This Week in the World Affairs Brief:

SPENDING BILL BOONDOGGLE AND BETRAYAL

The massive omnibus spending bill that just barely passed Congress last night is another monstrosity of profligate spending but it surpasses all other benchmarks for its deceptive wording and lies about its true meaning. Mainstream news sources acted critical of the bi-partisan (but mostly Republican sponsored) spending bill because of the usual pork barrel benefits for special interests, the freeze on VP Biden’s pay, and how it would let states opt out of healthy food requirements for school lunches, etc. But no one went into the details about how the Republican leadership betrayed everything they claimed the bill would do to stop Obamacare and the president’s illegal amnesty by decree. That’s the big story this week—even bigger than the torture revelations which give the false impression that everything is in the past, and provide a convenient platform for dozens of neocons to defend the morally indefensible, just as they do for domestic spying. You can request a one-time free sample of the briefs by sending an email to editor@worldaffairsbrief.com.

Also:

  • The Agenda Underlying Torture Revelations
  • Waking Up to the Russia and China Threat
  • No Consequences for Cleveland Police Abuse
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Daily News

Al-Qaeda faction in Syria claims to have U.S.-supplied anti-tank weapon

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
As extremist rebels in Syria lay claim to fresh weapons, a new video circulating online purports to show an al-Qaeda-linked group fielding U.S.-supplied anti-tank weapons that may have been intended for more moderate factions in the conflict. In early November, the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra ousted two U.S.-supplied moderate factions, Harak Hazam and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, from their strongholds in northern Idlib province. Although al-Nusra was thought to have seized significant caches of equipment during the fighting, the exact nature of those arms has been unclear. — Washington Post

The Guantanamo "Suicides" -- A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
...Late on the evening of June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners. As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantanamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths 'suicides." In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. "I believe this was not an act of desperation," he said, "but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners' families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion. — Harpers

The Guantanamo "Suicides" -- A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
...Late on the evening of June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners. As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantanamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths 'suicides." In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. "I believe this was not an act of desperation," he said, "but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners' families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion. — Harpers

Anatomy of a "Terrorism" Prosecution: Dr. Rafil Dhafir and the Help the Needy Muslim Charity Case

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
At approximately 6:30 AM on February 26, 2003, upstate New York oncologist Dr. Rafil Dhafir pulled out of his driveway in Fayetteville, heading to his practice in the underserved area of Rome; he has never returned. Just moments later, he was pulled over and arrested by two federal investigators and a New York state trooper on charges that he had violated International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by sending food and medicine for 13 years through his charity Help the Needy (HTN) to sick and starving Iraqi civilians. Back at the house he had just left, Mrs. Dhafir was now standing in her entryway with five guns pointed at her head after government agents broke down the door because she had failed to answer quickly enough. — Truthout

Those who approved torture shouldn't be above the law

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
... If we fail to hold accountable the people who authorized torture, we also invite future administrations to resurrect the policies that the Obama administration has retired. At Thursday's press conference, Brennan said the question of whether to use torture was a question of policy - not law - to be decided by policymakers. If we don't enforce the laws against torture, Brennan will turn out to be right. — MSNBC

Julian Assange Unleashed: Hillary Clinton Is A Threat, Google Is A Monopoly And Should Be Broken Up,

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
...Always controversial, Julian Assange gave an interview in London, where he's exiled in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he lambasted Hillary Clinton, who he called a "threat" to the resolution of his issues. Beyond delving on Hillary's relationship with Google, Assange also said the search giant should be broken up by regulators due to its dominant position. Assange also spoke of a secret trove of Bank of America data he threatened to release three years ago, and of course touched on the situations of Edward Snowden, who's pursuit by the U.S. government was larger than Osama Bin Laden's, and Chelsea Manning. — Forbes

Army Cancels Gitmo Hearing on FBI Infiltration

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
...The hearing was to examine the extent to which the FBI had infiltrated the defense teams of five different detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In April, one of the security contractors working for Mohammed’s defense team revealed that he had been pressured to sign an agreement with FBI to keep them informed on the inner workings of the defense. — Antiwar.com

Pakistani Taliban Attack on Peshawar School Leaves 145 Dead

posted by askousen - Tuesday, December 16 2014
Pakistani Taliban gunmen stormed into a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing scores of teachers and schoolchildren and fighting an eight-hour gun battle with the security forces, officials said. At least 145 people were dead by the time the last of the nine attackers was killed, government officials and medical workers said. — NY Times

Government Prosecutors Fear Liberty and Jury Nullification

posted by askousen - Monday, December 15 2014
"...The defendant's professed personal and political viewpoints on drug laws and government regulation are plainly not relevant to whether or not his conduct was in violation of the law, and cannot form the basis for a legal defense. Rather, sucharguments and evidence only serve to invite jury nullification and should therefore be excluded...." — Lew Rockwell

