Posts from June 2009
A Deadly Thriller in Baghdad…
Posted by Layla Anwar at 27.6.09
While the whole world mourns the pop icon M.Jackson, whose Thriller was the turning point in his career, there is another series of thrillers taking place in Baghdad and which will mark another turning point in the recent bloody history of this doomed country.
Over the past 4 days alone, over 350 Iraqis were killed. And scores of others injured.
These are the locations all over Baghdad.
Today, yesterday and the day before :
- Bab El Sheikh, central Baghdad. Over 19 dead.
- Al Thawra or "Sadr City" . Over 250 killed and injured.
- Karrada . 2 bombs went off . no official number of injured or dead.
- Hurriya . Another bomb 5 injured /dead
- Orfali/East of Baghdad. Another bomb. no official numbers given.
- Jihad neighborhood - 10 civilians injured/dead.
- Al Baya'a neighborhood - 5 dead, 2 injured.
- Al Sayddiya - 4 injured/dead.
- Baladiyat - no official number of dead/wounded.
Abu Nawas street - 3 mortars fell on a residential area, some say they were meant to be for the Green Zone. No official number of dead or injured.
These strings of attacks/blasts/bombs are taking place 4 days before the pulling back, not withdrawal, but pulling back of the American troops to their bases inside Iraq and handing over security matters to the Iraqi "police and army."
However it must be noted that the Americans will NOT be pulling back to their bases in the Nineveh province i.e Mosul. Mosul is a stronghold of the Iraqi Resistance, where a lot of Iraqi ex army officers are. Of course, they call it Al-Qaeda. The Americans will not be pulling back there since Mosul is not completely under Kurdish control yet. And Mosul after Kirkuk is needed to complete the full " Independent" Kurdistan Map.
It is funny how this Al-Qaeda serves a multi purpose function. Resistance fighters are called Al-Qaeda. Iranian special forces are called Al-Qaeda. Elements within the Iraqi army and police are called Al-Qaeda. Ordinary people protesting and resisting are called Al-Qaeda. And if Al-Qaeda name fails to provoke enough, then you can substitute for insurgents, or Saddamists.
Oddly enough, the last string of blasts that have rocked Baghdad, NONE in the official government has blamed Al-Qaeda or Saddamists yet.
According to highly confidential reports leaked by Iraqi security experts who wished to remain anonymous, since they are not allowed to divulge any information to the press, and this according to Al-Sharqiya Iraqi TV and to a Reuters report- something most Baghdadis will confirm to you - this string of blasts is due to two factors.
1) settling of accounts between the various political parties, in preparation for who will take over the power apparatus once the pull back is complete and in preparation for the coming "elections."
2) Regional Iranian orders to ignite - "explode" a permanent state of sectarian tension that will serve two objectives : a) exert pressure on the Americans and the Iraqi government and political parties, winning greater spheres of control by keeping a state of anarchic chaos for as long as possible until all is accomplished which in my opinion is and here comes the very bad news --- another round of sectarian cleansing and b) detract attention from current Iranian affairs.
This has left an overwhelming of Iraqis wondering if the Iraqi security forces, police and army are actually capable of keeping any form of stability and prevent Baghdad from falling into another round of sectarian violence - which, clearly, is being deliberately provoked.
Some in Baghdad are blaming this last deadly episode of carnage on the IRANIAN Ministries of Interior and Defense.
Others are pointing the finger to the actual Iraqi Security forces, police and army for being behind these killings.
Interestingly enough, a fresh piece of information has just surfaced, pointing to the existence of a highly secretive armed force - an "elite force" trained by the Americans and which is called the "Dirty Brigade."
The "Dirty Brigade", possibly a makeover of the Dirty Gang (made of mercenaries) that used to operate its deadly missions from Baghdad Airport premises.
No one is quite sure who this "dirty brigade" takes orders from and reports to. Is it the Americans only or to leaders of some political parties or to the PM Maliki... This is yet another episode of the Iraqi Thriller which will soon unfold.
Their official logo is fighting terrorists. We already know what this word embraces in current Iraq - just about anyone who stands against the dual occupation -- American/Iran.
On another note, another interesting observation. The US deployed over 650'000 men and women since 2003 - made of soldiers, "logistic coordinators", mercenaries, snipers, dirty gangs, security contractors, project reconstruction staff, embassy staff and the rest...
Today according to official figures there are about 133'000 soldiers left in Iraq. But of course no mention is made of the rest... I believe there are more than 133'000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq today.
But they have assured us they will pull back to base and "will be on call" if needed by the Iraqi puppet government. Meanwhile they will be playing Scrabble and another round of Monopoly...
But what is most interesting is that the official number of Iraqi police and army is 654,362 members, as per the last count.
So for the 650'000 Americans and Co. there are over 650'000 Iraqis trained to do the same dirty job of the Occupation.
I must also mention that the only "jobs" available to Iraqis since this damned Occupation is that of joining the police and or army. There are no other jobs available except to work for the Occupation. Belonging to a sectarian party in power will also help you get a job, specially if you are related to some government official. But am leaving this for another chapter...
Not counting, the Dirty Brigade which is around 5'000 men. PLUS all the sleeping shiite militias armed to their teeth by IRAN like: Jaysh Al-Mahdi, Maghawer of the Ministry of Interior, the militia of the ministry of Defense, the militia of the Dawa party, the militia of the Fadhila party, the militias of Badr belonging to the Hakeem SCII, the militia of Chalabi, the militia of the Kurds/ the Peshmergas which alone is over 150'000 men, the militia...plus the private security contractors operating and of course not counting the Iranian special forces...
Oh God this is harrowing !
I already see zombies and ghosts rising from the graves just like in the M. Jackson Thriller video, except this Iraqi thriller is no pop video and no one is there to pay their homages and mourn us.
Painting : Iraqi artist, Ziad Bakury.
‘If I didn’t confess to 7/7 bombings MI5 officers would rape my wife,’ claims torture victim
By Matthew Hickley
Last updated at 10:25 PM on 25th June 2009
A British man spoke publicly for the first time yesterday to accuse MI5 officers of forcing him to confess to masterminding the July 7 bombings.
Jamil Rahman claims UK security officers were behind his arrest in 2005 in Bangladesh.
He says he was beaten repeatedly by local officials who also threatened to rape him and his wife.
Mr Rahman, who is suing the Home Office, said a pair of MI5 officers who attended his torture and interrogation would leave the room while he was beaten.
He claims when he told the pair he had been tortured they merely answered: 'They haven't done a very good job on you.'
Mr Rahman told the BBC: 'They were questioning me on the July 7 bombings, showing me pictures of the bombers.
'They showed me maps, terrains ... they asked me to draw things out and write names next to pictures.
'They threatened my family. They go to me, "In the UK, gas leaks happen, if your family house had a gas leak and everyone got burnt, there's no problems, we can do that easily".'
He says he eventually made a false confession of involvement in the July 7 bomb plots.
The extraordinary allegations will add to pressure on UK ministers to come clean over the way Britain's intelligence agencies have been allowed to gather evidence around the world in the eight years since the September 11 attacks.
Jamil Rahman, a former civil servant from south Wales, is a British citizen who moved to Bangladesh in 2005 and married a woman he met there. He returned to the UK last year.
He said: 'It was all to do with the British. Even the Bengali intelligence officer told me that they didn't know anything about me, that they were only doing this for the British.'
Mr Rahman, 31, says he was released after three weeks but re-arrested and mistreated repeatedly over the next two years.
He described how two men he believes were British agents would leave the room for 'a break' while he was beaten.
They often asked: 'We're not torturing you, are we?' and recorded his confirmations that they were not, he alleges.
'The first time they tried to be friendly, they came in trying to show they were my friends, calm and relaxed, nothing wrong.
'I tried to demonstrate my innocence. I thought this is wrong, because they were British I might get some justice.'
He added: 'They showed me hundreds of pictures. Black, white, Chinese, bearded non-bearded, woman, man, young and old. Every time, they came for a new session, same pictures with new ones.
'The main thing they wanted me to be is a witness against another British man in Bangladesh. They pressured me so much to be a witness against this guy in court.
Mr Rahman denies being a terrorist, although he admits attending meetings in Britain of the radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun - claiming he later rejected their extremist ideology.
A Home Office spokesman said: 'We firmly reject any suggestion that we torture people or ask others to do so on our behalf.
'Mr Rahman has made a lot of unsubstantiated allegations. They have not been evidenced in any court of law.'
Jamil Rahman is one of a number of former detainees who accuse the British Government colluded in their torture abroad.
His account echoes that of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, who said he was tortured in Pakistan and Morocco with MI5's knowledge.
