Friday, April 30, 2010

Financial Reform Proposals

 
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"Criminal and Civil Charges" possible for NY Fed

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March On Wall Street: Unions Grab The Bull By The Horn

 
Sam Stein by Sam Stein

Thousands of people marched on Wall Street on Thursday afternoon in a major protest of financial sector greed and lending practices by big banks.

Taking to the streets of downtown Manhattan, an expected gathering of 10,000 AFL-CIO union members shouted and jeered at the offices surrounding them, demanding three major changes to Wall Street culture. The first is to call off the lobbyists fighting regulatory reform. The second is to stop the incessant focus on market speculation over business lending. The third is to chip in money for job creation initiatives.

"Our history and our heritage teach us that America is about more than making easy money and looking out for number one. Our lives and our livelihoods are all bound together. And we are all paying the price for those who knew no limits on their greed," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was to say, according to advance remarks. "Eight and a half million lost jobs -- that's the price of greed -- that's the real cost of bankers' bonuses and private jets and cute tricks like the one that got Goldman Sachs in trouble last week."

The remarks were far more condemning in tone than those offered by President Obama last week during a speech at Cooper Union, in which he urged financial industry titans to join him in passing reform. But the underlying message was largely the same: the mess made by Wall Street still needs cleaning.

The rally, one of the largest in recent memory to take place at the epicenter of the financial world, was timed to begin at 4:00 p.m. on the dot, the same hour when the trading bells close. Dozens of individual unions were expected to be in attendance, with a slow march planned down a six-block route followed by Trumka's speech at the iconic bull at the corner of Wall Street and Broad.

"He's going to grab the bull by the horns, figuratively speaking," said AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/29/march-on-wall-street-unio_n_557400.html

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Three-year-old boy arrested as suspected terrorist in France

By Peter Allen

bgA three-year-old was arrested as a suspected terrorist and held at a French police station for more than two hours, it emerged today.

The child – identified only as Daniel – is the son of an illegal immigrant from the Paris suburb of Juvisy.

Last Thursday the pair were arrested as they returned to their car after visiting a leisure centre.

Police officer claimed they were carrying out routine vehicle checks before arrested both father and son.

They were taken to Juvisy Police Station where, after 20 minutes, they were split up.

The father, who is from a North African background, was questioned about links to radical groups possibly linked to Islamic terrorism. Both he and Daniel were formally placed under investigation.

Daniel's mother then arrived at the station and Daniel was finally released after two hours,  but local social services said he was in a 'severely traumatised state after his ordeal.'

A spokesman said: 'He can't sleep and he's crying constantly. He's a terrified little boy. The whole thing has been an absolute nightmare for him.'

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Do not burn the oil on the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. Do not drill other wells into the existing B P well.

By Chris Landau

Do not burn the oil on the sea. Do not drill other wells into the existing BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.

These actions will burn people, boats and property. Wind gusts will blow the flames out of control. The heat from the flames will create their own winds. This is just making a bad situation worse. Is there nobody handling this situation that is thinking of the consequences of their actions?

Do not drill more directional wells into this well. It will blow out the formation, loosen the casing and create a permanent ocean floor leak.

But of course, nobody will listen. Everybody wants action without thought.

As everybody is going to be sued in this case, they are protecting themselves when the questions get asked in a year at the hearings. "Why did you not do this or do that?" I wonder if they will ask the question "Was that a rational strategy?"The idea is not to look busy, but be effective and to have a well thought out plan. Does anybody have a logical step by step plan?

Seal the spurting casing first. Clamp larger bi-sectional pipes over the existing casing. Anchor these firmly to the existing casing. Build the new casing in sections until the casing end is reached. Bring the casing to the surface. Extend it. Anchor the casing firmly. Pipe the gushing oil into oil tankers and let it flow until the pressure in the rock formations abates in a few months.

Do not allow oil drilling in the 3000 mile fault zone off Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Shut down all wells immediately to avert another environmental disaster. Earthquakes, tsunamis and oil wells do not go well together. Somebody needs to start thinking about the illogical dangerous oil pumping in force off coastal Southern California. If not for the environment, stop the oil pumping and future drilling to save peoples lives. Triggering an earthquake and tsunami will kill thousands.

Chris Landau (geologist)

April 28 2010

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Do-not-burn-the-oil-on-the-by-Chris-Landau-100428-299.html

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Do not burn the oil. Do not drill directional wells. Stop pumping oil out of the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles fault zone.

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Ten Animals Most at Risk From Gulf Oil Spill

Sea turtles, oysters and shorebirds are all in danger from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By Julia Kumari Drapkin

Buenos Aires, Argentina — Oil is spreading across the Gulf of Mexico — the result of the sinking of an oil rig last week. A spill of this magnitude so close to the wetlands, estuaries and national fisheries of south Louisiana is unprecedented.

Though it's unclear how badly wildlife along the Gulf Coast will suffer, the timing of the spill couldn't be worse. This is peak spawning and nesting season for many species of fish, birds, turtles and marine mammals. Many species remain in set breeding areas during this time and there's less instinct to move away from danger.

Disturbances to nests, fish spawning grounds or key links in the food chain might have lasting effects on species already at risk, commercial fish stocks and the people who make a living harvesting them. Minor oil spills are relatively common on the Gulf Coast, but this one has biologists, wildlife agencies, conservation groups and fishermen particularly concerned.

