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. . . I do not accept the phrase “computer glitch,” which is “the dog ate my homework” of our age . . . .
Brookings: A Reliable Imperial Tool
by Stephen Lendman
Brookings calls itself a Washington-based NGO "conducting high-quality, independent research" to advance three goals: democracy, economic and social welfare for all, and a "more safe, prosperous and cooperative international system."
Hunger Strikes Highlight Israeli Injustice
by Stephen Lendman
Israel treats Palestinian prisoners horrifically. Cruel and unusual punishment is policy. Detention conditions include torture, intimidation, and other abusive practices.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins heard the arguments on Friday in Washington, D.C., and is deliberating now on the question of whether young people can sue to compel their government to take serious measures to stop global warming.
Judge Robert Wilkins is familiar with discrimination, having been the plaintiff in a well-known driving-while-black case of racial profiling in Maryland. But few of us are familiar with the concept of discrimination against future generations. We grow easily indignant when living people are unfairly treated. We grow confused when considering the injustice of depriving our grandchildren of a habitable planet so that we can drive our SUVs and fight our wars. There's no living person or group of persons we can point to as being wronged, unless perhaps it is the young.
Judge Wilkins is familiar with, and appreciative of, the role federal courts played in the U.S. civil rights movement. But a case had been made that certain people's Constitutional rights were being violated. Whose Constitutional rights are violated by condemning young people to grow old on a damaged planet turning to desert and barren rock?
There may be an answer to that. The Constitution's purpose is to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Surely there is a violation of the Constitution in making the earth uninhabitable for our Posterity. But no court has ever arrived at that conclusion.
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person," says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which under Article VI of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family." How can we protect those rights for everyone, including the young and the not-yet-born, without putting everything we have into trying to preserve a climate in which humans can prosper? How can the U.S. government fulfill its obligations to Native American nations while finally completing the destruction of their land along with everyone else's?
Courageous young people filed suit a year ago against the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Defense. One would think being sued for ruining the earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases was not terribly desirable, but there was a mad rush by other parties to be added to the list of defendants. These additional defendants succeeded in getting themselves added: Delta Construction Company Inc., Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association Inc., California Dump Truck Owners Association, Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, and The National Association Of Manufacturers.
The National Association of Manufacturers openly claims selfish interests for being involved:
"NAM moved to intervene in this litigation, because the law suit, if successful, would have a dramatic effect on manufacturing processes and investments, increasing production and transportation costs, decreasing global competitiveness and driving jobs and businesses abroad. The litigation, which seeks a minimum 6% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions every year, would be devastating to the entire U.S. economy."
NAM also says:
"The NAM's members include many of the major oil, coal and natural gas producers, petroleum refiners, and petrochemical producers, as well as manufacturing companies that make the tools and components critical to such industries. Id. Obviously, immediate reductions—and eventual elimination—of conventional fuel use is a central business concern for these members of the NAM."
So, this was the argument for joining the case: our profits would suffer. Well, of course, they would. The government would have to stop giving $11 billion a year or more to fossil fuel companies. Arguably, the government would have to stop putting over $1 trillion a year into preparation for wars fought largely to secure fossil fuels. Taxes would have to be imposed on carbon emissions. But there would also have to be massive public investment in green energy, investment that could help companies become profitable in new ways. Or it could not. What's guaranteed is that the current profit-making plans of these companies would suffer, while humanity would benefit. We're trained to think such conflicts don't exist, that what's good for Exxon-Mobil is good for all of us. It isn't true. The oil companies are arguing for the right to ruin the atmosphere.
In Friday's hearing, however, other arguments were advanced. Three men spoke for the defense, one from the government, one from NAM, and one from the California interveners. They did not dispute the reality and seriousness of global warming, which James Hansen called "apocalyptic" in Thursday's New York Times. They did not claim ownership of the sky. Instead they argued for democracy, the Constitution, the separation of powers, the right of the legislative branch to legislate, and the existence of the EPA as sufficient to answer the plaintiff's claims whether or not the EPA was doing any good.
