Archive for the ‘U.S.A.’ Category

ISIS Leader: If There Was No American Prison in Iraq, There Would Be No ISIS

December 12, 2014

By Zack Beauchamp, Vox

12 December 14

 

n an incredible scoop, the Guardian‘s Martin Chulov interviewed a senior leader of ISIS— one who came up through the ranks with the group’s top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The single most interesting quote from the ISIS leader, whom Chulov refers to as Abu Ahmed, is quite disturbing: he credits the group’s rise, in large part, to American prison camps during the Iraq war, which he says gave him and other jihadist leaders an invaluable forum to meet one another and to plan their later rise.

Abu Ahmed was imprisoned in a US-run detention center in southern Iraq called Camp Bucca in 2004. That’s where he met al-Baghdadi, among others who would later form ISIS. According to Ahmed, Baghdadi managed to trick the US Army into thinking he was a peacemaker, all the while building what would become ISIS right under their noses:

“He was respected very much by the US army,” Abu Ahmed said. “If he wanted to visit people in another camp he could, but we couldn’t. And all the while, a new strategy, which he was leading, was rising under their noses, and that was to build the Islamic State. If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no IS now. Bucca was a factory. It made us all. It built our ideology.”

When they entered the US-run prison, Baghdadi and many of the others were members of small Sunni militia groups. But the organizing space allowed them to unify under the name al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), led at the time by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

“We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” Abu Ahmed says, sounding almost grateful to the Americans. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred meters away from the entire al-Qaeda leadership.”

Later, after Zarqawi was killed, and AQI’s near-total defeat at the hands of a Sunni uprising and the American surge, Baghdadi and his compatriots rebuilt the group under theISIS banner. Their network organized partially out of US-run detention centers has played a key role in that. The Iraqi government, Chulov reports, estimates that “17 of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons between 2004 and 2011.”

In other words: without the Iraq war and American prisons there meant to detain possible terrorists, ISIS as we know it wouldn’t exist.

 

CIA’s Brutal and Ineffective Use of Torture Revealed in Landmark Report

December 9, 2014

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate's intelligence committee. (photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate’s intelligence committee. (photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)

ALSO SEE: The Most Gruesome Moments in the CIA ‘Torture Report’

By Spencer Ackerman, Guardian UK

09 December 14

 

Report released by Senate after four-year, $40m investigation concludes CIA repeatedly lied about brutal techniques in years after 9/11

he CIA’s post-9/11 embrace of torture was brutal and ineffective – and the agency repeatedly lied about its usefulness, a milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday concludes.

After examining 20 case studies, the report found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings.

“During the brutal interrogations the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.”

The torture that the CIA carried out was even more extreme than what it portrayed to congressional overseers and the George W Bush administration, the committee found. It went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to quasi-drowning, staged mock executions, and revved power drills near their heads.

At least 39 detainees, the committee found, experienced techniques like “cold water dousing” – different from the quasi-drowning known as waterboarding – which the Justice Department never approved. The committee found at least five cases of “rectal rehydration”, and cases of death threats made to detainees. CIA interrogators, the committee charged, told detainees they would hurt their children and “sexually assault” or kill their wives.

At least 17 were tortured without the approval from CIA headquarters that ex-director George Tenet assured the Justice Department would occur. And at least 26 of the CIA’s estimated 119 detainees, the committee found, were “wrongfully held”.

Contractor psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a critical role in establishing the torture program in 2002. A company they formed to contract their services to the CIA was worth more than $180m, and by the time of the contract’s 2009 cancellation, they had received $81m in payouts.

The committee’s findings, which the CIA largely rejects, are the result of a four-year, $40m investigation that plunged relations between the spy agency and the Senate committee charged with overseeing it to a historic low.

The investigation that led to the report, and the question of how much of the document would be released and when, has pitted chairwoman Feinstein and her committee allies against the CIA and its White House backers. For 10 months, with the blessing of President Barack Obama, the agency has fought to conceal vast amounts of the report from the public, with an entreaty to Feinstein from secretary of state John Kerry occurring as recently as Friday.

CIA director John Brennan, an Obama confidante, conceded in a Tuesday statement that the program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes” owing from what he described as unpreparedness for a massive interrogation and detentions program.

But Brennan took issue with several of the committee’s findings.

“Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” Brennan said.

“EITs”, or “enhanced interrogation techniques”, is the agency’s preferred euphemism for torture.

Obama banned CIA torture upon taking office, but the continuing lack of legal consequences for agency torturers has led human rights campaigners to view the Senate report as their last hope for official recognition and accountability for torture.

Though the committee released hundreds of pages of declassified excerpts from the report on Tuesday, the majority of the 6,000-plus page classified version remains secret, disappointing human rights groups that have long pushed for broader transparency. Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat who lost his seat in November, has flirted with reading the whole report into the Senate record, one of the only tactics to compel additional disclosures remaining.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid weighed in to back the report. “Today, for the first time, the American people are going to learn the full truth about torture that took place under the CIA during the Bush administration,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “The only way our country can put this episode in the past is to confront what happened.”

“Not only is torture wrong but it doesn’t work,” said Reid. He said torture “got us nothing except a bad name”.

