Imagine that, in late 2007, Iran’s ruling mullahs and their military advisors had decided to upgrade already significant covert activities against Washington, including cross-border operations, and so launched an intensification of its secret campaign to “destabilize” the country’s leadership — call it a covert war if you will — funded by hundreds of millions of dollars of oil money; that they (or their allies) supported armed oppositional groups hostile to Washington; that they flew advanced robot drones on surveillance missions in the country’s airspace; that they imposed ever escalating sanctions, which over the years caused increased suffering among the American people, in order to force Washington to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and give up the nuclear program (military and peaceful) that it had been pursuing since 1943; that they and an ally developed and launched a computer worm meant to destroy American centrifuges and introduced sabotaged parts into its nuclear supply chain; that they encouraged American nuclear scientists to defect; that one of their allies launched an assassination program against American nuclear scientists and engineers, killing five of them on the streets of American cities; that they launched a global campaign to force the world not to buy key American products, including Hollywood movies, iPhones, iPods, and iPads, and weaponry of any sort by essentially embargoing American banking transactions.
Imagine as well that an embattled American president declared the Gulf of Mexico to be off-limits to Iranian aircraft carriers and threatened any entering its waters with dire consequences. In response, the Iranians promptly sent their aircraft carrier, the Mossadegh, and its battle group of accompanying ships directly into Gulf waters not far from Florida and then stationed a second carrier, the Khomeini, and its task force in the nearby Caribbean as support. (Okay, the Iranians don’t have aircraft carriers, but just for a moment, suspend disbelief.)
And keep in mind that, in this outlandish scenario, all of the above would only be what we knew about or suspected. You would have to assume that there were also still-unknown aspects to their in-the-shadows campaign of regime change against Washington.
Now, pinned to Iran, that list looks absurd. Were such things to have happened (even in a far more limited fashion), they would have been seen across the American political spectrum as an abomination (and rightly so), a morass of illegal, illegitimate, and immoral acts and programs that would have to be opposed at all costs. As you also know perfectly well, it is a description of just what we do know or suspect that the U.S. has done, alone or in concert with its ally Israel, or what, in the case of the assassination operations against nuclear scientists (and possibly an explosion that destroyed much of an Iranian missile base, killing a major general and 16 others), Israel has evidently done on its own, but possibly with the covert agreement of Washington.
And yet you can search the mainstream news far and wide without seeing words like “illegal,” “illegitimate,” or “immoral” or even “a very serious breach of international behavior” applied to them, though you can certainly find sunny reports on our potential power to loose destruction in the region, the sorts of articles that, if they were in the state-controlled Iranian press, we would consider propaganda.
“No, Mayor Quan, I will not denounce OccupyOakland as a whole for the actions of a few unlawful individuals, but I will denounce the Oakland Mayor’s office and the Oakland Police Department for totally bungling the police response to Occupy Oakland every step of the way. The moment the Oakland PD fires tear gas at a crowd they are in the wrong, no matter what the circumstances. I will not condemn the people of Oakland for being tear gassed and beaten at random in their own streets. I will instead condemn the Mayor and Police Leadership of Oakland for allowing the people of Oakland to be tear gassed and beaten at random in their own streets.”—Dear Oakland Mayor Quan, you do not need to call me, here is MY response to YOUR demands | ministryoftruth
The U.S. is burning less and less coal each year, thanks to cheap natural gas and new pollution rules. From a climate perspective, that’s a huge deal — less coal means less carbon. But here’s the catch: if the U.S. just exports its unused coal abroad, the end result could actually be more carbon.
Coal use in the United States really does appear to be waning. In 2000, the country got 52 percent of its electricity from coal. In 2010, that dropped to 45 percent. By 2030, the government expects that to fall to 39 percent.
Except that the story doesn’t end there. The United States still has plenty of coal sitting underground, especially in Wyoming’s vast Powder River Basin. And other countries around the world would love to get their hands on that coal to burn for electricity. That’s why, over the past decade, even as domestic coal use has dropped, exports have surged. In 2010, exports accounted for 7.5 percent of all coal production, up from 4.4 percent in 2005. As Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute observes, that boom in overseas demand has helped coal production hold steady in the past decade.
