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Libya’s Destruction a Warning to Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine

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Dees IllustrationTony Cartalucci
Activist Post

RT’s article, “90% of aircraft destroyed at Tripoli airport, Libya may seek international assistance,” reported that:
Libya is considering a deployment of international force to re-establish security amid a flare-up of violence in Tripoli which saw dozens of rockets destroy most of the civilian aircraft fleet at its international airport. “The government is looking into the possibility of making an appeal for international forces on the ground to re-establish security and help the government impose its authority,” a government spokesman, Ahmed Lamine said in a statement. The “democratic tomorrow” promised by NATO in 2011 has been realized – that is – in the form of predictably fraudulent elections accepted by no one, leaving a power vacuum apparently to be settled through increasingly violent armed conflict. Perhaps most ironic of all is that these conflicts are being waged between NATO’s various armed proxies it used to carry out the ground war while it bombarded Libya from the air over the majority of 2011.

NATO’s Proxies Cannibalize Each Other

In May 2014, fighting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has left scores dead, many more injured, and residents fleeing for their lives as what the Western media called a “renegade general,” waged war on “Islamist militants” within the city. Reuters in its article, “Families evacuate Benghazi as renegade general vows more attacks,” claimed:
The self-declared Libyan National Army led by a renegade general told civilians on Saturday to leave parts of Benghazi before it launched a fresh attack on Islamist militants, a day after dozens were killed in the worst clashes in the city for months. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
The renegade general is Khalifa Haftar (sometimes spelled Hifter), who lived in the United States – outside of Langley, Virginia – for years allegedly being groomed by the CIA until his eventual return to Libya in 2011 to lead ground forces in NATO’s proxy invasion. The Business Insider would report in its 2011 article, “Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?,” that:
Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Badr said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.

So a former Qaddafi general who switches sides is admitted to the United States, puts down roots in Virginia outside Washington, D.C. and then somehow supports his family in a manner that mystifies a fellow who has known Hifter his whole life. Hmm.

The likelihood that Hifter was brought in to be some kind of asset is pretty high. Just as figures like Ahmed Chalabi were cultivated for a post-Saddam Iraq, Hifter may have played a similar role as American intelligence prepared for a chance in Libya. The irony is that many of the sectarian militants Hafter was fighting in Benghazi were the same militants Muammar Qaddafi was fighting for decades as leader of Libya, and the same militants that NATO armed and abetted alongside Hafter in the overthrow of Qaddafi in 2011.

Regarding his campaign in Benghazi, Hafter claimed that it would continue until “Benghazi is purged of terrorists,” and that, “we’ve started this battle and will continue it until we have reached our goals. The street and the Libyan people are with us.” Hafter’s sentiments echo those of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, only then, the Western media denied the existence of terrorists that had been based in Benghazi for decades and portrayed Tripoli’s operations there as a “massacre” of “peaceful pro-democracy protesters.”

NATO Destroyed Libya

The very atrocities cited by NATO to begin their “humanitarian intervention” in Libya in the first place, immediately began unfolding in reality at the hands of NATO and its proxy forces themselves. Entire cities were encircled, starved out, and bombarded by air until they capitulated. In other towns, entire populations were either exterminated, evicted and eventually driven beyond Libya’s borders. The city of Tawarga, home to some 10,000 Libyans, was so utterly uprooted, it was referred to by the London Telegraph as a “ghost town.”

Since the fall of Tripoli, Sirte, and other Libyan cities that resisted NATO’s proxy invasion, little in the way of basic stability, let alone the “democratic revolution” promised by NATO and its collaborators, has returned to Libya. The government in Tripoli remains in chaos, its security forces divided amongst themselves, and now a “rogue” CIA asset is conducting a full-scale military operation against Benghazi, including the use military aircraft, apparently without Tripoli’s approval.

Years after the “revolution’s” conclusion, Libya remains a hobbled nation sliding backwards. The many achievements of Muammar Qaddafi’s government have long since been undone, and it is unlikely they will be restored let alone surpassed in the foreseeable future. NATO has effectively upturned and destroyed an entire nation, leaving it to not only burn while Western corporations pillage its resources, but to use as a template for future extraterritorial adventures in Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, and now Iraq.

The Libyan Model: Egypt, Syria, Ukraine Beware

Just as in Libya, “revolutions” have tried to take root in Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine. The same narratives, verbatim, crafted by Western policy think tanks and media spin doctors for Libya are now being reused in Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine. The very same non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being used to fund, equip, and otherwise support opposition groups in each respective country. Terms such as “democracy,” “progress,” “freedom,” and fighting against “dictatorship” are familiar themes. The protests were and are each accompanied by heavily armed militants also fully backed by the West.

In Syria, the pretense of protests has been dropped as has the notion of “freedom fighters.” The Western media now spends much of its time spinning and justifying why NATO and its regional partners are funding and arming sectarian militants, including Al Qaeda, in the overthrow of the Syrian government.

In Egypt, there is still some ambiguity, as there was in 2011 regarding Syria, as to who the protesters really are, what they really want, and on which side of the increasingly violent conflict playing out there the West falls. Careful analysis reveals that just as the Muslim Brotherhood was used in Syria to set the stage for the now devastating war raging there, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is doing likewise against Cairo.

Finally, in Ukraine, the “pro-democracy” “pro-European Union” “Euromaidan” protesters have been revealed as Neo-Nazis, ultra-right, and nationalists who regularly resort to violence and political intimidation. Just as in Syria in 2011, and in Egypt now, low intensity armed clashes are increasing in frequency and intensity toward what may end up as a proxy war between NATO and Russia in Eastern Europe.

But for these three nations, and the participants on all sides, Libya’s current state must be examined. These “revolutions” have but one logical and predictable conclusion – the plundering, division, and destruction of each respective nation, before it is folded into Wall Street and London’s growing supranational order to be exploited indefinitely as much of the US, UK, and EU already are today.

For those wondering what will become of Egypt, Syria, or Ukraine, should NATO succeed, one needs only to look at Libya. And for those that supported the “revolution” in Libya, they must ask themselves if they are they satisfied with its final outcome. Do they wish this outcome upon Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine as well? Do they imagine that NATO’s plans for each of these countries will end any differently? Why?

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”, where this first appeared.

The Propaganda and Politics of MH17

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Eric Draitser
Activist Post

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 (MH17) is a tragedy that will be remembered for years to come. However, the way in which the West has distorted the facts about what happened is no mere accident. Rather, it is a clear attempt by Washington and its allies and proxies to capitalize on the incident, using it as a weapon in their continued belligerent and aggressive policies toward Russia.

Recent days have seen a deluge of propaganda from both the US government and the Western media (especially US media) which, despite being short on facts, has attempted to place the blame for MH17 squarely on Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While this certainly is no surprise given the public demonization campaign of Russia throughout the conflict in Ukraine, it undoubtedly crosses the line from laughable to utterly irresponsible and dangerous. Given the already icy relations between the two countries, it seems that Washington has as part of its strategy the inflammation of tensions.

But why? What does the US political establishment, which includes both major parties, hope to gain from this tragedy? Or, perhaps more specifically, how does the United States plan to capitalize on the incident? The propaganda, spin, and outright lies from Western media cannot be understood in a vacuum. Rather, they must be recognized as part and parcel of the larger political agenda of the West both in Ukraine, and Eastern Europe as a whole.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Western Media

Although the investigation into the crash has only just begun, that has not stopped Washington from attempting to shape the narrative into an indictment of Russia, accusing Moscow of being behind the attacks. Headlines such as White House Blames Russia For MH17 Crash, Saying There’s No Believable Alternative (Huffington Post) and Congress: MH17 Crash Is ‘Ac of Terror,’ and Putin May Be To Blame (The Daily Beast), both of which interestingly come from “liberal” media outlets, have become routine in recent days. The not so subtle, indeed overt, implication of such headlines is that Russia is responsible for the downing of MH17, despite there being no evidence to that effect.

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Essentially, the US political establishment, and its corporate media appendage, attempted to make a flimsy case into a politically expedient narrative that would bolster the US-NATO agenda in Ukraine, while simultaneously legitimizing the belligerent, anti-Russian rhetoric and policies that the White House and Congress have been pursuing. Moreover, Washington has attempted to use the incident to deflect attention from the brutal war crimes and other embarrassing aspects of the US-backed Kiev regime’s horrific war against the people of eastern Ukraine.

The specific lies, omissions, and distortions propagated by Washington and its dutiful media servants must be recalled in order to debunk them, but perhaps more importantly, to demonstrate the clear and unmistakable way in which they have been used to cobble together a false narrative that, despite being an admitted fabrication, will be made permanent in the minds of many Americans.

The Kiev regime has proclaimed repeatedly that Russia was behind the attack, offering “evidence” of “Russian participation.” The first piece of “evidence” were the tape recordings that purportedly provided proof that anti-Kiev rebels and, by implication, Russian agents working with them, had admitted to downing MH17. However, a careful analysis by renowned digital sound analyst Nikolai Popov and his team of experts concluded that that the recordings were not authentic, that is to say, they were cobbled together using various recordings from before the disaster occurred. As Popov noted, “This audio recording is not an integral file and is made up of several fragments.”

