We have been following the lethal pollution gripping Chinese cities, including now cities like Shanghai, with stories of children developing lung cancer and other medical problems. One benefit is that the rising levels of pollution have actually made it harder for Chinese police to use the country’s extensive surveillance system to monitor citizens. That is not something that the authoritarian government is likely to celebrate however. Now, the official media has come up with one benefit to offer its choking readers: the thick blanket of unhealthy air could make it more difficult for countries to bomb Chinese cities if they have a hard time finding them.
Archive for the 'Military' Category
Tags: aviation, Hickham Field. James F. Gates, Pearl Harbor, WW-2
Contributed by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
I remember where I was and what I was doing shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon on December 7, 1941. My dad called me in to where he and a couple of his friends were sitting by the huge Stromberg Carlson 350R console radio, its front doors swung open. They were leaning forward, hanging onto every word coming out of the polished walnut cabinet. The breathless announcer was talking so fast he sometimes stumbled over his words. The usual calm and soothing baritone of a professional radio news reporter was replaced by an almost panicked staccato, an octave higher than his voice would have sounded normally. One phrase has stayed stuck in my mind’s ear all these years, “They stabbed our boys in the back!”
At first I thought they were talking about Japanese soldiers bayoneting our soldiers and sailors in the back, as I had seen them do in the newsreels of the massacre of Nanking. Even as a kid, I knew war was on the horizon. Six weeks earlier, a Nazi U-boat had sunk the destroyer USS Reuben James as it escorted a convoy of cargo ships carrying food and supplies to England.
Everyone thought that when war did come, it would come from Europe. No one but a few farsighted tacticians like General Billy Mitchell were looking west, and even predicting that an attack would come by air. Mitchell was Court Martialed for his outspoken military and political heresy. When Americans were killed in what was to be the first military engagement of WW-2 with the sinking of the Reuben James, President Roosevelt held back committing troops and sailors to combat despite the provocation. Hitler was counting on that kind of restraint, or he would not have been so bold as to sink an American warship. He knew the US was not prepared to fight a war, since American troop levels had been drawn down to very low numbers, and much of the equipment was either obsolete or obsolescent. The country was recovering from the Great Depression, and needed time to re-arm.
Admiral Yamamoto took Roosevelt’s options away from him that Sunday morning. Hitler was said to be furious with his Japanese allies.
Which brings us to the story my cousin Jimmy.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
The five alleged 9/11 defendants currently being held at Guantanamo Bay where they have been detained since 2006, are currently preparing their defenses for trials that are scheduled for September 2014. All five defendants have been subjected to what the United States government called enhanced interrogation techniques at CIA black sites even before they got to Gitmo. Continue reading ‘Kangaroo Commissions and Torture’
We have previously discussed how Barack Obama has become the president that Richard Nixon always wanted to be. From his Administration’s comprehensive attack on privacy and civil liberties, investigation of journalists, to his claim of unilateral authority to kill citizens, Obama has created an Imperial Presidency that could haunt this nation for generations. He has succeeded with the silent acquiescence of many liberals and Democrats who have embraced personality over principle in continuing to support his Administration. Now, a new report documents how the National Security Agency under Obama has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites to be used as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of people consider radicals. The obvious comparison to Nixon is only dwarfed by the comparison to J. Edgar Hoover, but again the silence is deafening from the Democrats. In the meantime, the so-called “reforms” of the NSA as expected would preserve the massive data-gathering programs of the agency — as guaranteed by such “reformers” as Dianne Feinstein.
The Palestinian Authority embraced a curious hero this week among those released as part of an agreement with Israel. Issa Abed Rabbo was the longest serving prisoner of the 104 released this week. Rabbo, 49, was heralded as a hero and given a pension and a large sum of money by the PA. However, Rabbo was convicted of taking two young hikers, binding them, putting bags over their heads, and then shooting them to death in 1984. That is not the makings of any freedom fighter that I know of.
I previously wrote a column about how government officials waste billions or plow whole programs in the ground without nary a reprimand. If that column bothered you, you might want to sit down. A new report has detailed how the military has cooked the books to hide trillions, that’s right trillions, in missing money and equipment. The military calls them “plugs,” a curious term for fraud. These are knowingly fake figures used to hide the fact that there is no accurate record of the money. In one finding, a single office in Columbus, Ohio, made at least $1.59 trillion in errors with $538 billion in plugs. The study reveals that government accounting records are fraudulent but that congressional oversight has been equally illusory.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
In recent years many studies have come out that have made the case that a high proportion of CEO’s of major companies are sociopaths. At the end of this blog I’ll provide a number of links that discuss this, some from major conservative business magazines. We do know that from 1% to 3% of humans are sociopaths sharing all of these 10 characteristics:
#1) Sociopaths are charming. #2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. #3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. #4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. #5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and “win” at all costs. #6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent #7) Sociopaths are incapable of love #8) Sociopaths speak poetically. #9) Sociopaths never apologize. #10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth.” http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html
Now the problem with the definition of Sociopathy is that there can be a good deal of subjectivity in making the diagnosis, absent a clinician interviewing the subject. After all many people are charming, spontaneous, invent lies, try to dominate others and speak “poetically” and that doesn’t make them sociopaths. The subjectivity comes in trying to determine whether a given person is incapable of feeling guilt, shame, remorse and is delusional. A trained clinician may be able to do this via an intensive interview, but the nature of this disorder is such that even a trained clinician can be fooled by a sociopath. Rather than argue back and forth about the negative effects of CEO sociopaths on this society as the root of so much dysfunction, my readings this week suggest another theory that would provide a simpler explanation of why it seems that so many in this country have so little compassion and empathy for the less fortunate among us. We need not deem them sociopaths, but people who are simply removed from the misery that they inflict. The apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” may well characterize those who control most of this country’s wealth. It may be why some are sincere philanthropists, yet show such disdain and lack a sense of responsibility for the suffering that they cause. Let’s explore this further. Continue reading ‘Selfish or Sociopath, Does It Make a Difference?’
