China to urgently boost GM crop development

China has said it must urgently step up the development of genetically modified crops as it faces mounting challenges to feed its 1.3 billion people due to shrinking arable land and climate change.

Newly-approved plans aim to cultivate high-yielding and pest-resistant genetically modified species, the State Council, or cabinet, said in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday

At a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, Chinese leaders said the plans were “of strategic significance” in the country’s drive to make its agricultural sector more efficient and competitive internationally, the statement said.

“Departments must fully understand the importance and urgency of this significant project, further improve the programme and waste no time to carry it out,” it said.

It gave no details on which crops should be developed, but analysts said the plans were likely to focus on developing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, including corn and rice.

China has become a major producer of genetically modified cotton and vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, but it has yet to begin large-scale production of genetically modified rice, corn and soybeans.

Read moreChina to urgently boost GM crop development

Iran does not intend to wipe out Israel, says Ahmadinejad


Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Israel is disintegrating on its own and Iran will not take any act of aggression against it.

“Israel is an illegal regime,” said President Ahmadinejad in a Tuesday press conference after a D8 summit in Kuala Lumpur.

“The regime will disintegrate on its own. Since Zionists can no longer sustain themselves, they have been forced to draw attention away from their present situation by blaming Iran,” he added.

President Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Republic has never waged war against any nation and does not intend to do so, adding that Israel is not an exception to this policy.

“Iran has no plans to attack Israel,” he said in response to a question about whether the Islamic Republic intended to destroy Israel and to wipe out the Jewish people.

The Iranian president expounded that Jewish people amicably live in the Islamic Republic, are free to practice their religion, and despite being a small minority have a representative in the Iranian Parliament.

President Ahmadinejad asserted that the Israeli regime thrives on ‘invading and threatening’ regional countries. He reaffirmed that Iranians are fully prepared to defend their territorial integrity and will deliver a crushing response to invaders.

Read moreIran does not intend to wipe out Israel, says Ahmadinejad

US: New regulation for tourists requires online registration

From January 2009, short-term visitors will only be granted entry to the US once they have registered on the website of the Electronic System Travel Authorization. This replaces the current procedure of filling out a green form handed out during the flight.

The move is meant to place greater emphasis on defending the country’s borders against the threat of terrorism. The new system is also seen as a response to the perceived growth of religious extremism in European countries, whose citizens are able to enter the US more easily.

It is hoped the new requirements will highlight people with questionable backgrounds before they leave their home country. Currently, they are able to fly to America, only to be sent back straight away by customs officials if deemed not suitable for entry.

The revamped system will affect the 27 nations covered by the visa waiver program, which includes Great Britain, and gives citizens the right to remain in the US for short periods of time without a visa. All the information filled in on the website will be held by US authorities for 15 years.

Those who fly regularly across the Atlantic stand to benefit as an approved application remains valid for up to two years, or until the traveller’s passport has run out. It also entitles the holder to multiple entries to the US during this period.

Read moreUS: New regulation for tourists requires online registration

6,700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho

6700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho
The shipment across the ocean, unloading at Longview, Washington State port, transport by rail, and burial in Idaho endangers not only the residents of these areas but poses a significant agricultural threat through introduction of pests, microbes, etc. foreign to our nation.

Doug Rokke, Ph.D. – BLN Contributing Writer

(Note: Dr. Doug Rokke is the former Director of the U.S. Army’s Depleted Uranium Project. It was his task to clean up the radioactive battlefields of the Gulf War. Today, this leading opponent of nuclear warfare is vitally concerned that sand contaminated by radioactive munitions exploded in the Middle East has been shipped to Idaho for burial. And more, much more. He asked me to call his warning to public attention.)

During the summer of 1991, the United States military had collected artillery, tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, conventional and unconventional munitions, trucks, etc. at Camp Doha in Kuwait.

As result of carelessness this weapons depot caught fire with consequent catastrophic explosion resulting in death, injury, illness and extensive environmental contamination from depleted uranium and conventional explosives.

Recently the emirate of Kuwait required the United States Department of Defense to remove the contamination. Consequently, over 6,700 tons of contaminated soil sand and other residue was collected and has been shipped back to the United States for burial by American Ecology at Boise Idaho.

