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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Count 'em! Twenty-six things about the Islamic State (ISIL) that the U.S. gov't would rather you don't know

© Unknown

An ISIL convoy that, with all of the billions of dollars of high-tech military gadgetry at the U.S.'s disposal, could conceivably be turned to dust at just the touch of a button. But just like the caves that Osama bin Laden hung out in, they are oh so hard to reach!

The US led war against the Islamic State is a big lie.

Going after " Islamic terrorists", carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to "Protect the American Homeland" are used to justify a military agenda.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington's "Counter-terrorism Agenda" in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists.

The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel.

The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One "State Sponsor of Terrorism"

The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have "carpet" bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June.

The Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been -from a military standpoint- a rapid and expedient surgical operation

In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie. Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.

It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of the Western media which has upheld Obama's initiative as a counter-terrorism operation.


1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a centurysince the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war.

2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan. In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.

"Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad."

3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.

Ronald Reagan called the terrorists "freedom fighters". The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades. It was all for "a good cause": fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.

© Reagan Archives

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985

4. Jihadist textbooks were published by the University of Nebraska. ". "The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings"

5. Osama bin Laden, America's bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the "Global War on Terrorism".


6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri'āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-'Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎).

7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of Bashar al Assad.

8. NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:

"a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

9. There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.

10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

"The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

11. The ISIL's practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

12. Recruited by America's ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades.

13. Israel has supported the ISIL and Al Nusrah brigades out of the Golan Heights.

Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that "global jihad elements inside Syria" [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See image below:

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights' border with Syria, 18 February 2014″


14. The ISIL are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.

15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)

16. The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of a US-NATO bombing campaign under a "counter-terrorism" mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US. Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.

17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.

18. The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.


19. "The Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) is presented as a "Clash of Civilizations", a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

20. U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.

These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are CIA sponsored "intelligence assets". They are used by Washington to wreck havoc, create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.

21. Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia, among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China.
The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.

Chinese jihadists are reported to have received "terrorist training" from the Islamic State "in order to conduct attacks in China". The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US) is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China. (Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).


23. The Terrorists R Us: While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State, Obama's holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.

24. The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication. It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of "Islamic terrorists" sustain the legitimacy of America's Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.

The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.

25. The "counter-terrorism" campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly associated with the jihadists.

26. Anybody who dares to question the validity of the "Global War on Terrorism" is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.

The ultimate objective of the "Global War on Terrorism" is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.

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Israel attacks Palestinian cities following synagogue assault

© Unknown

Israeli forces keep their position during clashes with Palestinians near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 18, 2014.

Tensions have been escalating in the occupied Palestinian lands as Israeli forces attack several cities and towns across the West Bank.

Israeli forces with armored vehicles attacked Palestinian cities of Ramallah, al-Bireh and Wadi al-Joz in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, leading to rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian man was stabbed by a group of Israelis in northern al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Fadi Jalal Radwan, 22, was attacked and stabbed by four Israelis while walking in the town of Kafr 'Aqab. He was seriously injured as he was stabbed three times in the legs and once in the back.

The rising tensions came after four Israelis and two Palestinians were killed in an attack on a synagogue in West al-Quds on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the two Palestinian men reportedly armed with axes and handguns, entered the synagogue in Har Nof, killing four Israelis, and leaving several others wounded. The two were then fatally shot by Israeli security forces.

Following the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered authorities to destroy the homes of the Palestinian attackers.

He also lashed out at the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying the attack was the "direct result" of his incitement.

Netanyahu warned that Israel would "respond with a heavy hand" to those responsible for organizing the deadly attack.

Tensions have been running high in East al-Quds after Israeli troops shot dead a young Palestinian man in northern occupied territories last week.

Israeli forces claim Khair al-Din Hamdan was shot during a raid, but video footage released after the incident shows an Israeli soldier getting out of his car and shooting directly at Hamdan.

Model and TV host Janice Dickinson joins list of women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault

© File 2012/Invision

Janice Dickinson

Model and TV host Janice Dickinson is adding her name to the women who have accused comic Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

In an interview that aired Tuesday, Dickinson said that the 1982 incident occurred in Lake Tahoe, Calif., where he was performing.

Dickinson said that she wrote about the assault in her 2002 autobiography, but that Cosby and his lawyers pressured her and the publisher to remove the details. She said her new account is a "true story."

The 77-year-old Cosby, who was never criminally charged in any case, settled a civil suit in 2006 with another woman who claimed she was assaulted.

Cosby, who has remained silent, did not respond to a request for comment. His lawyer has called the renewed accusations "discredited."

Married same-sex couples refused housing by Christian homeless shelter

The City Union Mission in Kansas City announced that even if same-sex marriage becomes legal in both Missouri and Kansas, it would not allow same-sex couples to cohabit in its family shelter, the reports.

"We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards," executive director Dan Doty told the . "Our view is that it [same-sex marriage] is inappropriate. Our intent is not to shelter same-sex couples together."

Doty acknowledged that he "knew this day would come, especially when the media would begin asking that question," and that he hopes the public understands "the can of worms this could open."

"Probably for the last three or four years this is something we have been concerned about, praying about, our board has been involved in," Doty said. "We had an October board retreat where this was a very serious topic to talk about."

However, he added, the shelter wants "to stay true to our biblical convictions, yet we do love all people. We do shelter men who are gay, and lesbian women, and transgender people, although if their birth gender is male, we require them to dress that way if they are in our men's shelter."

ThinkProgress noted that the City Union Mission does not receive any funding from the government, and is therefore not subject to city, state, or federal anti-discrimination ordinances.

Other groups, like the Salvation Army and the Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said that they do not discriminate against anyone seeking their services, because their mission is to help the homeless.

"Our values are Catholic, but the people who come to us aren't necessarily Catholic, and we don't ask them to affirm our beliefs," Catholic Charities' communications manager Vicki Timiney said.

China: Evil aunt cuts 3-year-old nephew's penis off for bursting in on her in the bathroom

Distressing scenes: Three-year-old Qiang Qiang being carried by his parents at hospital after his aunt, Xue Paan, 37, cut his penis off when he burst in on her on the loo and asked to use her mobile phone.

  • Qiang Qiang interrupted his aunt Xue Paan as she was texting her beau

  • She stormed into the kitchen, picked up a knife, and hacked off his penis

  • Doctors were able to re-attach the appendage in emergency procedure

  • But knife was blunt and cut was not clean so he needs more treatment

A cruel aunt faces jail after she cut off her three-year-old nephew's penis because he burst in on her in the loo and asked to use her phone.

Xue Paan, 37, attacked her nephew Qiang Qiang as she was supposed to be looking after him while his mother went to visit a neighbour in Luohe, a city in Henan Province, central China. Xue was sitting on the toilet sending text messages to her boyfriend when the toddler walked in and asked if he could play a game on her mobile phone.

Instead of giving him the phone, the aunt went into the kitchen, picked up a knife, then came back and sliced off the boy's penis. She fled the house before his mother could return.

Qiang Qiang's mother Cai Tuan, 27, said: 'I had popped out to see a neighbour and was only gone 30 minutes when I heard Qiang Qiang scream. Qiang Qiang had fainted and was lying in a pool of blood. Next to him was a knife and his penis.

It was horrific. 'I ran back to the house and couldn't believe what I saw. 'Qiang Qiang had fainted and was lying in a pool of blood. 'Next to him was a knife and his penis. 'It was simply horrific. 'My sister, his aunt, had gone.'

Qiang Qiang was rushed to hospital where surgeons managed to reattach his appendage and was then sent to a specialist clinic in the capital Beijing. A hospital spokesman said: 'Unfortunately, the knife was quite blunt and the cut wasn't clean so although we reattached the boy's penis, it wasn't ideal and he had to have further treatment. 'However, he has now had three surgeries all of which have been successful and we are confident that his penis will be perfectly OK again in three months.'

