Monday, January 31, 2011

"Obamacare" Hangups

[Florida federal judge] Roger Vinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee, agreed with the 26 state-government plaintiffs that Congress exceeded its authority by passing a law penalizing individuals who do not have health insurance.

"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate," Vinson writes. "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

[...]

By determining the entire law must be wiped out, Vinson went farther than a different Republican-appointed judge in Virginia who declared the mandate unconstitutional late last year. The Obama administration has appealed the Virginia ruling, and is expected to appeal this one.

  TPM

Meanwhile in Algeria

Algeria will not be swamped by a wave of unrest spreading through Arab states because it is investing its energy revenues in improving peoples' lives, a senior ally of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said.

Abdelaziz Belkhadem, head of Algeria's ruling FLN party and a cabinet minister, acknowledged the authorities could be doing more but said that, unlike in Egypt or Tunisia, Algerian protesters were not demanding a change of government.

Reuters

Until the people demand a change of government, why should the government “do more?”

More than 10,000 protesters marched against authorities in Algeria’s northeastern city of Bejaia on Saturday in the country’s largest rally yet.

[...]

Demonstrators marched peacefully in the city, chanting slogans such as: "For a radical change of the regime!”

Africa Online

Sounds a little like a demand for a change of government to me.

Meanwhile colleagues prevented yet another man, a bank employee, from setting himself alight after dousing himself with petrol in front of his employer's headquarters in an Algiers suburb Sunday.

The bank his employer had refused him financial aid to care for his handicapped daughter, an fellow employee of the local development bank BDL told AFP. He had worked there for 18 years.

Most BDL agencies in the Algiers region closed in solidarity with the man.

That incident marked the 10th attempted self-immolation since January 12.

The spate of such incidents follow the self-immolation in neighbouring Tunisia of 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi.

Google

[S]several towns, including the capital, experienced days of rioting provoked by a jump in food prices. Two people died and hundreds were injured in clashes with police.

Belkhadem, whose ministerial title is the president's personal representative, said that was nothing new for Algeria, which is more tolerant of dissent than many Arab countries. "We have arrests and riots on a daily basis," he said.

Reuters

That’s gotta be the greatest blow-off I’ve ever heard.

No need to “do more.” This is just life in Algeria.

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

The Grip

Recall that President Obama recently made a personal phone call to Hosni Mubarak after which Mubarak immediately appointed a "vice president" - Omar Suleiman. Here's a little more about the man.

[A] ccording to [Ron] Suskind, Suleiman was the C.I.A.’s liaison for the rendition of an Al Qaeda suspect known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi. The Libi case is particularly controversial, in large part because it played a role in the building of the case for the American invasion of Iraq.

[...]

Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances.

[...]

Technically, U.S. law required the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from Egypt that rendered suspects wouldn’t face torture. But under Suleiman’s reign at the intelligence service, such assurances were considered close to worthless. As Michael Scheuer, a former C.I.A. officer who helped set up the practice of rendition, later testified before Congress, even if such “assurances” were written in indelible ink, “they weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit

  New Yorker

Which is just what we were looking for.

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

The World Is Better Off Without Saddam Hussein

Especially the Iraqis now that we've brought them the freedom of having lost their homes and their relatives. Now they also get this:

[P]rotests were sparked by the closure of a cafe near the IWU [Iraqi Writers Union] building where writers and intellectuals often gathered to smoke sheesha water pipes and drink alcohol.

Baghdad provincial authorities argue that they are only enforcing a decree, issued during dictator Saddam Hussein's religious campaigns of the 1990s, which said no restaurants or hotels could serve alcohol.

The ban, which exempts alcohol stores, was initially enforced last year. Under Iraqi law, only Christians and Yazidi-Kurds are allowed to sell alcohol.

  Yahoo

The Iraqi Ministry of Education has banned theatre and music classes in Baghdad's Fine Arts Institute, and ordered the removal of statues showcased at the entrance of the institute without explaining the move, but some of the students mull religious reasons as the real motive.

  al Arabiya

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

Because We All Need A Laugh

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Sunday

The only Biblical recourse for a horrible marriage, or any marriage for that matter, is death. If your husband is an abusive, mean, hateful, fill-in-the-blank jerk in spite of you doing your best as a wife, God can kill him whenever He wants to. If he is still alive, God must want you to still be married to him. A wife could pray and fast for her husband/marriage, and for the kids to turn out right in spite of marital problems. If nothing else, it will be a great lesson for the kids, who hopefully will grow up and make wiser and more careful choices regarding their future spouse, rather than learning that marriage can be dissolved at a whim.

Jesus’ General, quoting another source

And why shouldn’t it be dissolved at a whim? It may well have been entered into at a whim. Or literally under the influence:

The chemical responsible for the initial high of love is called phenylethylalanine, which promotes passionate love. Within six months to a few years, the phenylethylalanine fades.

Auburn Reporter

It's nice this person is "hopeful" that kids from an abusive home will grow up wise and careful, no matter that they've been raised by unwise and careless people. And yes, wives of abusive husbands, praying and fasting is what can make your kids turn out right in spite of that. At least, it's your only choice, so we better hope it can. (We're a hopeful bunch.)

And, P.S., you might take the hint that if God wants you to still be married to this abusive sociopath, God doesn't really like you very much.

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

It's Sunday

And I’m going to be sorry I left Missouri.

The tenth article of faith, written by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842, declares that the New Jerusalem will be built upon the American continent. He learned this as he translated the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 20:22; Ether 13:2-6). Additional revelation on this subject came in September 1830 and was further clarified in the subsequent months (D&C 28:9; 42:33-36, 62, 67; 57:3). In July 1831, Joseph Smith traveled to Jackson County, Missouri, at the command of the Lord, where it was announced that the long-awaited gathering of Israel would commence. The city of Zion (also called the New Jerusalem) and its temple would be built in Independence, Missouri (D&C 57:1-3).

  Light Planet

Seriously, just before I left Missouri, I had a very strong feeling - probably a message - that Missouri was to figure big in the cosmic scheme of things. But, lo, the Lord commanded me to travel to Mexico (or was that Rich's idea?) and from there to Galveston.

