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Photos by: joanneleon. September, 2013.


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Lockheed Martin and some other defense contractors threatened to furlough tens of thousands of their employees if the Pentagon didn't resume business as usual.  The House also passed a bill for all furloughed time off.

Pentagon orders 'most' of 400,000 furloughed employees back to work
Defense Department does not provide details regarding which employees, among whom are NSA workers, will return

The decision to order the furloughed workers back, which was made by the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is based on a Pentagon legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act. That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.
"I expect us to be able to significantly reduce – but not eliminate – civilian furloughs under this process," Hagel said. "Employees can expect to hear more information from their managers starting this weekend."
On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to retroactively reimburse 800,000 furloughed federal workers for pay lost in the government shutdown. The bill, which is supported by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Obama White House, passed unanimously, 407-0.

Sarah Kendzior for Al Jazeera English.  It's a really good retrospective piece and well worth reading in full.
A government shutdown, a social breakdown
The current impasse in Washington is symptomatic of the socio-economic degradation being experienced throughout the US.

In December 1995, the United States government shut down for 21 days, ending a year marked by violent fringe politics [...] The shutdown seemed of a piece with the era, idiocy ascended to a higher plane.


Americans tend to remember the 1990s through a soft flannel gauze -- the peacetime complacency, the political correctness, the jobs -- but they were garish, paranoid times. Today the 1990s feel like a dream only because the nightmare they created became ordinary.  In the decade to come, the tabloid would become gospel, the social fabric sewn from the lunatic fringe. Radical polarisation became rote. America went crazy and never went back.

The political tabloidisation of the 1990s – a decade-long parade of sex scandals filling time between the Cold War and the War on Terror – seems like the indulgence of a nation which, in the absence of an obvious crisis, made themselves their own.

But a crisis was always there – only it was to be repackaged, not solved. Belying the vitriolic partisanship of the 1990s was a uniform agreement to gut social services to the sick and the poor. The impoverished were portrayed as a privileged class siphoning state resources at their leisure.
Rule by ideology is far more dangerous than it was in the 1990s, because this shutdown takes place in extreme economic vulnerability. [...] When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.

And that's why it's so important to fight against Grand Bargains that take us further down the road of austerity and cruelty and would be a great victory for those who continue this attack on the poor and the powerless.  It took centuries to get the New Deal and Great Society programs that are the fundamental programs under attack by the Grand Bargain strategy.  The supposed "tax reform" on the table worsens income inequality.  

The sequester, created by this administration, was designed to cause pain in order to force Democrats to cut to "entitlements" and supposedly to force Republicans to cough up some more revenue. The rumors about the revenue side of the equation are that the GOP might offer up some kind of "revenue neutral" tax reform, essentially flattening the tax code, reducing the corporate tax rate, both a conservative wet dream for decades, and eliminating various tax deductions. We all know that cutting tax rates is a much more radical and difficult change to accomplish than slipping tax loopholes back into gigantic bills that get passed on a regular basis and does anyone doubt that tax loopholes, breaks and subsidies for the large campaign donors will eventually be slipped back in?  

The sequester did not work as planned initially, but now we have a shutdown causing more pain and a huge, sensationalized shutdown kabuki show that's been going on for weeks, with the lead up and now the actual partial shutdown of the government.  It's an entirely manufactured crisis, and the debt ceiling looms again, another manufactured crisis.  

So the question remains as to whether members of Congress are willing to participate in yet another attack on the 99% and particularly the poorest among us, given this latest sensational crisis and given that it's happening at a time when the perception is that Americans have been given a new faux New Deal/Great Society program in Obamacare.  This program is not much like Social Security or Medicare though, despite the attempts of conservatives to paint it as a socialist program.  It's privatized insurance and not universal health care. The subsidies might become vulnerable as the years go by. The Medicaid expansion portion of it has already been decimated because states were given the choice of whether or not to implement it.   But the point in time when there is a perception of having implemented a new social program for the people, and during a manufactured crisis, might be seen as the optimum time to attack and cut two other programs that the American people strongly do not want to be cut.  

Whether or not the Grand Bargain, or some form of it, is attempted at the time when government funding is restored or the debt ceiling is raised remains to be seen.  A November timeframe has been mentioned by some of the more credible sources, like Sen. Mikulski.  The latest rumor is that this will be a multi-step and therefore more confusing and complex process where the deal to restore funding and bump the debt ceiling for another ~ 6 weeks will include the appointment of conferees for a budget deal. The debt ceiling (which is the most powerful weapon) will be hanging over their heads again.  Who knows if they make it another Super Congress with the ability to create legislation that goes right to the floor, no amendments allowed, etc.  I suspect that the conferees would be carefully chosen and would be members who have been working on the latest version of a Grand Bargain together for months.  Names that have been mentioned as having been working on that are Murray/Ryan and Baucus/Camp.  

Dick Durbin has been talking about a Grand Bargain from the start.  Their new deadline would be close to the winter holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, like last year's fiscal cliff and a favorite time for Congress to do things they hope a lot of distracted Americans will or will find it harder to organize against.  And of course, people will be feeling outrage fatigue and the media could assist in distraction or fearmongering or ignoring until the last minute, whatever they're called upon to do.  And lastly, if you throw a whole lot of complexity and details out there, it will confuse the living hell out of most people, another desired effect.

This Reuters article about the differences between the 1995 shutdown and this one is pretty good.  It's full of blow by blow details of how it played out and serves as a good refresher.  But I think they miss something really big.  Paul Ryan is a force among the more radical Republicans and he is working quietly in the background.  Ryan is almost a de facto Speaker in some ways.  They don't take this into account in this article and I think that is going to be a key factor, and Ryan is the guy whose budget is still a goal, to some extent, and not just for Republicans.

Why this shutdown isn’t like 1995

Today, the missing ingredient is a muscular Republican leader. Boehner, who was No. 3 under Gingrich in 1995, is no peer to him as speaker. He has forfeited control of his army, surrendering his power of decision by agreeing not to send any bill to the House floor without support of the majority within his conference. That gives the Tea Party faction veto power over compromises and enables it to drive strategy for the entire GOP. If political pragmatism at some point tells Boehner that Republicans need an exit strategy, even he must question his own ability to pull it off.
Partisan gerrymandering has given 140 House Republicans districts so safe that they can coast to victory by margins of 20 percent or more. There’s no direct link between their personal fate in 2014 and the GOP’s fate nationwide, and that disconnect compounds the difficulties of resolving this shutdown.

The coming clash over the debt ceiling is likely to prolong the current shutdown much further unless powerful outside forces from Wall Street, business, and Republican governors and leaders around the country weigh in to strengthen Boehner’s weak hand and to inject political pragmatism into the belligerent ranks of House Republicans.

Normally I wouldn't excerpt a NY Daily News article but there are a lot of direct quotes from Miriam Carey's family in this article and a lot of photos. I object to some of the photos at the end from the interior of her condo, though they don't reveal much, but if they were leaked by law enforcement, then I strongly object to those.  I suspect that some of the other photos came from the internet or her family, but I don't know.  Also, for the record, I'm not endorsing what she did, but I'm deeply disturbed by the way things were handled and the way that only selective videos of the incident are being played on the media.  As far as I know, there have been no videos of the initial incident at the security checkpoint or the final incident when the car crashed and she was shot to death.  The reports of the number of shots fired vary widely from 17 to 70.
Sisters of woman shot dead on Capitol Hill call her 'troubled soul' and that she didn't deserve to die the way she did

The heartbroken sisters of the Connecticut mother killed by Capitol cops after a wild car chase through Washington said Friday she was a troubled soul — not a “terrorist.”

Miriam Carey had her 19-month-old daughter, Erica, in the car when police shot her and “didn’t deserve to die like she did,” Valarie Carey, who lives in Brooklyn, told the Daily News.

“Deadly force was not necessary,” said the grieving sister, a retired NYPD transit police sergeant who lives in Bushwick. “They could have rammed the car or disabled the car.”

“There had to be something else they could have done,” chimed in Amy Carey, a registered nurse who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “She didn’t have to die. To know a child was in the car, too, why did they shoot?”

