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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Obama muzzles Kerry on Ukraine Policy: Nuland usurps her boss?

© Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

On May 21st, I headlined "Secretary of State John Kerry v. His Subordinate Victoria Nuland, Regarding Ukraine," and quoted John Kerry's May 12th warning to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to cease his repeated threats to invade Crimea and re-invade Donbass, two former regions of Ukraine, which had refused to accept the legitimacy of the new regime that was imposed on Ukraine in violent clashes during February 2014. (These were regions that had voted overwhelmingly for the Ukrainian President who had just been overthrown

They didn't like him being violently tossed out and replaced by his enemies.) Kerry said then that, regarding Poroshenko,

we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be

Also quoted there was Kerry's subordinate, Victoria Nuland, three days later, saying the exact opposite, that we "reiterate our deep commitment to a single Ukrainian nation, including Crimea, and all the other regions of Ukraine." I noted, then that, "." However, Obama instead has sided with Nuland on this.

Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, bannered, on June 5th, "Poroshenko: Ukraine Will 'Do Everything' To Retake Crimea'," and reported that,

President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to seek Crimea's return to Ukrainian rule. ... Speaking at a news conference on June 5, ... Poroshenko said that 'every day and every moment, we will do everything to return Crimea to Ukraine

Poroshenko was also quoted there as saying, "It is important not to give Russia a chance to break the world's pro-Ukrainian coalition," which indirectly insulted Kerry for his having criticized Poroshenko's warnings that he intended to invade Crimea and Donbass.

Right now, the Minsk II ceasefire has broken down and there are accusations on both sides that the other is to blame. What cannot be denied is that at least three times, on April 30th, then on May 11th, and then on June 5th, Poroshenko has repeatedly promised to invade Crimea, which wasn't even mentioned in the Minsk II agreement; and that he was also promising to re-invade Donbass, something that is explicitly prohibited in this agreement. Furthermore, America's President, Barack Obama, did not fire Kerry's subordinate, Nuland, for her contradicting her boss on this important matter.

How will that be taken in European capitals? Kerry was reaffirming the position of Merkel and Hollande, the key shapers of the Minsk II agreement; and Nuland was nullifying them. Obama now has sided with Nuland on this; it's a slap in the face to the EU: Poroshenko can continue ignoring Kerry and can blatantly ignore the Minsk II agreement; and Obama tacitly sides with Poroshenko and Nuland, against Kerry.

The personalities here are important: On 4 February 2014, in the very same phone-conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, America's Ambassador in Ukraine, in which Nuland had instructed Pyatt to get "Yats" Yatsenyuk appointed to lead Ukraine after the coup (which then occured 18 days later), she also famously said "F—k the EU!" Obama is now seconding that statement of hers.

In effect, Obama is telling the EU that they can get anything they want signed, but that he would still move forward with his own policy, regardless of whether or not they like it.

© Unknown

Kerry, for his part, now faces the decision as to whether to quit — which would force the EU's hand regarding whether to continue with U.S. policy there — or else for Kerry to stay in office and be disrespected in all capitals for his staying on after having been so blatantly contradicted by his subordinate on a key issue of U.S. foreign policy. If he stays on while Nuland also does, then, in effect, Kerry is being cut out of policymaking on Europe and Asia (Nuland's territory), altogether, and the EU needs to communicate directly with Obama on everything, or else to communicate with Nuland as if she and not Kerry were the actual U.S. Secretary of State. But if Kerry instead quits, then the pressure would be placed on EU officials: whether to continue with the U.S., or to reject U.S. anti-Russia policy, and to move forward by leaving NATO, and all that that entails?

If they then decide to stay with the U.S., after that "F—k the EU!" and then this; then, the European countries are clearly just U.S. colonies. This would be far more embarrassing to those leaders than John Kerry would be embarrassed by his simply resigning from the U.S. State Department. It might even turn the tide and force the Ukrainian Government to follow through with all of its commitments under the Minsk II accords.

It would be the most effective thing for Kerry to do at this stage. But, it would lose him his position as a (now merely nominal) member of Obama's Cabinet.

The way this turns out will show a lot, about John Kerry. The nations of Europe already know everything they need to know about Barack Obama. If Kerry quits, he'll have respect around the world. If he stays, he'll be just another Colin Powell.

The ball is in Kerry's court, and everyone will see how he plays it — and what type of man he is (and isn't

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2,500-year-old 'Wonder Woman' found on Greek vase

© The University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses, David M. Robinson Memorial Collection

A 2,500-year-old predecessor of super heroine has emerged on a vase painting kept at a small American museum.

Drawn on a white-ground pyxis (a lidded cylindrical box that was used for cosmetics, jewelry, or ointments) the image shows an Amazon on horseback in a battle against a Greek warrior.

Much like the fictional warrior princess of the Amazons, the horsewoman is twirling a lasso.

"It is the only ancient artistic image of an Amazon using a lariat in battle," Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar at Stanford University's departments of classics and history of science, told Discovery News.

Mayor noticed the vase at the University of Mississippi Museum during research for her 2014 book

Created between 480 and 450 B.C. in Athens, the image is attributed to the Sotheby painter.

"The vase would have held a Greek woman's intimate make-up or jewelry. The images on the box suggest that women enjoyed scenes of Amazons getting the best of male Greek warriors," Mayor said.

According to the researcher, the suspenseful scene of a Greek male about to be lassoed by a powerful foreign warrior woman was exotic and also subversive, a surprising twist on traditional Greek women's roles.

The Amazon is portrayed in a dynamic action just before roping her victim. She looks back over her shoulder at the lasso she is swinging while the Greek man crouches under his shield with a spear.

"The rest of her rope, painted purple like her shoes, is coiled around her waist, and she correctly holds the lariat's loop near the knot," Mayor said. "Her technique is accurate for roping something straight ahead," she added.

She noted the Amazon has her battle-axe ready to dispatch her victim.

According to Mayor, the vase decoration is evidence that the painter and his audience were familiar with descriptions of horse-riding Scythian warrior women using lariats.

Ancient Greek and Roman historians describe Scythian mounted archers skillfully using lassos in warfare.

For example, Herodotus reported that 8,000 nomadic steppe riders armed with daggers and braided leather lariats joined the army of Persian king Darius in 480 B.C.

Several other sources told how Scythian skirmishers threw rope nooses and wheeled their horses around to entangle their enemies.

Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, who wrote around 43 A.D., also reported that warrior women of the northern Black Sea region were experts with the lasso.

David Saunders, associate curator at J. Paul Getty Museum's department of antiquities, found the pyxis fascinating for its shape and techniques of decoration, for the unusual image of the lassoing Amazon and for what it might have meant for the woman who owned it - and perhaps also whoever bought it for her.

"There's plenty to explore in terms of how the scene might relate to the arts of seduction, and more broadly regarding male and female attitudes to one another in ancient Athens," Saunders, who specializes in Greek vase-painting and iconography, told Discovery News.