When Bob Nichols, an investigative journalist, and I contacted American Ecology we found out that they had absolutely no knowledge of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48, U.S. Army PAM 700-48, U.S. Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, and all of the medical orders dealing with depleted uranium contamination, environmental remediation procedures, safety, and medical care .

They had never heard of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for dealing with mixed – hazardous waste such as radioactive materials and conventional explosives byproducts. (reference “Approaches for the Remediation of Federal Facility Sites Contaminated with Explosives or Radioactive Wastes”, EPA/625/R-93/013, September 1993).

The shipment across the ocean, unloading at Longview, Washington State port, transport by rail, and burial in Idaho endangers not only the residents of these areas but poses a significant agricultural threat through introduction of pests, microbes, etc. foreign to our nation.

Sadly the known adverse health and environmental hazards from uranium weapons contamination are in our own backyard. The EPA has listed the former Nuclear Metals- Starmet uranium weapons manufacturing site in Concord Ma. On EPA’s Superfund National Priority List because it poses a significant risk to public health and the environment.

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Wartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007
Soldier suicides could trump war tolls: US health official
The Weapon of Mass Destruction Is Cancer

Read more6,700 Tons of Radioactive Debris Shipped From Kuwait to Idaho

Bank Failure: IndyMac Bank seized by federal regulators

The Pasadena-based thrift’s failure is the second-biggest by a U.S. bank. Doors will reopen Monday.

The federal government took control of Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank on Friday in what regulators called the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Citing a massive run on deposits, regulators shut its main branch three hours early, leaving customers stunned and upset. One woman leaned on the locked doors, pleading with an employee inside: “Please, please, I want to take out a portion.” All she could do was read a two-page notice taped to the door.

The bank’s 33 branches will be closed over the weekend, but the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will reopen the bank on Monday as IndyMac Federal Bank, said the Office of Thrift Supervision in Washington. Customers will not be able to bank by phone or Internet over the weekend, regulators said, but can continue to use ATMs, debit cards and checks. Normal branch hours, online banking and phone banking services are to resume Monday.

Federal authorities estimated that the takeover of IndyMac, which had $32 billion in assets, would cost the FDIC $4 billion to $8 billion. Regulators said deposits of up to $100,000 were safe and insured by the FDIC. The agency’s insurance fund has assets of about $52 billion.

Related article: US: Total Crash of the Entire Financial System Expected, Say Experts

IndyMac’s failure had been widely expected in recent days. As the bank was shuttering offices and laying off employees to cope with huge losses from defaulted mortgages made at the height of the housing boom, nervous depositors were pulling out $100 million a day. The bank’s stock price had plummeted to less than $1 as analysts predicted the company’s imminent demise.

The takeover of IndyMac came amid rampant speculation that the federal government would also have to take over lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together stand behind almost half of the nation’s mortgage debt.

Shares of the two mortgage giants have nose-dived this week and fell again Friday, helping to drag down the Dow Jones industrial average 128.48 points, or 1.1%, to close at 11,100.54. Investors and analysts are concerned that the two government-chartered companies need to raise billions of dollars to offset expected losses stemming from mortgage defaults, but will be unable to do so in the private market. Officials in Washington spent most of Friday trying to knock down rumors of a government bailout.

Read moreBank Failure: IndyMac Bank seized by federal regulators

U.S. defends laptop searches at the border


Border check: A Customs and Border Protection officer searched a truck at a border crossing in Blaine, Wash., in 2006. For the past 18 months, officials at border entries have been searching some citizens’ laptops. (Andy Nelson – Staff/File)

Courts have upheld routine checks of Americans’ hard drives at the border. Critics say they’re anything but routine.

New York – Is a laptop searchable in the same way as a piece of luggage? The Department of Homeland Security believes it is.

For the past 18 months, immigration officials at border entries have been searching and seizing some citizens’ laptops, cellphones, and BlackBerry devices when they return from international trips.

In some cases, the officers go through the files while the traveler is standing there. In others, they take the device for several hours and download the hard drive’s content. After that, it’s unclear what happens to the data.

The Department of Homeland Security contends these searches and seizures of electronic files are vital to detecting terrorists and child pornographers. It also says it has the constitutional authority to do them without a warrant or probable cause.

But many people in the business community disagree, saying DHS is overstepping the Fourth Amendment bounds of permissible routine searches. Some are fighting for Congress to put limits on what can be searched and seized and what happens to the information that’s taken. The civil rights community says the laptop seizures are simply unconstitutional. They want DHS to stop the practice unless there’s at least reasonable suspicion.

