February 26, 2013

Is a Third Palestinian Intifada, or Uprising, Against Israel Coming?

Is a third Palestinian intifada coming?

February  26, 2013

CS Monitor - Someday, something is going to have to give in the cold peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But that's been true for years.

The status quo between Israelis and Palestinians is, as is so frequently uttered, "intolerable." But rhetorically intolerable things are often tolerated for long periods of time.

So while the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" has been dead in all but name for years now, with Israeli settlement expansion continuing apace in the West Bank, a Palestinian Authority leadership that is incapable of making any concessions of its own in the face of that, and a frustrated and angry Palestinian public, the status quo has nevertheless trundled along.

Predicting a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, has been a mug's game for years – since practically the moment the second one petered out in 2005. Those predictions have increased in frequency as the prospect of an independent Palestinian state, the promise of 1993's Oslo Accords, have once again receded. But so far, they've consistently failed to be born out by events on the ground.

This week, there's been intifada talk once again, following the death in an Israeli prison of young Palestinian man Arafat Jaradat over the weekend. Early Israeli reports said the cause of Mr. Jaradat's death could not be determined, but Palestinian groups insist he was tortured in custody and furious protests erupted around the West Bank yesterday during his funeral. Israel arrested Jaradat earlier in February, on allegations that he'd thrown rocks at settlers last November, during Israel's confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Anger was particularly high in Sair, Jaradat's village near Hebron where he was buried. Christa Case Bryant was there and described the scene:
People filled every rooftop, balcony, and open patch of grass surrounding the village square as Mr. Jaradat’s coffin was carried through the crowd, sparking fierce whistling and a few gunshots...

At the funeral today for Jaradat in Sair, just outside of Hebron, supporters of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades chanted, “Let the olive branch fall and let the weapon always lead to victory…. Let Tel Aviv be set on fire.”
Even as a rival cluster of Hamas supporters tried to out-chant the group, others insisted Palestinians were united in their fight against Israel. “Besides Fatah, besides Hamas, we the people of Palestine are all united in challenging the occupation,” said Rami Hijjah, a business student and student council member at Polytechnic University in Hebron who says he hopes “we all will follow [Jaradat] as martyrs.”

There are thousands of Palestinians in Israeli detention, and activists said roughly 3,000 prisoners participated in a hunger strike over the weekend to protest Jaradat's death. While from the outside his death could be taken as a simple tragedy – an angry young man throws a rock, is arrested for assault, and then unfortunately falls ill while under arrest – that's not at all how any Palestinian would see it.

The settlement Jaradat was protesting, Kiryat Arba, is a town of about 7,000 just east of the Palestinian city of Hebron and about 18 miles south of Jerusalem, deep in the West Bank that is supposed to eventually form the core of a Palestinian state.

Israel Defense Forces control most of the roads in the area, with only restricted access for Palestinians. There is also a small settlement of committed religious Zionists protected by the IDF in the middle of Hebron, a city of roughly 100,000 Palestinians that nevertheless the religious right in Israel insists be eventually annexed into the state, since it's home to the Cave of the Patriarchs, where both religious Muslims and Jews believe Abraham is buried.

The local settlements and IDF presence are a constant reminder to Palestinians in the area that they aren't exercising any real sovereignty. Palestinian-settler relations in the area are particularly poisonous, even by the standards of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It was in Hebron that settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians praying at the cave's attached Ibrahim Mosque in 1994, and minor confrontations are common.
So whatever the facts of Jaradat's death – abuse in detention? None at all? – it's a symbol of the root of Palestinian frustration. The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have failed to halt settlement expansion, let alone bring about a state.

Yousef Munayyer, an executive director of The Jerusalem Fund, a DC-based nonprofit that advocates for Palestinians, says that while another uprising is possible, it isn't likely any time soon. But he also cautions that doesn't mean more of the same is sustainable.
"I don’t think we’re going to see a resumption of the kind of armed resistance that we had seen in the past, at that level, any time soon. The control that the PA has over the guns is far tighter now than I think that it’s ever been before, particularly in the West Bank," he says. "With the PA's very sustainability being based on whether Israel or the United States permit funding to get through to them [that] indicates they’re not going to let that happen. That’s not to say the current PA framework couldn’t collapse; and with each passing day we get closer to that."
He says that Jaradat's death is, to Palestinians, the latest illustration of the PA's lack of power vis-a-vis Israel, even though it's authority is pretty much unchallenged among Palestinians in the West Bank.
"The crux of the problem is this PA catch 22, where you have this entity that is supposed to advance Palestinian national goals, which of course include self-determination and ending the occupation ... but at the same time it doesn’t have the ability to advance those goals because it exists because Israel and the US permit it to exist and its funding comes either from those sources or because those sources allow that to come through."
That comment is a reference to the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, which calls for the PA's taxes to be collected by Israel, and then transferred. Israel routinely delays transfer of the money as a form of control over the PA. After the Palestinians were successful in obtaining observer status at the UN in November, something Israel stridently opposed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered tax transfers withheld. With those taxes making up about 2/3 of the PA's revenue, it has pushed the nascent West Bank government to the brink of a fiscal crisis.

Salaries have gone unpaid (the PA is the West Bank's largest employer) and that's been a crucial factor in the uglier, more chaotic mood in the area. In response to the unrest over the weekend, Israel decided to release at least some of the tax revenue, apparently at the urging of senior officers.
“We believe there is a connection between the PA’s stability and the ability of its security apparatuses to function and the financial issue,” Haaretz quoted an anonymous senior officer from the IDF's Central Command as saying. “Our position is consistent: Salaries should be paid.”
In a way, that decision, which could cool tensions in the short term, points to the long term dangers of the status quo. Absent unrest, it's very hard for Palestinians to extract concessions from Israelis.

Mr. Munayyer says that's one reason he often grows frustrated with speculation about whether an uprising is at hand. "By asking the question in the way that we do, 'are we on the cusp of the next intifada?,' we’re identifying that as crisis mode. But in the absence of an intifada, which is what we have now, there is still the military occupation of millions of people. So we’re contributing to that idea that this human rights crisis is tolerable."
"But why [would Israel] end it? The benefits are high, the costs are low, so until that equation changes they won’t change their approach. It’s unreasonable for us to think otherwise, and it’s dangerous for that myth to lie at the foundation of policy prescriptions because it ends up leading to policy statements like 'well, if we get the parties back to the negotiating table maybe they’ll work things out."
Munayyer's organization takes issue with the reporting of this paper and many others today that a rocket fired at Israel broke the uneasy truce that averted a full scale war in Gaza last November and argues that Israel has repeatedly violated its side of the deal.

At any rate, the status quo is holding for now, with a calmer situation today than yesterday. The intolerable, it seems, will be tolerated for a while longer.