Here's a selection of animals at risk in the open water, along the coasts and in the wetlands.

1. North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

The Great Bluefin Tuna, prized for sushi and sashimi, is one of the species most in danger of slipping into extinction. Traveling down across the Atlantic seaboard, bluefin tuna spawn in the Gulf of Mexico between mid-April and mid-June.

2. Sea Turtles

Five of the world's seven sea turtle species live, migrate and breed in the Gulf region. Kemp's ridley is the world's most endangered species of sea turtle, and one of its two primary migration routes runs south of Mississippi. Loggerhead turtles, also endangered, feed in the warmwaters in the Gulf between May and October.

3. Sharks

Shark species worldwide are in decline. The grassbeds south of the Chandeleur Islands are very close to the oil spill. These grasses are a known nursing area for a number of shark species, which are now beginning their spawning season in the Gulf. Whale sharks, the world's largest fish, feed on plankton at the surface of the water and could also be affected.

4. Marine Mammals — Whales, Porpoises, Dolphins

Oil spills pose an immediate threat to marine mammals, which need to surface and breathe. Not only does the oil pose a threat, but also the nasty toxins that the oil kicks off into the air. A resident pod of sperm whales in the spill area could be at risk along with piggy sperm whales, porpoises and dolphins.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/the-americas/100428/oil-spills-endangered-species

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Previously 'Dead' al-Qaeda Leader Back to Pupa Stage

By Lori Price
 

Well, he's back again from the grave - to live to fight another day --or, at least live to be re-killed again when Obama needs more troops and killer drones to fight in the Af/Pak undeclared war!

'If he is alive, it won't be the first time Mehsud, believed to be in his 20s, has defied reports of his death.' Pakistan Taliban chief said to survive US attack 29 Apr 2010 Pakistan and U.S. intelligence wrongly reported the death of the head of the Pakistani Taliban in a CIA drone strike and the brash, ruthless commander is now believed to be alive, Pakistani spies said Thursday in an apparent propaganda coup for the insurgents. The reports that Hakimullah Mehsud survived the January missile attack in an area close to the Afghan border will raise questions about the quality of the intelligence being gathered in the region.

In Washington, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said he had seen "no evidence" that Mehsud "is operational today or is executing or exerting authority over the Pakistan Taliban as he once did." [Right, he's dormant again, so he can be 'killed' when Obusha seeks more funds for US mercenaries and killer drones or to open a military tribunal kangaroo court.]

"So I don't know if that reflects him being alive or dead, but he clearly is not running the Pakistani Taliban anymore," Morrell told reporters. [Yup, the CIA has that job.]

The Taliban had always claimed Mehsud was alive and dismissed the earlier reports of his death as lies. The militant network said it was not going to offer any evidence such as a video recording because doing so could help security forces hunt Mehsud down. But until there is proof he is alive, questions may linger about his fate, given the apparently patchy nature of intelligence in the tribal regions lying sacks of sh*t at the Pentagon]. 

http://www.legitgov.org/Previously-Dead-al-Qaeda-Leader-Back-Pupa-Stage

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Why Pants Are Legal in Kansas

Scott Westerfeld

While writing Leviathan, I did a fair amount of research on women who passed as men to serve in the armed forces. I also checked out the laws about women wearing men's clothing, to find out what would happen if Deryn were ever caught in her deception. Armed with this knowledge, I can inform you that this is a very important day . . .

It's the hundredth anniversary of the Explicit Legalization of Pants in Kansas! (Otherwise known as ELPK Day.)

legalpants

As you can see, the word "Explicit" is very important in Explicit Legalization of Pants in Kansas Day. Pants were already legal for women to wear, after all. But note that last clause: "there was no law prohibiting a woman from wearing men's trousers, especially if she were the head of the house."

In other words, it's legal to dress like a man, but really only acceptable if you're already an honorary man—i.e., a widow and a breadwinner. (Seriously, since when is something especially legal? Either it's legal or it's not, dude.) ELPK Day comes with certain restrictions, it seems.

Research gems like this one are what makes writing historicals so strange and wonderful. Every detail of this article reveals a bit more about the tenor of the times, and about how actions may be strictly legal, and yet still cause a stir.

I mean, clearly this woman wasn't writing the governor of her state for fun, or for fashion advice. Was she getting hassled by her neighbors, or even the local cops, for wearing pants? And note that she wasn't wearing pants for jury duty, say, but to work in her own damn garden.

Even more intriguing, this little story from Kansas gets a mention in the New York Times. So these sorts of conversations about the proper role and place of women must have been happening everywhere. So ELPK Day isn't just in Kansas anymore, it's going national!

Of course, it's easy to laugh at this, and reassuring to think that we no longer live in a world where women have to get legal advice for something so simple as wearing men's clothes, right?

Well, um, wrong.

Because just a few days ago, on almost exactly the 100th anniversary of ELPK Day, a student named Ceara Sturgis has found herself erased from her school yearbook. Why? For wearing a tuxedo in her senior photograph. And when I say erased, it's not just that the school administration wouldn't print the photograph. No, they actually deleted every mentioned of Ceara from the yearbook, even though she's an honor student, the goalie of the soccer team, and plays trumpet in the band.

