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Rockin' Dopsie - I'm In The Mood
"Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."
-- Mark Twain
News and Opinion
Despite Planned Troop Withdrawal, Special Ops & Private Forces Prepare to Continue Afghan War
As President Obama announced plans to withdraw another 34,000 troops from Afghanistan, longtime peace activist Kathy Kelly warns the war shows no end. Kelly, who just returned from Afghanistan, says the company formally known as Blackwater is now running a base just outside of Kabul used by the Special Operations Joint Task Force. On Monday, a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians. The strike hit what the NATO occupation force called a suspected Taliban hideout in the province of Kunar. Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, warns Afghan civilians continue to suffer from longest running war in U.S. history.
Nato air strike kills civilians in eastern Afghanistan, officials say
A Nato air strike in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 civilians, five of them children, and wounded five other children, Afghan officials said. ...
A single home in the remote Sultan valley, in Kunar province, was hit by bombs around 3am on Wednesday, said Wasifullah Wasifi, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Four Taliban commanders were also killed in the attack, said Farid, chief of staff for the Kunar governor who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name.
"Four women and five children were killed, and five children wounded. One man, who was the leader of the family, was also killed, according to reports from the site," Farid told the Guardian by phone from Kunar.
"Four Taliban commanders were also killed in this incident, but it is not clear in what part of the site they were, whether they were inside the house. We have sent a delegation to the site."
Italy's Ex-Intelligence Chief Given 10-year Sentence for Role in CIA KidnappingOne is left to wonder why a capacity to surreptitiously monitor attorney-client conversations was put in place if there was no intent to use it. Sounds fishy:
Such accountability for high-level government officials is inconceivable in the US, highlighting its culture of impunity
To see just how extreme the US "culture of impunity" is, consider the extraordinary 2003 kidnapping by the CIA of the Muslim cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (Abu Omar), from the streets of Milan. Nasr, who in 2001 had been granted asylum by Italy from persecution in Egypt, was abducted by the CIA and then shipped back to Egypt where he was imprisoned for four years without charges and, he says, brutally tortured by America's long-standing ally, the Mubarak regime. ...
Yesterday, an Italian appellate court sentenced the country's former intelligence chief, Niccolò Pollari, to ten years in prison "for complicity" in that kidnapping:The appeals court, in Milan, sentenced the former chief, Niccolò Pollari, to 10 years and his former deputy Marco Mancini to nine years for their role in the kidnapping of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr . . . . Three Italian secret service officials were also sentenced to six years each.In other words, not only did the CIA kidnap Nasr and deliberately send him to an allied regime notorious for torture - a serious crime no matter who he was - but, as it turns out, he was guilty of absolutely nothing. What made him a kidnapping target was that, according to the New York Times, his "anti-American speeches and calls to jihad were resonating with young Muslim men who were attending his Islamic center". ...
Mr. Nasr was kidnapped under the practice of 'extraordinary rendition', in which people suspected of being Islamic militants were abducted in one country and then transferred to another, often one where torture was common.
While Mr. Nasr was initially charged with membership in an illegal organization, the charges were ultimately dropped. He has since been released.
This entire case reveals vital facts about the culture of impunity for high-level officials that prevails in the US even when they commit the most egregious crimes:
First, it is completely inconceivable that anything like what just happened in Italy could happen in the US. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the highest-level US officials had systematically committed felonies under the War on Terror rubric, both political parties, bolstered by a virtual consensus of the DC press, united to block all forms of accountability. ... Second, both Bush and Obama officials continuously attempted to apply coercive pressure on Italian magistrates to obstruct this investigation, and when that failed, applied the same pressure to the Berlusconi and Prodi governments. Indeed, numerous diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks detail those efforts. ...
Attorney-client meeting room was bugged, Navy lawyer testifies at Guantánamo
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- The military had a hidden microphone in a room where defense attorneys met detainees awaiting death-penalty trials, a senior prison official disclosed at the war court Tuesday.
But, eavesdropping equipment aside, nobody was using it to listen in on the confidential conversations prisoners have with their lawyers or the Red Cross, Navy Capt. Thomas Welsh, the prison camps’ chief staff attorney testified.
Welsh said he discovered the eavesdropping capability in January 2012, after eight months on the job at Guantánamo, by spotting a “law enforcement official” listening in on a meeting between a detainee, prosecutor and defense lawyers. They were discussing a possible plea deal inside Camp Echo, a compound of huts. The microphone was inside a device that looked like a smoke detector.Welsh was called to testify by defense attorneys in the 9/11 trial hearings who are trying to uncover what intelligence agencies, if any, are capable of listening in on their confidential meetings, either at the court or the prison camps as they prepare to defend alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others accused of orchestrating the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Welsh is a career Navy attorney bound by the same ethics practices as civilian lawyers. He said he was so struck by the discovery of the capability eight months into his job as prison camps lawyer that he sought out the chief of the guard force, Army Col. Donnie Thomas, to gain assurances that nobody at Guantánamo was turning on the microphones to listen in on privileged attorney-client meetings. ...
Neither Welsh nor Thomas apparently bothered to notify their boss, however, about the eavesdropping capability.
Yes, Virginia, the Rich Continue to Get Richer: the Top 1% Got 121% of Income Gains Since 2009
Yes, sports fans, you read that headline correctly. The top 1% has captured all of the income gains since 2009 and then some, roaring ahead while the rest of the population slipped behind. A new paper by Emmanuel Saez (along with his frequent co-author Thomas Piketty, a long-standing cataloguer of income inequality) estimates that the income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99$ fell by 0.4%.
