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Anti-Defamation League National Pledge for Unity on Israel - by Stephen Lendman
ADL's audacity gives chutzpah new meaning. Whether it's latest scheme works isn't known. However, early indications express displeasure. More on that below.
Along with the American Jewish Committee (AJC), ADL's web site calls for a "National Pledge for Unity on Israel," saying:
Weaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon's plan is to give them their own state as well.
Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines. The full state of Colorado is itself 104,000 square miles. Rhode Island is 1,000 square miles. Virginia, where I live, is 43,000 square miles.
Why Libya Was Attacked - by Stephen Lendman
Obama's March 28, 2011 address at the National Defense University was true to form. It reeked of duplicity, hypocrisy, and ball-faced lies, saying:
"For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom."
Hazardous Hydrofracking in America - by Stephen Lendman
Hydraulic fracking involves using pressurized fluids to fracture rock layers to release oil, gas, coal seam gas, or other substances.
Earthworks says the process provides easier access to deposits and lets oil or gas "travel more easily from the rock pores," where it's trapped, "to the production well."
Thank you for your bravery Occupy Oakland.
There is one problem with many of the excellent demands and proposals I have seen floated by those in the OWS movement, from re-instating Glass-Steagall, to ending the Federal Reserve, to enacting a jobs bill. That is, they have little chance of passing in effective form as long as Congress answers to the corporate powers which flood the system with money. If the incentives are skewed, the results will be skewed. Even if the demands are agreed to in principle, politicians beholden to money will constantly be busy finding ingenious and enterprising ways to undermine the intent of the laws.
Leah Bolger of Oregon is the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, is occupying Freedom Plaza, and risked jail on Wednesday, with another case pending against her, to speak up in the Super Congress (Deficit Committee) hearing, in which she was arrested. She has been released.
Bolger comments: "I had to speak up. The witness, Douglas Elmendorf, was hiding the fact that military spending has increased dramatically in real terms and as a percentage of discretionary spending. He was focused on percentage of GDP, as if war spending should increase whenever it can, not whenever it has to. The simple deficit solution of taxing the rich and curtailing the militarism is favored by the majority of the public. The 99% had no other voice in that room to compete with those of the corporate lobbyists."
Members of Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations are in the hearing room and marching to rally outside it.
Hensarling, co-chair of Supercons, just lied that military budget has shrunk as % of budget -- see the facts.
Neither Patty Murray, D from Boeing, or Hensarling, R from Texas, has mentioned taxing the rich.
Their witness today sure ought to bring it up.
Douglas Elmendorf is NOT thus far talking about taxing the super rich. He is talking about spending, including military spending, which he calls "defense." He is not using the larger category of "security," prefering to use "defense." But he is talking entirely about discretionary spending, which is a huge problem for this gang and its efforts to go after things it's not allowed to go after -- like Social Security.
Elmendorf describes "defense" spending as declining as percentage of GDP, not as percentage of discretionary spending.
He is proposing very slight caps on base "defense" budget, not counting wars, and on non-"defense" spending. He's offering more than one option.
The C-Span camera is angled to avoid any audience members. The public has been told signs cannot be held and no one can speak.
I am not in the room because of the recent trend toward treating laptop computers as threats to committee hearings.
Here's the testimony from Elmendorf.
Murray is eager to cut nondiscretionary "entitlements," totally avoids possibility of taxing billionaires or corporations, claims that eliminating all discretionary spending would still leave deficit. Elmendorf does not address that claim but agrees that discretionary spending is a shrinking share of all spending.
Excerpt from the testimony:
Discretionary funding for 2011 totaled $1,277 billion: budget authority of $712 bil-
lion for defense and funding totaling $566 billion for nondefense activities, including
$54 billion in obligation limitations for some transportation programs (see Table1).
Budget authority provided for defense activities in 2011 was $3 billion (or less than
1percent) below the amount provided the year before; the sum of discretionary bud-
get authority and obligation limitations for nondefense programs was $39 billion (or
7percent) below the amount provided in 2010. Nevertheless, discretionary outlays in
2011 were close to the amounts spent in 2010, CBO estimates, because of spending
from funds appropriated in previous years.
