Monday, April 30, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting Our Warrior in Chief (Press Correspondents' Dinner 2012)

"My fellow Americans, we gather during a historic anniversary. Last year at this time -- in fact, on this very weekend -- we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals." Political Humor
Which is where I turned off the video. ”Delivering justice” - is that what we're calling murder without trial these days? Somehow, the terms “extrajudicial” and “justice” seem a little contradictory to me. A yearly celebration is not exactly what I would think is called for by law-abiding, Constitution-quoting, freedom-loving Americans for putting a bullet in the head of a dying, unarmed man in front of his family and then dumping his corpse in the sea, no matter how notorious.

Of course the press event is for entertainment purposes, and I did later read the transcript of Obama's speech. So let me quote you the funniest part:
"I do want to end tonight on a slightly more serious note -- whoever takes the oath of office next January will face some great challenges, but he will also inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face. And one of those traditions is represented here tonight: a free press that isn't afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize.


"Tonight, we remember journalists such as Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin -- (applause) -- who made the ultimate sacrifice as they sought to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time. So whether you are a blogger or a broadcaster, whether you take on powerful interests here at home or put yourself in harm's way overseas, I have the greatest respect and admiration for what you do. I know sometimes you like to give me a hard time -- and I certainly like to return the favor -- (laughter) -- but I never forget that our country depends on you. You help protect our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life."
Yeah, right...just ask prize-winning journalist Laura Poitras. That's almost as good as his joke at last year's press celebration:
President Obama noted that in the audience were the Jonas brothers.

"Sasha and Malia are huge fans," he said, "but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you : predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

  ABC News
And it got the laughs.
[M]ost Democrats are perfectly aware of Obama’s military aggression. They don’t support him despite that, but rather, that’s one of the things they love about him. After years of being mocked by the Right as Terrorist-coddling weaklings, Obama — strutting around touting his own strength — lets them feel strong and powerful in exactly the way that Bush and Cheney’s swaggering let conservatives prance around as tough-guy, play-acting warriors. Rather than ignore this aggression, Democratic think tanks point with beaming pride to the corpses piled up by the Democratic Commander-in-Chief to argue that he’s been such a resounding foreign policy “success,” while Democratic pundits celebrate and defend the political value of his majestic kills.


Most Democratic praise for “Obama’s foreign policy successes” fails even to acknowledge, let alone condemn, the thousands of innocent people whose lives have been extinguished by his militarism.


That, without a doubt, will be one of Obama’s most enduring legacies: transforming these policies of excessive militarism, rampant secrecy and civil liberties assaults from right-wing radicalism into robust bipartisan consensus.


Bush, Cheney and scores of other political and media supporters of their militarism who had not served in the military were routinely derided by Democrats and progressives as “chickenhawks” [...]. What happened to that? Now we have a President whom  [Peter Bergen, the Director of National Security Studies at the Democratic-Party-supportive New America Foundation] hails as “one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades” despite having not served a day in the military, and hordes of non-military-serving Democrats who cheer him as he does so. Similarly, George Bush was mercilessly mocked for declaring himself a “war President,” yet here is Bergen — writing under the headline “Warrior in Chief” —  twice christening the non-serving Obama as our “Warrior President.” Did the concept of chickenhawkism, like so many other ostensible political beliefs, cease to exist on January 20, 2009?


According to CNN today, “a suspected U.S. drone strike killed three people Sunday at a high school in northern Pakistan.” The article cites “intelligence officials” as claiming that “militants were hiding” at the school. There is apparently no information yet on who was killed, though I hope — and trust – that this won’t impede the celebrations over our “Warrior in Chief.”

  Glenn Greenwald

Sunday, April 29, 2012

So As Not to Disrupt Business Meetings

Minority Report's PreCrime division is not just a science fiction movie idea.

The nation’s largest financial institutions are preparing for the upcoming Occupy Wall Street’s May 1st demonstrations by communicating with police, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Brian McNary, director of global risk at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, said that banks from America and overseas are working together to “identify, map and track” protesters across social networks in order for business meetings to avoid disruption.

Demonstrations in 115 cities are being planned for this coming Tuesday, inspired by the 1886 Chicago’s Haymarket Square clash between police and workers.

  Raw Story
The Haymarket affair (also known as the Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot) refers to the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour day. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they acted to disperse the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians, and the wounding of scores of others.

In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy, although the prosecution conceded none of the defendants had thrown the bomb. Seven were sentenced to death and one to a term of 15 years in prison.


What She Said

Who says the Romney2000 is out of touch with real people?
This kind of devisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.
And if your parents don't have $20K lying around, hell, sell your sister.

  Dependable Renegade
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Future of War: Drones

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Government Business As Usual: Propaganda

Earlier this week, an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled in favor of the government in a national security case (needless to say), when he denied a FOIA request to obtain all photos and videos taken during and after the raid in Pakistan that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death. The DOJ responded to the lawsuit by arguing (needless to say) that the requested materials “are classified and are being withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.” Among other things, disclosure of these materials would have helped resolve the seriously conflicting statements made by White House officials about what happened during the raid and what its actual goals and operating rules were.

But while the Obama administration has insisted to the court that all such materials are classified and cannot be disclosed without compromising crucial National Security secrets, the President’s aides have been continuously leaking information about the raid in order to create politically beneficial pictures of what happened. Last August, The New Yorker published what it purported to be a comprehensive account of the raid, based on mostly anonymous White House claims, that made Barack Obama look like a mix of Superman, Rambo and Clint Eastwood; The Washington Post called it “a fascinating, cinematic-like account of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.” This week, Time Magazine has a cover story entitled “The Last Days of Osama bin Laden” based in part on “access to top decision makers in over 100 hours of interviews.”


