This Week in the World Affairs Brief:

IS THE US BEHIND THE DECLINE OF THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY?

As oil prices sink and the value of the Russian Ruble collapses, there are a lot of political commentators in Russia and on the left and right here in the US claiming that this is all rigged by the West, in league with Saudi Arabia to undermine the Russian economy and provoke a war with Russia. Many in this diverse camp view Putin as a victim or even as a kind of hero because he alone seems to have the power to stand up to the constant aggression and intervention of the West throughout the world—whereas even we Americans don’t seem to have any power to stop the direction of our government. Putin is no hero and he’s not a victim either. This week, I’ll help analyze what is really going on. You can request a one-time free sample of the briefs by sending an email to editor@worldaffairsbrief.com.

Also:

  • Chinese Missiles now have Multiple Warheads
  • Effects of US Diplomatic Recognition of Cuba
  • Militarization of Police: Target Constitutionalists
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Daily News

U.S. Special Forces Conducts Urban Training in North Texas

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
If you think you've spotted low-flying black helicopters around Downtown Dallas in recent days, you likely have. Twitter users reported seeing blacked-out helicopters flying in low, close formations with no lights. Our partners at The Dallas Morning News checked and found out the helicopters were taking part in preparedness training for U.S. Special Forces Monday night. — NBC News

Supreme Court: Cops Can Pull People Over for Wrong Reason

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
...On Monday, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that police officers can make traffic stops for the wrong reasons, as long as they have "reasonable" working knowledge of the law they are enforcing... This means that a mistaken idea of the law would not invalidate sequential searches and arrests on that basis. — Activist Post

State Rep Slams Sheriff For Defending Controversial MRAP Comments

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
Washington State Rep. Matt Shea slammed Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for refusing to apologize for comments made by a Sheriff's deputy in which the officer stated that MRAP armored vehicles were necessary to deal with "constitutionalists" who could pose a violent threat. — Infowars.com

16 Ways the Supreme Court Built the Police State and Destroyed Your Rights

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court was intended to be an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice. In the police state being erected around us, the police and other government agents can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts. — Activist Post

California Highway Patrol Describes Itself as "Paramilitary Organization"

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
America's largest police agency, the California Highway Patrol, is now officially describing itself as a "paramilitary organization," a revelation that will undoubtedly feed into concerns that the militarization of domestic law enforcement is intensifying. The CHP's adoption of this term is now so prevalent that the organization is openly using it as a recruiting tool for new employees. — Prison Planet

Spokane Police Department Faces Protest Over Sheriff Deputy's Shocking Comments

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
The Spokane Valley Police Department is facing protests over a viral video in which a Sheriff's Deputy defended the use of an MRAP armored vehicle by saying it was needed to deal with the threat posed by "constitutionalists". — Infowars.com

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
... President Barack Obama's dramatic announcement in Washington - seconded by Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana - was accompanied by a quiet exchange of imprisoned spies and the celebratory release of American Alan Gross, a government contract worker who had been held in Cuba for five years. The shift in U.S.-Cuba policy was the culmination of 18 months of secret talks between the longtime foes that included a series of meetings in Canada and the personal involvement of Pope Francis at the Vatican. It also marked an extraordinary undertaking by Obama without Congress' authorization as he charts the waning years of his presidency. — AP

Russia creating super heavy Sarmat ICBM without cooperation with Ukraine

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
Russia is developing the Sarmat super heavy liquid-propelled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on its own without cooperation with Ukraine's defense enterprises, as there is no need in it, Commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RSMF) Colonel General Sergey Karakayev said on Tuesday. — Itar-TASS

Russia Is Buying Weapons - a Lot of Them

posted by askousen - Friday, December 19 2014
...Russia has begun investing heavily in upgrades to its military capabilities. President Vladimir Putin plans to spend more than 20 trillion rubles ($700 billion) bringing equipment up to date by 2025.The modernization program is continuing despite an economic crisis that has already forced Russia to adopt an austerity budget for next year. Defense and national security were the only departments to escape cuts of at least 5%. Spending on the military is set to rise by 85% between 2012 and 2017. — CNN

Criminal complaint against Bush era architects of torture

posted by askousen - Thursday, December 18 2014
The German Federal Prosecutor must investigate former CIA Director Tenet, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others - and should not wait until they are on German soil... The US Senate report devotes one section explicitly to the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri, who was abducted by CIA agents in 2004 due to a case of mistaken identity and was tortured in a secret detention center in Afghanistan. The criminal complaint details the US Senate report's finding that once the unlawful error was discovered, the former CIA director refused to take further steps against those responsible. — ECCHR

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