Posts tagged USA
Posts tagged USA
Pakistan’s biggest Islamic party, Jamat-e-Islami organised a massive rally in the country’s north west to denounce what they called the US aggression in their country’s tribal areas and interference in their country’ internal affairs.
People in their thousands came to join the rally to voice anger over the US assassination drone strikes in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, saying the attacks have been killing innocent people and are a clear violatation of their country’s sovereignty.
Despite Pakistani government’s repeated protests, the US government continues its assassination drone strikes on Pakistan’s tribal regions and since 2008, its has carried out hundreds of its assassination drone attacks in Pakistan’s northwest, killing more than 3 thousand people.
Washington claims its drone strikes target Al-Qaeda-linked pro Taliban militants. However, casualty figures show that civilians, including women and children, are the main victims of these attacks.
Drinks firm forced to change recipe in California after ingredient classed as health hazard
Nightmares about the backlash they suffered the last time they dared to change the secret recipe for their drink still most likely haunt Coca-Cola executives.
But 27 years after the ill-fated launch of New Coke, the threat of having a cancer warning placed on their famous red bottles is forcing them to revise the closely guarded ingredients again.
With its arch rival Pepsi, Coca-Cola is altering its drink in the US after the state of California declared one of its flavourings a carcinogen – though it will continue to sell the old form of the drink in Britain and the rest of Europe, with no cautionary labelling.
The two drinks have been made to include less of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, a caramel flavouring known as 4-MEI, which the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the US has linked it to cancer in mice and leukaemia in rats. It can be formed during the process of cooking certain ingredients and consequently may be found in minor amounts in many foods. Under Californian law, drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens must have a cancer-warning label on their packaging.
But the two companies – which, combined, make up 90 per cent of the soft-drink market in the US – insist the ingredient is not a health risk.
Coca-Cola said yesterday the cancer warning is: “scientifically unfounded”, while also maintaining that the company has been able to make the changes through a “manufacturing process modification” rather than a full change of formula.
“The caramel colour in all of our products has been, is and always will be safe,” a spokesperson said.
“The changes will not affect the colour or taste of Coca-Cola. Over the years, we have updated our manufacturing processes from time to time, but never altered our secret formula. Caramel is a perfectly safe ingredient and this has been recognised by all European food-safety authorities.
“The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reaffirmed the safety of caramel colouring as recently as March 2011 and stated that the presence of 4-MEI in caramel colouring is not a health concern. In fact, 4-MEI is found in many foods including baked goods, coffee, bread, molasses, soy sauce, gravies and some beers.”
The American Beverage Association, the drinks industry’s trade body in the US, also said that there is no evidence that the ingredient poses a risk to humans. And the US Food and Drug Administration said someone would have to drink 1,000 cans of Pepsi or Coke per day to ingest the same dosage of the chemical given to the laboratory mice.
The secret recipe: ‘Merchandise 7X’
Is a great deal of self-propagated myth surrounding the Coca-Cola recipe and its “Merchandise 7X” combination of flavourings, which is apparently privy to just two executives who are not allowed to fly in the same plane in case the secret goes down with them. Last year an American radio presenter tracked down a 1979 article in an Atlanta newspaper which revealed nutmeg, neroli and even coriander were ingredients.
The original recipe from 1886 has been changed several times. Cocaine was replaced by caffeine in 1904. But the most controversial change was in 1985, when the company introduced New Coke with a sweeter taste. The product bombed, lasting just three months before the original was reinstated.
Side Note: OK - this is just getting weird - if you recall from last year (almost to the exact date even) the CDC issued something similar (which will be below the story from Canada). Are they [BOTH Governments, USA and CANADA] conditioning the people for something? I don’t consider this to be a weird joke or a strange coincidence any more.
MAY 15, 2012
Tips for fighting zombie attacks: Canada says be prepared
MONTREAL — If you’re in Canada this summer, and you don’t want to die, then listen up. If you’re ready for a zombie attack, then you’re ready for just about anything.
That’s the message British Columbia is sending its citizens and tourists in a website it launched this week, which provides tips on about how to prepare for a fake zombie apocalypse.
The vast province on Canada’s west coast has initiated a surprise preparedness campaign to help people take precautions in the event of any disaster — even a zombie attack.
The campaign is fake of course, but the website and its message about safety is not.
Emergency Info BC is using the faux preparedness tips to promote readiness for natural catastrophes which could strike the region.