While Popov’s team’s findings should not be taken as gospel, they do call into question the authenticity of the supposed “evidence.” In fact, it is quite likely that the recordings were constructed from actual conversations by anti-Kiev rebels discussing the downing of a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet days before the MH17 incident. Of course, the findings should not be seen as definitive, but as yet, they constitute the only sound analysis done of the recordings. It seems more than convenient that neither the US nor any of its partners have carried such an analysis, and have instead chosen to proclaim the recordings’ authenticity based purely on faith that Kiev is telling the truth. Naturally, this is a dangerous assumption considering the established pattern of lying by Kiev to further its war against the citizens of the East.

Indeed, the regime in Kiev has lied its way throughout the last week with almost every statement and piece of “evidence” it has provided. Yet another example can be found in the video the government released which purportedly showed a Russian Buk missile battery with at least one missile missing moving in the direction of Russia from rebel-held territory. Unfortunately for Kiev, the videos have been examined by many familiar with the region and exposed as distortions insofar as they actually show the Buk systems in Kiev-controlled territory, not rebel areas as Poroshenko & Co. have alleged. And so, with this information, it raises the question not only of Kiev’s lies regarding Russian involvement, but also the far more sinister likelihood that it was, in fact, Kiev’s military forces, whether under orders or simply through irresponsibility and negligence, that actually downed MH17.

Additionally, one must examine the claims made and repeated ad nauseam by Kiev that it had no military aircraft in the skies when MH17 was shot down. From July 17 (the day of the incident) until July 21 (the day Russia’s Ministry of Defense presented its intelligence), the Kiev regime continually denied allegations that its military aircraft were in the vicinity of MH17. However, once Russia’s MoD provided the international press with evidence refuting that claim and showing that not only were Ukrainian jets in the vicinity, but they were within firing range, magically that talking point ceased to be repeated. In other words, every aspect of the Kiev regime’s narrative has been thoroughly discredited.

And so, by July 23rd, the media headlines which had, until that point, simply been reiterating the claims made by Kiev and using “US assessments” (whatever that’s worth), began to finally admit that there is absolutely no evidence directly tying Russia to the incident. So, the US State Department, along with nearly all major media, were exposed as part of a comprehensive propaganda matrix designed to further US foreign policy aims, rather than report information accurately and objectively. More to the point, just two days earlier, the US State Department made the claim that it had the intelligence to “prove” Russian involvement but, when pressed by Associated Press journalist Matt Lee, refused to provide any hard evidence, be it intelligence or reconnaissance imagery, to support their claims.

So once again Secretary of State John Kerry, and the entire State Department, have been made to look foolish in their rush to accuse Russia of wrongdoing, as was the case with the Secretary of State regurgitating the discredited claim of anti-semitic leaflets being handed out by anti-Kiev rebel forces.
The US media, like the State Department, obviously have egg on their face, as can be demonstrated quite clearly by the NY Post headlines of July 22nd and July 23rd. On July 22nd, the Post printed on its cover the headline “Dear Vlad – ‘Thank you…for murdering my loved and only child’”, followed less than twenty four hours later with the headline “US: No direct link to Russia found in MH17 attack.” This sort of shameful propaganda, designed to inflame anti-Russian sentiments, rather than report facts, is standard fare for US media and the corporate interests it serves.

Washington’s Political Agenda

The attempts by the US and its allies and proxies to blame Russia for the downing of MH17 expose a transparently cynical foreign policy in Ukraine, and Eastern Europe more broadly, that seeks to dominate and intimidate Russia politically, economically, and militarily. Naturally, this strategy is doomed to fail as the Russia of 2014 is certainly not the Russia of 1994. The MH17 episode is a case in point, showing just how the Washington and Kiev have tried to capitalize on every opportunity to achieve strategic goals by demonizing Russia.

A close look at some of the statements from the State Department in recent days illustrates clearly the way in which the Obama administration tried to leverage the disaster in order to buttress the failing war against the anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine. US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf indicated in a briefing with reporters that the US asked Russia to demand that the anti-Kiev rebels “leave the region” in which the crash occurred so that an investigation could take place. In other words, Washington seeks to use the MH17 investigation as a backdoor option for Kiev to regain territory that it has been unable to conquer militarily; an undoubtedly, and quite despicably, cynical ploy by the US.

But of course, the US is now trying to use the fact that Russia was not involved in the attack “directly” as a way for Washington to drive a wedge between Moscow and the anti-Kiev rebels. By stating that Russia is not “directly” responsible, Washington is attempting to put Putin in a corner by giving him the opportunity to exonerate himself and Russia by abandoning the anti-Kiev forces, letting them hang to save his skin. Once again, it seems that the Obama administration is grossly underestimating Putin’s resolve on the issue of Ukraine. It is quite clear that the Kremlin is never going to allow a hostile regime that is publicly on the record as seeking NATO participation/observer status and is outwardly hostile to Russia and ethnic Russians to dominate the whole country and create problems in the future.

Indeed, this issue of Putin’s resolve is central to understanding why Russia has been so assertive in Ukraine since the crisis began. As Putin explained on July 22nd:
We shall provide an adequate and well-measured response to NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders, and we shall take note of [the West] setting up a global missile defense architecture and building up its arsenals of precision-guided weapons…No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on. As it stands, NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale…The so-called competitive struggle at the international arena will imply the use of tools in both economic and political fields. This will include the potential of security services, modern information and communication technologies, and connections of dependent, puppet NGOs – the so-called soft power…apparently, some countries regard it as democracy. Such frank tough talk from Putin is a good indication of why the US regards him and Russia as the primary obstacle to its goal of maintaining and extending US hegemony. Despite the US missile plans for Eastern Europe, the continued imposition of punitive sanctions on key individuals and entities in Russia, the expansion of NATO and its attempt to absorb former Soviet republics into its sphere of influence, and a host of other issues, Russia stands firm and undeterred. Whatever one may think about Putin and his government, it’s quite clear that they are not going to succumb to the usual arm-twisting, threats, blackmail, subversion or destabilization that the US employs to get its way. Perhaps this, at least in part, explains why Putin is more popular in his country than any other leader in the world.

The downing of MH17 is a shocking tragedy. The dead should be mourned alongside the innocent eastern Ukrainians who have also paid with their lives for the regime change operation that the US sponsored in Ukraine. However, beyond the sorrow and despair engendered by MH17, the world should focus its attention on the political maneuvers that the US has employed to capitalize on the tragedy and, in so doing, moving forward with its agenda of destabilization and aggression against Russia. Washington’s belligerent policy is nothing new. However, the stakes have never been higher than they are today.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, where this first appeared.

25 Recent Events Causing WW3 They Want You To Forget

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Anthony Freda ArtEric Blair
Activist Post

Remember when our rulers told us that regimes like Saddam, Gaddafi, and Assad were the epitome of evil and must be liberated because they allegedly killed their own citizens? Probably not. Americans have short memories.

I only remind you to let you know that the U.S. and other Western governments have reversed their stance on regimes killing their own citizens. They now fully endorse and support this rule-with-an-iron-fist so long as the victims can be successfully labeled "separatists" or "terrorists".

In fact, they want in on the action. The Pentagon began wargaming this week with the regime in Ukraine on how best to kill pesky citizens in Eastern Ukraine who oppose the U.S. Vice President's son from stealing and fracking shale gas on their land.

People who defend their land and families are called "terrorists" when imperial powers want their resources. In turn, Western rulers call violent coups "duly elected" if they pledge allegiance to the IMF.

This situation is creating friction among the world's superpowers not seen since the Cold War. Obama recently expressed concern that "The old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of a new order." Later in the speech he blamed uncooperative nations (read Russia) for standing in the way of the New World Order.

It seems if Russia doesn't get on board with the Western-led world order, these powers are destined to clash in a West vs. East showdown over international banking and the control of gas supplies.

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Here are 25 recent events, or data points, that our rulers hope we forget when they blame the collapse of the old world order on Russia:
  1. US spent $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine, not to mention the millions NGOs spent on "opposition groups". The State Department was even caught playing kingmaker in Ukraine in secret recordings during the takeover. 
  2. November 21st, 2013 - Ukraine's President abandons an agreement on closer trade ties with EU, instead seeking closer cooperation with Russia. Violent pro-EU protests begin to organize.
  3. December 17th, 2013 - Putin offers to buy $15bn of Ukrainian debt and discount the price of Russian gas by about a third.
  4. February 2014 - Violence of coup peaks on the 20th. On 22nd protesters took control of Kiev and Parliament votes to remove president from power. 
  5. February 23rd - New interim government named, replaces head of Ukraine central bank.
  6. March 6th - Obama signs national emergency executive order to punish Ukrainians that "undermine democratic processes and institutions" of the coup government in Ukraine. You can't make this stuff up.
  7. March 16th - Crimea holds voter referendum to split from coup government in Kiev and ally with Russia, passes by over 95%.
  8. March 20th - Obama announces more unilateral sanctions on Russia.
  9. March 24th - Leaked tape where former prime minister of Ukraine and darling of the West, Yulia Tymoshenko, calls for wiping out all Russians with nuclear weapons.
  10. April 29th - Obama unilaterally expands sanctions on Russia
  11. April 30th - Newly installed regime in Kiev receives $17 billion from the IMF for "economic reforms". (December deal from Russia with better terms for Ukrainian people discarded.)
  12. May 3rd - Obama calls Kiev's coup government "duly elected".
  13. May 11th - Eastern Ukraine votes for independence from Kiev and for self-rule.  Kiev mobilizes military to punish citizens for disloyalty.
  14. May 15th - US Vice President's son Hunter Biden named to the board of Ukraine gas company.
  15. May 21st - Russia and China sign historic $400 billion "Holy Grail" gas deal not using petrodollars.
  16. May 27th - Second day in office, new Ukraine president launches military "anti-terrorist operation" against eastern Ukrainians.
  17. June 3rd - NATO pledges military support for Ukraine to battle dissidents.
  18. June 16th - Ukraine refuses to pay its gas bill to Moscow's Gazprom, Russia cuts off gas.
  19. June 26th - Gazprom agrees to drop the dollar to settle contracts with China.
  20. June 27th - The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine, along with Georgia and Moldova
  21. July 15th - BRICS nations fund international development bank to compete with the IMF, World Bank, and the dollar itself.
  22. July 17th - Commercial airliner MH17 shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. Appears to be classic false flag event after the West immediately blamed Russia citing sketchy YouTube videos. 
  23. July 2014 - US announces yet more sanctions on RussiaEU and Canada both join in calls for more sanctions for Russia.
  24. July 2014 - Joe Biden's son's company prepares to drill shale gas in east Ukraine.
  25. July 2014 - Pentagon creates military plan to clear path for gas drilling in rebel-held areas of Ukraine.
I'm sure I missed a few.  Feel free to fill in the blanks in the comment section below.
Recently by Eric Blair

U.S. Government Invests in Robot Personal Trainers for Children

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Nicholas West
Activist Post

The evolution of humanoid robots continues to quicken with greater strides being made toward applying artificial intelligence to create emotional robots

The commitment to reverse engineer the human brain coupled with the exponential increase in computing power is now forcing the discussion toward the social impact robotics is beginning to have as humans and robots begin interacting with greater frequency.

Consequently, newer robots are being produced with the intention of manipulating emotional triggers that guide human-to-human interaction. It's all part of a move to make robots seem less creepy and more like real members of society. Researchers are taking multiple angles to establish these connections. The U.S. government is now getting involved with a $10 million investment into developing robots that can serve as personal trainers for children with the stated intention to "influence their behavior and eating habits."

In loco parentis (in the place of a parent) - the legal charge given to educators when you hand over your children to school - might take on a strange new meaning. A 5-year, multi-university project is being led by Yale and includes researchers from MIT, Stanford and the University of Southern California; it is funded by the National Science Foundation, which has fallen under the umbrella of the federal BRAIN neuroscience initiative.

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The ultimate goal of the "Robots Helping Kids" project is to send robots into homes and schools to provide children with education as well as fitness. This comes at a time when we have witnessed a push by America's first lady toward controlling what children eat as well as introducing her concept of fitness; the results have been underwhelming to say the least.

A Yale press release doesn't hide the fact that they are looking to robots for additional help with social engineering:
A Yale-led research team will spend the next five years developing a new breed of sophisticated “socially assistive” robots for helping young children learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises.The purpose of the $10 million, federally funded effort, announced April 3, is to create self-adapting machines capable of cultivating long-term interpersonal relationships and assisting pre-school-age children with educational and therapeutic goals. “The big idea is that we’re building robots to help kids,” said Brian Scassellati, the Yale computer scientist who is leading the intensive, multi-university project. “At the end of five years we’d like to have robots that can guide a child toward long-term educational goals, be customized for the particular needs of that child, and basically grow and develop with the child. We want the robot to be the equivalent of a good personal trainer.”

The language used here is disturbing. While at once it is claimed that these robots will only augment the instruction of parents, trained educators, and therapists, the targeting of pre-school-age children for "cultivating long-term personal relationships" to "motivate individuals toward a specific goal" while the robots "guide the child toward a behavior we desire" clearly opens the door for more training than merely the physical.

As if government-run school isn't brainwashing enough, now a literal programmed entity filled with all of the indoctrination of that system will be able to devote full-time - in school and at home - to ensure whatever it is the programmers wish to send their way.

What could possibly go wrong? 


Recently from Nicholas West:

Superpower for Hire: Rise of the Private Military

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Vice takes an unprecedented look into the shadowy industry of Private Military Companies.

For the past two decades these private companies, like Blackwater, Aegis and G4S have silently consumed military operations around the world, doing everything from back-end logistics, protection of government VIP’s and diplomats to actual combat duties.

In this documentary Vice explores the origins of this industry, their rise in the war on terror and their future operations around the world.

Hat tip: Old-Thinker News

The Unsustainable Absurdity of the Average American Diet

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Daisy Luther
Activist Post

Have you ever thought about how wildly unrealistic and unsustainable our current diets are?  Items that don’t grow within the same season are commonly consumed together. Things that don’t grow on the same continent are combined into all sorts of meals.  We eat blueberries in December and drink pumpkin spice lattes in the summer.  We eat tropical fruit with Midwestern grains.  Without the transportation system, there would be absolutely no rhyme or reason to our “normal” diets.

Here’s an example: What’s a typical breakfast in the United States?

Maybe it’s a bowl of Cheerios with milk, a banana sliced on top, and a glass of orange juice.
This sounds pretty normal, right?  It’s not – it’s actually quite exotic, if you think about it.

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Imagine if the grocery store supply lines shut down.  If you had to eat what you could acquire without the national food transport network, how likely would it be that you could replicate that breakfast? It seems so simple, but it’s not going to happen.

Think for just a moment about how ridiculous such a combination would have seemed to our ancestors. Let’s forget for a moment that the breakfast mentioned is processed and loaded with GMOs.  Let’s just think about the origins of the food.

If you live where wheat is growing, I’m going to guess that you do not live where bananas and oranges are growing. You’ve just invalidated the typical American breakfast in that sentence.

Here’s an example of a breakfast you could acquire at the right time of year without a visit to the store.  It took less than 5 minutes to make – it was truly as fast as that hypothetical bowl of cereal with the sliced banana. We picked the berries ourselves a short walk from our home on Friday.  The duck eggs came from a nearby farm.  It was filling, healthy, and delicious. You could easily add some local meat to the breakfast, or a bowl of porridge made from whatever grain grows nearby (like corn, rice, oats, or quinoa, depending on your location).  Nearly every agricultural zone has a grain that grows well if you wish to acquire or farm them.

It’s time to look at your diet very differently, because I can almost guarantee that transit supply line won’t be there indefinitely. And even if the stores do remain open, how long with this food be financially viable? With the petrodollar teetering on the brink of obsolescence, extreme weather causing food shortages across America, and the price of fuel climbing by the day, even if you can acquire the food at your local market, the price is going to increase so dramatically that to get your food from far-flung locales will be completely out of the price range for the average person.

This isn’t even about building a good stockpile.  While that ensures you won’t go hungry within a finite period of time, being able to feed yourself from the resources in your area is even more important than a fully loaded pantry.

Many people are so enmeshed in the food transportation system that it would never occur to them to change their lifestyle to a less fuel-dependent one. By adjusting the way you eat to your environment now, you’ll be that much further ahead while the system disintegrates.

What would your diet be like if there was no food transit system?

So what would you eat if you had to get everything relatively locally?

A good place to start is your farmers market. (Find one in your area HERE) If it is a market that is truly for area farmers (i.e., not one that allows vendors to purchase things in the nearest city and present them as fresh and local) then it will give you a good idea what is in season and what grows well in your area. The less expensive the food item is, the closer you are to the heart of the season for that particular fruit or vegetable.

Some other ways to learn about your area’s agriculture:
  • Join a gardening group. Even if you are apartment-bound and don’t have the space for a garden of your own, joining a group of local gardeners or homestead-minded people can help you learn about the local growing scene.  Facebook abounds with local groups.  The bonus is, you can make some friends and learn some skills while you are researching the area.
  • See what grows wild.  Where I live, there are blackberries everywhere – so many that they are considered an invasive plant!  We go blackberry picking several times throughout the summer to help ourselves to nature’s bounty.  You can often find fruit and nut-bearing trees along a hiking trail. By learning what grows wild, you can make the best choices for creating your own orchard or garden. If it can grow without any help , the plant will absolutely thrive with a little nurturing.
  • Most importantly, see what doesn’t grow in your area.  No one grows wheat in the area where I live. The soil here is simply not right for it. They don’t grow bananas because the climate is not right for it. But fresh corn grows like a weed, as do berries and nut trees.  If no one farms it in your area, then you will pay a premium price for it if you continue to eat the food while prices escalate.
  • Check out your county extension office.  There are some amazing resources there for gardening, cooking, and preserving.  All of the information you receive there follows regulations from the USDA, but it is still a great (and free) educational resource. In fact, I’m taking advantage of a class at my resource office next moth to learn more about making jerky.
This week, I bought a basket of garden overrun from the lady who supplies us with fresh milk.  I got a tremendous amount of vegetables – more than we can possibly eat this week, so I’m going to be preserving them for later in the year when produce is not as abundant.  Here’s what I got:

When you look at photos like that, entire meals should come to mind.  I am making pickles and salsa for canning.   I’m making zoodles with my new spiralizer gadget (I got this one which is currently on sale for only $30: Summer Sale! Spiralizer Tri-Blade Vegetable Slicer, Strongest-and-Heaviest Duty Guarantee Over Paderno and Others, Lifetime Replacement Warranty, Best Veggie Pasta & Spaghetti Maker for Low Carb/Paleo Healthy Vegetable Meals) and  then I’ll be dehydrating them.