Family of Four Manages to Live Well on Just $14,000 Per Year

How a Family of Four Manages to Live Well on Just $14,000 Per Year

February 26, 2013

Business InsiderIn the years since the recession, the median household income in the U.S. has dropped to just over $50,000, while fixed costs like health care, higher education, and housing have only soared. Now imagine trying to support a family of four on a fraction of that income.

It's a reality that stay-at-home wife and mother of two Danielle Wagasky has lived for the last four years. And, perhaps a little surprisingly, she wouldn't have it any other way.

Wagasky, 28, lives with her her husband, Jason, 31, and their two young children in a three-bedroom family home in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Jason, a member of the U.S. Army, completes his undergraduate studies, the family's only source of income is the $14,000 annual cost of living allowance he receives under the G.I. Bill. Despite all odds, the family has barely any credit card debt, no car payment, and no mortgage to speak of.

Wagasky has been sharing her journey to living meaningfully and frugally on her blog, Blissful and Domestic, since 2009.

She was kind enough to chat with BI and tell us how she makes it work.

Wagasky finds inspiration everywhere from the library to tips from readers on her blog.

"My husband told me he'd heard about this book, [America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money]," she said. "We talked about it over the phone and I read it and thought how it could apply to us."

The couple had a single savings goal in mind –– scraping together $30,000 for a downpayment on their home in their native Henderson, Nevada.

The mindless spending was out, and Wagasky came up with a budget she could make work. "I changed the way I was grocery shopping and started working my way up, " she said.

She stopped eating out and learned how to cook.

Wagasky barely knew her way around a kitchen when she started her money makeover.

Now she's an avid cookbook collector (she checks them out from libraries or asks for them as gifts to save), and it's one of the simplest ways she's managed to cutback on spending.

With a $7 bread-maker she scored at a local thrift shop, she never spends on store bought slices. She's not shy about professing her love for wholesale stores like Costco, which is her go-to source for baking ingredients.

Everything in the home is either hand-sewn and or made from scratch.

"Everything must be budgeted," Wagasky wrote in a June entry on her blog. "From family outings, to toiletries to clothes purchases. It must be budgeted."

And she takes Do-It-Yourself to the extreme. Everything from laundry soap and clothing to the kitchen her husband installed in their new home was either crafted by hand or thrifted.

She swears by this home-made laundry detergent recipe.

The family swapped cable for Netflix and Hulu.

When it come to cutting costs, cable was as easy luxury to part ways with.

With two children aged 6 and 8 to entertain, Wagasky invests $14.99 in a Netflix plan and recently added Hulu to the mix.

The family also uses a simple antennae to pick up basic cable channels.

She goes to the grocery store once per month, pays cash, and never goes over budget.

With a single source of fixed income, there's no room for impulse purchases in the Wagasky household.

They budget $400 for groceries each month and that's it.

"Once that $400 is gone, it is gone," she writes. "There are no extra shopping trips made because there is no more money."

They are a cash-only household but keep a credit card for emergencies.

Wagasky said they have no credit debt, but they do charge emergency expenses on plastic when absolutely necessary.

"We recently had some medical bills we had to pay, and we were able to take our savings and pay those down as fast as we could," she said.

They fill up their tanks once per month and combine errands as much as possible.

With gas prices creeping higher each all the time, the Wagaskys watch their mileage like hawks.

That means combining errands together and doing all they can to make one tank of gas last a month.

"We know we don't get to drive and visit family often, so when we do we cherish it," she wrote in a blog entry.

"We don't go just for an hour, we stay and visit and even run errands that may be close to where we have family. We try to remember that when the gas is gone...it is gone."

They paid for both of their cars in cash and have no car payments.

After Wagasky's husband left active duty and started school, the couple knew they would only have $14,000 per year to live on.

So they paid off the $8,000 he owed on his truck while he was earning more and they could afford the expense.

They also bought a van, which they saved $10,000 for initially and were able to pay the remaining $12,000 owed within a year.

Having zero car payments is a nice relief.

She skips all kiddie snacks in favor of healthier, cheaper DIY options.

Like anyone with simple math skills, Wagasky was quick to realize how much cash she was wasting on prepackaged snacks for her children.

She cut them out completely and whips up homemade granola bars and trail mix instead.

If she can freeze food, she will.

If you're on a tight food budget, your freezer will become your best friend.

Wagasky chops vegetables and fruits and freezes them for a month. She actually does the same for dairy products like cheese, butter and yogurt.

"I am able to freeze about 8 gallons of milk each month," she writes. "They sit at the bottom of my freezer and we thaw them out when we need them." Baked goods get the same chilly treatment.

She uses a food co-op to save on fresh produce.

Wagasky was dubious about joining a food co-op, but after three months, she realized she would never beat the savings or quality she found.

Food co-ops pool membership fees together in order to fund a monthly harvest that's distributed at designated pick-up points.

A couple of times per month, Wagasky gets a basketful of in-season produce for $15 –– way better bargain than she'd ever find in stores.

They took advantage of Nevada's declining housing market to score a cheap foreclosure.

By the time Wagasky's husband came home from Iraq, they had managed to scrape together the $30,000 they needed for a downpayment on a home.

"But we decided the best option would be not to have a mortgage payment at all," she said. "We found a fixer-upper that didn't have a kitchen ... and we paid cash."

Price tag: $28,000. With the leftover cash, they were able to finish the kitchen and install wood flooring throughout the house.

February 16, 2013

Russia Cleans Up After Meteor Blast Injures More Than 1,000

Russia cleans up after meteor blast injures more than 1,000

February 16, 2013

Reuters - Thousands of Russian emergency workers went out on Saturday to clear up the damage from a meteor that exploded over the Ural mountains, damaging buildings, shattering windows and showering people with broken glass.

Divers searched a lake near the city of Chelyabinsk, where a hole several feet wide had opened in the ice, but had so far failed to find any large fragments, officials said.

The scarcity of evidence on the ground fuelled scores of conspiracy theories over what caused the fireball and its huge shockwave on Friday in the area which plays host to many defense industry plants.

Nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told reporters in Moscow it could have been "war-mongers" in the United States. "It's not meteors falling. It's a new weapon being tested by the Americans," he said.
A priest from near the explosion site called it an act of God. Social media sites were flooded with speculation
Asked about the speculation, an official at the local branch of Russia's Emergencies Ministry simply replied: "Rubbish".

Residents of Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow, heard an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave that blew out windows and damaged the wall and roof of a zinc plant.

A fireball traveling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second according to Russian space agency Roscosmos, blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail visible as far as 200 km (125 miles) away.
NASA estimated the meteor was 55 feet across before entering Earth's atmosphere and weighed about 10,000 tons.

It exploded miles above Earth, releasing nearly 500 kilotons of energy - about 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War Two, NASA added.
"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones."

Search teams said they had found small objects up to about 1 cm (half-an-inch) wide that might be fragments of a meteorite, but no larger pieces.

