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By John Grant
Peace is in the air and its blowing around like little specks of Spring pollen. Maybe it’s a good time for the US government to recognize this hopeful spirit of Spring and try to figure out a new tack in its foreign war policy.
US war policy is still very much bogged down in the paranoid, preemptive strike mentality of the Bush years. We have moved on only in the sense our very sophisticated military is now less concerned about holding large areas and much more focused on the precise task of finding and killing insurgent leaders. Lop off their heads.
At the same time, using its two most powerful tools vis-à-vis the American public – secrecy and public relations – our military is involved in a concerted campaign of face-saving, lest anyone think our forces are in a condition of moral quagmire or military stalemate. Which they are.
In the good old days of Bybee and Yoo, before we let them get away with it, thereby guaranteeing worse things to come, Justice Department memos "legalizing" the crime of aggressive war were secret. Now they're published quickly, and there's a new one out on Libya (PDF). It begins:
"The President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of military force in Libya because
he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest. Prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration. April 1, 2011."
April Fools! Ha Ha! They had me going.
Anybody know of a state, or national mega, that has a lottery, playing mostly to the lower income citizen, dedicated to prison spending, me neither!
A new report from the NAACP shows states are devoting increasingly larger portions of their budgets to prisons, while education gets smaller and smaller portions. Judy Woodruff discusses the report with NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Transcript
by Walter Brasch
A wall of suffocating heat nearly vaporized me as I walked into Marshbaum's house. In the kitchen was a portable kiln spewing fiery venom that was curling the linoleum. In the den, wildly pumping a potter's wheel flinging clay all over the room, was Marshbaum.
“Got a new hobby?” I asked from a puddle of water that I assumed was what was left of my body.
“Hobby, nothing!” shouted Marshbaum over the noise. “This is my path to fame and fortune.”
“Every one of your fame-and-fortune paths have ended in a cul-de-sac,” I reminded him. “You scamming the public into believing that slops of glazed clay dipped into leftover house paint are the last sculpture of a dying genius?”
“They're cookie jars,” said Marshbaum wounded.
“Still looks like schlock to me,” I suggested.
“Work with me on this,” Marshbaum commanded, “it could result in a column for you.”
Fukushima Meltdown Confirmed - by Stephen Lendman
On April 6, Reuters reported that "the core at Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor has melted through the reactor pressure vessel," Rep. Edward Markey told a House hearing on the disaster, saying:
"I have been informed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the core has gotten so hot that part of it has probably melted through the reactor pressure vessel."
Recklessly promoting nuclear proliferation, America's NRC is notorious for coverup and denial of its harmful effects. As a result, their rare admission virtually confirms a full core meltdown in one or more reactors, meaning vast amounts of radiation are being uncontrollably released into the atmosphere, water and soil, spreading over a vast area. It's the ultimate nightmare scenario now unfolding, but don't expect major media reports or government officials to explain.
'Tea-Partiers for Torture' Met with Righteous Protest: Confronting John Yoo.
By Curt Wechsler
Tuesday night April 5, World Can’t Wait and members of Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America and 9/11 Truth mixed it up with teapartiers in Mountain View, California.
The Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley was hosting a speech titled “Presidential Power in time of Crisis” by John Yoo, the sometimes-professor of law at UC Berkeley (he spends most of his time hawking a book). Hardly the “conservative” organization it pegs itself as, this group espouses radical ideas of unlimited executive power and a rewriting of the U.S. Constitution. Yoo has been traveling the country in a fierce attempt to rehabilitate the history of his part in establishing the state torture program employed by the Bush Regime.
Are the U.S. Wars on the Middle East Wrong Because They Cost so Much?
Or are they just wrong, immoral, unjust, and against humanity's interests?
U.S. occupations, bombs, and secret operations have wreaked havoc in the Middle East since 2001, sold to the public on the basis of being in the “United States' national interest.”
Rolling Stone reported that in 2010 the 5th Stryker Brigade’s “Kill Team” went on a shooting spree, killing unarmed Afghan civilians and mutilating corpses for fun, while US NATO bombing raids kill even more civilians this year than last. The U.S. detains hundreds of Afghans in Bagram, without charges, lawyers, or rights...and Guantanamo remains open, in spite of Obama’s declaration over two years ago that he would close it as a stain on America’s conscience.
