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Archive for December 9, 2010

House Dems To Obama: No Deal!

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Robert Reich – Commonwealth Club

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Robert Reich discusses his new book Aftershock: The next economy and America’s future.

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Robert Reich – How Unequal Can America Get? (2008)

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Goldman School of Public Policy Board of Advisors Dinner

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The Real News – Unions – Bill Fletcher Jr. and Frank Hammer

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Lauren Kelley – The 6 Most Shocking Cases of Police Stun-Gun Abuse

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From AlterNet:

The 6 Most Shocking Cases of Police Stun-Gun Abuse

By Lauren Kelley

Some of the most egregious examples of taser abuse by police around the country, illustrating why the willy-nilly increase of taser use is terrible for citizens.

December 7, 2010

Take a police force that’s notorious for its use of excessive force, add a massive arsenal of tasers, put those weapons in the hands of low-level patrol officers, and what do you get?

If you guessed “an awful mess of civil rights abuses and safety concerns,” then, unfortunately, you’re correct. A new report from the City of Chicago Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct cases in the city, has found that incidences of taser use by Chicago police officers increased by nearly 350% over the past year in the wake of the department’s decision to more than double its taser arsenal in the name of “increasing officer safety” and “defusing trouble.”

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War in Context – How WikiLeaks turned the First Amendment into a ‘problem’

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From War in Context:

How WikiLeaks turned the First Amendment into a ‘problem’

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 11:30 AM PST

First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams says: “WikiLeaks may just be the price we pay for freedom of the press in this country.” Why not: “WikiLeaks demonstrates the value of the First Amendment”? After all, what’s the good of having a free press when journalists so willingly serve the interests of the establishment? If the Fourth Estate had […]

Latest graduate in FBI’s terrorist training program

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 10:17 AM PST

Since it’s difficult to identify and capture terrorists, the FBI seems to have concluded that an effective counter-terrorism program can only work if they first find potential terrorists, coach them and then catch them. It’s a bit like sports hunting for those whose pride in displaying a trophy is undiminished by the fact that the […]

Why Assange and Wikileaks have won this round

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 08:13 AM PST

Ian Welsh writes: The odd thing about Wikileaks is that their success has been assured, not by what they leaked, though there is some important information there, but by their enemies. The massive and indiscriminate overreaction by both government and powerful corporate actors has ensured this, and includes but is not nearly limited to: Shutting down Wikileaks servers, […]

The accusations against Assange

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 07:50 AM PST

Kate Harding writes: You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find the timing of Interpol’s warrant for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who turned himself in to British authorities today, curious. The charges — “one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape,” according to a […]

How the US and China colluded to undermine Copenhagen climate summit

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 04:00 AM PST

Der Spiegel reports: Last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world’s top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement. In May 2009 the Chinese leaders received […]

US effort to limit Sadr bloc’s influence in new Iraqi government

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 03:00 AM PST

Christian Science Monitor reports: The US is warning that it could cut substantial funding to Iraq’s Health, Education, and Transport ministries if the anti-American Sadr bloc is given those cabinet posts in a new government being formed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The comments by a senior US embassy official were the clearest public statements yet of […]

Lying for the State Department

Posted: 08 Dec 2010 05:49 PM PST

Is skill in the art of lying a prerequisite for the job of State Department spokesman, or is it just an ability acquired through on-the-job training? James Rubin, State spokesman for the Clinton administration, demonstrated that he retains his fluency in an interview he did this afternoon alongside Salon’s Glenn Greenwald and John Burns from the […]

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AlterNet – Fox News Boss Willfully Slanted Healthcare Reports

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From AlterNet:

Fox News Boss Willfully Slanted Healthcare Reports

A high-up Fox News editor told his employees to substitute the phrase “public option” with “government option” in order to skew the public’s notion of the health care debate to the right. And while Fox’s ultra-conservative slant is nothing new, this revelation pokes truth-sized holes in their persistent argument that they are “fair and balanced.” The evidence: a leaked email from Fox managing editor Bill Sammon:

