Archive for the ‘U.S.A.’ Category

Washington’s Corruption and Mendacity Is What Makes America “Exceptional”

April 20, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 4/18/2014 at 22:55:15

By  (about the author)     Permalink      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): 

;,

Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

I Am a Fan
(369 fans)

opednews.com

Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSifnTxHxOo
Corrupt
(image by YouTube)

World events permitting, I am going to take a few days off.

Many of you write to me asking for financial advice or for explanations of the pros and cons of different investments. I don’t give financial advice and cannot answer such a large number of individual inquiries. However, I can call to your attention two books that provide different views from those available in the financial media. The Aftershock Investor by David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer, and Cindy S. Spitzer (John Wiley & Sons, 2014) explains the vulnerabilities of each kind of investment. The Money Bubble by James Turk and John Rubino (DollarCollapse Press, 2013) explains the possible consequences of the current economic policies. Both books are directed at a general audience and are readable.

As I have reported on several occasions, the US government pays foreign rulers to do Washington’s bidding. There is no such thing as an independent government in the UK, Europe or Japan. On top of all the other evidence, it has now come to light that the US Agency for International Development has a large slush fund “where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries.”

If you have four hours, watch President Putin’s amazing open press conference with the Russia people and then try to imagine an American or European leader capable of such a feat. The Russians have a real leader. We have two-bit punks.

The Los Angeles Times has acquired its own Judith Miller. His name is Sergei L. Loiko. An incompetent Obama regime has botched its takeover of Ukraine with its Kiev coup. The White House Fool is embarrassed that so many Ukrainians prefer to be part of Russia than part of Washington’s stooge “freedom and democracy” government in Kiev. The prostitute American and European media have thrown the propaganda into overdrive, demonizing Russia and President Putin, in order to cover up Washington’s blunder.

The latest deception cooked up by Washington or by the anti-semitic neo-nazi Right Sector in western Ukraine consists of leaflets falsely issued under the name of one of the leaders of Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine. The leaflet calls for Jews to sign a registration and list their property. However, no such registration office exists. Washington’s ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt who assisted Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in orchestrating the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government and installing Washington’s stooges, declared the leaflets to be “the real deal.” But the Jewish community is suspicious and has issued a statement that the leaflet “smells like a provocation.” Jewish residents of the Russian territories that Soviet leaders added to the Ukraine Soviet Republic say that anti-semitism has not been a feature of their lives in the Russian speaking areas. See this also:

 

Washington and the prostitute media are purveyors of misinformation. Remember, Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to America. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that “we are not spying on you.” Remember, the New York Times sat on the first leak from a top NSA official that Americans were being illegally spied upon for one year until George W. Bush was safely reelected.

A government that relies on propaganda cannot be believed about anything. Americans misinformed by a prostitute media are in no position to protect the US Constitution and their liberty. Misinformed, they become tyranny’s allies and their own worst enemy.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors

America’s Homegrown Terror

April 8, 2014
EMANUEL PASTREICH & EMANUEL FEFFER
Foreign Policy in Focus/Op-ed
Published: Tuesday 8 April 2014
Plagued by poor infrastructure, climate denialism, and a patchwork of unregulated fracking wells and nuclear waste sites, the U.S. is poised to topple itself with self-inflicted wounds.

RESIZE TEXT+ | - | R

The U.S. security complex is up in arms about cyberhackers and foreign terrorists targeting America’s vulnerable infrastructure. Think tank reports have highlighted the chinks in homeland security represented by unsecured ports, dams, and power plants. We’ve been bombarded by stories about outdated software that is subject to hacking and the vulnerability of our communities to bioterrorism. Reports such as the Heritage Foundation’s “Microbes and Mass Casualties: Defending America Against Bioterrorism” describe a United States that could be brought to its knees by its adversaries unless significant investments are made in “hardening” these targets.

But the greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning on assaults on American targets. Rather, our vulnerabilities are homegrown. The United States plays host to thousands of nuclear weapons, toxic chemical dumps, radioactive waste storage facilities, complex pipelines and refineries, offshore oil rigs, and many other potentially dangerous facilities that require constant maintenance and highly trained and motivated experts to keep them running safely.

The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the last 60 years. We don’t have enough inspectors and regulators to engage in the work of assessing the safety and security of ports, bridges, pipelines, power plants, and railways. The rapid decline in the financial, educational, and institutional infrastructure of the United States represents the greatest threat to the safety of Americans today.

And it’s getting worse. The current round of cutbacks in federal spending for low-visibility budgets for maintainence and inspection, combined with draconian cuts in public education, makes it even more difficult to find properly trained people and pay them the necessary wages to maintain infrastructure. As Bruce Katz of the Brookings Foundation points out, the 2015 budget fresh off the press includes a chart indicating that non-defense discretionary spending—including critical investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation—will continue to drop severely, from 3.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 to just 2.2 percent in 2024. This decision has been made even though the average rate for the last 40 years has been 3.8 percent and the United States will require massive infrastructure upgrades over the next 50 years.

