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Hillary Clinton declares international information war

03 March, 2011

The US is losing the global information war, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared while appearing before a congressional committee to ask for extra funds to spread US propaganda through new media.

Clinton said existing private channels are not good enough to handle the job, naming as rivals Al Jazeera, China's CCTV and RT – which she watches, she added.

Clinton was defending her department’s budget in front of the House’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

Clinton said the US should step up its propaganda effort and get back “in the game” of doing “what we do best.”

“During the Cold War we did a great job in getting America’s message out. After the Berlin Wall fell we said, ‘Okay, fine, enough of that, we are done,’ and unfortunately we are paying a big price for it,” she said. “Our private media cannot fill that gap.”

“We are in an information war and we are losing that war. Al Jazeera is winning, the Chinese have opened a global multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive,” she stated.

Things have changed a lot since the days when Western media outlets, including BBC and CNN, had a monopoly on the coverage of world news. More and more viewers across the world tune into various foreign media to get a fresh take on events.

It is all in the numbers. For instance, RT’s presence on YouTube is a real hit: almost 300 million views, when CNN International is struggling to reach 3 million.

Full report at RT

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Paul Craig Roberts: The Perfidy of Government - Evidence v. Denial 1-2

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It is clear China is trying to position the yuan/renminbi as the global reserve currency.

China says yuan could become a reserve currency -paper

malaysia.news

Reuters - Thursday, March 3SendIM StoryPrint.BEIJING, March 3 - The Chinese yuan could potentially become a world reserve currency as the country gears up to boost its global clout, deputy central bank governor Yi Gang said in remarks published on Thursday.

"Why do global investors like to hold a certain currency and make investments in a market? They mainly consider its safety, returns and depth, and the liquidity of the market. China's market and the yuan have full potential," Yi said in an article published in the official Financial News.

Beijing has vowed to open its capital account in a selective manner and is stepping up efforts to internationalise the yuan .

"We need to quicken the pace of internationalisation of our capital markets to improve the global status of the yuan," Yi added, without elaborating on how to move towards that goal.

The People's Bank of China said on Wednesday that it would allow importers and exporters across the nation to settle trades in the yuan this year, a move that would give yuan a bigger role in the global financial markets. [ID:nTOE72106L] (Reporting by Aileen Wang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)

Also see- China Demand Voracious - A Yuan Gold Standard?

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Russian plan to deploy missiles on disputed islands 'regrettable' - Japan

rian.ru

Japan is concerned over Russia's plans to deploy missiles on a group of disputed islands, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Wednesday.

Russian media quoted on Tuesday a high-ranking representative of Russia's General Staff as saying that Russia was planning to deploy Bastion missile systems with Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles on the disputed South Kuril Islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

"This is very regrettable," Edano told journalists in Tokyo. He added that Japan was following closely the "trends of Russia's military activities in the Far East."

Russia's move comes as part of government plans to modernize armed forces in the country's Far East. The decision was taken after the long-standing territorial dispute between the countries escalated in November last year following a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to one of the four South Kuril Islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan criticized Medvedev's trip as "inexcusable rudeness," sparking an angry reaction from the Kremlin.

Earlier on Wednesday, Edano called for a more active political dialogue with Russia and warned against any arms race in the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan's continued claim over the four Kuril Islands has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a formal peace treaty to end World War II hostilities. Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai lie at the end of a chain stretching from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula to the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

TOKYO, March 2 (RIA Novosti)

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9/11 Experiments: Eliminate the Impossible

GORDON DUFF: 9/11, “HOW” or “WHO”

The original report by the National Institute of Standards, describing the destruction of the World Trade Center as resulting from heat from jet fuel fires, a relatively low temperature source of short duration, weakening hundreds of tons of steel, even turning much of it molten as films show, is simply silly.

There is more than minor evidence that the report, now rejected as outlandish by hundreds of architects and scientists, was a “whitewash” and is, in itself traced to members of the Bush administration believed complicit in a very real conspiracy.