The Obama Administration is in the midst of an open fight with the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Congress. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced negotiations viewed as historic between the United States and its allies with Iran over its nuclear program. The negotiations have attracted international support and are viewed as a rare opportunity after the change in leadership in Tehran. Netanyahu however has called upon the pro-Israel lobby to scuttle the diplomatic efforts by imposing new sanctions against Iran. Despite that fact that new sanctions would eliminate allies and be widely viewed as evidence of bad faith by the United States, AIPAC and AJC easily pushed through the sanctions in the House and they are viewed as making strides in the Senate despite the opposition of the White House.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
I have written some guest blogs in the past dealing with aspects of the issue of America becoming a Police State and will link to them at the end of this piece. There are so many issues that call for our concern and attention in this country today, that dealing with the entire dysfunctional state of our country becomes daunting due to the wealth of material. Finally, the stories on a given issue multiply in such a way that their effect is a realization across all political lines that enough is enough. The issue of our country’s continuing descent into a”Police State” equaling all we know of the vile systems in the USSR and the former East Germany is an issue that concerns me.. The situation is dire and the consequences have produced not only horrible injustices, but also the many unneeded maiming and deaths of innocent individuals. Our country imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world by far. Part of the reason for that is the “War on Drugs” an abject failure that falls most heavily upon people with low incomes and people of color. One such incident caused Professor Turley to pen two blogs this week. They were about a man falsely suspected of drug possession who had all his bodily orifices and cavities checked in the local Arizona police’s vain attempt to find evidence of guilt. None was found and the procedures were not only traumatic, but invasive. Thus the “War on Drugs” is one major contributing force to turning our country into a Police State.
Another contributing Police State factor has been the Federal Government militarizing our local police forces. I’ve written about this as well and will link at those blogs at the end as well. Somewhere along the line, certainly hastened by 9/11 it appeared a necessity to some that are police should be turned from officers of the law into a paramilitary occupying army. There is a great distinction between an officer of the law and a paramilitary trooper. An officer of the law the way I see it, is empowered to enforce the criminal law in ways of lawful conduct that are deemed permissible via our Constitution and Statutes. Thus an officer of the law should be a citizen like the rest of us and in the performance of their jobs should respect the rights of the citizenry. A paramilitary trooper by definition perceives themselves operating in a hostile environment and so everyone in that environment that is not of their army is a potential “hostile”. This unerringly begets a certain level of brutality when dealing with the populace, because from a paramilitary perspective people are presumed guilty, until they are proven innocent. We have seen and I have documented in guest blogs that vast sums of money have come in from the Federal Government to help create paramilitary SWAT teams. Once created, the uses for these teams multiply far beyond their original purpose, because having a tool inevitably causes its usage. After the split I will discuss yet a third factor that adds to this police state mentality, but first I’d like to express the following. The issue of our country becoming a Police State should not be and is not a partisan issue. Just from the opinions of people who follow this blog and comment, we see general agreement that these police tactics violate our Constitution and our innate sense of propriety. We may not all agree on most aspects of government policy, but I would hope we can agree on the proper manner in which our law officers should enforce the peace. Continue reading ‘Police State America’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
I’m going to use what has become a cliché to open up this piece. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing that has failed over and over again.” Often clichés are expressions of reality that nevertheless express problems faced by generation generations and generations of human beings. In my opinion “The War on Drugs” is not only an abysmal failure, but has gone a long way towards destroying the social fabric of this country and corrupting the efforts of law enforcement, by manufacturing a “problem” that they are pressured to solve. The idea for writing this came to mind this week at my local drug store. My wife had sent me for a decongestant that contains pseudo-ephedrine to treat a persistent cold. These medications which were formerly as matter of course located in the Cold and flu section are by law now kept behind the prescription counter. To make my purchase I had to produce a driver’s license, whose number was duly entered into a computer and sign an affirmation form digitally. Now since I was a loyal viewer of “Breaking Bad” I understood why this was seen to be necessary by the government. Pseudo-Ephedrine is used in one common formula to “cook” Chrystal Methedrine, or “Speed”. The idea that I, a 69 year old greybeard, should be recorded as a potential cooker of “meth”, is so ludicrous that it caused me to think about the whole process of drug interdiction that is the result of the War on Drugs.