I’m going to make a serving of marinara and serve it over that eggplant with the ricotta I made this weekend, with some grilled chicken to go along with it. My 13-year-old daughter was instantly inspired to create a salad with basil from our garden, the beautiful mix of heirloom cherry tomatoes, and some goat cheese we got from a vendor at the farmers market.

This is just one example. In a few weeks, peaches will be at the perfect ripeness here in our local orchards. After that, Roma tomatoes will be at their peak.  Then it will be apple season. Throughout the summer, there is a decadent amount of fruits and vegetables.
What about the winter, when nothing is growing?

There are lots of different agricultural zones and this is where your county extension office can come in handy yet again.  In many areas, with the right set up, you can grow throughout the year.

We purchased one of those inexpensive greenhouses at an end of season this year. We plan to erect that in our yard in the fall. This winter we should be able to grow some hardy greens for salads and stir-fries.  During the coldest, darkest days of winter, we’ll be growing some tender lettuce and herbs in a sunny windowsill.

In some regions, hoop houses and cold frames can extend your growing season 1-2 months on either end of the normal growing season.

As well, you have to plan ahead like our ancestors did. Winter has been coming every year for a long time now – it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that it’s coming again this year and that they need to prepare for it. Now is the time to pick and preserve so that you can feed yourself throughout the winter.  I’ve canned jams, fruit, coleslaw, tomato juice, pickles, and salsa, and I’m just getting started. This is the busy time of year for those seeking an agrarian lifestyle, because it’s time to start seedlings for a fall garden too.
  • Learn more about canning HERE.
  • Learn more about dehydrating HERE.
  • Learn more about fermenting HERE.
  • Learn more about root cellaring HERE.
There are many foods that can be accessed year round.  Chickens will continue to lay eggs and dairy animals will continue to provide milk.  Meat is also available on a basis other than seasonally.

Seasonal eating is very healthy.

When your fruit needs a passport to get to you, it can’t really be considered ”fresh fruit”. Nature knows just what you need and when you need it.
When you demand produce that is out of season, it’s coming from across the globe.  This means that the items were picked before they were actually ripe, which means that the nutrients had not fully developed.  The vitamins and minerals contained in produce begin to decrease the minute the food is picked.  The harvest item immediately begins to die and decompose.  By the time the food arrives at your local grocery store, it might already be 3 weeks old – and sometimes it’s even older. What’s more, the packing plants take great pains to be sure that the fresh fruits that grace your table at Christmas look pretty. Many packagers add a waxy, glossy coating to the produce before shipping. The coating not only looks shiny and inviting, it slows down the decomposition of the fruit or vegetable.  Some foods are sprayed with preservative chemicals, as well, to help them survive the arduous journey to your supermarket. Reducing the distance your food travels isn’t the only health reason to eat seasonally.  Nature provides certain foods at certain times because that is when your body needs them the most.  They are also less likely to be drenched in pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides if the plants are growing as nature intended them too. For example, in the spring, those tender leafy sprigs like lettuce, kale, peas and pea shoots, and asparagus provide vitamins K and folate, which support blood health, bone health, and cell repair.  The cool delicate foods are light, low in calories, and rejuvenating to the body as you gear up for the upcoming warm weather.  Feasting on these waistline friendly foods is a great way to get rid of that  insulating layer of fat that you may have acquired during the winter. In the summer, delicious berries actually provide protection against the strong rays of the sun. In season foods like corn, peppers, and tomatoes are light on your stomach during the blazing hot weather.  Many summer vegetables can be eaten raw and require no cooking, so you don’t have to heat up your house to prepare them. In the fall, you should begin to look for foods that provide more warmth – carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, and pumpkins, to name a few.  As well, the beta-carotene in many of these autumn treats will  boost the body’s germ fighting cells to strengthen your immune system for the upcoming cold and flu season. Finally in the winter, you should consider eating more carbohydrates like those from root vegetables – they help the body to sustain a little more weight, which is needed to insulate against the cold weather.  Warming vegetables like potatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions, rutabagas, and winter squash all store well in cool, dark places, providing energy and comfort throughout the winter season.  Adding more fish to your diet during this time of year is also beneficial for the warming effect, the higher calories, and the high levels of vitamin D (the vitamin you get directly from the sun during the warmer months).  Vitamin D is important for good mental health and a strong immune system. Nuts, which store well for the winter, are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which help moisturize your body from the inside out – this helps to fight that dry winter skin so many of us suffer from. (source)It’s great for your budget.

By growing what you can and acquiring things when they are at their most abundant, you’ll save a lot of money. As I discussed above, there are several current economic issues that are going to cause the price of our “average American diets” to skyrocket.  Reliance on long-distance food at the grocery store will simply be financially unsustainable.

When gas prices continue to climb, that cost is going to be pushed off on the end consumer: the person buying that food (or other item) from the store. The farther the item has to come to get from you, the more fuel it takes to get it here. Soon, those December blueberries will be out of reach for all but the wealthiest of families. Why not pick your blueberries in the summer and can or freeze them if you want to have blueberries in December? Then you’ll pay $2 a pound instead of $9 a pound.

You must also take into consideration the extreme weather over the past couple of years. The drought in California has meant that many farmers are letting formerly productive fields lie fallow so that they can concentrate their limited water supply on the remaining fields. This will, in turn, cause a shortage of those particular foods, which will make them more expensive, based on the laws of supply and demand.

However, this doesn’t have to affect you as badly as it will those who rely solely on the grocery store to get their food.

Things are still growing, and they are probably growing near you.  I cheerfully take those huge clubs of zucchini that my neighbors don’t know what to do with and I preserve them for the winter ahead. There is still a lot of abundance in our country, the thing is, that abundance near you is happening RIGHT NOW, not in 6 months. You have to think ahead by getting things while they are at their peak – at this point in time people with gardens have a tremendous amount of overflow. The key to making this help your budget is saving that overflow for later, when it will be outrageously expensive to get it from the store.

You don’t have to be an expert to grow food.

Well, I sure hope not, otherwise we’ll starve. I have grown gardens before. Some have been so successful that they looked like a lush jungle in my yard, while others have wilted, laying down in defeat in the blazing sun. I’m definitely not a master gardener. I wouldn’t even say I have a particularly green thumb. (Just summon a medium and ask some of my victims – I am like the serial killer of once-thriving house plants).  I’m telling you this so you know that anyone can do it if they have the desire to do so: no genetically inherited alien-colored digit is required.

You don’t have to be an expert, but you do have to be determined. You have to be willing to ask questions of others in your area who have been growing for years. You have to observe the things growing in your region. You have to be willing to put in hard work and get dirty. And if something dies, you have to cut your losses and try something else.  I recently thought I had killed my herb garden during the last heat wave. I uprooted everything – it was all wilted and semi-dead looking, and repotted in containers, which I moved to a shadier location. I lost some plants but more than half of them surprised me by bouncing back.  From this I learned two things: 1) Where NOT to plant herbs next year and 2) If it’s already dying, what can it hurt to try something new? It might finish the plant off or it might give it a chance to rejuvenate.

Most of all, realize that if you keep plugging away at it, you can grow food. If other people in your area are growing food, it can be done. If it can be done, you can do it too.  For centuries, this was how people got enough food to eat and the human race hasn’t died out yet. This means that, given a little bit of space, you can grow food too.

Chime in!

What’s growing in your area right now?  How are you preserving it?  Do you have suggestions for those who are in a situation where they can’t grow a garden?  And how are your plans coming along to join the Grocery Store Rebellion on August 1?

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

If you enjoyed this article, please Vote for The Organic Prepper as a top prepping web site.

Are There Any Terrorist Groups Who AREN’T Paid Foot Soldiers for the U.S. Military-Intelligence Agenda?

Activist Post -

Melissa Melton
Activist Post 

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. — President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let me see if I have this right, because it’s getting really hard to keep things straight these days.

So it is on record that the U.S. government/military-industrial complex has financially backed the ISIS rebels in Syria to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, and key members were trained by our CIA at a secret military base in Jordan back in 2012. (See here and here for starters.) In fact, ISIS is reportedly a joint effort created by the intelligence agencies of the U.S., United Kingdom and Israel, as ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi reportedly received military training from those three agencies as per recent Edward Snowden revelations.

