The US is preparing to go to war with Syria. Diplomats are being expelled worldwide. Massive US-led war games in territory calculated to simulate Syria's have already been underway. A war with Syria would of course bring in its allies including Iran, and would likely embroil Israel, Russia, and China.
THE US and its allies including Australia have started the largest military exercises in the Middle East in 10 years in Jordan.
"Yesterday we began to apply the skills that we have developed over the last weeks in an irregular warfare scenario ... They will last for approximately the coming two weeks," Major General Ken Tovo, head of the US Special Operations Forces, told reporters in Amman.
Eager Lion 2012 "is the largest exercise held in the region in the past ten years," he said at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in north Amman.
More than 12,000 soldiers are taking part in the war games, representing 19 countries, including Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.
....(more at link)
LOS ANGELES, May 31, 2012 (AFP) - A Syrian honorary consul in the United States has resigned in protest after last week's killings in Houla, where more than 100 people were slaughtered in a massacre blamed on pro-government forces.
The resignation of Hazem Chehabi, who had helped arrange passport and other services in California, came as several countries expelled Syrian envoys to protest the spiraling violence of the 14-month government crackdown.
“You get to a point where your silence or your inaction becomes ethically and morally unacceptable,” Chehabi, who had held the post for 18 years, told National Public Radio on Wednesday.
“Although I think I may have been there a while ago, the recent barbaric massacre that took place in the town of Houla, for me it was a tipping point and was a point beyond which one could not justify remaining silent.”President Bashar al-Assad “has to be responsible for the action of his own government”, Chehabi said.
“Either you're committing those atrocities, and therefore you're guilty, or you're not preventing them from happening, and the buck has to stop somewhere. And to me the buck stops all the way at the top.” More than 100 people were killed in the central town of Houla on May 25-26, including 49 children and 34 women, according to UN military observers who visited the site.
Some were blown to bits by artillery and tank fire but most were summarily executed, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN officials suspect the massacre was carried out by a pro-government militia.
In a coordinated move on Tuesday, the United States and several Western powers expelled Syrian diplomats over the massacre and warned Assad that time was running out for a tattered UN-brokered peace plan.
....(more at link)
(What is an "honorary consul?") --Chehabi is apparently a Laguna Beach physician who has contributed heavily to Democrat politicians as well as to former Bush chief of staff John Sununu.
Has there been a massacre, is it as described, do we truly know the perpetrators without an investigation? Michel Chussodovsky points out in global Research that, just as was suggested in the famous false-flag Operation Northwoods plan versus Cuba in the 1960s, lists of the dead victims' names are in the newspapers, creating a sense of outrage that is helpful to the war effort.
We've been led by the nose by reports of a massacre before:
DOUBTS ON A MASSACRE:
Media Ignore Questions About Incident That Sparked Kosovo War
February 1, 2001
In 1999, the discovery of bodies in the Kosovo village of Racak helped push NATO into war. New evidence casting doubt on claims that the bodies were civilian victims of a massacre has stirred debate in the European media-- but there has been a virtual blackout on the news in the U.S. press.
In January of 1999, the American head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Kosovo announced that 45 Kosovar Albanians from the village of Racak had been massacred by Serb soldiers. U.S. diplomat William Walker condemned the killings as a "horrendous" massacre, stating that the dead were all civilians who had been brutally executed, many of them mutilated after death.
Once the massacre story was reported in heart-wrenching detail by media across the globe, pressure for war intensified and previously reluctant European allies took a major step toward authorizing airstrikes. A Washington Post article (4/18/99) reconstructing the Kosovo decision-making process found that "Racak transformed the West's Balkan policy as singular events seldom do."
Troubling questions soon emerged, however, about whether or not there had actually been a massacre at Racak, or whether the incident had been manipulated to push NATO into war-- questions almost completely ignored by the U.S. media at the time.
After the massacre, the European Union hired a Finnish team of forensic pathologists to investigate the deaths. Their report was kept secret until now, two years later. The U.S. media is ignoring the story, despite the report's finding that although people did indeed die at Racak, there is no evidence of a massacre.
According to the Berliner Zeitung (1/16/01), the Finnish investigators could not establish that the victims were civilians, whether they were from Racak, or even exactly where they had been killed. Furthermore, the investigators found only one body that showed traces of an execution-style killing, and no evidence at all that the bodies had been mutilated.
--more at link
If there has been a massacre at Houla, the US is the last country that has a moral standing to oppose it. Perhaps you remember this Democracy Now report from April 2004:
The town of Fallujah is under siege and there are reports of a massacre of Iraqis at the hands U.S. troops. The death toll in the town has now topped 600 with over 1,000 injured. [Note: 6000 were killed eventually http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah_during_the_Iraq_War ]
Local hospitals reported the majority of the dead were women, children and the elderly. The U.S. maintains 95 percent of those killed were members of the resistance. This according to the Guardian of London. [White phosphorus was used.]