The 30-year-old Ethiopian says he was beaten and deprived of sleep to try to make him confess to an Al Qaeda 'dirty bomb' plot, and his treatment is now the subject of an unprecedented police investigation into MI5's conduct.
Former Scotland Yard anti-terrorist police chief calls for 7/7 inquiry
Andy Hayman, Scotland Yard's former head of counter-terrorism, says an independent public inquiry should be held into the July 7 bombings.
Published: 8:00AM BST 20 Jun 2009
Mr Hayman, at the time Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations, says he is "uncomfortable" with the official position that an inquiry would divert resources from the fight against terrorism.
He is the first figure from the security establishment to call for an open inquiry, almost four years after the attacks carried out by Mohammad Mohammed Sidique Khan and his cell that killed 52 people and injured more than 700.
In his book, The Terrorist Hunters, being serialised in The Times, Mr Hayman says that "incidents of less gravity have attracted the status of a public inquiry".
Calling the July 7 bombings "a bolt from nowhere", Mr Hayman explains that he was called to a meeting of Cobra, the Government's emergency cabinet, within an hour of the first explosions, where he had to admit he did not know what was happening.
Survivors of the July 7 bombings and families of the victims are taking High Court action over refusal to grant an independent inquiry.
It would challenge why Khan, 30, who had been followed and tracked by surveillance because of his terrorist links, was left free to carry out the attacks.
A report released last month by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee has been criticised after it said MI5's decision not to make Khan a priority target was "understandable and reasonable".
It disclosed that at one point, MI5 knew where Khan lived but had decided he was not a key suspect.
Rachel North, a survivor of the Piccadilly Line bomb at King's Cross, welcomed his support for an inquiry. "It is not to blame or have a witch-hunt but... to learn the lessons of how 7/7 happened and whether it could have been prevented."
CIA, Iran and the Election Riots
This video suggests that the current unrest in Iran is the product of a deliberate destabilisation program initiated by the CIA.
Control orders breach human rights of terror suspects, law lords rule
Judgment in case of three Libyans says use of 'secret evidence' denied them fair trial
Alan Travis | 10 June 2009
The law lords have dealt a major blow to the government's controversial use of control orders on terror suspects, saying that the use of "secret evidence" denies them a fair trial.
The nine-judge panel, led by Lord Philips of Worth Matravers, the senior law lord, upheld a challenge on behalf of three Libyans on control orders who can't be named.
The control orders against the men have not been quashed but the law lords ordered that their cases must be heard again.
The trio argued that the refusal to disclose even the "gist" of the nature of the evidence against them denies them a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.
The Home Office argued that it was sometimes possible to have a fair hearing without any disclosure depending on the circumstances of the case. Security-vetted special advocates are supposed to represent the interests of those placed on control orders in each case.
The terms of the control orders imposed on individual suspects by the home secretary include curfews at their home address of up to 16 hours, a ban on travelling abroad, all visitors to be approved by the Home Office, monitoring of all phone calls and a ban on internet and mobile phone use.
The judgment is a further blow to the government's control order regime after the law lords ruled in 2007 that 18-hour curfews were in breach of the European convention on human rights.
The home secretary, Alan Johnson, said it was an extremely disappointing judgment. "Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder. Nevertheless, the government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism," he said.
"All control orders will remain in force for the time being and we will continue to seek to uphold them in the courts. In the meantime we will consider this judgment and our options carefully."
He said control orders were introduced to limit the risk posed by suspected terrorists who could neither be prosecuted nor deported. "The government relies on sensitive intelligence material to support the imposition of a control order, which the courts have accepted would damage the public interest to disclose in open court.
"We take our obligations to human rights seriously and as such we have put strong measures in place to try to ensure that our reliance on sensitive material does not prejudice the right of individuals subject to control orders to a fair trial."
John Huxley | June 6, 2009
If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon, If you believe there's nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool … - from Man On The Moon by R.E.M.
Forty years on it remains one of mankind's crowning achievements; a moment in time and space etched forever in the memories of those old enough to have watched it happen live on murky, monochrome television pictures bounced round the world via a NSW bush tracking station.
At least, that's the official version of the Apollo moon landing on July 21, 1969, Sydney time. But Glen Nagle, the education manager for the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, is constantly confronted with a different perspective: that the man on the moon is no more than pie in the sky.
"The question of conspiracy theories crops up here every other day. Members of the public come in, and yeah, yeah, they know we're exploring the universe. But, nah, they don't believe man landed on the moon. Fifty per cent who come through have their doubts."
