Feb 102012



By Lizzie Phelan, VoltaireNet.org

Irish free-lance journalist Lizzie Phelan reverts to her recent interview by New York Times reporter Robert Mackey. In this article, she elaborates in greater detail on the three themes discussed in the interview. She argues that, though labeled as “activists” and “firebrands”, those journalists who express views going against the current when it comes to countries which are in NATO’s firing line are, objectively, in a better position to provide reliable information than their mainstream media counterparts. If today some Western journalists can afford to be more evenhanded about Libya, it is only because the military objectives have already been achieved. The grotesque coverage of the situation in Syria by the Western media is further confirmation of this. Grasping a complex reality does not depend on the amount of information accumulated in favor of any one side, but on the diversity of informed poins of view reflecting a given situation. As long as the political and economic conditions of such a multiplicity of views are not met, tomorrow, as yesterday, the first casualty of war will always be truth. […]

READ INTERVIEW @ http://www.voltairenet.org/In-Lybia-now-the-truth-is-coming



By Boris Dolgov, VoltaireNet.org

[…] The current situation in Syria remains one of the most important components of the Middle Eastern and international policies. Using Syria’s domestic crisis and pursuing their own goals NATO, Israel, Turkey and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf are trying to undermine the Syrian regime.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria I have made two trips to that country as a member of international delegations in August 2011 and in January 2012. If we watch the dynamics of situation’s development over that period on the one hand we can state intensification of terrorist groups in Syria and on the other hand we see a broader people’s support of President Bashar Assad and a clear demarcation of political forces’ positions.

In the last two months Syria has seen a number of terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacked Syrian servicemen and military facilities, law enforcement agencies institutions, blasts on oil pipelines, railroads, murders and taking of hostage among peaceful citizens (In the city of Homs insurgents killed five well known scientists), arson of schools and killing of teachers (since March 2011, 900 schools have been set on fire and 30 teachers have been killed). […]

READ @ http://www.voltairenet.org/What-Is-Really-Going-On-In-Syria



Source: RT

British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs, according to an Israeli website known for links to intelligence sources.

­Four centers of operation have been established in the city with the troops on the ground paving the way for an undercover Turkish military incursion into Syria.

The debkafile site said the presence of British and Qatari troops in Homs topped the agenda of Tuesday’s talks between Assad’s officials and head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov.

Qatar makes little secret of supporting the Syrian opposition with cash, arms and political support. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said in mid-January he is ready to send troops to Syria to stop the violence there. Britain insists it is not planning any military action against the Assad regime. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30479.htm



Source: MSNBC

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NXCIiQA3nnM



By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.com

Just days after the New York Times Magazine’s lurid cover story, “Israel Vs. Iran,” the Washington Post struck back with a two-fisted effort to win the “most dire prediction” contest. The Post’s foreign policy pundit David Ignatius wrote a widely-circulated column claiming inside information: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.” The next day the Post’s front page headline warned ominously, “Israel: Iran Must Be Stopped Soon.”

Both stories reported that the Obama administration opposes any Israeli action, just like the Bush administration before it. The risks to U.S. interests are incalculable, as the Pentagon and State Department have been telling us for years.

Yet both stories added a new note: Israel might strike without U.S. support or permission. “The administration appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets,” Ignatius wrote.

Of course the U.S. is already in the conflict, as the Iranians know perfectly well. Israel’s ability to strike depends largely on its high-tech weaponry, paid for by the $3 billion a year coming from Washington. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/09-1



By Stephen Zunes, Truthout

[…] A little perspective is required here: Since 1970, China has used its veto power eight times, and Russia (and the former Soviet Union) has used its veto power 13 times. However, the United States has used its veto power 83 times, primarily in defense of allies accused of violating international humanitarian law. Forty-two of these US vetoes were to protect Israel from criticism for illegal activities, including suspected war crimes. To this day, Israel occupies and colonizes a large swath of southwestern Syria in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, which the United States has successfully blocked from enforcing. Yet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insists that it is the Russians and Chinese who have “neutered” the Security Council in its ability to defend basic human rights.