"A vessel like this would probably have been used as a container for some sort of adornment - be it make-up, perfume, perhaps jewellery. Maybe we could think of its owner preparing herself as the Amazons did for battle," he added.

Pool party turns violent when police show up and assault and nearly shoot multiple unarmed teens

© YouTube

A weekend pool party in Texas turned violent after a McKinney police officer on a power trip began brutalizing a young woman.

According to video post on Facebook, the police were called to a McKinney residence because of the large number of people attending a pool party.

The police officers were in some sort of feeding frenzy as they were rounding up young teens, armed only with their swimsuits and forcing them to a patch of grass on the roadside.

As the video begins, one officer is seen doing a barrel roll as if he's in a war zone.

Once the officers seemed to have calmed down, one of them began to attack a young woman who was doing absolutely nothing wrong. As he was assaulting the young woman, several bystanders tried to intervene. At this point, things almost got deadly.

The officer then pulled his gun to ward off the good Samaritans who attempted to stop his brutal attack on a young woman. Luckily for all those involved, two of the crazed officer's co-workers stopped him from shooting people. As he had his gun drawn on multiple teenagers, the two officers patted him on his back in an apparent attempt to calm him down.

"On your face!" screams the abusive officer as he slams a young girl's head into the ground.

At the end of the video, the officer attempts to justify his brutal actions by telling the teens that the entire situation was their fault because they failed to prostrate themselves fast enough.

"I told you to sit!" the officer exclaims as if the teenagers were dogs who disobeyed his commands.

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Sunday the McKinney Police Department issued a statement about the incident.

Pool Party Incident:

On June 5, 2015 at approximately 7:15 p.m., officers from the McKinney Police Department responded to a disturbance at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool. The initial call came in as a disturbance involving multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave. McKinney Police received several additional calls related to this incident advising that juveniles were now actively fighting.

First responding officers encountered a large crowd that refused to comply with police commands. Nine additional units responded to the scene. Officers were eventually able to gain control of the situation.

McKinney Police later learned of a video that was taken at the scene by an unknown party. This video has raised concerns that are being investigated by the McKinney Police Department. At this time, one of the responding officers has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation.

Gloves coming off: Russia gets serious on de-dollarizing

Russia is about to take another major step towards liberating the Ruble from the Dollar System. Its Finance Ministry just revealed it is considering issuing Russian state debt in Chinese Yuan. That would be an elegant way to decouple from the dependence and blackmail pressures from the US Treasury financial terrorism operations while at the same time strengthening the bonds between China and Russia - Washington's worst geopolitical nightmare.

Russian Deputy Minister of Finance, Sergei Storchak, announced that his ministry is making a careful study of what would be required to issue Russian bonds denominated in Chinese Yuan. The latest news is part of a long-term strategy between Russia and China that goes at the heart of American hegemony—the role of the dollar as the leading world central bank reserve currency.

The dollar is used in some 60% of central bank reserves today. The second largest is the Euro. Now clearly China is carefully moving, as the world's largest trading nation, to create its Renminbi or Chinese Yuan as another major reserve currency. That has huge geopolitical implications.So long as the US dollar is leading reserve currency, the world must de facto buy US dollar Treasury bonds for its reserves. That has allowed Washington to have budget deficits since 1971 when the dollar left the gold exchange standard. In effect, China, Japan, Russia, Germany—all trade surplus countries, finance Washington's deficits that allow her to make wars around the world. It is a paradox that Russia and China at least, are determined to end as soon as possible.

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

Long-term strategy

What all this indicates is that Russia and China are carefully planning a long-term strategy of getting out from dependence on the US currency, something that, as the US sanctions last year revealed, make both countries vulnerable to US currency wars of devastating impact.

China has just been accepted "in principle" by the Group of 7 finance ministers to have its yuan included in the International Monetary Fund basket of currencies making up IMF Special Drawing Rights. Today only US dollar, Euro and Japanese Yen are included in the basket. Including the yuan would be a huge step towards making the yuan a recognized international reserve currency, and at the same time would weaken the dollar share.

China's foreign reserves consist overwhelmingly of US dollar claims, mainly US Treasury bonds, which is a strategic weakness, because in case of war these can be frozen, as Iran knows too well. It is imperative for China to increase the gold content of the reserves and to diversify the rest into other currencies.

China has also agreed with Russia to unify the new Silk Road high-speed rail project with Russia and Russia's Eurasian Economic Union. At the same time Beijing has announced it is creating a huge $16 billion fund to develop gold mines along the rail route linking Russia and China and Central Asia. That suggests plans to greatly build up gold as central bank reserve share. China's central bank has greatly increased its gold holdings in recent years, though whether it is now greater than the alleged Federal Reserve gold holdings of 8000 tons is not yet public. It is expected China must reveal its gold reserves on being formally accepted into the IMF SDR basket perhaps later this year.

Last year, 2014, Song Xin, president of the China Gold Association stated, "We need to establish our gold bank as soon as possible...It can further help us acquire reserves and give us more say and control in the gold market." A gold sector fund involving countries along the Silk Road has been set up in northwest China's Xi'an City this May, led by Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), part of China's national bank, PBOC. China is the world's largest gold producer. Among the 65 countries along the routes of the Silk Road Economic Belt, there are numerous Asian countries identified as important reserve bases and consumers of gold. Xinhua reports that 60 countries have invested in the fund, which will facilitate central banks of member states to increase their holdings of gold.

Dr. Diedrick Goedhuys, former economic adviser to the Reserve Bank of South Africa in an interview told me, "I want to emphasize the unique quality of gold, when viewed as a financial asset, of being an asset that is no-one's liability. A treasury bond, for instance, is an asset in my hands, but a liability, or debt to be repaid, in the books of the treasury. Gold is a pure asset. The Chinese gold mining plan is of vast importance. It's a long-term plan; it may take ten years before it has a significant effect."

Now with Washington and Wall Street increasingly frustrated at how to weaken the Ruble and China's Renminbi, those two powers are making giant strides to break free from their dollar chains, a move that could liberate much of mankind if done in a good way.

"New Eastern Outlook".

Netanyahu under siege in 'the most embattled democracy on earth'

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has made two statements that demonstrate that a siege mentality has enveloped him due to the progress of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS).

First, he issued a statement to the Sheldon Adelson "summit" in Las Vegas aimed at countering BDS to thank those gathered for allowing "young Jews to stand tall" for Israel, "the most embattled democracy on earth that seeks a genuine peace while fending off the forces of barbaric terrorism." In that statement he references the recent challenge in FIFA and the comment by an executive of the French telecom company Orange that he wanted to get out of Israel.

Then Netanyahu made a statement at the start of his Cabinet meeting this morning that seemed even more dire. Notice the Prime Minister's grave gaunt demeanor in the video below as he begins by speaking of Hamas rockets and says the international community will not keep Israel from using "our full strength to uphold our right to defend ourselves." Another attack on Gaza?

He stated, "The spreading hypocrisy in the world will not tie our hands."

