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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cash-rich China courts the Caspian

By M K Bhadrakumar China's prospects as the first major economy to recover gives it a crucial role to lead the world economy as a whole and the Central Asian region in particular. Following up on a $25 billion loan to Russia that China dished out in February, it has agreed to lend $10 billion to Kazakhstan. China expects both the recipients to reciprocate by bolstering their energy supplies to China.

Human Tide of Misery Flees The Anarchy of Somalia

By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent
As the world follows the escapades of the country's pirates, civilians are fleeing the anarchy on land, creating the world's biggest refugee camp.
April 17, 2009 "The Independent" -- The lucky ones come with their families, others appear out of the thorn bushes, walking alone. Five hundred Somalis are now arriving at this bleak Kenyan outpost every day. They join a population of 267,000 and counting, in a facility built to shelter just 45,000. While the world has been captivated by the high seas drama of Somalia's pirates, this human tide has swollen the ranks of Dadaab, turning it into the world's largest refugee camp.
The new arrivals sit in their hundreds under a makeshift tarpaulin, trying to keep perfectly still in temperatures that reach 40C in the shade. It speaks volumes for the horrors unfolding in Somalia that people will abandon their homes, risk arbitrary arrest, death or starvation to reach the desolate welcome on offer in this corner of northern Kenya.
These people are proof of the human cost of the accelerating collapse of Somalia, yet their fate attracts nothing like the global interest that surrounds Somali piracy and its threat to commerce. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that runs Dadaab urgently needs new money from international donors and new land from the Kenyan government. Neither has been forthcoming. The annual budget for this camp is $19m (£13m) – roughly half the annual operational cost of a single warship patrolling the Indian Ocean in search of modern-day Blackbeards.

The Crisis That Could Bring Down Obama

By Ruth Conniff
The President, understandably, points to signs of hope and encourages Americans to be optimistic about the economy. But when do we move from healthy confidence to a confidence game? LinkHere

Leno Needs Bodygaurd (Gold)

Qld Floods, Blocked Culvert

A Letter from Nelson Mandela to Thomas Friedman:

To: Thomas L. Friedman (columnist New York Times)
From: Nelson Mandela (former President South Africa)

“: There is discrimination against Palestinians.. If you further consider the 1967 occupied territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognised as private property because it can be confiscated.”

It is one of the great paradoxes of the modern Middle East: When peace with the Palestinians is in sight, Israel will turn violent.

No Amnesty for Torturers

By Dave Lindorff
The issue is, do we as a nation now subscribe to the idea that the way to deal with evil perpetrated by ourselves is to bury it? [. . .] Isn’t that precisely what we have been for decades accusing the Germans and the Japanese of doing: burying in the mists of time their criminal behavior as a people and as a nation? [. . .] the president is wrong. Darkness does not go away when the fog comes. It just gets darker.

Jury Selected for Steven Green Trial

Source: KWES
The jury has been seated for the murder and rape trial of former Midland soldier Steven Green. Jury selection wrapped up this morning in Paducah, Kentucky with 15 women and three men selected.
The former soldier is accused of raping an Iraqi girl, then killing her and her family more than three years ago.
Three other soldiers have pleaded guilty and a fourth was convicted for their parts in the crimes. Green has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Opening arguments are set to begin April 27th.

I'll be watching and posting what happens. RIP Abeer, Hadeel, Qassim, Fakhriya. May they get the justice done that is deserved. I am so sorry for the 2 brothers, to lose their family in this atrocious way.

So will I be watching, to see if there is any JUSTICE, For Abeer, Hadeel, Qassim, Fakhriya.

Steven Green, rapist/murderer of Abeer
I have been looking for info about his trial, looks like they are still doing jury selection. I came across this 4 part article about the crime and the criminals.
It has some good information about the whole mess.
Murders, rape in Iraq lead to Kentucky courtFormer soldier's defense will be to put Army on trial for alleged negligence
Stress builds — as does hatred of the IraqisWith death on their minds constantly, soldiers must face worst nightmares
Soldiers are convicted; Army assailed Defense says command ignored Green's threats to kill Iraqis
Where are they now?
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Thursday outlined plans for a high-speed rail network he said would change the way Americans travel, drawing comparisons to the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system.
Initially, regional transportation offices will compete for the $8 billion included in the $787 billion economic stimulus spending package for high-speed rail, bolstered by $1 billion a year for five years requested in the federal budget.
Ten corridors the Obama administration had identified for possible high-speed rail projects:

