Monday, February 28, 2011


• McCain in Cairo to discuss Egyptian developments. With Joseph Lieberman in tow. They are so irrelevant.

  The Arabist

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In the Light of Day

February 22: Michael Hastings won the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting for his Rolling Stone piece, “The Runaway General,” which brought down Gen. Stanley McChrystal.


Hastings has now written another Rolling Stone article that reflects poorly on a U.S. General in Afghanistan. The new article details how Lt. Gen. William Caldwell "illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war" and then railroaded the whistle-blowing officer who objected to the program.

  Glenn Greenwald

In all fairness, though, I doubt it took much manipulation.

Mideast Domino Up Next: Syria

A Facebook page has called for mass protests in Syria and in several Western countries against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.The organisers of the page, which had 25,000 fans early on Saturday, said the date for demonstrations to be held "in all Syrian cities" was being carefully studied and "will be determined in a few days."

  Raw Story

Waiting for Obama

Up to 100,000 rally in Madison while hundreds show up in dozens of other cities to combat the Republican-backed measure that would limit collective bargaining rights for most public workers in Wisconsin.

  LA Times

As a candidate for the presidency, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) promised to march in picket lines with union workers should their rights to organize ever be challenged. Now, they’re under fire, but the president is not in the streets. One Missouri worker who spoke to protesters on Saturday wanted to know: “Where are you, Mr. President?”

Video at Raw Story


During a 2007 campaign speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then-Senator Obama told supporters he would fight for collective bargaining rights if he was elected president.

“And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”

Video at Raw Story.

This is where Americans bombard the White House with pairs of comfortable shoes, don't you think?

Anonymous Boycott

It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.


Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process.


Anonymous hears the voice of the downtrodden American people, whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse - is complicit in these attacks.

We are actively seeking vulnerabilities , but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries' paper products.

We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.

US Koch paper products to boycott: Vanity Fair, Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Sparkle, Brawny, Mardi Gras, Dixie

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

And Back in Egypt...l

Friday, Tahrir was again transformed into a fantasia of flag-selling, popcorn-eating and memorabilia-buying, with a spot of protesting every now and again.


Around 600 demonstrators assembled outside parliament, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, the Iranian. It was business as usual until a military police general arrived and instructed his troops to form a cordon around us, a move that I had thought were SO 2010.


We were eventually able to extricate ourselves from the man and returned to parliament where the news was bleak. Protestors in Tahrir Square had been dispersed using force by the military police.


The general again demanded that we go away, this time like an angry dad, and then suddenly soldiers were deployed and we were all sprinting down Qasr El-Aini street, to a soundtrack of cattle prods.


One protestor was in tears, shouting, “the army is hitting us! The army is hitting us!” There has long been popular adoration of, and respect for the army, reinforced since the tanks rolled in on the 28th. It will be interesting to see whether last night’s episode in any way shakes this, or whether it rallies more people around the demand that Shafiq resigns.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Do You Do When the Police Side with the People?

Ever since massive demonstrations began breaking out at the Capitol last week, police and protesters have maintained a convivial relationship. Now it's about to get downright cozy.

On Friday, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association called on the governor to keep the Capitol open to overnight campers, and even urged members to join them.

"As has been reported in the media, the protesters are cleaning up after themselves and have not caused any problems," said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer, who urged the governor "not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public."

Going one step further, Palmer suggested fellow officers come to the Capitol Friday night to sleep among the protesters.

"Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Gov. Walker's attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin's devoted public employees is wrong," continued Palmer. "That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight."

  Wisconsin State Journal

What do you do? You shut it down.

The protests that have deluged the Wisconsin Capitol are now being wound down -- at least the ones insides are -- with the Capitol Police announcing today that the building will close down on Sunday.


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

Stop Corporate Tax Evasion

Recall the recent events in Britain by UK Uncut? Well, now there's a branch in the U.S.


Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process. – website of President-Elect Barack Obama, November 2007

Last April, the DOJ served a subpoena on New York Times reporter James Risen, demanding to know his source for a story he published in his 2006 book regarding a "reckless" and horribly botched CIA effort to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program. That subpoena had originally been served but was then abandoned by the Bush DOJ, but its revitalization by the Obama administration was but one of many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President.


As the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood put it, "They’re going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor." And last May, The New York Times described how "the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks."


For a President who insists that we must "Look Forward, Not Backward" -- when it comes to investigating war crimes by high-level Bush officials -- this anti-whistleblower assault reflects not only an obsession on preserving and bolstering the National Security State's secrecy regime, but also an intense fixation on the past.

Glenn Greenwald

You just didn’t understand which whistleblowers he was talking about protecting.

Of course, I stole pretty much everything in this post from Glenn Greenwald. But he has a lot more in his article, and if you don’t read Greenwald’s blog regularly, I highly recommend you do so.

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Heads Up

UPDATE: Too busy to pay attention, apparenlty. That was just the House. It still has to go to the Senate, and the Democratic Senators have gone missing.

Also, apparently, no one is reading this blog, or someone would have corrected me.


Too busy at work these days - going in at 7:30, and too tired when I come home at 6:00 to blog. There are interesting negative develops in both the Manning and Assange cases, but I will definitely be watching Wisconsin. The republicans just manhandled - or maybe they just weasled - the union busting bill into law.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rolling Along

First Madison, then Columbus, now Indianapolis.