Then he says he is organizing an "offensive" effort against the BDS movement, which aims to delegitimize the Jewish state, not only in the settlements.

And Netanyahu appears very defensive about the failure to undertake any peace negotiations.

Below are both statements, this morning's first. I believe a crisis is approaching. Consider Netanyahu's militant warnings. Consider that President Obama and the liberal Zionists - Peace Now - have both opposed the resumption of peace talks because they say Netanyahu is not serious. And because of the farce of the peace process, BDS is making strides in Europe; and being debated in mainstream American spaces; and everyone says the status quo is unsustainable.

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Netanyahu's comments to his Cabinet (thanks to Yeshiva World for transcription):

"Israel holds Hamas responsible for all firing from Gaza at our territory. I have not heard anyone in the international community condemn this firing; neither has UN said a word. It will be interesting if this silence continues when we use our full strength to uphold our right to defend ourselves. Let it be clear: The spreading hypocrisy in the world will not tie our hands and prevent us from protecting Israel's citizens. Thus we have acted; thus we will act.

"An additional action that we are in the midst of is establishing an offensive, first of all offensive, but also defensive, network in the face of attempts to boycott the State of Israel and harm the IDF's right to defend the citizens of the country. As far as those pushing the boycotts are concerned, the settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the focus of the conflict, but our settling in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Beersheva, Haifa and - of course - Jerusalem.

"While we call for a resumption of the diplomatic negotiations, the Palestinians are taking steps against us at the UN and at the international court in The Hague. They shun negotiations and at the same time are also pushing international sanctions and UN Security Council decisions against us because there are no negotiations. They ran from Barak, Sharon and Olmert, they ran from them all, and then they accuse us. Here as well their cynicism knows no bounds, and I regret that there are those who fall into this trap of organized hypocrisy.

"Against attempts to attack Israel with lies, false accusations and boycotts, we must line up - Right and Left - to rebuff the pressure, expose the lies and attack those who attack us. We will gather forces in Israel and around the world to shatter the lies of our enemies, and we will fight for Israel's right to live in peace and security, to live at all."

From the Prime Minister's office; the following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's greetings to participants at the anti-BDS summit in Las Vegas:

"Greetings from Jerusalem.

I wanted to commend all of you for participating in this weekend's summit and for all of your hard work on campus.

Delegitimization of Israel is a major challenge facing the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Just in the last week, there was an attempt to throw Israel out of FIFA;

The National Union of Students in the UK voted to support boycotting Israel;

And the CEO of a French telecommunications company declared his intention to end the company's business dealings with Israel.

His subsequent words of admiration for Israel don't square with his unequivocally hostile remarks in Cairo.

Delegitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines.

It's not about this or that Israeli policy.

It's about our right to exist here as a free people.

Our right to defend ourselves.

Our right to determine our own future.

There is no Jewish future without the Jewish state.

And I thank each and every one of you for defending Israel on campus.

So young Jews will know they can stand tall and be proud of Israel.

And so friends of Israel can be armed with facts to defend the truth.

And so everyone will see that Israel, the most embattled democracy on earth that seeks a genuine peace while fending off the forces of barbaric terrorism, deserves their support.

The Israeli government is committed to launching assertive and innovative programs and to joining you any many others around the world to combat the lies and slander that are leveled against us.

Our most potent weapon is the truth.

We must speak the truth - loudly, clearly, proudly.

I wish you all a productive summit.

Shabbat shalom."

Thanks to Allison Deger.

Missing Evidence of Prior FBI Relationship with Boston Bomber

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony that the FBI had contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev long before Russia’s warning was all but ignored in the Boston Marathon bombing trial.

Ever since the early days of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, it’s been commonly understood that Tamerlan Tsarnaev first came to the attention of the FBI thanks to a March 2011 “warning” from the FSB, Russia’s security services.

We now know this to be false. In a little-noticed exchange during congressional testimony, the FBI’s then-director Robert Mueller admitted that the Bureau had an interest in the elder Tsarnaev before Russia’s warning. That crucial admission has somehow become buried over time, and the government has been only too happy to leave it out of sight.

What else is the Bureau hiding—and what is the truth behind this subterfuge?

Implausible Deniability

The record shows that the FBI has repeatedly flip-flopped on this matter, but the significance of this curious behavior has escaped the scrutiny of the traditional media.

In fact, it turns out that Tamerlan Tsarnaev came to the FBI’s attention at least twice prior to Russia’s March 2011 warnings.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), while questioning Mueller about Russia’s warning to the FBI regarding Tamerlan asked: “Did you have domestic information on Tamerlan prior to that—prior to that [March 2011] date?”

“ I don’t believe so,” Mueller responded.

“Pardon me?” King pressed.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Mueller stammered, “His name had come up in two other cases.” He went on to say that Tamerlan’s name came up regarding cases of other individuals which were subsequently closed.

“So it’s reasonable that the letter of March 4, 2011 refocused the FBI on Tamerlan?” King continued.

“Absolutely,” Mueller admitted.

That exchange came during testimony in June 2013, before the House Judiciary Committee. What’s particularly notable about the exchange, besides Mueller’s apparent shift in demeanor, is that King had just returned from Russia where he was briefed extensively on what the Russians knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011.

Even more notable, as King points out in the exchange with Mueller, was the extensive amount of information Russia gathered on Tsarnaev, an individual living in the US. And yet, as was made obvious by King’s line of questioning, the FBI missed Tamerlan’s “radicalization,” despite already having him on their radar, something Russia was able to do from afar.

An anonymous FBI source told Politico’s Josh Gerstein, one of the only mainstream journalists to pick up on the notable exchange, that the prior contacts were benign—and not about terrorism. But that leak, possibly authorized, may have been calculated damage control to minimize the prior contact.

While Tamerlan’s name apparently came up during investigations of other individuals, the fact that it wasn’t Russia that first brought him to the FBI’s attention calls into doubt key government statements about the entire case. And regardless of whether the investigations ostensibly unrelated to Tamerlan involved terrorism or otherwise, Mueller’s admission stands as yet another instance of potential contact between the Bureau and Tamerlan, something they’ve been all too eager to minimize.

Among the topics addressed in Mueller’s testimony were the Boston Marathon bombings, the then-recent disclosures about NSA surveillance from Edward Snowden, and the impact of sequestration budget cuts on the Bureau.

Considering the contentious subject matter discussed at the hearing, it’s not surprising that the revelation about the FBI’s interest in Tamerlan Tsarnaev was missed by most of the media.

Soon after the bombing, though, with intense media scrutiny, the FBI’s reluctant admission that they had indeed contacted Tsarnaev prior to the bombing raised more than a few eyebrows.

