Events That Were Current in 2015


Origa has succumbed to fatal lung cancer at 44 years of age.

The legal complications of USA corruption are difficult to follow; here is one view on the legal debacle swirling around Tony Rackauckas.

With the Orange County District Attorney’s Office being accused of using jailhouse informants to gain convictions, America Tonight has obtained audio of once-secret conversations between law enforcement and a jailhouse informant that threatens to unravel dozens of criminal cases, including some murder convictions.

The tapes were recorded as part of a jailhouse informant operation, which involved at least six inmates and may have lasted 30 years.

The Orange County District Attorney’s systematic use of informants first came to light in 2013. At that time, public defender Scott Sanders was preparing for the penalty phase of a case involving his client Scott Dekraai, a convicted mass murderer. Sanders found out that an inmate at the same jailhouse, Fernando Perez, had been used to gather information on both Dekraai and another client. Suspecting it wasn’t a coincidence Sanders started an investigation.

In January 2014, Sanders delivered the results of his investigation in the form of a 500-page court motion. The motion detailed law enforcement’s use of informants to gather confessions from dozens of inmates and accused deputies of hiding evidence and then lying about it.

The U.S. government is prohibited from using informants to gather information on defendants who have retained counsel; doing so violates their right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. But in court filings, Sanders claims the jailhouse informants in Orange County were acting as government agents, taking direction from law enforcement.

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2015/5/28/orange-county-snitch-scandal-audiotapes.html


… the kidnapping and murder of Jeanette Espeleta, a 20-year-old Fullerton woman eight months’ pregnant with a baby she planned to name Alyssa Kaitana. But the July 1998 double homicide has evolved into an ongoing showcase of incompetence and corruption involving police, sheriff’s deputies, county counsel, prosecutors and a seasoned judge.

Such a story would have been difficult for the public to accept not long ago. But last month, OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ death-penalty prosecution team got caught committing perjury and hiding crucial records, unprecedented findings that prompted Judge Thomas M. Goethals to recuse the entire district attorney’s office in People v. Scott Dekraai, the 2011 Seal Beach salon mass killer.

Similar to Dekraai, government actors took the easily solvable Espeleta murder and unnecessarily cheated. In some ways, the Espeleta case is worse than the lingering aforementioned death-penalty trial that has garnered national attention. During the past 17 years, prosecution teams hid exculpatory evidence, secured tainted testimony, won convictions, and then duped state appellate-court justices into believing they never swerved from their sworn oaths. It’s an alarming situation that’s not based on speculation. While most prosecutors and cops I see in court are honest, some even significantly underpaid for their work, the record alone in the Espeleta mess proves OC’s criminal-justice system needs a cleansing.

If you doubt my observation, contemplate this: In recent months, we’ve learned, over the objections of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), that the agency created TRED, a computerized records system in which deputies store information about in-custody defendants, including informants. Some of the data is trivial; other pieces contain vital, exculpatory evidence. But for a quarter of a century, OCSD management deemed TRED beyond the reach of any outside authority. In Dekraai, deputies Ben Garcia and Seth Tunstall committed perjury to hide the mere existence of TRED. Those lies didn’t originate from blind loyalty, however. The concealed records show how prosecution teams slyly trampled the constitutional rights of defendants by employing informants–and then keeping clueless judges, juries and defense lawyers.

This scam returns us to Espeleta. Twenty-two days before her death, the victim filed paperwork with the OC district attorney’s office seeking future child support from the unborn baby’s father, Richard Tovar. Fullerton Police Department (FPD) investigators focused on Tovar, determined he was the killer and won a conviction. Officers also pursued murder charges against 20-year-old Henry Rodriguez, Tovar’s best friend. Rodriguez was at Anaheim Stadium during the killing and had considered Tovar’s pre-murder “187” rants against Espeleta as empty talk fueled by dope. Detectives Tom Conklin and Robert Richardson got Rodriguez to admit he’d heard Tovar’s rants and, after the murder, helped him dump the corpse in the Pacific Ocean. In 1999, a jury convicted him on first- and second-degree murder counts.

Though Rodriguez landed in prison, the case was only on the first wave of a wild roller-coaster ride. A California Court of Appeal panel with justices William Rylaarsdam, David Sills and Kathleen O’Leary overturned the convictions in 2003, declaring Conklin and Richardson ignored the law to coerce a partial confession, in violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights. “The transcripts and videotapes of the interview show the detectives were intent on extracting every last detail possible from the defendant before formally placing him under arrest and informing him of his constitutional rights; they succeeded,” the judges wrote.

The second trial put the Rodriguez prosecution team in a quandary. This time, they couldn’t use the illegally obtained confession, so they unveiled a startling new weapon: Michael James Garrity, an Orange County Jail informant. Garrity claimed he’d secured much of the same incriminating information from the defendant prior to the first trial. But the tardy emergence of a snitch raised a question: Why had Garrity been hidden?

The answer is contained in the snitch’s notes and police interviews, which reveal unethical acts.
Federal law in Massiah v. United States establishes that government agents and their informants cannot question charged defendants who have legal representation. But Garrity’s long-hidden, June 7, 1999, recorded meeting with FPD detectives Sean Fares and Anthony Sosnowski is loaded with the informant admitting he’d repeatedly asked questions. For example, he uttered statements such as “I asked [Rodriquez] how they shot [Espeleta]” and “I asked how she was killed.”

Worse, according to the transcript, Fares and Sosnowski ignored the Massiah violations and brazenly provided Garrity a wish list of questions they wanted asked. “A couple of things we’re gonna want to know, if you, if you can, uh, solicit from him, um, is: Where is the [victim’s] car?” said Sosnowski, now a supervising investigator for Rackauckas. “Maybe you can get him to tell you that somehow.”

That evidence troubled James M. Crawford. As Rodriguez’s attorney for the second trial, Crawford viewed the state’s cases as warped from the outset. “Henry didn’t murder anyone,” he said. “He helped dispose of the body.”

At a March 25, 2005, hearing with Judge Frank F. Fasel, Crawford asked to inspect “relevant impeachment” information: sheriff’s records on Garrity’s informant work. Laura Knapp, a deputy county counsel representing OCSD, objected. Knapp argued, “It is the sheriff’s contention that these records are highly confidential, investigatory files, which are not written or created [my emphasis] and should not be disclosed.”

Labeling Crawford’s keen insight “a fishing expedition,” Fasel accepted Knapp’s perplexing stance (supposedly nonexistent records are confidential), declared that Garrity had not been acting as a government informant when he questioned Rodriguez, permitted the snitch’s testimony, oversaw the defendant’s second trial conviction and imposed a sentence of 40 years to life.

None of this bothered appellate justices Rylaarsdam, Sills and O’Leary. Garrity clearly noted during his FPD interview that he’d questioned Rodriguez in violation of Massiah, but the panel claimed there was “no evidence of a deliberate elicitation of the information.” To help reach that conclusion, the justices simply echoed law enforcement’s fiction: Not working as a government snitch, Garrity stumbled upon the incriminating Rodriguez statements, a scenario that permitted the introduction of that evidence.

But as with Crawford, as well as Rodriguez’s first trial defense lawyers, the justices hadn’t just been misled about the existence of an OCSD informant program. All were robbed of vital, contradictory evidence. TRED entries contain information the defense was entitled to know, including that Garrity worked as an informant before, during and after his questioning of Rodriguez.

The TRED records aren’t ambiguous. Before going operational against Rodriguez, the snitch ratted on other inmates possessing methamphetamine, performed informant work for Riverside authorities, worked to aid OCSD deputies on “several matters,” and solicited information from multiple murder defendants on behalf of Anaheim and Fullerton police. In an April 1999 TRED entry, a deputy wrote, “[Garrity] is very cooperative and has apparently provided staff with good information.”

The TRED revelations, 17 years late in this case, demonstrate the government can’t be trusted to obey court rules to surrender evidence helpful to the defense and could prompt a third trial for Rodriguez.

“This is a due-process disaster zone,” said Scott Sanders, the assistant public defender who forced disclosure of the TRED system late last year. “The sheriff’s department created a records system in 1990 and has pretended it is immune from court disclosure. How many more convicted defendants were cheated during the past 25 years?”

http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2015/04/oc_sheriff_informant_dekraai_espeleta_murder.php


In a stinging rebuke, a criminal court judge removed the Orange County district attorney’s office from one of its highest-profile murder cases, saying prosecutors had violated mass shooter Scott Dekraai’s rights by repeatedly failing to turn over important evidence.

“Certain aspects of the district attorney’s performance in this case might be described as a comedy of errors but for the fact that it has been so sadly deficient,” Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals wrote in his ruling. “There is nothing funny about that.”

Goethals, though, declined to remove the death penalty as a potential punishment for Dekraai, a former tugboat captain who gunned down his ex-wife and seven others at a Seal Beach salon in 2011.

The judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a “chronic failure” to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial.

The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai’s attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights.

Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas’ conflict of interest in the Dekraai case “is not imaginary,” the judge wrote. “It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations.”

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83046345/


http://cyber-berkut.org/

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George Soros advocates EU financial aid and military assistance to Ukraine to restore Kiev’s fighting capacity without violating the Minsk peace deal, claim anti-Kiev hackers citing leaked emails between the billionaire and Ukraine’s president.

The hacking group CyberBerkut claims it has penetrated Ukraine’s presidential administration website and obtained correspondence between Soros and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.

The hacktivists have published three files online, which include a draft of “A short and medium term comprehensive strategy for the new Ukraine” by Soros (dated March 12, 2015); an undated paper on military assistance to Kiev; and the billionaire’s letter to Poroshenko and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, dated December 23, 2014.

According to the leaked documents, Soros supports Barack Obama’s stance on Ukraine, but believes that the US should do even more.

He is confident that the US should provide Ukraine with lethal military assistance, “with same level of sophistication in defense weapons to match the level of opposing force.”

“In poker terms, the US will ‘meet, but not raise,” the 84-year-old businessman explained, supposedly signing one of the letters as “a self-appointed advocate of the new Ukraine.”

The Western backers want Kiev to “restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement,” Soros wrote.

Retired US general Wesley Clark, who commanded the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and Polish ex-general, Waldemar Skrzypczak, will be among those advising Poroshenko on how to fulfil this task, he added.

In mid-February, after a year of fighting, Kiev and rebels from the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk signed a peace deal calling for a ceasefire, heavy weapons withdrawal, and prisoner exchanges between the sides.

Among other things, the leaked documents claim that the Ukrainian authorities were also asked to “restore some semblance of currency stability and functioning banking system” and “maintain unity among the various branches of government” in order to receive assistance from foreign allies.

Soros believes that it’s up to the EU to support Kiev with financial aid, stressing that “Europe must reach a new framework agreement that will allow the European Commission to allocate up to $1 billion annually to Ukraine.”

As for the current state of economy, the billionaire wrote that former Chilean finance minister, Andres Velasco, after visiting Ukraine on his request, returned with “a dire view of financial situation.”

“The new Ukraine is literally on the verge of collapse” due to the national bank’s lack of hard currency reserves, Soros warned Poroshenko.