Emergency surgery: Qiang Qiang was rushed to hospital where surgeons managed to reattach his penis.

A police spokesman said: 'The aunt was arrested and admitted attacking the boy because she was angry that he had interrupted her on the toilet.'

She now faces 5 years in jail.

Forest Service caves in to fracking largest national forest on East Coast

© United States Forest Service

Fracking the George Washington National Forest will threaten the water supply for over 5 million people living in and around Washington D.C.

Threatening the water supply for millions of Americans, the U.S. Forest Service has opened the doors for oil and gas companies to drill by fracking the largest national forest on the East Coast, the George Washington National Forest, according to an updated federal management plan released Tuesday.

Backtracking on an earlier plan to restrict fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which has been linked to dangerous levels of air and groundwater pollution, the Obama administration reportedly caved to industry pressure to permit such drilling of the Marcellus Shale within park perimeters.

"In the face of dire warnings from the world's foremost climate scientists about the need to phase out fossil fuels by 2100 and an authoritative body of science demonstrating the health impacts faced by communities living near oil and gas development, this administration continues to promote an 'all of the above' energy policy rather than a swift transition to renewable energy," Bruce Baizel, energy program director for environmental nonprofit Earthworks, said in a press statement following the release of the new management plan.

"The President can protect the climate and public health, or he can continue to promote fracking," Baizel continued. "He cannot do both."

The reports:

The U.S. Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1 million-acre George Washington National Forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest.

"We think we've ended up in a much better place, which is we are allowing oil and gas drilling," Robert Bonnie, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for natural resources and environment, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The George Washington National Forest spans the Appalachian mountain ridge in Virginia into West Virginia and boasts hardwood and pine forests as well as thousands of miles of streams and hundreds of species of birds and mammals.

Documentarian Josh Fox, whose film was one of the first to draw attention to the toxic drilling practice, said the rule change was "unbelievable, terrible news."

Scientific studies show that fracking, which releases shale gas and oil by injecting a slurry of water and unknown chemicals into the earth, causes significant groundwater contamination as well as dangerous levels of methane emissions, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The practice has also been linked to earthquakes, indicating that fracking has significant effect on the geology of the planet, according to researchers.

Environmental groups warn that drilling in the forest could pollute the rivers and streams that feed into the Potomac River, which provides drinking water for five million people and is Washington D.C.'s only source of water. Further, according to the USFS, the Forest is the largest federal landholding in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and is the direct source of drinking water for about 262,000 people in local communities in and around Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

According to the USFS, the new plan establishes a framework for potential development on roughly 180,000 acres of the Forest where federal leases or privately owned mineral rights exist but are currently not active.

"The decision does not prohibit any specific technology for developing oil and gas resources, including hydraulic fracturing," the USFS press statement reads. However, according to the park service, any proposal to develop the existing leases will undergo further environmental analysis with opportunities for public comment.

Global social decay: 36 million people worldwide subjected to slavery

© Reuters / Desmond Boylan

Nearly 36 million people across the world are involved in some form of slavery, from forced labor to forced marriage, a survey by a global human rights organization has revealed, describing modern slavery as a "hidden crime" and "big business."

Modern slavery contributes to the production of at least 122 goods from 58 countries worldwide, according to the report by the Australian anti-slavery campaign group Walk Free. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates the illicit profits of forced labor to be $150 billion a year.

"From the Thai fisherman trawling fishmeal, to the Congolese boy mining diamonds, from the Uzbek child picking cotton, to the Indian girl stitching footballs, from the women who sew dresses, to the cocoa pod pickers, their forced labor is what we consume. Modern slavery is big business," Walk Free states in its report, claiming it has found evidence of slavery in all 167 countries it surveyed.

The 10 countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery as a proportion of population are Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic.

For the second year running, India has turned out to be home to the greatest number of slaves, with over 14 million people in its population of 1.25 billion labeled as victims of slavery, spanning from prostitution to forced labor and making up nearly 40 percent of people in slavery worldwide.

The other nine countries with largest estimated numbers of people in modern slavery are China (3.2 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), Russia (1.05 million), Nigeria (834,200), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (762,900), Indonesia (714,100), Bangladesh (680,900) and Thailand (475,300). Taken together, these 10 countries account for 71 percent of the total estimated 35.8 million people living in modern slavery these days.

Nigeria and Ethiopia appear to be major source countries for migration overseas. Women and children from Nigeria are trafficked for sexual exploitation through organized crime rings to Europe.

"In Italy in particular, some Nigerian women are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage in the sex industry, with little hope of clearing €50-60,000 [$65-75,000] debts owed to their exploiters," the authors of the report say.

For Ethiopians, lucrative employment opportunities in the Middle East draw thousands to migrate for jobs in the construction and domestic work sectors. However, once in the destination countries, they are subjected to harsh working conditions instead.

The authors of the report assert that the strength of organized crime has aggravated the problem. People are lured into accepting tempting job offers overseas, which instead turn out to be sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Uzbekistan, a Central Asian nation whose economy mostly relies on production and export of cotton, has the highest prevalence of people enslaved in the region. Almost 4 percent of the Uzbek population (approximately 1,201,400 people) is subjected to slavery during the annual cotton harvest, the survey has showed.

Qatar, the small Gulf state known to engage significant numbers of foreign workers, has an estimated 1.4 percent of the population involved in modern slavery.

All countries, with the exception of North Korea, have domestic legislation which criminalizes some form of modern slavery. Among the countries with the weakest responses to modern slavery are Iran, Syria, Iraq, Eritrea (a country in the Horn of Africa), the Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo and Uzbekistan.

The survey has showed that conflict had a huge impact on the spread of slavery.

"Statistical testing confirms the relevance of modern slavery to conflict situations as we have seen this year in Syria and the horrors perpetrated by the terrorist group Islamic State," it reported.

For the first time, governments were also rated on the adequacy of their response to slavery.

According to Walk Free, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Britain, Georgia and Austria had the strongest responses to the problem.

Ireland and Iceland sit at 166 and 167 in the 2014 Index with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery.

Teacher pulls knife on students for talking during pop quiz

A middle school math teacher in New Mexico waved a big, sharp knife at two students who were talking too much during a pop quiz, police say.

The incident happened on Friday at Bernalillo Middle School in Bernalillo, a small suburb maybe 20 miles north of Albuquerque, area affiliate KOB-TV reports.

The teacher, Benjamin Nagurski, had the knife out in the middle school classroom because he was digging staples out of a bulletin board on the wall.

He approached the two unidentified students who were chatting during the pop quiz. "Stop talking," Nagurski, 63, said, while holding the knife perhaps four feet from the students. "Maybe next time I'll pull a machete on you," the math teacher later told one of the boys later, according to police.

"At one point, the teacher told the student the next time he could bring a machete," Bernalillo police chief Tom Romero explained, according to Albuquerque CBS affiliate KRQE.

Nagurski insisted that he had obviously made the machete comment in jest. One of the students sent a text message to his parents after the cutlery kerfuffle.

Nagurski initially told the principal that the knife in question was some kind of rounded steak knife. Later, though, he confessed that the knife was more serious. The actual knife Nagurski used had a sharp tip and a wooden handle, the principal said.

In the complaint filed with local police, the student who was at the business end of the knife said he felt "unsafe" and "scared." Bernalillo school district superintendent Allan Tapia accentuated the positive.

"Children were never in harm's way," the superintendent assured KRQE. "I've been in the district since 1996 and we've never ever had anything like this occur," Tapia added. "This is an isolated incident, and Bernalillo schools have great teachers."

School officials also noted that Nagurski was subjected to and passed a background check when he was hired.

