Nine Circles of Hell!: Monday, June 11, 2012 Nine Circles of Hell!

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Your bitter blind broke gap-toothed radio show host Chuck Mertz‘s blog, ‘The Nine Circles of Hell!,’ is now posted every week day, Monday through Friday, at Noon (US central). It’s all the news that give you fits in print, today’s nine reminders that ‘This is Hell!’

Click on any of the Nine Circles! in bold, or any of the three bonus stories on Flame in italics, to go directly to the original article.

The US and Israel are apparently up to their old cyber weapons tricks again. First there was Stuxnet, now there’s Flame, the cyberweapon meant to scoop up massive amounts of information … or is it, first there was Flame, then there was Stuxnet? Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Kaspersky Lab, the Russian multinational computer security firm that discovered Flame a couple weeks back, said, “What we have found is very strong evidence that Stuxnet/Duqu and Flame cyber-weapons are connected.” (With a recent New York Times investigation suggesting President Obama cooperating with the Israelis on sophisticated cyber attacks targeting Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, rumors are swirling about Flame and Stuxnet. For instance, there’s past This is Hell! guest Marcy Wheeler‘s speculation that Flame could actually be a US-Israel Weapon of Mass Destruction.) Just to make us a bit more confused, The Telegraph adds Gostev clarifying, “(Flame and Stuxnet) each have different architectures with their own unique tricks that were used to infect systems and execute primary tasks. The projects were indeed separate and independent from each other.” (According to one of the analysts at Kaspersky, that means Flame started up Stuxnet and then the two cyberweapons went off in their own directions.) While the US and Israel seem to be engaging in a cyberwar against Iran, Saudi Arabia is busy with it’s own war on ‘The Arab Spring.’ The Global Post quotes a Marc Valeri of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter saying, “Since last year, Saudi Arabia has presented itself as the leader of the counter-revolution in the region. The Saudis were not happy with what happened in Egypt, in Libya, in Tunisia, and in Bahrain, obviously. This push for integration was clearly linked to what happened during the Arab Spring.” The Post reports, “At a May summit, Saudi’s King Abdullah proposed creating a closer political, economic and military union with the five other Arab monarchies that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The Post also quotes Abdullah Al-Arian, an assistant professor at Wayne State University and past guest on This is Hell! saying, “The call for unification within GCC countries signals a resumption of a bipolar region, featuring the rise of post-authoritarian states on the one hand, and the solidification of conservative regimes on the other.” They also quote a Christian Koch, director of the Gulf Research Center Foundation, saying,“as the Bahrain Commission report clearly stated, there is no evidence so far of direct and clear Iranian interference (in Bahrain). So the fact that the Bahrain uprisings have continued points toward internal dynamics about which the Gulf rulers have to also worry about. I believe the GCC states are evaluating the domestic political situation differently, and given those different perspectives, they are not all on the same page as far as further unity is concerned.” Those running for president in Mexico are definitely not on the same page with the US when it comes to the ‘war on drugs.’ All three of the leading candidates in the upcoming Mexican presidential elections are focusing their drug policy not on the flow of illegal narcotics but on the amount of violence. Each leading Mexican presidential candidate wants to withdraw the Mexican military from the drug war, a policy that has taken over 50,000 lives since it was implemented nearly six years ago by current president Felipe Calderon. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who many believe had the presidency stolen from him in 2006, is gaining in polls. The New York Times reports AMLO’s “security strategy is called ‘Abrazos, no balazos,’ or ‘Hugs, not bullets’.” AMLO is quoted saying the US “should send us cheap credit, not military helicopters.” Even the front-runner, Enrique Peña Nieto has made a point of saying that Mexico should not “subordinate to the strategies of other countries. The task of the state, what should be its priority from my point of view, and what I have called for in this campaign, is to reduce the levels of violence.” It’s anyone’s guess how Mexico City’s change in drug war policy would go over in Washington. The Obama administration has made a change in policy when it comes to war on Afghanistan. Last week’s drone airstrike that killed 18 women and children in Afghanistan – you know, the one that didn’t make the US nightly network TV news? the one that led the UN human rights chief to call for an investigation into the US drone program and how it relates to international law? yeah, that one – has led the Obama administration to change US military policy concerning airstrikes on houses. The Associated Press reports that after over eleven years of bombing, “The US-led military coalition in Afghanistan is limiting airstrikes against houses to self-defense for troops … Such airstrikes are now being designated a weapon of last resort to rescue soldiers, cutting back their use.” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is turning up his war on dissent. Reuters reports, “Russian police and investigators searched the homes of several prominent opponents of President Vladimir Putin on Monday, one day before a protest opposition leaders hope will draw tens of thousands of people.” An opposition leader tweeted, “There’s a search going on at my home.” Another described the raid, writing, “They practically cut out the door.” (Sound familiar, Chicago?) Protests are breaking out in China as well. Tens of thousands took to Hong Kong’s streets after the suspicious death of a pro-democracy activist Li Wangyang in Hunan province. The cops say it was suicide. The protesters say they want an investigation. Those in Hong Kong are upset with their government while a crucial section of the US voting public is unhappy with the government they initially supported. Latino support for Obama appears to be wavering, according to The New York Times. The Times quotes Clarissa Martínez de Castro, director of immigration issues for the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, saying, “People are saying, ‘What gives?’ Immigration is deeply personal for many of our voters, and there is disillusionment out there.” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, says, “There is ambivalence about the president, where there really should be none.” Even US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is quoted saying, “I do believe the administration has the right intention, prioritizing deportations. But these abysmal numbers (only overturning two percent of the over 288,000 deportation orders in a new program for undocumented immigrants with clean records) raise serious questions about whether the Department of Homeland Security is making that vision a reality.” Canadians probably aren’t happy with what they’re hearing from their sitting president either. The Globe and Mail reports, “The Prime Minister is preparing Canadians for the possibility of another recession, while insisting that it’s the Europeans, not his government, who will be to blame. The blunt truth, however, is that it doesn’t matter who is to blame. If recession comes, this time there will be very little that any Canadian politician can do about it.” They then quote Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Financial Markets, saying, “Governments in Canada don’t have nearly as much latitude as they did in the last episode to open their taps.” Finally, we enjoy closing with a story on the end of the world as, really, in the end, none of today’s other eight Circles of Hell! may matter. The Guardian reports on a new study that shows “China’s carbon emissions could be nearly 20% higher than previously thought … China has already overtaken the US as the world’s top greenhouse gas polluter, producing about a quarter of mankind’s carbon pollution that scientists say is heating the planet and triggering more extreme weather.” The study states, “The sad fact is that Chinese energy and emission data as primary input to the models will add extra uncertainty in modeling simulations of predicting future climatic change.” In other words, last week’s report of China being all pissy about outsiders measuring their pollution was a bigger deal than even we thought. Who knows? Maybe the “tipping point” we talked about on Saturday’s This is Hell! with Wayne Getz is even closer then Wayne and the co-authors of his report think?

That’s the Nine Circles of Hell! for Monday, June 11, 2012.

Come back tomorrow at Noon! for The Nine Circles of Hell!

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Nine Circles of Hell!: Monday, June 11, 2012
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