October 08, 2015

Day 281


As originally posted: Reporters Without Borders
October 8, 2015

Reporters Without Borders condemns Chadian journalist Stéphane Mbaïrabé Ouaye’s arbitrary arrest last week in N’Djamena and the mistreatment he received while detained.

The publisher of Haut Parleur, an independent fortnightly, Stéphane Mbaïrabé Ouaye was arrested by judicial police with no warrant on the night of 2 October and was held in a detention centre attached to N’Djamena police headquarters.

While he was handcuffed and blindfolded, plainclothesmen beat him up in an attempt to make him reveal his sources for a story in last week’s issue criticising President Idriss Deby and his brother, customs director-general Salay Deby. It was headlined “Salay Deby, national thief.”

Then released without any explanation, Ouaye still bears the marks of the blows he received. He is now waiting to be given a date to appear in court on a defamation charge.

The mistreatment of this journalist is a disgrace and is yet one more example of the government’s persecution of the media,” said Reporters Without Borders

Ouaye is the victim of horrible practices that recall those of former President Hissène Habré’s political police, the DDS. If President Deby or his relatives think Ouaye has defamed them, they should refer the matter to the judicial authorities.

This is not Ouaye’s first run-in with the judicial police. He was arrested without a summons on 12 June after Salay Deby filed a defamation suit against him.

Chad is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

October 07, 2015

Day 280

Edward Snowden: Smartphones can be hacked into with just one text message and then used to spy on their owners

GCHQ, the UK’s spying agency, has a ‘smurf suite’ of tools that allow it to break into and listen in on phones, Snowden claims from Moscow

by Andrew Griffin

As originally posted: The Independent
October 5, 2015

The world’s spying agencies have tools that allow them to take over smartphones with just a text message, according to Edward Snowden, and there is “very little” that their owners can do to stop it.

The UK’s intelligence agency has a suite of tools that let it listen on phones and their owners, Snowden told the BBC’s Panorama in Moscow. All spies would need to do is send a special text message and they will be able to gain access to the camera and its microphones, the BBC reported Snowden as saying.

The set of tools is called “Smurf Suite”, according to Snowden. Each of the individual tools has their own name — “Dreamy Smurf” lets the phone be powered on and off, for instance, and “Nosey Smurf” lets spies turn the microphone on and listen in on users, even if the phone itself is turned off.

GCHQ even has a tool called “Paranoid Smurf” that hides the fact that it has taken control of the phone. The tool will stop people from recognising that the phone has been tampered with if it is taken in for a service, for instance.

“For example, if you wanted to take the phone in to get it serviced because you saw something strange going on or you suspected something was wrong, it makes it much more difficult for any technician to realise that anything's gone amiss,” Snowden said.

The comments mirror those by Snowden earlier in the year, when his lawyer said that the whistleblower doesn’t use an iPhone because it “has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone”.

The text message used to gain access to the phone wouldn’t be seen by its user and they would have no idea that it had arrived, Snowden said.

"That's a specially crafted message that's texted to your number like any other text message but when it arrives at your phone it's hidden from you,” Snowden said. “It doesn't display. You paid for it [the phone] but whoever controls the software owns the phone."

Snowden said that GCHQ’s counterpart in the US, the NSA, has spent $1 billion on similar tools.

A spokesperson for the UK government told the BBC that it does not comment on intelligence matters but that its spying work is carried out within a “strict legal and policy framework”.

October 06, 2015

Day 279

REPORT: ISIS Executes More Men in Iraq, Claiming They Are Gay

The crime is that they are perceived to be gay; the punishment is death by being thrown from a roof.

by Dawn Ennis

As originally posted: The Advocate
October 5, 2015

More horrifying atrocities against men believed to be gay have come to light in occupied Iraq, where Islamic militants from ISIS have executed four men by tying them up and tossing them from the rooftops of high-rise buildings.

Extremists in Mosul executed two Iraqi men in this fashion simply for being gay, local sources reported to the ARA News website. Another report claimed the same fate befell two men in Nineveh, for the same “crime.”

A civil rights activist in the region told ARA News the judgment of who is gay is based on “superficial information without any investigation.”

The pretext in the Mosul execution, reports ARA, is that the men were determined to be a gay couple. Daesh, or ISIS, interprets the Koran as forbidding homosexuality, a widely held belief in the Muslim world. The Human Rights Campaign notes, however, that “because Islam has no central governing body, it is not possible to state clear policies regarding issues of interest to LGBT people. Depending on nationality, generation, family upbringing, and cultural influences, Islamic individuals and institutions fall along a wide spectrum, from welcoming and inclusive to a level of rejection that can be marked by a range of actions ranging from social sequestration to physical violence.”

