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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Gee whiz, mama, you mean there are hypocrites in America?

Updated below.

Didn’t Mr. Oblahblah just, all by hisownself, without any hearing, vote, or approval from Congress, impose – via an executive order – further sanctions on Iran and Syria for using social media to conduct surveillance and crack down on dissenting protesters in their countries?  Why, yes, yes, he did.

[See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/04/its-3-a-m-this-is-your-wake-up-call/ ]

And yet, right here in the USofA, police are working with the big banks to spy on and gather intelligence about protesters in advance of the Occupy’s May Day protests.  I really love how the Pinkerton guy portrays the poor big banks as elks defending themselves against wolves.  I think he has the metaphor exactly backasswards.  We are the big herd of grass-eaters surrounded by a few, but ruthless and deadly, carnivores – and they are picking us off quickly.

The fact that these guys are using social media to “identify, map and track protesters” is the same tactic used by Iran and Syria, and the reason that Obama gave for imposing these new sanctions against them.  I’m sure that here in the US, however, proving that the information so gathered has been used to directly squash free speech rights and silence dissent will be a burden for the protesters to prove.  And given the mood of the courts in these times, no protesters will ever win any cases.  Too bad there is no-one to sanction the US on behalf of our protesters.

The world’s biggest banks are working with one another and police to gather intelligence as protesters try to rejuvenate the Occupy Wall Street movement with May demonstrations, industry security consultants said.

Among 99 protest targets in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday are JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America offices, said Marisa Holmes, a member of Occupy’s May Day planning committee.  Events are scheduled in more than 115 cities, including an effort to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where Wells Fargo investors relied on police to get past protests at their annual meeting this week.  “Our goal is to kick off the spring offensive and go directly to where the financial elite play and plan,” she said.

After evictions and arrests from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to London that began last year, the movement against income inequality and corporate abuse will regain strength, said Brian McNary, director of global risk at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations.  He works with international financial firms to “identify, map and track” protesters across social media and at their assemblies, he said. The companies gather data “carefully and methodically” to prevent business disruptions.

Banks are preparing for Occupy demonstrations at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Chicago summit on May 20 and 21 by sharing information from video surveillance, robots and officers in buildings, giving “a real-time, 360-degree” view, said McNary, who works on the project.

Banks cooperating on surveillance are like elk fending off wolves in Yellowstone National Park, he said. While other animals try in vain to sprint away alone, elk survive attacks by forming a ring together, he said… 

Banks are bracing. Deutsche Bank AG is closing the public atrium of its U.S. headquarters at 60 Wall St., which protesters have used for meetings, Holmes said. Duncan King, a bank spokesman, declined to comment.

New York police can handle picketers, said Paul Browne, a spokesman. “We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity,” he said. “We’re prepared to do both next month.”

Banks have a history of coordinating security with city authorities. At a 2009 U.S. Senate hearing, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described a partnership with financial-district firms that gives his department “access to hundreds of private security cameras.”  Footage is monitored in a downtown Manhattan center, he said. A 2005 letter Kelly wrote to Edward Forst, then chief administrative officer at Goldman Sachs, shows it was among firms getting space in the facility.

Max Abelson is a Bloomberg writer. mabelson@bloomberg.net
Copyright 2012 SF Chronicle

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2012/04/27/BUTK1O9L88.DTL

 

UPDATE:

By the way, Obama is proving himself to be the original three-card monte man.  (“Find the lady in red, cherchez la femme rouge, that’s all you have to do. Up and down, all around, in and out, all about, to and fro, watch ’em go, now they’re back, they’re side by side, so tell me, dollface, where’s she hide?” – from dialogue in “Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King.)

As everyone watches for the fate of the cybersecurity bill called CISPA, which has passed the House under threat of Obama veto, there are three other cybersecurity bills quickly lining up behind it.  Obama said he would veto CISPA because it invades our privacy.  The bill that he prefers and is pushing hard for is the Senate version, the Leiberman-Collins bill called The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105).  Yet, while CISPA suggests cyber data and social network companies should share information with the government, the Leiberman-Collins bill requires that cyber data and social network companies share information with the government under the aegis of Homeland Security (i.e.; all meta-data in the country would be required to go to Homeland Security).  Obama likes this one so much, he had Janet Nepolitano stage a special mock cyber attack to scare the shit out of invited senators.  (No) Surprise!  It worked.  But then, these guys have been perpetually cowering and wetting themselves since 9/11.
[http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/white-house-wages-mock-cyberattack-on-nyc-to-push-security-bill/]

About Obama’s preferred plan, the Lieberman-Collins bill (The Cybersecurity Act of 2012) and John McCain’s bill (the SECURE IT Act; and wait until you see what those letters stand for.  He wanted to call it the SECURITIZE THE INTERNET ACT, but couldn’t think of enough words and didn’t know hardly any z-words at all):

…In February, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John D. Rockefeller IV, (D-W.Va.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a measure that gives Department of Homeland Security new powers to require companies that operate critical infrastructure to meet baseline security standards.

That bill has the support of the White House, which proposed its own cyber legislation in May.

But many Republicans and business lobbyists, including the chamber of commerce, oppose legislation that imposes regulations, claiming they would harm companies, which own and operate 85 percent of critical infrastructure.

In response, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill that contrasts with legislation introduced by Lieberman, a longtime friend. McCain’s bill, backed by several Republican senators, does not focus on regulation, but instead on increased information-sharing between the government and private sector.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/cispa-passes-house_n_1457548.html

 

The director of the National Security Agency (NSA) endorsed Senate legislation that would place the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in charge of setting cybersecurity standards for private industry during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, NSA director, told the panel that it was appropriate that his agency and US Cyber Command, the organization at the Department of Defense (DoD) in charge of organizing cyberdefenses, maintain an outward-facing stance for combating foreign threats while DHS works internally to collaborate with private companies to set cybersecurity objectives….