We just saw this deceitful pattern this week when Obama officials — yet again — ran around anonymously boasting about all the Bad Guy Corpses the Commander-in-Chief has produced with his steely use of CIA drones, only to turn around and tell a court that it cannot possibly respond to the ACLU’s FOIA request about CIA drones because National Security prevents the U.S. Government even from confirming or denying the existence of that program.


This is what the Obama administration does over and over. It’s a flagrant abuse of its secrecy powers. It uses anonymous leaks to selectively boast about what it does and thus shape media narratives and public understanding of its conduct (also called “domestic propaganda”). But it then simultaneously insists that the whole matter is classified — Top Secret — when it comes time to be subjected to any form of legal accountability or have its assertions publicly tested.


The only thing worse than a government which operates as a regime of widespread secrecy is one which flagrantly exploits those powers to create a one-way tunnel of selected disclosures and thus propagandizes the citizenry while glorifying itself.

  Glenn Greenwald
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

In a first for network television, NBC News has been granted unprecedented access to the most secret and secure part of the White House, the Situation Room. In a “Rock Center with Brian Williams” exclusive airing on Wednesday, May 2 at 9p/8c, President Obama and his national security and military teams, relive the pivotal moments of the raid targeting Osama bin Laden.

Must be campaign season.

As Only He Can

...or will.

Stephen Colbert's speech at the Time 100.

Same Shoe, Other Foot

Led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Republicans told The Los Angeles Times on Friday that they have been stonewalled by the Department of Justice in their probe of a law enforcement operation [“Fast and Furious”] that saw U.S. firearms end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Confirming the report, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told the committee on Friday that [AG Eric] Holder “is leading us down a path where we have no other choice [but to hold him in contempt of Congress].” He added that if Holder would simply turn over an additional 73,000 pages of documents, the threat of a contempt citation would subside.

  Raw Story
It's hard to imagine anyone having anything but contempt for Congress, but in this case, I'm sure Holder is hiding some embarrassing information. But, seventy-three thousand pages?
Holder said that several ongoing criminal investigations which resulted from the operation preclude him from releasing all the information Republicans are asking for.
And if not, national security will.
The last time Congress issued a contempt citation was in 2008, amid a probe into the Bush administration’s politically-motivated firing of U.S. attorneys. Two Bush officials were held in contempt by Congressional Democrats after they refused to comply with subpoenas that would have compelled their testimony.

Republicans at the time argued that administration officials are immune from Congressional probes due to protections afforded through executive privilege.
Yes, but that was when Republican officials were under scrutiny.

 ...and hey, do what you will anyway.

A Very Good Question

[The] idea that interventionism is "muscular," rather than a debilitating drain on our limited resources is yet another cliché rapidly wearing thin. How "muscular" can a bankrupt empire be?

  Justin Raimondo

Friday, April 27, 2012

Medal of Freedom

President Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 13 people, including Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison and John Paul Stevens, the White House announced Thursday.

  NYTimes Blog
You can look at the list of honorees current and past (Estée Lauder?) and decide for yourself whether the medal of “Freedom” is being appropriately awarded. Sadly, the medal is no longer much more than a political party favor and as such carries no real honor, including recent recipients such as George Tenet and Tony Blair – not to mention Dick Cheney in '91, but there is a man among this year's group who should have received the medal a long time ago – maybe when it was still meaningful: John Doar.
John Doar spent most of this time in the Justice Department investigating civil rights abuses in the South and bringing suits against people who violated the 1957 Civil Rights Act. He first filed suits over voter intimidation in Tennessee. In early 1961, he and fellow Department of Justice attorney Bob Owen began investigating voter discrimination in southwest Mississippi with Bob Moses' help. While Doar primarily investigated voter intimidation cases, he also accompanied James Meredith as he enrolled in Ole' Miss in September of 1962. After arranging for Meredith to be registered despite a confrontation with the governor and riots on the school grounds, Doar stayed with Meredith in his dorm room for several weeks, accompanying him to his classes with federal marshals.

In 1964, Doar was involved in the investigation of the murder of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman during Freedom Summer. He authorized the F.B.I. to investigate the case, and he was the lead attorney in the federal trial that led to the conviction of several people for violating the civil rights of the three civil rights workers. Doar also investigated and successfully prosecuted the murder of Viola Luizzo, who was killed while bringing marchers back to Selma from Montgomery. Doar had been present during the entirety of that march. One of Doar's most famous actions occurred after the death of Medgar Evers. Mourners wanted to march up the main street in Jackson, MS, but they were stopped by police. When marchers began throwing bottles and bricks and county police were brought in with shot-guns, Doar stepped between the two groups and convinced the marchers to disperse peacefully.

  Washington University Film & Media Archive
John Doar should be as nationally celebrated as any other civil rights hero in this country, but how many of us even remembered (or even knew) his name and the history of his actions in the crises of the 60s civil rights events? You might say he was just another lawyer making hay of the situation and a name for himself, but how would you explain his stay with James Meredith or his physical intervention in what would have been a riot?  Watch this interview with him in Jnuary 2009 (he was 87 and still practicing at the time):

BTW: He's a "Lincoln" Republican.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Save Some Troops to Send to Argentina

Argentina's senate has approved the forced takeover of the country's biggest oil company, underscoring broad domestic support that has caused outrage among foreign investors.


The bill now has a clear path for likely approval by the country's lower house sometime next week.


Meanwhile in England

Be careful what you read.
Mohammed Abdul Hasnath, 19, pleaded guilty to four counts of having copies of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire on his computer.

The prosecution case was that the publications contained material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Alison Morgan, prosecuting, said: "It is clear that over a period of time, this defendant had a sustained interest in this type of material."