“On Sunday afternoon,” a witness told ARA News on the condition of anonymity, “Daesh called on the people of Mosul to gather in the square of Bab al-Toub in order to witness the execution.”

“The victims were taken to the top of a building and were brutally thrown off the roof,” according to the witness. Similar executions have been recorded and shared via social media, as The Advocate has previously reported, although in most cases those organizing the cruel acts have confiscated or destroyed those recordings.

The ISIS-linked Sharia Court had issued a decision to execute every gay man by throwing him from the top of a building, leading to the deaths of dozens of men and boys in recent months across the ISIS-controlled regions of both Iraq and Syria.

October 05, 2015

Day 278

Turkish Special Ops Police Hold Gun to Journalists Head – video

by Jennifer Baker

As originally posted on: Revolution News
October 4, 2015

Turkey – A video that emerged on Sunday showed a special operations police officer putting his gun on the head of a journalist after the latter wanted to record a police raid on the municipal building in Silvan which has been under a curfew for three days.

The video showed police threatening journalists in front of the Silvan Municipality after reporters from Özgür Gün TV wanted to take images from the raid.

One of the policemen put his gun on Özgür Gün TV cameraman Murat Demir although he had said he shut down his camera.

Police detained Demir as well as Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Sedat Yüce after seizing their cameras.

October 04, 2015

Day 277

Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghan city after airstrike

by Lynne O'Donnell

As originally posted on: The Big Story
October 4, 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The International medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Sunday it had withdrawn from the northern Afghan city of Kunduz after a deadly airstrike destroyed its hospital and killed 22 people, as the U.S. and Afghan governments vowed to get to the bottom of the carnage.

The humanitarian crisis in the city, which briefly fell to the Taliban last week before the government launched a counteroffensive, has been growing increasingly dire, with shops shuttered because of ongoing fighting and roads made impassable by mines planted by insurgents.

"All critical patients have been referred to other health facilities and no MSF staff are working in our hospital," said Kate Stegeman, the communications manager for Doctors Without Borders, using the French acronym for the organization.

"Some of our medical staff have gone to work in two hospitals where some of the wounded have been taken," she added.

Investigations are continuing into the bombing of the hospital on Saturday, which killed at least 22 people. The charity announced Sunday that three injured hospital patients had died, bringing the total to 10 in addition to 12 dead hospital staffers.

The circumstances surrounding the incident remain murky. The charity said in a statement Saturday that "all indications" pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing, and Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, said a U.S. airstrike "in the Kunduz vicinity" around 2:15 a.m. Saturday morning "may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility."

Afghan officials said helicopter gunships returned fire from Taliban fighters who were hiding in the hospital, and AP video footage of the burned out compound in the east of Kunduz city shows automatic weapons, including rifles and at least one machine gun, on windowsills. But Stegeman said there were no insurgents in the facility at the time of the bombing.

President Ashraf Ghani said a joint investigation was underway with U.S. Forces and President Barack Obama said he expected a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the bombing.

The Taliban seized Kunduz last Monday but have since withdrawn from much of the city after a government counterattack. Sporadic battles continue as troops attempt to clear remaining pockets of militants.

The Taliban's brief seizure of Kunduz marked the insurgent group's biggest foray into a major urban area since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion ended their rule.

Afghan forces have been struggling to combat the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO shifted to a support and training role at the end of last year, officially ending their combat mission in the war-torn country.

A Kunduz resident who gave his name only as Habibullah said the Afghan flag was flying over the central square — contrary to reports that it had been retaken by the insurgents. Gun battles were being fought in three districts on the outskirts of town, he said.

Acting provincial Gov. Hamidullah Danishi said most of the insurgents had fled the city and that those still standing their ground appeared to be what he called "foreigners," non-Afghans who have been boosting Taliban forces in the north of the country for some months. Officials have said that many of them are from Central Asian states, members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Danishi said that 480 Taliban fighters had been killed as of Friday, and around 300 wounded. He put casualties among Afghan security forces at between 30 and 35 killed or wounded.

Meanwhile thousands of civilian residents remain trapped inside the disputed city. Militants blocked and mined roads as soon as they entered Kunduz to prevent people from leaving and to thwart a government assault. Local television showed live footage of police officers handing bread to children, one of whom said he had not eaten for three days.

