics. From the 1032 killed, 236 were children, 93 were women, and 47 were elderly. From the 6233 injured, 1994 are children, 1169 are women, and 257 are elderly.

Medics said eight Palestinians were killed on Friday in incidents near the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron — the sort of death toll reminiscent of previous uprisings against Israel’s prolonged military rule there.

On another note, Hamas agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip that should start within the hour, the group’s spokesman said on Sunday.

“In response to UN intervention and considering the situation of our people and the occasion of Eid, it has been agreed among resistance factions to endorse a 24-hour humanitarian calm, starting from 2:00 pm on Sunday,” Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. Israeli artillery guns also fired barrages into the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported.

However, Israeli strikes continued to hit Gaza past 2:00 pm, including inside Gaza City. One senior minister said Israel must step up its offensive. “After what we saw this morning, it is clear we need to resume fighting with even greater force,” Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees reports that the numbers of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in 83 UNRWA schools continue to increase, now exceeding 167,269, an increase in one day from 167,269 displaced Palestinians.

Since June 1, 93 UNRWA installations have been targeted on multiple occasions.

In addition, an estimated 20,000 displaced persons are sheltering with relatives and in public schools, mosques, churches, unfinished buildings and open areas bringing the total to almost 183,000 internally displaced people of a population of 1.86 million. The number of displaced people is now more than triple the peak number from the 2008/9 Israeli attack.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 81.5 per cent of those killed were civilians and 24 per cent of them children.

“One child has been killed each hour in Gaza over the past two days,” said Kyung-Wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator on July 23.

Forty-three per cent of the territory in Gaza has been subject to Israeli evacuation warnings or designated “no-go areas” by the Occupation Forces, the UN said. However, no place is safe from Israeli attack in the besieged coastal enclave. Shelling from land and sea as well as air strikes have not left any region untouched.

Israel claims that it has given advance warning to all residents to leave their homes prior to a bombing raid. “Where in the world can they go?” many have responded, pointing out that Israel’s “border” with Gaza is shut tight while Egypt too has kept its border closed.

Israel Is Bombing Hospitals and Ambulances
The Israeli crimes have reached untold proportions. The military “targeted specific sites” in the al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital compound, the Gaza strip’s only rehabilitation hospital, “in light of several occasions in which fire was opened” and “despite repeated warnings against such activities,” it said; it was fired on because it was within 100 meters of a rocket site, but they knew the hospital itself was clean of munitions.

“The military said that they were not only going to shell the facility, but that it would be fired upon so heavily that they recommended all people in the hospital evacuate.” Doctors were forced to leave the premises with their patients, including 14 of whom were paralyzed or in a coma.

Furthermore, on July 11, 2014 the army fired five missiles at el-Wafa, taking out part of the hospital’s fourth floor. The first blast was a smaller “warning strike,” followed by four significantly larger blasts.

On July 21, Israeli shells left four dead and 60 wounded at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah.

The Zionists repeated their claim on July 23 that the attacks were justified as military targets and that warnings were given for civilians to vacate the hospital. “(W)arnings have been conveyed directly to the hospital administration and other Palestinian officials,” they said.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Minister of Health reported that one of their ambulances was targeted by airstrikes on its way to Gaza European hospital from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. The driver, doctor and nurse were injured after being hit by one missile, but were able to flee before the ambulance was hit by another two strikes that destroyed it.

Hospitals were also facing continuous power outages, as electricity has fallen by more than 70 per cent as a result of Israeli shelling and the siege itself, which even prior to the assault had reduced availability to eight-hour stints.

A Norwegian doctor working at the Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, has written an open letter urging American president Obama to visit and spend a night among its workers.

“I invite you — spend one night — just one night — with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe,” wrote Dr. Mads Gilbert. “I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.”

“Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people,” he added.

Food Needs
“The food needs in Gaza are urgent,” says UN World Food Program Country Director Pablo Recalde. “We are seeing the effectiveness of WFP’s food assistance programmes, which provides the opportunity for a rapid response and flexibility to scale-up emergency food assistance if the need arises.”

Since the latest wave of fighting began, the agency has provided emergency food rations and vouchers to more than 20,000 displaced people. It has appealed for $20 million to continue its food assistance programs to more than 600,000 of the most vulnerable people in the area.

UNRWA, Middle East Monitor, Ma’an Agency, english.al-akhbar.com, TML Weekly Information Project

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Israel Attacks Third UN School in Gaza, Destroys Gaza’s Only Power Plant

July 30th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-07-30 02:50:55

Israel Attacks Third UN School in Gaza, Dozens Killed

Israel Attacks Third UN School in Gaza, Dozens Killed
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(July 29, 2014) — Still struggling to get their stories straight on the last two times they did it, Israeli tanks attacked yet another UN-run girls’ school in the Gaza Strip, killing dozens of civilians.

The UN school, in the Jabalia refugee camp, was one of 85 sites the UN is operating as civilian refugee centers, with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians packed into tiny spaces that they were hoping, in vain, would not be targeted by the Israeli military.

Earlier today, the UN reported finding rockets stored in one of their other schools, but in a closed school not being used as a refugee center. The Israeli government has cited this in the past as a pretext for their attacks on the other sites. No rockets have been found in any of the open schools.

The attacks on UN schools and civilian targets in general have been fueling international outrage at the Gaza onslaught, which is overwhelmingly killing innocent civilians, and large numbers of them children.


Israel Broadens Targets in Gaza War: 1,260 Killed
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(July 29, 2014) — Israel continues escalating its attacks against the Gaza Strip today, broadening its targets to include the strip’s only power plant, knocking out electricity for the 1.8 million Gazans for what officials say will be at least a year.

The growing onslaught also has the civilian death toll once again spiking, with at least 1,260 Gazans now confirmed killed, overwhelmingly civilians, and over 7,000 others wounded. Well over 200 of the slain are children under the age of 18.

On the Israeli side, the death toll stands at 56, with 53 of them soldiers involved in combat operations against the Gaza Strip, and three civilians. The real humanitarian toll goes well beyond the directly killed and wounded.