By the way, she's also a lesbian. So wearing this tuxedo wasn't about flouting some imaginary dress code, but about who she is. That's what clothing means in all these conflicts.

http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/2010/04/why-pants-are-legal-in-kansas/

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New book about Funnyman, a Jewish superhero from the Golden Age of Comic Books

Funnyman Cover Adam

Feral House has a great new book coming out about Funnyman, an unusual and short-lived comic book series created by Superman's Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Funnyman was a clown-like superhero who used gags, pranks and Yiddishisms to defeat his humor-deficient enemies. He was a dead ringer for Danny Kaye, one of my favorite comedians. The comic book was a total flop. It ran for six issues and went out of business. Siegel and Shuster tried to keep it going as a newspaper strip, but gave up after a year. The team never worked together again. (Joe Shuster went on to illustrate seedy little bondage booklets, barely scratching out a living. You can read all about it in Craig Yoe's book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster.)

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/04/29/new-book-about-funny.html

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Graveyard of Past Deadlines

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

This time we're REALLY REALLY REALLY SURE

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Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes,’ Law Prof Says

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The pilots waging America's undeclared drone war in Pakistan could be liable to criminal prosecution for "war crimes," a prominent law professor told a Congressional panel Wednesday.

Harold Koh, the State Department's top legal adviser, outlined the administration's legal case for the robotic attacks last month. Now, some legal experts are taking turns to punch holes in Koh's argument.

It's part of an ongoing legal debate about the CIA and U.S. military's lethal drone operations, which have escalated in recent months — and which have received some technological upgrades. Critics of the program, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have argued that the campaign amounts to a program of targeted killing that may violate the laws of war.

In a hearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's national security and foreign affairs panel, several professors of national security law seemed open to that argument. But there are still plenty of caveats, and the risks to U.S. drone operators are at this point theoretical: Unless a judge in, say, Pakistan, wanted to issue a warrant, it doesn't seem likely. But that's just one of the possible legal hazards of robotic warfare.

Loyola Law School professor David Glazier, a former Navy surface warfare officer, said the pilots operating the drones from afar could — in theory — be hauled into court in the countries where the attacks occur. That's because the CIA's drone pilots aren't combatants in a legal sense. "It is my opinion, as well as that of most other law-of-war scholars I know, that those who participate in hostilities without the combatant's privilege do not violate the law of war by doing so, they simply gain no immunity from domestic laws," he said.

"Under this view CIA drone pilots are liable to prosecution under the law of any jurisdiction where attacks occur for any injuries, deaths or property damage they cause," Glazier continued. "But under the legal theories adopted by our government in prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, these CIA officers as well as any higher-level government officials who have authorized or directed their attacks are committing war crimes."

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Placebo effect beats God, Prozac

This is the story of three drugs. Except one is not really a drug at all and is merely an illusion, a nifty construct, an intense belief that it might be a drug, even though, as mentioned, it is very much not. We just think it is. Isn't that strange? Wonderful? Both?

The three drugs -- which, sorry, are not so much drugs as they are modes of comprehending our own weird little minds, needs and inherent psychoses -- are presented here by way of two recent studies that essentially reinforce what similar studies have been declaring for years and decades and, in the second case, since the ancient mystics suckled wild plants in the forest, licked God, found the source of the soul, and said, you know, holy f--.

Let's lay it out: According to a major new overview study, all of America's beloved wonderdrug antidepressants -- all the Prozacs, Paxils, Effexors, Zolofts of the world -- are essentially useless and don't really work worth a damn.

Wait, that's not quite right. They can sort of work just fine, help millions of people and have enjoyed tremendous success. But there's a huge caveat: Statistically speaking, all these drugs work no better -- and often are far worse for you -- than sugar pills, fake pills, placebos that patients only think are powerful, mind-altering compounds, but which in fact are no more chemically miraculous than a peppermint Altoid.

Have you heard this before? Of course you have. The placebo effect has been known for years. Decades. Forever. It's one of those hotly controversial, yet irrefutable medical/psychological wonders that we don't have the slightest clue how to unravel, much less leverage. And hence, it just freaks us the hell out.

Nevertheless, the recent findings, the result of one of the most comprehensive studies in recent years, are still nothing short of astounding. A sugar pill works as well as a hit of Prozac, if the patient believes she's getting the latter? It's just all sorts of confounding, in how it reveals how the power of the mind is still, to this day, barely understood, untapped, wildly feral, far more brightly powerful than we know what to do with.

It also reveals just how deeply invested massive drug companies are in convincing everyone they can "cure" depression with powerful, often dangerous chemical alternatives, how fearful doctors are of refuting this, how reluctant patients are to understand the difference, and how, above all else, nothing is as it seems.

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School Cuts Gay Student Photo from Yearbook

 


Courtesy ACLU
Wesson Attendance Center student Ceara Sturgis, who is gay, learned on Friday that school officials did not place her in the 2010 yearbook.

by Adam Lynch

Also see: Ceara's Season, Adam Lynch's interview with Ceara Sturgis' family

When Veronica Rodriguez opened Wesson Attendance Center's Yearbook on Friday, she didn't find a trace of her lesbian daughter Ceara Sturgis after a long battle with school officials to include a photo of her daughter wearing a tuxedo in the school's 2010 yearbook.