It was curious to hear the government's defense of the rights of the legislative branch for a number of reasons. First, the executive branch in recent years has been rapidly eroding Congress's powers. Second, the Constitution has been discarded when it comes to Congressional war powers, or habeas corpus, or much of the Bill of Rights. Third, Congress almost never represents majority opinion in the country on any important issue, but is instead openly working for the legal bribes authorized by the Supreme Court as election spending -- for which the Supreme Court has argued to protect the human rights of corporations. To pretend that the legislative branch envisioned by the Constitution still exists is bizarre. Fourth, immediately after the government's lawyer rhetorically asked, "In a democracy whose job is it to take public actions of the first order?" he turned the floor over to the lawyer from NAM. Where in the Constitution does it assign corporate lobbyists the duty to defend the government against popular petitions for redress of grievances?
The NAM lawyer said not one word about his clients' profits. Instead he proposed, among other things, that "national security" might require current levels of C02 emissions. He was, of course, using a narrow conception of national security. How secure is a nation that is losing its farmland and coastlines? But, if the argument was to be made on behalf of the Pentagon, why not let the Pentagon do it? Why allow the oil barons' hired hand to substitute?
Julia Olson argued ably for the plaintiffs, citing numerous precedents for her claim that the atmosphere is a public trust and that public trusts must be protected. As in the on-going struggle over the Supreme Court's pro-bribery Citizens United ruling, the state of Montana is featured in this debate, as the Supreme Court once ruled that Montana had a right to protect its rivers as a public trust, a ruling based on a long legal tradition, but later reversed.
Judge Wilkins asked Olson numerous detailed questions in a lengthy exchange that reviewed many precedents and hypothetical arguments. Olson pointed to a case that had established a three-judge panel to direct the state of California to reduce its prison population. The judges had not handled the details of the changes made to California's penal system, but had enforced a level of reduction by a deadline, just as these plaintiffs want CO2 levels in the atmosphere reduced to 350 ppm by a set date.
Olson's co-counsel Philip Gregory brought to Friday's hearing something that was otherwise missing in hours of technical debate: honest passion. Gregory made a moral as much as a legal case on behalf of the rights of the plaintiffs, a row of several teenagers seated in the front row of the courtroom.
Judge Wilkins argued to Gregory that either he was being asked to tell six government agencies that they were not doing their jobs as required by statute -- in which case, the judge said, such matters could be handled one-at-a-time outside of this lawsuit, or he was being asked to instruct six agencies to act outside of their Congressional mandate. Gregory's response focused, rightly, on the magnitude and urgency of the crisis we face.
Trying to get courts to do Congress's job may, in fact, not be ideal. Trying to get state or foreign prosecutors to indict Bush for torture is not ideal. Pinochet's indictment in Spain was not ideal. Federal desegregation of Southern states was not ideal. Protecting voting rights state-by-state is not ideal. But in an emergency, shouldn't one try the tools that are available? And shouldn't one drop counterproductive pretenses, such as the pretense that a functioning Congress still exists?
What if the mythical humanized frogs in the pot of gradually warming water -- thousands and thousands of such frogs in a giant pot on a giant stove -- had a frog government? And what if the frog Congress had been bought off with piles of flies by a frog whose business it was to sell tiny, cold, bottled water to the frogs as they warmed? If the frog courts decided to leave the decision to hop out of the pot to the frog Congress, they would make the correct decision that would best allow representative frog government in the future. But would that do anything to guarantee that there would be any future for those frogs?
In case it isn't blatantly obvious, the above and everything else written here is my opinion, not the plaintiffs' legal arguments. The hearing ran for about three hours, and was all very formal and polite. Judge Wilkins generously thanked both sides for their "sincerity, diligence, and earnestness."
"But I would be remiss," he added, "if I did not say that it is a struggle for any judge to determine based on our Constitutional system how best to play the proper role in adjudicating a case like this one. I don't take the Constitution lightly. . . ."
"That said, it behooves all of us, regardless of the resolution of this case, to really think about what we can do to resolve this very serious problem."
Of course, we aren't all in the same position to do the same amount of good. By ruling that this case can proceed, Wilkins would open up a public forum on intergenerational justice and a ground-breaking earth-protecting suit that the plaintiffs would be very likely to win. Future generations would, quite likely, revere the name Robert Wilkins. His heroism would not be quickly forgotten.
NATO Heads for Chicago
by Stephen Lendman
A $100 million NATO invasion is coming. Low intensity conflict may follow. The "City of Broad Shoulders" may get more than it bargained for.
Nelson Algren once called Chicago the "City on the Make." NATO's May 20/21 "on the make" invasion isn't welcome.
