Sibel's Picks

Microbots Are Finally Here, And They Will Be Injected Into Your Body

Earlier this week, the robotics company Boston Dynamics released a clip of their BigDog model—a four-legged, gas-powered, mobile machine—dexterously opening a door for its buddy. In light of the recent Black Mirror episode “Metalhead,” which features a similar dogbot equipped with a deadly arsenal, it’s understandably chilling to behold Boston Dynamics’ creations and their impressive abilities. But the collective freakout over the canine door openers overshadowed another robot video, dropped by Purdue University’s School of Mechanical Engineering on Tuesday, which might actually outcreep the Boston Dynamics clip.

Magnanimity or Mercantilism: What’s Behind Ankara’s $5 Billion Loan to Iraq?

Turkey has pledged to provide Iraq with a $5 billion credit line for its reconstruction efforts –more than the sum pledged by any Gulf state, the EU or even the US. What's behind Ankara's apparent generosity? Sputnik Turkey spoke to political scientist Serdar Erdurmaz and economist Bartu Soral to find out. Turkey's loan was the largest single amount pledged at the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, held in Kuwait last week. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE pledged between $500 million and $1.5 billion in aid and investment. Western countries and Japan also confirmed their intention to assist Iraq, including via direct aid, export loans and credit lines. Washington plans to grant Baghdad up to $3 billion in credit, while the EU has pledged to invest some $400 million.

County Gov’t Tries To Dodge Liability In Jailhouse Deaths By Intimidating The Journalist Who Exposed Them

To keep itself from being held liable for inmate deaths, San Diego County (CA) has decided to target the journalist who exposed them. Kelly Davis, along with the EFF's Dave Maass, used public records requests and investigative journalism to detail 60 deaths in the county's five jails, which occurred over the course of five years. The death rate in San Diego jails was consistently higher than those of comparably-sized systems. In fact, the death rate was higher than that of the 10 largest jail systems in the country. Documents showed almost a third of those were preventable. But when a lawsuit was filed by the wife of an inmate who died in a San Diego County jail, the county argued there was no negligence. The presiding judge disagreed, citing Davis and Maass' journalism.

Brazil Military Takes Control of Rio de Janeiro’s Security

Brazil’s President Michel Temer justified putting an Army general in charge of Rio de Janeiro’s security forces to contain a rising tide of violence by saying that the circumstances required extreme measures. In a televised address on Friday evening, Temer explained the decree he had signed earlier in the day which puts the state’s police forces under military control. The intervention, which requires congressional approval, will last until the end of the year, according to the decree.

A New York Times Fairy Tale – Editorial

Frank Bruni, columnist for the New York Times, is outraged — outraged! — that people are comparing Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, to Ivanka Trump, the daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump. Both women are part of their respective governmental delegations to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. In his NYT column yesterday, Bruni expressed outrage that people would make such a comparison and, even worse, that they would actually compare North Korea and the United States. He believes that while North Korea is “rotten to the core,” America, under Trump, is only “in a rotten moment.”

US Keen on Russia Distancing Itself From Iran’s Syrian Ambitions

The Pentagon released a video, on February 13, of a Russian T-72 tank being destroyed by an American drone attack in Syria, the most recent in a series of wrist-slaps intended to persuade Moscow to distance itself from Iran’s ambitions in Syria. This follows an engagement with a force reportedly composed of Russian nationals working as “contractors” for the Assad government – an engagement in which American special forces killed 200 combatants and injured many others. The Russian contractors and a Russian-built tank reportedly attacked Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) armed and advised by the US, and a Pentagon spokesman said that the US acted in self-defense.

There is No Justice in Our World – Editorial

A gathering of rich oil Arabs pledged $30 billion this week at a meeting in Kuwait to start rebuilding war-shattered Iraq. Sounds nice but these kinds of conclaves are notorious for offering big but delivering little. The event was billed as helping Iraq repair war damage caused by ISIS. In fact, most of the damage from that short-lived conflict was caused by US bombing and a few Russian air strikes. ISIS, as this column has long been crying in the wilderness, was largely a paper tiger confected by the US, Britain and France to justify their military re-entry into Syria.

