Month: May, 2016
Pranksters tar Trump as ‘shape-shifting lizard’ in Texas road sign stunt (PHOTOS)
worker | May 31, 2016 | 8:02 pm | Local/State, political struggle | 1 Comment

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump © Carlo Allegri
Pranksters turned political along a stretch of highway in Texas, when they programmed a roadside warning sign to call Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a ‘shape-shifting’ reptile.

Motorists along Interstate 30 in Dallas were met with a number of bizarre messages on Tuesday, in the early morning prank targeting three flashing electronic signs from the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).

While one large portable sign simply read ‘Bernie For President’, another claimed that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a reptilian creature.

“Donald Trump is a… shape shifting lizard,” glowing lettering informed drivers approaching Cockrell Hill Road.

According to CBS Local, another sign was hilariously hacked to tell people, “Work is canceled – Go back home.”

While the apparent ‘hack’ may provoke a smile, authorities are taking it seriously and say the person who typed the messages into the machines could face jail.

“Any sort of tampering with that sort of stuff is a third-degree felony and it’s punishable. We’re talking prison time,” TXDOT spokesman Ryan LaFontaine told KXAS-TV.

It must be silly season down at I-30, because just days earlier one of the same signs implored commuters to “Party Hardy Y’all!”

Back in 2009, a number of US state road safety messages were similarly altered to warn drivers about apparent hordes of zombies on the loose.

One incident in Collinsville,Illinois saw jokers manually program a sign along Interstate 255 to warn, “Daily lane closures due to zombies,” reported NBC News.

A copycat prank in Austin, Texas made national news that same year. In that particular incident bemused drivers were told to run from a “Nazi zombie” attack.

Is the US War Machine Using Racist Tropes to Condition Masses for More War?
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:57 pm | Analysis, political struggle | Comments closed
Boeing B-52 Bomber

Is the US War Machine Using Racist Tropes to Condition Masses for More War?

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Think tanks begin reciting the “clash of civilizations” mantra as the drumbeats for another ground war in the Middle East sound louder than ever and, very strangely, Donald Trump is the dissenting perspective.

The United States once again finds itself embroiled in what is shaping up to be a decades-long Middle East war described by US President Barack Obama as the “the long war, the endless war,” with violent fundamentalist extremists on the move throughout Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Washington-based neoconservatives banging the drums of battle are the harbingers for the next ground war, attempting to reestablish their oft-used “Clash of Civilizations” narrative.

In the pages of the mainstream media, the discredited plotters of the 2003 Iraq War, Project for a New American Century founders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, again point to Samuel Huntington’s narrative of a Western clash against the savages of the Middle East. Weakly rebranding, the PNAC returns as the Center for a New American Security, CNAS providing the same racist diatribe, and using war as the end game.

CNAS, combined with another Kristol-Kagan brainchild called the Foreign Policy Initiative, are a “go-to think tank on military affairs” under the Obama Administration, according to the Washington Post. The organization looks to serve prominently in a Hillary Clinton White House, as evidenced by the former Secretary of State’s appearance as the keynote speaker at the group’s 2007 opening.

Surprisingly, one of the leading forces against Obama’s so-called long war is the candidate decried by the Clinton camp, and most of the rest of the world, as a “loose cannon.” It’s Donald Trump, a man who can hardly be accused of being a candidate for racial tolerance, particularly regarding the Middle East. Last week, responding to ongoing calls for war, the presumptive Republican nominee said of Kristol, “This poor guy, all he wants to do is go to war and kill people.”

Kristol, however, continues to search for a conservative third-party candidate to undermine Trump’s electoral bid, in an effort to either secure the presidency for the hawkish Clinton or, in a fantastic scenario, to prevent either candidate from receiving the requisite 270 Electoral College votes necessary, leaving the choice to the Republican House of Representatives.

The hawks of yesteryear once again garner an audience within the Beltway echo chamber for their age-old bigoted rhetoric, predicated on the inferiority of the Arab people as a reason for a Western guiding hand to civilize the unwashed masses.

​Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker asked former US Marine and anti-war activist Michael Prysner about how racism was used to motivate combat soldiers in Iraq and what it portends for the future.

“Yes, absolutely,” Prysner said. “Not only was there a lot of racism, but racism became the primary tool of our officers and politicians who set up the war to convince service members that they should go and risk their lives.”