More disturbing is the level of disbelief among children. "I often do a quick hands-up with school groups that come through. 'Who here thinks we didn't land on the moon?' Again, about half the hands go up."
Nagle attributes such scepticism to naivety, stupidity or, more likely, misinformation. "They've probably been told to do a project on the moon landing, got on the internet and found all this conspiracy stuff pop up."
Thousands of sites - some sophisticated, some merely scatterbrained - argue the landing was a complete or partial hoax. One leading sceptic argues that man did walk on the moon, but pictures were faked to prevent the Soviet Union drawing detailed information from the real photographs.
There is no shortage of tell-tale signs that the landing was rigged, probably in a Hollywood studio. No stars can be seen. Pictures taken miles apart have the same background. The United States flag flies in the still moon air. A Perth resident even claims to have spotted a soft drink bottle in one frame.
Nor is there any shortage of US Government motives for faking it, says the Wikipedia site on "Apollo moon landing hoax conspiracy accusations" - first port of call for many amateurs boldly going in search of information.
Motives include beating the Russians, boosting support for more NASA moon shots, distracting Americans from unpopular ventures such as the Vietnam War, and fulfilling president John Kennedy's pledge to put man on the moon before 1970.
Despite comprehensive debunking, the moon landing remains among the more persistent of many thousands of conspiracy theories "out there". Each claims to expose the truth behind what "they" tell us happened. Popular targets include:
- The deaths of politicians such as John Kennedy (engineered by the CIA) and celebrities such as Princess Diana (the royal family);
- Events such as September 11 (Zionists), the global financial crisis (a secret cabal of central bankers operating from a bunker at Denver International Airport); Hurricane Katrina (then president George Bush);
- The spread of swine flu. Within days of the first case being identified, in the small southern Mexican town of La Gloria, the first conspiracy theories had been spawned, accusing authorities of burying flu dead to prevent panic, or beating up the risks to distract the world from its financial woes.
Today cases of flu conspiracy theory have reached pandemic proportions, as the myth-busting website retardzone.com reveals. Its top plague theory suggests the drug maker Baxter is the evil corporation behind "a massive conspiracy that goes all the way to the top".
No less preposterous theories can be found closer to home. Some Australians still insist Harold Holt was whisked away in a Chinese submarine, that Gough Whitlam was dismissed on CIA instructions, even that the Port Arthur massacre was staged by supporters of gun control.
So pervasive has the "conspiratorial imagination" become that it sometimes seems that Western societies have regressed, adopting a medieval attitude towards calamitous acts, says a leading sociologist, author and academic, Frank Furedi.
"Back in the Dark Ages people regarded accidents, disasters and other acts of misfortune as the work of hidden forces. Misdeeds were often said to have been caused by people who had been manipulated by evil forces. This primitive outlook is making a comeback."
Increasingly, Furedi suggests, life is interpreted through the prism of a Hollywood blockbuster - like Australia's current favourite movie, the conspiracy-riddled Angels & Demons - "where powerful, evil forces pull all the strings".
But why? As with conspiracies, there are many theories. The authors of clavius.org, another myth-busting website, suggest several reasons.
They are devised to explain variations and inconsistencies, or fill in the gaps, in official accounts. They are created for entertainment, or mischief. "Real life is boring. It's more exciting to believe that strange lights in the sky are visiting aliens and not an airliner's landing lights," they say.
They are someone's ego trip, invented to make the theorist appear intelligent, in the know, on the inside, with access to secret information unavailable to others.
And, most convincingly, they are the product of a society that distrusts authority, that increasingly contests, challenges, doubts virtually every aspect of public life; what Furedi, who teaches at the University of Kent,calls a "crisis of causality", an inability to understand and explain events.
Peter Curson an international security expert at Sydney University, says many people are overwhelmed by the complexities and perceived dangers of modern life. "They feel a loss of autonomy, that they have lost control, that they are being manipulated. In times of crisis, especially, they want answers, they want to know who is responsible, who is to blame. In some cases, they want to know who can be made a scapegoat."
In part, this sense of incomprehension, distrust and suspicion is the fault of governments and the media, whose traditional role as sources of reliable information has been eroded.
"We've been disappointed with politicians, and grown tired of the mainstream media, whom we used to rely upon to keep the bastards honest," suggests Les Posen, a clinical psychologist who monitors the impact of new technology.
Little wonder, he says, that people "play silly buggers on the internet".
That, at least, is indisputable. For all its blessings, new technology has upset the traditional hierarchy of knowledge and authority, transforming consumers of information into users and purveyors, and empowering them with audience reach and resources unimaginable a decade ago.
With tools such as Photoshop, YouTube and Facebook, everyone can be a conspiracy theorist, everyone can devise and disseminate their own moon-landing story. "That's frightening," Nagle says.
Of course, the existence of some conspiracies - the Watergate break-in, for example - is proven by thorough investigation. And innocent mistakes happen, though their effect is magnified by the internet, which spreads fiction as well as fact. Nagle quotes a virulent hoax email doing the rounds, which says that later this year Mars will appear as large as the moon in the night sky. This August, Mars will be close to Earth - though not as close as in 2003 - but will require a 75-power magnification telescope to compete with the moon viewed through the naked eye. This qualification, contained in the original official statement, has been omitted.
More worrying, obviously, is the intellectual laziness of consumers, and the wilful intention of users to deceive. "Sadly, for many people it is easier, or more convenient, to believe a lie than go to the bother of discovering the truth," Nagle says.
Some conspiracies, he concedes, are laughable, but the claim the moon landing was faked angers him. "They undermine one of the most astounding things man has done. They dishonour the Australians [primarily at the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek tracking stations] who played an important part in bringing the pictures back."
For Nagle, they prove the observation about a sucker being born every minute.
Though some moon-landing data has gone missing, every accusation made by "deniers" has been demolished. The absence of stars? The sun was shining, cameras were set on daylight settings. The background was common? Incorrect, it was similar.
And, the flapping flag? The flag appears rippled because it had been folded for storage, and the horizontal rod from which it was suspended could not be fully extended.
But what does Nagle tell moon-landing doubters? Does he go through the minute details of the massive undertaking? Does he tell them it would probably have cost more to fake the landing than to do it?
No. "I ask them, 'do you really think that the Russians were so stupid to believe they hadn't been beaten in the space race'." They were beaten, fair and television-screen square.
Hypocrite Brzezinski Slams ‘Conspiratorial View’ Of History While Highlighting 50’s Iran Overthrow
Declares American people “skewed” for questioning government
Monday, June 8, 2009
During a discussion with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last Friday, Trilateral Commission co-founder and top Obama advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke of those who question the official version of events on 9/11 in the same context as those who deny the holocaust.
The two were analyzing Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, and in particular, his tacit warning regarding 9/11 Truth.
During the speech Obama said “I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11,” suggesting that anyone who asks questions about the attacks also somehow justifies them.
“But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day …These are not opinions to be debated, these are facts to be dealt with.” Obama asserted.
“He took time to debunk both 9/11 conspiracists and deniers of the holocaust,” Maddow said to Brzezinski, “…is there a reason to believe that he thinks those issues are holding back political progress, those specific conspiracies and misconceptions of our modern political history are part of the problem in terms of moving forward?” she asked, wearing what can only be described as a painfully rehearsed puppy dog face of false concern.
“There’s no doubt over recent years, both many Americans viewed the world in a very very skewed fashion,” Brzezinski replied, “and many outside of America, had a totally conspiratorial view of America, including even the idea that 9/11 was somehow or other a put up job and really wasn’t done by Osama Bin Laden and others, so I think president Obama is breaking through a whole mythology that has paralysed American dealings with the world.”
Watch the video of the exchange:
The Orwellian doublespeak on display here is astounding, given that almost in the same breath Brzezinski and Maddow allude to the fact that in the same speech Obama also admitted that the U.S., via the CIA, played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953, a fact that the criminal intelligence apparatus then attempted to bury and keep secret for decades.
How on earth do the two expect to get away with denouncing the American people as “skewed” for not swallowing the official government line on 9/11 when said government has been engaged in such criminal actions for generations?
Indeed, Brzezinski himself has even previously warned of false flag attacks being used to kick start wars, yet here he is now comparing such lines of thought to holocaust denial. The total hypocrisy of the man defies belief.
“It was a gutsy speech… In effect what he was saying was if we are to go forward, if we are to have a normal relationship, we cannot re-hash the past… Let’s not exchange accusations” Brzezinski gushed.
“By redefining what America means to the world, and how America views the world, and how Islam and America should view each other, I think he has laid the basis for a much more constructive, much more effective American foreign policy.” Brzezinski said.