Questioning continues but lacks a little something I like to call:
TAX THE RICH!
Also, the crowd out in the hallway, outside a number of thick marble walls is giving up and moving on, having not -- as far as I know -- been heard inside the committee room.
Update: the folks say they WERE heard, the doors opened, the media made aware.
Apparently the military spending fairy is in the room too.
Baucus points out that military spending is higher now in inflation-adjusted dollars than during the Korean or Vietnam or Cold wars. Elmendorf admits it. $700 billion now compares to $240 billion during the Korean war. He points out that no caps have been put on or proposed for wars. Baucus gets Elmendorf to admit the obvious point that capping war spending would save money.
Rep Clyburn now points out the CBO's own study linked above showing the upper 1% has increased avg income by 275% while middle 60% of us have seen an increase of 40% over the same period of 28 years.
Rep Clyburn lamely and folksily mentions taxes, but doesn't propose taxing the wealthy or corporations.
Sen Rob Portman (R, Ohio) points out that "defense" has grown from 25% to 50% of discretionary budget.
The march has returned to Freedom Plaza.
The Washington Post says we're wearing out our welcome; we're also using the Washington Post as a welcome mat.
I'm stopping watching the hearing.
In other news, a bankster is being prosecuted.
by WALTER BRASCH
We know the names of every one of the 4,479 Americans who were killed and the 32,200 who were wounded, both civilian and military, between March 20, 2003 and Oct. 21, 2011, the day President Barack Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, declared the last American soldier would leave Iraq before the end of the year.
We know Second Lieutenant Therrel Shane Childers was the first American soldier killed by hostile fire in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On March 21, 2003, less than a day after the U.S.-led invasion, Childers was shot in the stomach by hostile forces while leading a Marine platoon to secure an oil field in southern Iraq. His father, Joseph, told NPR that it was his dream to lead Marines into combat.
Libya: Another Lost NATO War - by Stephen Lendman
NATO's sole new millennium accomplishment consists of endless unwinnable wars. Coalition partners eventually tire and pull out.
America may end up isolated against raging street anger to end imperial wars and address vital neglected homeland needs. It's already happening.
Haitian Suffering Under Imperial Occupation - by Stephen Lendman
Except briefly after their successful 1804 revolution and under Aristide, Haitians suffered over 500 years of persecution and human misery.
It's ongoing today under America's imperial boot, UN paramilitary occupation, and stealth Duvalierist Michel ("Sweet Micky") Martelly's illegitimate April 2011 election.
One of the most valuable benefits of putting political action into the form of nonviolent encampments is that we learn each other's stories as we occupy our public parks and squares. Here's a story from the October2011 occupation in Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C. There are many more, and we'd like to hear yours when you join us.
Aristine Maharry is 29 years old and now lives in Freedom Plaza. She grew up in a very military family, with members of her family having participated in every major U.S. war going back to the war for independence, and with members of every generation having joined the military.
Maharry's family did not encourage her to aspire to a military career, but -- as in many such stories I've heard -- actions spoke more loudly than words. Maharry was proud of her father's military experience. She hoped from a very young age to join the U.S. Army. She grew up playing at army with her half-brothers. They would flip the couch on its side and toss pretend grenades. She loved the board game Risk. The biggest holiday in Aristine's family was the Fourth of July. She doesn't say she bled red white and blue. She says she bled green, Army green. She wanted to serve her country and other people. She was willing to die for her country. She was proud of her country.
Aristine was a good student and a good athlete. At age 7 she tested with an IQ of 185. She was placed in gifted and talented classes in all of the many public schools she attended. She got good grades, ran track, and was president of the Future Business Leaders of America at West Potomac High School in Northern Virginia, where at 16 she dual enrolled at George Mason University. She graduated from high school at 18 in the year 2000, was married the next January and pregnant in February.
Aristine knew that the military would be reluctant to enlist a mother of a child under 1 year of age. She hoped to take part in the Green to Gold program, enlisting and eventually becoming an officer. Her own father had dropped out of college to enlist and fight in Vietnam. She admired that history. However, when her first son was nine months old, Aristine became pregnant again. She headed to the recruiter's office when her second son turned one in May 2004. She had a family and a good job in management training new personnel in the pharmacy department of Liberty Medical Supply in Florida. But recruiters' job is to recruit, and Maharry didn't require any persuading.