Read full report at veteranstoday.com

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Nemesis Reconsidered- Cornell University Library

Planet X

Cornell University Library

The hypothesis of a companion object (Nemesis) orbiting the Sun was motivated by the claim of a terrestrial extinction periodicity, thought to be mediated by comet showers. The orbit of a distant companion to the Sun is expected to be perturbed by the Galactic tidal field and encounters with passing stars, which will induce variation in the period.

We examine the evidence for the previously proposed periodicity, using two modern, greatly improved paleontological datasets of fossil biodiversity. We find that there is a narrow peak at 27 My in the cross-spectrum of extinction intensity time series between these independent datasets.

This periodicity extends over a time period nearly twice that for which it was originally noted. An excess of extinction events are associated with this periodicity at 99% confidence. In this sense we confirm the originally noted feature in the time series for extinction. However, we find that it displays extremely regular timing for about 0.5 Gy. The regularity of the timing compared with earlier calculations of orbital perturbation would seem to exclude the Nemesis hypothesis as a causal factor.

All links to this subject to Cornell University from beforeitsnews.com report here

Past report and video from me here

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Iran, India Agree on New Mechanism for Crude Oil Payments

farsnews

TEHRAN (FNA)- India's oil minister announced that New Delhi has started making overdue payments to Iran for oil imports after the two countries agreed on a mechanism for crude oil payments.

Sudini Jaipal Reddy said on Thursday that Iran and India agreed on a new mechanism to clear the payments to the Central Bank of Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Pending dues of National Iranian Oil Company are now being cleared and as of March 1, 2011, payment of €1.5 billion has been made to the Central Bank of Iran," the Indian oil minister stated.

Jaipal further said around 21.2 million tons of crude oil was imported from Iran during the fiscal year of 2009-2010 (from March 21, 2009 to March 21, 2010).

The development came after Indian Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee said that his country is doing its best to find a solution to payment currency issues in oil deals with Iran.

Mukherjee in a meeting on last Thursday with Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini assured his Iranian counterpart that India would like to make the payment due to Iran "as expeditiously as possible specially on account of oil and oil products", an official statement said today.

Mukherjee said at the time that India is working out an arrangement through German central bank Deutsche Bundesbank to expedite payment to Iran.

India had on February 3 decided to pay for the Iranian oil using euros through German-based Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG ( EIH Bank).

The problem arose when the Indian Central Bank said import payments to Iran would have to be settled outside the existing Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism.

Under the ACU mechanism, every two months imports by the nine member-nations are settled by every member paying for its import surplus.

Iran had earlier insisted it would not trade outside the ACU mechanism.

Iran is the second largest crude oil exporter to India after Saudi Arabia and sends some 1 billion dollar crude oil to the country monthly.

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China's defense budget to grow 12.7% in 2011:

cntv.cn

BEIJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- China said Friday it plans to raise its defense budget by 12.7 percent to 601 billion yuan (91.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, compared with an increase of 7.5 percent last year.

"The government has always tried to limit military spending and it has set the defense spending at a reasonable level to ensure the balance between national defense and economic development," said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of China's national legislature.

The former foreign minister also said China's defense expenditure is transparent and defensive in nature.

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Defense-Russia tests 2nd prototype of fifth-generation fighter

A second prototype of the Russian fifth-generation T-50 fighter successfully conducted its maiden flight on Thursday, the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer said.

The T-50 fighter is being developed by the Sukhoi design bureau and built at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East. The first prototype made its maiden flight in January 2010 and has so far conducted over 40 tests.

"The second prototype of the fifth-generation fighter conducted today [Thursday] its first flight. The aircraft spent 44 minutes in the air...It was a successful flight which met all set parameters," Sukhoi said in a statement.

Russia has been developing its own fifth-generation fighter since the 1990s. It is designed to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world's only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II.

Full report at rian.ru

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US students face jail time for disrupting Israeli official’s speech

3/3/11 intifada-palestine.com

Eleven University of California students face criminal charges and possible jail terms for protesting and disrupting a speech by an Israeli official as the Orange County district attorney’s office engages in what one of the students’ attorneys calls “selective and discriminatory prosecution”

In a University of California at Irvine auditorium on 8 February 2010, ten student activists nonviolently confronted Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, with prepared statements of protest. They stood up and challenged Oren’s defense of Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip in winter 2008-09 — during which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed — and the state’s ongoing human rights violations.

“Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech,” shouted one student before he was escorted out of the room. “You, sir, are an accomplice to genocide,” another stood up and stated before he, too, was led away by police.

Arrests and investigations

After each one made a statement during Oren’s speech, the ten students were escorted out of the auditorium by police officers and then frisked, arrested and detained. Audience members in support of Oren jeered and yelled epithets at the protesting students as they delivered their messages.

Following the disruptions, Oren was able to continue his speech for approximately thirty minutes, while solidarity activists outside of the hall gathered in a peaceful demonstration. Another student who was part of the protest, but who did not stand and speak out inside the auditorium, was also detained and arrested by a police officer.

Now known as the Irvine 11, eight of the students arrested that day are from University of California at Irvine (UCI) and three are from the nearby University of California at Riverside.

In September 2010, after a lengthy process, the entire Muslim Student Union at UCI — of which many of the students arrested that day were members — was suspended by university officials for an academic quarter. This punishment is usually reserved for campus groups that are involved with alcohol violations or “hazing,” a series of physically abusive fraternity initiation practices.

Although the suspension has now ended, the Muslim Student Union was placed on a two-year probation, which means that the organization remains under acute scrutiny by the university administration.

But the punishment of the students’ protest has gone beyond the campus.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has initiated nearly a year’s worth of investigations against the students, including subpoenaing emails and going door-to-door to get testimonials from witnesses after Oren’s speech was disrupted.

Rackauckas recently empaneled a grand jury, and on 4 February, the district attorney’s office decided it would file misdemeanor criminal charges against the students who disrupted Oren’s speech. Rackauckas charged every student arrested that day with one count of both conspiracy to disturb a meeting and the disturbance of a meeting.

If the students are convicted, each could face up to six months in jail.

“A completely different situation”

Similar public disruptions of speeches given by Israeli officials have taken place across the United States and in Europe, on college campuses and in public venues, notably in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco and recently in Scotland. No known legal action has been taken against protesters in these cases.

Twenty-three-year-old Hamza Siddiqui, a political science major at UCI and a member of the Muslim Student Union, was inside the auditorium and supported the ten students who spoke out. He told The Electronic Intifada that the disruption of Oren’s speech was no different than any of the other similar protests.

“The type of protest these students chose to engage in is something that you see all across college campuses — it’s not unique to UCI by any means,” Siddiqui said. “Usually these protests end up being anecdotal. There’s no criminal record, and the school doesn’t punish anybody. It might get published in the school newspaper, and that’s it. But the situation at UCI was completely different.”

Siddiqui told The Electronic Intifada that instead of opening up a dialogue on campus about why the students disrupted Oren’s speech, all public discussion revolved around whether the students had the right to do it or not, and if they should suffer any consequences.

“It became something that was blown completely out of proportion. This is an unprecedented situation,” Siddiqui said.

Additionally, there seems to be a double standard being employed by the Orange County district attorney’s office in the way they have dealt with their interpretation of the law. For example, Siddiqui said that no criminal charges were filed against non-student community members who yelled hateful insults at Palestine solidarity activist and Nazi Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein last May, during her guest lecture at UCI.

“The police didn’t step up. Nothing happened. [Epstein] was in the middle of speaking when someone interrupted her speech, the same way students interrupted Michael Oren,” he said.

The Electronic Intifada contacted Susan Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office, and asked her to explain the reason Rackauckas has led an aggressive prosecution campaign against the eleven Muslim students.

Schroeder said that the disruption of Oren’s speech was “a clear violation of the law” and that her office was just following legal protocol.

California’s penal code 403 states that “Every person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character, other than an assembly or meeting referred to in Section 302 of the Penal Code or Section 18340 of the Elections Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

However, since Oren was able to finish his speech, and since no other disruptions of Israeli officials’ speeches in California have led to criminal charges being brought against peaceful protesters, The Electronic Intifada asked Schroeder whether Orange County was selectively prosecuting the students under this law. She said that she couldn’t comment on any other jurisdiction, and reiterated that “when this case was submitted, we looked at the evidence and there are clear violations of the law.”