Worse, as reports uncovered by Tony Cartalucci showed, “the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia had planned as far back as 2007 to specifically use sectarian extremists to overrun and overthrow Syria.” ISIS, by the way, is the same group who are now crucifying Christians in Iraq.

It is also on record that the U.S. government gave Bin Laden a $3 billion investment to create the terrorist network Al Qaeda — the same Al Qaeda we’re supposed to believe “did 9/11″ but also the same Al Qaeda the U.S. helped fund and put into power in Libya to overthrow Gaddafi and who ultimately killed our Ambassador and three other Americans there.

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The U.S. government under the Bush Administration also gave a lump sum $43 million “grant” to Afghanistan’s Taliban government back in May 2001 right before 9/11 — that’s on top of previous financial aid already being doled out to Afghanistan at the time, and in addition to the untold billions they received back in the Soviet era when they were known as the Mujahideen. The CATO Institute puts that $43 million into context: “Afghanistan’s estimated gross domestic product was a mere $2 billion. The equivalent financial impact on the U.S. economy would have required an infusion of $215 billion. In other words, $43 million was very serious money to Afghanistan’s theocratic masters.”

The U.S. government, along with Israel, also helped create Hamas as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

And currently the U.S. government is financially backing the Ukrainian soldiers who are “cleansing” the “parasites” the U.S. government and media refers to as “pro-Russian separatist terrorists” (which are really just people who don’t vote the way our government wants them to in more recent Ukrainian elections) after a military operation where the U.S. put a controlled billionaire globalist puppet into power in Ukraine.

As Washington’s Blog warned:
If the American public doesn’t start investigating [the Ukrainian civil war] now, then the results for all of us will be far worse, especially because this one could end in a nuclear war. And here is a video exposing the lies of the Obama Administration and its stooge-regime in Kiev about the May 3rd massacre in Odessa that sparked Ukraine’s civil war — our ethnic cleansing of the people who live in Ukraine’s southeast.But we’re supposed to believe what our government says about Russia’s involvement in shooting down Malaysian flight MH17, right? Because they don’t have a vested interest in pointing the finger at Russia, right?

Oh, I almost forgot. The Obama Administration also handed out $1.5 billion to Egypt’s military (which all ultimately ends up in the coffers of U.S. defense contractors) a few years ago when the country was under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here’s even a story about how one of the biggest banks in the United States, Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo), helped launder hundreds of billions of dollars for the murderous Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa.

These are all terrorist organizations that commit horrific atrocities against humanity.

So I guess the question is: can anyone name one major influential terrorist group on the world stage today who aren’t ultimately paid foot soldiers of the Western military alliance for a carefully staged military-intelligence agenda?

Just one?


P.S. — See also, “The Best Enemies Money Can Buy”:

Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared, and a co-creator of Truthstream Media. Wake the flock up!

Glyphosate Detected in Deformed Piglets

Activist Post -

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

In April, a Danish farmer called for a ban on glyphosate. For three years he had used non-GMO soy feed for his pig herds, but when he ran out, he ordered two tons of GM soy feed. His herdsman immediately told the farmer of diarrhea in the piglets and lack of appetite in the sows. He had not told the herdsman of the feed switch.

Worse, he began noticing an absurd amount of deformed piglets and reproductive problems in the sows.  Roundup is used on GMO soy shortly before it is used as pig feed.

But that's not all - he brought 38 malformed piglets to a laboratory. In a research project by German and Egypt Veterinarian doctors using ELISA testing, differing levels of glyphosate (aka Roundup herbicide, by Monsanto) concentrations were discovered in piglets born from sows eating genetically modified soy feed.

That research became "Detection of Glyphosate in Malformed Piglets," published in April, by open access journal Environmental & Analytical Toxicology.

All organs and tissues of the euthanized one-day old piglets contained glyphosate. Highest concentrations of glyphosate were found in the lungs, followed by the hearts. Lowest concentrations were found in muscle tissues. They noticed that the rate of malformations increased to one out of every 260 piglets born of sow when feeds contained 0.87-1.13 ppm glyphosate during the first 40 days of pregnancy. If feed soy contained 0.25 ppm glyphosate, then one of 1,432 piglets was malformed.

They postulated that glyphosate was reaching the piglets through the placenta of their dams. They draw from a 2010 study citing glyphosate's effects on embryonic and placental cells (in chickens), producing mitochondrial damage, necrosis and programmed cell death with doses far below those used in agricultural concentrations.

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In their summary, they write:
The detection of such glyphosate concentrations in these malformed piglets could be an allusion to the cause of these congenital anomalies. Further investigations are urgently needed to prove or exclude the role of glyphosate in malformations in piglets and other animals.Detected deformities in piglets from the picture in the study:

Spinal deformation, ear not formed, cranial deformation, cranium hole in head, born alive piglets with short legs and one eye not developed, one was born with one large eye and an elephant trunk with bone in it (!!!), elephant tongue, female piglet with testicles, piglet born with swollen stomach has disconnected fore gut and hind gut (intestines), and one malformed with swollen belly.

They conclude:
...glyphosate could reach the animals through food and feed and is able to pass the placental barriers. Further studies are warranty needed to confirm or exclude the role of glyphosate in malformation in piglets.Check out the actual number amounts of glyphosate found in the piglet organs because they were averaged out. But high maximum numbers were apparent in the livers, kidneys and brains too. You might also appreciate the other studies listed in their references.

When sticking to non-GMO soy feed, the farmer reports that his herds average more piglets, less piglet diarrhea, fewer ulcers, no bloat and better milk and appetite. Previously, he did not experience the amount of malformations that prompted him to go to the lab. He does not blame the farmers, but the chemical companies and government agencies for not taking safety matters seriously. He no longer minds paying extra for non-GMO feed - about $0.04 (USD) more per pound - which adds up, but better preserves his herds.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

Bloomberg Lies as Ukrainian Rebels Allegedly Down 2 Warplanes

Activist Post -

Are Ukrainian separatists foolish enough
to continue using Buk missile systems?
Tony Cartalucci
Activist Post

In Bloomberg's article, "Two Ukrainian Jets Shot Down, Three Dangerous Explanations," it claims two Ukrainian SU-25 ground attack warplanes were shot down by rebels over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, stating:
Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman told reporters in Kiev that two of its Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets were shot down while flying at 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) over the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. The pilots ejected, and their whereabouts are unknown. At 17,000 feet, the planes would have been outside the range of the shoulder-fired missiles that the rebels contend are their only air-defense weapons. The planes would, however, be in range of a surface-to-air missile such as the Buk, which is suspected to have been used to shoot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 on July 17.Bloomberg's "three dangerous explanations" are patently false.

They first asserts that the rebels have been lying about the weapons they have access to, claiming (emphasis added):
This possibility would mean that the rebels do, in fact, have missiles capable of hitting a plane at high altitude. The evidence mustered so far that the Malaysia Air plane was shot down at 33,000 feet over rebel-held territory has proven a major problem. “The rebels are clearly having a very difficult time denying having access to such equipment,” says Reed Foster, a defense analyst at IHS Jane’s in London. The rebels have said they have shoulder-fired weapons known as MANPADS, but Foster says shooting down a plane at 17,000 would be “far outside the capacity” of those weapons.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
However, Jane's itself published an article titled, "Ukraine claims Malaysian airliner was shot down in its territory," in which it claimed (emphasis added):
The shooting down of a Ukrainian air force An-26 transport plane in Luhansk province on 14 July has also raised questions about more advanced systems potentially being operated by the separatists. The An-26 military aircraft was hit while flying at cruising altitude (6,500 m), out of the range of most MANPADS. This suggests the separatists have either gained access to more advanced systems - such as the 9K38 Igla-S (SA-24) MANPADS, 96K6 Pantsyr-S1 self-propelled air defence systems, or 9K37 Buk (SA-11) self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems - or that the aircraft was downed by a missile fired by a Russian system over the border. Moscow denied any involvement in that incident. In other words, there are MANPADS capable of hitting Ukrainian SU-25 warplanes and even higher flying military transport planes (up to 6,500 m) - without possessing weapons like Buk missile systems that could reach 33,000 feet where MH17 was flying, or higher.

Bloomberg's other two "explanations," include Russia firing the missiles from within their territory - which like all claims by the Western media lack any evidence at all to back them up - and that the Ukrainian government is lying, which is of course plausible since the Ukrainian government already irrationally claims "Russia" shot down MH17 on purpose as an act of malice state-sponsored terrorism. But while Ukraine lying about the incident is possible, the fact that man-portable missile systems rebels may possess could target and take down the SU-25s at the altitudes they were allegedly flying at, provides the most credible "explanation," and not surprisingly, the explanation Bloomberg intentionally omitted from its propaganda.

With all that is at stake amid the current politically-motivated climate surrounding the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, would Ukrainian separatists still be using Buk missile systems if they indeed had them to begin with? Would the Russians still be assisting them in their use - a necessity the West has unanimously declared would be required for separatists to deploy the Buk missile system in the first place? Or were Ukrainian separatists using the highly capable MANPAD systems Jane's alluded to in their recent analysis of aircraft shot down at higher altitudes than the two SU-25s were flying at? Without actual evidence provided by Bloomberg or the less than credible Ukrainian regime they are citing, commonsense suggests the latter.