The Chelyabinsk regional governor said the strike caused about 1 billion roubles ($33 million) worth of damage.

Life in the city had largely returned to normal by Saturday although 50 people were still in hospital. Officials said more than 1,200 people were injured, mostly by flying glass.

Repair work had to be done quickly because of the freezing temperatures, which sank close to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) at night.

Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov inspected the damage after President Vladimir Putin sent him to the region.

His ministry is under pressure to clean up fast following criticism over the failure to issue warnings in time before fatal flooding in southern Russia last summer and over its handling of forest fires in 2010.

Putin will also want to avoid a repeat of the criticism that he faced over his slow reaction to incidents early in his first term as president, such as the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000 which killed all 118 people on board.

($1 = 30.1365 Russian roubles)

Obama Bypasses Congress with Public Sales Pitch for Budget Cuts

Obama Bypasses Congress With Public Economic Pitch

February 16, 2013

ABC News - Weeks before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, White House aides were locking down a plan for the sales pitch that would follow during three days of travel focused on his main themes.

The effort to promote Obama's proposals on jobs, wages and education involved visits to Asheville, N.C., Decatur Ga., and Chicago, participating in a Google+ chat and mobilizing the president's formidable former campaign apparatus.

One thing it didn't include? Congress.

For the White House, this is a campaign for public opinion, not one to write specific legislation.

When it comes to broadening early education or raising the minimum wage, Obama is not ready to make lawmakers a part of the process yet.

Instead, Obama is trying to change an economic debate that has been focused on deficits and on managing the national debt to one about middle-class opportunities and economic growth. Just into his second term, Obama and his aides want to move away from the type of budget confrontations that have defined the past two years and take advantage of his re-election to pressure Republicans.
"If the Republicans reflexively oppose everything the president does, we have to go directly to the American people to marshal their support to get things done," Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said. "The metric we're looking at is whether you start to see fissures in the Republican coalition."
This president, like recent ones before him, has gone to the public before in hopes of persuading lawmakers. It hasn't always proved a winning tactic.

President Bill Clinton failed to use the public to win support for his health care overhaul. President George W. Bush was unable to make changes to Social Security in his second term.

Obama tried to muster public support to fight climate change but the legislative effort came up short. Even Obama's all-out effort on behalf of sweeping health care changes only succeeded in keeping Democrats unified, not in winning over Republicans.

But Obama and White House aides are heartened by what they believe were successful public appeals for extending a payroll tax cut in 2010 and for preventing a doubling of interest rates on federal student loans last summer.

What made those different was that they addressed pressing issues: The payroll tax cut was expiring at year's end and interest rates on student loans were set to double last July 1.

Expanding preschools and raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, on the other hand, are policy ideas just sprung on Congress during last Tuesday's prime-time speech.
"When there is no clear path between what he called for in the State of the Union and then going on the road, and there's no road map about exactly when we're going to get into these issues, it's a little bit like shouting in the forest," said Patrick Griffin, the White House legislative director under Clinton. "Something has to be queued up in order to make these visits work."
David Winston, a Republican pollster and strategist who advises House Republicans, said the key to a successful policy campaign is two-fold.
"The first and central is how important is solving whatever problem is being defined," he said. "The second one is does the defined benefit solve the problem."
He argues that even though Obama in 2010 won the health care fight in a partisan showdown, the public didn't judge health care to be as important as dealing with the economy. As a result, Republicans won control of the House in elections that year.

The White House strategy now in part recognizes that the economy remains the No. 1 public concern even as the president engages Congress on issues such as immigration and gun violence.

It was finally on Friday, his last road trip of the week, when Obama brought his message back to guns. But even then, like in his State of the Union speech, he connected it to his main economic themes. Speaking not far from his Hyde Park home on Chicago's South Side, Obama linked the near-daily violence to communities where there is little economic hope.

At the White House, Pfeiffer argues that it would be pointless to present Congress with legislation on preschools and minimum wage increases now when the president is just raising the profile of the two issues and when he's already working with Congress on other matters.
"There's a lot of traffic in the legislative process right now," he said. "If we were to send a bill up on some of these things tomorrow, you guys would all write that the president has overloaded the system."
In pushing his agenda, Obama is wielding extra muscle that he didn't employ before, relying on his reconfigured re-election campaign operation. The organization has reappeared as a nonprofit group ready to engage in legislative fights and grass-roots mobilization to supplement the White House.

The group, Organizing for Action, planned a tele-town hall Saturday hosted by Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor who was Obama's White House chief of staff. The event was intended to press the same themes Obama has pushed for the past four days.

Another expected participant was Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

The group's board of directors includes former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and top campaign officials such as Stephanie Cutter and Julianna Smoot. Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod will serve as a consultant.

All retain strong ties to the White House; Axelrod and Emanuel were in the West Wing last week.
Griffin, the former Clinton aide, said such an organization would introduce a brand new element to White House outreach.

He recalled Clinton's failed effort on health care and his attempt to go over the head of Congress in 1993.
"We tried to build an outside game but we were relying on external organizations to do what President Obama's team wants to do on its own," he said. "The question is, is he going to use this organization to really mobilize folks toward some specific, concrete objective. That to me is a whole new dimension to presidential congressional relations."

February 15, 2013

Meteorite Hits Central Russia, More Than 500 People Hurt; 150-Feet Wide Asteroid Called 2012 DA14 Will Pass Very Close to Earth Today

On February 15, 2013, a near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers will pass within the moon’s distance from Earth – closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites – but it won’t strike us in 2013. Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which averages about a quarter million miles away), and closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites. 2012 DA14 will be about 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) away.

If a space object 150 feet wide were to strike our planet, it wouldn’t be Earth-destroying. But it has been estimated that it would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT. How does that compare with other known impact events on Earth? In 1908, in a remote part of Russia, an explosion killed reindeer and flattened trees. But no crater was ever found. Scientists now believe a small comet struck Earth. That event has been estimated at 3 to 20 megatons. So 2012 DA14 is in the same approximate realm as the Tunguska comet (which, actually, might have been an asteroid instead). It would not destroy Earth, but it could flatten a city. Of course, about 70% of our world is covered by oceans. That means the most likely landing spot of any incoming asteroid is in the water – not on a city or other populated area.

Meanwhile, only hours before the asteroid’s closest approach to Earth, a meteorite has struck in Russia, injuring nearly 1,000 people, according to media reports. Although asteroids are known to sometimes have their own moons, or travel in swarms, NASA now says the meteorite is not associated with asteroid 2012 DA14.


Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt

February 15, 2013

Reuters - More than 500 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, shattering windows and damaging buildings.

People heading to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave according to a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow.

A fireball blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phone networks were interrupted.
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.

"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he said.
No fatalities were reported but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed.