Quantico, We Have a Problem

When the FBI went public with photos of the Tsarnaev brothers, asking for help in identifying them, the Bureau denied ever having had previous contact with them. This was redacted just a few days later. Photo credit: Wikimedia Foundation

When the FBI went public with photos of the Tsarnaev brothers, asking for help in identifying them, the Bureau denied ever having had previous contact with them. This was redacted just a few days later. Photo credit: Wikimedia Foundation

Recall that three days after the Marathon bombings the Bureau went public with photos of the Tsarnaevs, and asked for public help in identifying them. When they were first publicly named the following day, the Bureau stated that it had not had any previous contact with the brothers. That story held for a few hours—until CBS’s Bob Orr broke the news that the FBI had in fact interviewed Tamerlan years before the bombing. The CBS report made reference to Russia’s RT news network which had released a story quoting the Tsarnaevs’ mother, then living in Russia, who said the FBI had met with Tamerlan and family members numerous times. She also said the Bureau was “controlling him [Tamerlan], they were controlling his every step.”

That same day, likely under the growing media scrutiny, the FBI reversed itself, putting out a press release stating that agents had indeed investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The statement claimed that the probe came about because “a foreign government asked the FBI for information” about him back in March 2011. It also stated that the FBI conducted an “assessment” of Tsarnaev, which was subsequently closed within months because the Bureau “did not find any terrorism activity.”

As WhoWhatWhy pointed out before during the course of our now two-years-long investigation, the “assessment” of Tamerlan was mind-boggling in its superficiality. The agent conducting the investigation never even interviewed Tsarnaev’s wife, a former girlfriend he had assaulted, nor any members of the mosque he attended. These probe errors were later dismissed as ‘missteps.’


The day after the FBI press release, The New York Times, almost in passing, quoted a “senior law enforcement official” who told Times reporters: “In January 2011, two counterterrorism agents from the Boston [FBI] field office interviewed Tamerlan and family members.” That’s two months earlier than the first contact date in March the FBI had admitted to only the day before. (Please go here and here to see our first reports on this anomaly.) Oddly, the Times has never focused on this seemingly accidental scoop.

And although the Times report was based on anonymous sources, Director Mueller’s testimony during a House Judiciary Committee hearing six months later—that Tamerlan was known to the Bureau before Russia’s warning—certainly adds to the credibility of the assertion.

Who’s Really to Blame?

This evidence, which has grown over time, of FBI association with and awareness of a man accused of—along with his younger brother—executing the largest terror attack in the United States since 9/11, is of course very big news. But it also stands out because of the government’s relentless propaganda effort to shift blame to anyone else for its failure to avert the Boston bombings.

In one recent example among many, federal prosecutors sought to saddle a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with responsibility for the death of MIT officer Sean Collier. The prosecution argued improbably that the college student could have prevented the officer’s mysterious death if he had identified his friend from the FBI photos.

Keeping an eye on the ball being constantly moved by the feds, one inevitably focuses back on Mueller’s remarkable if unnoticed admission, which raises these questions:

•  Considering all of the previous contact, if the FBI had publicly admitted it knew the Tsarnaev brothers right from the get-go, wouldn’t that have averted not only Collier’s death—but also that remarkable sequence of post-bombing events in Boston, including the unprecedented lockdown of a major American city, a carjacking, shootings and bomb tossing, the serious injury of another police officer, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead and his younger brother Dzhokhar badly injured?

•  If the FBI and CIA had acted on their knowledge of the Tsarnaevs, could they have prevented the bombing itself? (Russia’s FSB also sent a “warning” to the CIA.)

•  Why wasn’t the FBI able to recognize either brother after the bombing despite being in possession of a trove of photos of them at the Marathon? And didn’t they look familiar to the FBI counterterrorism agent who, by the Bureau’s own admission, had interacted repeatedly with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his family?

Preventing or Provoking?

Where is all this going? The relevant pattern, and perhaps the underlying story here, is clear. The FBI has a well-documented history of interacting with vulnerable young Muslims, including recruiting them to stir up potential troublemakers in their community—something even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s super-cautious defense team brought up in court.

His lawyers filed court papers that declared the FBI’s interactions with Tamerlan “were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week of April 15 2013.” This was because family members and “other sources” told the defense team that the FBI pressured Tamerlan into becoming an informant on the local Chechen and Muslim community.

Is the Boston Bombing story really about yet another government operation where something went terribly wrong? So wrong that, for government operatives accustomed to covering up errors large and small, it was time to bring out the usual smoke and mirrors—and for the media to pass the official version along to the public without showing the slightest skepticism or investigative initiative?

Panorama credits:

Street Scene—Wikimedia

Dzhokar Tsarnaev—Wikimedia

White House meeting—Wikimedia

Vigil—Flickr/Mark Zastrow

The post Missing Evidence of Prior FBI Relationship with Boston Bomber appeared first on WhoWhatWhy.

The Central Banks Are Losing Control Of The Financial Markets

Every great con game eventually comes to an end. 

For years, global central banks have been manipulating the financial marketplace with their monetary voodoo.  Somehow, they have convinced investors around the world to invest tens of trillions of dollars into bonds that provide a return that is way under the real rate of inflation.  For quite a long time I have been insisting that this is highly irrational.  Why would any rational investor want to put money into investments that will make them poorer on a purchasing power basis in the long run?  And when any central bank initiates a policy of “quantitative easing”, any rational investor should immediately start demanding a higher rate of return on the bonds of that nation.  Creating money out of thin air and pumping into the financial system devalues all existing money and creates inflation.  Therefore, rational investors should respond by driving interest rates up.  Instead, central banks told everyone that interest rates would be forced down, and that is precisely what happened.  But now things have shifted.  Investors are starting to behave more rationally and the central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and that is a very bad sign for the rest of 2015.

And of course it isn’t just bond yields that are out of control.  No matter how hard they try, financial authorities in Europe can’t seem to fix the problems in Greece, and the problems in Italy, Spain, Portugal and France just continue to escalate as well.  This week, Greece became the very first nation to miss a payment to the IMF since the 1980s.  We’ll discuss that some more in a moment.

Over in Asia, stocks are fluctuating very wildly.  The Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 5.4 percent on Thursday before regaining all of those losses and actually closing with a gain of 0.8 percent.  When we see this kind of extreme volatility, it is a very bad sign.  It is during times of extreme volatility that markets crash.

Remember, stocks generally tend to go up during calm markets, and they generally tend to go down during choppy markets.  So most investors do not want to see lots of volatility.  Unfortunately, that is precisely what we are witnessing all over the world right now.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Volatility over the last days has been breathtaking, especially in bond markets,” said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments. He said that it rippled through equity and currency markets, which overreacted.


The yield on the benchmark German 10-year bond touched 0.99%, its highest level since September, before erasing the day’s rise and falling back to 0.84%. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield, which hit a fresh 2015 high of 2.42% earlier Thursday, recently fell back to 2.33%. Yields rise as prices fall.