What draft resolutions by the United Nation Security Council did the United States find so terrible that both Democratic and Republican administrations felt compelled to veto? Just to give a few examples:

  • Enforcement of sanctions against the brutal white minority regime in Rhodesia – 1970
  • Opposition to South Africa’s occupation of Namibia – 1975
  • The application of Vietnam to join the United Nations -1976
  • A call for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with strict security guarantees for Israel – 1976
  • Sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa – 1977
  • Condemning the ongoing occupation of southern Angola by apartheid South Africa – 1981
  • Opposition to Israel’s de facto annexation of Syrian territory invaded and occupied in the 1967 war – 1982
  • Calls for a halt to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon – 1982
  • Calls for cease-fire between Israeli occupation forces and joint Lebanese-Palestinian forces during the siege of Beirut – 1982
  • Opposition to the US invasion of Grenada – 1983
  • Calls for an end of US-sponsored attacks against Nicaragua – 1985
  • A call to honor the ruling by the International Court of Justice calling for an end to US-sponsored contras against Nicaragua – 1986
  • Criticism of Israeli attacks against civilians in Lebanon -1988
  • Opposition to the US invasion of Panama – 1990
  • Condemnation of Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied West Bank -1997
  • Establishment of an unarmed human rights observer force in the occupied Palestinian territories – 2001
  • Condemnation of the killing of UN employees and destruction of a World Food Program warehouse by Israeli occupation forces – 2002
  • A call on Israel to cease construction of its separation wall deep inside the occupied West Bank – 2003
  • Condemnation of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders – 2004
  • Reiteration of the illegality of Israeli colonization in the occupied West Bank and a freeze on additional construction of settlements – 2011

In virtually every one of these resolutions, the United States cast the sole negative vote in the otherwise-unanimous 15-member Security Council. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/putting-un-veto-perspective/1328713320



By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

[…] Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Return of the Keyboard Warriors – a prized Return of the Living Dead spin-off – is at hand. From Republican chicken hawks to public intellectuals, right-wing America is erupting in renewed neo-conservative revolt. The year 2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq. Whatever the highway – real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop – they want a war, and they want it now.

Go ahead and jump 

Exhibit A is an op-ed piece at the Wall Street Journal [1] – similar to countless others popping up virtually everyday not only in this Masters of the Universe vehicle but also in the Washington Post and myriad rags across “Western civilization”.

The festival of fallacies ranges from the usual “diplomacy has run its course” to “the sanctions are too late” – culminating in the right-wing weapon of choice; “Iran is within a year of getting to the point when it will be able to assemble a bomb essentially at will.” Why bother to follow what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is doing, not to mention the National Intelligence Estimates released by the US intelligence community?

And why not add imperial disdain tinged with racism, as in “Iran is a Third World country that can’t even protect its own scientists in the heart of Tehran”. Of course not; they are being killed by the Iranian terror group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, merrily trained, financed and armed by Israel’s Mossad, as US corporate media has just discovered. [2] Everybody in Iran has known this for months. […]

READ @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB11Ak02.html



Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R68mX70KmDI



By Tyler Durden, zerohedge.com

Remember the pomp and circumstance with which Venizelos showed up in Brussels yesterday carrying a two paragraph statement from Lucas Papademos in hand, saying Greece promises it has agreed to agree to make idiotic “pledges”? Well, as was largely suspected by cynical old us, even that “deal” has lasted not even a whopping 24 hours.


This is coming from the LAOS coalition member whose support for the Troika accord was supposedly in place yesterday.Alas, without his endorsement, the whole thing is off. And just to complete the sheer chaos that is about to be unleashed in Greece:

  • Greeek far right party leader says asks for reshuffle of Papademos technocrat gov

-> Kiss this whole thing goodbye. Just as Germany wanted all along. And the all-idiotic EURUSD, which had soared on what was glaringly idiotic hopes that this time, just this time, things in Greece would be different, tumbles.

READ and CHART @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/agreed-upon-greek-bailout-unagreed-24-hours-later-laos-leader-changes-mind-euro-tumbles



Source: WhenTheCrisisHitTheFan.com

I just read this announcement by the National Union of Employees in the Police. It’s soooo strange to read something like this. I think the policemen have started to think of the “next day”. It seems that less and less people believe in the course Greece has taken and more and more people are trying to find a place for themselves in the next status quo. It remains to see this change of stance in tomorrow demonstration as well on Sunday’s evening gathering at Syntagma.