Susan Boyle's next interview stops: Larry King and Oprah

Source: The Guardian (UK)
Stephen Brook
Susan Boyle's instant worldwide fame continues to snowball, with 25m YouTube hits and rising for her Britain's Got Talent turn, and interview requests from Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.
Boyle is expected to appear on Larry King Live, the veteran interviewer's CNN show, and the queen of US daytime TV's programme, Oprah, after a week during which the internet has made the unemployed Scottish singer's rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables on the ITV1 show last Saturday a worldwide phenonmenon.
King is due to interview Boyle on his programme tomorrow morning, UK time, while Winfrey has also agreed to interview the 47-year-old, adding to her round of US network TV breakfast show gigs with the likes of NBC and CBS earlier in the week. Interest from America shows no signs of abating. Boyle has already done 60 interviews with media outlets around the world.
Clips of Boyle's performance have been watched 25m times on YouTube, with a further 2.3m viewings on ITV's website.
Scottish newspaper the Daily Record also today uncovered a sultry version of Cry Me a River Boyle sang for a 1999 charity CD, part-funded by her local Whitburn Community Council, which has led to massive traffic on its site. Only 1,000 copies of the charity compilation CD were produced, according to the Daily Record, and it was recorded at Whitburn Academy at the behest of a local newspaper that launched a search for unsigned acts to take part.
Hits On You Tube

Sen. Rockefeller: NSA May Have Wiretapped Me

Earlier this year, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) speculated that the National Security Agency may have wiretapped him. His statement came at the very end of an interview in January with MSNBCs Chris Matthews and received little attention.
Matthews asked Rockefeller about allegations that the NSA spied on journalists as part of its anti-terror surveillance. "I'm quite prepared to believe it. I think they went after anybody they could get, including me," he said.
Matthews was skeptical. "They didn't eavesdrop on you, did they, senator?" he asked.
"They sent me no letters," replied Rockefeller, meaning that he had no confirmation from the NSA that they had spied on him.
His speculation takes on much more significance in light of a New York Times report that the NSA attempted to spy on a congressman.
A Huffington Post reader directed us to the Rockefeller remark. It was one among dozens of tips that HuffPost readers sent in after sifting through congressional records and searching for old news reports on Thursday. Reader research is resulting in a fairly comprehensive list, which we continue to update, of members of Congress who match the New York Times description of the congressman that the National Security Agency attempted to wiretap. LinkHere

There is a term for these people, and it isn't "right-wing" or "conservative" or "patriotic" or even "Republicans." The term is "sucker."