The reach of the War on Drugs goes far beyond the control of formerly non-controlled substances and has affected and limited the way Doctors prescribe for their patients. This prescription oversight ever expands the categories of controlled substances and puts every physician under undue government surveillance. To illustrate the silliness of this, from my own experience, let me relate that in 2010 I underwent 3 major, life-threatening operations within a 4 month period. After each operation which involved cutting my chest open (the middle one was a heart transplant) in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit I was being given unlimited dosages of morphine to deal with my pain. In each instance after an operation, after two days, I would refuse the morphine because it was affecting my thinking and the pain without it was tolerable. In each instance after practically having to forcefully deny the proffered morphine in the morning, my request for Xanax that evening to help me sleep was denied, even though my Surgeon had prescribed it. This required a late hour call to the Doctor on call to prescribe it. The nurse was only following procedure, but the scrupulousness of the procedure is the result of the War on Drugs. Physicians now treating people for various pain symptoms are now under very close scrutiny regarding the medications they prescribe. To me this is nonsensical, given that addicts always find ways to get their drugs no matter what strictures are put into place. What follows is my examination of the premises behind the War on Drugs, its affect on all of us and my solution to this “problem”. Continue reading ‘Our Insane War on Drugs’
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
Everyday we read about the latest call for drastic cuts in government spending and claims that our national debt is killing us. Those calling for the cuts claim that austerity is the only way that we can get the economy moving again. To that end they call for cuts in Social Security, Medicare, SNAP and many other assistance programs, but consistently refuse to cut our immense defense budget. Where else have these calls for austerity been made into law and what are the results of these programs?
If you look to Ireland, you can see just one example how austerity has brought a country and its people, to their knees. Continue reading ‘Ireland and The End of Austerity?’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Through the years this site has produced a multitude of blogs that details the excesses that occur in the intelligence community of the United States. Whether it is about spying on us, or upon other governments, the disclosures of incidents where this group of agencies has overstepped the bounds of our Constitution have become too numerous to detail. Beyond that through the years there have been many instances where elements of our Intelligence Complex have interceded in other countries, under the rubric of protection of United States interests. There are many different Agencies within our government that deal with intelligence and in the post 9/11 era the prevention of threats to our country and its citizens has become a giant self serving industry. The Agencies that we know about have supposedly fallen under the egis of the Department of Homeland Security, which should mean from an organizational chart perspective, they are under the control of the President of the United States. To get the political issue out of the way I believe that President Obama has aided and abetted policies that go against the Constitution of the United States. However, not to justify his policies, which are clearly wrong, my opinion is that it has been a very long time since any American President had control of our Intelligence Complex. My belief is not informed by any information public or private, but from what I’ve gleaned from history and from what I know about the operations of bureaucracy. This Guest Blog is not a piece of investigative journalism, but the opinion of someone who understands both the workings of human nature and the workings of bureaucracy. I hope that this piece can engender discussions about the Intelligence Complex and elicit opinions as to what service it provides in protecting this country. The issue is not one of politics per se, because the guilt of enabling our Intelligence Complex falls equally on both political parties and the powerful elements within those parties who would support any action taken by the Intelligence Complex including abrogating our Constitution. The FBI is where I’d like to begin my perspective and that might surprise some, who consider the Federal Bureau of Investigation, basically a law enforcement agency. The history of the FBI is such that it has expanded its role with each upheaval, or new popular shibboleth that garners national attention. Continue reading ‘The Problem with the “Intelligence Community”’
For civil libertarians, there may be no more unsettling statements than “Dianne Feinstein is here to protect civil liberties.” Of course, it is not quite that bad. The Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been the greatest champion for the creation of the massive surveillance of U.S. citizens and effectively blocked any demand for a perjury prosecution of National Intelligence Director James Clapper for lying about the programs. She has called for the prosecution of Edward Snowden for revealing years of deceitful or false statements made to the public. She has criticized the media for disclosing information on the programs despite admissions that of unlawful conduct by the government after the disclosures. No, none of that bothers Dianne Feinstein. However, she is outraged by the monitoring of foreign leaders and promised a “total review” surveillance program.
NSA documents released by Edward Snowden have revealed years of false statements by the government, the capture of calls and emails from every citizen, the monitoring of tens of millions of people globally, the surveillance of world leaders including close allies, and the perjury by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. It has caused the Obama Administration — after denials of violations — to admit violations of U.S. laws and abuse of surveillance powers. Now General Keith Alexander, NSA director, says enough. We simply cannot stand any more disclosures of wrongdoing so Alexander wants to see actions taken against the media to prevent further disclosures.
Sheldon Adelson, American mogul, believes that President Obama is not only mollycoddling Iran but failing to use a key vehicle for diplomacy that has too long been ignored: nuclear weapons. Adelson called on Obama to nuke Iran last week. Not Tehran mind you. We would start with a nuclear explosion in the Iranian desert.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
We have had a lot of discussions here about the ever growing private prison system in the United States, where our country has become the world leader in imprisoning its citizens. Many blogs have been written discussing our world prison leadership and the fact that it stems from the failed “War on Drugs”, which has tended to focus on people in poverty and/or people of color. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper. It is an ideas that to me seems nonsensical on its face because of the absolute need that private industry turns a profit and in today’s economic scheme that profit has to continually rise as time passes. Business strategy, which by definition, must focus on profit has focused on cutting costs as a means of building profit. Cutting costs then devolves into hiring less skilled workers, cutting down on services provided and in a business like private prisons reducing the quality of care. When ot comes to reduction of services and diminishing of quality of care when it comes to the prison industry, I’m sure that the majority of public opinion would approve of even more draconian measures. After all those convicted of a crime are generally scorned and feared. Muscular fundamentalist philosophy has discarded the Jesus of turn the other cheek into a Jesus of vengeance and so there is even in some circles moral approval of treating prison inmates harshly. There is now a widespread use of solitary confinement as a tool of prison punishment and that confinement has stretched from weeks, too months and too years. We are after all, a society that has a majority of Americans for torture in our post 9/11 era.