The letter is addressed to the representatives of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The interests of creditors of usurious loans and capitalists who covet our national wealth, can not in any rule of law be put in priority over the basic needs of people. Moreover, the priority of survival of a nation’s citizens, has been legitimized as a priority not only in domestic policy but also in the international community. Moreover, we, nor the majority of the people, are not those who caused this crisis.Because, however, we find once again that you continue the same destructive policies for all of us, we would like to state categorically that under no circumstances we will accept being put to be killed with our brothers.

Be warned as legitimate representatives of the Greek police that we will require to be issued directly to statutory orders to arrest you for a host of violations of the legislation, the act of committing a hearing in accordance with specific provisions of the Greek penal law, such as extortion, the covert promoting elimination or reduction of our democratic polity and national sovereignty, the interference of other essential legal goods of the Greek people, etc.

The full letter (in Greek) can be found at the union’s website here.

READ @ http://whenthecrisishitthefan.com/2012/02/10/rebel-police/



By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

[…] It feels an awful lot like what happened here is the nation’s criminal justice honchos collectively realized that a thorough investigation of the problem would require resources they simply do not have, or are reluctant to deploy, and decided to accept a superficially face-saving peace offer rather than fight it out.

So they settled the case in a way that reads in headlines like it’s a bite out of the banks, but in fact is barely even that. There will be little in the way of real compensation for stuggling homeowners, and there are serious issues in the area of the deal’s enforceability. In fact, about the only part of the deal we can be absolutely sure will be honored in full is the liability waiver for the robosigning offenses.

With the rest of it — collecting on the settlement, enforcement of the decrees, all the stuff put in there to balance the deal in the consumer’s direction — there will be an uphill battle from this point forward to get the banks to comply. The banks meanwhile have no such uphill battle. They will get the full benefit of the deal (a release from costly litigation) from the moment the ink is dry.

Really this looks like America’s public prosecutors just wilted before the prospect of a long, drawn-out conflict with an army of highly-paid, determined white-shoe banker lawyers. The message this sends is that if you commit crimes on a large enough scale, and have enough high-priced legal talent sitting at the negotiating table after you get caught, the government will ultimately back down, conceding the inferiority of its resources. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/why-the-foreclosure-deal-may-not-be-so-hot-after-all-20120209



By Steve Connor, Independent UK

[…] But the Royal Society working group says the Government shifted its position to allow the development of more severe chemical agents, such as the type of potentially dangerous nerve gases used by Russian security forces to end hostage sieges. “The development of incapacitating chemical agents, ostensibly for law-enforcement purposes, raises a number of concerns in the context of humanitarian and human-rights law, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” the report says.

“The UK Government should publish a statement on the reasons for its apparent recent shift in position on the interpretation of the CWC’s law enforcement position.” The Royal Society group points to a 1992 statement by Douglas Hogg, the then Foreign Office Minister, who indicated that riot-control agents were the only toxic chemicals that the UK considered to be permitted for law-enforcement purposes. But in 2009 ministers gave a less-restrictive definition suggesting the use of “incapacitating” chemical agents would be permitted for law-enforcement purposes as long as they were in the categories and quantities consistent with that permitted purpose.

READ @ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/government-may-sanction-nerveagent-use-on-rioters-scientists-fear-6612084.html



Source: celsias.com

In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case which could have an enormous effect on the future of the American food industry. This is Monsanto’s third appeal of the case, and if they win a favorable ruling from the high court, a deregulated Monsanto may find itself in position to corner the markets of numerous U.S. crops, and to litigate conventional farmers into oblivion.

Here’s where it gets a bit dicier. Two Supreme Court justices have what appear to be direct conflicts of interest.

Stephen Breyer
Charles Breyer, the judge who ruled in the original decision of 2007 which is being appealed, is Stephen Breyer’s brother, who apparently views this as a conflict of interest and has recused himself.

Clarence Thomas
From the years 1976 – 1979, Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto. Thomas apparently does not see this as a conflict of interest and has not recused himself.