Life in These Untied States
So, to sum up:
1. People who make far less than 250K per year, whose tax rates will be cut, spent Wednesday out in public demanding that Obama stop increasing their taxes. They proudly marched and defiantly yelled and etc., etc., insisting with waved signs and shaken fists on their opposition to something that is not the case. They have made it their business to prevent something from happening that was never going to happen in the first place--and they mean it!
2. These same people, whose economic and physical well-being are a matter of supreme indifference to the richest families in America, have been persuaded to insist on policies that will only benefit the richest families in America. There is a term for these people, and it isn't "right-wing" or "conservative" or "patriotic" or even "Republicans." The term is "sucker." These people are suckers. They have been tricked and manipulated into working against their own interests and for the interests of people who could literally not care less about them. Their patron saint isn't Barry Goldwater or Thomas Paine or Ronald Reagan or Jesus H. Christ. It's P.T. Barnum.
3. People who would be forced into bankruptcy by an attack of appendicitis, who have no idea what "socialism" is or how it differs from "communism" or "fascism," were to be seen Wednesday out in force, self-righteously pissed off and calling Obama a socialist, a communist, and a fascist, often interchangeably. And what are their ideas about how to deal with the worst economic crisis in eighty years? "Let them go bankrupt!" Ignorance and indignation: it doesn't get any more American than that. Each of them--proud, free, unafraid to speak stupidity to power--is like a homeowner whose house is on fire and yet who refuses to let the fire fighters turn a hose on the flames because "it'll get my stuff all wet." And when the fire chief ventures the suggestion that the fire is a) going to destroy their stuff anyway, and then b) spread to other homes, he gets shut down with such wised-up, common-man arguments as, "I pay your salary!"
4. Glenn Beck--a prancing, sobbing, gibbering buffoon who will say literally anything to keep his audience's attention--has become the new spokesperson for the right. Yes, just when you thought Sean Hannity was, not only as bad as it got, but as bad as it could get, here comes the next level in televised right-wing demagoguery. Glenn Beck--whom Dickens himself would delete from a novel as being "too obvious"--is a star. As a consequence of this...
5. Rush Limbaugh has become the "de facto leader" of the right. Think about it--if you dare! Glenn Beck has accomplished the impossible. This is science fact, not science fiction: He's somehow managed to make the country's most famous sex-tourist drug-addict saloon-loudmouth hate-mongering hypocrite seem dignified and thoughtful. Glenn Beck has succeeded in bestowing gravitas on Rush Limbaugh. Still, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. When the spotlight is grabbed by the dancing monkey, the rhinoceros in the background starts to look downright serious and thoughtful.
6. Fox News, a factory of propaganda and lies on the best of days, has decided "the hell with it" and become an outright partisan fomenter of "revolution." While formerly (as a study showed during the Bush years), watching Fox News actually made one stupider, now watching it (as a follow-up will surely prove) makes one insane. During Bush, Fox News merely promulgated falsehoods. Now, during Obama, its function is to corrode its viewers' very understanding of reality itself. But what else can it do, since...
7. The devolution of the Republican Party (for which Fox News serves as Pravda) proceeds apace. The GOP, fifty years ago the Cotillion Party, is now the Toga Party Party. Newt Gingrich--hippie-dippy marital history, ethics charges and all--is newly converted to Catholicism and plotting his return. (Who said there are no third--or is it fourth?--acts in American lives?) The governor of Texas threatens to secede. (Memo to Gov. Perry: Here's your Stetson; what's your hurry? Just leave us Austin as your going-away present to us.) A senator openly talks about advising his wife to hurry down to the ATM and withdraw all their money, suggesting what in the good old days we used to call "a run on the bank." Libertarians (which is a fancy poli-sci term for "adolescents with firm political opinions about an imaginary society") threaten to "go Galt" but then somehow can't follow through. Whither the courage of the Randroids? And no one in the party of Wm. F. Buckley and Norman Podhoretz seems to know that the term "tea-bag" refers to dangling a man's genitals into someone's mouth.
This is not "the loyal opposition." This is Animal House. Every week brings a new hit single from the demonstrably unhinged Michelle Bachmann. And talk about legislation--what do these frat rats do? They release--get this--a budget with no numbers. What a goof!
8. The right-wing blogs, from the most crayon-on-paper-bags illiterate to the airy summit of the National Review, from obscure typists like Pastor Grant Swank (Google it; you'll be amazed) to the preening elite like Jonah Goldberg and Michele Malkin, have heard that funky jungle beat and formed a great writhing conga line of lunacy: having turned their brains inside-out defending the indefensible Bush (never mind Cheney) for eight years, now they say anything that comes to their fevered minds just to keep the gig and not actually have to work for a living. "Where is Obama's birth certificate?" "The Navy shot those pirates but Obama had nothing to do with it." "This tea-bag revolution--" (well-documented as having been conceived, directed, funded, and scripted by right-wing foundations)--is a marvel of spontaneous grass-roots populist grass-rootsy spontaneity!"
What does it all mean? I'm asking, reader. Is this widespread madness fun? Is it business and politics as usual? Should we derive from it nothing more than good old fashionedschadenfreude, and just pass the popcorn while watching the people who created and supported the catastrophes of the past eight years as they now wallow in their impotence and irrelevance?
Or is all this manipulated, phony "grass-roots" outrage fated to lead to some serious danger to innocent people? For every thousand citizens who gather in public to scream idiotic slogans and proudly flaunt their ignorance, how many more are laboring away in basements and garages, building bombs or assembling arsenals? How many does it take to lead to disaster?
The anger and fear of these people are real and, probably in most cases, justified, however much they misidentify their causes. That's what the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Becks depend on exploiting in order to make themselves rich and famous. But this entire cycle (rage; exploitation; more rage) seems to me worse than usual, as does its manipulation by the wealthy and their servants.
Is it? Or is all this just more publicized than it used to be? Doesn't publicizing it make it grow, and therefore make it worse? Or is it a relatively minor, if lurid, sideshow?
Should I be worried, indifferent, or vastly amused? What does it all mean?

Biden To Receive Several Honorary Degrees

Arizona State University stunned political observers when it invited President Barack Obama to deliver its commencement address but withheld the usual honorary degree. The fallout was brutal: scads of bad PR plus several alums said they'd withhold donations and even remove endowments from their wills. One alum wrote the Huffington Post to say he wouldn't wear his ASU hat for shame -- in Thailand. LinkHere
Matt Littman, 04.17.2009
Why in the world should we be on the hook to continue paying a staff and a travel budget for the man who caused such harm to this country? Talk about adding insult to injury.