ProPublica just sent out the following, with some 886 Government Documents that were released by the Federal Reserve:
The Italian Coalition "Stop That Train" Meets with Pizzarotti:
Withdraw from the Israeli Project for the A1 Railway
In Italy, "Stop That Train" launches a campaign calling on Pizzarotti & C. SpA to withdraw from the construction of the Israeli high-speed railway crossing the occupied Palestinian territories. The German Ministry of Transport defines the project as "potentially in violation of international law."
Veterans For Peace Endorses the April 15th Rally and Protest in Union Square Park
By Kevin Zeese
Veterans For Peace has joined in endorsing “Sounds of Resistance,” a concert and protest against Wall Street banks that draws the connections between militarism, Wall Street, the wealth divide and the downward spiral of the wealth of most Americans. The event, on April 15 at 11:00 a.m. in New York City’s Union Square Park, is part of a democratic awakening that more and more Americans are joining.
Military Commissions Will Try 9/11 Suspects - by Stephen Lendman
On April 4, New York Times writer Charlie Savage headlined, "In a Reversal, Military Trials for 9/11 Cases," saying:
After months of indecision, the Obama administration "will prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and four other (suspects) accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before a military commission and not a civilian court, as it once planned."
In fact, candidate Obama pledged:
"As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions...."
On January 22, 2009, he signed an Executive Order (EO) to close Guantanamo in one year.
More promises made. More broken. Obama's record is near-perfect showing nothing he says can be believed.
On April 4, Attorney General Holder broke the news, saying:
Republican Plan to End Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - by Stephen Lendman
Public rhetoric obscures important facts about these plans politicians won't discuss in their zeal to end them incrementally.
Medicaid is welfare for low-income beneficiaries, jointly funded by the states and Washington, managed at the state level.
Social Security and Medicare are insurance programs, funded by worker-employer payroll tax deductions. They're contractual federal obligations to eligible recipients who qualify. However, you'd never know it the way both programs are publicly discussed, explaining everything but the truth.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, unveiled two proposals this week which if enacted would constitute a mortal threat to our nation’s health – particularly to the health of our seniors and our most vulnerable populations.
The first proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 10, would amend the Constitution by imposing rigid and arbitrary restraints on federal spending. The second, his fiscal year 2012 federal budget resolution (misleadingly and eerily called “The Path to Prosperity”), would essentially kill the Medicare program and gut Medicaid, among its other nasty effects.
Both proposals should be emphatically rejected.
If the teabaggers get their ShutDown Congress has to pass a Special Bill just so our Military Personal, at war in their wars of choice, Can Get Paid!
Apr 6, 2011 - The pay freeze that would come with an extended government shutdown would severely hurt military families and require the military to organize financial help for those who don’t have savings to cover bills, a nonpartisan arm of Congress is warning lawmakers.
A shutdown could come as early as midnight Friday. As a months-long dispute over federal spending continues, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget warned Wednesday morning that military members would be expected to report to work without pay. The military will be fully paid once government funding is restored, Obama administration officials said.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I joined a delegation of Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers for a meeting with interested professors at a private university in Kabul on Wednesday.
After a presentation from our side, the professors each spoke in turn. Unlike some previous meetings, there were no real denunciations of the very idea of peace. But the first professor to speak, the ony woman in the group, explained how horrible the wars of the past 40 years had been, all of which she blamed -- reasonably enough -- on the United States. During the civil war, she said, nine groups divided up and fought over Kabul. Not a living thing could be seen in the streets. So, people welcomed the Taliban for security even if they had to give up schools. They were focused on living through the night. She wanted peace, but would simply not stand for any negotiating with the Taliban.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- I've been fortunate to meet some very talented photographers and film-makers here in Afghanistan. We're planning an Afghan Film Festival for the United States this fall.
One film director Sahraa Karimi has produced an engaging and illuminating documentary called "Afghan Women Behind the Wheel." When she told me the title with a bit of an accent, I thought the last word was "Veil." It could almost as well have been. The film is about the limited rights and options of women in a country that is not just poor and war-ravaged, but in which many men passionately believe women to be inferior.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Afghanistan is full of wonderful people and could be a really terrific place to live. But first my government back home in the United States would have to stop murdering civilians over here.
I can't join in antiwar rallies over here, where I would be happy to speak against the crimes of my own government, because it's not considered safe for foreigners, especially Americans, to go near such scenes. Why? Well, imagine if this were happening in the United States and a citizen of the nation responsible were to come visiting:
A definite pattern has been established of killing civilians from the air and on the ground.
The United States has made clear its intention to continue and escalate this behavior.
