imitation (even slavish imitation) is the sincerest form of flattery (but flattery from slaves is worthless)
Border Patrol Chief: Agents can still shoot at rock throwers
Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Mar 9 2014
US Border Patrol agents can still use deadly force to respond to rock-throwing attacks along the border, even though they must take care in assessing whether their lives are in danger, Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher said in a new directive Friday. The guidance comes at a time when Border Patrol agents are under scrutiny for their response to rock-throwing instances along the US-Mexico border, which had resulted in several deaths when agents have fired back with their service firearms. Critics have argued that there is no reason to shoot back at those throwing rocks, while agents and their defenders argue that the rocks are often small boulders that could kill or seriously injure someone. Fisher said in the directive:
Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles unless the agent has a reasonable belief, based on the totality of the circumstances, to include the size and nature of the projectiles, that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious injury.
The new directive also says agents shouldn’t fire at moving vehicles unless they believe the vehicles are being used as deadly force in an attack. Critics said the guidance didn’t quell their concerns. Chris Rickerd, policy counsel at the ACLU, said:
Fisher’s new guidance on use of force leaves much to be desired. It is largely a restatement of existing policy, which is a shame because clearly existing policy isn’t working.
He called for independent inquiries into all deadly force incidents from the last five years. Along with the directive, both US Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is responsible for interior immigration enforcement, released their full use-of-force policies. Speaking with reporters, Fisher said his goal was to try to get agents to be aware of their surroundings so they make the correct decisions for the circumstances they are facing. He said:
All I’m doing is being a little but more specific to the environment we’re operating in.
Since 2010, the Border Patrol counted 1,713 instances where rocks were thrown at agents. The agents responded with deadly force in 43 cases, resulting in 10 deaths. Since 2007, the Border Patrol said, there have been more than 6,000 assaults on agents, and 3 agents have been killed. Rock-throwing from the Mexican side of the border at agents in the US is frequent. Critics of the Border Patrol’s policy argue that rocks aren’t always deadly projectiles and had asked that agents be restricted from firing back. But the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents line agents, said the focus on rocks misses the point that they are being thrown as part of an assault on US law enforcement. It said:
Restricting agents in their use of force, whether it is against rock or vehicular assaults, will only result in more criminals attacking Border Patrol agents. Criminals will know if agents are prohibited from using deadly force against rock or vehicle assaults, they will quickly employ those means against agents.
Fisher said that, in his experience, assailants are using projectiles to try to push agents out of the area so that illegal activity can continue. Last week, the LA Times reported on an independent report that criticized the Border Patrol’s policy, saying the agency showed a lack of diligence in investigating instances where agents used their weapons. The experts who wrote the report urged the Border Patrol to limit the use of lethal force in instances where assailants are using vehicles or projectiles. Last year, the Border Patrol said it would consider outfitting agents with dashboard and lapel cameras to try to cut down on uncertainty surrounding some of the incidents. Fisher told reporters those recommendations are still under study.
Confrontation in Ukraine as diplomacy stalls
Andrew Osborn, Natalia Zinets, Reuters, Mar 11 2014
SEVASTOPOL/KIEV – A pro-Russian force opened fire in seizing a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on Monday and NATO announced reconnaissance flights along its eastern frontiers as confrontation around the Black Sea peninsula showed no sign of easing. Ukrainian activists trying to cross into Crimea to show solidarity with opponents of last week’s Russian military takeover there said they were halted by men in uniforms of the now outlawed riot police. One of these fired at close range, hitting a man in the chest, apparently with rubber bullets. With diplomacy at a standstill, Russia said the US had spurned an invitation to hold new talks on resolving the crisis, the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War, although Washington said later a meeting of foreign ministers was possible this week, if Moscow shows it is ready to “engage”. NATO said AWACS early warning aircraft would start reconnaissance flights on Tuesday over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in Ukraine, flying from bases in Germany and Britain. The US on Tuesday will also begin previously planned military training exercises in the region, the first since the Russian intervention in Crimea. A US Navy destroyer will participate in maneuvers with Romanian and Bulgarian warships in the Black Sea, across from Crimea. In Poland, US fighter jets will take part in joint exercises. British PM Cameron told Germany’s Bild newspaper, however, that Western powers were not considering military action and wanted a diplomatic solution. EU governments are considering sanctions against Russia.
