Breaking News and Commentary from CLG - 29 Sep 2011
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29 Sep 2011 Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on September 27, 2011 in New York City. Hundreds of uniformed pilots, standing in stark contrast to the youthful Occupy Wall Street protesters, staged their own protest outside of Wall Street over the past couple of days, holding signs with the picture of the Hudson river crash asking "What's a Pilot Worth" and others declaring "Management is Destroying Our Airline." [See also: Occupy Wall Street: Its Objects, Issues, and Political Meaning by Michael Rectenwald 26 Sep 2011.]
26 Sep 2011 Ten years of war. Two years of an accelerated effort to train Afghans to take over that fight, at an annual cost of $6 billion. And not a single Afghan army battalion can operate without assistance from U.S. or allied units. That was the assessment made by the officer responsible for training those Afghan soldiers, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell. Out of approximately 180 Afghan National Army battalions, only two operate "independently." "Those two 'independent' battalions still require U.S. support for their maintenance, logistics and medical systems," Caldwell admitted when Pentagon reporters pressed him on Monday morning.
26 Sep 2011 Eight hundred more U.S. military trainers will be sent to Afghanistan by March to help with logistics, maintenance, medical care protecting opium/gas routes and other areas in which the Afghan army is short on skills, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of NATO's training mission there, said Monday. Caldwell said training in these areas was needed to enable Afghan army units to be better prepared to operate without U.S. support by 2014, when American combat troops are scheduled to leave.
28 Sep 2011 The monthly average of armed clashes, roadside bombings and other violence in Afghanistan is running 39 percent ahead of last year's figure, U.N. reported Wednesday, with more complex suicide operations involving multiple bombers and gunmen. The statistics show that the intensity of the nearly decade-old war is growing, not abating, as the U.S. and other nations start to withdraw some forces with an eye toward pulling all combat troops out by the end of 2014.
28 Sep 2011 Eight policemen were killed in an attack early Wednesday near a southern Afghan city, a police commander said, in an area that has been a pioneer in the handover of security from NATO to Afghan control. Gen. Nabi Jan Mullahkhail, deputy regional commander in the south, said the deadly pre-dawn attack targeted a checkpoint near Lashkar Gah in the southern Helmand province, where the insurgency still has strongholds. Three policemen were also wounded in the attack.
29 Sep 2011 Three soldiers serving with the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in southern Afghanistan. The three soldiers died in an explosion in south Afghanistan on Thursday, the Associated Press cited a brief statement released by the Western military contingent.
29 Sep 2011 The US army says an American soldier has been killed in northern Iraq, marking the first such death in the country in more than two months. "A US service member was killed Thursday in northern Iraq," a US army statement said, without giving any further details, AFP reported.
27 Sep 2011 The White House announced today it planned to expand a program to secure and destroy sell Libya's huge stockpile of dangerous surface-to-air missiles, following an ABC News report that large numbers of them continue to be stolen from unguarded military warehouses. Currently the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in "explosive ordinance disposal", all working with the rebel Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.
27 Sep 2011 A Turkish newspaper published the names and photographs on Monday of more than 140 Israeli soldiers who the paper said took part in the raid on a Turkish flotilla to Gaza last year that ended with the death of nine passengers and created a diplomatic standoff between Turkey and Israel. The newspaper, Sabah, said the Turkish government began searching for the soldiers' identities after the Israeli authorities failed to cooperate in an investigation that prosecutors in Turkey said could lead to legal action.
28 Sep 2011 The CIA has 52 separate photos and videos of Osama bin Laden's body, the U.S. raid that 'killed him,' and his burial at sea, according to a Justice Department document filed earlier this week. A top CIA official argues that the government is "wholly exempt" from releasing the images, however, because publication might inspire terror attacks on U.S. targets. The image count came in response to a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request on May 4. The Department of Justice responded with a declaration from John Bennett, director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA, arguing that disclosure of the images is a security risk.
Heads up! D.C. agencies assemble and operate temporary morgue in city-wide disaster drill --District will continue to run exercises similar to Wednesday's event, including two planned drills in March and September 2012
28 Sep 2011 A fabricated hurricane scenario was the setting for a full-scale exercise performed by D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Wednesday, allowing a wide swath of District agencies to practice their response to a massive city-wide emergency. On the grounds of RFK Stadium, members of the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Fire and EMS and the D.C. Department of Human Services were on hand to perform various drills in order to coordinate and execute emergency operations, gathering data to refine the city's procedures in the event of a real emergency.
25 Sep 2011 The chief of the New York Police Department says city police could take down a plane if needed. Commissioner Ray Kelly tells CBS' "60 Minutes" that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided the city couldn't rely on the federal government alone. He set about creating the NYPD's own counter-terrorism unit. He says the department is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane. Other measures include sending NYPD officers abroad, using radiation detectors and creating a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan.
Mass. man faces terrorism charges --FBI alleges plan to fly explosives into Capitol, Pentagon
29 Sep 2011 (MA) An Ashland man who holds a physics degree from Northeastern University was charged yesterday with an 'Al Qaeda'-inspired plot to send a remote-controlled aircraft carrying explosives into the Pentagon and the US Capitol "to kill as many people as possible," according to a complaint filed in federal court. Rezwan Ferdaus, a US citizen whose only known previous crime was vandalism, told FBI agents working undercover as Al Qaeda members that he wanted to "change the world," according to the complaint.
Massachusetts man charged in plot to blow up Pentagon --On Wednesday undercover FBI agents delivered fake C4 explosives, grenades and AK-47s to storage unit terror suspect possessed
28 Sep 2011 Undercover FBI agents arrested a U.S. citizen Wednesday in connection with a plot to attack the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol using large, remote-controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives. Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was also charged with attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh], in order to carry out attacks on U.S. soldiers overseas, the Justice Department announced in a news release. Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, Mass.
28 Sep 2011 The Pentagon on Wednesday morning went live with a new, slicker interactive military tribunals website - with no new information - ahead of a decision from a senior Defense Department official on whether to go forward with the first death penalty war crimes prosecution of the Obama administration. Defense sources said retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald was still deciding how to go forward in the case of Saudi Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, accused of masterminding the bombing of a Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen two decades ago. Nashiri’s trial is bound to put a spotlight on both the CIA's treatment of its captives and also on Navy security in October 2000 off Aden, Yemen, where the warship was on a refuelng stop when two suicide US bombers drove a bomb-laden skiff into the USS Cole.
28 Sep 2011 The Pentagon formally moved closer Wednesday to its next military trial on the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the suspected ringleader of the deadly bombing of the USS Cole [inside job]. The Saudi-born former millionaire Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri is charged with the 2000 bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden. The formal "referral of charges" by the Defense Department Military Commission sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to the appointment of a military officer as the trial judge in the case and a formal meeting of the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers in coming weeks.
28 Sep 2011 In December 2010, the White House warned federal workers not to read classified cables released by WikiLeaks. In September, an author and State Department employee says he learned the government takes that directive seriously. Peter Van Buren, the author of a book critical of nation-building in Iraq titled "We Meant Well," wrote in a Tuesday piece on TomDispatch.com that after posting an item that linked to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks he was "interrogated for the first time in [his] 23-year State Department career by State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security... and told [he] was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information."
Phone giants store callers' private data --The sheet is a guide for law enforcement, which can request data from the carriers through legal channels.
29 Sep 2011 A document obtained by the ACLU shows for the first time how the four largest cellphone companies in the U.S. treat data about their subscribers' calls, text messages, Web surfing and approximate locations. The one-page document from the Justice Department's cybercrime division shows, for instance, that Verizon Wireless keeps, for a year, information about which cell towers subscriber phones connect to. That data can be used to determine where the phone has been, down to the neighborhood. AT&T has kept the same data continuously since July 2008.
Obama: A disaster for civil liberties --He may prove the most disastrous president in our history in terms of civil liberties. By Jonathan Turley
29 Sep 2011 President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them... It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.
29 Sep 2011 A 5.6-magnitude earthquake shook an area of northeast Japan which includes the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday. There were no reports of damage to the facility, officials said. The moderate quake struck offshore near the coast of Fukushima at 7:05 pm (1005 GMT) with a "very shallow" focus, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There were no fears of a tsunami following the tremor, the agency said.
27 Sep 2011 A second contractor employee at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant has been charged with falsifying electrical cable inspection records. Court records show John E. Delk, a crew supervisor for Williams Specialty Services of Tucker, Ga., was charged with the felony offense of knowingly and willfully certifying work that he knew had not been completed at the nation's only current nuclear reactor construction project. Another former employee of the same subcontractor, electrician Matthew Correll, in an agreement with prosecutors pleaded guilty in June to falsifying records at the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor project.
28 Sep 2011 The police and Manhattan prosecutors are separately examining a high-ranking officer's use of pepper spray on a number of female protesters at a demonstration on Saturday. Raymond W. Kelly, commissioner of the New York Police Department, said Wednesday that its Internal Affairs Bureau would look at the decision by the officer, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, to use pepper spray, even as Mr. Kelly criticized the protesters for "tumultuous conduct." [!?!] Inspector Bologna was identified on Wednesday in another video spraying others in the Occupy Wall Street demonstration with pepper spray.
29 Sep 2011 State lawmakers across the USA are pushing a growing number of bills this year that would legalize carrying guns on college campuses, according to groups tracking the trend. So far this year, at least 14 states have introduced 35 bills that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on state colleges and universities or loosen restrictions on gun bans on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The emboldened effort to legalize guns on campuses comes on the heels of a ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday that repealed a university gun ban.
27 Sep 2011 Connecticut Children's Medical Center is making flu shots mandatory for all of its employees this season. Flu shots will be mandatory for the hospital's 2,200 employees. Employees who fail to be vaccinated without an approved waiver will be subject to termination. A number of health care facilities across the country have mandated flu shots for their workers without a successful legal challenge to the practice. [Mandatory vaccines? Some have said, 'We'll take your shot after you take ours.']
28 Sep 2011 The Obama administration Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to settle the constitutional question over the 2010 health-care law this term, meaning that the decision will probably come next summer in the thick of the presidential campaign. The Justice Department asked the justices to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which is the only appeals court to say Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. The law [aka insurance cartel giveaway] requires almost every American to have health insurance.
India vs. Monsanto: seeds of discord By Vikram Singh 21
Sep 2011 For the first time ever, a country - India - is accusing a multinational company of "bio-piracy". That means stealing indigenous plants, and then trying to develop genetically modified versions of them, without giving any compensation back to the local people or nation where the plant originally came from.
29 Sep 2011 Health officials nationwide have urged people to use caution when purchasing or eating cantaloupe due to one of the deadliest outbreaks of food contamination in recent history. 72 cases of listeria poisoning have been responsible for 13 deaths in 18 states, and those numbers are expected to rise in the coming days. The FDA [was] able to pinpoint its source to Jenson Farms in Holly, Colorado. Jenson Farms has since recalled its entire 2011 crop. [Thanks, GOP/Obusha for the lack of food safety regulations!]
Mega barf alert! Ground beef recalled in 14 US states
28 Sep 2011 Tyson, the biggest meat processor in the United States, is recalling 131,300 pounds of ground beef sold in 14 states after an outbreak of e.coli in Ohio, US food inspectors said Wednesday. The ground beef -- enough for more than half a million hamburgers -- was sold with a best-before date of September 12, but the Department of Agriculture fears that much of it may have been frozen by consumers for later use. In a statement, it said its food safety and inspection service "strongly encourages consumers to check their freezers and immediately discard any product subject to this recall."