Leader of Al Qaeda Group in Iraq was Fictional, U.S. military Says

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Courtesy of Michael R. Gordon @ The NY Times 2007:

BAGHDAD — For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi’s ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

The ruse, Bergner said, was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was trying to mask the dominant role that foreigners play in that insurgent organization.

The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and then arrange for Masri to swear allegiance to him. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements.

The evidence for the American assertions, Bergner announced at a news briefing, was provided by an Iraqi insurgent: Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, who was said to have been captured by American forces in Mosul on July 4. Continue reading

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MH370 Was Hacked And Shot Down By American Air Force Says Airline Boss Marc Dugain

Courtesy of Ryan Barrell @ Huff Po:

Doomed flight MH370 was shot down by the United States after being remotely hacked, a former airline boss has claimed.

Ex-Proteus Airlines head Marc Dugain has added to mountains of conspiracy theories surrounding the missing aircraft by suggesting the US Air Force blew the plane out of the sky.

Fearing a 9/11 style terror attack, the USA took action from the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia after learning hackers had taken control of the Malaysia Airlines plane, Mr Dugain claims.

The Frenchman says he spoke to residents of the Maldives who saw “red and blue stripes with a white background” on a plane heading towards Diego Garcia on the day of MH370’s disappearance.

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared over the South China Sea on 8 March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

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Marc Dugain

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Forget the 1%

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Courtesy of The Economist:

AMONG the most controversial of Thomas Piketty’s arguments in his bestselling analysis of inequality, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, is that wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the very rich. Rising wealth inequality could presage the return of an 18th century inheritance society, in which marrying an heir is a surer route to riches than starting a company. Critics question the premise: Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times, argued earlier this year that Mr Piketty’s data were both thin and faulty. Yet a new paper suggests that, in America at least, inequality in wealth is approaching record levels.*

Earlier studies of American wealth have tended to show only small increases in inequality in recent decades. A 2004 study of estate-tax data by Wojciech Kopczuk of Columbia University and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, found an almost imperceptible rise in the share of wealth held by the top 1% of families, from about 19% in 1976 to 21% in 2000. A more recent investigation of the Federal Reserve’s data on consumer finances, by Edward Wolff of New York University showed a continued but gentle increase in inequality into the 2000s. Mr Piketty’s book, which drew on this previous work, showed similarly modest rises in wealth inequality in America.

A new paper by Mr Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics reckons past estimates badly underestimated the share of wealth belonging to the very rich. It uses a richer variety of sources than prior studies, including detailed data on personal income taxes (which the authors mine for figures on capital income) and property tax, which they check against Fed data on aggregate wealth. The authors note that not every potential source of error can be accounted for; tax avoidance strategies, for instance, could cause either an overestimation of the wealth share of the rich (if they classify labour income as capital income in order to take advantage of lower rates) or an underestimation (if they intentionally seek out lower yielding investments for their tax advantages). Yet they believe their estimates represent an improvement over past attempts. Continue reading

Liam Fox’s Atlantic Bridge linked top Tories and Tea Party activists

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Liam Fox and wife Jesme (right) with former prime minister Baroness Thatcher at his 50th birthday party in London. Photograph: John Stillwell/Press Association

Courtesy of Jamie Doward @ The Guardian:

Twenty US business leaders assembled in Pittsburgh in October 2006 to pay court to the coming man of British politics. They could have been forgiven for thinking Liam Fox, with his neatly parted hair and clipped Scottish accent, resembled the GP he had once been, rather than a potential Tory leader.

But, although few of the business leaders knew much about the shadow defence secretary, they were familiar with his charity, the Atlantic Bridge. This was the organisation whose patron, Lady Thatcher, was lionised in the US for her support of the free market and American military airbases on British soil. It was the organisation whose members in 2004 were ushered into the White House to be briefed by Karl Rove, George W Bush’s special counsel. And it was the organisation whose cocktail parties in the Carlton Club in London and Charlie Palmer’s steakhouse in Washington were high points of the transatlantic social calendar.

Shortly after addressing the business leaders at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Club – “the finest city club in the country”– Fox explained that the Atlantic Bridge promoted the special relationship between the UK and the US by creating “a network of individual people who can know one another”. He declared: “We are trying to bring people together who have common interests and to recognise that in an ever more globalised economy, we will all be called upon to defend those common interests.”