She arranged to train at the same camp her father had trained at, Fort Leonardwood in Missouri. She headed there in December 2004, leaving behind a husband and two little boys for the holidays. Aristine says it was a very sad time for her, very difficult, and also very cold in Missouri. But, she thought to herself: "All the other soldiers have families too. They do it. I'm not different. I can serve too. I want to do my part as an American." She signed up to become a combat medic, hoping to care for injured soldiers.
The first few weeks of training in January were extremely hard, she says: lots of pushups, not a lot of sleep, but a great deal of hostility from drill sergeants conditioning recruits to face hostility in battle, struggling with their own post-traumatic stress, or simply acting out their sadism. Aristine characterized it as "ten times worse than in the movies." She was in Charlie Company, Third Battalion, 10th Unit, 4th Platoon. Her platoon had four drill sergeants, three of them male named Davis, Harris, and something like Fontana (she doesn't remember this name clearly), and one female drill sergeant named Gilliard.
The woman sergeant was not what you would call gentle and loving. Aristine witnessed Gilliard yank a male soldier across a desk and injure him. His offense had been to request a pen. Fontana (or whatever his exact name was) made Gilliard look sweet and delicate by comparison. He was shorter and meaner than the others, according to Maharry. She saw him slam a female private named Barr up against a wall.
Aristine is amazingly understanding of this abuse. The sergeants, she says, had just done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The training was their rest period between tours of combat. They were all, she believes, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Aristine's understanding this is even more amazing considering what happened next.
What Next for Libya? - by Stephen Lendman
Jamahiriya loyalists hope he's alive, not dead. Either way, his bigger than life spirit inspires Libyans and others wanting freedom - not terror bombing, occupation, colonization, pillaging, exploitation, and misery.
NATO's war on Libya is one of history's great crimes. Democratic values and truth never had a chance. Responsibility to protect duplicity terrorized and massacred civilians like crazed assassins.
Anti-Democratic Knesset Bills - by Stephen Lendman
Knesset summer session bills grievously harm civil and human rights if passed. Basic freedoms are at risk, including speech, assembly, association, and right to dissent.
Switching Focus from Iraq to Iran
By Ray McGovern
Introductory Note:There I go again — reading the Washington Post before breakfast.
“Clinton cautions Iran on U.S. resolve in Iraq” headlines an article by N.S. Aizenman on who said what on Sunday’s talk shows yesterday.
Aizenman points out that the guests were “pressed by multiple interviewers on … whether the [U.S. troop] withdrawal would open Iraq to greater influence from Iran.” (No coincidence: talking points courtesy of the White House, no doubt.)
Was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blindsided by the question? Hardly. She probably drafted it. In any case, she was well prepared to lead the chorus well into its rehearsals to blame Iran, when Iraq falls apart.
Mixed Messages on Gaddafi - by Stephen Lendman
Nothing from NATO, political capitals, puppet TNC officials, and major media scoundrels is credible. Nonetheless, manipulated public opinion says he's gone.
Wikipedia has him born June 7, 1942, died October 20, 2011, saying Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi "was Libya's head of state from 1969 when he seized power in a bloodless coup."
Israeli Settlement Construction Jeopardizes Palestinian Statehood Plans - by Stephen Lendman
Palestinians want and deserve long denied full UN de jure membership and official statehood recognition, including all rights granted other members.
On September 23, Abbas formally petitioned the Security Council. Normally it reviews applications for a maximum 35 days. Whether or not America vetos Palestine's bid is irrelevant. It solely recommends. Only the General Assembly admits new members.
By Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington, Jr.
With Mumia Abu-Jamal’s sentence of death now formally vacated, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to consider an appeal by the Philadelphia District Attorney of a Third Circuit Court panel’s ruling that that sentence had been unconstitutional thanks to flawed jury instructions from the trial judge and a flawed jury ballot form, many of those who have long called for his execution are now saying, fine, let him rot in prison for the rest of his life.