Police booked Nagurski into the local jail on two charges: unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon on school premises and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The teacher later posted a $10,000 bond and left the jail. He is currently on paid administrative leave.

Record breaking cold weather blankets U.S. - 85% surface area at or below freezing

Tuesday morning, America 'as a whole' awoke to the coldest it has been in November since 1976 -- 38 years ago. The Lower-48 or CONUS spatially average temperature plummeted overnight to only 19.4°F typical of mid-winter not November 18th! Data

An astounding 226-million Americans will experience at or below freezing temperatures (32°F) on Tuesday as well -- if you venture outdoors.

More than 85% of the surface area of the Lower-48 reached or fell below freezing Tuesday morning. All 50-states saw at or below freezing temperatures on Tuesday.

© Weatherbell.com

Record lows from Idaho to Nebraska and Iowa south to Texas and east through the Great Lakes, the eastern 2/3 of the US will shatter decades-long and in some cases, century-long records. Temperatures east of the Rockies will be 20-40°F below climate normals.

Compared to normal, temperatures over the past several days have dropped off a cliff -- to 10°C below climate normal -- more anomalous than even during the polarvortex of early January. Anomaly Chart. November is shaping up to be a colder-than-normal month by a lot.

Brisk northwesterly winds in the Great Lakes will cause heavy lake effect snow which will be measured in feet from Michigan to New York state. Monday, almost half of the Lower-48 was blanketed in snow. Please visit Mashable and Capital Weather Gang for daily updates.

Cold air pushes east thru Wednesday with a reinforcing shot of Arctic air with origin from the North Pole & Siberia to arrive on Thursday in the Great Lakes. Any relief is is 5-6 days away as Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit will struggle to rise above freezing until Saturday.

Let my Weather Maps tell the story:

Record Low Predictor Selected cities overnight lows (°F) forecast by NOAA GFS model with locations circled indicating potential record-lows for Nov 18th. A total of 29 locations set or break a record low. 40 stations come within 1°F and 80 within 3°F of a record. These cities are from the "Threaded-Extremes" dataset which diligently assembles historical station information often back into the 1900s or even 1870s. The forecast model temperature data is compared from midnight-to-midnight to determine potential record lows.

Snowfall Total accumulations through Thursday morning from the NCEP-NAM mesoscale model (4-km Nest) showing multiple foot amounts in the snowbelts along the Great Lakes.

Temperatures departure from normal °F from NOAA GFS global weather model. Purple colors range from 20-40° below climate normals.

Snow depth in inches estimate from the NOAA GFS global weather model.

Greedy and criminal: Big Pharma markets deadly and ineffective cancer drugs


Medical experts are saying that the biggest flaw of Big Pharma today is a high percentage of ineffective products being sold without previous clinical trials. This is particularly true when anti-cancer medications are concerned.The sad fact is that Big Pharma prefers to invest in advertising and bribing officials instead of attempting to make their products truly effective. Today pharmaceutical manufacturing is handsomely funded by politicians and organized crime, since it's has become one of the most efficient money laundering schemes and has already corrupted a large number of US and EU officials.

Biotech expert C. Glenn Begley, the former Vice-President and Global Head of Hematology and Oncology Research at Amgen - one of the largest cancer research centers in the US, is now a senior vice president in a private biotech company TetraLogic. In his article published in Nature magazine back in March 2012, Glenn stated that a series of tests conducted under his supervision proved that out of 53 anti-cancer drugs that had been developed by "respected laboratories," a total of 47 showed no noticeable improvements in patients' health conditions (which amounts to 88%).

Unfortunately, this study was proven right by a number of research teams that arrived at similar results while running tests. In 2009, a group of researchers at Michigan State University reached a similar conclusion, just like Bayer's research team. At the same time certain research institutes, like the famous Harvard Medical School, prefer to falsify their studies. In Harvard's case it received a hefty grant of 15 million dollars from the Federal government.

Big Parma is all about PR campaigns and advertisements, while putting new potentially dangerous drugs on the market. For example, Glivec and Sutent that are authorized for usage in Europe, are reducing the size of tumors by wiping out pericytes that prevent the growth of tumor-nourishing blood vessels. As a result, additional testings showed, these drugs force cancer to spread faster across a body, making it increasingly more deadly.

Canadian Professor at the Department of Pharmacology at Dalhousie University, George S. Robertson is also stressing the ineffectiveness of certain drugs that are being put on the market today.

Over the past two decades, the most promising drugs that should have allowed people to fight cancer effectively were Gleevec and Herceptin. However, as it has been recently discovered, each of these medications initiated genetic mutations of cells, by turning a regular one into a malignant cell.

Scientists from Bayer had little luck with their studies as well. In 2011, in a paper "Believe it or not", Bayer admitted that researchers couldn't get the same results in clinical trials on stage two of their testings. The head of Target Discovery at Bayer Schering Pharma admitted that research teams couldn't replicate the initial results of most of Bayer's studies, no matter how hard they tried. Out of 47 potential new anti-cancer drugs less than one-quarter got past stage two. The scandal that followed put an end to all anti-cancer studies at Bayer.

According to C. Glenn Begley, when investigating Amgen Inc, approximately 100 scientists could not confirm the official results of clinical trials they contacted the producers of these drugs. Some of them demanded that Amgen Inc should sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to keep these facts from being published.

In pursuit of federal grants Big Pharma is falsifying research, by paying for factless publications in scientific journals, which then opens a direct path to the introduction of new drugs on the market, regardless of their potential danger. Unfortunately, regular people across the globe are to pay for this deceit, more often than not with their own lives.

California's Chinook salmon Fall spawning run slowed by drought

© Shutterstock

The annual fall migration of Chinook salmon has been delayed by warmer water temperatures and slow-flowing streams in parts of California as the state's three-year drought drags on, hatchery officials said Monday.

Cool November temperatures usually bring thousands of adult salmon from the Pacific Ocean into streams and rivers to spawn. But this year, fish have been slow to migrate up the American River to the state's hatchery near Sacramento, said William Cox, manager of the fish production and distribution program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"They haven't come into the river at the same time that they would normally," Cox said.

Wildlife researchers check the strength of the fall salmon run by going out to creeks and rivers and counting them. This year in the American River and its tributaries, the survey crews found just 210 corpses of salmon that had presumably spawned and died in the streams, a tenth of the number normally encountered, Cox said.

At another hatchery, near the Central Valley city of Merced, a higher than normal number of male salmon are arriving unable to provide viable sperm to spawn, he said.

State wildlife experts are not entirely sure why the salmon are late, but some speculate that warmer temperatures and slower flow in the American River might be to blame.

"Folsom reservoir is low and warm right now, so the water coming down isn't as cold as the fish prefer," said Kevin Thomas, a supervising environmental scientist with the state.

Gary Novak, who manages the Nimbus Hatchery, said the facility is still taking in its normal capacity of about 500 fish for each of its twice-weekly spawning activities.

During the season, from November to around December, hatchery workers open a gate in the water most Sundays and Tuesdays, allowing fish to swim inside where they spawn and the young are fed and raised to fingerling size and released.

The slow start to the salmon run does not mean that the fish are in danger, or that spawning will be reduced this year, Cox said. There are signs that more salmon are starting to make the trek upstream, and that could mean that the run is simply starting later, as the water cools down and fall rains swell the river.

"Chinook salmon are big fish, and they like to go where there's big water," Cox said.

Unconscionable: US child homelessness sets new record

homeless child

© National Center for Family Homelessness

New report, America’s Youngest Outcasts, looks at child homelessness nationally, ranks the states, and examines causes of child homelessness and the solutions.

The annual levels of homelessness among children have never been higher in the United States, according to a new comprehensive report released on Monday.

