Friday, August 29, 2014

Grocery Basket to Hell

Source: Billmon


The terror threat to the UK has been raised from substantial to severe, Theresa May, the home secretary, has announced.

This means that a terrorist attack is "highly likely", although May stressed that there is no information to suggest an attack is imminent.

So, what are you saying?

Good Luck Modoc

Two counties in northern California have submitted a petition for the right to form a 51st State of America, which they want to name Jefferson. They claim a lack of representation and that their grievances aren’t heard at state level.

The largely rural counties of Modoc and Siskiyou signed the petition. They are located on the border with Oregon and have a combined population of just over 50,000. The request was made to the secretaries of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento, the state capital of California.

You might have better luck petitioning to become part of Oregon.

Really, though, culturally - and pretty much any other way - speaking, California should be three states, North, Central and South.

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

Well, Damn

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right. America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”


When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

Meanwhile, Our Good Friends the Saudis Are on a Spree

According to Amnesty, there has been a surge in executions in Saudi Arabia since the end of Ramadan on July 28, with 22 executions taking place between August 4 and August 22, compared to 17 executions between January and July this year.

Amnesty International said called on the Kingdom to halt all executions after four members of the same family were beheaded for “receiving drugs”.

Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said the execution of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of confessions extracted through torture had become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia.

“The use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe” Mr Boumedouha said.


We Got Our PR and Our Photo Ops

The US has said little about Mount Sinjar since 14 August, when Obama declared the siege broken, but recent satellite imagery and interviews with Yazidis still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold.

Well I am sorry, but we went in there and rescued all those people by helicopter – I know because we had some very moving news footage, so we know how necessary it is to get back into the fray. (I wonder how much helicopter space newsmen, cameramen and their equipment took up.)  Mission accomplished for the US.
There has not been a US airdrop of food, water or medicine since 13 August, after a reconnaissance team of US special operations forces that had briefly been on the mountain reported that conditions were not as dire as Washington initially thought.


For the US and its allies, Mount Sinjar is a success story: a humanitarian disaster alleviated by US air power. But hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis – mostly sick and old – remain atop the mountain, with no relief on its way.


While thousands have fled down the mountain’s north face, making a dangerous trek into Iraqi Kurdistan through Syria, those on the southern side remain in crisis.


Although Barack Obama said US warplanes and Kurdish forces “broke the siege of Mount Sinjar,” Isis fighters remain, confronted by a small and desperate Yazidi force.

“We need weapons now more than food or water,” Salim Hassan, a Yazidi fighter on Mount Sinjar, told the Guardian.
Well I am sorry, but we have to help Assad fight terrorists in Syria now.
US Central Command told the Guardian on 13 August that it had “no indications of ineffective airdrops.” But both Salim and Abu Sulaiman said that they were unable to access food or water dropped by US military cargo planes.


It is unclear if the US will do anything more to aid the residual population of Mount Sinjar, which played a central role in Obama’s rationale for returning the US to war in Iraq.
Oh, I think they’ve served their purpose.  Look forward.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to Tell a Traitor from a Patriot

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

Losing Dominion

The widely-condemned 2003 invasion of Iraq set a precedent for ignoring international law, said Chas Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and past president of the Middle East Policy Council. That has opened the door for regional powers to follow suit, regardless of American preferences. Washington’s foremost regional ally, Israel, has frequently resorted to military strikes in Gaza over the past decade, and has long warned that it reserves the right to unilaterally decide whether to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“Gulf states and Egypt have seen many instances of Israel doing whatever it wants without us,” Freeman said. “They’re saying, ‘if Israel can use U.S. weapons to defy the U.S. and pursue its own foreign policy objectives, why can’t they?’ ”


If nothing else, Freeman added, “what this says is that the U.S. can no longer take followership [by its regional allies] for granted.”


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

US Military Officials a Bit Shocked by Israeli Attack on Gaza

“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action. “That rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.” A West Point graduate who is a veteran of two wars and is the chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C., he added that even if Israeli artillery units fired guided munitions, it would have made little difference.

Even the most sophisticated munitions have a circular area of probability, Gard explained, with a certain percentage of shells landing dozens or even hundreds of feet from intended targets. [...] So, if even 10 percent of the shells fired at combatants in Shujaiya landed close to but did not hit their targets — a higher than average rate of accuracy — that would have meant at least 700 lethal shells landing among the civilian population of Shujaiya during the night of July 20 into June 21.


Artillery pieces used during the operation included a mix of Soltam M71 guns and U.S.-manufactured Paladin M109s (a 155-mm howitzer), each of which can fire three shells per minute. “The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible,” said [a] senior U.S. military officer. “It’s not mowing the lawn,” he added, referring to a popular IDF term for periodic military operations against Hamas in Gaza. “It’s removing the topsoil.”


Senior U.S. officers who are familiar with the battle and Israeli artillery operations, which are modeled on U.S. doctrine, assessed that, given that rate of artillery fire into Shujaiya, IDF commanders were not precisely targeting Palestinian military formations as much as laying down an indiscriminate barrage aimed at cratering the neighborhood. [...] Initially, said the senior Pentagon officer, Israel’s artillery used “suppressing fire to protect their forward units but then poured in everything they had, in a kind of walking barrage. Suppressing fire is perfectly defensible. A walking barrage isn’t.”

So why are we still supporting Israel?

Time for Another Cleansing Flood

Merely the news headlines on Democracy Now!'s August 27 show are enough to make you wonder whether mankind should be permitted to continue.  You may not want to watch.

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

And Furthermore...

It's not bad enough police departments are using military weapons, they're LOSING them.
According to the media outlet Fusion, its independent investigation into the Pentagon’s “1033 program,” which equips state and local police departments across the US with excess military equipment, turned up an alarming trend: Not only did many law enforcement agencies fail to comply with the program’s guidelines, they routinely lost dangerous weaponry.

Already, the investigation has found that police departments in Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, and others have lost or cannot account for various types of weapons. This list includes M14 and M16 assault rifles, .45-caliber pistols, shotguns, and even vehicles.

