On Monday afternoon a civilian boat approached the refueling ship USNS Rappahannock about 10 miles off Dubai's Jebel Ali port, according to the Navy. The Navy said the boat's crew disregarded warnings from the US vessel, and only then did gunners fire on it with a .50 caliber machine gun. The survivors of the attack claim that no warnings were given. As typical in this kind of incident, the US ambassador gave assurances that a full investigation would be made. In 2002, the US military staged the most elaborate war games ever designed. Operation Millennium Challenge, cost about $250 million, and required two years of planning. Retired Marine commander, Lt Gen Paul Van Riper, played the role of the leader of a supposed rogue state. In the first days of the "war," Van Riper's Force Red sunk most of the US fleet. He stopped the US force from eavesdropping on his communications by eliminating the use of radio transmissions. He used couriers and signals from the minarets of mosques during the Muslim call to prayer. He armed the civilian ships and boats and deployed them near the US fleet. Faced with a demand to surrender, Force Red went on the offensive. Some fired cruise missiles from close range, sinking a carrier. At the end, most of the US fleet had been destroyed. Sixteen US warships were on the bottom of the Gulf and thousands of American sailors were dead. Naval Command "raised" the sunken ships, brought the sailors back to life, and continued with the games. Gen Van Riper discovered that his orders to his subordinates were being countermanded. He withdrew in disgust, and charged that the games were rigged to produce the desired outcome.
Progressive left media persist in acting as propaganda outlets for the US NATO destabilization of Syria, thus placating a politically conscious audience that might otherwise be mobilized against acts of imperialism and violence. The historical record suggests how this is not the first time "Progressive publicists" were used to sell a war. A recent report in the UK Guardian by Charlie Skelton explains that Western news outlets remain willing victims, or accomplices in a propaganda campaign for US NATO led Syrian intervention being carried out by skilled and well financed public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, "the spokespeople, the 'experts on Syria', the 'democracy activists', The people who 'urge' and 'warn' and 'call for action' against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well heeled public relations effort to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. "They're selling the idea of military intervention and regime change," Skelton reports, "and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the "activists" and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely, and in many cases financially interlinked with the US and London, the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn't necessarily pure news. It's a sales pitch, a PR campaign." If one thinks that a revelation of this magnitude would be cause for other major Western news media to reassess their reportage of this magnitude would be cause for other major Western news media to reassess their reportage of the Syrian situation, they would be greatly mistaken. Amy Goodman's Democracy Now is a case in point. since the beginning of the "Arab Spring", color revolutions, the foremost to obfuscate and thereby advance the campaign for regime change in Egypt, Libya, and now in Syria.
Western and Gulf powers have launched the largest secret war operation since the Contra war in Nicaragua. The Battle of Damascus is not intended to topple President Bashar al-Assad, but to fracture the Syrian Army to better ensure the domination of Israel and the US over the Middle East. While the city is bracing for a new assault by foreign mercenaries, Thierry Meyssan takes stock of the situation. Coming from abroad, the "Contras" started their invasion of Syria by taking border posts. Over the past five days Washington and Paris have launched an attack operation dubbed "Damascus Volcano and Syrian Earthquake." It is not a new campaign of aerial bombardment, but a secret military operation, similar to the one used in Central America during the Reagan era. Within a few days, 40 to 60,000 Contras, mostly Libyans, entered the country, most often via the Jordanian border. The majority of them are attached to the "Syrian" Free Army, a secret operations front for NATO under Turkish command. Some are affiliated with groups of fanatics, including Al-Qaeda, under Qatars command, or factions of the Saudi Royal Family, the Sudairi. Along the way, they took some border posts, and then moved to the capital, where they have sown confusion by attacking random targets: Police groups or isolated military. Wednesday morning, an explosion destroyed National Security headquarters where some members of the National Security Council were meeting. It cost the lives of General Daoud Rajha, Defence Minister, of General Assef Shawkat, Deputy Minister, and of General Hassan Turkmani, Assistant Vice President of the Republic. The mode of attack remains uncertain: It could have been either a suicide bomber or a stealth drone.