The correspondence shows that the billionaire has been in constant touch with the authorities in Kiev and consulting them.

http://rt.com/news/264037-soros-ukraine-poroshenko-leak/


Via Volokh Conspiracy, a disturbing criminal case out of Montana, where Flathead County resident David Lenio, 28, is being prosecuted for making disparaging remarks about Jews on Twitter and denying that the Holocaust happened.

Say what? While this sort of prosecution is common in parts of Europe, Americans enjoy the protection of the First Amendment, which contains no exception for what’s colloquially known as “hate speech.” The only permitted exceptions to free speech protections—as the Supreme Court recently re-articulated—are for obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement, and “speech integral to criminal conduct.”

As Eugene Volokh explains, defamation law is generally “limited to false factual assertions. It requires a showing that the speaker knows the statement is false, and isn’t just mistaken (reasonably or not). And it requires a statement about a particular person.”

But under Montana’s ridiculously broad defamation statute, “defamatory matter is anything that exposes a person or a group, class, or association to hatred, contempt, ridicule, degradation, or disgrace in society or injury to the person’s or its business or occupation.” And anyone who “communicates any defamatory matter to a third person without the consent of the person defamed commits the offense of criminal defamation.”

Here’s a sample of the kind of things Lenio has been arrested for tweeting:

USA needs a Hitler to rise to power and fix our #economy and i’m about ready to give my life to the cause or just shoot a bunch of #kikes …

I hope someone goes on a massive killing spree in kalispell school because I’m so poor I can’t afford housing and don’t care about your kids.

Now that the holocaust has been proven to be a lie beyond a reasonable doubt, it is now time to hunt the Nazi hunters.

#Copenhagen It’s important to note that jews hate free speech & are known bullsh-ters, could be #falseFlag

Reasonable people may disagree on whether Lenio’s assertion that he’s going to shoot people constitutes a “true threat.” (U.S. courts have recently been grappling with something similar in a case involving Facebook statements, although in that case the potential threats were directed at specific individuals.) But it’s clear that if any illegal speech is at play here, it’s the suggestion that Lenio might commit violence, right?

The Flathead County prosecutor’s office, however, is charging Lenio not just for “intimidation” but also, independently, under the state’s defamation statute. It argues that Lenio made defamatory statements about Jews by suggesting that they have degraded the economy and dislike free speech and by stating that the Holocaust was a lie.

Lenio’s lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the charges on grounds that the statutes were unconstitutionally overbroad.* The state argued in response that “Lenio does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that (the defamation law) is facially overbroad because it is not limited to cases against individuals or small groups of people” and he “does not establish how the statute reaches protected speech in a substantial number of cases.”

Can we pause a second there? According to Montana proseutors, it’s unimaginable how a law against voicing any negative opinion about any group of people could infringe on free speech in a substantial way.

This is not defamation as it’s commonly understood. This is, as Volokh states, “that extraordinarily rare thing: an American prosecution for “hate speech.” There’s just one tiny problem: “The First Amendment doesn’t allow that.”

While Volokh doesn’t think the Montana defamation law is unconstitutional per se, its prohibition on injurious statements about groups, classes, or associations must be “limited to relatively small groups, such as…four officers of a corporation, or twenty-five employees in a particular job category,” he writes.

But the Montana prosecutor disagrees; statements that injure the reputation of Jews as a class (or presumably Muslims, blacks, gays, men, police officers, law professors, Republicans, or any other such group as a class), the prosecutor reasons, are also covered by the statute.

If I lived in Montana as I typed something like “police officers are bullies,” “librarians have six toes apiece,” or “Montana government officials hate free speech,” I could apparently be charged with criminal defamation. That’s terrifying. And certainly unconstitutional?

Volokh points out that the Supreme Court did hold, in 1952, that “group libel” is constitutionally unprotected; yet since then, the Court and legal scholars have routinely rejected this opinion. Prevailing case law now holds that disrespectful, hateful, or “reputation-injuring” opinions—such as Lenio’s assertion that Jews “hate free speech”—cannot be punished as defamation, which is reserved for false factual assertions. What’s more, even false factual assertions cannot be considered defamatory unless the speaker knows they are false. And even deliberate falsehoods about historical matters (like the Holocaust) or economic and social issues (including the alleged behavior or characteristics of a large racial, religious, political, etc. group) are constitutionally protected as well.

The most recent ruling in this regard was United States v. Alvarez (2012), where judges opined that “laws restricting false statements about philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, the arts, and other matters of public concern” would “present a grave and unacceptable danger of suppressing truthful speech.” This does not mean that “there is no such thing as truth or falsity in these areas or that the truth is always impossible to ascertain,” they state, “but rather that it is perilous to permit the state to be the arbiter of truth.”

* I previously stated that a district judge had rejected Lenio’s motion to dismiss, which is incorrect. Lenio’s lawyer has until June 10th to reply to the state’s response, after which the court will rule. 

Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a staff editor at Reason.com.

https://reason.com/blog/2015/06/05/montana-hate-speech-case


copsSureAreSomething

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An Illinois judge has released a long-concealed picture that shows two Chicago police officers posing over an unidentified black man in antlers while holding rifles as if he had been hunted.

The photo, which was given to police by federal prosecutors in 2013, was made public for the first time on Wednesday by Cook county Judge Thomas Allen. It was taken sometime between 1998 and 2003 at the Harrison police district station on the west side.

This station is a mile south of Homan Square, the facility where the Guardian earlier this year identified alleged police misconduct and torture as well as other civil rights violations.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy – who last week at a police board meeting deferred any questions about Homan Square brought up by citizens to police legal counsel – called the photo “disgusting”.

“As the superintendent of this department and as a resident of our city, I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today.”

Jerome Finnigan, on the left, was fired long before the photo was given to the city. He was sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison for income tax evasion and robbery. But the photo is the direct cause of Timothy McDermott’s firing in 2014 by the police board in a 5-to-4 vote.

While board dissenters thought McDermott should be suspended, the majority wrote that “appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience”.

McDermott, who asked the judge to keep the photo under seal, is appealing against his dismissal in court, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In May Chicago became the first city in the nation to pass a reparations ordinance giving financial restitution, access to city colleges and a memorial, among other things, to victims of police torture under Chicago police commander Jon Burge. The package passed almost a week after it came to light that the city had paid out more than half of a billion dollars for police misconduct in the past decade.

On the day it won unanimously in a city council vote, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said its passage would “bring this dark chapter of Chicago’s history to a close”.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/28/chicago-police-took-hunting-photograph-with-black-man-as-prey


See also:

http://countercurrentnews.com/2015/05/picture-chicago-police-didnt-want-you-to-see/

http://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/7/71/587596/judge-wont-seal-photo-cpd-cops-posing-african-american-man-antlers



star23may2015

23 May 2015
Police and council bosses are to apply to the Government to have protest marches by extremist groups in Rotherham outlawed.

Rotherham Council’s commissioners have written to Home Secretary Theresa May advising her they are planning to make a joint submission with South Yorkshire Police asking to be allowed the special powers.

They want to be granted powers under the Public Order Act that would allow for the banning of public marches of an initial period of up to three months.
It follows around £2m being spent on policing marches and protests in Rotherham from groups including the English Defence League, Britain First and the Yorkshire Infidels, as well as counter-demonstrations from organisations such as Unite Against Fascism and British Muslim Youth.
The most expensive and high-profile operations followed the publication of the Jay report in August, which revealed South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council had failed at least 1,400 victims of child sexual exploitation over a 16-year-period, with many of the main offenders being men of Pakistani origin.
A protest by the EDL and other right-wing groups in the town on September 13 ran up a policing bill of more than £1m, as over 1,000 officers from across the country were sent to Rotherham.

A further £250,000 was also spent on an operation monitoring a group of EDL protesters who set up camp outside Rotherham police station between August 29 and September 13 to demand the resignation of police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, who had been responsible for children’s services at Rotherham Council between 2005 and 2010.
In March, members of the extreme right-wing group the South East Alliance were prevented from entering Rotherham, with arrests made under breach of the peace powers. This operation cost more than £150,000.
The £1.8m bill between 2013 and 2015 does not include Saturday’s demonstration by the South East Alliance group, who were joined by members of the EDL and the National Front.
In her letter to the Home Secretary, Commissioner Mary Ney said while it is hoped the costs of policing the marches will be met through a Home Office grant, the public money that has gone on dealing with the demonstrations could be ‘better spent’.
She said: “Over an extended period, the town has been subject to a significant number of events by right-wing groups, and counter demonstrations by left wing groups. This has, and continues to, consume a vast amount of police resource, both within and outside South Yorkshire, at significant cost to the public purse.
“However, more significant is the damage to the reputation of the town, and the impact that this has had on the town centre in particular, which has been the focus of these events.
“Due to their regularity there is a real perception amongst people using the town that it is not safe, and that there are protests every Saturday.
“Footfall is significantly down, and a number of retailers are facing closure. Further marches and demonstrations can only worsen this position.
“The town needs to move on and further events will be damaging both to community cohesion, and the ability of the town to recover.”
Commissioner Ney said conditions to control where marches go or how long they last do ‘not deal with the cumulative impact that these events have on the community, or the town centre businesses’.
She added: “Whilst we realise that people have a democratic right to assemble and protest under the European conventions, that freedom has been exercised on numerous occasions, by many different groups, all protesting about the same issue.
“That voice has been heard, and all groups have had the opportunity to protest in Rotherham town centre many times.”
She said it is ‘considered legitimate to interfere with that right’ on the grounds that it will prevent serious disorder, protect the rights of traders and the public to go about their business and ‘enable the town to move on following the publication of the Jay and Casey reports’.
A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “We respect the right to peaceful protest but this must be balanced against the rights of the wider community to go about their daily lives.
“We welcome Commissioner Ney’s letter to the Home Office highlighting the difficult position Rotherham is facing and the desire of all agencies to move forward and rebuild the reputation of the town.”

https://archive.is/KCXpE
All snapshots from host http://www.thestar.co.uk


Israeli Mossad agents posed as CIA officers in order to recruit members of a Pakistani terror group to carry out assassinations and attacks against the regime in Iran, Foreign Policy revealed on Friday, quoting U.S. intelligence memos.

Foreign Policy’s Mark Perry reported that the Mossad operation was carried out in 2007-2008, behind the back of the U.S. government, and infuriated then U.S. President George W. Bush.

Perry quotes a number of American intelligence officials and claims that the Mossad agents used American dollars and U.S. passports to pose as CIA spies to try to recruit members of Jundallah, a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization that has carried out a series of attacks in Iran and assassinations of government officials.

According to the report, Israel’s recruitment attempts took place mostly in London, right under the nose of U.S. intelligence officials.

“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” Foreign Policy quoted an intelligence officer as saying. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

According to a currently serving U.S. intelligence officer, Perry reports, when Bush was briefed on the information he “went absolutely ballistic.”

“The report sparked White House concerns that Israel’s program was putting Americans at risk,” the intelligence officer told Perry. “There’s no question that the U.S. has cooperated with Israel in intelligence-gathering operations against the Iranians, but this was different. No matter what anyone thinks, we’re not in the business of assassinating Iranian officials or killing Iranian civilians.”