Judge: Bush Should Be Deposed In Lawsuit Over Presidential Library

DALLAS — A judge has ruled that former President George W. Bush should be deposed in a lawsuit challenging the site of his proposedpresidential library.
Bush's attorneys were working Friday on an appeal that would trigger an immediate stay of state District Judge Martin Hoffman's ruling.
The library is to be built on the Southern Methodist University campus. Two former condominium owners are suing, claiming SMU bullied them into selling their property without disclosing plans for it.
Attorneys for the property owners want to know whether SMU officials told Bush of their plans.
The plaintiffs have obtained statements from top SMU officials and former White House counselHarriet Miers, who answered questions under oath for hours.
Filed by Nick Sabloff LinkHere

Obama: US "Seeks A New Beginning" With Cuba

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with President Barack Obama declaring he "seeks a new beginning" _ including direct talks _ with the island's communist regime. As leaders of the Americas gathered for a summit in this Caribbean nation, the head of the Organization of American States even said he'll ask his group to invite Cuba back after 47 years.
In remarks kicking off the weekend gathering of nations _ of which Cuba was the only country in the region not represented _ Obama repeated the kind of remarks toward the Castro regime that marked his campaign for the presidency. LinkHere

Charles Barkley Tears Into "Unpatriotic" Limbaugh And "Idiot" Hannity

NBA great Charles Barkley dipped into some political punditry during a Tonight Show appearance on Friday, tearing into conservative talking heads who have rooted for President Obama to fail.
"I mean, you look at this country now, we've got all these foreclosures, we've got all these people laid off. We should be behind him 110 percent, hoping he's successful," Barkley said. "And I just thought it was unpatriotic and basically B.S. for Rush Limbaugh and that idiot Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and all those idiots to not root for this guy."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Desperate Vets turn to Suicide

Marney Rich Keenan / The Detroit News
On June 11, 2006, at 8:30 p.m., Randen Harvey, a 24-year-old Marine Corps veteran, walked into the emergency room of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ann Arbor in such a state of despair he warned he "might jump off the roof or put a hose in his car exhaust."
Four hours later, around 1 a.m., he was found on the roof of the nine-story building. Hospital security had to be called to bring him down.
Three days later, on June 15, the Marine who served two back-to-back combat tours in Iraq surrendered to his demons. He was found sprawled on the tile floor in the bathroom of his father's Farmington Hills home, dead from an overdose of street and prescription drugs.
Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."

Judge orders former President George W. Bush to testify in SMU lawsuit

Source: The Dallas Morning News
Judge Martin Hoffman has ordered that former President George W. Bush be deposed in a long-running lawsuit against Southern Methodist University over land acquisition related to the Bush presidential library.
The judge, however, decided that former First Lady Laura Bush would not have to provide testimony about conversations that took place years ago about Bush’s presidential library.
But even as the judge wrote his position, Bush’s attorneys were preparing an appeal that would trigger an immediate stay so that an appellate court would reconsider the matter.
Last week, a lawyer for Bush said the former president would not voluntarily give a sworn statement, but Hoffman had urged lawyers for all sides to reach an accord on how a statement from Bush could be taken....

Bush Memos Parallel Claim 9/11 Mastermind's Children Were Tortured with Insects

Bush Administration memos released by the White House on Thursday provide new insight into claims that American agents used insects to torture the young children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
In the memos, released Thursday, the Bush Administration White House Office of Legal Counsel offered its endorsement of CIA torture methods that involved placing an insect in a cramped, confined box with detainees. Jay S. Bybee, then-director of the OLC, wrote that insects could be used to capitalize on detainees’ fears.
The memo was dated Aug. 1, 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children were captured and held in Pakistan the following month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. While an additional memo released Thursday claims that the torture with insects technique was never utilized by the CIA, the allegations regarding the children would have transpired when the method was authorized by the Bush Administration.
At a military tribunal in 2007, the father of a Guantanamo detainee alleged that Pakistani guards had confessed that American interrogators used ants to coerce the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed into revealing their father’s whereabouts.
Vote to cut Perry's office budget by 96% seen as rebuke to secession talk.
Sarkozy slammed for insulting words
London Times calls him a 'bitchy little princess' for insults to Obama, Merkel.