Roll on.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Revisionist History

The Rumsfeld Papers web site, which launched earlier this month as a complement to the memoir, is a collection of Rumsfeld's memos, speeches, and other documents going back to his days as an undergraduate at Princeton in the 1950s. The idea, according to a researcher he hired for the project, "to get more information in people's hands" because "he really thinks the free flow of information is critical to a vibrant democracy."


Oh, yeah. That’s the Donald Rumsfeld we know.

[S]tuff--like his callous attempts to keep John Walker Lindh from getting speedy trial, his effort to whitewash the Pentagon's detainee policy, and the friendly op-eds he tried to plant in newspapers--he left out.

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


Two high-ranking Libyan Air Force pilots have reportedly defected to Malta after refusing orders to conduct aerial bombing of civilian protestors. Reuters reports, with little detail, that a group of Libyan officers has issues a statement calling on the armed forces to "join the people" and remove Gaddafi from power.


The Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. just called on the Untied States to denounce his country's leaders -- and his employers -- more forcefully.

"I want the U.S. to tell the world and to work with the countries who love peace...they have to stop this," Ambassador Ali Ojli said, suggesting that he had resigned his post, in an interview with Al Jazeera English.


Chicago TV tonight is reporting there are rumors Qaddafi may hve fled to Venezuela. If so, his insistence he wouldn't flee and vow to die on Libyan soil didn't last long.

More on the "Diplomat" in Pakistan

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. "It's beyond a shadow of a doubt," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.

Pakistani prosecutors accuse the spy of excessive force, saying he fired 10 shots and got out of his car to shoot one man twice in the back as he fled. The man's body was found 30 feet from his motorbike.


A third man was crushed by an American vehicle as it rushed to Davis's aid. Pakistani officials believe its occupants were CIA because they came from the house where Davis lived and were armed.


The Pakistani government is aware of Davis's CIA status yet has kept quiet in the face of immense American pressure to free him under the Vienna convention. Last week President Barack Obama described Davis as "our diplomat" and dispatched his chief diplomatic troubleshooter, Senator John Kerry, to Islamabad. Kerry returned home empty-handed.


Pakistani suspicions about Davis's role were stoked by the equipment police confiscated from his car: an unlicensed pistol, a long-range radio, a GPS device, an infrared torch and a camera with pictures of buildings around Lahore.


A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection after speaking to Davis's wife. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government.

UK Guardian

Now it turns out that The New York Times -- by its own shameless admission -- was one of those self-censoring, obedient media outlets. Now that The Guardian published its story last night, the NYT just now published a lengthy article detailing Davis' work -- headlined: "American Held in Pakistan Shootings Worked With the C.I.A."


Now that The Guardian and other foreign papers reported it, the U.S. Government gave permission to the NYT to report this, so now that they have government license, they do so -- only after it's already been reported by other newspapers which don't take orders from the U.S. Government.


It's one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because they believe its disclosure would endanger lives. But here, the U.S. Government has spent weeks making public statements that were misleading in the extreme -- Obama's calling Davis "our diplomat in Pakistan" -- while the NYT deliberately concealed facts undermining those government claims because government officials told them to do so. That's called being an active enabler of government propaganda. [...]Moreover, since there is no declared war in Pakistan, this incident -- as the NYT puts it today -- "inadvertently pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the C.I.A. " That alone makes Davis' work not just newsworthy, but crucial.


Following the dictates of the U.S. Government for what they can and cannot publish is, of course, anything but new for the New York Times [...] the paper learned about [George Bush’s illegal wiretapping] program in mid-2004, but followed Bush's orders to conceal it from the public for over a year -- until after Bush was safely re-elected.

Glenn Greenwald

State media.

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

Update: The Truth Comes Out

American government officials now say that Raymond Davis, the American man arrested in Pakistan last month after shooting two men dead in Lahore, was part of a covert, C.I.A.-led team of operatives, according to The New York Times.


Yeah, I think we already figured that one out

But The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reports that American officials say Davis "was not directly involved in spying operations," and only provided security to officials with the CIA and other agencies.

Uh-huh. He just needed to kill those two Pak guys, because….why?

Perhaps he was guarding spying CIA offiiclas.

Americans have argued that the shooting was self-defense, and that Davis has diplomatic immunity. Officials originally said that Davis was a "member of the technical and administrative staff" of the embassy in Islamabad.


The Times reports that a Lahore police report published in English by The Daily Times over the weekend raises questions about the self-defense case, pointing out that the victims were shot in the back.

Yeah, that kind of blows that argument, doesn’t it?

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

Meanwhile in Yemen

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed on Monday not to quit under popular pressure as demonstrations demanding his ouster spread across the country and the death toll in protests rose to 12.

  Raw Story

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

Here You Go, Madison

Seen at The Arabist.

The Libyan Domino

Sources affiliated with the Gaddafi family spoke to Asharq al-Awsat via telephone, saying that the city of al-Bayda [east Libya] is witnessing riots and widespread violence, led by armed militias.


Libyan sources told Asharq al-Awsat that the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, will not flee the country if the situation escalates, and that he intends to die on Libyan soil.

  Asharq Alawsat

That’s exactly what Mubarak said just a few days before he packed it in. However, I have a feeling The Libyan Fashionista will be a bit more heavy handed with his protesters, and the dying on Libyan soil might be their fate rather than his.

At any rate, the people don’t seem to be in the peaceful protest mindset of their Egyptian neighbors.

The sources said: "the militias are in control of al-Bayda and they are killing anyone who stands in their way, even if they are opponents of the regime". They added that the militia groups had stormed a prison, released the inmates, and then conducted acts of violence against the people, as well as looting.