The intelligence officer said that the Bush administration continued to deal with the affair until the end of his term. He noted that Israel’s operation jeopardized the U.S. administration’s fragile relationship with Pakistan, which was under immense pressure from Iran to crack down on Jundallah.

According to the intelligence officer, a senior administration official vowed to “take the gloves off” with Israel, but ultimately the U.S. did nothing.

“In the end it was just easier to do nothing than to, you know, rock the boat,” the intelligence officer said.

Apparently, the Mossad operation caused a fiery debate among Bush’s national security team and it was only resolved when U.S. President Barack Obama drastically scaled back joint U.S.-Israel intelligence programs targeting Iran, Perry quotes several serving and retired officers as saying.

The U.S. State Department has vehemently denied any ties to Jundallah and many U.S. intelligence officials remained angry with Israel over the 2007-2008 operation.

“Israel is supposed to be working with us, not against us,” Foreign Policy quoted an intelligence officer as saying. “If they want to shed blood, it would help a lot if it was their blood and not ours. You know, they’re supposed to be a strategic asset. Well, guess what? There are a lot of people now, important people, who just don’t think that’s true.”

The CIA, the White House, and the Mossad failed to respond to the Foreign Policy report by the time it went to press.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-mossad-agents-posed-as-cia-spies-to-recruit-terrorists-to-fight-against-iran-1.407224


UN peacekeepers deployed in Haiti engaged in “transactional” sexual relationships for food and medicine with over 200 women and underage girls, a draft report seen by the Associated Press suggests, noting that many cases of abuse remain underreported.

According to a new UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report obtained by the news agency, a third of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse involved minors under 18.

The shocking conclusions were revealed after investigators interviewed 231 people in Haiti who claimed they were forced to perform sexual acts with UN peacekeepers in exchange for basic necessities.

“For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need,'” the report says. Those living in the city or in its vicinity had sex in exchange for “church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money,” report says.

“In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media,” the report says.

The UN explicitly bans the “exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex,” and discourages relationships between UN staff and those who are under their care. However, only seven of the interviewed victims “knew about the United Nations policy prohibiting sexual exploitation and abuse,” the report states.

The report, which should be released this month, makes no reference to the time frame of the alleged violations, but the 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti started in 2004. The investigation also does not mention the number of peacekeepers involved.

The report says that the lack of any clear action is “demonstrating significant underreporting,” while noting that assistance to those that suffered is “severely deficient.” The average investigation by OIOS takes more than a year, according to AP.

Sexual abuse by peacekeeping troops, some 125,000 of which are currently deployed around the world, has undermined the credibility of their missions. A rapid increase in prostitution and abuse in Cambodia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Sudan and Kosovo were documented after UN peacekeeping forces moved in.

Earlier this year it was revealed that UN peacekeepers raped and sodomized starving and homeless boys in the Central African Republic, some as young as nine.

However, the number of documented cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by members of UN peacekeeping missions was 51 in 2014, down from 66 the year before, according to the secretary-general’s latest annual report on the issue.

http://rt.com/news/266179-un-peacekeepers-haiti-sexual/


Since retiring from the U.S. Army in 2000, Dr. John Henry Hagmann has helped train thousands of soldiers and medical personnel in how to treat battlefield wounds. His company, Deployment Medicine International, has received more than $10.5 million in business from the federal government.

The taxpayer-funded training has long troubled animal rights activists, who contend that Hagmann’s use of live, wounded pigs to simulate combat injuries is unnecessarily cruel.

But an investigation by Virginia medical authorities alleges that pigs weren’t the doctor’s only training subjects.

During instructional sessions in 2012 and 2013 for military personnel, Hagmann gave trainees drugs and liquor, and directed them to perform macabre medical procedures on one another, according to a report issued by the Virginia Board of Medicine, the state agency that oversees the conduct of doctors.

Hagmann, 59, is accused of inappropriately providing at least 10 students with the hypnotic drug ketamine. The report alleges Hagmann told students to insert catheters into the genitals of other trainees and that two intoxicated student were subjected to penile nerve block procedures. Hagmann also is accused of conducting “shock labs,” a process in which he withdrew blood from the students, monitored them for shock, and then transfused the blood back into their systems.

The report alleges that Hagmann also “exploited, for personal gain and sexual gratification” two participants who attended a July 2013 course at his Virginia farm.

The allegations against Hagmann have not been previously reported. They are administrative in nature, detailed in a 15-page dossier compiled by two assistant attorneys general for the board. The group temporarily suspended Hagmann’s license in March. A hearing is set for June 19 before the full medical board, which could revoke Hagmann’s medical license. During the hearing, Hagmann and state lawyers are expected to present their respective cases, which may include testimony from students or other witnesses.

In a statement Hagmann provided on Friday to Reuters, he said: “The mechanisms and protocols utilized in the training all comply with standard practices for training medical students and are, in fact, utilized in medical schools in Virginia.”

Hagmann said the “claims of sexual misconduct cause me the most anguish. Absolutely no ‘sexual gratification’ was involved and there is no evidence of such.”

Hagmann said “the courses and procedures in question were all reviewed and approved” by officials at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a government-run medical school that trains and prepares health professionals to support the military.

The university disputes that. “The procedures used during the training were not authorized by USU faculty,” said Sharon Holland, a spokeswoman for the Uniformed Services University.

Holland said a student there raised concerns about Hagmann’s training in July 2013. “The moment the department and USU leadership were informed that these events occurred, the institution immediately suspended the relationship with Dr. Hagmann, his course, and his company,” Holland said. “We launched an investigation and those findings prompted a report to the Virginia Medical Board.”

Holland said the university also alerted the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, a law enforcement agency that oversees the Department of Defense. A spokesman for the service was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Cynthia Smith, a U.S. Army spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the case because the records were not readily accessible. But, she added, “We certainly don’t condone that type of behavior.”

“DIABOLICAL MAD SCIENTIST”

Medical health professionals familiar with trauma training say they were stunned to hear about Hagmann’s techniques. Virginia state lawyers, investigating complaints by some students who attended the sessions, wrote in the report to the state’s medical board that “these procedures were not undertaken or provided in good faith for medicinal or therapeutic purposes.”

One doctor who offers trauma training, Harvard Medical School professor David King, said that “some of what is described in these allegations is wildly unheard of and perhaps unsafe.”

Dr. Howard Mell, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, said he could not comment on any specific case. But speaking generally about “shock labs,” Mell said subjecting students to such problems during training would be absurd.

“I treat people in the ER everyday for things I have never experienced,” said Mell, a Cleveland doctor who trains emergency medical workers and police officers. “I certainly don’t need to experience shock to know how to treat it. If that logic was true, men couldn’t be obstetricians.”

Hagmann said that the Virginia board is applying the wrong standard in assessing his conduct: He said that his trainees are “students,” not “patients” as the board calls them, and therefore he may have them perform procedures on one another as part of the educational process.

He told Reuters the allegations are amplified by “animal rights advocates or those with an anti-military agenda.”

Hagmann has drawn fire from animal rights groups for years because he is a leading practitioner of “live-tissue training,” which involves teaching students by using wounded live animals as patients. Often, pigs are the subjects.

Under pressure from animal rights groups, the U.S. military has reduced live-tissue training. But groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have called for an outright ban, long complaining to the Pentagon about DMI’s “senseless shooting and stabbing of live animals,” said Justin Goodman, PETA’s laboratory investigations director.

“We are absolutely disgusted to learn that the company’s cruel, violent and abusive behavior apparently targets service members as well,” Goodman said.

Earlier today, PETA sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter a summary of an undercover video it says it took during a 2013 training session by Hagmann’s company. The group also asked the Pentagon to cease contracting with DMI. Goodman said the video depicts gratuitous violence against the wounded pigs, and racist and sexist jokes by course instructors.

PETA posted the video, which includes graphic violence, at youtu.be/qXwN8ItF3fE

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, an Armed Services Committee member who has introduced legislation to ban live-tissue training, said he was disturbed by the video and charges leveled against Hagmann by the Virginia Board of Medicine.

“It seems like this is a renegade contractor visiting abuse on military personnel and live animals,” said Johnson, a Georgia Democrat. “It’s mind-boggling. It’s like a diabolical mad scientist at work in a horror movie.”

AMONG PIONEERS IN TRAUMA

In the Army, Hagmann practiced emergency medicine for two decades. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and co-authored an influential combat treatment manual.

After retiring, Hagmann founded DMI – also known as Deployment Medicine Consultants. It is based in Gig Harbor, Washington. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, demand for his courses grew and DMI emerged as a preeminent trauma-response trainer. The majority of DMI’s government contracts are with the U.S. military – in particular, Army and Navy special operation units.

“The mission of DMI is to train you to save lives in the combat environment, no one matches our ability to do this,” the company says on its website. “We are the single largest trainer of US military forces in operational medicine throughout world, and our record for excellence stands unchallenged.”

To demonstrate the positive impact of his training, Hagmann provided to Reuters testimonial emails from two former students. One, deployed in North Africa, wrote last month: “You forever changed my approach to combat medicine… Please know you have made a tremendous impact in countless lives.” Reuters could not immediately reach the former students for comment.

Such testimonials stand in stark contrast with the board of medicine’s report.

In one case detailed by investigators, Virginia authorities allege that Hagmann boasted to a student “about his proficiency with rectal exams” and took the student to a warehouse on his property. There, the report claims, the two “continued to consume beer” and Hagmann asked the student “about the effect (the student’s) uncircumcised penis had on masturbation and sexual intercourse.” The student told investigators “that he was inebriated and felt that he could not refuse Dr. Hagmann’s request … to examine, manipulate and photograph his penis.”

In his statement to Reuters, Hagmann connected his comments on circumcision to his live-tissue trauma training course this way: “The debate on the value and impact of circumcision is a current medical and social issue. The historical link between circumcision and masturbation is a fact dating since Victorian England and is still a current topic subject to scientific research.”

The Virginia medical board report also says Hagmann conducted what board investigators described as “ketamine labs,” “alcohol labs,” and “cognition labs.” The labs, officials wrote, “involved the dosing of ketamine and consumption of alcohol, at times in combination or in quick succession, so that he (Hagmann) could assess the effects of these substances on their cognition.”

During a July 2013 course in North Carolina, authorities say, participants were provided eight shots of rum in 10 minutes. About an hour later, they were allegedly injected with ketamine. Officials allege that one intoxicated participant received a penile nerve block, a type of anesthesia. When other students stepped in to prevent a second intoxicated student from receiving the procedure, the report says, Hagmann volunteered himself, and students performed a penile nerve block on him.

“I have been working in trauma centers for 30 years and I have never done a penile nerve block,” said Dr. Mark Brown, an emergency room physician in Lancaster, California. “And why would you ever mix alcohol and drugs? It’s very puzzling.”

Hagmann told Reuters the medications were all dispensed properly. He also said that procedures performed by students on other students are acceptable.

“For a future or current medical care provider,” Hagmann said, “having practice in a safe, controlled, voluntary setting has a huge value and benefit in improving self confidence and self image.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/08/us-usa-doctor-probe-idUSKBN0OO2E720150608


A new Government Accountability Office report found that the Transportation Security Administration failed to identify 73 aviation employees with active clearance badges with links to terrorism.