The deputy head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, Aslam Sayas, said he was aware of the growing humanitarian crisis inside Kunduz. "We are waiting for the security situation to improve to give us an opportunity to reach those needy people," he said.

Saad Mukhar, the Kunduz provincial public health director, estimates that more than 70 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded in the city since the fighting began.

"I'm afraid that if this situation continues, we will not be able to help our patients because right now we are facing a serious, drastic shortage of medicine," he said.

Rahmatullah Hamnawa, a reporter with Salam Watandar radio, said the price of cooking gas had more than doubled.

Grocers and pharmacists who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone from inside the city said they have been making furtive deliveries to customers when the streets are deemed safe.

Shir Aghan, who runs a general store, said some shops were full of food items, but many shop keepers had fled to neighboring provinces before the Taliban sealed the city. "People call me and if it's safe I'll go out and sell them what they need," he said.

Associated Press writers Humayoon Babur and Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.

October 03, 2015

Day 276

Bomb attacks in Nigeria's Abuja leave several dead: officials

Two bomb blasts have hit outlying suburbs of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, causing a number of casualties. Officials say they suspect the Islamist group Boko Haram of having carried out the attack.

October 3, 2015

The simultaneous explosions occured in the late evening of Friday local time in the towns of Nyanya and Kuje on the outskirts of Abuja, an official from Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

The blasts "have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries," agency spokesman Ezekiel Manzo said, adding that they seemed to involve "the same kind of explosives used in the insurgency" by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the country's northeast.

The bus station in Nyanya, where one of Friday's blasts occurred, was hit twice last year in attacks claimed by the Islamists. The first, in April, killed at least 75 people and the second at least 16.

Long-running insurgency

Abuja has not seen any such attacks since June 25 last year, when a blast at a popular shopping center in the middle of the city claimed 22 lives. That attack was also claimed by Boko Haram, which has been waging a six-year rebellion that has left nearly 20,000 people dead and displaced at least 2.5 million, many of them children, creating a humanitarian crisis.

Most of the group's attacks are carried out in the northeast, where it is based, but it has occasionally struck in other towns.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took office earlier this year pledging to wipe out the group, but Boko Haram has succeeded in killing at least 1,000 people since then.

Continued atrocities

Friday's attacks came a day after four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, Maiduguri, killing at least 11 people. At least five villagers were said to have been shot dead by suspected Boko Haram militants in the neighboring state of Adamawa.

On Thursday, the Nigerian military also accused Boko Haram of poisoning water sources in its heartland, saying, however, that only cattle were thought to have died.

tj/rc (AFP, AP)

October 02, 2015

Day 275

Parácuaro Autodefensa Leader Assassinated

by "Valor"

As originally posted on: Borderland Beat
October 1, 2015

A shootout between suspected criminals and members of the autodefensas of Tierra Caliente left two people dead in Michoacán.

The incident took place at noon in the village of Los Bancos, located in the municipality of Parácuaro.

The men that died were identified as Jaime Oseguera González, “El Jamo”, who was allegedly the leader of the autodefensas of Parácuaro and his bodyguard whose name hasn't been identified yet.

At the time of this report, a strong operation by the Federal Police and the Mexican Army is taking place in order to establish the whereabouts of the gunmen who killed these two men.

Source: 1aplana

September 30, 2015

Day 273

Deep State America

Democracy is often subverted by special interests operating behind the scenes.

by Philip Giraldi

As originally posted: The American Conservative
July 30, 2015

It has frequently been alleged that the modern Turkish Republic operates on two levels. It has a parliamentary democracy complete with a constitution and regular elections, but there also exists a secret government that has been referred to as the “deep state,” in Turkish “Derin Devlet.”

The concept of “deep state” has recently become fashionable to a certain extent, particularly to explain the persistence of traditional political alignments when confronted by the recent revolutions in parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. For those who believe in the existence of the deep state, there are a number of institutional as well as extralegal relationships that might suggest its presence.

Some believe that this deep state arose out of a secret NATO operation called “Gladio,” which created an infrastructure for so-called “stay behind operations” if Western Europe were to be overrun by the Soviet Union and its allies. There is a certain logic to that assumption, as a deep state has to be organized around a center of official and publicly accepted power, which means it normally includes senior officials of the police and intelligence services as well as the military. For the police and intelligence agencies, the propensity to operate in secret is a sine qua non for the deep state, as it provides cover for the maintenance of relationships that under other circumstances would be considered suspect or even illegal.