Legal scholars say the issue raises the compelling and sometimes clashing interests of privacy rights and the need to protect the US from terrorists and child pornographers. The courts have long held that routine searches at the border are permissible, simply because they take place at the border. Opponents of the current policy say a laptop search is far from “routine.”

“A laptop can hold [the equivalent of] a major university’s library: It can contain your full life,” says Peter Swire, a professor of law at Ohio State University in Columbus. “The government’s never gotten to search your entire life, so this is unprecedented in scale what the government can get.”

Read moreU.S. defends laptop searches at the border

Afghan Warlords, Formerly Backed By the CIA, Now Turn Their Guns On U.S. Troops

They defeated the Soviets with Washington’s help, but now they attack Americans as the new occupiers

KABUL – The war in Afghanistan reached a wrenching milestone this summer: For the second month in a row, U.S. and coalition troop deaths in the country surpassed casualties in Iraq. This is driven in large part, U.S. officials point out, by simple cause and effect. Marines flowed into southern Afghanistan earlier this year to rout firmly entrenched Taliban fighters, prompting a spike in combat in territory where NATO forces previously didn’t have the manpower to send troops. “We’re doing something we haven’t done in seven years, which is go after the Taliban where they’re living,” says a U.S. official.

But amid a well-coordinated assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and large-scale bombings last week in the capitals of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. forces are keenly aware that they are facing an increasingly complex enemy here-what U.S. military officials now call a syndicate-composed not only of Taliban fighters but also powerful warlords who were once on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. “You could almost describe the insurgency as having two branches,” says a senior U.S. military official here. “It’s the Taliban in the south and a ‘rainbow coalition’ in the east.”

Indeed, along with a smattering of Afghan tribal groups, Pakistani extremists, and drug kingpins, two of the most dangerous players are violent Afghan Islamists named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to U.S. officials. In recent weeks, Hekmatyar has called upon Pakistani militants to attack U.S. targets, while the Haqqani network is blamed for three large vehicle bombings, along with the attempted assassination of Karzai in April.

Ironically, these two warlords-currently at the top of America’s list of most wanted men in Afghanistan-were once among America’s most valued allies. In the 1980s, the CIA funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and ammunition to help them battle the Soviet Army during its occupation of Afghanistan. Hekmatyar, then widely considered by Washington to be a reliable anti-Soviet rebel, was even flown to the United States by the CIA in 1985.

Read moreAfghan Warlords, Formerly Backed By the CIA, Now Turn Their Guns On U.S. Troops

Israeli jets using Iraq’s airspace?


The US has allowed Israeli jets to use US airbases in Iraq and fly over Iraqi airspace for a likely attack against Iran, Iraqi media say.

It is more than a month that some Israeli planes belonging to Israeli air force use the US military bases in Iraq to land and take off, Iraqi Nahrainnet news network said Wednesday, quoting informed sources close to Iraq’s Defense Ministry.

The activities and traffic of warplanes- especially at nights- has lately increased in the US air bases in Nasiriya southeast of Baghdad and Haditha a city in the western Iraq province of Al Anbar, the Iraqi residents and sources said.

They said the US fighters, cargo planes, helicopters and unmanned planes have intensified their flights in the last three weeks.

The US military officials have imposed severe security measures around the bases, they said.

They said some aircraft suspected to be Israeli warplanes coming from Jordan, have landed in the US controlled al-Assad airbase near Haditha.

It is believed that these activities are parts of a joint Israeli-US training, preparation and coordination to launch an air raid against Iran’s nuclear plants.

Israel has conducted a military drill under the supervision of top US military commanders over the Mediterranean Sea from May 28 to June 12, using more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters, along with helicopters and refueling tanks which many consider as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Read moreIsraeli jets using Iraq’s airspace?

Whistleblower says Pentagon putting KBR over soldiers

‘Irregular’ oversight of KBR work alleged

Ex-Army official faults Pentagon on contract in Iraq and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon’s oversight of Houston-based KBR’s work in Iraq and Afghanistan has been “irregular and highly out of the ordinary,” a former Army contracting official told Senate Democrats Wednesday.