"They didn't even put her name in it," Sturgis' mother Veronica Rodriguez said. "I was so furious when she told me about it. Ceara started crying and I told her to suck it up. Is that not pathetic for them to do that? Yet again, they have crapped on her and made her feel alienated."

Sturgis and her mother commissioned the Mississippi ACLU to protest officials' October 2009 decision not to allow Sturgis' photo to appear in the senior yearbook because she chose to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress.

The ACLU wrote an October letter demanding officials use Sturgis' submitted photo in the yearbook, but Copiah County School District officials refused. Rodriguez said she expected the yearbook to at least contain a reference to her daughter on the senior page. What she discovered on Friday, when the yearbook came in, was that the school had refused to acknowledge her entirely.

"It's like she's nobody there, even though she's gone to school there for 12 years," Rodriguez said. "They mentioned none of her accolades, even though she's one of the smartest students there with wonderful grades. They've got kids in the book that have been busted for drugs. There's even a picture of one of the seniors who dropped out of school.

"I don't get it. Ceara is a top student. Why would they do this to her?"

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/school_cuts_gay_student_photo_from_yearbook/

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The Correct Response to "Show Us Your Papers"

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Arizona: This Is What Apartheid Looks Like

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by Roberto Cintli Rodriguez

Those who think there's an immigration crisis in Arizona are correct. However, this is but part of the story. The truth is, a civilizational clash is being played out in the same state in which the state legislature questions the birthplace and legitimacy of President Barack Obama and where Sen. John McCain competes with Senate hopeful J.D. Hayworth to see who is the most anti-immigrant.

It is also the same state that several years ago denied a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., and that today permits virtually anyone - on the basis of trumped-up fear - to carry concealed weapons anywhere.

Welcome to Apartheid Arizona - the land of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, "States Rights" and a desert that has claimed thousands of migrant lives. By way of the same extremist legislature, the battle here is even much larger and more profound. This civilizational clash is being waged daily here via more bills involving who belongs, what language can be spoken and who and what can be taught in the state's schools. This is beyond the notion of who is "legal."

Whoever said this crisis is proof that the illegal Mexican-American War never ended is partially correct because this conflict is even older than that war in which Mexico lost half its territory to the United States. The irony regarding the recently signed SB 1070 - which permits law enforcement to question people about their citizenship, based on "reasonable suspicion" - is that those principally targeted will be those who look the "most Hispanic."

"Looking Hispanic" has always been a misnomer; what it really means is those who are dark and short and who look the "most Indigenous." Truthfully, here in Arpaio Country, the profiling that everyone fears is already with us. And to dispel further illusions, this civilizational clash alluded to is national in scope; witness the many hundreds of anti-immigrant bills nationwide since 2006. Only its epicenter is here.

http://www.truthout.org/roberto-cintli-rodriguez-arizona-this-is-what-apartheid-looks-like58955

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Lobbyists rev up over U.S. agenda

WASHINGTON — Special interests spent $916 million to shape legislation and government policy during the first three months of the year, new lobbying reports show.

The spending comes as Congress and President Obama pursue a legislative agenda that touches virtually all parts of the U.S. economy — from bills on health care and energy to new regulations for banks and Wall Street firms.

The lobbying expenses exceed the $848.1 million spent during the same period in 2009, according to figures tallied by the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine. Lobbyists spent an average $305 million a month from January to March to influence policy this year — more than double the monthly rate of spending a decade ago.

Kent Cooper, a former Federal Election Commission official and expert on money in politics, said the increased spending ensures companies get heard on Capitol Hill. "As new regulation is being considered, they are willing to pay top dollar to get up close and personal with the legislators who can help or hurt their profit margins," he said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-04-28-lobbying_N.htm

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Gain Control By Giving It Up

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The book is called  Open Leadership, and I would classify it as the first of the post-social media books. By that I mean that it looks at the consequences of democratized communications rather than at the media itself. Expect to see a wave of similar books in the coming years. This is a very good first entry.

Open Leadership will make a lot of people uncomfortable because it proposes that the only way to govern effectively in a transparent business world is to give up control and trust people to do the right thing. Li makes a persuasive case by citing numerous examples of companies that have successfully done exactly that.

Li is a former Forrester Research analyst, founder of Altimeter Group and co-author of Groundswell, the breakthrough 2008 book that provided the first demographic profiles of social media users as well as a rigorous methodology for evaluating the ROI of social programs. In this book, she builds on some of the economic models first presented in Groundswell, but Open Leadership is more of a call to action than a financial exercise.

The premise is encapsulated in the title of Chapter 1: "Why Giving up Control Is Inevitable." Li asserts that today's business world is too complex and competitive to permit organizations to continue to manage the way they have since the Industrial Revolution. That top-down philosophy assumes that people are idiots who can't accomplish tasks without instructions, rigid rules and constant oversight. That worked okay when companies had some control over their environment, but today too many factors are out of their hands. So one man's story of how an airline  broke his guitar and refused to fix it becomes a cultural sensation while the airline stands by helplessly and fumes.