Activism for Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Activism has many forms. OWS protesters want long denied social change. Palestinians want to live free. So do Bahrainis.
By John Grant
The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.
- D.H. Lawrence
The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations … where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket … where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practicing.
- Raymond Chandler
American pop culture is certainly not unique in having a love affair with killers. Since the first cave man cracked his neighbor’s head open to control a water hole, eliminating others has been top on the list of problem-solving techniques.
There are several reports out about the fact that the TSA may have deliberately hidden millions of dollars’ worth of unused equipment and lied about it to Congress. Such lying could make TSA officials subject to criminal prosecution.
Stop the Drone War Weekend @ Fordham & Radio City
Friday, May 18 – 5:15 pm. - Gather Main Entrance at 2853 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY.At 6:00 pm. Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be presenting the Fordham Baccalaureate Mass for the Fordham University Commencement for the Class of 2012. Urge Archbishop Dolan to speak out against the drones controlled out of Hancock Air Base in Syracuse, NY, which is part of his eccelesiastical province.
Protest When Obama Gives Barnard Commencement Address. Protest the ongoing, escalating and spreading wars! The commencement starts at 12:30. It will be held on the South Lawn of the Columbia campus. Meet outside the gates at 116th Street and Broadway. Sponsored by War Criminals Watch, World Can't Wait and Occupy Harlem. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“I get mad when bloggers accuse me of lying -- of knowing the information was false. I didn’t.” -- Colin Powell.
Can you imagine having an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council about a matter of great global importance, with all the world's media watching, and using it to… well, to make shit up – to lie with a straight face, and with a CIA director propped up behind you, I mean to spew one world-class, for-the-record-books stream of bull, to utter nary a breath without a couple of whoppers in it, and to look like you really mean it all? What gall. What an insult to the entire world that would be.
Colin Powell doesn't have to imagine such a thing. He has to live with it. He did it on February 5, 2003. It's on videotape.
Guantanamo Show Trial Begins
by Stephen Lendman
At issue is prosecuting five 9/11 suspects: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM: the alleged mastermind), Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al Hawsawi.
Israel: Profile of a Police State
by Stephen Lendman
Police states are defined by lawlessness, injustice, and contempt for democratic values.
Another Foiled False Flag
by Stephen Lendman
Wikipedia defines false or black flags as "covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities."
By Dave Lindorff
The Senate is currently deadlocked on taking action to prevent the interest on new Stafford guaranteed student loans from rising on July 1 from 3.4% to 6.8%, with Democrats saying they want to “pay for” keeping the current “lower” 3.4% rate by closing a loophole that allows some wealthy people to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, while Republicans want to “pay for” keeping the lower rate by eliminating a fund for preventative health care in the 2010 health care reform law.
But what is all this nonsense about “paying for” a supposedly “lower” interest rate of 3.4%?
Predatory Capitalism Failed
by Stephen Lendman
Independent observers knew it long ago. Today's global economic crisis provides added confirmation. In 2008, a staunch champion of the system expressed second thoughts. More on him below.
Israel's High Court Rejects Justice
by Stephen Lendman
On May 8, hunger strikers Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh reached day 71.
On May 7, Israel's High Court ruled let 'em die. It rejected an urgent appeal to save them. They're uncharged political prisoners, not criminals.
Stephen M. Kohn of the National Whistleblowers Center says that for national security whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has been "a disaster." Kohn, the author of eight books on whistleblower law, represents Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower and the author of the just-released Classified Woman. Edmonds submitted her book to the FBI for censorship, and the FBI failed to identify anything that she could not print, but also refused to approve of the book. Edmonds, however, has gone ahead and published it. The book protects, rather than endangering, national security. But it does embarrass the FBI.
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On March 9th the Federal Aviation Administration requested comments from the public on drone test sites. On May 8th, lengthy comments were submitted by Not 1 More Acre! and Purgatoire, Apishapa & Comanche Grassland Trust. The FAA asked all the wrong questions, but still got a lot of the right answers. When the drone accidents start, and you're told "Nobody could have known," refer them here: PDF.