Tony Cartalucci's articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at 
Land Destroyer Report, Alternative Thai News Network and LocalOrg.  

Read other contributed articles by Tony Cartalucci here.

Human Rights Court Condemns Poland for CIA Torture Black Site

Activist Post -

image sourceJoe Wright
Activist Post

The CIA global torture network is coming under much-needed revived scrutiny from the latest revelation that a secret prison existed in a Polish forest for the purpose of rendition and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

As the video report below highlights, the European Court of Human Rights has concluded that Poland fully cooperated with the establishment of the site and subsequently failed to investigate prisoner claims of torture while being held there.

Two men at the heart of the ruling were essentially kidnapped from Thailand in 2002 and brought to the site. The court's ruling is the very first to issue a condemnation and financial penalty to a country involved in the program. The report also aknowledges that Poland housed one of the most important of the early rendition sites, and therefore might spark a wave of rulings against other countries who cooperated - believed to be more than 50 in number.

While the court's ruling is symbolically important, until those who orchestrated the global program of kidnapping and torture are brought to justice, this might become an ongoing piece of political theater that actually covers up more than it exposes.

Transcript by Erik Shute 

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Poland violated an international treaty by hosting secret CIA prisons within its borders.

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"The Strasbourg based court found Poland cooperated in the 'preparation and execution of CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory'".​ (Via euronews)

Among those under secret detention were Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two alleged terrorists from Sudan who brought the case to the human rights court. BBC reports both men are currently held at Guantanamo Bay. They claim they were taken to a secret CIA prison, or black site, in a Polish forest and subjected to treatment which amounted to torture. (Via Getty Images)

The court's findings state:

- The two men were taken from Thailand to the Polish black site in 2002.
- Poland knew about the operations and did nothing to protect the human rights of prisoners.
- The court also found Poland failed to launch any investigation into the men's claims. (Via European Court of Human Rights)

Now Poland will pay more than 300-thousand dollars to the two terror suspects for violating their rights.

What's more, lawyers from al-Nashiri told The Wall Street Journal they plan on using the court's ruling as a defense when their client stands trial.

But this case is about more than penalties and legal defenses. This is the first ruling of its kind to condemn the CIA’s covert operation. Al Jazeera, along with other news outlets, believe this could set a new precedent and convict more countries.

The new judgment crystallizes a decisive moment at which, for countries complicit in the 'rendition, detention, interrogation' program, it has become absurd to deny involvement.” (Via Al Jazeera)

The ruling has already made Poland reel in response. RT quotes a presidential spokesperson as saying,

"The ruling of the tribunal in Strasbourg on CIA jails is embarrassing for Poland and is a burden both in terms of our country's finances as well as its image." (Via RT)

And what about the images of the U.S. and the CIA?  The New York Times reports the U.S. is outside the court's jurisdiction, but this could help President Obama address legal questions that arose after the program ended. Remember: in his first week in office, the president shut down the detainee program and black site operations. (Via Getty Images)

The CIA black site in Poland been widely reported on since 2005. Since then, information about its history and use have seeped from Washington. The Washington Post wrote about the Polish prison just last January saying,

“The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was the first of a trio in Europe that housed the initial wave of accused Sept. 11 conspirators.” (Via The Washington Post)

RT cites reports claiming there are 54 countries worldwide who have offered to help the CIA detain, transport, and interrogate suspects since the September ​11th attacks. On Thursday, Amnesty International called for these supporting countries to be investigated as well.

Recently by Joe Wright:

Trial Scheduled Over Missing Surveillance Tapes of Oklahoma City Bombing

Activist Post -

Fox 13

"Jesse Trentadue is suing the CIA and FBI, demanding the agencies release surveillance video of the bombing that killed 168. But the federal government claims the tapes don’t exist anymore." ...

"The trial begins Monday and is expected to wrap up Wednesday. It is anticipated that the federal judge handling the case will issue a ruling in writing at a later date."

Full lawsuit can be read here:

Smart Homes Reveal User Behavior, Prone to Hacks: Study

Activist Post -

Kevin Samson
Activist Post

Our Internet-driven world filled with interconnected smart gadgets and computing applications is making us vulnerable to potentially life-changing hacks and tracking. Not only are modern cars open to being hacked, but also boats, planes, and GPS-driven weapons. (Source)

The modern smart home So, perhaps you think you'll ditch the modern car, get rid of the smartphone, limit travel and hunker down safe and cozy in your home? Well, unfortunately, if your house is filled with modern appliances and electronics, it could potentially open you up for a nightmare experience. This is the subject of a new European study that will be presented at the ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks in Oxford.

The smart home market is exploding even as news about pervasive surveillance and concerns over Agenda 21 continue to mount.

According to a report from Market Watch, the global numbers are staggering; the report also notes how government regulations will promote future growth.

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The following points are taken from a full report that you can read here. Emphasis mine:
  • APAC smart homes market is expected to have a stable growth in coming years, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $9.23 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 16.73% from 2013 to 2020.
  • The total European smart homes market is expected to reach $13.81 billion by 2020 at a double digit CAGR from 2013 to 2020.
  • The major drivers for the European smart homes market are the regulatory initiatives and the mandatory measures taken by European Union (EU), and the comfort and the security ensured by the smart homes systems.
  • The major restraints for the European smart homes market are the lack of standardization and high costs of the smart homes systems.
  • The growth of the Americas smart homes market in the coming years is expected to be remarkable, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $22.4 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 17.62% from 2013 to 2020.
  • China, currently, leads the market share for APAC smart homes as this region has the maximum adoption. South East Asia countries from Others market are the emerging market for smart homes and are poised for the highest growth rate amongst all the countries followed by China growing at a CAGR of 17.50% from 2013-2020. It is estimated that the Others market will increase at a CAGR of 19.13% from 2013 to 2020.
As you can see from the third bullet point, security is one of the main selling points of this massive rollout. However, vulnerabilities are being exposed which could undermine this aspect of the initiative.

IT security expert Christop Sorge and a team of researchers at Saarland University in Germany believe in the benefits of smart homes, so they have undertaken an examination of how to provide better protection against the negative consequences of the massive amount of data that is gathered by these systems.

Here is how they describe the current reality:
"Many of the systems do not provide adequate security against unwanted third-party access and therefore threaten the privacy of the inhabitants," says Sorge. For the purposes of their study, the researchers took on the role of a malicious attacker. "Using a simple mini-PC no bigger in size than a packet of cigarettes we eavesdropped on the wireless home automation systems (HASs) of two volunteers and were thus able to determine just how much information a conventional wireless HAS reveals about its user," explains Sorge. No other information about the users was available to the research group. The result: "Non-encrypted systems provide large quantities of data to anyone determined enough to access the data, and the attacker requires no prior knowledge about the system, nor about the user being spied on," says Professor Sorge. "The data acquired by the attacker can be analysed to extract system commands and status messages, items which reveal a lot about the inhabitants' behavior and habits. We were able to determine absence times and to identify home ventilation and heating patterns," explains the expert in legal informatics. The analysis enabled the research group to build up profiles of the inhabitants. Even systems that use encryption technology can supply information to third parties: "The results indicate that even when encrypted communication is used, the number of messages exchanged is enough to provide information on absence times," says Sorge. Potential attacks can be directed against the functionality of the system or the privacy of the inhabitants. "An attacker with malicious intent could use this sort of information to plan a burglary," says Sorge. (emphasis added) [Source]If we have learned anything, we have learned that there are gaping security holes in nearly every modern computing application. As a matter of personal privacy and data protection it is concerning enough, but as the Internet of Things expands to include everything - even our own bodies as form of identification and access - the potential dangers are becoming as exponential as the advancement of the technology itself.

Until the proper protections are proven in real-world conditions, we should be doing all we can not to buy into these gadgets and conveniences. We must also refuse any mandatory measures to impose this smart world upon us.

image source

Recently from Kevin Samson:

Purchasing Power: Good Luck Getting Out of THIS

Activist Post -

Rodney Johnson
Activist Post

As I age, I’m fighting to stay healthy (while trying to keep whatever purchasing power I have left). My battle is not life-threatening or even serious, but it involves some chronic leg pain that has become more of a hassle every day. Our confusing health-care industry just makes me feel worse.

This year, I exchanged my high-deductible, health-savings account insurance plan for one with more benefits (and greater premiums), because of the Affordable Care Act. So I figured this was the year to address my issues once and for all.
That being said, I’m still intent on managing the costs associated with my care, even though I’m not responsible for paying medical costs beyond a pre-set copay, no matter what the costs.

I’m trying to fight the moral hazard of having limited financial liability but still able to rack up excessive medical expenses. This seems like the path that all of us should take in order to reign in the crazy costs of health care.

However, in my efforts to manage these expenses, I’m failing miserably… and I am sure I am not alone.

The system is a complete mess — not least because we play the dual roles of consumer and patient.

Purchasing Power Shouldn’t be Tricky

The billing system is a riddle, at best. There seems to be no relationship between the actual cost of a procedure or treatment and what we end up paying. It seems impossible for a patient to know in advance what any of it will end up costing, even if he shopped around like a discerning consumer.

Besides, even if this super-sleuth of a patient was able to determine the cost of care ahead of time, what could he do about it? How exactly are we supposed to shop around and try to bring some rationale to this system? So far, I’ve been unable to solve this puzzle.

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My own health issue has eluded diagnosis, leading to a number of MRIs and other tests.

In past years when I had such tests, I’d tell the provider I was self-insured. Given that my deductible was five figures, I was definitely going to pay the entire cost. On this basis, I negotiated the price of MRIs from $1,500 down to $300. That seemed reasonable.

But now that I have a super-duper insurance policy, I can no longer claim self-insurance. My power to negotiate (to the extent it ever existed) is gone. I simply hand over my card and pay the bill, which, for an MRI, is $150.

One might expect the additional cost covered by my insurance would be near $150, bringing the total cost to the $300 that I paid before as a self-pay — but I’m not so sure. A recent charge for an MRI to my insurance company was $2,200. I’ve not seen the discount yet, but I don’t think it will be $1,900.

That charge left me a bit shaken, but I was really taken aback by the next phase of the process…

Because I was not getting medical answers around town, my primary-care doctor suggested I go to one of several famous diagnostic centers. I called my insurance company and quickly found that choosing one in state would greatly reduce my costs, as well as the cost to the insurance company.
OK, sign me up!

Being a fairly organized person, I arrived at my appointment fully prepared. I met with my doctor and presented a binder containing a timeline of my symptoms, treatments, tests and previous doctors visits. After an hour and a half of review, she rendered her informed opinion — apparently, I’m just built this way. From a medical standpoint, there was nothing wrong with me.

Her solution: I should instead investigate a pain-management regimen. I left her office disappointed because it didn’t give me a path toward resolution of my issue. Her suggestion was simply to find a way to live with it. But my disappointment turned to fury when I got the $735 bill.

The insurance company’s negotiated rate was $400. No tests were performed, and this doctor didn’t consult with others. The $400 cost was simply for spending 90 minutes with a person who, at the end of the process, had no idea what the problem was. My cost for this was just my co-pay of $20, the rest was paid by the insurance company.

The fact that I personally paid so little might seem like a win for me, but it’s not. I still have no way to manage the overall expenses, and neither does anyone else, as far as I can tell. While my co-pay might only be $20, my premium can always be ratcheted higher when I renew — not because of my individual procedures, but because the collective cost of care is growing.

The process was starting to feel like a game — and one that I was losing. Then things got even more confusing.

I was referred to a chronic-pain specialist in my hometown. I was skeptical, but after meeting with him, I was pleased with his approach and his methods.

I think I’ve found a good physician that can help me get to the cause of my issues, which is great! What I struggle with is the crazy — and costly — path to treatment.

At my first appointment, I was given 22 pages of forms to fill out. Thirteen of them were financial documents. I signed that I’m responsible for all costs. I noticed that even if my insurance company declined to pay, I would still have to pay, even though I verified this doctor is in my network.

If my injury were the result of an accident, the doctor would be first in line to be paid from any recovery in a lawsuit, if he had not yet been paid.

It was hard to tell if I was going to a doctor or buying a house. It’s also a sad commentary on the level of fraud and abuse in our medical system by patients. And it’s a strange evolution of the health-care industry that doctors have to become lawyers to protect themselves and guarantee payment of their fees.

In the end, my doctor prescribed a minor procedure that was to be done at an outpatient facility. I called my insurance company and was informed the surgery center was out of network.

I called the center the next day to cancel so that I could find an in-network provider (trying to keep the costs down for everyone) and was informed by a customer service representative that the surgery center would accept my low deductible. They would send the bill, as usual, to my insurance company, she said, and they would accept whatever they received from my provider as full payment and write off the rest.

When I asked if I could get that in writing, she laughed and pointed out that it wouldn’t change the cost to the insurance company — they still pay only the portion that is derived from outpatient pricing.

From my standpoint, it seemed very convoluted.

So now I’m left with physician and treatment bills I can’t negotiate, but am not responsible for paying, either.

I’ve signed over any proceeds from a lawsuit regarding my injury to cover my care, even though no lawsuit exists.

And I’m relying on the word of a customer service representative that many of the forms I’ve signed don’t matter, since the billing will be handled differently.

It’s impossible to navigate this system with any clarity!

Now that health coverage is mandatory, we’ve added millions of people to this insane system. It’s hard to see how this is going to make things better.

We have yet to simplify the process of providing care and paying for services rendered. Instead, we’ve only succeeded in making the purchase of insurance more straightforward.

Having more people covered is a positive for the country (although the path to this coverage is debatable), but until we address the underlying issues surrounding the provision of care and how we pay for it, things will simply get worse as Americans get older.

While all of this makes me shake my head, at least we can use the fact that boomers are aging, and requiring more health care, to our advantage in some ways. Adam O’Dell, the chief investment analyst for Boom & Bust, has provided subscribers with some great gains in this space over the past two years. Now that’s making lemonade out of lemons!

Rodney Johnson works closely with Harry Dent to study how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life, how that spending drives our economy and how you can use this information to invest successfully in any market. Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. He’s a regular guest on several radio programs such as America’s Wealth Management, Savvy Investor Radio, and has been featured on CNBC, Fox News and Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard, where he discusses economic trends ranging from the price of oil to the direction of the U.S. economy. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University. This article first appeared at Economy and Markets

Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth's 6th mass extinction event

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James Temple imageActivist Post

The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event.

Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of "Anthropocene defaunation."

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

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Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.

Although these species represent a relatively low percentage of the animals at risk, their loss would have trickle-down effects that could shake the stability of other species and, in some cases, even human health.

For instance, previous experiments conducted in Kenya have isolated patches of land from megafauna such as zebras, giraffes and elephants, and observed how an ecosystem reacts to the removal of its largest species. Rather quickly, these areas become overwhelmed with rodents. Grass and shrubs increase and the rate of soil compaction decreases. Seeds and shelter become more easily available, and the risk of predation drops.

Consequently, the number of rodents doubles – and so does the abundance of the disease-carrying ectoparasites that they harbor.

"Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission," said Dirzo, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a vicious circle."

The scientists also detailed a troubling trend in invertebrate defaunation. Human population has doubled in the past 35 years; in the same period, the number of invertebrate animals – such as beetles, butterflies, spiders and worms – has decreased by 45 percent.

As with larger animals, the loss is driven primarily by loss of habitat and global climate disruption, and could have trickle-up effects in our everyday lives.

For instance, insects pollinate roughly 75 percent of the world's food crops, an estimated 10 percent of the economic value of the world's food supply. Insects also play a critical role in nutrient cycling and decomposing organic materials, which helps ensure ecosystem productivity. In the United States alone, the value of pest control by native predators is estimated at $4.5 billion annually.

Dirzo said that the solutions are complicated. Immediately reducing rates of habitat change and overexploitation would help, but these approaches need to be tailored to individual regions and situations. He said he hopes that raising awareness of the ongoing mass extinction – and not just of large, charismatic species – and its associated consequences will help spur change.

"We tend to think about extinction as loss of a species from the face of Earth, and that's very important, but there's a loss of critical ecosystem functioning in which animals play a central role that we need to pay attention to as well," Dirzo said. "Ironically, we have long considered that defaunation is a cryptic phenomenon, but I think we will end up with a situation that is non-cryptic because of the increasingly obvious consequences to the planet and to human wellbeing."

The coauthors on the report include Hillary S. Young, University of California, Santa Barbara; Mauro Galetti, Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil; Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Nick J.B. Isaac, of the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England; and Ben Collen, of University College London.

Written by Bjorn Carey. For more Stanford experts on ecology and other topics, visit Stanford Experts.

University of Texas Student Arrested for Terrorism Felt Austin was Safest Place for Muslims

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UT student suspected of terrorism believed in “balance”

Julie Wilson
Activist Post

In mid-June, two Austin men were arrested on charges related to terrorism, one of them being University of Texas student, Rahat Khan, and the other, Michael Wolfe, also known as Faruq.

Both men, 23, were charged with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorists,” according to the Department of Justice.

The criminal complaint against Khan alleges that he conspired to “recruit people to travel overseas to support terrorist activities including committing violent jihad,” and that he used the Authentic Tauheed Paltalk chat room to locate these recruits.

Authentic Tauheed is an online chat room used for listening and taking notes on lectures discussing Islam.

The documents accuse Khan of connecting an informant with co-conspirators who discussed the secret source’s “passport and possible routes to move [the source] into Somalia to join al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated, [terrorist organization],” as reported by KXAN.

FBI officials also allege they met with Khan, and in an unrecorded meeting the suspect said, “he could not wait to spill blood.”

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Allegations against Wolfe include that he intended to travel to the Middle East to help “radical groups fighting in Syria,” which led to his arrest while he and his family were boarding a plane to Denmark that was departing from Houston.

