Corrupt Water Privatization Schemes: U.S. Citizens Mobilize Against Corporate Water Grabs (Source Counter Punch) We tend to associate corrupt water privatization schemes with the developing world, where according to the World Health Organization, nearly 2.6 billion people still lack a latrine and 1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. In this crisis environment, the World Bank and IMF have spent decades imposing water privatization as a condition of their exploitative loans, profiting a handful of transnational water corporations. According to renowned food and water rights advocate Maude Barlow, “The performance of these companies in Europe and the developing world has been well documented: huge profits, higher prices for water, cut-offs to customers who cannot pay, little transparency in their dealings, reduced water quality, bribery, and corruption.” Water privatization has also followed on the heels of war and natural disaster in devastated regions where massive reconstruction projects are needed. These are the largely unregulated profit-centers of what journalist Naomi Klein coined the “disaster capitalism complex.” But now, disaster capitalism has come home to the United States. Private corporations are taking advantage of lucrative opportunities created by the intentionally crippled tax base of American states. Decades of neo-liberal policies have bled the public sector to the point of collapse: deregulation, outsourcing, tax cuts for the one percent, and trillions lost annually to war spending, corporate welfare and off-shore tax-havens. Cash-strapped governments can finally no longer repair crumbling infrastructure or meet future development needs. Offering to “fill the budget gap,” the private sector is grabbing public assets and resources, particularly water, blinding public officials to the consequences of long-term contracts with substantial up-front payments.
HACKERS CAN USE RFID READERS TO STEAL PAYMENT CARD NUMBERS WHILE YOU ARE IN PUBLIC (Source TECHWORM) A team of cyber security researchers have revealed that hackers can mobile technology to use to steal credit and debit numbers from you while you’re in public. The cards at risk are enabled with radio technology that allows you to “wave and pay.” Its as though while you are ‘waving and paying’ a hacker lurking in vicinity is secretly reading your payment card numbers and storing them. While you are unaware of such a risk, you may receive a 440 volts shock to see unknown payments at the end of the payment cycle in your billing statement. Radio frequencies are all over the place but the frequency most smart cards (i.e. newer debit and credit cards) are in the range of 13.56 MHz (HF) the range can be detected between 10 centimeters – 1 meter (around 2 feet max). If you have these newer cards, currently an attacker can only obtain the card number and the expiration date, not the three digit CVV security number which are required for some purchases. However it should be noted that a card number and expiration date could be put onto dummy cards and used at certain point of sale terminals that only require you to pass the card over the terminal for a payment (without the CVV requirement). More and more of these RFID radio tags are placed into other documents including passports, employee badges which may hold more information and create potentially more problems when cloned especially in the case of employee badges which will allow access to secure buildings and the like.
Jordan’s air force resumes raids against Islamic State (Source Reuters) Jordanian air force jets bombed the hideouts of Islamic State militants in Syria on Thursday, state television said, resuming the intensified raids that it first launched last week in retaliation for the killing of a pilot. King Abdullah has vowed to avenge the burning to death of pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh by Islamic State and has ordered his commanders to prepare for a bigger military role in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militants in both Syria and Iraq. “The airforce has bombed and destroyed selected targets of the Daesh criminal gang this afternoon,” it said. “Daesh” is a derogative term for the militants. The raids are the first the Jordanian military have announced since three straight days of aerial bombing that ended last Saturday. A Jordanian military source said the kingdom had begun lending crucial logistical and intelligence backing to the Iraqi military as it prepares for a major offensive in coming months to regain control of the northern city of Mosul, which fell to the militants last year.