Fox, meet henhouse. […]

READ @ http://www.celsias.com/article/ex-monsanto-lawyer-clarence-thomas-hear-major-mons/



Source: bettermarkets.com

“Let me help a few victims I created by ripping them off and illegally throwing them out of their homes by false court filings that I swore were true.”  That’s what the so-called mortgage settlement talks are really all about:  fraud, perjury and crimes.  That’s what these banks did and that’s what they are trying to buy their way out of.

The settlement discussions are the same: eliminate all or almost all liability for the bank and, most importantly, all bank officers and employees in exchange for a loan forgiveness or modification program.  Think about this:  the banks engaged in a years-long pattern and practice of what can only be described as fraudulent if not criminal conduct that would put anyone else in prison for years if not decades, yet banks get to buy off the cops with some money to help the victims they created.

Worst of all, there is no requirement in any of these talks that I’m aware of that require the banks to come clean, publicly release all the relevant documents and provide sufficient information on their conduct so that anyone can evaluate whether the sell-out, I mean, pay-off, oops, I mean, “settlement” is anywhere near adequate.

And they get to buy their way out of prosecution for chump-change.  It’s reported that the settlement is going be $25 billion, with only $5 billion in cash and $20 billion in “loan forgiveness.”  That’s nothing.  There are more than 10 million homes under water where the amount they owe on their mortgages is more than the house is valued, i.e., could be sold for.  $20 billion doesn’t make a dent in that:  1 million homes at $20,000 loan forgiveness is it.  And, remember, $20 billion in “loan forgiveness” to the banks is not equal to $20 billion in cash.  It is more like $10 billion, if that, due to accounting, prior write-downs and other shenagigans. […]

READ @ http://bettermarkets.com/blogs/robo-signing-bank-settlement-criminal-sell-out



By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

BP Plc won a court order keeping several potentially damaging emails out of a scheduled trial to determine responsibility for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan in New Orleans came a day after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected the oil company’s effort to keep evidence about settlements it had already reached out of the trial.

The rulings came as Barbier prepares to preside on February 27 over a non-jury trial to assign blame for the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. […]

READ @ http://news.yahoo.com/bp-wins-exclusion-emails-oil-spill-trial-225319673.html



Source: TheYoungTurks

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk4nhInLDJg

Feb 092012



McDonald’s makes US chicken McNuggets with oil-based chemical and Silly Putty agent.

By Rady Ananda, FoodFreedom

While the Food Safety police raid raw food co-ops and raw milk farms for selling foods that humans have enjoyed for tens of thousands of years, the US Food and Drug Administration allows giant corporations to sell food adulterated with health-damaging chemicals. McDonald’s chicken McNuggets made news again this summer after a CNN investigation found that England sells a healthier version than what the FDA allows.

In “All McDonald’s nuggets are not created equal,” CNN reports:

American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane …. a form of silicone used in cosmetics and Silly Putty.

“By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients.”

FDA’s ill treatment of US consumers is not really surprising. The FDA also allowed BP to dump two million gallons of a British-banned toxic oil dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico this summer. Refusing to test for Corexit in the food supply, the FDA declared Gulf seafood safe to eat. Corexit is four times more toxic than oil according to the environmental group, Protect the Oceans. “Oil is toxic at 11 ppm (parts per million), Corexit 9500 at only 2.61 ppm.” […]

READ @ http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/a-little-silicone-and-petrol-in-your-mcnuggets/



By Joel McDurmon, AmericanVisionNews

You don’t need to have a degree in ethics to see the problem here. According a report by Examiner.com, “Monsanto’s Michael Taylor is the second highest-ranking official at the FDA, and as Food Safety Czar is responsible for implementing the day-to-day policies that govern the food safety laws for the U.S.”

Those “day-to-day” implementations seem to be targeted against the very type of people who pose threats to the anti-organic nature of Taylor’s former client. The report continues,

Not surprisingly, the person responsible for prioritizing armed raids on small dairies over holding agribusiness accountable is a former Monsanto attorney and chief super lobbyist. . . .

Taylor has been leading a departmental crusade against small raw milk dairy producers. So far several dairy farmers have been subject to a year-long undercover sting operation from the East Coast to California.