  UK Guardian
You might want to note this as a cautionary lesson in the US, too.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not Up for Discussion

The Israeli government on Tuesday retroactively legalized three Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank, and moved to delay the scheduled evacuation of a fourth, in a provocative move that some critics said marked the first establishment of new settlements in two decades.


[A] spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that it was simply a matter of resolving technical problems such as improper permits and mistakenly building on the wrong hill.

A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die.

In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart lays out in chilling detail the looming danger to Israeli democracy and the American Jewish establishment's refusal to confront it.
The truth is that like many liberal American Jews — and most American Jews are still liberal — I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.

But it’s only right to say something on behalf of Beinart, who has predictably run into that buzzsaw. As I said, a brave man, and he deserves better.

  Paul Krugman

Oh, and By the Way...

Speaking of creating an "Atrocity Prevention Board"...
The Pentagon is to create a new spy service to focus on global strategic threats and the challenges posed by countries including Iran, North Korea and China. The move will bring to 17 the total number of intelligence organisations in the US.

  UK Guardian
We need another.
The Pentagon argues that the new service is necessary because the DIA spends most of its time and manpower reporting tactical intelligence about battlefields such as Afghanistan, and not enough time looking at strategic issues.

Obama administration officials have said they want to switch US national security focus away from the Middle East to address long-term issues such as China's rise and nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran. Pentagon sources suggested the new service would also focus on Africa, where al-Qaida affiliates are on the rise.
We really want to be rid of the Middle East fiasco.  Maybe we can just start investing in something else and it will go away.
Not all intelligence experts are convinced that the creation of a new organisation will help America's espionage capacity, however. Some argue that the move reflects turf battles and empire-building. "I'm not sure what they are supposed to achieve that the CIA doesn't," Joshua Foust, a former DIA Middle East analyst told the LA Times. "This seems like a territorial thing: 'Hey, the CIA has this – why don't we have it, too?' … I'm pretty sceptical that it's necessary or good."
Yeah, me too.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

President #Compromise gave a speech yesterday in which he said the following:
A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past.

  USA Today
You are surprised, aren't you? Because the last you heard from him, he said this:
We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. [...I] have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. […My] instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. […My] general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed [to] looking at what we got wrong in the past.
  USA Today
Well, there's no flip-flop here. In the latter quotes, he's talking about pursuing Bush administration war crimes, and in the former, he's talking about the 1915 Armenian genocide. You can go back to sleep now.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

"Atrocity Prevention Board"

Or as it will probably be known forthwith: APB. I suppose that's under the Homeland Security Dept, like all the other alphabets these days.
The world is in chaos, war is breaking out all over, there’s blood flowing in the streets of cities from the Middle East to Africa, but not to worry – we’ve got an “Atrocity Prevention Board”! Now doesn’t that make you feel much better?


The announcement of this new bureaucratic instrument of war was made by Obama at a recent speech delivered at the Holocaust Museum in Washington .


The atrocities this board is supposed to prevent are those that are not committed by the US: our atrocities, you understand, are really “humanitarian” acts, as opposed to their atrocities, which are … well, just plain old atrocities.


Obama singled out South Sudan and Libya as monuments to this policy of “atrocity prevention” – Libya, whose Islamist government is jailing, murdering, and otherwise repressing its own people, and South Sudan, a completely made-up “nation” that owes its very existence to Western intervention, routinely arrests opposition figures and journalists, and is currently involved in putting down local and tribal insurgencies in the majority of its provinces (with our help, you can be sure).


Our drones roam the world, wreaking random havoc on innocents and “terrorists” alike – oh, but that isn’t an “atrocity.” It’s “fighting terrorism.”


Where oh where does the authority to set up such a board come from? There’s no mention of it in the Constitution – but, then again, you don’t want to be labeled a “constitutional fundamentalist,” do you? So please shut up about that, and go on to the next question: did Congress ever authorize the creation of such a board? Well, who cares if they did or not? Because we don’t even need Congress to approve a declaration of war before the President calls out the troops – he can do so all on his own. [...] The Founders would be horrified – but who cares about those old white racists, anyhow? They would have been horrified by so much we take for granted that they might as well be aliens from another dimension: we can safely file their imagined objections away under “horse-and-buggy” and be done with them forever.


The hypocrisy and duplicity of our ruling elites is boundless, and they don’t shy away from Orwellian phraseology: after all, who else would set up an “Atrocity Prevention Board” when they are themselves the single greatest perpetrators of atrocities on earth?

  Justin Raimondo
But we must be free, because people like Justin Raimondo can still print negative reviews of the government.

Killing the Gulf: A Crime

U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges alleging that a former BP employee destroyed critical evidence in the early days of the unfolding disaster.

The charges are the first to be filed in what the Obama administration has called the worst environmental disaster in American history, and they are significant because they target an individual employee for his actions.

Of course they do.
According to an affidavit and complaint filed today in a Louisiana court, Kurt Mix, a former drilling and completions engineer, deleted email and text messages he had sent to senior BP managers estimating that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf was many times greater than the amount stated publicly. Mix was specifically instructed by attorneys contracted by BP to retain his records before he deleted them, the affidavit states.
Yes, so who told him to delete them? The BP managers he sent them to perhaps? I hope he will be (further) well compensated for taking the fall.
BP issued a statement saying that the company was cooperating with federal investigators and that “BP had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence.”
No doubt.
According to an FBI affidavit submitted to the court along with the indictment, Mix, who worked for BP until January 2012, was directly involved in BP’s efforts to understand how much oil was flowing out of the broken Macondo well. On April 21, 2010, Mix estimated that between 68,000 and 138,000 barrels of oil were leaking each day — far more than the 5,000 barrels that were estimated publicly at the time.
And I guess he's the only person who “understood” that, and if only he hadn't tried to tell anyone else...
Mix wrote that the effort — which he was directly involved in — was unlikely to succeed. “Too much flowrate — over 15,000 and too large an orifice. Pumped over 12,800 bbl of mud today plus 5 separate bridging pills. Tired. Going home and getting ready for round three tomorrow.”