The recent cheating scandal involving employees of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex is emblematic of the problem. Nuclear officers charged with protecting and maintaining the thousands of U.S. nuclear weapons simply copied the answers for tests about how to employ the complex machinery related to nuclear missiles. The scandal is only the latest in a long series of accidents, mishaps, and miscommunications that have nearly caused nuclear explosions and tremendous loss of life. As Eric Schlosser has detailed in his new bookCommand and Control, we have avoided inflicting a Hiroshima-sized attack on ourselves only through sheer dumb luck.

Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which painted a grim picture of America’s infrastructure. The average grade for infrastructure—covering transportation, drinking water, energy, bridges, dams, and other critical infrastructure—was a D+. The failure to invest in infrastructure over the last 15 years, the report argues, bodes ill for the future and will guarantee further disasters. As political campaigns against “bureaucrats” render the federal government incapable of recruiting and motivating qualified people, these disasters appear almost unavoidable. The weakest link from the point of view of national security are the military and energy sectors.

Bad Chemistry

Want more? Enter your email for weekly updates:
 

The problems begin with our weapons. Despite promises from 20 years ago that the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency would destroy chemical weapons stockpiles, we have finished only 50 percent of the job (whereas Russia has completed some 70 percent) according to Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. 

The process of maintaining and removing dangerous weapons is tedious, labor-intensive, and inevitably involves community approval and the rawest forms of politics. The task suffers from an unhealthy combination of secrecy and apathy: the military wants to keep their weapons secret while the general population treats the matter with a striking lack of interest. Although many chemical weapons are stored relatively safely—binary substances are stored separately and are dangerous only when combined—many other chemicals related to fueling and other activities are hazardous. Because they are out of sight and out of mind, they are poorly managed.

Military waste is but a small part of the problem. The United States is peppered with all-but-forgotten chemical waste dumps, aging nuclear power plants, nuclear materials, oil rigs, oil pipelines, and mines (active and abandoned) that require an enormous investment in personnel and facilities to maintain safely.

Nuclear Headaches

Article image

The United States boasts the largest complex of storage facilities in the world related to civilian nuclear power and nuclear weapons programs. This network contains a dozen Fukushimas in the making. The U.S. nuclear energy system has generated more than 65,000 tons of spent fuel, much of which is stored in highly insecure locations. ”Even though they contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet, U.S. spent nuclear fuel pools are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to merely protect them against the elements,” writes IPS nuclear expert Robert Alvarez. “Some [of the structures] are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships.” An accident involving any one of these storage facilities could produce damage 60 times greater than the Chernobyl disaster. 

The Energy Department, without much regard for public safety, plans to unceremoniously dump in a landfill a ton of radioactive material produced in its nuclear weapons program. Such an approach has precedents. The West Lake municipal landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri harbors highly radioactive material from the weapons program of the 1940s and 1950s. That unsecured material could transform into a major public health risk due to fire or flooding. More recently, investigation of the Hanford nuclear waste complex in Washington State revealed that “significant construction flaws” exist in six of the 28 radioactive waste storage tanks. One of them has been leaking since 2012. The site dates back to the plutonium experiments of the 1950s, and those flawed storage tanks contain around 5 million gallons of radioactive material.

The Obama administration has pledged to reduce its nuclear weapons arsenal and envisions a nuclear-weapons-free future. But at the same it is pouring money into “nuclear modernization” through the development of a new generation of weapons and consequentially even more radioactive waste. Moreover, the administration continues to include nuclear energy as part of its carbon reduction plans, directing federal subsidies to the construction of two new nuclear plants in Georgia.

Despite the enthusiasm for nuclear weapons and power, the administration has turned a blind eye to the disposal of all the nuclear waste that both the military and the civilian side have generated.

Situation Normal: All Fracked Up

The coal industry continues to slice the peaks off mountains and replace them with vast expanses of barren land that cannot support life. That process fills rivers and lakes with toxic sludge, and regulation is all but nonexistent. From the 1990s on, coal companies have torn up West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee using new technologies that have already destroyed a patch of land larger than the state of Delaware. The run-off from these mining operations has buried 1,000 miles of streams.

The recent contamination of the Elk River in West Virginia with the dangerous chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol used in coal mining left over 300,000 people without safe drinking water. Although the storage of the chemicals was the responsibility of the now bankrupt Freedom Industries, the responsibility for the accident does not stop there. In fact, federal officials never inspected the site, and neither Freedom Industries nor local government officials drew up an emergency response plan.

A few weeks later a pipe failure in Eden, North Carolina dumped 39,000 tons of arsenic-laced coal ash into the nearby Dan River, causing a similar crisis. The situation is growing more serious as state budgets for inspection and regulation are being slashed. Training and preparation for hazardous material disasters is underfunded, and the personnel are unprepared to do their job.