But Republican members of the intelligence committee questioned the report in their own 100-page document. They wrote “procedural irregularities” had negatively impacted the study’s “problematic claims and conclusions” and accused Democrats of bias and faulty analysis.

The Republicans specifically disputed the report’s claim that torture had failed to provide actionable intelligence and claimed “aggressive” interrogation of Zubaydah led to the capture of al-Qaida associates and the disruption of a plot plot aimed at hotels in Karachi, Pakistan, frequented by American and German guests.

In a statement, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said he could not recall a report “as fraught with controversy and passion as this one”.

He said the officers who participated in the program “believed with certainty that they were engaged in a program devised by our government on behalf of the president that was necessary to protect the nation, that had appropriate legal authorization, and that was sanctioned by at least some in the Congress.” But he said “things were done that should not have been done”.

“I don’t believe that any other nation would go to the lengths the United States does to bare its soul, admit mistakes when they are made and learn from those mistakes. Certainly, no one can imagine such an effort by any of the adversaries we face today,” said Clapper.

 

The Biggest Scandal in America Is Its Controlled Press

December 3, 2014
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From flickr.com/photos/47691521@N07/6555467573/: Redacted
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How many Americans know that the current regime in Ukraine was installed in a very bloody February 2014 coup d’etat, that was planned in the U.S. White House, and overseen by an Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, and run by the CIA, and carried out for the White House by one of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, whose founder and leader still controls Ukraine though not officially, even these many months after his coup, and which nazi party has been up to their elbows since then in a genocidal policy to exterminate the people in the region of Ukraine that had voted approximately 90% for the man whom Obama and those nazis overthrew in February? (Click onto that link, and to the more-detailed evidence that’s linked to there, in order to see the ultimate documentations of this entire horrific history, because it is history now, even though the American public were never informed about it while it was news — while and when it was happening, which it still is.)

And how many Americans know that one of the two main suspects in the bringing-down of the Malaysian MH17 airliner over Ukraine on July 17th has been given veto-power over the report that is to be issued from the official ‘investigation’ of the black boxes and other evidence in the case?

The ongoing hiding of all of this from the American public is perhaps even more stunning to the present writer than is the bloody American policy (including Obama’s personal rolein it) itself.

Virtually all of the ‘news’ editors and producers — the ‘news’ executives, in America’s press — know, and have known all along, that these things are the case, because they’ve been receiving many news-submissions on them, with full and entirely credible documentation each time, ever since February, and have not made any of these facts public; they’ve not published this reality, when it was news, though they are supposed to be news-organizations.

I know this because I am one of the many independent investigative journalists who has been reporting in detail on these matters, throughout this time-period, and whose reports have been submitted to virtually all U.S. ‘news’ media — mainstream and alternative news, liberal and conservative news, Republican and Democratic news. And, with the exception of only about a half-dozen obscure but admirably authentic news-sites on the Internet (which is just a small fraction of the “alternative news” sites), all of this solidly documented information (just click on the links and you’ll see it documented there) has been intentionally withheld, from the American public, by virtually the entirety of the U.S. ‘news’ media.

Was the rigid control over a nation’s press more rigid and more universal in the Soviet Union, or in Nazi Germany, than is the case in today’s United States? One should not simply assume that it was, or that it wasn’t, but instead recognize how extremely far from being a democracy today’s United States has, in fact, become. This is the most shocking realization of all, because it’s the most suppressed news of all — news about the news-suppression by the ‘news’-media.

Regarding that charge of news-suppression in America: among the ‘news’ media to which these news-reports have been regularly submitted and yet never published, have also been specialized ones, such as fair.org, mediamatters.org, and Foreign Policy magazine; and yet even they refuse to report these realities about U.S. foreign policy and its cover-ups, and about the controlled U.S. ‘news’ media — in neither specialized field (neither press-reviews, nor international policy) is it being reported. And, of course, it’s not broadcast in any U.S. national media. That’s how dire the condition of what used to be American democracy has now become.

The biggest news-story of all is thus the one that is, and that will inevitably be, the most suppressed news-story of all: the news-suppression itself. It extends from the major ‘news’-media to the alternative and even to the specialized ‘news’-media.

Edward Snowden, the former CIA and NSA employee and then contractor who went public about the U.S. Government’s violating the 4th Amendment and other U.S. Constitutional provisions regarding Americans’ right to privacy and so forth, addressed on October 20th, a class at Harvard Law School, and he spoke about the impossibility of democracy to exist if there is not informed consent from the public of what the Government is doing, and of what the authentic aims of the Government are in what it is doing and intends to do. He necessarily had to speak from an undisclosed location, because the U.S. Government wants to imprison him (if not worse). He raised the extremely serious question as to whether, and the extent to which, a government can lie to its public and still be a democracy.

That’s the question. How can the public have a government representing informed consent, if the ‘news’ media are constantly, and systematically, lying about the most important things, and covering up that government’s worst, most heinous, crimes? Yet, this is what Americans have today.

The United States is thus no longer a model for any country except for a dictatorship. How likely is it that America’s press will let the American public know this now-established fact?

Something’s wrong — and it’s not people such as Edward Snowden.

For yet another of the many examples of U.S. news-suppression, click here. This interview, 13 years after the news-event, was relegated to C-Span, not aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, or cable-news channels.

 

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.