Marathon talks produce Ukraine peace deal; cease-fire Sunday (Source AP) The peace deal reached Thursday for Ukraine, if it holds, would be a partial win for both Moscow and Kiev: Ukraine retains the separatist eastern regions and regains control of its border with Russia, while Russia holds strong leverage to keep Ukraine from ever becoming part of NATO. But the complicated calculus of whether any side came out truly ahead can’t be determined unless a single, straightforward term is fulfilled: That is supposed to happen on Sunday, at one minute after midnight. A cease-fire called in September never fully took hold and fighting escalated sharply in the past month. Questions remain about whether either side possesses the will or discipline to ensure a truce this time. Under the terms of the deal reached after 16 hours of talks between the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, the next step is to form a sizeable buffer zone between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels. Each side is to pull heavy weaponry back from the front line, creating a zone roughly 30-85 miles (50-140 kilometers) wide, depending on the weapon caliber. Then come the knotty and volatile political questions. While Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters the deal envisages special status for Ukraine’s separatist regions, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, maintained there was no consensus on any sort of autonomy or federalization for eastern Ukraine. In addition, the agreement foresees the regions being able to form their own police forces and to trade freely with Russia, both of which would bring a degree of division and uncertainty within Ukraine that could be leverage to keep the country out of NATO. Those measures would require constitutional reform. Only after such reform is passed would Ukraine’s full control over its border with Russia be restored, according to the pact. Aside from the political resolution of the east’s status, Ukraine also faces severe challenges with its troubled economy, which is close to bankruptcy. On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund agreed to give Ukraine a new bailout deal worth $17.5 billion (15.5 billion euros). The World Bank, meanwhile, announced it was ready to commit up to $2 billion to help Ukraine with reforms, to fight corruption and for other purposes. Despite the uncertainties, the agreement’s initiators saw it as a step forward.
American Medical Association Opposes Mandatory Vaccines: Medical Ethics Statement (Source Natural News) A mandatory vaccination policy — forced vaccination of unwilling recipients — is, by definition, a medical intervention carried out without the consent of the patient or the patient’s parents. This directly violates the very clear language in the Informed Consent section of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics which states:
The patient should make his or her own determination about treatment… Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent. Mandatory vaccine interventions are conducted in total violation of this code of ethics. Most unvaccinated children are in a state of perfect health, with no symptoms and no active disease. There is no “imminent” risk of harm from “failure to treat.” The AMA’s Code of Ethics statement furthermore says that patients possess a “right of self-decision” and that this right can only be effectively exercised “if the patient possesses enough information to enable an informed choice.” Nearly all vaccinations are carried out in direct violation of this medical code of ethics because patients are almost never handed vaccine insert sheets, and the very real risks of vaccination are almost never explained to anyone. In fact, virtually the entire medical establishment operates in a state of total denial that any vaccine risks exist at all. This, too, is a striking violation of the AMA’s code of ethics. It is also an outright abandonment of all logic and medical reality, as every medical intervention comes with some level of risk, even if that risk is small. It is not zero, as is routinely and repeatedly claimed by vaccine fanatics
Iran Now Controls Four Middle Eastern Capitals (Source thetrumpet.com) Some of the world’s most famous cities have become property of Iran. Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut—the list is growing. Iran now controls the capital cities in four Middle Eastern nations. The Jerusalem Post reported February 8 that “Yemen falls to Iran in regional proxy war.” You will never guess who helped Iran take over this United States ally. The toppling of the Yemeni government by Iranian backed Shiite Houthis has upped the ante in the regional sectarian Sunni-Shiite struggle. Yemen is perfectly set to become a sectarian war that will see millions more in foreign funds transferred to various proxy forces in the country. Sunni states are likely to dramatically increase support for their brothers in the country, not holding back funds from jihadists and other Islamists, just as has been done in Syria. Iran and its allies in the region are not going to sit by either. Since 2009, America has been conducting an aggressive drone warfare campaign over Yemen. Unwilling to commit ground troops to fight al Qaeda, America convinced the Yemeni government to allow it to drop bombs on al Qaeda suspects. Attacks have occurred in the countryside, at isolated compounds, and on streets outside busy restaurants. International Security documented 120 attacks reported by the media. Over 800 people have been killed, including 83 civilians. The seemingly indiscriminate nature of drone warfare helped reduce support for the local government, which ruled a population that was already very anti-American. The Yemeni government took a great risk to partner with America. Yemen was supposed to be the role model for how to fight wars without having to get your hands dirty. It was supposed to work by pairing American airpower with a campaign of building local allies to fight on the ground. In Yemen, America’s ground allies lost. Watch as Iran looks to add more capital cities to that list. A couple of candidates: Cairo and Tripoli. Iran is working hard to exploit the chaos in Libya, and it almost got its way in Cairo when the Muslim Brotherhood initially overthrew Egypt’s military leaders.