I would have asked "Should weaponized drones be permitted to exist on earth?" and "How can surveillance drones possibly comply with the Fourth Amendment?" The FAA asked:
"The Congressional language asks the FAA to consult with and leverage the resources of the Department of Defense and NASA in this effort. Since many public operators already have access to test ranges and control the management and use of those ranges, should the management of these new test ranges be held by local governments or should private entity [sic] schedule and manage the airspace?"
Not 1 More Acre! replied:
"Neither. Although the pilot UAS [Unmanned Aircraft System] program is a Congressional mandate, and the timelines are accelerated, the complexities and potential dangers of integration of UAS into civilian airspace must not be delegated to local governments or private organizations in the name of expediency, entrepreneurship, or profit. . . . The wording of Question A suggests that the FAA is contemplating abdicating its inherent authority to manage the NAS [National Airspace System] by ceding broad discretion over UAS flight operations. . . .
". . . The primary driver of the move to integration has clearly been contractors funded by the DOD, working in concert with the secretive Joint Special Forces Operation Command, the Department of Homeland Security, and the CIA, among others. . . . Private defense [sic] contractors increasingly woo local law enforcement agencies and other community groups with grants to help fund the purchase of new UAS. The FAA should not allow any other federal agency to usurp its authority over the NAS or circumvent the pre-decisional public disclosure requirements of NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] including agencies like the CIA, NASA, and JSOC which are not transparent or accountable to the public."
Of course, there's a catch. Even the accountable agency has, naturally, ceased to be accountable:
"However, the FAA has never conducted any NEPA review related to UAS. The agency has never prepared an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment to disclose the potential impacts of UAS to the public and agency officials, despite issuing hundreds of Certificates of Waiver and Authorization to some 60 public agencies."
Have you heard about the 51st State for Armed Robotic Drones?
The 63 drone sites in the U.S.?
The 30,000 drones planned for U.S. skies?
The habit drones have of crashing even on their own?
While initially cheaper than manned planes, unmanned drones of the sort used now tend to require many more personnel: 168 people to keep a Predator drone in the air for 24 hours, plus 19 analysts to process the videos created by a drone. Drones and their related technologies are increasing in price rapidly. And to make matters worse, they tend to crash. They even "go rogue," lose contact with their "pilots" and fly off on their own. The U.S. Navy has a drone that self-destructs if you accidentally touch the space bar on the computer keyboard. Drones also tend to supply so-called enemies with information, including the endless hours of video they record, and to infect U.S. military computers with viruses. But these are the sorts of SNAFUs that come with any project lacking oversight, accountability, or cost controls. The companies with the biggest drone contracts did not invest in developing the best technologies but in paying off the most Congress members.
What could go wrong?
TSA incompetence at nation’s busiest airport
by Bill Fisher
In the wake of (yet another) recent barrage of news stories reporting the TSA groping children and elderly couples, smuggling drugs, assaulting Congressmen, and causing their own security breaches, a related story on TSA background checks — or lack thereof — went relatively unnoticed.
READ THE REST HERE.
European Electoral Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman
The morning after election Sunday, French and Greek voters have major issues unresolved. Austerity harmed people in both countries. Technocrats remain in charge. Odds remain long for change.
Palestinian Prisoner Unity
by Stephen Lendman
Commentary is a neoconservative publication. Fronting for Israel is policy.
By Charles M. Young
In journalism and in life, it is best to admit it when you’re wrong, and I was wrong last week. In my haste to write something timely about the triumphant return of Occupy Wall Street to the front lines of protest on May 1, I assumed that Fox Five New York and the NYPD were uniquely stupid as they colluded on a story about the possibility of Arab terrorists secreting bombs in their “cavities,” as the reporter referred to certain familiar orifices that are usually unmentioned on television. Fox Five led their 10:00 pm newscast with the story and I, in my cynicism, thought that only the minions of Rupert Murdoch could lead the news with an imaginary explosion of fecal matter and viscera on a day when Occupy Wall Street had tied up traffic all over Manhattan.
Boy, was I naive.
Friday is the 2012 Commencement ceremony at UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall). How time flies! Yet another class of successful, proud graduates will celebrate Commencement having spent their entire law school career with a war criminal, as defined under international law and legal precedent, on the faculty. Torture Lawyer John Yoo is still at Boalt, teaching constitutional law, and ethics.
FBI Entrapment Snares More Victims
by Stephen Lendman
The latest plot involves five subjects allegedly planning to bomb a Cleveland area bridge. More on it below.
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed.