Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for May, 2015

Anabel Hernández: Fox And (Especially) Calderón Protected Sinaloa Drug Cartel

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 31, 2015

Seems that the man known not-so-affectionately as “FeCal” lived up to his nickname during his time as Mexico’s president.

Prominent Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández, in the course of researching her 2010 book Los señores del narco, which was translated into English and retitled Narcoland, shared some inconvenient truths about Calderón and his connections to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel during a recent Huffington Post interview:

And those of us in the media had only concentrated on the legend of Chapo Guzmán, based on his violence, on the tons of drugs he trafficked, without asking ourselves, “How does he do it? How can this man be so powerful?” And the only way of explaining how the Sinaloa cartel and Chapo Guzmán became so powerful is with the complicity of the government.

It was that way, reporting on the story of Chapo Guzmán and the power he was accumulating during the Felipe Calderón administration, that I found that this so-called drug war was completely false. When I started investigating, I began receiving information in documents and testimony in the U.S. courts and interviews I did with drug traffickers that the Sinaloa cartel enjoyed government protection since the Vicente Fox administration, and that protection continued through the government of Felipe Calderón. [editor’s note: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox was in office from 2000 to 2006. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón served from 2006 to 2012.]

I starting doing public information requests in Mexico to see if these things being said in [the U.S.] courts were true. What I found was that during Felipe Calderón’s so-called drug war, the cartel that was attacked the least, that had the fewest arrests, was the Sinaloa cartel. And in government statistics, throughout the Felipe Calderón administration’s six years, there were increases in marijuana production, increases in opium production, increases in amphetamine production, increases in drug consumption in Mexico. What kind of drug war is this where a cartel gets stronger, becomes the most powerful cartel in the world, and on the other hand, drug production reaches historic levels in Mexico?

Did anything significant change once Calderón left office? Not really:

When [current Mexican president] Enrique Peña Nieto took office, he really took over a country that had been destroyed. Instead of recognizing that and developing a serious plan to confront it, Peña Nieto tried to sell the image to outsiders that “no, Mexico is doing really well — we’re passing political reforms, social reforms, economic reforms, and everything is going very smoothly.” The international press believed it.

And because there are several prominent figures and industries on this side of the border that profit greatly from the War on Some Drugs, the real perps will likely get away with it even as America slowly wakes up from its racism- and corruption-fueled Drug War trance.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Anabel Hernández: Fox And (Especially) Calderón Protected Sinaloa Drug Cartel

Dennis Hastert and Larry Flynt

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 30, 2015

I was curious to see what Larry Flynt, he whose uncovering of the sexual hypocrisies of so many “family values Republicans” made Dennis Hastert (who contrary to what AP sez is a Republican) Speaker of the House for seven years, was thinking now that Hastert’s own long-rumored sexual proclivities have made it into the mainstream press.

Well, Larry Flynt doesn’t have anything to say about Dennis Hastert — yet. Though if there’s a second edition of his book One Nation Under Sex, I’m guessing Hastert will be in it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

National Security Apparatus: The law is for you to obey, not for us to obey

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2015

From Democracy Now:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, ICWatch is a database of more than 27,000 profiles of people associated with the U.S. intelligence community or intelligence industry, so that includes people who work for government and people who work for private industry. It was created by a little journalism startup … called Transparency Toolkit. … This information was all originally … from LinkedIn, so these are CVs of people involved in various intelligence activities. By searching LinkedIn for key wor[d]s… say, Joint Priority Effects List, the assassination program in Afghanistan, these were scraped out and then linked together so you can easily see, for example, who claims that they had worked at the National Security Agency at some stage or on various code-worded projects that the National Security Agency uses.

JULIAN ASSANGE: [They faced death threats for] Indexing what was already public. An example of one of those death threats, from Washington, D.C., from a counterintelligence operative, who was also a former marine, saying that he would hunt them down and kill them no matter where they were in the world, and there’s no place in the world that they can hide.

JULIAN ASSANGE: … Now, I think this—it actually perfectly explains why the U.S. intelligence community must itself be scrutinized. What do we have in that statement? Murderous criminal arrogance…—and I should add one further point: and deeply incompetent […for a] a counterintelligence person […to] they themselves put that information on LinkedIn. They themselves are irritated about their own incompetence, to the degree where they get threatening to kill people involved with a journalism project.

That’s right: breach security by posting your claim to be a code-word program professional assassin onto LinkedIn and then get angry because someone notices. Please don’t give these people actual guns. They might hurt themselves.

And (ibid) in addition, a larger institutional hypocrisy, which could amount to a crime:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…So, the U.S. has kind of made a bit of a legal—the Pentagon has made a bit of a legal ruse in terms of how it describes these assassination lists. They always say it’s a kill/capture list. And this is to create some kind of ambiguity, which is you go in to capture them, but they resist, and then they’re killed. But, in fact…there’s no actual attempt to capture. And here we have evidence, confessions even… bragging on their CV about how they were involved in these programs to assassinate people.

So, when it comes down to the USG, they don’t have to obey the law. And this is nowhere more evident than in the persecution of Assange:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…There are some 500 information requests from the media and us, that have been blocked by the U.S. government, into what has been happening with WikiLeaks. And they’ve been blocked under the excuse that to release such information would be to help us resist the prosecution, and that they want to use that in the prosecution, and therefore they can’t release it to anyone. Now, the FBI has admitted that they have more than 42,135 pages just in the FBI file. There’s the DOJ file. There’s the grand jury file. And they’re not going to release a single sentence, not a single paragraph.

EPIC lost that case to get those documents, because the court accepted that to release any information about the WikiLeaks prosecution would affect the WikiLeaks prosecution, that we could use this to defend ourselves. And the argument used is quite incredible…. It is that …the court doesn’t have a right to, itself, make this determination [about what should be released and what restricted]

the government argues, “The court does not have a right to make this assessment. This is a question of a national security fact. Either it is a fact that the information held by the DOJ and held by the FBI would—about WikiLeaks, would affect national security or not. And it is the government that is best placed to determine this fact, not the court.” And so, in the judgment, the judge states that it is necessary to show, quote, “appropriate deference to the executive on matters of national security,” and therefore she is simply going to defer to the government’s claim without looking at the material at all.

If the Tea Party gave an actual d–n about overweening Executive actions, the Wikileaks case would be a central rallying point. The excuse of national security is being used to gut the power of the judiciary to oversee the Executive’s administration of the laws, pushing us quite close–since Congress is so ineffectual–to being a totalitarian state.

But just in case we didn’t get the point that our government is not just completely above the law, but totally incompetent,

the U.S. picked up a statement, a supportive statement made in Moscow by President Evo Morales, and appears to have picked up our codeword for the actual operation [to smuggle Edward Snowden to Latin America], and put two and two together and made 22, and then pressured France—successfully pressured France, Portugal and Spain to close their airspace to President Evo Morales’s jet in its flight from Moscow to the Canary Islands for refueling and then back to Bolivia. And as a result, it was forced to land in Vienna. And then, once in Vienna, there was pressure to search the plane.

So, it’s really a quite extraordinary situation that reveals the true nature of the relationship between Western Europe and the United States and what it claims are its values of human rights and asylum and the rights to asylum and so, and respecting the rule of law, the Vienna Convention. Just a phone call from U.S. intelligence was enough to close the airspace to a booked presidential flight, which has immunity. And they got it wrong.

The United States is a very powerful country. It does not have to get its way in everything, or suppress every bit of adverse publicity, or force every world leader to heel. By trying to do so, it–by which I mean the cabal inside the national security apparatus that is committing these abuses– shows how dangerous the government–by which I mean that cabal– itself has become.

And, on top of that, see how completely ineffectual it is at actually stopping terrorism, guarding secrets, or persuading other nations to join with us. How ashamed this nation’s Founders would be at what their dream has become.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, totalitarianism, Wikileaks | 2 Comments »

Bruce Bartlett Roasts FOX Noise

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2015

It’s a very good paper.

Posted in Fox Noise, media | 4 Comments »

Good News: UK Coal Emissions About To Drop; Solar Roadways Doing First Commercial Installs Soon

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 25, 2015

Because we could all use a bit of good news:

The UK is about to shutter yet another coal plant, as coal use (and atmospheric output) falls to levels not seen since the 1850s despite a rebounding economy. The rise in usage of wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy has finally hit a sort of critical mass, causing its growth to accelerate.

Worldwide oil demand has peaked, and that, along with the Saudi determination to flood the market to eradicate the KSA’s competitors in the Bakken and elsewhere (like Iran), means not just the collapse of oil prices, but the abandoning of risky, costly, and environmentally stupid oil-related projects worldwide.

Solar Roadways is, thanks to the help of Indiegogo and George Takei, gearing up to install its first commercial projects by the emd of this year. A Dutch public-private enterprise called SolaRoad has installed a solar bike path that has already exceeded projections for energy generation.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Killing Atticus Finch

Posted by Charles II on May 23, 2015

Free Don Siegelman. Fund the documentary.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

U.S. re-thinks confrontation with Russia

Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015

Russian aggression in 2014 caught U.S. policy and strategy off guard, forcing reactive measures and reevaluation of U.S. policies towards Russia. Russia used nonlinear approaches and operated just beneath traditional thresholds of conflict to take full advantage of U.S. and NATO policy limitations. In light of this strategic problem, members of the Carlisle Scholars Program at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) conducted a wargame which revealed four key considerations for future policy and strategy. This panel presentation will present the findings from that wargame. The views presented by the panelist are their own and should not be implied to be those of their sponsoring service, the U.S. Army or the U.S. Army War College.

See also Parry:

Belatedly, Obama has roused to the impending threat that these extremists pose not just to the Middle East but to the West. The prospect of the black flag of Sunni terrorism flying over Damascus or even Baghdad could force the United States into a catastrophic decision to reintroduce a large military force into the region, which was initially destabilized by the neocon-driven U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Though such a move by Obama or his successor might be politically unavoidable, the consequences would surely be disastrous, with the chances for a meaningful victory slim to none while further bankrupting and militarizing the United States

He could have hired me as his foreign policy adviser and I would have told him the same a year ago.

Posted in Russia | 4 Comments »

Russia cuts supply line to Afghanistan

Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015

This is not sudden, nor is it retaliation. But it is serious.

Stars and Stripes:

The agreement with Russia survived numerous ups and downs in relations between the West and Russia. But Moscow officially ended cooperation when the United Nations mandate for military operations in Afghanistan expired in December, NATO officials said.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Neo-McCarthyism: silencing critics of U.S. Russia policy

Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015

I have gotten a taste of those who want to shut down debate of US-Russia policy… and of those who wanted to silence debate over the invasion of Iraq, and those who wanted to silence debate over supply-side economics, and those who wanted to silence debate over the wisdom of sending troops to Vietnam, and those who wanted to silence debate over the wisdom of Jim Crow…. I espouse my beliefs because I believe they are true, not because I expect that opponents will love me for them.

But the attempt to silence debate over Russia policy is coming from very high levels, it’s trying to rekindle the hatreds of the Cold War, and it’s one in which a lot too many Americans are complicit by their silence. Let’s call what it is: totalism. And now James Carden has given us a detailed explanation of how it is being imposed.

James Carden:

As a result of the civil war that has raged in Ukraine since April 2014, at least 7,000 people have been killed and more than 15,400 wounded, many of them grievously. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 1.2 million eastern Ukrainians have been internally displaced, while the number of those who have fled abroad, mainly to Russia and Belarus, has reached 674,300. Further, the United Nations has reported that millions of people, particularly the elderly and the very young, are facing life-threatening conditions as a result of the conflict. Large parts of eastern Ukraine lie in ruins, and relations between the United States and Russia have perhaps reached their most dangerous point since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

And yet a special report published last fall by the online magazine the Interpreter would have us believe that Russian “disinformation” ranks among the gravest threats to the West.

While it would be easy to dismiss the report as a publicity stunt by two journalists attempting to cash in on the Russophobia so in vogue among American pundits, their thesis has gained wide acceptance, nowhere more so than in the halls of Congress.

The authors call for the creation of an “internationally recognized ratings system for disinformation” that would furnish news organizations and bloggers with the “analytical tools with which to define forms of communication.” While they throw in an obligatory caveat that “top-down censorship should be avoided” (exactly how is left unexplained), they nonetheless endorse what amounts to a media blacklist. “Vigorous debate and disagreement is of course to be encouraged,” the authors write, “but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community.”

What qualifies as “conscious deception” is also left undefined, but it isn’t difficult to surmise. Organizations that do not share the authors’ enthusiasm for regime change in Syria or war with Russia over Ukraine would almost certainly be “excluded from the community.”

Their real goal is not to fight Russian “disinformation” but to stigmatize and marginalize—even exclude from American discourse—anyone with a more nuanced view of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis. They are waging this war against enemies real and imagined, and by doing so they are helping to create an atmosphere in which dissenting opinion on US policy toward Russia becomes impermissible.

Insinuations of unpatriotic disloyalty on the part of critics of US policy toward Russia are numerous, but consider a few examples. For much of the past year, Princeton and New York University professor emeritus Stephen F. Cohen, a leading scholar of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and a Nation contributing editor, has been routinely castigated in The New Republic, the Daily Beast, The Boston Globe, New York, and Slate as “a toady,” “Putin’s best friend,” and a “Putin apologist.” The latest such attack came on May 6, courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which published a story claiming, without evidence, that “Cohen is essentially defending the Kremlin’s agenda in the West.” Hurling such barbs at a prominent scholar seems to be an attempt not only to marginalize Cohen, but also to silence other critics—including, and perhaps especially, younger ones.

Similarly, in June 2014, the Daily Beast ridiculed a conference attended by Columbia University’s Robert Legvold; Jack Matlock, former ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Reagan administration; and a leader of a Russian opposition party as a gathering of “anti-Semites and ‘truthers’” that amounted to little more than “a pity party for the Kremlin’s die-hard American apologists.”

Then, in August, Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics launched a screed against David Johnson, the proprietor and editor of a listserv that aggregates Russia-related articles. “What I find most surprising,” Aslund wrote, “is that you have several items from RT every day, which is to Putin’s rule what Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer was to Nazi Germany.” (emphasis added)

Americans who try to turn other Americans into enemies of the state in order to silence their expression of ideas are the ones who have no clue what America is about.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

The Shoot Down of the Shoot Down

Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015

On July 19th, 2014, the Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. It seemed likely that it was downed by hostile intent, and a surface-to-air missile seemed the likely agency. Although the U.S. rushed to blame Russia for the downing, accusing them of either firing on the civilian aircraft or providing a missile to Ukrainian rebels, the actual evidence for this was thin to non-existent. German intelligence reportedly concluded that Ukrainian rebels had shot down the plane, but using a missile captured from Kiev’s troops.

Now Robert Parry continues the debunking of the attempt to link Russia to the attack:

An Australian television show claims to have solved the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down mystery – the Russians did it! – but the program appears to have faked a key piece of evidence and there remain many of the same doubts as before, along with the dog-not-barking question of why the U.S. government has withheld its intelligence data.

The basic point of the Australian “60 Minutes” program was that photographs on social media show what some believe to be a BUK anti-aircraft launcher aboard a truck traveling eastward on July 17, 2014, the day of the shoot-down, into what was generally considered rebel-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine, south and east of Donetsk, the capital of one of the ethnic Russian rebellious provinces.

However, in mid-July, the ethnic Russian rebels were reeling under a Ukrainian military offensive to the north of Donetsk. Despite shifting their forces into the battle zone, they had lost Sloviansk, Druzhkivka, Kostyantynivka and Kramatorsk. In other words, the lines of control were fluid and chaotic in mid-July 2014 …
Another problem with the Australian TV account is that the video and photographic images show the truck heading eastward toward Russia, but there are no earlier images of the truck moving westward from Russia into eastern Ukraine.

There also appears to have been some fakery involved in the Australian documentary. In several instances, as the film crew traveled to eastern Ukraine to seek out scenes from July 17 video showing the truck possibly carrying BUK missiles, images of those sites – then and now – were overlaid to show how closely the scenes matched.

However, for one crucial scene – the image of an alleged “getaway” BUK launcher lacking one missile and supposedly heading back to Russia after the shoot-down – the documentary broke with that pattern. The program showed the earlier video of the truck moving past a billboard and then claiming – based on information from blogger Eliot Higgins – that the TV crew had located the same billboard in Luhansk, a rebel-held city near the Russian border.

This was the documentary’s slam-dunk moment, the final proof that the Russians and particular Vladimir Putin were guilty in the deaths of 298 innocent people. However, in this case, there was no overlay of the two scenes, just Australian correspondent Michael Usher pointing to a billboard and saying it was the same one as in the video.

But the scenes look nothing at all alike if you put them side by side. While Usher is standing in an open field, the earlier video shows an overgrown area.

Eliot Higgins of bellingcat rejects this:

Unfortunately for Parry, his accusation is entirely unfounded, and reveals his lack of investigative skill when it comes to this kind of open source information. Had Parry spent a few minutes on Google he could have easily found Bellingcat’s work on the video, and realised his error.

As we detailed in this July 22nd 2014 post, it was possible to establish the position of the camera, which is key to understanding what’s visible in the video.

Now Eliot Higgins is a very strange story. Over the course of a few years, he says, he went from being an unemployed man trained in administration and finance to one of the most respected experts on weapons systems in the world

Although Higgins has never been to Syria, and until recently had no connection to the country, he has become perhaps the foremost expert on the munitions used in the war. On YouTube, he scans as many as three hundred new videos a day, with the patience of an ornithologist. Even when a rocket has largely been destroyed, he can often identify it by whatever scraps survive.

He charged the Syrian government with having murdered civilians using the poison gas, Sarin, in the civil war:charge that has been refuted by Teddy Postol, who is actually one of the world’s experts on weapons systems:

Higgins, Postol said, “has done a very nice job collecting information on a website. As far as his analysis, it’s so lacking any analytical foundation it’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about.”

See here for Postol v. Higgins, and here for Postol:

These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013.

So, one has the question as to how the conclusions of the uncredentialed Mr. Higgins, who made such a serious error in the case of Sarin, were so rapidly adopted adopted by the media, while the conclusions of one of our nation’s foremost experts on missiles, was all but ignored. Even the NYT report that mentions it is a some-say-the-earth-is-flat piece, putting Higgins and Postol on equal footing and never making clear what Postol is saying, namely that Higgins was completely wrong in his identification of the missile and that the actual projectile almost certainly didn’t come from what our intelligence said was government-held territory.

Robert Parry may not be an expert in image analysis. But he is an expert in BS detection.

Posted in liar, Russia, Ukraine | Comments Off on The Shoot Down of the Shoot Down