Turley: Torture investigation would ‘go directly to the doorstep of President Bush’

President Barack Obama’s release on Thursday of four Bush administration memos sanctioning torture has been widely praised. However, questions have been raised by the statementsfrom both him and Attorney General Eric Holder that they have no intention of prosecuting the low-level CIA officers who carried out the tortures.
“How about prosecuting the people who did the sanctioning, then?” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wondered. She asked constititutional law professor Jonathan Turley whether Obama’s statement that “this is a time for reflection, not retribution” means he’s “promising to not prosecute officials who sanctioned torture.” LinkHere


A day after memos were released detailing even more “harsh interrogation” practices authorized by the Bush Administration, Spanish prosecutors signaled that the country’s proposed torture probe was “all but doomed.”
“Spanish prosecutors on Friday formally recommended against an investigation into allegations that six senior Bush administration officials gave legal cover for the torture of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay,” the Associated Press reports.
CNN reports,
A Spanish judge moved Friday to keep alive an investigation into six former Bush administration officials for alleged torture of prisoners at the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba.
He acted just hours after prosecutors urged the case to be dropped, according to a court document.
Reuters adds,
A Spanish judge considering possible criminal action against six former Bush administration officials for torture at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay defied pressure to drop the case on Friday.
But Judge Baltasar Garzon, internationally known for trying to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, accepted that he might not personally take charge of any eventual criminal investigation into officials including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The Reuters report continues, “In a ruling on Friday, Garzon ignored this advice but also avoided a direct confrontation with the attorney general’s office by submitting the case to a lottery system which will now assign it at random to one of the six high court judges.”
“Let it be assigned to the corresponding court,” Garzon’s ruling stated.
“The judge who gets the case will now have to decide whether to go ahead of it,” the Reuters article continues. “Under the system, Garzon will have a one in six chance of getting the case back.” LinkHere

Fox has become ‘the hippie station’

The tea party protests allow Fox News to become the voice of the people's revolution.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Nationwide Tax Protests
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Tea Party Tyranny
John Oliver discovers that Americans don't know anything about tyranny at a tea party protest in Morristown, NJ.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Tea Party Tyranny
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Rep. Miller Explains How Wall Street Raided 401(k) Plans

Holders of private pensions watched their money go down the toilet while fund managers became flush with cash from hidden fees, says Congressman George Miller.
"There clearly has been a raid on these funds by the people of Wall Street and it has cost the savers -- and the future retirees -- a lot of money that would otherwise be in their accounts, independent of the financial collapse," says the California Democrat in an interview set for 60 Minutes this Sunday, according to a release.
Miller chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor. A subcommittee will hold a hearing on April 22 on legislation to bring transparency to workers' retirement plans, commonly known as 401(k)s.
In 2006 the Government Accountability Office found that info on fees was not easily accessible to plan holders and that plan sponsors were not even required to report some fees. In its report (PDF), the GAO recommended that Congress act to strengthen the Department of Labor's oversight.
Private pensions are the fastest-growing type of workplace retirement plan, with about 50 million workers signed up. Small fees of even a one-percentage-point difference can have a big effect on savings. The GAO illustrated its findings with a hypothetical example:
Assume an employee of 45 years of age with 20 years until retirement changes employers and leaves $20,000 in a 401(k) account until retirement. If the average annual net return is 6.5 percent--a 7 percent investment return minus a 0.5 percent charge for fees--the $20,000 will grow to about $70,500 at retirement. However, if fees are instead 1.5 percent annually, the average net return is reduced to 5.5 percent, and the $20,000 will grow to only about $58,400. The additional 1 percent annual charge for fees would reduce the account balance at retirement by about 17 percent.
Miller's committee passed a similar measure last year. The Fair Disclosure for Retirement Security Act would have required plan administrators to disclose all fees and provide more info on the risks and objectives associated with investment options within a plan, among other things. The bill didn't see a vote on the House floor.
"We tried to just put in some disclosure and transparency in these fees and we felt the full fury of the financial lobby," Miller told 60 Minutes. LinkHere

Hubble Telescope's Amazing Space Photography

The Sombrero Galaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was voted best picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across.
The Ant Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas whose technical name is Mz3, resembles an ant when observed using ground-based telescopes... The nebula lies within our galaxy between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth
The Perfect Storm, a small region in the Swan Nebula, 5,500 light years away, described as 'a bubbly ocean of hydrogen and small amounts of oxygen, sulphur and other elements'.