A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday's events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles) but this was not confirmed.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the meteorite was travelling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second and that such events were hard to predict. The Interior Ministry said the meteorite explosion had caused a sonic boom.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of those were kept in hospital. Search groups were set up to look for the remains of the meteorite.
"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," said Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry.

Windows were shattered on Chelyabinsk's central Lenin Street and some of the frames of shop fronts buckled.

A loud noise, resembling an explosion, rang out at around 9.20 a.m. (12:20 a.m. ET). The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city's center.
"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," said Andrei, a local resident who did not give his second name. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows."
A wall was damaged at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant but a spokeswoman said there was no environmental threat.

Although such events are rare, a meteorite is thought to have devastated an area of more than 2,000 sq km (1,250 miles) in Siberia in 1908, smashing windows as far as 200 km (125 miles) from the point of impact.

The Emergencies Ministry described Friday's events as a "meteor shower in the form of fireballs" and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic.

Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up their children from schools and kindergartens. They said what sounded like a blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000 meters (32,800 feet).

The U.S. space agency NASA has said an asteroid known as 2012 DA14, about 46 meters in diameter, would have an encounter with Earth closer than any asteroid since scientists began routinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.

Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 500 miles higher. The moon is 14 times farther away.

February 13, 2013

Egypt Floods Gaza Tunnels to Cut Palestinian Lifeline

Egypt floods Gaza tunnels to cut Palestinian lifeline

February 13, 2013

Reuters - Egyptian forces have flooded smuggling tunnels under the border with the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said.

The network of tunnels is a vital lifeline for Gaza, bringing in an estimated 30 percent of all goods that reach the enclave and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years.

Reuters reporters saw one tunnel being used to bring in cement and gravel suddenly fill with water on Sunday, sending workers rushing for safety. Locals said two other tunnels were likewise flooded, with Egyptians deliberately pumping in water.
"The Egyptians have opened the water to drown the tunnels," said Abu Ghassan, who supervises the work of 30 men at one tunnel some 200 meters (yards) from the border fence.
An Egyptian security official in the Sinai told Reuters the campaign started five days ago.
"We are using water to close the tunnels by raising water from one of the wells," he said, declining to be named.
Dozens of tunnels had been destroyed since last August following the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers in a militant attack near the Gaza fence.

Cairo said some of the gunmen had crossed into Egypt via the tunnels - a charge denied by Palestinians - and ordered an immediate crackdown.

The move surprised and angered Gaza's rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, which had hoped for much better ties with Cairo following the election last year of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist who is ideologically close to Hamas.

A Hamas official confirmed Egypt was again targeting the tunnels. He gave no further details and declined to speculate on the timing of the move, which started while Palestinian faction leaders met in Cairo to try to overcome deep divisions.


Hamas said on Monday the Egyptian-brokered talks, aimed at forging a unity government and healing the schism between politicians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, had gone badly but had not collapsed.

While Gaza's rulers have been reluctant to criticize Mursi in public, ordinary Gazans are slightly more vocal.
"Egyptian measures against tunnels have worsened since the election of Mursi. Our Hamas brothers thought he would open up Gaza. I guess they were wrong," said a tunnel owner, who identified himself only as Ayed, fearing reprisal.

"Perhaps 150 or 200 tunnels have been shut since the Sinai attack. This is the Mursi era," he added.
The tunnellers fear the water being pumped underground might collapse the passage ways, with possible disastrous consequences.
"Water can cause cracks in the wall and may cause the collapse of the tunnel. It may kill people," said Ahmed Al-Shaer, a tunnel worker whose cousin died a year ago when a tunnel caved in on him.
Six Palestinians died in January in tunnel implosions, raising the death toll amongst workers to 233 since 2007, according to Gazan human rights groups, including an estimated 20 who died in various Israeli air attacks on the border lands.

Israel imposed its blockade for what it called security reasons in 2007. The United Nations has appealed for it to be lifted.

At one stage, an estimated 2,500-3,000 tunnels snaked their way under the desert fence but the network has shrunk markedly since 2010, when Israel eased some of the limits they imposed on imports into the coastal enclave.

All goods still have to be screened before entering Gaza and Israel says some restrictions must remain on items that could be used to make or to store weapons.

This ensures the tunnels are still active, particularly to bring in building materials. Hamas also prefers using the tunnels to smuggle in fuel, thereby avoiding custom dues that are payable on oil crossing via Israel.

February 12, 2013

Greece: Harbinger of Things to Come for the Rest of the World’s Developed Nations

Watch: Greeks Fight For Food: “I Never Imagined That I Would End Up Here”

February 8, 2013

SHTFPlan.com - Once a bastion of European success and center of tourism, the country of Greece has become the harbinger of things to come for the rest of the world’s developed nations.

Not long ago Greeks were enjoying high paid salaries, early retirements, excess cash, and seemingly never ending economic growth. Today, just a short time after a financial collapse that rocked global financial markets, Europe’s darling has turned into a frightening example of what happens when governments and their people take on more debt than they can ever hope to repay.

The end result is a warning to the rest of us.
Hundreds of people jostled for free vegetables handed out by farmers in a symbolic protest earlier on Wednesday, trampling one man and prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.
Images of people struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck dominated television, triggering a bout of soul-searching over the new depths of poverty in the debt-laden country.
“These images make me angry. Angry for a proud people who have no food to eat, who can’t afford to keep warm, who can’t make ends meet,” said Kostas Barkas, a lawmaker from the leftist Syriza party.
Other lawmakers from across the political spectrum decried the images “of people on the brink of despair” and the sense of “sadness for a proud people who have ended up like this.”
People have seen their living standards crumble as the country faces its sixth year of recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.…
The free food handout in Athens began peacefully as hundreds of Greeks lined up in advance outside the agriculture ministry, where protesting farmers laid out tables piled high with produce, giving away 50 metric tonnes (55.11 tons) of produce in under two hours.
Tensions flared when the stalls ran out of produce and dozens of people – some carrying small children – rushed to a truck and shoved each other out of the way in the competition for what was left.
One man was treated for injuries after being trampled when he fell to the ground in the commotion.
“I never imagined that I would end up here,” said Panagiota Petropoulos, 65, who struggles to get by on her 530-euro monthly pension while paying 300 euros in rent.
“I can’t afford anything, not even at the fruit market. Everything is expensive, prices of everything are going up while our income is going down and there are no jobs.”
Reuters via Zero Hedge

Desperation, sadness, poverty, disbelief – these are the horrors that await the unprepared.

While European (and U.S.) officials would have us believe they’ve mitigated the crisis in Greece, the fact is that this experiment in centralized governance is, in its entirety, on the brink of collapse.

We’ve chronicled the desperate situation in Greece for the last few years.
Personal accounts from some of our readers express their fear and uncertainty as political and socioeconomic conditions have deteriorated.