The hypocrisy and double-standard are open for all to see:

Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman — Jack DeCoster — who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions.  Michael Taylor actions show that he thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets. Under his leadership the FDA  performs enforcement raids (with guns drawn) on the Amish. […]

READ @ http://americanvisionnews.com/1674/former-monsanto-lawyers-now-fda-czar-leads-raids-on-amish-organic-producers



By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Everybody on Wall Street is talking about the new piece by New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, entitled “The End of Wall Street as They Knew It.”

The article argues that Barack Obama killed everything that was joyful about the banking industry through his suffocating Dodd-Frank reform bill, which forced banks to strip themselves of “the pistons that powered their profits: leverage and proprietary trading.”

Having to say goodbye to excess borrowing and casino gambling, the argument goes, has cut into banking profits, leading to extreme decisions like Morgan Stanley’s recent dictum capping cash bonuses at $125,000. In response to that, Sherman quotes an unnamed banker:

“After tax, that’s like, what, $75,000?” an investment banker at a rival firm said as he contemplated Morgan Stanley’s decision. He ran the numbers, modeling the implications. “I’m not married and I take the subway and I watch what I spend very carefully. But my girlfriend likes to eat good food. It all adds up really quick. A taxi here, another taxi there. I just bought an apartment, so now I have a big old mortgage bill.”

Quelle horreur! And who’s to blame? According to Sherman’s interview subjects, it has nothing to do with the economy having been blown up several times over by these very bonus-deprived bankers, or with the fact that all conceivable public bailout money has essentially already been sucked up and converted into bonuses by that same crowd.

No, it instead apparently has everything to do with the Dodd-Frank bill, and specifically the Volcker rule banning proprietary trading, which incidentally hasn’t gone into effect yet. […]




By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

As readers may know by now, 49 of 50 states have agreed to join the so-called mortgage settlement, with Oklahoma the lone refusenik. Although the fine points are still being hammered out, various news outlets (New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal) have details, with Dave Dayen’s overview at Firedoglake the best thus far.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the SEC is about to launch some securities litigation against major banks. Since the statue of limitations has already run out on securities filings more than five years old, this means they’ll clip the banks for some of the very last (and dreckiest) deals they shoved out the door before the subprime market gave up the ghost.

The various news services are touting this pact at the biggest multi-state settlement since the tobacco deal in 1998. While narrowly accurate, this deal is bush league by comparison even though the underlying abuses in both cases have had devastating consequences.

The tobacco agreement was pegged as being worth nearly $250 billion over the first 25 years. Adjust that for inflation, and the disparity is even bigger. That shows you the difference in outcomes between a case where the prosecutors have solid evidence backing their charges, versus one where everyone know a lot of bad stuff happened, but no one has come close to marshaling the evidence.

The mortgage settlement terms have not been released, but more of the details have been leaked: […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/02/the-top-twelve-reasons-why-you-should-hate-the-mortgage-settlement.html



By Simon Johnson, Baseline Scenerio

[…] In some parts of the Midwest, there are roughly four unemployed people for every job vacancy; there are similar figures in many other parts of the country. Simply telling people to move is also not helpful – where exactly do you see hiring on a scale that would put a dent in these overall numbers?

Extended unemployment benefit provides on average about $300 a week – one-third of the average weekly wage and only about 70 percent of the poverty level for a family of four. If you strip even this money from people who remain out of work through no fault of their own, you will push more individuals and families onto the streets and into shelters. The cost of providing those fall-back services is very high – and much higher than providing unemployment benefits.

How does it help any economic recovery when the people who lose jobs cannot even afford to buy basic goods and services – enough to keep their family afloat?

This was the profound insight – under tragic circumstances – learned from the Great Depression. Unemployment insurance and Social Security were introduced together in the 1930s and funded in the same way – through payroll taxes. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said at the time (quoted by David M. Kennedy in “Freedom From Fear,” on Page 267):

“We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security programs.”

That logic worked for nearly 80 years. In the face of our modern mean-spiritedness, it now seems likely to collapse.