So, I guess the Mormons (the ‘Other Christians’) don’t support the True Christians’ support of Israel stomping out the Muslims in order to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem?

And, by the way…

It's a little known fact that although Jesus was a big supporter of capital punishment, he didn't approve of the way it was conducted. Crucifixion was a little too foreignish, a little too Muslimy, for him. That's why, after one of His water-into-wine parties on Cana's 25th Street, He'd often go up to Golgotha and beat all the crucified people to death with His favorite pearl-handled jawbone of an ass (it had the words, "You Lie." etched into it).

   Jesus’ General

And, one more thing:

The writings of Ether, written prior to 125 B.C., abridged by Moroni 2 in the Book of Mormon, prophesy of the preparations for the coming of the messiah and of a New Jerusalem in the Western Hemisphere. It is to be built by the remnant of the seed of Joseph of Egypt (Ether 13:3-10). Ether also speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem of old, adding that it will be rebuilt with a temple and become a holy city (Ether 13:11).

  Light Planet

There are writings of Ether in the book of Mormon? That could explain a number of things Joseph Smith said.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hoping to Keep Control

Egypt's president Mubarak, as you know, is the target of five days and counting of riots and protests. Rather than step down, he fired his entire cabinet. Unsurprisingly, that didn't seem to do the trick.

Mr. Obama recently phoned Mr. Mubarak. By what has transpired next, I think we can surmise what he told him.

Mr. Mubarak has just installed intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice president, a post that hasn’t existed in Egypt the entire 30 years Mubarak has been embedded.

[At one time, Suleiman] led efforts to patch together a revived "unity government" in Palestine, tying back together Fatah and Hamas.

[...]

Fatah and Hamas came close several times to a deal -- but ultimately, the United States privately conveyed to Mubarak and to Suleiman that it didn't want to see the process succeed.

The Saudis who supported a restored unity government in Palestine were highly irritated when Egypt, supposedly brokering a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah actually sabotaged the effort.

Suleiman, intel chief and now Egypt's VP, was America's proxy.

  TPM Cafe

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

Dominoes

Tunisia, Egypt...now come Jordan and Algeria. World Uprising on the march.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Supporting Terrorists

Last Thursday in Washington D.C., a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director. Almost to a man -- and they were all men -- they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

[...]

Getting the MEK off the United States' list of terrorist organizations has become a top priority for "members of Congress, former Bush administration officials, and Iran experts.

[...]

This week, The Wall Street Journal reports, [Gen. James Jones, who was Obama's National Security Adviser until last fall and former New Mexico Gov. Bill] Richardson were in Brussels, for yet another pro-MEK panel, this one alongside former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

[...]

Last month, TPM reported how former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey flew to Paris to speak at an MEK event.

[...]

When the MEK's leader Maryam Rajavi was arrested in France in 2003, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) were among those who protested publicly.

[...]

At last week's panel, a pair of prominent Democrats --[...] Richardson and former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) -- and several national security experts added their voices to the pro-MEK chorus.

[...]

"Does it make sense that we continue to ostracize, label opponents of the regime as terrorists, when the facts say otherwise," Torricelli, who moderated the event, said in his opening statement. "Is it even possible to oppose a terrorist state, and be a terrorist yourself?"

TPM

In a word – yes.

I think I’m beginning to see the problem here. The people making our laws don’t know the meaning of the word ‘terrorist.’

Now, I don’t know whether the MEK should be on the US terrorist list or not. But I do know they’ve been there for years, and I have to wonder why it was okay for them to be there 5 years ago or 2 years or even 1 year ago, and now, suddenly, it’s a top priority for these people to get them off it. Plus, we’ve been dealing with them in Iraq for several years now; it hasn’t seemed to matter to our military and intelligence officials that they were on the terrorist list. What gives?

The State Department website states that the group "advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian regime and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970's." When it was founded by students in the 1960s, the group's philosophy blended Marxism and Islam, and it later developed a strong feminist bent.

[...]

Popular sentiment in Iran turned against the MEK, and the group fled, first to France, and then, in 1986, to Iraq, where they were offered safe haven by Saddam Hussein.

Hussein armed the MEK with tanks and other heavy military equipment, and deployed "thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces" during the Iran-Iraq war, according to the State Department. In 1991, Hussein used the MEK to crack down on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. [...] None of the speakers at last week's panel mentioned the MEK's prior ties with Hussein.

No, I bet they didn’t.

Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them didn’t even know it.

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

Killing the Gulf

Finally.

Chemical compounds from the oil dispersants applied to the Gulf of Mexico didn't break down as expected, according to a study released this week. Scientists found the compounds lingering for months in the deep waters of the Gulf, long after BP's oil had stopped spewing.

TPM

Really? You’d have never known that by BP and government reports up until now. But, if you’d been paying attention to the people who were actually living there or reporting the truth rather than the cover-up, such as Dahr Jamail, you’re simply shaking your head right now.

They didn't break down as expected by whom? By the people who bought what the government was saying about them. The government which used as its reference the claims of the chemical manufacturer. They broke down (or didn't break down) as expected by scientists and countries which have banned the use of those chemicals.

And still…don’t eat Gulf seafood.

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

Update on the Egyptian Revolution

Shocking and graphic video from around the Internet Friday showed protesters in Egypt clashing with police and demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Watch live coverage from Al Jazeera here.

Raw Story

And videos here.

In his first appearance on television since a wave of protests engulfed his nation four days ago, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has called for the members of his cabinet to resign.

Raw Story

Rich! Ah, the ego of a 30-year US puppet. It knows no bounds.

He also promised to initiate social, economic and political reforms, saying that he was on the side of the poor.

And he always has been, of course. It’s just that his cabinet members for the past 30 years have been in his way.

And, of course, he had no choice but to shut down the internet (except the stock exchange line).

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator and shouldn't have to resign, but should be more "responsive" to the needs of his people.

[...]