Shortages of life savings medicines and food have led to widespread riots and looting. Food has become so expensive in Greece that it has become unattainable for many, prompting the Greek government to authorize grocery retailers to sell expired food at discounted prices.

On a national level, Greece’s manipulation of economic health numbers and their ability to repay loans has left them unable to meet their financial obligations and has led to talks of their exit from the Euro, a move that has the potential to destroy the European currency system altogether.

The debts have gotten so high that the country faced the possibility of a complete collapse of their power and gas infrastructure when local utility companies were unable to settle their agreements with regional suppliers – an effect caused by their customers’ inability to pay their monthly bills.
This is what it looks like when a system collapses. Sometimes it happens overnight in a waterfall event. In the case of Greece, a country that has the backing of the world’s two largest central banks, it’s been a slow but steady process of grinding down all aspects of life.

A similar grinding down should be apparent in other Western nations, namely the United States, where we’ve seen employment decline unabated over the last decade and tens of millions of people added to government funded social safety nets like food assistance and disability.

Make no mistake. We are Greece.

Now is the time to prepare for the desperate situation that will soon be in America. For millions it’s already here.
Every day we edge closer to disaster. Life in America as we have come to know it is in the midst of a massive paradigm shift.

It will no doubt be difficult. But despite the challenges, with the proper mindset and preparation, perhaps we can avoid being one of the many who will be depending on handouts when the worst comes to pass.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Can Seize Belongings Without Reason

No suspicion necessary: DHS can still seize belongings without reason

February 9, 2013

RT - The Fourth Amendment no longer means what you once thought it did: A new report reveals that the government has shrugged off concerns over the alleged constitutional infringements of its own citizens near international crossings.

An internal review of the US Department of Homeland Security’s procedures regarding the suspicionless search-and-seizure of phones and laptops near the nation’s border has reaffirmed the agency’s ability to bypass Fourth Amendment-protected rights [.pdf].

In a two page executive summary published quietly last month to the official DHS website, the agency explains that a civil rights and civil liberties impact assessment of the office’s little-known power to collect personal electronics near international crossings has passed an auditor’s interpretation of what does and doesn’t violate the US Constitution.

Since 2009, the DHS has been legally permitted to seize and review the contents of personal electronic devices, including mobile phones, portable computers and data discs, even without being able to cite any reasonable suspicion that those articles were involved in a crime.

When the initiative was introduced in August 2009 by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, she defended the policy change.
“Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States,” the secretary said, adding, “The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders.”
In that Aug. 09 announcement, Sec. Napolitano ensured the American public that they had nothing to worry about and that an impact assessment would be conducted within 120 days to eliminate any fears. More than two years later, however, the DHS-led study has only now been released in part, and its findings do little to alleviate the concerns of civil liberty advocates who have held their breath since the early days of the Obama administration, waiting anxiously to hear about the legality of a directive that applies to both Customs and Border Protection agents and officers with theImmigration and Customs Enforcement working under the DHS.
“We conclude that CBP’s and ICE’s current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment,” reads the assessment, written by Tamara Kessler of the department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. “We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” she adds.
Elsewhere in her report, Kessler dismisses concerns that legalized searches that require Americans to submit their electronic devices without reason would scare citizens from exercising their ability to speak and act freely.
“Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights. However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers’ First Amendment rights,” Tessler insists.
David Kravets, a reporter for Wired’s Danger Room, writes of the review,
“The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.”
Commenting on Wired’s report, American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Catherine Crump voices concern over how DHS agents can essentially bypass the protections of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search-and-seizure. With few exceptions, the government is not permitted to search the belongings of a person without a reasonable suspicion of a crime. Near the nation’s borders, though, that requirement is removed entirely.
“There should be a reasonable, articulate reason why the search of our electronic devices could lead to evidence of a crime,” Crump tells Wired. “That’s a low threshold.”
Katie Haas of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program adds in a blog post this week,  
“the reality is that allowing government agents to search through all of a traveler’s data without reasonable suspicion is completely incompatible with our fundamental rights. Those rights, she says, are “implicated when the government can rummage through our computers and cell phones for no reason other than that we happen to have traveled abroad.”

“Suspicionless searches also open the door to profiling based on perceived or actual race, ethnicity, or religion,” Haas adds, “And our First Amendment rights to free speech and free association are inhibited when agents at the border can target us for searches based on our exercise of those rights.”
In response to the stripped-down executive summary posted by DHS, the ACLU’s main office has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the government in hopes of obtaining more information on when and why Americans might lose their Fourth Amendment-protected rights. The ACLU seeks the assessment in its entirety and all data, analyses and records gathered during the course of preparing the report.

Where exactly the government can seize personal items without reason is something that has already been determined, though. Last March, the US Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling that legally permitted the use of suspicionless roadblocks not necessarily close to the country’s borders. Back in 2006, the ACLU determined that roughly two-thirds of the entire US population lives within 100 miles of the country’s border, making approximately 200 million Americans in places like Buffalo, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle subject to warrantless and suspicionless searches.
“It is a classic example of law enforcement powers expanding far beyond their proper boundaries – in this case, literally,” ACLU’s Caroline Fredrickson told Wired for an earlier report.
Sec. Napolitano and the DHS have been sued at least once over allegations that the seizure of personal electronic belonging to a US citizen near an international border violated the Constitution of the country. David House, a founding member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, says his laptop and other devices were confiscated without reason while returning to the US from Mexico in November 2010. According to legal filings, House was grilled about his association with Manning, an accused Army whistleblower arrested six months earlier, and WikiLeaks, the website Manning is alleged to have supplied with hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

The Government Will Take Your Guns! Look Back at Katrina — The Police and National Guard Confiscated Guns from Law-Abiding Citizens in Dry, Wealthy Neighborhoods (ABC News Video)

YOU MUST CLICK HERE Martial LAW IS COMING L@@K @ THis!!! (Mark Mason)

September 8, 2005

ABC News - Authorities stepped up their efforts to empty the city of New Orleans.

Bob Woodward reported from New Orleans (video above):
The police and the National Guard find themselves in a very difficult position tonight to try to carry out an order to force people from the city without actually using force.

Today in New Orleans, they got a lot tougher on the holdouts, not only the flooded areas but New Orleans' driest and wealthiest neighborhoods too. The police and National Guard going street by street, house to house. They say there are no orders to use force, just strong persuasion, sometimes entering open houses with guns drawn and instructions to disarm anyone inside.

"No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons," said the New Orleans Police Chief during a press conference.

That happened today in this wealthy neighborhood where homeowners had armed themselves to protect their mansions. Residents were handcuffed on the ground. In the end, police took their weapons but let them stay in their homes.

For many of the police and guard troops, it is an uncomfortable job to do this in an American city.

"It is, it is surreal," said a guardsman. "You just never expect to do this in your own country."