In Turkey, the notion that there has to be an outside force restraining dissent from political norms was, until recently, even given a legal fig leaf through the Constitution of 1982, which granted to the military’s National Security Council authority to intervene in developing political situations to “protect” the state. There have, in fact, been four military coups in Turkey. But deep state goes far beyond those overt interventions. It has been claimed that deep state activities in Turkey are frequently conducted through connivance with politicians who provide cover for the activity, with corporate interests and with criminal groups who can operate across borders and help in the mundane tasks of political corruption, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

A number of senior Turkish politicians have spoken openly of the existence of the deep state. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit tried to learn more about the organization and, for his pains, endured an assassination attempt in 1977. Tansu Ciller eulogized “those who died for the state and those who killed for the state,” referring to the assassinations of communists and Kurds. There have been several significant exposures of Turkish deep state activities, most notably an automobile accident in 1996 in Susurluk that killed the Deputy Chief of the Istanbul Police and the leader of the Grey Wolves extreme right wing nationalist group. A member of parliament was also in the car and a fake passport was discovered, tying together a criminal group that had operated death squads with a senior security official and an elected member of the legislature. A subsequent investigation determined that the police had been using the criminals to support their operations against leftist groups and other dissidents. Deep state operatives have also been linked to assassinations of a judge, Kurds, leftists, potential state witnesses, and an Armenian journalist. They have also bombed a Kurdish bookstore and the offices of a leading newspaper.

As all governments—sometimes for good reasons—engage in concealment of their more questionable activities, or even resort to out and out deception, one must ask how the deep state differs. While an elected government might sometimes engage in activity that is legally questionable, there is normally some plausible pretext employed to cover up or explain the act.

But for players in the deep state, there is no accountability and no legal limit. Everything is based on self-interest, justified through an assertion of patriotism and the national interest. In Turkey, there is a belief amongst senior officials who consider themselves to be parts of the status in statu that they are guardians of the constitution and the true interests of the nation. In their own minds, they are thereby not bound by the normal rules. Engagement in criminal activity is fine as long as it is done to protect the Turkish people and to covertly address errors made by the citizenry, which can easily be led astray by political fads and charismatic leaders. When things go too far in a certain direction, the deep state steps in to correct course.

And deep state players are to be rewarded for their patriotism. They benefit materially from the criminal activity that they engage in, including protecting Turkey’s role as a conduit for drugs heading to Europe from Central Asia, but more recently involving the movement of weapons and people to and from Syria. This has meant collaborating with groups like ISIS, enabling militants to ignore borders and sell their stolen archeological artifacts while also negotiating deals for the oil from the fields in the areas that they occupy. All the transactions include a large cut for the deep state.

If all this sounds familiar to an American reader, it should, and given some local idiosyncrasies, it invites the question whether the United States of America has its own deep state.

First of all, one should note that for the deep state to be effective, it must be intimately associated with the development or pre-existence of a national security state. There must also be a perception that the nation is in peril, justifying extraordinary measures undertaken by brave patriots to preserve life and property of the citizenry. Those measures are generically conservative in nature, intended to protect the status quo with the implication that change is dangerous.

Those requirements certainly prevail in post 9/11 America, and also feed the other essential component of the deep state: that the intervening should work secretly or at least under the radar. Consider for a moment how Washington operates. There is gridlock in Congress and the legislature opposes nearly everything that the White House supports. Nevertheless, certain things happen seemingly without any discussion: Banks are bailed out and corporate interests are protected by law. Huge multi-year defense contracts are approved. Citizens are assassinated by drones, the public is routinely surveilled, people are imprisoned without be charged, military action against “rogue” regimes is authorized, and whistleblowers are punished with prison. The war crimes committed by U.S. troops and contractors on far-flung battlefields, as well as torture and rendition, are rarely investigated and punishment of any kind is rare. America, the warlike predatory capitalist, might be considered a virtual definition of deep state.

One critic describes deep state as driven by the “Washington Consensus,” a subset of the “American exceptionalism” meme. It is plausible to consider it a post-World War II creation, the end result of the “military industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned about, but some believe its infrastructure was actually put in place through the passage of the Federal Reserve Act prior to the First World War. Several years after signing the bill, Woodrow Wilson reportedly lamented, “We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

In truth America’s deep state is, not unlike Turkey’s, a hybrid creature that operates along a New York to Washington axis. Where the Turks engage in criminal activity to fund themselves, the Washington elite instead turns to banksters, lobbyists, and defense contractors, operating much more in the open and, ostensibly, legally. U.S.-style deep state includes all the obvious parties, both public and private, who benefit from the status quo: including key players in the police and intelligence agencies, the military, the treasury and justice departments, and the judiciary. It is structured to materially reward those who play along with the charade, and the glue to accomplish that ultimately comes from Wall Street. “Financial services” might well be considered the epicenter of the entire process. Even though government is needed to implement desired policies, the banksters comprise the truly essential element, capable of providing genuine rewards for compliance. As corporate interests increasingly own the media, little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out, while many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide deep state “intellectual” credibility are similarly funded by defense contractors.

