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Pentagon wants to keep war chest despite Afghan 'exit'

Pentagon wants to keep war chest despite Afghan 'exit' 05 Mar 2014 The Pentagon wants to keep its US$80 billion war chest even though most or all US troops are to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, officials said on Tuesday. "Overseas contingency operations" [aka billions for 'Blackwater'] funds are separate from the main Pentagon budget and have financed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and counter-terrorism efforts elsewhere for more than a decade. The Defence Department's proposed budget, released on Tuesday as part of the White House's annual spending plan, calls for US$79.4 billion in war funding for fiscal year 2015. That represents only a small cut in the overseas operations fund accorded US$85.2 billion this year's main budget.

Russia hits back at US 'barefaced cynicism and double standards' over Ukraine

Russia hits back at US 'barefaced cynicism and double standards' over Ukraine 06 Mar 2014 The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the US State Department of double standards and low-level propaganda after it published a list of President Vladimir Putin's "false claims" about the events in Ukraine. "The State Department is trying to play on a shamelessly one-sided interpretation of the events," ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday. "Surely, Washington cannot admit that they were nurturing Maidan [protests], encouraging the violent overthrow of the legitimate government, and thus clearing the way for those who are now pretending to be a legitimate power in Kiev." The United States has "no moral right" to lecture about observing international laws and respecting the sovereignty of other states, the diplomat added.

Russia wants IMF to move ahead on reforms without U.S. - sources

Russia wants IMF to move ahead on reforms without U.S. - sources 06 Mar 2014 Russian officials are pushing for the International Monetary Fund to move ahead with planned reforms without the United States, which could mean the loss of the U.S. veto over major decisions at the global lender, sources said. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov brought up the idea at a meeting of top finance officials from the Group of 20 nations in Sydney late last month, two G20 sources told Reuters this week. [*It's about time.*]

Crimean parliament votes to join Russia, hold referendum in 10 days on ratifying

Crimean parliament votes to join Russia, hold referendum in 10 days on ratifying 06 Mar 2014 The Crimean parliament has voted for the region to join Russia. The decision will only come in force if approved by the Crimeans at a referendum which will be held in 10 days. Crimean MPs voted on Thursday for the region to "to become part of the Russian Federation as its constituent territory," says the text of the regional parliament's statement. 78 MPs said yes to Crimea joining Russia, while 8 abstained from voting.

Congressional Black Caucus calls for removal of Issa after cutting Cummings's mic

Congressional Black Caucus calls for removal of Issa after cutting Cummings's mic 06 Mar 2014 Chair of Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, calls on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to remove Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., from House Oversight Committee after Issa cut off Rep. Elijah Cummings's microphone during Wednesday hearing.

Russia prepares bill on foreign asset freeze in reply to sanctions - senator

Russia prepares bill on foreign asset freeze in reply to sanctions - senator 05 Mar 2014 A top Russian lawmaker has revealed he is working on a bill that would freeze the assets of European and American companies operating in Russia in reply to Western economic sanctions. [<g>] The chairman of the upper house committee for constitutional law, Andrey Klishas, is sure that Russia must have an enough leverage to deal with the threat of sanctions coming from foreign countries. A team of lawyers are currently preparing a separate federal bill that would allow the Russian president and government to confiscate foreign owned property in Russia, including assets belonging to private companies, the senator told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Private license plate scanners amassing vast databases open to highest bidders

Private license plate scanners amassing vast databases open to highest bidders 06 Mar 2014 Automated license plate readers used by car repossession companies, for example, collect billions of personal records per year, which contribute to vast databases that can be used by law enforcement, insurance companies, banks, and the like, with few limits. BetaBoston, working with the Boston Globe, detailed one Boston company's data collection abilities, reporting that New England Associates Inc. can collect $200 to $400 for each vehicle found by an automated reader attached to an unmarked car. The company says it can typically add 8,000 license plate scans to its database in Texas each day. Digital Recognition Network, which works with New England Associates, says it collects plate scans of 40 percent of all US vehicles per year.

Ukraine crisis: EU leaders to hold emergency talks

Ukraine crisis: EU leaders to hold emergency talks 06 Mar 2014 EU leaders are to begin an emergency summit to decide how strongly they should respond to Russia's troop deployment in Ukraine's Crimea region. Some members, particularly from Eastern Europe, want tough sanctions, while others, led by Germany, seek mediation. Ahead of the talks, the EU said it had frozen the assets of 18 former Ukrainian officials, including [illegally] ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers

Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers 05 Mar 2014 Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders... During the conversation, Paet stressed that "there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition." According to the Estonian FM, "all the evidence shows" that the "same snipers" at Maidan were shooting at people from both sides – the police and the protesters.