"Walking up and down these streets, you don't want to think about the stuff you're gonna have to do," explains another guardsman. "Somebody pops around the corner."
"You mean shot an American?", the reporter asks.

"Yeah," replies the guardsman.
The Police State After Katrina
The Untold Story of Gun Confiscation After Katrina (Video)
Martial Law After Hurricane Katrina (CNN Video)
The Clergy Response Team After Hurricane Katrina (Video)

"Let Military Keep Order In Disasters" Says Brookings Institute, the Global Elite's Think Tank for Public Policy
Disaster Relief? Call in the Marines
Blackwater Eyes Domestic Contracts in U.S.
Blackwater May Lose License in Iraq

Blackwater Mercenaries Deployed in New Orleans
A Blackwater contractor is paid six to nine times more than a top Army sergeant, and a Blackwater contractor working in Iraq can earn $10,000 or more per month or $120,000 or more per year (tax free). The U.S. taxpayers pay Blackwater USA, a war profiteer of the military-industrial complex, $1,222 per day for one Blackwater "Protective Security Specialist, which, the Congressional report notes, amounts to $446,000 per contractor per year.

Scandal-Ridden Blackwater Changes Name to ‘Xe’
The scandal-ridden security firm Blackwater USA is officially changing its name effective immediately as the company moves to rebrand itself after being fired last month by the State Department from its job protecting diplomats in Iraq. The company will now be known as Xe and hopes to be a “one-stop shopping source for world class services in the fields of security, stability, aviation, training and logistics,” according to a memo sent by company president Gary Jackson to employees on February 13, 2009.

Is Xe's Erik Prince ‘Graymailing’ the US Government?
Xe's Erik Prince: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy for the CIA
Obama Administration Uses Blackwater in Drone Killings
CIA Hired Blackwater for KillingsMore Blackwater Revelations: This Time Child Prostitutes
Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Blackwater Mercenaries: Knights Templars on a “Crusade to Wipe Out Muslims”
Iraqis Speak of Random Killings Committed By Private Blackwater Guards
Blackwater Chief is a Super Villain: Ex-Employees

DHS Purchases 21.6 Million More Rounds of Ammunition

In 2002 the federal government established the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It was created in response to the September 11 attacks, with the primary responsibilities of protecting the United States of America and U.S. territories from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, and natural disasters. Where the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to protect the United States within, at, and outside its borders. Its stated goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. 

Ask yourself, why would a 'domestic' agency of the U.S. government, working within the 'civilian sphere', be purchasing 21.6 million more rounds ammunition to use within the borders of the United States? 

DHS Purchases 21.6 Million More Rounds of Ammunition

Federal agency has now acquired enough bullets to wage 30 year war

February 7, 2013

Infowars.com - The Department of Homeland Security is set to purchase a further 21.6 million rounds of ammunition to add to the 1.6 billion bullets it has already obtained over the course of the last 10 months alone, figures which have stoked concerns that the federal agency is preparing for civil unrest.

A solicitation posted yesterday on the Fed Bid website details how the bullets are required for the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico.

The solicitation asks for 10 million pistol cartridge .40 caliber 165 Grain, jacketed Hollow point bullets (100 quantities of 100,000 rounds) and 10 million 9mm 115 grain jacketed hollow point bullets (100 quantities of 100,000 rounds).

The document also lists a requirement for 1.6 million pistol cartridge 9mm ball bullets (40 quantities of 40,000 rounds).

An approximation of how many rounds of ammunition the DHS has now secured over the last 10 months stands at around 1.625 billion. In March 2012, ATK announced that they had agreed to provide the DHS with a maximum of 450 million bullets over four years, a story that prompted questions about why the feds were buying ammunition in such large quantities. In September last year, the federal agency purchased a further 200 million bullets.

To put that in perspective, during the height of active battle operations in Iraq, US soldiers used 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month. Extrapolating the figures, the DHS has purchased enough bullets over the last 10 months to wage a full scale war for almost 30 years.

Such massive quantities of ammo purchases have stoked fears that the agency is preparing for some kind of domestic unrest. In 2011, Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prepare for a mass influx of immigrants into the United States, calling for the plan to deal with the “shelter” and “processing” of large numbers of people.

The federal agency’s primary concern is now centered around thwarting “homegrown terrorism,” but information produced and used by the DHS to train its personnel routinely equates conservative political ideology with domestic extremism.

A study funded by the Department of Homeland Security that was leaked last year characterizes Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.

In August 2012, the DHS censored information relating to the amount of bullets purchased by the federal agency on behalf of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, citing an “unusual and compelling urgency” to acquire the bullets, noting that there is a shortage of bullets which is threatening a situation that could cause “substantial safety issues for the government” should law enforcement officials not be adequately armed.

As we highlighted last month, the DHS’ previous ammunition solicitation was awarded to Evian Group, an organization that was formed just five days before the announcement of the solicitation and appeared to be little more than a front organization since it didn’t have a genuine physical address, a website, or even a phone number.

While Americans are being browbeaten with rhetoric about the necessity to give up semi-automatic firearms in the name of preventing school shootings, the federal government is arming itself to the teeth with both ammunition and guns. Last September, the DHS purchased no less than 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, labeling them “Personal Defense Weapons.”

The Banking Elite Want Riots in America

Why The Banking Elite Want Riots in America

Civil War 2: The economic imperative for mass social unrest

February 11, 2013

Infowars.com - Every indication clearly suggests that authorities in the United States are preparing for widespread civil unrest. This trend has not emerged by accident – it is part of a tried and tested method used by the banking elite to seize control of nations, strip them of their assets, and absorb them into the new world order.

There is a crucial economic imperative as to why the elite is seeking to engineer and exploit social unrest.

As respected investigative reporter Greg Palast exposed in 2001, the global banking elite, namely the World Bank and the IMF, have honed a technique that has allowed them to asset-strip numerous other countries in the past – that technique has come to be known at the “IMF riot.”

In April 2001, Palast obtained leaked World Bank documents that outlined a four step process on how to loot nations of their wealth and infrastructure, placing control of resources into the hands of the banking elite.

One of the final steps of the process, the “IMF riot,” detailed how the elite would plan for mass civil unrest ahead of time that would have the effect of scaring off investors and causing government bankruptcies.
“This economic arson has its bright side – for foreigners, who can then pick off remaining assets at fire sale prices,” writes Palast, adding, “A pattern emerges. There are lots of losers but the clear winners seem to be the western banks and US Treasury.”
In other words, the banking elite creates the very economic environment – soaring interest rates, spiraling food prices, poverty, lower standards of living – that precipitates civil unrest – and then like a vulture swoops down to devour what remains of the country’s assets on the cheap.

We have already seen this process unfold in places like Bolivia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Greece and Argentina. Next on the chopping block are Spain, Italy, Britain and France – all of which have seen widespread riots over the last two years.