The cross fertilization that is essential to making the system work takes place through the famous revolving door whereby senior government officials enter the private sector at a high level. In some cases the door revolves a number of times, with officials leaving government before returning to an even more elevated position. Along the way, those select individuals are protected, promoted, and groomed for bigger things. And bigger things do occur that justify the considerable costs, to include bank bailouts, tax breaks, and resistance to legislation that would regulate Wall Street, political donors, and lobbyists. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes in which to spend their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments.

America’s deep state is completely corrupt: it exists to sell out the public interest, and includes both major political parties as well as government officials. Politicians like the Clintons who leave the White House “broke” and accumulate $100 million in a few years exemplify how it rewards. A bloated Pentagon churns out hundreds of unneeded flag officers who receive munificent pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives. And no one is punished, ever. Disgraced former general and CIA Director David Petraeus is now a partner at the KKR private equity firm, even though he knows nothing about financial services. More recently, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell has become a Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies. Both are being rewarded for their loyalty to the system and for providing current access to their replacements in government.

What makes the deep state so successful? It wins no matter who is in power, by creating bipartisan-supported money pits within the system. Monetizing the completely unnecessary and hideously expensive global war on terror benefits the senior government officials, beltway industries, and financial services that feed off it. Because it is essential to keep the money flowing, the deep state persists in promoting policies that make no sense, to include the unwinnable wars currently enjoying marquee status in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan. The deep state knows that a fearful public will buy its product and does not even have to make much of an effort to sell it.

Of course I know that the United States of America is not Turkey. But there are lessons to be learned from its example of how a democracy can be subverted by particular interests hiding behind the mask of patriotism. Ordinary Americans frequently ask why politicians and government officials appear to be so obtuse, rarely recognizing what is actually occurring in the country. That is partly due to the fact that the political class lives in a bubble of its own creation, but it might also be because many of America’s leaders actually accept that there is an unelected, unappointed, and unaccountable presence within the system that actually manages what is taking place behind the scenes. That would be the American deep state.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

September 29, 2015

Day 272


As originally posted: Reporters Without Borders
September 29, 2015

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the prosecution of British journalists Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner, who were arrested by the Indonesia navy in the Malacca Strait on 28 May for filming without a press visa and whose trial began yesterday.

RSF calls on the Indonesian authorities to stop abusing its draconian immigration legislation and to drop the proceedings against these two journalists.

After being held for 125 days on the island of Batam, Prosser and Bonner appeared yesterday before a Batam district court on a charge of violating Indonesian immigration law, which carries a possible five-year jail term. The next hearing has been set for 1 October.

Traditionally, foreign journalists caught working without a press visa were simply deported.

It is unacceptable that journalists should be deprived of their freedom and their loved-ones for more than four months over a mere bureaucratic irregularity,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk,

“The trial that started yesterday should not be taking place. The only sensible thing for the presiding judge to do is to rapidly acquit the two journalists and those who were working with them. They were just doing their jobs as investigative reporters in what is a hotspot for maritime piracy in Southeast Asia.

Both aged 30, Prosser and Bonner work for the British documentary film production company Wall to Wall. They went to Indonesia in May to make a National Geographic-funded documentary about piracy in the Malacca Strait, near Singapore.

The Indonesian navy arrested them on the island of Belakang Padang as they were filming a reenaction of pirates attacking an oil tanker. Rear Admiral Taufiqurrahman said at the time that "what they were reenacting (…) could tarnish the image of the Malacca Strait as a crime-prone area.

Nine Indonesians, including their fixer Ahmadi, are facing a possible two-year jail term or fine of 10 billion rupees (600,000 euros) for helping to film an unauthorized documentary.

French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois were the victims of Indonesia’s draconian immigration laws and its sensitivity about the eastern province of Papua in 2014, when the were arrested for trying to do a report about Papua’s separatists for the Franco-German TV channel Arte after entering the country on tourist visas.