Charles Smith, the former chief of the Army Field Support Command with responsibility for overseeing KBR’s massive contract with the Army, contends he was forced out of his job in 2004 for objecting to the Pentagon’s treatment of KBR.

“The interest of a corporation, KBR, not the interests of American soldiers or American taxpayers, seemed to be paramount,” Smith told the Democratic Policy Committee, a Democrats-only panel.

Read moreWhistleblower says Pentagon putting KBR over soldiers

Game Over: Thirty-Six Sure-Fire Signs That Your Empire Is Crumbling

So. You’ve built yourself an empire, eh?

Well, bully for you!

What’s next, you ask? Well, now you’ve got to do what everybody does when they have an empire, of course. You’ve got to worry about it falling apart, mate!

But how to tell for sure? Let me see if I can be helpful. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind, thirty-six sure-fire indicators that your empire is falling apart:

You know your empire’s crumbling when the folks who are gearing up their empire to replace yours start blowing up satellites in space. And then they don’t bother to return your phone calls when you ring up to ask why.

You know your empire’s crumbling when those same folks are cutting deals left, right and center across Asia, Latin America and Africa, while you, your lousy terms, and your arrogant attitude are no longer welcome.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re spending your grandchildren’s money like a drunken sailor, and letting your soon-to-be rivals finance your little splurge (i.e., letting them own your country).

You know your empire’s crumbling when it’s considered an achievement to pretend that you’ve halved the rate at which you’re adding to the massive mountain of debt you’ve already accumulated.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you weaken your currency until it looks as anemic as a Paris runway model, and you’re still setting record trade deficits. (Hint: Because you’re not making anything anymore.)

You know your empire’s crumbling when “the little brown ones” (thank you George H.W. Bush – certainly not me – for that lovely expression) in country after country of “your backyard” blow you off and proudly elect anti-imperialist leftist governments.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you can’t topple those governments and replace them with nice puppet regimes – like in the good old days – even if you wanted to. And you badly want to.

You know your empire’s crumbling when one of their leaders comes to the United Nations and makes fun of your emperor, calling him the devil, and joking about smelling sulphur where he just stood. And though a few folks cringe, everybody laughs.

You know your empire’s crumbling when just about your entire military land force is tied up in a worse-than-useless war launched on the basis of complete fabrications, that every day is actually making you less – not more – secure from external threat.

You know your empire’s crumbling when almost half the soldiers in that war are high-paid mercenaries, and you don’t dare institute a draft.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you send soldiers into war with two weeks training and a lack of armor, and then you keep them there for three, four and five rotations.

You know your empire’s crumbling when a member of the Axis of Evil can test missiles and explode nuclear warheads, and all you can do about it is mumble some pathetic warnings about how they better not do that again or there will be consequences.

You know your empire’s crumbling when you even think that there is an Axis of Evil.

Read moreGame Over: Thirty-Six Sure-Fire Signs That Your Empire Is Crumbling

ACLU Sues Over Unconstitutional Dragnet Wiretapping Law

Group Also Asks Secret Intelligence Court Not To Exclude Public From Any Proceedings On New Law’s Constitutionality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a landmark lawsuit today to stop the government from conducting surveillance under a new wiretapping law that gives the Bush administration virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans’ international e-mails and telephone calls. The case was filed on behalf of a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose ability to perform their work – which relies on confidential communications – will be greatly compromised by the new law.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed by Congress on Wednesday and signed by President Bush today, not only legalizes the secret warrantless surveillance program the president approved in late 2001, it gives the government new spying powers, including the power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications.

“Spying on Americans without warrants or judicial approval is an abuse of government power – and that’s exactly what this law allows. The ACLU will not sit by and let this evisceration of the Fourth Amendment go unchallenged,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “Electronic surveillance must be conducted in a constitutional manner that affords the greatest possible protection for individual privacy and free speech rights. The new wiretapping law fails to provide fundamental safeguards that the Constitution unambiguously requires.”

Read moreACLU Sues Over Unconstitutional Dragnet Wiretapping Law

Bank of Israel Will Purchase $ 100 Million a Day

(IsraelNN.com) The Bank of Israel put the brakes on the shekel’s upward climb, and announced it would purchase $100 million a day. The shekel reacted with a sharp plunge against the dollar.