At the time, BP said publicly that the measure had a 70 percent chance of success.

Mix, 50, was arrested in Katy, Texas today. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the two counts he is charged with.
And the people receiving those messages, who haven't been arrested, have no criminal liability at all?

American justice. You gotta love it. 

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's About Time: Concealed Carry Fashion

Several clothing companies are [...] building businesses around the sharp rise in people with permits to carry concealed weapons.

Their ranks swelled to around seven million last year from five million in 2008, partly because of changes to state laws on concealed handguns.

  NY Times
And people try to tell us Obama wants to take away our guns.
Woolrich, a 182-year-old clothing company, describes its new chino pants as an elegant and sturdy fashion statement, with a clean profile and fabric that provides comfort and flexibility.

And they are great for hiding a handgun.


Shawn Thompson, 35, who works at an auto dealership in eastern Kentucky, bought two shirts last month from the Woolrich Elite Concealed Carry line. Both, he wrote on his blog, are a step up from more rugged gear.

“Most of the clothes I used in the past to hide my sidearm looked pretty sloppy and had my girlfriend complaining about my looks,” he wrote, adding in an interview, “I’m not James Bond or nothing, but these look pretty nice.”
“I’m not James Bond or nothing...”

That use of the English language alone would have let us in on that fact. We needn't look at your clothing.
“When someone walks down the street in a button-down and khakis, the bad guy gets a glimmer of fear, wondering: are they packing or not?” said Allen Forkner, a spokesman for Woolrich, which started its concealed-carry line in 2010 with three shirts.
Oh, yeah. Preppies are now going to be so intimidating.

h/t Jean


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vote Republican

Roy is once again traveling all 50 states to sing his song - but it's a little different in each state...

Are We Going to Have to Bomb Egypt, Too?

The head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company has said it has terminated its contract to ship gas to Israel because of violations of contractual obligations, a decision Israel said overshadowed the peace agreement between the two countries.

Mohamed Shoeb, the gas company's top official, said Sunday's decision was not political. "This has nothing to do with anything outside of the commercial relations," Shoeb said.

He said Israel had not paid for its gas in four months. Yigal Palmor, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, denied the claim of not paying.


Israel relies on Egyptian natural gas for 40 per cent of its supplies to produce electricity, the chairman of a government holding firm said on Sunday.


[When] this agreement was reached in 2005, it was subject to government approvals of Israel and Egypt, many believe under pressure from the government of the US.


And That IS Depressing

I stole this from my cousin's facebook.  I don't know where it originated. 

What Are These People Smoking?

And what are the rest of us smoking to sit by and let them get away with it?  I know we're a nation of hypocrites, but this is Twilight Zone.  First, Hillary, now this.
US President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Monday allowing sanctions to be imposed against foreigners who use technologies to carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post said.

The order would target those found to have used technologies including cellphone tracking or the Internet to carry out violations.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the governments of Syria and Iran have used social media and cellphone technology to crack down on dissent and conduct surveillance.

  Raw Story
What, technologies like the internet surveillance the Bush administration instigated and the Obama administration is expanding? Technologies like the data gathering he's about to increase to hitherto unimagined volumes?  Technologies like tracking cell phones of protesters?  Technologies like drone surveillance over America?
The executive order, which Obama will announce during a Monday speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, will also target companies and individuals assisting the governments of Iran and Syria, the paper said.
What, like AT&T in the US?

Justice isn't blind in this country, it's dead. 

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's Sunday

While Republicans sided with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop during the debate over contraceptive mandates for health insurers, they have ignored the bishops call to repeal Alabama’s harsh Republican-backed immigration law.

“If enforced, Alabama’s anti-immigration law will make it a crime to follow God’s command to be Good Samaritans,” the bishops said in a lawsuit. “[T]he anti-immigration law runs counter to the Christian spirit of compassion. The law is unconstitutional and a direct affront to the recognized and accepted word of God.”

  Raw Story
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Surveillance State

”If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that [the NSA] and all agencies that possess this [surveillance] technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

– Senator Frank Church 1975
It's a good thing then that Frank Church did not live to see the state of America today.

And he was right.  There is no return.


Okay, not. US nominated American Jim Yong Kim is the new World Bank president. The Ivy League university president beat out two actual financial people - Colombian finance head Jose Antonio Ocampo, and Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.  It wouldn't do to have a financial person at the head of the World Bank, now would it?  Oh, you think it might be something about them being Colombian and Nigerian?  Yeah, that would never do, either.
In recent days, the Romney campaign has tried to distance itself from Kansas Secretary of State and anti-immigration activist Kris Kobach by insisting that he is merely a “supporter” and not an “adviser.” According to Think Progress, however,[an] email sent by a Romney spokesperson to CNN on Friday did call Kobach an”informal adviser.”


Kobach himself has continued to insist that he is not only advising the campaign but fully expects Romney to support the use of Arizona’s draconian SB-1070 anti-immigration law as a national model.


This is significant because, as Talking Points Memo explains, “Advocates for the Latino community and Democrats have said that Romney’s ties to Kobach — an architect of anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama — are a poison pill that makes connecting with Latino voters all but impossible. ”

  Raw Story
Enter Marco Rubio.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The Land of the Free"

Whether a country is actually free is determined not by how well-rewarded its convention-affirming media elites are and how ignored its passive citizens are but by how it treats its dissidents, those posing authentic challenges to what the government does. The stories of [...] three Democracy Now guests — and so many others — provide that answer loudly and clearly.