“While the chance of zombies a-knockin’ on your door is pretty slim, we do believe that if you’re ready for zombies, you’re ready for any disaster,” the website said.
Its campaign is like a “blog about surviving a zombie attack” and is meant to be completely “fictional.”
It includes guidelines in case of an epidemic that transforms people into zombies, a map of risk zones in British-Columbia and instructions for what to include in one’s survival kit. The site also makes use of links to real resources for real disasters.
According to Emergency Info: “Other than zombie attack, your region may be susceptible to flooding, earthquakes or tsunamis. Find out and get prepared.”
MAY 19, 2011
There are many exotic diseases the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating, and about it which it warns Americans; few followers of the health agency were prepared for its latest post: “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse”; the post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for “flesh-eating zombies” – zombies similar to those one sees in movies like “Night of the Living Dead” and video games like Resident Evil; CDC spokesperson said: “It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek campaign—- We were talking about hurricane preparedness and someone bemoaned that we kept putting out the same messages”
There are many exotic diseases the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating, and about it which it warns Americans. Few followers of the health agency were prepared for its latest post: “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.”
The emergency preparation post on the CDC Web site reads:
There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.
The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for “flesh-eating zombies” – zombies similar to those one sees in movies like “Night of the Living Dead” and video games like Resident Evil. Fox News notes that perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you’d take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic. The CDC Web posting says:
First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored).
Other items to be stashed in such a kit include medications, duct tape, a battery-powered radio, clothes, copies of important documents, and first aid supplies.
“Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan,” the posting continues. “This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your doorstep. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake or other emergency.”
CDC spokesman Dave Daigle told FoxNews.com that someone had askedCDC officials if zombies would be a concern due to radiation fears in Japan and traffic spiked following that mention. “It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek campaign,” Daigle said Wednesday. “We were talking about hurricane preparedness and someone bemoaned that we kept putting out the same messages.”
Spy School — a Tampa Bay History Center program specially designed for teens — will instruct youngsters about surveillance, information gathering and disguise.
Agents and experts will teach children ages 12 to 18, offering tips on how to enter the espionage career field.
The two-part spy series is part of the history center’s traveling exhibition, “Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America.” Spy School begins Saturday and offers a guided tour with curator Rodney Kite-Powell.
The program costs $60 per student but history center members get a $5 discount.
The Tampa Bay area might not seem like an obvious spy hub. But many retired FBI, CIA and military members live in the area, and one of the nation’s more high-profile spy court cases unfolded in 2001 in a U.S. District Court in Tampa. Also, United States Special Operations Command is based in Tampa.
For information on Spy School, call (813) 675-8960 or email Jennifer Tyson, the center’s assistant curator of education, at jtyson @tampabayhistorycenter .org.
A few hours after Annan briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) by videoconference from Geneva on Tuesday on his efforts to end the year-plus-long unrest in Syria, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reiterated Washington’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Rice claimed that Damascus has not fully implemented any part of Annan’s six-point peace plan, noting that “Washington is focusing on a regime change in Damascus.”
Annan asked both government troops and armed groups to stop the bloodshed, and reiterated that dialog is the only solution to the unrest.
“They should think of the people, who have been caught in the middle for about fifteen months,…my appeal to those with guns, my appeal to those who have taken — I was going to say the people prisoners, because, in a way, they are frightened — is to really think of them, think of the people, think of Syria, think of the region and disarm and come to the table,” he said.
He also stated that his plan is the only chance for preventing a civil war in the country, saying, “What we have to do is to do our best and hope that the better forces in us will prevail and lead us to put down the arms and do what is right. If it fails…it will not affect only Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region. This is why we should all be so concerned for the Syrians, for Syria, and for a region that for geopolitical reasons we should all be concerned about.”
After Annan’s briefing, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari accused foreign countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, of plotting to sabotage Annan’s plan by fueling the violence.
“We need to see everybody on board. We need to see these Qataris, the Saudis, the Turkish government, as well as some other nations, stopping their incitement to violence, stopping their sponsorship of…the armed rebellion in Syria, stopping their financial contribution to cover up the needs of these armed groups and the needs of the terrorist groups, which are attacking…civilians as well as military targets in Syria” he said.
Jaafari also stated that his country was committed to the plan.
Meanwhile, the UN observers continue monitoring a ceasefire, which has officially been in effect as part of the peace plan for more than three weeks.
The first group of the observers arrived in the Syrian capital on late April 15 in line with the UNSC Resolution 2042, which had been approved a day earlier.
On April 21, the council met and unanimously approved Resolution 2043, which ratified a proposal to send a mission of 300 observers to Syria.
“This is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.”
— Jeff Gearhart, Wall-Mart general counsel, on the firm’s Mexico bribery
[Torture] “is not the norm.”
— Mike Pannek, Abu Ghraib prison warden.
“This is not who we are.”
— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the US massacre of 16 Afghan villagers.
“This is not who we are.”
— General John Allen, commander of forces in Afghanistan, on Koran burning
“This is not who we are.”
— Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on troops posing with enemy body parts
“This is not who we are.”
— Secretary of State Clinton, also on troops posing with enemy body parts
Spying by the New York Police on Muslims in Newark, NJ, which the Newark Police Chief was alerted to, is “not who we are”
— Newark Mayor Cory Booker
“I can tell you something all of you know already - that using pepper spray on peaceful protesters runs counter to our values. It does not reflect well on this university and it absolutely is not who we are.”
— UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who ordered campus police to use force to clear peaceful student occupiers from the campus, leading to pepper spraying of students
Ripping families apart by deporting the undocumented parents of American-born children is “not who we are.”
— President Barack Obama
“This larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own — that’s not who we are.”
— President Barack Obama
“You can’t say, well, we developed trade and the economic relations first and the disregard of human rights. That’s not who we are. We are the United States of America.”
— Sasha Gong, director of the China branch of Voice of America
The latest PR catch phrase from business, administration, military, state and local officials after some atrocity or other is that whatever happened, it is certainly “not who we are,” a phrase appropriately initially uttered by the Vietnam War commander, Gen. William Westmoreland, with reference to the My Lai slaughter of 400 women, children and old men, all civilians, by a group of US soldiers.
American atrocities: Not who we are? Really?
Yet if all these abominations are not “who we are,” then why do our business, police and military and government institutions generate so many examples of obscene, horrific or criminal behavior?
If we examine the culture that guides our young men and women in battle, our public safety employees in their duties, or our business class in its pursuit of profit, it’s easy to see how shameful and reprehensible episodes such as these have become as routine as they have.
Take the military. The Pentagon achieves its ends by through war. Troops must be obedient and willing to kill. This doesn’t come naturally, so the military branches have to reprogram civilian recruits raised to believe killing is wrong so that they can be part of a murderous enterprise. After breaking down an enlistee’s individuality, trainers then teach them to despise “the other,” whomever it may be — kraut, gook, rag-head depending on the generation and the particular war. Only after sufficiently dehumanizing both the recruit and the future enemy can they mold a soldier who will do the dirty work demanded by an imperial nation. Then they build these soldiers into super-fit, adrenaline-charged fighters, surround them with propaganda that demonizes the enemy of the moment, and set them loose to “get the job done.”
The troops who are sent to Afghanistan find themselves in a conflict with no clear objective, let alone an achievable one. They face an able and motivated foe with a very simple objective: to drive the occupier out of their country. As U.S. losses mount, frustrations grow and pressure increases. It is an unfortunate commonplace that armed troops vent their anger with lethal force upon local civilian populations. Their ability to do that is part and parcel of their training that worked so hard to dehumanize these same people.
It is a sick hypocrisy for Obama, Clinton, Panetta, or Allen to claim that these actions are not a direct result of U.S. military and foreign policy. If Dick Cheney and John Yoo were torturing language and logic to advocate the torture of humans, why wouldn’t guards at Abu Ghraib fall into the same debased state of mind? (For example, years after he claimed it was “not who we are,” documents proved that, ahead of the My Lai massacre, Westmoreland himself had issued rules-of-engagement orders that any civilians found in Communist-held territory like My Lai, a “free-fire” zone, were to be considered enemy combatants, and treated the same as Viet Cong.)
Those in power attempt to frame the issue within the “one bad apple in the barrel” rubric. As long as they can pretend that war crimes and atrocities aren’t a logical outcome of official policy, they can shift blame to those without power and keep the odious policies in place. The cabinet secretary sanctimoniously intones platitudes about morality at the same time as one of his underlings is screaming “KILL!” into a fresh recruit’s trembling face.
The same kind of thing happens in the case of police and federal law enforcement officials. Increasingly militarized themselves, they are trained to believe not that their duty is to “protect and serve” or to uphold the nation’s freedoms and liberty, but rather that they are centurions tasked with enforcing “order” and protecting property—generally government property and the property of the wealthy. The general public then becomes a kind of “enemy” to be subdued with whatever force is necessary. Those who stand up for their rights under the law are perceived as threats to the authority of the enforcers, and are dealt with as enemies, to be beaten, pepper-sprayed in the face, spied upon and locked up.