The sources pointed out that the majority of soldiers in "Legion 36" are of "Tabu" origin, a dark-skinned tribe living in the Kufra governorate. When they entered al-Bayda the residents thought they were African mercenaries, recruited by the government to fight against them. Thus they [the militia] killed them and mutilated their bodies.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Go Madison!

The People's House in Wisconsin has actually become the people's house.

Reporting at First Draft.

Days of Rage

As the Libyan military’s violence against protesters continued to escalate, some appeared to have taken it upon themselves to fight back. One anonymous eyewitness, speaking to CNN, exclaimed that over 200 people had died on Sunday amid clashes, and that protesters had used a car bomb in an effort to breach a military case. Other protesters attacked the camp with a tank, but were driven back.The anonymous man, who was risking his life to make the call using someone else’s SIM card, called the military’s response “genocide” and pleaded for international help. “The situation is extreme here,” he said.

  Raw Story

Palestinians are planning a "day of rage" on Friday in response to the US wielding its veto against a UN security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

The US decision to use its veto has sparked a furious reaction in the West Bank and Gaza.

Anti-US rallies took place in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Jenin this weekend after the 14-1 vote on the resolution, in which the US stood alone against the rest of the security council, including Britain, Germany and France. It voted in contradiction of its own policy.

  UK Guardian

Well, Of Course They Did

The Obama administration issued its first UN Security Council veto Friday, when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice voted alone against a resolution declaring Israeli settlement activity to be illegal.


New Front in the GOP War on Collective Bargaining

The massive, government-crippling protests in Madison, Wisconsin have now spilled over into Ohio, where over 5,000 rallied Thursday in opposition to a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Ohio's Senate Bill 5 is essentially the same as what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed, and it seems to be recieving about the same response.

  Raw Story

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This Should Be Interesting

A bipartisan trio of senators [Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME)] has introduced a new cybersecurity bill that eliminates the president's authority to switch off the Internet.


The measure states that "neither the president, the director of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, nor any other officer or employee of the federal government should have the authority to shut down the Internet."

  Raw Story

Cry Me a River

Colin Powell's ex-chief of staff said Thursday the former Secretary of State was lied to and manipulated by Vice President Dick Cheney into justifying the US invasion of Iraq.

  Raw Story

Colin Powell knew damned well what he was doing. He squawked about it at the time, but he did it, nonetheless. He could have ‘retired’ honorably without doing it like several other generals did. But he didn’t have the honor.

Which makes him perhaps more responsible than Cheney and Bush, because, considering his position and influence at the time, had he been honorable and quit in protest of the lies instead of just grumping about it behind closed doors, the war may very well have never happened.

Support for Wisconsin's Protesters

As of Friday, more than 200 people had been invited to a Facebook event aimed at finding out-of-town protesters a place to sleep. Capitol-area residents offer couches, sleeping bags and even floor space on the page, which is "in support of all American workers!" It can be found at

And staff at Ian's Pizza one block west of the Capitol said Friday a couple dozen of their pies have gone to protesters — purchased by supporters from coast to coast.

People have called in orders from New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Illinois, Arizona and California, said Nick Stratman, a manager at Ian's.

Brendan Wilson, another manager, said a call came in Thursday night from someone in San Francisco who ordered $300 worth of pizza.

  First Draft

Friday, February 18, 2011

American Justice

Yesterday, in South Carolina, an Obama-appointed federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by [accused 'Dirty Bomber' Jose] Padilla against former Bush officials Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz and others. That suit alleges that those officials knowingly violated Padilla's Constitutional rights by ordering his due-process-free detention and torture. In dismissing Padilla's lawsuit, the court's opinion relied on the same now-depressingly-familiar weapons routinely used by our political class to immunize itself from judicial scrutiny: national security would be undermined by allowing Padilla to sue; "government officials could be distracted from their vital duties to attend depositions or respond to other discovery requests"; "a trial on the merits would be an international spectacle with Padilla, a convicted terrorist, summoning America's present and former leaders to a federal courthouse to answer his charges"; the litigation would risk disclosure of vital state secrets; and "discovery procedures could be used by our enemies to obtain valuable intelligence."

  Glenn Greenwald

We can’t have them inconvenienced by depositions, now, can we?

And why are they using discovery procedures that someone else can get hold of?

Not a single War on Terror detainee has been accorded any redress in American courts for the severe abuses to which they were subjected (including innocent people being detained for years, rendered and even tortured), and worse, no detainee has been allowed by courts even to have their claims heard.


As Padilla's counsel, Ben Wizner, said, the court yesterday ruled "that Donald Rumsfeld is above the law and Jose Padilla is beneath it." That's just what the American justice system is.

Yeah. Tough shit, huh?

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


The First Black President just gave birth to an unmistakably Republican budget – and everybody knows who that ugly baby’s daddy is. For the past two years, Barack Obama has been making out quite publicly with George Bush’s corporate friends. But that shouldn’t be a scandal; after all, Obama has always told everyone in range of his voice that his main goal in life is to forge a grand consensus with the GOP, a bipartisan understanding between the Right and the Center Right.


Obama is showing such extraordinary talent for obliterating poor and working class programs across the board, he’s making Republicans look redundant and obsolete.

From community block grants to Section 8 housing vouchers to child care to Pell Grants to home heating oil for the poor, Obama has preemptively savaged all that decent people hold dear in the social safety net, and is in enthusiastic, principled agreement with the Republicans that the big cuts are still to come, in Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.