Plus ça change…; Iraq Done, Now On to Iran
Ray McGovern, October 22, 2011
Editor Note (Consortiumnews.com): One not-so-funny fact about Washington is that nearly all the news media stars who fell for neoconservative falsehoods about Iraq are still around to fall for new ones on Iran, even some like Richard Cohen who briefly regretted his earlier gullibility, notes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Paul R. Pillar, my former colleague in the CIA’s analytical division, has raised a warning flag, cautioning that the same imaginative neocon composers who came up with the various refrains on why we needed to attack Iraq are now providing similar background music for a strike on Iran.
He is right. And as one of my Russian professors used to say, “This is nothing to laugh!”
"It’s not acceptable to kill a person without trying him," said Louay Hussein, a Syrian opposition figure in Damascus. "I prefer to see the tyrant behind bars." New York Times, October 20
The New York Times reported that a NATO jet and drones disabled vehicles in a convoy carrying Muammar Gaddafi near the besieged town of Sirte on October 20. Loyalists in the remaining vehicles scattered becoming easy prey for the emboldened fighters of the new Libyan state.
Reuters expanded the narrative on the 21st by reporting that Gaddafi fled from his jeep, hid in a drainage pipe, and emerged with an automatic weapon and side arm. He was manhandled and slapped by the soldiers of the new Libya. He allegedly asked the crowd, "Don't you know right from wrong?" They took exception to the question and shot him twice in the head. He was transported to Misurata, scene of one of the few decisive victories by the former rebels. Gaddafi's corpse was placed on a bare mattress and put on display for the public on the 22nd. It remains there today, although it is now reportedly covered by a blanket (Reuters, October 23).
There's a new sheriff in town, NATO.
Global Economic Crisis Deepens - by Stephen Lendman
Global Depression grips world economies. Destructive polices fueled today's crisis. Conditions are fast coming to a head.
Throwing good money after bad delays decision day at the price of far greater trouble on arrival. D-Day will shake world economies. It may, in fact, be months away, perhaps in 2012.
Yesterday, NPR's PR flack was haranguing me on the phone about how NPR had nothing to do with getting Lisa Simeone fired from an independent program called Soundprint. This was despite NPR having gone public with its concerns over Simeone's "unethical" participation in democracy, and Soundprint's referencing of NPR's "ethics" rules in firing Simeone. It was also despite NPR's clear intention to get Simeone removed from our airwaves.
I have no evidence that NPR contacted Soundprint, but "World of Opera" is a different story. Today I read that NPR has dropped distribution of "World of Opera," a program produced by WDAV which contracts with Simeone to host it. NPR's original frantic email and blog post had read:
By Linn Washington, Jr.
They worked many late night hours since this past spring creating a unique vehicle – part grassroots initiative and part cutting-edge technology – for countering the most corrupting force in American politics today: corporate dominance now controlling too many elected leaders on Capitol Hill.
Months before the Occupy Wall Street movement captured attention, inspiring millions across America while alarming this nation’s political/corporate class, they began fashioning plans to enable honest people to run for elected office.
Doubts About Gaddafi's Reported Assassination - by Stephen Lendman
NATO, Washington, Western media, Qatar-controlled Al Jazeera, Saudi-controlled Al Arabia, UK-controlled BBC, and other mainstream sources reported his death. More on that below.
On October 20, Mathaba.net disputed official accounts, saying:
Israel Arrests Palestinians While Releasing Others - by Stephen Lendman
In mid-October, Netanyahu's cabinet agreed to free 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners in two waves (including 27 women and nearly 300 children) in return for Hamas releasing Gilad Shalit after over five years in captivity.
Wave one is completed, freeing 477 Palestinians. In two months, phase two will release another 550. According to terms, 203 will be deported, 40 exiled overseas, and 163 expelled to Gaza.
Under the influence of U.S. military propaganda, Western accounts of occupation and resistance in Iraq have tended to characterize the occupation forces and their Kurdish and formerly exiled Iraqi allies as representing legitimate authority, stability and security in Iraq, and popular resistance forces as "insurgents" or "terrorists". An ever-changing official narrative in which US forces must be held blameless for the violence of the invasion and occupation has required the demonization of the Iraqi Resistance and fueled an endless quest for the roots of violence in caricatures of Iraqi history that have gained wide acceptance in Western popular culture.