odd event, oddly low key response…why, would you suppose?

Word Association: White House Threatened By Drones

The White House faces a serious threat from drones, administration officials said today, after a recent incident in which a small, private drone crashed on the lawn near the president’s home. This episode, though minor, has alerted the White House to a wider problem, the official said.

“The drone campaign conducted by President Obama in countries all over world threatens to make the term ‘White House’ synonymous with murder, destruction, violence, terror and cowardly sneak attacks that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives,” said the official.

“Even now, there are many people who, when they hear the words ‘White House,’ immediately think of wedding parties blown to bits, of sleeping children eviscerated by flying shards of burning metal, of farmers in their fields atomized by missiles fired by comfortable suburban soldiers sitting in a wadded armchair ten thousand miles away, wolfing down Doritos while they push a button to kill someone. And hey, we don’t want people thinking that.”

The official said this risk from drones is compounded by the fact that President of the United States actually sits in his office in the White House and goes through checklists of people who are to be murdered that week by imperial fiat, with no charges, no judicial process, no defense, “not shriving time allowed,” he added, apparently making some kind of literary reference.

This association was particularly unfair, the official said. “Some of the people on White House death lists aren’t even murdered by drones! Guns, knives, garrottes, poison, defenestration, old-fashioned, non-robotic bombs and missiles — the White House murders people in many different ways all over the world, week after week. I think we should get more credit for this variety, and not have it all reduced to ‘drone attacks.’ Not only does that put the White House at risk of being identified solely as the center for a particularly hideous technology-driven evil of our times, it also does a disservice to the skills and inventiveness of our death squads.”

The official said the White House is taking urgent steps to protect itself from its association with the murderous state terror of the drone campaign. “We’re going to be stepping up the number of happy, peppy events we have at the White House,” he said, “and making sure they all have a very prominent ‘White House’ label. In the next few weeks, we’ll be having the White House Sweet Ole Granny Quilting Bee, featuring photogenic grannies from all over the country, and the White House ‘Smores and More Weekend, where the President and Mrs. President will gather with kindergarten kids from across this great land of ours to make some simple, tasty picnic treats.

Brief Lockdown After Small Drone Crashes on White House Lawn

The commercial drone was identified as a ‘quad copter,’ often used by military and law enforcement agencies for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. “The relatively cheap unmanned aerial vehicles are also often used by amateur model aircraft enthusiasts,” notes The Hill.

The Secret Service released a statement reading: “On 1/26/15, at approximately 3:08 a.m., a Secret Service Uniformed Division officer posted on the South Grounds of the White House complex heard and observed a ‘quad copter’ device, approximately two feet in diameter, flying at a very low altitude and ultimately crashing on the southeast side of the complex. There was an immediate alert and lockdown of the complex until the device was examined and cleared.”

“An investigation is underway to determine the origin of this commercially available device, motive, and to identify suspects. As additional information becomes available we will update our statement.”

Drone Crashes at White House; Hobbyist Says It’s His

A two-foot-long drone apparently flown by a hobbyist crashed on the White House grounds Monday in an extraordinary, if unintended, breach that raised fresh questions about the president’s security — and a growing threat from the sky.

A man later came forward to say he was responsible for the mishap in the middle of the night and hadn’t meant to fly the drone over the complex, officials said. “Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device,” said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary.

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, were overseas when the quadcopter struck the southeast side of the grounds at about 3 a.m. Daughters Sasha and Malia stayed behind in Washington; it was not known whether they were at the mansion.

Officials believed the intrusion to be the first of its kind on the White House grounds, although not the first in the vicinity.

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Pay attention to Ukraine and Donbass…

Panic in Kiev?

Local authorities in Ukrainian-controlled districts near the front report that Ukrainian soldiers are deserting with their weapons and taking to looting the countryside in increasing numbers.

In this critical situation the military is afraid to report to president Poroshenko the real situation in the southeast of the country, hiding from him the full scale of the catastrophe.

The head of state is still convinced that the situation is under control, and hopes that in case of a real threat he will still have the chance to ask the West for help.

A whole village in Odessa region kicks out the military recruiters in protest of mobilization

In response to the statement that refusal from mobilization shall be punished by law, the people began to shout “No to war!” and “We are for peace!”, recalling that the country has not yet declared a martial law, and that the Minsk agreements have not been canceled. In this regard, the people refused to accept the summons, called the new wave of mobilization illegal and forcible, and kicked out of the military reps from their village.