The UN officials in Gaza reported a “huge surge” in refugees seeking to hide in 85 UN-run shelters across the strip, saying there are now more than 200,000 civilians packed in those few nominally safe zones.

The safety of the UN-run shelters is very much in doubt, as Israel has attacked them over the course of the war already, and as they order more and more civilians from their homes, no real “safe zones” exist for them.

Whether in shelters or in their homes, the Gazans are facing growing shortages of food and water, and the destruction of the power plant means not only an end to electricity in the strip, but will bring most water pumping stations offline, leading to calls to carefully ration fresh water.


Israel Attacks Gaza’s Only Power Plant, Knocking Out Power for a Year
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(July 29, 2014) — Adding to the humanitarian calamity in the ongoing Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, the nation’s military attacked Gaza’s only power plant, a diesel-fueled plant which provides roughly two-thirds of electricity for the strip’s 1.8 million people.

Lack of reliable fuel supplies have kept the plant running only intermittently, and locals were reporting only about three hours of electricity a day. Now, they’re down to basically none.

The director of the Gaza City electricity authority confirmed “the power plant is finished,” and that it will likely take a full year or more before it is repaired enough to resume generation.

The problem is even deeper than just electricity for civilian homes, as the water pumps in the strip also ground to a halt today for lack of power. Gaza City officials are urging civilians to carefully ration water consumption, and prepare for shortages.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Turning Ex-Soldiers into Cops: Military Repression of the ‘Homeland’

July 30th, 2014 - by admin

Ted Bauman / Activist Post & Michael Edwards / Activist Post – 2014-07-30 02:49:23

Police Militarization: The New Search and Seizure

Police Militarization: The New Search and Seizure
Ted Bauman / Activist Post

(July 25, 2014) — As World War I drew to a close in November 1918, over 2.5 million soldiers of the Imperial German Army remained in the field. They brought training, experience and battle-hardened attitudes with them as they streamed back across Germany’s borders.

These soldaten soon found ways to deploy their skills at home. Supported by Minister of Defense Gustav Noske, right-wingers — including one Corporal Adolf Hitler — organized ex-soldiers into Freikorps, and armed them with surplus military weaponry. These militia brutally crushed Germany’s nascent post-war democratic movement. For the next 20 years, they provided the core of the feared Brownshirts, street thugs who helped Hitler and the Nazis into power.

Fast forward 100 years. Another faltering empire in domestic political crisis, the United States, brings its own frustrated warriors and their weapons back home . . .

Brownshirts in America — far-fetched? Not at all. They’re already here, this time dressed in black or camo. I’ve already told you about the militarization of our borderlands, using tactics drawn directly from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. I warned then that events there would soon affect you and me.

I was right. A few weeks ago, a police paramilitary unit raided a house not too far from my home in Atlanta, in search of a teenager suspected of dealing drugs. Upon breaking down the door, they lobbed a flash bang grenade into the crib of a two-year-old child, Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, blowing a hole in the infant’s chest. The teenager they were searching for — a relative in the family — did not even live in that house.

This is the norm in today’s America. The American Civil Liberties Union recently released a report documenting the explosive growth of paramilitary police forces like the one that assaulted Bou Bou.
Originally intended for hostage situations and shootouts, police paramilitaries are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, largely for routine jobs such as search warrants or municipal code violations — all within our own borders.

These boys have some really nasty “toys.” Since the late 1980s, the Department of Defense’s Program 1033 has transferred tons of military-grade weaponry, including machine guns, tanks and aircraft, to state and local police departments, free of charge. As our Middle Eastern wars degenerated into counterinsurgencies, these weapons have become more and more oriented to the sort of urban “combat” that SWAT teams seem to think is their mission.

None of this would have happened, however, if America’s police hadn’t embraced the opportunity to go military with such gusto. Indeed, America’s police culture long ago abandoned any pretense at a Mayberry-style “Officer Friendly” approach. With few exceptions, police now see themselves as an occupying army, confronting a population where every individual is a potential “hostile.” Police routinely refer to their daily beats as “tours,” and to interaction with potential criminals as “combat.”

What accounts for this radical change in attitudes? Where’s Sheriff Andy Taylor? The influx of former military personnel into domestic policing jobs definitely plays a role. So too does the glorification of force that goes with being a militaristic empire surrounded by imagined enemies.

More important, however, is the profound change in the relationship between citizen and government in America since 9/11.

In everything that matters, we citizens are no longer treated as the “employers” of civil servants like police, to whom they are accountable, but as the object of government’s efforts to impose its own independent will. From the National Security Agency to your local sheriff’s office, a sense of impunity and utter lack of accountability reigns supreme.

Aiding and Abetting
Today’s police are recruited and trained in a carefully cultivated atmosphere of us vs. them that treats the rest of us as potential threats to be neutralized, not as citizens to be served and protected. But every policeman in the country is theoretically accountable to representatives elected by the citizenry. If America’s police are out of control, it’s because those elected officials aren’t doing their jobs. And that means we aren’t, either.

Many citizens of interwar Germany’s Weimar Republic craved “law and order” to such an extent that they were willing to overlook blatant abuses of basic rights and freedoms, as long as they were directed at “others.” Political opponents were deemed not to be “real Germans.” As political temperatures rose, the militaristic skills and attitudes developed on the Western and Eastern fronts of 1914-18 were increasingly substituted for democratic debate and process. Many Germans thought this was fine, because the ascendant forces seemed to favor their own interests.

Then came Hitler. As the courageous theologian Martin Niemöller wrote shortly after his release from a Nazi concentration camp:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Americans would do well to meditate on Pastor Niemöller’s words. Too many of us are guilty of looking the other way as our politicians allow America’s police forces to morph into heavily armed, unaccountable paramilitary thugs.

Ultimately, however, it is unlikely that our political process will arrest this trend. That’s why it’s so important to emulate another group of Germans from the 1930s — those who left while there was still time — and escape America while you still can.


The Ultimate Betrayal:
Police and Military Working Together to Oppress Americans

Michael Edwards / Activist Post

(August 3, 2010) — The concepts of military service and public police service are worlds apart, for good reason. Today in America, we are currently witnessing the culmination of a decades-long trend that has introduced the language, weapons, and tactics of the overseas battlefield onto the streets of America.

The planned coordination between military forces abroad and public forces at home further threatens to subvert the very social fabric upon which America was built, resulting in a betrayal of The US Constitution and the American people.

The Military Machine
The military is designed to be a last-resort option when all diplomacy has failed. Military personnel and munitions should be deployed with a heavy heart, because it is understood that the military task is one of enemy annihilation. The weapons used by the military are developed to “shock and awe” on every level. Psychological warfare and espionage is often employed first to soften up the enemy before unleashing an array of high-tech weapons that range from pain compliance on the street level, to bombs rained from above.

The typical military serviceman is a brave soul who has trained physically and mentally to perform under the constant stress of battlefield conditions. However, this stress-training, much like any of the martial arts, can result in a non-questioning live weapon who must kill or be killed when placed in a threatening situation.

Additionally, their prison guard-like duties promote attending to their stated enemies as hostile, criminal, and subversive. The population of the enemy country are called civilians, as they are not afforded any legal protection that might be owed to citizens, and any deaths can be written off as “collateral damage.”

Thus, military training inculcates values of aggression, intimidation, and the use of excessive force if it means self-preservation in a world where might is right, so long as it means Mission Accomplished.

Domestic Peacekeeping and The Constitution
Police, on the other hand, are in service to the domestic population and the US Constitution. They swear an oath to the local community, and are paid by citizens to be experts in well-considered evaluation and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Their duties comprise those of humility: patrolling a neighborhood to ensure restfulness; rescuing a cat caught in a tree; removing a threat when there is a plea for help.

The Constitution specifies their unique role in tending to issues within the nation’s borders in the 9th and 10th Amendments, by prohibiting Federal intervention in domestic law enforcement duties. However, through legislation and national emergency directives, the protection against a Federal usurpation of power has been all but erased. In fact, the Federal government has never had more power than it does today to bring the military into the daily lives of its citizens.

Where Are We Today?
I have spoken to retired police officers who remember a world where it was considered a failure to draw a weapon unless under direct attack. Even if such an action was required, the result was nightmare inducing.

Today’s police seem to have lost such empathy. Police are rarely a welcome sight these days, as they are often black-clad, brandishing military gear and weapons, and applying military force over such non-violent infractions as traffic stops. Police are being equipped and trained as if they are an occupying force, and the results have been predictably disastrous.

Additionally, local police are being issued directives encouraging them to see select members of their communities as potential domestic terrorists. This threat assessment language is the exact spur needed to create a feeling of impending attack. This has led to inland checkpoints, where police, military, and the American people are being desensitized to this absolute perversion of American values and laws.

The traveling tyranny of the G8/G20 shows us where this road can lead. When the creator of an organization called The Love Police is detained and tortured, journalists threatened with rape, sound cannons deployed, and women are attacked by police dogs . . . anything is possible. Military and police alike are indoctrinated to adopt a stress-induced frame of mind that leads away from peaceful resolution and toward this type of non-thinking assault.

The US Congress has been instrumental in allowing this change of mindset to happen. They have long allowed the Drug War to be the excuse for minimal oversight of the actions of SWAT and the DEA, permitting daily paramilitary-style assault raids that terrorize our citizens.

The cases of home invasion (sometimes mistaken identity) have resulted in unconscionable atrocities. The War on Terror makes things exponentially worse, as the “war without end” can come home to roost.

The ultimate betrayal has occurred on American soil, just as it has in many other countries throughout history. When the military and police begin to abandon their codes of honor, mass enslavement is the inevitable result.

We need to take action now and ask our police and military to remember the oaths they swore not to obey any orders that will lead to our oppression. The real enemies are those who give those orders.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Israel’s 155mm Cure for ‘Terrorism’

July 30th, 2014 - by admin

Eric Margolis / Unz.com – 2014-07-30 02:33:00

http://www.unz.com/emargolis/israels-155mm-cure-for-terrorism/

NEW YORK (July 27, 2014) — In 1956, Britain and France were convinced that Egypt’s charismatic nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was threatening what was left of their Mideast and African colonial empires. London branded Nasser, “Hitler on the Nile.”

So the British and French governments secretly enlisted Israel to invade and annex Egypt’s Sinai. British and French troops were to seize the Canal Zone in a supposed “peacekeeping mission,” march on Cairo, and install a puppet government there. Israel would keep the entire Sinai Peninsula.

The infamous Suez invasion turned into a humiliating debacle for the bungling British and French; Nasser became a hero to the entire Third World. But Israel tenaciously hung on to Sinai, claiming it needed the peninsula ‘for security.’

When US President Dwight Eisenhower learned of the UK-French-Israeli plan to grab the Suez Canal and march on Cairo, he was furious. Ike ordered the British and French out of Egypt under threat of collapsing their weak currencies. Eisenhower told Israel to get out of Sinai — or else. Israel got out.

This event is worth recalling as we today watch US President Barack Obama and his hapless Secretary of State John Kerry plead with Israel to stop massacring Palestinians in Gaza.

What could be more pitiful than two of the world’s most supposedly powerful men imploring Israel to stop killing Palestinians with US-supplied weapons like F-16 warplanes and heavy 155mm self-propelled guns — which violates US Arms Export Act, though no one in Washington dares to admit this? Or resuming military payoffs to Egypt’s brutish military dictatorship to keep Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Ghetto?

Instead, Washington is steadily raising the risks of a totally unnecessary war with Russia over Ukraine by arming and financing Kiev’s military forces and waging a massive anti-Russian propaganda war. Welcome back to the Cold War. Last time around men of skill and character conducted US foreign affairs; today, we have midgets.

As recounted in my book “American Raj — How the US Rules the Mideast,” after Israel was forced out of Sinai in 1956 its American supporters determined that no US president would again be able to order about Israel.

After five decades of patient work, the pro-Israel lobby now gives the US Congress its marching orders on the Mideast. The media in the US and Canada have largely adopted Israel’s narrative about the Mideast and Gaza.

Here in New York City, watching the TV news, one would think Gaza is a nest of demented terrorists threatening Israel’s very existence with ‘terror tunnels’ and ‘terror rockets.’ Hamas, which Israel helped create to split Palestinians, is a ‘terror organization.’ Palestinian children are running in front of Israeli 155mm heavy artillery shells to give Israel a bad name. Interestingly, one of the best source for real news on what’s going on is Israel’s excellent newspaper, “Ha’aretz.”

There is growing anger around the globe over Israel’s savaging of Palestinians, but Americans don’t see this. As the Arab death toll rises to over 1,000, the world is calling for an imposed cease-fire and an end to Israel’s and Egypt’s cruel siege of Gaza. America is getting blamed for the horrors of Gaza.

Washington should be able to demand that Israel, which is due to receive over $30 billion in US aid in the next decade, cease fire and open Gaza’s gates. Of all the vetoes cast since 1950 in the UN Security Council, the majority have been by the US to protect Israel from censure.

Can Washington act to enforce America’s national interests and common humanity? Not likely.

Israel has long timed its punitive assaults to sync with the US elections cycle. We are now in the penumbra of America’s upcoming November elections, and Israel knows it. Now’s the time, in Israel’s view, to crush Hamas into dust and tell foreign critics to go to hell.

In fact, the Arab and greater Muslim world’s silence and inaction over the massacre in Gaza suggests that the Greater Israel expansionists may be right. 5.5 million Palestinians remain after all these years sand in the eye of the Mideast.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Sending Gaza Back to the Stone Age: Israel’s Plan to Seize 44 Percent of Gaza’s Land

July 30th, 2014 - by admin

Jesse Rosenfeld / The Daily Beast – 2014-07-30 02:23:48

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/29/israel-s-escalating-offensive-is-tearing-down-gaza-s-infrastructure.html

Israel’s Campaign to Send Gaza Back to the Stone Age
Jesse Rosenfeld / The Daily Beast

GAZA CITY (July 29, 2014) — Israel’s assault on Gaza has hit a new level of intensity as its navy, artillery, drones and F16s rain fire on residents across the besieged strip.

As the dust cleared this morning after a night of bombardment that felt as if it would never end, Gaza’s main power plant was out of commission and the already brittle civilian infrastructure lay in shards. The Gaza City port had been bombed and the finance ministry was flattened.

Tens of thousands more people had fled their homes as Israeli flares lit up the night sky, and shells and rockets pounded residences, businesses and government buildings. By Tuesday afternoon over 100 more Gazans had been added to the list of more than 1,000 who had died earlier in what Israel calls Operation Protective Edge.

Although the stated aim of Israel’s offensive is to end the threat of rockets and missiles launched from Gaza, and to destroy the system of underground tunnels Hamas has built as part of a guerrilla campaign, it is civilians that have mostly been killed or had their homes, businesses and communities obliterated.

Few in Gaza will see a campaign that has now targeted civilian infrastructure as anything less than collective punishment for having a leadership that fights back.

The power plant is a loss with particularly far reaching consequences. According to Hayat abu Salah, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), it will need major repairs before it can be put back on line. “This will affect the provision of water and sanitation services,” she said. “It will impact the operation of health facilities.”

With more wounded pouring into Gaza hospitals every day, they are already stretched. The emergency room of Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital is running out of supplies and was already coping with massive complications created by power cuts. The maternity ward has lost premature babies because it was unable to keep the incubators running.

In the emergency room yesterday afternoon, young children writhed in pain on gurneys waiting for scrambling ER doctors to attend to them following an air strike on the Al Shati Refugee camp. Nine of the ten people killed in the attack were children and are many more were wounded. As a doctor rushed from taking shrapnel out of a man’s back over to a 4-year-old boy screaming in pain, the lights flickered. And that was before the power plant was hit.

Coping will be more difficult next time, and with the way this war is heading, there will be many next times.

This is not the first time Israel has knocked out Gaza’s power plant and targeted essential infrastructure. Indeed, this is almost part of a standard playbook. Following Hamas’ kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, Israel plunged Gaza into darkness with a retaliatory strike on the power plant. The bombing and escalation in Gaza set off a series of events that led to a full-on war in Lebanon as well as Gaza.

I have tried many times to reach the spokespeople for the Hamas government in Gaza. But they have stopped answering their phones and have been nowhere to be seen since the attacks escalated.

It is people like the al Wakeel family who pay the harshest price for this military duel. They fled the Al Shajaya neighborhood under intense shelling last week, and 55 family member are now crammed into a three bedroom apartment in Gaza City. With little water and only a few hours of electricity a day they were unable to shower or bathe the 25 children in the apartment. Now that the power plant has been hit, they have no water and no electricity.


Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent
Jesse Rosenfeld / The Daily Beast

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza (July 28, 2014) — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on Earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago.

Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

It’s not like Israel didn’t plan this. It told tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee so its air force, artillery and tanks could create this uninhabitable no-man’s land of half-standing, burned-out buildings, broken concrete and twisted metal. During a brief humanitarian ceasefire some Gazans were able to come back to get their first glimpse of the destruction this war has brought to their communities, and to sift through their demolished homes to gather clothes or other scattered bits of their past lives. But many were not even able to do that.

When Rania Haels got within 60 feet of the debris that was once her family home in Al Shajaya on Saturday, a machine-gun on top of a nearby Israeli Merkava tank started firing. Probably these were warning shots pumped in her direction, but the 42-year-old mother of seven ran for her life. Now she stays with her family in an overcrowded parking garage in Gaza City and spends her days sitting in a public park full of refugees displaced by the Israeli push.

