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UNDERNEWS: September 3, 2011

UNDERNEWS: September 3, 2011

Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it

THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW

Obama hurts the economy by pulling EPA reg

Business Insider - Late this week, President Obama stunned the EPA and environmentalists by dropping plans to tighten Bush-era ozone standards. His logic? Tighter rules would increase the "regulatory burden" that Republicans blame for the crappy economy. Paul Krugman says this is yet another example of Obama wimping out in the hopes that Republicans will stop attacking him. He also argues that the move will actually hurt the economy.

Why will not tightening ozone rules hurt the economy? Because tighter rules, Krugman argues, would have forced companies to spend money to improve their pollution control equipment. This spending would have boosted the revenue of companies that make the pollution control equipment, encouraging them to pay their people more and hire more people. The people hired would spend some of the money they made. And that, in turn, would help pump some life back into the economy." And it's not as if companies can't afford to upgrade their pollution-control equipment, Krugman points out. They're sitting on mountains of cash.

CIA turns from spying to just killing people

Anti War - If you’re a long-time CIA employee there’s a good chance your job has changed significantly over the past several decades. An agency once obsessed with information gathering, the focus is more and more on racking up a bodycount. The CIA, of course, always had its assassins, but with so much emphasis on drone strikes across the world a large chunk of their resources and manpower are now committed to lobbing missiles at people, or picking new people to lob missiles at. The latter is in such demand that its become an actual job. “Targeters” make up 20 percent of agency analysts, and those willing to make a life of painting bullseyes on people from half a world away have a full-fledged career track now.

Reality check

Why you may not want to listen too hard to S&P

Bloomberg - S&P is poised to provide AAA grades to 59 percent of Springleaf Mortgage Loan Trust 2011-1, a set of bonds tied to $497 million lent to homeowners with below-average credit scores and almost no equity in their properties.

Risks to American nuculear reactors found far more serious than thought

Rick Perry spreads the word

You know there’s a statue in New York harbor called the Statue of Liberty. You know where we got it from? French Free Masons. Listen folks that is an idol, a demonic idol, right there in New York harbor. People say, ‘well no it’s patriotic.’ What makes it patriotic? Why is it? It’s a statue of a false goddess, the Queen of Heaven. We don’t get liberty from a false goddess folks, we get our liberty from Jesus Christ and that Statue of Liberty in no way glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no connection whatsoever. So I’m just telling you we practice idolatry in America in ways that we don’t even recognize. - John Benefiel, head of the Heartland Apostolic Reformation Network,at Rick Perry's August prayer rally.

Pocket paradigms

One of the problems with living around powerful myths is that you can start to feel personally responsible when they don't work out. If you don't lose weight, have better sex, kick your phobia, earn 20% annually in the stock market, or get the job you want, there are few around to tell you that such outcomes are pretty normal. Instead, we are surrounded by hucksters of success and salvation constantly luring us towards illusory certainty. If we succumb to these chimeras of profit and prophesy, if we accept the idea that God rightly favors the successful, the economy justly favors the lucky, and society fairly favors the glamorous, it can ultimately leave us with a sense of failure for no greater fault than being a normal human being. It is hard in such a context to remember that nearly all people who dial the 900 number beckoning them on the cable screen continue to find hard times on easy street. And it is hard to remember a time when humans had other than monetary value..– Sam Smith

Eight in ten Americans think we’re in a recession; Politico says they’re wrong

This is a beautiful example of the huge gap between ordinary Americans and the Washington elite. While it may be true that economists don’t call this a recession that doesn’t mean, as Politico claims, that they are correct. The difference is in whose economy matters. To eight out ten Americans it is that of human beings; to Politico and the economists, it is that of corporations.

Politico - Confidence in the economy is poor, with eight in 10 Americans believing the nation is currently in a recession, according to a new poll on Friday. Indeed, one-third of those surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll think that the recession is serious.

The United States is not in a recession. By definition, a recession is when the economy experiences two straight quarters of negative growth. In the past quarter of this year, the economy grew on an annualized basis of 1 percent.

Our national government replaced by "federal family"

Palm Beach Post - In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase "federal family" when describing the Obama administration's response to the storm.

The Obama administration didn't invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.

"Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast," a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

The G-word - "government" - has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local "partners" as well as "offices" and "personnel."

"'Government' is such a dirty word right now," says Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck. "Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them."