So far, 184 state and local departments have reportedly been suspended in a program that involves the participation of more than 8,000 agencies. Since 1990, the 1033 program has administered more than $4.3 billion worth of equipment and weapons.


“[The program] is obviously very sloppy, and it's another reason that Congress needs to revisit this promptly," Lynch added. "We don't know where these weapons are going, whether they are really lost, or whether there is corruption involved."


Where's the Harm?

Bill Kristol [neoconservative political analyst and commentator] summed up the essence of his foreign policy platform in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Tuesday.


"Someone said, 'we can't just bomb,'" he said, speaking about an ABC panel he was on. "You know, why don't we just [bomb?] We know where ISIS is. What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there. We could kill a lot of very bad guys!"


An Inconvenient Idea

Vulnerable Democrats fighting for their political lives are frustrated that [Senator Tim] Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, is pressing for a debate on giving President Obama new war powers [to approve military strikes in Iraq and Syria]at a time when the commander-in-chief has become a political liability for them.

“Asking anybody to take that vote within two months of an election is just stupid. Why would you put people in that position?” said a Senate Democratic aide.

Really. Just stupid to be thinking about dealing with a current issue when there are elections on the horizon.
A vote to authorize Obama to strike at Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria beyond the 60-day window set out by the War Powers Resolution would be a de facto referendum on the president, according to another aide.

“I think it’s dumb,” said the second Democratic aide. “The less the president is in the news with anything right now, the better.”
We can deal with crises later. We’re talking elections here.
Kaine believes granting the president the power to wage war is the most solemn responsibility Congress has. It certainly should not be casually handed off to the executive branch, he asserts.

He also argues that it is important to achieve public consensus behind military action so that American troops know they have the support of their country.


Kaine pressed his case on Monday, arguing that Obama may not have constitutional authority to attack the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria because it is uncertain whether the group poses an imminent threat to the United States.

“I am calling for the mission and objectives for this current significant military action against ISIL to be made clear to Congress, the American people, and our men and women in uniform. And Congress should vote up or down on it,” he said in a statement.

Seriously, dude. Elections! Where do you think you are?
[A Democratic aide] said the political danger posed to vulnerable Democrats is slight because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the head of messaging and floor strategy, are unlikely to schedule a tough political vote in September.
They’ve got it covered. No worries.

Joint Statement on Libya

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States strongly condemn the escalation of fighting and violence in and around Tripoli, Benghazi, and across Libya, especially against residential areas, public facilities, and critical infrastructure, by both land attacks and air strikes.


We call on Libya’s interim government and the elected House of Representatives to adopt inclusive policies that benefit all Libyans and to build a government that meets the Libyan peoples’ needs for security, reconciliation, and prosperity. We encourage the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to immediately pursue the drafting of a document that enshrines and protects the rights of all Libyans. Further, we encourage the international community to support Libya's elected institutions.

We believe outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.

  State Dept via Glenn Greenwald
Because France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States are neither outside or interfering, I suppose.

Did they strongly condemn the same thing in Gaza and I just missed it?

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

Black in Beverly Hills: Extremely Unfortunate

Beverly Hills police officials said Tuesday that it was "extremely unfortunate" that officers handcuffed and detained an African American film producer who was in the city to attend a pre-Emmy party.


Belk said on Facebook that he was walking to his car when he was confronted by police, handcuffed and forced to sit on the sidewalk. He said he was detained for six hours.


Belk said on Facebook that he was walking to his car when he was confronted by police, handcuffed and forced to sit on the sidewalk. He said he was detained for six hours.

  LA Times
While they did what?

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An All-American Vacation

Highway signage and Internet advertising beckons visitors to stop in, fire a machine gun and enjoy a meal at the Bullets and Burgers enterprise at the Last Stop, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas.

  Review Journal
Hey kids! Wanna shoot an uzi? Me first, Daddy!

A nine-year-old girl accidentally killed the instructor.
Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe [...] said the girl safely and successfully fired the 9 mm weapon several times when it was set in the “single-shot” mode.

He said the weapon was put into the “fully-automatic” mode before the girl fired again with the instructor standing off to her left. The weapon recoiled and drifted left as the girl squeezed off an undetermined number of rounds as she maintained possession but lost control of the Uzi as it raised up above her head.

“The guy just dropped,” McCabe said of shooting instructor Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, who suffered at least one gunshot to the head.

And speaking of guns…
First, there was the law passed earlier this year that expands Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law and allows firearms in airports, libraries, churches and nightclubs. Now, there’s Dennis Krauss.

Providing a new example of the [Georgia’s] notoriously permissive gun measures, Ian Millhiser at Think Progress explains how Krauss, an ex-cop who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 1999, regained his gun rights — despite the fact that he initially attempted to rape the woman with his gun.

Oh, it's worse than that. The woman had called the police for protection from her husband.

And it's worse than that.
Krauss was also charged with several other instances of harassment or disturbing physical violence, including beating a prisoner “so severely the man’s brain bled” and threatening to file false charges against another man in order to have sex with his wife, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But neither those allegations nor his sexual assault conviction have permanently prevented Krauss from owning firearms; he regained that right in 2013.

The Quantum Mitt

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he is not planning to run for president in 2016 but acknowledged Tuesday “circumstances can change.”

As quickly as Mitt Romney’s position. Read this wonderful essay on Mitt Romney from his last attempt: A QuantumTheory of Mitt Romney by David Javerbaum.

Under these Newtonian principles, a candidate’s position on an issue tends to stay at rest until an outside force — the Tea Party, say, or a six-figure credit line at Tiffany — compels him to alter his stance, at a speed commensurate with the size of the force (usually large) and in inverse proportion to the depth of his beliefs (invariably negligible).


[T]he “Mitt Romney” who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children’s toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.

But the Romney candidacy represents literally a quantum leap forward.

They're Bringing Chinese to the Pentagon?

Aren't we afraid they'll steal some secrets?
U.S. and Chinese military officials will hold talks on rules of behavior at the Pentagon on Wednesday and Thursday, a U.S. official said, days after the United States denounced a "dangerous" Chinese jet intercept of a U.S. Navy patrol plane.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how I missed that.