Meanwhile, a farce of morals plays itself out in an endless cycle in the business world. Siemens, Boeing, Wal-Mart are just three prominent recent examples of corporations which have been exposed for using bribery as a standard business practice. Sam Walton may have started his company with some notion of honest (if ruthless) business practices, but the current business culture promotes success at any cost. Coming in second is for losers, and bribery of foreign (and domestic) officials is just another tool in the toolbox, as they like to say.
Just because these shameful acts may indeed indicate who or what our Empire’s institutions are, it does not mean that it is who we are as well. Most Americans, as well as most Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians etc., would not commit the types of acts that have made our nation infamous over the years. But if we are truly better than that, if this is not who we are, then we had better do something about the fact we are being represented to the world by the very actions that we find so heinous.
Even as countries are being abused by U.S. foreign policy, their people are often slow to blame or hate the American people. They often show a remarkable understanding that governments rarely represent their peoples’ wishes.
But we are the nation that is burdened by an impassioned rhetoric that asserts that we are the beacon of democracy, that we are captains of our own destiny. Our supposed innocence of the crimes of Empire and rapacious capitalism can be accepted for only so long. Eventually, we too must share the blame for the actions of our government and our economic culture. It is essential that we do hold every level of business and government accountable for every action that betrays America’s promise, both at home and abroad.
It is time to stop pretending that we are not also accountable. It is time to end militarism at home and abroad and to put people before profits. It won’t be the militarists and the profiteers who make such changes, though. It can only be us.
Otherwise, maybe former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells had it right, when he said, “You are what your record says you are.”
As part of the coordinated biometric border control program, including Secure Communities, a new mobile device called SEEK II has been ordered by Customs and Border Protection.
The Federal Biometric ID program which was announced by ICE back in February of 2011 was introduced under the guise of tracking immigrants who have been booked for crimes by local police.
However, it was quickly revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests by several justice organizations that the program was secretly intended for American citizens as well.
The Secure Communities program itself has expanded well beyond its California testing grounds, and can now be found in 27 states. It has been mandated by the Federal government that all states need to comply by 2013. (Source)
ICE has been under investigation for misrepresenting its intentions regarding Secure Communities, while the role of the FBI and its push to make mandatory what could have been voluntary, only furthers the suspicion that forcing states to obey a Federal dictate has intentions that far surpass documenting and deporting illegal and dangerous individuals.
‘The compact, portable solution is designed for rugged field use, making it quick and easy for military, border control and U.S. government agencies to identify subjects and verify their identities in the field,’ explains Cross Match on its Website.The potential abuse of biometric database systems has led the Center for Constitutional Rights to issue a four-page fact sheet; part of which states a scope of concern that extends even beyond law enforcement abuse:
The accumulation of information in such large databases creates targets for hackers, disgruntled insiders, and national enemies. Information collection projects like NGI greatly endanger national security and leave us vulnerable to identity theft. Using biometric link identifiers introduces the risk that information gathered for one purpose will be used for completely unrelated purposes, without our knowledge or consent, and in blatant violation of our privacy rights. (Source, PDF)Nearly all of the technology of tyranny has been introduced through supposed border control measures, while the border actually stays perfectly wide open. We have seen drones move from border control to inland functions over America with 63 bases now revealed.
The U.S. military plans to implant soldiers with medical devices, making them harder to kill with diseases.
The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced plans to create nanosensors that monitor soldiers’ health on the battlefield and keep doctors constantly abreast about potential health problems.
DARPA’s plan for nanosensors reflects a larger trend, as scientists are trying to harness technology to improve health care across the globe. Doctors are already quickly adopting mobile technology to improve patient care, carrying around iPads to better explain procedures and inventing smartphone apps tooversee drug users’ progress and watch for signs of stress in at-risk patients.
DARPA called the implants “a truly disruptive innovation,” highlighting how healthier soldiers would change the state of modern warfare because most medical evacuations occur due to ordinary illnesses and disease, not injuries. If the U.S. can lead the way in this kind of high-tech monitoring, it could give the military another leg up on adversaries still beset by everyday illness.