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Jonathan Cook – Israel turns blind eye to racist state-employed rabbis

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Electronic Intifada:

Israel turns blind eye to racist state-employed rabbis

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 9 December 2010

An Israeli holds a sign reading “Jewish and Arab solidarity for justice and equality” at a protest outside Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue against a religious decree by fifty of Israel’s leading rabbis, 8 December 2010. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Jews must not rent homes to “gentiles.” That was the religious decree issued this week by at least fifty of Israel’s leading rabbis, many of them employed by the state as municipal religious leaders. Jews should first warn, then “ostracize” fellow Jews who fail to heed the directive, the rabbis declared.

The decree is the latest in a wave of racist pronouncements from some of Israel’s most influential rabbis.

In October, Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, delivered a ruling, signed by 17 other rabbis in the city, telling Jewish residents not to sell or rent property to members of the country’s Palestinian Arab minority, who make up a fifth of the population.

His followers turned words into deeds by attacking Arab students in the city and threatening to burn down the homes of Jewish landlords renting to the students.

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Brennan Center for Justice

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law:

In The News

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share two important new Brennan Center reports.

Filibuster Abuse comes at a time of new interest in reforming the rules of the often-gridlocked U.S. Senate.  Several lawmakers are expected to press to modernize Senate rules in the first week of the new Congress.  Now — when the partisan implication of filibuster reform is unclear — is the ideal time to act. For whichever party wields the gavel, our democracy is ill served by a Senate tangled in obsolete and easily-abused rules of its own making.

We are also delighted to release the 2010 edition of our Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting.  Fifty state governments will soon begin redrawing legislative lines — and political insiders will invariably seek to tilt the process to partisan ends. Rich with tables, illustrations, and colorful maps, the Citizen’s Guide presents critical information in accessible form.  It will help citizens and journalists as we try to hold accountable this otherwise murky process. If you would like us to mail you a copy of this book, please contact Bonnie Ernst at bonnie.ernst@nyu.edu.

We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Warm wishes,

Michael Waldman
Executive Director

Secret US embassy cables taken from a cache of 250,000 cables leaked to the Guardian by whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks

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California Progress Report – December 9, 2010

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From the California Progress Report:

WikiLeaks Reveals Marine Reserve’s Roel in Denying Chagossian Right of Return

By Dan Bacher

A U.S. State Department cable released through WikiLeaks reveals that that the British government cynically used the creation of a massive so-called marine “protected” area, the largest on the planet, as a tool to deny the native Chagros Islanders the right to return to their homeland in the Indian Ocean.

The U.K. Guardian published this US embassy cable on its website on December 2. “The cable, part of the massive stash acquired by WikiLeaks, quotes a British diplomat saying that creating the marine reserve would stymie the return of former islanders,” noted Science Magazine reporter Erik Stokstan on December 7.

The Storm That Created The “Rust Belt” Is Heading For Silicon Valley

By: Dave Johnson
Speak Out California

This fall I was invited to cover the Keep It Made In America Tour put on by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I spent a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, enjoying the fall colors and visiting small towns all along the way.

I live in Silicon Valley where in spite of the high unemployment — still 10.6% — it’s still pretty nice here, so the extent and especially breadth of the decline of so many cities and towns was a shock. Everywhere you go you see America’s infrastructure crumbling! Of course I know this has been going on, but when you actually come from somewhere that is still pretty nice and see it firsthand – and everywhere – you really see it.

Governor-Elect Brown: State Budget Deficit Likley WIll Swell to Nearly $29 Billion

By Marty Omoto
California Disability Community Action Network

California’s already grim budget picture will likely get even worse, with the State’s projected budget deficit growing by another $2.7 billion to nearly $29 billion between now and the end of the 2011-2012 State Budget year that ends June 30, 2012, Governor-elect Jerry Brown said today at a budget briefing he organized for policymakers in Sacramento.  Brown said that the swelling of the projected State budget deficit could happen due to changes in federal estate and inheritance tax laws that the US Congress is considering in the final days of its “lame duck” session that will end before Christmas.

Brown, who previously was governor from January 1975 to January 1983, and currently serves as the State’s Attorney General, takes office on January 3, 2011 (Monday).  With legislative Democrats – who control both the Assembly and State Senate – and Republicans sharply divided on how to solve the current and on-going budget deficits, Governor-elect Brown hosted today’s budget forum not to offer solutions to solve it at this point, but to define the scope of the budget crisis California is facing.

James Parks – Study: Half of Seniors at Risk for Poverty

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From the AFL-CIO Now Blog:

Study: Half of Seniors at Risk for Poverty

by James Parks, Dec 8, 2010

Photo credit: Alliance for Retired Americans

Here’s one big reason congressional Republicans and the deficit hawks are dead wrong about cutting Social Security benefits: According to a new study, nearly half (47.4 percent) of all Americans between the ages of 60 and 90 will experience at least one year of poverty or near poverty and seniors of color are twice as likely to be affected.

The study by Mark Rank, a professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, shows that 58 percent of seniors between 60 and 84 will, at some point, not have enough liquid assets to allow them to weather an unanticipated expense or downturn in income.

But if you are a senior who is black or unmarried or have less than a high school education, the likelihood that you will be poor at some point increases dramatically. Rank found that although 32.7 percent of white older Americans will experience at least one year below the official poverty line, the percentage for black older Americans was nearly double at 64.6 percent.

For unmarried seniors, the percentage experiencing poverty was 51.2 percent compared with 24.9 percent for married older Americans. Likewise, for those with fewer than 12 years of education, the percentage experiencing poverty was 48.4 percent compared with 20.5 percent for those with 12 or more years of education.

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Hood News™: Police Terrorism (Full Documentary)

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Commodifying Wildlife? World Bank Launches Market Scheme for Endangered Species

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Prominent Indigenous Environmental Leader Tom Goldtooth Blocked from U.N. Climate Talks in Cancun

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WikiLeaks exposes Australian Julia Gillard Coup and Mark Arbib Treasonous Behavior

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Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on WikiLeaks Secret Cables, September Coup, and Controversial REDD

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Democracy Now! Headlines for 12/9/2010

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Alternate Reality – Justice in the US

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Igor Volsky – Top Republican Comes Out In Support Of Death Panels

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From the Wonk Room:

Obama Pushes For More Mortgage Principal Reductions, While Next Financial Services Chairman Balks

On START, Kyl’s Now Irrelevant

Levin: Passing Defense Bill Will Be A ‘Possibly Insurmountable Challenge’ Even If Cloture Invoked

Beyond DADT: The Other Military Priorities Republicans Are Obstructing

The WonkLine: December 9, 2010

Today In Recap: From ‘Likely’ DADT Vote To Vote Delayed

Report: Working Poor ‘Unequivocally Worse Off’ Under Tax Deal Than They Were This Year

Consequences Of The Midterms: Maine Gov Thought If 35 States Joined Health Lawsuit, It Would Die

Reid Pressures Collins To Accept Time Compromise On DADT, Murkowski Ready To Provide 60th Vote

Benin To GOP: ‘We Are Crushed By The Impact Of Climate Change’

Obama Tax Deal Would Cut Estate Tax To Second Lowest Level Since 1931

Two More Republicans Who Ran Against Health Reform Opt-Out Of Federal Health Benefits

Plan B: Democrats Transferring ‘Must Pass’ Provisions Out Of Defense Bill, Into Continuing Resolution

Analysis: GOP Senators Represent More Than Four Times As Many Unemployed People As Wealthy Households

Final Doc-Fix Compromise To Take Money Out Of Health Law Establishes A Poor Precedent

DeMint Opposes Tax Deal Because Of Jobless Benefits: ‘We Can’t Just Keep Paying People To Stay At Home’

Top Republican Comes Out In Support Of Death Panels

By Igor Volsky

The Wall Street Journal’s Alicia Mundy has this report pointing out that now that the elections are over, Republicans are clamoring to cut out unnecessary medical spending in Medicare — something they had previously referred to as “rationing” and likened to “death panels.” Darrell Issa (R-CA), the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is a big fan:

“If I can help every senior get the same care they’re getting and still save tens of billions of dollars and have no doctors cheated out of what they’re entitled to, what’s not to like?” he said. […]

Mr. Issa said his own doctor told him that surgeons have an incentive under Medicare to implant many joint and bone screws to support patients’ spines, when fewer implants—or none at all—might be equally effective and safer.

“They have got to come up with a system that doesn’t reward people for putting more metal in somebody’s spine,” Mr. Issa said.

Under current rules, Medicare cannot consider cost-effectiveness in its coverage decisions. But Mr. Issa said it may be time to consider costs as well as efficacy, as long as medical decisions are made by doctors, not by “bureaucrats” in government. “My committee can help by looking at whether the government is answering and informing about the lowest-cost, least-invasive procedures,” he said. […] “Republicans have to step back from the words ‘death panels,’ ” Mr. Issa said.

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The Progress Report – A Taxing Decision

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Progress Report:

Think Fast

Media Matters obtained internal Fox News correspondence authored by the network’s leadership, including D.C. managing editor Bill Sammon, which reveal that Fox bosses instructed their journalists not to use the term “public option” during the health care fight. Sammon wrote that Fox’s reporters should instead use “government option” and similar phrases. Polling by Frank Luntz showed that using “government option” language made the public option unpopular.

After leading the fight against gays in the military in 1993, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) reversed his position on DADT and now says it should be overturned as long as the Pentagon is given a year to prepare for the change. Nunn, who once believed gay troops would hurt cohesion and morale, said he was swayed by military testimony and recognized that “society has changed, and the military has changed.”

The House passed the DREAM Act last night along party lines. The measure “offers a path to citizenship for young people who were brought to this country illegally before age 16 and who have enrolled in college or entered the military.” President Obama said the vote was historic and urged the Senate to pass the bill, however the measure “faces a tough test” in the upper chamber.

Dealing “the final blow” to Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, Congress passed a provision yesterday that blocks closing the prison or any of its suspected terrorist detainees from transfer to the U.S. for trial. The Department of Justice rebuked the provision, saying it limits “the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests.”

Republicans have selected Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) to lead the powerful House Appropriations committee, which oversees federal spending. Rogers, however, is a prodigious earmarker known as the “Prince of Pork” for the hundreds of millions of dollars he has steered to his state. The Wall Street Journal reports that “some fiscal conservatives are asking whether he’s the right man to chair” the committee.

Internet activists are declaring a “cyberwar” against multinational companies and other organizations they have deemed hostile to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. After Assange’s arrest in Britain this week, hackers attacked the websites of WikiLeak’s “enemies,” causing several of them “to become inaccessible or slow down markedly.”

Former GOP Florida governor Jeb Bush said yesterday that he opposes Arizona-style immigration laws that allow law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they deem suspicious — something that lawmakers in Florida are now proposing. Bush said his children might look suspicious to police and “[i]t’s the wrong approach.”

The House of Representatives “narrowly approved a stripped-down budget bill Wednesday evening, cutting nearly $46 billion from President Barack Obama’s requests.” At the end of the process, the budget totaled $1.09 trillion.

And finally: While the White House scrambles to line up the votes for its tax cut deal, one Democratic congressman isn’t budging. Appearing on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said that members of the House Democratic caucus are asking, “Why should we take this vote? We’re going to get blamed for adding to the deficit. This isn’t the dream act, this is the Republican wet dream act.

A Taxing Decision

President Obama’s $900 billion tax deal with congressional Republicans gained “a wave of new Democratic support” yesterday, signaling that the measure will make it through Congress, provided most Republicans support it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate could vote on the package as soon as today or tomorrow, suggesting he is confident of its prospects in the upper chamber. Congressional Democrats have been largely displeased with the deal — which will extend for two years the Bush tax cuts for all income brackets, including the wealthiest two percent of Americans, in exchange for extending unemployment benefits and middle-class tax breaks — but many appear to be coming around. Democrats strongly objected to extending the bonus cuts for “millionaires and billionaires” because it will greatly increase the deficit while providing little stimulus for the economy or the middle class. A large number of Democrats had threatened to vote against the package, and, calling the deal an “absolute disaster,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has even threatened to filibuster it. But their most strenuous objection to the compromise was directed at the estate tax provision, which sets a 35 percent tax rate on estates worth more than $5 million. The White House has lobbied aggressively to win support for the deal in the last few days, sending Vice President Biden to Capitol Hill and other administration officials across Washington “to press their case.” And White House economic adviser Larry Summers delivered a grave warning to members of Congress yesterday, saying, “If they don’t pass this bill in the next couple of weeks, it would materially increase the risk the economy would stall out and we would have a double dip [recession].” But despite the fact that many in the party support the measure, and that the compromise appears poised to pass, some “Democrats in the House and Senate were still seething with anger — both about the substance of the deal…and the way they were iced out of the negotiations,” the New York Times reported yesterday. In a non-binding vote within the House Democratic caucus today, the caucus voted to reject the tax cut deal.

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Interview with – International National Trust at COP16 in Cancun

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Willful Supsension of Disbelief: A Strange Trip Through Glenn Beck’s DVD Collection

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REDD the New Green? Indigenous Groups Resist Carbon Market-Based Forestry Scheme to Offset

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Daniel Tencer – Obama-GOP deal raises taxes on poorest earners

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Raw Story:

Obama-GOP deal raises taxes on poorest earners

By Daniel Tencer

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 — 5:50 pm

 Obama GOP deal raises taxes on poorest earners

Quarter of tax savings will go to richest one percent

The plan to extend Bush-era tax cuts that President Barack Obama struck with the Senate Republican leadership will result in lower taxes for wealthy and middle-class Americans but will mean a tax hike for the very poorest earners.

According to an analysis in the New York Times, the Obama-GOP deal will mean that individuals earning less than $20,000 and families earning less than $40,000 will see a small tax hike.

“It will come to a few dollars a week,” Roberton Williams, an analyst at the Tax Policy Center told the Times. “But it is an increase.”

As part of the deal, Obama agreed to drop the Making Work Pay credit that was created as part of the stimulus package, and replace it with a lower payroll tax. That lost credit — of $400 or $800 — is greater than the amount low-income earners will save from the lower payroll tax, meaning, in total, they will pay more.

Of the estimated $900 billion in new and continued tax breaks in the deal, about one-quarter — $225 billion — is expected to go to the top one percent of earners.

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TomDispatch – Tomgram: Fatima Bhutto, The War Against Pakistan

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From TomDispatch:

Recent Posts

Tomgram: Fatima Bhutto, The War Against Pakistan
Posted at 9:49AM on December 09, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Epitaph from the Imperial Graveyard
Posted at 10:21AM on December 07, 2010.

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Taking Down America
Posted at 5:11PM on December 05, 2010.

Tomgram: Andy Kroll, How the Oligarchs Took America
Posted at 10:00AM on December 02, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The United States of Fear
Posted at 10:10AM on November 30, 2010.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, General Petraeus’s Two Campaigns
Posted at 3:30PM on November 23, 2010.

Tomgram: David Swanson, All War All the Time
Posted at 4:40PM on November 21, 2010.

See the Archive »

Tomgram: Fatima Bhutto, The War Against Pakistan

December 9, 2010

I mean, you couldn’t make this stuff up.  In fact, if I were to offer a conspiracy theory to explain it, I might suggest that the U.S. government now exists mainly to feed material to The Daily Show.  I’m referring to  an article in the New York Times reporting that “the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.”

Don’t laugh.  No, really, stop it!

Honestly, it’s perfectly sensible.  Secrecy being such an  all-encompassing value for our government, why shouldn’t its employees work in the dark, even when the rest of us, the rest of the world, knows what’s going on.  Fortunately, I’m not an employee of the U.S. government or its military-industrial contractors; so, though  Raytheon, the  Library of Congress, and other places have been thoughtful enough to try to minimize the pain of the ongoing Wikileaks dump of State Department documents by blocking people from reading them, and the Obama administration and assorted Internet crews, including  Amazon and  PayPal, are trying to ensure that there won’t be a fourth, fifth, or sixth round of dumps, I’ve been wandering the Web like any 12-year-old reading around.

You want to know what struck me?  Something small.  And it happened in Yemen, that anything-goes country whose president Ali Abdullah Saleh gave Washington almost carte blanche to act militarily — “an open door on terrorism,” as he  put it to Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan in September 2009 (according to one of the State Department documents Wikileaks released).  More like an open bomb bay, actually.  And Saleh was even eager to take credit for those bombs we were dropping.  “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” he told then-Centcom commander General David Petraeus last January.

In return for the right to drop bombs and launch missiles, the Yemeni president got his own “open door” — directly into the U.S. Treasury: tons of money (it’s euphemistically called “aid”) shoveled his way, U.S. trainers and training for his troops, and lots of fancy military equipment because, let’s face it, Washington is still laboring in a coalition-of-the-billing, not a coalition-of-the-willing world.  Still, even for Saleh, there were limits and — it’s so Washington 2010 of us — we nonetheless tried to exceed them.  According to  that State Department document, Petraeus evidently wanted to get U.S. troops — probably Special Operations forces — on the ground in combat areas with Yemeni units.  According to a State Department observer, “Saleh reacted coolly, however, to the General’s proposal to place USG [U.S. Government] personnel inside the area of operations armed with real-time, direct feed intelligence from U.S. ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] platforms overhead.”

In other words, anywhere we have a foot in the door of war, the next thing you know we’re trying to slip a (uniformed) body through it as well.  That catches  the American way of war these days and helps explain why we always seem to end up more, not less involved, in conflict in distant lands.  Among the places where the U.S. offers big dollars for the right to blast the hell out of things, Yemen is actually a Johnny-come-lately.  Only recently have American officials made Sana’a, its capital, a Club Med for recreational bombing.

On the other hand, ever since Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage marched into the office of Pakistani autocrat General Pervez Musharraf soon after the 9/11 attacks and reportedly told him that the U.S. would bomb his country “back to the Stone Age” unless he joined the fight against al-Qaeda, that country has been a magnet for Washington’s top brass, military and civilian.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen had visited  16 times by early 2010 and sometimes there seems to be a greater density of American officials, wheedling, bribing, threatening, cajoling, and maneuvering in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, than in Washington itself.  Meanwhile, the CIA’s drones have been attacking Pakistani territory, its helicopters crossing the border shooting, its Special Operations troops on the ground, and the CIA swarming, as Washington acts with relative impunity in that land.

Fatima Bhutto, whose father, a member of Pakistan’s parliament, was killed by the police in 1996 during the premiership of his sister, Benazir Bhutto, offers an insider’s vision of just what impunity means in the Pakistani context.  She has recently written a stirring memoir, an epic search for the truth behind her father’s life and death,  Songs of Blood and Sword.  Tom

A Flood of Drone Strikes
What the Wikileaks Revelations Tell Us About How Washington Runs Pakistan

By  Fatima Bhutto

With governments like Pakistan’s current regime, who needs the strong arm of the CIA? According to Bob Woodward’s latest bestseller Obama’s Wars, when Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, an obsequiously dangerous man, was notified that the CIA would be launching missile strikes from drones over his country’s sovereign territory, he replied, “Kill the seniors. Collateral damage worries you Americans. It doesn’t worry me.”

Why would he worry?  When his wife Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007 to run for prime minister after years of self-imposed exile, she was already pledged to a campaign of pro-American engagement. She promised to hand over nuclear scientist and international bogeyman Dr. A.Q. Khan, the “father” of the Pakistani atomic bomb, to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  She also made clear that, once back in power, she would allow the Americans to bomb Pakistan proper, so that George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror might triumph.  Of course, the Americans had  been involved in covert strikes and other activities in Pakistan since at least 2001, but we didn’t know that then.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Susie Madrak – All Bets Are Off. Without A Real Unemployment Benefits Extension, This Tax Cut ‘Compromise’ Isn’t Worth Crap.

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From Crooks and Liars:

All Bets Are Off. Without A Real Unemployment Benefits Extension, This Tax Cut ‘Compromise’ Isn’t Worth Crap.

By Susie Madrak

Posted: 09 Dec 2010 07:00 AM PST

(H/T to maymay)

In the words of Emily Litella, “Never mind.”

Never mind that I thought the rest of the tax cut deal was worth swallowing, because that was when I thought there were 13 months’ additional unemployment benefits in the picture. There aren’t. It only maintains the status quo.

According to Calculated Risk, this is just the same kind of “bridge” legislation we’ve seen before, in which people who were eligible for the next level of extensions (but couldn’t get them because they expired) are now eligible to move on to the next extension level.

It’s not another tier. There are no new benefits. You still can’t collect any more than 99 weeks. All it does is maintain the same system that was already in place.

This deal isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit, as my mother used to say.

Arthur Delaney at Huffington Post:

The programs provide up to 73 weeks of federally-funded benefits for workers who exhaust 26 weeks of state benefits. The average weekly benefit is about $300, and the total cost of a yearlong reauthorization is roughly $60 billion. Republicans and conservative Democrats ostensibly concerned about the deficit impact of the benefits have blocked several attempts to renew them in the past couple weeks, but they’ve signaled they will relent if the benefits are attached to the even-costlier tax cuts for the rich.

Some 800,000 laid off workers have already received cutoff notices, and another 1.2 million will stop receiving benefits by the end of the month unless Congress reauthorizes the recently-lapsed programs..

In other words, please curl up in your cardboard box and die. We wouldn’t want to upset the bond market, would we?

It’s simply amazing that the White House is allowing the press (and the voters) to think otherwise. I mean, does Obama think they won’t notice when their checks are shut off?

This is the same trick they pulled back in March. The 99ers weren’t able to rally the troops because the media (and the general public) thought Congress had approved additional aid, when all they did was fund the existing extensions.

Yes, it preserves the existing benefits. Well, why the hell shouldn’t they? Obama expects applause for this? In the name of common decency, this shouldn’t even be an issue. And in exchange for this emergency support, basic humane aid, we’re supposed to give away the store so that millionaires and billionaires can make even more money?

All this money for war, for banks, for big business, and nothing for the people getting buried by the economic fallout.

Bah, humbug.

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Chris Floyd – Truth in Chains: Assange Arrest a Chilling Sign of Power’s “New Realities”

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

From Chris Floyd:

Truth in Chains: Assange Arrest a Chilling Sign of Power’s “New Realities”

Posted: 08 Dec 2010 08:41 AM PST

(A version of this article originally appeared at CounterPunch.)

Well, they got him at last. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the target of several of the world’s most powerful governments, turned himself into British authorities today and is now at the mercy of state authorities who have already shown their wolfish – and lawless – desire to destroy him and his organization.

It has been, by any standard, an extraordinary campaign of vilification and persecution, wholly comparable to the kind of treatment doled out to dissidents in China or Burma. Lest we forget, WikiLeaks is a journalistic outlet – just like The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, all of whom are even now publishing the very same material – leaked classified documents — available on WikiLeaks. The website is also a journalistic outlet just like CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox and other mainstream media venues, where we have seen an endless parade of officials – and journalists! – calling for Assange to be prosecuted or killed outright. Every argument being made for shutting down WikiLeaks can – and doubtless will – be used against any journalistic enterprise that publishes material that powerful people do not like.

And the leading role in this persecution of truth-telling is being played by the administration of the great progressive agent of hope and change, the self-proclaimed heir of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Barack Obama. His attorney general, Eric Holder, is now making fierce noises about the “steps” he has already taken to bring down WikiLeaks and criminalize the leaking of embarrassing information. And listen to the ferocious reaction of that liberal lioness, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who took to the pages of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal to call for Assange to be put in prison – for 2,500,000 years:

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