The people, who were employed by major airlines, airport vendors and other employers, were not identified because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current inter-agency policies, the report said.

The agency’s “multi-layered process to vet aviation workers for potential links to terrorism was generally effective. In addition to initially vetting every application for new credentials, TSA recurrently vetted aviation workers with access to secured areas of commercial airports every time the Consolidated Terrorist Watchlist was updated,” the report found. “However, our testing showed that TSA did not identify 73 individuals with terrorism-related category codes because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current interagency watchlisting policy.”

Further, the thousands of records used to vet employees contained such incomplete or inaccurate data as lacking a full first name or missing social security numbers. TSA ran into particular problems in the vetting process when potential aviation employees has not committed crimes and were legal resident or citizens.

“Without complete and accurate information, TSA risks credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for workers with potential to harm the nation’s air transportation system,” the report found.

Comment: What exactly constitutes a “link” to terrorism?

http://12160.info//page/tsa-fails-to-identify-73-employees-with-links-to-terrorism


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Quoted from Liberty Blitzkrieg:

The United States Department of Justice is using federal grand jury subpoenas to identify anonymous commenters engaged in typical internet bluster and hyperbole in connection with the Silk Road prosecution. DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website…

The D.C. court was right — the government won’t start issuing grand jury subpoenas every time someone writes “my husband left underwear on the bathroom floor again; I could just kill him.” But they won’t because they don’t have the time, inclination, or the resources.

Instead, they will use their discretion to decide when to bring their vast power into play to pierce the anonymity of internet assholes (or for that matter, people who may have valid points on political matters but express them in the wrong fashion). That discretion is much more likely to be exercised where, as here, the person being trash-talked is a powerful federal judge in the district of that U.S. Attorney’s Office, a judge that the office must appear before every damned day. The power is more likely to be exercised on behalf of establishment political figures, not outsiders. The power is more likely to be exercised when it is consistent with the politics of the administration.

The D.C. court implies that we can trust federal prosecutors to use the grand jury power to pierce the anonymity of political firebrands even when their rhetoric is clearly protected by the First Amendment. That the government will investigate anonymous political rhetoric in even-handed fashion, whether that rhetoric comes from a magazine known to be friendly to the government and its establishment, or one that is, like Reason, prone to question both.

– From the excellent Popehat article: Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com

Readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be well aware of the gradual erosion by the state of the civil liberties of the American public. Such attacks are typically sufficiently under the radar, so that the average citizen has no idea what is happening until it’s too late. I have written about such calculated assaults on many occasions, but the holy grail target of the status quo is the First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines a right to the freedom of religion, speech, the press, and the right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Many aspects of the First Amendment have been neutered in practice. For example, the right to assemble peacefully and effectively is often prevented in practice by the need to secure permits and other hindrances (see “free speech cages” and “protest zones”) . Meanwhile, on college campuses, where activism is historically most vibrant, many schools have embraced the Orwellian concept of “free speech zones” in order to prevent free speech. See:

Statists Declare War on Free Speech – College Students Banned from Handing Out Constitutions in Hawaii

California Student Banned from Handing Out Constitutions on Campus

In the first article, we learned that:

Administrators further clarified their level of respect for students’ free speech rights, making comments like, “This isn’t really the ’60s anymore,” and “people can’t really protest like that anymore,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Administrators also maintained that university policy took precedent over Constitutional rights, according to the complaint.

Moving along, what about a free press? While the press in America is technically “free,” with six companies owning 90% of all media, the public, in practice, is essentially force-fed status quo propaganda 24/7.

This reality has resulted in an explosion in web-based alternative media, which at this moment in time, represents the greatest thorn in the side of the status quo. Naturally, the state can’t directly confront alternative media due to its extraordinary popularity, so it is seemingly starting to target its edges via the comment section.

Today’s must read piece examines this coming threat, and was published on a blog called Popehat, which sports the tagline: A Group Complaint about Law, Liberty, and Leisure. Here’s an excerpt from its About page:

Since a number of Popehat’s authors are attorneys, work in closely related fields, or have strong interests in politics, law is also a relative constant in the site’s focus.  Nevertheless, though it may seem to be at times, this is not a “law blog” as such.  Ultimately, the subject of Popehat is whatever the author of a given post wishes to discuss, aided by a good community of readers and commenters, whose thoughts and feedback are greatly appreciated.

Believe it or not, some of us actually have jobs. Our employers have nothing whatsoever to do with this site. The views, rants, and tequila hallucinations uttered here do not represent the views of our employers and/or secure psychiatric facilities. Also, nothing on this blog is meant to give you legal advice. Seriously. Apparently we have to tell some of you that.

Yesterday, I came across an article at Popehat with extremely significant implications. It regards federal grand jury subpoenas recently issued to libertarian publication Reason, by the U.S. Justice Department, for information about people who made anonymous comments on the site. Since author Ken White described the situation better than I ever could, here are excerpts from the article:

The United States Department of Justice is using federal grand jury subpoenas to identify anonymous commenters engaged in typical internet bluster and hyperbole in connection with the Silk Road prosecution. DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?

Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.

Last week, a source provided me with a federal grand jury subpoena. The subpoena1, issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, is directed to Reason.com in Washington, D.C.. The subpoena commands Reason to provide the grand jury “any and all identifying information”2 Reason has about participants in what the subpoena calls a “chat.”

Several commenters on the post found the sentence unjust, and vented their feelings in a rough manner. The grand jury subpoena specifies their comments and demands that Reason.com produce any identifying information on them:

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 11.24.01 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 11.24.09 AM

The grand jury subpoena specifies that it is seeking “evidence in regard to an alleged violation of: Title 18, United States Code, Section 875.” In other words, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is looking for evidence of violations of the federal law against interstate threats. That’s the same statute that was at issue in the Supreme Court’s decision in Elonis v. U.S. last week, in which the Court decided that to be a “true threat” in violation of Section 875, the speaker must have some level of knowledge or intent that the hearer will take the threat seriously.

This is interesting, because just last week I highlighted 20 comments on a Wall Street Journal article, some of which were far more violent and aggressive. See: Revolution is Coming” – The Top 20 Responses to Jon Hilsenrath’s Idiotic WSJ Article.

Did the WSJ also receive subpoenas? Now, back to Popehat:

Since the comments are about a judge, if they are “true threats” they could conceivably also violate Title 18, U.S.C., section 115(a), which prohibits threatening federal judges.

The subpoena raises a few questions:

First, are Those Comments True Threats?

Are the Reason.com Comments “True Threats?” No. NO. AND HELL NO!

True Threats” are those threats that are outside the protection of the First Amendment; they are not mere political hyperbole or bluster. For instance, in 1967, when Mr. Watts said that if he were drafted the first man he’d want in his rifle sights was President Lyndon B. Johnson, that wasn’t a true threat:it was conditional political hyperbole. In other words, it was mere angry bluster of the sort no reasonable person would take to be a serious threat.3

What of these comments on Reason.com, then? I submit that they are very clearly not true threats — that this is not even a close call.

The “threats” do not specify who is going to use violence, or when. They do not offer a plan, other than juvenile mouth-breathing about “wood chippers” and revolutionary firing squads. They do not contain any indication that any of the mouthy commenters has the ability to carry out a threat. Nobody in the thread reacts to them as if they are serious. They are not directed to the judge by email or on a forum she is known to frequent.

There are no factors like that in this case. Consider this purported “threat”: 

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 11.26.43 AM

Is it the position of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that a reasonable reader would conclude that “Rhywun” is in league with the Dark Ones, able to bring into existence a hot place in the afterlife for an errant judge? Ridiculous. If that’s a threat, then so is “go to Hell.”

So: the government has used the grand jury to subpoena a news magazine for the identity of anonymous commenters who have engaged in political rhetoric that is clearly protected by the First Amendment.

Can they get away with this?

Regrettably, The Government Can Probably Abuse the Grand Jury Subpoena Power This Way

Reason.com — or the anonymous commenters — could file an action in federal court seeking to quash this subpoena. We know how that would likely come out, because someone recently did it. During the 2012 election cycle a juvenile but prolific Twitter personality named “Mr. X” tweeted “I want to fuck Michelle Bachman in the ass with a Vietnam era machete.” The government subpoenaed Twitter for Mr. X’s identifying information; Mr. X filed a motion to quash the subpoena. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the motion.

But here’s where Mr. X learned the difference between individual rights and government power. The court conceded that the tweet was almost certainly not an actionable true threat:

Yet the court found that the government had a “compelling interest” in investigating all threats, however ridiculous:

The court conceded that this could produce absurd results, but hand-waved that concern away:

The Court is aware that this conclusion may seem to produce absurd results. Under this line of reasoning, the government could presumably subpoena any Web site any time any anonymous user made any post containing a mere scintilla of violence. The government could require Twitter to divulge the identity of a teenager who tweets, “My parents are so mean! I want to toss them in a ditch.” Anonymity on the Internet would be sufficiently compromised to warrant this Court’s concern.11 But we are nowhere near that slippery slope. Here, an individual has made a statement that threatens an established candidate for the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties, and the government has a strong public interest in investigating that threat, however outlandish.

Read that over and over again, until you realize how incredibly absurd and dangerous that court argument is.

Should The Government Exercise Power To Identify Anonymous People Over Clear Bluster?

The D.C. court was right — the government won’t start issuing grand jury subpoenas every time someone writes “my husband left underwear on the bathroom floor again; I could just kill him.” But they won’t because they don’t have the time, inclination, or the resources.

Instead, they will use their discretion to decide when to bring their vast power into play to pierce the anonymity of internet assholes (or for that matter, people who may have valid points on political matters but express them in the wrong fashion). That discretion is much more likely to be exercised where, as here, the person being trash-talked is a powerful federal judge in the district of that U.S. Attorney’s Office, a judge that the office must appear before every damned day. The power is more likely to be exercised on behalf of establishment political figures, not outsiders. The power is more likely to be exercised when it is consistent with the politics of the administration.

The D.C. court implies that we can trust federal prosecutors to use the grand jury power to pierce the anonymity of political firebrands even when their rhetoric is clearly protected by the First Amendment. That the government will investigate anonymous political rhetoric in even-handed fashion, whether that rhetoric comes from a magazine known to be friendly to the government and its establishment, or one that is, like Reason, prone to question both.

A Note On The U.S. Attorney’s Office Reaction To My Inquiries About This Story

On Friday, June 5th, the day after a source sent me the subpoena, I decided to call Niketh Velamoor, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who issued the subpoena. My purpose was to tell him that I would not print the subpoena if he could convince me that he had specific evidence demonstrating that to do so would put a life in danger. Mr. Velamoor — who said he could not discuss grand jury investigations, which is the standard AUSA statement — said that it was unreasonable to expect the government to be able to prove such a threat before it identified the commenters. That answered my question on the point.

Mr. Velamoor was suspicious and defensive. At one point he told me that he “believed” that there was a gag order prohibiting this subpoena from being released by its recipients, and that whoever gave it to me must have violated that order, and that he would be “looking into it” and how I got it.