So here’s one possible future: If we’re not going to burn our coal, someone else will. One Tokyo shipping company, Daiichi Chuo Kisen Kaisha, says that U.S. coal exports could double in the next three or four years. In Washington state, coal companies are proposing two large export terminals that would help ship tens of millions of tons of coal from the Powder River Basin to countries like China. That, in turn, could make coal even cheaper in places like China — which might spur the country to build even more coal power plants than its current, already hectic pace. And, since carbon-dioxide heats up the planet no matter where it’s burned, this outcome could cancel out many of the global-warming benefits of the U.S. coal decline.
MUMBAI, India—India has joined China in saying it will not cut back on oil imports from Iran, despite stiff new U.S. and European sanctions designed to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program.
“It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the import from Iran drastically because, after all, the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economy, Iran is an important country among them,” India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters Sunday in Chicago.
India and China together accounted for 34 percent of Iran’s oil exports from January to September of 2011 — slightly more than Europe, according to International Energy Agency data.
The move is likely to be seen as a political victory in Iran, but it’s unclear how Chinese and Indian companies will actually be able to pay for Iranian oil without running afoul of the sanctions, analysts said.
“It’s a blow,” said David Hartwell, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Jane’s, adding that Iran may have discounted prices to keep the Chinese and Indians on their side. “If you have two major countries like India and China saying they will not abide by the sanctions, that’s going to keep a vital line open for the Iranians to continue to sidestep the sanctions and get foreign capital.”
“U.S. diplomacy with Tehran will only work if it is based on the same foundations as America’s opening to China in the early 1970s: acceptance of the other nation as an enduring entity with legitimate interests and pursuit of real rapprochement through the reciprocal accommodation of each side’s core interests. This is something no U.S. president, even Barack Obama, has been prepared to do—which is why the Obama administration still cannot face reality on enrichment. Such an approach is impossible so long as Washington demands surrender or indulges fantasies of remaking the Islamic Republic into something more palatable to U.S. constituencies.”—Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, “The Soft Side of Regime Change: Trita Parsi’s A Single Roll of the Dice.” (via bostonreview)
President Obama defended his administration’s unprecedented use of armed drones on Monday during a “virtual interview” that was conducted via Google+ and YouTube. He also acknowledged the United States was carrying out drone strikes inside Pakistan. Obama made the comment after he was asked how he feels about the large number of civilians killed by drones since he took office.
President Obama: “I want to make sure the people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates. And we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied. I think that there’s this perception somehow that we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy nilly; this is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities and American bases and so on. It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in August that U.S. drones strikes had killed between about 400 and 800 civilians, including 175 children. The Bureau put the total number of people killed by drones as high as 3,000.
In southern Yemen, at least 12 al Qaeda militants, including four local leaders, were killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen. It was one of the biggest such strikes believed to have been carried out by the United States in Yemen.
In the capital Sanaa, unidentified assailants opened fire on Information Minister Ali al-Amrani’s car as he prepared to leave from a cabinet meeting. The minister was not hurt, his secretary, Abdel-Basset al-Qaedi, said.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on Amrani, who quit outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ruling General Peoples Congress (GPC) party following the outbreak of protests against his long rule and joined his opponents.
He was named information minister in a coalition government between the opposition and the GPC after Saleh signed a deal to transfer power to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a move aimed at averting civil war.
In the drone strike, between 12 and 15 people were killed in the attack on militants travelling in two vehicles, a tribal leader told Reuters. The dead included at least four leaders of Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), he said.
Residents said the drone hit the militants overnight east of Lawdar in Abyan province. No civilians were hurt, they said.
The reason the economy is not creating jobs is simply that there is no source of demand to replace the demand created by the housing bubble. With nothing to replace this lost demand, companies see little reason to expand production and hiring.
Government spending is an obvious source of demand. However this spigot has been closed due to concerns over deficits. We have thousands of people in Washington who seem convinced that if the government would just stop spending money and lay off more employees then the private sector would respond with increased output and hiring.