In 2008 we saw the opening of a scandal in Pennsylvania where it was discovered that juvenile court judges were sentencing youths to prison for minor offenses because they had received money from sources in the private prison industry. Two judges were convicted in this case and it was seen that many youths were adversely affected and are now suing for unlawful imprisonment. It is this profiting on the imprisonment of youth that I would like to address broadly in this blog. For the most part my reference links will appear at its conclusion. This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do. Continue reading ‘The Private Prisons Profit on Youth’
We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to President Karzai to constructing huge buildings to be immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used. The common element to the stories is the absence of any reported prosecution or even discipline for those responsible. You can simply waste hundreds of millions of dollars and continue in your government position. This week’s outrage comes from a report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Among huge examples of waste and delay is this little ditty: USAid paid a $300,000 charge for 600 gallons of diesel fuel. That is $500/gallon to a contractor.
No it is not the latest rock band. Fat Leonard is the nickname for the rotund contractor named Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine. The Asian company is accused of greasing the skids in the Navy with bribes ranging from prostitutes to luxury hotels to tickets to Lady Gaga concerts. Snared in the scandal are an array of top Navy officials, including an official at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and a Navy Commander known “Little Bro” to Fat Leonard. Fat Leonard was well known in Naval circles and was given his nickname because he dressed out at 6-3 and 350 pounds.
We have yet another example of how well our war in Afghanistan is going after tens of thousands of deaths and wounds (and hundreds of billions of dollars): the commander of an Afghan special forces defected to the Taliban and took a Humvee filled with U.S. supplied weapons and equipment. That, believe it or not, is a fortunate outcome. We have repeated had Afghan allies shoot U.S. soldiers in the back before running off to join the enemy. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has been pressuring Afghanistan to allow thousands of U.S. soldiers to remain in the country and continues to pour huge amounts of money into the country.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Last week I wrote two guests blogs that were essentially two sides of the same coin. “How We Are Manipulated #1” and “The Decline of Journalism” were akin in that in the former I was writing about the use of “False Equivalency” that has long been a propaganda tool, especially from the wealthy backers of the conservative movement and the bland acceptance of “False Equivalency” by our mainstream media. I receive “E mails” each week from “Media Matters for America” the organization that examines bias in the media. http://mediamatters.org/ . This organization often provides me with ideas for this blog and I think performs a yeoman service for the people in this country who wish to clear the mental fog of propaganda, supplied by people who want to destroy the democratic process, and that has bombarded us since the Age of Reagan. These people own the major media and/or use their media ownership to ensure that the truth about our country is not only hidden, but subsumed in a planned torrent of propaganda. In this piece I will continue my series by providing various quotations that serve as examples, or admonishment of the prevalence of “False Equivalency” memes in the media. Links will be supplied at the end of this blog. Continue reading ‘False Equivalency: How We Are Manipulated #2′
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As a Jew who is familiar with “The Gospels” there is something perplexing about some Christians in America who have risen to power in our political process within the last four decades. Much of Jesus message, as detailed in “The Gospels” has been one of sympathy to the poor, enmity to the rich and love for humanity. I can give you the time tested quotes but just about everyone is familiar with them. Indeed through my childhood and formative teen years Christmastime every year would yield endless repetition of “Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men”. Sometime in the 1970’s people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell gained prominence and political power preaching their version of Christianity. These Christians became Kingmakers as it was assumed and actually true that their millions of followers would vote as a bloc. The Christianity that they preached had little to do with the American Christianity that I grew up with. To be sure their teachings on sexuality differed little from Christian thought for the previous 1,700 years and so abortion was evil, virginity was prized and sexuality was to be performed in subscribed methodology. What was different was that this version of Christian belief was a far more muscular and mach one. War was good when fought for American principles of capitalism and self interest. The wealthy needn’t worry about the “eye of the camel.” Poverty was seen as the result of moral failure. Rendering unto Caesar (the Government) was no longer the moral thing to do.