Charlene LiLi (left) asserts that the only way to gain any level of control over today's turbo-charged business environment is to give up as much control as possible. New business leaders set examples, demonstrate confidence and create cultures that tolerate intelligent, well-intentioned failure. And guess what? It turns out that when smart people are given the latitude to make decisions, they tend to make better ones than if someone else makes decisions for them.

Open Leadership provides some refreshing new examples of how this new management philosophy is working:

  • Meetup.com replaced a top-down approach to project management with one that requires stakeholders to persuade engineers to spend time on their projects. Productivity exploded;
  • BestBuy outlasted competitors in the brutal electronics retailing business in part by developing a culture that lets its employees guide customers toward the best decision, even if that means buying from a competitor;
  • Electronics distributor Premier Farnell distributed low-cost digital video cameras to every employee in the company so that they could document their best practices and share them on an internal network. Employees are more empowered and the quality of information is better.
 
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Waste Management: Congress Pushes Surge in Ongoing War Against Iran

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by Chris Floyd
 
There was a striking story in the papers on Friday: "Congress OKs Surge in Undeclared War against Iran!"

Well, that wasn't exactly the headline – but it was the truth behind the reports about the vote in the House of Representatives to tighten the ligature of sanctions around the neck of Iran, as Antiwar.com reports. In accordance with the "diplomacy" of the Peace Laureate in the Oval Office, the House wants to "cripple" the Iranian economy by starving the human beings who live there of gasoline and other vital goods necessary to maintain a modicum of ordinary life.

In other words, the popularly elected leaders of the world's greatest democracy – champions of liberty, justice and human rights – want to stop ambulances from transporting sick and dying children to the hospital. They want whole families to burn to death, whole city blocks to go up in flames while fuelless fire trucks stand idle. They want deliveries of food and medicine to grind to a halt, setting off spirals of starvation, disease, chaos and vast suffering. They want to see tens of millions of innocent human beings driven into a low and brutal level of subsistence, to languish, diminish – and die – in deprivation and misery. This is what they want to see happen. This is the clear intent of their "diplomatic" strategy.

And why are they doing this? Because – ostensibly because – the government of Iran is pursuing the development of a nuclear energy program in accordance with international treaties and under international supervision. And if the above condign punishment of millions of innocent people does not force the government of Iran to give up this legal, carefully inspected program, then the champions of liberty, justice and human rights have proclaimed their intent to unilaterally attack Iran with all the "options" at their command, up to and including the "option" of immolating multitudes of innocent human beings with nuclear weapons.

Now, the government of Iran is an odious regime. Not nearly as odious as, say, the regime of America's staunch ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, of course, but odious enough. But as restrictive as it has been to its own citizens, it has not – in the last decade alone – launched and maintained massive wars of aggression and domination that have killed, by direct and collateral hand, more than a million innocent people. The bipartisan champions of liberty, justice and human rights in Washington have done that, and are doing that.

They seek to break Iran not because it is an odious regime, but because it defies the imperial will, and balks the bipartisan imperial agenda to impose domination on the oil lands. If Iran agreed to become an American client state tomorrow, it would not matter in the least how odious its regime might be -- as we saw in the long, atrocious decades when America's pet tyrant, Reza Pahlavi, ruled there.
 
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The Circle of Stupidity, Part II

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's not easy being green

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Behind The Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election

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Captives of Sheriff Joe's prison, Maricopa County, Arizona. (Photos: Greg Palast)

Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law.

Phoenix - Don't be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.

I don't buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.

What's new here is not the politicians' fear of a xenophobic "Teabag" uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote - and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for "Rolling Stone" with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters . . . directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then secretary of state, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no fewer than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanic, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: After all, they give their names and addresses.

So I asked Brewer's office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?

No, not one.

Which raises the question: Were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens that Brewer tagged them to be, or just not-quite-white voters given the Jose Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

http://www.truthout.org/behind-the-arizona-immigration-law-gop-game-to-swipe-the-november-election58877

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The Real War Reporters

A good friend noted recently how little we hear of Iraq and Afghanistan in the news anymore, and further noted the deafening silence regarding those ongoing wars from what he described as "dishwater left-leaning political activists" whose disengagement from the issue, according to him, makes them full of something I can't repeat in print. That bogus disengagement, he asserts, stems from the fact that Obama is in office now, so everything must be OK. It isn't, of course, but it is hard to miss the fact that we haven't heard much about the wars, or the protesters, since a couple of Januarys ago.

It's hard to argue against his point, and worse, the sense of being made of dishwater myself is difficult to avoid. I've written about the deadly messes in Iraq and Afghanistan several times in the last year or so, but it is nothing compared to the focus I had on those two conflicts going back to 2002. Back then, and until 2009, I wrote three books on those two wars, discussed them in detail in this space on a weekly basis, joined political campaigns based solely on the candidate's stance on those conflicts, and went to dozens of public protests all over the country.

Why did my coverage of these conflicts get dialed back? There are several reasons, most of which sound like excuses. Obama's new administration brought forth a torrent of issues that also deserved coverage - the Sotomayor nomination, the retirement of Justice Stevens, the rescue of Detroit's auto industry, health care reform, and the eruption of right-wing insanity both in Congress and out in the streets, to name only a few - but in the end, my own attention has most definitely wandered from two wars that deserve much more attention.