Such gag orders do exist. However, I note that two days earlier on June 2, 2015, Mr. Velamoor signed the cover letter on the subpoena, which contained the Department of Justice’s standard language about secrecy:

The Government hereby requests that you voluntarily refrain from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party. While you are under no obligation to comply with our request, we are requesting you not to make any disclosure in order to preserve the confidentiality of the investigation and because disclosure of the existence of this investigation might interfere with and impede the investigation.

In other words, two days before he told me that he believed there was a gag order on the subpoena, Mr. Velamoor told Reason.com that it was notrequired to keep the subpoena secret.

Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misspoke. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misremembered. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor didn’t secure the gag order until after he issued the subpoena.

Or perhaps Mr. Velamoor, bless his heart, was lying in an attempt to intimidate me.

This falls into the very important category of know your rights.

In any case, Mr. Velamoor has provided me with no such order, despite a request.

Whatever the answer, consider this: Mr. Velamoor, and government attorneys like him, will be the ones deciding whether the federal government will use the grand jury to pierce the anonymity of your comments. No doubt in some cases they will exercise that power on genuinely frightening threats. But other times will be like this one, where the government subpoenaed the identity of people indulging in crass but obvious bluster.

They will target political speech.

http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2015/06/09/the-war-on-free-speech-u-s-department-of-justice-subpoenas-reason-com-over-comment-section/



thousands of Jews from across denominational lines are expressing their support for two bills that, on the face of it, don’t seem to have anything to do with typical Jewish issues like Israel or liberal social causes.
But these bills — A.5355 and S.3821, as they’re known in Albany — are the test case for the moral future of Jewish life in New York, perhaps even the whole country.
For the past several years, a local, then statewide, and now national drama has been playing out in a school district of Rockland County, located just northwest of New York City. At one level, the issue at hand is about school control. The East Ramapo school system is governed by a supermajority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who live in the district but did not attend public schools and send their children to private yeshivas. While this fact alone might raise some eyebrows, what they’ve done with this control has raised alarm.
The board has drastically increased the funding going to yeshivas, but it has cut public school classes and extracurricular activities, attempting to sell public school assets at below market prices to private yeshivas, and more. These ethically and at times legally dubious actions have been documented by everyone from newspapers like this one to the New York City Bar Association to the New York State Supreme Court.
Frustrated by the school board’s intransigence, local students, parents, teachers, religious leaders and activists appealed to the state for help. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed an independent fiscal monitor, Hank Greenberg, last year to investigate the district. From a removed, balanced perspective, Greenberg confirmed what thousands of public school students and parents had known for years: The board is responsible for “recklessly depleting the district’s reserves” and favoring “the private school community over the East Ramapo public schools.”
Greenberg’s report called for several fixes to be made, the most significant one being long-term oversight of the board. Oversight and the transparency it brings are a key component to fixing the broken school district, and they are central to the new bills. Secrecy and obfuscation have been tools of the board, using procedural tricks like keeping school board meetings in executive session until past midnight, away from parents and children who wish to participate; not releasing financial statements, and more. The monitor would put a stop to that. Further, an independent monitor not beholden to any community but with the best interests of all the parties involved would start building the trust, which is needed for this district to move forward. Ultimately, the monitor is the best path forward for everyone, including the ultra-Orthodox community.
As Orthodox Jews grow in number, the question of how to flex our political muscle becomes more critical. The Jewish community has needs as well. We live in a golden era where we have can express those needs through the democratic process with pride. The question is not whether to use political power, but how.
One way is to use our power to get what our community needs, even if it means skirting the rules and steamrolling over the needs of other communities. That’s been the case in the East Ramapo School District. Those who support the actions of the school board say that this is democracy, this is the American way.
They are wrong. America is not an absolute, direct democracy where the will of the numerical majority is the law of the land. We live in a republic, a republic that seeks to protect the interests and welfare of all its citizens, including the minority, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable.
As an Orthodox Jew, when I first learned about what was happening in East Ramapo and about the attitudes of the board, I was shocked and disgusted. The Talmud teaches, “The world endures only for the sake of the breath of school children.” The public actions of this school board over the years have been in flagrant violation of that and so many other Jewish values and teachings. The Torah we share demands over and over again we never trample the stranger, the immigrant and the poor — apt descriptions of many in the public school district. They have also caused a massive Chillul Hashem — desecration of God’s name. The leadership of the school board to date has grossly violated both American and Jewish values. This is not the way to use Jewish power in America.
Instead, we need to find a way to both advance our interests and needs while taking the needs of our fellow citizens into account; rather than just grabbing more and more slices of the pie and leaving those around us hungry, we work together to grow the pie so there is enough for all. This would be a moral use of Jewish power, using it to call out those who are acting unjustly, even when they are from our own community. That is why thousands and thousands of Jewish New Yorkers are lobbying their legislators to pass these bills, which will provide needed oversight. Ultimately, this is about those school children in East Ramapo, and it’s about the very legacy that Jewish New Yorkers will leave on this great state.
Ari Hart is a founder of Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice and a founding member of Rockland Clergy for Social Justice.

Read more: http://forward.com/opinion/national/309145/in-east-ramapo-an-immoral-use-of-jewish-power


On August 23, 2011, 46-year-old Marcus Dwayne Robertson, the imam of an Orlando, Florida mosque, was arrested, imprisoned and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty.

Almost four years after his initial arrest, Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” is still behind bars awaiting sentencing for that crime, as well as for a separate count of conspiracy to file a fraudulent tax refund claim. He could be released on time served based on those charges, but the U.S. government is now seeking a “terrorism enhancement” that could result in him serving an additional 20 years in prison.

Part of what makes the case unusual is that Robertson has never actually been charged with planning or committing any terrorist acts. Instead, prosecutors are trying to use his possession of Islamic literature as proof of his terrorist intent. Citing statements a young acquaintance of Robertson’s made to a government informant, in addition to passages from a number of e-books found in Robertson’s possession after his arrest, prosecutors are arguing that the imam is “an extremist seeking to promote violent jihad.”

Robertson, for his part, alleges that he has been a target of entrapment and malicious prosecution. More spectacularly, he also claims that he was a covert government operative who came under scrutiny after refusing to perform certain tasks requested of him by the CIA. While this claim may seem fantastical, a sentencing memorandum issued by his lawyers in late April states that the government has confirmed a number of Robertson’s claims regarding past clandestine activities he conducted on the government’s behalf.

True or not, Robertson’s life has taken a series of improbable turns, from being a U.S. marine, to a member of a New York City street gang, to finally transforming himself into a putative religious leader. Robertson’s most recent transformation from gang member to imam began in 1991, when he was sent to prison for a string of robberies and violent incidents targeting police officers and government installations. In the government’s sentencing memorandum, the prosecution claims that during his membership in a gang known as the “Forty Thieves,” he “murdered several individuals; participated in assassination attempts; used pipe bombs, C-4, grenades, other explosives, and automatic weapons.” The government also claims that the Forty Thieves “stockpiled weapons and explosives in preparation to fight against the perceived threat of interment of Muslims by the United States.”

Speaking to The Intercept from a Florida jail, Robertson said that many of these government allegations were false, but conceded that during the early 1990s he was part of an organization in New York City called the Forty Thieves, which he described as part criminal gang, part vigilante group. “During that time in Brooklyn we were dealing with the ongoing crack cocaine epidemic, as well as with pimps and violent drug dealers destroying the social fabric of our neighborhood. We formed the Forty Thieves to clean up our area, and many times the police were on our side in this effort,” Robertson said in a phone interview.

Nonetheless, he added, “We were young, we made foolish decisions, and sometimes we were inadvertently used by people for other agendas. Sometimes our behavior crossed a line.”

Robertson testified for the prosecution at the eventual trial of several Forty Thieves members and was released after serving four years in prison.

***

Once out of prison, Robertson’s life apparently changed course. He adopted the teknonym “Abu Taubah” (a reference to a passage of the Quran dealing with repentance for sins), became an imam, and, according to his own account, worked periodically as a covert operative for the CIA and FBI. Robertson, who had previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps, claims to have been a government operative for several years over the past decade, helping conduct domestic terrorism investigations as well as foreign “espionage” operations. The U.S. government, according to a defense memorandum, “acknowledges that Robertson has provided extensive assistance to the authorities.”

While Robertson declined to discuss the specifics of his alleged operations, citing ongoing legal restrictions in his case, the same defense memorandum states that the government has acknowledged that between 2004 and 2007, Robertson worked under the direction of the FBI as “an extraterritorial confidential source … sent to Mauritania performing a role that can only be defined as ‘espionage.’” The memorandum goes on to state that Robertson “served as a confidential source in domestic terrorism investigations from Atlanta to Los Angeles, wherein he was provided with actual authority to, inter alia: possess firearms in order to maintain his cover and fulfill the objectives set for him by the [FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force] JTTF.”

Robertson’s latest legal troubles started sometime after he ceased to be a government operative in 2007, according to the defense.

In late 2010, an acquaintance of Robertson’s, 26-year-old Jonathan Jimenez, traveled from New York City to stay at Robertson’s home in Orlando. Robertson had promised to help Jimenez — who had a history of mental illness and drug abuse — straighten out his life and further his study of Islam, according to the defense. He raised the possibility of arranging for Jimenez to travel to Mauritania to study Islam, as he had arranged for other young men in the past.

Robertson also helped Jimenez file a false tax return; Jimenez was refunded $5,587, ostensibly to help him cover his travel expenses.

While he was staying with Robertson, Jimenez was befriended by a government informant, with whom he began discussing the possibility of fighting and dying abroad. Jimenez, who had been checked into mental institutions on five separate occasions and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication, told the informant that he was “getting ready for that grave, baby,” and that Robertson had been providing him with martial arts and firearms training so that he could go abroad and fight.

Prosecutors have alleged that the $5,587 earned through the fraudulent tax return was intended to send Jimenez to Mauritania to commit acts of terrorism. Jimenez also made statements to the informant suggesting that Robertson was managing “a travel facilitation network … that sends individuals overseas to commit violent jihad.” Jimenez would later deny having made such statements in subsequent interviews with FBI agents, and in 2012, pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials about his discussions with the informant. Jimenez is presently serving a 10-year sentence, in which the terrorism enhancement applied, for false statements to officials and conspiracy to file the fraudulent tax return.

During the time when Jimenez was in touch with the informant, the government was also separately conducting surveillance on Robertson, who was recorded discussing the possibility of sending Jimenez abroad to Mauritania, but was never heard on tape discussing a plan for him to engage in terrorism. In many of the surveilled telephone conversations leading up to his arrest, Robertson expressed skepticism about Jimenez’s maturity and the possibility of rehabilitating him from his drug abuse problem.

In multiple conversations in July 2011, Robertson is recorded saying that Jimenez had been hanging out with “crackheadass niggas,” and that although he had repeatedly tried to help Jimenez straighten out his life, he “acts like a teenager,” and would only cause problems if sent to Mauritania.

In 2011, following the execution of a search warrant at his home, Robertson was charged with possession of a handgun (which was owned by the security director of his mosque), and has remained behind bars in Florida ever since. While incarcerated on this gun charge, Robertson was subsequently charged with the separate count of conspiracy to file a fraudulent tax return, which he was convicted of in January 2014 following a bench trial.