Perry has gotten a half million dollars from ATT, $125k from Bank of America

How the war on terror did us in (with lots of help from Republicans)

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Slate - The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by al-Qaida were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama Bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush's response to the attacks compromised America's basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to al-Qaida¬as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive¬orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning¬as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America's war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3 trillion to $5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50 percent of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans' medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health care costs will total $600 billion to $900 billion. The social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.

Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax "relief" for the wealthy.

Today, America is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America's future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2 percent of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion¬$17,000 for every U.S. household¬with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50 percent.

At least $31 billion in wartime contracts went to waste, fraud and abuse

Wired - A two-year inquiry by a congressionally created panel finds that at least 15 percent of the $206 billion-with-a-B spent on wartime contracts thus far has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse. That very conservative estimate is likely to grow ¬ and it amounts to an indictment not just of wartime contracts, but the wars themselves.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting concludes that “vast amounts” of contract money in Iraq and Afghanistan provided “little or no benefit” to the war efforts. The commission confirmed $31 billion in contractor cash lost to corruption or dysfunction. But it warned that the true figure could be as high as $60 billion, or “$12 million every day for the past 10 years.”

And even that massive figure ¬ almost 30 percent of all wartime contract dollars ¬ isn’t the whole story. Iraq and Afghanistan remain riddled with corruption. That corruption endangers all the “apparently well-designed projects and programs” that the U.S. has launched in both countries. Untold “billions of dollars” are liable to “turn into waste” in the future, says the report, “if the host governments cannot or will not commit the funds, staff, and expertise to operate and maintain them” ¬ especially money spent on the Afghan military and on Iraqi healthcare centers.

Why does U.S. have mercenaries in the United Arab Emirates?

Jeremy Scahill, Nation - Five members of Congress have called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to clarify if Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s recently disclosed deal to provide a small mercenary army to the United Arab Emirates complies with US law and export regulations. “We question whether private US citizens should be involved in recruiting and assembling forces, as well as providing military training and support to foreign governments and militaries,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Representative Jan Schakowsky, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “The implications of allowing a US citizen to assemble a foreign legion in any foreign country, and especially in a combustible region like the Middle East, are serious and wide-ranging.”

On May 14, the New York Times revealed that Prince was leading an effort to build an army of mercs 800 strong¬including scores from Colombia¬in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They would be trained by US, European and South African special forces veterans. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, also known as R2, was bankrolled to the tune of $529 million from “the oil-soaked sheikdom,” according to the Times, adding that Prince was “hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi” Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Great moments in the law

WikiLeaks said it has "commenced pre-litigation action" against the Guardian newspaper and a German citizen for negligently disclosing decryption passwords WikiLeaks gave the Guardian. In other words, it is about to sue somebody for leaking secret information.

Proposed California law would require parents to keep files on babysitters for three year

Overlawyered - A California bill proposes work rules, meal breaks for babysitters. The bill would also require employers of babysitter to prepare extensive paperwork and keep it on file for at least three years after a wage payment. Some critics say the obligation to provide periodic breaks would require families to hire a second sitter to relieve the first. AB 889, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-S.F.) and grandly labeled the “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” has passed the lower house in Sacramento and will now be considered by the Senate.

Word

Main Street is the climax of civilization. That this Ford car might stand in front of the Bon Ton store, Hannibal invaded Rome and Erasmus wrote in Oxford cloisters. – Sinclair Lewis, "Main Street", 1920

NY police set new record in anti-constituonal stops-and-frisk

NY Daily News - NYPD cops have stopped and questioned people at an increasing rate this year that could lead the department to set an all-time high by year's end.

More than 317,000 people were stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked from Jan. 1 to June 30, NYPD stats show.

That's a 13.5% increase compared to the first half of last year, which ended with a record number of people - 601,055 - stopped and questioned.

"Incredibly, the NYPD keeps setting historic highs for the number of people being stopped and frisked" said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Dunn charged that cops are mainly targeting blacks and Latinos in the stops.

Slow news day in Britain

Our eloquent president

Woman in Audience: If you can't legalize marijuana, why can't we just legalize medical marijuana, to help the people that need it?

Obama: Well, you know, a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana. As a controlled substance, the issue then is, you know, is it being prescribed by a doctor, as opposed to, uh, you know¬well¬I'll¬I'll¬I'll¬I'll leave it at that.
Posted by TPR at 9/01/2011 1 comme

Question

Rick Perry, who wants to tell doctors what they should tell pregnant women, wants to get the government off our backs. Shouldn't he also want to get it out of our wombs?