As Ha-Joon Chang explains in the Guardian, the roots of Europe’s riots were sparked by “governments inflicting an old-IMF-style programme on their own populations,” namely the same programs of “austerity, privatisation and deregulation,” that caused the riots of the 80′s and 90′s in poorer countries.

Although the likes of the IMF and the World Bank have pillaged half of the globe with their economic terrorism, America remains the ultimate prize. The first step of the four step process for bankster seizure of a country – privatization of state-owned assets – is already well under way in America, with infrastructure being sold off to foreign corporations, with the aid of Goldman Sachs, at a frightening pace.

A key component of the banking elite’s insidious agenda to bring about an economic collapse in America by design also centers around the process of de-industrializing the country, eviscerating the nation’s platform for self-sufficiency and replacing it with dependence on banker bailouts. This has already been largely achieved in Europe – with just about every major economy on the continent run by Goldman Sachs-affiliated technocrats.

In the United States, 32 per cent of manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000, while 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been mothballed since 2001. The Obama administration has also declared war on the coal industry, with Obama himself promising to “bankrupt” anyone who tries to build a new coal plant. Meanwhile, China builds a new coal plant every two weeks.

Given the clear economic motive for stirring unrest in the United States, we’d expect to see preparations for domestic disorder in numerous different guises – and indeed the signs are everywhere.

National Defense Authorization Act

The Obama administration’s passage of NDAA legislation that authorizes kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial of American citizens on U.S. soil serves to create the framework for mass arrests of protesters and journalists in a time of declared national emergency.

Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

The Obama administration’s brazen and aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers for divulging government corruption in the public interest is clearly a device designed to intimidate whistleblowers from speaking out when the proverbial hits the fan.

Spying on Social Media for Signs of Unrest

The Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies are actively engaged in spying on social media as well as news websites to look for reports or comments that “reflect adversely on the U.S. government and the DHS.” The government is on the lookout for the ‘tipping point’ when heated online rhetoric spills onto the streets in the form of unrest.

Building Huge Spy Centers to Track Unrest

The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center in the middle of the Utah desert. The purpose of the data facility is to intercept, “all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”

By creating a gigantic database of every communication imaginable, the NSA hopes to monitor and pre-empt the spread of mass civil unrest in America.

Preparing Drones for Domestic Oppression

Last week, the Justice Department re-affirmed its position that the Obama administration can use armed drones to assassinate Americans. Under the NDAA, the whole of the United States has been declared a “battlefield,” meaning that drones may soon be used to execute American citizens on U.S. soil.

A government that resorts to killing its own citizens without any legal process whatsoever is clearly a dictatorship engaged in domestic oppression. The only imaginable scenario under which this program would be justifiable was if the U.S. was under a state of martial law and the government was on the verge of collapse.

Preparing for Martial Law

The Department of Homeland Security has purchased over 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the last 10 months alone. At the height of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. Army only used 5.5 million bullets a month. Why has the DHS stockpiled enough bullets for a 30 year war if it is not preparing for some form of domestic disorder?

Preparation for martial law can be seen in numerous different guises, but perhaps the most chilling is a nationwide FEMA program which is training pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for the implementation of martial law, property and firearm seizures, mass vaccination programs and forced relocation.

Characterizing the American People as the New Target of the War on Terror

The U.S. Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 dictates that the military’s “full spectrum operations” will include “operations within American borders.” Scenarios where Americans form into militia groups and become “insurrectionists” as a result of an economic collapse and have to be eliminated by the U.S. Army have already been mapped out by military planners.

A leaked U.S. Army manual also reveals plans for the military to carry out “Civil Disturbance Operations” during which troops will be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.

The Department of Homeland Security’s ‘See Something, Say Something’ program habitually portrays middle class Americans as terrorists. In addition, numerous DHS-funded reports have characterized “liberty lovers” and other constitutionalists as domestic terrorists.

Every indication presents us with the inescapable reality that the US government is preparing for mass civil unrest at some point over the next five to ten years. When we look at the recent history of nations that have suffered financial collapse, domestic disorder is clearly a key component of a deliberate agenda on behalf of the banking elite to undermine and loot economies – confiscating national sovereignty in the process.

In Part 2, we’ll explore why the elite, although keen on provoking mass social unrest and even civil war, are destined to lose the battle.

Will the Government Use Drones Against U.S. Citizens — 83 Percent of Americans Say 'Drone Away!'

Holder: It’s ‘Legal’ to Drone Strike Americans

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked whether or not law enforcement should use drones as they try to fine former cop turned revenge killer, Christopher Dorner. Is this what it’s come to? Are drone attacks abroad so normalized that we can honestly ask if drones would be a good idea to use domestically? Cenk Uygur, Jimmy Dore (TYT Comedy) and Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies) discuss Burnett’s question and its implications. - TYT, Februay 12, 2013

February 5, 2013

Infowars.com - NBC news has produced a chilling, confidential Department of Justice (DOJ) white paper outlining the supposed legality of extrajudicial drone strikes on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism even without intelligence to show involvement in a plot to attack America.

While admitting that U.S. citizens are still afforded constitutional protections such as due process when they travel abroad, the 16-page report claims, “The U.S. citizenship of a leader of al-Qa’ida or its associated forces, however, does not give that person constitutional immunity from attack” [emphasis added]. Continuing, “The Due Process Clause would not prohibit a lethal operation of the sort contemplated here.”

As it has with thousands of men, women, and children in the Middle East, our federal government apparently thinks it’s somehow allowed to use drones to openly murder Americans outside the law of our land.

The memo also claims, “This conclusion is reached with recognition of the extraordinary seriousness of a lethal operation by the United States against a U.S. citizen.” Regardless of its extraordinary nature, such lethal drone operations would be “justified as an act of national self-defense.”

According to the DOJ, a lethal strike against an American citizen is okay if he or she is a suspected al-Qa’ida leader on foreign soil and the following three conditions are met:
1) an informed, high level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
2) capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
The paper does not discuss considerations of drone strikes on Americans suspected of high-level terrorism on domestic soil.

Although this is the first time this deadly assertion has been spelled out in black and white, the U.S. government has already killed multiple U.S. citizens with drone strikes. Born in Denver, Colorado, Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was an American citizen when he was murdered in a strike in Yemen. According to family member accounts, the teenager was not even involved in the suspected terrorist activities for which his father (also a U.S. citizen)  was killed in another U.S. drone strike a week earlier.

Neither al-Awlaki nor his son were afforded due process before they were killed.

Even the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism without a guaranteed trial, at least pretends to consider the Authorization for Use of Military Force’s inability to deny an American their constitutional rights.

The New York Times reported on Obama’s “secret kill list” at length last spring, noting the list included several U.S. citizens and two teens, “including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.” The article outlines how the president deems himself judge, jury, and executioner of those on the list.