Now knowing history there were always periods where certain Christian leaders were in favor of warfare, favored the wealthy and sought to kill non-believers. Nevertheless, all through those era’s the same message of peace and love was preached as doctrine, whilst the religious leadership ignored the dichotomy of their own works. However, hypocrisies have always existed in every religious belief. The overriding principles always remained static, even if logic had to be twisted to ignore the obvious dichotomy. This is certainly true of the religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that each give their own interpretation of the “Torah.” The most glaring example of this is the entire Chapter of Genesis, which is literally riddled with dichotomy. Who did Cain, Abel and Seth marry and where did their brides come from? The standard method of dismissing these dichotomies was to ignore them and censor the questioner. Today though, in certain Christian circles these overarching principles derived from the teachings of Jesus have become ignored, to be replaced by a new “Dominionist” view, which would turn Jesus into a warlike, wealthy Republican that hated government and taxes. That is the subject of this guest blog. Continue reading ‘Ted Cruz, Dominionism and Jesus’
While the federal and state governments continue to cut programs for education, scientific research, and the environment, the Pentagon continues to spend wildly on items and them toss them out. We recently saw how they prefer to deliver bags of money to Karzai, buy Russian aircraft that Afghans can’t fly or maintain, or build huge buildings to be then torn down unused. Of course, no one is ever fired for constructing massive buildings that no one wants only to tear them down. After all, these are contracts going to powerful companies with friends in the government. Now, we buying huge planes at $50 million a pop only to roll them directly from the factories into mothballs because no one wants them. To make this even more incomprehensible, we are not even making the cargo planes. Like the Russian helicopters that the Afghans cannot fly, we are buying the cargo planes from Italy . . . and we are continuing to order more as we struggle to find places to dump them.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
You may be wondering who is this person named Rouhani and why would it be hard to call him/her on the phone? Would you think differently if you knew that Rouhani is Hassan Rouhani and he is the current President of Iran? As reported this past week, after President Obama and President Rouhani had both spoken at the United Nations in New York City, it was rumored that the two might actually meet in person.
While that meeting did not take place, it was reported that President Obama actually called President Rouhani on the telephone. As you can imagine, it was considered a big deal in the media that the Presidents of the United States and Iran had actually spoken on the telephone. On one level, I can understand the importance of the first direct contact between the heads of these two countries since 1979. Additionally, in light of the level of sabre rattling over Syria recently and Iran constantly, I guess it is a big deal..sort of. Continue reading ‘Was It Really So Hard To Pick Up The Phone And Call Rouhani?’
Change The Narrative: Clapper Returns To The Senate And Is Joined By Senators In Denouncing The Media and SnowdenPublished 1, September 27, 2013 Bizarre , Congress , Constitutional Law , Military , Politics , Society 52 Comments
The hearing this week on the massive surveillance programs targeting the communications of all citizens was the latest in the increasingly bizarre world of American politics. We have a Constitution that prohibits warrantless searches and seizures. We have a government — and a President — who previously misled us about the existence of such programs. We have Senators who knew of the prior deception and even perjury sitting in a hearing on the latest account from our leaders. Now, these same politicians are speaking openly about seizing every single telephone call. Rather than denying the program, they now refer to it as a harmless “lock box,” the way that Al Gore once referred to the social security accounts. What was particularly interesting is the statement of General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, that disclosures by Edward Snowden “will change how we operate”. Indeed, in light of the Snowden disclosures, Alexander has stopped the prior denials of the Administration and is now speaking of “reforms.” That is precisely why most people view Snowden as a whistleblower despite the demands of the President and members of Congress that he be tracked down and put away for good. Even more interesting is the appearance of James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, who previously acknowledged perjury before the Senate. Rather than raise the perjury or demand his prosecution, Senators engaged in friendly exchanges with Clapper as if nothing had happened. This is clearly under the belief that the public has a remarkably short attention span and the media will follow the lead of the White House. Indeed, reporters for the most part did not even mention that Clapper is thought by many to be an unprosecuted felon due to his prior testimony or that his last major testimony on this very subject was to deny such programs. There was not even laughter when Clapper said that he was working to find ways to “counter the popular narrative” of any dangers in this surveillance. That “popular narrative” of course also includes his prior false testimony.
Continue reading ‘Change The Narrative: Clapper Returns To The Senate And Is Joined By Senators In Denouncing The Media and Snowden’
Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser has uncovered near disaster of epic proportions after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request confirmed that a 4 megaton nuclear bomb almost exploded over North Carolina in 1961 — an explosion that would have been 260 times more powerful than Hiroshima and would have devastated the United States. What is amazing is that, once again, the government used classification laws to hide that fact that it almost destroyed the large part of the country and was saved by a simple low-voltage switch that fortunately was able to deactivate the armed bomb. The details were hidden for over fifty years by the government.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
I saw this story during this past week and I have to admit, that it made my stomach turn. Despite the increased interest some in Congress and in the Pentagon have shown in how accusations of rape by female members of the military are treated, women can still jeopardize their careers and their mental well-being if they bring charges against their alleged attackers.
‘”For roughly 30 hours over several days, defense lawyers for three former United States Naval Academy football players grilled a female midshipman about her sexual habits. In a public hearing, they asked the woman, who has accused the three athletes of raping her, whether she wore a bra, how wide she opened her mouth during oral sex and whether she had apologized to another midshipman with whom she had intercourse “for being a ho.”’ New York Times Continue reading ‘The Military’s War on Women Continues’
Sen. Lindsey Graham recently objected to President Barack Obama seeking congressional authorization to attack Syria (that’s right, in contradiction to every assumption James Madison may have made about Congress, Graham is one of those who wants to embrace an Imperial Presidency and gut the check on power represented by his own branch). Graham has been making it clear that he is not happy about the failure to join another war in the Middle East. So what does a hawk do when a war just doesn’t turn out as hoped? Graham is seeking authorization for a new war . . . not against Syria but Iran. After all, we have not defunded enough environmental, scientific, educational or welfare programs. Another war against one of the largest military powers in Middle East would guarantee a decade of military appropriations and interventions.