Biden's reticence to speak out more strongly against Mubarak's government, now the target of a pro-democracy movement, appears to reflect the Egyptian leader's willingness to be a US ally on key issues such as marginalizing Iran and cooperating with Israel on its regional goals.

Raw Story

Uh-huh.

At a White House press briefing Friday afternoon, reporters pelted outgoing Press Secretary Robert Gibbs with questions about the revolution in Egypt, but there was one key query he just could not address.

It was Associated Press reporter Ben Feller who lodged the unanswerable, asking Gibbs if President Barack Obama will "stand by" embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

[...]

Gibbs added that the president was "very concerned" about the events in Egypt and would continue following the latest developments.

Raw Story

Obama lets Biden take the front row on the sticky issues, I guess.

For the last three years, the US government secretly provided aid to the leaders behind this week's social uprising in Egypt aimed to topple the government of President Hosni Mubarak, according to a leaked diplomatic cable.

One of the young Egyptian leaders who attended a summit for activists in New York with the help of the US embassy in Cairo was detained when he returned to Egypt, the memo released by Wikileaks said.

Raw Story

Uh-oh, Wikileaks letting that old truth cat out of the bag again. Wikileaks 3, US Government 0.

The leaked document indicates that the US government was publicly supporting Mubarak's government while privately backing opposition groups.

Just what you might expect out of the US government. Which is not gonna like it being proven one little bit. So add that to the sins of Julian Assange.

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The U.S. Culture of Torture

It's not somenthing that just cropped up with the invasion of Iraq. And perhaps there it was presumed that Americans would accept it. After all, it's been going on for a very long time even within our own borders - in our "justice" system. Recently, a trial in Chicago brought that police department's torture practices to light.

U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow began her sentencing of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge last Friday by asking the commander to stand directly in front of her. From a distance of about ten feet, the slightly-built judge faced the massive commander, whose attorney had just praised him as “a man’s man,” so tough that even at 63 and in ill health he’d be a formidable foe in a fight.

Lefkow told Burge she thought he had lied in her witness box, that he had defiled the system of justice, and that he had undermined its administration irreparably.

She said she had received letters from people who described treatment at his hands that was more horrible than what she’d heard in court (considering that she’d heard men describe being shocked in the genitals and suffocated until they thought they would die, she probably did many in the courtroom a favor by not describing the content of those letters in detail).

[...]

Burge’s acts of torture were beyond the reach of prosecutors, the statute of limitations having expired long before U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald took up the case. Lefkow’s sentence was for perjury and obstruction of justice, offenses committed in response to questions about torture in a civil suit filed by Madison Hobley.

[...]

More than 100 men have complained of torture, beatings, and other forms of coercion and abuse at the hands of Burge and detectives who served under his command.

[...]

More than 20 men remain in prison on the basis of suspect confessions taken by detectives under Burge’s command. Other African-American men spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.

[...]

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Lefkow lamented the lack of supervision in the police department (the department allowed the torture gang to operate for decades). [...] State’s Attorneys Richard Daley, Jack O’Malley, and Dick Devine have had successful careers in the law and politics without being held to account by any authority for the fact that they had ample evidence that torture had occurred and nonetheless chose to do nothing, even as innocent men awaited a date with the executioner.

[...]

Though the state’s attorney’s office’s role in the torture cases has been denounced for years, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has not sanctioned a single prosecutor or former prosecutor for looking the other way, for putting on perjured testimony, for seeking convictions instead of justice in the Burge cases.

[...]

[The Independent Police Review Authority] received 5,541 complaints of excessive force and 11 complaints of coercion between September 1, 2007 and August 31, 2010. They referred 202 cases to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for possible prosecution between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2010. [...] In response to a BGA inquiry last fall, the State’s Attorney’s office reported that of those 202 cases, 9 had resulted in prosecutions and 32 cases were pending “excluding police shootings and death in custodies.” [...] None of the cases prosecuted involved excessive force in the context of a suspect or witness being brutalized.

  Better Government Association

From Judge Joan Lefkow’s sentencing statement:

The freedom that we treasure most of all in this country is the right to live free of governmental abuse of power. Those who represent the government and hold power over other citizens are the embodiment of the principle that we live by — the rule of law.

[...]

When a confession is coerced, the truth of the confession is called into question. When this becomes widespread, as one can infer from the accounts that have been presented here in this court, the administration of justice is undermined irreparably

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Department of D'uh

Scientists working on a project sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory now have a forecasting model that they claim can accurately predict civil unrest against foreign governments.

TPM

Against “foreign” governments? Ha. I can predict that, too, if you give me the CIA playbook.

At any rate, why not U.S. civil unrest? I think somebody’s selectively leaving out something in this report.

[The] Predictive Societal Indicators of Radicalism Model of Domestic Political Violence Forecast [ed: I wonder what they call this thing – the acronym would be a bit unwieldy. ...] "will be integrated into strategic planning, early crisis warning and contingency planning-type operations."
And then what? Minority report? Pre-crime police?

Another academic involved in the model's development, Kansas State's Amanda Murdie, says that the most surprising discovery made during the coding and analysis project had to do with human rights:
For me, the most surprising thing was that human rights matter:

Jesus, what is she? A member of the American ruling class?

According to the model, Iran, Sri Lanka, Russia, Georgia and Israel are the five countries most likely to face "political violence" between 2011 and 2014.

[...]

Other countries on the top 25 list include some surprising predictions -- the Czech Republic (#10), Italy (#12), Jordan (#17) and Ireland (#21) alongside Colombia (#13) and Tunisia (#25), which has seen major protests against the government in the last few days that included occasional violence.

Egypt, however, only ranked 36.

Let’s have a look at that CIA playbook, and then we can tighten up our predictions.

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

Egyptian Riots - Day 3

Anti-government protests in Egypt moved into their third day early Thursday, with unconfirmed reports of police "massacres" of civilians in the port city of Suez.

In Cairo, protesters "played cat and mouse with police" into the early hours of Thursday, Reuters reported. Opposition groups reported on their websites that electronic communications had been cut off in the city center, and parts of the city were experiencing blackouts.

The confirmed death toll in the protests stands at three, but social networks were abuzz with claims of police shooting at protesters, many of those reports focusing on the city of Suez, where protesters torched a government building on Wednesday.

  Raw Story

Back to Black and White

The nation's color-coded terror warning system will be phased out beginning this week, according to government officials familiar with the plan.

  LA Times

I didn’t realize we still had it. Does this mean they don’t think there’s enough threat any more to warrant even a stupid barometer? Or just that we’re on permanent orange alert? Apparently neither. It just means the general public doesn’t deserve to know. The new system will simply warn certain people and agencies about specific threats, which I assumed they were doing already.

When agency officials think there is a threat the public should know about, they will issue an announcement and rely on news organizations and social media outlets to get the word out.

Grapevine.

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

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Open mike material it isn't.

"Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car," Obama said. "For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down."

Awkward laughter and a scattered applause followed as Obama smiled and chuckled.

Moments after the president made the remark, the American Civil Liberties Union fired out a Tweet that read: "President Obama makes funny about TSA pat-downs, but the violations of the Constitution are NO JOKE!"

  Raw Story

Yeah, I don’t think this nation’s lawmakers and leaders think that Constitutional rights are a big deal. On the other hand, Obama can always claim it wasn’t as tacky as George Bush looking under his desk for WMD.

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

WIIIAI Watched the SOTU So I Didn't Have To

And parsed it.

And I do so appreciate it. Here’s a snippet:

He wants to get rid of the loopholes in corporate taxes. Good luck with that. That’s basically like the mission to Mars / hydrogen car thing that will never happen that shows up like a beautiful unicorn in every SOTU message. Fox cut to Bernie Sanders when Obama said that, because getting rid of corporate loopholes is obviously socialism of the worst kind.

  WIIIAI

If, like me, you couldn't bear to waste your time after you turned it on, check out the summary at WIIIAI.

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

How Is This Guy Still Working for Fox?

Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Political Judges

Glenn Greenwald explains what should be reason to impeach two Supreme Court justices. Watch it here:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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

Dominoes

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Egypt Tuesday, facing down a massive police presence to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in protests inspired by Tunisia's popular uprising.

  Raw Story

I don’t guess the spirit will make it as far as the US.

Mubarak’s son and his family have fled Egypt.

A security official told AFP that at least 20,000 to 30,000 police had been mobilized in the center of the capital alone, and that the area housing the interior ministry had been sealed off.

Nobody seems to want US-propped puppets these days.

SOTU "Live"

Pretty words. Pretty words. I'm going to change the channel or find a good movie. They'll all go home after the speech and tomorrow everything will be the same.

Interestingly, CBS has a banner that says the speech is live, but Raw Story is streaming it, and it's a couple of seconds ahead of CBS. Does CBS think Obama will say something they have to censor?

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

Prisoner of Conscience, WikiLeaks, and American National Shame

Update below

U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

  MSNBC

Not for lack of trying.

The officials say that [...] there is apparently no evidence [Pvt. Brad Manning] passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.

[...]

On Monday, U.S. military officials also strongly denied allegations that Manning, being held in connection with the WikiLeaks' release of classified documents, has been "tortured" and held in "solitary confinement" without due process.

The officials told NBC News, however, that a U.S. Marine commander did violate procedure when he placed Manning on "suicide watch" last week.

Military officials said Brig Commander James Averhart did not have the authority to place Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, and that only medical personnel are allowed to make that call.

[...]

The official said that after Manning had allegedly failed to follow orders from his Marine guards. Averhart declared Manning a "suicide risk." Manning was then placed on suicide watch, which meant he was confined to his cell, stripped of most of his clothing and deprived of his reading glasses — anything that Manning could use to harm himself. At the urging of U.S. Army lawyers, Averhart lifted the suicide watch.

U.S. Marine and Army officials say Manning is being treated like any other maximum security prisoner at Quantico, Va. He is confined to his single-person cell 23-hours per day, permitted one hour to exercise, permitted reading material and given one hour per day to watch television.

Let’s have a closer look.

Manning, who has been imprisoned for 7 or 8 months in solitary confinement 23 hours out of every 24 and has been a model prisoner the entire time in spite of his conditions, “allegedly” failed to follow orders. For either retribution or simply another attempt to destroy him, he was declared a “suicide risk” which added more deprivation to his already deprived conditions, including taking away his reading glasses so that he could no longer even read to pass the time or keep sane. He is confined to a tiny cell 23 hours a day and has not been charged or tried, but, according to “military officials” this does not constitute being held in solitary confinement without due process.

UPDATE: I just read that Manning was in fact given his glasses to read and then taken away again while they had him falsely under suicide watch. So, that's okay, then.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Giving Material Support to Terrorists

It's a crime.

If you’re an Influential Person, however, you can get away with almost anything. Let’s say you’re Michael Mukasey, Bush’s former Attorney General, who recently traveled to Paris with Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security chieftain, Fran Townsend, President Bush’s former chief adviser on Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, and former New York City mayor and spectacularly failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, to endorse the continuing effort by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahideen, to get off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

MEK is an Iranian Marxist-turned-neocon Iranian exile group, with a weirdly cultish orientation, that has murdered US diplomatic personnel and was instrumental in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran. They lost out in the power struggle following the overthrow of the Shah, and fled to Iraq, where they were succored by Saddam Hussein: MEK brigades fought on the Iraqi side during the Iraq-Iran war, and carried out terrorist acts against civilian targets.

[...]

Over one-hundred members of Congress, who recently signed an appeal to the State Department to take MEK off the terrorist list, are angling for this, and the prominence of the US delegation to the Paris confab is part of the continuing campaign by the War Party to legalize these somewhat nutty cultists – whose unquestioned leader, Maryam Rajavi, has already declared herself the “President” of Iran – and get the group funding. The idea is to use them, as the Bush team used the Iraqi National Congress, to get “intelligence” – of similar quality – to gin up another war, this time against Tehran.

Justin Raimondo

Over and over and over again we do the same thing – find some whacko individual or terrorizing group, arm them to the teeth against someone we want to get rid of, and then have to fight the whacko terrorists we pumped up later on. I would say we are insanely stupid, but I believe the appropriate analysis would simply be that we have gotten perpetual war down to a T.

Of course, we have been making use of the MEK for several years now without having them off the terrorist organization list, so I don’t know why these “Influential People” feel the need to get them off.

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

More Bush Crimes

George W. Bush's White House Office of Political Affairs violated the law by giving political briefings to political employees, concludes an Office of Special Counsel report issued Monday, nearly five years after the fact.

The report, titled "Investigation of Political Activities by White House and Federal Agency Officials During the 2006 Midterm Elections," finds that the electoral success of the Republican Party and possible strategies for achieving it often were on the agenda at some of 75 political briefings at 20 federal agencies from 2001 to 2007, the Associated Press reported.

  TPM

Let’s look forward, folks! That’s in the past. Look forward!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And By 'Negotiate,' We Mean Give Us Everything

"Desperate" Palestinian negotiators offered Israel almost all of Jerusalem as part of a peace deal, only to see the offer rejected as inadequate, leaked official Palestinian documents show.

[...]

[The offer would have had] all of East Jerusalem, except one neighborhood -- Har Homa -- handed over permanently to Israel as part of a peace deal.

Raw Story

I sometimes get the feeling that Israel doesn’t want peace. I guess I’m just anti-semitic.

Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia made the offer to Israeli negotiators in June of 2008, at a meeting attended by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Tzipi Pinhead. (Does that date me or just say something about my past lifestyle?)

Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni is recorded as dismissing the offer out of hand because the Palestinians had refused to concede Har Homa, as well as the settlements at Ma'ale Adumim, near Jerusalem, and Ariel, deeper in the West Bank. Israel's position was fully supported by the Bush administration.

Well, that's a surprise.

Of course, this can’t be a good thing for the Palestinian government to have its citizens know they were willing to give away so much. We shall see.

Actually, I never read Zippy, but I did read Freak Brothers. (Well, that explains things. There. I said it for you.)

Minor Public Required

I am looking for a fake log set for my gas fireplace. I really like this website description:

This opening giveaway camden array healthy gas record set provides we with pleasing abandon as good as auxiliary heat. Vent giveaway so we dont have to be concerned about losing your feverishness up a chimney. ODS sensor shuts down heater if low oxygen levels rescued for combined safety.

Variable primer carry out lets we carry out a feverishness output. Easy to begin with enclosed piezo ignitor. Minor public required. Realistic essential element logs with charred areas as well as low bellow textures supplement to a genuine glow look.

I would definitely not want to lose my feverishness up a chimney.

Do you think that seller is in the U.S.? Could be the advertisement at a shop I knew in San Francisco: Best All Enterprise.

Courtesy of a different website, here are the words you're looking for:

This vent free camden series natural gas log set provides you with beautiful flames as well as auxiliary heat. Vent free so you dont have to worry about losing your heat up the chimney. ODS sensor shuts down heater if low oxygen levels detected for added safety.

Variable manual control lets you control the heat output. Easy to start with included piezo ignitor. Minor assembly required. Realistic fiber logs with charred areas and deep bark textures add to the real fire look.

Much less exciting.

What's With Vermont?

Are they too small for Big Business to concern itself with?

In Vermont, state senator Virginia Lyons on Friday presented an anti-corporate personhood resolution for passage in the Vermont legislature. The resolution, the first of its kind, proposes "an amendment to the United States Constitution ... which provides that corporations are not persons under the laws of the United States." Sources in the state house say it has a good chance of passing. This same body of lawmakers, after all, once voted to impeach George W. Bush, and is known for its anti-corporate legislation. Last year the Vermont senate became the first state legislature to weigh in on the future of a nuclear power plant, voting to shut down a poison-leeching plant run by Entergy Inc. Lyons’ Senate voted 26-4 to do it, demonstrating the level of political will of the state’s politicians to stand up to corporate power.

Alternet

About time somebody tried to reverse this corporate personhood insanity. But this presents a great dilemma for me. Politically, I would love to live in Vermont. I just can’t take the cold weather. So, in order for me to move to Vermont, global warming would have to speed up, and that is something Vermont legislators are combatting.

Catch-22.

And in related news:

President Obama today named Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, to lead the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The GE chiarman has been outspoken about job growth - not in the United States but in China.

[...]

"I hope he changes his mind and focuses on rebuilding the manufacturing sector here in the United States, not in China, and in the process creates millions of good-paying jobs," Sanders said during a visit to this once-thriving industrial community in Vermont's Connecticut River Valley.

"For the sake of our manufacturing sector and the collapsing middle class, let's hope that Mr. Immelt's appointment by President Obama indicates a transformation in his thinking," Sanders added.

Bernie Sanders.gov

Oh, the audacity of hope.

It's Sunday

And Sarah Palin's "coming south to hunt some skunk."

There's some fancy dubbing going on here. At first, I thought this guy was really singing this, then I heard his speaking voice at the end. Then I heard his "harmonizing" when I listened again. I guess the first time around I was just too entertained by the tune, the lyrics and the duo. (I'm guessing that's a church this couple is in.)

I'm also guessing the songwriter didn't realize that "when she gets to Washington, it'll be cold as Hell" is a negative thing. A cold day in Hell when Sarah gets to Washington? I always thought "a cold day in Hell" means the thing would never happen.

Or, in Rimmerese: And on THAT day, Lister, Satan will be skating to work.


P.S. I also like that she "has the wisdom to go through an open door." Because it would be awfully stupid, and perhaps even dangerous, to go through a closed one.

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


Or is he saying "walk through no open door?" In which case, I'd question her wisdom at least a little.


Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Or, be Mary. Or, as a friend of mine said, "Do Mary."

“You could almost interpret it as a kind of a death knell for the species." [Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a recent interview, talking about the 2010 elections.]

[...]

“One of the reasons is because they’re global warming deniers,” he told the Nation magazine. “Almost all – that means the powerful House committees, like science and technology and so on, are in hands of people who think there’s nothing to [global warming].