Sometimes when bond yields go up, it is because investors are taking money out of bonds and putting it into stocks because they are feeling really good about where the stock market is heading.  This is not one of those times.  As Peter Tchir has noted, the huge moves in the bond market that we are now seeing are the result of “sheer panic in the market”

In a morning note before the open, Brean Capital’s Peter Tchir wrote: “It is time to reduce US equity holdings for the near term and look for a 3% to 5% move lower. The Treasury weakness is NOT a ‘risk on’ trade it is a ‘risk off’ trade, where low yields are viewed as a risk asset and not a safe haven.” And Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates and credit at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg, “This is sheer panic in the market from the standpoint of what’s been happening in Europe … Most of Wall Street is guarded here as far as taking on new positions.”

But this wasn’t supposed to happen.

After watching the Federal Reserve be able to successfully use quantitative easing to drive down interest rates, the European Central Bank decided to try the same thing.  Unfortunately for them, investors are starting to behave more rationally.  The central banks are starting to lose control of the financial markets, and bond yields are soaring.  I think that Peter Boockvar summarized where we are currently at very well when he stated the following…

I’ve said this before but I’m sorry, I need to say it again. What we are witnessing in global markets is the inherent contradiction writ large that is modern day monetary policy where dangerously ZIRP, NIRP and QE are considered conventional policies. The contradiction is simply this: the desire for higher inflation if fulfilled will result in higher interest rates that central banks are trying so hard and desperately to suppress.


Outside of the short end of the curve, markets will always win for better or worse and that is clearly evident now. The ECB is getting their first taste of the market talking back and in quite the violent way. In the US, the bond market is watching the Fed drag its feet (its never-ending) with wanting to raise interest rates and finally said enough is enough. The US Treasury market is tightening for them. Since mid April, the 5 yr note yield is higher by 40 bps, the 10 yr is up by 55 bps and the 30 yr yield is up by 65 bps.

And if global investors continue to move in a rational direction, this is just the beginning.  Bond yields all over the planet should be much, much higher than they are right now.  What that means is that bond prices potentially have a tremendous amount of room to go down.

One thing that could accelerate the global bond crash is the crisis in Greece. Negotiations between the Greeks and their creditors have been dragging on for four months, and no agreement has been reached.  Now, Greece has missed the loan payment that was due to the IMF on June 5th, and it is asking the IMF to bundle all of the payments that are due this month into one giant payment at the end of June

Greece has asked to bundle its four debt payments to the International Monetary Fund that fall due in June so that it can pay them in one batch at the end of the month, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.


The request is expected to be approved by the IMF, the newspaper said. That would mean Greece does not have to pay the first tranche of 300 million euros that falls due on Friday.


Greece faces a total bill of 1.5 billion euros owed to the IMF over four installments this month.

Of course that payment will not be made either if a deal does not happen by then.  And with each passing day, a deal seems less and less likely.  At this point, the package of “economic reforms” that the creditors are demanding from Greece is completely unacceptable to Syriza.  The following comes from an article in the Guardian

Fresh from talks in Brussels, Tsipras faced outrage on Thursday from highly skeptical members of his own Syriza party. A five-page ultimatum from creditors, presented by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was variously described as shocking, provocative, disgraceful and dishonourable.


It will never pass,” said Greece’s deputy social security minister, Dimitris Stratoulis. “If they don’t back down, the country won’t be lost … there are alternatives that would cost less than our signing a disgraceful and dishonourable agreement.”

Ultimately, I don’t believe that we are going to see an agreement.


Well, I tend to agree with this bit of analysis from Andrew Lilico

The Eurozone does not want to make any compromise with the current Greek government because (a) they don’t believe they need to because Greek threats to leave the euro are empty both because internal polling suggests Greeks don’t want to leave and because if they did leave that doesn’t really constitute any threat to the euro; (b) because they (particularly perhaps Angela Merkel) believe that under enough pressure the Greek government might collapse and be replaced by a more cooperative government, as has happened repeatedly before in the Eurozone crisis including in Italy and Greece itself; and (c) because any deal with Greece that is seen to involve or be presentable as any victory for the Greek government would threaten the political positions of governments in several Eurozone states including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Finland and perhaps even the Netherlands and Germany.


Furthermore, it’s not clear to me that the Eurozone creditors at this stage would have much interest in any deal based upon promises, regardless of how much the Greek had verbally surrendered.  Things have gone too far now for mere words to work.  They would need to see the Greeks deliver actions — tangible economic reforms and tangible, credible primary surplus targets and a sustainable change in the long-term political mood within Greece that meant other Eurozone states might eventually get their money back.  That is almost certainly not doable at all with the current Greek government.  The only deal possible would be with some replacement Greek government that had come in precisely on the basis that it did want to do a deal and did want to pay the creditors back.


On the Syriza side, I see no more appetite for a deal.  They believe that austerity has been ruinous for the lives of Greeks and that decades more austerity would mean decades more Greek economic misery.  From their point of view, default or even exit from the euro, even if economically painful in the short term, would be better than continuing with austerity now.

You can read the rest of his excellent article right here.

Without a deal, the value of the euro is going to absolutely plummet and bond yields over in Europe will go through the roof.  I am fully convinced that this is the beginning of the end for the eurozone as it is currently constituted, and that we stand on the verge of a great European financial crisis.

And of course the financial crisis that is coming won’t just be in Europe.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever, and there are tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives that are tied to foreign exchange rates and 505 trillion dollars in derivatives that are tied to interest rates.  When this giant house of cards collapses, the central banks won’t be able to stop it.

In the end, could we eventually see the entire central banking system itself totally collapse?

That is what Phoenix Capital Research believes is about to happen…

Last year (2014) will likely go down in history as the “beginning of the end” for the current global Central Banking system.


What will follow will be a gradual unfolding of the next crisis and very likely the collapse of the Central Banking system as we know it.


However, this process will not be fast by any means.


Central Banks and the political elite will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, even if this means breaking the law (freezing bank accounts or funds to stop withdrawals) or closing down the markets (the Dow was closed for four and a half months during World War 1).


There will be Crashes and sharp drops in asset prices (20%-30%) here and there. However, history has shown us that when a financial system goes down, the overall process takes take several years, if not longer.

We stand at the precipice of the greatest economic transition that any of us have ever seen.

Even though things may seem very “normal” to most people right now, the truth is that the global financial system is fundamentally flawed, and cracks in the system are starting to appear all over the place.

When this system does collapse, it will take most people entirely by surprise.

But it shouldn’t.

All con games eventually fall apart in the end, and we are about to learn that lesson the hard way.

103 Years Later, Wall Street Turned Out Just As One Man Predicted

In 1910, three years before the US Federal Reserve was founded, Senator Nelson Aldrich, Frank Vanderlip of National City (Citibank), Henry Davison of Morgan Bank, and Paul Warburg of the Kuhn, Loeb Investment House met secretly at Jekyll Island in Georgia to formulate a plan for a US central bank just years ahead of World War I.

The result of their work was the so-called Aldrich Plan which called for a system of fifteen regional central banks, i.e., National Reserve Associations, whose actions would be coordinated by a national board of commercial bankers. The Reserve Association would make emergency loans to member banks, and would create money to provide an elastic currency that could be exchanged equally for demand deposits, and would act as a fiscal agent for the federal government.