Nanotechnology continues to find a place in the medical field as well. Stanford University researchersare developing tiny robotic monitors that can diagnose illnesses, monitor vital stats and even deliver medicine into the bloodstream, similar to the devices that the military plans to create. The two projects have yet to link up, but their similar goals suggest the military could benefit from coordinating efforts with leading university scientists.
The U.S. military regularly invests in the latest mobile technology, not only in healthcare but in its ground operations as well, as the military encourages app developers to develop apps for warfare. The Army is actively incorporating smartphones into battlefield equipment, recognizing the devices’ ability to revolutionize combat.
Still, the U.S. is not the only country in on the action, as China developed an iPhone app to give the People’s Liberation Army information.
The military runs on the strength of its soldiers, and this latest innovation holds promise to bolster the U.S. armed forces by decreasing preventable illnesses and keeping its men and women at the peak of their health.
After visiting Fukushima, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.
Fuel pool number 4 is, indeed, the top short-term threat facing humanity.
Anti-nuclear physician Dr. Helen Caldicott says that if fuel pool 4 collapses, she will evacuate her family from Boston and move them to the Southern Hemisphere. This is an especially dramatic statement given that the West Coast is much more directly in the path of Fukushima radiation than the East Coast.
And nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen recently said (at 25:00):
There’s more cesium in that [Unit 4] fuel pool than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground…
But of course it would happen all at once.
It would certainly destroy Japan as a functioning country…
Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.
This week, Wyden said that the spent fuel is a national security threat to the U.S.:
AlterNet asked Sen. Wyden if he considers the spent fuel at Fukushima Daiichi a national security threat.
In a statement released by his office, Wyden replied, “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.”
[Robert Alvarez – a nuclear expert and a former special assistant to the United States Secretary of Energy] agrees, saying, “My major concern is that this effort to get that spent fuel out of there is not something you should be doing casually and taking your time on.”
Yet Tepco’s current plans are to hold the majority of this spent fuel onsite for years in the same elevated, uncontained storage pools, only transferring some of the fuel into more secure, hardened dry casks when the common pool reaches capacity.
Why are American nuclear authorities ignoring this threat?
The southeastern Michigan city of Milan, a 40-minute or so commute to Toledo or Detroit industrial centers, might become the new home for a 200-acre or larger “China City” that would house Chinese business people.
Milan, a city of 6,000 surrounded by farm fields, is the locale for an unusual deal in the industrial heartland as the rocky relationship continues between the People’s Republic of China and the United States.
A group of mainland Chinese known as Sino-Michigan Properties LLC paid $1.9 million for 200 acres of farmland on Milan city limits in purchases this year and in 2011, according to local officials and property records.
Milan (pronounced MY-lan) is located on U.S. 23 a half-hour from the Ohio border and a short drive from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — a destination favored by Chinese students.
The city straddles the border of Wastenaw and Monroe counties and is best known regionally for the Milan Dragway race track and a federal prison that can be seen from the highway.
The investors intend to build a 415-unit housing complex complete with artificial lakes and up to 6,000-square-foot homes, as well as a cultural center, Michigan officials briefed on the project said.
As yet, the project hasn’t been formally reviewed by two townships that must approve it, and questions abound.
A presentation last month to the Milan City Council by the city administrator said the project “would be marketed to Chinese business people who want to start companies in the United States,” reported the Milan News Leader newspaper.
Attorney Arthur Dudley II, of the Detroit firm Butzel Long, the registered agent for Sino, declined comment.
He also declined to put a reporter in touch with the investors. “I can’t comment on anything about that,” said the attorney, who in 2008 was selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as a top-three finalist for “Deal Maker of the Year.”
But Doug Smith, senior vice president for business and community development for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., met with the investors.
“It’s a group that wants to build a China city, starting with housing over there in Milan,” Smith said.
A veteran of efforts to attract Chinese investment who led a trip to China last year with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Smith said proximity to the auto industry is a potential plus for the group, as is closeness to the University of Michigan. “One of the big reasons they come here is to put kids in school,” he said.
Smith also noted an uptick in interest by China to locate factories in the U.S. to avoid tariffs and transportation costs.
“If they want to be in the American market, they have to have manufacturing here. They want to get out ahead of that,” Smith said. Local Michigan township approval awaits action and will require much more information if it is to happen, said township and Milan city elected officials.
Phil Heath, 57, Milan Twp.’s supervisor since 2008, said he has more questions than answers at this point, such as how local schools could handle the influx.
“People got questions, people want answers. It will be an interesting topic for the next six months. I hope somebody comes up with some answers and facts. All I know is they want to propose this development. There is a pretty little map and that is where it ends,” Heath said.