Schroeder added, “whether you like the speaker or not, it doesn’t matter … if the Ku Klux Klan disrupted a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., that would be a law violation.”

The New York Times published a similar assertion by Schroeder in a recent article on the Irvine 11 (“Charges Against Muslim Students Prompt Debate Over Free Speech,” 9 February 2011).

The Electronic Intifada asked Schroeder if she was concerned that she may be publicly — and repeatedly — comparing the young Muslim students to the KKK, and an Israeli official defending the killing of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza to Martin Luther King, Jr. She responded that if the KKK were speaking, and someone interrupted the speech, that would also be a law violation. “It doesn’t matter if the person who is speaking is offensive,” she stated. “It’s against the law to disrupt a lawful meeting.”

When asked if she was aware that Rackauckas’ prosecution effort could be seen as an unprecedented attack on a selective group of its constituents, she told this reporter that if Californians don’t like the law, “you can change the law.”

Selective, discriminatory prosecution

Reem Salahi, an attorney working with the legal team for the Irvine 11, said that the district attorney’s office is employing blatant double standards and selective, discriminatory prosecution in the case of the Irvine 11.

“I would like them to give us examples of other situations where students have stood up and protested and the DA went after them with criminal charges, even after knowing that very thorough [university] administrative proceedings had taken place,” Salahi told The Electronic Intifada.

If the DA’s office had prosecuted students like this before, she added, “it would have been one of their talking points. But it’s not.”

The Electronic Intifada asked Salahi whether Schroeder’s assertion that the Irvine 11 had committed crimes was correct.

“If the students had done property damage, if they had gotten violent, then I could see some sort of justification for involving the criminal justice system,” she responded. “But they did not commit violence, they did not commit property damage. These students stood up and said a few statements. They did anything but resist arrest — they walked over to the police and turned themselves in.”

Salahi stated that Schroeder and the district attorney’s office is trying to criminalize the students’ acts of dissent.

“I can’t say that [the DA's actions are] politically-motivated,” Salahi said. “But it clearly appears that there’s something else going on. And they’re preying on some of the weakest elements of society. They’re preying on youth, on students and unfortunately, in a post-9/11 world, they’re preying on Muslims who at this point are seen as a suspect [group].”

Salahi also said that the district attorney’s office has spent so much time and money on the case that it’s hard to believe that this is a normal case that just “fell in their lap” — another talking point she said is regularly used by Schroeder and the district attorney’s office.

“But if that’s the case,” explained Salahi, “the obvious question to me is why did they undergo a year — 362 days — of investigating these protests? They empaneled a grand jury, subpoenaed students’ emails, sent out at least two investigators to get the testimonies of various individuals … why did they go to such great lengths to get all this information if the case essentially fell in their lap?”

“They created this case,” she added. “And they created it by going the extra mile in order to press these charges. This is a case of them wanting to make a point, whether it’s political or otherwise, in going after these students, who are the most vulnerable elements of our society.”

Salahi added that this kind of action by the district attorney’s office comes as the federal government expands its attacks against Palestine solidarity activists across the country. “These students were criticizing the Israeli government, and particularly what Israel had done in Gaza,” she said. “Is it a coincidence that these students got the book thrown at them? I don’t think so. I think [this is] just like what is happening in the Midwest,” Salahi added, referring to the 23 anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and Michigan who have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury.

Global support of the Irvine 11

Following the decision by the district attorney to prosecute the Irvine 11, more than a hundred faculty members from UCI, including distinguished professors, chancellors and five departmental deans, wrote a letter to the district attorney’s office and demanded that the charges against the students be dropped.

Though the faculty letter states that “[t]he students were wrong to prevent a speaker invited to the campus from speaking and being heard … [a]nd the Muslim Student Union acted inappropriately in coordinating this and in misrepresenting its involvement to University officials,” it concludes that a criminal prosecution against the Irvine 11 “sets a dangerous precedent for the use of the criminal law against nonviolent protests on campus” (“100 UCI faculty call on DA to drop charges against students who disrupted Israeli ambassador’s talk,” 9 February 2011).

In addition to UCI faculty, prominent community leaders in Orange County have lent their support to the Irvine 11, including members of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild.