Triumph of the Wrong

November 8, 2014

Paul Krugman. (photo: NYT)
Paul Krugman. (photo: NYT)

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

07 November 14

 

he race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

READ MORE

 

Here are the worst places to live in the U.S., and climate change isn’t helping

November 7, 2014
HOUSE WARMING

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From wildfires and drought in the Southwest to hurricanes andfloods on the Eastern seaboard, sometimes it seems like there’s nowhere left to hide from climate change. Well, we can’t (read: don’t want to) tell you where you should go, but at least now we can name the 50 places to live in the U.S. where you are MOST at risk for natural disaster — including the sorts of disasters climate change is expected to throw at us in the coming years.

The Weather Channel, despite some unfortunate early ties to the climate-denying grandpa you never had, can do some pretty impressive stuff from time to time. For example, sifting though 18 years worth of data from every county or parish in the U.S. — all 3,111 of them — taking into account everything from flood and fire risk, to how much it costs to heat or cool a home, to how many weather-related property damages and deaths occur on average. And while none of this could have made for cheering subject matter, 50 places definitely came out on top of this Olympic podium of suck. Let’s take a fly-by tour of a few of them:

Orleans Parish, La.

Saving the worst for first, Orleans Parish, La., tops this terrible list of places, with a whopping $21.6 billion in damage, most of that supplied by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Even more significant are the hundreds of people (around 215) who died in their homes in New Orleans during the storm — a tragic combination of natural fury and poor disaster preparedness.

Before we move on, it’s worth mentioning that five of the counties on this list are in Louisiana, and a full eight are in Mississippi. We won’t go through all of those, because they are bummers of a similar sort, But know that when it comes to flood damage and struggling infrastructure, the low-lying lands of the lower 48 have the stage set for disaster

Ocean County, N.J.

Ocean County, New Jersey
Bossi

When Superstorm Sandy made landfall in Ocean County, in 2012, it brought desolation down on the Jersey Shore to the tune of $10 billion, and earned the area sixth place in this terrible race. While plenty of towns on the East Coast had it just as bad, including Monmouth County just to the north, Ocean County faces a second set of risks as well — these ones from land. Just inland from the hurricane-wrecked shore are the Pine Barrens, a bizarrely pristine forest with a moderate risk of wildfire. Between all that water and fire, you might want to just keep taking that turnpike outta Dodge.

Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska

Nikolai, Alaska
Wikimedia Commons

Coming in at No. 13 on the list of worst places to be, this large swath of Alaska is the most sparsely populated county in America, with about 6,000 people spread across an area the size of Germany. And no wonder so few people want to live there — 99.8 percent of the days in Yukon-Koyukuk are “heating degree days” with average temperatures below 65 degrees F. Couple the cost of keeping warm with risk of wildfires in the summers AND plenty of miscellaneous weather-related damage, and you get one hell of an inhospitable landscape.

Bright side, bright side … uh, if the polar vortex keeps wobbling around, maybe the Yukon-Koyukukans will catch a bit of a breakthis winter.

Marin County, Calif.

Marin County, California
John Kim

Marin County is one of the wealthiest places in the U.S. — with the fifth highest income-per-capita in 2009 — but it is also, trust us, one of the WORST places you could possibly live (the 17th worst place, to be specific). Not only will your view of the Bay be marred by a sprawling multimillion-dollar mansion, but you will also be living on a spiderweb of several major faults that pass under this region. Massive earthquakes in 1989 and 1906 caused billions of dollars of damage and cost hundreds of Marin residents’ lives, and they could do so again.

What’s more: All that ocean-front property and flood-prone picturesque valleys leave Marin vulnerable to all kinds of water risks, especially during rain-heavy winter storms.

Oh, yeah, and though wildfires haven’t plagued the county too badly in the past, the historic ongoing drought in California will almost certainly make this whole region a little hotter-under-the-collar.

Washoe County, Nev.

Reno, Nevada
Jay

There are lots of reasons not to live in Reno, but here’s another: Despite being smack-dab in the middle of a desert state, Washoe County is so chock-full of lakes and snow-fed rivers that it is expected to experience a disastrous flood every 50 years, a fact which earns it spot 22 out of 50 on this list. The last flood in 1997 inundated countless homes as well as the airport, and cost the district $500 million. If that was a 50-year flood, that means you still have 30 years and change to pick up roots and move somewhere a little less extreme. Then again, why wait — any place whose official motto is “The Biggest Little City In The World” doesn’t need climate change’s help to make it suck more.

—-

For the rest of the list, you’ll have to turn to the professionals. Let’s just hope when it comes to the terrible futures in store for the stars-and-stripes, these weather forecasters are as famously wrong as ever.

Source:
Worst Places to Own a Home, Weather Channel.

Meet your new fossil fuel-loving GOP senators

November 7, 2014

Grist

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The Democrats got wrecked on Tuesday, and now Republicans aretaking over the Senate. Some of the new Republican senators are outright climate deniers. Those who admit that climate change is happening often hide from the issue with nonsensical yammering about how global warming might be due to natural causes. Regardless of their views on the science, they are unanimous in their opposition to actually doing anything about it, and in their enthusiasm for exploiting America’s land and water for the benefit of the fossil fuel industries.