In other words, the Aldrich Plan proposed a "central bank" that would be openly and directly controlled by Wall Street commercial banks on whose behalf it would solely operate, instead of doing so indirectly, behind closed doors and the need for criminal investigations.

The Aldrich Plan was defeated in the House in 1912 but its outline became the model for the bill that eventually was adopted, as the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 whose passage not only unleashed the Fed as we know it now, but the entire shape of modern finance.

In 1912, one person who warned against the passage of the Aldrich Plan was Alfred Owen Crozier: a man who saw how it would all play out, and even wrote a book titled "U.S. Money vs Corporation Currency" (costing 25 cents) explaining and predicting everything that would ultimately happen, even adding some 30 illustrations for those readers who were visual learners. 

The book, which is attached at the end of this post, is a must read, but even those pressed for time are urged to skim the following illustrations all of which were created in 1912, and all of which predicted just what the current financial system would look like.

Or, in the words of Overstock's CEO Patrick Byrne, "that's uncanny"

From "U.S. Money vs Corporation Currency" (which can and should be read for free on Google), here are the selected illustrations:


None of this was rocket science: should the power to create money fall into the hands of a private few, or an entity working purely on their behalf (and lest there is any confusion, a multi-trillion bailout of the US financial system and the ongoing ZIRP/QE regime has benefited almost entirely that handful of people who stood to lose trillions in paper wealth should US banking as we know it end), it would "inaugurate a financial and industrial reign of terror." It was clear as day 103 years ago.


Fast forward 103 years when who should end up with that power? A group of central banking career academics, currently in the midst of a criminal probe what and how much information they leaked to a select group of private Wall Street interests and commercial bankers.

Why? Simple.


The country now knows: "Democracy" forgot.

* * *

Full book below (link for free ebook):

The Cost of China's Industrialization: 700 Million People with Diabesity /Cancer /Lung Disease and 225 Million with Mental Disorders

That the China Story is going to implode is already baked into the public health catastrophe that will unfold with a vengeance in the coming decade.

The financial pundits gushing over "The China Story"--that the Middle Kingdom's industrialization is a permanent boon to the global economy and China's poor--never calculate the human cost of that runaway industrialization and the vast inequalities it has unleashed.

The human cost is staggering: at least half the population is suffering from chronic lifestyle/environmental-related illnesses and 225 million suffer from mental disorders. For context, the population of China is estimated to be 1.39 billion, roughly 4.4 times the U.S. population of 317 million, and about 20% of the total global population.

Here are some estimates of China's public health problems: (source links below)

-- Half the population is estimated to be prediabetic (suffering from metabolic syndrome/diabesity).

-- 12% of the populace now has diabetes, roughly 115 million people.

-- An estimated 70% of China's diabetics are undiagnosed; only 25% are receiving any treatment and of the 25%, the disease is only being controlled in 40% of those getting treatment.

-- Noncommunicable diseases--cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, account for 85% of total deaths in China today -- much higher than the global average of 60%.

-- Mental disorders rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2008. An estimated 17.5% of the population (225 million) suffers from some form of mental problem, one of the highest rates in the world.

-- More than 300 million people in China -- roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. population of 317 million -- smoke tobacco.

-- 200 million workers are directly exposed to occupational hazards.

-- Informal estimates suggest a large percentage of the urban population suffers from lung/pulmonary diseases. Over the last 30 years, deaths ascribed to lung cancer have risen by a factor of five in China.

-- 160 million Chinese adults have hypertension (high blood pressure).

-- In 2006, 80 percent of China’s health budget was spent on just 8.5 million government officials.

-- Tthe rate of health-care coverage is high, but the level of benefits is still very low. 836 million rural residents who were officially covered by the government's plan still had to pay the lion’s share of their medical bills. The government coverage paid a mere 8.6% of rural residents' total healthcare expenditures.


Reliable statistics are hard to come by for a number of reasons. Authorities in China avoid quantifying China's public health realities because it detracts from the glowing "China Story" they promote.

The rural population (still 55% of the total populace) often has little access to health care and statistics are sketchy.

Preconditions that lead to disease (for example, prediabetes and early-stage COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are not accurately monitored.

The standard Western proponent of the China Story spends a few days in a fancy Shanghai hotel and then repeats glowing (and dodgy) economic statistics, as if that's the whole story. Western pundits don't visit rural village stripped of working-age adults, where grandparents are struggling to raise the children who resent their factory-worker parents' absence.

Proponents don't spend time with those on the bottom of the urban "growth story," the millions living in makeshift hovels who receive no state aid due to their status as "illegal residents" in urban zones.

The mental health issues arising from dislocated families, uprooted workers and grinding poverty in the midst of a society dominated by an Elite that drives super-sports cars and owns lavish homes in the West are ignored by the mainstream Western media.

The rapid ageing of the Chinese populace is exacerbating an already immense public health crisis. It's estimated that by 2040 there will be more people with Alzheimer’s disease in China than in all the developed countries combined.

Ill health and chronic disease are undercutting the economic growth everyone is focusing on. Whatever the metric used--hours of labor lost to illness, years of labor lost to early retirement due to ill-health, etc.--the costs of China's environmental damage, disrupted social order and low investment in public health are weighing heavily on output.

The rise in health-related costs going forward will not be linear but geometric.Linear increases in pollution, diabesity, etc. can yield a ten-fold increase in diseases that require costly treatments.

Every nation, developed and developing alike, has public health challenges. What's different about China (and India) is the scale is just so enormous: 740 million Chinese are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, for example, and ten of millions of urban dwellers are exposed to air pollution that is said to rival smoking three packs of cigarettes a day in its negative impact on pulmonary health.

It's all well and good to toss around grandiose plans for new Silk Roads, aircraft carriers and islands constructed in disputed seas, but where is the money and labor going to come from when the health problems of hundreds of millions of workers and retirees come due and payable? How many more trillions of yuan can local governments borrow once the credit bubble in China deflates, as all financial bubbles eventually do?

Apologists and cheerleaders will naturally claim these estimates are exaggerated, and that China is aggressively tackling its immense environmental and public-health problems. The Chinese excel at the Soviet model of showcase trials and projects staged for propaganda, and officials regularly present Potemkin-Village pollution clean-ups. But if you try to come back a year later and check on the progress, you will find it isn't possible--and insisting might get you arrested.

What's being exaggerated is China's response to the unfolding environmental and public health catastrophe. The Chinese government's priorities are tightening control of its domestic society and extending hegemony in the South China Sea. Public health receives lip service and a marginal slice of state funding and focus. The money flows to care for the elites, and the peasantry gets next to nothing.

That the China Story is going to implode is already baked into the public health catastrophe that will unfold with a vengeance in the coming decade.