Milan Mayor Kym Muckler, who said she has not met with the project principals, said she understands the deal to be from “a conglomerate” of Chinese businessmen who paid cash.
Muckler, a former reporter at the local newspaper, said approving the project requires extending water and sewer from the city to the township.
How natural wetlands on the property are handled could also be an issue.
“Township residents have many concerns with this project,” Muckler said. “I have my concerns and many are the same that the folks in the township have. The political climate is sensitive — we are the city and have services, but townships are where the land resides.”
Analyst Thilo Hanemann of the research analysis firm Rhodium Group, a close tracker of Chinese business activity, said he’s never heard of anything similar to the Milan proposal.
“I have not seen a project of this large scale targeting Chinese businessmen,” he said. Real estate inflation in China is pushing investors to low-cost places to place money, he added. “You can be sure the price of property in Shanghai is a multiple of what it is in Michigan.”
There have been no meetings, or hearings, or any other official action scheduled on the project, London Twp. Supervisor Barb Henley said Wednesday. “My only question is, ‘Why Milan?’ ”
Concluded township supervisor Heath: “In this economy, it’s unusual for anybody to say they want to build something.”
Side Note: These drones and this entire stupid surveillance state is for one purpose, and one purpose only: TO INTIMIDATE YOU. Everything else they say it’s for IS A LIE. Clear? Good.
Unmanned craft help with natural disasters and drug interdiction
SEATTLE – The federal government’s unmanned drones patrolling the U.S.-Canadian border are venturing into Washington’s airspace.
In testimony before a U.S. Senate panel last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said northern border surveillance using unmanned aerial aircraft now expands from North Dakota to Eastern Washington.
The two 10,000-pound Predator-B unmanned aircraft based in Grand Forks, N.D., have a 950-mile coverage range and “do enter Washington airspace, in the vicinity of Spokane,” Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Gina Gray said Thursday.
The unmanned aircraft “can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time, something no other aircraft in the federal inventory can do,” Gray said. “In this manner it is a force multiplier, providing aerial surveillance support for border agents by investigating sensor activity in remote areas to distinguish between real or perceived threats, allowing the boots on the ground force to best allocate their resources and efforts.”
Since 2005, the Department of Homeland Security has deployed a handful of drones around the country, with some based in Arizona, Florida, North Dakota and Texas – with more planned for the future. Operations out of North Dakota first began in 2011.
The drones help both patrol and aid during natural disasters. For example, Gray said, the Predators have mapped the flooded Red River Valley in the areas of North Dakota and Minnesota. The drones are equipped with cameras that can provide aerial pictures of disaster areas.
The drones also can be loaned to local agencies in cases of emergencies. In fiscal year 2011, CBP’s drones contributed to the seizure of 7,600 pounds of narcotics and 75 arrests, Gray added.
The use of drones has proliferated among federal and local law enforcement agencies nationwide along with civilian hobbyists in recent years.
In December, Congress gave the Federal Aviation Administration six months to pick half a dozen sites around the country where the military and others can fly unmanned aircraft in the vicinity of regular air traffic, with the aim of demonstrating they’re safe.
But concerns remain, including privacy, and the government worries they could collide with passenger planes or come crashing down to the ground – concerns that have slowed more widespread adoption of the technology.
A recent American Civil Liberties Union report said allowing drones greater access takes the country “a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities.”
Kendle Allen, sheriff of remote Stevens County, said his agency has not asked for drone assistance.
“There is always mixed feelings about something flying above you,” Allen said.
But he said in Stevens County’s rugged mountainous terrain, aerial patrol can be useful in case of emergencies. His office has used U.S. Border Patrol helicopters in the past to search for people missing in the woods.
John Brennan, President Obama’s chief adviser on counterterrorism, has again put on public display two unfortunate facts: (1) that the White House has no clue as to how to counter terrorism; and (2) (in Brennan’s words) “the unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives.”
In a speech on April 30, Brennan did share one profound insight: “Countries typically don’t want foreign soldiers in their cities and towns.” His answer to that? “The precision of targeted [drone] strikes.” Does he really mean to suggest that local populations are more accepting of unmanned drones buzzing overhead and firing missiles on the push of a button by a “pilot” halfway around the world?
Beneath Brennan’s Orwellian rhetoric lies the reality that he remains unable (or unwilling) to deal with, the $64 question former White House correspondent Helen Thomas asked him repeatedly on Jan. 7, 2010, about why terrorists do the things they do.