Normally these would be festive times, the end of Ramadan is at hand and celebrations akin in spirit to Christmas festivities are beginning. But holidays have a way of intensifying tragedy. There is no place for Haels’ family to gather to give gifts and eat Palestinian sweets. There is, in fact, no place for them at all.

“We lost our homes and so now we live in the streets,” said Haels, holding a toddler in her arms who clings to her pastel-patterned hejab. “This war has destroyed me.” She says at least she knew where her home was. Some of her neighbors could not find their homes as they walked down streets made unrecognizable by the wreckage and horrifying by the presence of death.

Rashid al Delo and his 11 children were, like Haels, blocked by Israeli machine-gun fire when they tried to return to their home near the bombed-out Wafa Hospital in Al Shajaya. But despite the dire reality, al Delo, who used to work in Israel but has been unemployed these last 15 years, is determined to salvage his life.

“We will rebuild Gaza again and again, despite the force of the Israelis,” he said with confidence as he stood below the Gaza City apartment that belongs to his in-laws and houses, now, 30 members of their extended family.

In Beit Hanoun the systematic destruction mirrors Al Shajaya. I walk past old men and teenagers trying to lift cinderblocks and slabs of stucco with their bare hands, sometimes in search of a mattress and other times in search of a relative.

The desert of demolition only becomes more vast as I get closer to the Israeli border. Individually razed homes and stores give way to gray and white plains of obliterated walls with hills of contorted iron bars and broken-up slabs. Here the bodies are hidden under the new landscape and it will take more than a brief pause in fighting to unearth the gruesome extent of the town’s suffering.

“Scorched earth,” historically, means destroying land to deprive the encroaching enemy of its use. Israelis shy away from using the phrase to describe what they are doing because, in Israel, it brings to mind the strategy of the Nazi retreat from Russia at the end of the Second World War.

According to Hebrew University political scientist and longtime analyst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yaron Ezrahi, with or without the phrase, the idea does have a certain logic. Ezrahi says there is a military and political calculation behind this devastation.

Some in the Israeli government believe it will create enough Palestinian suffering so that Gazans will rise up against Hamas or force the leaders to come to terms with Israel when they come out of hiding.

But that is an assumption that greatly underestimates the resolve of Gazans to see an end to their seven years of Israeli blockade and rid themselves of the Israeli presence that controls the strip like guards positioned around a prison yard.

At the same time, said Ezrahi, the practice of systematically flattening neighborhoods is focused on saving the lives of Israeli soldiers, who might otherwise be more exposed to hit-and-run attacks.

“Israel is more sensitive than any other country in the West to the death of its soldiers,” said Ezrahi. “The death of [Palestinian] civilians is a moral crisis but is without political impact.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Biggest Solar Storm in 150 Years Nearly Destroyed Earth in 2012

July 29th, 2014 - by admin

Al Jazeera America & Gar Smith / Earth Island Journal & Dr. Tony Phillips / NASA – 2014-07-29 00:25:47

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/consider-this/2014/7/scientists-say-asolarstormanearlyhitearthin2012.html

Biggest Solar Storm in 150 Years
Nearly Hit Earth in 2012

Al Jazeera America


A 2012 Warning Ignored:
Flare-up: How the Sun Could Put an End to Nuclear Power

Gar Smith / Earth Island Journal

(Spring 2012) — Solar energy may soon eclipse nuclear power — only not in the way we hoped. According to NASA, the planet will soon face an outbreak of powerful solar flares capable of collapsing global power grids. Were this to happen, the world’s nuclear reactors could be left to run wild, overheat, melt, and explode.

The sun’s magnetic cycle peaks every 22 years while sunspot activity crests every 11 years. Both events are set to peak in 2013. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) trigger geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) — tides of high-energy particles that can disrupt power lines.

Since the 1970s, the array of high-voltage transmission lines spanning the US has grown tenfold. NASA warns these interconnected networks can be energized by a solar flare, causing “an avalanche of blackouts carried across continents [that] . . . could last for weeks to months. ” A National Academy of Sciences report estimates a “century-class ” solar storm could cause 20 times the damage as Hurricane Katrina while “full recovery could take four to ten years. ”

There have been two massive CMEs over the past 153 years. The 1859 “Carrington Event ” irradiated Earth for nine days, causing the Northern Lights to erupt over Hawai’i. On May 14, 1921, a GMD lit up northern skies as far south as Puerto Rico. Both flares disrupted telegraph communication around the world.

But nineteenth- and twentieth-century telegraph systems were more resilient than today’s electronics. Solar flares can bake the circuitry that controls aircraft, banking, GPS, radio, TV broadcasts, iPods, and the Internet. As NASA solar physicist Lika Guhathakurta put it: “A similar storm today might knock us for a loop.”

On March 13, 1989, a 90-second solar blast slapped HydroQuebec’s transmission system and left six million Canadians without electricity for nine hours. The storm cooked transformers in Great Britain and triggered 200 “anomalies” at oil-, coal-, and nuclear-fueled facilities across the US.

A Carrington-sized GMD could damage thousands of extra high voltage (EHV) transformers around the world. These transformers can weigh up to 300 tons and cost more than $1 million. Power grids cannot operate without them. Because each is custom-built to regional specifications, procuring new EHVs can take up to three years. Rebuilding a damaged grid could take decades. That could be the best-case scenario. More worrisome is imagining what would happen to nuclear power plants that are reliant on electrical grids.

A 2011 Oak Ridge National Laboratory report warned of a 33 percent likelihood that a solar flare could lead to “long-term power loss” over a nuclear reactor’s life. With 440 nuclear power plants in 30 countries, and 250 research reactors, there are nearly 700 potential Fukushimas waiting to be unleashed.

Faced with a grid collapse, nuclear plants must rely on backup power to cool reactor cores and spent-fuel ponds. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires only eight hours of battery power and enough fuel to run emergency generators for a week. Restoring outside power to Fukushima’s damaged reactors was a daunting task even when Japan had a functioning grid to fall back on. If the Sun sends a geomagnetic tsunami sweeping across Earth, it could become impossible to provide any form of traditional power.