READ @ http://baselinescenario.com/2012/02/09/mean-spirited-bad-economics/



Source: MyBudget360

Part of the crushing blow to the middle class is the misinformation being lobbed out as good economic news.  For example, inflation is increasing yet the average American worker pulls in $25,000 per year.  You also have the civilian population ratio still at levels last seen three decades ago.  It depends on how you look at the data and how much spin you can tolerate.  Should we be jumping up and down for joy that many Americans are now getting low paying jobs with absolutely no long-term security?  As we analyzed in a previous article, in the early 1980s some 60 percent of American workers had some sort of pension.  Even if it was minimal, it was something.  Today it is down to 20 percent and quickly evaporating lower.  Since we have become a debt addicted nation, the fact that household debt has contracted many Americans are now actually “poorer” and definitely feel it.  Consumption makes up a large portion of GDP so this is a potential problem with households facing a major contraction. […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.mybudget360.com/banking-protection-racket-5-charts-highlighting-the-laundering-and-dismantling-of-the-middle-class-bank-data-wage-data-inflation/



By Randall Amster, CounterPunch

[…] A few months ago, when similar arguments about the “destruction of Occupy” were being raised by others in the milieu, I wrote a piece urging inclusivity rather than cashiering out conflicting actors:

“To reject someone from the open spaces of a movement that is purporting to represent the 99 percent is to consign them to where, exactly? Since they are presumably not part of the 1 percent (hired provocateurs aside), if they are banished from the 99 percent what options does that leave them? When a movement decides to ‘self-police,’ that shouldn’t be confused with adopting the same punitive and illogical methods of the state. We can forge agreements and work by consensus, but that cannot be used as a wedge to weed out and expunge those who contravene our best-laid plans. Rather, the aim should be to create processes based on the best practices of restorative justice, peacekeeping, and personal healing in order to promote points of contact and ongoing dialogue among all who find their way to the movement. We won’t all agree on everything, but surely we can at least maintain a perspective in which our interests are seen as broadly aligned and our common humanity remains intact…. Rather than seeing the presence of divergent elements as a threat to movement cohesion or as an exploitable image that the media will seize upon to denigrate us further, Occupy encampments can become models of communities that don’t simply warehouse unpopular or difficult elements, but instead work with them to promote the creation of a society based on mutual respect and the utilization of the productive capacities of all of its members.”

The issue for Hedges, as far as I can tell, seems to be a genuine concern that dangerous factions are hijacking the movement – and thus, not to call for their excision is somehow cowardly. He cites the example of Martin Luther King remaining steadfastly nonviolent in the face of official repression as the key to delegitimizing official power, and potentially as creating a pathway to “win the hearts and minds of the wider public” and even perhaps “some within the structures of power.” Yet King took great pains not to publicly oppose the more militant wings of the Civil Rights movement, focusing instead on developing an empathetic and healing posture toward those who would resort to tactics that he deemed unwise, immoral, or ineffective in the context of the larger movement, as reflected in this statement from Stanford University’s King Papers Project:

“Although King was hesitant to criticize Black Power openly, he told his staff on 14 November 1966 that Black Power ‘was born from the wombs of despair and disappointment. Black Power is a cry of pain. It is in fact a reaction to the failure of White Power to deliver the promises and to do it in a hurry.… The cry of Black Power is really a cry of hurt.’’ […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/08/a-bustle-in-hedges-row/#.TzKuWdh4OTY.facebook



By Jennifer Sacks, The Occupied Wall Street Journal

This week in Occupy, the fallout from #J28 continued, Chicago and Charlotte enacted legislation in an attempt to stave off the wave of occupiers expected there this summer, and some occupations were forced to regroup after a number of prominent encampments were routed.

#Indiana became the first state in the Rust Belt and the 23rd state overall to enact a union-busting right-to-work law, which prohibits employment contracts requiring all workers to pay mandatory union dues, essentially starving unions of funding. Union members shouted “Shame on you!” and “See you at the Super Bowl!” at the statehouse in Indianapolis when the 28-22 vote was announced, referring to the fortuitously-timed  Super Bowl XVI, set to take place in Indianapolis that weekend.