How rich that the U.S. is going to talk to anyone on rules of behavior.
Last Tuesday, a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers around the U.S. Navy's P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and reconnaissance plane, crossing over and under it in international airspace over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said.

At one point, the jet flew wingtip-to-wingtip about 10 yards (9 meters) from the Poseidon, then performed a barrel roll over the top of it.
Show offs.
While this week's discussions at the Pentagon were planned long before the recent incidents, they touch on issues at the core of the U.S. concerns about Chinese military behavior: that a Chinese provocation could spiral into a broader crisis sparked by a military miscalculation in the disputed territory.
Yeah. We surely aren’t going to let a humiliation like that go unanswered are we?
China has denied wrongdoing in the latest incident and blamed the United States, citing "large-scale and highly frequent close-in reconnaisssance."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded by saying the United States operated "in a transparent manner."
Oh, yes, Jen. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that the United States operates in a transparent manner.

Feeding the Machine

I guess it doesn't matter WHO we're bombing, as long as we're bombing SOMEbody.
It was not even a year ago when we were bombarded with messaging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a Supreme Evil and Grave Threat, and that military action against his regime was both a moral and strategic imperative. The standard cast of “liberal interventionists” – Tony Blair, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Nicholas Kristof and Samantha Power - issued stirring sermons on the duties of war against Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry actually compared Assad to (guess who?) Hitler, instructing the nation that “this is our Munich moment.” Striking Assad, he argued, “is a matter of national security. It’s a matter of the credibility of the United States of America. It’s a matter of upholding the interests of our allies and friends in the region.”

U.S. military action against the Assad regime was thwarted only by overwhelming American public opinion which opposed it and by a resounding rejection by the UK Parliament of Prime Minister David Cameron’s desire to assume the usual subservient British role in support of American wars.

Now the Obama administration and American political class is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the failed “Bomb Assad!” campaign by starting a new campaign to bomb those fighting against Assad – the very same side the U.S. has been arming over the last two years.


Something very similar happened in Libya: the U.S. spent a decade insisting that a Global War on Terror – complete with full-scale dismantling of basic liberties and political values – was necessary to fight against the Unique Threat of Al Qaeda and “Jihadists”, only to then fight on the same side as them, and arming and empowering them.


It seems pretty clear at this point that U.S. military action in the Middle East is the end in itself, and the particular form it takes – even including the side for which the U.S. fights – is an ancillary consideration. That’s how the U.S., in less than a year, can get away with depicting involvement in the war in Syria – on opposite sides – as a national imperative.


The U.S. “is sharing intelligence about jihadist deployments with Damascus through Iraqi and Russian channels,” the Agence France-Presse reports today, citing one source as saying: ”The cooperation has already begun.”

  First Look
Our heads are spinning. Let us hope they will be facing forward when they stop.

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


click here:

People familiar with the agreement said it would ease but not lift Israeli restrictions on travel and trade, largely reviving the terms of a 2012 cease-fire agreement that ended an eight-day air war. It also will allow construction materials and humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in large quantities for a major rebuilding effort, with a monitoring mechanism to ensure that concrete and cement would go only to civilian purposes.


Other issues — including Hamas’s demand for a Gaza seaport and airport, Israel’s demand for Gaza’s demilitarization, and the return of Israeli soldiers’ remains believed to be in Hamas’s hands — were to be addressed after a month if the truce holds, people familiar with the agreement said.

Yes, I can understand no one feels overly optimistic.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hope for Julian Assange?

Known within political circles as the “Assange Act”, an amendment was made in early 2014 to the Extradition Act 2003 in the British parliament. Resulting from discontent and discomfort over the legal limbo Julian has been in for the past four years – even two years before receiving asylum from Ecuador, Assange had been on house arrest in England, pending potential extradition to Sweden – several British MPs began debating a substantive change to the law that would impede a future Assange situation from happening to someone else.

The amendment is included in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (not the most socially-friendly name), in Chapter 12, Part 12. It specifically states that “Extradition is barred if no prosecution decision has been made in the requesting territory”, as in Assange’s situation. If the country requesting extradition has not yet charged or decided to try the individual being requested, than the United Kingdom will not extradite. This is exactly the case of Julian Assange. The Swedish prosecution has not decided to try him yet or even formally charge him, and the extradition request is merely based on the desire to “question” him about certain allegations he may or may not be involved in.

Julian’s legal team will need to challenge this law in order for it to be applied to his case, since at present it does not appear to be retroactive. [...]Ecuador’s Foreign Minister made reference to the amended law as a potential opening for dialogue with the UK government in the case. Ecuador has also offered to allow Swedish authorities question Assange inside the Embassy, or via videoconference, all to no avail.

  CounterPunch: Eva Golinger
Sounds like a case of punishment, rather than an actual desire to question the man.
Foreign Minister Patiño has stated previously that Ecuador could bring the case before the International Court of Justice in the Hague, or the United Nations. The affronts to Ecuador’s sovereignty, the failure to recognize the asylum granted to Julian Assange and the refusal to provide him with safe passage to Ecuadorian territory are all violations of international law. Julian’s human rights are also affected. [...] Were he to experience a medical emergency and need hospital attention, the British government has already made clear it would arrest him.

Ferguson - Darren Wilson

NSA Search Engine for Collected Data

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

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

Massive Strikes on Gaza Today

And it just goes on and on.

According to the Israel Democracy Institute, just six per cent of the Jewish population believes that the Israeli Army has used excessive force. Of those who expressed an opinion, almost half believe that the force has not been severe enough.

  New Yorker

Looking for SWAT Reports in Massachusetts?

Good luck.
As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments.


According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that [they are incorporated and that] the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests. Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

AIPAC - Friends of Israel

On July 23rd, officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee—the powerful lobbying group known as AIPAC—gathered in a conference room at the Capitol for a closed meeting with a dozen Democratic senators [to get approval for an immediate payment of $225 million for Israel’s defense program].