FIFA indicted! Loretta Lynch's hypocritical attitude toward Wall St on full display


© Don Emmert/AFP/Getty
New attorney general will prosecute foreign sports officials but not criminal bankers in her own backyard

The U.S.-led investigation of top FIFA officials is commendable for its decisive action to punish blatant corruption. But it should also disgust. Far worse crimes occur every day in the financial sector, but the Department of Justice, while obviously aware of them, has done too little. FIFA doesn't come close to Wall Street in terms of havoc wreaked upon the public.

Yes, 1,200 workers have died on the job building structures for FIFA to use during Qatar's 2022 World Cup, and 4,000 will likely die by the time the first game is played. That's an alarming number and a tragic loss of life. But Wall Street's greed-driven destruction of the global financial system in 2008 led to at least 10,000 additional suicides across 54 countries from 2008 to 2010 — more than twice the number of actual and projected worker deaths in Qatar, in a fraction of the time.

FIFA's bribery and corruption are certainly significant to soccer fans, and the harsh treatment of workers building their stadiums is deadly to those workers and their families. But the financial crisis affected every single person alive. Millions of people lost homes, their savings and their jobs and drowned in debt. Thousands of people around the world committed suicide at abnormal rates in the years following the financial crisis. Bankers did not murder these people. But their drastic actions were a direct result of financiers' reckless behavior on the market. And sadly, America's newest top lawyer is one of Wall Street's most loyal allies.

The U.S. government's investigation of football's international governing body is focused largely on financial crimes of racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud, making it all the more hypocritical. In the Justice Department's official indictment, nine football officials and five corporate executives from around the world "are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments." That sum is chump change to Wall Street. Big banks' donations to political campaigns, while technically legal, are certainly not done without expectation of reciprocation in the form of loose regulations or a slap on the wrist when the bank has done something meriting a criminal investigation. In the two election cycles leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street donated more than $250 million to the congressional campaigns of Democrats and Republicans. And in the three election cycles that followed, those banks donated more than $230 million to congressional campaigns. That's almost half a billion dollars in legal bribery. The resulting kid-glove treatment of Wall Street banks by the government is an indicator that those legal bribes were successful.

Before Loretta Lynch was attorney general, she was the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, making her one of the government's top watchdogs over the financial sector. During her tenure, HSBC was caught laundering $800 million for the notoriously violent and wealthy Sinaloa drug cartel in 2012 yet skated with a $1.9 billion fine — less than 2.8 percent of HSBC's $68.3 billion in revenue for that year. To put that in perspective, if a person making $40,000 a year was fined the same percentage of income, it would only be $1,113, or about a month's rent. And after Citibank was caught purposefully misleading investors to buy mortgage-backed securities that the bank knew were junk, Lynch's office fined the bank $7 billion ($3.8 billion of which was billed to U.S. taxpayers).

What's most ludicrous about Lynch' prosecuting FIFA officials for financial crimes is that she has, for much of her legal career, defended some of Wall Street's worst financial criminals. When she left Harvard, she took a job as a litigation assistant for Cahill Gordon & Reindel (CG&R) — the go-to law firm for New York's financial crooks — from 1984 to 1990. CG&R attorneys represented some of the more notorious figures behind the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s and 1990s. The "securities litigation and white-collar criminal defense" section of CG&R's website describes the type of clients the firm represents. Headliners include the bankers behind the $5 trillion-per-dayLIBOR market scandal, which Lynch's office recently slapped with a $6 billion fine, and the ratings agencies that knowingly rated doomed-to-fail mortgage-backed securities as AAA.

Lynch's legal career is emblematic of the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street. After 11 years of working for the U.S. attorney's office, Lynch took a job at Hogan & Hartson (now known as Hogan Lovells), working alongside John Roberts, now the chief justice of the United States. Lynch's first case at Hogan was defending an Arthur Andersen partner who got caught cooking the books for Enron. From 2003 to 2005, she served on the board for the New York Federal Reserve, working directly under Tim Geithner, who became famous for turning a blind eyeto Wall Street's high-risk gambling schemes that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Lynch stayed at Hogan until President Barack Obama appointed her as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. No wonder Lynch hasn't ever put a banker in jail during her legal career: They're her former clients.

Should FIFA officials do jail time for their crimes? Of course. But football fans around the world following the FIFA investigation would be wise to hold off on praising Lynch as a paragon of justice even if she convicts them all. If the FIFA executives accused of financial crimes were Wall Street bankers, they would never have to worry about spending one day inside a prison cell.

Armed open carry activists defy police in Texas

White concealed-carry activists were walking around with assault rifles slung around their backs. When police approached them, one of the activists yelled at the police for approaching them, one of them having his gun drawn.

Open Carry Texas, a gun-rights group, posted the video on YouTube.

[embedded content]

The man behind the camera is the organization's president CJ Grisham. It begins on June 3, 2015, when he notices two Abilene police officers near the street corner where he stands with two colleagues who each have an assault rifle strapped to their backs.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What are y'all doing? Grisham shouts toward the officers. What are you doing, man?" "What the hell? We're not breaking any laws ... He's over there with an AR-15 in his hand! He's telling me to drop my guns right now."

The two officers then make their way toward Grisham.

"Look at him," Grisham yells. "He's at the ready. He's got his hands on the pistol clip and everything. I got my gun behind me and you guys are coming over here with your hands on your rifles like I'm a threat."

Grisham then tells the officers that he and his friends are within their rights to stand on public property with high-powered weapons. The officers then tell Grisham that he and the other two men are actually standing on private property and therefore trespassing.

As the situation escalates, however, Grisham leaves.

Before getting inside his car he shouts, "You guys wanna come up on us like we're some sorta terrorists, then I'm gonna respond in kind."

Open Carry Texas said it reached out to Abilene senior leadership and the department later apologized and promised retraining so its officers could avoid similar incidents.

However, some have taken to criticizing the activists, saying they provoked a response by walking around with loaded assault rifles.

Others have wondered if the fact that the activists were allowed to leave showed racial disparity since they are white. An earlier video of an experiment in which one black man and one white man walked on the same streets with assault rifles demonstrated those discrepancies in action.

[embedded content]

The group said it does not intend the video to serve "as an attack on the department." Instead, Open Carry Texas describes the video as "A training opportunity for law enforcement around the state on what NOT to do when encountering law abiding citizens exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Aggression only leads to needless escalation. We encourage officers to approach armed citizens with caution, but with courtesy. These types of encounters only serve to create division and distrust between the citizenry and police if allowed to continue."

Following the incident, Grisham spoke with local news outlet KTAB.

"An armed society is a polite society," Grisham said to KTAP reporters. "Guns are not designed to kill. They're not designed to shoot up movie theaters and schools. We're trying to show what law abiding citizens look like that carry firearms and really remove that stigma."

BEST OF THE WEB: U.S. creation of its proxy army ISIS in Iraq and Syria part of imperial divide-and-conquer strategy for Middle East


© Eva Bee


The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an "affront to justice" when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing "extensive support" to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didn't only include the "non-lethal assistance" boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of "arms on a massive scale". Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a "rat line" of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But it's only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesn't constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today's terrorists are tomorrow's fighters against tyranny - and allies are enemies - often at the bewildering whim of a western policymaker's conference call.