Indiscriminate warfare, as opposed to deliberate killing, was undoubtedly Israel's state policy
Increasing Fukushima Radiation Dangers - by Stephen Lendman
Daily reports on efforts to contain Fukushima's disaster remain worrisome. On April 5, New York Times writers Andrew Pollack and Kevin Drew headlined, "Plant Operator Measures Higher Radiation in Sea," saying:
"(C)ompany officials said that seawater collected near the facility contained radiation several million times the legal limit."
According to Tokyo Electric (TEPCO), radioactive iodine-131 in samples collected measured 200,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter, or five million times above normal. Cesium-137's elevated level was 1.1 million times. No information on uranium and plutonium concentrations were given. Clearly, however, growing dangers are worrisome, yet official reports downplay them. Coverup and denial persist. According to TEPCO,
radiation levels have "no immediate impact" on the environment or human health. In fact, it's catastrophic. More on that below.
Military Tribunal May Keep 9/11 Motives Hidden
By Ray McGovern
The Obama administration’s decision to use a military tribunal rather than a federal criminal court to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others means the real motives behind the 9/11 attacks may remain obscure.
The Likud Lobby and their allied U.S. legislators can chalk up a significant victory for substantially shrinking any opportunity for the accused planners of 9/11 to tell their side of the story.
What? I sense some bristling. “Their side of the story?” Indeed! We’ve been told there is no “their side of the story.”
Bromides Vice Explanations
For years, President George W. Bush got away with offering up the risible explanation that they “hate our freedoms.” The stenographers of the White House press corps may have had to suppress smiles but silently swallowed the “they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms” rationale.
They have almost made a clean getaway, still looking over their shoulders but receding into the distance. Question: how can we cut the debt and balance the budget without cutting a single program or hurting a single person except those who will have plenty left? The genius of the current robbery taking place in Washington as they prepare to slash entitlements as the "big ticket" items on which we are going to have to make "hard choices," is that there is another big ticket item which, along with Pentagon spending and wars, put us here in the first place.
Funny, I don't see anything on "Debt Clock" about this all-time greatest theft in world history, the Wall Street bail-outs, up there with what are often called the "big three" responsible for most government spending: Social Security, Pentagon, and Medicare/Medicaide. Where is "bail-outs?"
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- In honor of April 4, 1967, and April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out against war and when he was killed, I spent my first full day in Afghanistan on April 4, 2011, avoiding violence and discussing nonviolent activism with those practicing it here.
The previous night I had spoken with a number of foreign aid and development workers here in Kabul, all of whom were upset, both at Afghans who in recent days had killed workers like themselves and at a preacher in Florida whose burning of a Koran had enraged Taliban types from a safe distance. Attacks in multiple cities on April 1st and 2nd looked planned and coordinated. April 3rd saw a nonviolent protest in Jalalabad, where Badshah Khan, the great nonviolence leader of the past century, is buried.
Richard Goldstone's Fall from Grace - by Stephen Lendman
The line from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafor explains, saying: "Things are seldom as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream."
Goldstone's shameless reversal exposes the true man, a Judas, not what most people believed. Why is at issue? More on that below.
Two previous articles articles discussed his retraction, accessed through the following links:
On April 1, his Washington Post op-ed headlined, "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes," saying:
"Our report found evidence potential war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by both Israel and Hamas." The latter ones, in fact, were minor by comparison, responding only to Israeli provocations.
Remember Libya: One of History's Terror Bombing Victims - by Stephen Lendman
Like Cast Lead against Gaza, Odyssey Dawn is criminal imperial war, willfully attacking non-combatants and civilian targets, including vital infrastructure, hospitals, non-military airports and buildings, ports, power generating facilities, and other sites unrelated to military necessity.
These and more besides so-called rebels killing hundreds on the ground, targeting anyone thought to be pro-Gaddafi, including African guest workers there for employment, not political allegiance.
In his article titled, "Libya and Obama's Defense of the 'Rebel Uprising,' " James Petras said:
Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It? (Hint: It's About Fixing Our Democracy)
by Stan Karp
The short answer to this question is that far too many people are bashing teachers and public schools, and we need to give them more homework, because very few of them know what they’re talking about. And a few need some serious detention.(Illustration: David McLimans)
But the longer answer is that the bashing is coming from different places for different reasons. And to respond effectively to the very real attacks that our schools, our profession, and our communities face, it’s important to pay attention to these differences.
The parent who’s angry at the public school system because it’s not successfully educating his/her children is not the same as the billionaire with no education experience who couldn’t survive in a classroom for two days, but who has made privatizing education policy a hobby, and who has the resources to do so because the country’s financial and tax systems are broken.