At one point, Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, asked about conservative trends in Israel, a participant recalled. “He said that he supports Israel, but he’s concerned that Israel is headed toward a one-state solution—and that would be so damaging and dangerous for everyone involved.”

Charles Schumer, the senior Democrat from New York, interrupted. Turning to address the room, he said, “It troubles me when I hear people equate Israel and Hamas. That’s wrong, that’s terrible!” Kaine protested, “That’s not what I meant!” [Robert Cohen, the president of AIPAC] simply repeated that Hamas was to blame for everything that was happening.

  New Yorker
The New Yorker reports that two attempts to package the money with other bills (immigration and wildfires), and one on the Iron Dome money alone, failed to take hold, blocked by “budget hawks.” And the next day, Congress went to recess. Almost.
The next morning, with the halls of the Senate all but empty, an unusual session was convened so that McConnell and Reid could try again to pass the bill; Tim Kaine was also there, along with the Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham. “There were five senators present and literally no one else!” the staffer said. “They reintroduced it and passed it. “


“Not only are we going to give you more missiles—we’re going to be a better friend,” Graham said [in a press conference]. “We’re going to fight for you in the international court of public opinion. We’re going to fight for you in the United Nations.”
While AIPAC is devoted to the Israeli agenda, The New Yorker quotes a Pew Center survey finding that only 38% of American Jewish citizens believe Israel is truly interested in peace and only 25% of Americans under the age of 30 think Israel is justified in its actions against Gaza. Can we wait for these people to get to the helm in this country for things to improve? Will they get there? And, if they do, assuming they are dependent upon dollar contributions to do so, will they still hold the same opinions?

The article continues, outlining AIPAC’s interference and influence in US foreign policy, for instance, in dealing with Iran sanctions.
AIPAC worked to mobilize its friends in Congress. Mark Kirk, a Republican senator from Illinois and a major beneficiary of AIPAC-related funding, began pressing to pass a new sanctions bill. “He was saying, ‘We’re in negotiations with a wolf in sheep’s clothing!’ ” a former Senate aide recalled. The bill, co-sponsored by Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was drafted with considerable input from AIPAC. This was the first time in decades that the lobby had challenged the sitting U.S. President so overtly.

The Obama Administration was furious. “It’s one thing to disagree on some aspect of the peace process, on things that are tough for Israel to do,” the senior Administration official told me. “But this is American foreign policy that they were seeking to essentially derail. There was no other logic to it than ending the negotiations, and the gravity of that was shocking.”
It also describes the history of AIPAC.
[In the 1980s, the AIPAC] lobby created four hundred and thirty-five “congressional caucuses,” groups of activists who would meet with their member of Congress to talk about the pro-Israel agenda.


Despite its name, AIPAC is not a political-action committee, and therefore cannot contribute to campaigns. But in the eighties, as campaign-finance laws changed and PACs proliferated, AIPAC helped form pro-Israel PACs. By the end of the decade, there were dozens.


AIPAC representatives tried to match each member of Congress with a contact who shared the congressman’s interests. If a member of Congress rode a Harley-Davidson, AIPAC found a contact who did, too. The goal was to develop people who could get a member of Congress on the phone at a moment’s notice.


Republicans knew that they would never get more than a minority of the Jewish electorate, but AIPAC members convinced them that voting the right way would lead to campaign contributions. It was a winning argument. In 1984, Mitch McConnell narrowly beat AIPAC supporters’ preferred candidate, the incumbent Democrat Walter Huddleston. Afterward, McConnell met with two AIPAC officials and said to them, “Let me be very clear. What do I need to do to make sure that the next time around I get the community support?” AIPAC members let Republicans know that, if they supported AIPAC positions, the lobby would view them as “friendly incumbents,” and would not abandon them for a Democratic challenger.


[Tom Dine, former AIPAC executive director*,] estimated that in the eighties and nineties contributions from AIPAC members often constituted roughly ten to fifteen per cent of a typical congressional campaign budget. AIPAC provided lavish trips to Israel for legislators and other opinion-makers.


“The difficult reality is this: in order to get elected to Congress, if you’re not independently wealthy, you have to raise a lot of money. And you learn pretty quickly that, if AIPAC is on your side, you can do that.”


“When key votes are cast, the question on the House floor, troublingly, is often not ‘What is the right thing to do for the United States of America?’ but ‘How is AIPAC going to score this?’ ”


Nevertheless, the lobby did not endorse or rank candidates. “We made the decision to be one step removed,” Dine said. “Orrin Hatch once said, ‘Dine, your genius is to play an invisible bass drum, and the Jews hear it when you play it.’ ”
Several instances are recorded where Tom Dine and AIPAC got a politician replaced, including Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percey, whom AIPAC decided was not favorable to Israel.
In the next election, Paul Simon, a liberal Democrat, won Percy’s seat. Dine said at the time, “Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And American politicians—those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire—got the message.”


In 1995, AIPAC encouraged Newt Gingrich, the new Speaker of the House, to support bipartisan legislation to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [a move certain to infuriate Arabs]. [...]In October, the bill passed in Congress, by an overwhelming majority. President Bill Clinton invoked a national-security waiver to prevent its enactment, and so has every President since.


“They always want to punish the Arabs,” [former Justice Minister of Israel, Yossi] Beilin concluded. “They are a very rightist organization, which doesn’t represent the majority of Jews in America, who are so Democratic and liberal. They want to protect Israel from itself—especially when moderate people are Israel’s leaders.”
Even the President of the United States apparently won’t cross AIPAC. When two of its members were caught giving state secrets to Israel, they were merely dismissed from AIPAC. No charges were brought.  And "Bibi" Netanyahu has more than once shown his ability to and propensity to brag about his superior position to Barack Obama.
In a meeting with young Likud supporters last spring, which one of them transcribed online, Netanyahu boasted of defying Obama’s pressure to halt settlements; 2013 was a record year for settlement construction in the West Bank.