Ukrainian pseudo-PM Arseny Yatseniuk, who said he would address the UNSC on Thursday, blamed the crisis on Russia and accused Moscow of undermining the global security system by taking control of Crimea. Ukraine’s new justice authorities issued warrants for the arrest of Crimea’s pro-Russia leaders on Monday, six days before a referendum they have called to join the region to Russia. Russian forces have in little more than a week taken over military installations across Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian territory until Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954. Pro-Russian separatists have taken control of the regional parliament, declared Crimea part of the Russian Federation and announced a referendum for Sunday to confirm that. Putin says Moscow is acting to protect the rights of ethnic Russians, who make up a majority of Crimea’s population, after Ukraine’s Pres Yanukovich was ousted last month in what Russia calls a coup. On Monday, a Ukrainian defense official said a Russian-led military force of about a dozen men fired in the air as they took control of a Ukrainian naval base near the town of Bakhchisaray, though no one was hurt. The force was accompanied by the base’s Ukrainian commander. He persuaded a number of his men to join the Russian forces while allowing others who refused to leave, the Ukrainian official, Vladislav Seleznyov wrote on Facebook. The Russian force later drove off with nine Ukrainian vehicles. Yarik Alexandrov, one of the Ukrainian naval personnel who refused to pledge allegiance to Moscow, told Reuters near the base that he and his comrades at first refused to surrender. He said:
Then they started shooting round our feet, and we surrendered. What could we do? We had no weapons.
Similar small confrontations have taken place at other Ukrainian bases around Crimea, although shooting has been rare and there has so far been no bloodshed. Russia denies its troops are involved, a stance ridiculed in Kiev and the West. In a sign of the peninsula’s growing isolation from the Ukrainian mainland, armed men prevented a convoy of cars from a Ukrainian activist group crossing into Crimea. The group was part of the Maidan movement behind the protests that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia. Ukrainian television showed men in the uniform of the Berkut riot police, banned by the new authorities for its role in shooting dozens of demonstrators in Kiev last month, blocking the road south. One was shown firing twice, hitting a man in the chest. His injuries appeared minor, suggesting the use of rubber bullets. In other armed action, Russian forces took over a military hospital and a missile unit. Reuters correspondents also saw a big Russian convoy on the move just outside the port city of Sevastopol near a Ukrainian air defense base. It comprised more than 100 vehicles, including around 20 APCs plus mobile artillery. Putin says Russia is not controlling events in Crimea, but denials of Russian involvement are rejected by the US as the two former Cold War enemies wage a geopolitical battle over the future of Crimea and Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Putin that Russia’s position on Ukraine remained at odds with the West, but US Sec State Jackass Kerry had declined an invitation to visit Russia on Monday for further talks. Lavrov told Putin during talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi:
It is all being formulated as if there was a conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and our partners suggested using the situation created by a coup as a starting point.
He did not say why Jackass had postponed the talks. The State Dept said Jackass told Lavrov on Saturday that Washington wanted Moscow to cease its drive to annex Crimea and end provocative steps. In a statement, it added:
Jackass made clear to Lavrov that he would welcome further discussions focused on how to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine if and when we see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals.
In Kiev, Yatseniuk said he would address the UNSC during a debate on Ukraine. He is also due to hold talks with the US government that will show Washington’s support of the new Ukrainian leadership. Interfax quoted Yatseniuk as telling reporters:
Russia’s policy is aimed at undermining the basis of the global security system and revising the outcome of WW2.
Western powers have rallied behind Ukraine’s new leaders and the World Bank said on Monday it planned to provide up to $3b this year to see Kiev through an economic crisis. US senators are preparing legislation that aides said would be broader than a measure passed last week by the House of Representatives backing $1b in loan guarantees for Ukraine, and could include sanctions. Ukraine’s crisis was triggered in November by Yanukovich’s refusal, under Russian pressure, to sign deals on closer political and trade ties with the EU. Although three months of protests against Yanukovich were mostly peaceful, at least 80 demonstrators were killed in clashes after police used force against them, some by sniper fire. Yanukovich fled Ukraine before a peace deal with the opposition was implemented, and a new national unity government was installed. He is wanted for mass murder in Ukraine and is being sheltered by Russia. Western countries have denounced the Russian intervention in Crimea and say the borders of Ukraine, a country of 46 million, should remain unchanged. They have said they will not accept the outcome of Sunday’s vote. US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said in Kiev:
The US is not prepared to recognize any result of the so-called referendum taking place in six days’ time. We are committed to Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine. The crisis needs to be solved diplomatically, not militarily.
In the latest military movements, in Sevastopol, where Russia has its Black Sea Fleet base, Russian forces disarmed servicemen at a Ukrainian army missile base, Seleznyov said. He told Fifth Channel television that about 200 soldiers aboard 14 trucks moved on the building at about 1.30 am and threatened to storm it if the Ukrainian soldiers failed to give up their weapons. In the eastern city of Luhansk, Ukraine’s security services said they were investigating the takeover on Sunday of the main administrative building. The region’s top official was held captive in a room where he was made to write a letter saying he had resigned, but he later said he was still performing his duties.