Below is a guide to the new Republican senators and their views on climate change, energy, and the environment. Note that we included Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is headed for a runoff against Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu that he is likely to win, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who is ahead of Sen. Mark Begich in the vote count thus far, although at press time Begich has yet to concede.

For those who have served in Congress, we’ve provided their lifetime environmental voting scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). The score represents the percentage of time that they have taken the pro-environment vote on a bill. According to their grades, they’re a bunch of F students on the environment.

Tom Cotton
Gage Skidmore

Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

Currently serving in the House of Representatives, Cotton opposes EPA regulation of CO2, and supports the usual list of fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. Yet you could call him a moderate by the standards of this group, because he sort of accepts climate science. Sort of. Here he is in a talk at the Clinton Library, wrapping an admission of anthropogenic global warming in a bogus right-wing talking point: “The simple fact is that for the last 16 years, the Earth’s temperature has not warmed. That’s the facts … Now, there’s no doubt that the temperature has risen over the past 150,200 years. It’s most likely that human activity has contributed to some of that … Why would we change the way we live our life on a fundamental, civilizational level based on computer models?” Of course, the actual fact is that there has been warming over the last 16 years, and this year is on pace to be the hottest in recorded history. And there are plenty of good reasons to change the way we live even if you don’t trust climate models, such as the fact that fossil fuels will eventually run out anyway, and extracting and burning them creates local air and water pollution.

Lifetime LCV Score: 7 percent

Steve Daines
House GOP

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Rep. Daines, talking to NPR’s Sally Mauk in 2012, offered some peculiar ideas about climate science: “I think the jury’s still out in my opinion, Sally, on that. I’ve seen some very good data that says there are other contributing factors there, certainly looking at the effect the sun has, and it’s the solar cycles versus CO2 and greenhouse gases.” Ah yes, “the solar cycles,” that’s just what the IPCC report blames for global warming too, right? No. As you would expect of someone who tries to concoct silly alternative explanations for the warming and extreme weather that is plainly occurring, Daines has voted the wrong way on every climate bill. That aside, you might expect someone from the Rocky Mountain west to at least oppose letting coal mining companies dump toxic waste in mountain streams when conducting mountaintop-removal mining. You’d be wrong. Daines has voted in favor of that. He also voted for an anti-environment farm bill that would endanger Montana’s forests and wildlife.

Lifetime LCV Score: 4 percent

Shelley Moore Capito
House GOP

Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

Rep. Capito loves coal. One of her regular talking points on the campaign trail and in her ads this year was that President Obama has proposed a rule that would ban all new coal-burning plants and even burning coal in existing plants. Politifact rated the former claim “mostly false” and the latter claim just plain “false.” When asked in an October debate if she agrees with climate scientists that human activity is causing climate change, Capito said, “I don’t necessarily think the climate’s changing, no.” When questioned by reporters after the debate, she modified her position, with the brilliance and eloquence we’ve come to expect from Republicans discussing climate science: “Is the climate changing? Yes it’s changing, it changes all the time. We heard it raining out there. I’m sure humans are contributing to it.” Whatever she thinks we’re doing to contribute to climate change (rain dances?), Capito doesn’t believe we should do anything to stop it. She has voted repeatedly against calculating the social cost of carbon, funding for renewable energy, and allowing the federal government to regulate methane emissions from fracking.

Lifetime LCV Score: 21 percent

Mike Rounds
Roundsforsenate.com

Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Former Gov. Rounds accepts the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change, although he downplays it with gibberish. “There are a number of different causes that we recognize, and the scientists recognize, are the cause of global warming,” said Rounds in 2006. It’s unclear what these mysterious “other causes” are. Although Rounds isn’t totally anti-science, he is ardently anti-environment. He has called for eliminating the EPA, and as governor, he vetoed tax credits for wind energy facilities. He describes the EPA’s proposed rules on CO2 emissions from power plants as a “carbon tax,” which is completely inaccurate. You can guess, though, where he would stand on an actual carbon tax.

Cory Gardner
ACU Conservative

Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Rep. Gardner did a good job pretending to be a moderate on energy in his successful Senate election, cutting an ad touting his fondness for wind power. But his actual positions show that he is no friend of the environment. He did vote for tax credits for clean energy in 2012, but he turned around and voted against them in 2013. The rest of his record follows the standard Republican playbook. He voted to direct federal land managers to prioritize oil drilling over hunting, fishing, and hiking. He opposes EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and wants to remove EPA authority to set more rigorous standards for regulating coal ash. Asked in a Senate campaign debate to answer yes or no as to whether “humans are contributing significantly to climate change,” he refused. “I don’t think you can say yes or no.” Later he added that he thinks the climate is changing, but human activity is less responsible than the news media would have you think.

Lifetime LCV Score: 9 percent.

Joni Ernst
IowaPolitics.com

Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

Ernst is insane on environmental issues, even by the standards of the Republican Party. She subscribes to the discredited far-right conspiracy theory that “Agenda 21,” a non-binding U.N. resolution encouraging conservation of natural resources, is a scheme to take control of American towns and turn them into high-rise hellholes. As for federal environmental protection, she’s against that too, saying, “Let’s shut down the EPA. The state knows best how to protect resources.” When asked about climate change she takes the standard, cowardly Republican “I”m not a scientist” dodge: “I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not … I do believe in protecting our environment, but without the job-killing regulations that are coming out of the [EPA].” For Ernst, this qualifies as moderation.