After Obama endorsed the 1967 [Israel-Palestine] borders, AIPAC members called Congress to express outrage. “They wanted the President to feel the heat from Israel’s friends on the Hill,” a former Israeli official recalled. “They were saying to the Administration, ‘You must rephrase, you must correct!’ ” When Obama appeared at an AIPAC policy conference three days later, he was conciliatory: “The parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. [...] AIPAC had e-mailed videos to attendees, urging them not to boo the President; they complied, offering occasional wan applause. The next day, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress and received twenty-nine standing ovations.

There’s lots more interesting information on AIPAC in the New Yorker article. Read it.

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

*For more on Tom Dine:
But step back to 1982, when Dine, figuratively speaking, picked up veteran Illinois Representative Paul Findley by the lapels and slammed him against the wall of electoral defeat--to make an example for any other members of Congress who might want to take even a half-step away from AIPAC's rigidly pro-Israel orthodoxy. (Four years earlier, Findley had met twice with PLO leader Yasir Arafat, eliciting from him a statement that offered guarded support for a two-state solution and, according to Findley, "de facto recognition" of Israel.) Dine was also the man who, as he told me recently, spent many Saturday mornings sitting with Secretary of State George Shultz, conferring closely--no aides present--on key aspects of US Middle East policy, especially arms sales.


Dine left AIPAC in 1993 and has moved noticeably toward the peace camp since then. Recently he worked with the broadly dovish Israel Policy Forum (IPF), which advocates a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. And for the past year, Dine has been heading a small group dedicated to improving US-Syrian relations.

  The Nation

Maybe We Could Try It

The French government has resigned despite being formed just 4 months ago. They quit after ministers slammed President Francois Hollande's plans for taxation and cuts, while also being critical of Germany’s austerity program.

The statement published on Monday said the new office would be formed on Tuesday and would be in the "direction he (the president) has defined for our country."


Do What You Can

[Aug 25] Hacker collective Anonymous has taken down key Israeli government websites in a “retaliatory” attack against Israel and in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Israel Defense Forces, Bank of Israel, and the Israeli PM’s Office were among the targets.

Others hit by the attack included Israeli’s ministry of Finance, the Embassy of Israel to the United States, the Central Bureau of Statistics and Israeli Immigration.


The latest attack reportedly comes in retaliation for shutting down various Anonymous social media accounts, which focused on the atrocities of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.

[July 31] Hacker group Anonymous has reportedly taken down the website of the Israeli secret service Mossad in protest of Israel’s military incursion in Gaza. The ‘hacktivists’ have already targeted a number of organizations in their mission to stop the “genocide.”


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Good God, More Ferguson Police Horror Stories

"The lawsuit alleges that Justin Cosma and Richard Carter, two deputies with the Jefferson County, Missouri sheriff's department in 2010, assaulted my client during an encounter on my client's driveway while his mother was inside their house. My client was 12 years old at the time, shirtless and was not suspected of any criminal behavior. He was checking the mail. The deputies approached my client and the encounter quickly escalated. My client was restrained, choked, thrown to the ground and hogtied by the two deputies. He suffered scrapes and choke marks to his neck. No charges were ever brought against my client. It is my understanding that Justin Cosma is currently an officer with the City of Ferguson," Lozano wrote.

Cosma was also one of the officers who detained journalists from HuffPost and The Washington Post earlier this month in a local McDonald's. He declined to give his name or badge number at the time, and has subsequently refused to identify himself to the press. A reader tip allowed HuffPost to match his name and face after the altercation.


Cosma isn't the only officer whose past has received new attention in the wake of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson. Eddie Boyd III, an officer who faced allegations of hitting children while serving under the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, quietly resigned and sought employment with the Ferguson Police Department. Boyd faced three complaints of physical abuse against children between 2004 and 2006, two of which were dropped. Internal affairs sustained the third complaint against Boyd, saying there was sufficient evidence to support the allegation that he struck a 12-year-old girl in the head with a pistol, and recommended Boyd be fired. The St. Louis police chose to demote him.

Less than a year later, a teenage boy alleged that Boyd hit him in the nose with a gun, and the officer quietly resigned from his role at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. His license was not revoked in the ensuing lawsuit. Boyd was hired by the Ferguson Police Department sometime between July 2009 and December 2010.

I think it's going to take a lot more of this in Ferguson:

Syria Frees US Journalist

An American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago has been freed in Syria following Qatari mediation and handed over to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

Peter Theo Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the village of al-Rafid, Quneitra, on Sunday.

"Joe, this Foley killing and reports of our failure to rescue journalists is busting my balls. Get out there and find me one we can get released. We need a mark in the plus column, and we need it now."

American Blues in the 21st Century

Salon's Thomas Frank talks to Cornell West.

Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary 
[H]ow do you feel things have worked out since [the last time we were together], both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.


The personal confrontation you had with him is kind of famous. He got angry at you because you were saying he wasn’t progressive enough.

I just looked at him like “C’mon, man. Let the facts speak for themselves. I’m not into this rhetorical exchange.”

Is there anybody who thinks he’s progressive enough today?

Nobody I know.


What I hear is that, “He pimped us.” I heard that a zillion times. “He pimped us, brother West.” That’s another way of saying “we got played.”


There’s one law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street.

That’s exactly right. Even with [Attorney General] Eric Holder. Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. [...] This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all. The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he’s got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men. These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers—and poverty is not even an afterthought for them.


[Obama's] success has been predicated on finding that middle ground. “We’re not black. We’re not white. We’re not rich. We’re not poor. There’s no classes in America. We are all Americans. We’re the American family.” He invoked the American family last week. It’s a lie, brother. You’ve got to be able to tell the truth to the American people. We’re not a family. We’re a people. We’re a nation. And a nation always has divisions. You have to be able to speak to those divisions in such a way that [...] you’re able to somehow pull out the best of who we are, given the divisions.


When they rolled out the militarized police [in Ferguson, Missouri], it frightened people. Something is going on here. It’s not breaking down the way it usually does. People are reacting to this in a different way.