What You Can Do: Ask Congress to pass the Solar Shield Bill (H.R.668).

NASA has proposed a “Solar Shield” to detect incoming CMEs and warn operators to shut down the grid until the danger passes. Unfortunately, the plan has never been field-tested. The US could protect its grid by spending around $1 billion to “harden” 350 key EHV transformers and stock blast-proof warehouses with replacement parts. Transformers could be protected with ground resistors. Costing about $40,000 each, they could be installed on 5,000 critical transformers for less than $200 million — about one-tenth the cost of a B-2 bomber.

In August 2010, the US House of Representatives unanimously approved HR 5026, a bill that would have protected the grid against geomagnetic storms. But the Senate failed to act. Last June, the US and UK announced plans to mandate “controlled power cuts ” to protect the grid — but that’s only two countries. Until every nuclear nation is prepared for grid collapse, the potential cascade of core meltdowns could mark the end of the industrialized world as we know it.

Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal and co-founder of Environmentalists Against War.


Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012
Dr. Tony Phillips / NASA

(July 23, 2014) – Transcript:
If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.

Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather. Their paper, entitled “A major solar eruptive event in July 2012,” describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012. Fortunately Earth wasn’t there. Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft.

“I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did, ” says Baker. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.

Extreme solar storms pose a threat to all forms of high-technology. They begin with an explosion — a “solar flare ” — in the magnetic canopy of a sunspot. X-rays and extreme UV radiation reach Earth at light speed, ionizing the upper layers of our atmosphere; side-effects of this “solar EMP ” include radio blackouts and GPS navigation errors. Minutes to hours later, the energetic particles arrive. Moving only slightly slower than light itself, electrons and protons accelerated by the blast can electrify satellites and damage their electronics.

Then come the CMEs, billion-ton clouds of magnetized plasma that take a day or more to cross the Sun-Earth divide. Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.

Before July 2012, when researchers talked about extreme solar storms their touchstone was the iconic Carrington Event of Sept. 1859, named after English astronomer Richard Carrington who actually saw the instigating flare with his own eyes. In the days that followed his observation, a series of powerful CMEs hit Earth head-on with a potency not felt before or since. Intense geomagnetic storms ignited Northern Lights as far south as Cuba and caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and thus disabling the ‘Victorian Internet.”

A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.



“In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event,” says Baker. “The only difference is, it missed.”



In February 2014, physicist Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc. published a paper in Space Weather entitled “On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events.” In it, he analyzed records of solar storms going back 50+ years. By extrapolating the frequency of ordinary storms to the extreme, he calculated the odds that a Carrington-class storm would hit Earth in the next ten years.



The answer: 12%.



“Initially, I was quite surprised that the odds were so high, but the statistics appear to be correct, ” says Riley. “It is a sobering figure.”

In his study, Riley looked carefully at a parameter called Dst, short for “disturbance — storm time.” This is a number calculated from magnetometer readings around the equator.

Essentially, it measures how hard Earth’s magnetic field shakes when a CME hits. The more negative Dst becomes, the worse the storm. Ordinary geomagnetic storms, which produce Northern Lights around the Arctic Circle, but otherwise do no harm, register Dst=-50 nT (nanoTesla).

The worst geomagnetic storm of the Space Age, which knocked out power across Quebec in March 1989, registered Dst=-600 nT. Modern estimates of Dst for the Carrington Event itself range from -800 nT to a staggering -1750 nT.

In their Dec. 2013 paper, Baker et al. estimated Dst for the July 2012 storm. “If that CME had hit Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storm would have registered a Dst of -1200, comparable to the Carrington Event and twice as bad as the March 1989 Quebec blackout.”



The reason researchers know so much about the July 2012 storm is because, out of all the spacecraft in the solar system it could have hit, it did hit a solar observatory. STEREO-A is almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event.



“The rich data set obtained by STEREO far exceeded the relatively meagre observations that Carrington was able to make in the 19th century, ” notes Riley. “Thanks to STEREO-A we know a lot of about the magnetic structure of the CME, the kind of shock waves and energetic particles it produced, and perhaps most importantly of all, the number of CMEs that preceded it.”



It turns out that the active region responsible for producing the July 2012 storm didn’t launch just one CME into space, but many. Some of those CMEs “plowed the road ” for the superstorm.

A paper in the March 2014 edition of Nature Communications by UC Berkeley space physicist Janet G. Luhmann and former postdoc Ying D. Liu describes the process: The July 23rd CME was actually two CMEs separated by only 10 to 15 minutes. This double-CME traveled through a region of space that had been cleared out by yet another CME four days earlier. As a result, the storm clouds were not decelerated as much as usual by their transit through the interplanetary medium.

“It’s likely that the Carrington event was also associated with multiple eruptions, and this may turn out to be a key requirement for extreme events,” notes Riley.

“In fact, it seems that extreme events may require an ideal combination of a number of key features to produce the ‘perfect solar storm.’ “



“Pre-conditioning by multiple CMEs appears to be very important,” agrees Baker.



A common question about this event is, how did the STEREO-A probe survive? After all, Carrington-class storms are supposed to be mortally dangerous to spacecraft and satellites. Yet STEREO-A not only rode out the storm, but also continued taking high-quality data throughout.

“Spacecraft such as the STEREO twins and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (a joint ESA/NASA mission) were designed to operate in the environment outside the Earth’s magnetosphere, and that includes even quite intense, CME-related shocks,” says Joe Gurman, the STEREO project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “To my knowledge, nothing serious happened to the spacecraft.”

The story might have been different, he says, if STEREO-A were orbiting Earth instead of traveling through interplanetary space.

“Inside Earth’s magnetosphere, strong electric currents can be generated by a CME strike,” he explains. “Out in interplanetary space, however, the ambient magnetic field is much weaker and so those dangerous currents are missing.” In short, STEREO-A was in a good place to ride out the storm.



