Jan 252012



By Paul Craig Roberts, OpEdNews

There is no question that Bush/Cheney/Obama have trashed the US Constitution, US statutory law, and international law. But Washington, having overthrown justice, has established that might is right. No foreign government is going to send its forces into the US to drag the war criminals out and place them on trial.

The US government is so full of self-righteousness that it has become a caricature of hypocrisy. Leon Panetta, a former congressman who Obama appointed CIA director and now head of the Pentagon, just told the sailors on the USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier, that the US is maintaining a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers in order to project sea power against Iran and to convince Iran that “it’s better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy.”

If it requires 11 aircraft carriers to deal with Iran, how many will Panetta need to project power against Russia and China? But to get on with the main point, Iran has been trying “to deal with us through diplomacy.” The response from Washington has been belligerent threats of military attack, unfounded and irresponsible accusations that Iran is making a nuclear weapon, sanctions and an oil embargo. Washington’s accusations echo Israel’s and are contradicted by Washington’s own intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Why doesn’t Washington respond to Iran in a civilized manner with diplomacy? Really, which of the two countries is the greatest threat to peace? […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=144600



Source: Washington’s Blog

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said:

Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed in a Senate hearing – following the release of the classified National Intelligence Estimate in 2011 – that he has a “high level of confidence” that Iran “has not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program.”

Mohamed ElBaradei – who spent more than a decade as the director of the IAEA – said that he had not “seen a shred of evidence” that Iran was pursuing the bomb.

Six former ambassadors to Iran within the last decade say that there is no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons, and that Iran is complying with international law. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/01/contrary-to-widespread-claims-there-is-no-evidence-that-iran-is-building-a-nuclear-weapon.html



Source: ThinkProgress

The United States’ continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba is a “clear breach of international law,” United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said today, Reuters reports. Only six trials have been completed in 10 years, while eight detainees have died at the prison. “While fully recognizing the right and duty of states to protect their people and territory from terrorist acts, I remind all branches of the U.S. government of their obligation under international human rights law to ensure that individuals deprived of their liberty can have the lawfulness of their detention reviewed before a court,” Pillay said. “Where credible evidence exists against Guantanamo detainees, they should be charged and prosecuted. Otherwise, they must be released.” […]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/01/23/409541/united-nations-us-operation-of-gitmo-is-clear-breach-of-international-law/



ACLU lawsuit cites a “sick culture of deputy-on-inmate violence” in LA County jails.

By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, MotherJones

On Wednesday, citing “a sick culture of deputy-on-inmate hyper-violence [that] has been flourishing for decades in the darkness of the L.A. County Jails,” the ACLU sued the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department seeking better training for deputies, and better oversight, investigation, and discipline in cases involving prisoner mistreatment. With 15,000 inmates—a majority of them awaiting trial, yet to be convicted of a crime—LA county hosts the nation’s largest jail system. In recent years, its guards have become known for a level of brutality that exceeds that of most maximum-security prisons—and sometimes crosses the line into torture.

The suit draws on information published in a report released last September by the ACLU’s National Prison Project and Southern California branch. The report showed a pattern of brutal abuses carried out by what the report calls a “savage gang” of deputies who oversee the prisoners. “Like members of street gangs, these deputies sport tattoos to signal their gang membership,” the lawsuit alleges. “They beat up inmates to gain prestige among their peers, and ‘earn their ink’ by breaking inmates’ bones.” The suit claims that Sheriff Lee Baca and his top brass are well aware of the system’s “culture of violence” but have done little to change it.

According to eyewitnesses, deputies have punched, kicked, and beaten prisoners to the point that they required surgery or hospitalization; humiliated them with sexual and racial epithets; thrown them in solitary confinement for no reason; and set them up for assault and rape by other prisoners. The report begins as follows:

To be an inmate in the Los Angeles County jails is to fear deputy attacks. In the past year, deputies have assaulted scores of non-resisting inmates, according to reports from jail chaplains, civilians, and inmates. Deputies have attacked inmates for complaining about property missing from their cells. They have beaten inmates for asking for medical treatment, for the nature of their alleged offenses, and for the color of their skin. They have beaten inmates in wheelchairs. They have beaten an inmate, paraded him naked down a jail module, and placed him in a cell to be sexually assaulted. Many attacks are unprovoked. Nearly all go unpunished: these acts of violence are covered up by a department that refuses to acknowledge the pervasiveness of deputy violence in the jail system. […]

READ @ http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/01/abu-ghraib-los-angeles-county-jail-abuses



By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, ConsortiumNews

We’ve already made our choice for the best headline of the year, so far: “Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff.”

When we saw it on the website Gawker.comwe had to smile — but the smile didn’t last long. There’s simply too much truth in that headline; it says a lot about how Wall Street and Washington have colluded to create the winner-take-all economy that rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else.

The story behind it is that Jack Lew is President Obama’s new chief of staff — arguably the most powerful office in the White House that isn’t shaped like an oval. He used to work for the giant banking conglomerate Citigroup. His predecessor as chief of staff is Bill Daley, who used to work at the giant banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase, where he was maestro of the bank’s global lobbying and chief liaison to the White House.