Other reporters, like Truthout's own Dahr Jamail have certainly not stepped back from covering these conflicts. Jamail, who went to Iraq to see and report what was happening from the ground, has consistently reminded us that the mayhem and bloodshed continue unabated. In an article from last month, he noted:

It is highly unlikely that the US government will allow a truly sovereign Iraq, unfettered by US troops either within its borders or monitoring it from abroad, anytime soon. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Iraqi and US governments indicate an ongoing US presence past both the August 2010 deadline to remove all combat troops, and the 2011 deadline to remove the remaining troops.

According to all variations of the SOFA the US uses to provide a legal mandate for its nearly 1,000 bases across the planet, technically, no US base in any foreign country is "permanent." Thus, the US bases in Japan, South Korea and Germany that have existed for decades are not "permanent." Technically. Most analysts agree that the US plans to maintain at least five "enduring" bases in Iraq.

You don't see stuff like that in "mainstream" news reporting, but it is a fact nonetheless.

http://www.truthout.org/the-real-war-reporters58914

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Iran a Threat? I Mean, Really?

by Ray McGovern

With all the current hype about the "threat" from Iran, it is time to review the record--and especially the significant bits and pieces that find neither ink nor air in our Israel-friendly, Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

First, on the chance you missed it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said publicly that Iran "doesn't directly threaten the United States." Her momentary lapse came while answering a question at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 14.

Fortunately for her, most of her FCM fellow travelers must have been either jet-lagged or sunning themselves poolside when she made her unusual admission. And those who were present did Clinton the favor of disappearing her gaffe and ignoring its significance. (All one happy traveling family, you know.)

But she said it. It's on the State Department Web site. Those who had been poolside could have read the text after showering. They might have recognized a real story there. Granted, the substance was so off-message that it would probably not have been welcomed by editors back home.

In a rambling comment, Clinton had charged (incorrectly) that, despite President Barack Obama's reaching out to the Iranian leaders, he had elicited no sign they were willing to engage:

"Part of the goal -- not the only goal, but part of the goal -- that we were pursuing was to try to influence the Iranian decision regarding whether or not to pursue a nuclear weapon. And, as I said in my speech, you know, the evidence is accumulating that that [pursuing a nuclear weapon] is exactly what they are trying to do, which is deeply concerning, because it doesn't directly threaten the United States, but it directly threatens a lot of our friends, allies, and partners here in this region and beyond." (Emphasis added)

Qatar Afraid? Not So Much

The moderator turned to Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani and invited him to give his perspective on "the danger that the Secretary just alluded to"if Iran gets the bomb."

Al-Thani pointed to Iran's "official answer" that it is not seeking to have a nuclear bomb; instead, the Iranians "explain to us that their intention is to use these facilities for their peaceful reactors for electricity and medical use"

"We have good relations with Iran," he added. "And we have continuous dialogue with the Iranians." The prime minister added, "the best thing for this problem is a direct dialogue between the United States and Iran," and "dialogue through messenger is not good."

Al-Thani stressed that, "For a small country, stability and peace are very important," and intimated -- diplomatically but clearly -- that he was at least as afraid of what Israel and the U.S. might do, as what Iran might do.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Iran-a-Threat-I-Mean-Rea-by-Ray-McGovern-100427-55.html

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Will the iPhone Saga Bankrupt Gawker Media?

By Damien Hoffman

What's the secret? Gizmodo told the world they paid $5,000 to someone who found the phone after Apple (AAPL) engineer Gary Powell got so blitzed he left the priceless device at bar Gourmet Haus Staudt — just 20 miles from Apple's Infinite Loop headquarters. Of course, Powell is probably weaving a different story to keep his job. But does that necessitate the police acting as private security for Apple?

The Journalist's Shield

Worse, the police probably violated the California Journalist Shield Law — California Penal Code 1524(g) — which protects journalists from these exact types of seizures. Our friends at Business Insider obtained the letter Gawker COO Gaby Darbyshire wrote to Detective Broad describing the law and requesting that the San Mateo police return the confiscated property:

So, is Chen covered? Although we can't be 100% sure, it seems so. A consortium of lawyers called The Citizen Media Law project asserts:

[I]n California there is relatively clear precedent that online journalists like Chen are covered by the shield law. In O'Grady v. Superior Court, 139 Cal. App.4th 1423 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006), a California appeals court held that Apple could not get the identities of confidential sources from the publishers of "O'Grady's Power Page" and "Apple Insider," two sites devoted to covering stories about Apple products. While the court acknowledged that not all bloggers would qualify under the shield law, it explained that characteristics like frequency of publication, permanency of web address, and number of visitors per month made the two sites in question akin to a newspaper or "other periodical publication." Certainly, Gizmodo outstrips the two sites in O'Grady when it comes to these same characteristics.

On its face, it appears Chen should be protected under the Journalist Shield Law. But all that means is Chen will get all his confiscated crap back.

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/breaking-news/will-the-iphone-saga-bankrupt-gawker-media/?p=10198/

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The Fascist Moses

Daily Kos

By David Glenn Cox

 Let's kick Richard Nixon, it's great fun; we all did it at parties back in the 1970s. But that was the previous generation and this generation has missed out on the fun, like Woodstock. Unbeknownst to this current generation there would have been hundreds of fistfights and stabbings at Woodstock had it not been for three little words, "Fuck Richard Nixon!"