Coal and oil workers are dying in greater numbers as a result of a chronic inattention to safety concerns. So bad is the situation that the Office of Safety and Health Administration has only 95 inspectors to oversee safety rules for all Texas work sites, and few of them have training or experience in the energy sector.

If you like coal mining, you’re going to love fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which is latest weapon in the war on the environment. Fracking is a process for extracting natural gas and petroleum from subterranean rock formations by pushing water, sand, and a variety of toxic chemicals deep into the ground to fracture the rock and release the trapped oil or gas. The process leaves beneath the surface large amounts of toxic chemicals that have already been shown to contaminate drinking water. The chemicals are so toxic that the water cannot be cleaned in a treatment plant.

Fracking is gobbling up large swathes of the United States because sites are quickly exhausted and the driller must constantly move on, leaving behind toxic chemicals to seep into the water supply. The long-term consequences of leaving extremely toxic substances like benzoyl or formic acid underground for decades are unknown. Without extensive regulation, maintenance, and planning for future disasters, the fracking boom is a ticking bomb for U.S. security.

The peril is not just on land. The increasingly desperate search for energy is making extreme measures—like deep-water drilling for oil—profitable for energy companies. The Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 resulted in 11 deaths, affected 16,000 miles of coastline, and will cost upwards of $40 billion. That accident didn’t stop the U.S. government from granting Shell a permit to drill in the deep waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off the Alaskan coast, an effort that has already racked up its share of accidents.

Coming Up: Le Deluge

The unending demand for budget cuts is taking a toll on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for a large number of important regulatory activities, experienced cuts of more than 6 percent in both its budget and workforce: from a nearly $8.5-million budget in 2012 down to $7.9 million in 2013, and from 17,106 employees in 2012 down to 15,913 employees in 2013. This is happening at a time when environmental issues are growing more critical.

Cuts in budgets for maintenance, inspection, and regulation will all but guarantee further disasters and tens of billions of dollars in damages. The poor state of American infrastructure would be a problem in any case, but the challenge of climate change has thrown a monkey wrench in all predictions. The New York Panel on Climate Change concluded that rising sea levels will turn what was previously a once-in-100-years flood into something that happens once every 35 to 55 years by 2050 and once every 15 to 30 years by 2080. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused more than $108 billion in damages while Hurricane Sandy in 2014 cost more than$50 billion, according to the National Hurricane Center. Climate change combined with poor maintenance is a recipe for massive disaster. Although the costs of the next disaster will certainly exceed the 9/11 attacks in terms of damage, tragically we are cutting back on infrastructure investment at a time we should be increasing it dramatically.

Unfortunately, the constituencies concerned with such safety inspections do not hire the most expensive lobbyists and rarely show up in the press. Inspectors and experts cannot, and should not, be expected to defend themselves in Washington, D.C. The media-obsessed political culture that rules Washington today makes commitment to low-key support for maintenance and long-term safety the kiss of death for congressmen engaged in an unending struggle to raise funds for reelection.

The strategic foolhardiness of cutting back on low-profile programs has become politically smart. But a few more major industrial or infrastructural disasters in the United States will be enough to bring the country to its knees. The American superpower will topple from self-inflicted wounds without a political rival like China or Russia even having to say “boo!”

ABOUT EMANUEL PASTREICH

Emanuel Pastreich directs the Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea.

Fighting the Militarized State

April 7, 2014

Photo: Justin Norman/cc/flickrThe Barack Obama administration, determined to thwart the attempt by other plaintiffs and myself to have the courts void a law that permits the military to arrest U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and indefinitely detain them, has filed a detailed brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to refuse to accept our petition to hear our appeal. We will respond within 10 days.

“The administration’s unstated goal appears to be to get court to agree that [the administration] has the authority to use the military to detain U.S. citizens,” Bruce Afran, one of two attorneys handling the case, said when I spoke with him Sunday. “It appears to be asking the court to go against nearly 150 years of repeated decisions in which the court has refused to give the military such power. No court in U.S. history has ever recognized the right of the government to use the military to detain citizens. It would be very easy for the government to state in the brief that citizens and permanent residents are not within the scope of this law. But once again, it will not do this. It says the opposite. It argues that the activities of the plaintiffs do not fall within the scope of the law, but it clearly is reserving for itself the right to use the statute to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.”

The lawsuit, Hedges v. Obama, challenges Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It was signed into law the last day of 2011. Afran and fellow attorney Carl Mayer filed the lawsuit in January 2012. I was later joined by co-plaintiffs Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Alexa O’BrienTangerine Bolen, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir and Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla.

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York, in a rare act of courage on the American bench today, declared Section 1021(b)(2) unconstitutional. The Obama administration immediately asked Forrest to lift her injunction and thereby put the law back into effect until it could appeal her decision. She rebuffed the government’s request. The government went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to ask it to stay the district court’s injunction until the government’s appeal could be heard. The 2nd Circuit consented to the request. The law went back on the books.

Afran, Mayer and I expected the Obama administration to appeal, but we did not expect the government to mount such an aggressive response to Judge Forrest’s ruling. The law had to be restored because, our attorneys and I suspect, the administration well might be holding U.S. citizens who are dual nationals in some of our black sites. If Forrest’s ruling was allowed to stand, the administration would be in contempt of court if it was detaining U.S. citizens under the statute. This suspicion was buttressed during the trial. Government attorneys, when asked by the judge, refused to say whether or not the government was already using the law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned Forrest’s ruling last July. It cited the Supreme Court ruling in Clapper v. Amnesty International, another case in which I was a plaintiff. The Clapper v. Amnesty International case challenged the secret wiretapping of U.S. citizens under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The Supreme Court in Clapper v. Amnesty International ruled that our concern about government surveillance was “speculation.” It said we were required to prove to the court that the FISA Act would be used to monitor those we interviewed. But we could never offer the court proof of anyone being monitored because the government does not disclose whom it is targeting. It was only later, because of Edward Snowden, that we discovered that not only were those we interviewed being monitored but so was everyone else, including ourselves. The 2nd Circuit relied on the spurious Supreme Court ruling to say that because we could not show the indefinite-detention law was about to be used against us we could not challenge it.

After the Obama administration won its appeal in the 2nd Circuit we petitioned the Supreme Court in what is known as a certiorari, or cert, to hear our appeal. The Supreme Court takes between 80 and 100 cases a year from about 8,000 requests. The court is likely to make a decision in a few months.

The government, whose open defiance of the Constitution is brazen, has tacked back and forth before the courts as to why we have no right to bring the suit. It has, throughout the case, contradicted itself. In its current brief, for example, it claims that we as plaintiffs have nothing to fear from the indefinite-detention law. This assertion is at odds with the refusal by the government attorneys in the Southern District Court of New York to provide assurances that my co-plaintiffs and I would not be affected by the law. The government brief charges that because none of us has been threatened with imminent arrest we have no credible fear and no right to bring the case. But anyone arrested under this law would disappear into a black hole. A seized person would not have access to a lawyer or the courts. By the time you were detained under this provision all avenues of judicial appeal would be closed.

The brief also says that the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act(AUMF) already gives the president power to take such actions. This is a gross misinterpretation of the limited powers authorized under the AUMF. It also raises the question of why, if that statute does give the state this power, as the lawyers claim, the government would need to pass a new law as it did when it approved the AUMF.

 

The brief argues that journalists are already protected under Article 79 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. This protocol calls for journalists to be treated as civilians. But this last assurance has no legal weight. The United States never ratified Additional Protocol I. Finally, the government attorneys selectively use the case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, which permits the detention of a U.S. citizen only if he or she is an enemy combatant engaged in an active armed conflict with U.S. forces. They cite the Hamdi case to argue that the government has the legal authority to order the military to detain U.S. citizens who “substantially support” a terrorist group.

The government in the brief makes it plain that all of us can be subject to this law:

Petitioners further assert that at the initial hearing in the district court, the government declined to offer assurances that they would not be detained under any circumstances. Pet. 14, 34-38. But no legal principle requires the government to provide litigants with such advance assurances or otherwise to delineate the bounds of its authority—particularly in the context of armed conflict—in response to speculative fears of harm asserted in litigation.

“The brief argues that the government reserves the right to use the military to detain and indefinitely hold journalists under this law, although the 2nd Circuit stated that the law did not apply to U.S. citizens,” Mayer told me Sunday. “We have already seen journalists such as [you] and Laura Poitras detained and denied access to a lawyer and due process. This law will make legal any such detentions. It will permit the military, on American soil, to throw journalists and activists in a military prison without trial or due process.”

If Section 1021(b)(2) is not struck down by the Supreme Court it will effectively overturn nearly 150 years of case law that repeatedly holds that the military has no jurisdiction over civilians. A U.S. citizen charged by the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or those in the nebulous category of “associated forces” will be lawfully subject toextraordinary rendition on U.S. soil. Arrested citizens will languish in military jails, in the language of Section 1021(b)(2), until “the end of hostilities.”

This obliteration of the right to due process and a fair hearing in a court of law, along with the mass surveillance that has abolished our right to privacy, will be the legal foundation of our militarized, corporate state. Judge Forrest warned in her 112-page opinion that whole categories of Americans could, under this law, be subject to seizure by the military. She drew parallels between Section 1021(b)(2) and Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 Supreme Court ruling that supported the government’s use of the military to detain 110,00 Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. Our case offers the court an opportunity, as several lawyers have pointed out, to not only protect almost 150 years of domestic law that forbids the military to carry out domestic policing but to repudiate the shameful Korematsu decision.