There is an interesting conflict growing between the federal and state governments over same-sex benefits after Oklahoma joined Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana this week in limiting the benefits for same-sex benefits. Yesterday, Oklahoma decided that the Oklahoma National Guard will no longer process benefit requests from same-sex couples by order of Gov. Mary Fallin. The Obama Administration maintains that the national guards must comply with federal law on such benefits in what could be a test of the remaining state control over national guard units.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
I’m an easy mark for those who want to approach me emotionally. My own life, with the normal tragedies of living seven decades has let me be attuned to others pain and to view that pain with an empathy born of my own suffering. Working out my own problems via years of therapy in my twenties and thirties, allowed me to finally let myself cry at the early death of my parent’s years before. I had put a “bottleneck” on tears since a teenager, choking sad emotions by constricting my throat and being in intellectual denial of the mourning I felt at their loss. This is not to say that I had no emotional outlets in my years prior to therapy, but they were limited to events far outside the ken of my life. Thus I could identify with wronged characters in movies and could cry at the death of Marin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. In my personal life though, I acted out the role ascribed to me in my High School Yearbook “Mike thinks that life is just a snap of his fingers”. Therapy changed that and allowed me to let myself be aware of and be guided by my emotions.
Emotionally, I am as patriotic an American as you might find. I love this country and I love the fact that I’m a citizen of it. My tears well up at the playing of our National Anthem. The Constitution is a sacred document to me and the aspirations of our “Founding Fathers” seem noble and just. In sports I often find myself moved to tears when athletes or teams overcome adversity and triumph. My family knows this emotional side of me since I cry at movies like “The Little Mermaid”. In personal relationships I am also ruled by emotion. People who treat me with kindness are not only repaid in kind, but I find myself rooting for their happiness and sad at their sadness. It is therefore quite easy to become someone I consider to be a friend and difficult for me to note imperfections in the friendships I’ve made. However, that is on an emotional level and as all humans, I am far more than just my emotions. Intellect and experience play important roles in shaping who we are. On a personal level I have experienced betrayal by “friends” and lovers. In my career I’ve experienced betrayal by those I thought of as friends and co-workers. However, I think those “let downs” are merely a normal part of the human experience. We humans learn and grow from our social interactions, allowing them to inform our interactions with each other.
We humans co-exist though in a larger context than mere personal interactions and that is a society known as “country”. Through the norms and mores of that society we find that our emotions are stimulated by the commonality of our existence as part of a whole. We rely on that society to protect us from predators and from those from other society’s that would do us harm. We unite emotionally in times of crisis and we feel warmth and comfort from being part of the whole. The most emotionally jarring event of the past five decades was the attack on 9/11 that galvanized this country almost as one entity. We commemorated the twelfth anniversary of this overwhelmingly sad event this past week. I need not describe the effect of this event on all of us, since I know that we all have sharp personal memories of that day and the days of anger, fear and confusion that followed. The reactions politically that followed 9/11 has personally scarred those who lived through it and have done great harm to our country. People from all sides of the political spectrum feel betrayed by the events that followed 9/11. Some feel betrayed because the majority of the country no longer supports the military interventions that ensued. Others feel betrayed because there is clear evidence that our government “lied” us into a costly war against a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. We have become then a nation of cynics when it comes to our government and I will explore why this can be either good or bad for the future of our country. Continue reading ‘In Defense of Being a Political Cynic’
For many years, this and other blogs have criticized President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders for their failure to pull out of Afghanistan after his election. There was clearly an unwillingness to risk the political costs of being blamed for a withdrawal or a perceived defeat. As a result, our personnel were left in harm’s way, even as the country’s president called us “demons”, our allies denied basic rights to woman and religious minorities, and polls showed intense anti-American sentiments. Hundreds of billions were spent to provide political cover for leaders who needed to show that they were tough on terror. Of course, many were made millionaires off the war while others paid the price on the ground. Roughly 75 percent of the fallen were from working class families. Now, a study by a conservative organization has shown that 73 percent of all U.S. Afghan War casualties have occurred since Jan. 20, 2009 when Obama was inaugurated. While another site shows slightly different numbers, the result is the same: most of the deaths have occurred under Obama (a fact that is seldom reported) Continue reading ‘Study: Almost 75 Percent of All Afghanistan Deaths Occurred Under Obama’
Kerry Suggests Assad Has One Week To Avoid Attack While Promising Obama Only Wants An “Unbelievably Small” Military CampaignPublished 1, September 9, 2013 Bizarre , Congress , Constitutional Law , International , Military , Politics 152 Comments
We previously discussed the curious step of President Obama seeking approval for a new war while insisting that he does not need such authorization to attack Syria. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to a one week period for Syria to comply with U.S. demands or presumably face an attack. It so happens that the Senate is set to vote this week, but opposition in this country is extremely high to yet another military intervention by the Administration. Moreover, unsuccessful in his earlier pitch for a free war, Kerry is now trying to sell the world on an “unbelievably small” military campaign. The U.S. seems to be saying that President Obama just needs the world to let him attack briefly to show that he cannot be dismissed or mocked in his earlier red line announcement. However, Kerry suggested a new red line in turning over control of the weapons and Russia has now announced that it will ask Syria to put chemical weapons under international control. That would undermine further the U.S. rationale for war if Russia says that it is moving to comply with Kerry’s demand. However, State Department handlers are trying to again walk back from the Secretary’s public statements.