Tea Party Fallout: Independents Turned Off, GOP Worried

It's been two days now since angry conservatives hosted a series of tea parties across the country, and the fallout has some Republicans nervous.
While the anti-tax sentiment of the protests may have been sincere, the images pulled from the events have often been offensive, embarrassing, or politically problematic.
It is a development that has tripped up the GOP before. The rallies outside McCain-Palin events included some of the same bile that was seen at the tea parties: charges of fascism, terrorism and other malicious criticisms leveled at Barack Obama. And it did the Republican ticket little good in its efforts to bring moderate voters to the cause. LinkHere

McCain Crowd in Strongsville Ohio outside of cleveland.

Obama sees leaner, cleaner U.S

President Obama lays out his vision of transportation change in the United States.
President Obama unveiled his administration's blueprint for a new national network of high-speed passenger rail lines Thursday, saying such an investment is necessary to reduce traffic congestion, cut dependence on foreign oil and improve the environment.
The president's plan identifies 10 potential high-speed intercity corridors for federal funding, including California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and New England.
It also highlights potential improvements in the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor running from Washington to Boston, Massachusetts. Read full article »

Howard Kurtz Shocked By Fox News Tea Party Promotion

It's nice to know that at some point, you can cross a line with Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz:
The media coverage even became a factor in the reporting. At a Chicago demonstration, CNN's Susan Roesgen started arguing with a protester over why he referred to President Obama as a fascist. "I think you get the general tenor of this," she reported. "It's anti-government. Anti-CNN. This is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox." Fox anchor Shepard Smith later laughed off her words.
On the other hand, this brief rant by Fox Business Network anchor Cody Willard, posted by a Daily Kos contributor, didn't meet my definition of fair and balanced. Speaking of a young girl, Willard says: "Now she has to pay for the $800-billion Republican-Democrat fascist stimulus package . . . Guys, when are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?"
Guys, what happened to we're-just-covering-the-events? LinkHere

Fed Accused Of Shrouding $2 Trillion In Bank Loans In 'Secrecy'

By Mark Pittman
April 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. taxpayers need to know the risks behind the Federal Reserve’s $2 trillion in lending to financial institutions because the public is now an “involuntary investor” in the nation’s banks, according to a court filing by Bloomberg LP.
The Fed refuses to name the borrowers, the amounts of loans or assets banks put up as collateral under 11 programs, arguing that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders. Bloomberg, the New York-based company majority- owned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sued Nov. 7 under the Freedom of Information Act on behalf of its Bloomberg News unit. It made the new filing yesterday.
“The Board’s arguments are based on wispy speculation, lack evidentiary support and are contradicted by economic theory,” said Thomas Golden and Jared Cohen, lawyers with New York-based Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, in a motion asking the judge to require disclosure.
“These government actions, which have been shrouded in secrecy, are at the heart of Bloomberg’s FOIA requests,” the attorneys said.
Members of Congress also have demanded more information than PresidentBarack Obama and former President George W. Bush have disclosed on the bailout of the U.S. financial industry. Congress approved $700 billion to bolster banks, whose losses on mortgage securities and home loans contributed to the recession.
‘Within Their Discretion’ “We’ve all got a stake in how the government is managing this program,” saidLucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “The information is definitely something that is within their discretion to disclose.” LinkHere

AIG Chief Owns Goldman Stake Worth More Than $3 Million

A.I.G. Chief Owns Significant Stake in Goldman
Edward M. Liddy, the dollar-a-year chief executive leading theAmerican International Group since its bailout last fall, still owns a significant stake in Goldman Sachs, one of the insurer’s trading partners that was made whole by the government bailout of A.I.G.
Mr. Liddy earned most of his holdings in Goldman, worth more than $3 million total, as compensation for serving on the bank’s board and its audit committee until he stepped down in September to take the job at A.I.G. He moved to A.I.G. at the request of Henry M. Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary and a former Goldman director.
Details about his holdings were disclosed in Goldman’s proxy statement and confirmed by an A.I.G. spokeswoman, who said they constituted “a small percentage of his total net worth.” Mr. Liddy had already owned some stock in Goldman Sachs before joining its board in 2003.
He has said that he considers his work at A.I.G. to be a public service, performed on behalf of the taxpayers, who ended up with nearly 80 percent of the insurance company. His goal is to dismantle the company and sell its operating units, using the proceeds to pay back the rescue loans. On Thursday, A.I.G. said it had sold its car insurance unit, 21st Century Insurance, to the Zurich Financial Services Group for $1.9 billion.
Along the way, Mr. Liddy has clearly disclosed that A.I.G. was serving as a conduit, with much of the rescue money passing through and ending up in the hands of A.I.G.’s trading partners.
Goldman has said in the past that it had collateral and hedges to reduce the risk of its exposure to A.I.G.
Still, his stake could represent a potential conflict and is likely to reignite questions about Goldman’s involvement in A.I.G., and about why taxpayer money was used to shield A.I.G.’s trading partners from losses, when asset values plunged everywhere and most investors suffered greatly.
Had A.I.G. simply declared bankruptcy, the financial institutions doing business with it would have ended up in court, as they did in the case of Lehman Brothers, fighting to get pennies on the dollar for their claims.
Instead, Goldman Sachs received $13 billion of the Federal Reserve’s rescue money to close out various contracts it had outstanding with A.I.G. It was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government rescue.
A spokeswoman for A.I.G., Christina Pretto, dismissed any suggestion that Mr. Liddy’s financial ties to Goldman might have shaped his actions at A.I.G. LinkHere