NATO Deploys AWACS as Crimea Organizes Self-Defense Forces
Infowars.com, Mar 11 2014
NATO has given a green light to deploy AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) flights over Poland and Romania. The BBC quoted NATO officials saying the “reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory” in response to a planned Crimea referendum to join Russia, a move governments in Europe and the US have declared illegal. NATO added the flights will “enhance the alliance’s situational awareness” of events in Ukraine and Crimea. The AWACS are based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and Waddington in the UK. AWACS operate as an airborne radar “picket” system to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges for targeting purposes. In Europe, NATO uses AWAC in a similar fashion as the US Navy uses a Command Information Center on a warship. The system allows operators to track targets and engage in battle management. NATO has not specified what in particular it is monitoring and possibly targeting in Ukraine. In recent days, Crimea has organized self-defense units in the autonomous republic “in order to respond to possible provocations from the coup-imposed government in Kiev,” according to InSerbia.info, a nonprofit news organization. Aleksandr Bochkarev, head of the Crimean self-defense forces, told RIA Novosti on Monday:
We’re shaping up our own armed forces now.
Russia Threatens to Impose Sanctions On US Corporations
Kurt Nimmo, Infowars.com, Mar 10 2014
USAians may not believe in going to war over Ukraine, but if a recent CNN poll can be taken at face value, nearly 60% think sanctions are doable. From CNN today:
Nearly 6 in 10 of those questioned say they support economic sanctions against Moscow by the US and its allies in an attempt to force Russia to remove its forces from the Crimean peninsula, and try to prevent Russia from sending forces to other parts of Ukraine. Nearly 4 in 10 oppose economic sanctions. Last week the Obama administration laid the groundwork for sanctions against Russia.
Jackass Kerry, during an interview with the wife of a former Federal Reserve boss, expressed incredulity when asked about Putin’s claim there are no Russian troops in Ukraine. Putin said the armed men are Ukrainian volunteers and security personnel from a Russian version of Blackwater. Russia has a naval base in Crimea. The US has around 1,000 military bases around the world. The Pentagon, however, puts the number at 662 in 38 different countries. Jackass’ outrage and the corporate media manufactured opposition to Russia’s supposed invasion of Ukraine would be far less hypocritical if USAians were not so oblivious to the bases their government maintains in foreign countries. CNN and Faux talk endlessly about the opposition by Ukrainians to the presence of Russian troops, but you never hear about the fact over 90% of Okinawans oppose the presence of US troops in Japan’s southernmost prefecture. In addition to hypocrisy on bases, the US people are woefully ignorant about the number of transnational corporations based in Russia. Danny Vinik, writing for New Republic last week, says transnational corporations are “scared” of sanctions on Russia. Sacred? More like adamant about not losing a red cent to the self-righteous hyperbolic soundbites of Obama and crew. On Monday, Press TV reported:
Moscow is preparing a bill that would freeze the assets of EU and US companies operating in Russia in response to potential Western sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine’s Republic of Crimea.
A large number of corporations would be impacted by the measure, including but hardly limited to PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Ford, Caterpillar, IBM, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, ExxonMobil, Chevorn, Boeing, ConocoPhillips, and many others doing business in Russia. If Russia imposes retaliatory measures, you can bet sanctions cooked by the West will fizzle in short order. Obama and Congress may rant about the evil Vladimir Putin and the aggressive Russian bear, but that’s all hot air and rhetoric. Transnational corporations and international banks own Congress. They get Congress critters elected and re-elected and write Obama’s teleprompter script. They are not about to let billions of dollars slide down the tubes because of troubles in Russia’s backyard. Sanctions work, sort of, against Iran because the market there is miniscule: a mere $500m/yr. The SEC can grandstand and pompous politicos can make grandiloquent speeches about containing the mullahs and their non-existent nukes because Iran is not Russia, even with its bounty of oil reserves. Europe does about $460b/yr in business in Russia, while US corporations do about $40b/yr. Is it sane to believe this kind of money will be sacrificed to protest what is or is not going on in Ukraine?