Bill Cassidy
Gage Skidmore

Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

Like Cotton, Rep. Cassidy deploys bogus climate science-denying talking points. In an October debate, he claimed that “global temperatures have not risen in 15 years.” Even the conservativeWashington Examiner was moved to flatly observe, “That’s not true. Data show that the rate of warming has slowed during that period but temperatures are still rising year-over-year.” In 2013, Cassidy voted to expand logging on public lands, to defund the federal government’s policy of not buying unconventional fossil fuels, and to expand offshore drilling. That last one is especially ironic, since Cassidy will likely represent the state most devastated by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Lifetime LCV score: 11 percent

David Perdue
Perduesenate.com

David Perdue (R-Ga.)

Perdue, a former corporate executive, is so retrograde on energy policy that he is to the right of a utility company, Alliant Energy Corporation, whose board he used to sit on. Alliantsupported cap-and-trade while Perdue was on the board, but now he is having none of it. Perdue’s campaign was so extreme in its anti-environmentalism that it attacked his opponent, Michelle Nunn, for being endorsed by the nonpartisan LCV, complaining in a statement that “[Nunn’s] jobs plan refuses to address how burdensome regulations on the coal industry will raise energy prices and destroy jobs. Her website says she wants to ‘act now’ on climate change … Nunn claims to support the Keystone Pipeline, but if she seriously supports moving forward with it, how did she secure the support from this far-left group?” It’s fairly obvious how Nunn got LCV’s endorsement despite supporting Keystone: The group thought Perdue would be much worse.

Dan Sullivan
YouTube

Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

Dan Sullivan, served from 2010 to 2013 as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, an excellent vantage point from which to observe climate change. But while he accepted climate science when he worked in the Bush State Department back in 2008, he now tries to confuse the issue. He still admits that the climate is changing and that human activity is contributing, but earlier this year he made the following bizarre statement: “Despite what many climate change alarmists want us to believe, there is no general consensus on pinpointing the sole cause of global temperature trends.” Unless Sullivan thinks 97 percent unanimity among scientists isn’t a general consensus, that’s a falsehood. Presumably, his argument hinges on the word “sole,” contending that there may be natural causes as well. But he is obviously raising this red herring to confuse voters, not to be scientifically precise. Sullivan opposes government regulation of greenhouse gases and in Alaska, he has prioritized exploiting natural resources over concerns for the environment or indigenous people.

Thom Tillis
North Carolina National Guard

Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

As speaker of the North Carolina state legislature, Tillis promoted a far-right agenda, including on environment and energy issues. In a rare setback, he was unable to repeal the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard. He did find ways to undermine clean fuel promotion by cutting more than $2 million from North Carolina’s Biofuels Center, a nonprofit that closed as a result. Tillis also pushed through a bill that, instead of requiring full disclosure of fracking chemicals, allows companies to claim chemical combinations as trade secrets and disclose them only to the state geologist. Tillis opposes EPA climate regulations and citesdiscredited “research” from the right-wing Heritage Foundation to overstate the costs of such regs to North Carolina’s economy.

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“The United States is not a true democracy”

November 7, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/7/2014 at 10:45:13

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democracy???
(image by rob kall)

“The United States is not a true democracy” Says who? Former Congressman Ron Paul. “We have a monopoly of ideas which are controlled by leaders of the two parties” They call it a two party system, it’s really a one philosophy.” What is that philosophy one may ask? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first. Is Ron Paul right? If he is, what of the “philosophy”?

Commenting on the mid-term election, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls the American electoral politics a “charade of democracy”. (1) In Atlanta, in July 2013, Jimmy Carter declared: “America has no functioning democracy at this moment”. (2) In 2006, “Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican-appointed judge on the Supreme Court, said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party’s right-wingers continue to attack the judiciary.” (3) Senator Frank Church — who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — said in 1975: “The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left”” (4)(5) If the statements do not prove Ron Paul right they do demonstrate the elite’s skepticism vis–vis the American democracy. Only the innocent, the naïve or the spin doctors would disagree. But, what’s the philosophy of that one-party system?

It rests on two credos: “the axis of evil” and “starving the beast”, i.e. world hegemony and unfettered capitalism. They are other subjects, such as immigration, health, energy, etc., but the credos worked their way through the political spectrum over time, and dominate the political discourse today. The Project for a New American Century is the foundation of the hegemonic philosophy. Destroying Iraq, Libya and Syria, bringing Ukraine into NATO, pivoting the US navy to Asia are meant to ensure world domination through Middle East oil access control, Russia’s encirclement and China’s isolation. Unfettered capitalism is a product of Wall Street. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 which replaced the Glass-Steagall Act of 1993, is the epitome of an economy operated for profit only. In a market economy, the state is an adjunct whose role is limited to basic functions: defense, justice, police, education, etc. The Tea Party is often said to be the proponent of this philosophy. Its members are “useful idiots”. The Party is a front for the 1% — the wealthiest Americans.

The question is: “are these credos viable?” The answer is no. The United States’ hegemonic policy is restless, dangerous and doomed to fail. Incredible as it may seem, some neoconservatives believe a nuclear first strike against Russia could be successful! The ongoing attempt to remove Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence is senseless, tantamount to Russia or China trying to achieve the same with Canada or Mexico. The United States almost went to nuclear war following Khrushchev’s decision to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Why is it OK for the United States to install anti-ballistic missiles in Poland but not for Russia in Cuba? Doesn’t it occur to the Washington intelligentsia that Russia may be tempted to launch a nuclear attack on the United States if the pressure on its borders becomes too high? Washington D.C. which often conceives of itself as a modern day Rome — witness the numerous extra-territorial laws inflicted on other nations — would do well to remember that Rome was unable to conquer Germany or Persia and had to leave Britain. World hegemony is a pipedream.

So is an unregulated market economy. The Great Recession which follows the subprime crisis due to the banks’ reckless behavior is testimony to this evidence. The recovery is artificial and fragile. Unemployment is understated as is inflation, boosting the economic growth rate in the process. Shale oil and gas production are providing a welcome, if temporary, lift to the economy at an unquantified but real ecological cost. Median income hasn’t budged in almost a quarter of a century. (6) Drawing on their savings help Americans maintain their life style. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy had the effect of boosting financial markets with questionable long term benefits. In its last October meeting, the bank decided to end the policy without knowing what the effect will be. The shadow banking — an unregulated banking sector — continues to grow and to be a threat to the stability of the economy. Social security disbursements are growing at an exponential rate from 2.5% in 1962 to 10% this year and 12% in 2024. But fiscal revenues remain fixed at 18% of GDP over the same period, raising question as to the increasingly large budget deficit, expected to reach 4% in 2024. That year, the Federal debt will equal 80% of GDP, up from 42% in 1962. This development is prompting Tea Party members to demand spending cuts, not realizing that they will be the first to suffer since they are the primary beneficiaries of the social programs. In their minds, the main recipients are the blacks.

Every country, whatever its constitution or political system, is ruled by a small group of individuals. In Britain, the ruling elite is the aristocracy and the City. In France, it’s the Grandes ecoles’ graduates together with the administrative corps and the unions. In the United States, it’s Wall Street, the military industrial complex, the oil industry, AIPAC, and a few other lobbies.(7)

Whoever is in the White House doesn’t matter much. As Ron Paul said, the overall philosophy remains the same. Unfortunately, the “philosophy”, on both the international and domestic fronts, is wrong, suicidal even. The United States cannot rule the world nor can an unlegislated market economy be viable. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Ron Paul, Ray McGovern, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and many others know that and fight back to restore the American democracy in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, so that the United States is again a true democracy.

(1) The Real News Network, November 5, 2014.

(2) NSA-Affäre: Ex-Präsident Carter verdammt US-Schnuffelei,Von Gregor Peter Schmitz, Atlanta — Der Spiegel — July 17, 2013

(3) Former top judge says US risks edging near to dictatorship, Julian Borger, The Guardian, March 13, 2006.

(4) 2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices Warn of Dictatorship. Sept. 18, 2012, Washington’s Blog.

(5) Former CIA analyst turned anti-war activist, Ray McGovern, was arrested for trying to enter a public event with former CIA director David Petraeus as the guest speaker. Ray had bought a ticket under an assumed name. Yet, as he arrived to the 92nd street Y, he was told: “Ray, you’re not welcome here”. He was handcuffed, hauled to a local precinct and charged with resisting arrest. He spent the night on a stainless steel cot. RT November 1, 2014. (6) Inequality is a choice. Joseph Stiglitz. The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2013.(7) In the November mid-term election, four billion dollars were spent in advertising, one quarter coming from large corporate donors. This follows the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision to reject corporate spending limits in candidate elections (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission).

 

Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University — Business School Princeton University — Woodrow Wilson School

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Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

October 24, 2014

noam chomsky

World-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky was asked what the single most important action the US can take on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He answered that the US can live up to its own laws and not send any military units to a place where there are consistent human rights violations.

After world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky gave a major address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Amy Goodman interviewed the world-renowned linguist and dissident before an audience of 800 people. Chomsky spoke at an event sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. “One important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask,” Chomsky said.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return toMIT professor Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. Last week, he spoke before over 800 people in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly, before ambassadors and the public alike, on the issue of Israel and Palestine. After his speech, I conducted a public interview with Professor Chomsky.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most—the single most important action the United States can take? And what about its role over the years? What is its interest here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, one important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course, it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but live up to its own laws. And there are several. And here, incidentally, I have in mind advice to activists also, who I think ought to be organizing and educating in this direction. There are two crucial cases.

One of them is what’s called the Leahy Law. Patrick Leahy, Senator Leahy, introduced legislation called the Leahy Law, which bars sending weapons to any military units which are involved in consistent human rights violations. There isn’t the slightest doubt that the Israeli army is involved in massive human rights violations, which means that all dispatch of U.S. arms to Israel is in violation of U.S. law. I think that’s significant. The U.S. should be called upon by its own citizens to—and by others, to adhere to U.S. law, which also happens to conform to international law in this case, as Amnesty International, for example, for years has been calling for an arms embargo against Israel for this reason. These are all steps that can be taken.