This Short Seller Pressed ‘Tweet.’ Then the FBI Showed Up

Short-sellers aren’t known for restraint and decorum, and that goes double on Twitter, where Marc Cohodes vowed to take down a CEO he accuses of fraud. “I will bury the little fella in a shoe box,” Cohodes tweeted in October. Weeks later, a black Ford Expedition pulled up to the short-seller’s Sonoma County ranch. Two FBI agents emerged. They showed Cohodes a printout of his tweet and a second one that mentioned loaded guns. “Stop sending threatening tweets” about the CEO, one of the agents warned, or else.

US Seeks to Double AK-47 Supply to Syrian Partners

The Donald Trump administration is seeking to more than double the number of assault rifles it provides to Syrian Kurds and other US-backed fighters despite rising anger from NATO ally Turkey. Budget figures released Feb. 15 reveal that the Pentagon plans to give its Syrian partners — including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — more than 25,000 AK-47s, the gas-powered Soviet-era gun that has become a fixture in Syria’s seven-year civil war. The low cost and accessibility of the Kalashnikovs make them easy for US-backed troops to sustain as the Pentagon looks to hold territory won back from the Islamic State (IS) in the Euphrates River Valley.

Two More Senators Ditch Corporate PACs

Two Senate Democrats joined a group of congressional incumbents running for reelection who have sworn off contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs). Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Tuesday announced on Twitter that they would join at least 10 other members of Congress in rejecting donations from corporate PACs in their upcoming reelection campaigns. “Because of the corrosive effects of corporate money I have decided from this point on I will not be accepting corporate PAC checks into my campaign,” Gillibrand said in a Tuesday video.

Future Marine Infantry Units May Have PSYOP Capabilities, More Snipers

When Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller named an experimental infantry unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, in early 2016, much of the concept was built around hardware: testing out unmanned systems, vehicles, and weapons for use by the force. But, more than a year later, many of the recommendations coming out of the experiment have to do with enhancing the skill set inherent in the infantry battalion, not just the gear the unit carries.

Mueller Indictment Part of Cycle of Information Warfare And Election Meddling Between U.S. And Russia

Thirteen Russian nationals allegedly involved in an information warfare operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The indictment [PDF] claims the Internet Research Agency engaged in a conspiracy from 2014 to the present that was funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. Beyond already known allegations related to Russians creating false U.S. personas on social media, it alleges the Russian nationals traveled, or attempted to travel, to the U.S. Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova and Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva stopped in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York to “gather intelligence.”

Shocking New Evidence: Maidan Snipers Confess They Were Under Orders From Coup Leaders To Shoot Police AND Protesters

It was the shot unheard around the world – everyone knows the Ukraine Crisis began after the 2014 Maidan Coup, but few in the West know Russia didn’t invade Ukraine, fewer still know of the mysterious snipers who rained down death from above those fateful days in Kiev. The corporate media was quick to follow standard stenographers union protocol in line with modern western journalistic standards – so they of course immediately blamed Russia without any evidence. Thay claim Russian trained snipers were supporting the Ukrainian president by firing on protesters

Power Play In Syria: What Turkish Moves Mean For US And Russia – Analysis

On January 20, Turkish Armed Forces launched air and ground maneuvers with in Operation Olive Branch to target U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG (Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units) and so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) targets. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters then began moving into areas Kurdish militias were pushed out from by Turkish firepower. Although ISIL has been hit hard in recent months and lost substantial ground in Syria and Iraq, Turkey has become increasingly concerned with Syrian Kurdish militias it identifies as Turkey’s primary national security threat. Turkey has long criticized the U.S. policy of arming and training Kurdish militias and President Erdogan recently raised the stakes by saying Washington is fomenting terrorism along Turkish borders while Istanbul is denied defense cooperation in the form of drones and weapons it has been requesting.

America’s Anti-War, Pro-Soldier Congressman Resurrects Idea of War Tax

A maverick lawmaker on the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday boosted a modest proposal made years ago by then-Sen. Charles Rangel: a dedicated "war tax" that would draw attention to military spending and force Americans to confront the cost of defense. Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, is perhaps best known for his advocacy on behalf of troops and military families, despite staunch opposition to recent wars, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.