[...]

“Nobody else is going to do much if the United States doesn’t do a lot. [...] So we’re essentially saying, 'Let’s kiss each other goodbye.'”

Raw Story

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

[Chomsky] explained that the force behind the global warming deniers are the business and energy lobbies, both of whom have vested interests in selling cheap fossil fuels.

"The Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, the American petroleum industry and other business lobbies have publicly proclaimed in fact with enthusiasm that they are carrying out campaigns to try to convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax," he said.

"It's succeeded unfortunately," he added, pointing to the US media's complicity.

The country that has risen to consume the most natural resources more efficiently than the other nations - the United States - is the engine of the coming collapse, Chomsky noted.

“If this was happening in some small country, in you know maybe Monaco or something, it wouldn’t matter much, but when it’s happening in the richest, most powerful country in the world – it’s a danger to the survival of the species,” he said.

And he said it like that’s a bad thing.

Nor did he add…

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

So Long, Keith Olbermann. We Hope You Stay Gone.

I cannot imagine I am the only viewer who is basically simpatico with Olbermann's worldview, but who had come to find him and his show utterly insufferable. The glibness, the pomposity, the narcissism -- all these foibles had, of late, reached gut-wrenching proportions.

  Salon

No, you are not the only one, Niall. I couldn’t stand to watch him, and therefore didn’t. That kind of attitude should be left on the right with Beck and Limbaugh. Acting like them won’t make them join your side or share your views or change their minds about anything. It just gives them another ironic complaint: that you’re a shrill ass, which is true, of course, even though saying so is the height of irony coming from the right.

And, while we’re on the subject, Rachel Maddow needs to go back on radio or tone down the attitude. I already can’t watch her, either. She used to make sense with some class. The world does not need a leftist Ann Coulter, so don’t go there, Rachel. Leave the snark for print.

[...] …the impression that Olbermann had morphed into a mirror image of those he so often attacked.

An accurate reading.

In any case, for me at least, Olbermann’s act has long been threadbare. Goodnight and good luck, Keith -- and good riddance.

Amen. It was the height of presumption that he used Edward R. Murrow's signature sign-off. Murrow was a rare class act for journalism, a man with courage and integrity who went out into the real world and came back with an accurate report, bowing to no force intending to intimidate or stamp it out.

It's Sunday - Darwin is Dead

Science deniers have further official “proof” that man does not evolve. In fact, here in America, we are experiencing devolution.

Amnesty International has written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates objecting to the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention.

[...]

The letter follows a report from Manning's lawyer, former Lt. Col. David Coombs, that the conditions of his detention temporarily worsened in the past week, prompting a formal complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Amnesty's letter also follows a report that the U.N.'s leading official on torture is formally investigating the conditions of Manning's detention, a fact confirmed two weeks ago by The New York Times ("the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, “said he had submitted a formal inquiry about the soldier’s treatment to the State Department").

Of course, caring what Amnesty International or the U.N. have to say about the conditions of America's detainees is so very 2004. Now, such a concern is -- to borrow a phrase from Alberto Gonazles -- a quaint and obsolete relic of the past.

Glenn Greenwald

Precisely. This is the age of American Stalinism.

Relatedly, the ACLU has obtained new documents which shed more harsh light on the 190 War on Terror detainees who died in American custody. Specifically, many of these documents -- autopsy reports and military investigations - - show that at least 25 to 30 of those cases were "unjustified homicides," i.e., murder. [...] Gen. Barry McCaffrey has said: "We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."

[...]

The Brookings Institutions' Benjamin Wittes last week criticized the Obama DOJ for merely leaving open the possibility of prosecution for some of these CIA interrogators who were so sadistic and lawless that they even exceeded the boundaries of the torture permission slips given to them by the Bush DOJ.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? Oh, but the fact that I can still (as of this date anyway) write about it and express my opposition to it means that we’re a great and free country, eh?

We can now officially count ourselves amongst the lowest minded and most brutal regimes of history. But we’ll still be seeking sanctions against other countries for “human rights abuses.”

Bet on it.

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ha!

Well, at least he's finally honest about something.

"Rudy Giuliani says he's 'more likely' to run for Presidency if Sarah Palin does," Morgan tweeted Friday afternoon. ""The more Republicans in which I can show a contrast, probably the better chance, the better chance that I have.'"

  TPM

In other words, if Sarah Palin runs, he figures he won’t come in dead last.

Joe Says He’ll Go

I have only two things to say: I hope he isn’t lying, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

It was Lieberman who, just a few weeks ago, publicly threatened and bullied all companies to terminate their relationship with WikiLeaks despite its not even being charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.

[...]

He defended the "Bush interrogation program" and even waterboarding, and was one of only two Democrats to vote against banning it. He led the way -- along with his close friends John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- in enacting the Military Commissions Act, which explicitly denied all detainees the right to contest their detention in a court of law.

[...]

He was not only one of the most vocal war supporters, but was responsible for some of the most toxic and McCarthyite efforts to stigmatize war opposition as illegitimate and even treasonous. [...] Worse, Lieberman often bolstered these smears with outright lies, such as when he claimed on Meet the Press that we were "attacked on 9/11 by the same enemy we're fighting in Iraq today."

[...]

He's long been one of Washington's most indiscriminate, toxic and deceitful supporters of aggressive war generally. Even as the two wars he cheered on were spiraling out of control, he was repeatedly urging new American attacks against Iran, Syria and, most recently, Yemen. Lieberman -- who, needless to say, never served in the military nor have any of his children -- devoted his entire career to attempting to send other Americans' children to fight war after war after war. In sum, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch put it when examining the muddled history of Lieberman's opposition to the war in Vietnam: "the only war he ever opposed was the only war he might actually have had to fight in."

  Glenn Greenwald


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

"Setting the Record Straight"

Until now, we've resisted the temptation to post on former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book, which accuses the Bush White House of launching a propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq.

Why? It's not news.

[...]

Here's what happened, based entirely on our own reporting and publicly available documents:

The point-by-point reminder of what really happened, as they reported at the time, to lead us to invade Iraq can be read here at McClatchy. Anybody who wanted to know the truth, could have.

....but hey, do what you want....you did anyway.

Clearing a Path in Afghanistan

Paula Broadwell, a former adviser to General Petraeus and current PhD candidate at King’s College London, [...] is touring the war on a research trip.

[...]

The artillery unit, acting as a provisional infantry battalion, went on the offensive to clear a village, Tarok Kalache, where the Taliban had conducted an intimidation campaign to chase the villagers out, then create a staging base to attack 1-320th’s outposts. The village of Tarok Kalache was laden with IEDs and homemade explosives (HME) comprised of 50-gal drums of deadly munitions. Special Operations forces conducted a successful clearing raid on the village.



  Registan

Successfully cleared.

Nowhere in [her] account is there a sense that the villagers felt any ill-will toward the Americans beforehand—rather, Broadwell explicitly describes the village as being victimized by the Taliban first, then being completely obliterated by the Americans.

[...]

Indeed, clearing operations are a necessary evil to weed out the Taliban, and they often leave devastating destruction in the wake. But what Aziz failed to note is the tremendous effort some units, like 1-320th, have made to rebuild his country. As of today, reconstruction efforts are well on track for Tarok Kalache and others in his AO. Mosque construction is underway, the irrigation canals and culverts are being restored, and the local government has been an active participant in the process of assisting the people of the village in rebuilding their homes.

Well, isn’t that nice?

More succinctly put...

The Taliban fighters and their "dense pattern[s]" of IEDs "terrified" the Combined Joint Task Force 1-320th, which sustained heavy losses in two attempts to clear the village, and eventually Lt. Col. David Flynn decided the only way to maintain momentum was to blow it to bits.

  Gawker

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

Bradley Manning Update

[A] former Marine commander of the Quantico brig writes a letter to the current commander to object to the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention; Manning's lawyer details here how these conditions worsened this week and a complaint has been filed (a petition will be delivered to Quantico tomorrow which I encourage everyone to sign).

  Glenn Greenwald


Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Injustice American Style

Nine years ago this coming Sunday, reporter Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan while investigating ties to the “shoe bomber.”

The wrong men were convicted of murdering US reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002, and US officials stood in the way of the real murderers being brought to justice for the grisly crime, a report released Thursday says.

[...]

British-Pakistani Omar Sheikh and three other men who were convicted of killing Pearl were not even present when the Wall Street Journal reporter was murdered, says the Pearl Project report, which was led by Pearl's friend and former colleague, Asra Nomani.

[...]

The report says [Al-Qaeda strategist and suspected mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed told US investigators at Guantanamo Bay prison that he slit Pearl's throat and severed his head, and a technique called vein-matching has shown that his hand matches the "beefy right hand" captured in a video of Pearl's murder.

But US officials opted not to charge Mohammed with Pearl's murder, fearing doing so would unravel their strategy for trying him along with four others for the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

  Raw Story

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

A Different Approach

Penned on July 23, 2002 and marked "extremely sensitive," [the “Downing Street Memo” of Matthew Rycroft, [then Prime Minister Tony] Blair's former private secretary] acknowledged that a deal had been made to invade Iraq and the particulars were already being worked out. At the time both nations were publicly declaring that no decision had been made, with some of the most ardent behind-the-scenes hawks even telling the press they hoped war could be averted.

[...]

Amid an inquiry into the 2003 military invasion of Iraq, David Cameron, the sitting British Prime Minister, called for public pressure on [Blair] over his refusal to release letters sent to US President George W. Bush in the lead-up to war.

[...]

The committee was recently told by [Rycroft] that he'd written two different retellings of the communications between Blair and Bush, in order to obscure what really transpired.

[...]

In the US, efforts to investigate the Bush administration, over the wars, for its torture programs, secret prisons, invasions of privacy and a litany of other abuses, were seen as dead in the water. President Obama, at the beginning of his term, declared that his administration would be looking "forward" instead of backwards with regards to the prior administration's most controversial actions.

  Raw Story

Yes, while on the other side of the pond, they’re at least going through the motions of investigating the invasion of Iraq, on this side, we’re just going to “look forward.” Forward to our continuing presence there, and elsewhere around the globe.

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

Civil Rights

[T]he White House quietly announced a great piece of news for same-sex couples: federal regulations have gone into effect mandating that "hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid....may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity."

  Alternet

Quietly. When they do something decent, they act ashamed of it. The Republicans might not like it, I guess.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leaks Everywhere

This ship is sinking.

A letter written by a Vatican official in 1997, marked "strictly confidential," warned Irish bishops to avoid reporting the sexual abuse of children in the church, in hopes of avoiding public fallout from the scandals that were sure to ensue.

[...]

The church has long maintained that it did not and would never instruct its bishops to engage in a cover-up of such heinous crimes: a claim that appeared to be false.

[...]

In the wake of prior revelations about the widespread sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church, some have called for the prosecution of Pope Benedict XVI for allegedly helping shelter pedophiles.

Their calls were bolstered by the revelation that while still a Catholic cardinal, the current pope, Joseph Ratzinger, told an American bishop to wait before defrocking a priest accused of sexually molesting two boys.

The Vatican has maintained that the pope cannot be prosecuted due to sovereign immunity afforded to heads of state.

  Raw Story

Tell that to Noriega.

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

New Fuel

Joule Unlimited, was granted a patent in Sept. for their first in a series of microscopic organisms -- genetically altered versions of the E. coli bacteria -- that use sunlight and water in a process similar to photosynthesis to convert captured CO2 into usable crude oil.

They called it "Liquid Fuel From The Sun," which uses their "proprietary organism" to devour waste and defecate custom hydrocarbons. Joule ultimately hoped such technology could fill the gap in human energy needs as fossil fuel production declines worldwide.

[...]

Joule is the first to achieve and patent a direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of hydrocarbon fuels requiring no raw material feedstocks – setting the stage for fossil fuel replacement at unprecedented efficiencies and costs as low as $30 per barrel equivalent," the company said in a media advisory.

  Raw Story

Just a little suggestion: maybe they should avoid publicizing that it’s a version of E. coli.

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

It Appears Dick Cheney Was Right All Along

Gen. Hayden put it best, as quoted by The Washington Times:
"You've got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram [in Afghanistan]," Mr. Hayden said, listing the continuities. "And although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action."

[...]

Aside from the repressiveness of the policies themselves, there are three highly significant and enduring harms from Obama's behavior. First, it creates the impression that Republicans were right all along in the Bush-era War on Terror debates and Democratic critics were wrong.

[...]

Second, Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies. At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them.

[...]

Third, Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them.

[...]

In an interview last night with NBC News, Cheney praised Obama for continuing his and Bush's core approach to Terrorism:

He obviously has been through the fires of becoming President and having to make decisions and live with the consequences. And it's different than being a candidate. When he was candidate he was all for closing Gitmo. He was very critical of what we'd done on the counterterrorism area to protect America from further attack and so forth. . . .

I think he's -- in terms of a lot of the terrorism policies -- the early talk, for example, about prosecuting people in the CIA who've been carrying out our policies -- all of that's fallen by the wayside. I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience.

[...]

If Obama has indeed changed his mind over the last two years as a result of all the Secret Scary Things he's seen as President, then I genuinely believe that he and the Democratic Party owe a heartfelt, public apology to Bush, Cheney and the GOP for all the harsh insults they spewed about them for years based on policies that they are now themselves aggressively continuing.

  Glenn Greenwald

Cheney’s blessing. What more could he ask for?

I will disagree with Greenwald’s assessment only in one aspect: I don’t think it’s harmful that there is no longer a pretense at opposing these policies. In fact, I think it’s just the opposite – it’s a very good thing for people to know that the Democrats actually support them, regardless of what they say during campaigns and in knocking their Republican counterparts.

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the Cyber Warfront

The New York Times quoted intelligence and military experts to say that U.S. and Israeli intelligence services collaborated to develop a destructive computer worm to sabotage Iran's efforts to make a nuclear bomb; the Stuxnet computer worm shut down a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges in November and helped delay its ability to make its first nuclear weapons; before using Stuxnet to attack Iran's nuclear program, Israel has tested the effectiveness of the malware at the heavily guarded Dimona complex in the Negev desert which houses Israel's undeclared -- and the Middle East's sole -- nuclear weapons program.

[...]

Experts and officials told the Times the effort to create Stuxnet was a U.S.-Israeli project with the help, knowingly or not, of Britain and Germany.

[...]

There has been widespread speculation Israel was behind the Stuxnet worm that has attacked computers in Iran, and Tehran has blamed the Jewish state and the United States for the killing of two nuclear scientists in November and January.

Homeland Security Newswire

The U.S. has spent years warning that cyber warfare is the New Terrorism of the 21st Century; former DNI Michael McConnell even demanded in The Washington Post that the Internet be re-engineered to vest government and the private sector much greater surveillance controls to combat it (without disclosing the huge profits his Booz Allen clients stand to gain from such measures). All the while, the U.S. was collaborating with the Israelis to engineer the most sophisticated and destructive cyber warfare weapon the world has ever known, one it secretly unleashed last year (and that's to say nothing of the assassination of Iranian scientists which this weekend's New York Times article obliquely mentions without expressing any interest in knowing who the culprits are).

[...]

[T] he real agents of harnessing Interent and media technologies to promote freedom and human rights in Tunisia (and elsewhere) are either currently imprisoned by the U.S. (Manning), being harassed and on the verge of being prosecuted (WikiLeaks), or constantly demonized in the American media (Al Jazeera). And that's all being done by the same government that stands behind these repressive regimes and punishes those who seek to expose them -- all while lecturing the world about the evils of those who seek to stifle transparency and freedom.

Glenn Greenwald

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy.

[...]

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran’s operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults.

“It’s like a playbook,” said Ralph Langner, an independent computer security expert in Hamburg, Germany, who was among the first to decode Stuxnet. “Anyone who looks at it carefully can build something like it.” Mr. Langner is among the experts who expressed fear that the attack had legitimized a new form of industrial warfare, one to which the United States is also highly vulnerable.

Israel Matzav

Like everything in warfare…when you introduce it, it can be used against you.

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

The Case of Gulet Mohamed

As an American citizen, Gulet [Mohamed] has the absolute right to return to and re-enter his country. But by secretly placing him on the no-fly list while he was halfway around the world -- and providing no information about why he was so placed -- the U.S. Government is denying him his right to return. Worse, they know that this action is not only preventing him from returning, but is keeping the 19-year-old in a state of absolute legal limbo, where's he imprisoned by a country that admits it has no cause for holding him and does not want to hold him, yet which cannot release him. The U.S. government has the obligation to assist its citizens when they end up detained without cause; here, they are doing the opposite: they're deliberately ensuring it continues.

If there's any evidence that he has has done anything wrong, he should be charged, indicted, and brought back to the U.S. for trial. What the Obama administration is doing instead is accomplishing what they could not do if he were in the U.S.: holding him without a shred of due process, interrogating him without a lawyer present, and -- if his credible claims are to believed -- using beatings and torture to get the information it wants (or false information: Gulet told me he was very tempted to falsely confess to make the beatings stop). This abuse of the no-fly list is a common tactic used by the U.S. Government to circumvent all legal and constitutional constraints when it comes to its own citizens.

  Glenn Greenwald

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

WikiLeaks

Standing outside the Frontline Club where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was under house arrest, former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer released two optical discs he said carried files showing massive, unmitigated tax evasion by American, Asian and European individuals and corporations.

He said that many of the records dealt with accounts held by organized criminals, politicians and celebrities around the world.

Elmer, who once worked for the Swiss Bank Julius Baer and later founded the Swiss Whistleblower website, told assembled members of the press that WikiLeaks was "my only hope to get society to know what's going on."

[...]

Assange said it would be "a matter of weeks" before the records are released, "assuming the data is correct and once we have a look at it."

  Raw Story

That’s sure to make some new enemies if he lives that long.

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