After being held for just over two and a half months – from 6 August to 24 October 2014 – they were convicted of “misusing an entry visa” and were given a sentence that covered the time they had already been held.

Although they were then released, their conviction set a precedent that the Indonesian authorities can interpret as grounds for stepping up their surveillance and harassment of visiting foreign journalists

Indonesia is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

September 28, 2015

Day 271


by Ahmed Al-Haj

September 28, 2015

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- The Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels mistakenly struck a wedding party on Monday, killing at least 38 people, Yemeni security officials said.

The strikes hit the celebration in al-Wahga, a village near the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandab, said the officials, who remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered Yemen.

At least 40 people were wounded in the two airstrikes, they said. The strikes, a senior government official said, were "a mistake." Many of the victims were women and children, according to several villagers.

Yemen has been embroiled in fighting that pits the rebels, known as Houthis, and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the Saudi-backed and internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists. The U.S.-backed coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the rebels and their allies since March.

Further details and circumstances that led to the wedding party being mistakenly hit were not immediately known, but the village in which it took place lies in the battered Taiz province, where civilians routinely fall victim to daily Saudi airstrikes as well as rebel mortar shells.

Only seven of Taiz's 21 hospitals are currently open but they are "totally overwhelmed" and have run out of essential medication, Hassan Boucenine of the Geneva-based aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF, said earlier this week.

The conflict in Yemen has killed at least 2,100 civilians so far, according to U.N. figures.

All officials and local residents spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media or fear reprisals.

September 27, 2015

Day 270

Forget the New World Order, Here’s Who Really Runs the World

by Jake Anderson

As originally posted on: The Anti-Media
September 24, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) For decades, extreme ideologies on both the left and the right have clashed over the conspiratorial concept of a shadowy secret government pulling the strings on the world’s heads of state and captains of industry.

The phrase New World Order is largely derided as a sophomoric conspiracy theory entertained by minds that lack the sophistication necessary to understand the nuances of geopolitics. But it turns out the core idea — one of deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda — is operational in what a number of insiders call the “Deep State.”

In the past couple of years, the term has gained traction across a wide swath of ideologies. Former Republican congressional aide Mike Lofgren says it is the nexus of Wall Street and the national security state — a relationship where elected and unelected figures join forces to consolidate power and serve vested interests. Calling it “the big story of our time,” Lofgren says the deep state represents the failure of our visible constitutional government and the cross-fertilization of corporatism with the globalist war on terror.

“It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street,” he explained.

Even parts of the judiciary, namely the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, belong to the deep state.

How does the deep state operate?

A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contractors, banksters, military campaigns, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence.

According to Mike Lofgren and many other insiders, this is not a conspiracy theory. The deep state hides in plain sight and goes far beyond the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech over fifty years ago.

While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors.

Moreover, while Wall Street and the federal government suck money out of the economy, relegating tens of millions of people to food stamps and incarcerating more people than China — a totalitarian state with four times more people than us — the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride.

After years of serving in Congress, Lofgren’s moment of truth regarding this matter came in 2001. He observed the government appropriating an enormous amount of money that was ostensibly meant to go to Afghanistan but instead went to the Persian Gulf region. This, he says, “disenchanted” him from the groupthink, which he says keeps all of Washington’s minions in lockstep.

Groupthink — an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers — also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order.

Now, Lofgren notes, these CEOs want to complain about foreign market share and the damage this collusion has wrought on both the domestic and international reputation of their brands. Under the pretense of pseudo-libertarianism, they helmed a commercial tech sector that is every bit as intrusive as the NSA. Meanwhile, rigging of the DMCA intellectual property laws — so that the government can imprison and fine citizens who jailbreak devices — behooves Wall Street. It’s no surprise that the government has upheld the draconian legislation for 15 years.

It is also unsurprising that the growth of the corporatocracy aids the deep state. The revolving door between government and Wall Street money allows top firms to offer premium jobs to senior government officials and military yes-men. This, says Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer for the CIA, explains how the Clintons left the White House nearly broke but soon amassed $100 million. It also explains how former general and CIA Director David Petraeus, who has no experience in finance, became a partner at the KKR private equity firm, and how former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell became Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies.

Wall Street is the ultimate foundation for the deep state because the incredible amount of money it generates can provide these cushy jobs to those in the government after they retire. Nepotism reigns supreme as the revolving door between Wall Street and government facilitates a great deal of our domestic strife:

“Bank bailouts, tax breaks, and resistance to legislation that would regulate Wall Street, political donors, and lobbyists. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes in which to spend their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments,” said Giraldi.