Last week those interests came back to haunt not just Fox, whose fall on Friday rocked David Cameron’s coalition government, but also many Tory members of the cabinet, whose extensive links to the Atlantic Bridge are now under scrutiny. The irony is that it took a furore around Fox’s friendship with a relatively minor player in the saga – a lobbyist, Adam Werritty – to make these links apparent.

Admittedly, senior Tory cabinet ministers had been scrambling to distance themselves from the Atlantic Bridge long before the scandal brought Fox down. The organisation’s website – and that of its sister charity across the Atlantic – has been dismantled. But old caches of the site reveal that, while shadow ministers, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and William Hague were all on its advisory council alongside Fox, its UK chairman. All four stood down as awkward questions over its political activities, which contravened charity laws, resulted in the organisation being wound up. Continue reading

How the West Created the Islamic State

Courtesy of Nafeez Ahmed @ Counterpunch:

Part 1 – OUR TERRORISTS

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region and UK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Divide and Rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,” said one US government defense consultant in 2007. “It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” Continue reading

Order Out Of Chaos: The Doctrine That Runs The World

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Courtesy of Brandon Smith @ Alt Market:

“From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.”

– Winston Churchill, February 1920, in an article that appeared in the Illustrated Sunday Herald

The concept of conspiracy frightens some people, so much so that they are willing to overlook any and all evidence that world events are for the most part directed, rather than chaotic and coincidental. For those who are uneducated and unaware, explanations for the terrible tides of politics and war generally revolve around a false understanding of Occam’s razor. They argue that the theory states that the “simplest explanation” is usually the correct one for any particular problem or crisis. But Occam’s razor actually states that the simplest explanation according to the evidence at hand is usually the correct answer for any given problem. That is to say, the simplest explanation must conform to the evidence, or it is likely not correct.

Unfortunately, “skeptics” of directed conspiracy often turn a blind eye to evidence that is contrary to their simple explanations, while arguing that simplification is its own vindication. In other words, they don’t feel the need to defend their simplistic world view because, in their minds, simplicity stands on its own as self-evident. There was a time when men believed that the planets revolved around each other because they were tied together by long glass strings, and this was evident to them because it was the simplest explanation they could come up with. The thinking of skeptics of the New World Order and concerted globalization is much like this.

The most common argument they tend to exploit is that the world is far too “chaotic” and that if the elites are actually seeking a fully centralized one-world system, they are “failing miserably” because so many cultures are so clearly divided. For anyone who holds this argument as logical or practical, first I would suggest they look beyond the surface of the various conflicts at the similarities between these so called “enemies.”

For example, what about the United States versus Russia? These two nations have a long history of opposing ideologies and have come close to war time and time again. Certainly, average Americans see themselves as individualists and Russians as socialist or communist. Average Russians see Americans as capitalist imperialists and see themselves as humanists. But what about their respective governments? What about their respective financiers and oligarchs? Do they really see each other as enemies?

If that were so, then why did American Wall Street tycoons and the U.S. military aid the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917? Continue reading

Destroy The 40-Hour Workweek

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Courtesy of Frugling.org:

Our American economy needs you to work nothing less than 40 hours per week. The message is simple: earn more, collect belongings, and don’t stop until you retire/die. Unless you meet this expectation, be prepared to be called lazy and unproductive — stuck in the unfortunate world of lower and middle incomes. And if you’re not doing something that makes more money than your neighbor, you ought to think about changing careers.

McMansions, vehicles, and stores grow. In turn, our consumption escalates. We need more to fill our bigger homes; otherwise, they feel empty. Meanwhile, our wallets are stripped and we maintain this cycle of work and near poverty — just getting by. Despite going through a horrific “great recession” over the last few years, companies have continued to report record revenue and profits. The business world is clearly benefiting from our workweek and continued spend.

This current system is predicated on infinite growth. If you’re not continually benefiting from pay raises and getting promoted, you’re not doing it right. Since the Industrial Revolution, we haven’t stopped to seriously question what we’ve created and amassed. Like worker zombies, it’s hard not to see the countless hours we put into companies — all so that we reach financial independence. Continue reading