That’s true. It’s a great moment, but let me tell you this though. Because what happens is you got Eric Holder going in trying to create the calm. But you also got Al Sharpton. And when you say the name Al Sharpton, the word integrity does not come to mind. So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama. [...] He meets with the president regularly. On his show on MSNBC. [...] Sharpton said explicitly, I will never say a critical word about the president under any condition. That’s why he can’t stand what I’m saying. He can’t stand what I do because, for him, it’s an act of racial traitorship to be critical of the president. [...] He poses, he postures like he’s so radical. But he is a cheerleader for the Obama administration which means, he’s going to do what he can to filter that rage in neoliberal forms, rather than for truth and justice.


What comes next?

I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. [...] Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse.


[We] are an empire in decline. A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.


[I]f things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

It’d be about over then, brother.


It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different.


Did We Buy the Rights?

Or just threaten to withhold support?
The International Monetary Fund required Ukraine’s government to reform its economy, reduce government debt, and open up its market to foreign investment.

Ukraine’s economy has been in the gutter for the past year and has been kept afloat by the IMF and aid money from the E.U. and U.S.


According to Russia’s state run RIA Novosti anyway, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law Thursday that allows the government to hand over 49% of the country’s gas transport system to investors from the European Union and the United States. That is quite different from actually doing it, but it opens the door to the West and opens the wound that the Russia-Ukraine political imbroglio has caused since February, when pro-Russia president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office by extra legal means.

The law allows foreign operators the right to “the management and/or concession or lease” of the gas pipelines and underground storage facilities, now dominated by Russia. The law also allows Ukraine’s government to establish a company to operate underground storage facilities, in which American and European investors can own up to 49%.

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

You Need a Score Card

Counter Current News

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

Human Shields or Terror Victims?

The Israeli military said the apartment building contained an operational command and control center of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates the Palestinian coastal territory, and that operatives were using the building as a base for their activities. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, could not immediately specify which floor, or floors, of the building were the targets in the attack, or whether the intention had been to destroy the whole tower.

Really? They’re going to carry out an airstrike and only bomb certain floors?
Colonel Lerner, the military spokesman, added, “Hamas will not be free to continue its indiscriminate aggression against Israel from the comfort of high-rise buildings, farmhouses or greenhouses.”


Israel has fired missiles to destroy apartments within a building, but this was the first time since the start of its military offensive on July 8 that a strike had completely brought down so large a building.


Hesham Saqallah, a father of four who lived on the first floor, said a resident received a warning call about 6 p.m. and started shouting in the stairwell to alert his neighbors to leave. About 20 or 30 minutes later, he said, a missile fired from a drone hit the roof, and about 20 minutes after that, a warplane struck.


The warnings advised residents to prevent their property from being used by militants, and to stay away from militant sites, according to the text of one of the leaflets, which the military also distributed to reporters. It ended with a clear message: “Beware.”
Begone, more like.
Gaza militants launched more than 100 rockets and mortar rounds against Israel during the day. At least two rockets that were fired after the building collapse reached the Tel Aviv area. One was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile defense system, and another apparently landed in open ground. On Saturday night, at least one rocket fired from southern Lebanon struck the Upper Galilee region in northern Israel, according to the police, causing damage to a house and wounding a child. Rockets from Lebanon have landed across the border in Israel at least twice before during the current Gaza conflict, in what may be a show of solidarity by Palestinian groups in Lebanon.
The warnings play a central role in Israel’s claim that, contrary to Palestinian armed groups, namely Hamas; it obeys the strictures of international law. ‘While the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas deliberately puts civilians in the line of fire, the IDF maintains on its official blog. The First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, the relevant sections of which have the status of customary international law, in Article 57(2) c indeed prescribes that ‘effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit’.


Media commentary commends Israel for giving civilians a way out without even being obliged to do so. This is a misunderstanding of Article 57. The provision establishes an unequivocal obligation to warn before attacks that implicate the civilian population – as air strikes against a territory as densely populated as Gaza will regularly do. Granted, it is not an absolute obligation. The law recognizes that sometimes it may not be possible to warn. Crucially the provision does not say ‘warn if possible’, but ‘warn unless impossible’. [...] Warnings are not acts of charity.


The final paragraph of Article 57 provides a first strong indicator that warnings do not influence the legal obligations an attacker otherwise faces. It unequivocally states that ‘[n]o provision in this article may be construed as authorizing any attacks against the civilian population, civilians or civilian objects’. [...] Civilian residences do not become military objectives only in virtue of their inhabitants having been warned.


By the same token, warnings do not take care of the attacker’s obligation to weigh expected collateral damage against the anticipated military advantage and make sure the former is not disproportionate, ‘excessive’ in the language of Article 51(5) b.


The argument for why civilians who remain in their homes, warnings notwithstanding, do not have an unimpaired claim to protection is that they must have decided to serve as human shields to the military objective that is the target of the impending attack.


Voluntary human shields may, under certain circumstances, be considered to directly participate in hostilities and hence, for such time as they do, lose their protection from attack under Article 51(3). Yet, staying put after a warning is not sufficient evidence for the warned civilians’ qualification as voluntary human shields. [...] That children can never be considered voluntary human shields is self-evident.


All international laws asks of civilians is not to directly participate in hostilities, but that obligation cannot be considered violated by ‘not fleeing’. No hostile intent can be inferred from the decision not to leave one’s home in a war zone.


At the end of the day, any interpretation of Article 57 that imposes an additional obligation on civilians, but weakens the obligations the attacker faces is an interpretation contra legem. While by no means all rules of international law for the conduct of hostilities have an overriding humanitarian purpose, Article 57 does. [...] It does not spell out how the attacker’s obligations fall by the wayside if the presence of the civilian population interferes with a belligerent’s ability to conduct effective military operations.


The second sentence [Article 51(2)] prohibits ‘acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population’. It is deeply plausible that a warning that one’s house will be bombed, in the absence of a real possibility to get to safety, does just that: it induces terror. Of course, from the practice alone we cannot infer that terrorising the civilian population is its primary purpose. Is their consistent ineffectiveness even counter-productiveness, as alleged by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, evidence enough that protecting civilians is not the primary purpose of warnings?