Now, to demonstrate that Robertson’s tax charges merit a terrorism enhancement, the government has cited a number of books and other documents owned by Robertson that allegedly extoll extremist beliefs. Robertson, who is recognized as an Islamic scholar, owned a library which included roughly 10,000 e-books, a small number of which are alleged by the government to have contained passages deemed controversial.

The government hasn’t provided evidence to demonstrate that Robertson endorsed, let alone acted upon, any of the passages cited in these books, the defense counters. “There is nothing contained in the prosecution’s memorandum which connects Mr. Robertson to any actual conspiracy to commit terrorism,” Robertson’s attorney Daniel Broderson said. “He is an Islamic scholar who owned thousands of books, and they are trying to pull select passages from a handful of books he owned to try and make the case that he’s an extremist.”

Robertson’s book collection and the statements of Jimenez make up the primary evidence the government has put forward to substantiate the claim that Robertson’s charges have any connection to terrorism.

In the meantime, his case has grown even murkier.

In a 2012 lawsuit Robertson filed from jail — ultimately dismissed on grounds of being improperly filed — Robertson claimed to have been targeted by the government for malicious prosecution after refusing to conduct an overseas operation requested by the CIA. In a suit filed against the prosecuting attorney in his case, then-Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as against eight FBI agents whom he specified by name, Robertson alleged that for many years after his 1991 arrest, he worked as an informant for both the FBI and CIA, until a dispute in 2007 led to a falling out with both agencies. Robertson alleges the government then began seeking legal retribution against him, culminating in his entrapment and malicious prosecution on gun possession and tax charges.

Robertson’s 2012 lawsuit further claimed that the FBI agents named in his filing were conducting surveillance and infiltration of American-Muslim communities, justified solely on their religious background.

While he claims to have worked with the government on terrorism investigations, Robertson says he balked at conducting indiscriminate spying. “I did work with the government in cases related to counterterrorism, but I was never a ‘spy’, nor did I ever spy on Muslim communities,” Roberston said. “There’s a difference between pursuing legitimate terrorism investigations, which we as Muslims support, and profiling and infiltrating entire communities.”

Robertson’s claims of past government service are reminiscent of a litigation tactic known as “graymailing,” used by defendants in cases that may force the government to discuss classified issues. “Traditionally, graymail has been used by defendants who know and threaten to disclose classified information as part of their defense,” says legal expert Josh Dratel. “The amount of leverage the defendant has with respect to information about his prior assistance to the government will be measured by the government response. It may offer a lenient resolution of the case, which is a common result when such leverage exists, or it may even be compelled to dismiss it outright, based on the amount of leverage.”

In Robertson’s case, it’s unclear whether he does indeed have information the government regards as classified. In its own court filings, the government has not responded to his claims specifically, but has generally described them as either false, unsupported or otherwise irrelevant to his sentencing.

In addition to his book collection and claims of past service, the conditions under which Robertson has been held in jail have also been a source of controversy. According to his attorney, for roughly two years between 2012 until 2014, Robertson was held in solitary confinement. During this time, he was shackled at all times whether inside or outside his cell, to the point where the skin around his ankles had rubbed off. In October 2014, following complaints by his attorney to the U.S. Marshall’s office, the conditions of his incarceration were somewhat relaxed, though he remains in isolation.

On April 30, Robertson was allowed to testify in a closed hearing about the clandestine cooperation he says he provided as a covert operative. In early June, the presiding judge in the case decided that Robertson would be sentenced on the gun and tax charges separately, a ruling that makes the tax charge the only count eligible for the terrorism enhancement. This decision will have the likely effect of reducing his total possible sentence when hearings resume later this month.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Tampa Bay FBI office both declined requests to comment for this story.

Robertson, for his part, believes his case could have have far-reaching ramifications for other defendants.

“The government is trying to use my case to establish a legal precedent, where even if a person is not charged with actual terrorism offenses they can still try them as a ‘terrorist’ using the sentencing adjustment,” Robertson says. “This is not just about prosecuting my case specifically, it’s about creating a precedent whereby the government can simply go through the books you own and use them to frighten people into believing that you’re a terrorist.”

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/09/abu-taubah-case/



The following stories seem relevant as of 12 June 2015.

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A long-awaited China International Payment System (CIPS) that would facilitate international usage of the yuan is ready and may be launched as early as September or October, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The system, which would be a worldwide payments superhighway for the yuan, will replace a patchwork of networks and allow hassle-free renminbi transactions, greatly boosting the internationalization of the Chinese currency.

“The CIPS is ready now and China has selected 20 banks to do the testing, among which 13 banks are Chinese banks and the rest are subsidiaries of foreign banks,” said a senior banking source who is involved in the matter.

“The official launch will be in September or October, depending on the results of the testings and preparation,” the source said.

A second source with direct knowledge of the matter said authorities are striving to launch the first phase of CIPS before December.

“It’s not a plan but we are trying our best to have the first phase (of CIPS) online before the end of this year,” said the source, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

“If it’s all smooth, (the launch) will be in September or October. If there is a need for a bit more time, we are still confident about (rolling it out) before the year-end,” he said.

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-exclusive-chinas-international-payments-system-ready-could-launch-by-year-end—sources-2015-3?op=1


By October 1 2014, CRH had carried more than 2.9 billion passengers since its launch. Traffic increased from 128 million in 2008 to 672 million in 2013 with annual growth of around 39% during this period.

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-402875735.html


6/11/2015 3:41 AM ET
China’s industrial production and retail sales growth improved in May as recent measures taken to boost bank lending penetrate into economic activity.

Industrial production grew 6.1 percent year-over-year in May, following a 5.9 percent gain in April, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Thursday. Economists had expected a 6.0 percent increase for the month.

Among the three main sectors, manufacturing production expanded 6.7 percent in May and mining output rose by 3.9 percent. The utility sector registered an increase of 2.2 percent in output.

In another report, the NBS said retail sales surged up 10.1 percent in May, in line with expectations, but slightly faster than previous month’s 10.0 percent expansion. In March, sales had risen 10.2 percent.

http://www.rttnews.com/story.aspx?Id=2510696


>China, the world’s second-largest economy, is buying oil from Venezuela, copper from Peru and Chile, and soybeans from Argentina and Brazil, for example.
>In return, China has invested billions of dollars.
>In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $250 billion in investment in Latin America over the next 10 years as part of a drive to boost resource-hungry China’s influence in a region long dominated by the United States..

https://archive.is/L9eyW

>It’s all about China. Talk about contrasts. While Washington is cutting Amtrak funding and cleaning up the wreck in Philly, China is moving to build a brand spanking new high-speed trans-continental railway from Atlantic to Pacific. Brazil to Peru. Over the Andes. Investing billions as part of a quarter-trillion dollar Chinese investment in Latin America.

https://archive.is/jQxUJ

Li Keqiang is making the rounds in Latin America this week, stopping in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. The Premier is here to give another push to trade relations, in a region in which China is already investing heavily. He is bringing $50 billion in investments to Brazil, whose roaring economy is not roaring anymore.

BBC Mundo says that $10 billion of those funds will be used to build the 3,500 km Trans Oceanic Railroad. The railroad, which has no formal name yet, will run all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. But there is something wrong with the distance given by the BBC, as a highway along a similar route is only 2,600 km.

Building the Trans Oceanic Railroad is in China’s interest, because shippers would be able to ferry soybeans and other goods from Brazil to ports in Peru for export to China and Chinese goods in the other direction. That would bypass the expensive and congested Panama Canal. It would even go around the new Nicaragua Canal also being built by the Chinese, a route which would require a few days steaming north for cargo vessels.

The President of Brazil needs good news like this as a distraction from her troubles.

President Dilma Rousseff’s approval rating has fallen into 20s in the wake of corruption scandals at the state-owned Petrobras oil company, where she was chairman; Petrobras executives skimmed off $3 billion USD. (The Financial Times calls this an “Oily Mess.”) What was not stolen might have been directed to the president’s Workers Party say different reports. Even the wildly popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been tarnished by the scandal since his government also had oversight of PetroBras. (Plus prosecutors are deciding whether to investigate him for influence peddling in the case of Odebrecht construction company.)

In Rio de Janeiro, special forces military are fighting drug gangs only blocks from the Brazil Summer Olympics 2016 headquarters. And the Olympic Sailing Competition has said it will have to relocate its regatta to cleaner waters due to the pollution in the Guanabara Bay.

But getting the railroad out of the port of Rio is the smallest of problems. The major difficulty lies in the political and geographical landscape in between either end.

Politicians for decades have dreamed of such a transcontinental railroad. Certainly China, with its engineering prowess and experience building railways in difficult places can build this one. But there are and have been detractors for other such projects.

The Los Angeles likened the ultimately successful effort to build a 2,600 kilometer highway linking Peru to Brazil to the film “Fitzcarraldo.” That movie is about a mad German’s desire to build an opera houses in the upper reaches of the Amazon River. His entire project collapsed into the river and sailed over the falls.

The Wall Street Journal too noted difficulties with that highway project. They pointed out that the Inca Indians, whose mighty empire paved roads all the way from the Colombia to Chile, “could not clear a path into the Brazilian Amazon,” adding, “Few of the 16th-century Spanish conquistadors who descended into the jungle from the Peruvian Andes in search of El Dorado survived the trip.”

The Brazilian Amazon is difficult terrain. Peru poses other problems.

Peru is divided into two distinct regions: a narrow desert coastline ringed by the very high Andes mountains. The mountains are so high that one can scarcely breath there at 5,000+ meters and the crossings are buried in snow in the Andean winter in June and February.

China has already built the world’s highest railway from Qinghai to Tibet, whose highest point is just over 5,000 meters, and is planning to go even higher into Nepal. But that part of the world is a high plateau with tall mountains on top. The Andes Mountains tend to shoot straight up from the valleys. The Chinese train is going to need heavy duty brakes and one wonders where a Swiss-like cogged railway might be in order.

Beyond the mountains, to the east of the Andes is a vast and at times lawless area. This is where coca is planted. Gold miners dig illegal mines there and have contaminated some rivers with mercury. Primitive tribes, such as you would see on the Discovery Channel, live in the jungle areas. You could in fact see these naked Indians on TV recently as a Chilean TV channel last year filmed a reality show there. That was until Peru expelled the TV crew from the country.

In the Andes, indigenous people over the years, and today, have risen up against mining projects and are certain to protest anything passing through their area. In typical Latin American fashion, they take their dispute to streets rather than the courts, throwing rocks at the police and burning ties.

Peru has a growing economy and for the most part is stable. But a poll released this week said that 70% of Peruvians fear that their country will become a “narco state.”

Next door, the President of Bolivia is upset that the train will not pass through his country. It would be the shortest route, he says, but the President of Peru has decided to go around any anticipated problems there.

There is reason to not put a lot of faith in cross border infrastructure projects in this area.

Chilean investors spent a great deal of money to built a natural gas pipeline into Chile from Argentina only to have the Argentina cut off the supply abruptly in 2007, citing logistical problems on their side.

Peru is building a natural gas pipeline all the way from Lima to towns near the border with Chile. But there is no discussion of bringing it only 80 km further south where Peru could sell gas to the northern Chilean cities of Arica and Iquique and perhaps go further than that.