Obama’s SOTU Address Calls for Middle-Class Revival, But Poverty & Inequality Still Get Short Shrift
Citigroup hasn’t paid taxes in 4 years, got $2.5 trillion in bailouts from feds
Just like the Republican wars, there’s always money to be found when corporations need a bailout. But when American citizens need the support of their government, such as when they reach 65 and (hopefully) are able to retire, suddenly the money’s all gone (until the next war).
Citigroup is a perfect example. Remember how shortly after the bailout Citi wanted to raise salaries as the entire country was losing jobs? And how Citi wanted to pay one energy trader $100 million in 2009, in the midst of the crisis? And how later in 2009, Citigroup increased the salaries of its executives? At the same time Citigroup just couldn’t say “no” to its employees, it jacked up interest rates exorbitantly on its own credit card customers. See, it’s never a problem asking you to pay more.
From Senator Bernie Sanders, writing in the Huffington Post, we learn that Citigroup hasn’t paid federal taxes in four years:In 2010, Bank of America set up more than 200 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands (which has a corporate tax rate of 0.0 percent) to avoid paying U.S. taxes. It worked. Not only did Bank of America pay nothing in federal income taxes, but it received a rebate from the IRS worth $1.9 billion that year. They are not alone. In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens to avoid paying some $4.9 billion in U.S. taxes. That same year Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to avoid an estimated $3.3 billion in U.S. taxes. Citigroup has paid no federal income taxes for the last four years after receiving a total of $2.5 trillion in financial assistance from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis. On and on it goes. Wall Street banks and large companies love America when they need corporate welfare. But when it comes to paying American taxes or American wages, they want nothing to do with this country. That has got to change.
Pentagon Inks Deal for Smartphone Tool That Scans Your Face, Eyes, ThumbsThis is a fascinating older article by Michael Hudson that a friend brought to my attention again recently. I remember reading it some time ago, but as events have moved forward in the intervening time, it appears to be an even more useful historical reminder now. If you have the time and an interest in an historical perspective on our current debt crisis, this would be a great article to read:
In a few years, the soldier, marine or special operator out on patrol might be able to record the facial features or iris signature of a suspicious person all from his or her smartphone — and at a distance, too.
The Defense Department has awarded a $3 million research contract to California-based AOptix to examine its “Smart Mobile Identity” biometrics identification package, Danger Room has learned. At the end of two years of research to validate the concepts of what the company built, AOptix will provide the Defense Department with a hardware peripheral and software suite that turns a commercially available smartphone into a device that scans and transmits data from someone’s eyes, face, thumbs and voice.
“They’ve asked us, based on what they’ve seen of our product, to work on some more specific needs and requirements for DoD,” Chuck Yort, AOptix’s vice president for identity solutions, tells Danger Room. Data security for the system will be provided by partner CACI International, which shares in the $3 million contract, which will be officially announced Wednesday morning.
Debt and Democracy: Has the Link been Broken?
Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.
Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.
Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.
By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.
This is turning international finance into a new mode of warfare. Its objective is the same as military conquest in times past: to appropriate land and mineral resources, communal infrastructure and extract tribute. In response, democracies are demanding referendums over whether to pay creditors by selling off the public domain and raising taxes to impose unemployment, falling wages and economic depression. The alternative is to write down debts or even annul them, and to re-assert regulatory control over the financial sector.
U.S. and EU announce global ‘game-changer’ trade agreement
The EU and the United States are to negotiate the biggest free trade agreement ever, a global “game-changer,” boosting growth and providing much-needed jobs, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.
An accord between the world’s two largest trading entities would be “ground-breaking … a game-changer,” which will add 0.5 percent to the EU economy every year once it is in place, Barroso said. ...
The negotiations will hinge on market access, and regulation and non-tariff barriers, both of which are often used to protect domestic markets, with agriculture likely to prove especially difficult as both sides jealously guard their farming interests and exports.
Barroso hailed President Barack Obama’s commitment after he announced the talks overnight in Washington, saying an accord would be “an assurance that we mean business.”
Nearly 50 Climate Activists Arrested Outside Obama's White House
Forty-eight individuals were arrested outside the White House on Wednesday afternoon as they urged President Obama to take a strong stand on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and embracing a clean energy future without fossil fuels.
Among the notable leaders involved in the civil disobedience were Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, which made news recently by declaring its leaders and membership would end an almost 120 year ban on participating in acts of civil disobedience. Large cheers went up in the gathered crowd of supporters as Brune was led away in handcuffs.
“For the first time in the Sierra Club’s 120-year history, we have joined the ranks of visionaries of the past and present to engage in civil disobedience, knowing that the issue at hand is so critical, it compels the strongest defensible action,” said Brune prior to his arrest. “We cannot afford to allow the production, transport, export and burning of the dirtiest oil on Earth via the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama must deny the pipeline and take decisive steps to address climate disruption, the most significant issue of our time.”
Other notable arrests included environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org; Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former president of the NAACP; and Daryl Hannah, an actress who has become well known for her climate activism from previous acts of civil disobedience in Washington and elsewhere.
At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.
"Forward On Climate" Blogathon: February 11 - February 15, 2013
President Obama: Don't cut Social Security
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters - Rock Me Baby
Rockin' Dopsie - Run Here To Me Baby
Rockin' Dopsie - Things That I Used To Do
Rockin' Dopsie - Don't You Want A Man
Rockin' Dupsee - A Lil' Bon Temps
Rockin' Dupsee - Ma Negresse
Rockin' Dopsie - Woman I Don't Want Your Troubles
T.V. Slim - Don't Reach Across My Plate
TV Slim - Flat Foot Sam Meets Jim Dandy
TV Slim - The Fight
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!