With the dollar dropping on Wednesday to a 12-year-low rate of 3.23 shekels, Bank of Israel and its chief, Stanley Fischer, announced an unprecedented plan to begin purchasing dollars at the rate of 100 million per day. The bank had been buying a quarter of this amount, 25 million of the greenbacks, each business day for over three months, when the dollar was in the midst of its plunge from 3.85 shekels at the beginning of the year.

“We are increasing our daily purchases,” a senior Bank of Israel official said, “and we will test how this will affect the exchange rate.”

(To the elite all of this is a game of chess.  – The Infinite  Unknown)

Read moreBank of Israel Will Purchase $ 100 Million a Day

Israel hints at readiness to strike Iran

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s defense minister has hinted at readiness to attack Iran, saying his country “proved in the past that it won’t hesitate to act when its vital security interests are at stake.”

But Ehud Barak added “the reactions of (Israel’s) enemies need to be taken into consideration as well.”

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Tensions with Iran intensified after Tehran launched war games and long-range missile tests this week, warning Tel Aviv would be “set on fire” if Israel attacks Iran over its nuclear program.

Israel suspects Iran is building nuclear weapons. Iran denies that, but its president has often said Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

In 1981, Israel bombed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor. Israel also hit a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in September.

July 10, 2008

Source: Breitbart.com

Fannie, Freddie insolvent, Poole tells Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “insolvent” and may need a U.S. government bailout, former St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole was quoted as saying in an interview with Bloomberg.

“Congress ought to recognize that these firms are insolvent, that it is allowing these firms to continue to exist as bastions of privilege, financed by the taxpayer,” Poole was quoted as saying in an interview held on Wednesday.

Chances are increasing that the government may need to bail out the two mortgage companies, Poole was quoted as saying.

Shares of the two companies have taken a beating recently on worries about whether they can withstand more losses and support housing as well as concerns that they may need to raise massive amounts of new capital.

Freddie Mac shares tumbled 23.8 percent to $10.26 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, while Fannie Mae shares sank 13.1 percent to $15.31.

Related article: US: Total Crash of the Entire Financial System Expected, Say Experts

Read moreFannie, Freddie insolvent, Poole tells Bloomberg

Earthquake Destroyed China’s Largest Military Armory, Says Source

A high-level Chinese military source secretly disclosed last week that the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province caused a chain-reaction of explosions in the Sichuan mountain areas. The explosions destroyed Chinese army’s largest armory, new weapon test bases and part of nuclear facilities including several nuclear warheads. This information is considered China’s top military secret.

After the earthquake, Chinese authorities had ignored the disaster victim’s initial calls for help. Only after the first critical 72 hours had passed did the authorities allow international aid to be delivered to the disaster region. Military analysts believe that this delay occurred because Mianyang City of Sichuan Province is one of important areas for the Chinese military nuclear industries and also its largest armory. The Chinese regime did not want potential spies from the outside world in this very sensitive military area during a time when there may have been a nuclear accident.


“I went to see the site of the explosion again. Villagers on the road told me, ‘These concrete blocks and soil were from the explosion,'” said a medical team member. (Photo provided by mainland Chinese Internet Users)

According to sources, a nuclear accident did happen. On June 27, the Chinese military disclosed that 2,700 chemical cleanup workers had been sent to earthquake disaster areas for nuclear chemical emergency rescue.


A villager said, “At that time, I heard a huge explosion and saw red substances tens of meters high rising off the mountain. This scared me to death.” (Picture provided by mainland Chinese Internet Users)

After carefully analyzing seismic data, military experts in southeast Asia confirmed a non-geological shock had occurred at the earthquake epicenter. The energy released was equivalent to that of an underground nuclear explosion.

Read moreEarthquake Destroyed China’s Largest Military Armory, Says Source

Barry Jennings Uncut

I’ve been sitting on this interview for a while, but after viewing the latest BBC piece on WTC7, I feel the time has come to release it in its entirety.

After locating Barry in mid 2007, Jason and I visited him and he graciously granted us an interview during a lunch break. He had agreed to grant us an interview under the conditions that we, at no time, associate his interview with his place of employment.

Jason and I were so thrilled with the content of the interview that we decided to release a few bits and pieces of it on both our show and Alex’s.