As we at Black Agenda Report and honest analysts like Paul Street pointed out all along, Obama has always been a dangerous, corporate creature. But like the frog that allows the scorpion to hitch a ride on his back across the swollen river, Black and progressive misleaders act shocked and hurt when Obama stings them with his deadly budget halfway through his term.

  Black Agenda Report: News, analysis and commentary from the black left

And Noam Chomsky:

Well, my feeling—actually, I had the same feeling in 2008. I’m not disillusioned, because I didn’t have any expectations, just looking at the funding, looking at his background. Actually, I wrote about it before the primaries even. But nevertheless, you know, when I was asked in 2008, "Who should you vote for?" my own feeling was—and it will be next time—that if you’re in a swing state, you better vote against the prehistoric monsters, because they’re going to cause much more trouble. Well, in our system, the only choice you have would be to vote for Obama. Hold your nose and vote, but don’t expect anything.

Just take a look at where he’s coming from, where his funding is coming from. Over a long period, like a century, you can pretty well predict policies by just looking at concentration of campaign funding. Thomas Ferguson, very outstanding political scientist, has done the main work on this, and it’s convincing. So, when you find that the core of the funding is the financial institutions, you can pretty well expect that the major policies will be to reward them. Yeah, OK, it’s pretty much what happened. You shouldn’t be disillusioned. But if you have to make a choice between that and, you know, Newt Gingrich, well, OK, you have to make that choice. Don’t expect anything.

What has to be done is what’s happening in Madison, or what’s happening in Tahrir Square in Cairo. If there’s mass popular opposition, any political leader is going to have to respond to it, whoever they are.


And the jobs aren’t coming back, because policy is designed, by the man in charge of jobs for the Obama administration and others like him, to send production abroad. It’s cheaper. It’s more profitable for the banks and the management. Or to move from investment in production to investment in finance, which does nothing for the economy, probably harms it, but it is very profitable and has the nice feature that when it crashes, as it’s going to do, the taxpayer will come in and bail you out. It’s a great system. It’s a real racket. We will—the regulations are such so that we can take very risky transactions, make a lot of money, it’s going to crash, but no problem, there’s that nice taxpayer. They will come in and bail us out. We’ll be richer than before. And each time it gets worse than it was the last time. Now, this one is really bad. So whatever the growth figures show, for the population, that’s not happening, except for a small sector. So the numbers could be right, but that’s not what it means for people’s lives.

  Democracy Now

Go ahead and read that Democracy Now interview with Noam Chomsky. He talks about Haiti, about the reality of the US economy and about the movement and counter-movement in Wisconsin to bust the unions.

I'll be interested to see what becomes of that protest, because in my view, unions in this country have been dead for years. They went corrupt just like the government, and people lost faith in them. And now you can work in a job without being in a union right alongside someone who is, and the only difference you see is that he has to pay union dues. You don't necessarily see that you are getting benefits fought for by the union.

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

Cue the Calls for Impeachment

The Obama administration told Arab governments Tuesday it will back a [UN] draft resolution saying the Security Council "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," according to Foreign Policy magazine.

  Raw Story

A draft resolution? Does that mean there’ll be a final one that he won’t back?

You Knew This Was Coming

The FBI urged members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on Thursday to update the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and make it easier for authorities to eavesdrop on Internet.

  Raw Story

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How We Got There

In light of the recent admission of "Curveball" (how appropriate is that?) that he lied about pretty much everything we used for intel to invade Iraq, and Rumsfeld's revision of history, I recommend you watch Tim Robbins' play "Embedded." If you have Netflix, you can watch it streaming on your computer or TV.

Or, you can watch it on YouTube.

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

The War Isn't Over

Fox News - So Innocent, So Fair

Fox News' Senior Vice President of News Michael Clemente told Mediate that the network simply made a "mistake" when it aired old footage of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) being booed.

"We made a mistake with some of the video we aired, and plan on issuing a correction on America’s Newsroom tomorrow morning explaining exactly what happened," he said.

  Raw Story

Mission Accomplished.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As I Was Saying

What I actually said was, "This won't play well in Madison."

That was a safe bet.

Tens of thousands of citizens of the state of Wisconsin joined the sixth consecutive day of mass protests in Madison, to protest extreme budget cuts and a plan to eliminate all collective bargaining rights for state employees. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble, which means government acts to prevent organization for the purpose of protecting rights are prohibited. Today, the protests reached their largest numbers yet, and are reported to be spreading.

  Cafe Sentido

The Forgotten Gulf

Oil spill? That is so last year.

But the people in Mississippi and Louisiana on the Gulf are still sick, and the they're still cleaning tar balls off their beaches. And I wouldn't eat Gulf seafood if I were you.

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

Hooray for Feingold

Instead of going through that revolving door from the Senate to the corporate board room, ex-senator Russ Feingold is creating a PAC to do something positive.

Called "Progressives United," Feingold said he intended for the group to stand up to undue corporate influence in the halls of American governance.

  Raw Story

Will There Be Lawsuits?

I'd guess yes, and if so, we the taxpayers will be picking up the tab.

Approximately 84,000 websites were shut down and wrongfully accused of having links to child pornography as part of "Operation Protect Our Children," a new joint operation between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that it had executed seizure warrants against ten domain names of websites engaged in the distribution of child pornography, but during the operation the domain name of a large DNS service provider was also mistakenly seized [...] and replaced with a Homeland Security Investigations banner.


