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After nearly five years of fighting between the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union over images of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, a federal appeals court ruled today that the photos must be made available to the public.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan (2nd Cir.) affirmed a 2006 district court order that dismissed the government's arguments that privacy rights of the soldiers and detainees in the images would be violated -- noting the redactions in the form of black bars over the subjects' faces -- and agreed that any potential damage caused by the release of the photos was "far too speculative" to justify their withholding.
Treasury’s Financial-Bailout Proposal to Congress
by Steven A Reisler
This is far more important than anything else happening right now and if the Bush administration has its way, they will ram another $&^*((&$&^# piece of "emergency legislation" down your throats (with the Democrats usual meek acquiescence, of course). The last piece of legislation that was passed during an "emergency" at breakneck speed: the oxymoronically named "Patriot Act" right after 9/11.
The press keeps yakking about the 700 billion dollar bail out of Wall Street, but very few are letting you actually read the proposal itself. It's short and... bitter. Even non-lawyers can read it quickly. Read it and weep. Comments follow after the full text. I've bolded certain sections of special concern.
The following is the legislative proposal from Treasury Department for authority to buy mortgage-related assets:
Section 1. Short Title.
This Act may be cited as ____________________.
When Hunting Tigers Don’t Beat a Drum
John S. Phillips | White Buffalo Productions.org
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.~~Thomas Jefferson
As we watched the Walls of Babylon come tumbling down last week on Wall Street, one financial analyst of the Corporately Controlled Ministry of Dis-Information was brave enough to mutter the words “Financial Terrorism”. By the end of the week one servant of the King suggested that the people would pay for the costs of this controlled demolition. A mere $700 Billion to be handed out by those that would sit in the service of the king, and who originally helped engineer the crisis.
Avaaz.org is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want.
“Avaaz” means “Voice” in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages.
Across the world, most people want stronger protections for the environment, greater respect for human rights, and concerted efforts to end poverty, corruption and war. Yet globalization faces a huge democratic deficit as international decisions are shaped by political elites and unaccountable corporations -- not the views and values of the world’s people.
By Dave Lindorff
What nobody in the corporate media is mentioning amid all the blather about the $700-billion Paulson bailout proposal is the impact it will have on the US dollar.
We are told that this huge gift to the financial sector—the assumption, at top dollar, of all the bad debt they’ve piled up--will be at taxpayer expense, but that’s only the half of it. (Really only the quarter of it because since the US government is technically bankrupt already, spending more than it takes in each year, all that money will be borrowed, and will be added to the national debt, meaning that just as the real cost of the $500-billion Iraq War is closer to $2 trillion, the real cost of the $700 billion bailout will be more like $1.5-2.5 trillion.)
Congressman Tom Allen recently sent this email to his constituents describing his sponsorship of legislation to curb contractor financial exploitation of the government. Rep. Allen is running for Senate against Senator Susan Collins. Rep. Allen wrote:
Last year, I sponsored a provision in the Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2008 to establish a commission to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The commission, which had bipartisan support in Congress, is modeled on the Truman Commission, an investigation of defense industry profiteering during WWII.
Solution: Declare All Credit Default Swaps Null And Void
Estimates on the productivity advantage of granite countertops and CDS' were too optimistic.
by Bernhard | MoonOfAlabama.com
The Paulson plan is useless as it only tries to address the degraded value of Asset Backed Securities.
These are neither the source nor the reason for the very real threat of a total financial crash.
Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. | RollingStone.com
Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)
But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7)
US Army Brigade Assigned to Homeland Tours - "Helping People at Home" Respond to Natural, Man Made Emergencies/Terrorism
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.
It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.
THE DOG DAYS OF SEPTEMBER
By Gary Corseri
“Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth.
The unmentionalble odour of death
Offends the September night.”
--W.H. Auden, “September, 1939”
Historians may look back on September, 2008 as America’s economic 9/11. Major financial institutions are collapsing—to use a bitter analogy--like the twin towers: first, Bear Stearns (already 6 months ago!); and now, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and the insurance giant A.I.G. Just as 7 years ago, we cry out, What hit us? Who did this? Why?
Way back in September 2005, not so long after Katrina hit New Orleans and Americans discovered just what the Bush administration was -- and wasn't -- capable of, environmental activist and author Chip Ward wrote a piece for TomDispatch, "Left Behind," on "Bush's holy war on nature." In it he outlined just what that administration was, in fact, quite skilled at doing. He wrote, in part:
"During their time in power, Bush's officials have worked systematically and energetically to undo half a century of environmental law and policy based on hard-learned lessons about how to sustain healthy environments. Strikingly, they have failed to protect the environment even when they could have done so without repercussions from special-interest campaign contributors. Something more is going on."