Diplomacy By Rape: Prominent Iranian Warns That Daughters Of American Officials Will Be Kidnapped And Raped In Retaliation For Syrian AttackPublished 1, September 6, 2013 Bizarre , Criminal law , International , Military , Politics , Religion 25 Comments
Various news sites are reporting that Alireza Forghani, prominent Khamenei strategist and former governor of southern Iran’s Kish Province, has warned that the daughters of American officials will be kidnapped and raped by Muslims in response to any Syrian attack. He would presumably include President Obama’s daughters in a latest insight into the twisted religious fanaticism of Iranian officials. The quote is all-too-believable for Forghani who previously called for the eradication of Jews in Israel. He also previously proclaimed “In the name of Allah, Iran must attack Israel by 2014.”
A New York Times story is challenging the image advanced by the White House that the rebels forces are largely moderates who are worthy of yet another military intervention by the United States. The story recounts the latest massacre of captured Syrian soldiers as a commander reads a menacing prayer over their clearly beaten bodies before executing them in violation of international law.
This week Secretary of State John Kerry became the Sham-Wow man for the latest war by the United States. Here is how a Sham-War pitch works. Kerry announced that the Arab countries will pay for our entire war if we invade Syria. That’s right, we can simply rent out U.S. personnel like mercenaries for Saudi Arabia and Gulf nations. First we have Nancy Pelosi explaining the war literally in five-year-old terms and now John Kerry doing his imitation of Offer “Vince” Shlomi.
Once Upon A Time There Was An Imperial President. . . Pelosi Explains To Five-Year-Old Why We Are Again At WarPublished 1, September 4, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Military , Politics , Society 80 Comments
We have been following the abandonment of virtually core liberal values by Rep. Nancy Pelosi in her adherence to the cult of personality surrounding Barack Obama. From her attack on privacy to her new enthusiasm for war, Pelosi is the truest believer of the true believers surrounding Obama in the Democratic Party. Now she has been sharing a charming little story of how “Mimi” explained to their grandson how we are now at war. It turns out it is all about the children . . . not about the chemical weapons or reports that Obama is playing to turn the tide of the losing war for the rebels. Sort of like Save The Children . . . but with cruise missiles.
Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends: Obama Seeks Sweeping Authorization In The Name Of “Limited” WarPublished 1, September 2, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Military , Politics 112 Comments
While claiming that he just needs a “limited” war against Syria to back up his “red line” threat, President Barack Obama is actually seeking a far broader mandate from Congress. The authorization would allow Obama to take any action that he “determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria” as well as acting to “prevent or deter the use or proliferation” of the weapons or to “protect the United States and its allies and partners” from the weapons.”
Obama Seeks Congressional Approval For Strikes While Insisting That He May Attack Regardless Of Lack Of ApprovalPublished 1, September 2, 2013 International , Military , Politics , Society 83 Comments
There is a wonderful scene unfolding on Capitol Hill. In the past, President Barack Obama has insisted that he alone decides what constitutes a war and when he needs a congressional declaration. It was a claim that was challenged in federal court when I represented members of Congress. Now, however, England has refused to go along with the latest American-led military venture and there is heavy opposition in the public. Obama therefore is now saying that he wants to consult with Congress while his aides insist that he really does not need such consultation and, unless they agree with him, may just ignore them. Welcome to the new Imperil Presidency and what now constitutes checks and balances.
A document has surfaced from the intelligence budget that confirms what many have said for years: Israel continues to spy on the United States despite massive levels of U.S. aid and support. Israel is listed as one of the key targets for counterintelligence effort with China, Russian, Iran, and Cuba. Even as Israel continues to pressure the United States for the release of American Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy convicted in 1987, the report indicates that Israel is continuing to target the United States with espionage.
In the 1930s, Bertolt Brecht asked in a poem ”What if they gave a war and nobody came?” The question today is of course silly. The United States will always be there for a war. In the first rejection of a request for military action since 1782, the Parliament voted 285 to 272 against approving a military strike against Syria. Undeterred, the White House today is saying that it is considering just bombing the country on its own and throwing aside any pretense of an international effort. By the way, that last time Parliament refused further military action was when the Crown was fighting a collection of colonies in the New World who, after independence, strongly opposed “foreign entanglements” and military ventures. The United States of America.
While President Obama continues to maintain that only he decides what constitutes a war and requires consultation (let alone a declaration) from Congress, there remains a modicum of democratic process in England. The Obama Administration was surprised to learn that British Prime Minister David Cameron could not simply plunge his nation into another military conflict and that Parliament did not want to blindly follow the United States into attacking Syria. They would like to wait for all of the facts to be established by the United Nations before deciding how to act. It is of course a ridiculous notion that was long ago discarded in this country. If that was the approach in the United States, we would never have been able to invade Iraq on false pretenses and spend hundreds of billions in a war that has cost us tens of thousands of dead and wounded service members. Indeed, such knowledge is steadfastly avoided by our own politicians. By simply giving Bush a blank approval, politicians like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry could later deny that they really approved of the Iraq war and insist that they were misled by Bush.
President Barack Obama appears poised to take the country into yet another military campaign, according to the Washington Post. With critics mocking him over his repeated references to “red lines” in warning Syria, Obama seems to feel compelled to now act even if it could result in an expansion of the war. He is reportedly considering a two-day cruise missile and bomber campaign to hit targets unrelated to the chemical weapons of the country. It will cost hundreds of millions at a minimum, but we appear now to be at perpetual war even as we cancel key environmental, educational, and scientific programs (including program cuts this week).