Once arbitrary and indefinite detention by the military is lawful, the government will use it. If we do not win this case, all those deemed to be hostile or critical of the state, including some Muslims, journalists, dissidents and activists, will find themselves under threat.

I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, 15 of them with The New York Times. I interviewed numerous individuals deemed by the U.S. government to be terrorists and traveled with armed groups, including units of al-Qaida, labeled as terrorist organizations. When I reported the statements and activities of these individuals and groups, U.S. officialdom often made little distinction between them and me. This was true during the wars in Central America. It was true in the Middle East. And it was true when I covered global terrorism. There was no law at the time that permitted the government, because of my work as a reporter, to order the military to seize and detain me. Now there is. This law, if it is not struck down, will essentially replace our civilian judiciary with a military one. Those targeted under this law will not be warned beforehand that they will be arrested. They will not have a chance to get a lawyer. They will not see the inside of a courtroom. They will simply vanish.

US Human Rights Record Chastised in UN Report

March 28, 2014

The UN committee also criticized Barack Obama for failing to keep his promise to close Guantánamo Bay. (photo: AFP/Getty Images)
The UN committee also criticized Barack Obama for failing to keep his promise to close Guantánamo Bay. (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

By Matthew Weaver, Guardian UK

28 March 14

 

UN human rights committee raises concerns over torture, drone strikes, the death penalty and NSA data collection

he UN has delivered a withering verdict on the US’s human rights record, raising concerns on a series of issues including torture, drone strikes, the failure to close Guantánamo Bay and the NSA’s bulk collection of personal data.

The report was delivered by the UN’s human rights committee in an assessment of how the US is complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], which has been in force since the mid 1970s.

The committee, which is chaired by the British law professor Sir Nigel Rodley, catalogued a string of human rights concerns, notably on the mass surveillance exposed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

It said the collection of the contents of communications from US-based companies under the Prism program had an adverse impact on the right to privacy. It added that the legal oversight of such programs had largely been kept secret and failed to protect the rights of those affected.

The UN committee urged the US to overhaul its surveillance activities to ensure they complied with US law and conformed to US obligations under the ICCPR.

The comments come as the Obama administration sets out how it proposes to end the mass collection of Americans’ phonecall data and make the searching of records held by telephone companies subject to a court order.

In its 11-page report, the committee also criticised the US for failing to prosecute senior members of its armed forces and private contractors involved in torture and targeted killings.

It noted that only a “meagre number” of criminal charges had been brought against low-level operatives. It also expressed concern that all investigations into enforced disappearances and torture conducted under the CIA’s rendition programme were closed in 2012, and that the details of the programme remained secret, creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims.

The US is urged to “ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned”.

The committee was also scathing about Washington’s legal justification for targeted killings using drones. The US claims such strikes, which have killed dozens of insurgents and civilians, are an act of self-defence as part of armed conflicts with al-Qaida and the Taliban. The committee criticised such justifications as too broad, and said it was unclear what precautionary measures were taken to avoid civilian deaths.

It urged the US to review the legal justification for drone strikes and said they should be subject to independent oversight.

The committee chides Obama for his failure to fulfil a commitment to close Guantánamo Bay. It notes that many detainees have been held there, and in military prisons in Afghanistan, for more than a decade without charge or trial. It call on the US to speed up the transfer of detainees and ensure that any criminal cases are dealt with by the US justice system rather than a military commission.

The committee also expressed alarm about the continued use of the death penalty in a 16 states, the “still high number” number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, notably in Chicago and the high proportion of black people in the country’s jails.

 

March 28, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 3/27/2014 at 11:32:52

We Don’t Run This Country for Corporations

By  (about the author)     Permalink      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ;,)

Become a Fan
(17 fans)

opednews.com

From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TkyCX3cGtk: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
(image by Cspan/ YouTube)

Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover its employees’ birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they’re so outraged about  women  having  access  to birth control that they’ve taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I  cannot   believe  that  we   live  in a  world  where  we   would   even  consider   letting   some   big corporation   deny  the  women  who  work  for it  access  to the  basic   medical   tests , treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here’s the scary thing: With the judges  we ‘ve got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of  big  business.

Birth control is at risk in today’s case, but  we  also need to worry about a lot more.

In  Citizens United , the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering  McCutcheon v. FEC , a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits — allowing the  big  guys to buy  even  more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that’s not the job of judges. Judges don’t sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that  we  have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that  we  have a Senate who approves them.

We ‘re in this fight because  we   believe  that  we  don’t run this country for corporations –  we  run it for people.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

 

Elizabeth Warren was assistant to the president and a special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She single-handedly set us this bureau, putting in place the building blocks for an agency that will make (more…)

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors. Writers Guidelines
Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors’ Articles

 Post Article Comment

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.