  Opinio Juris
To be fair to the Israelis, I think one could argue that the purpose is NOT to terrorise the Palestinians, but to exterminate them.
While Hamas has done little to suggest concern for human life and nothing to demonstrate commitment to international law, recent statements by Israeli politicians would make it naïve to accept warnings as simply the practice of a belligerent that selflessly upholds international law against an enemy that only uses it to score points. Lawfare, ‘the use of law as a weapon of war’, is usually understood to mean imposing reputational costs on the belligerent trying to comply with law by alleging violations or making compliance difficult, a charge routinely levelled against Hamas. [...] Using warnings as a means to legitimise the disproportionate victimization of civilians is lawfare 2.0.

After the first child, nobody batted an eye; after the 50th not even a slight tremor was felt in a plane’s wing; after the 100th, they stopped counting; after the 200th, they blamed Hamas. After the 300th child they blamed the parents. After the 400th child, they invented excuses; after (the first) 478 children nobody cares.

Then came our first child and Israel went into shock.


Suddenly the death of a little boy has meaning, suddenly it is shocking. It is human, understandable and moving. It is also human that the killing of an Israeli boy, a child of ours, would arouse greater identification than the death of some other child. What is incomprehensible is the Israeli response to the killing of their children.


The radio yesterday already talked about “murder.” The prime minister already called the killing “terror,” while hundreds of Gaza’s children in their new graves are not victims of murder or terror. Israel had to kill them. And after all, who are Fadi and Ali and Islaam and Razek, Mahmoud, Ahmed and Hamoudi – in the face of our one and only Daniel.


Of the hundreds of men killed one could say that they were “involved”; of the hundreds of women that they were “human shields.” As for a small number of children, one could claim that the most moral army in the world did not intend it. But what shall we say about almost 500 children killed? That the Israel Defense Forces did not intend it, 478 times? That Hamas hid behind all of them? That this legitimized killing them?


Something here has to rise up and scream: Enough. All the excuses and all the explanations will not help – there is no such thing as a child that is allowed to be killed and a child that is not.

  Haaretz: Gideon Levy

It's Sunday

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferguson Today

A Study of Protests and Police Response

[R]esearchers at UC Berkeley [...] studied clashes between police and activists during the Occupy movement three years ago, found that protests tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations.

Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., are a good example, the study's lead researcher said.


"Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he's carrying an AR-15," said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley's Institute for Data Science who leads the Deciding Force Project. "It just upsets the crowd."

I can’t imagine why.
But finding the appropriate balance between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough hasn't been easy.


This week's protests in Oakland, to show solidarity with Ferguson activists, have been peaceful. Officers have restricted where marches can take place but have kept their distance.

Oakland police officials declined to be interviewed for this story.


In San Francisco, officials say they try to use force sparingly.

"We don't use tear gas. We don't use rubber bullets or dowels in crowd control," said police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza. "San Francisco is a professional protest city. We have protests here all the time. Our department is well versed in facilitating First Amendment rights."


During the Occupy protests [...] police in some cities deployed officers in small clusters rather than in skirmish lines. Such cities tended to see fewer clashes between demonstrators and police, the researchers said.
But, ask the Ferguson police chief – that’s no “show of force.”
Adams' team is still evaluating its findings and is incorporating other factors to determine whether they influence crowd behavior, including city rules for holding protests, an area's political makeup and local demographics. They expect to publish their findings by the end of the year.

Holocaust Survivors Against Israeli Occupation & Massacre

In response to Elie Wiesel advertisement comparing Hamas to Nazis, 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants publish New York Times ad accusing Israel of 'ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people.'


The letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, accuses Wiesel of "abuse of history" in order to justify Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip:

"…we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

"As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world."


White Conservative Fear

It seems that a number of people, including the Missouri GOP Executive Director, are upset that there is currently a drive in place in Ferguson to register black voters.  I understand.  It's not good for the Republican party if poor people vote.

Palestine Government Deciding Wheter to Go to ICC

[...] Hamas - the war's main Palestinian participant - has signed a pledge to back any Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court. Palestinian acceptance of the court's jurisdiction could expose Israel - as well as Hamas - to war crimes investigations.

Hamas' written consent could further increase domestic pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to turn to the court.


A hesitant Abbas has debated for months whether to join the international court, a step that could transform his relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile, strain his ties with the United States and deprive his government of badly needed Western financial support.

He’s getting financial support? Oh, yeah. Probably just enough to keep him from going to the International Criminal Court.
Last month, Abbas said he would not make a move without the written consent of all Palestinian factions.
Didn’t expect Hamas to consent, I guess.
In a new twist, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad group, also not a PLO member and one of the factions fighting in Gaza, said Saturday it would not approve going to the international court.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined comment. Israel opposes involving the court, arguing that Israel and the Palestinians should deal with any issues directly.
Direct targeting.
In the past seven weeks, more than 2,090 Palestinians have been killed, including close to 500 children, and about 100,000 Gazans have been left homeless, according to United Nations figures and Palestinian officials. Israel lost 64 soldiers and four civilians, including a 4-year-old boy killed by a mortar shell Friday.


A senior Palestinian official has said Abbas likely would wait for the findings of a U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry into possible Gaza war crimes - due by March - before turning to the court.
Will he have any Gazans left by March?

Representative Congress

[T]he 113th Congress, despite being heralded as the most diverse in history, is still comprised of only 18 percent women and 15 percent minorities.


Pichaya Poy Winichakul and Luke Squire, both 25, are recent Oberlin grads who quit their day jobs in New York and Washington D.C., respectively, to get [LaunchProgress] off the ground.


LaunchProgress [is] a nonprofit and political action committee created earlier this year to support young candidates, many of them minorities, running for state office for the first time.


Both felt the best remedy was to start grooming candidates earlier in their political careers and helping them secure wins. Besides small financial contributions – they have disbursed $6,250 so far – they offer strategy and communications advice and a team of volunteers to get out the vote on Election Day.