#Ahead of the game, it emerged that several NFL players had lobbied Indiana lawmakers against the legislation by sending letters to the statehouse before the vote, including Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears (who hails from Santa Claus, Ind.), Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins (from Bloomington, Ind.), New Orleans’ Courtney Roby, Pittsburgh’s Trai Essex, St. Louis’ Mark Clayton and San Diego’s Kris Dielman.

#To protest the law, demonstrators marched through packed crowds in downtown Indianapolis in the week before the Super Bowl.

#Elsewhere in Indiana, the Republican secretary of state was found guilty of voter fraud, something his fellow Republicans like to legislate against.

#The fallout from #J28 continued to reverberate, as video has emerged proving the Oakland police department – which may soon be placed into federal control for failing to expel its violent elements – has been blatantly lying about its treatment of activists during demonstrations.

#The mainstream media is now portraying the movement as split over tactics and conflicted about the role of black bloc affinity groups in direct actions.  While these issues – like every other issue – are continually  debated within the movement, portrayals of Occupy as divisible were met with widespread backlash.

#It emerged that Occupy Oakland activists were being held in inhumane conditions at the Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer jails. This echoes reports of Occupy LA activists being denied food and water following their arrests in December.

#The Chicago City Council overwhelmingly approved measures to tighten parade rules, increase fines, keep public parks and beaches closed an extra two hours a day and give mayor Rahm Emanuel blanket spending authority ahead of the G8 and NATO summits, which will occur there May 19-21 and likely draw tens of thousands of demonstrators. […]

READ @ http://occupiedmedia.us/2012/02/occupied-reports-from-the-front-lines/



By Kelly Virella, Dominion of NY

For almost 20 years — from 1983 to 2012 — the New York Police Department went about arresting people under laws that state and federal courts had long declared unconstitutional, cuffing and booking almost 22,000 people. In 2010, federal judge Shira A. Scheindlin finally held them in contempt of court. Yesterday, she signed an order approving what is effectively their punishment: a $15 million class-action settlement that could generate individual payments of as much as $5,000.

Those arrested were forced to defend themselves in court and even served jail time for completely lawful behavior. The class action settlement also requires the city to help the courts vacate and seal all convictions stemming from the illegal arrests.

“NYPD used these void laws over the past few decades to target people based on poverty, race and sexual orientation,” said J. McGregor Smyth, an attorney from the Bronx Defenders and a lead attorney for the class. “We are happy that the city has finally taken responsibilities for these abuses, agreeing to pay meaningful damages to its victims and to stop its unconstitutional practices once and for all.” […]

READ @ http://www.dominionofnewyork.com/2012/02/08/nypd-forced-to-pay-15-million-for-illegally-arresting-22000/#.TzN0eJiLHke



By Charles Kadlec, Forbes

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) has made it official:  After its latest two day meeting, it announced its goal to devalue the dollar by 33% over the next 20 years.  The debauch of the dollar will be even greater if the Fed exceeds its goal of a 2 percent per year increase in the price level.

An increase in the price level of 2% in any one year is barely noticeable.  Under a gold standard, such an increase was uncommon, but not unknown.  The difference is that when the dollar was as good as gold, the years of modest inflation would be followed, in time, by declining prices. As a consequence, over longer periods of time, the price level was unchanged.  A dollar 20 years hence was still worth a dollar.

But, an increase of 2% a year over a period of 20 years will lead to a 50% increase in the price level.  It will take 150 (2032) dollars to purchase the same basket of goods 100 (2012) dollars can buy today.  What will be called the “dollar” in 2032 will be worth one-third less (100/150) than what we call a dollar today. […]

READ @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/charleskadlec/2012/02/06/the-federal-reserves-explicit-goal-devalue-the-dollar-33/



Source: Calculated Risk

[…] The Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, released today, show home values decreased 1.1 percent from the third to the fourth quarter of 2011 to $146,900. On an annual basis, this represents a 4.7 percent decline. December’s data show that sequential improvements in year-over-year numbers have stopped, and the pace of monthly depreciation has once again picked up, with December’s monthly depreciation rate at 0.6 percent.

[W] believe 2012 will be a transitional year for real estate. Positive developments will include markets showing organic growth, and home sales increasing as the year proceeds. However, we maintain our forecast that home values will continue to fall in 2012, with the Zillow Home Value Forecast showing a 3.7 percent decline through December 2012.