The federal complaint alleges Wolfe said he told an undercover agent that he was practicing “Cross-Fit” so that he would be fit for jihad.

Friends say UT student was devoted to his family

Other than information provided to the media by FBI arrest affidavits, little has been known about the two men. However, a recent interview with one of the suspect’s close friends, and acquaintance, Ryen Burns, sheds light on the life the men led, detailing relationships and beliefs that were important to them.

Khan’s close friend, who wishes to remain anonymous due to previous visits by the FBI, said he met Khan about two years ago at the North Austin Muslim Community Center, which functions as a place of worship and offers a chance for Muslim brothers and sisters to get to know each other.

When news of the arrest broke, the Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force refused to provide details regarding the men’s relationship and if the two cases were related; however, it’s now been confirmed that they did in fact know each other.

Sources say the Muslim community in Austin is very tight knit, and the two men shared mutual friends as well as attended the same mosque.

When asked about their reaction to the charges brought against their friends, both admitted they were quite shocked and skeptical of the allegations.

Khan’s close friend, who knew his family and worked for his father in the construction business, said he “spent time with him [Khan] in the most private of settings, when there was no one else around, and not once did he ever try to recruit me for al shabab or get me to go to Somalia.”

In fact, one of the most important concepts Khan learned during his time as a Muslim was “balance.” He constantly spoke of the importance of balance and avoiding extremism in any religion, they said.

According to the friends, while engaging in conversation about world events, including America’s foreign policy, and the fighting between Gaza and Israel, Khan stood up for America’s liberties, stressing that Muslims have a far better livelihood in the United States than in many other countries.

About a year and a half ago while they were driving around, Khan reportedly told friends that he felt Austin, Texas was the safest place in the world to be Muslim.

“Does that sound like the views of an extremist? When we’re in the car and nobody else is around?

“It doesn’t to me, and that’s why I have a hard time believing it,” said the suspect’s close friend.

“Because the word Muslim is thrown in there, all of a sudden there is an intention, and a motive, and there’s conspiracy,” added Burns.

“I just don’t buy it.”

If the suspects were trying to leave the country, and were perceived as a threat, why not just revoke their citizenship and prevent them from returning? asked the friends.

Since their arrest, both men initially pleaded not guilty, but later in a second hearing that plea was reversed.

The guilty plea was the “path of least resistance,” said the friend, adding that Khan most likely wanted to save his family the expenses and heartache of a trial.

“He knows he looks super Muslim, he’s brown in America in 2014 and he has charges on him.

“With all of the current foreign affairs going on in the Muslim world, and America’s foreign policy and domestic policy, I think they [FBI] misunderstood” and what was said in the Paltalk chat room was taken out of context, they said.

On the day Khan and Wolfe were arrested, nearly ten friends of the men received visits from the FBI, questioning them about their relationships to the suspects and whether or not they had plans to travel.

One of the friends questioned by agents said the FBI made up lies about him, and spread them around in an attempt to intimidate others during the interrogations.

“They said I was an al-Qaeda recruiter shipping people in crates.”

Despite his unpleasant interaction with the FBI, he surprisingly defended their mission.

“I think that these agents are trying to do their job, be it by any means necessary,” he admitted.

“I think they’re trying to protect the homeland, but that doesn’t mean they’re going about it the right way. They might be sincere, but I believe they’re sincerely wrong.”

High profile Austin attorney, Joseph A Turner, who has represented clients like Willie Nelson, was unable to provide any information on Khan’s case, suggesting there may be something to tell in a few months.

Kahn is currently being held at the Bastrop County Jail, and Wolfe at the Caldwell County Jail. Sentencing for the two men has yet to be scheduled.

Recently by Julie Wilson:
BIO: Julie Wilson is an Austin-based investigative journalist whose articles have been cited on sites such as Natural News, Infowars, Ben Swann and The Liberty Beat. Follow me on Twitter @JulieJay2904! If you have any tips please email Julie.Wilson2034@gmail.com.

McDonald's Stands By Meat Supplier Amid Shanghai Food Scandal

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Heather Callaghan
Activist Post
One of the latest food scares has rocked Shanghai, China and the restaurant chains serving patrons there. Recent revelations have also rocked trust in the processed food system. A TV report on Sunday showed workers at a branch of Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, owned by Illinois-based OSI Group, using expired meats and those that had fallen on the floor.

Yesterday, five people connected to the company were arrested and detained by Shanghai police. Yum Brands Inc which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have cut ties with the company. Starbucks pulled away too, after having to recall its apple-chicken panini sandwiches from its Chinese chains. Hong Kong has just banned importation of OSI's products.

But this food system issue has implications for the U.S. as well.

McDonald's had said previously to Reuters, "If proven, the practices outlined in the reports are completely unacceptable to McDonald's anywhere in the world."
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However, it looks as though they have changed their tune. Or at least, there's a caveat. On Tuesday, they said they were no longer serving food from the primary Husi facility, but...
Chicago Tribune has reported:“According to OSI, Chinese authorities have inspected Husi’s other facilities, allowing us to confidently serve our customers,” the world's largest hamburger chain said in a statement. Oak Brook-based [Illinois] McDonald’s said it sourced chicken, beef, pork and lettuce from Shanghai Husi. Now, it plans to get such items from Husi’s “new state-of-the-art facility” in Henan.An imaginary camera zooms in on a random McDonald's patron who says, "Aw! I just ate there last week, man!"
In other words, this could be the first time people are realizing where their fast food actually comes from. And without really saying it, it sounds like McD's just admitted to serving expired, dirty meat to U.S. customers. Measures were taken to seal and block meat upon revelation, but how long had expired floor-meats been used? McDonald's feels "a bit deceived"? What about the people eating it?

This time it'll be different, right? 
McDonald's is standing by OSI and its new facility in China, putting faith in current inspections. Why? OSI is basically "made for" McDonald's because the group is the fast-food chain's biggest supplier. And how would the world's biggest fast food chain suddenly cut off its biggest supplier? Yum Brands and Starbucks didn't really utilize OSI supplies that much.
Unfortunately, some former employees of OSI branches have alleged similar unclean working conditions in Illinois. One employee alleged cow hair, sweat, spit and chewed gum going into the vats. 
Last Fall, the USDA lifted bans on Chinese processed chicken imports. Chicken produced here can be shipped to China for processing and then sent back to the states. Oddly, it remains a cheap process. And the imports aren't really inspected. It gets worse - the USDA doesn't plan on having on-site inspections or use inspectors for U.S. chicken, but will take the word of poultry processor employees. Why? It speeds things up and saves money.
Are these more signs that a top-heavy processed food system in the U.S. is about to topple?
20 Locators to Find Local Food and Family Farms Near You

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

Internet Sales Tax Quietly Moving Through Congress

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Image sourceEric Blair
Activist Post

Big retailers, including Amazon, have been lobbying long and hard for it, and now the Internet sales tax is back after being quietly reintroduced in the US Senate last week.

The Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act would force customers to pay sales taxes for online purchases from out-of-state online merchants, and it forces online retailers to collect and remit separately sales taxes to all US territories.

Washington Post says "Currently, officials can only levy sales taxes on retailers who have a physical presence, be it a store or warehouse, in their states." Because of that, big box stores complain that Internet retailers have an unfair advantage. Congruently, local officials seem to be salivating at the potential for more revenue.

In March 2013, the Senate voted overwhelmingly 75-to-24 in favor of a largely symbolic version of this bill to gauge the support for the concept of Internet sales taxes. An identical bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last year only to expire in session without a vote.

Earlier this month, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act which bans states from taxing Internet access. Being a fairly popular bill with the public, the Senate wants to hitch this sales tax bill to it in hopes of easier passage.

Critics say a tax will hurt the free decentralized Internet, customers will have to pay more, and most of all it will hurt small online businesses who can't afford to comply with such complex accounting, which is no problem for big guys like Amazon. This is one way the big corporations in all industries use legislation to crowd out competition. It's a new barrier to entry for start-ups and a new thorn for existing businesses.

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Even foreign retailers (no matter where they are located) will have to charge, account for, and remit sales taxes for customers who may reside in a participating U.S. state. It doesn't matter that the retailer has no attachment to the customer's state, or country for that matter. Can anyone see how this may hinder the U.S. economy?

Proponents say the bill only applies to Internet retailers who gross over $1 million, which seems like a lot. However, former Congressman Ron Paul pointed out "many small Internet businesses with over a million dollars in out-of-state revenues operate on extremely thin profit margins, so even the slightest increase in expenses could put them out of businesses."

Paul went on to question the constitutionality of the bill:Some say that it is a legitimate exercise of Congress’s Commerce Clause power to give state governments the authority to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. But if that were the case, why shouldn’t state governments be able to force you to pay sales taxes where you physically cross state lines to make a purchase? The Commerce Clause was intended to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across state lines, not to help states impose new burdens on out of state businesses.And Paul is backed up by the Illinois Supreme Court that ruled the Internet sales tax was unconstitutional:

This bill couldn't be a better example of greedy politicians walking in lockstep with big business. It threatens the level playing field the Internet currently offers. It's time to make some noise.

Recently by Eric Blair

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