We love to tell ourselves that there are robust political freedoms and a thriving free political press in the U.S. because you’re allowed to have an MSNBC show or blog in order to proclaim every day how awesome and magnanimous the President of the United States is and how terrible his GOP political adversaries are — how brave, cutting and edgy! — or to go on Fox News and do the opposite. But people who are engaged in actual dissent, outside the tiny and narrow permissible boundaries of pom-pom waving for one of the two political parties — those who are focused on the truly significant acts which the government and its owners are doing in secret — are subjected to [...] intimidation, threats, surveillance, and [a] climate of fear .

Not to mention, arrests and trials for whistleblowers. *

Read Glenn Greenwald's entire post (Surveillance State evils) for summaries of the Democracy Now! trio:
William Binney: he worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, and resigned in October, 2001, in protest of the NSA’s turn to domestic spying. Binney immediately went to the House Intelligence Committee to warn them of the illegal spying the NSA was doing, and that resulted in nothing. In July, 2007 — while then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was testifying before the Senate about Bush’s warrantless NSA spying program — Binney’s home was invaded by a dozen FBI agents, who pointed guns at him, in an obvious effort to intimidate him out of telling the Senate the falsehoods and omissions in Gonzales’ testimony about NSA domestic spying (another NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, had his home searched several months later, and was subsequently prosecuted by the Obama DOJ — unsuccessfully — for his whistleblowing).

Jacob Appelbaum: an Internet security expert and hacker, he is currently at the University of Washington and engaged in some of the world’s most important work in the fight for Internet freedom. He’s a key member of the Tor Project, which is devoted to enabling people around the world to use the Internet with complete anonymity: so as to thwart government surveillance and to prevent nation-based Internet censorship.[...] For the last two years, Appelbaum has been repeatedly detained and harassed at American airports upon his return to the country, including having his laptops and cellphone seized — all without a search warrant, of course — and never returned. The U.S. Government has issued secret orders to Internet providers demanding they provide information about his email communications and social networking activities. He’s never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.

Laura Poitras: she is the filmmaker about whom I wrote two weeks ago. After producing an Oscar-nominated film on the American occupation of Iraq, followed by a documentary about U.S. treatment of Islamic radicals in Yemen, she has been detained, searched, and interrogated every time she has returned to the U.S. She, too, has had her laptop and cell phone seized without a search warrant, and her reporters’ notes repeatedly copied. This harassment has intensified as she works on her latest film about America’s Surveillance State and the war on whistleblowers, which includes — among other things — interviews with NSA whistleblowers such as Binney and Drake.
The Democracy Now! video episode is also posted at the end of Greenwald's article.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

* bears reposting:.

Unintended Consequences

Washington is forcing as much of the world as it can to overthrow international treaties and international law [requiring countries to shutdown their economies in order to comply with Washington’s vendetta against Iran] . Washington has issued a ukase that its word alone is international law. Any country, except those who receive Washington’s dispensation, that engages in trade with Iran or purchases Iran’s oil will be sanctioned by the US. These countries will be cut off from US markets, and their banking systems will not be able to use banks that process international payments. In other words, Washington’s “sanctions against Iran” apply not to Iran but to countries that defy Washington and meet their energy needs with Iranian oil.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, so far Washington has granted special privileges to Japan and 10 European Union countries to continue purchasing Iranian oil.


Iran, unlike Israel, signed the non-proliferation treaty. All countries that sign the treaty have the right to nuclear energy. Washington claims that Iran is violating the treaty by developing a nuclear weapon. There is no evidence whatsoever for Washington’s assertion. Washington’s own 16 intelligence agencies are unanimous that Iran has had no nuclear weapon’s program since 2003. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s weapons inspectors are in Iran and have reported consistently that there is no diversion of nuclear material from the energy program to a weapons program.

On the rare occasion when Washington is reminded of the facts, Washington makes a different case. Washington asserts that Iran’s rights under the non-proliferation treaty notwithstanding, Iran cannot have a nuclear energy program, because Iran would then have learned enough to be able at some future time to make a bomb.


The success of the American-Israeli assault on Iran’s independence depends on India and China.

If India and China give the bird to Washington, what can Washington do? Absolutely nothing.


Wal-Mart’s shelves would be empty, and America’s largest retailer would be hammering on the White House door.

Apple Computer and innumerable powerful US corporations, which have offshored their production for the American market to China, would see their profits evaporate. Together with their Wall Street allies, these powerful corporations would assault the fool in the White House with more force than the Red Army. The Chinese trade surplus would cease to flow into US Treasury debt. The offshored-to-India back office operations of banks, credit card companies, and customer service departments of utilities throughout the US would cease to function.


Will China and India exercise their power over the US, or will the two countries fudge the issue and adopt a pose that saves face for Washington while they continue to purchase Iranian oil?

The answer to this question is: how much will Washington pay China and India in secret concessions, such as eviction of the US from the South China Sea, for their pretense that China and India acknowledge Washington’s dictatorial powers over the rest of the world?


China is responding to the sanctions by taking advantage of the drop in demand for Iranian oil to negotiate lower prices for its purchases. The result of Washington’s sanctions on Iran is to lower the cost of energy for China and to raise it for everyone else.

  Paul Craig Roberts

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Hypocrisy and Irony Are Alive and Well

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.  --Mark Twain

"Sheep doped with Rohypnol"

From the moment Obama took office, according to Washington insiders, the new commander in chief evinced a "love" of drones. "The drone program is something the executive branch is paying a lot of attention to," says Ken Gude, vice president of the Center for American Progress. "These weapons systems have become central to Obama." In the early days of the administration, then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel would routinely arrive at the White House and demand, "Who did we get today?"


