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Good Morning!

Lily Flowered Tulip, 'Ballerina', Darwin Hybrid Tulip 'Orange Queen'. Longwood Gardens.  
May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Longwood Gardens.  May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Longwood Gardens.  May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Longwood Gardens.  May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

R.E.M. - Shiny Happy People

News & Opinion

I'm surprised that we are not hearing a lot more about this.  Then again, I'm not surprised.  Some Republican picked his nose in public!

This week: House tees up debt-ceiling bill

The House will turn this week to a bill that Republicans say would prevent the United States from defaulting on its debts.
The House Financial Services Committee has a full slate on Tuesday, as the panel will amend and vote on nine different bills that would tweak the derivatives portion of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Several versions of the bills cleared the committee in the last Congress, but financial reform advocates argue some of the measures defang the Wall Street overhaul.

Here is Jeremy Scahill on Bill Maher's show last Friday night.  He's in the featured interview slot this time.  The last time he was on, I seem to remember that he wasn't treated that well but I can't remember the specifics of what happened or who said what.  Maher is still amazed that Scahill is alive, given the risks that he takes and the very powerful and scary people who are the subjects of his investigative reporting.  You've probably already seen a lot of Scahill interviews because his publicist (or he) has done a great job getting him out there for his new book and movie, but this interview is particularly good, I think, and I watch all of them anyway :)
Jeremy Scahill about Obama's JSOC

I'm really starting to wonder what's going on, and if we're not thinking big enough on this.  Are we looking at something more than toppling regimes, etc.?  This is wild speculation but I'm starting to think about what was done by the British in the Middle East after World War II.  I might have to go back and read that book "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives" by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
‘Containing Iran’: Israel ‘in talks’ to join alliance with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey

Israel is considering partnering with several moderate Arab states in a US-brokered defense alliance that would be aimed at containing Iran, which is accused of nuclear weapon ambitions, a British newspaper reported Sunday.

The alliance would see Israel teaming up with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to forge a Middle East ‘moderate crescent’ to contain, rather than confront, Iran, the Sunday Times reported, citing an unnamed Israeli official.

The proposal, known by participating diplomats as ‘4+1’, is being brokered by the United States. If successful, it would represent a marked shift in Middle East policy at the White House, which in the past has said it is not interested in containing Iran, but rather preventing it from achieving nuclear weapon capability.

However, Turkey has dismissed the report. “These are manipulative reports which have nothing to do with the reality,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told Hürriyet Daily News.

Escobar: Israel gets US's blessing to bomb Syria

Syria says Israel has effectively declared war after its planes bombed targets in Damascus, the second airstrikes in as many days. Egypt has condemned the Israeli airstrikes on Syria, with the Arab League also demanding action from the UN Security Council. For more on this RT speaks with Asia Times Online correspondent Pepe Escobar.

Well, and then we have this.  That relationship seems to still be really shaky.  
Turkey criticizes Israeli airstrikes on Syria

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's prime minister has denounced Israeli airstrikes on Syria, saying the attacks help strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad's hand.
Erdogan said: "Assad, who has not sweated a single drop against Israel for the (occupation of the) Golan Heights is now using the Israeli attack to cover up the Banias massacre."

How very noble of them.
White House Rescinds $4.9 Billion in 2013 Spending Cuts

The Obama administration is canceling $4.9 billion of the $85 billion in automatic U.S. spending cuts that took effect March 1, a move that restores some funds for defense and diplomacy, according to a White House official.
About $3.7 billion will be restored to the Pentagon’s budget with another $700 million going to the State Department, said the official. The remainder would be dispersed across a number of programs at other agencies.
Democrats have said the automatic budget cuts would throw 70,000 children off the Head Start program, eliminate four million meals for seniors, take 600,000 people off a nutrition program for mothers and young children, and mean 125,000 fewer vouchers to help poor families pay for rental housing.

Al Gore isn’t overly pleased with Canada

Al Gore is back. A dozen years after he was denied the U.S. presidency and turned his attention to the warming atmosphere (and won the Nobel Peace Prize, an Academy Award and a Grammy), he is opening his lens wider.The result is The Future, a 500-page examination of the six major forces that he believes are producing dramatic change in the world: an increase in economic globalization; an expansion of digital communications; a balance of power moving away from the United States; an economic system that produces inequality and overconsumption; a set of revolutions in biotechnology and the life sciences and, of course, the world’s warming atmosphere and damaged ecosystems.
Have the oil-sands boom and pipeline debates affected Canadian-U.S. relations?

Yes, and I think that ultimately it hurts Canada. The so-called resource curse is most often understood in the context of small nations whose revenue streams are dominated by the exploitation of a single resource. It’s a bit more complex than that with Canada, but the resource curse has multiple dimensions and [that includes] damage to some extremely beautiful landscapes, not to mention the core issue of adding to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.

We will come to our senses, but I had hoped that Canada, like Australia, would point us in the right direction and added to the chances for the world as a whole to make a moral and courageous decision sooner rather than later.

My Canadian friend calls Oliver the Minister of [Destroying] Natural Resources.
Ottawa strikes back at Al Gore's remarks on oil sands as 'open sewer'

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will make the Harper government’s case for the Alberta oil sands in Europe this week. But before he can begin, he finds himself contending with inconveniently timed comments from Al Gore about Canada’s climate-change record.

Mr. Oliver is none too happy about it.

“Well, he’s off the mark,” Mr. Oliver said in an interview Sunday, accusing the outspoken climate-change activist and former U.S. vice-president of making “wildly inaccurate and exaggerated comments.”

In an interview published Saturday in The Globe and Mail, Mr. Gore said the oil-sands boom and pipeline debate “ultimately … hurts Canada.”

He added that this country’s “resource curse” has led to “damage to some extremely beautiful landscapes, not to mention the core issue of adding to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.”

Hard to excerpt -- a must read by emptywheel.
The Find Every Terrorist at Any Cost Industry

The paragraph comes from Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown Professor/ThinkTanker whose studies of terrorism predate 9/11 by decades. It forms part of his explanation, post Boston, for why people become terrorists: because they, like our own country increasingly, see violence as a solution to their grievance.
And this navel-gazing, following every successful or near-miss attack, only serves to obscure the issue. We, as a society, have chosen to pursue gun crimes exclusively “post-boom.” We have chosen to let financial criminals that have done far more damage than terrorism — at least in financial terms (though their crimes do have physical repercussions as well) — scot free. That may in fact be the outcome our country — or certainly the elites angling for political contributions — might want. But at the very least, we as a society need to be explicit that the choice has been made, not just to invest billions in surveillance technologies that affect us all, but to treat two brothers and their pressure cooker bombs as a far more heinous crime than school kids being gunned down in their classrooms or struggling families having their homes stolen by the million.

The “Find Every Terrorist at Any Cost Industry” is also, whether they acknowledge it or not, the “Let gunmen and banksters go free” industry. And that may well lead to more people turning to violence to address their grievances.

I'm intrigued by this story. Who is talking?  What exactly does the guy mean when he threatens to bring it all down? Another must read by emptywheel.
The Blame Game Begins: Who Will Be Held Responsible for Creating the Afghan “Vertically Integrated Criminal” Government?

Last Sunday, the Beltway professed to be shocked — shocked!! — that the CIA has been bribing Hamid Karzai for years.
Filkins also made it clear Karzai — and with him, the US — decided to stop pursuing corruption because Salehi threatened to expose everything.

Salehi telephoned Karzai from his jail cell. “He told Karzai, ‘If I spend one night in jail, I’ll bring the whole thing down,’ ” the Western official recalled.

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