Prepared by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the report - (pdf) - shows that with poverty and inequality soaring in recent years, approximately 2.5 million children in 2013 found themselves without a roof over their head or place to call home. That number equals one in 30 American children nationally, and constitutes an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

"Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America," said Dr. Carmela DeCandia, director of the NCFH, in a statement. "Children are homeless to night in every city, county and state - in every part of our nation."

Based on federal and other available data and broken down by state, the analysis shows that homelessness among children varies widely depending on geography. The report includes an index ranking based on four basic criteria: 1) the extent of child homelessness (adjusted for population); 2) general well-being of the children; 3) risk for family homelessness; and 4) state policies designed to combat the problem. Ranked from 1-50, the states with the best scores were Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts. The worst states for homeless children were Alabama, Mississippi and California.

The report cites the major drivers behind the crisis, which include: 1) the nation's high poverty rate; 2) a lack of affordable housing across the nation; 3) the continuing impacts of the Great Recession; 4) racial disparities; 5) the challenges of single parenting; and 6) the ways in which traumatic experiences, especially domestic violence, precede and prolong homelessness for families.

According to a fact sheet (pdf)released alongside the study:

Research shows that homeless children are hungry and sick more often. They wonder if they will have a roof over their heads at night and what will happen to their families. Many homeless children struggle in school, missing days, repeating grades, and drop out entirely. Up to 25% of homeless pre-school children have mental health problems requiring clinical evaluation; this increases to 40% among homeless school-age children.

The impacts of homelessness on the children, especially young children, may lead to changes in brain architecture that can interfere with learning, emotional self-regulation, cognitive skills, and social relationships. The unrelenting stress experienced by the parents may contribute to residential instability, unemployment, ineffective parenting, and poor health.

Dr. DeCandia notes that federal policies seeking to address the problem of homelessness among veterans and other chronically vulnerable adults have showed that improvements can be made, but says specific federal action to fight child homelessness has not been adequate to address the growing national crisis of homeless youth.

"Living in shelters, neighbors' basements, cars, campgrounds, and worse - homeless children are the most invisible and neglected individuals in our society," she said. "Without decisive action now, the federal goal of ending child homelessness by 2020 will soon be out of reach."

If the situation does not change soon, she said, the society is "going to pay a high price, in human and economic terms."

What really happened at G20 summit in Brisbane


So what did in fact happen at the G20 summit? The short answer is that it was a shriller rerun of the ASEM summit in Milan.

The same line up of European leaders joined this time by the Australians and the Canadians (Obama and Putin barely met) tried once again to bully Putin into doing what they wanted in the Ukraine, believing on this occasion that the fall in oil prices and in the rouble would make him more amenable.

In order to drive the point home a media blitz of quite extraordinary intensity was also orchestrated.

To their collective bafflement and anger, Putin refused to move an inch.

On the contrary Putin's position has if anything hardened since Milan as he made clear in the interview he gave to German television in Vladivostok (before the summit) in which he pointedly reminded the European leaders that it is within Russia's power to bring the entire Ukrainian financial house of cards crashing down by calling in its loans and in which he also gave the clearest possible warning that Russia would not allow the rebel regions in eastern Ukraine to be overrun.

The further news on that is that Russian Economics Minister Ulyukaev has confirmed that the rouble will be allowed to circulate in the rebel regions of eastern Ukraine, strengthening their integration with Russia.

The European leaders have come away without a clue what to do. They desperately need an end to the Ukrainian crisis, which is hurting their own economies and which as Milos Zeman's and Orban's comments show, is creating increasing dissension within the EU itself.

There is little appetite either for more sanctions or for giving the Ukraine the tens of billions it needs to turn itself round whilst there is deep reluctance to seek a restructuring of the Ukraine's debts since doing so would inevitably require the agreement of the Ukraine's biggest creditor, which is Russia, which would undoubtedly in that case link its agreement to movement on political matters.

The hope always seems to be that Putin will somehow be bullied into solving the problem for the Europeans in the way the Europeans want and there is incredulity and exasperation when that fails to happen. Meanwhile the situation in the Ukraine itself both economically and politically continues to spiral downwards.

A good gauge of the bafflement and anger of the western leaders is the way the western media (obviously following a tip off from the Australian hosts) was encouraged to talk up Putin's decision to skip the summit's final working breakfast.

The Ukrainian situation would not have been discussed at this breakfast so the idea that Putin was somehow bruised into running away is nonsense.

That the western media had to seize on this non-event to show how supposedly battered Putin is, shows in reality how completely unsuccessful the Europeans and their Australian and Canadian allies really were with him.

In reality there has never been a G20 summit where media coverage has been more at variance with reality (a point Putin also made). To read the western media, Putin was completely isolated at the summit.

In reality, on the first day of the summit there was a BRICS mini-summit meeting, at which Putin and Russia were put in charge of organising a future BRICS conference on investment policy, a fact you would never know about from reading the western press. In other words the BRICS front stood firm and it seems Putin also received some support from countries like Indonesia and Turkey.

In fact from the way the western media reported the summit most westerners are probably not even aware that non-western leaders including the other leaders of BRICS states also attended the summit. From the lack of attention they got one might suppose they were as unimportant as they were in say 1978. So delusional has the west's perception of the world and of its place in it become.

Putin also had a lengthy meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, whom he also sat next to during various plenaries, during which he would have been informed in detail of the Saudi approach at the forthcoming OPEC summit on 27th November 2014. That meeting the western media of course also almost completely ignored.

The single most important event at the summit however had nothing to do with Putin. It was Obama's extraordinary speech at the University of Queensland, which was basically a lengthy and not very thinly veiled attack on China, which he managed to talk about in the most amazingly patronising and even rude way, and which he spoke of as a potential threat to the whole Pacific region (!).

The great achievement of Obama's Presidency is that the US is now on bad terms with both China and Russia where it could have been on good terms with both. That is a quite an achievement and one which will resonate far into the future.

Unconscionable: US Child homelessness sets new record

homeless child

© National Center for Family Homelessness

New report, America’s Youngest Outcasts, looks at child homelessness nationally, ranks the states, and examines causes of child homelessness and the solutions.

The annual levels of homelessness among children have never been higher in the United States, according to a new comprehensive report released on Monday.

Prepared by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the report - (pdf) - shows that with poverty and inequality soaring in recent years, approximately 2.5 million children in 2013 found themselves without a roof over their head or place to call home. That number equals one in 30 American children nationally, and constitutes an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

"Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America," said Dr. Carmela DeCandia, director of the NCFH, in a statement. "Children are homeless to night in every city, county and state - in every part of our nation."

Based on federal and other available data and broken down by state, the analysis shows that homelessness among children varies widely depending on geography. The report includes an index ranking based on four basic criteria: 1) the extent of child homelessness (adjusted for population); 2) general well-being of the children; 3) risk for family homelessness; and 4) state policies designed to combat the problem. Ranked from 1-50, the states with the best scores were Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts. The worst states for homeless children were Alabama, Mississippi and California.

The report cites the major drivers behind the crisis, which include: 1) the nation's high poverty rate; 2) a lack of affordable housing across the nation; 3) the continuing impacts of the Great Recession; 4) racial disparities; 5) the challenges of single parenting; and 6) the ways in which traumatic experiences, especially domestic violence, precede and prolong homelessness for families.

According to a fact sheet (pdf)released alongside the study:

Research shows that homeless children are hungry and sick more often. They wonder if they will have a roof over their heads at night and what will happen to their families. Many homeless children struggle in school, missing days, repeating grades, and drop out entirely. Up to 25% of homeless pre-school children have mental health problems requiring clinical evaluation; this increases to 40% among homeless school-age children.