“Without the kind of coverage afforded by the STEREO mission, we as a society might have been blissfully ignorant of this remarkable solar storm,” notes Baker. “How many others of this scale have just happened to miss Earth and our space detection systems? This is a pressing question that needs answers. ”

If Riley’s work holds true, there is a 12% chance we will learn a lot more about extreme solar storms in the next 10 years — when one actually strikes Earth.

Says Baker, “we need to be prepared.”

Web Link:
Severe Space Weather: Social and Economic Consequences — Science@NASA

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

43% of Afghan Military’s Weapons Unaccounted For

July 29th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com & The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction & Perry Chiaramonte / Fox News – 2014-07-29 00:24:44

43% of Afghan Military’s Weapons Unaccounted For

43% of Afghan Military’s Weapons Unaccounted For
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com

( July 28, 2014) — The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued yet another damning report on the enormous levels of waste and lack of oversight in Afghanistan, this time focusing on 474,823 guns provided to the Afghan military by the Pentagon.

We’d known for awhile that a lot of Afghan recruits who sign up and leave after their first paycheck routinely took their guns with them, but never knew the extent. According to the report, 43% of the total serial numbers recorded had missing information and were not properly accounted for.

The Pentagon’s record-keeping system is also flawed in other ways, with some 22,806 serial numbers repeated multiple times, meaning the same gun was reported shipped or delivered many times. 59,938 had no record of ever being shipped or received.

SIGAR noted this only covers the Afghan Army, and not the national police. The news is even worse for them, as there is essentially no record-keeping there, being a hodge-podge of handwritten records by a few officials, with no audit even possible.


Afghan National Security Forces: Actions
Needed to Improve Weapons Accountability

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

WHAT SIGAR FOUND
The US Department of Defense (DOD) maintains information on weapons purchased for the ANSF in two primary Information systems: the Security Cooperation Information Portal (SCIP) and the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database (OVERLORD). SCIP is used by DOD personnel to track the shipment of weapons from the United States, while OVERLORD is used for tracking the receipt of weapons in Afghanistan.

Errors and discrepancies often occur because these two systems are not linked to each other and require manual data entry.

When SIGAR compared the data in the two systems, it found that the databases did not always match; some records were duplicated, and some records were incomplete.

The discrepancies listed below show examples of where DOD was not in compliance with its internal operating procedures and accountability requirements, and where missing information could result in the inability to locate weapons. Specifically, SIGAR found that:

• Of the 474,823 total serial numbers recorded in OVERLORD, 43 percent, or 203,888 weapons, had missing information and/or duplication.

• 24,520 serial numbers in OVERLORD and 22,806 weapon serial numbers in SCIP were repeated two or three times, meaning that there are duplicate records of weapons shipped and received.

• OVERLORD contained 50,304 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates, and SCIP contained 59,938 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates.

While DOD uses SCIP and OVERLORD to account for weapons it purchases and transfers to the ANSF, the Afghan National Army (ANA) tracks weapons using an automated inventory management system called Core Inventory Management System (CoreIMS). However, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) Security Assistance Office (SAO) officials stated that the information contained in CoreIMS is incomplete and cannot be relied upon for accurate information. CSTC-A SAO officials concluded that this is due, in part, to the ANA not entering information correctly into the system.

A 2008 report by the DOD Inspector General also raised concerns about the ANA’s record keeping process including CoreIMS. As for weapons provided to the Afghan National Police (ANP), there is no standardized or automated system to account for them. Instead, the ANP uses a combination of hard copy documents, handwritten records, and some Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to maintain inventory records.

To test the accuracy of weapons data in the various inventory systems and hard copy sources used by the ANSF, SIGAR conducted physical inventory testing at four ANSF depots and storage facilities in Afghanistan. Although testing at these locations was challenging for a variety of reasons, including the lack of inventory information, SIGAR was able to assess, to some degree, the reliability of information maintained at these sites.

• At the ANA Central Supply Depot, SIGAR found that 551 weapons documented on the Afghan inventory record, called a “property book,” did not match a physical count of the inventory.

• At the ANP 22 Bunkers Depot — the national depot for the ANP—SIGAR was unable to conduct a fully inclusive inventory test; however, SIGAR’s limited testing verified the quantities of weapons in each storage container, and SIGAR did not find discrepancies in the weapons it was able to inspect.

• At the ANA Kandahar Regional Military Training Center, SIGAR was unable to obtain a complete inventory record, which limits the assurance of accurate and reliable weapons accountability.

• At the 1st Afghan National Civil Order Police Garrison Facility, SIGAR could only conduct a limited physical inspection of the inventory because no inventory list was available. No discrepancies were noted in the limited weapons inspection.

This poor record keeping by the ANA and ANP limits DOD’s ability to monitor weapons after transfer to the ANSF, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.

The US and coalition partners provide weapons to the ANSF according to the quantity and type agreed upon in the Tashkil — the Afghan government’s official list of requirements for the ANSF. The Tashkil has changed over time, with some weapons requirements increasing and others decreasing. SIGAR found that, as of November 2013, more than 112,000 weapons provided to the ANA and ANP exceed requirements in the current Tashkil. In some cases, excess weapons were provided because ANSF requirements changed. For example, the ANA has 83,184 more AK-47s than needed because, prior to 2010, DOD issued both

NATO-standard weapons, such as M-16s, and non-standard weapons, such as AK-47s. After 2010, DOD and the Afghan Ministry of Defense determined that interoperability and logistics would be enhanced if the ANA used only NATO standard weapons.

Subsequently, the requirement was changed. However, no provision was made to return or destroy non-standard weapons, such as AK-47s, that were no longer needed. DOD officials told SIGAR that they do not currently have the authority to recapture or remove weapons that have already been provided to the ANSF.

WHAT SIGAR RECOMMENDS
To account for weapons procured for and transferred to the ANSF, SIGAR recommends that the Commanding General, CSTC–A, in coordination with the Director, DSCA,
(1) perform a full reconciliation of OVERLORD and SCIP and correct any data errors identified between the two systems within 6 months. SIGAR also recommends that the Commanding General, CSTC-A

(2) work with the ANSF to complete a 100 percent inventory check of small arms transferred to the ANSF, and

(3) determine what action can be taken to either recover or destroy US and coalition-provided weapons that the US and Afghan governments jointly identified as being in excess of the current Afghan requirements as stated in the Afghan Tashkil, and develop a plan that addresses the potential future excess of small arms if the ANSF force strength is reduced.