Outside Las Vegas is a facility that has served as the last line of defense for the beautiful desert tortoise — an animal forced near extinction by developers and sprawling suburbs. Tortoises are brought to the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, which is largely supported by developer fees and federal support. Now, due to a lack of federal funding, the federal government plans to euthanize hundreds of the tortoises — animals added to the endangered species list in 1990. The cost? One million dollars a year. So our government continues to waste billions in Iraq and Afghanistan while exploring a new war in Syria, but we cannot support a $1 million budget that is so important to the preservation of this species. The Administration would prefer to deliver bags of money to Karzai, buy Russian aircraft that Afghans can’t fly or maintain, or build huge buildings to be then torn down unused. Of course, we have invaded their habitat, but it appears that they are not entitled to the years of upon ended reconstruction funding because they do not threaten to tortoise extremism around the world.
Report: U.S. Knew Of Saddam Hussein’s Use Of Chemical Weapons And Supplied Intelligence Used In AttackPublished 1, August 26, 2013 International , Military , Politics , Society 81 Comments
The Obama Administration is publicly moving toward possible military strikes in Syria, a major escalation in yet another war for the United States. The reason is the likely use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against rebel controlled areas. In the meantime, documents have been released that show that the United States has been hypocritical on the use of such weapons. According to Foreign Policy magazine (a highly respected publication), the documents show that the Reagan Administration not only knew of the use of chemical weapons by the Iraqi Regime in the Iran-Iraq war but supplied the intelligence and satellite imagery used in the attacks. The CIA then sat on evidence of the attacks while Iraq denied their use.
Tags: An-225, Antonov, aviation
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), guest blogger
The news has been so dreary and downbeat lately, I thought I would post something lighter to make people smile for a moment.
Everything about the Antonov An-225 is big. The name Mriya (Мрія), means “Dream.” The NATO identification code for it is “Cossack.” NATO codes names are given according to role. For instance, cargo aircraft will be identified with a word beginning with “C.” Fighters are “F” such as “Flanker.” Bombers with a “B” (Bear), helicopters an “H” and so forth. The An-225 was not originally designed as a military aircraft, but as a carrier for the Soviet spaceplane, the “Buran.”
Oleg Antonov always thought in terms of big. His airplanes are big, sturdy and utilitarian. Their legendary An-2 Colt is the biggest single engine airplane, and looks as if it could be repaired by a tractor mechanic….using tractor parts.
When the Soviet Union broke up, the Antonov manufacturing operation became the Antonov State Company, and is located near Kiev, Ukraine. The breakup allowed companies such as Antonov to pursue commercial interests worldwide. That was good for aviation and good for customers who need to move large improbable object to the other side of the world, and do it fast.
The story of Antonov’s airplanes is long and marked by some great airplanes. Make that “great big airplanes.” The An-225 is based on the An-124 design, which is a big airplane to start with.
Follow me over the flip and get a peek at the world’s largest airplane.
There is something about this video of the Russian military singing Skyfall that I find absolutely hilarious. I am pretty confident that Adele is safe in this competition.
Former Somali Colonel Found Liable For Torture While Former Bush Officials Remain Immune From Such LawsuitsPublished 1, August 21, 2013 Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , International , Lawyering , Military , Politics 44 Comments
Federal Judge Mark Abel in Ohio has imposed a $15 million damage award on former Somali colonel, Abdi Aden Magan, who tortured human rights advocate Abukar Hassan Ahmed. What was most striking about the decision was the statement that such damages are necessary to guarantee that the United States is not a “safe harbor for those who commit human rights abuses.” Of course, this follows a series of court decisions barring the victims of the U.S. torture program from even getting a trial, let alone damages. Those responsible continue to appear on television from George W. Bush to Dick Cheney to John Yoo. Indeed, rather than punish those who facilitated the torture program, we made one — Jay Bybee (shown right) — a federal appellate judge with lifetime tenure. That particular “safe harbor” is found in the courthouse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Below is my column today in the Los Angeles Times. The column follows the recognition of the name for Area 51, which produced a great deal of media coverage.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
With all of the discussion we have had on his blog about the abandonment of the rule of law in this country, I was very interested when I read about a class action lawsuit that was filed in March of this year. The case is Saleh v. Bush, and it was filed in an attempt to hold former President George W. Bush and five members of his administration responsible and liable for the damages incurred when Iraq was attacked by the United States and some of its allies in 2003.
“Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.” Yes Magazine Continue reading ‘Single Mom Versus George W. Bush’
National Security Agency has been reeling from leaks showing massive warrantless surveillance programs capturing communications for every American. These disclosures have further shown that officials like National Intelligence Director John Clapper committed perjury before Congress, though the White House and Congress have protected him from any charge in America’s Animal Farm system. Now, NSA director General Keith Alexander has indicated that he has a solution. With the public saying that it is more afraid of the government than terrorists and NSA workers balking at participating in such authoritarian programs, Alexander wants to replace the workers with machines. Machines don’t leak. Indeed, they have no sympathy or morals at all. They are perfect. That would leave citizens as simply the objects rather than the objectors for surveillance. So, the Obama Administration has finally found the barrier to the creation of the perfect government: the citizens themselves.