For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State (formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.

The campaign isn't going well. Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Al-Qaida's official franchise, the Nusra Front, has also been making gains in Syria.

Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes. Privately, officials say they don't want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and risk upsetting their Sunni allies in the Gulf.

A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts - and effectively welcomes - the prospect of a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the "major forces driving the insurgency in Syria" - and states that "western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey" were supporting the opposition's efforts to take control of eastern Syria.

Raising the "possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality", the Pentagon report goes on, "this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)".

Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isn't a policy document. It's heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren't only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of "Islamic state" - despite the "grave danger" to Iraq's unity - as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

That doesn't mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it - as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.

It was recalibrated during the occupation of Iraq, when US forces led by General Petraeus sponsored an El Salvador-style dirty war of sectarian death squads to weaken the Iraqi resistance. And it was reprised in 2011 in the Nato-orchestrated war in Libya, where Isis last week took control of Gaddafi's home town of Sirte.

In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia's military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.

What's clear is that Isis and its monstrosities won't be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has fostered it in the years since. Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division. It's the people of the region who can cure this disease - not those who incubated the virus.

45 dead in Saudi-led raids on Yemen capital

© AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais
A Yemeni boy stands amidst the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi-led air strike on a residential area last month, in the capital Sanaa, on May 18, 2015

Sanaa (AFP) - Twenty civilians were among at least 45 people killed in Saudi-led air strikes on the rebel-held armed forces headquarters in the Yemeni capital on Sunday, a medic said.

The raids on the army headquarters in central Sanaa came a day after the kingdom's air defences shot down a Scud missile fired from the war-torn country.

They also followed the UN confirmation of June 14 as the start date for peace talks between warring Yemen factions in Geneva, which both the country's Shiite Huthi rebels and its exiled government said they will attend.

"At least 20 civilians and 25 soldiers and officers were killed" in four raids that hit the headquarters in the Tahrir residential neighbourhood in central Sanaa, the medic said.

The raids hit residential buildings, including five houses that were completely destroyed, witnesses said.

The rebel-controlled Saba news agency said 44 people were killed and more than 100 wounded "including woman and children".

© AFP Photo/Abdullah Hassan
Armed Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, monitor the area of Algevinh, following clashes with Huthi rebels, June 7, 2015

Later on Sunday, clashes broke out on the Saudi-Yemeni border where the kingdom's army sent more troops and hardware, including tanks, Al-Arabiya satellite television reported, broadcasting footage of convoys heading south.

In the air war, seven Saudi-led raids also targeted the Jumaineh military base, east of the capital Sanaa, according to witnesses.

The base belongs to the elite Republican Guard that has remained loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has allied himself with the Huthis.

Other raids hit an arms depot at Nahdain, south of Sanaa.

Several rebel positions in the north, mainly in the Huthi stronghold Saada province and the provinces of Hajja and Amran, were heavily bombarded overnight by the coalition, witnesses said.

© AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais
Smoke billows following an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition on an army arms depot, now under Shiite Huthi rebel control, on June 7, 2015, east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa

- Raids in south -

In the south, coalition jets targeted rebel positions on the northern and western outskirts of second city Aden in support of southern fighters backing exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Fighters from the southern Popular Resistance were attempting to prevent rebels from advancing towards the neighbourhoods of Al-Masnoura, Dar Saad, Sheikh Othman and Al-Buraiqa, according to a pro-Hadi military commander.

"Several Huthi rebels and allies were killed or wounded," said General Fadhl Baesh.

Riyadh said the Huthis fired a Scud missile at Saudi territory Saturday, a day after their rebel allies killed four Saudi soldiers in cross-border attacks.

Yemen has been engulfed in turmoil since the Iranian-backed Huthis seized the capital in September and advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing Hadi to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out air strikes on Yemen since March 26 to push back the Huthis and restore Hadi's authority. More than 2,000 people have died since the air campaign began.

The United Nations has urged Yemeni parties to engage in talks in Geneva without preconditions.

The meeting would be the first significant effort to stop the fighting, which has led to what the UN says is a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

Huthi rebels said they will attend the talks, and Yemen's government exiled in Riyadh also said it would take part.

In line with UN Security Council Resolution 2216, Hadi's government had refused to attend unless the rebels pulled back from at least some of the territory they have seized.

Man Honestly Thought Breakdown Would Be More Obvious To People


© The Onion

MAPLEWOOD, MN—Explaining that he had assumed the deterioration of his physical and psychological state would be readily apparent, 3M sales associate Mark Uhler told reporters Wednesday he honestly thought his ongoing breakdown would be more obvious to everyone around him. "Given how many times in the past month I've showed up to work on two hours of sleep and just stared at my computer in total silence, I'd kind of expected someone to ask me if everything's all right at home or at least tell me I look tired lately, but so far I haven't heard a thing," said Uhler, adding that he thought the frequency with which he places his face in his hands and mutters morosely to himself would have been a clear indication that he was completely unraveling and prompted somebody at some point to stop by his cubicle. "I was sure when our HR manager asked me to speak with her last week it would be to discuss why I constantly look like I'm on the verge of tears during meetings, but it turns out she just wanted to explain changes to our 401K plan. I feel like my entire life is collapsing and I can barely stay afloat, but every email I get from coworkers is just about jumping on a client call or finishing up my monthly reports." When reached for comment, Uhler's colleagues confirmed they had noticed his breakdown weeks ago but simply didn't give a shit.

Hypocritical legislation: South Carolina takes action against Israeli boycotts

© Reuters
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

WASHINGTON - South Carolina's governor has signed into law a bill to stop efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel on Thursday afternoon, in a first for the nation on a statewide level.

The bill makes no mention of Israel directly, but prevents public entities from contracting with businesses engaging in the "boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade."

The premise of the law is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, colloquially known as BDS, discriminates against the people of Israel and weakens the economy of South Carolina.

"Boycott," for the purposes of the law, is defined as the effort by companies to "blacklist, divest from or otherwise refuse to deal with a person or firm when the action is based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin of the targeted person or entity," according to the text.

Companies also must agree not to engage in boycott activities going forward.

While South Carolina is the first state to adopt such a measure as law, several others are close behind: Illinois lawmakers passed similar legislation last month, also with unanimous support from state representatives.

Beyond Springfield and Columbia, "a bloc of sponsors across 18 states has already committed to introducing similar legislation in their next legislative cycle," according to Willem Griffioen, executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), an organization aggressively engaged in the anti-BDS effort on the state level.

South Carolina Representative Alan Clemmons, who pioneered the legislation, commended Governor Nikki Haley for swiftly signing the bill.

"Discriminatory boycotts have historically been used as a form of economic warfare to forward the purposes of hatred and bigotry. The tactics employed by the Nazis serve as a poignant example," Clemmons said in a prepared statement. "In this day and age, no group better demonstrates this fact than the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in its effort to harm our great ally, Israel."