Barack Obama releases Bush administration memos on approved CIA interrogation tactics

Obama releases CIA 'torture' memos
Show tactics used by Bush administration
Operatives won't be prosecuted
BARACK Obama has blown the lid on harsh CIA terror interrogations approved by ex-president George W. Bush, including the use of insects, simulated drowning and sleep deprivation.
The graphic memos offered a stunning glimpse inside the covert interrogation program introduced after the September 11 attacks in 2001, which critics say equated to torture, and Mr Obama said undermined America's moral authority.
The documents were written by Bush administration legal officials and argued that a long list of coercive techniques did not equal torture as they did not amount to the inflicting severe mental or physical pain.
Detailing methods used to question al-Qaeda terror suspects, the memos reveal the use of dietary manipulation, forced nudity, facial and abdominal slaps, and the use of confined or "stress positions" for suspects.
In one technique known as "walling", interrogators could push a suspect against a false wall, so his shoulder blades make a slamming noise and make him think the impact is greater than in reality.

Olbermann: "Mr. President, You Are Wrong" About Moving Forward Without Torture Accountability

Future Of The U.S. Depends On Torture Accountability

Bush Memo Footnotes Define Waterboarding As Torture

Read The Torture Memos

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bush Aides Calling Obama Polarizing "World's Stupidest Argument": Joe Klein

Bush flunkies trying to argue that Obama is more polarizing than Bush was. Given the fact that Obama had to take dramatic action, at home and abroad, to start lifting the country from the mess Bush made almost everywhere--and also begin to turn the country away from the myopia and greed of the Reagan era--it's amazing that he hasn't raised more dust or teabags. And, I shouldadd the fact that the alleged polarization mostly results from the fact that Obama gets extremely low ratings from self-identified Republicans, who constitute an extremist shard of a party at this point, is a badge of honor. (Commenter sgwhiteinfla points out that the polarization is also the result of overwhelming--88%--support from Democrats.)
In the long run, it's a safe historical bet that Bush will prove more polarizing than Obama because he was such an abject failure in the job--I doubt we'll ever see Obama submerge to approval ratings in the mid-20s, or launch wars peremptorily without cause or purpose. The constant sniping from Rove, Wehner and the others during Obama's first 100 days is a deeply neurotic reaction to the enormity of their own cockups in office. It shows a profound lack of class or grace, but then, that's no surprise with these guys, is it? They ran the country like thugs, and thugs they remain.

Right-Wing corporate front groups that are seeking to keep taxes low and preserve loopholes for wealthy CEOs and corporations.

Faux-Populist "Tea Parties" Ignore Tax Breaks for Overpaid CEOs
Art Levine, 04.15.2009
Contributing editor of The Washington Monthly
While the Fox News-fueled coverage of the "tea parties" has hoodwinked major media outletsinto believing it's just a spontaneous protest against high taxes, it's actually been a well-orchestrated campaign driven by lobbyists and right-wing corporate front groups that are seeking to keep taxes low and preserve loopholes for wealthy CEOs and corporations. Both sets of tax breaks for the ultra-rich are targeted in President Obama's budget and tax reform plans, while the "Tea Party" activists ignored the real threats posed by a tax system geared to benefiting the rich. As reported by the Center for American Progress's The Progress Report and others:
Although spokesmen of the tea parties have made significant efforts to portray the protests as organic uprisings of like-minded citizens, corporate lobbyists have engineered much of the planning and execution of the events. The corporate front group FreedomWorks, run by lobbyist and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), had its staff organize the very first tea party on Feb. 27 in Tampa, FL, following CNBC's Rick Santelli's call for a Boston Tea Party-like upheaval to protest Obama's housing plan. Soon after, FreedomWorks began planning nationwide tea party protests and had their operatives help coordinate logistics, call conservative activists, and provide activists with everything from organizing tips to sign ideas...
In contrast, progressive groups and unions, such as US PIRG, the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, are seeking genuine tax fairness, closing of off-shore tax havens and greater pay equity for all Americans.