All one had to do was simply step between the adversaries and say, "Come on now, guys, hey, look. Fuck Richard Nixon!" Instantly the opponents would separate and begin to smile and agree, "Yeah, you're right, man. Fuck Richard Nixon!" The potential warriors would depart as buddies and would exchange bong hits until their eyeballs melted in their sockets and they would forget all about their conflicts.

That was in the twilight's last gleaming of American democracy, when a President could still be removed from office for malfeasance. Let me rephrase that, Richard Nixon could be removed from office for malfeasance; it's doubtful whether anyone else could be. I know all about George W. Bush and Bush was a drunken, coke-snorting, mean-spirited, frat boy. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the truest definition of a sociopath, but Nixon was just plain crazy.

Nixon had paranoid delusions that people were out to get him and so he responded with bile, tirades, enemy lists and dirty tricks. Because of his paranoid delusions he alienated everyone around him until even members of his own party would walk all the way across the street just to piss on Richard Nixon. Eventually these self-fulfilling, paranoid delusions gave to Richard Nixon a kind of an Eeyore quality.

Nixon's most trusted advisor was Henry Kissinger and Nixon only trusted him while he was in the room. Kissinger's first government job was as a translator for the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. Kissinger was his protegee and it was Dulles who helped to plan the Bay of Pigs invasion and Dulles who told Kennedy that he needed to launch an unprovoked, full-scale military attack on Cuba. Kennedy fired Dulles and his Deputy Director Charles Cabell, whose brother Earl Cabell changed the presidential motorcade route in Dallas.

Nice folks. It was Dulles who proposed a plan to fake an aircraft hijacking and to blame it on Cuba.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/26/860856/-The-Fascist-Moses

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It’s Official: The Tea Party is Racist

The University of Washington has just published a multi-state study that offers convincing evidence that members of the Tea Party are far more likely to be racist than average Americans. Their results agree with a recent NY Times / CBS News survey that found similar racist attitudes. But Tea Partiers know they should not use overtly racist language, "so they use coded language". Like about "taking our country back" … but from whom?

If you doubt this, here's a simple exercise you can do. Imagine the Tea Party doing and saying the same things it does now, but its members are black (or Arabic, or Latino), and the president is white.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired.

Because Tea Partiers did that.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters — the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn't like were enforced by the government.

White gun enthusiasts and Tea Partiers did that.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by "hating black people," or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn't want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—"living fossils" as he called them—"so we will never forget what these people stood for."

Yup, Rush Limbaugh said all that.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been "destroying" the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to "hang 'em high." And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for "speaking common sense" and likened his hate talk to "American values?"

Michael Savage said those things, and Texas Congressman John Culberson praised him for it.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: "He's a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun."

Rocker Ted Nugent said that about President Obama.

http://politicalirony.com/2010/04/27/the-tea-party-is-racist/

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The Importance of Getting Wall Street Out of Washington, and Washington Out of Wall Street

by Robert Reich

Washington's relationship with Wall Street is growing more schizophrenic by the day. On the one hand, Congress is trying to show how tough it can be on the financial sector by enacting a law ostensibly designed to prevent another near-meltdown and taxpayer-supported bail-out. As the mid-term election looms, a staggering number of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, and most Americans blame Wall Street (whose top bankers are raking in almost as much money as they did before the crisis). The lawsuit launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs for alleged fraud only confirms the view held by many that the economic game is rigged.

On the other hand, both parties are going to Wall Street seeking campaign donations to fund critically important television advertising in the months ahead. After all, the Street is where the money is, and TV ads demand huge amounts of it. In recent years, the financial industry has become the second-biggest source of campaign contributions in America – just behind the healthcare industry.

Even as Congress debates legislation to tame it, Wall Street is conducting a bidding war between the parties for its continued beneficence. More than 60 per cent of the $34m given by the financial industry to fund the 2010 elections has so far gone to Democrats, but since January the Street has switched its allegiance to the Republican camp. In the first quarter of this year, Citigroup, Goldman, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley donated twice as much to Republicans as to Democrats.

It is hard to bite the hands that feed you, especially when you are competing for food.

http://robertreich.org/post/548818745/the-importance-of-getting-wall-street-out-of

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I’ll Tell You When Chinese Bubble Is About to Burst

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Simple plea

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aronazi

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Vichy America

http://images2.dailykos.com/images/admin/WideMasthead.jpg

By David Glenn Cox

Were it not all so real it would make a great book; Dan Brown could add another hundred million dollars to his collection. Perhaps he could call it "The Bhagwan Code," while I prefer to think of it as "Vichy America." Our synthetic, middle class, pseudo nazis, protesting for their gun rights or tax rights, a smiling, flag-waving, picture-mugging, minivan-driving collection of the dumbest individuals ever to stand up on two legs.

It's like a sort of reverse evolution where mankind evolves back into a creature that moves on three legs while leaving one hand free to carry the Bible or a cell phone. They are too dumb to even understand the herd mentality, too dumb to know the difference between predator and prey. The gun nuts rally to show off their machismo to each other thinking that they might somehow intimidate the government with their show of force like a baby shaking its rattle at a rattlesnake.