Child abuse: Chicago public school handcuffs first grader

Chicago Tribune - The mother of a Chicago Public Schools elementary school student is accusing an on-campus security guard of handcuffing her son and detaining him for more than an hour while he was a first-grader last year at Carver Primary School on the city’s far South Side.In a lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, LaShanda Smith alleges that security guard David Allen “acted in conscious disregard” of her son’s safety when he handcuffed him in March 2010 following an unexplained incident on campus. She is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.

The lawsuit describes the guard's action as “reckless” and accuses campus officials of providing “untrained and unqualified persons for the tasks of disciplining, restraining, controlling and ensuring the safety of students …”

Fox News - In an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune , the family's attorney said in March 2010, administrators at Carver Primary School authorized the on-campus security guard to discipline the first graders who were being disruptive.

Attorney Michael Carin said the students were taken to an office where they were handcuffed and told they were going to prison and would never see their parents again.

CPS said it needs to review the complaint before commenting.

Words

Even though I like to call myself a Seventh Day Agnostic, I have come to realize that just using the terms agnostic or atheist plays into the hands of religious partisans as it defines one's beliefs in terms of theirs. Even secular doesn't hack it as its definitions include things like "not pertaining to or connected with religion." So henceforth, the Review will use alternative words like humanist as much as practical, bearing in mind that we don't change the language of stuff we quote -Sam Smith

Pocket paradigms

The advocate, the committed, the seeker, the free thinker, the rebel may live in a world that is seldom depicted let alone honored. They may be ignored, disparaged, or even punished; they may lack constituency, funds, or moral support. They may, like the urban itinerant Joe Gould, feel most at home "down among the cranks and misfits and the one-lungers and might-have-beens and the would-bes and the never-wills and the God-knows-whats." Yet in the end, they can attain that most precious victory of remaining truly human, a state confirmed not by their ultimate triumph but by their interminable effort, and not by their fame but by their fortitude.

Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, or the gay or lesbian writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it. Knowing what we know now about how it's turned out, what would we do if we suddenly found ourselves back in 1830? Would we bother? - Sam Smith

Christian heretic of the day

We don't have a list of Christian heretics, but if we did Pastor Mike would make it.

Broward Palm Beach New Times - Pastor Michael Stahl -- or "Pastor Mike," as he's known on the net -- posted on his blog about a year ago saying he was pretty sure he was going to start a grassroots organization to keep a database of atheists called "The Christian National Registry of Atheists."

He probably thought that was a really great idea. That is, until the rest of the internet found out about his idea yesterday.

Here's the brilliant explanation from "Pastor Mike:"
Now, many (especially the atheists), may ask "Why do this, what's the purpose?" Duhhh, Mr. Atheist for the same purpose many States put the names and photos of convicted sex offenders and other ex-felons on the I-Net - to INFORM the public! I mean, in the City of Miramar, Florida, where I live, the population is approx. 109,000. My family and I would sure like to know how many of those 109,000 are ADMITTED atheists! Perhaps we may actually know some. In which case we could begin to witness to them and warn them of the dangers of atheism. Or perhaps they are radical atheists, whose hearts are as hard as Pharaoh's, in that case, if they are business owners, we would encourage all our Christian friends, as well as the various churches and their congregations NOT to patronize them as we would only be "feeding" Satan.

Frankly, I don't see why anyone would oppose this idea - including the atheists themselves (unless of course, they're actually ashamed of their atheist religion, and would prefer to stay in the 'closet.').

Federal abuse of National Guard leaves Vermont without rescue helicopters

Burlington Free Press - Eight helicopters on loan from the Illinois National Guard were expected to arrive night in Vermont to help the Vermont National Guard deliver food, medicine, water and other supplies to 13 Vermont towns cut off from the rest of the state in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

The outside helicopter support is needed because all six of the Vermont Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters are still in Iraq, where they and 55 Vermont soldiers are wrapping up a yearlong hospital transport mission, said Lt. Lloyd Goodrow, spokesman for the Vermont Guard....

"We’d be in a very different scenario if they were here," Goodrow said, referring to the Vermont Guard’s Black Hawk helicopters now in Iraq.