During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the military conducted only a handful of drone missions. Today, the Pentagon deploys a fleet of 19,000 drones, relying on them for classified missions that once belonged exclusively to Special Forces units or covert operatives on the ground. American drones have been sent to spy on or kill targets in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Drones routinely patrol the Mexican border, and they provided aerial surveillance over Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians.


On a broader scale, the remote-control nature of unmanned missions enables politicians to wage war while claiming we're not at war – as the United States is currently doing in Pakistan. What's more, the Pentagon and the CIA can now launch military strikes or order assassinations without putting a single boot on the ground – and without worrying about a public backlash over U.S. soldiers coming home in body bags.


For a new generation of young guns, the experience of piloting a drone is not unlike the video games they grew up on. Unlike traditional pilots, who physically fly their payloads to a target, drone operators kill at the touch of a button, without ever leaving their base – a remove that only serves to further desensitize the taking of human life. (The military slang for a man killed by a drone strike is "bug splat," since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.)


[For] every "high-value" target killed by drones, there's a civilian or other innocent victim who has paid the price. The first major success of drones – the 2002 strike that took out the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen – also resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen. More recently, a drone strike by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2010 targeted the wrong individual – killing a well-known human rights advocate named Zabet Amanullah who actually supported the U.S.-backed government. The U.S. military, it turned out, had tracked the wrong cellphone for months, mistaking Amanullah for a senior Taliban leader. A year earlier, a drone strike killed Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, while he was visiting his father-in-law; his wife was vaporized along with him. But the U.S. had already tried four times to assassinate Mehsud with drones, killing dozens of civilians in the failed attempts. One of the missed strikes, according to a human rights group, killed 35 people, including nine civilians, with reports that flying shrapnel killed an eight-year-old boy while he was sleeping. Another blown strike, in June 2009, took out 45 civilians, according to credible press reports.


According to John Rizzo, who served as chief counsel at the CIA for six years, [...] he signed off on about one kill list per month.


A recent poll shows that most Democrats overwhelmingly support the drone program, and Congress passed a law in February that calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to "accelerate the integration of unmanned aerial systems" in the skies over America. Drones, which are already used to fight wildfires out West and keep an eye on the Mexican border, may soon be used to spy on U.S. citizens at home: Police in Miami and Houston have reportedly tested them for domestic use, and their counterparts in New York are also eager to deploy them.

  Rolling Stone
History affords few if any examples of a free people -- in such a powerful country, under no existential threat, undergoing no invasion, no armed insurrection, no natural disaster or epidemic or societal collapse -- giving up their own freedoms so meekly, so mutely. Most Americans like to boast of their love of freedom, their rock-ribbed independence and their fiercely-held moral principles: yet they are happy to see the government claim -- and use -- the power to murder innocent people whenever it pleases while imposing an ever-spreading police state regimen on their lives and liberties. Sheep doped with Rohypnol would put up a stronger fight than these doughty patriots.

Hasting's [Rolling Stone] story should be read in full. In its straightforward marshalling of facts and refusal to simply parrot the spin of the powerful (something we used to call "journalism," kids; ask your grandparents about it, they might remember), it lays out the hideous reality of our times. I am tempted to call it an important story -- but I know that it will sink with scarcely a ripple into the abyss of our toxic self-regard. A few will read it and be horrified; the rest will stay riveted on the oh-so-exciting and oh-so-important race to see who will get to perpetuate this vile and murderous system for the next four years.

  Chris Floyd
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, April 20, 2012

North Korea!

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday that the United States was “within an inch of war almost every day” in the region around North Korea.

“We’re within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do,” Panetta said on CNN’s “The Situation Room


The defense secretary listed Iran, Syria, turmoil in the Middle East, cyberwarfare, weapons of mass destruction as threats that the United States most urgently faces. “Unfortunately these days, there is a hell of a lot that keeps me awake,” he said.

For me it's the neck and shoulders. And the need to pee.

Apparently we have not been sufficiently frightened of war with Iran.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Yet Another Blackhawk Down

A US army helicopter, with four people believed to be on board, has crashed on a night mission in southwestern Afghanistan, a US defence official says.


Two US defence officials told the Associated Press news agency that four US troops were aboard the helicopter, identified as an Army Black Hawk, and one official said initial word from the scene was that officials "don't expect" that any of the four survived.


While helicopter crashes occur with some regularity in Afghanistan, ISAF says they are rarely the result of Taliban fire.

Of course not. Begging the question: what is causing “regular” helicopter crashes? If it's not Taliban fire, shouldn't we have fixed that problem?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Taxation without Representation

Today Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker released the following statement in response to the passage of HR-8489, which prohibits state money from being used to finance abortions.  "Many Iowans, including myself, are morally opposed to abortion. It is simply wrong to force an individual to finance something that is against his or her conscience," said Chairman Spiker. "As Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘to compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.' "I applaud the Iowa House for standing up not only for life but for all Iowans who are morally opposed to their tax dollars being used for abortions."    

I look forward to Mr. Spiker's support for my proposed law prohibiting my tax dollars from going to everything to which I am morally opposed. Let's start with crazy-ass Steve King's salary and go from there.  And the Jefferson quote is ripped competely out of context, torn into tiny bits, and apparently tossed up into the air in front of an electric fan. It comes from the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom — and the exact quote refers to "opinions" and not "ideas" — and it's about not using public money to promote religion. To wit:

That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry. 

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and assume that Mr. Spiker is not altogether a supporter of that last bit.

If he is, then I'm going to assume he's outraged by the new law passed in Arizona — State Motto: If It's Crazy, We Got There First! — whereby they'll be teaching the Bible on the public's dime in the public schools:

It also creates an exemption for the Bible from a law that says "all books, publications, papers and audiovisual materials of a sectarian, partisan or denominational character" are prohibited from public schools and their libraries.