The DHS banner stated: "Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution."


Most of the subdomains on were for personal websites or small businesses, according to TorrentFreak.

  Raw Story

Real nice.

The competency of the DHS once again proves to be devastating.

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

Remember Anthrax?

The anthrax attacks just after the 9/11 attacks were as large a part, if not larger, of the government's push to scare the crap out of its sheeple so they wouldn't hesitate to approve of an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

For years, the FBI believed that it had identified the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks -- former Army researcher Steven Hatfill -- only to be forced to acknowledge that he wasn't involved and then pay him $5.8 million for the damage he suffered from those false accusations. In late July, 2008, the FBI announced that, this time, it had identified the Real Perpetrator: Army researcher Bruce Ivins, who had just committed suicide as a result of being subjected to an intense FBI investigation. Ivins' death meant that the FBI's allegations would never be tested in a court of law.

  Glenn Greenwald

And wasn’t that lucky for the FBI? At the time, of course, we skeptics didn’t believe it was a suicide. Now, whether it was or not, apparently the government’s case against Ivins is not so closed.

another new wrinkle emerged Tuesday, with a panel of prominent scientists casting doubt on key FBI scientific evidence.

A report from the National Research Council questioned the strength of genetic testing that the government said had conclusively linked the anthrax-infested letters that killed five people to a flask of lethal bacteria belonging to Bruce E. Ivins.


"For years, the FBI has claimed scientific evidence for its conclusion that anthrax spores found in the letters were linked to the anthrax bacteria found in Dr. Ivins' lab," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The report "shows that the science is not necessarily a slam-dunk. There are no more excuses for avoiding an independent review."


Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today is reintroducing the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. Holt is introducing the bill on the same day that the National Academy of Sciences issued its report raising questions about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) scientific conclusions in the “Amerithrax” case. He first introduced the legislation in September 2008.

  Rush Holt .gov

The Libyan Domino

Reports from Benghazi, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital, indicated the city was now calm but that overnight, protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police.

The protesters were angry about the arrest of a human rights campaigner and demanded his release.

Gaddafi opponents used the Facebook social networking site to call on people to go out onto the streets across Libya on Thursday for what they described as a "day of rage."


As much as I detest Facebook, it has certainly been of service lately. How long before it is bought by Rupert Murdoch?

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

They Really Have Landed!

Not only Serene Branson, but this happened in Wisconsin last month.

I would say something about blonds, but, no. Pod people perhaps.

By the way, if you're worried about Serene, she says she is feeling okay and has seen a doctor.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


For those of you who have not heard, amidst the celebrations in Tahrir Square on the day Hosni Mubarak resigned the presidency in Egypt, CBS News war correspondent Lara Logan was separated from her film crew and security and suffered, in the words of CBS News, "a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating."

She was eventually saved by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers. She's now recovering in a hospital in the United States.


I understand there was a lot of anger and violence directed toward reporters and Americans in particular.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Aliens Have Landed

UPDATE: CBS just won't let us have any fun. ABC has it up, but you have to watch an ad first. It's worth it. Here

UPDATE: Must have had too many hits. CBS pulled it.

Here it is from YouTube - at least it's still up at the moment.

UPDATE: Well, that one was pulled by CBS, too.

Dude. That is scary.

Of course, she still makes more sense than most reporters.

Yeah, yeah, this is not something to joke about.

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

Meanwhile, the Other Dominoes

Demonstrators took to the streets in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain on Monday, inspired by the anti-government revolts that toppled the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt over the last month.


At least 17 protesters were wounded and up to 165 others were arrested Monday in clashes between anti- government demonstrators and the police and paramilitary forces in Yemen's capital Sanaa and the southern province of Taiz, witnesses told Xinhua.

The clashes in Sanaa erupted when thousands of demonstrators, including hundreds of students and lawyers, marched through the city and attempted to enter the downtown square Al-Tahrir, while about 2,000 armed paramilitary forces deployed there in rows trying to stop them from entering.


Faced with an increasingly alarming threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the U.S. military will begin a new training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit so it can move against militants believed to be plotting attacks on America from safe havens there.


How timely for the Yemeni government.

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

Egypt: What Next?

The Arabist has a bullet-point translation of a meeting the Egyptian army had with the Facebook Revolution organizers.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt: What Next?

An attempt by the military police to clear Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo Sunday of all protesters seemed as though it were succeeding until mid-morning. They removed most of the tents, and made a path for traffic through the area, a vital artery. There were some beatings of protesters and minor scuffles.

Then protesters poured back into one area of the square, to the side of the traffic.


Some reports say that the protesters are forming a council to negotiate the direction of the country with the military, and to guide supporters as to whether they should call, or call off, demonstrations.


The Telegraph is reporting that Mubarak himself used his last 18 days in power to move billions of dollars in ill-gotten assets around, into secret accounts so that this wealth could not be seized.

Juan Cole

Which is no doubt the real reason he did not resign earlier.

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

May The Force Be With You

Hundreds of Egyptian policemen took to the streets of the canal city of Ismailiya on Sunday, alleging abuse within their ranks and accusing senior officers of ordering them to shoot at protesters, participants said.

Uniformed police and members of the secret police marched down a main road chanting "police and people together.”

  al Arabiya

It also happened in Venezuela when the US backed a coup on Chavez in 2002.

I have my doubts about our police here. Especially after Katrina. And Seattle. And Oakland. And Miami.