In commenting on a draft of the report, DOD concurred with SIGAR’s first recommendation and partially concurred with the second and third recommendations. DOD’s proposed actions are responsive to SIGAR’s recommendations. DOD’s comments, along with SIGAR’s response, are reproduced in appendix II of this report

For more information, contact SIGAR Public Affairs at (703) 545-5974 or sigar.pentagon.ccr.mbx.public-affairs@mail.mil.


War on Waste: Pentagon Auditor Spotlights
US Billions Blown in Afghanistan

Perry Chiaramonte / Fox News.com

(July 28, 2014) — Another day, another report of rampant waste of U.S. taxpayer money in the effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

John Sopko, the inspector general charged with monitoring aid sent by the US to Afghanistan, has identified potentially billions of dollars wasted in Afghanistan, including donation of planes the local government doesn’t need or can’t use, weapons that disappear as soon as they’re handed over and and construction of brand new buildings that are basically firetraps.

In a steady stream of audit reports, Sopko’s office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, has spotlighted seemingly endless waste in the war-torn nation.

In recent days, Sopko’s team has reported:

– Afghanistan probably can’t even use two $40.5 million C-130 transport planes the U.S. government plans to give to its motley air force.

“Too often we’ve pushed taxpayer money out the door without considering if the Afghans need it and can sustain it.”

– John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

– Some 285 buildings, including barracks, medical clinics and even fire stations built by the Army are lined with substandard spray insulation so prone to ignition that they don’t meet international building codes.

– The Pentagon has little oversight over hundreds of thousands of small arms turned over to the Afghan army, and many have disappeared altogether.

In addition to the recent flurry of reports, SIGAR has criticized the spending of $34 million to build Camp Leatherneck in the Washir District of Afghanistan, a 64,000-square-foot facility that was never used and sits empty to this day. Another $34 million of U.S. taxpayer money was wasted on a disastrous soybean program that Afghan farmers have rejected.

In October, the U.S.-funded construction of Gardez Hospital, in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktia Province, was found to be delayed for two years due to poor contractor work and overpayment for services never rendered. And in December, an audit discovered that that $5.4 million was wasted in construction at Forward Operating Base Sharana on inoperable incinerators, leaving U.S. soldiers to burn waste and noxious materials in open pits.

The Afghanistan reconstruction budget is separate from the estimated $105 billion annually the U.S. spent at the peak of the 13-year war. Since 2002, Congress has appropriated approximately $103 billion to help rebuild Afghanistan, and the SIGAR’s office has said that since March of this year, $17.9 billion of that remains to be doled out.

It’s not clear how much of the reconstruction aid is considered to have been wasted, but SIGAR officials say that during 2012, Sopko’s first year on the job, the general inspected projects, programs, and general issues that totaled $10.6 billion in funding and found nearly $7 billion was potentially wasted.

Critics say the real problem is the policy behind the reconstruction effort.

“It was the subsequent approach [after military action] that has proved so problematic,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, now the executive director for the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security for Duke University.

“Essentially, it was thought that the best way to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for terrorists was to transform what is an ancient and xenophobic society into a pluralistic democracy congenial to Western sensibilities, and hostile to extremists who sourced their ideology in religious belief.”

Asking the military to use taxpayer funds to transform Afghanistan, especially with an impatient U.S. public calling for full withdrawal,was a “virtually impossible task,” Dunlap said.

Sopko is not shy about lacing his numbers-heavy audits with pointed criticism and recommendations. In his report earlier this month on turning over two C-130 Hercules transport planes, he methodically noted that the Afghan air force had already proven unable to adequately maintain a pair it previously received.

“Action taken now could save substantial expenditures,” he wrote. “The opportunity exists with the C-130s to ensure that the Afghans are capable of supporting what we have already given them before providing additional aircraft.”

Experts including Mark Jacobson, a fellow with the Truman National Security Project who also served on NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, say Sopko gets it.

“The challenge is this; we’re unsure what the political level in Afghanistan is going to be,” Jacobson told FoxNews.com. “Training the maintenance and US support will be needed to operate the aircraft. If those things aren’t there then it’s going to be a complicated issue.”

Contacted by FoxNews.com, Sopko said he is fighting a culture in which neither Afghanistan’s nor America’s interests are well served.

“Too often we’ve pushed taxpayer money out the door without considering if the Afghans need it and can sustain it,” Sopko said. “We have a golden opportunity now to stop and reassess this purchase to ensure that taxpayers’ funds are spent wisely.”

Sopko, like other inspectors general, enjoys broad autonomy to audit government operations to ensure compliance and guard against misconduct, waste, fraud and theft. His reports are public, and are filed with top Pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

In a report just days after the one criticizing the plane deal, Sopko, who works out of a government office in Arlington, Va., found that a large number of buildings provided through a $1.57 billion US Army Corps of Engineers program were death traps.

He sharply challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ rationalization that the buildings were safe enough, because “the typical occupant populations for these facilities are young, fit Afghan Soldiers and recruits who have the physical ability to make a hasty retreat during a developing situation.”

On Monday, yet another report for Sopko’s office questioned the accountability of nearly a half-million weapons supplied to Afghan National Security Forces by the U.S. It found poor record-keeping, security and inventory of guns. Not surprisingly, thousands of weapons were found to be missing during inventory inspections at supply depots.

“This audit reveals a stunning lack of accountability over combat weapons provided to Afghan security forces,” Sopko told FoxNews.com. “It also reveals that the Pentagon continues to send weapons — even though the Afghans have 100,000 more than they need. We’re very concerned that weapons paid for by US taxpayers could wind up in the hands of insurgents and be used to kill Americans and Afghan troops and civilians.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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