The impacts of homelessness on the children, especially young children, may lead to changes in brain architecture that can interfere with learning, emotional self-regulation, cognitive skills, and social relationships. The unrelenting stress experienced by the parents may contribute to residential instability, unemployment, ineffective parenting, and poor health.

Dr. DeCandia notes that federal policies seeking to address the problem of homelessness among veterans and other chronically vulnerable adults have showed that improvements can be made, but says specific federal action to fight child homelessness has not been adequate to address the growing national crisis of homeless youth.

"Living in shelters, neighbors' basements, cars, campgrounds, and worse - homeless children are the most invisible and neglected individuals in our society," she said. "Without decisive action now, the federal goal of ending child homelessness by 2020 will soon be out of reach."

If the situation does not change soon, she said, the society is "going to pay a high price, in human and economic terms."

“Um, we’re, um, I, you know, it, uh,” Missouri Governor Explains Who’s In Charge in Ferguson

Jay nixon bumbles

The governor of Missouri activated the National Guard on Monday ahead of what could be a new wave of mass protests, but doesn’t seem certain at all about who will be in charge of law enforcement operations in the coming days.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to call up the Guard and declare a state of emergency raised questioned on Monday about what authorities are anticipating will happen when a federal grand jury will decide — likely within days — whether or not to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson on charges related to the August shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen.

Nixon was largely unable to provide answers during a telephone press conference that occurred with reporters later that day, though. Audio of that teleconference captured by Guardian journalist Jon Swaine is now causing concerns to mount further as reporters realize that the governor might have less of a grasp on the situation in Ferguson than many would like to believe.

The audio, published on the internet by Swaine late Monday, shows Nixon struggling to answer a question posed by Huffington Post’s Matt Sledge: “Does the buck ultimately stop with you when it comes to how any protests are policed?”

“Um, we’re, um, I, you know, it, uh, our goal here is to, you know, keep the peace, and allow all voices to, uh, to be heard,” Nixon replies with a rambling, 14-second-long attempt at a response.

“I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time personalizing this,” Nixon says later, adding, “I’d prefer not to be a commentator on it.”

Nearly two minutes after Sledge first asked Nixon to explain who will be in charge of maintaining the peace at any potential protests, he rephrased his question and attempted again to get an answer.

“Is there any one official or agency ultimately in charge here in terms of response?” Sledge wondered.

Again, Nixon is heard on tape meandering between words while failing to actually explain who will ultimately be tasked with responding to any civil unrest in Ferguson or elsewhere in the coming days — be it the National Guard, local police forces, county sheriffs or whomever — this time trailing off at moments for seconds at a time as he struggles to provide an explanation.

“Well, I mean, it uh, clearly [silence] I feel good about the… we worked hard to establish unified command, to outline our responsibilities now with the additional assets provided by my order today of the Missouri National Guard we have worked through, uh, a number of, uh, operational issues the folks have and, uh, I’ll only say, uh, our efforts today are on top of a lot of last hundred days to make sure we’re prepared for any contingency.”

Nixon’s reply without a doubt was ripe with uncertainty, which rightfully causes concern ahead of what may be mass protests of a caliber previously unseen in Missouri. Demonstrations waged for days in Ferguson for days, then weeks, after Brown was shot and killed by Wilson more than three months ago. Now as the city braces itself to hear whether or not Wilson will be charged with that shooting death, officials are expecting the worst, to say the least: not only has Nixon asked the National Guard for assistance during the coming days, but a warning to law enforcement agencies across the country from the FBI on Monday revealed that the bureau believes the grand jury’s impending decision “will likely” lead to attacks against the police.

Space rock explodes in atmosphere? Strange 'explosion' in the sky turns night to day in the Urals, Russia

© Vyacheslav Bulatov

A local observatory indicated nothing fell from the sky on the day of the flash.

A huge flash lit up the early evening darkness, as shown by images taken from a dashcam on a road close to Yekaterinburg. The sky suddenly turns orange-red at 17.39 local time (though the dashcam records it as 18.39). For the next 11 seconds an orange light with yellow and white in the middle engulfs the entire sky.

'For a few moments night turned into dazzling day, then everything went dark again,' said one witness.

The explosion came on 14 November but images only appeared of it today; strangely no sound was picked up.

Theories for the explosion included a missile or an object from space. Yet it did not have the same shape or pattern as the Chelyabinsk meteorite which exploded over the Urals in February 2013.

[embedded content]

The author of the footage wrote on the web: 'On Friday (November 14 , 2014 at 5.40pm) I observed a flash in the sky, on the road on the way to Rezh.

'I found nothing about it in the news. Did anyone else see it? What was it?'

The glow was also filmed by the teenagers from Yekaterinburg on mobile cameras. The main question from witnesses is 'What was it?'

According to regional television neither meteorologists nor scientists can explain the strange phenomenon. A local observatory indicated nothing fell from the sky on the day of the flash. Local officials from the Emergencies Ministry refused to comment on the happening.

Former NASA consultant, climatologist John L. Casey: 'a radical shift in global climate is underway, 30-year cold spell will strike Earth

ice age

With nasty cold fronts thrusting an icy and early winter across the continental U.S. - along with last winter described by as "one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record" - climatologist John L. Casey thinks the weather pattern is here to stay for decades to come.

In fact, Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, is out with the provocative book , which warns that a radical shift in global climate is underway, and that Al Gore and other environmentalists have it completely wrong. The earth, he says, is cooling, and cooling fast.

And unless the scientific community and political leaders act soon, cold, dark days are ahead. Casey says the evidence is clear that the earth is rapidly growing colder because of diminished solar activity. He says trends indicate we could be headed for colder temperatures similar to those seen in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the sun went into a "solar minimum" - a phenomenon with significantly reduced solar activity, including solar flares and sunspots.

If he's right, that would be very bad news. posits that a 30-year period of cold has already begun. Frigid temperatures and the food shortages that inevitably result could lead to riots and chaos.

Casey tells Newsmax, "All you have to do is trust natural cycles and follow the facts, and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun." Casey is president of the Space and Science Research Corp., an Orlando, Fla., climate research firm. His new book debunks global warming orthodoxy. For more than a decade, he reports, the planet's oceans have been cooling. And since 2007, the atmospheric temperature has been cooling as well.

"The data is pretty solid," Casey says. "If you look at the 100-year global temperature chart, you look at the steep drop-off we've had since 2007. It's the steepest drop in global temperatures in the last hundred years."

So how can the media and scientific elites make a case for global warming when it's actually cooling? Casey suggests climate-change theorists have simply wedded themselves to the wrong theory - namely, that global temperatures respond to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Any scientist suggesting otherwise is castigated as a heretic, though there are other prominent scientists who support Casey.

Noted Russian astrophysicist Habibullo I. Abdussamatov has argued that a new mini-ice age has begun, though Casey doesn't go that far. He does agree with Abdussamatov that the real driver of global climate is solar activity, namely sunspots. These correspond to shifts in global temperature with a greater than 90 percent accuracy, he says. The environmental left focuses instead on ever-rising greenhouse emissions, suggesting nature is just taking a bit of a breather before the upward march in temperatures ineluctably resumes.

"There are two fundamental flaws with that," Casey says. "No. 1, the greenhouse-gas theory, and the global climate models that they produced, never permitted a pause. As long as CO2 levels were going up, the only thing that could happen was global temperatures could go up. That has not happened.

"No. 2, there could absolutely be no cooling, much less a pause. And yet we've been cooling for 11 years now."

The recent polar vortex that sent temperatures across the Midwest plunging to sub-zero records is not an aberration, Casey says. If is right, that means the nation is busily preparing for the wrong calamity.

"We don't have 10 years," Casey warns. "We've squandered during President Obama's administration eight years ... and we didn't have eight years to squander."