“Damage from carbon dioxide emission costs about $35 a ton, but in your [World Bank] model no one pays it. Shell reported a profit of twenty-three billion, but if you added the damage cost it would be eight billion in the red. These companies should be bankrupt. You support the exteriorizing of costs, so your accounting is bullshit. You’re helping to bring on the biggest catastrophe in human history. If the oil companies burn the five hundred gigatons of carbon that you are describing as inevitable because of your financial shell games, then two-thirds of the species on the planet will be endangered, including humans. It’s the stupidest head-in-the-sand response possible.”
-Charlie Quibler, Sixty Days and Counting
“The military budgets of the world equal about a trillion dollars a year, half of that coming from the United States. Maybe we can’t afford to throw that work away anymore. Maybe the money could be reallocated [to clean energy technologies]. And we do need a really big manufacturing capacity here. What if the entire military-industrial complex, funded by these enormous budgets, were redirected?”
-Frank Vanderwal, in Sixty Days and Counting
September 17, 2008
Dear Congressman Nadler,
We are sure this will come as no surprise, but your inexplicable refusal to uphold your oath of office or wield the power entrusted to you as a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the chair of the its Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee to bring about impeachment hearings has gravely disappointed thousands of your constituents.
You did not challenge Nancy Pelosi when she took impeachment off the table. You did not call upon John Conyers to initiate hearings, and you did not stand with your courageous colleagues who put principle before Party by calling for impeachment hearings.
Treasury Seeks Authority to Buy $700 Billion Assets (Update1)
By Alison Fitzgerald and John Brinsley | Bloomberg.com
The Bush administration asked Congress for unchecked power to buy $700 billion in bad mortgage investments from U.S. financial companies in what would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the markets.
The plan, designed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is aimed at averting a credit freeze that would bring the financial system and economic growth to a standstill. The bill would bar courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority.
``It sounds like Paulson is asking to be a financial dictator, for a limited period of time,'' said historian John Steele Gordon, author of ``Hamilton's Blessing,'' a chronicle of the national debt. ``This is a much-needed declaration of power for the Treasury secretary. We can't wait until the next administration in January.''
European Social Forum: It's All About NATO
by Bruce Gagnon | Organizing Notes
I arrived in Copenhagen today after spending the last couple of days in Malmo, Sweden for the European Social Forum. Yesterday afternoon a march was held where 10,000 people walked for 3 and 1/2 hours through the city streets in a beautiful spirited procession. Thousands of people watched us from their home windows or on the street as we passed through the city. The weather was perfect. Just before the march took off I was the final speaker at the rally (for two minutes). I was lucky I got to speak at all as we got to the rally late after a large group of us stopped for some lunch at a local fallafel joint. I'm glad we ate first.
Before the march yesterday I participated in a forum on space issues along with GN chair Dave Webb from England who is also the Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarament in the UK. Jan Tamas, our good friend and a leader of the resistance against deployment of the U.S. Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic, was there too. GN board member Agenta Norberg, a long-time activist from Sweden, made the arrangements to get us all there to talk. It was a well attended event and we felt excited to have reached many new people.
When government officials surveyed the flailing American financial system this week, they didn't see only a collapsed investment bank or the surrender of a giant insurance firm. They saw the circulatory system of the U.S. economy -- credit markets -- starting to fail.
Twin Terrors of the Holy Land: The Sexy Fundamentalist and a White-Haired Zionist
Mention 9/11 to most Americans and the two numbers are considered sufficient to give meaning to that day. But mention 9/12, the day after when “terror” became our national mantra and the “smoking gun” brandished by a neocon-infested administration for its devilish designs in the Middle East and the numbers are meaningless beyond the platitudinous, “they hate our freedoms” and “God Bless America.”
Such platitudes, hawked ad nauseam by TV “faith-healers” and political snake oil peddlers, may act as a balm to soothe a body politic traumatized by the attacks on 9/11, but they do not explain—only obfuscate—the real causes that brought terror to our “blessed shores.”
Iran will stop any attacker before he can "pull the trigger" and sanctions intended to isolate the Islamic Republic have not worked, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a military parade on Sunday.
The United States and its allies are seeking to step up U.N. sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear plans, which the West sees as a bid to build nuclear arms. Iran denies this.
There has been persistent speculation Washington or Israel might launch strikes on Iran's nuclear sites, as neither country has ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end the row.
"If anybody dares to breach the boundaries of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation's holy land and Iran's legal interests, our armed forces ... will break his hand before he can pull the trigger," Ahmadinejad said.
A partnership between Internet search giant Google and General Electric is designed to invest in — and promote — technologies for renewable energy.
The plan for the partnership, announced Wednesday, is to establish renewable-energy plants, promote plug-in electric cars and transform the nation's electricity grid.
Although it's an Internet company, Google has a vested interest in renewable energy because it consumes a vast amount of energy — and contributes to waste — with its data centers, says Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt.
"Understand that the energy prices drive the cost of Google," Schmidt tells NPR's Michele Norris. "So if we can spend money now to save money in the future, that ultimately produces better long-term shareholder value."