While this might seem implausible on its face (what business hires people because the government has laid off school teachers or firefighters?), we no longer have to speculate about the impact of budget cuts and government layoffs, the United Kingdom is showing us.
The government elected last spring in the United Kingdom committed itself to rapidly reducing the size of its deficit. This government austerity was supposed to give a big boost to the private sector. It actually did the opposite. Growth has fallen to a near standstill. The IMF projects that the U.K. economy will grow by just 0.6 percent this year and an only slighter better 1.6 percent in 2013. This pace is not even fast enough to keep up with the growth of the U.K.’s labor market.
It would be good if the politicians in Washington could learn these basic facts about the British economy. They might then realize that deficit reduction destroys jobs, it doesn’t create them. There are times when we should be worried about the size of the deficit, but this is not one of them.
The FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) posted a ‘Request for Information (RFI)’ online last week seeking companies to build a social network monitoring system for the FBI. The 12-page document (.pdf) spells out what the bureau wants from such a system and invites potential contractors to reply by February 10, 2012.
It says the application should provide information about possible domestic and global threats superimposed onto maps “using mash-up technology”.
It says the application should collect “open source” information and have the ability to:
- Provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter. - Allow users to create new keyword searches. - Display different levels of threats as alerts on maps, possibly using color coding to distinguish priority. Google Maps 3D and Yahoo Maps are listed among the “preferred” mapping options. - Plot a wide range of domestic and global terror data. - Immediately translate foreign language tweets into English.
It notes that agents need to “locate bad actors…and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions”. It also states that the bureau will use social media to create “pattern-of-life matrices” — presumably logs of targets’ daily routines — that will aid law enforcement in planning operations.
Like other grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, these acts of summary execution and willful killing are punishable under the US War Crimes Act. Commanders have a responsibility to make sure civilians are not indiscriminately harmed and that prisoners are not summarily executed. Because rules of engagement are set at the top of the command chain, criminal liability extends beyond the perpetrator under the doctrine of command responsibility. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld should be charged with war crimes.
A few days after the story of The Haditha Massacre became public, US forces killed eleven civilians after rounding them up in a room in a house in Ishaqi near Balad, Iraq, handcuffing and shooting them. The victims ranged from a 75-year-old woman to a six-month-old child, and included three-year-olds and five-year-olds and three other women as well. A report by the US military found no wrongdoing by the US soldiers.
Allegations that US troops have engaged in summary executions and willful killing in Iraq have also emerged from other Iraqi cities, including Qaim, Abu Ghraib, Taal Al Jal, Mukaradeeb, Mahmudiya, Hamdaniyah, Samarra, and Salahuddin. There are similar accusations stemming from incidents in Afghanistan as well.
Many people in Iraq are outraged as the legal books close on The Haditha Massacre. They are also perturbed at the US drones flying over Iraqi skies in Baghdad to protect the largest US embassy in the world that, even after the United States “pulled out” of Iraq, still houses 11,000 Americans protected by 5,000 mercenaries. “Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.’s sky,” Adnan al-Asadi, acting Iraqi interior minister, said. The US military left Iraq because the Iraqis refused to grant US soldiers immunity for crimes like those at The Haditha Massacre.
The 24 Haditha victims are buried in a cemetery called Martyrs’ Graveyard. Graffiti on the deserted house of one of the families reads, “Democracy assassinated the family that was here.”
“Treat all income the same. Tax it all according to the same rate schedule. A dollar is a dollar, whether you got it from your labor or your inheritance or your hedge-fund fees or your stock sales. It isn’t the only thing we could do to improve the tax code, but it would be the most transformative, and it expresses a principle that few would be able to argue against.”—Beyond the Buffett Rule (via ryking)
Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (ABTT) would like it entered into the record that as of January 30th, 2012, the sum total of our donations was $1,023,121.24.
Stephen Colbert, President of ABTT, has asked that I quote him as saying, ”Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain’t one!”
I would like it noted for the record that I advised Mr. Colbert against including that quote.