Alexander further called for liability protections for companies to share information with NSA and DHS, providing them with the intelligence they require to fight cyberattacks…
NSA can best assist the private sector by providing its capabilities and technical expertise to DHS, Alexander said.

He stated, “I think the lead for working with critical infrastructure and helping them defend and prepare their networks should lie with DHS.”

As such, Alexander embraced the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105), introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). That legislation would empower DHS to produce a regulation that requires private companies owning designated critical infrastructure to certify their cybersecurity capabilities rise to an appropriate level.

The general’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has introduced competing legislation known as the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information and Technology (SECURE IT) Act of 2012 (S. 2151). The SECURE IT Act would not provide any additional authorities to DHS or NSA but it would provide liability protections for the private sector to share cyberthreat information through established channels and the Department of Commerce…

Alexander disagreed, noting that DHS should take the lead domestically on building national resilience and working with civilian agencies while DoD takes on foreign cyberthreats. Along with the FBI, the agencies would then work in concert, as “cyber is a team sport,” Alexander said…

http://tinyurl.com/6prepfm

 

….A CDT analysis found both bills have broadly written provisions that would:
• Share private communications with the National Security Agency and other federal entities, or with any other federal agency designated by the Department of Homeland Security.
• Monitor private communications passing over the networks of companies and Internet service providers.
• Employ countermeasures against Internet traffic.

In an effort to smooth passage, one provision has already been removed from the Lieberman-Collins bill that critics claimed would have given the president a “kill switch” to essentially turn off the Internet.
Meanwhile, Senator McCain’s competing bill would not offer new regulations, but instead promote information sharing with the government by providing immunity protection from lawsuits, among other things.

http://news.yahoo.com/cybersecurity-bill-cispa-house-passage-senate-212856469.html

and https://www.cdt.org/report/analysis-senate-cybersecurity-bills-2012

 

 
 

Brazil protects itself from us.

Other countries are beginning to notice that the US and Europe tend to invade (only for humanitarian reasons, of course) resource-rich nations, and that those “helped” in this way tend to lose not only the resources in question, but the right to determine who develops, uses and/or profits from these resources.  To protect themselves, Brazil has just announced it will beef up military protection of the Amazon.  Brazil’s Defense Minister, Celso Amorim, issued a statement a day ago which does not specifically name exactly which countries he feels are threats to the Amazon, but there can be little doubt to whom he is referring.

I think we will see more of this sort of self-protective maneuver from the countries able to so defend themselves as the US increases its drone wars, illegal invasions, and open threats to other sovereign nations, with the NATO countries aiding and abetting whenever possible.  It has not escaped the world’s notice that in countries like Iraq and Libya, the oil resources were immediately divvied up amongst all the participating invaders, or that – despite whatever reasons given for invading – the US and NATO forces most heavily concentrate on protecting the oil derricks after the respective countries fell and have left the “newly freed” citizens to fend for themselves.  We are on the down slope of peak oil, peak fish, and peak fresh water; any country with internal richness of any natural resources whatsoever is smart to take a preemptive protective stance.  I also think it will only be a matter of milliseconds in historic time for the US Pentagon, White House, and State Dept. to respond to this move from Brazil by calling it a “rogue nation” or a “security threat”.

Brazil will boost its military presence in the Amazon region to protect its huge natural resources from any external threat, Defense Minister Celso Amorim told the Senate.

The commitment to the defense of the Amazon is fundamental. Navy, Air Force, all services will boost their presence in the Amazon in the next few years,” he said without giving further details.

Amorim said Brazil did not feel threatened by any neighboring country but added: “We cannot rule out that some power from outside the region” may covet the natural resources of the Amazon, the planet’s largest rainforest and its main source of fresh water.

“We are working on a plan to deploy (security) forces and the Amazon plays a very important role. It’s the most vulnerable part of our country,” Amorim said.

“We have a wealth of resources which can make us the target of adventures,” he added.

Amorim said the country’s strategic planners were planning to boost “transparent cooperation” with other Amazon countries, referring to plans to set up a security commission with Peru and Colombia.

We do not feel threatened by any South American countries and we do not want anyone to feel threatened by us. We always want full transparency to avoid suspicions,” the minister said.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest country and the world’s sixth largest economy, shares the sprawling Amazon with Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Brasilia is also boosting its naval power in the South Atlantic with a ambitious submarine program to protect its huge deep-water oil reserves and project its growing influence.

Under the National Defense Strategy unveiled in 2008, [Teri’s note: this is Brazil’s Defense Strategy, which can be read about in this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/world/americas/19brazil.html ] the navy was tasked with developing a blue-water force to protect Brazil’s huge sub-salt oil reserves, the Amazon river basin and its 7,491 km (4,655 miles) coastline.

The sub-salt oil fields, located off the country’s southeast Atlantic coast beneath kilometers of ocean, bedrock and hot sat-beds, could contain more than 100 billion barrels of high-quality recoverable oil, according to official estimates.

The centerpiece of the naval buildup is the ProSub program under which France is to supply four Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines and help develop the non-nuclear components of Brazil’s first nuclear-powered fast attack submarine.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/27/brazil-to-boost-military-presence-to-protect-amazon/#.T5piC3W1Id0.email

 

Brazil has its own internal arguments and issues over the rain forest, which it will have to settle.  After making moves to protect the Amazon from de-forestation by companies and entities within Brazil itself, the agribusiness and timber industries managed to get a bill passed through Brazil’s Congress that might renew the threat to the Amazon from internal sources.  Having to deal with the need to protect themselves from themselves is enough of a challenge (as we in the US know all too well) – no wonder they want to make sure that the threats don’t multiply from external predators.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came under enormous pressure Thursday from environmentalists to veto a new forestry bill they fear will speed up deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector scored a major victory with congressional approval Wednesday of the forestry code reforms, which Rousseff repeatedly promised to veto while on the campaign trail in 2010.

The current code, which dates back to 1965 and which farmers argue is not respected anyway, limits the use of land for farming and mandates that up to 80 percent of privately-owned land in the Amazon rainforest remains intact.

The new bill would allow landowners to cultivate riverbanks and hillsides that were previously exempt, and would provide an amnesty from fines for illegally clearing trees before July 2008.

Farmers, whose industry represent more than five percent of Brazil’s GDP, argue that the existing legislation is confused, putting economic development at risk and costing valuable investment.

They say the new code would promote sustainable food production and bring an end to severe environmental restrictions that have forced many smaller farmers off their land.

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved the controversial legislation in a 247-184 vote on Wednesday night. The text now goes to Rousseff for ratification after having been approved by the Senate in December.

Paulo Moutinho of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) warned that if Rousseff did not use her veto, years of successful efforts to rein in the ruination of the Amazon would be jeopardized.

“Without a veto by President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil will lose the gains of the last few years which led the country to curb deforestation. We will lose leadership and credibility,” Moutinho said.

Opponents say the bill will mean more deforestation and warn it will embarrass the country ahead of hosting the Rio+20 in June, a UN gathering aimed at addressing global threats to the environment.

“It grants amnesty to loggers and raises the risk of environmental disasters in major cities,” opposition lawmaker Ricardo Tripoli said as he left Wednesday night’s vote. “Now it is important that the president veto it.”…

Carlos Rittl, a WWF climate expert, called it the “biggest environmental retreat in Brazil in decades,” while former environment minister Marina Silva urged the public to join a “VetoDilma” online campaign…

The proposed reform threatens 690,000 square kilometers (270,000 square miles) of land and would prevent Brazil from reaching its goal of reducing deforestation by 80 percent, according to the Climate Observatory, a network of 26 non-governmental organizations set up in 2002.

Authorities say key reasons for the deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest — a region of amazing biodiversity that is considered crucial to the fight against climate change — are fires, the advance of agriculture and stockbreeding, and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals.

Deforestation has slowed since Brazil declared war on the practice in 2004, vowing to cut it by 80 percent by 2020.  Between 1996 and 2005, 19,500 square kilometers (7,530 square miles) of forest was cut down on average, peaking in 2004 when more than 27,000 square kilometers was lost.

Better law enforcement and the use of satellite imaging saw the lowest rate of deforestation in 2011 since records began three decades ago. Just over 6,200 square kilometers was cut, a 78 percent reduction on 2004.

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Rousseff_pressed_to_veto_Brazil_forestry_law_999.html

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 28, 2012 in corporatocracy, environment, fossil fuels, MIC

 

Salon.com plays a little joke on its readers.

I have to stray into the field of overt and pointed media criticism for just a moment.  I see salon.com, an online magazine I (used to) read every morning, has a new format.  Very hard on the eyes, but bold.  Loud.  Brassy, even.  And in their own iconic fashion, they have managed to screw up the comments sections even worse than they were after the last “new salon” make-over.  One can’t make heads or tails of the way the comments are supposed to run, since they seem to be merely tossed in a pot, stirred vigorously, and then printed without regard to time sequence – some pages of comments are merely repeats of a prior page.  Very strange work output from a paid staff.  One might think that Talbot was deliberately sabotaging his online magazine in order to have a loss leader; a tax write-off, just in case salon made him an actual reportable profit for the year.  There is simply no other way to explain taking a pleasant readable publication and making it worse, not just once, but twice, in less than a year.

According to the magazine’s article, “Notice Anything Different?”, written to celebrate the change in their look, a globetrotting blond (their words – I couldn’t give a hoot about her zesty living or hair color) web designer named Kelly Frankeny was hired to design a news tabloid “as imagined by Coco Chanel”.  As a “sassy blond Texan, she has created a new Salon as big as her personality. And yes, while invoking the brassy urgency of a news tabloid, the new design also conveys the elegance of the House of Chanel. Both Frankeny and the new Salon know how to use red lipstick and a simple black dress for maximum effect.”  Well, okay, I’ll pass on the chance to remark about the sexism in that statement, while only wondering aloud why a magazine would want to have its readers imagine it as a brassy female in red lipstick and a black dress.

More interesting is the choice of Coco Chanel as the choice of imaginary designer for a supposed liberal/progressive publication.  Chanel was an active Nazi informant and collaborator.

Archival documents verify that Chanel herself was a Nazi spy, committing herself to the German cause as early as 1941, when she became a paid agent of General Walter Schellenberg, chief of SS intelligence. Her clandestine identity was Abwehr Agent 7124, code name “Westminster”. At war’s end, Schellenberg was tried by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, and sentenced to six years imprisonment for war crimes. He was released in 1951 due to incurable liver disease, and took refuge in Italy. Chanel paid for Schellenberg’s medical care and living expenses for himself, wife and family until his death in 1952.

In 1943, Chanel traveled to Berlin with Dinklage to meet with SS Reichsführer, Heinrich Himmler to formulate strategy. In late 1943 or early 1944, Chanel and her SS master, Schellenberg, devised a plan to press England to end hostilities with Germany. When interrogated by British intelligence at war’s end, Schellenberg maintained that Chanel was “a person who knew Churchill sufficiently to undertake political negotiations with him.”  For this mission, named “Operation Modellhut,” (“Model Hat”) they recruited Vera Lombardi. Count Joseph von Ledebur-Wicheln, a Nazi agent, who defected to the British Secret Service in 1944, recalled a meeting he had with Dinklage in early 1943. Dinklage proposed an inducement that would tantalize Chanel. He informed von Ledebur that Chanel’s participation in the operation would be ensured if Lombardi was included: “The Abwehr had first to bring to France a young Italian woman [Lombardi] Coco Chanel was attached to because of her lesbian vices…”

Unaware of the machinations of Schellenberg and her old friend Chanel, Lombardi played the part of their unwitting dupe, led to believe that the forthcoming journey to Spain would be a business trip exploring the possibilities of establishing the Chanel couture in Madrid. Lombardi’s role was to act as intermediary, delivering a letter penned by Chanel to Winston Churchill, and forwarded to him via the British embassy in Madrid.  Schellenberg’s SS laison officer, Captain Walter Kutcschmann, acted as bagman, “told to deliver a large sum of money to Chanel in Madrid.”  Ultimately, the mission proved a failure. British intelligence files reveal that all collapsed, as Lombardi, on arrival, proceeded to denounce Chanel and others as Nazi spies.

In September 1944, Chanel was called in to be interrogated by the Free French Purge Committee, the épuration. The committee, which had no documented evidence of her collaboration activity, was obliged to release her. According to Chanel’s grand-niece, Gabrielle Palasse Labrunie, when Chanel returned home she said, “Churchill had me freed”.

The extent of Winston Churchill’s intervention can only be speculated upon. However, Chanel’s escape from prosecution certainly speaks of layers of conspiracy, protection at the highest levels. It was feared that if Chanel were ever made to testify at trial, the pro-Nazi sympathies and activities of top-level British officials, members of the society elite and those of the royal family itself would be exposed. It is believed that Churchill instructed Duff Cooper, British ambassador to the French provisional government, to “protect Chanel”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coco_Chanel

In keeping with the Nazi-as-inspiration theme, the new salon designer, Kelly Frankeny, has chosen the colors of the Nazi flag: red, black and white.

“After the North German League in 1867 (and after 1871, the new German Empire) was formed, the Prussian government’s dislike for the black-red-gold flag resulted in the adoption of a new black-white-red tricolor. After the German defeat in World War One, the new republic adopted the black-red-gold tricolor earlier used in 1848 — and now again the German flag. As a result, the right wing parties urged the re-adoption of the black-white-red. The colors of the Nazi flag was thus a form of right wing allegiance and signified opposition to democracy. The original (1867) meaning was apparently a merger of the Prussian black-white and the red and white colors common among German maritime states (allegedly inspired by the medieval Hanseatic League).”
– Norman Martin, 2 June 2000

I sure wish David Talbot, the owner of salon.com, had done some simple research before he allowed this make-over to proceed.  Unless, of course, there is some inside joke that he himself is in on being played on his readers.  If it is meant to be some sort of subtle irony, it is so well hidden and subtle as to be completely invisible.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Some of my favorite living people, all in one spot.  Will anyone listen?

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is attending the 3-day meeting.  Obama was not there for the first night of this annual meeting and I have found no articles that indicate he will be there at all.  He is busy preparing for the NATO War Monger’s Summit, to be held in the same city in a few weeks.  [Updated note: Obama did not attend the summit; he phoned it in – literally.  He sent a pre-recorded video message to the group.   His absence is notable for several reasons: Chicago is his “hometown”, after all, and not a difficult flight from DC.  Other laureates traveled from across the globe.  The summit lasted for three days – he could not attend for even a few hours on one of those days?  Finally, this is the first time the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates has been held in North America, an honor that should have been acknowledged in person by our sitting Nobel “winner”.]

Nobel laureates: War must only be last resort
April 23, 2012, 11:44 p.m. EDT
AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Poverty, a lack of education and arms proliferation present daunting obstacles, yet peace can be achieved if world leaders are more willing to talk and young people are encouraged to get involved, Nobel Peace Prize winners said Monday at their annual meeting.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and former presidents Mikhail Gorbachev of the former Soviet Union and Lech Walesa of Poland were among the peace prize winners in Chicago for the start of the three-day World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The summit comes just weeks before Chicago hosts President Barack Obama, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and foreign leaders for the NATO summit, a meeting that is expected to draw large numbers of anti-war protesters. Obama did not attend Monday’s meetings.

Carter said that, as the last global superpower, the U.S. has a responsibility to be a leader in peace efforts and set an example to the rest of the world. Instead, he said, the U.S. is “too inclined to go to war” and is contemplating going to war again, “perhaps in Iran.”

“Humankind has got to say that war comes last” and negotiation comes first, Carter said during a panel discussion with Gorbachev, Walesa and former South African President F.W. de Klerk.

All said that more young people need to adopt the ideals of peace — including human rights, justice and environmental issues — whether it’s in the rest of the world or their own communities.

“We need to be reminded of the standards that the Nobel laureates have always tried to achieve … just because in their own communities they saw a need for change,” Carter said.

But de Klerk said many are vulnerable to bad influences because of poor education, poverty and unemployment.

“They are vulnerable because they have nothing to lose,” he said.

It is the first time the Nobel Peace Prize summit has been held in North America. The Nobel Laureates also toured more than a dozen Chicago Public Schools on Monday.

Former President Bill Clinton [note: NOT one of Teri’s favorite people] gave the keynote address late Monday at the opening night dinner, during which actor Sean Penn was presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award for his work in Haiti.

Clinton said peace isn’t just the absence of bad things but also when people make good things happen, and said people could choose a world of peace and cooperation. He referred to his personal experiences with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and conflicts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda while he was president and as head of the Clinton Foundation…

The Nobel summit — titled “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights” — runs through Wednesday.The NATO summit will be held May 20-21 at McCormick Place, and preparations for the meeting of global leaders have been intense. The city has amped up security plans with Chicago police, the Illinois National Guard and state police, as thousands of activists are expected to protest the event. Chicago was also supposed to host the G-8 summit, but the Obama administration moved it to Camp David.

http://tinyurl.com/cc6cm9h


 

CHICAGO — Former US President Jimmy Carter warned against a possible war with Iran Monday as he decried his nation’s involvement in unjust conflicts at a summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Chicago…

War is only just when it is a “last resort” after “every other possible peaceful resolution” is exhausted, when all efforts are made to protect civilians, when the purpose of the conflict is to make the situation better, not worse, when society in general agrees it is just and when the level of violence is “proportional to the injury received,” he said.

“That would obviously exclude our recent policy of preemptive war,” Carter said in a keynote address.

The United States has been “almost constantly at war” in the past 60 years — in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, Libya, Panama, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and many others.

“And now we are contemplating going to war again perhaps in Iran,” said the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Most of those wars fail to meet the criteria for a just war and “some of them were completely unnecessary.”

Carter said he wished the United States could be seen as a champion of peace, an environmental leader, and the world’s most generous nation when it comes to feeding the hungry and opposing human rights abuses.

“That’s not a hopeless dream,” Carter said.

“Maybe for my generation, yes, maybe for my children’s generation yes, but not for my grandchildren and students who are looking at Nobel laureates and saying what can I do to make this world more peaceful and make sure that all aspects of human rights prevail.”…

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/23/jimmy-carter-warns-against-war-with-iran/#disqus_thread

[…] While most laureates agreed that war should be a last resort, some opposed sanctions as a means of forcing countries, even North Korea, to change course on nuclear weapons. Embargoes, they said, tend to do more harm to those living under an oppressive regime than to the leaders.

“We need to find a way to feed the starving children in North Korea and, at the same time, not exalt the leaders of North Korea,” Carter said.[…]

Earlier Monday at the UIC Forum, former South African President F.W. de Klerk said the U.S. is not solely responsible for monitoring the world. In some cases, he said, America should step back and listen.

I don’t think the United States, as the only superpower of the world for the time being, should accept the role as policeman of the whole world,” said de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with Nelson Mandela for ending apartheid in South Africa.

Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, said the world is used to turning to the United States for advice but that people attending his speeches in the U.S. are now asking him what should be done to improve America.

“They give the signal that America does need advice. America does need to listen to what people are saying throughout the world,” said Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his work to end the Cold War. “We must unite and join efforts in a democratic movement.”[…]

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-24/news/ct-met-nobel-laureate-summit-opening-0424-20120424_1_cold-war-nuclear-weapons-world-leaders

Sean Penn has been living in a tent in Haiti since the earthquake and working to help rebuild that country.  Elizabeth Kucinich is on the board of directors for his organization.  His website may be read here:  http://jphro.org/

The following videos are the same thing, but since the youtube version occasionally gets pulled, I am giving a second option for viewing the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLgYAHHkPFs

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19agp_john-lennon-imagine_music

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Haiti, peace

 

It’s 3 a.m.; this is your wake-up call.

Updated below.

Later today, President Obama will sign an executive order to impose sanctions against foreigners who use technology to carry out human rights abuses.  He finds it unacceptable that the governments of Syria and Iran have used social media and cellphone technology to crack down on dissent and conduct surveillance.  It will also target companies and individuals who assist these governments in same.  The executive order will not, apparently, impose sanctions on the US government for doing the same thing here, nor on US companies that help our government do so here.  But it will sanction US individuals or companies that “help” the Iranian or Syrian governments.  Will we sanction ‘facebook’ for helping the (foreign) British government crack down on protesters last year in the UK?  In a word – no. [See update.  Maybe we will sanction ‘facebook’ and prevent them from operating here in the US, just not for giving private information to the US or UK governments.  Guess if this executive order shuts down certain social medias in the US, that would just be such a pity, but nonetheless a necessary action.]

US President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Monday allowing sanctions to be imposed against foreigners who use technologies to carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post said.

The order would target those found to have used technologies including cellphone tracking or the Internet to carry out violations.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the governments of Syria and Iran have used social media and cellphone technology to crack down on dissent and conduct surveillance.

The executive order, which Obama will announce during a Monday speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, will also target companies and individuals assisting the governments of Iran and Syria, the paper said…

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/23/obama-to-announce-sanctions-against-foreigners-who-use-tech-to-carry-out-human-rights-abuses/#.T5UhKWf8LZQ.email

 

Can he even do this?  All by himself, without waiting for some discussion and/or vote from Congress, he can impose sanctions (consisting of what, exactly, we are not sure yet) on foreign governments and foreign individuals acting in foreign countries?   Not only king of the US, but king of the world.  Well, why not?  Apparently, foreign countries submit to our Depts. of Homeland Security and Immigration telling their citizens who is allowed to fly, and where, all the time now.   If you are, say, a British citizen who wants to fly to Germany on vacation, you can be prevented by the US Homeland Security people, who may (for reasons that they needn’t explain) have you on a no-fly list.  Why other countries tolerate this shit from us is inexplicable.
http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/planning-a-trip-to-canada-or-the-caribbean-us-immigration-may-have-other-ideas-7584912.html#

This follows hard on the heels of Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton’s opening speech to the Open Government Partnership forum last week.  She actually said these words out loud and in front of a hearing audience.

Thank you very much, and it’s a great pleasure to be here at this first high-level conference of the Open Government Partnership.

….When President Rousseff and President Obama launched the Open Government Partnership last fall on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, six other founding governments and eight civil society organizations were present. At that time, President Obama made clear that the purpose of the Open Government Partnership was to advance specific initiatives to promote transparency, fight corruption, and energize civic engagement and to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundation of freedom in our own countries while living up to ideals that can light the world.

In the 21st century, the United States is convinced that one of the most significant divisions among nations will not be north/south, east/west, religious, or any other category so much as whether they are open or closed societies. We believe that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies will increasingly flourish. They will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.

By contrast, those governments that hide from public view and dismiss the idea of openness and the aspirations of their people for greater freedom will find it increasingly difficult to maintain peace and security. Those countries that attempt to monopolize economic activity or make it so difficult for individuals to open their own businesses, they will find it increasingly hard to prosper. And those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind…

But what we have to do is make a convincing case that those of us who have joined up to the Open Government Partnership really mean what we say. It’s not enough to assert that we are committed to openness. We have to deliver on the commitments that we have made…

Let me mention a few examples of how that is already occurring. Chile, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Romania, Spain, and Tanzania are all creating websites to make public data available to citizens on everything from crime statistics to political party financing to local budgets and procurement.

Bulgaria, Croatia, and Tanzania are creating “citizens’ budgets,” to explain in plain, accessible language how public resources are spent.

Ukraine, the Slovak Republic, Montenegro are introducing “e-petitions” on websites to make it easier for citizens to send their ideas and opinions directly to policymakers, and I want to commend the Slovak Republic and Montenegro for also introducing whistle-blowing protection laws to ensure that those who expose corruption are not punished or harmed…

These initiatives are designed to reduce corruption because we know corruption kills a country’s potential. It drains resources. It protects dishonest leaders. It takes away people’s drive to improve themselves or their communities. So the cure for corruption is openness, and by belonging to the Open Government Partnership, every country here is sending a message to their own people that we will stand for openness. And we’re going to hold ourselves accountable. As this process moves forward, we’re going to have to have report cards about whether we are living up to our own pledges of openness or not…

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/04/188008.htm

Too bad we don’t get some of the same things the citizens in Estonia, Romania, Tanzania, and Croatia are getting.  A shame we don’t get protection for whistleblowers like the Ukraine and Montenegro.  We may not score too well on that report card she mentions, although I suspect that the US may assign itself the role of grading the exams and decide to use the curve when it comes to our own grade.  That’s the way it works when we give ourselves the rights of oversight.  This is an interesting word, “oversight”, in that it can express two diametrically opposing ideas.

oversight [ˈəʊvəˌsaɪt]
n
1. an omission or mistake, esp one made through failure to notice something
2. supervision

We always assume that when a politician talks about ‘oversight’ or an ‘oversight committee’, he means the second definition.  But maybe this is one of those big cons of the modern age.  Maybe when an agency is formed to have oversight of an industry, the real purpose is to overlook and hide mistakes and omissions.  The way this works is that we may think that the FDA, for example, is set up to watch over our environmental safety.  The politicians want us to believe this.  Meanwhile, with increasing frequency these days, the job of the FDA is to provide cover for corporations that are killing us with unsafe and contaminated practices in food production and environmental practices.  When the truth eventually comes out, they whip out the other definition of the word oversight: “Sorry about that Agent Orange in your corn.  That was an oversight.”  An oversight in our oversight mechanisms, so to (double-) speak.  I am kidding about the FDA apologizing for the toxic corn.  They actually have not yet confessed to the Agent Orange in the food crops, since we have not as a group glommed onto the poisonous crap they are allowing our foodstuffs to be treated with and complained about it very much so far.

Imagine that you live in a country where one company, which seeks domination over the entire agricultural production of the globe and which is modifying the genetics of seeds in ways which are now thought to cause cancer and which certainly causes mutation in weeds and insects was being helped in its quest by the government itself.  Imagine that although it is known that the genetic modification of plant life was known to cause major health problems in humans, the government of this country was allowing the company to gain control of the entire food chain so that the citizens had no choice but to eat their products.  The citizens were being used as ipso-facto guinea pigs in this experiment.  Imagine that this company was stripping the land of its nutritional properties, so that the soil was left sterile and the food grown on it contained only 10% the nutrients it used to.  Imagine that although there are supposed to be regulations protecting the people from unsafe food products, and rules about the safe management of crops, the people assigned to see to the food safety and regulations work for this company.  Imagine that the State Dept. of that country was seeking to force every other country on the globe through the threats to the economic well-being of those countries to have to use this company and only this company to produce their food.  Doing this even in countries which are allies and which have done research showing such alarming findings about genetic modification of seeds that they have banned these crops.  Imagine that the State Dept and one of the main humanitarian outreach programs operated by this government hired people who also worked for this corporation and that all employees in the agricultural branches of the State Dept and this humanitarian aid group were told to promote this company.

That would be the US.  The company is Monsanto.  It is our State Dept. and the humanitarian group is USAid.  [See: Why Is the State Department Using Our Money to Pimp for Monsanto? http://www.alternet.org/food/152921 ]  If another country did this, our elected officials would liken it to a Nazi experiment and call for sanctions.  Since it is the US, we handle it like this: the President appointed a former Monsanto executive to run the FDA and refuses to answer questions about White House ties to Monsanto lobbyists, as it would “hurt Monsanto’s bottom line”.    http://on.rt.com/wzmp53   So much for that transparency thing.  The Bush administration was very aggressive in its quest to spread Monsanto products globally; Obama is simply treading in his footsteps.  [See:  http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/23/wikileaks_cables_reveal_us_sought_to ]

The US Dept. of Agriculture has decided to speed up approval times for Monsanto products (“Monsanto is losing money while it is waiting for approvals,” they worry).  http://www.nationofchange.org/usda-give-monsanto-s-new-gmo-crops-special-speed-approval-1330267848

Judges are also siding with Monsanto against suits brought by local farmers whose crops are being contaminated with Monsanto seed and pesticides.  http://www.nationofchange.org/judge-sides-monsanto-ridicules-farmers-right-grow-food-without-fear-contamination-and-economic-harm-    Because Monsanto (and Bayer) pesticides are now linked to the bee colony collapse, they did what any self-respecting corporation would do: they bought a major bee research company.  http://www.nationofchange.org/blamed-bee-collapse-monsanto-buys-leading-bee-research-firm-1334850010.   The EPA has just decided not to ban the pesticide 2,4-d, after making petitioners wait years for their decision, despite the fact that 2,4-d is – all kidding aside – literally the key ingredient in Agent Orange.  http://rt.com/usa/news/epa-pesticide-24-d-petition-831/

And now, the US government has just given permission for Monsanto to use pretty much the entire western section of the US as an experimental lab, giving them the right to grow crops to test some of their genetically modified seed in arid conditions.

…The government has agreed to let Monsanto test out the biotech crop on farms owned by the company from the state of South Dakota down through Texas to see if the seed stands to be commercially viable; if so, it is expected to be made available for purchase in 2013. With America’s small-time agriculturists in danger — and already largely threatened by industry giant Monsanto — a success for the seed could see yet more farmers finding themselves unable to compete and forced to throw in the towel.

http://rt.com/usa/news/monsanto-biotech-us-seed-683/

 

It’s not all about Monsanto, of course.  The EPA, our agency of oversight, has decided not to ban a chemical known by the rest of the entire globe to cause serious health risk – hell, even manufacturers are starting to end the use of BPA in their canned products.