Based on these forecasts, we expect more home value declines nationally in 2012. However, most markets will see improved trends over the course of the year […]

READ @ http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/02/zillow-house-prices-declined-47-in-2011.html



By Scott Higham, Kimberly Kindy and David S. Fallis, Washington Post

Some members of Congress send tax dollars to companies, colleges and community groups where their spouses, children and parents work as salaried employees, lobbyists or board members, according to an examination of federal disclosure forms and local public records by The Washington Post.

A U.S. senator from South Dakota helped add millions to a Pentagon program his wife evaluated as a contract employee. A Washington congressman boosted the budget of an environmental group that his son ran as executive director. A Texas congresswoman guided millions to a university where her husband served as a vice president.

Those three members are among 16 who have taken actions that aided entities connected to their immediate families. The findings stem from an examination by The Post of all 535 members of the House and Senate, comparing their financial disclosure forms with thousands of public records. The examination uncovered a broad range of connections between the public and private lives of the nation’s lawmakers.

(View the full results of the Post investigation.) […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/capitol-assets-some-legislators-send-millions-to-groups-connected-to-their-relatives/2012/01/10/gIQAyrzdxQ_story.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_morning&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_morning&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet



By Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s … a drone, and it’s watching you. That’s what privacy advocates fear from a bill Congress passed this week to make it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace.

The FAA Reauthorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.

Privacy advocates say the measure will lead to widespread use of drones for electronic surveillance by police agencies across the country and eventually by private companies as well. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/7/coming-to-a-sky-near-you/



By John Kass, Chicago Tribune

If President Barack Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel really care about Chicago, they’ll cancel the G-8 and NATO summits scheduled for May.


That’s right. Cancel the summits now. Nobody wants them here but the politicians, their contributors and their oily mouthpieces who insist that Chicago needs the events to demonstrate this is a world-class city.

What nonsense. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-kass-0208-20120208,0,3064068,full.column



The secretive military system for prosecuting accused terrorists is a travesty, says the man who once ran it

By Morris Davis, Salon

The U.S. Defense Department specializes in euphemism. “Limited kinetic action” is a polite way of saying “war,” and “collateral damage” does not sound as blunt as “dead children.”  When I was chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration, I was told not to say publicly that a detainee had “attempted suicide.”  The government-approved term for the act was “self-injurious behavior.”  I could not say “torture,” or as some called it, the “T-word.” Instead, I had to say “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The euphemism tradition remains alive and well in the Obama administration.  The slogan “fairness, transparency, justice” is featured prominently throughout the military commissions’ new half-million-dollar website.  The slogan even shows up when case document links lead to a notice saying the “document you are trying to access is currently undergoing a security review” and might be posted later if the government decides it is “publicly releasable.” […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/02/07/guantanamos_deepening_failure/singleton/



By Tim Arango, NYTimes

BAGHDAD — Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country.

Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and other senior State Department officials were reconsidering the size and scope of the embassy, where the staff has swelled to nearly 16,000 people, mostly contractors.

The expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building, the largest of its kind in the world, were billed as necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq on its shaky path to democracy and establish normal relations between two countries linked by blood and mutual suspicion. But the Americans have been frustrated by what they see as Iraqi obstructionism and are now largely confined to the embassy because of security concerns, unable to interact enough with ordinary Iraqis to justify the $6 billion annual price tag. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/world/middleeast/united-states-planning-to-slash-iraq-embassy-staff-by-half.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all



By Rachel Donadio, NYTimes

[…] The leaders appear to have agreed to one of the most unpopular austerity measures, a 22 percent reduction in the minimum wage, to 586 euros a month, according to an earlier statement by the prime minister’s office.

That cut is expected to affect all salaried workers, because the base wage is used as a benchmark by employers.

But the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, said the talks had foundered over cuts to pensions. Mr. Karatzaferis, whose populist, hard-right former opposition party has been losing ground with voters since it joined the government, said he would support Mr. Samaras to prevent proposed cuts to supplementary pensions. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/business/global/greece-austerity-talks-hit-wall.html?hp