Praise and Exhortation for Facebook

"Recent events in Egypt and Tunisia have again highlighted the significant costs and benefits of social networking technology like Facebook to democracy and human rights activists," Senator Dick Durbin said in a letter to Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.


"However, as millions of people around the world use Facebook to exercise their freedom of expression, I am concerned that the company does not have adequate safeguards in place to protect human rights and avoid being exploited by repressive governments," Durbin said.


"[T]he Egyptian and Tunisian governments have reportedly used Facebook to monitor activists, which is surely aided by Facebook's refusal to allow activists to use pseudonyms," the senator said, citing Belarus, China, and Iran as other countries using social networking to track activists.


I think he may have left out one other major country (to whose demands on this very issue Facebook may well be bowing), but good on Dick Durbin.

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

The Difference

I was among the million people who marched [...] on February 15, 2003, to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq.


We showed up, we marched, we massed -- then we quietly went home, back to our lives, and let the brutal machinery of aggressive war roll on.

That's why February 15 will remain nothing more than a brief footnote in a long, still-churning saga of atrocity and slaughter, while January 25, the day the Egyptians first took to the streets -- and stayed in the streets -- will be honored for generations as a landmark of human liberation.

Chris Floyd

A matter of incentive. We weren't hungry. And the evil was being perpetrated on those Arabs over there.

It's Sunday

Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been 300 tweets since my last confession.

Whether you've been "borrowing" free Wi-Fi or coveting your neighbor's avatar -- or, heaven forbid, something worse -- a new mobile app is designed to help you atone for it.

Lame tech jokes aside, the makers of "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" say their software is seriously designed to help believers with the sacrament, and to help those who have left the church take a digital step back home.


And to make the designers a whole bunch of money. But that’s beside the point.

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

It's Sunday

The Catholic church has updated its bible.

The New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), which was set to make its debut on Ash Wednesday, March 9, aimed to make the text easier to understand by making a number of little tweaks, both subtle and obvious, in hopes of making it easier to read. Among them, deleting the words "cereal," "booty" and, oddly enough, "holocaust," was said to have taken place to help people better understand scripture.


"It will be like going from regular TV to high-definition," Mary Elizabeth Sperry, associate director of New American Bible utilization for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Catholic News Service. "You'll have the same programs but more clarity, more detail."


The word "cereal," originally referring to bushels of wheat, had been removed because of fears readers might confuse it for a breakfast food.

  Raw Story

They really have a lot of faith in the ignorance of their followers, don’t they?

Apparently in deference to Jews, they changed 'holocaust' to 'burnt offerings.' Hard to believe Pope Ratzi is making nice after 1) rescinding the excommunication of a holocaust denying bishop, and 2) having been a Nazi himself during the time when the sitting pope declared the church had to remain neutral in the face of Hitler's cleansing. Silly concession, however, considering the word holocaust isn't unique to that event.

And you know why they replaced the word 'booty.' Too many priests getting them some.

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Is Libya next?

It appears there's a call for a mass protest on February 17. I have a feeling the Libyan government will be a little harsher than the Egyptians.

A writer who called for peaceful mass protests in Libya like those in Tunisia and Egypt has been arrested on the pretext of an alleged car accident, Amnesty International said.

The human rights group said Jamal al-Hajji, who has dual Libyan and Danish nationality, was arrested on Feb. 1 shortly after he issued a call on the Internet for demonstrations in support of greater freedoms in the North African country.


Political parties are banned in Libya, public dissent is rare and rights groups say many opponents of leader Muammar Gaddafi are in jail. But Gaddafi says Libyans enjoy greater democracy than in Western countries because of their system of grass-roots government.


And nobody will be able to replace the Libyan Fashionista for style.

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

Egypt Today

Egypt's new military rulers told the nation on Saturday they were committed to civilian rule and democracy after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow and said they would respect all treaties, a move to reassure Israel and Washington.

Pro-democracy activists in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the epicenter of an earthquake of popular protest that unseated Mubarak, have vowed to stay there until the Higher Military Council accepts their agenda for democratic reform.


Al Arabiya has said the army will soon dismiss the cabinet and suspend parliament. The head of the Constitutional Court would join the leadership with the military council, which was given the job of running the country of 80 million people.

  Raw Story

What happened to Suleiman?

AP Video

One Down

One of the lasting gifts of American democracy to her ruling class and their subjects has been the fact that no one face stays in front of her subjects for 30 years. They have the illusion of change without having to die for the reality.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Won't Play Well in Madison

New [Wisconsin] Gov. Scott Walker (R) is proposing stripping all government workers of their collective bargaining rights. And to add a weirdly Mubarak-like angle to it he's now flaunting the fact that he's put the state national guard on alert in case there is labor unrest in response to the loss of collective bargaining rights.


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

Scrambling for Distance

The CEO and COO of Berico -- the third company whose name appears on the [BofA anti-WikiLeaks] report (along with Palantir and HB Gary) -- has now issued a statement condemning the proposal [to destroy WikiLeaks by hook or by crook] as "reprehensible" and also severed all ties with HB Gary


[T]he co-founder and CEO of Palantir Tech, Alex Karp, has now issued a statement stating that he "directed the company to sever any and all contacts with HB Gary. [...] "Personally and on behalf of the entire company, I want to publicly apologize to progressive organizations in general, and Mr. Greenwald in particular, for any involvement that we may have had in these matters."


One section of the leaked report focused on attacking WikiLeaks' supporters and it featured a discussion of me [Glenn Greenwald]. A graph purporting to be an "organizational chart" identified several other targets, including former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8 Lee, Guardian reporter James Ball, and Manning supporter David House. The report claimed I was "critical" to WikiLeaks' public support after its website was removed by Amazon and that "it is this level of support that needs to be disrupted"; absurdly speculated that "without the support of people like Glenn, WikiLeaks would fold"; and darkly suggested that "these are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause." As The Tech Herald noted, "earlier drafts of the proposal and an email from Aaron Barr used the word 'attacked' over 'disrupted' when discussing the level of support."


Obviously, I wouldn't have spent the last year vehemently supporting WikiLeaks -- to say nothing of aggressively criticizing virtually every large media outlet and many of their leading stars, as well as the most beloved political leaders of both parties -- if I were willing to choose "career preservation over cause."


[Palantir CEO] Karp called me [...] and commendably committed to telling me by the end of the week whether Bank of America or Hunton & Williams actually retained these firms to carry out this proposal.


[I]n other leaked HB Gary emails, ThinkProgress discovered that similar proposals were prepared for the Chamber of Commerce to attack progressive groups and other activists (including ThinkProgress). And perhaps most disturbing of all, Hunton & Williams was recommended to Bank of America's General Counsel by the Justice Department -- meaning the U.S. Government is aiding Bank of America in its defense against/attacks on WikiLeaks.


The U.S. Government's obsession with destroying WikiLeaks has been well-documented. And because the U.S. Government is free to break the law without any constraints, oversight or accountability, so, too, are its "private partners" able to act lawlessly. That was the lesson of the Congressional vesting of full retroactive immunity on lawbreaking telecoms, of the refusal to prosecute any of the important Wall Street criminals who caused the 2008 financial crisis, and of the instinctive efforts of the political class to protect defrauding mortgage banks.

Glenn Greenwald

I'm really quite impressed with both WikiLeaks and Anonymous to be able to be holding their own, and actually coming out on top, while going toe to toe with the considerable force of the US Government and Bank of America. Very impressed.

It's Just a Coincidence Or a Bout of Conscience, I'm Sure

The data intelligence firm Palantir Technologies apologized Thursday for its involvement in developing a proposal to Bank of America to attack secrets outlet WikiLeaks.

Two other data intelligence firms, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies, helped to concoct a plan for a coordinated cyber assault against the website.

I have directed the company to sever any and all contacts with HB Gary," Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Alex Karp said in a statement.

  Raw Story

Maybe the recent hack of HB Gary by the group known as ‘Anonymous’ and their plastering of Gary documents on the internet had something to do with the decision?

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

Coming Tomorrow in Domino Land

Algeria, the oil-rich, military-dominated north African state, braced itself for a day of pro-democracy protests on Saturday, despite a ban on demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, and a large security presence intent on containing any uprising inspired by Egypt or Tunisia.

  UK Guardian

Okay, NOW He's Out

[W]ith a statement on Friday that lasted but 30-seconds, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak's departure.


Egypt's 30 years under President Hosni Mubarak ended to thunderous cries of revolution on Friday, after millions of pro-democracy protesters who'd occupied the country's largest cities for days threatened a "Day of Martyrs" if he did not leave.

  Raw Story

Or it might have been this that convinced him:

The Swiss government froze assets possibly belonging to departed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and his entourage Friday, marking the latest efforts by the Alpine nation to crack down on illicit holdings in its banks.


Or maybe that didn't happen until after he announced he'd leave. I don't have the time line on that.

Psychopathic America

Despite the swerving, the billowing clouds of doublespeak and the confused backtracking, the common thread weaving its way through our government’s reaction has been one of egocentrism of psychopathic dimensions. Our elite media have mostly been neurotically obsessing about the effect that Mubarak’s fall would have on America.

What about access to the Suez Canal? What about Israel? What about Egypt’s cooperation with our War on Terror? What about those juicy military contracts?

Basically, it’s all about us.


One of the key traits of psychopathic personality disorder is a near-total absence of empathy. To the psychopath, other people exist as mere objects, to be used and discarded at the psychopath’s whim.


While watching events unfold these past weeks in Egypt, it became apparent to me that the United States is suffering from a foreign policy malady frighteningly analogous to psychopathic personality disorder.


Psychiatrists say that the treatment of psychopathic personality disorder is long and difficult. The psychopath must be relentlessly confronted with the ugly consequences of his actions. He will usually resort to anything – denial, repression, anger, or even violence – to protect his ego and his dysfunctional personality structure. After all, psychopathic behavior is often very effective at meeting one’s needs. If the psychopath has successfully fulfilled his desires through manipulation and violence for most of his life, why should he stop now?

  Steven Latulippe

Not just a psychopathic government, but a co-dependent, abused spouse population. The analogies are perfect.

Yet Another Domino

Officials have been downplaying the prospect of such protests in Iraq, but it seems that the Tunisia-Egypt bug has spread to Baghdad, where some 3,000 people marched through a Sunni neighborhood protesting against the corruption and incompetence of the Maliki government.


Reports suggest that today’s protests were entirely peaceful, and that smaller protests had been held in Basra and Mosul.

  Jason Ditz

Think of it this way…if we hadn’t freed them from Saddam, they wouldn’t be able to do that.

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

Egypt's Crisis

The protesters are calling for a march on the presidential palace in Heliopolis – with some advancing on the palace even before Mubarak had finished his speech. That palace is being defended, not by the army, but by the presidential guard: this is significant, because it indicates a split in the military, with the regular army not being trusted to guard the seat of power. The guard is also ringed around the state television building, another hint of a split in the military.

All eyes are now on the army, because it’s not clear who is in control. Mubarak delegated his powers to Suleiman, the “vice president,” and he is unambiguously telling the protesters to “go home,” as he put it, and get back to work. We also have a statement from the “Supreme Military Council” to the effect that they will be in continuous session in order to take “necessary measures to protect the nation” and “support the legitimate demands of the people.”

  Justin Raimondo

I suspect there will be rapid developments today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Something Else I Learned Today

Useless, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless.

The name "gunny sack" ... "originates from a Sanskrit word, goni, which means bag or sack. The word was adopted by the English in the 1700s, along with other Sanskrit words which entered the English language due to the colonization of India."

So there.



Welcome to the Third World

President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.

National Journal

Is he hoping to literally freeze them out of the picture?

Up until now he's been doing his best to placate the Republicans and work "with" them. Now, apparently, he's trying to outGOP them.

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

Oh, Fool

After a day of rumors fed by major news networks citing officials from the US and Cairo claiming Hosni Mubarak would resign, Egypt's president addressed the nation and reiterated his intent to hold the post until September.

  Raw Story

Anybody want to bet he won’t manage that?

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

Wise Move

Word is Mubarak will officially step down tonight. Of course, that leaves Suleiman in power. Ball in the people's court. (No pun intended.)

Interesting Case in Pakistan

If you don't know about the case of the American who shot two Pakistani men and is being held prisoner in that country, read this TPM article. Here's my take on it: the Pakistani government's story is the true one. The US government would not be going to such lengths to get this man out if it were the innocent story it is trying to sell. The lengths I am talking about are: 1) "Hillary Clinton canceled a meeting last week with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi." 2) "The White House has threatened to shut down U.S. consulates in Pakistan." 3) U.S. lawmakers who visited Pakistan this week have even suggested that aid to the country could be cut off over the incident.

There is no way the government would be going to those lengths for any ordinary citizen, or even any ordinary "diplomat" who wasn't involved in something more than a common street incident. They want this guy out of the hands of the Pakistani government real bad and immediately.

There is one other possibility that I can see as a possible answer, and that we are at the point with Pakistan that George Bush was on 9/11 and are using this incident as an excuse to break ties with Pakistan so we can bomb them more outrightly than we already are.

My money's on the Pakistan government's story.

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

To Isolate Or Not to Isolate

Ordinary Americans shy away from foreign policy issues for the simple reason that they know what they don’t know – and know enough to keep their opinions largely to themselves. This is admirable, but it leaves an important matter to the self-proclaimed credentialed “experts,” who are more than ready to state all kinds of opinions without having the slightest idea of what they’re talking about. Unleashed on this territory, bereft of morality and objective standards, these “experts” don’t hesitate to back tyrants with your tax dollars, and arm murderers with weapons paid for by peaceful, law-abiding US citizens, all in the name of “realpolitik,” or some such ideological construction.

The US government feels obligated to comment on – and intervene in – every event, no matter how small (or fearsomely large), from Tehran to Timbuktu. Has an election occurred in Ukraine? Well, then, surely it is our sacred duty to ensure it is “free and fair.” Have the Nepalese people overthrown their monarch, and installed a parliamentary democracy? Well, then, surely it’s part of our obligation as a Great Power – nay, the Greatest Power – to check and see if they’re doing it right. During the 1980s we “tilted” toward Iraq, in order to contain Iran, and during the Bush II era we “tilted” against Iraq – and now there’s no music, or theater, being taught (or enjoyed) at Iraq’s premier school of fine arts. Just like in Iran.

Which pretty much says it all when it comes to the fruits of American foreign policy ever since we emerged, stupidly, from the fortress of our post-World War II “isolation.”

Justin Raimondo

I can agree completely with Raimondo’s assessment of who and where we are now. But I tend (or tilt) to part ways with Libertarians once we get to the isolationist stance. In the world today, I just don’t think we can be isolationists and function well. I do agree that we have no business in other countries’ politics - and if they mean isolation in the narrow definition of politics, then I'm with them. But I think we have every interest in other countries’ economies. I don’t, however, think destroying them, which we seem bent on doing in many cases, helps us in the long run. Indeed, it only really helps the top 10% of us or so even in the short run. Our aim should be to improve the economies of every country on earth. Instead, we bankrupt them with loans on which they pay interests they cannot afford. We make them sell their raw materials to us and then sell processed materials back to them at prices they cannot afford.

We cannot live in isolation, but we can live in cooperation instead of competition. We always hear talk about “trade.” Trade has to be a good deal for both parties before it’s really trade. We also hear talk about whether another country has anything to offer us for what we give them - even if what they give us is just bribed political influence. But life isn’t about always getting something for your money. Sometimes you give away your excesses without getting anything for it because it will uplift and improve life for someone else, which inevitably leads to making the whole of life better for everyone.

It could be argued that we wouldn’t have all our wonderful excesses in this country if we hadn’t been dealing with the rest of the world in the self-interested way we have. I’ll even buy that proposition. But even if that's true, it doesn’t mean that we can’t stop now and change the way we do business - use our wealth (which we got off the backs of other countries' and our own lower class populations) to help bring about a balance that allows other countries to improve and become a source of valuable input to the global picture in whatever way they can. I might even allow that would redeem us for what we've been.

And at the very least stop backing dictators and strongmen who keep their own people in chains and squalor. If we can’t do that, then perhaps we really should isolate ourselves.

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