The FDA’s decision comes five years since Environmental Working Group’s groundbreaking 2007 study showed that leached from epoxy linings of cans into surrounding food and drink. EWG’s tests showed the highest concentrations of the chemical, a synthetic estrogen, in canned soup, pasta and infant formula. […]

The chemical has been associated with many health problems, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, insulin resistance, reproductive defects, diabetes and miscarriages.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/30-10

 

The Dept. of Ag., not to be outdone by the EPA, has decided to let the chicken industry inspect itself.  Because self-inspection works so well in other circles, such as the financial and oil industries, where the regulators are pretty much the same people as the lobbyists and industry insiders. http://tinyurl.com/7qtt45m

The EPA is “thinking about” banning the pesticide that is now considered to be a primary cause of bee colony collapse, despite the absolutely alarming bee die-off in the last several years.

http://www.infowars.com/study-epa-approved-gmo-insecticide-responsible-for-killing-off-bees-contaminating-entire-food-chain/

I would remind you that without pollinators, we lose one third of our food crops.  No food = no people.  Although maybe the government has some really keen idea for hiring humans to hand-pollinate all the crops in the US.  We are, after all, talking about the same guys who accepted the excuse of “proprietary trade secrets” from fracking companies when asked by citizens to look into exactly what chemicals are being dumped into ground-stream water at fracking sites.  Instead of demanding that the FDA and the USDA do their freaking jobs, we allow the politicians in DC to turn them into such useless agencies that we will agree to their eventual and complete defunding and demise, which seems to be the goal of both Democrats and Republicans now.  Dismantling these agencies will not save taxpayer monies, if you are trying to think of some positive aspect to all this; your taxes will simply be shifted over to the war department and Homeland Security so that we can be controlled as our food and fresh water resources are poisoned beyond reclamation or simply run out altogether.

We the people need to demand back our right of oversight of our government.

 

UPDATE:

Here is the executive order.  It blocks certain persons and entities from entering the US and freezes their assets.  It also freezes the assets of any American who is involved with these “entities” or donates anything to these entities, and does so without notice because financial transactions can occur instantaneously over the internet.  I.e., it would take too long to warn someone before the fact that their assets are frozen.  So, now, wait, if “twitter” or “facebook” is found to be turning over the records of dissidents to the government of Iran so that Iran can crack down on protesters, does that mean “twitter” and “facebook” are banned from doing business in the US?  Are their assets frozen?  And if you participate in facebook or twitter, are your assets now frozen?

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER
– – – – – – –
BLOCKING THE PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY INTO THE
UNITED STATES OF CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO GRAVE
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF IRAN AND SYRIA
VIA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities. Cognizant of the vital importance of providing technology that enables the Iranian and Syrian people to freely communicate with each other and the outside world, as well as the preservation, to the extent possible, of global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services to enable the free flow of information, the measures in this order are designed primarily to address the need to prevent entities located in whole or in part in Iran and Syria from facilitating or committing serious human rights abuses. In order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, as relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and to address the situation described above, I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:

(A) to have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;

(B) to have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;

(C) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the activities described in subsections (a)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(D) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens who meet one or more of the criteria in section 1 of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).

Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 6. Nothing in section 1 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.

Sec. 7. For the purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “information and communications technology” means any hardware, software, or other product or service primarily intended to fulfill or enable the function of information processing and communication by electronic means, including transmission and display, including via the Internet;

(c) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(d) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;

(e) the term “Government of Iran” means the Government of Iran, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Iran, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Iran; and

(f) the term “Government of Syria” means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.

Sec. 8. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.

Sec. 11. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 12. The measures taken pursuant to this order with respect to Iran are in response to actions of the Government of Iran occurring after the conclusion of the 1981 Algiers Accords, and are intended solely as a response to those later actions.

Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2012.

BARACK OBAMA

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/23/executive-order-blocking-property-and-suspending-entry-united-states-cer

 

Corporations are ‘people’, but not ‘individuals’. Ya follow?

The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a law on the books since 1991 precludes organizations, both political and corporate, from sued for torture or murder outside of the U.S.

In a unanimous ruling on Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority (PDF), Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the careful text of the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991, the way it is written “convinces us that Congress did not extend liability to organizations, sovereign or not.”

She added: “There are no doubt valid arguments for such an extension. But Congress has seen fit to proceed in more modest steps in the Act, and it is not the province of this branch to do otherwise.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of Azzam Rahim, a Palestinian man with U.S. citizenship who was was allegedly tortured and killed by Palestinian officials some time after his arrest in 1995. The Palestinian Authority has denied the charge.

The family’s lawsuit has been batted around in the appeals process for so long because it does not mention a specific individual’s name, instead targeting the Palestinian Liberation Organization in general. Added: The law does not specifically define “individual,” but it uses the word 13 times — a tripping point that led Justices to cite legal terminology in their ruling.

Ultimately, “We decline to read ‘individual’ so unnaturally,” Sotomayor wrote. “The ordinary meaning of the word, fortified by its statutory context, persuades us that the Act authorizes suit against natural persons alone.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/18/supreme-court-ruling-organizations-cannot-be-sued-for-torture/

 

Ah.  The subtleties of the Court’s decisions.  Nuances – you have to listen for the nuances.  So we can thusly see that corporations are people when it comes to giving money to sway elections because, well, a corporation is but a group of individuals united under a common banner (or some such shitty, childish logic).  In this case, where a corporation might be successfully sued for wrongdoing, the word ‘individual’ cannot be interpreted to mean an organization, because such a reading of the word would be ‘unnatural’.

You starting to get a feel for how this works now?

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in corporatocracy

 

Our strange priorities. (Or: Why we are screwed.)

What very odd priorities we hold.

Washington (CNN) — The White House defended the Secret Service and its director Tuesday amid an embarrassing investigation into whether several agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Colombia ahead of a presidential visit.