Europe Fractures: France Pivots To Putin, Germany-US Splinter On Ukraine (Source Zero Hedge)
Despite John Kerry’s denial of any split between Germany and US over arms deliveries to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier slammed Washington’s strategy for being “not just risky but counterproductive.” But perhaps most significantly is France’s continued apparent pivot towards Russia…
Following Francois Hollande’s calls for greater autonomy for Eastern Ukraine, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out in apparent support of Russia (and specifically against the US), “we are part of a common civilization with Russia,” adding, “the interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia.” Even NATO appears to have given up hope of peace as Stoltenberg’s statements show little optimism and the decision by Cyprus to allow Russia to use its soil for military facilities suggests all is not at all well in the European ‘union’. Cyprus joins the fracture party, offering to sign a military cooperation agreement on Feb 25th offering Russia the use of military facilities on its soil.The air force base at which Russian planes will use is about 40 kilometers from Britain’s sovereign Air Force base at Akrotiri, on the south shores of Cyprus, which provides support to NATO operations in the Middle and Near East regions
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier doubled down on Germany’s rejection of weapons deliveries to Ukraine. “I see this, to say it openly, as not just for risky but for counter-productive,” Mr. Steinmeier said at the Munich Security Conference. Mr. Steinmeier also hit back at open criticism of Germany’s position on weapons deliveries from U.S. Senators and others here on Saturday. The White House is mulling delivering weapons to Ukraine to support the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists in the country’s east. “Perhaps we are so insistent because we know the region a bit,” Mr. Steinmeier said.
Putin hands Egyptian president a rifle – and an alternative to US? (Source csmonitor.com) A Kalashnikov rifle was Vladimir Putin’s gift to Egyptian leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as he arrived in Cairo to start a two-day state visit Monday. That seems logical, since the two leaders are likely to ramp up Russian arms sales and military cooperation with Egypt, and will reportedly agree on a joint strategy to combat Islamist extremism. But the venerable Kalashnikov is also a potent symbol of Moscow’s backing for anti-Western allies over the past century. As Russia’s relations with the West spiral to post-cold war lows, Mr. Putin may be reminding Egypt, a US ally whose bonds with Washington have been fraying, that there are potential alternatives to American support.
If the U.S. Arms Ukraine, Russia Vows Retaliation (Source The Fiscal Times) Despite President Obama’s claim on Monday that he has not yet made a decision about supplying defensive weapons to the Ukrainian army, which is battling Russia-backed separatists who want an independent region within that country, the Russian media is full of predictions. They’re warning of the terrible impact further U.S. involvement in the conflict might have. Quoting a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s public advisory board who requested anonymity, The Moscow Times reported Monday that if the U.S. supplied arms to Ukraine, it would be viewed as an act of war. That action would not only increase the tension in the region, it would also force the Kremlin to “respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts,” the publication reported. The Obama administration’s position on arming Ukraine is actually still far from clear. While Obama held open the possibility during Monday’s joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Washington, D.C. Sunday evening, he was also dismissive of the Ukrainian army’s ability to effectively counter a “determined” Russian advance. U.S. aid, Obama suggested, would be aimed at raising the costs to Russia of further aggression, not actually preventing it entirely. “The prospect for a military solution to this problem has always been low,” he said. “Russia obviously has an extraordinarily powerful military and given the length of the Russian border with Ukraine, given the history between Russia and Ukraine, expecting that if Russia is determined that Ukraine can fully rebuff a Russian army has always been unlikely.” Ukraine has been losing ground in its eastern regions to the pro-Russian separatists, who are apparently armed with advanced armor from Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the weekend made an emotional appeal to western leaders for defensive weapons to help counter the separatists’ assaults.
RadioShack Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy After Years of Losses (Source nbcnews.com)
Struggling electronics retailer RadioShack on Thursday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and says it will sell up to 2,400 stores. The Fort Worth, Texas, company has suffered from years of losses. RadioShack Corp. introduced the first mass-market personal computer and used to be the go-to stop for consumers’ home electronics needs. But it struggled as shoppers increasingly shifted to making purchases online and growth in its wireless business slowed. The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of its shares on Monday and sought to delist it. RadioShack had warned of a possible bankruptcy in September, but received rescue financing that kept it afloat. Still, its CEO recently cautioned the chain might not be able to find a long-term plan to stay in business.