Ukraine SITREP 26th January

I have been trying to wait as long as possible to get some facts confirmed, but at this point in time I am confident enough to say that there are numerous and convergent signs that things are going extremely badly for the Kiev junta. Just look at the following recent headlines:

Kiev urgently summons NATO-Ukraine meeting in Brussels

Junta officers get the right to shoot their man in case of insubordination

Kiev introduces state of emergency in Donbass, high alert across Ukraine

Resistance to New Wave of Ukraine Mobilization Has Already Begun

Panic in Kiev: Ukrainian forces surrender Donbass

Concerning Debaltsevo and the rumors that the Junta forces were encircled in another “cauldron”, they are probably a little premature.  However, even if the Junta forces have not been fully encircled *yet*, there is strong evidence that they are indeed in the process of being encircled and many reports even speak of panic.  However, the Junta has kept numerically large forces north of Donetsk and we should not dismiss them.  By all accounts, the Junta forces are trying hard to break the Novorussian noose around Debaltsevo and they are also trying to recapture the Donetsk airport.

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regime change in Russia?

Necks and Nostrils: The Murderous Folly of the New Cold War

Let’s be clear about this. The Putin regime is odious. What it is doing to the Russian people — the degradation of their liberties; the imposition of Tea Party-style willful ignorance, false piety and bellicose nationalism on the culture; the crippling corruption of its klepto-capitalism (which almost, but not quite, approaches the level in the US and UK, where trillions of dollars have been transferred from working people to a tiny sliver of politically connected elites on Wall Street); its brutal prison system (which, while rivalling the American gulag in its harshness, lags far behind it in the proportion of citizens it imprisons and the racial disparities of the captive population) — all of this is insupportable. I hold no brief for the oft-seen stance that soft-pedals the Putin regime’s domestic depredations in order to play up the egregious sins of America’s foreign policy. You don’t have to do that in order to condemn the murderous poltroonery of the Potomac imperialists, any more than you had to pretend that Saddam Hussein was an enlightened statesman in order to condemn America’s Nazi-like military aggression to destroy his regime.

But as Patrick Smith notes in a recent column, America’s media and political elites are colluding to obscure the realities of the most volatile and dangerous situation in world politics today: Washington’s insane drive to destroy the Russian economy and force “regime change” in the Kremlin.

As Smith reports, Americans — and to barely lesser degree, the Brits — are being sold an extremely fetid bill of goods in regard to the New Cold War in general, and the situation in Ukraine in particular. One major aspect of this snow job is the fierce — not to say hysterical — dismissal in the West of any idea that repulsive neo-fascists factions played a decisive role in the final overthrow of the previous government and are playing a leading role in many aspects of Ukrainian policy today, particularly in the war against Russian-leaning eastern Ukraine. (And again, you don’t have to pretend that the pro-Russian separatists are all noble freedom fighters free of any ideological taint or criminal activity in order to criticize the sinister nature of the neo-fascist militants now in ascendancy in Ukraine.) As Smith points out, any Western media references to the neo-fascists in Ukraine — most of whom are proud to publicly proclaim their association with right-wing extremism, even national socialism– are always put in quotes, e.g., “the so-called ‘neo-fascist’ groups,” etc. Their point, of course, is that only conspiracy-theory nuts and Kremlin apologists would use such terminology to label these very important factions in the new Washington-backed (and Washington-picked) Ukrainian government.

Distortions, lies and omissions: The New York Times won’t tell you the real story behind Ukraine, Russian economic collapse

I am awestruck as news of recent events unfolds. Ukraine is more than an economic, political and military mess: It is a major humanitarian tragedy now. As the German CEO wants to know, how can we possibly arm neo-Nazis in Ukraine while right-wing extremists and anti-immigration atavists rise all over Europe?

The body blows the State Department and Treasury are dealing Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis—as precipitated by State, of course—would be irresponsible under any circumstances for the risks they carry. In the current global environment, this starts to shape up as monomania.

Thoughtful readers point out that this is a standoff between two nuclear powers, and, indeed, this has to be on our minds. But for the moment, and thank goodness, that is in the background. The very immediate menace is a global economic calamity that could make the 2008 crisis look like a blip on the chart.

Last week Fitch, the credit-rating agency, downgraded Russia’s status to BBB, putting it a few notches away from junk status. This is hardball, we had better recognize: You cannot shove the world’s No. 8 economy into the gutter and expect it to land there alone. A lot of suffering beyond Ukraine’s borders, where it is awful enough already, is frighteningly near.

Washington plays Russian roulette

In his ARD interview, Putin stuck to actual facts on the ground: “NATO and the United States have military bases scattered all over the globe, including in areas close to our borders, and their number is growing ? Moreover, just recently it was decided to deploy special operations forces, again in close proximity to our borders. You have mentioned various [Russian] exercises, flights, ship movements and so on. Is all of this going on? Yes, it is indeed.”

For the Russia-demonizing hordes, it’s always convenient to forget that NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine was clinched at a NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008. The Georgia op spectacularly failed in the summer of 2008. Ukraine is a work in progress.

Crucially, in the ARD interview, Putin also told the EU coalition of the clueless/vassals/puppets/ that Russia can bring down the Ukraine House of Cards in a flash; Moscow just needs to emphasize it’s time to collect the humongous amounts of cash it is legally owed.