The worst of the cooling cycle, Casey predicts, will hit in the late 2020s and the early 2030s. Food riots will break out, demand for heating oil will spike, and the failure of the corn crop will put the squeeze on ethanol. He even predicts the United States will ban agricultural exports to feed its own citizens.

Story continued on Newsmax

Russians say it as it is: ISIL and the tale of too many coincidences

© Flickr.com/ Thierry Ehrmann

Painted portrait of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

After surviving what was reported to have been an assassination attempt on his convoy last weekend, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi released an audio recording where he singled out targets for his new regional offensive, focusing on the Mideast and parts of Northern Africa. A deeper look at his plans shows that they might coincidentally aid certain interests of the international coalition fighting against his 'Caliphate'.

Which side is he really on?

First up on al-Baghdadi's hit list is Saudi Arabia, which ironically is home to many wealthy individuals that have long been suspected of funding ISIL's rise to power. The country formally denies any association to the terrorist group, although its official state ideology of Wahhabism is very similar to the extreme Islam that ISIL promotes. Still, it appears it wasn't extreme enough for al-Baghdadi and he now wants the Saudi monarchy must be overthrown...or so he says.

What he might be doing in fact is strengthening it. The Shiite minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province staged protests during the 'Arab Spring' events in 2011, and they're on the verge of doing so again, after prominent activist Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was sentenced to a public beheading and subsequent crucifixion by the Saudi government for his supposed "foreign meddling" back in 2011. This has drawn heavy criticism from human rights campaigners worldwide and raised the possibility of more Shiite protests in the near future. With al-Baghdadi's de-facto declaration of war against the Saudi government, the threat exists that anyone protesting against them might be labeled terrorists and accused of overthrowing the monarchy.

The Saudis have already set themselves up for a major internal crackdown through their harsh anti-terrorist laws passed earlier this year, which were slammed for stifling the freedoms of speech and assembly. And al-Baghdadi's statement is more than enough to taint any legitimate Shiite movement as a terrorist-inspired regime change attempt, even though that may not be the case at all. So even though he talks about overthrowing the Saudis, he's really playing right into their hands and helping them to oppress the Shiites, who incidentally are among his major enemies. Talk about coincidence!

Fanning Sectarian War

Al-Baghdadi's persecution of Shiites extends into Yemen, which just saw a people's uprising in September that empowered that long-suppressed minority. The Houthis' ascent to power brought about the first time the minority group was adequately represented in the country's government. But not everyone saw it that way. The US and many likeminded Western media outlets alleged a secret Iranian conspiracy to usurp power there, conveniently forgetting that the previous government was too inefficient to warrant resistance against it. They emphasized the sectarian standpoint to increase resistance to the Houthis - ironic, since the West usually favors minority empowerment all across the world (the support of Albanians in Serbian Kosovo, for example). Now, al-Baghdadi has joined the fray and is calling for jihad against the Shiites in Yemen, which is again just a totally coincidental policy convergence on his part.

The ISIL chieftain then sets his sights across the Red Sea to Egypt. Cairo is struggling to support its secularity amidst a spate of Islamic insurgency in the Sinai that has resulted in yet another state of emergency. In this case, any additional Islamic violence would basically be a complete anathema and would destabilize the consolidating government even more.

Algeria, also targeted by al-Baghdadi, is similar in this way, since it emerged from a brutal Islamic-inspired civil war over a decade ago and is vehemently against any extremist groups. It was also the scene of the In Amenas hostage crisis in January 2013 when 37 foreign hostages were killed by Islamic terrorists, showing that the threat is still certainly there.

Libya may have been the last country mentioned by al-Baghdadi, but only because it is practically a sitting duck with its current terrorist challenges. By bringing jihad to these three countries right on Europe's doorstep, ISIL could be trying to distract the international coalition from striking in Iraq and Syria and focusing there instead. Algeria has gas, Libya has oil, and Egypt is the largest Arab country and has huge market potential. Once again, this is obviously nothing more than yet another coincidence.

Israel as the Last Man Standing

How coincidental is it that al-Baghdadi, the leader of the world's most fearsome, notorious, and extreme Islamic terrorist group in history, doesn't have a bone to pick with Israel? Sure, he blasts it and the Jews every once in a while, but which Bin Laden wannabe doesn't? So let's get this straight - al-Baghdadi occupied part of Iraq and Syria and just declared his intent to move into Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and even as far afield as Algeria...but there's no mention of imminent war against Israel, the supposedly sworn enemy of jihadists everywhere. Maybe he was so shell-shocked from the recent assassination attempt that he just forgot to mention it. If all goes according to his plan, when the dust settles in the Mideast and North Africa after the ISIL-inspired chaos, Israel will be the last man standing. But all this is just a coincidence, right?

Masai people living in Tanzania facing eviction so that Dubai royals can hunt there

© AFP Photo / Joseph Eid

A Massai woman walks in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, northern Tanzania

Masai people living in northern Tanzania are facing eviction from their historical homeland, as the government has reportedly reneged on a promise and is proceeding with plans to remake the land into a hunting reserve for Dubai's royal family.

There are about 40,000 Masai people living on the 1,500 square kilometer "wildlife corridor" bordering Serengeti National Park. They are known for their semi-nomadic ways and have their own distinctive culture.

The original proposal by a company based in the United Arab Emirates to turn the land into a commercial hunting park was turned down last year.

But the deal seems back on track now and the Masai people were notified to leave their ancestral lands by the end of the year, the Guardian reported.

Tanzania's prime minister, Mizengo Pinda, is scheduled to meet with the Masai's representatives, who will speak out against the decision.

In their view, the sale of the territory will in some way or another impact the lives of at least 80,000 people and will leave those residing on the land without their heritage or livelihood, as Masai are reliant on the livestock living on the land.

© AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan

In return for the sale, the government has proposed to offer an investment of one billion shillings (US$590,000) into socio-economic projects, which the Masai people have refused.

"I feel betrayed," co-ordinator of the local Ngonett civil society group, Samwel Nangiria, told the . "One billion is very little and you cannot compare that with land. It's inherited. Their mothers and grandmothers are buried in that land. There's nothing you can compare with it."

Nangiria revealed his suspicions that the government probably never intended to back down from the proposal. "They had to pretend they were dropping the agenda to fool the international press."

Those who speak out publicly against the deal in Tanzania get killed by local authorities, Nangiria said, adding that his life was threatened as well. "For me it is dangerous on a personal level. They said: 'We discovered you are the mastermind, you want to stop the government using the land.' Another said: 'You have decided to shorten your life. The hands of the government are too long. Put your family ahead of the Masai.'"

Last year, an international media campaign against the hunting reserve proposal was led by the online activism site Avaaz.org.

The organization was behind the 'Stop the Serengeti Sell-off' petition, which gathered more than 1.7 million signatures. It also organized protests against the move.

"The Masai stare out from every tourism poster, but Tanzania's government wants to kick them off their land so foreign royalty can hunt elephants there," campaign director for Avaaz, Alex Wilks, said.

"Two million people around the world have backed the Masai's call for president Jakaya Kikwete to fulfill his promise to let them stay where they've always lived. Treating the Masai as the great unwanted would be a disaster for Tanzania's reputation."

Meanwhile, Tanzania's authorities have denied the existence of renewed plans.

"It's the first I've heard of it. I'm currently out of the office and can't comment properly," a spokesperson for Tanzania's Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said.

Putin's doing what no one else will: Fighting the oligarchs


The Kremlin has launched a campaign to rein in Russia's wealthy elite in a move that is creating a backlash of discontent against Vladimir Putin.

The government has proposed new tax laws that will seriously limit the ability of the country's moneyed classes to hide their wealth abroad.

The legislation will seek to clamp down on companies and individuals using offshore tax havens and make Russian citizens liable for tax at home regardless of which country they earn their income in.