March 28, 2014
General News 3/27/2014 at 07:00:03

Exclusive Interview: Alan Grayson on House of Cards,

Foreign Money in Elections, NSA, Snowden, Greenwald

& Surveillance

By  (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): 

Add TagsAdd to My Group(s)

Become a Fan
(271 fans)

opednews.com

I interviewed Alan Grayson on my radio show on March 18th. The link to the podcast is here.

This segment of the transcript of the interview covers our discussion of the TV series, House of Cards, foreign money in US elections and NSA, Snowden, Greenwald and how the US has become a surveillance state.

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/79684288@N00/4888319060/: Alan Grayson
Alan Grayson
(image by AFGE)

R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey.  Also available on iTunes under my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L and at opednews.com/podcasts.

My guest tonight is Congressman Alan Grayson.

You have written recently about the Koch Brothers.  I think they’re the tip of the billionaire iceberg.  Have you seen the series, House of Cards?  Is that something members of Congress are watching and talking about?

A.G.: Occasionally.  You know honestly it’s not terribly realistic but I enjoy it as entertainment.  We don’t really, members of Congress generally do not toss small women off of roofs but leaving that aside, I’m referring to the English version by the way in case there’s some ambiguity about that.  The American version features an even uglier death but I’m not going to ruin it for anybody.

 

R.K.: Well there’s one piece in it that I wanted to get to and it’s not really a spoiler, it shows how an American billionaire uses China to funnel money in to  affect US elections and it seems to me to be a very plausible thing that has become possible since Citizens United.  Is anybody looking at that?  Is anybody looking at the way, with all this money sloshing around, these hundreds of millions of dollars, that foreign money is influencing American elections?

A.G.: Well the answer is I am looking at it and I’ve introduced a bill to end it.  We introduced eight bills right after the Citizens United decision that said that corporations are people and money is speech.  We introduced eight bills which we call our Save Democracy Platform and one of them was a flat prohibition on foreign corporations making any expenditures to influence US elections.  You would think that would be a no-brainer, the Supreme Court said in its decision that it’s constitutional but in fact we haven’t been able to get any traction to get that passed.

R.K.: That’s sad.  Okay, moving on.  You have worked as an attorney with Whistleblowers.  What’s your take on the NSA revelations of Ed Snowden and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras?

A.G.: Well I’ve discussed this extensively publicly, I think what they’ve uncovered is a massive and pervasive violation of our constitutional rights.  There is no conceivable justification for the NSA getting a report on every single phone call that any human being in the United States makes, including, by the way, this one since I’m calling into you and not in a studio.

There’s also, let’s think about this for a minute.  Obviously you don’t do your show in secret, so there may be no expectation of privacy in this particular case but we’re not doing anything wrong.  As far as I can tell.  You may think of the show as subversive but honestly you’re not an Al Qaeda member and you know it’s something that basically goes right to the heart on what it means to have free speech.  You’re talking to me, we’re sharing our thoughts and our words with other people, this, if anything is protected under the constitution, it’s got to be this.

And yet, notwithstanding the NSA gets a report about the fact that I called you, to the fact that we spoke for a certain amount of time, what day it was, what time it is, and this is true of every single phone call that gets made in America today. It’s been true for several years.  What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?  You know, right now we’re so guilty that you can’t even prove yourself innocent.

The government is going to get information about you, your personal life, your web browsing, your internet habits, your purchasing activities, the government is going to get information about you, the library books you check out at the library, the letters you send, every single letter that’s sent to this country now is photographed.  Did you know that?  Every single letter is photographed.  Everything that goes through the postal system is photographed.  Why?  Does this make us any safer?

How many terrorist attacks were thwarted by the fact that the NSA got a report on this call?  I can’t think of any.  You know, it’s expensive, the budget, the black budget is fifty billion dollars every year, that’s fifty billion with a “b.”  It actually does nothing, absolutely nothing to make us safer.  One of my republican colleagues, Justin Amash delved into thisand he couldn’t find a single example, not one single example of a terrorist that was thwarted because of information that was taken through domestic surveillance and it went all the way back to 9/11.  Not one single example.

R.K.: And he brought a bill up-

A.G.: So why are we doing it?

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect ofOpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Listen to over 200 of Rob’s Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.
With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth – ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob’s work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

 
And here’s a one hour radio interview where I was a guest- on Envision This, on 10/23/13. And here is the transcript. 

And Rob’s quotes are here.

To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn’t you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

Rob’s radio show, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived atwww.opednews.com/podcasts Or listen to it streaming, live atwww.wnjc1360.com

Rob also hosted a health/mind/body/heart/spirit radio show– the Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show. Check out podcasts from it atfuturehealth.org/podcasts

Follow me on Twitter

A few declarations.

-My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party’s Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors. Follow Me on Twitter

 

America Badly Needs A Massive Infusion Of Idealism

March 21, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 3/20/2014 at 11:21:33

By  (about the author)     Permalink

(Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ;;

AddTags Add to My Group(s)

Become a Fan
(81 fans)

opednews.com


quest for excellence by freepostermaker.com

Some 238 years ago this was a country in which courage combined with idealism enabled the Founding Fathers to rise up and defeat the British imperialists, a seemingly impossible task. That kind of idealism is what is missing in America today and we must find the ways to recover it for the benefit of future generations.