The second is the tax-exempt status that is given to organizations in the United States which are directly involved in the occupation and in significant attacks on human and civil rights within Israel itself, like the Jewish National Fund. Take a look at its charter with the state of Israel, which commits it to acting for the benefit of people of Jewish race, religion and origin within Israel. One of the consequences of that is that by a complex array of laws and administrative practices, the fund pretty much administers about 90 percent of the land of the country, with real consequences for who can live places. They get tax-exempt status also for their activities in the West Bank, which are strictly criminal. I think that’s also straight in violation of U.S. law. Now, those are important things.

And I think the U.S. should be pressured, internationally and domestically, to abandon its virtually unique role—unilateral role in blocking a political settlement for the past 40 years, ever since the first veto in January 1976. That should be a major issue in the media, in convocations like this, in the United Nations, in domestic politics, in government politics and so on.

AMY GOODMAN: The role of the media, can you talk about that, and particularly in the United States? And do you think that the opinion in the United States, public opinion, is shifting on this issue?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the role of the—the media are somewhat shifting from uniform support for virtually everything that Israel does to—and, of course, silence about the U.S. role—that’s not just in the case of Israel, that’s innumerable other cases, as well—but is slowly shifting. But nevertheless, about, say, Operation Protective Edge, one can read in news reporting, news reporting in The New York Times, major journal, a criticism of Hamas’s assault on Israel during Protective Edge. Hamas’s assault on Israel—not exactly what happened, but that’s what people are reading, and that’s the way it’s depicted. Israel is—over and over it’s pointed out, “Look, poor Israel is under attack. It has the right of self-defense.” Everyone agrees to that. Actually, I agree, too. Everyone has a right of self-defense. But that’s not the question. The question is: Do you have a right of self-defense by force, by violence? The answer is no for anyone, whether it’s an individual or state, unless you have exhausted peaceful means. If you won’t even permit peaceful means, which is the case here, then you have no right of self-defense by violence. But try to find a word about that in the media. All you find is “self-defense.” When President Obama rarely says anything about what’s happening, it’s usually, “If my daughters were being attacked by rockets, I would do anything to stop it.” He’s referring not to the hundreds of Palestinian children who are being killed and slaughtered, but to the children in the Israeli town of Sderot, which is under attack by Qassam missiles. And remember that Israel knows exactly how to stop those missiles: namely, live up to a ceasefire for the first time, and then they would stop, as in the past, even when Israel didn’t live up to a ceasefire.

That framework—and, of course, the rest of the framework is the United States as an honest broker trying hard to bring the two recalcitrant sides together, doing its best in this noble endeavor—has nothing to do with the case. The U.S. is, as some of the U.S. negotiators have occasionally acknowledged, Israel’s lawyer. If there were serious negotiations going on, they would be led by some neutral party, maybe Brazil, which has some international respect, and they would bring together the two sides—on the one side, Israel and the United States; on the other side, the Palestinians. Now, those would be possible realistic negotiations. But the chances of anyone in the media either—I won’t even say pointing it out, even thinking about it, is minuscule. The indoctrination is so deep that really elementary facts like these—and they are elementary—are almost incomprehensible.

But to get back to your—the last point you mentioned, it’s very important. Opinion in the United States is shifting, not as fast as in most of the world, not as fast as in Europe. It’s not reaching the point where you could get a vote in Congress anything like the British Parliament a couple days ago, but it is changing, mostly among younger people, and changing substantially. I’ll just illustrate with personal experience; Amy has the same experience. Until pretty recently, when I gave talks on these topics, as I’ve been doing for 40 years, I literally had to have police protection, even at my own university, MIT. Police would insist on walking me back to my car because of threats they had picked up. Meetings were broken up, and so on. That’s all gone. Just a couple of days ago I had a talk on these topics at MIT. Meeting wasn’t broken up. No police protection. Maybe 500 or 600 students were there, all enthusiastic, engaged, committed, concerned, wanting to do something about it. That’s happening all over the country. All over the country, Palestinian solidarity is one of the biggest issues on campus—enormous change in the last few years.

That’s the way things tend to change. It often starts with younger people. Gradually it gets to the rest of the population. Efforts of the kind I mentioned, say, trying to get the United States government to live up to its own laws, those could be undertaken on a substantial scale, domestically and with support from international institutions. And that could lead to further changes. I think that the—for example, the two things that I mentioned would have a considerable appeal to much of the American public. Why should they be funding military units that are carrying out massive human rights violations? Why should they be permitting tax exemption? Meaning we pay for it—that’s what a tax exemption means. Why should we be paying, compelled to pay, for violations of fundamental human rights in another country, and even in occupied territories, where it’s criminal? I think that can appeal to the American population and can lead to the kinds of changes we’ve seen in other cases.

AMY GOODMAN: Final question, before we open it up to each of you: Your thoughts on the BDS movement, the boycott, divest, sanctions movement?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, BDS is a set of tactics, right? These are tactics that you employ when you think they’re going to be effective and in ways that you think will be effective. Tactics are not principles. They’re not actions that you undertake no matter what because you think they’re right. Tactics are undertaken, if you’re serious, because you think they’re going to help the victims. That’s how you adjust your tactics, not because I think they’re right in principle, but because I think they will be beneficial. That ought to be second nature to activists.