Brennan: “Al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Is it possible he still has no clue? To demonstrate how little progress Brennan has made in the way of understanding the challenge of “terrorism,” let’s look back at my commentary in early 2010 about Brennan’s vacuous non-answers to Helen Thomas. At the time, I wrote:
Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
After Obama briefly addressed L’Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas (now 91) to break through the vapid remarks about rechanneling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners.
Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.
She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did. Thomas: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”
Brennan: “Al-Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents. … They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al-Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”
Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”
Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al-Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”
Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how al-Qaeda evildoers are perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men.
There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.
I had been hoping Obama would say something intelligent about what drove Abdulmutallab to do what he did, but the president uttered a few vacuous comments before sending in the clowns. This is what he said before he walked away from the podium:
It is clear that al-Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations … to do their bidding. … And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al-Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death … while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. … That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.
But why it is so hard for Muslims to “get” that message? Why can’t they end their preoccupation with dodging U.S. missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Gaza long enough to reflect on how we are only trying to save them from terrorists while simultaneously demonstrating our commitment to “justice and progress”?
Does a smart fellow like Obama expect us to believe that all we need to do is “communicate clearly to Muslims” that it is al-Qaeda, not the U.S. and its allies, that brings “misery and death”? Does any informed person not know that the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million from their homes? How is that for “misery and death”?
Rather than a failure to communicate, U.S. officials are trying to rewrite recent history, which seems to be much easier to accomplish with the Washington press corps and large segments of the American population than with the Muslim world. But why isn’t there a frank discussion by America’s leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive?
Peeking Behind the Screen
We witnessed a similar phenomenon when the 9/11 Commission Report tiptoed into a cautious discussion of possible motives behind the 9/11 attacks. To their credit, the drafters of that report apparently went as far as their masters would allow, in gingerly introducing a major elephant into the room: “America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.” (p. 376)
When asked later about the flabby way that last sentence ended, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, explained that there had been a donnybrook over whether that paragraph could be included at all.
The drafters also squeezed in the reason given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as to why he “masterminded” the attacks on 9/11: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed … from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
Would you believe that former Vice President Dick Cheney has also pointed to U.S. support for Israel as one of the “true sources of resentment”? This unique piece of honesty crept into his speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21, 2009.
Sure, he also trotted out the bromide that the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world.” But the Israel factor slipped into the speech, perhaps an inadvertent acknowledgement of the Israeli albatross adorning the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Very few pundits and academicians are willing to allude to this reality, presumably out of fear for their future career prospects.
Former senior CIA officer Paul R. Pillar, now a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few willing to refer, in his typically understated way, to “all the other things … including policies and practices that affect the likelihood that people … will be radicalized, and will try to act out the anger against us.” One has to fill in the blanks regarding what those “other things” are.
But no worries. Secretary Napolitano has a fix for this unmentionable conundrum. It’s called “counter-radicalization,” which she describes thus: “How do we identify someone before they become radicalized to the point where they’re ready to blow themselves up with others on a plane? And how do we communicate better American values and so forth … around the globe?”
Better communication. That’s the ticket.
Hypocrisy and Double Talk
Miami Beach police are intensifying enforcement efforts this Memorial Day weekend to control massive crowds and avoid last year’s chaotic finale.
Terrance Smith hasn’t had much difficulty selling South Beach as a Memorial Day weekend destination this year. The promoter, who since 2001 has pumped up Miami Beach as the spot to be for several hundred thousand members of what he calls the “hip-hop generation,” says bookings for hotel rooms remain as popular as ever — despite police-involved shootings during the weekend last year.
“People don’t think about something that happened 12 months ago,” Smith said.
Maybe not outside South Florida.
But when the expected crowds return to South Beach this month — Memorial Day will be observed Monday, May 28 — they will find that wounds inflicted by years of raucous, days-long street bacchanals were ripped open last year when 11 officers unleashed a barrage of bullets on Collins Avenue during their chase of a driver they said was armed.
The driver died. Four bystanders were hit by bullets.
This year, the heavy police presence, which some argue contributed to the tension, will intensify significantly. A checkpoint. Watch towers. Police in pairs on every corner. Drivers on all three causeways leading into South Beach — the MacArthur, Venetian and Julia Tuttle — will be affected, with police surveillance on the MacArthur and Tuttle.
“What we’re trying to control is just the volume [of people.] We reach a breaking point that we just can’t handle,’’ said Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez, named chief in March.