Darn, and I was dying to see what happened when they got to the unit on the Koran. Mr. Jefferson just threw a glass of Madeira at the wall in the Beyond.

  Charles Pierce

"The Danish Incident"

In case you missed it, an Israeli soldier smacked a Danish man with the butt of his rifle, an action which was captured on YouTube and caused an international sensation. That Danish man speaks about it thusly:
He said the international community had a duty to intervene when wrong was being done. "The colour of my skin and my nationality gives me great privileges. We have to use that to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians."


"The global media wouldn't care at all if a Palestinian had been hit in the face with a rifle."


"It has been framed in the media as the 'Danish incident', as though this is not how the IDF normally act," he said [...]. "But what happened to me is nothing compared to the systematic violence carried out on Palestinians. This is not a single incident, it's what we see every day. But it's very difficult to move the focus from me to the issues of the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank."


"I've seen people whose homes have been demolished in the middle of the night by dozens of soldiers, people who are left with nothing. I've seen Bedouin villages without running water or electricity next to Israeli settlements with total control over water resources. I've seen people denied their basic human rights and any hope for the future."


[The Israeli soldier – "wearing a type of kippah associated with the national-religious settler movement" - ] said he did not "accept this as a moral failure in any way [but] it could have been a professional mistake to use a weapon in front of the cameras".

  UK Guardian
How right he is. He's been sidelined from active duty for two years.

You've Been Sneetered

When Barack Obama took office, he was the civil liberties communities’ great hope. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, pledged to shutter the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and run a transparent and open government. But he has become a civil libertarian’s nightmare: a supposedly liberal president who instead has expanded and fortified many of the Bush administration’s worst policies, lending bipartisan support for a more intrusive and authoritarian federal government.


Foremost is he can (and has) order the killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are deemed terrorists. Like Bush, he has asked the Justice Department to draft secret memos authorizing his actions without going before a federal court or disclosing them. Obama has continued indefinite detentions at Gitmo, but also brought the policy ashore by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which authorizes the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of assisting terrorists, even citizens.


Meanwhile, more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, Washington’s wartime posture has trickled down into many areas of domestic activity—even as some foreign policy experts say the world is a much safer place than it was 20 years ago, as measured by the growth in free-market economies and democratic governments. Domestic law enforcement has been militarized—as most visibly seen by the tactics used against the Occupy protests and also against suspected illegal immigrants, who are treated with brute force and have limited access to judicial review before being deported.


The National Security Agency is now building its largest data processing center ever, which’s James Bamforth reports will go beyond the public Internet to grab data but also reach password-protected networks. The federal government continues to require that computer makers and big Web sites provide access for domestic surveillance purposes. More crucially, the NSA is increasingly relying on private firms to mine data, because, unlike the government, it does not need a search warrant.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Still Dropping

Yum! Brands — the owner of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut — has ended its membership with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council following a campaign launched by liberal and progressive groups.


Just Another Isolated Event

Further to More Pictures:
The soldiers allegedly involved in the incident served in a unit plagued by leadership problems, according to media reports.

The commander of the brigade was cited for allowing a poor command climate, and a battalion leader and senior enlisted officer were relieved of their posts after showing racist and sexist slides in PowerPoint briefings, the Army Times reported.


Senior US officials insisted the incident did not signal any wider discipline problem, and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the photos did not represent the values of the alliance’s mission.

“These events took place apparently a couple of years ago and I consider them an isolated event,” he said.

  Raw Story
Not at all like the Abu Ghraib photos or the soldiers urinating on corpses photos, or the many, many incidents of soldiers abusing Afghan citizens while they're still alive or murdering them in night raids and regular patrols. Isolated event. A couple of years old.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the photos were “reprehensible” but also said President Barack Obama’s administration was “very disappointed” that the paper had published them.
Yes, I bet he is.


The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a law on the books since 1991 precludes organizations, both political and corporate, from [being] sued for torture or murder outside of the U.S.

In a unanimous ruling on Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority (PDF), Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the careful text of the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, the way it is written “convinces us that Congress did not extend liability to organizations, sovereign or not.”


The law does not specifically define “individual,” but it uses the word 13 times — a tripping [sic] point that led Justices to cite legal terminology in their ruling.

“We decline to read ‘individual’ so unnaturally,” Sotomayor wrote. “The ordinary meaning of the word, fortified by its statutory context, persuades us that the Act authorizes suit against natural persons alone.”

  Raw Story
Not to mention, a decision in favor would have left the US government in line for a lot of liability.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Killing the Gulf - Part Whatever

"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.


Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

More Pictures

Graphic photos [taken in 2010] published in an American newspaper show US soldiers posing with the mangled bodies of suspected Afghan suicide bombers.

Senior US and NATO officials moved quickly to condemn the pictures even before they were published on Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times, which received the photos from another soldier.

At a meeting of NATO allies in Brussels, Belgium, Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, apologised for the photographs.


Panetta said: "My apology is on behalf of the department of defence and the US government ... Again, that behaviour is unacceptable."

He also said he regretted the decision of the Los Angeles Times to publish some of the photos, which he said might trigger retaliatory violence against foreign soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.


I think we are way beyond that. Our still being there is triggering retaliatory violence.
Such incidents have complicated US efforts to negotiate a strategic partnership agreement to define its presence once most foreign combat troops pull out by the end of 2014.


Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, condemned the behaviour depicted by the images, saying they "don't in any way represent the principles and values that are the basis for our mission in Afghanistan".

Earlier, General John Allen, the most senior commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement that an investigation into the incident was under way.

"The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of International Security Assistance Force or the US army," he said.

  al Jazeera
But they do depict the policy of US soldiers, it seems. This isn't the first time “embarrassing” photos have been published.