Do the Taliban march through Kandahar to show how tough they are? Do the Greeks wave tea bags and shout, "Don't tread on me"? The herd shouts, "Restore the Constitution!" but they don't have a clue as to what that really means, unaware that the Constitution that they imagine is miles from what they want. The herds are out protesting in favor of the predators and against themselves.

The Walton family fortune is worth some $90 billion and was made primarily on imported goods and exploitive labor practices. The Bush tax cuts saves the Walton family millions of dollars a year in taxes and saves the average worker $240 per year. The right wing government that they want to protect them has eliminated trade tariffs and a tariff is a tax on a foreign good that you don't pay. Are they protesting for an end to the Bush tax cuts yet?

If there is a tariff on bananas you don't pay it unless you buy bananas, and even if you do the cost per banana is miniscule. It is a tax on companies which import bananas into the United States and most of those companies are owned by Americans. Right now the US Congress is mulling over the idea of a value-added tax or a national sales tax. Leaving aside that sales taxes are the most regressive and unfair taxes on the working poor. Look at it this way: they have taken the taxes off the multinational corporations' incomes in the name of free trade, and now, to make up the deficit, they want to put the tax on to you.

I used the example of bananas because I thought it might strike a chord with these knuckle-dragging baboons. Imagine you and I share a toll bridge on the border and I charge a nickel for each person crossing the bridge my way and you charge a nickel for each person crossing your way. Five thousand people cross each day going your way while ten million people cross each day going my way. You earn $250 per day and I earn $50,000 a day.

Free trade argues that if you eliminate that nickel tax more people will want to cross the bridge. That it will create jobs and industry on both sides of the bridge, except the people on my side of the bridge earn $20.00 an hour and the people on your side earn $5 per day. The benefit goes to the guy that owns the banana trees; the loss goes to the workers in the country earning $20.00 per hour. It's true that traffic on the bridge has increased, but since there are no longer any tolls collected, what does it matter?

To me that is a far greater threat to national sovereignty than any of the made up reasons of the gun nuts and teabaggers. Because now they want you to pay the taxes to make up for the lost bridge tolls and even to buy them a new bridge! We live in an America under a two party system, those with money and those without money, and for those without money it's no party.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/23/859990/-Vichy-America

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Yes, We Could... Get Out!

Return to TomDispatch Home
Why We Won't Leave Afghanistan or Iraq 
By Tom Engelhardt

Yes, we could.  No kidding.  We really could withdraw our massive armies, now close to 200,000 troops combined, from Afghanistan and Iraq (and that's not even counting our similarly large stealth army of private contractors, which helps keep the true size of our double occupations in the shadows).  We could undoubtedly withdraw them all reasonably quickly and reasonably painlessly.

Not that you would know it from listening to the debates in Washington or catching the mainstream news.  There, withdrawal, when discussed at all, seems like an undertaking beyond the waking imagination.  In Iraq alone, all those bases to dismantle and millions of pieces of equipment to send home in a draw-down operation worthy of years of intensive effort, the sort of thing that makes the desperate British evacuation from Dunkirk in World War II look like a Sunday stroll in the park.  And that's only the technical side of the matter.

Then there's the conviction that anything but a withdrawal that would make molasses in January look like the hare of Aesopian fable -- at least two years in Iraq, five to ten in Afghanistan -- would endanger the planet itself, or at least its most important country: us.  Without our eternally steadying hand, the Iraqis and Afghans, it's taken for granted, would be lost. Without the help of U.S. forces, for example, would the Maliki government ever have been able to announce the death of the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq?  Not likely, whereas the U.S. has knocked off its leadership twice, first in 2006, and again, evidently, last week.

Of course, before our troops entered Baghdad in 2003 and the American occupation of that country began, there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq.  But that's a distant past not worth bringing up.  And forget as well the fact that our invasions and wars have proven thunderously destructive, bringing chaos, misery, and death in their wake, and turning, for instance, the health care system of Iraq, once considered an advanced country in the Arab world, into a disaster zone(that -- it goes without saying -- only we Americans are now equipped to properly fix).  Similarly, while regularly knocking off Afghan civilians at checkpoints on their roads and in their homesat their celebrations and at work, we ignore the fact that our invasion and occupation opened the way for the transformation of Afghanistan into the first all-drug-crop agricultural nation and so the planet's premier narco-nation.  It's not just that the country now has an almost total monopoly on growing opium poppies (hence heroin), but according to the latest U.N. report, it's now cornering the hashish market as well.  That's diversification for you.

It's a record to stand on and, evidently, to stay on, even to expand on.  We're like the famed guest who came to dinner, broke a leg, wouldn't leave, and promptly took over the lives of the entire household.  Only in our case, we arrived, broke someone else's leg, and then insisted we had to stay and break many more legs, lest the world become a far more terrible place.

It's known and accepted in Washington that, if we were to leave Afghanistan precipitously, the Taliban would take over, al-Qaeda would be back big time in no time, and then more of our giant buildings would obviously bite the dust.  And yet, the longer we've stayed and the more we've surged, the more resurgent the Taliban has become, the more territory this minority insurgency has spread into.  If we stay long enough, we may, in fact, create the majority insurgency we claim to fear.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175238/tomgram:_engelhardt,_the_urge_to_stay

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STAGE BEING SET FOR “DIRTY BOMB” FALSE FLAG

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