Special Report: EU funds help Poland build 'ghost' airports

posted by askousen - Monday, December 15 2014
LODZ, Poland (Reuters) - The European Union has given Poland more than 100 million euros ($125 million) to build at least three "ghost" airports in places where there are not enough passengers to keep them in business. The result is gleaming new airport terminals which, even at the peak of the holiday season, echo to the sound of empty concourses and spend millions trying to attract airlines. — Reuters

US Spending Bill Resumes Egypt Military Aid

posted by askousen - Monday, December 15 2014
...The US had suspended parts of its massive annual military aid to Egypt over the bloody crackdown in the wake of its summer 2013 coup d'etat. Legally, the US was supposed to suspend it all, but didn't. The new bill allows the State Department to bypass requirements for a return to democracy in Egypt, so long as he provides a secret justification to Congress in a "classified form." — Antiwar.com

Rand Paul introduces bill to overturn Obama immigration order

posted by askousen - Monday, December 15 2014
...Scipione said police moved in when they heard gunshots from the cafe. "Incidents unfolding inside the premises led them to believe that now was the time to deploy," he said. A 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman were killed in the firefight, Scipione said. The gunman was identified as Man Haron Monis, 50, an Iranian-born, self-proclaimed Muslim cleric with a lengthy criminal record who had been free on bail. — USA Today

Sacramento gas prices fall below $2.80; in some states, it's $1.99

posted by askousen - Monday, December 15 2014
The average retail price of gasoline in the Sacramento area has dipped below the $2.80-a-gallon threshold. At-the-pump costs in the area fell another 6.7 cents over the past week to $2.79 per gallon, according to national gas price tracker GasBuddy.com, which surveys 720 gas outlets daily in the area. The current average price is 67.6 cents lower than one year ago and a decline of 27.4 cents in just one month. — Sacramento Bee

Congress Passes Bill Which Grants "Unlimited Access to Communications of Every American"

posted by askousen - Saturday, December 13 2014
According to Congressman Justin Amash, Congress just passed a bill which grants the government and law enforcement "unlimited access to the communications of every American". When the Michigan lawmaker discovered that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 had been amended with a provision that authorizes "the acquisition, retention, and dissemination" of all communications data from U.S. citizens, he desperately attempted to organize a roll call vote on the bill. However, the legislation was passed yesterday 325-100 via a voice vote, a green light for what Amash describes as "one of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative". — Infowars.com

Greenpeace Offends Peru With Nazca Lines Stunt

posted by askousen - Saturday, December 13 2014
...The Greenpeace activists entered a "strictly prohibited" area near the famed figure of a hummingbird, according to the Associated Press. Entrance to this area is permitted only with authorization, and those who get approval must wear special footwear. "They are absolutely fragile," the minister said of the geoglyphs. "They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years. And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all." — Huffington Post

Oil plunges 3 percent to new five-year lows after bearish IEA outlook

posted by askousen - Saturday, December 13 2014
...Benchmark Brent oil settled at below $62 a barrel and U.S. crude slumped to under $58 to extend Thursday's landmark fall below $60. Surging crude inventories in the United States and top oil exporter Saudi Arabia's reiteration that it will not cut production had roiled prices over the last two days despite data pointing to strong U.S. economic recovery. — Reuters

Senate Spending Bill Thwarted by Late-Night Cruz Challeng

posted by askousen - Saturday, December 13 2014
...Cruz and Lee are demanding the Senate defund the president's immigration orders as part of the bill, a fight that almost derailed legislation in the Republican-led House. Because House Speaker John Boehner couldn't break conservative opposition, he turned to Democrats for votes. It was only after a five-hour standoff in the House on Dec. 11 -- including phone calls to hesitant Democrats by Obama and some Cabinet members -- that a handful of Democrats agreed to vote for the bill and it passed, 219-206, just hours before funding was set to lapse. — Business Week

Army Chaplain Refuses To Be Censored On Bible

posted by askousen - Saturday, December 13 2014
Despite receiving a warning letter from his superior, an Army chaplain who used the Bible during a suicide prevention training session says he isn't going to censor himself, Army Times reports. The incident stems from a complaint that a soldier in the 5th Ranger Training Battalion filed after Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn provided a handout during a mandatory suicide prevention session at the University of North Georgia. — The Daily Caller

What the Torture Report Kept Hidden

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
The descriptions are excruciating in their detail, but other important info-from the Obama administration's stalling to Syria and Libya's role-is missing. — The Daily Beast

Undercover Cops Attempt to Incite Looting, Pull Gun On #ICan'tBreathe Protesters

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
...Witnesses at the scene claimed that the two undercover cops were attempting to rile up the crowd up and get them to vandalize property and loot businesses. @Federal_flashes @DaveId those are the ones who were hitting bank windows before T-Mobile got looted! #berkeleyprotests — Infowars.com

Congress Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill, President Promises to Sign

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
The House of Representatives voted 219-206 on a "cromnibus" (continuing resolution + omnibus bill) that funds the federal government to the tune of $1.1* trillion next year, loosens campaign finance laws that apply to party fundraising, revises portions of the Dodd-Frank law pertaining to financial regulation, and tries to prevent the District of Columbia from implementing marijuana legalization, among other things. The White House says it's not pleased with every provision in the bill, but not displeased enough to prevent the president from supporting the bill by promising to sign it. — Reason

An undercover cop pulled a gun on protesters in Oakland during demonstration over police killings

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
...Two undercover officers were among the demonstrators but were outed as cops and soon found themselves surrounded by screaming protesters. But there are differing accounts on what transpired next, with some witnesses saying one of the undercover officers was punched, while others describe the officers as the aggressors. — National Post

Report: Google Pulls Engineers From Russia

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
Google will reportedly move engineers out of its Russian office to avoid the country's increasingly restrictive Internet freedom laws. — PC Magazine

CIA Paid Torture Teachers More Than $80 Million

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
The CIA contractors who helped develop and operate the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the agency used on terror suspects, including waterboarding, were paid more than $80 million, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation program released Tuesday. The contract was for more than $180 million, but the contractors had only received $81 million when their contract was terminated in 2009. — NBC News

Dick Cheney Was Lying About Torture

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
It's official: torture doesn't work. Waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, did not in fact "produce the intelligence that allowed us to get Osama bin Laden," as former Vice President Dick Cheney asserted in 2011. Those are among the central findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation and detention after 9/11. The report's executive summary is expected to be released Tuesday. After reviewing thousands of the CIA's own documents, the committee has concluded that torture was ineffective as an intelligence-gathering technique. Torture produced little information of value, and what little it did produce could've been gained through humane, legal methods that uphold American ideals. — Political Outcast

Why Is The US Treasury Quietly Ordering "Surival Kits" For US Bankers?

posted by askousen - Friday, December 12 2014
The Department of Treasury is spending $200,000 on survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation. As FreeBeacon reports, survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States and includes a solar blanket, food bar, water-purification tablets, and dust mask (among other things). The question, obviously, is just what do they know that the rest of us don't? — ZeroHedge

Ebola vaccine trial interrupted for checks after joint pains - Geneva hospital

posted by askousen - Thursday, December 11 2014
A clinical trial of the Ebola vaccine by Merck and NewLink has been interrupted in all 59 volunteers in Geneva a week early "as a measure of precaution" after four patients complained of joint pains in hands and feet, the University of Geneva Hospital said on Thursday. — Reuters

Federal Liability Immunity Thankfully [ugh] Conferred For Some Ebola Vaccines

posted by askousen - Thursday, December 11 2014
...In our October 30 post, Ebola Vaccine and Treatment Makers Need Liability Protection, we discussed the PREP Act and explained why its protections would be an especially effective incentive for Ebola vaccine research and development. Under the law, those who have been allegedly injured by a vaccine can only sue in federal court if the FDA or the Justice Department investigates and finds willful misconduct by the drug manufacturer. The act preempts all state laws that might limit distribution of the declared countermeasure, and it creates compensation funds for injured parties. — Forbes

White House and Boehner surprisingly team up over spending bill

posted by askousen - Thursday, December 11 2014
The House of Representatives is poised to vote Thursday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that GOP leaders expect to pass, but it’s now under threat by a Republican revolt over immigration and a Democratic revolt over provisions that deregulate Wall Street and increase the amount that individual donors can contribute to national political party committees. House Republicans believe they have enough votes to push through the spending bill by a small margin Thursday afternoon. But in a dramatic turn, Speaker John Boehner only barely managed to pass a procedural motion to advance the bill after Democrats unanimously opposed the move. Republican leaders scrambled to convince enough conservative dissenters to change their votes to "yes" at the last second and it passed with a razor-thin 214-212 vote margin. — MSNBC

The Illinois House and Senate Passed a Bill That Could Make Recording Cops Illegal

posted by askousen - Thursday, December 11 2014
The Illinois House and Senate have overwhelmingly passed an amendment that would make it unclear as to when it is legal to record an encounter with a police officer and when it is illegal. Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a similar law which made recording conversations with police or anyone else without their permission illegal. The court ruled that the state does not have the constitutional authority to criminalize recording in situations where individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy...IPI points out the stiff consequences for breaking the prospective law on its website. Recording conversations with police (which also includes attorneys general, assistant attorneys general, state attorneys, assistant state attorneys and judges) could result in a minimum of two years in prison with a maximum of four years (class 3 felony). Recording a private citizen would carry with it a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of three years (class 4 felony). — The Blaze