Putin also made it very clear Moscow won’t allow – and that was categorical: won’t allow – Donbass to be overrun/smashed/ethnic-cleansed by Kiev: “Today there is fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian central authorities have sent the armed forces there and they even use ballistic missiles. Does anybody speak about it? Not a single word. And what does it mean? What does it tell us? This points to the fact, that you want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents. You want that? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen.”

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Do you think about these things?

The Mariner’s Rule

A transition that got under way in 2005, in other words, would have been too late, and given the political climate, it probably would have been too little as well. Even so, it would have been a much better outcome than the one we got, in which most of us have spent the last ten years insisting that we don’t have to worry about depleting oilfields because fracking was going to save us all. At this point, thirty years after the point at which we would have had to get started, it’s all very well to talk about some sort of grand transition to sustainability, but the time when such a thing would have been possible came and went decades ago. We could have chosen that path, but we didn’t, and insisting thirty years after the fact that we’ve changed our minds and want a different future than the one we chose isn’t likely to make any kind of difference that matters.

So what options does that leave? In the minds of a great many people, at least in the United States, the choice that apparently comes first to mind involves buying farmland in some isolated rural area and setting up a homestead in the traditional style. Many of the people who talk enthusiastically about this option, to be sure, have never grown anything more demanding than a potted petunia, know nothing about the complex and demanding arts of farming and livestock raising, and aren’t in anything like the sort of robust physical condition needed to handle the unremitting hard work of raising food without benefit of fossil fuels; thus it’s a safe guess that in most of these cases, heading out to the country is simply a comforting daydream that serves to distract attention from the increasingly bleak prospects so many people are facing in the age of unraveling upon us.

There’s a long history behind such daydreams. Since colonial times, the lure of the frontier has played a huge role in the American imagination, providing any number of colorful inkblots onto which fantasies of a better life could be projected. Those of my readers who are old enough to remember the aftermath of the Sixties counterculture, when a great many young people followed that dream to an assortment of hastily created rural communes, will also recall the head-on collision between middle-class fantasies of entitlement and the hard realities of rural subsistence farming that generally resulted. Some of the communes survived, though many more did not; that I know of, none of the surviving ones made it without a long and difficult period of readjustment in which romantic notions of easy living in the lap of nature got chucked in favor of a more realistic awareness of just how little in the way of goods and services a bunch of untrained ex-suburbanites can actually produce by their own labor.

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war is not healthy for soldiers and other living things…

West Virginia Bill Would Block Unconstitutional National Guard Deployments

House Bill 2168 (HB2168), the Defend the Guard Act, was introduced by Del. Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock, 1), a former Air Force intelligence officer who did tours in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and cosponsored by ten other delegates. If passed, the bill would block the federal government from deploying West Virginia Guard troops overseas unless there is a declaration of war from Congress, as required by the Constitution.

“This bill essentially says, ‘If you don’t follow the highest law of the land, then we will withhold our Guard troops.’ The language and intent of the Constitution is so clear on this one issue,” McGeehan told the Wheeling News-Register.

Guard troops have played significant roles in all modern overseas conflicts, with over 650,000 deployed since 2001. More specifically, West Virginia National Guard troops have participated in missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo and elsewhere.

Since none of these missions have been accompanied by a Constitutional declaration of war, the Defend the Guard Act would have prohibited the deployments. Such declarations have only happened five times in U.S. history, with the last being in World War II.

Healing Veterans’ Unseen Scars

Over 230,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan – perhaps the same number as those with PTSD – are said to suffer from those wars’ signature injury: blast neurotrauma, a newly coined term for so-called “mild traumatic brain injury” (mTBI) from exposure to IED explosions and other “blast events.” That means as many as a half million men and women have come home from those travesties suffering from either or both of two major neurological disorders, PTSD or the related mTBI, about which even less is known and whose symptoms often bleed into PTSD.

Despite its prevalence, researchers are just beginning to study the neurological effects of blast waves on the brain, which include a dizzying range of symptoms – headache, depression, seizures, motor disorders, sleep disorders, visual disturbances, mood changes and cognitive, memory, and speech difficulties. Though a new study has found a rare honeycomb pattern of nerve fiber damage in the brain, fundamental questions about “blast-induced traumatic brain injury” remain unknown. There is no clear diagnosis, prevention, cure or even consensus about what precisely blasts do to the human brain. Among sufferers of a devastating injury officially deemed “minor” – those whose lives have been shattered, with little or no help forthcoming from an overwhelmed, underfunded, infamously inept veterans’ health care system – there is reportedly only one clear consensus: an objection to the term “mild.”

Various groups have stepped up to help fight this “invisible war on the brain.” They range from the multimedia Real Warriors’ Campaign (that name!) “to encourage help-seeking behavior” launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to Veterans Healing Veterans From the Inside Out and Veterans For Peace. Smaller groups offer the solace of trained veteran dogs, from the Dutch non-profit KNGF to the Arizona-based Soldiers’ Best Friend.

KUSI News – San Diego, CA

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