Not all of the construction will be so difficult as the vast country of Brazil is for the most part flat and solid ground. That is what makes it so suitable to farming. When China finishes this project, which could take many years, it is certain to lift the economy in the region as it would let freight travel where it cannot currently go. The railroad is yet another in a series of infrastructure investment by China in the region. This is because the country is looking to secure its supply of some of the vast mineral, petroleum, and agriculture wealth of South America.

http://www.chinausfocus.com/finance-economy/chinese-commit-10-billion-to-build-train-from-peru-to-brazil/


[In 2014] Russia and China signed enormous 30-year energy deals for delivery of Russian oil and gas to China. The payments will be in local currencies not in dollars. Already in 2014 settlement in national currencies between China and Russia in bilateral trade increased nine times over 2013. Lin Zhi, head of the Europe and Central Asia Department of the Chinese Ministry of Economic Development announced last November that, “About 100 Russian commercial banks are now opening corresponding accounts for settlements in yuan. The list of commercial banks where ordinary depositors can open an account in yuan is also growing.” Last November 18 Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank became the first Russian bank to begin financing letters of credit in Chinese yuan.

http://journal-neo.org/2015/06/06/russia-gets-very-serious-on-de-dollarizing/

Comment: If China can grow its retail sales numbers, then China can save conventional consumerist capitalism. Such an event would not be good news to those Occupy-Wall-Streeters who hope for the death of capitalism!

Even if China has trouble giving its own workers more money, it may be able to extend its economic rise by strong trade relationships with Brazil, Russia, and other countries.
A powerful computer virus linked to Israel is thought to have been used to spy on the recent Iran nuclear talks after being found in the networks of three hotels that hosted the negotiations.

The security company Kaspersky discovered the virus, which it said was a new variant of the Duqu worm, itself a variant of the state-sponsored computer virus Stuxnet, used to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in 2010.

Known as Duqu 2.0, the new worm was, Kaspersky said, used to attack three European hotels where the P5+1 talks involving the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, and China with the EU concerning Iranian nuclear capabilities were held over the last 18 months.

Kaspersky did not identify the hotels or say who was behind the attack. However, Israel is thought to have deployed the original Duqu worm to carry out sensitive intelligence gathering.

In March, the US accused Israel of spying on the international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme and using the intelligence gathered to persuade Congress to undermine the talks.
Iranian nuclear talks: spies around the table
Read more
The worm infects computer systems through network gateways and firewalls, the parts of a computer system exposed to the internet. Once on target computers it remains hidden, staying in the computer’s memory and leaving no trace of infection on the computer’s hard drive, making it difficult to detect.

Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team, said: “The people behind Duqu are one of the most skilled and powerful advanced persistent threat groups and they did everything possible to try to stay under the radar.”

’Hallmarks of a nation-state attack’
A rival security company, Symantec, confirmed Kaspersky’s findings.

“This highly sophisticated attack used up to three zero-day exploits, which is very impressive – the costs [of development] must have been very high,” said Raiu.

The worm attacks a variety of computers in a sophisticated pattern, jumping from computer to computer slowly making its way up from low priority systems into more valuable machines with greater access to sensitive systems or data.

Independently reviewing the report, Trend Micro’s head of security research, Rik Ferguson, said: “It certainly has all the hallmarks of a nation-state attack and reuses much from its ancestor the original Duqu, but in new and improved ways.”

Kaspersky researchers said it was not possible at this stage to tell precisely what impact the attack had on the P5+1 talks beyond infecting computers. The report says it is possible that infected computers were used to control other systems within the hotels, including the cameras, microphones and phone systems to spy on the talks.

The worm was first discovered by Kaspersky on its own systems, although the company reports that it did not compromise any key systems. “Spying on cybersecurity companies is a very dangerous tendency,” said Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of Kaspersky Lab. “Security software is the last frontier of protection for businesses and customers in the modern world, where hardware and network equipment can be compromised.”

Once the attack was identified, researchers tried to find other attack victims, identifying only three hotels after scanning thousands. It was only later that the researchers found the common link: they had all been venues for P5+1 discussions over Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Although Israel has denied being behind the latest attack, the country’s security agencies are reported to have had the Iran talks under intensive surveillance. .

In March, the Wall Street Journal cited senior US administration officials as saying an Israeli espionage operation began soon after the US opened up a secret channel of communications with Tehran in 2012, aimed at resolving the decade-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear aspirations. It said American diplomats attending the talks in Austria and Switzerland were briefed by US counter-intelligence officials about the threat of Israeli eavesdropping. It also raised the possibility that Israel gathered intelligence about the US position by spying on other participants in the negotiations, from western Europe, Russia, China or Iran.
Israel has said that a deal emerging from the talks could allow Iran to continue working towards building nuclear weapons, something Iran has denied is under way.

While the report indicates one important target impacted by Duqu 2, its true impact on the wider world is likely to be realised somewhat indirectly. “The average consumer or small business won’t be affected directly by Duqu 2,” assured Ferguson. “[The] bigger issue is, as we saw with Stuxnet and many others, this research and development effort made by nation states almost invariably filters down to the more widely spread cybercrime.”

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/11/duqu-20-computer-virus-with-traces-of-israeli-code-was-used-to-hack-iran-talks

A highly sophisticated computer worm which has many of the same characteristics of the virus used to attack Iran’s nuclear programme has been discovered targeting companies in Europe.

Although the virus appears to have been spying on the systems it infiltrates – rather than attempting to vandalise them – experts say its code is so similar to the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran, that it may have been engineered by the same people.

The US and Israel were widely thought to be behind Stuxnet, which sent many of the centrifigues at Tehran’s nuclear facilities spinning out of control. It took this kind of cyberwarfare to a new level.

The new virus was discovered by Symantec, a leading cybersecurity firm, and has been called Duqu.

Symantec would not disclose which firms had been targeted, but the company said one of its customers raised the alarm on Friday. An internal system at the firm “raised a number of red flags” and an investigation was launched.

“The majority of the code is consistent with the Stuxnet code,” said a spokesman for Symantec. “So this new worm either came from the authors of Stuxnet, or someone was given access to the Stuxnet source codes.”

Symantec said that the information Duqu gathers is sent to a server in India, but that this doesn’t give any likely indication of who launched it, or who is accessing the material it finds.

It believes Duqu has been targeting a specific number of organisations in Europe and was designed to automatically remove itself from systems after 36 days.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/oct/19/stuxnet-worm-europe-duqu


TABGHA, Israel — Israeli police say they have arrested 16 Jewish settler youths after a Catholic church near the Sea of Galilee was heavily damaged by an arson attack Thursday.
A fire broke out at the Church of the Multiplication in the middle of the night, causing extensive damage to the inside and outside of the building, said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
A passage from a Jewish prayer, calling for the elimination of idol worship, was found scrawled in red spray paint on a wall outside the church.
The nationalist crimes unit of the Israeli police’s West Bank settlement division is investigating the incident. The youths arrested are all religious Jewish seminary students from West Bank settlements. Their lawyer, Itamar Ben Gvir, told Israeli Army Radio the police had no evidence against the youths and that they were under suspicion simply for looking like young settlers.
Father Matthias Karl, a German monk from the church, said a souvenir shop, an office for pilgrims and a meeting room were badly damaged, and Bibles and prayer books were destroyed in the fire.
“It’s totally destroyed. The fire was very active,” he said.
A monk and a church volunteer were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, but the prayer area of the church was unaffected by the fire, he said.
In recent years, mosques and churches have been targeted by vandals in similar attacks. They are often attributed to extremist Jews in West Bank settlements.
Such attacks are widely condemned across the political spectrum in Israel. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned Thursday’s church burning and said Israel respects freedom of worship for all religions.
Last year, a group of mostly Jewish youth attacked the Church of the Multiplication’s outdoor prayer area along the Sea of Galilee, Matthias said, pelting worshipers with stones, destroying a cross and throwing benches into the lake.
The Roman Catholic church, also known as the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, is a modern church built on the remains of a fifth-century Byzantine church. It marks the traditional spot of Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fish, and is located in Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
Its Byzantine mosaic floor draws thousands of visitors of all faiths each year, Matthias said.

http://nypost.com/2015/06/18/israeli-youths-arrested-after-arson-attack-on-catholic-church/


>While Your Attention Was Diverted to Charleston, House Passed Unconstitutional TPA

I admit that there are always things that seem to be used in order to cover up other things that are being done. Last week the House shot down the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, but passed the Trade Promotion Authority (both are unconstitutional). With the coverage of the Charleston Church shooting in South Carolina, the House advanced the TPA again, and this time it passed.

In a 218-208 vote (previous vote was 219-211), with 28 Democrats and 50 Republicans voting in favor of the bill, the House advanced the fast track bill which would illegally delegate authority to the Executive Branch to work out trade agreements. As I’ve pointed out before, trade agreements involve tariffs (taxes). As such, those must originate in the House of Representatives.
Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution states:
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives…
This is not a treaty, it’s a trade agreement. Too many people are confusing the TPA with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a treaty. I do believe confusion is exactly what is being perpetrated on the American people at this point in order to advance the agenda.
The Hill reports:
The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.
The Senate is now expected to vote on the legislation, but that is presumed to pass since they have already passed before.
“This is a vote to re-establish America’s credibility,” said Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Previously, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) attempted to justify such actions by saying that the TPA wouldn’t give Obama more authority and chastening others that said such legislation would undermine the law. But it does, in fact, do that.

Furthermore, if this is passed through the Senate and the TPP is approved, there is no doubt that American jobs will be lost, which is, in part, why the TAA was also attempting to be pushed through.
All of this is setting America up for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There is no question about that. RT reports:
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is a vocal critic of the deal because of a provision called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The provision would mediate disputes between foreign investors and a government, which Warren believes will inhibit regulation and pose a threat to American sovereignty.

ISDS is designed to address the problem of uneven national economic policies in an interconnected global economy. Foreign investors have to deal with the risk of having their investments seized if and when a new government comes to power and decides to nationalize the businesses of foreign industries. While this isn’t a risk in a stable company with a strong judicial system like the United States, it is a genuine risk in other countries without such stability. ISDS is an arbitration process that uses sanctions to put pressure on governments who have unfairly seized property.

That means that ISDS would allow foreign investors to make complaints against the United States, which is a point that many take issue with. Warren argues that the agreement could “tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations.”

Many opponents of the TPP worry that multinational corporations could argue that environmental, financial and minimum wage regulations could qualify for a dispute under ISDS, potentially costing the United States expensive damages.
Sorry conservatives, but Republicans are once again selling us out right along with many Democrats. They are selling out American jobs, sovereignty and most of all they are not following the rules of the Constitution they swore to uphold and defend.
The push is on now to see if Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will take to the Senate floor and provide a filibuster for this unconstitutional legislation.

Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/06/while-your-attention-was-diverted-to-charleston-house-passed-unconstitutional-tpa/


After the owner of a Michigan-based auto repair shop wrote on Facebook that he will refuse service to openly gay individuals, his post went viral on the social media site, spurring numerous media write-ups and an explosive amount of comments.