How did the deep state come to be?

Some say it is the evolutionary hybrid offspring of the military-industrial complex while others say it came into being with the Federal Reserve Act, even before the First World War. At this time, Woodrow Wilson remarked,

“We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

This quasi-secret cabal pulling the strings in Washington and much of America’s foreign policy is maintained by a corporatist ideology that thrives on deregulation, outsourcing, deindustrialization, and financialization. American exceptionalism, or the great “Washington Consensus,” yields perpetual war and economic imperialism abroad while consolidating the interests of the oligarchy here at home.

Mike Lofgren says this government within a government operates off tax dollars but is not constrained by the constitution, nor are its machinations derailed by political shifts in the White House. In this world — where the deep state functions with impunity — it doesn’t matter who is president so long as he or she perpetuates the war on terror, which serves this interconnected web of corporate special interests and disingenuous geopolitical objectives.

“As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly,” according to Mike Lofgren in an interview with Bill Moyers.

Interestingly, according to Philip Giraldi, the ever-militaristic Turkey has its own deep state, which uses overt criminality to keep the money flowing. By comparison, the U.S. deep state relies on a symbiotic relationship between banksters, lobbyists, and defense contractors, a mutant hybrid that also owns the Fourth Estate and Washington think tanks.

Is there hope for the future?

Perhaps. At present, discord and unrest continues to build. Various groups, establishments, organizations, and portions of the populace from all corners of the political spectrum, including Silicon Valley, Occupy, the Tea Party, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, anarchists and libertarians from both the left and right, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others are beginning to vigorously question and reject the labyrinth of power wielded by the deep state.

Can these groups — can we, the people — overcome the divide and conquer tactics used to quell dissent? The future of freedom may depend on it.

September 26, 2015

Day 269

German Woman Forced Out Of Long-Time Residence To Make Room For Refugees

by Scott Greer

As originally posted on: The Daily Caller
September 26, 2015

A German woman is being evicted from her home of 16 years to make room for some of the 800,000 refugees Germany is planning to take in this year.

According to The Telegraph, Bettina Halbey, a 51-year-old nurse living in the town of Nieheim, received a notice from her landlord on September 1 telling her she must move due to the residence being repurposed as a living center for migrants.

Halbey said the letter kicking her out of the apartment she rents hit her hard.

“I was completely taken aback,” the nurse told Die Welt. “I find it impossible to describe how the city has treated me.”

Halbey’s vented her anger on Facebook at the move and that post went on to be shared over 200,000 times.

“I’ve muddled through sorrow and distress, and then I get this notice. It was like a kick in the teeth,” Halbey wrote in the post.

The Telegraph reports that the majority of German citizens rent and laws firmly protect tenants from being evicted for dubious reasons.

However, the mayor of Nieheim is defending the decision to evict Halbey due to the fact that the town’s three facilities being used as refugee shelters had already reached maximum capacity.

“A new residential unit for 30 refugees in Nieheim would cost €30,000 [$33,584]. This solution will cost me nothing,” Mayor Rainer Vidal said to Die Welt.

While the cost for evicting Halbey and other tenants may be zero, the overall cost for sheltering the refugees is staggering for Germany. It’s estimated that each migrant will cost $14,500 to take in. Applying that cost to every one of the 800,000 refugees Germany is wanting to bring in adds up to over $13 billion.

Besides the cost of sheltering the refugees, there’s also the contested legality of evicting tenants for the benefit of migrants. A spokesman for the German Tenants’ Federation has criticized Halbey’s eviction and stated that “a municipality cannot move into a flat as a legal entity.”

Follow Scott on Twitter

September 25, 2015

Day 268

Man shoots his girlfriend and their 1-month-old baby inside church

by Mahesh Sarin

As originally posted on: WorldWide Weird News
September 24, 2015

A father was arrested for shooting his girlfriend and his newborn baby inside a church.

Police said that the pastor of the church was also shot while he wrestled the gun away from the suspect.

James Junior Minter, 26, of Alabama, was arrested after he opened fire in the church, and shot his girlfriend and their 1-month-old son because she left him.

Minter was charged with three counts of attempted murder for shooting his former girlfriend, 24, her newborn son and the pastor at the Oasis Tabernacle Church on Sunday morning.

Police said that when the Pastor Earl Carswell, 61, tried to intervene, Minter shot him in the leg.