Meanwhile, unmanned drones continue to drop more and more bombs on precision targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, pounding innocent civilians into the dust by the scores almost everyday.
Former Reagan White House official Paul Craig Roberts hits the nail on the head in his latest piece, emphasizing the abject hypocrisy of Obama’s words:
Obama said that “the events of 9/11” and al Qaeda’s responsibility, not America’s desire for military bases and hegemony, are the reasons America’s commitment to combating violent extremism in Afghanistan will not weaken. Will Muslims notice that Obama’s case for America’s violent extremism in Afghanistan and now Pakistan is hypocritical?
Al Qaeda, Obama says, “chose to ruthlessly murder” nearly 3,000 people on 9/11 “and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.” These deaths are a mere drop in the buckets of blood that America’s invasions have brought to the Muslim world. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the Muslims America has slaughtered are civilians, just as are the unarmed Palestinians slaughtered by the American-equipped Israeli military.
Against al Qaeda, whose “actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings,” Obama invokes the Koran’s prohibition against killing an innocent. Does Obama not realize that the stricture applies to the US and its “coalition of forty-six countries” in spades?
Brzezinski’s words, and his desire to see the exercise of a “constructive” foreign policy, ring hollow, especially when it is understood that it was the former National Security Advisor to Carter himself who was responsible for drawing up the plan to arm and train the Islamic fundamentalist mujahideen at the end of the 70’s and groom Osama bin Laden as a client of the U.S.
In addition, in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives, Brzezinski calls for the U.S. to install itself as the world’s only superpower by taking over the Middle East and using it as a lever to control what he terms the “Eurasian Balkans”.
Similar to the infamous PNAC yearning for a “new Pearl Harbor,” Brzezinski concludes that the realization of such an agenda will only be accomplished with the aid of “a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat,” which was helpfully provided by the events of 9/11.
Yet, now we are supposed to shut up and swallow it as he declares his great concern that the U.S. is “becoming bogged down militarily” in the middle east.
To do so would require a myopic leap of logic that completely omits the past history of Brzezinski’s rampant warmongering.
Of course, Obama would love to see questions over 9/11 shut down for good, only that way will he be able to carry out his stated goal of changing the law for the military commissions at Guantánamo to clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.
Those who seek to expose the truth behind the events of September 11th 2001, and counter the hellish road toward tyranny that has been paved in the years thereafter, are not the ones “holding back political progress” as Maddow so disgustingly suggests.
It is the indentured elitists, such as Brzezinski himself, who have continued to use the American military industrial complex as an engine to wage an endless war on the rest of the world that most certainly shoulder the blame for that.
Australian media conflates UFOs and 9/11 conspiracy theories
NASA footage sparks UFO paranoia
By Wade O'Leary, ninemsn and wires
15:30 AEST Wed Jun 3 2009
The release of raw archival NASA footage that allegedly shows UFO activity has sparked new debate about extraterrestrial life — and the enduring power of conspiracy theories.
One clip shows a pair of cylindrical lights caught by a shaky hand-held camera while the other one captures what are claimed to be alien craft zig-zagging in front of a space shuttle's window.
But while the footage has been posted with the provocative titles 'UFO called a ground light, then a star by NASA' and 'UFOs quickly take off from NASA video', the astronauts involved have given less exciting explanations.
Mario Runco was part of a 1996 mission that deployed an experimental satellite and says the eerie lights in the first clip were the craft's Stimsonite reflectors — as found on bicycles and road markings.
"If I thought it was an intelligent (alien) craft, I'd be the first one to speak up — I'd want the credit," he told Fox News.
"Why would I ever want to keep it a secret?"
Thomas Jones went into orbit the same year and took the footage of the so-called zig-zagging UFOs, but he also plays down claims of filming ET in action.
"A few ice crystals or flakes of thrusters residue in the near field are floating by, get hit by a thrusters exhaust plume and zip out of the scene," he told Fox News.
"If a shuttle beams back 10 hours of Earth views each day, there are bound to be images and scenes that are misunderstood or taken out of context."
But where UFOs were once the main source of paranoid fixations, it is now incidents like the 9/11 terror attacks that are the focus of such obsessions.
Clinical psychologist Anthony Gunn told ninemsn that while conspiracy theories about UFOs have decreased in recent years due to more frequent distribution of footage by NASA, the basic psychology behind the phenomenon remained strong.
"When a lot of people feel they are in a situation where they don't have much power, figuring out conspiracy theories gives them a sense of control," he said.
"It's a huge area, the whole conspiracy thing — it can also be fuelled by paranoia, which in turn can be fuelled by drugs or stress, but it usually comes back to power or control issues."
Mr Gunn attributed the behaviour to cognitive dissonance, where people who are forced to hold two conflicting beliefs re-correct one to alleviate the psychological pain.
"Say someone knows smoking's bad for them but they smoke: they'll bring in another belief to correct it, like 'I'm really stressed, it helps me lose weight'," he said.
"Coming back to conspiracy theories, people may have learnt that 9/11 didn't happen the way they suspect it.
"They bring in another belief, like 'they're just saying that to keep us away from the truth'.
"We don't like change in any form."
For the record, both astronauts involved in the video footage that has created the drama say they are open to the idea of extraterrestrial intelligent life.
They just differentiate between the statistical possibility of such an event and the baseless interpretation of lights as alien contact.
Judge: Tasering a suspect for DNA legal if not ‘malicious’
Stephen C. Webster | June 4, 2009
A judge in Niagra County, New York, ruled Thursday that DNA evidence, obtained only after police applied a Taser to a suspect who refused to provide evidence against himself, may be used by the prosecution because the electric shock was not administered with malice.
Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza, with this 17-page decision, becomes “the first judge in western civilization to say you can use a Taser to enforce a court order,” defense attorney Patrick Balkin said, according to The Niagara Gazette.
“Note that if Smith is guilty, he’s a pretty bad guy,” interjected The Buffalo News. “He’s charged with shooting a man in the groin after invading his ex-girlfriend’s home, tying up her two children and forcing her to take her to the home of the man he shot. He’s also charged with the shotgun-point robbery of a Niagara Falls gas station. DNA was found at both crime scenes.”
Smith, according to reports, had previously agreed to a court order for a DNA sample. But when authorities accidentally spoiled the sample, forcing them to return to the judge for a second order Sperrazza issued it without consulting the defense counsel, thinking the defendant would not mind.
“Smith did object, reportedly telling officers, ‘I ain’t giving it up. You’re going to have to tase me,’” added Buffalo News.
“Which they did, after consulting with a prosecutor, who either told them to use ‘the minimum force necessary’ (according to police testimony at last month’s court hearing) or ‘any means necessary’ (according to a police report written the day of the incident).”
After tasing Smith, a DNA swab was taken without consent.
“They have now given the Niagara Falls police discretion to Taser anybody anytime they think it’s reasonable,” Smith’s attorney said, according to a separate report in The Buffalo News. “Her decision says you can enforce a court order by force. If you extrapolate that, we no longer have to have child support hearings; you can just Taser the parent.”
In the decision’s text, Sperrazza cited a Wyoming case in which a judge ruled police acted legally when they tased a man in order to force him to open his hand relative to a search.
“The Court is certainly concerned that the purpose of the Taser was to inflict pain, and has seriously considered the argument of the defendant that a line is crossed when such government action is sanctioned,” she wrote. “This Court would immediately condemn and sanction the actions of the police if there was any indication that the Taser was used maliciously, or to an excessive extent, or with resulting injury. The Court is convinced by the evidence presented that the exact opposite of those factors was present in this case.
“The court would not advice the government to systematically utilize pain compliance as a standard tool in future similar circumstances, because of the intense scrutiny the use of such tactics would receive from this Court. However, this case is perhaps best described as the ‘perfect storm’ where the crimes being investigated were egregious, the evidence sought highly probative, the intrusion was minimal, and with a subject who steadfastly refused to comply with a lawful court Order. Further, the officers, armed with the Order issued, repeatedly sought the subject’s compliance, explored alternative methods of obtaining the sample, repeatedly warned the defendant of the consequences of his refusal and took steps to minimize the pain inflicted and the potential for injury. There was no malice or desire to injure the defendant.”
“Well, this certainly changes the landscape for noncompliance with an order,” socked the blog Simple Justice. “No need to go back to the issuing magistrate for a pep talk about the penalty for noncompliance, just zap ‘em right then and there. Cut out the middleman. There are plenty of aspects of the criminal justice system where this could move things along a little faster. Like maybe just executing defendants upon arrest. Think of the cost savings.”
The judge granted a postponement to August 11 of Smith’s trial on the 24-count indictment. Smith’s lawyer, not expecting Thursday’s ruling, asked for the extension because he had not yet begun having the DNA in question analyzed.