Nine Mile 2 nuclear reactor shuts down after losing on-site power supply

Nine Mile 2 nuclear reactor shuts down after losing on-site power supply 04 Mar 2014 (NY) The Nine Mile Point 2 nuclear power plant shut down early today following the an on-site electrical power failure, plant operator Constellation Energy Nuclear Group said. The cause of the power failure is still under review. The loss of the power supply impacted the flow of cooling to both of the plant's reactor recirculation pumps, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported. In response, the plant's operators manually scrammed the reactor at 1:43 a.m., which entails inserting all of the control rods to halt the fissioning process.

Duke Energy could avoid coal ash lawsuit if SC bill passes

Duke Energy could avoid coal ash lawsuit if SC bill passes 28 Feb 2014 South Carolina policymakers are moving ahead with a plan that could shield Duke Energy from having to clean out polluted coal ash ponds in two areas of the state. This past week, the state House voted 80-30 for a bill that will block lawsuits by citizens groups under the S.C. Pollution Control Act. The bill moves to the Senate, which signed off on a similar bill two years ago. "It is amnesty for polluters," Rep. James Smith, D-Richland said. While the bill would apply to any company, it's particularly relevant to Duke Energy, Smith and others said.

House passes SC bill that blocks coal ash lawsuits

House passes SC bill that blocks coal ash lawsuits 01 Mar 2014 A bill that could shield [eco-terrorists] Duke Energy from having to clean out polluted coal ash ponds in two areas of South Carolina will move to the Senate for consideration. The State newspaper reported the House approved the bill 80-30 this past week. The bill would block lawsuit by citizen groups under the S.C. Pollution Control Act. Democratic Rep. James Smith calls the bill "amnesty for polluters."

CIA Accused of Spying on Senate Intelligence Committee Staffers

CIA Accused of Spying on Senate Intelligence Committee Staffers 05 Mar 2014 We've discussed a few times how the Senate Intelligence Committee has been pushing to release a supposedly devastating 6,000 page report about the CIA's torture program, which cost taxpayers an equally astounding $40 million to produce. But, the CIA has been fighting hard to block the release of the report, arguing that it misrepresents the CIA's actions. However, things are getting even more bizarre, as the NY Times is reporting that the CIA is now accused of spying on the Intelligence Committee and its staffers in its attempt to keep that report from being released.

Attorneys for Barrett Brown want case on linking to hacked material dismissed

Attorneys for Barrett Brown want case on linking to hacked material dismissed 04 Mar 2014 Lawyers acting for Barrett Brown, the activist-journalist facing more than 100 years in prison for having posted a hyperlink to hacked material, have called for his case to be dismissed on grounds that it violates his First Amendment rights to free speech and would chill the internet. Brown, 32, is being held in Texas ahead of two scheduled trials on 28 April and 19 May. He is charged with a total of 17 counts in three separate indictments relating to his work uncovering online surveillance. The main allegation against him -- spanning 12 counts -- is that he posted a hyperlink on an internet chat room to a website containing material hacked from the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc, (Stratfor).

In Kiev, an Israel Defense Forces vet led street-fighting unit

In Kiev, an Israel Defense Forces vet led street-fighting unit 28 Feb 2014 He calls his troops "the Blue Helmets of Maidan," but brown is the color of the headgear worn by Delta -- the nom de guerre of the commander of a Jewish-led militia force that participated in the 'Ukrainian revolution.' Delta, a Ukraine-born former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke to JTA Thursday on condition of anonymity. He explained how he came to use combat skills he acquired in the Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev's street fighters. He has headed a force of 40 men and women — including several fellow IDF veterans -- in violent clashes with government forces.

Probe sought of CIA conduct in Senate study of torture, secret detention program

Probe sought of CIA conduct in Senate study of torture, secret detention program 04 Mar 2014 The CIA Inspector General's Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy has learned. The criminal referral may be related to what several knowledgeable people said was CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides to prepare the study. The development marks an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers amid an extraordinary closed-door battle over the 6,300-page report on the agency's use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques torture on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons. The report is said to be a searing indictment of the program.

Davis, Abbott Set to Face off for Texas Governor

Davis, Abbott Set to Face off for Texas Governor 04 Mar 2014 Texas Republicans picked the state's attorney general in the fight to succeed longtime Gov. Rick Perry, while a rising Democratic star coasted to her party's nomination Tuesday night during the nation's first statewide primary. Warnings about Democrat Wendy Davis' star-making run for Texas governor threatening two decades of Republican dominance dealt complacent conservatives a new reason to vote. Perry's decision to not seek re-election launched a stampede of 26 Republican candidates vying for six of Texas' top offices.

Obama budget sets up election-year clash with Republicans

Obama budget sets up election-year clash with Republicans 04 Mar 2014 President Barack Obama proposed new tax credits and job-training programs for U.S. workers on Tuesday in a 2015 budget that drew instant condemnation from Republicans, who dismissed the document as an election-year campaign pitch. The $3.9 trillion blueprint for the fiscal year that begins on October 1 also would boost spending on roads and bridges and expand early-childhood education while paying for some of the additional spending by scaling back tax breaks for wealthier Americans.

US prepares $1B aid package for Ukraine

US prepares $1B aid package for Ukraine 04 Mar 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry met in Ukraine with the new government's acting president, prime minister, foreign minister and top parliamentary officials. The Obama administration announced a $1 billion energy subsidy package in Washington as Kerry was arriving in Kiev. "We will be helping," Kerry said. "We are helping. President Obama is planning more assistance." [Of course he will. And, the same dirt-bags who *can't wait* to vote to give a billion US tax dollars to support the CIA's fascist coup in the Ukraine likely voted to slash food stamps and heating oil assistance for the poor, citing the 'deficit.' Start reading.]

Russia successfully test-fires ballistic missile

Russia successfully test-fires ballistic missile 04 Mar 2014 Russia says it has successfully test-fired a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) amid rising tensions with the United States over Ukraine. The RS-12M Topol missile was launched on Tuesday at 22:10 Moscow time (1810 GMT) from the Kapustin Yar testing ground in Russia's southwestern Astrakhan region, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the Ukrainian border, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said. The simulated warhead successfully hit a specified target at a test range in Kazakhstan, Igor Yegorov stated, adding, "The aim was to test advanced battle equipment for the intercontinental ballistic missiles."

FBI probe into Bridgegate scandal eyes former Chris Christie aide

FBI probe into Bridgegate scandal eyes former Chris Christie aide --Federal investigators have apparently been targeting Bill Stepien, who has already been fighting a subpoena by a state legislative committee. 04 Mar 2014 A former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to be a target of an FBI investigation into the lane closings scandal, his lawyer revealed Monday. Bill Stepien, the governor's ex-campaign manager, is fighting a subpoena by a state legislative committee that's also looking into the controversy. "In recent weeks, federal criminal investigators have made their interest in him plain, traveling to his home and importuning his landlord and presumably others," his lawyer Kevin Marino wrote in a legal brief.

Piece of metal lodged in reactor at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Piece of metal lodged in reactor at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant 03 Mar 2014 (MI) A piece of metal from a broken impeller blade has lodged in the reactor vessel at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. Workers discovered the issue during the nuclear power plant's scheduled refueling and maintenance shutdown, which began Jan. 19. The metal is 5 inches by 12 inches long, said Lindsay Rose, spokeswoman for Entergy Corp., which owns Palisades. The piece is wedged into the reactor vessel between the vessel wall and the flow skirt, inside the vessel. Efforts to remove the metal have proved unsuccessful.

Yanukovich sent letter to Putin asking for Russian military presence in Ukraine

Yanukovich sent letter to Putin asking for Russian military presence in Ukraine 04 Mar 2014 Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin says ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has sent a letter to Putin asking him to use military force in Ukraine to restore law and order. "Under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terror and violence," Churkin quoted the letter from Yanukovich to Putin in the third emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. "People are being persecuted for language and political reasons," Churkin read.

Interfax: Putin Ends Army Drills in Western Russia

Interfax: Putin Ends Army Drills in Western Russia 04 Mar 2014 The Interfax news agency says Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops participating in military exercises in western Russia near the Ukraine border to return to their permanent bases. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax early Tuesday that Putin had ordered the troops to return to their usual stations.

Port Authority chairman hit with ethics complaint by NJ Working Families Alliance

Port Authority chairman hit with ethics complaint by NJ Working Families Alliance 03 Mar 2014 A coalition of New Jersey labor and other groups filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission today charging Port Authority Chairman David Samson with using his position at the bi-state agency to benefit developers and other clients of his law firm. "This complaint alleges that Samson violated the CIL by using his position as Chairman of the Port Authority to influence decisions of the Port Authority Board of Commissioners that would benefit clients of his law firm, Wolff & Samson PC," states the complaint, filed by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a Democratic-leaning coalition of consumer, environmental and labor groups. CIL refers to the state Conflict of Interest Law, which governs the conduct of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Working Families group asserts.

Largest Oil Refinery in Europe is on Fire

Holy coincidence, Batman! Largest Oil Refinery in Europe is on Fire 04 Mar 2014 "Neftekamskneftehim" is the largest in Europe oil refinery. It is located in Tatarstan, Russia. Today at 7.00pm Moscow Time, tens of firemen were urgently summoned as the oil giant was on fire.

Rick Scott's 'literally flying under the radar'

Rick Scott's 'literally flying under the radar' 03 Mar 2014 Not many governors have their own private jets. It's something of which Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) apparently takes full advantage, and not just for the sake of convenience at the airport. By using his personal jet for public business, Florida Gov. Rick Scott can shield his itinerary from websites that track flights, and when his plane lands, he uses a public records exemption to tighten the cloak of secrecy. Wherever Scott goes, he is shadowed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents. In citing a records exemption that protects FDLE "surveillance techniques" from publication, he withholds the members of his traveling party, restaurants and homes he visits, and people at meetings -- all in the name of security.

U.S. Africa Command Conducts 5-Day Pandemic Influenza Drill

Heads up! U.S. Africa Command Conducts 5-Day Pandemic Influenza Drill 04 Feb 2014 Representatives from the United Republic of Tanzania's government and military gathered for the five-day United Republic of Tanzania Disaster Preparedness Exercise held in Bagamoyo from 3-7 February. The goal of the exercise is to assist with the validation of the recently drafted Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, the Tanzanian People's Defense Forces (TPDF) Pandemic Contingency Plan and the Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA) Disaster Contingency Plan and to increase awareness of disaster preparedness and response challenges. The exercise was organized by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and implemented by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM), based in the U.S. The exercise was essential for disaster preparedness and to enhance response capabilities, a key component of the AFRICOM Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) designed to support African nations' capacity to respond to [US lab-generated] pandemics and other disasters.

Obama wants tax cuts for the middle class, tax increases for the wealthy

Obama wants tax cuts for the middle class, tax increases for the wealthy 03 Mar 2014 In his budget to be released Tuesday, President Barack Obama will propose expanding a tax credit popular with lower- and middle-class families and paying for it by closing a controversial tax loophole deployed by some Wall Street firms, according to the White House. Obama wants to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as programs to help Americans afford child care, send their children to college and retire. To pay for that, he would close tax loopholes that he says lets those who earn more money avoid the income and payroll taxes other workers pay.

Afghan Broadcaster Says U.S. Soldiers Abused Him

Afghan Broadcaster Says U.S. Soldiers Abused Him 02 Mar 2014 Qazi Nasir Mudassir said he had expected that if armed men climbed over the walls of his radio station's compound, they would probably be Taliban insurgents coming to make good on death threats because of his broadcasts. Instead, by his account and that of the local Afghan police, the armed men were American Special Forces troops, who scaled his walls with ladders on Thursday, arresting Mr. Mudassir and two other employees of Radio Paighame Milli. The station, which Mr. Mudassir owns, broadcasts in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar Province, an area troubled by insurgent activity, just 30 miles south of Kabul. Mr. Mudassir on Saturday accused American soldiers of beating him and threatening to kill him to extract information during his detention. They were apparently unaware, he said, that his radio station is supported in large part by pro-government, pro-coalition propaganda advertisements paid for by the American military.

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'We want either a hammer or a fire, to break the spell or dissolve the ice.' Artisan radical freethinker, George Jacob Holyoake, Reasoner V (1848): 2.

CLG's Michael Rectenwald, Ph.D. and Lori Price receive the Patrick Henry Think Tank's American Hero Award 02 Nov 2005 The Patrick Henry Democratic Club --A Think Tank working to give the government back to the people. "Give me liberty or give me death!"

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