The measures are aimed at the wealthiest Russians, who systematically seek to move their assets and often their families abroad because they lack confidence in a system that can trample over private property rights when individuals fall out of favour with the authorities.

Putin is attempting to stem the country's disastrous capital flight as the Russian economy slides into recession for the first time since he became president 14 years ago.

Aggravated by punitive western sanctions imposed on Russia because of the crisis in Ukraine, the economic downturn has led to capital flight rocketing this year to an estimated £60bn - double last year's figure.

Aside from an attempt to increase revenue, the crackdown is also the latest Kremlin move to whip up patriotic fervour by putting pressure on the rich to invest at home. The populist move, which will play well with ordinary Russians deeply resentful of the corruption and fabulous fortunes of the elite, is creating mounting alarm among the rich.

They are already worried about a new law passed last month that requires Russians to declare to the authorities whether they possess a foreign passport. Once people come forward the law is widely expected to be used to impose restrictions on citizens with dual nationality.

The wealthy are likely to be most affected, having gone to great lengths to secure foreign passports as a gateway to the West as a safety precaution in case they fall foul of the authorities.

"As Russia closes in on itself, there's a very clear feeling that things are going to get tougher for the elite, that there will be far less room for manoeuvre," said a top Moscow banker with a second home in Belgravia. "And if there's one thing the rich don't like it's when you try to box them in and take away the freedom their money buys."

Putin, who is rumoured to be fantastically rich and under whose watch a small group of close associates have become multibillionaires, is angered by the eagerness with which many Russian entrepreneurs create complex offshore corporate ownership structures, especially in Cyprus.

The Kremlin leader is concerned by the loss of tax revenue and regards the movement of assets abroad as "unpatriotic". The new tax law proposals follow sharp falls in the price of oil, Russia's main source of revenue.

Pressure on Russians to move assets and corporate structures back from abroad has intensified in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, which exposed the vulnerability of Russian-owned overseas assets to western sanctions.

In September Arkady Rotenberg, a close associate of Putin's since the days when the two were young men and judo sparring partners, had assets worth £30m seized in Italy after his name was added to a US and European Union travel ban. The assets included a luxury hotel in the centre of Rome, bank accounts, company shares and property in Sardinia.

Members of the country's wealthy elite are also growing concerned by restrictions that are gradually being imposed on Russians travelling abroad. Law enforcement and intelligence officers, defence ministry staff and even prison warders are among 4m state officials who are now in effect banned from travelling abroad.

Officially the restriction, which is strongly reminiscent of Soviet-era travel bans, was introduced to prevent state secrets from being divulged.

But critics warn that it is part of a wider trend to control citizens and prevent them from becoming "corrupted" by being exposed to the West. Even students at the interior ministry's academy are now forced to hand in their passports, and lawmakers are discussing bringing in a travel ban on anyone who has unpaid traffic fines.

"It is far easier to cultivate the image of the country as a besieged fortress when military personnel, the police and intelligence agencies are unable to see the outside world with their own eyes," wrote Vladimir Ryzhkov, a former opposition MP.

Since Russia's controversial seizure of Crimea and the crisis in Ukraine, Putin's approval rating among ordinary Russians has shot to more than 80%. But among the elite, instead of euphoria there is mounting discontent and apprehension over the virulently anti-western course Putin has set the country on.

"Nationalism, self-isolation, anti-Americanism, sanctions, foreign investment plummeting and Russia as a pariah state, things like this are a disaster for a wealthy businessman who has property in America and Britain and whose children go to a British private school," said a Russian tycoon worth hundreds of millions of pounds, who recently moved to London.

"Most wealthy Russians are horrified by what's happening under Putin. They don't dare speak out for fear of losing everything. But nothing lasts for ever - not even fear."

Unusual groundhog attack causes scare in Hampton, New Hampshire

A groundhog tries to get inside a Little River Road home in Hampton after attacking a man who ran inside. (Courtesy photo)

Animal to be tested for rabies after it is killed by officer

The McGraths are used to friendly critters stopping by their Little River Road backyard, but a frenetic visit Tuesday morning from their resident groundhog was anything but a welcomed encounter.

The McGraths are used to friendly critters stopping by their Little River Road backyard, but a frenetic visit Tuesday morning from their resident groundhog was anything but a welcomed encounter.

Gary McGrath was unloading his truck when the roughly two-foot-long groundhog came barreling toward him. What started out as a comical sight quickly turned into a somewhat scary incident for the 65-year-old woodworker as he watched the plump animal running at a brisk jog in his direction.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move, then it came running," said McGrath. "I kicked it away, but then it got back up and came back at me again. I kicked it away again, and it came right back."

That's when McGrath ran into his garage and shut the door, only to have the groundhog circle around to the other side of the garage and get in through a different open door.

"He was out to get me," said McGrath. "Fortunately he doesn't run very fast, but neither do I.

"My first thought was, 'He's being awful friendly,' when he came up to me the first time. He's normally friendly. After he came after me again, I thought, 'Wait, he wants something.'"

McGrath was not injured.

The groundhog, which McGrath's grandchildren enjoy looking for when they come to visit, then bared its teeth as it chased McGrath into his house. It didn't stop there, as McGrath said it the animal began digging at the glass-and-metal door, furiously attempting to bite and claw its way inside.

"We were lucky," said McGrath's wife Carol, who described the attack as a "crazy" and "freaky" ordeal. "You're just in a kind of disbelief when something like that happens."

The couple called Hampton Animal Control Officer Peter MacKinnon for help, watching in amazement as the groundhog continued to dig at the door and a corner of leaf-covered dirt next to the front stairs before MacKinnon arrived.

The groundhog also tried to attack MacKinnon when he got out of his truck, forcing him to jump back into the vehicle and slam the door before the animal could get inside. MacKinnon used a rifle to kill the animal after he exited his vehicle, and the groundhog's body will now be tested for rabies.

McGrath laughed several times while recounting the story Tuesday afternoon, although he said the incident should be taken seriously.

"I've had (enough excitement) for today," said McGrath, adding that he didn't have a name for the groundhog despite the fact that he has named his cars, tractor and furniture.

Tuesday wasn't the first time the McGraths have encountered wild animals in their yard. A possibly rabid raccoon made an appearance over the summer and they've also found bobcat scat.

McGrath said he hopes his neighbors check their pets and be wary of possible sick animals in the area, especially because there are a number of dogs and cats wondering neighboring properties, some of which are owned by families with small children.

"The public should know," said McGrath, noting that his son-in-law had to pay $5,000 to receive just one rabies shot after he was bitten by a bat in his Vermont home.

Aggressive, sick and injured animals can be reported directly to the Hampton's animal control officer by contacting the Hampton Police Department at 929-4444.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends residents ensure their pets are up-to-date on all vaccines to avoid contraction of the rabies virus. The CDC also recommends to refrain from contact with wild and sick animals, to refrain from feeding them, and to contact local animal control authorities if they are sighted on local residential properties.

Additional information and tips about rabies can be found online at http://ift.tt/14Gqygx.

The groundhog incident came one day after a coyote attacked a woman in Greenland.

The 'homeland security industrial-complex's' huge business of endless war

Unintimidated by the efforts of two administrations to force him to reveal a confidential source who disclosed the betrayal of the public by the government, Pulitzer Prize- winning New York Times reporter James Risen exposes more about the reality of greed, power and endless war in his new book, Pay Any Price. You can get the book now with a contribution to Truthout by clicking here.

Mark Karlin: In your third chapter, you state that the "corporate leaders at its vanguard can rightly be considered the true winners of the war on terror." You refer to these people as post-9/11, corporate entrepreneurs and opportunists. Can you provide a couple of brief examples?

