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In this season of 10-year anniversaries, one almost got by me, just as it almost got by many of us on October 26, 2001. The Ashcroft Justice Department, which could hardly find a case of discrimination against a Black person or a woman to prosecute, and was busy dismantling its Civil Rights division, had apparently been busy elsewhere. Even before 9/11, they had written the USA PATRIOT Act (that’s “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” for those of you not patriotic enough to think that up yourselves).
Iraq Veterans Against the War said "It's ironic that days after Obama's announcement of the end of the IraqScott [Olsen] faced a veritible war zone in the streets of Oakland last night. He and other protesters were surrounded by explosions and smoke (tear gas) going off around him as people nearby carried him while yelling for a medic."
Despite the Obama administration’s announcement Friday that U.S. combat troops are finally leaving Iraq — giving rise to the popular perception that “Iraq war is over”– I ask those who are celebrating to consider: where is the joy coming from?
One of the fictions now pushed by the Powers That Be who promote divisions is that Occupy Wall Street is somehow the "Tea Party of the left" and somehow fundamentally opposed. This completely forgets that the whole reason the Tea Party took off was outrage over the bail-outs of Wall Street and GM, before the Republican establishment got its hooks in and began steering the conversation to things IT wanted to get rid of to balance the budget, like Medicare and Social Security.
Some of the most active citizen lobbying against the bailouts came from the powerful ALIPAC, the anti-illegal immigration group which was making Republican politicians quiver in their shoes across the country. In its announcement "No More Power and Money for Government Failures! ALIPAC Opposes Wall Street Bail Out" ALIPAC said:
Oct. 28: Rachel Maddow expresses exasperation that Paul Wolfowitz is still treated by the media as if he has credibility on foreign policy matters despite his infamous history of disastrously poor judgment.
Eurozone Bailout Deal - by Stephen Lendman
One size fits all doesn't work. Uniting 17 dissimilar countries under rigid euro rules failed.
Membership means foregoing the right to devalue currencies to make exports more competitive, maintain money sovereignty to monetize debt freely, and legislate fiscal policy to stimulate growth.
Anti-Imperial Voices - by Stephen Lendman
Last August, over 140 prominent Africans expressed opposition to NATO's imperial war against Libya. South African signatories to an open letter included former President Thabo Mbeki, former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad, and ANC National Executive Committee member Jesse Duarte.
By Dave Lindorff
Shanghai -- I was talking yesterday with the chief financial officer of a US-based drug firm that operates here in China, producing for the Chinese market, and got an up-close look at how bad things are for what used to be called the Almighty Dollar.
The company in question, a joint venture between a very profitable U.S. drug company and a local Chinese company, is quite profitable itself.
Never More Proud to Be in a Courtroom
by Kathleen Kirwin
October 28, 2011
“AS THE FATHER OF A YOUNG SON, I WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE ON MARCH 19TH TO BE A VOICE FOR SHAHIDULLAH.” From the closing argument of Defendant Art Laffin in DC Superior Court.
Can occupations survive a winter of global weirding, escalated police brutality, and the corporate media's venom? Should they?
In some parts of the country there will be no cold weather. In others, police abuses will result in larger occupations, not smaller. And it's certainly possible that for the first time in recent years an independent progressive populist campaign will survive the enmity of the corporate media.
In other cases, the cold, the communications assaults, fatigue, and the difficulties encountered by activist camps that also become homes for the homeless and the mentally ill may begin to erode the usefulness of encampments.
What to do?
Here's one activist's recommendations:
Killing Gaddafi: Longstanding US Policy - by Stephen Lendman
Absent reliable independent proof, some sources believe a double was killed, not Gaddafi. More on that below.
Nonetheless, clear evidence shows Washington wanted him dead for years.
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.