Also second nature should be a crucial distinction between proposing and advocating. I can propose now that we should all live in peace and love each other. I just proposed it. That’s not a serious proposal. It becomes a serious proposal when it becomes advocacy. It is given—I sketch out a path for getting from here to there. Then it becomes serious. Otherwise, it’s empty words. That’s crucial and related to this.

Well, when you take a look at the BDS movement, which is separate, incidentally, fromBDS tactics—let me make that clear. So, when the European Union issued its directive or when the—that I mentioned, or when, say, the Gates Foundation withdraws investment in security operations that are being carried out, not only in the Occupied Territories, but elsewhere, that’s very important. But that’s not the BDS movement. That’s BDS tactics, actually, BD tactics, boycott, divestment tactics. That’s important. The BDS movement itself has been an impetus to these developments, and in many ways a positive one, but I think it has failed and should reflect on its, so far, unwillingness to face what are crucial questions for activists: What’s going to help the victims, and what’s going to harm them? What is a proposal, and what is real advocacy? You have to think that through, and it hasn’t been sufficiently done.

So, if you take a look at the principles of the BDS movement, there are three. They vary slightly in wording, but basically three. One is, actions should be directed against the occupation. That has been extremely successful, in many ways, and it makes sense. It also helps educate the Western populations who are being appealed to to participate, enables—it’s an opening to discuss, investigate and organize about the participation in the occupation. That’s very successful.

A second principle is that BDS actions should be continued until Israel allows the refugees to return. That has had no success, and to the extent that it’s been tried, it’s been negative. It just leads to a backlash. No basis has been laid for it among the population. It is simply interpreted as saying, “Oh, you want to destroy the state of Israel. We’re not going to destroy a state.” You cannot undertake actions which you think are principled when in the real world they are going to have a harmful effect on the victims.

There’s a third category having to do with civil rights within Israel, and there are things that could be done here. One of the ones I mentioned, in fact—the tax-free status for U.S. organizations that are engaged in civil rights and human rights violations. And remember, a tax exemption means I pay for it. That’s what a tax exemption is. Well, that’s an action that could be undertaken. Others that have been undertaken have had backlashes which are harmful. And I won’t run through the record, but these are the kinds of questions that always have to be asked when you’re involved in serious activisms, if you care about the victims, not just feeling good, but caring about the victims. That’s critically important.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, world-renowned linguist, dissident, Noam Chomsky, speaking last Tuesday in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly before 800 people in an event hosted by the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. If you’d like a copy of today’s show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.

We wish a very happy birthday to our video producer, Robby Karran. For all our New York viewers,Democracy Now! co-host Juan González will be one of the journalists questioning the New York gubernatorial candidates in tonight’s debate. The debate will be broadcast live at 8:00 p.m. onPBSstations across New York. I’ll be speaking in Vienna, Austria, Friday at an event hosted by ORF, Austria’s public broadcaster, then on Saturday speaking at the Elevate Festival in Graz, Austria. Again, you can go to democracynow.org for more details.

The Anatomy of the Deep State

October 22, 2014
On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 7:24 PM, John Steiner/ Margo King <steiner_king@earthlink.net> wrote:

 

Would be most interested in how you think this article (and its accuracy) relates to our cross spectrum work and the possible arising of new leadership!
John
February 21, 2014
by Mike Lofgren
 
Selections and worth the whole read!
 
During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system…
 
…Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose…
 
…That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.
 
…The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction…
 
..The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion…
 
..We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner…

 

Ebola: Genetically Modified Organism developed in US Biowarfare Laboratories in Africa.

October 21, 2014
Ebola-USA

 As I read this notice from ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the US National Institutes of Health, the US Government and Pharmaceutical corporations have been conducting ebola tests on humans. http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02041715

This is official confirmation of Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick’s reports that the US government has conducted ebola experiments. Perhaps the vaccine was not effective, and those on whom the experiment was conducted came down with ebola and perhaps also employees in the US bio-warfare laboratories located in Africa where the experiment was conducted. 

It appears that the test consists of giving an ebola vaccine and then exposing the unaware person to ebola, apparently an engineered version for bio-warfare. Whatever the tests are, it is clear that Boyle and Broderick in their articles below are correct that experimentation with ebola by the US government is underway.

Two Scientists Say Ebola Originated In US Bio-warfare Lab

Experts have brought to the public’s attention that ebola is a genetically modified organism developed in US biowarfare laboratories in Africa.

In the two articles below reproduced from Tom Feeley’s Information Clearing House (a good site worthy of your support), Dr. Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois and
Dr. Cyril Broderick of the University of Liberia and the University of Delaware provide their fact-based assessments. Dr. Boyle drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the US implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

For speaking out, both Boyle and Broderick will be viciously attacked by the US print and TV media. Remember the case of Gary Webb who exposed the CIA’s drug-running that supported the Contras in Nicaragua. The cocaine that launched the War on Drugs was brought in by the CIA. http://www.opednews.com/articles/WPost-s-Slimy-Assault-on-G-by-Robert-Parry-CIA_Cocaine_Gary-Webb_Journalism-141018-836.html

These are the URLs for the articles by Dr. Boyle and Dr. Broderick:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40012.htm

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40013.htm

See also:  http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/10/no_author/its-the-worse-strain-of-ebola-ever/

 


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