An Eilat newspaper reported that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo met secretly in an Aqaba hotel with Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar. For more on the strange relationship these two are cultivating and the clear limitations Prince Bandar is facing both in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region, read this interesting profile of the Saudis’ top spook. Pardo and Sultan weren’t in Aqaba to soak up that warm winter sunshine. This is the second such meeting that I’ve reported between them over the past few weeks. The source of the story is supposedly the Jordanian government. You have to ask yourself if two well-known intelligence chiefs of supposedly hostile nations want to meet secretly, why choose a Jordanian hotel? No. I’d say they wanted their meeting to be known. Perhaps not known throughout the world, but certainly known to the intelligence agencies in certain capitals like Tehran and Washington.
- Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Nov 17 2013
AJC, ADL opposing Maryland anti-boycott measure
JTA, Mar 9 2014
WASHINGTON — Two national Jewish organizations are opposing a Maryland bill that would financially penalize colleges involved in an academic boycott of another country. The AJC and the ADL in statements said that while they clearly do not support the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israel, which occasioned the measure being considered by Maryland legislators, they also do not support any attempt to stifle academic freedom. Alan Ronkin, the director of AJC’s Washington office, said in a Mar 5 statement:
Maryland’s proposed legislative action, which itself raises academic freedom questions, is not the answer to discriminatory acts against Israeli academics. More helpful would be a General Assembly call for publicly funded colleges and universities to increase their cooperation with Israeli institutions of higher learning.
The AJC and ADL have objected to similar bills under consideration in other state legislatures. Two lengthy hearings on the Maryland bill were held last week in Annapolis. The bill prohibits public universities from paying for its employees to attend conferences or use public funds if they participated directly or indirectly in support of academic boycotts of countries that have a declaration of cooperation with Maryland. Israel has such a declaration. Also, the measure reduces state funding to the boycotting universities by 3%. Among regional Jewish groups, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington objects to any financial penalties, while the Baltimore Jewish Council is a strong supporter of any attempt to stop those who would delegitimize Israel. The Baltimore-Israel Coalition and Agudat Israel of Maryland also support the bill.
I’ll just chuck this in here, cos it’s vaguely interesting:
Rashid Khalidi and Judith Butler object to boycotting the boycotters
JTA, Mar 7 2014
NEW YORK – Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi are circulating a letter objecting to retaliation against those who support boycotts of Israel. Both Butler and Khalidi recently had events canceled at Jewish institutions after critics raised objections to their views on Israel. Butler, a literary theorist affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley, pulled out of a talk on Franz Kafka that she had been scheduled to deliver in March at New York’s Jewish Museum amid protests over her support for boycotting Israel. Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University who supports the legitimacy of resistance against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, was disinvited from giving a talk to students at Ramaz, a modern Orthodox high school in New York. Butler and Khalidi’s letter, which has approximately 150 co-signers, including academics and artists, says:
Whether one is for or against BDS as a means to change the current situation in Plastelina-Israel, it is important to recognize that boycotts are internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression. There is proposed legislation under debate in New York, Maryland and Illinois that threatens academic funding on the basis of criticism of the Israeli government. As non-violent instruments to effect political change, boycotts cannot be outlawed without trampling on a constitutionally protected right to political speech. Those who support boycotts ought not to become subject to retaliation, surveillance, or censorship when they choose to express their political viewpoint, no matter how offensive that may be to those who disagree.
my opinion is that einstein couldn’t accept the actual eternity of the universe, because he was religious
Steady Slow theory: Einstein’s alternative to Big Bang theory
Times of Israel, Mar 10 2014
Albert Einstein once proposed an alternative to the Big Bang theory, arguing that rather than a single explosive event, the universe expanded steadily and eternally. A manuscript in which he set out the proposition sat unnoticed for decades at HUJI’s Albert Einstein Archives, and was only recently discovered. The Big Bang theory emerged in the 1920s, but Einstein initially opposed it. His writings on an alternative approach, entitled “About the Cosmological Problem,” were penned in or around 1931, apparently during a visit to California, since he used USAian notepaper. Describing his theory for the formation of the universe, he wrote:
For the density to remain constant new particles of matter must be continually formed.
But he quickly abandoned his idea, according to Cormac O’Raifeartaigh, a physicist at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland who realized what the manuscript dealt with. Einstein recognized that he had made a mistake in his calculations, according to O’Raifeartaigh, corrected them, crossing out a number in different colored ink, and is not known to have ever returned to the subject.
The Einstein manuscript has long been available online at the Albert Einstein Archives, but had been erroneously identified as the first draft of a different Einstein paper. After O’Raifeartaigh came across it and researched it, he and a team of colleagues posted their findings, which were then reported in recent days by the magazine Nature. Nature quotes cosmologist James Peebles of Princeton University describing the manuscript as probably “a rough draft commenced with excitement over a neat idea and soon abandoned as the author realized he was fooling himself.”