Idealism is a theory that describes the attitude of an individual or an entity that believes that it is possible to live according to very high standards of behavior and principles; that the pursuit of excellence is an attainable goal; we might say that idealists view the world as it might or should be, as opposed to pragmatists who doggedly focus on the world as it presently is.

Which of these beliefs do we think prevails in this country and society at this time; idealism or pragmatism? Well, it’s certainly not idealism because in the America of today idealism is largely on life support. For many Americans and, without question, the majority of those in our government, it’s something requires far too much effort. And when is the last time when any of us may have heard serious discussions or debates relative to how this nation should be guided by the pursuit of high standards and principled decision-making?

There is little to no room for idealism in a country that is now governed by pragmatists who have no real vision of the future but are mired down in the belief that the conditions we currently find ourselves in, and the mounting problems we have, are here to stay and we should just accept and condone this as reality. We are now living in a society and culture where average and good enough are perfectly acceptable and the quest for excellence is rapidly fading away.

We should be better than this but we’re not; we’re too satisfied with the status quo and doing business as usual, unwilling to reach higher and achieve more. We are caught up in this state of pragmatism and have no burning desire to free ourselves; that takes too much effort. To be pragmatic and roll with the punches is very easy while being idealistic is very difficult.

 

The spirit of idealism of which I speak was last seen in America when, in the words of Lewis Lapham, “the unarmed rebellions led to the enactment in the mid-1960s of the Economic Opportunity Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and eventually to the shutting down of the war in Vietnam.” And, as that brief era of enlightenment ended shortly thereafter, that form of idealism has never returned to this country.

But just think what might happen if we lived in a nation in which this government and society were committed to high standards and the quest for excellence? it would look far different than it does today. It might look something like this:

We might once again be witness to a Congress that functioned effectively; one that had the ability and resolve to use logic and rational thinking to create legislation that would not only address, but solve, our many festering problems. The tactics of obstruction would come to an end. And, we’d see a Congress that would free itself from the control of corporate money, power and influence.

America wouldn’t have 47 million people, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly and children, all living below the poverty line, forced to survive on food stamps. The notion that “the poor will always be with us” would become irrelevant. Instead of vilifying and condemning those Americans who find themselves in this condition, members of Congress would be motivated to pinpoint the root causes of this nation’s massive inequality of wealth and income and come up with the ways to make life better for all Americans.

The opportunity would present itself to restore America’s declining manufacturing industry, its decimated workforce and a rapidly eroding middle class. The leaders of our government could come to the realization that if the manufacturing sector was allowed to collapse the economy would eventually follow suit. So the obvious thing to do would be to take steps to put the brakes on Corporate America’s march toward unrestrained globalization.

Perhaps we’d see a president who, when he said “Yes we can” and “Change is on the way”, actually meant it and did everything within the powers of the presidency to insure that it happened; a president whose inspiring words would serve to motivate the people to join in the effort to bring dramatic changes to America by reaching for and meeting seemingly unattainable goals.

We would be watching as this president proved to be a champion of the U.S. Constitution rather than engaging in policies and actions that involve ways and means by which to circumvent it. NSA spying would be non-existent.

We in America would not be caught up in a pragmatic state that says that, “there will always be wars and rumors of wars” meaning that this is just the way things are and we should accept them. We would have found the way to rise above our obsession with military might, completely rejecting the neocon pragmatists that tell us that this can never be done and we must not even try.

We’d have a Supreme Court that would follow the Constitution in the manner that the Founders had intended, one that would not succumb to the dictates of special interests. This country’s election process would no longer be polluted by corporate money and we could very likely see the emergence of high-minded individuals in our government who would put the interests of this country and its people above all else.

The U.S. Justice Dept. could well become a symbol of fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law; one that would not turn a blind eye to serious abuses and manipulative schemes of the Wall Street Robber Barons and would conduct investigations to prosecute the perpetrators. There might be in-depth investigations of the torture programs under the Bush administration instead of the massive cover-up that has taken place.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense (more…)

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

March 21, 2014

‘League of the South’ official: Teaching evolution is ‘an act of disloyalty to America’

By David Edwards
Thursday, March 20, 2014 16:45 EDT
Share on facebook1.1KShare on twitter105Share on google_plusone_share20google plus iconShare on printShare on email

Michael Peroutka (Vimeo)
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Michael Peroutka, a Maryland-based lawyer who was the Constitution Party’s candidate for president in 2004, says that Americans cannot believe in evolution if they truly love their country.

In 2011 video uncovered by Right Wing Watch on Thursday, the co-founder of the Institute on the Constitution asserts that “evolutionary thinking is dangerous and anti-American.”