On Monday afternoon a civilian boat approached the refueling ship USNS Rappahannock about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off Dubai's Jebel Ali Port, according to the Navy. The Navy said the boat's crew disregarded warnings from the US vessel, and only then did gunners fire on it with a .50 caliber machine gun. The survivors of the attack claim that no warnings were given. As typical in this kind of incident, the US ambassador gave assurances that a full investigation would be made. In 2002, the US military staged the most elaborate war games ever designed. Operation Millennium Challenge, cost about $250 million, and required two years of planning. Retired Marine commander, Lt Gen Paul Van Riper, played the role of the leader of a supposed rogue state. In the first days of the "war," Van Riper's Force Red sunk most of the US fleet. He stopped the US force from eavesdropping on his communications by eliminating the use of radio transmissions. He used couriers and signals from the minarets of mosques during the Muslim call to prayer. He armed his civilian ships and boats, and deployed them near the US fleet. Faced with the demand to surrender, Force Red went on the offensive. Some of the small boats made suicide attacks. Some fired cruise missiles from close range, sinking a carrier. At the end, most of the US fleet had been destroyed. Sixteen US warships were on the bottom of the Gulf and thousands of American sailors were dead. Naval Command "raised" the sunken ships, brought the sailors back to life, and continued with the games. Gen Van Riper discovered that his orders to his subordinates were being countermanded. He withdrew in disgust and charged that the games were rigged to produce the desired outcome.
Someone managed to get the precious intel needed to penetrate, disrupt and destroy a meeting at the National Security building in Damascus. It is, literally, a bomb. What kind of wily actor managed to get the precious intel needed to penetrate, disrupt and destroy a meeting at the National Security building in Damascus, killing Defense Minister Dawoud Raija and his deputy Assef Shawkat, Bashar al-Assad's brother in law? What really happened is still murky. Reuters said it was a suicide bomber working as a bodyguard for Assad's inner circle. Agence France-Presse reported it was a suicide bomber detonating his belt. Beirut's Al-Akhbar said it was a planted bomb. Same for Lebanon's Al-Manar TV, detailing it was a 40 kilogram bomb. So who was it? The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? The MI6? Saudi Intel? Turkish intel? Or that oh so pliable ghost, al-Qaeda? US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, five months ago, came up with a non denial denial by in fact admitting that Washington was working side by side with al Qaeda in Syria, supporting the Not Exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA). And then there was Hilary "We came, we saw, he died". Clinton only 10 days ago, warning there was still a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault. Just like her prophetic warning only a few days before Muammar Gaddafi was captured, sodomized and executed, how could she be certain of this catastrophic assault? The FSA, out of its Turkey digs, wasted no time in claiming responsibility. It was an improvised explosive device (IED) planted inside the room. There were no suicide bombers. Yet the FSA have been lying through their teeth for months.
Progressive left media persist in acting as propaganda outlets for the US NATO destabilization of Syria, thus placating a politically conscious audience that might otherwise be mobilized against acts of imperialism and violence. The historical record suggests how this is not the first time "Progressive publicists" were used to sell a war. A recent report in the UK Guardian by Charlie Skelton explains that Western news outlets remain willing victims or accomplices in a propaganda campaign for US -NATO led Syrian intervention being carried out by skilled and well financed public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, the spokespeople, the experts on Syria, the democracy activists. The people who urge and warn and call for action against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well heeled public relations effort to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. They are selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, Skelton reports, and the mainstream news media is hungry to buy. Many of the "activists" and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely, and in many cases financially interlinked with the US and London, the very people who would be doing the intervening, which means information and statistics from these sources isn't necessarily pure news. Its a sales pitch, a PR campaign. If one thinks that a revelation of this magnitude would be cause for other Western news media to reassess their reportage of the Syrian situation, they would be greatly mistaken. Amy Goodman's Democracy Now is a case in point. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, color revolutions the foremost broadcast venue of independent progressive Left journalism in the United States has used the reportage to obfuscate and thereby advance the campaign for regime change in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria.
Joanna Blythman, a British investigative food journalist, wants to dispel the myth that eating well is the preserve of the "neurotic rich". Her new book "What To Eat" is a food reference compendium in which she assesses dozens of common foods and food groups. Not only does she consider the taste and healthiness of different foods, but also its environmental impact, the conditions of producers, the welfare of animals and affordability. In a no nonsense style, Ms Blythman lays out her 20 principles of eating. These are simple, thoughtful and practical tips, such as "base your diet on real, unprocessed food", "be skeptical about nutrition advice from 'experts'" and "save money by shopping outside the supermarket". She convincingly argues that supermarkets are not necessarily cheaper. They might be good for processed foods and staples, but her exhaustive research shows that for fresh and un- processed foods, fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, shoppers are better off at their local butcher, fishmonger, or greengrocer. Ms Blythman spoke to The Economist about nutrition, food fallacies and why we should pay more attention to native food knowledge. Food and nutrition has become somewhat confusing nowadays. Was this book an attempt to demystify and simplify food? Absolutely. We are bombarded with misguided government healthy eating advice, and this has had the effect of making food seem hugely complicated. In fact, eating well is simple when you apply a few fundamental principles. People are demoralized because they are trying to follow this advice, yet they are getting fatter and fatter. For lots of people, food has become a minefield of do's and don'ts, and a relaxed appreciation of the pleasures of eating has got a bit lost along the way.
For a capital city unusual, and perhaps unique, in being situated neither on a costline nor along the banks of a big river, Beijing has been under water a lot of late. Violent summer rainstorms flooded the city in June of last year, overwhelming the antiquated drainage system, flooding roads and paralysing the normally bustling city. On July 21st Beijing was struck again by an even more devastating rainstorm. According to official monitors, it was the largest the city has suffered since records began to be kept in 1951. Thirty seven deaths have been blamed on the storm. This has raised questions about whether money spent on such prominent "vanity" projects as skyscrapers and Olympic parks, might have been better spent on basic infrastructure and on improving disaster preparedness. A more common problem is a shortage of water. Beijing is perched precariously on the edge of the Gobi desert, and for centuries planners have been preoccupied with how to bring water into it, not divert it elsewhere. Guo Shoujing, a 13th century scientist and hydrologist, is still revered for designing a network of lakes, weirs and artificial waterways. These not only watered the palaces of Kublai Khan and his descendants, but also allowed barges from the southern parts of the empire to bring "tribute" to their imperial masters and grain to the people of the capital. Drainage was left to open sewers, sluices and canals, none of which were particularly effective when rains came. Over the past 1,000 years, the city has suffered 140 serious floods. Inundations in 1626 and 1890 were especially calamitous. Both of those floods came towards the end of dynasties, when corruption, neglect and mismanagement sapped the government's ability to maintain public works. The current drainage system dates from the 1950s and is based on a Soviet design, which relies on pipes rather than sewers to direct excess water.
Since reassuming his post as Russias President, Vladimir Putin has lost no minute in addressing the most urgent geopolitical threats to Russia internationally. Not surprisingly, at the center of his agenda is the explosive situation in the Middle East, above all Syria. Here Putin is engaging every imaginable situation in the Middle East, above all Syria. Here Putin is engaging every imaginable means of preventing a further deterioration of the situation into what easily could become another world war by miscalculation. His activities in recent weeks involve active personal diplomacy with Syria's government as well as the so-called opposition Syrian National Council. It involves intense diplomacy with Erdogan's Turkey regime. It involves closed door diplomacy with Obama. It involves direct diplomacy with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. Syria itself, contrary to what most western media portray, is a long standing multi ethnic and religiously tolerant secular state with an Alawite Muslim President Bashar Al-Assad, married to a Sunni wife. The Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam, which doesn't force their women to wear head scarves, and are liberal by Sunni standards, especially in the fundamentalist places like Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden to even hold a drivers license. The overall Syrian population is a diverse mix of Alawites, Druze and Kurds, Sunnis, and Armenian Orthodox Christians. Were the minority regime of Al-Assad to fall, experts estimate that, like in Egypt, the murky Sunni, as in Saudi Arabia, Muslim Brotherhood organization would emerge as the dominant organized political force, something certainly not welcome in Tel Aviv and certainly not in either Russia or China.
The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of Exxon Mobile, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions. Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. It the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.
The first thing I saw last month when I walked into the belly of the dark grey C-17 Air Force cargo plain was a void, something missing. A missing left arm, to be exact, severed at the shoulder, temporarily patched and held together. Thick, pale flesh, flecked with bright red at the edges. It looked like meat sliced open. The face and what remained of the rest of the man were obscured by blankets, an American flag quilt, and a jumble of tubes and tape, wires, drip bags, and medical monitors. That man, and two other critically wounded soldiers, one with two stumps where legs had been, the other missing a leg below the thigh, were intubated, unconscious, and lying on stretchers hooked to the walls of the plane that had just landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A tattoo on the soldier's remaining arm read, "DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR." I asked a member of the Air Force medical team about the casualties they see like these. Many, as with this flight, were coming from Afghanistan, he told me. "A lot from the Horn of Africa," he added. "You don't really hear about that in the media." "Where in Africa?" I asked. He said he didn't know exactly, but generally from the Horn, often with critical injuries. "A lot out of Djibouti," he added, referring to Camp Lemonnier, the main US military base in Africa, but from "elsewhere" in the region, too. Since the "Black Hawk Down" deaths in Somalia almost 20 years ago, we've heard little, if anything, about American military casualties in Africa, other than a strange report last week about three special operations commandos killed, along with three women identified by US military sources as "Moroccan prostitutes," in a mysterious car accident in Mali. The growing number of patients arriving at Ramstein from Africa pulls back a curtain on a significant transformation in twenty first century US military strategy.
US prepares for direct intervention in Syria. As FSA proxies fail and psychological operations falter, US prepares more direct approach for long sought regime change. As it becomes increasingly clear that last week's "surge" by NATO backed so called "Free Syrian Army" terrorists was a failed psychological operation, coordinated with meticulously timed assassinations the day of the UN Security Council vote designed to stampede the Syrian government out of power, the FSA's foreign sponsors are preparing the public for a more direct intervention, while desperately attempting to maintain the illusion of chaos and the imminent collapse of Syria's government. Contracting NATO's narrative was Thierry Meyssan in Damascus, Syria who reported that Syria's continuity of government seamlessly moved forward after the assassinations last week, and that state institutions are still standing and very much functional. He describes Syria's latest unrest as the result of a coordinated NATO backed terrorist operation aimed at creating confusion and panic, coupled with Western propaganda, and warns that more operations are likely on the way. The Telegraph's, "Bashar al Assad's Syria is now in a death spiral," and the Guardian's "Syria endgame , who and what will emerge from the ruins?" both desperately attempt to write off the Syrian government as already finished, an unsubstantiated reoccurring narrative being repeated daily by the West. Both articles however, categorically fail in qualifying their premises with subsequent facts. Instead they depend on rehashing the initial violence that accompanied last week's assassinations, violence that has already been adequately dealt with by Syrian security forces.
Whenever some deranged gunman, armed with an assault rifle or some other combat weapon, slaughters young Americans, at a college or a high school or a mall or, now, a movie theater, I think of those documentaries showing Wildebeest on their on their migrations through crocodile infested rivers. In their frightened eyes, you can see that the herd knows that each crocodile will pick off an individual Wildebeest, flip it in the air, break its back, and then drag it away to be devoured. But the herd still crashes through the river, presumably with the understanding that most of them will survive. The Wildebeest may even be emotionally numbed to the fate of the unlucky ones. In a wy, that is what Americans have become. As we send our children off to school or off to a party or off to the movies, we know instinctively that some of them may die at the hands of some troubled person who has obtained a powerful weapon and has decided to avenge some slight by murdering strangers. Sometimes, the dead are in large numbers, like at Aurora, Colorado, multiplex theater, but usually it's just one or two at a time. We just hope it's not our kids. We weep over the tragedy of strangers, but our secret thought is: Thank goodness it wasn't my son or daughter. We are like the Wildebeest continuing the migration hoping that at the next river it won't be our turn. At such moments, it's also typical for news media pundits to wave their fingers at politicians for not having the "courage" to stop this mayhem by standing up to the ruthless National Rifle Association and its gun obsessed fringe, but the harder truth is that the problem is not with America's politicians, it's with American voters.
At one time, calling the large multinational banks, a cartel branded you as a conspiracy theorist. Today the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts. Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid rigging, and price fixing. Damning charges have already been proven, and major damages and penalties assessed. Conspiracy theory has become established fact. In an article in the July 3rd, Guardian titled Private Banks Have Failed - We Need a Public Solution, Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate rigging scandal admitted to by Barclay's Bank: Its already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclay's, and indeed the City of London. This is one of the multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance. It could of course have happened only in a private dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free market ideology that still holds sway in public life. A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City. Finance has usurped democracy: Bid Rigging and Rate- rigging: Bid rigging was the subject of US v Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, a ten year suit in which the US Department of Justice obtained a judgment on May 11, against three GE Capital employees. Billions of dollars were skimmed from cities all across America, by colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. Other banks involved in the bidding scheme included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and UBS.
Birds and bees are something most of us take for granted as part of nature. The expression teaching about the birds and bees to explain the process of human reproduction to young people is not an accidental expression. Bees and birds contribute to the essence of life on our planet . A study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that perhaps one third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, on insect pollinated plants. The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most important pollinator of agricultural crops. Honey bees pollinate over 70 out of 100 crops, that in turn provide 90% of the world's food. They pollinate most fruits and vegetables, including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots. But while managed honey bee populations have increased over the last 50 years, bee colony populations have decreased significantly in many European and North American nations. Simultaneously, crops that are dependent on insects for pollination have increased. The phenomenon has received the curious designation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), implying it could be caused by any number of factors. Serious recent scientific studies however point to a major cause: Use of highly toxic systemic pesticides in agriculture since about 2004. In governments in the EU, USA and other countries fail to impose a total ban on certain chemical insecticides, not only bees become a thing of the past. The human species could face staggering new challenges merely to survive. The immediate threat comes from the widespread proliferation of commercial insecticides containing the highly toxic chemical with the improbable name neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. They act on the central nervous system of insects. But also on bees and small song birds. Recent evidence suggests they could also affect human brain development in newborns.
Many things can make an Olympics memorable. The hope is always that it will be the new world records, sporting prowess and slick and efficient running of the games that do so. The fear is that instead it will be a doping scandal or worse, a terrorist attack. Sometimes though, the memorable moments are more mundane. One reporter told me that the Vancouver winter games in 2010 was marred for her by the horrible food the media center served. I felt little sympathy towards such a gripe, but she was right that such things matter too. That the media is powerful is hardly news to anyone, but Olympic organizers have grown savvy over the years. Journalists often arrive in a city ten days or so before a games, to take the temperature of the town, the games operation and to enjoy the show. Long before the opening ceremony, they start sending back pieces to their home country about how it is all going, and that sets the tone of the games and affect people's views even before the first heats have been held and the first medals awarded. The organizers of London 2012 have amply recognized this if the media center at the Olympic park in Stratford is anything to go by. The true worth of facilities for the press will be tested only once the games are on, and this will come down to whether its wireless connections and other technology stands up to the strain, but on early appearances, it is kitted out pretty well. The center is spacious, has large work areas, zones to find out about different sports, and a number of staff on hand to advise people how to get to their next event at another location in London, where to get a taxi from, or where to get on one of the red London buses that has been commandeered to take journalists around the Olympic village.
Government surveillance. Views from the other side. One of the problems in tackling a subject as immense as data, as my San Francisco based colleague and I did this week, in just two articles is that inevitably one is left with vast amounts of "over-matter". Readers can probably discern that both I and this paper have fairly strong views about the subject, but that does not mean those are the only views out there. At the moment, in America law enforcement agents who want access to a subscriber's mobile phone or email information need to obtain a 27039(d) order. By the way, I'm speaking in this post about more or less ordinary police/investigative work, not national security or FISA related investigations: That is, to steal an esteemed colleague's phrase, an entirely different kettle of piranhas. That order must contain "specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation." The problem, say privacy advocates, is that in many jurisdictions, once a police officer shows those facts, the judge is obligated to give the order. There is far less scope for judicial review here than in the traditional warranting process, where a judge can grant or not grant a warrant. There is no requirement, as with a wiretap, to show probable cause, or to show that "normal investigative procedures have been tried and have failed", although I would note that in 1969, there were 302 state and federal wiretaps approved in America. Last year there were 2,732, which suggests either an astronomical increase in the failure rate of normal investigative procedures, or that the necessity requirement is more honored in the breach than in the observance, and even that order is not always honored in the breach than in the observance.
In order to facilitate the action of "liberative" forces, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals, to be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention. Once a political decision has been reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals. Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus. Further, a "necessary degree of fear , frontier incidents and staged border clashes", would "provide a pretext for intervention. The CIA and SIS (MI6) should use capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension." (Joint US-UK leaked Intelligence Document, London and Washington, 1957) In this online interactive I-book, we bring to the attention of our readers a selection of feature articles on the Syrian crisis. Our objective is to dispel the tide of media lies and government propaganda, which presents the events in Syria as a "peaceful protest movement". The "protests" did not emanate from internal political cleavages as described by the mainstream media. From the very outset, they were the result of a covert US-NATO intelligence operation geared towards triggering social chaos, with a view to eventually discrediting the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad and destabilizing Syria as a Nation State. Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups, covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings, including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers, including mercenaries have targeted the police, armed forces as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians.
Customs officials have stopped 300 radioactive cars from getting into Russia from Japan since the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, as part of an ongoing monitoring operation: "We have inspected 150,000 vehicles as part of this monitoring mission. Three hundred units that have been seized indicated a level of radioactivity," said Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia's consumer rights watchdog. After the Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, the Russian government has implemented a monitoring mission whereby all imports from Japan, including food and consumer goods, are checked for radioactive contamination. Since the mission's inception, experts have checked 500,000 shipments, 908 ships, 473 aircraft and more than 42,000 people that have arrived from Japan. Russian authorities, together with the EU and World Health Organization, are keeping a watchful eye on all food imports entering the country through its far eastern border: "We import very little food products from Japan, but we have restricted a number of the country's provinces from delivery. The Japanese side has shared with the international community the data on provinces which have a dangerous fallout of precipitation," said Onishchenko. However, fish caught off the shores of Japan show radioactive signs, according to the official. Speaking about the Fukushima disaster, Onishchenko stressed that this is the "first time we have encountered a contamination threat from another state." In August, Russia's Consumer Rights Organization will mount a scientific expedition with the support of the Russian Geographical Society, to establish if in fact there is a health threat from the fish off Japan's coast.
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon is calling upon the world community to act to stop the bloodshed in Syria, as violence spreads in the conflict between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's forces. At least 24 people were in Syria on Saturday. Troops shelled areas in Damascus and its suburbs in the seventh day of fierce fighting with rebels, who claimed responsibility for the Wednesday bomb attack that killed the defense minister and three aides to Assad, including his brother-in-law, and fighting threatened to spill over the Jordanian border. "The Syrian government has manifestly failed to protect civilians, and the international community has a collective responsibility to live up to the UN charter and act on its principles," Ban said on Saturday. Ban said he would send an envoy to Syria to assess the situation, including French diplomat Herve Ladsous. "The situation is fluid and unpredictable, but the path to peace is clear. There must be an end to killing and human rights violations, and a rapid move towards a peaceful, Syrian led political transition and political dialogue," Ban said. Heavy clashes were reported in Syria's second city Aleppo on Saturday, regime forces reportedly shelling several neighborhoods. Hundreds were believed to be fleeing their homes. Until recently, the city has largely remained loyal to Assad. Violence between the rebels and government forces threatened to spill over the border with Jordan: Jordanian security sources said Saturday that border clashes escalated into all out war, with heavy shelling and rocket fire just a few meters from Jordanian soil. The rebel Free Syrian Army briefly gained control of the border Naseib crossing before being repelled again by Syrian troops. Such fighting is expected to continue!
The End of Canada's Sovereignty as a Nation State? Towards a US - Canada Economic and Security Perimeter. Over the past several months, the US-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan has taken significant steps forward. This includes efforts to modernize and expand infrastructure at key land ports. In a move that went largely unnoticed, both countries also recently agreed on a statement of privacy principles that will guide information sharing across the border. Meanwhile, a separate joint initiative has been announced which addresses energy and environmental issues. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched the US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (CED) in 2009 to promote new ways to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change. The CED Action Plan II released last month, outlines the next phase of activities both countries will undertake. This includes continued work on carbon capture and storage, as well as integrating the electricity grid. In a press statement, Canada's Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent explained that the CED strengthens our efforts to collaborate on innovative clean energy solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also commented on how "It is our hope that the transformation of our economies and our joint work will identify clean energy solutions that will contribute to making sustainable energy a reality for all." Whether real or exaggerated, environmental issues are also advancing North American integration. If you look at some of the words being used and the goals being pushed, they are tied to Agenda 21. Under the guise of protecting the environment, many solutions being offered are in the form of more taxes and control of our lives.