Rick Perry Secession Remarks Echo Convicted Separatist Leader: Olbermann Guest (VIDEO)

At a Texas Tea Party Thursday, Gov. Rick Perry raised eyebrows by suggesting his state couldsecede from the union. On Countdown with Keith Olbermann that night, Texas political writer and Huffington Post blogger James Moore pointed out that Perry isn't the first Texan to suggest secession. He compared the Republican governor to Richard L. McLaren, a separatist leader who in 1997 took his followers into the mountains, engaged in a week-long standoff that left people dead, and now is in jail for life. LinkHere

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Justice, What Justice?

I Wonder Why?
MADRID — Spain's attorney general has rejected opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper forum.
Candido Conde-Pumpido's remarks severely dampen the chance of a case moving forward against the Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Conde-Pumpido said such a trial would have turned Spain's National Court "into a plaything" to be used for political ends.
"If there is a reason to file a complaint against these people, it should be done before local courts with jurisdiction, in other words in the United States," he said in a breakfast meeting with journalists.
Spanish law gives its courts jurisdiction beyond national borders in cases of torture, war crimes and other heinous offenses, based on a doctrine known as universal justice, but the government has made clear it wants to rein in the process. LinkHere

Mallika Chopra: 1,500 Farmers in India Commit Mass Suicide: A Wake-Up Call for Humanity

Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.
The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.
"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine
"Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well." LinkHere

Which Congressman Did NSA Try To Spy On Without A Warrant?

The National Security Agency sought to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, the New York Times reported Thursday. The paper couldn't determine, however, which member came in for the enhanced attention.
It offered scant clues, but did say that the representative participated in a Congressional delegation -- a "codel" -- to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006. From the NYT report: LinkHere

NBC Brass Held Secret Dinner To Discuss CNBC's "Anti-Obama" Image

The New York Post's Page Six reports Thursday that GE and NBC execs are worried about the CNBC becoming the "Obama-bashing network," and that they recently held a top secret dinner in New York to discuss the topic.
Page Six reports that CNBC execs and some on-air talent were called to meet with GE CEO Jeff Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker for "an intensive, three-hour dinner at 30 Rock." According to Page Six's source, Zucker himself called the dinner, which featured "a long discussion about whether CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much." LinkHere

Tempest In A Tea Party: The "Daily Show" Takes On Teabaggers

Protest wastefull spendingby buying a million tea bags and wasting them

Unsurprisingly, Jon Stewart explored the tax day tea protests last night. He not only took on Fox News for sponsoring these events, but the people themselves for protesting wasteful spending by buying a million tea bags and wasting them. Stewart also looked at the amazing coincidence in timing that these people decided to go anti-government around two and a half months ago. Link Here

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Tempest in a Tea Party
Daily Show
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Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Elizabeth Warren Makes Jon Stewart Feel Better On "Daily Show"

Detailing the need for transparency, laying out a framework for bank recovery and making a clear and succinct case for a smart regulatory system, TARP overseer Elizabeth Warren did what few other "Daily Show" guests have done in the past year: instill confidence in its host, Jon Stewart.
In a relatively lengthy interview that aired on Wednesday night, Warren, ever the academic, managed to generate a few laughs, none more so when she stumped herself on what exactly the acronym PPIP meant (for the record: the Public-Private Investment Program). But it was her commentary on the economy, at once clear and forthright, that left Stewart soothed.
"[This] is probably the first time in probably six months to a year that I feel better," said the Daily Show host. "I don't know what it is you just did right there. But for a second that was like financial chicken soup for me." LinkHere
Part I:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 1
Daily Show
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Part II:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 2
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Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Susan Boyle, YouTube Sensation, Sings For America

Oh, to watch a humble spirit soar...
Susan Boyle, the British talent show competitor who became a YouTube sensation this week, made her first US appearance Thursday morning.
She told CBS's "The Early Show that her fame 'hasn't really sunk in yet.' and that her performance was for her mother, who died recently.
"I wanted to make this a tribute to my mother," Boyle said. "I knew it was something I had to do. I had to get on with it. That's where the courage came from, my mother."
She then sang a bit for the hosts, and nailed every note. LinkHere

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