More than 60,000 women and children fled the city during a brief ceasefire on Friday but the US blocked any men of military age from leaving. Dozens of bodies have been buried in the city’s soccer stadium after US forces blocked roads heading toward the cemetery.
(more at link)
Notes for Fukushima discussion:
About radioactive tuna: Why was this information not released in August when the 15 Bluefin tuna were tested? Why test only for cesium-137 and not for strontium or radioactive sulfur, and for other radioactive substances? ...Cassandra strikes again. No level of radiation is safe--these substances bioaccumulate; strontium to the heart, sulfur to the testicles, cesium replaces potassium; test all food. New smartphone in Japan includes radiation detector.
Debunking the banana argument: gamma decay for C137 @1.175 MeV vs K40 @ 1.461 keV....5000x potassium, so, nuclear apologists: shut up.
Take ascorbic.... http://www.ajcn.org/content/54/6/1281S.abstract )
From Fukushima Diary:
The weekly newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported theyhave obtained an email leaked from Tepco. It was sent from a staff of engineering devision to his coworker and a nuclear expert.
It warned the possibility of recriticality of reactor2.
“From looking at the water level (60cm), it is obvious that the PCV and suppression chamber are severely damaged.
It is very likely that a new heating mass is generated from recriticality. We can not tell exactly what is happening inside of PCV. We can never deny the possibility of recriticality. ”
Tepco officially has never given out a warning like this....
....The highest reading of Iodine 131 to suggest the possibility of recriticality was measured in the small city of Gunma called Kiryu city. (The population is 119,393 on 4/1/2012)....
Posted by Mochizuki on May 30th, 2012 ·
From the evening of 5/28/2012 (JST), 4 thermometers of reactor 2 have been showing abnormal temperature transition.
Tepco states recriticality is not going on, and the transition is random, probably those thermometers are out of order again.
However, 2 of them are about supply air D/W (O.P. (Onahama peil)= 12.150m), 2 are about return air drywell (O.P. = 10.750m)
and the thermometers of each pair show the same trend. [more at link below:]
Disgusting: 7 Million Kids and Mothers Suffer Extreme Poverty in the Richest Country in the World
Editor's note: This piece is cross-posted at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman, to discuss his decades of anti-poverty work and his new book, So Rich So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty In America. Peter Edelman was legislative aide to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and accompanied Kennedy on his 1967 visits to the deep South to understand hunger and poverty in this country and how to fix it. Edelman also served as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services years later under President Bill Clinton. He resigned this post in protest of Clinton's signing of the welfare reform legislation that converted the federal anti-poverty cash-assistance entitlement into a state block grant program that severely restricted the availability of cash assistance to those in need. [Disclosure: Edelman serves an adviser to the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and sits on the board of one of the project's current funders, the Public Welfare Foundation.]
Karen Dolan: Peter, you tell us in your book that "extreme poverty" in the U.S. is increasing. Can you explain what this means with regard to things like shelter and food and whether it's getting a lot harder to be poor than it was a few decades ago?
Peter Edelman: Extreme poverty means having an income of less than half the poverty line. That's less than $9,000 a year for a family of three. The stunning fact is that in 2010, there were 20.5 million people who had incomes that low. And perhaps even more disturbing -- 6 million people have no income other than food stamps (SNAP). That means an income at one third of the poverty line or less than $6,000 a year for a family of three. You can't live on that.
So, these are people who are really in extreme trouble. In fact, many of them will get out of extreme poverty fairly quickly, and that makes it even more inexcusable not to have a basic safety net for them when their income dips so low. How do they survive? We don't really know. They obviously have to have the support in one way or another of family and friends-- if they have such networks. They sleep on couches, they move around a lot. If they can find casual work to get a little extra money, they do. But they are in a very tough place. The percentage of people in extreme poverty has doubled since 1976, so it is getting worse.
Public benefits, which are not counted in official poverty figures insofar as they’re not paid in cash, make the situation a little better, but not much. The fact that there could be 6 million people who only have food stamps is because of another fact: that welfare --Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) -- is basically unavailable in many states in the country. In Wyoming, for example, 4% of poor children in the entire state -- that's 644 people including the mothers -- receive cash assistance. In 19 states, fewer than 20% of poor children are receiving cash assistance. So that's how you can have 6 million people living only on food stamps. About 7 million of those in extreme poverty are mothers and children. We can only imagine the damage that this does to the children. It really is a crisis, and very few people are aware of it.
Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus. She directs the Institute's Cities for Progress project.
© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/155642/