Daley replaced Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once worked  as a rainmaker for the investment bank now known as Wasserstein & Company, where in less than three years he was paid a reported $18.5 million. […]

READ @ http://consortiumnews.com/2012/01/24/the-ever-revolving-revolving-door/



By Jennifer Van Grove, Mediabeat

[…] “Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” Dodd said to Fox News recently. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Wales argued that these transparent statements make the MPAA out to be a corrupt, Congress-buying organization. He also challenged Dodd’s assertion that Wikipedia’s decision to blackout its site in protest of SOPA, an effort Wales said was a “massive success,” constituted an abuse of power.

10 million people contacted Congress, Wales said. “That’s not an abuse of power, that’s democracy,” he said. “[Dodd] had best get used to it.” […]

READ @ http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/24/wales-versus-dodd/



By Brendan Sasso, The Hill

Consumer group Public Knowledge on Friday accused the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its head, former Sen. Chris Dodd, of trying to intimidate lawmakers into supporting a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills.

In recent days, Dodd and other top Hollywood figures have threatened to cut off campaign donations to politicians who do not support their effort to crackdown on online copyright infringement.

“Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake,” Dodd said on Fox News on Thursday. […]

READ @ http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/205491-consumer-group-accuses-hollywood-of-threatening-politicians



By Mark Karlin, Truthout

Mark Karlin: “Blood Feud” has been lauded both for what it exposes and for how it compellingly unravels a complicated Big Pharma case of ill-begotten profits; patient deaths; lapsed oversight; intrigue; and the arrival of the attorney featured in the Oscar-nominated film, “A Civil Action,” Jan Schlichtmann. But let’s start with the most shocking revelation: an untold number of patients using the drug in question (marketed under the names Epogen, Aranesp and Procrit) died as a result of its side effects.

Since Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Amgen (partners in developing the drug) have been marketing it for years, how did the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fail?

Kathleen Sharp: It was a combination of mistakes and toothless power. This blood booster was approved during the biotech rush of the 1980s, when the science was new. The FDA’s blood division approved the drug, but then the drug division took it over. Regulators repeatedly asked the two companies to perform safety trials, but the firms never quite got around to it. Some 15 years later, independent research showed that the drug not only killed people, it multiplied tumor cells. It’s quite a shock to realize that if our government regulators had had the authority to penalize these companies, some loved ones might still be alive today. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/blood-feud-blowing-whistle-big-pharma/1327417550



By Elaine Magliaro, jonathanturley.org

Last December, the NAACP released a report titled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America. The report reveals “direct connections between the trend of increasing, unprecedented African American and Latino voter turnout and an onslaught of restrictive measures across the country designed to stem electoral strength among communities of color.”

Benjamin Jealous, NAACP President and CEO, said, “It’s been more than a century since we’ve seen such a tidal wave of assaults on the right to vote. Historically, when voting rights are attacked, it’s done to facilitate attacks on other rights. It is no mistake that the groups who are behind this are simultaneously attacking very basic women’s rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and educational access for working people and minorities.” He added, “Voting rights attacks are the flip side of buying a democracy. First you buy all the leaders you can, and then you suppress as many votes as possible of the people who might object.”

I should add that African American and Latino voters aren’t the only people who are being targeted by the “block the vote” effort. Young people and the elderly in some states may also face hurdles if they hope to exercise their right to vote in the November elections. […]

READ @ http://jonathanturley.org/2012/01/21/blocking-the-vote-a-look-at-who-is-behind-republican-efforts-to-erect-voting-barriers-in-america/



By Glenn Kessler, WaPo

A State of the Union address is often difficult to fact check, no matter who is president. The speech is a product of many hands and is carefully vetted, so major errors of fact are so relatively rare that they sometimes can become big news (think of George W. Bush’s “sixteen little words” about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger). At the same time, State of the Union addresses are very political speeches, an argument for the president’s policies, so context (or the perspective of opponents) is often missing.

Here is a guide through some of President Obama’s more fact-challenged claims, in the order in which he made them. As is our practice with live events, we do not award Pinocchio rankings, which are reserved for complete columns.

“For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.”

The killing of bin Laden, which Obama used to open and close his speech, is an achievement that few partisans would quibble with. But the story about Iraq and Afghanistan is much more muddled. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/fact-checking-the-2012-state-of-the-union-speech/2012/01/25/gIQAa5CTPQ_blog.html?hpid=z2



By Salon Staff

Before “We are the 99 percent” emerged as a rally cry from Zuccotti Park to the Port of Oakland, another group identified with this number — but for a very different reason. A handful of New Yorkers whose 99 weeks of unemployment benefits had expired were frustrated that political leaders seemed resigned to a future of austerity instead of figuring out how to put Americans back to work. These “99ers” realized that if they wanted to change things, they would need to get organized and fight back.

In “F**ked: The United States of Unemployment” — a new Salon series that will chronicle this important yet largely untold story — Academy Award-nominated director Immy Humes traces the birth and evolution of the 99ers movement. Over the course of the series, Humes will explore her personal struggle with long-term unemployment, the struggles of her fellow 99ers, and confront the stigma of what it’s like to be jobless in America today. […]

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aEDoHNzKTZ0

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