Either the military has completely lost control of its soldiers – or this IS representative of US Army policy. They haven't thought to take away the soldiers' camera phones, anyway.
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington DC, said the US military "didn’t want [the images] published. They asked the LA Times to not put them into the public domain". He said the US soldier who leaked the images did so because they showed "a breakdown in authority and discipline of soldiers serving in Afghanistan".

The Los Angeles Times defended the distribution of the photos in an article accompanying the photos.

"After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan," Davan Maharaj, the newspaper's editor, said.

But Julian Assange is a wanted man.

Go figger.

"Davan Maharaj"  ??   Oh, I think we can find a cell for him.

War on Drugs: US Surrenders

The White House unveiled a new drug policy strategy that veers away from imposing heavy prison sentences for illicit drug use and focuses instead on prevention and treatment.


Officials said that the administration would move away from outmoded policies like the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders, and toward an approach that balances public health and safety.

  Raw Story
"Outmoded." How about "ineffective"?

I wouldn't expect things to change in Texas if I were you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

[H]eavy machine-gun fire [...] echoed around the Afghan parliament, target of perhaps the most ambitious Taliban attacks on Kabul in more than a decade.


As reports multiplied of gunfire and explosions proliferating across the city, residents scrambled to work out what was going on. An attack on an aviation college; rockets fired at embassy compounds; assaults on government buildings.


Around two dozen fighters had launched a "spring offensive" that the Taliban said was months in the planning. Despite heavy fortifications around Kabul's diplomatic district their rockets hit the German and Japanese embassies and the gate of a British residence, causing damage but no injuries.


The ambitious, heavily guarded targets, and the co-ordination of multiple blatant attacks in Kabul and across another swath of the country were a pointed reminder of the insurgency's reach.


The attacks were confronted almost entirely by Afghan police and soldiers, who have needed heavy support handling past attacks, but on Sunday had assistance only from a few permanent Norwegian mentors. Their efforts were hailed by Nato and the Afghan government.

"I am enormously proud of how quickly Afghan security forces responded to today's attacks in Kabul," said General John Allen, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan. He said offers of foreign help had been declined so far, despite exchanges of gunfire on Sunday night.

  UK Guardian
Mission accomplished.

The Summit That Reached New Lows

Latin America leftist leaders had been insistent that the [Summit of the Americas in the Colombian city of Cartagena] meeting would be the last regional summit under the auspices of the Organisation of American States (OAS) unless Cuba, the communist island subjected to a US trade embargo since its 1959 revolution, was invited in the future.


The foreign ministers of Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay had said their presidents would not sign any declaration unless the US and Canada removed their veto of future Cuban participation.


"All the countries here in Latin American and the Caribbean want Cuba to be present. But the United States won't accept," Morales told reporters late on Saturday. "It's like a dictatorship."

Washington, backed by Ottawa, rebuffed widespread demands to include in the meeting's final declaration language specifying that Cuba be present in future summits.

They also refused to back Buenos Aires' claim to the Falklands, prompting Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to storm out of the summit, followed by Bolivia's Evo Morales.
Add all that to our dozen Secret Service agents who were sent home for cavorting with prostitutes at the hotel where Obama was stayig, we may be well on our way to being univited from the next meeting ourselves.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tell That to the Israelis

In the words of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister: "They are the leaders of Iran who called for a new Holocaust and who vowed to wipe Israel off the map."

Al Jazeera's Teymoor Nabili talks to Dan Meridor, Israel's minister of intelligence and atomic energy and deputy prime minister, about this and questions him over Israeli politicians' claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said Iran would 'wipe Israel out'.

"They [Iranian leaders] all come basically ideologically, religiously with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive," Meridor says. "They didn't say 'we'll wipe it out', you are right, but 'it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumour, it should be removed'. They repeatedly said 'Israel is not legitimate, it should not exist'."

  al Jazeera

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inner Space

Official Misconduct

US secret service agents sent to provide security for Barack Obama at a summit in Colombia have been relieved of their duties and sent home after allegations of personal misconduct.

A secret service spokesman would neither confirm nor deny an anonymous claim to the Associated Press that the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, where the Summit of the Americas meeting is being held.

A US official said 12 agents had been relieved of duty.

  UK Guardian

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Should Read This

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Traveling with U.S. troops gives insights into the recent massacre.

Torture: The British Would Like to Investigate

Too bad.
The US is preventing MPs from seeing evidence of British involvement in the CIA's practice of secretly sending terror suspects to prisons where they faced torture.

A federal judge in Washington has used a particular section of the US Freedom of Information Act to block a request from the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition chaired by the senior Conservative backbencher Andrew Tyrie.

The judge, Ricardo Urbina, ruled that the information must be withheld on the grounds that the parliamentary body was part of a "foreign government entity". Tony Lloyd, a deputy chair of the committee and Labour MP for Manchester Central, described the ruling as "odd". He said it seemed as though the US was looking for an excuse to withhold the information.

  UK Guardian
You think?

Iran: What Are We Waiting For?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It Must Be Campaign Season

During speech in Florida on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that “trickle down” economics never worked and called for Congress to pass the so-called “Buffett Rule.”

“This is not about a few people doing well, we want people to do well, that’s great,” Obama said. “But it is about giving everybody the chance to do well. That’s the essence of America. That’s what the American dream is about… In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few. Prosperity has always come from the bottom up, from a strong and growing middle-class.”

  Raw Story
And all the Hopeful people are going to buy his lovely rhetoric this time, too. We're the classical political equivalent of abused wives.

There Goes Another One

McDonalds said Tuesday that it would not renew its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, making it the fifth major sponsor to drop its support this month.

  Raw Story
OK, these corporations will use other ways to screw democracy, we know that, but it's nice to see a covert anti-democractic, pro-corporate-governance operation being dismantled.