Muslim, Christian and Jewish organizations, international social justice groups and the Palestine-based Right to Education campaign have also protested the Orange County district attorney’s actions through letters and online petitions.

Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical council drafted a letter of support that condemns the charges against the students, saying that the punishment “casts a chill on the right of people to protest in a democracy,” and asserts that there are “clear double standards for protest” in the US (“Jewish Group, Rabbis Condemn Charging of Muslim Students by Orange County DA, February 2011).

JVP added that the targeting of the Muslim students “is unacceptable and will only strengthen Islamophobia and attempts to stifle political speech in this country.”

Community activists have also held protests outside the offices of the Orange County district attorney in Santa Ana.

The support campaign for the Irvine 11 — Stand With the Eleven — has put up a petition on its website (www.irvine11.com/sign/) encouraging the public to express their condemnation of the Orange County district attorney’s prosecution of the students.

“We call on the OC district attorney to have a proper regard for justice and to not criminalize students whose only ‘crime’ was expressing their sincerely-held political views in the form of a protest,” the petition states.

Additionally, Stand With the Eleven stated in a 25 February press release that it is gearing up for a public press conference and town hall meeting on 5 March in Anaheim (“Press Release: Coalition Calls for End to Persecution of “Irvine 11 Students,” 25 February 2011). Supporters and community activists will call on the district attorney’s office to drop the charges against the Irvine 11.

On 11 March, the students will face arraignments.

Lasting effects

Meanwhile, as the Irvine 11 hope for the best but prepare for the worst, the lasting effects of the actions of the university and of the Orange County district attorney’s office may take a long time to mitigate.

Siddiqui told The Electronic Intifada that he organized a rally to support the Irvine 11 last month outside of the district attorney’s office, before the charges were officially filed. During a planning meeting for the rally, he said that student organizers were extremely concerned that they could be arrested, or that the university could punish them if they took part in the action.

“Students are really second-guessing their actions,” Siddiqui said. “The effect that it has is that people are afraid to do something that others might not like, even if it’s an appropriate action.”

“That’s not what democracy’s about,” he added. “Democracy’s about having the ability to dissent. It’s about having the ability to say, ‘This is not okay, and I’m going to stand up against this.’ And when people are afraid to practice their basic democratic freedoms, that’s a problem.”

_____________________

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an award-winning independent journalist, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press Service, Al-Jazeera, Truthout and other outlets. She regularly reports from Palestine.

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Cut Aid to the Poor, Not Israel

With the U.S. economy in the tank and governments at all levels facing massive budget shortfalls, politicians left and right are seeking ways to curb spending. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights and the decent pay that goes with them. President Barack Obama’s budget includes halving the home-heating oil subsidy poor households depend on.

As Republicans and Democrats propose cuts in programs that actually benefit their increasingly impoverished constituents, though, they agree there’s one area of the budget that’s not to be touched: the annual $3 billion subsidy U.S. taxpayers provide to the Israeli military.

One of the biggest defenders of the handout is House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “There will be no cuts to security assistance to the Jewish State of Israel,” her chief of staff declared in a recent letter to House Republicans. The rest of the U.S. foreign aid budget, including assistance for Iraqi refugees and food aid to the world’s poorest people, is fair game. But the Florida congresswoman insists we must help Israel maintain its “Qualitative Military Edge.”

View full story at thetruthseeker.co.uk

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China’s army recruits pigeons

ruvr.ru

China’s army will have a division of 10,000 post pigeons to deliver messages in case if traditional communications are damaged.

Pigeons are on service in the Chinese army since the 1950s.

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Saudi Arabia sends tanks to riot-hit Bahrain

Saudi Arabia has sent dozens of tanks to Bahrain, where anti-government protests continue for about two weeks, Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper said on Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing "15 tank carriers carrying two tanks each heading towards Bahrain" along the 25-km King Fahd causeway, which links the small island nation of Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

Protestors are mainly Shiites account for about 70% of the Bahraini population, but have long complained of discrimination and other abuses by the Sunni Khalifa dynasty that has ruled the tiny Gulf nation for more than two centuries. Read on click here

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