“Look, it was true in Korea, it was true in Vietnam, and it is true today as we send more troops back to Iraq and as we continue to send soldiers to Afghanistan,” explained Prysner. “Racism is accepted throughout the chain of command as not only part of the job, but as the motivating factor that we were supposed to have to invade.”

“I was in the Army right before the 9/11 attacks,” Prysner told Sputnik. “It was a very different military from a cultural perspective than it was right after the 9/11 attacks when our commanders and politicians realized that they were going to start sending us to a war like we haven’t seen in some time.”

“Very quickly after the 9/11 attacks, all of these racist terms that I had never heard in my life for Arab and Muslim people all of a sudden became part of the lexicon, became part of the chants we would do when we were running, became part of the speeches our officers would give when we were in formation,” he explained.

“We were being inundated with the concept of the clash of civilizations. Inundated with these ideas that we needed revenge on these other types of people who are savages, as they said, and so the only thing that was in the heads of those who were told to go was this extreme racist characterization of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever they decided to send us.”

Prysner explained that these racial narratives fractured upon troops meeting people in Iraq.

“The lies were exposed when we came face to face with the Iraqi people and we saw such degrees of commonality with these people who we were occupying as opposed to these rich people who were sending us to war and propagating racist ideologies,” remembered Prysner.

“All of that racist inundation that they pump into us before we go to war only lasts so long,” he said. “The reality is that we are going to come home and live the rest of our lives thinking about what we took part in, and so many people have had to come home and face the fact that we weren’t liberators, we didn’t do a heroic mission that saved a bunch of people, we were instead part of a horrific occupation that completely ripped to shreds a country.”

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Obama Will Not Close GITMO: Trump Win Could Spark Prison Revolt, Suicides
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:53 pm | Analysis, Cuba, Imperialism, police terrorism, political struggle | Comments closed
Donald Trump has repeatedly talked tough on torture including waterboarding which simulates drowning.

Obama Will Not Close GITMO: Trump Win Could Spark Prison Revolt, Suicides

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The facility commander made it clear on Tuesday that the Obama Administration will not be able to bypass the Republican Congress to shutter the prison as administrators plan for geriatric care of detainees in the future.

US President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to shut down the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center, where men have endured beatings, hypothermia, waterboarding, stress positions and painful surgical force-feeding, without anesthesia, sometimes twice a day, for being suspected of aiding terrorists or, in many other cases, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“We tortured some folks,” said President Obama famously, and rather awkwardly, in calling for an end to advanced interrogation practices overseen by medical practitioners.

The commander-in-chief said from the outset that these brutal practices must be stopped, and called for the prison that embodies US torture in public perception to be closed. Yet, as the final hours of the 44th US president’s administration wind down, it is all too clear that the man who replaced torture with targeted killings by drone does not have the executive power to shut down the facility.

Now, with 80 prisoners remaining in Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon is preparing for a post-Obama future for the facility, McClatchy reported, with questions arising about geriatric care and wheelchair accessibility for detainees later in life.

The oldest detainee currently held at Guantanamo is 68, and recent Pentagon documents speculate that the majority of detainees, currently in their 30s and 40s, may also see their latter years in the prison. The potential also exists that the existing cadre of prisoners may enjoy new company under an aggressive foreign policy of Hillary Clinton or a avowedly pro-torture Donald Trump.

The all-but-forgotten Guantanamo Bay detainees face a bleak future although morale among prisoners appears to be higher than in previous years. Beginning in late 2013, over 100 prisoners undertook a mass hunger strike, many for hundreds of days. Several continue to this day to refuse sustenance and face a particularly brutal force-feeding technique.

Human rights groups speculate that many Guantanamo detainees rebel because they are not guilty of any crime, and face an indefinite detention without recourse.

Researchers speculate that over 80% of detainees have no connection to a terror group, but were snatched in roving dragnets in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of mistaken identities, faulty intelligence from neighbors seeking a payday from Americans, or because they were fighting for their homes.

No Light at the End of the Tunnel

“At some point if detention operations continue here we will have to address, Are the doors in the cells wide enough to move wheelchairs in and out? Are there ramps to reach medical facilities,” said Rear Admiral Peter Clarke, detention center commander. “And we’ve just started looking at that so I can’t tell you we are ready or not but it is something we are planning for.”