Pakistan Raid Start Of Concerted Bid To Hit Al-Qaida
by Tom Gjelten and Tom Bowman | NPR.org
NPR has learned that the raid by helicopter-borne U.S. Special Operations forces in Pakistan last week was not an isolated incident but part of a three-phase plan, approved by President Bush, to strike at Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaida leadership.
The plan calls for a much more aggressive military campaign, said one source, familiar with the presidential order, which gives the green light for the military to take part in the operations. The plan represents an 11th-hour effort to hammer al-Qaida until the Bush administration leaves office, two government officials told NPR.
"Definitely, the gloves have come off," said a source who has been briefed on the plan. "This was only Phase 1 of three phases."
Twisted metal, bits of human flesh and burned out cars littered the street outside the U.S. Embassy in San'a, Yemen, the morning after attackers mounted a coordinated frontal assault on the heavily fortified compound.
Yemeni officials say 16 people were killed in the battle, including six local security forces and four civilian bystanders. The U.S. State Department said the assault on the compound carried the hallmarks of an al-Qaida operation.
Dozens of suspects were taken in for questioning by Yemeni security officials in the wake of Wednesday's battle.
Russia, China, Germany reject US evidence of Iran's covert nuke program
DEBKAfile Special Analysis | DEBKA.com
Euphrates pipes for destroyed Syrian reactor designed to be part of Iran's military program
Russia, China and Germany refuse to countenance tougher sanctions against Iran notwithstanding the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report from Vienna that its inspections of suspect activities and covert projects were stalled by Tehran’s non-cooperation. Diplomats for the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, meeting at the State Department Friday, Sept 19, therefore failed to agree on a new round of sanctions ahead of their foreign ministers’ meeting at UN Center next week.
Funny how history has a way of turning back on itself.
Remember when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Republicans claimed that Ronald Reagan's aggressive policies toward the Soviet Union had won the Cold War. In particularly they claim that Reagan's fabulously expensive "Star Wars" anti-missile system had forced the Soviets to spend so much on their own military projects that it bankrupted them.
Well, there's truth in that. Between trying to compete with Reagan's military spending and their own misadventure in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union went bust. Decades of over-spending on its military, under-spending on critical domestic needs and saddled with a flawed and increasingly corrupt economic dogma all collided at once, ending in utter and complete collapse.
Vice President Dick Cheney's Incredible and Deadly Lie: By Deceiving a Congressional Leader, Cheney Sent Us to War on False Pretenses And Violated the Separation of Powers - as Well as the Criminal Law
By JOHN W. DEAN | FindLaw.com
This week, I agreed to deliver a "Constitution Day" talk on a college campus. My talk was not partisan. Yet the subject matter I selected was prompted by the most incredible - not to mention the most deadly - lie Dick Cheney has yet told, which was reported earlier this week.
On September 18, 2008, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") finally responded to CREW's FOIA request of July 17, 2008, for records related to the FBI interview of Vice President Cheney as part of the government's leak investigation. In response to a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for the same documents, Attorney General Michael Mukasey asserted executive privilege, at the request of the president. In response to CREW's FOIA request, DOJ refused to produce any documents, also claiming executive privilege. In addition, for the first time DOJ also claimed that portions of the records are classified. CREW is in litigation with DOJ over this FOIA request.
A federal judge on Saturday ordered Dick Cheney to preserve a wide range of the records from his time as vice president.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is a setback for the Bush administration in its effort to promote a narrow definition of materials that must be safeguarded under by the Presidential Records Act.
The Bush administration's legal position "heightens the court's concern" that some records may not be preserved, said the judge.
A private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is suing Cheney and the Executive Office of the President in an effort to ensure that no presidential records are destroyed or handled in a way that makes them unavailable to the public.
A Wild Frontier
By Lakki Marwat | The Economist
It will take more than American missiles to bring order to Pakistan’s north-western border region
AMERICA and Pakistan both deny it; but it appears that on September 15th they fought a short war. America started it. Local reports suggest that, under cover of darkness, two helicopter-loads of its soldiers crossed on foot from Afghanistan into the Pakistani tribal area—and terrorist haven—of South Waziristan. This followed an American policy, allegedly authorised by President George Bush in July, of launching raids into Pakistan without its government’s approval. But, on this occasion, Pakistani border troops responded as to the act of aggression that it constituted: shooting over the heads of the advancing Americans, forcing them back.
A California congressional delegation asked President Bush on Friday to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to a Marine who was chosen to receive only the second-highest medal the Navy can bestow for valor.
The delegation, spearheaded by Rep. Duncan Hunter, sent a letter asking for a review of the case of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who witnesses say covered a grenade with his body to save comrades on November 15, 2004, during fighting in Fallujah, Iraq. Already wounded by gunfire, he died immediately.