Despite multiple Freedom of Information Act requests placed by the ACLU and others, the government has yet to release any information on its extrajudicial drone killings, what requirements must be met to be added to the list, or how the president goes about choosing the next suspect to die by drone.

Even as it amps up the drone war in Yemen, reports have come out just this month that the U.S. is now mulling over expanding drone strikes to Mali, a region that admittedly houses secret U.S. drone bases. Former Rand Corporation head Bruce Hoffman felt most Americans would not consider this action to be controversial because it isn’t “boots on the ground,” a position illustrating just how much unmanned aerial vehicles have further dehumanized American wars.

It’s time more Americans admitted these unconstitutional drone strikes are more than just controversial; they are murder. How can the DOJ “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans” as its mission statement claims it must when it is calling for the outright extrajudicial slaying of American citizens?

The American system of criminal justice is supposedly based on the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty. Now, not only are we guilty until proven innocent, but apparently, proof is no longer required.

America Loves Drone Strikes

February 12, 2013

azizonomics - This graph shows everything we need to know about the geopolitical reality of Predator Drones (coming soon to the skies of America to hunt down fugitives?).

The American public does not approve of the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. But for everyone else, it’s open season.

But everyone else — most particularly and significantly, the countries in the Muslim world — largely hates and resents drone strikes.

And it is the Muslim world that produces the radicalised extremists who commit acts like 9/11, 7/7, the Madrid bombings, and the Bali bombings.  With this outpouring of contempt for America’s drone strikes, many analysts are coming to believe that Obama’s drone policy is now effectively a recruitment tool for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and similar groups:

Indeed, evidence is beginning to coalesce to suggest exactly this. PressTV recently noted:
The expanding drone war in Yemen, which often kills civilians, does in fact cause blowback and help al-Qaeda recruitment – as attested to by numerous Yemen experts, investigative reporting on the ground, polling, testimony from Yemen activists, and the actual fact that recent bungled terrorist attacks aimed at the U.S. have cited such drone attacks as motivating factors.
After another September drone strike that killed 13 civilians, a local Yemeni activist told CNN, “I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al-Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake. This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously.”
“Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” a Yemeni villager named Mohammed told the Post. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”
Many in the U.S. intelligence community also believe the drone war is contributing to the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen. Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and was previously a CIA station chief in Pakistan, told The Guardian in June that he is “very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”
“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” he said regarding drones in Yemen.
Iona Craig reports that civilian casualties from drone strikes “have emboldened al-Qaeda” and cites the reaction to the 2009 U.S. cruise missile attack on the village of al-Majala in Yemen that killed more than 40 civilians (including 21 children):
That one bombing radicalized the entire area,” Abdul Gh ani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, said. “All the men and boys from those families and tribes will have joined [al-Qaeda] to fight.
And al-Qaeda’s presence and support in Yemen has grown, not shrunk since the start of the targeted killing program:
Meanwhile Yemen Central Security Force commander Brig. Gen. Yahya Saleh, nephew of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, told Abdul-Ahad that al-Qaeda has more followers, money, guns and territory then they did a year and a half ago.
All at a time when Yemen is facing a “catastrophic” food crisis, with at least 267,000 children facing life-threatening levels of malnutrition. Hunger has doubled since 2009, and the number of displaced civilians is about 500,000 and rising.
As U.S. drones drop bombs on south Yemen villages and AQAP provides displaced civilians with “free electricity, food and water,” tribes in the area are becoming increasingly sympathetic to AQAP.
Let’s be intellectually honest. If a country engages in a military program that carries out strikes that kill hundreds of civilians — many of whom having no connection whatever with terrorism or radicalism — that country is going to become increasingly hated. People in the countries targeted — those who may have lost friends, or family members — are going to plot revenge, and take revenge. That’s just how war works. It infuriates. It radicalises. It instils hatred.

The reality of Obama’s drone program is to create new generations of America-hating radicalised individuals, who may well go on to be the next Osama bin Laden, the next Ayman al-Zawahiri, the next Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The reality for Obama’s drone program is that it is sowing the seeds for the next 9/11 — just as American intervention in the middle east sowed the seeds for the last, as Osama bin Laden readily admitted.

Congress Prepares to Kill 6th Amendment with Secret “Drone Court”

Obama and Congress continue the process of trashing centuries of English common law dating back to the Magna Carta.

February 11, 2013

Infowars.com - In response to Obama’s imperial killing machines – his fleet of roaming drones – a gaggle of senators, led by the gun-grabber Dianne Feinstein, is poised to kill off Sir William Blackstone’s “palladium of English liberty,” the Sixth Amendment.

Feinstein has proposed “legislation to ensure that drone strikes are carried out in a manner consistent with our values, and the proposal to create an analogue of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the conduct of such strikes,” in other words a secret tribunal that will hand down kill orders for Americans the government believes are “suspected militants.”

Maine independent Senator Angus King imagined a scenario where Obama’s imperial courtiers would go behind the closed doors of a drone court and “in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant, and at least that would be … some check on the activities of the executive.”

The Constitution spells out the right to trial by jury numerous times – in the Sixth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Seventh Amendment and in the original Constitution in Article 3, Section 2. English common law and the Magna Carta of 1215 (Article 39) did away with trials by ordeal and by the 1600s the idea that juries served as a protection against the unrestrained power of kings was universally accepted. All 13 of the original states included in their constitutions the Right to Trial by Jury clauses. The Virginia Bill of Rights of 1788 held “ancient trial by jury” to be “one of the greatest securities to the rights of the people.”
“I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Thomas Paine. “By a declaration of rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus,” he told Alexander Donald in 1788. He wrote to James Madison the previous year that “trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land and not by the law of nations.”
The wisdom of Jefferson, Madison, and the founders is now dead – apparently irrevocably. On Friday, Senator King got the ball rolling when he sent a letter to Feinstein and Republican intelligence committee vice-chairman Saxby Chambliss asking that the Constitution be ignored and they work with him on legislation to create a secret and unanswerable court which could provide “judicial review” of proposals to target drone attacks against citizens of the United States.

Barry’s handlers consider the idea of a secret court issuing kill orders of Americans as a trade-off after Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Judiciary committees sent him letters requesting that their respective committees be given access to Justice Department documents justifying drone strikes. The administration tried to placate critics by allowing hand-picked members of congressional intelligence committees to examine documents the night before Brennan went before a confirmation hearing as Barry’s pick to lord over the CIA.

Reuters reported that the ACLU and civil libertarians “would … likely have problems with” the idea that the government can issue death warrants in secret. Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent British human rights lawyer, denounced the horrific concept of “execution without trial” and “international killing (which) … violates the right to life.”

In Congress, however, the concept of trial by jury, held sacred by our forefathers, is little more than a momentary bargaining chip to be traded in as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights continue to be trashed and more than 800 years of common law is systematically dismantled in deference to a forever war against a manufactured al-Qaeda continues.