James Risen: In chapter three, I focus on corporate leaders who have largely tried to avoid the limelight, but have nonetheless been among those who have profited the most from the war on terror. People like the Blue brothers, whose company, General Atomics, has produced the Predator and Reaper drones, the signature weapons of the global war on terror.

I also write about J. Philip London, executive chairman of CACI, the huge defense and intelligence contractor that was caught up in the Abu Ghraib scandal but then managed to continue to thrive in the war on terror, and Robert McKeon, a clever Wall Street maven who acquired Dyncorp as it profited from rival Blackwater's problems. McKeon eventually committed suicide, and the sale of assets by his estate after his death provided a glimpse at the massive wealth accumulated by the corporate leaders who benefit from being on the top rung of the war on terror.

Mark Karlin: Your prologue refers to the "homeland security-industrial" complex (including the related wars since 9/11) costing an estimated $4 trillion. Where did all that money go?

James Risen: The Homeland Security Industrial Complex operates differently than the traditional Military Industrial Complex. Instead of spending on ships, airplanes and other big weapons systems, much of the money goes to secretive intelligence contractors who perform secret counterterrorism work for the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and other agencies. Because it is all classified, there is no public debate about the massive amounts of money being poured into these contractors. And with little oversight, there is no way to determine whether these contractors have performed well or poorly. Four trillion dollars is the best estimate for the total price tag of the war on terror, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much of it has gone to shadowy contractors. It is one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, and yet it has gone largely unnoticed.

Mark Karlin: Part III of is entitled "Endless War." You divide this section into chapters focusing on "The War on Decency," "The War on Normalcy" and the "The War on Truth." That is an inversion of the government-vaunted war to protect Homeland Security into an immoral attack on the nation's moral integrity. How did we arrive at such an abandonment of our ethical standards?

James Risen: If you recall, just after 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney famously said that "the gloves come off." What that really meant was that the US was deregulating national security, getting rid of the rules and regulations that had governed national security since the post-Watergate reform era of the 1970s. As a result, we have conducted the war on terror in a climate in which there are few rules or limits on American actions. The message was clearly sent throughout the government that nothing should get in the way of stopping any future terrorist attack - and that message created a dangerous climate that we still live in today.

Mark Karlin: You discuss the relentless and tenacious persecution of whistleblowers under the Bush and Obama administrations (with the pace steadily picking up under the latter). In your many examples, you describe the harassment and shunning of Diane Roark, a staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Can you briefly explain what she tried to expose and how she was hounded into retirement and beyond?

James Risen: I consider Diane Roark to be one of the unsung heroes of the post-9/11 era. A former Reagan White House staffer, at the time of 9/11 Roark was the House intelligence committee staffer in charge of oversight of the National Security Agency. Soon after 9/11, NSA staffers told her about the NSA's new domestic spying operation. She immediately realized that it was illegal, but at first thought it must be a rogue operation. She went to the staff director and minority staff director at the House intelligence committee to warn the chairman and ranking member about the operation, but the word came back that she should keep her mouth shut and stop talking about it. She realized that the chairman and ranking member already knew about it.

She then started to try to warn other senior officials that she knew throughout the government about the program, but found at every turn that they already knew about it and were involved in a massive cover-up. Finally, she had a dramatic showdown with NSA director Michael Hayden about the program, in which she told him that it was illegal. He responded that if it ever became public, the NSA and the Bush Administration could count on the "majority of nine" - meaning the approval of the Supreme Court. She then tried to get a message to the Supreme Court chief justice, but never heard back. She never leaked to the press and retired from the government depressed that she hadn't been able to stop the program.

Years later, after The New York Times disclosed the existence of the NSA domestic spying program, the FBI raided her house, because they wrongly thought that she was the source for the story. She had kept her concerns within the system and was still persecuted. Her case shows that it would have been impossible for Edward Snowden to stay within the system and do what he did.

Mark Karlin: KBR [formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root], at the time it was first contracted as a multibillion-dollar contractor to support the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere), is described in detail by you as a company "too big to fail" in the war on terror. Can you provide some highlights?

James Risen: KBR was by far the largest military contractor in the Iraq war. It provided food, housing and other basic services to US military personnel in Iraq and throughout the war received about $39 billion in contracts. At the peak of the war, KBR had more personnel in Iraq than did the British Army. The United States simply could not have fought the war in Iraq without KBR. By providing almost all basic services in combat zones for US military personnel, KBR allows the United States to fight wars without a draft.

If the Army doesn't need soldiers to peel potatoes and instead has contractors do it, then it can fight wars of choice with a relatively small volunteer Army, and thus doesn't need to seek the political approval of American voters before it goes to war. So KBR is critical to the war effort; thus the chairman of the largely toothless commission on wartime contracting threw up his hands and wondered aloud whether KBR was too big to fail.

KBR was investigated for a series of problems - including the electrocution of US soldiers in barracks in Iraq with faulty wiring and the use of massive burn pits at US bases in Iraq that allegedly led to lung problems among US military personnel. But despite the investigations, KBR kept its massive contracts.

Mark Karlin: You describe how billions and billions of dollars were shrink-wrapped and flown to Baghdad with little accountability - and that in one documented case, several billions of dollars ended up in a bunker in Lebanon (with the US making no attempt to retrieve the money). Who bears responsibility for the slipshod shipment of massive cash to Iraq, much of which went into the pockets of Iraqi leaders and other private pockets?

James Risen: The cash in the bunker was from the Development Fund for Iraq, a fund set up to hold Iraqi government oil revenues. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority decided to airlift $12-$14 billion in cash, taken from the DFI accounts in the United States, to Baghdad on Air Force C-17s. But after it arrived, much of it disappeared. Years later, Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq, investigated and discovered that nearly $2 billion had been stolen by powerful Iraqis and had been moved to a bunker in Lebanon, where it was being hidden. It was one of the largest robberies in modern history.

Mark Karlin: What was the role of the Bush administration free marketers in trying to reshape the economy in Iraq into a Milton Friedman model?

James Risen: Bush Administration officials did not want to engage in much post-war planning for Iraq, leading to chaos in the months after the invasion. Still, many of the US officials who joined the Coalition Provisional Authority, the US-led occupation government in Iraq in the first year following the invasion, were Republican ideologues who dreamed of creating a new Iraq based on the economic proposals, like the flat tax, that they had failed to get enacted in the United States. Eventually, the insurgency in Iraq ended those dreams.

Mark Karlin: You state in your book: "The level of resources devoted to fighting terrorism still remains out of proportion to the actual threat level posed by terrorism." What is keeping it going as a major initiative of a government within a government?

James Risen: There is now an entire mercenary class in the United States that has been created in the post-9/11 era, both inside the government and outside, that has an incentive to keep the war going. They wouldn't have jobs without endless war. At the same time, politicians know that if they raise too many questions about the war on terror and the massive funding levels, they will be labeled soft on terror. So they all go along with it.

Mark Karlin: What is SERE and how did it become manipulated to support torture?

© Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing

James Risen

: SERE is the acronym for the military's survival training program, in which pilots and other personnel are put through a simulated prisoner camp and subjected to simulated torture. The CIA used the torture techniques simulated at SERE as the basis for its "enhanced interrogation" techniques against detainees. In , I disclose that the agency used these techniques even though the best and most widely accepted research conducted on SERE showed that the techniques could not be used to elicit accurate information.

Mark Karlin: In regards to your own travails as a journalist, the government is trying to force you to reveal a confidential source relating to the shadow intelligence gathering community. You have stood steadfastly against giving up a source for information contained within your book, . The Obama administration is pursuing its legal case against you to the Supreme Court. You appear as resolute as ever to uphold the journalistic right to shield sources. Would anything change that courageous stance?

James Risen: No.