“I am a Christian,” wrote Brian Klawiter, owner of Dieseltec in Grandville, Michigan. “My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)”

Klawiter also stated that he will offer a discount for customers who bring their gun into his shop — on-duty police officers excluded, he said, because their guns were purchased with tax dollars.

Dieseltec’s new policy seems to have been inspired by recent battles over “religious freedom” laws in Indiana and Arkansas. “Enough is enough,” the owner began his post. “Our rights as conservative Americans are being squashed more and more everyday. Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun… That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist. Too many of us say nothing.”

Naturally, when his Facebook declaration went viral, local NBC affiliate station WOOD-TV got a hold of him, asking him to further elaborate on his new policy. “If you have a vehicle that needs to be repaired, we’d be happy to do that for you,” he told the channel. “But if you want to come in here with your boyfriend and you want to openly display that, that’s just not going to be tolerated here. We don’t believe that here.”

The story was picked up by Huffington Post and ThinkProgress; and, as a result, his post has since shot up to being among the top 10 trending items on Facebook.

A GoFundMe page was started, purportedly in support of the auto shop, but has since been removed.

On Thursday afternoon, Klawiter claimed in a new Facebook post that he had not requested anyone set up a crowdfunding page to support his business. However, he said, “I will stand firm on my views and will not back down” in the face of alleged threats to attack his business.

 

 

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/michigan-auto-shop-goes-viral-after-posting-no-service-for-gays-discount-for-gun-owners/

 


History and Analysis: the “Abrahamic” propagandists

B’Man wrote:

the “historical truth” that “all” German synagogues were destroyed is a lie.

In 1938 there were approximately 1,400 synagogues in Germany, of which only about 180 were destroyed or damaged. Furthermore, Jews owned approximately 100,000 shops and department stores in Germany in 1938. Of this number, only about 7,500 had their windows broken. These figures show just how much the so-called “historical truth” differs from what actually happened. The damage and destruction that did actually occur was, of course, a terrible shame, but the exaggerations, especially by German historians who use them to condemn their own people, are also a shame.<!–more–>

History writers tell us that during the Crystal Night all the Jews were frightened, meekly accepted whatever happened to them and watched the destruction of their property with no resistance. The contrary is true. While going through the files on this subject, I found many documents which report precisely just the opposite of what is claimed. The fact is that in many cases Jews and their German neighbors fought together against the attackers, pushing them down staircases. Street mobs were beaten up and chased away in more than one case. Police and Party officials were generally on the side of the Jews. Some Jewish community leaders went to police stations the next morning and asked the police to investigate the damage done to their synagogues. The resulting police reports are still available in the files today.

Also contrary to what we have been told, most Jews were not directly affected by these events. In Berlin, for example, all of the teachers and pupils of the city’s largest Jewish school, which served the entire Berlin area, appeared in their classes the next morning without having noticed anything unusual during the previous night. Heinemann Stern, the Jewish principal of that school, wrote in his postwar memoirs that he noticed a burning synagogue on his way to the school on the morning after the Crystal Night, but he thought it was just an accidental fire. It was only after he arrived at the school that he received a telephone call informing him of the destruction of the previous night. He then went on with his classes of the day and only during the first recess did he take the trouble to inform the entire student body about what had happened. [note 8]

How can such evidence be reconciled with the claim by Herman Graml, a prominent German historian and associate of the Munich Institute of Contemporary History, who wrote: “Every single Jew was beaten, chased, robbed, insulted and humiliated. The SA tore the Jews from their beds, mercilessly beat them in their apartments and then … chased them almost to death … Blood flowed everywhere.” [note 9] Is it conceivable that thousands of Jewish children would be have been sent to school by their parents on the morning after that fateful night if the attacks against Jews had been so horrific or extensive? Would any parents have let their children go to school if they had thought there was even the slightest danger of them being attacked by roving gangs of SA men? I think the answer is clearly no! Deplorable things did indeed happen which were bad enough, but the fantasies of modern historians and history writers such as Graml are simply inexcusable.

Really, isn’t it silly to compare a 2 day event, immediately shunned by the very one Lendman (and everyone else) blames, to a half-century long Apartheid?

https://buelahman.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/playing-the-hitler-card/

I think the Zionist distinction here is notable, as explained by a commenter at unz.com:

It’s not about Jews.
Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro explained to Gilad Atzmon in this conversation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVVJ6lP0Wqk that zionists “stole Jewish identity” to create the secular, anti-Judaic state of Israel. Israel has nothing to do with the core of Judaism, which is what defines a Jew — namely, having been among those people chosen by god at Mt. Sinai to observe the 600+ commands handed down thru Moses and recorded in Torah. That is what a Jew is. “Jewish is not a culture — there is no Jewish culture; it’s not an ethnicity, or a race. Jewish is a religion.” Zionism is a political movement, a movement based on nationalism, not Torah, the Jewish religion, insisted Shapiro.

Hitler was quite specific in stating that neither he nor any German person would ever criticize Judaism and Jewish as religion; look it up in Mein Kampf.
But Winston Churchill was even more damning of “international Jews,” aka Bolsheviks aka zionists than ever was Hitler. You can google that, too.

Rabbi Shapiro objects to zionism; he objects to zionism strenuously, even angrily. “Zionists have stolen my identity,” said the Orthodox rabbi.

2. Republican party &amp; the GOP candidates for president met at Faith &amp; Freedom conference the other day.
One of the speakers (I forget which) said “USA was founded by Old Testament Christians.”

Gary Bauer explained the guarantee of “inalienable rights” with which Americans are “endowed by god” and that god is the “god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Woodrow Wilson would have agreed.
So would Saint Ronald of Reagan.
FDR was so corrupt that he used zionism and Russians to destroy Germany and Churchill/British empire — he made a pact with the devil, and that zionist devil had several names &amp; coats of many colors — he was named Felix Frankfurter, Louis Brandeis, Bernard Baruch, Henry Morgenthau JR, Harry Dexter White, Rabbi Stephen Wise ….

Truman sold his soul to the Abrahamic mythos and lived to regret it but without the courage to recant it.

Eisenhower stood up to the devil just enough to make you think he had guts and character, but he only nibbled at the margins.

fill in the rest

Then there are the Bushes — peer George H W, fille George W, and even convert to his wife’s Catholic creed, candidate Jeb (!) (no Bush).
They are Abrahamic.

Recall that Rabbi Shapiro says Jews are those to whom Moses conveyed Commandments.
Moses did not enter the land of Canaan.
Neither did the people who were with Moses at Mt. Sinai.
The Levites killed those escapees from Egypt who worshiped the golden calf.
And those escapees who kveched about the inadequacy of the manna etc. were condemned never to set foot in the land of Jericho– anyone so wimpy that they’d complain about eating the same stuff for 40 years was not the material Joshua needed to topple the regime at Jericho, kill its men, boys and animals and take away its women. Nosiree, they did not have the spirit of the conquering Abraham, whose first public act was to smash the icons of all other people’s gods and receive from god the promise of the land of Canaan for his own.

The Gooper crowd at the Omni Shoreham are just as Bauer suggested (sort of*) — Abrahamic. Eager to kill anyone who does not believe as they believe, in order to confer on them “inalienable rights with which they were endowed by the Abraham’s god, dammit.

The crowd that is running US foreign policy is, indeed, “Old Testament,” and “Abrahamic.” They worship Israel, and Israel is the concentrated form of their creed, the Vatican fortress for their plans of conquest.

They are neither Jew nor Christian.

They are Abrahamic.
That’s the source of all these evil habits. Israel is the holding tank for Abrahamism and US political leaders are Abrahamism’s carry-out boys, its executives, its yes-men — listen to the GOP Faith &amp; Freedom conference.

http://www.unz.com/article/washington-in-wonderland/#comment-983474

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Editor’s Comment: The above history and analysis is not exactly a current event, but I don’t want to throw away the content when I delete the original post.


The TPP is the yet-to-be-fulfilled economic aspect of the US rebalance to Asia.

A TPP failure would have been a massive blow to the US and its allies and a gift to the rising China, which signed a free trade deal with Australia last week and is jostling with the US for influence in Asia.

But Obama, or Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb for that matter, won’t be popping the champagne just yet.

While the passage of trade promotion authority in the US will be a major victory, difficult market access negotiations remain for trade negotiators from the Pacific Rim countries before a deal is finalised.

Canada, facing an election in October, is proving to be a key hurdle, as the Harper government holds out on opening up its dairy and other agriculture sectors to competition from Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Japan and the US, the two major bilateral participants in the multilateral accord, need to reach a compromise on opening their agriculture and automotive markets to each other. Mexico is also a snag.

Dominos

These key dominos must fall before middle powers like Australia can settle on granting intellectual property concessions to US pharmaceutical giants, technology firms and entertainment companies, or whether local farmers and cane growers will be able to sell more sugar in the US and other markets.

It’s been slightly embarrassing for the US, the ostensible bastion of free markets and capitalism, to almost capitulate to unions and oppose a free-trade deal.

Obama should have more forcefully advocated for the benefits of trade to Democrats months ago, instead of relying on eleventh hour support from Republicans.

In theory, a final multilateral deal could be signed as early as mid July when a tentative meeting of trade ministers is slated for Hawaii. Given the domestic political sensitivities of free trade in each country, a period of months seems more probable.

From there, Obama is required to provide Congress 90 days notice that he will sign the TPP and give lawmakers a chance to review the details.

http://www.afr.com/news/economy/trade/tpp-trade-deal-on-edge-as-china-watches-20150624-ghw0b5


Editor’s note:

Allegedly, on 2015-06-17, Dylan Roof went on a killing spree. This may have been a false flag; various photos of Roof seem to have been digitally altered to make Roof seem more political than he really was.

If this was a false flag, it may have been intended to distract potential protesters from the TPP.

See also:
https://buelahman.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/the-roof-the-roof-the-roof-is-on-fire/
digitallyAltered


Jun 22, 2015
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Nearly 40 percent of singles in their 20s and 30s do not want a romantic partner, with many calling relationships “bothersome,” according to a government survey released Monday.

The survey, conducted by the Cabinet Office on the Internet and by mail between last December and January, covered 7,000 people aged 20 to 39. Valid responses were received from 37.8 percent.

Of the valid respondents, 37.6 percent said they don’t want a romantic partner, while 60.8 percent voiced interest in such a relationship.

The figures were reported in an annual government white paper discussing measures to combat the low birthrate.

Of the total, 28.8 percent said they are unmarried and are not in romantic relationships. Of them, 39.1 percent of women and 36.2 percent of men said they do not want a romantic partner.

The survey also found that low-income earners are less interested in romantic relationships.

With respondents allowed to give multiple answers, 46.2 percent called relationships bothersome — the most popular reason cited.

This was followed by 45.1 percent who said they wanted to prioritize hobbies and 32.9 percent who prioritized their work and studies ahead of romantic relationships.

The white paper also pointed out that the proportion of people who have never married by the age of 50 is increasing.

To deal with the low birthrate, the government has vowed to provide support for all stages of individuals lives, ranging from marriage, pregnancy and delivery to child rearing, the white paper said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/22/national/social-issues/nearly-40-of-single-japanese-not-interested-in-romance-survey

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