While President Obama continues to advocate for the immediate emptying and closure of the facility, his plan to move captives to detention facilities on the United States mainland are consistently blocked by Republicans in Congress. In a strong bid to maintain the torture site for future administrations, Capitol Hill Republicans are contemplating advancing legislation to outlaw transfers anywhere in the world, setting up a fierce legal battle between the President and Congress in the coming months.

Guantanamo Bay personnel fear that the prisoners may erupt in violent or suicidal protest if the prison remains open into the next administration, with the transfer program completely eliminated and new detainees transferred into the facility. The possibility is more likely under a prospective Trump administration, although Hillary Clinton would likely face an even tougher road against Congress than her predecessor if she assumes the Oval Office.

A cultural adviser at the facility, named Zaki, says, “I have no idea, we’re just thinking what we can do later on when we have a population that’s not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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US Thinks Hillary Clinton is Guilty, But Felony Charges Shouldn’t Stop Her
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:48 pm | Analysis, Hillary Clinton, political struggle | Comments closed
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Las Vegas

US Thinks Hillary Clinton is Guilty, But Felony Charges Shouldn’t Stop Her

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A recent survey of 1,000 “likely” voters revealed that half of the participants would want Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to continue her presidential campaign should she be indicted for using an unsecured private email server to transmit confidential information.

The survey, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research for Rasmussen on May 29 and 30 asked, “If Hillary Clinton is charged with a felony in connection with the e-mail investigation, should she immediately stop campaigning or should she continue running until a court determines her guilt or innocence?” Of those surveyed, 43% suggest the former first lady should end her campaign immediately if charged, with 50% saying she should continue until a court decision is made on the matter.

Clinton’s email troubles began a year ago, after it was revealed that classified material had passed through a private email server at the Clinton home in Chappaqua, New York. The server was used by former President Bill Clinton for personal communication and to conduct Clinton Foundation business. There have been questions about the nature of Clinton’s emails and whether any sensitive information was compromised.

A 44-year-old Romanian hacker named Marcel Lehel Lazar, known online as Guccifer, claimed that he gained access to the Clinton’s email server but found nothing interesting, saying, “It was not what I was looking for, it was boring stuff.” Representatives for the Clinton campaign have denied Lazar’s claims.

Just 8% of those polled say they are more likely to vote for the former Secretary of State because of the scandal. Of voters surveyed, some 40% say they are less likely to vote for Clinton due to the issue, and 48% say the emails will have no bearing on their decision to vote for her.

Of independent voters, 46% who participated said they believe Clinton should keep running, with 30% of Republicans and 71% of Democrats feeling the same way.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a watchdog group for the State Department, released a report last week criticizing Clinton’s digital conduct, and claiming a breach in federal regulations, saying, “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” before adding, “At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”

The OIG’s report also placed some of the blame on the State Department’s failure to update its systems and procedures in handling classified documents, stating, “Longstanding, systemic weaknesses related to electronic records and communications have existed within the Office of the Secretary that go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State. OIG recognizes that technology and Department policy have evolved considerably since Secretary Albright’s tenure began in 1997. Nevertheless, the Department generally and the Office of the Secretary in particular have been slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership.”

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US Watchdog Releases Deposition in Clinton Email Case From Her Top Aide
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:46 pm | Analysis, Hillary Clinton, political struggle | Comments closed
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at her 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Hooksett, New Hampshire February 9, 2016

US Watchdog Releases Deposition in Clinton Email Case From Her Top Aide

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The deposition with Hillary Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills regarding Clinton’s use of a private email address and server during her tenure as Secretary of State has been released, watchdog Judicial Watch press release said on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In the release, Judicial Watch noted Mills was instructed by her attorney not to answer several questions. Many of those questions were objected to by Mills’ lawyer as not being within the scope of Judge Sullivan’s order as to what topics were or were not allowed to be discussed.

“Mills was deposed last week [Friday] as part of the discovery granted to Judicial Watch by US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in response to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecured, non-government e-mail system,” the release stated.

Judicial Watch will depose six other former Clinton aides and State Department officials in the next four week. On Friday, June 3, Stephen Mull, former executive secretary to Clinton, will be questioned under oath.

All of the depositions are in connection to Clinton’s use of a private email server and email address for official business while she served as secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.Clinton has defended her use of a personal server and email address by claiming none of the information transmitted was labeled classified at the time.

However, an investigation into the matter has found that Clinton shared well over 100 emails about highly classified US government programs and other sensitive information via her unsecured communications contrary to established rules.

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Trump Downplays California Drought, Sanders Likens it to Flint Water Crisis
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:43 pm | Analysis, Bernie Sanders, Climate Change, Donald Trump, environmental crisis, political struggle | Comments closed
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview, Wednesday May 20, 2015, in Washington.

Trump Downplays California Drought, Sanders Likens it to Flint Water Crisis

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After Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denied the existence of climate change, asserting that there is no drought in California, Democrat Bernie Sanders mocked the “genius” businessman.

Speaking at recent campaign stops ahead of the crucial June 7 primary in the nation’s most populated state, Sanders poked fun at Trump’s statements, and then compared the water crisis in California to that of Flint, Michigan.”I’ll tell you something I did not know before I came here,” Sanders told a large crowd at a rally on Sunday in San Joaquin Valley.

“I was in Flint, Michigan a few months ago and as all of you know, the children in Flint, Michigan, were poisoned by the lead in the water they drank. And in Flint, Michigan, people cannot turn on their taps and use the water in their homes. Now, I thought that was Flint, Michigan. I did not know that there were thousands of homes right around here [in the same situation]. That is unbelievable… that people have got to go out and buy bottled water… is that the case?”

San Joaquin Valley water is contaminated by nitrates from agriculture, which has been linked to serious birth defects.At a stop in Visalia, California, Sanders jabbed at Trump’s claims that the latter knows more than scientists.

“You see, we don’t fully appreciate the genius of Donald Trump, who knows more than all the people of California, knows more than all the scientists,” Sanders joked. “[Trump] knows there is no drought. Not to mention, and I love this one, that Trump has concluded that climate change itself is a hoax.”

Trump has blamed the water crisis in California, which led to a state of emergency in January 2014, on poor environmental policies, despite the fact that the state has experienced its driest four years in recorded history.

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Obama Pushes Mass Deportations as Number of Immigrants Surges
worker | May 31, 2016 | 7:30 pm | Analysis, class struggle, Immigrants' Rights, political struggle | Comments closed
A group of young migrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as they are stopped in Granjeno, Texas (File)

Obama Pushes Mass Deportations as Number of Immigrants Surges

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Central American immigrants are told that they will be summarily denied asylum despite war-like violence raging across the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The US Border Patrol announced a surge in Central American migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, spurring concern that asylum seekers may face immediate deportation and/or violence at the hands of vigilantes. Popular sentiment toward immigrants has soured with the ascension of ultra-nationalist Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential race.

Undocumented immigrants are said to be primarily traveling the long, dangerous journey atop railcars from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The immigrants, primarily women and children, are fleeing pervasive violence at the hands of brutal groups including MS-13, a notorious gang known to decapitate opponents.

US officials worry that not only those fleeing violence, but also gang members looking to expand their territory, will arrive to the country. US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently traveled to Central America to publicly state that, “I am here today to send a message that our borders in the United States are not open to irregular migration.”

That message has been strengthened by Republican candidate Trump, who has labeled Mexican immigrants as “murderers and rapists,” before suggesting that, “some of them are good people, I guess.” Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, for her part, has called for the mass deportation of Central American children, to “send a message” to the people of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

For many the message to those outside America who seek a better life seems to be abandon all hope, but, in spite of the danger, people continue to risk their lives.

From October 2015 to March 2016, the US Border Patrol averaged 330 arrests of Central American migrants daily, an increase of 100% over the same period a year earlier, despite the removal of the welcome mat by the Obama Administration. Much like refugees in Europe, those traveling from Central America are designated by the United States as economic migrants, rather than refugees, to avoid providing internationally-mandated protection.

In recent years many undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border to the United States remained in the country for many years, due to backlogs in US immigration courts. Asylum applicants faced an average wait time of two years before a court would decide whether to deport them and, due to US court rulings that prevent prison detention, undocumented immigrants joined their families across the US while waiting for judgment.

This policy, referred to by conservatives dismissively as “catch and release” or “de facto amnesty,” has long provided hope to those fleeing distressed countries. Now the policy has changed.

The Obama Administration now uniformly denies asylum claims for Central American immigrants, moving toward immediate deportation for recent arrivals, notwithstanding pending immigration court proceedings, a practice cheered by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Statue of Liberty prominently declares, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” but in modern-day America both Republicans and Democrats appear to agree that those doors must now be shut.

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