A few months later, as the film was nearing completion, I called Barry again to touch base and see how things were going. It took him a bit to remember who I was, but as soon as he did, he began complaining about phone calls to his place of employment and that he was in danger of losing his job. He requested to have his interview pulled from Loose Change, and I honored his request.

Read moreBarry Jennings Uncut

Armchair pilots striking Afghanistan by remote control


The Air Force’s new unmanned bomber, the “Reaper,” commutes from Nevada to Afghanistan.

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada (CNN)From a desert outpost northwest of Las Vegas, elite fighter pilots journey to a war zone in Afghanistan, some 7,500 miles away.

It might be the world’s longest commute, except that these armchair pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada never leave the air-conditioned comfort of their command center.

Air Force pilots are employing remotely controlled fighter-bomber aircraft — known in military parlance as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs — to fly combat missions over Afghanistan, hunting for insurgents bent on undermining Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s fragile government.

This is the future of aerial combat.

Sitting in a virtual cockpit is not as exciting as flying a fighter jet, but unmanned attack-plane pilots can enjoy a normal workday schedule — more or less.

“Seeing bad guys on the screen and watching them possibly get dispatched, and then going down to the Taco Bell for lunch, it’s kind of surreal,” says Captain Matt Dean.

The original drone was the “Predator,” armed with a pair of Hellfire missiles. It was followed by its bigger and far more lethal cousin, “the Reaper,” which carries four times as much firepower. The Reaper can carry the same bomb load as an F-16 fighter plane, but its pilots are not put in harm’s way.

The Air Force once employed jerry-rigged missiles strapped to unmanned spy planes. Now military commanders see remotely piloted aircraft as the model for the way future wars will be fought.

For over a year, Reapers have been flying two separate round-the-clock patrols over eastern Afghanistan, controlled from the Creech AFB command center, which has been strictly off-limits to the media until now.

Reaper pilots so far this year have launched 64 missiles and dropped seven 500-pound bombs in Afghanistan.

Read moreArmchair pilots striking Afghanistan by remote control

Half of all British servicemen say they want to quit

Bearing brunt of two wars is hurting family life


The research involved more than 24,000 military personnel

Britain’s ability to sustain campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan was called into question last night as it emerged that almost half of all military personnel are ready to quit.

The first survey to assess attitudes across the Armed Forces reveals unprecedented levels of concern over equipment, morale and pay.

The research was conducted by the Ministry of Defence and involved more than 24,000 military personnel.

It found that the sense of overcommitment means that 47 per cent of soldiers and army officers think regularly of handing in their resignations.

Patrick Mercer, Conservative MP for Newark and a former commanding officer, said that the findings reflected the duress under which military personnel were operating. “I think the tempo of operations has produced such a level of stress on the families that it is no wonder so many are thinking of leaving,” he said.

Read moreHalf of all British servicemen say they want to quit

Bush’s Secret Army of Snoops and Snitches


The “suggested duties” of these Terrorism Liaison Officers include: “source person for internal or external inquiry,” and “collecting, reporting retrieving and sharing of materials related to terrorism. Such materials might include … books journals, periodicals, and videotapes.” Photo: Stasi operative from the German film, The Lives of Others.

The full scale of Bush’s assault on our civil liberties may not be known until years after he’s left office.

At the moment, all we can do is get glimpses here or there of what’s going on.

And the latest one to come to my attention is the dispatching of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and utility workers as so-called “terrorism liaison officers,” according to a report by Bruce Finley in the Denver Post.

They are entrusted with hunting for “suspicious activity,” and then they report their findings, which end up in secret government databases.

What constitutes “suspicious activity,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But a draft Justice Department memo on the subject says that such things as “taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value” or “making notes” could constitute suspicious activity, Finley wrote.

The states where this is going on include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

Dozens more are planning to do so, Finley reports.

Colorado alone has 181 Terrorism Liaison Officers, and some of them are from the private sector, such as Xcel Energy.

Mark Silverstein of the Colorado ACLU told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! that this reminds him of the old TIPS program, which “caused so much controversy that Congress eventually shut it down. But it is reemerging in other forms.” Silverstein warns that there will be thousands and thousands of “completely innocent people going about completely innocent and legal activities” who are going to end up in a government database.

On the web, I found a description for a Terrorism Liaison Officer Position in the East Bay.