There is more information out there about what the man was saying before he did this, but there is very little in the news about it.  I had some conversations with people yesterday and a lot of us were interested in why this story has gotten so little coverage, relatively, compared to other things happening in the shadow of the Capitol building, and inside of it.  
Man who set himself on fire on the Mall dies of injuries

A man who was critically injured when he poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire on the Mall on Friday has died of his injuries, according to D.C. police.
The man could not immediately be identified because his burns were so severe. Medical personnel will try to determine who he was using DNA analysis, Alali said.

Authorities did not say what might have motivated him.

No video of the "final confrontation" and as far as I know, none of the initial confrontation either.
Use of force in Capitol Hill shooting debated

A total of at least 17 shots were fired at two locations Thursday afternoon by two law enforcement agencies — the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service. The final shots, near the Hart Senate Office Building, killed 34-year-old Miriam Carey of Connecticut, who police said had tried to ram through a security barrier at the White House, knocked over a uniformed Secret Service agent, hit cruisers and breached the outer security perimeter of the Capitol grounds.

The vast majority of big-city police agencies — including in the District — prohibit or strictly limit their officers from shooting at moving vehicles. But it’s unclear whether the Capitol Police or Secret Service violated their policies during the chase or the shootings.

Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman, declined to provide a copy of his agency’s use-of-force or chase policies. Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, did the same.

But no pictures have emerged of the final confrontation.

[Emphasis added]

Interesting. If you've read Jeremy Scahill's book, "Dirty Wars", you're not surprised about some of these details, but the way this is playing out in court is very interesting, I wasn't even aware of this case or that Jonathan Turley was involved.
Feds cagey on early Anwar Al-Awlaki ties

Al-Timimi lawyer Jonathan Turley said Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, visited Al-Timimi at his home in October 2002 and "encouraged him to recruit....and actually raised issues of possible terrorist acts." The defense lawyer said that recently-released FBI files suggest that Al-Awlaki may have been acting as an "asset" for some government agency when he returned to the U.S. from abroad just prior to his meeting with Al-Timimi.

There was an outstanding warrant for Al-Awlaki's arrest on a fraud charge when he flew back into the U.S. in 2002, but he was admitted at JFK airport in New York after only a short delay.

However, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the government turned over all information it was obligated to prior to Al-Timimi's trial and had no duty to detail its dealings with Al-Awlaki.

"Mr. Turley has no right to know [whether the government] had an asset into Awlaki at that time. Mr. Turley has no right to know if Mr. Awlaki was an asset at that time," Kromberg told Brinkema. The prosecutor did say the government had no recording of the meeting and Al-Timimi's defense was told that prior to his trial. "I don't know what happened at that meeting," Kromberg said.


Attorneys for Ibrahim Idris argued he is so ill he could not pose a threat to anyone. The Sudanese prisoner suffers from ailments that include diabetes and schizophrenia so severe that he has been catatonic in meetings with lawyers and doctors.

This is a big story. I haven't studied it yet.
U.S. Raids in Libya and Somalia Strike Terror Targets

CAIRO — American commandos carried out raids on Saturday in two far-flung African countries in a powerful flex of military muscle aimed at capturing fugitive terrorist suspects. Members of a Navy SEAL team emerged before dawn from the Indian Ocean to attack a seaside villa in a Somali town known as a gathering point for militants, while American troops assisted by F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents seized a suspected leader of Al Qaeda on the streets of Tripoli, Libya.

In Tripoli, American forces captured a Libyan militant who had been indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The militant, born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai and known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, had a $5 million bounty on his head and his capture in broad daylight ended a 15-year manhunt.

The Somalia raid was planned more than a week ago, officials said, in response to a massacre by the militant Somali group Shabab at a Nairobi shopping mall. The Navy SEAL team targeted a senior Shabab leader in the town of Baraawe and exchanged gunfire with militants in a predawn firefight.

The unidentified Shabab leader is believed to have been killed in the firefight, but the SEAL team was forced to withdraw before that could be confirmed, a senior American security official said.

Officials said the timing of the two raids was coincidental. But coming on the same day, they underscored the importance of counterterrorism operations in North Africa, where the breakdown of order in Libya since the ouster of the Qaddafi government in 2011 and the persistence of the Shabab in Somalia, which has lacked an effective central government for more than two decades, have helped spread violence and instability across the region.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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