Minter opened fire, shooting the woman in the jaw and shoulder. The baby was hit in the hand and the pastor was shot in the leg after trying to intervene and stop him.

The pastor and other members of the church were able to tackle Minter and take the weapon away from him. The shooter fled the scene, but was caught by police less than a mile away.

Police said that there was ongoing domestic violence between the couple. On the day of the incident, Minter and his girlfriend had a dispute over child visitation, police said in a statement.

Minter is being held in the Dallas County Jail, on three counts of attempted murder.

September 23, 2015

Day 266

Mayoral candidate vows to arrest all gays after he takes office

by Feng Qian

As originally posted on: WorldWide Weird News
September 21, 2015

A man who is running for mayor in a town in North Carolina, said that he will arrest all gays in his town.

Eugene “Sherlock” Holmes, 77, is running for mayor of Kings Mountain. He is a devout Christian, who believes that all gays need to get out of his town or be arrested.

“If I am elected, I would get the DA to take a warrant for any man who is gay,” the Korean War Veteran who is a member of the Church of God said.

Sodomy is a crime in the state. The district attorney responded by saying that Holmes “has to take a closer look at that law.”

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws are unconstitutional. However, North Carolina and 11 other states have kept their sodomy laws on the books.

In 1985, Holmes was sentenced to 10 years for larceny and was released after nearly five years.

September 22, 2015

Day 265

4 men gang rape 16-year-old boy

by Chan Yuan

As originally posted on: WorldWide Weird News
September 20, 2015

Four men were arrested on charges of rape after allegedly abducting a teenage boy and gang raping him, police in Nigeria said.

Jigawa State police said that they have arrested 41-year-old Auwalu Idris, 28-year-old Abdullahi Rabiu, 25-year-old Nazifi Abba, and 18-year-old Abu Zaid Yusu, after being accused of raping the 16-year-old boy.

According to the police investigation, the boy was abducted and taken to an apartment, where the suspects took turns raping him.

The victim was warned that if he told anyone about the attack, he would be killed. The victim however, filed a complaint with the police as the suspects continued to abuse him for more than 2 years.

The boy was taken to a hospital, where tests confirmed that he had been raped. The suspects were arrested, and they admitted to raping the boy.

If convicted, the suspects face up to one year in prison and 100 lashes.

September 21, 2015

Day 264

Phony Pope Visits Cuba

by Gregor Vetter

As originally posted on: Skeptical Eye
September 20, 2015

The fake "Pope" is visiting Cuba. Since he is a Marxist, he won't attack the fundamental evil of the Cuban regime. Fidel and Raul Castro are criminals and should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. But instead, this lying "pope" will embrace the Cuban government as an ally in the war against "global warming", i.e., as an ally in his hatred of capitalism. Fuck "Pope" Francis!

September 19, 2015

Day 262

Superrich donors turn our democracy into their plutocracy

by Jim Hightower

As originally posted on: Jim Hightower
September 18, 2015

The problem with the GOP presidential debates is that the wrong people are on stage.

Sure, Bush, Cruz, Walker, and gang are the candidates, but the driving forces in this election have names like Mercer, Braman, Hendricks, Fernandez, and Cameron. They are part of a small but powerful coterie of multimillionaire corporate executives and billionaires who fund secretive presidential SuperPACs that can determine who gets nominated. These elephantine funders play politics like some superrich, heavy-betting gamblers play roulette – putting enormous piles of chips on a name in hopes of getting lucky, then cashing in for governmental favors.

Thus, Robert Mercer, chief of the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, has already put more than $11 million into Ted Cruz's SuperPAC; Norman Braman, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagle's football team, has $5 million down on Marco Rubio; Diane Hendricks, the billionaire owner of a roofing outfit and a staunch anti-worker activist, is betting $5 million on Scott Walker; Mike Fernandez, a billionaire investor in healthcare corporations, has backed Jeb Bush with $3 million; and Ronald Cameron, an Arkansas poultry baron, is into Mike Huckabee for $3 million.

These shadowy SuperPACs amount to exclusive political casinos, with only a handful of million-dollar-plus players dominating each one (including the one behind Hillary Clinton's campaign). These few people are not merely "big donors"– they are owners, with full access to their candidate and an owner's prerogative to shape the candidate's policies and message.

These treacherous few are using their bags of cash to pervert American democracy into rank plutocracy. Why not put them on stage and make each one answer pointed questions about what special favors they're trying to buy.

A Wealthy Few lead in Giving To Campaigns," www.nytimes,com, August 2, 2015.