Shauna Polk Treasurer Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Inc.
In a move demonstrating both foolishness and arrogance, David Cameron has accused Argentina of a ‘colonialist’ attitude for reiterating their call of sovereignty over the [Falkland] islands, better known to Argentineans as the Malvinas. Last week he announced that the UK National Security Council was drawing up plans to reinforce the islands.
The hypocrisy of a British Conservative Prime Minister calling anyone else colonialist was not lost on the Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who called Great Britain a country ‘synonymous with colonialism’ which was in ‘imperial decline’. This isn’t just a historical point: the UN Committee on Decolonisation has sixteen cases open on places that remain colonies, of which no less than ten are British colonies.
[…] The promise of significant oil reserves in the seabed surrounding the Falkland Islands is undoubtedly part of the cause of the build-up in tension between Argentina and the UK. In recent years, British companies have stepped up oil and gas exploration around the islands. Prospectors have their hungry eyes set on up to 8.3 billion barrels of oil this year alone, three times more than current UK reserves. Oil drilling companies are scrambling over each other to get in on the latest oil rush, despite the fact that the UK is breaking a UN resolution by prospecting for oil in these disputed waters.
The intensification of the violence [in Syria over the weekend] comes, as Ian Black at The Guardian notes, as the regional and international politics of the Syrian crisis is coming to a new boil. The Arab League’s observer mission, manipulated by the regime and proven useless, has been withdrawn. Two high Arab League officials are briefing the United Nations’ Ban-ki Moon and the League may go to the UN Security Council for an intervention, as it did with Libya. Russia expressed dismay at the Arab League decision. Russia has a naval base in Syria on the Mediterranean, and has long viewed Damascus as a client, going back to Soviet times, and wants to forestall UN intervention there.
The UNSC is expected to take up the Syria issue again on Tuesday. That the Security Council may become more aggressive in seeking an international resolution of the crisis frightens Bashar al-Assad, since most likely the international community would pressure him to step down and start a transition to a new order in Syria.
So far, Russia and China have run interference for Damascus at the UN. Russia may be especially reluctant to back down on Syria given the upcoming presidential election, in Which Vladimir Putin will want to look strong against the West. The Libya intervention was extremely unpopular in Russia, where it was seen as neo-imperialism, and forestalling American and European meddling in Syria might make Putin look strong at home.
On the other hand, the more brutal the regime becomes, and the more unpopular, the more Russia risks taking a big fall in the whole Arab world if the Baath collapses. Sami Moubayed argues that Russia is now backing an Arab League/ Saudi plan calling for Bashar al-Assad to delegate most of his power to his second in command, Farouk al-Sharaa, who should form a national unity cabinet with members of the opposition Syrian National Council in preparation for moving to new elections. (This plan resembles the Gulf Cooperation Council plan for Yemen, which, while so far implemented, has not worked very well). But that Russia is planning to meet Syrian oppositionists and seems to be content with al-Assad being pushed at least somewhat aside indicates that the president’s days may be numbered.
“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,’’ said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.’’ - Washington Post 1/20/2012
So what does this say about Ron Paul? There are two options. Either Ron Paul believed the bigotry he published, or he did it to pander to an audience that he knew would buy it — or both. Even if we accept at face value the claim that Ron Paul is not actually a racist or homophobe — something which nobody knows for sure except Ron Paul himself — that only means that he is a typical politician. In the newsletter, he is pandering to a white supremacist base that he knows will buy up his product and support him. Of course, that is the precise kind of unprincipled pandering that his supporters claim Paul would never do. According to his supporters, only establishment politicians do that kind of thing, not Dr. Paul.
Ron Paul supporters increasingly confronted with the reality of Paul’s past need to change their tune. Claiming that Ron Paul never saw the newsletters is no longer even remotely serious.
This, of course, was the final irony: that South Carolina – a nest of upright country church folk proud of their exacting morals and broad distrust of buggery, stem cells and Hollywood relativism – had chosen as its values champion Newt Gingrich, a man who has been unfaithful not just to two wives but also two religions (raised Lutheran, he is currently Catholic by way of Southern Baptist). We’ve all heard the various sordid stories from Newt’s past – the divorce papers reportedly thrust in the lap of his hospitalized first wife, the alleged multiple affairs, the unpaid tax liens, the 84 separate allegations of congressional ethics violations, one of which landed him a $300,000 fine. This is a man whose campaign is being fueled almost entirely by gambling money contributed by Sheldon Adelson, a Vegas casino magnate and hardcore Zionist who handed Gingrich two $5 million checks – two of the biggest political contributions in American history. (Newt, in return, has dismissed the Palestinians as an “invented” people, remarks that Adelson reportedly approved.) There is a distinct odor of corrupt indulgence around Gingrich that may not bother sinners like you and me – but sure as hell ought to bother Southern evangelicals, who a decade and a half ago wore us all out wailing about the nearly identical personal failings of one William Jefferson Clinton, another flabby, smooth-talking hedonist who, in the pulpits of America’s megachurches, was whispered to be the earthly vessel of Satan himself.
But evangelicals accounted for two-thirds of the South Carolina vote, and Newt cleaned up with them, beating Romney – a man whose genitalia has never even been rumored to be somewhere it shouldn’t – by a margin of more than two to one. Even odder was the fact that this hilarious fraud was being perpetrated on behalf of a man who was consigned to the historical footnotes well over a decade ago. After all this time, it ends up being Newt Gingrich? Really? How can a guy who was kicked off the B list in the Nineties be the headline act in 2012? It’s like finding out that Eric Roberts has been picked to MC the Oscars. In an era of popular revolts on both the right and left, it is sobering to think that the American power structure is so desperate, so bankrupt of fresh deceptions, that it is now forced to recycle the dregs of the dregs in its attempts to pacify the public.
The U.S. is continuing to fly surveillance drone aircraft over Iraq, prompting what The New York Times this morning describes as “outrage” among senior Iraqi officials and the Iraqi public. There are several revealing points from this account, beginning with this description of the ongoing American presence in that country now that “the war is over”:
The drones are the latest example of the State Department’s efforts to take over functions in Iraq that the military used to perform. Some 5,000 private security contractors now protect the embassy’s 11,000-person staff, for example, and typically drive around in heavily armored military vehicles.
When embassy personnel move throughout the country, small helicopters buzz over the convoys to provide support in case of an attack. Often, two contractors armed with machine guns are tethered to the outside of the helicopters.
So militarized is U.S. foreign policy — and so reviled is the U.S. in Iraq — that even when it “withdraws” from that country, it maintains a presence that is so large and menacing as to be unimaginable in most other countries around the world: basically the equivalent of a small army.
[…] The noble geniuses who planned and publicly crusaded for the war in Iraq insisted that “liberation” would mean a grateful citizenry and a stalwart ally in the middle of the region. Instead, anti-American animus is so high that Iraqi politicians routinely rail against the U.S. as a means of bolstering their own standing — condemning The Liberators is a staple of Iraqi politics — and the Iraqi government is all but barred from being seen as too close with, or accommodating of, the U.S.
Read more to find out some of the other ways we bully the unpeople of Iraq.
“If you’re not a conservative voter with a dog in this fight, watching Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and whoever else is running for the GOP nomination this week try to hold on to front-runner status has been great slapstick, like watching a cruel experiment involving baboons, laughing gas and a forklift. No matter how many times you ring the bell, those poor animals are never going to figure out how to move that pallet of bananas – yet they keep trying, taking the sorry show from one state to the next, over and over, as if something is going to change.”—Matt Taibbi
Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, has placed multibillion-dollar bets that pay off if homeowners stay trapped in expensive mortgages with interest rates well above current rates.
Freddie began increasing these bets dramatically in late 2010, the same time that the company was making it harder for homeowners to get out of such high-interest mortgages.
No evidence has emerged that these decisions were coordinated. The company is a key gatekeeper for home loans but says its traders are “walled off” from the officials who have restricted homeowners from taking advantage of historically low interest rates by imposing higher fees and new rules.
Freddie’s charter calls for the company to make home loans more accessible. Its chief executive, Charles Haldeman Jr., recently told Congress that his company is “helping financially strapped families reduce their mortgage costs through refinancing their mortgages.”
But the trades, uncovered for the first time in an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, give Freddie a powerful incentive to do the opposite, highlighting a conflict of interest at the heart of the company. In addition to being an instrument of government policy dedicated to making home loans more accessible, Freddie also has giant investment portfolios and could lose substantial amounts of money if too many borrowers refinance.
“We were actually shocked they did this,” says Scott Simon, who as the head of the giant bond fund PIMCO’s mortgage-backed securities team is one of the world’s biggest mortgage bond traders. “It seemed so out of line with their mission.”
The trades “put them squarely against the homeowner,” he says.
Those homeowners have a lot at stake, too. Many of them could cut their interest payments by thousands of dollars a year.
Why aren’t citizens allowed to sell their votes to the highest bidder? (Bear with me for a minute.) You may at first be inclined to say that it’s like the stricture against selling yourself into slavery: we don’t let citizens strip themselves of the most basic political rights and liberties. But I’m not talking about disenfranchising yourself permanently. Let’s focus just on the case in which you sell one vote in one particular election, or on a particular measure. It’ll grow back. You can vote next time. It’s like working for pay, rather than selling yourself into slavery. A short-term surrender of rights and liberties for the sake of something you want: namely, cash. It’s hard to see that giving up the right to vote in one election – which you honestly may not care much about – would be permanently crippling to someone’s status as a free citizen. (We let people not vote. Why not let them not vote for an even better reason?)
I think we think this isn’t a good idea because, basically, it would produce not-good results. We’d have formal democracy but functional plutocracy.
Shame on Bush AND Obama. In his State of the Union address, the only mention Obama made of Iraq was to congratulate the U.S. soldiers on a job well done, and to say the U.S. had made Iraq a better place. There was not even a hint of remorse or acknowledgment of the holocaust wrought by the U.S. there.
OVER A million Iraqis are dead from America’s war.
That sentence is a cognitive litmus test. Some people’s immediate reaction is, “That can’t be right,” because the United States couldn’t do that. Or because crimes on that scale don’t still happen. Or because they do happen, but only in horrible places that the United States hasn’t rescued.
One million is a “Grandpa, what did you do to stop it?” number. It’s a number that undeniably puts the American state among history’s villains. Those who are not willing or able to accept this are physically unable to retain the fact that over a million Iraqis are dead. Their brains expel it like a foreign germ.
Noam Chomsky once wrote that the “sign of a truly totalitarian culture is that important truths simply lack cognitive meaning and are interpretable only at the level of ‘Fuck You,’ so they can then elicit a perfectly predictable torrent of abuse in response.”
That pretty much sums up the how the media reacted to the one million figure in 2007 when it was announced by the British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB). (In fact, the firm estimated 1,220,580 Iraqis had died, confirming and updating a separate study done the year before by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and published in the Lancet medical journal.)
A year on from the fall of Zine el- Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Yemen is far from alone in finding it hard to turn a revolution into solid democracy.
To ensure the uprisings are not quashed after so much has been achieved, [Nobel Prize winner, Tawakul] Karman believes the West needs to step up its help.
The centrepiece of her visit to Britain, arranged by the Council for Arab-British Understanding last month, was a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to plead for the UK to freeze Saleh’s assets. She claims they amount to an astonishing $50bn.
Her argument is simple: those funds belong to Yemen’s people, not to Saleh its former President. If the money were handed over, Yemen would not need to go begging for international aid from countries like Britain.
A still more serious concern for her is that Saleh, who arrived in the US yesterday for medical treatment, will use the money to carry on exerting power over Yemen. “He wants to make fire between Sunni and Shia,” she says, adamant he will encourage sectarian conflict to bring about civil war so that he can later ride back into power as a supposed saviour.
Saleh’s continued influence is hard to ignore. Presidential elections take place next month , but the UN-backed Gulf Co-operation Council agreement which saw him step down – and granted him immunity from prosecution – dictates that only his Vice-President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, can stand in the presidential elections.
Add in the blunt compromise which means each ministry will be run jointly by the opposition and Saleh-loyalists, and Ms Karman believes the inevitable outcome will be governmental paralysis, a stalemate that will only lead to Yemen tearing itself apart again.
The intensification of climate change means that we need to acknowledge the chaotic future we face and start planning for it. Think of what’s coming, if you will, as a kind of storm socialism.
After all, climate scientists believe that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide beyond 350 parts-per-million (ppm) could set off compounding feedback loops and so lock us into runaway climate change. We are already at 392 ppm. Even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels immediately, the disruptive effect of accumulated CO2 in the atmosphere is guaranteed to hammer us for decades. In other words, according to the best-case scenario, we face decades of increasingly chaotic and violent weather.
In the face of an unraveling climate system, there is no way that private enterprise alone will meet the threat. And though small “d” democracy and “community” may be key parts of a strong, functional, and fair society, volunteerism and “self-organization” alone will prove as incapable as private enterprise in responding to the massive challenges now beginning to unfold.
To adapt to climate change will mean coming together on a large scale and mobilizing society’s full range of resources. In other words, Big Storms require Big Government. Who else will save stranded climate refugees, or protect and rebuild infrastructure, or coordinate rescue efforts and plan out the flow and allocation of resources?
It will be government that does these tasks or they will not be done at all.
At the beginning, we reject the idea that, when the United States acts against citizens abroad, it can do so free of the Bill of Rights. The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution. When the Government reaches out to punish a citizen who is abroad, the shield which the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution provide to protect his life and liberty should not be stripped away just because he happens to be in another land. This is not a novel concept. To the contrary, it is as old as government. - Reid v. Covert, 1956
The very same faction that pretended for years to be so distraught by Bush’s mere eavesdropping on and detention of accused Terrorists without due process is now perfectly content to have their own President kill accused Terrorists without due process, even when those targeted are their fellow citizens: obviously a far more Draconian and permanent abuse than eavesdropping or detention (identically, the very same faction that objected to Bush’s radical whole-world-is-a-Battlefield theory now must embrace exactly that theory to justify how someone riding in a car, or sitting at home, or sleeping in his bed, in a country where no war is declared, is “on a battlefield” at the time the CIA ends his life).
It is equally false, and independently both misleading and perverse, for Panetta to assert that a citizen in [Anwar al] Awlaki’s position could come to the U.S. to assert his due process rights. For one thing, Awlaki was never charged or indicted for anything in the U.S. — he was simply executed without any charges (the Obama administration, after trying to kill him, reportedly “considered” charging him with crimes at one point but never did) – and thus, there was nothing to which he could “turn himself” in even if he wanted to. Even worse, President Obama’s hit list of those he approves for assassination is completely secret; we only learned that Awlaki was being targeted because someone happened to leak that fact to Dana Priest. The way the process normally works, as Reuters described it, is that targeted Americans are selected “by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions”; moreover, “there is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel” nor “any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.” So, absent a fortuitous leak (acts for which the Obama administration is vindictively doling out the most severe punishment), it would be impossible for American citizens to know that they’ve been selected for execution by President Obama (and thus obviously impossible to to assert one’s due process rights to stop it).
Here we have the U.S. Defense Secretary, life-long Democrat Leon Panetta, telling you as clearly as he can that this is exactly the operating premise of the administration in which he serves: once the President accuses you of being a Terrorist, a decision made in secert and with no checks or due process, we can do anything we want to you, including executing you wherever we find you. It’s hard to know what’s more extraordinary: that he feels so comfortable saying this right out in the open, or that so few people seem to mind.
Schneiderman turns out to have a lot of leverage. Although the outlines of a narrow deal on the legal problems of mortgage servicers have been leaked, Schneiderman has not yet signed off on the deal. As noted, he has already gotten major concessions. The deal will only address the relatively narrow (but outrageous) abuse of robo-signing, and nothing in it will provide release from criminal prosecutions. Other details are still being negotiated. It is likely that Schneiderman will not give his final assent until he receives assurances on who will really be in charge of these broader investigations and with what level of resources.