“Our whole idea is that we’re not just throwing money at these campaigns, but we’re providing other kinds of support and filling the bench with progressives who can then go on to national leadership positions,” Winichakul said.


Republicans have an even more robust, longer-running effort in pursuit of the same goal. In 2011, the Republican State Leadership Committee launched the Future Majority Project. The initiative, chaired by Governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, recruits, trains and supports 100 candidates of Hispanic descent and 150 women candidates nationwide for state seats.


Cyber Insecurity - Government Contractor Hacked

According to Reuters, when the US Investigative Services (USIS) was hit with a cyber attack in the first week of August, hackers were able to gain access to extremely personal information connected to DHS employees, Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers, and Customs and Border Protection units. The sensitive data included Social Security numbers, criminal history, and the names and addresses of friends and family.

Employees whose data was exposed are already getting letters of notice from the government, but the letters state it is not clear whether the data was actually stolen.

Or what to do about it.
It is also unclear what the hackers hoped to use the information for, though Dmitry Alperovitch of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said it could be used by foreign intelligence departments to intimidate government employees.

"They would be collecting this data to identify individuals who might be vulnerable to extortion and recruitment," he told Reuters.
Or other.
Congressional action over the matter is also under consideration. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he would as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to launch an investigation, and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) called the incident “very troubling.”

“Americans’ personal information should always be secure, particularly when our national security is involved. An incident like this is simply unacceptable,” he added.
Now that it’s government security personnel. The rest of us could just go hang while the US collects our data waiting for some eventual use, waiting for someone to hack into and retrieve it for their use, and actually voluntarily shares it with the likes of Israel.

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

Rio Crecido

I won't copy and paste anything. The Intercept has an article by Natasha Vargas-Cooper on the immigration issue from a center in McAllen, Texas. She deals poetically and concisely with the whys and the hows of the waves of women and children coming from South America. Some of the comments after the article are on point as well. Letter From the Border: New Crisis is the Old Crisis

A Third St. Louis Cop Sidelined

Ray Albers, Dan Page, and now Matthew Pappert.  No problem here.
The police department in Glendale, another St Louis suburb, said Friday it had suspended one of its officers who expressed contempt for the Ferguson protesters on his Facebook account. Matthew Pappert was the latest police officer from the St Louis area in three days to be suspended for questionable conduct amid the Ferguson protests.


"I'm sick of these protesters. You are a burden on society and a blight on the community," wrote Pappert in one of at least five posts that went up since Sunday.

"These protesters should have been put down like a rabid dog the first night," he added.

In a reference to the Boston Marathon bombing, he also wrote: "Where is a Muslim with a backpack when you need them."


Press photographers recognized Pappert as one of hundreds of St Louis area police officers called into Ferguson as crowd-control reinforcements.

One photographer clearly recalled him threatening journalists with a night stick, saying: "He was ready to swing at us."


UPDATE 8/24 PM: Yet more Ferguson police horror stories

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grow a Conscience, Get a Court Martial

A Navy nurse who refused to force-feed hunger strikers at Guantánamo has been sent back to the United States with no resolution of his case.

The nurse has never been identified. Last month, a lawyer for a cleared, force-fed hunger striker told the story of the Navy lieutenant, a nurse, who refused to take part in the feedings — and the military confirmed it.

Guantánamo detainee Abu Wael Dhiab described him as perhaps 40 years old and Latino, an officer who at first willingly administered tube feedings to detainees, but over time became a conscientious objector.


Army Col. Greg Julian at the U.S. Southern Command, which has oversight of the prison, said Friday: “He was administratively separated from the JTF and he’s pending court martial.”

  Miami Herald

History Needs to Repeal Itself

Ferguson- Another Racist Police Officer Sidelined*

If nothing else, maybe some of the St. Louis area police force will get cleaned up.
A police officer involved in the protests over Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, has been relieved of his duty after video surfaced of him describing black people as “little perverts” and Barack Obama as an illegal immigrant.

Dan Page – who was seen live on CNN earlier this week threatening to arrest the network’s anchor Don Lemon – was recorded in April giving a speech in which he railed against Muslims and gay people, saying: “I’m into diversity – I kill everybody.”

Page is the second St Louis county officer to have been stood down in controversial circumstances surrounding the Ferguson protests.


In his speech, Page, who claims to have been a sergeant major in the US army and a Vietnam war veteran, sharply criticised laws intended to protect minorities from racially-motivated hatred and to help increase ethnic diversity.


“This here”, he added, brandishing a copy of the Bible, “is the foundation for this”, meaning the declaration of independence. “You can’t separate them. I don’t know what them black little perverts don’t understand down there.”

Page made his remarks during an address earlier this year to a St Louis branch of the Oathkeepers, an association of former and serving military personnel, police officers and first responders. The group says that its members “pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’.”


Page told a questioner in the audience: “Policemen are very cynical. I know I am. I don’t trust anybody. I hate everybody. I hate y’all, too. I hate everybody. I’m into diversity – I kill everybody. I don’t care.”


CNN first reported that Page was being relieved of his duties on Friday afternoon. The St Louis spokesman then confirmed to the Guardian that he was a county officer and added that Page had been “relieved of duty from here and placed in an administrative capacity pending an internal investigation”.

Administrative capacity? Why not administrative leave?
“He’s been up to his eyeballs in a riot for about two weeks, dealing with rioters in 100 degree humidity. It’s rough. It’s a warzone,” said [John Moore, a radio presenter and fellow Vietnam veteran, who said he had been friends with Page for 26 years]. “He’s been working 12-hour shifts with no access to proper rest, proper food.”
Dude, the video was from a speech long before the Ferguson events.

In the video Sargent Major Dan Page speaks on a number of topics. He comments on a plan to end American sovereignty, establishing martial law and merging the U.S. with the New World Order.

This is a quote from the video, “I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord savior, but I’m also a killer. I’ve killed a lot. And if I need to, I’ll kill a whole bunch more. If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me, it’s that simple.”

*(Refer:  Ray Albers)
UPDATE 8/24 PM: Yet more Ferguson police horror stories