Great moments in academia

CBC- A professor at Dalhousie University says a severe shortage of parking spaces at the Halifax school has forced him to quit. Dan Middlemiss and hundreds of other Dalhousie staff and students lined up Monday to buy the first available parking passes. After waiting for more than an hour, he decided instead to leave his profession of 31 years. ”For a guy like myself that lives in Lower Sackville, I have to get on the road around 6:30 to 7 to get an assured parking spot somewhere so I can get here to teach at 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Middlemiss, an expert on Canadian defence policy.
“It’s ridiculous, in my view, and the university just keeps pretending that it’s not the problem that it is.” Middlemiss said parking has always been a problem at Dalhousie. But this time, he simply had enough….

A majority of Americans support labor unions, but GOP support cotninues downward

Gallup - In a year marked by contentious negotiations between state governments and public employee unions, a slim majority of Americans, 52%, approve of labor unions. That percentage is unchanged from last year and remains on the lower end of what Gallup has measured historically.

Gallup has asked Americans whether they approve or disapprove of labor unions periodically since 1936, and annually since 2001. More Americans have always approved than disapproved, with the lowest approval rating of 48% measured in 2009. A record-high 75% approved in two separate measurements in the 1950s.

The events of this year appear to have widened an already large divide in the way partisans view labor unions. Now, 78% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans approve, a difference of 52 percentage points, compared with a 37-point gap last year. Democratic approval is now restored to the levels seen from 1999 to 2007, while Republican approval has dipped to the lowest point seen over this period.

Americans who live in a household with at least one union member -- 17% of U.S. households, according to the poll -- are, not surprisingly, highly supportive of labor unions, with 73% approving. Those who live in non-union households are about equally divided between approval (48%) and disapproval (46%). These patterns are largely unchanged compared with last year.

The media's military fetish

Leah Bolger , Veterans for Peace - The cover of the August 29, 2011 issue of TIME magazine features five members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, with the caption “The New Greatest Generation.” The point of author Joe Klein’s article is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a new kind of veteran who is “bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now: crisp decision making, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism.” Klein profiles a small number of veterans (including a Harvard valedictorian, a Rhodes scholar, and a Dartmouth grad) who have done well since returning to civilian life and credits their military service as the reason, then goes on to make a sweeping generalization that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have created a whole new generation of hard-working, disciplined young citizens who have something “more” to offer than their civilian counterparts.

It is articles like this that perpetuate the meme that anyone who ever wore a military uniform is a “hero.” . . . Klein briefly mentions the high rates of suicide, domestic violence, joblessness and homelessness amongst Iraq and Afghanistan vets, but then dismisses it all by saying that that’s all we ever hear about¬he wants to tell us the untold story of a handful of vets who came out of their military experience and moved forward in a positive way. But the real untold story is the truth of war, and we will never read about that in the likes of magazines like TIME.

The mission of IAVA is “to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families,” and they are very good at that. They have a multi-million dollar budget, have ready access to the top Congressional leaders and have even met with the President on more than one occasion. The Executive Director of IAVA, Paul Rieckoff, has appeared hundreds of times on all the major media outlets. Why is it that IAVA is given so much media exposure, so much access, and so much money? The answer is that they do not question the legality or morality of war. They are not critical of the complicity of the corporate media in fostering and supporting militarism. They want only to support our troops, and who doesn’t want that?

The mission of Veterans For Peace is to end war as an instrument of national policy by educating the public about its true costs and consequences. Veterans For Peace has been around since 1985 telling the ugly truth of war. Our members understand the devastating effects of war on both sides of the conflict. We seek justice for the victims of war¬not just ensuring care and benefits for our soldiers, but also reparations for innocent civilian victims. We know that wars of aggression are the most egregious crime there is, and we point an accusing finger at our government, the military-industrial complex, and the corporate media who collude to keep the United States in a perpetual state of war. We try to use the power of our first-hand experiences and stories to prevent wars from happening and to end them once begun. We don’t sugarcoat the experiences of war and the militarism. We believe that if the American people saw the real truth of war, they would end it. Think we’ll be on the cover of Time magazine anytime soon? Don’t hold your breath.

Evidence of new BP well leakage

Judson Parker, Tallahassee Environmental News Examiner - Over the past two weeks, I have been closely following reports of renewed leaking in the Macondo oil field, the site of last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster. First, New Orleans Lawyer Stuart Smith reported that nearly 40 ships were hired by BP to conduct a boom-laying mission over the August 13th weekend. Next, nonprofit organizations On Wings of Care and Gulf Restoration Network conducted a joint flyover of the spill site, bringing back photographic evidence of fresh oil near the site of the Macondo well. This in turn prompted reporters from the Mobile Press-Register to hire a boat out to the site, where they found massive "globules" of oil rising to the surface, creating a growing sheen on the water (you can read about that here).Today, pilot Bonny Schumaker of On Wings of Care once again took to the air over the Gulf of Mexico, finding evidence of what appears to be a massive leak near the site of last year's drilling disaster.