Eleven Secret Service members have been implicated in the investigation, which began Thursday after one of the women complained that she hadn’t been paid. In addition, as many as 10 U.S. military personnel from all branches of the armed forces are being questioned about potential involvement in any misconduct, two military officials told CNN.

The Americans were in Cartagena to prepare for President Barack Obama’s weekend visit to the Summit of the Americas, and Obama has said he expects a “rigorous” investigation.

The investigation is being led by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who has been briefing members of Congress. A leading senator said Tuesday she had been told as many as 21 women had been involved, and questioned whether the incident could have endangered the president.

“Who were these women? Could they have been members of groups hostile to the United States? Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons, or in any other (ways) jeopardized security of the president or our country?” asked Maine’s Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Jay Carney said Obama “has confidence” in Sullivan, who he said “acted quickly in response to this incident,” and in the agents around him….

Collins said she believed Sullivan “will fully investigate” the allegations and take “appropriate action” if the allegations bear out. But she questioned whether there was any similar misconduct on previous missions, and whether the issue is a sign of a deeper problem within the agency.

The Secret Service agents and officers involved range in experience from relative newcomers to nearly 20-year veterans, and all have been interviewed at least once, two government officials with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Monday. Their security clearances have been pulled while the investigation is under way and could be reinstated if they are cleared, the officials said.

The agents were offered an opportunity to take a polygraph test, according to a U.S. official.

Some of the agents and military personnel maintain they didn’t know the women were prostitutes, the official told CNN.

“Even if they weren’t (prostitutes), it was totally wrong to take a foreign national back to a hotel when the president is about to arrive,” Rep. Peter King, R-New York and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said he thinks the agents should take the polygraph tests, if they haven’t already done so…

The Homeland Security Committee’s chairman, Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, said his staff is looking into the accusations and he may call hearings on the matter…

California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who leads the chamber’s intelligence committee, said she was “profoundly disappointed” by the allegations…

U.S. government sources have said there was a dispute between at least one Secret Service member and a woman demanding payment. At least one of the women brought to the hotel talked with police, and complaints were filed with the U.S. Embassy, the sources said.

While soliciting prostitution is legal in certain areas of Colombia, it is considered a breach of the agency’s conduct code, the government sources said. Military law also bars service members from patronizing prostitutes, displaying conduct unbecoming an officer or, for enlisted personnel, conduct “prejudicial to good order and discipline.”

The military personnel involved were sent to Colombia to support the Secret Service. A military official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation told CNN that two of those being questioned are Marines who handle military working dogs. Air Force and Navy personnel, some of whom are believed to be explosive disposal experts, also are being questioned, the official said.

The alleged misconduct occurred before Obama arrived in Cartagena, and the Secret Service said the personnel involved were relieved of duty and sent home before the president landed. But the news broke while he was there — and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday that the incident distracted attention “from what was a very important regional engagement for our president.”

“So we let the boss down, because nobody’s talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident,” Dempsey said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said he would consider holding hearings on the conduct of the members of the military involved in the scandal, but wants to learn more first. The committee’s top Republican, Arizona Sen. John McCain, said he is sure “the guilty will be punished,” but lamented that a few members of the military and Secret Service “have tarnished the reputations of many.”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/17/us/secret-service-colombia/index.html

 

Got all the big dogs out for this hunt.  The White House, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and its Armed Services Committee, the Secret Service, the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who is not looking into this?  It is the biggest, worstest thing we’ve had to investigate since that baseball player allegedly took drugs.  It calls for polygraphs!  Naturally, Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, suspects that these pros might have been terrorists and not just call-girls out to make a buck.  They are Colombian, after all, which is not only a foreign country, but a foreign country full of rather tan people.  But it hardly matters – nobody in Congress passes up an opportunity to throw around the t-word.  We have elected many politicians to office based solely on the number of times they were able to scare the crap out of us by using the t-word and claiming they would be tough on t(errorism).  We love that shit.

I particularly enjoy the fact that this all came out because one of “our” guys felt he didn’t need to pay the chick after using her services.  How American.  (What is the thinking here?  If I don’t pay her, it’s not prostitution. Or: I don’t have to abide by the contract; I’m an American and entitled to certain freebies.)  And of course, we are horrified by this and will launch Congressional hearings.  And the idea that at least two (count ’em) Marines may have been involved, well, this won’t do.  I see an opportunity for an example being made here.

But when our military or State Dept. people rape fellow (female) soldiers, rape and/or kill foreign civilians for fun, torture prisoners under their care, clandestinely interfere with another country’s politics, or simply shoot someone dead for the hell of it (see Christopher Deedy, Ray Davis), well, not so much swooning going on.

I have to ask; what is it that so bothers everyone about this?  That the jerks were – gasp – having sex with women who were making some cash off the deal?  That they were having their jollies outside their marital beds?  That the pros were Latina?  That our boys were expected to pay for it instead of just doing the American thing and raping some locals?

How can our media and our Congress be so concerned over this when over-the-top crimes of hate and unbridled, inhuman evil are perpetrated every day by our military, our CIA, and in our jails?  Paying to have sex with a woman who makes her living that way is more horrendous and worthy of multiple agencies holding investigations than cops tasering an old bed-ridden woman to death or spraying Agent Orange directly into the faces of peaceful protesters kneeling in silence?  This requires the complete attention of Congress but Abu Ghra’ib was just a few bad apples and that’s-the-end-of-that-story?  No-one has been charged with the Apache helicopter massacre, while Bradley Manning, who allegedly brought this crime to light, is into his second year in jail awaiting his “speedy trial”.  What really bugs the guys in charge is prostitution, or perhaps the idea of sex itself, or – who knows with these strange people – the idea of women altogether; but murder, torture, the most massive financial fraud in history, wholesale poisoning of the water and air, illegal wars,….pffft.

Bread and circuses, my friend.  Enjoy the ride down – it gets faster the further you fall.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Congress, State Dept/diplomacy