Read moreBush’s Secret Army of Snoops and Snitches

U.S. Troops in Iraq Face A Powerful New Weapon

BAGHDAD, July 9 — Suspected Shiite militiamen have begun using powerful rocket-propelled bombs to attack U.S. military outposts in recent months, broadening the array of weapons used against American troops.

U.S. military officials call the devices Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, or IRAMs. They are propane tanks packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and powered by 107mm rockets. They are often fired by remote control from the backs of trucks, sometimes in close succession. Rocket-propelled bombs have killed at least 21 people, including at least three U.S. soldiers, this year.

The latest reported rocket-propelled bomb attack occurred Tuesday at Joint Security Station Ur, a base in northeastern Baghdad shared by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. One U.S. soldier and an interpreter were wounded in the attack.

U.S. military officials say IRAM attacks, unlike roadside bombings and conventional mortar or rocket attacks, have the potential to kill scores of soldiers at once. IRAMs are fired at close range, unlike most rockets, and create much larger explosions. Most such attacks have occurred in the capital, Baghdad.

Read moreU.S. Troops in Iraq Face A Powerful New Weapon

Atheist soldier sues Pentagon

WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) — A 23-year-old U.S. soldier says he’s suing the Department of Defense for allegedly discriminating against him because he’s an atheist.

Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, now serving in Iraq, says he lost his Christian faith while serving two tours of duty in Iraq, causing him to be ostracized, denied promotions and almost getting him killed, CNN reported Wednesday.

Hall contends there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military, saying, “I think it’s utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional.”

He told CNN that other troops threatened his life and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him, fearing for his safety.

CNN said Hall filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense in March, claiming his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated. Some former military men agree, saying the Pentagon is tacitly encouraging evangelical Christian proselytizing within its ranks to create a “godly army.”

But Deputy Undersecretary Bill Carr told the broadcaster that complaints of evangelizing are “relatively rare” and that the Pentagon isn’t pushing one faith among troops.

Published: July 9, 2008

Source: UPI

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
– Mahatma Gandhi

McCain Issues Top Ten Funniest Ways to Kill Iranians

Citing what he called the “overwhelmingly positive response to my jokes about killing Iranians,” presumptive G.O.P. presidential nominee John McCain issued today a list of his favorite humorous remarks on the subject.

Titled “John McCain’s Top Ten Funniest Ways to Kill Iranians,” the list was published on his official campaign website at www.JohnMcCain.com/funnywaystokilliranians.

Speaking in a video on the site, a smiling Sen. McCain says, “My friends, in these trying times in which we live, there’s one thing all Americans can agree on: killing Iranians is hilarious.”

Sen. McCain, who first joked about killing Iranians months ago by singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ hit “Barbara Ann” and who yesterday commented that the U.S. could kill Iranians with cigarettes, was apparently “just warming up,” one aide said today.

“Anyone who has enjoyed Sen. McCain’s side-splitting jokes about killing Iranians will be blown away by this list,” the aide said. “He’s in fine form.”

Sen. McCain’s list of funny ways to kill Iranians ranges from the caustic — “Send Iran lead-based hookah pipes from China” — to the whimsical — “Tell Christie Brinkley that Iran has been cheating on her.”

The list ends with what Sen. McCain dubs the number one funniest way to kill Iranians: “Vote for me.”

Posted July 9, 2008

Source: The Huffington Post

US backs Jundullah to destabilize Iran


Jundullah bandits

Pakistan’s former Army Chief, Retired General Mirza Aslam Baig, says the US is supporting the outlawed Jundullah group to destabilize Iran.

He said that the US is providing training facilities to Jundullah fighters–located in eastern areas of Iran–to create unrest in the area and affect the cordial ties between Iran and its neighbor Pakistan.

Baig added that Iran and Pakistan are under the siege of western conspiracies.

The intelligence agencies of the coalitional forces are very active in Afghanistan and work against the interests of Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia in the region, he said as quoted by Pakistan Daily newspaper.

The former Pakistani official hailed Islamabad’s decision to hand over the captured Jundullah members to Iran, saying those working against the interests of Iran and Pakistan should be dealt with iron fist.

Jundullah is a terrorist group, headed by Abdolmalek Rigi, which operates in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Baluchistan.

Last month Pakistan handed over Abdolhamid Rigi, brother of Abdolmalek, to Iran.

Wed, 09 Jul 2008

Source: Press TV