The other main reason Schneiderman joined: The New York A.G. may have plenty of legal authority, but what he does not have is sufficient ground troops. In a scandal like this one, where the frauds and criminal misrepresentations are buried in millions of documents, it takes very major investigative resources, of the sort that the FBI, the IRS, the SEC, and the force of postal inspectors have, and the New York A.G. simply doesn’t. Something like a thousand Federal investigators and prosecutors brought crooks to justice in the savings and loan scandals of the late 1980s. Though the numbers of people attached to the task so far are small — Holder has announced a total of 55 attorneys and investigators to be assigned to the new working group — we will soon find out whether enough people will be assigned to confirm to Schneiderman that this is a serious effort.
If not, we can expect him and the other progressive AGs to walk. And that is Schneiderman’s other main source of leverage. In the jockeying for control, you might think that the odds overwhelmingly favor the insiders like Holder and Khazumi. But a high-profile criminal investigation that fizzled, with Schneiderman walking away, would be a massive political setback to the White House, more massive even than alienating some Wall Street campaign donors.
It would take a lot of guts for a Democratic attorney general to walk away from a presidentially created process in an election year. But if Schneiderman and the other progressive A.G.s conclude they are being rolled, they will walk and then do the best they can with the resources they have. [read]
Sure enough, it’s happening and Iraqis are worried about what it says about their sovereignty.
A month after the last American troops left Iraq, the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance droneshere to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel. Some senior Iraqi officials expressed outrage at the program, saying the unarmed aircraft are an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.
The program was described by the department’s diplomatic security branch in a little-noticed section of its most recent annual report and outlined in broad terms in a two-page online prospectus for companies that might bid on a contract to manage the program. It foreshadows a possible expansion of unmanned drone operations into the diplomatic arm of the American government; until now they have been mainly the province of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.
A senior American official said that negotiations were under way to obtain authorization for the current drone operations, but Ali al-Mosawi, a top adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki; Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih al-Fayadh; and the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, all said in interviews that they had not been consulted by the Americans.
Mr. Asadi said that he opposed the drone program: “Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.’s sky.”
The State Department confirmed the existence of the program, calling the devices unmanned aerial vehicles, but it declined to provide details. “The department does have a U.A.V. program,” it said in a statement without referring specifically to Iraq. “The U.A.V.’s being utilized by the State Department are not armed, nor are they capable of being armed.”
Though I gotta hand it to this drone-happy Administration - I didn’t predict they’d have the tone-deafness of running these drones through the Department of State.
It says “State” right there in the name. How can you pretend to be conducting diplomacy between states when you insist on having your own robot air force (albeit unarmed) flying over theirs?
DAMASCUS, Syria — The upheaval that has roiled much of Syria for the past 10 months is seeping its way into the heart of the country’s capital, puncturing the sense of invulnerability that had until recently sustained confidence in the government’s ability to survive the revolt.
On Sunday, security forces launched a major assault to reclaim suburbs just a short drive from the city center that had fallen under the sway of rebel soldiers fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.
The sound of gunfire and shelling from a string of suburbs on the eastern edge of the city could clearly be heard in several central neighborhoods, residents said, bringing perilously close a conflict that had until recently been dismissed as a mostly rural, provincial phenomenon from which Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad’s stronghold, would remain immune.
Activists said at least 10 people died in the offensive, among 32 killed Sunday across Syria as the government steps up its efforts to crush what is now, unmistakably, an armed revolt.
In one indicator that those who had once engaged in overwhelmingly peaceful protests now are fighting back, the official news agency, SANA, reported the funerals Sunday of 23 soldiers and police killed in the violence, as well as an attack on a bus in the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya in which six soldiers died.
Those deaths bring into the hundreds the number who have died in the past three days as the Syrian revolt, which threatens to become the bloodiest and most profound of all those in the region over the past year, appears to be lurching into a new and more dangerous phase.