Among the changes:
• Dozens of officers told to enforce what city officials have dubbed a “zero tolerance” policy will weave through crowds on the street and beach. In addition, pairs of police will be stationed up and down Fifth Street, Ocean Drive, Collins and Washington avenues. Assisting agencies have been told that after years of declining numbers, police expect to exceed the 1,010 arrests that in 2006 drew allegations of racial profiling from the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP.
• Come Friday of the holiday weekend, Ocean Drive will be closed, Collins Avenue will be one-way heading north, and Washington Avenue will be one-way heading south, creating a loop to control cruising and lead drivers into city parking lots. Roadblocks will be erected on many of the cross streets off Fifth, Ocean, Collins and Washington.
• Police will stage a DUI checkpoint from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday on the MacArthur Causeway, east of the entrances to Palm and Hibiscus islands. They will not stop every car, but if you are stopped and have an expired registration, you’ll get a ticket. If you have an outstanding warrant or fail a DUI roadside test, you will be arrested, police say. This is the first time police are establishing a checkpoint since the parties began in 2001.
• The Venetian Causeway will be open only to Miami and Miami Beach residents, although restricted access will be based on the honor system.
• License plate readers that use multi-angle scanners to record vehicle tags will be placed along the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur causeways to record just about every car that drives into South Beach. Recorded tags will be entered into a database that police will use to find outstanding warrants, cars reported stolen, expired registrations and other potential violations. Vehicles with tags that kick back violations to police will be stopped.
• Cameras that see up to a mile will be perched on four towers placed where officers can rewind and view video. The towers will be stationed in Lummus Park, on Collins Avenue and on the east end of the Lincoln Road Mall.
Police say they hope the new tactics and equipment will control the crowds that come to town not just for club events but for the jam-packed, nonsanctioned street parties on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue that have come to define the weekend since 2001.
A one-sided justice sees weaker states punished as rich nations and giant corporations project their power across the world
The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.
While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”. The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions”. But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”. This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.
In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, the International Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote. By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms. Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh, Italy a bigger share than India, and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members. The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American.
The IMF, as a result, is still the means by which western financial markets project their power into the rest of the world. At the end of last year, for example, it published a paper pressing emerging economies to increase their “financial depth”, which it defines as “the total financial claims and counterclaims of an economy”. This, it claimed, would insulate them from crisis. As the Bretton Woods Project points out, emerging nations with large real economies and small financial sectors were the countries which best weathered the economic crisis, which was caused by advanced economies with large financial sectors. Like the modern opium wars it waged in the 1980s and 1990s – when it forced Asian countries to liberalise their currencies, permitting western financial speculators to attack them – the IMF’s prescriptions are incomprehensible until they are understood as instruments of financial power.
Decolonisation did not take place until the former colonial powers and the empires of capital on whose behalf they operated had established other means of retaining control. Some, like the IMF and World Bank, have remained almost unchanged. Others, like the programme of extraordinary rendition, evolved in response to new challenges to global hegemony.
As the kidnapping of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife suggests, the UK’s foreign and intelligence services see themselves as a global police force, minding the affairs of other nations. In 2004, after Tony Blair, with one eye on possible contracts for British oil companies, decided that Gaddafi was a useful asset, the alliance was sealed with the capture, packaging and delivery of the regime’s dissenters.
Like the colonial crimes the British government committed in Kenya and elsewhere, whose concealment was sustained by the Foreign Office until its secret archives were revealed last month, the rendition programme was hidden from public view. Just as the colonial secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, repeatedly lied to parliament about the detention and torture of Kikuyu people, in 2005 Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, told parliament that ”there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition”.
Reading the emails passed between the offices of James Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt, it struck me that here too is a government which sees itself as an agent of empire – Murdoch’s in this case – and which sees the electorate as ornamental. Working, against the public interest, for News Corporation, the financial sector and the billionaire donors to the Conservative party, its ministers act as capital’s district commissioners, governing Britain as their forebears governed the colonies.
The bid for power, oil and spheres of influence that Bush and Blair launched in Mesopotamia, using the traditional camouflage of the civilising mission; the colonial war still being fought in Afghanistan, 199 years after the Great Game began; the global policing functions the great powers have arrogated to themselves; the one-sided justice dispensed by international law. All these suggest that imperialism never ended, but merely mutated into new forms. The virtual empire knows no boundaries. Until we begin to recognise and confront it, all of us, black and white, will remain its subjects.