According to Schumaker, the oil "stretched for miles" with one continuous sheen stretching for nearly 10 miles. This contradicts BPs official story, which is that "none of this is true."

Wikileaks: Execution of whole Iraq family covered up by Bush administration

Pocket Paradigms

The journalist Bernard Fall noted that the French, after Dien Bien Phu, had no choice but to leave Southeast Asia. America, with its vast military, financial, and technological resources, was able to stay because it had the capacity to keep making the same mistakes over and over. Our war against "terrorism" has been in many ways a domestic version of our Vietnam strategy. We keep making the same mistakes over and over because, until now, we could afford to. One of these has been to define the problem by its manifestations rather than its causes. This turns a resolvable political problem into a irresolvable technical problem, because while, for example, there are clearly solutions to the Middle East crisis, there are no other solutions to the guerilla violence that grows from the failure to end it.

In other words, if you define the problem as "a struggle against terrorism" you have already admitted defeat because the guerilla will always have the upper hand against a centralized, technology-dependent society such as ours. There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. The trick is to undermine the violence of the most bitter by dealing honestly with the complaints of the most rational..– Sam Smith

Government responsible for almost of a third of this year's job cuts

Numbers

The government recovered some $4 billion in Medicare fraud in 2010, which sounds like a lot until you realize that it's about two thirds of one percent of total Medicare expenditures for the year. Moral: go after the bad guys but don't let the GOP make it a campaign issue

New York City become more and more bike friendly

NY Times - A survey conducted in 2009 found that more than half a million New Yorkers are regular bicycle riders, hopping on at least several times a month. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, the number of New Yorkers who commute to work by bicycle more than doubled from 2006 to 2010, and grew by 13 percent from 2009 to 2010.

The Bloomberg administration has been seeking ways to make the city more hospitable to bicycles. Since 2007, the city has carved out 259 miles of bike lanes and protected routes in the five boroughs. Some brokers say as many as half their clients now ask about bike storage, and though few buyers consider it a deal-breaker, marketing materials now make the most of bike rooms and proximity to bikable parks.

The foreclosure solution banks hate

Ann Brenoff, Real Estate AOL - The loan modification programs have been a joke. You have a house that has tanked in value and the best the banks can come up with is: a plan where they sort of delay what you owe long enough for you to get back on your financial feet -- if that -- based on the flawed logic that the housing market is certain to improve in just a matter of months.

The real answer for what ails us is a Third Rail solution that banks don't want to touch: Erase some of the amount we borrowed, a process known as a principal reduction. To do so would share the burden of the housing crash with the lenders who helped create it. It would also allow us to get on with our lives, and, according to The New Bottom Line, save the economy in the process.

Banks would rather poke out their proverbial eyes with sharp sticks than offer principal reductions. Only 2.8 percent of all loan modifications in the first quarter of 2011 involved any actual sort of principal reduction, according to the ratings agency DBRS. And that number is actually up a full percentage point from the same time last year.

But some analysts believe that the industry-wide reluctance to perform principal reductions on a wide scale is actually what is holding back the housing recovery.

Republican wrecking ball targets UN

Politico - House Republicans are planning to introduce legislation that will force major changes at the United Nations, an organization that the bill’s author has called a “stew of corruption, mismanagement and negligence.”

The bill, by Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, would require the UN adopt a voluntary budget model, in which countries selectively choose which UN agencies to fund. Continue Reading Text Size

Ros-Lehtinen’s leverage for change at the U.N. is the large amount of the international body’s budget that the American taxpayer has traditionally been responsible for. The United States pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular operations budget, and is assessed 27 percent of the peacekeeping budget. U.S. payments totaled $3.35 billion in 2010, of which $2.67 billion was spent on peacekeeping operations worldwide.

Secret cables reveal America’s cozy relationship with Gaddafi

Bill Van Auken, Global Research - US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks expose the close collaboration between the US government, top American politicians and Muammar Gaddafi, who Washington now insists must be hunted down and murdered.

Washington and its NATO allies are now determined to smash the Libyan regime, supposedly in the interests of “liberating” the Libyan people. That Gaddafi was until the beginning of this year viewed as a strategic, if somewhat unreliable, ally is clearly seen as an inconvenient truth.

The cables have been virtually blacked out by the corporate media, which has functioned as an embedded asset of NATO and the so-called rebel forces that it directs. . .

The most damning of these cables memorializes an August 2009 meeting between Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his son and national security adviser, Muatassim, with US Republican Senators John McCain (Arizona), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Susan Collins (Maine) and Connecticut “independent” Joe Lieberman.

McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, has in recent speeches denounced Gaddafi as “one of the most bloodthirsty dictators on Earth” and criticized the Obama administration for failing “to employ the full weight of our airpower” in effecting regime change in Libya.

In the meeting held just two years ago, however, McCain took the lead in currying favor with the Gaddafis. According to the embassy cable, he “assured” them that “the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its security” and “pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress.”

The cable continues to relate McCain’s remarks: “He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.”

The cable quote Lieberman as saying, “We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi.” It states that the Connecticut senator went on to describe Libya as “an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.”

Other cables highlight the increasingly close US-Libyan military and security cooperation. One, sent in February 2009, provides a “security environment profile” for Libya. It notes that US personnel were “scheduled to provide 5 training courses to host government law enforcement and security” the next month. In answer to whether the Libyan government had been able to “score any major anti-terrorism successes,” the embassy praised the Gaddafi regime for having “dismantled a network in eastern Libya that was sending volunteer fighters to Algeria and Iraq and was plotting attacks against Libyan security targets using stockpiled explosives. The operation resulted in the arrest of over 100 individuals.” Elements of this same “network” make up an important component of the “rebels” now armed and led by NATO.

British government quietly admits oil could peak in five years

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News Press, VA - With little fanfare, a press release appeared last week on the website of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security. The release said that during a meeting between Chris Huhne, the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and representatives of ITPOES, an agreement had been reached that Her Majesty's Department for Energy and Climate will collaborate with ITPOES on a joint examination of concerns that global oil supply will begin to fall behind demand within as little as five years. This collaboration is seen by the British government as the first step in the development of a national peak oil contingency plan.

There are many implications buried in this seemingly innocuous announcement. First, American readers should note that the British government recognizes that energy policy and climate change are inextricably linked so that you cannot formulate policies for one without the other. The major step forward, however, is the official and semi-public recognition by a major government that global oil supplies will fall behind demand in as little as five years. After years of official denial this is indeed a breakthrough worthy of note.

Gone is the rhetoric about the billions of barrels of oil remaining that will last for so many decades that nobody alive today needs to worry. Official recognition has been given to the concept that the remaining oil will be so expensive to extract or will be locked into the earth by intractable political disputes, so that it simply will not be available in the unlimited quantities or at the prices we have known for the last 100 years. Also implicit in the announcement is that ever-rising real energy costs will destabilize nearly all of the world's economies and that economic growth in the form we have come to know it will no longer be possible.

BBC thinks playing in an orchestra is a major health hazard

Telegraph, UK - Musicians in the BBC's orchestras have been told to chew gum and sit further apart to avoid damaging their hearing in new health and safety guidelines. . . . The corporation has produced a report warning that musicians playing in its orchestras are at risk of damaging their hearing, and even their health, by working in a noisy environment. It acted after European Union rules were brought in to limit exposure to noise in the workplace.

Peter Adams, a principal cellist with the English String Orchestra, said: "The tendency of musicians to do a lot of drinking at the end of concerts is surely a greater risk to health.

"Certainly, if you are sat next to the brass section it can be very loud and people do take precautions but using chewing gum - I don't think that would look very good from the audiences' point of view, or on the BBC cameras during the Proms.". . .

Members of the orchestra in the "upper strings" - the violins and violas - are told they "need to be protected from piccolo (especially)" who sit behind them. . .

Even their own playing can be stressful: "The adrenaline rush you thrive on in performance can turn under certain circumstances to unhealthy stress that is associated with raised blood pressure, compromised immunity and changes to metabolism."

CIA spying on New Yorkers

Orwellandia: Britain bans protests

Guardian, UK - The home secretary has agreed to a police request to ban .... any marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs for the next 30 days, having "balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected". She added: "I know that the Metropolitan police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected."

Former British spy boss says Iraq posed no threat to Britain before war

BBC - Iraq posed no threat to the UK when then prime minister Tony Blair took Britain to war in 2003, former MI5 boss Baroness Manningham-Buller has said.

In a Radio Times interview, Baroness Manningham-Buller said the service advised war was likely to increase the domestic threat and was a "distraction" from the pursuit of al-Qaeda.

But she said it was "for others to decide" whether the war was a mistake.

Word: Dick Cheney

This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will 'Pinochet' Dick Cheney [alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes] I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due - Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

New details on exerimental abuse in Guatemala medical studies

Guardian, UK - Shocking new details of US medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study, have been disclosed by a presidential panel.

The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in US history, but panel members say the new information indicates that researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.

"The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second," said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

From 1946-48, the US Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies on medical research paid for by the US government that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases. The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.

Horn of Africa desperate for aid

Guardian, UK - An estimated 12.4 million people now need humanitarian assistance in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, according to the UN. The food security crisis in the Horn of Africa – including the officially declared famine in five regions of southern Somalia – has already been called the worst humanitarian crisis of 2011 by Antonio Guterres, head of the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, and the most severe food crisis in the world today.

But aid donors have been criticised for dragging their feet over sending aid to the affected areas and there have been calls for more funding to meet the need.

The UN says $2.5bn in aid is now needed for the humanitarian response, with a current shortfall of about $1bn.

Perry hides much public information from the public

Political Wire - The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Rick Perry is hiding more than just his travel costs as he seeks the presidency: he has worked hard to keep many parts of his record as governor of Texas a secret.

"Over the past decade, the Perry administration has withheld information in response to about 100 open records requests... Most of the withheld documents involved contracts, bidding and oversight of programs in which state money flows to entrepreneurs, privately held companies and universities from Perry's two economic development funds... In some cases, the requests involve entities headed by Perry campaign donors and political appointees... Reporters learned that Perry took a 2004 trip to the Bahamas with San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a campaign donor, and antitax advocate Grover Norquist after being spotted scuba diving by a tourist. The trip did not appear on his schedule released under the state Public Information Act."

Deleting emails: Perry's office has been "automatically purging all staff members' computers of e-mails older than seven days."

People & things the Republicans don't like based on actions and statements

9/11 responders
AARP
Americorps
Black men
Children with pre-existing health conditions
College students
Cops
Disabled people
Earthquake warnings
Employed women
EPA
Ethnically mixed couples
Gays
Home owners
Ill people who need medical marijuana
Immigrants and their children
Jobless people
Journalists
Latinos
Medicare
Medicaid recipients
Methodists
Minimum wage workers
Minimum wage
National Endowment for the Arts
National Institutes of Health
National Science Foundation
NPR & PBS
Postal Service
Public school students
Public workers
Residents of DC-Guam-Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands
Scientists
Separation of church and state
Social Security recipients
State workers
United Nastions
Women

Meanwhile. . .

Word: War

War is obsolete. The last time someone surrendered was Japan and that was 60 years ago. The Afghans will never surrender. We will just get tired and come home. - Ted Turner

Unstandardized testing

University student who was studying to be a family counselor says in a lawsuit that he was dismissed from a master's degree program after it was determined that he lacked empathy.

Surprise of the day

Juan Cole has been a consultant to the CIA

Stupid politics tricks

Obams wants to give his congressional speech at the same time as the previously scheduled NBC GOP presidential debate. One of the increasingly forgotten rules of politics is: don't make people mad for no good reason

Police blotter

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said a man had seven exotic snakes and three tortoises wrapped in nylon bags that had been stuffed into his pants. He was discovered as he went through a body scanner at one of the airport's security checkpoints

Vulture capitalists

Twenty-five of the 100 highest paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax. The Institute for Policy Studies said it also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

Great moments in the media

The European Union's competition regulators are examining whether France is providing unfair state aid to French news agency Agence France-Presse.In a letter to France's mission to the EU, the European Commission says that subscriptions from the French government make up 40 percent of AFP's revenue.

Race to the bottom

New documents show the New York Police Department maintained a list of "ancestries of interest" and dispatched undercover officers to monitor Muslim businesses and social groups.

Numbers

The government recovered some $4 billion in Medicare fraud in 2010, which sounds like a lot until you realize that it's about two thirds of one percent of total Medicare expenditures for the year. Moral: go after the bad guys but don't let the GOP make it a campaign issue

Internet sightings

No matter how interesting your article is, no matter how long or short it is, if you do this, I will stop reading. - - Reddit:

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