“American political philosophy is based on the belief that the world was created by God in six days, and that this creation event occurred about 6,000 years ago,” he explains, adding that news reports describing the Earth as millions of years old were either ignorant or “anti-American.”

 

“What I’m saying is that the promotion of evolution is an act of disloyalty to America… What I’m saying is there’s no way you can support or believe evolution and sing ‘God Bless America’ during the 7th inning stretch!”

As the Constitution Party nominee in 2004, Peroutka ran as the “the home-school candidate.” In 2013, he was elected League of the South Board of Directors, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as a neo-Confederate hate group since 2000.

Watch the video clip below:

 Steal this story … LEGALLY
David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he’s also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.

NYTimes: Crisis underway at Fukushima plant, worker shortage — “Alcoholism is rampant” — Tepco base is selling the whiskey — Help wanted ad seeks employees “able to carry out a conversation” — Workers spray hose full of radioactive waste on themselves and others (VIDEO)

March 18, 2014

Latest Headlines from ENENews

 

NYTimes: Crisis underway at Fukushima plant, worker shortage — “Alcoholism is rampant” — Tepco base is selling the whiskey — Help wanted ad seeks employees “able to carry out a conversation” — Workers spray hose full of radioactive waste on themselves and others (VIDEO)

Posted: 18 Mar 2014 02:11 AM PDT

TV: Concern about ‘integrity’ of shafts at WIPP; Will workers be able to get back up if they go down? — Paper: Seismic data analyzed by gov’t; ‘Popular theory’ that “entire roof of underground chambers collapsed” (VIDEO)

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 04:50 PM PDT

Fukushima Evacuee: Skin turned black and hair around neck came off, then my dog died — Cancer Specialist: There are simply too many cases, I see a connection

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 11:29 AM PDT

Former ‘economic hitman’: U.S. ‘death economy’ brought world to brink of destruction

March 18, 2014

By Travis Gettys
Monday, March 17, 2014 13:10 EDT
Share on facebook633Share on twitter81Share on google_plusone_share0google plus iconShare on printShare on email

John Perkins edit
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

A former “economic hitman” explained that the United States model for global domination cannot be repeated – and should not be attempted.

Author John Perkins explained last week on the David Pakman Show how American corporations extorted natural resources from developing nations in a process that sounds very similar to domestic privatization schemes.

Perkins, who wrote the 2004 book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” about his experience working as a chief economist for the engineering company Chas. T. Main, said corporations would identify countries that had resources sought by the U.S. and arrange for them to obtain large loans from the World Bank and similar organizations.

“But the money never actually went to the country,” Perkins said. “Instead, it went to our own corporations to build infrastructure projects in that country. They made a great deal of profit from that.”

The countries would use those borrowed funds to build electrical systems, highways, industrial parks, and other infrastructure projects.

“Yet the country would be left holding a huge debt they couldn’t repay, and so at some point we’d go back and say, ‘Hey, you know, since you can’t pay your debts, sell your resource – oil, whatever – very cheap to our companies without any environmental restrictions or social regulations or privatize your public sector businesses, sell them real cheap – your utility companies, your water and sewage system, your schools, your jails, off to our corporations,” Perkins said. “And in that way we created the world’s first truly global empire, primarily without the use of the military.”

He said most economists agreed that developing countries needed better infrastructure to improve their economies, but he said statistics supporting this model were misleading.

“I came to understand that the poor people were not benefitting, that the statistics reflect the very wealthy, which is true in this country, too, you know, that 85 people control more resources than half the world’s population,” Perkins said. “Our statistics are very, very skewed to those rich people.”

He claims in his book the U.S. backed the assassinations of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos and Ecuadoran President Jaime Roldós Aguilera in a pair of 1981 plane crashes because they refused to bow to corporate interests.

“We’ve created a death economy, one that’s based on killing people, militarization, and ravaging the earth,” Perkins said. “We need to move into a life economy that’s based on cleaning up pollution, feeding starving people, developing new technologies, transportation, communications, (and) energy.”

He declared the global economy to be “an abject failure,” arguing that Americans make up just 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 30 percent of its natural resources.

“That’s not a model,” Perkins said. “It can’t be repeated by China, even though they’re trying. It just puts the world in a worse condition when other countries try to repeat our model. We must come up with a new model.”

He said some corporate leaders and many consumers have arrived at similar conclusions and are beginning to take steps to correct the problems he’s identified.

“We’re truly in a consciousness revolution, a huge revolution, where people are waking up to the fact that we’re living on a very fragile space station that has no shuttles,” Perkins said. “We’re going to have to take care of this place, and big business is going to have to play a major role in waking up and taking care of this, serving a public interest – not the 1 percent, but the 99 percent – serving the earth, in essence, and we all need to get out there and make sure that happens.”

Watch the entire interview posted online by David Pakman Show:

 Steal this story … LEGALLY

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers