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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

Halliburton Profited by BP's Destruction of the Gulf Coast and Cheney's Company Made a Profit

Halliburton Profited by BP's Destruction of the Gulf Coast and Cheney's Company Made a Profit
By Brian Connors | Associated Content

This proves that Cheney was willing to make the bottom 99% unwitting pawns to his desire of increasing profits for the top 1%! Also that he deserves to be put in jail for his crimes.

The article "As 'top kill' effort fails, BP must fall back on oil spill containment strategy" relating to Cheney's Energy Task Force Ruined the Gulf states "BP's three-day effort to throttle the leaking gulf oil well with multiple blasts of heavy mud has failed. The attempted "top kill" of the well was abandoned late Saturday afternoon, leaving the huge Macondo field deep beneath the sea floor once again free to pump at least half a million gallons of crude a day into the gulf...

"There's no silver bullet to stop this leak," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.

We are being held captive to this catastrophe as a mediocre containment strategy is all that will be currently utilized as the article states "After that, the company could place another blowout preventer on top of the existing one. Meanwhile two drilling rigs at the surface continue to drill relief wells. That's a long-term strategy that requires engineers to hit a seven-inch target, the bottom of the leaking well, 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the gulf. The first of the two relief wells to hit the target will send a massive dose of cement to seal the leaking well. Read more.

Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill

Feds Move to Block Transocean's Bid To Cap Damages For Gulf Oil Spill
'This It Cannot Do,' Says Justice Department, And Compares Transocean To Titanic's Owners
By Jason Ryan | ABC News

"Suffice it to say, eleven crewmembers lost their lives in the immediate disaster stemming from the explosion and fire aboard the vessel. As for the oil spill, we shall forego a cascade of words like 'catastrophic' and 'cataclysmic' as they simply do not do justice to the magnitude of economic, health, and environmental devastation wrought upon the nation's waters, across a swath of States, and upon entire communities."

Hours after Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed ongoing criminal and civil probes related to the Gulf oil spill , the Justice Department has filed motions to block Transocean from seeking to limit their liability in the unfolding disaster. The documents were filed late Tuesday night in federal court in Houston, Texas.

The motion filed by the Justice Department follows Transocean's May 13 motion to seek limited liability of just $26.7 million. The Justice Department initially signaled to Transocean that it would oppose this in a May 24 letter to Transocean's counsel. Transocean has asked for limited liability under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, the same act invoked by the owners of the RMS Titanic when they awarded a paltry $95,000 to the survivors of the Titanic tragedy.

The May 24 letter said, "It is simply unconscionable, in the circumstances of this case, that Transocean is attempting to use this same shield of liability potentially leaving thousands of people who have been damaged by your clients' actions with no remedy."

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, the mobile offshore drilling platform that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. The explosion triggered the ongoing oil spill that has become the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In the Tuesday filing, the Justice Department said, "Transocean seeks to absolve ('exonerate') itself from liability concerning the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill, or, alternatively, limit its liability to approximately $27 million. This it cannot do." Read more.

BP Hires Cheney's Press Flack

BP Hires Cheney's Press Flack
By Kate Sheppard | Mother Jones

BP has hired Dick Cheney's former press flack, Anne Womack Kolton, to serve as the new "head of U.S. media relations" as the company deals with the PR disaster of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Kolton was Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign, and then moved to a job in public affairs at the Department of Energy.

One of her tasks in her previous job was defending the administration's secret meetings with energy officials, even as courts were telling the White House to turn over documents about the task force: "We are ready to defend our principles in court. This goes to the heart of the presidency and to the ability of the president and vice president to receive candid, discreet advice."

Not a lot is known about the task force, since the administration succeeded in shielding it from the public. But it is known that BP officials were among the oil chiefs involved in the secret meetings. Read more.

The BP Oil Gusher Is Just The Latest In A Long Line Of Assaults On The Gulf Of Mexico

The BP oil gusher is just the latest in a long line of assaults on the Gulf of Mexico
By Diane Wilson | Grist

I'm a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast, on a boat since I was eight. Over the last two decades, I've become a self-appointed watchdog of the chemical, oil, and gas corporations that are decimating the Gulf.

I hate to say it, but what I'm seeing now in the Gulf ain't nothing new. The toxic releases, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the nonexistent documents, the "swinging door" with regulators, the deaths. Same ole same ole.

What is new is the massive nature of the oil gusher and the fact that it can't be covered up because it's ongoing and being videoed. This elephant can't be swept under the carpet, but I'm sure if BP could, BP would.

There are politicians out there -- we've all heard them -- who say this oil spill is just one accident and one accident does not a case make. Heck, one plane crashes and you don't stop flying, do ya? Well, this isn't just one accident. This is the biggest flame among the thousands of fires set by Corporate America on its Sherman-like march across the Gulf. Read more.

Why The Financial Reform Is Not Much of a Reform

Why The Financial Reform Is Not Much of a Reform
By Danny Schecter | Op Ed News

Washington Post, Some Perks For Wall Street Execs Have Gone UP

"Some of the nation's biggest financial firms have increased the perks and benefits they pay their chief executives, despite the glaring spotlight from a public fed up with handsome bonuses at bailed-out Wall Street banks."

I was among those raving in wonder at the the passage of the financial reform bill. And now, having figured out how little has been done, I am just raving.

"Unbelievable," said one advocate who hoped for the best but expected the worst. He was amazed it even passed. The wise men in the media immediately began making comparisons with the New Deal. The pundits praised the President and the fact that a handful of Republicans did not just say no this time.

Somehow, even the most hard-headed among us realized that something had to be done to bring Wall Street in line if only because the mood in the country on this issue is practically insurrectionary. Read more.

Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill


Barack Obama: Liar, Warlord, and Corporate Shill
By Stephen Lendman

It shouldn't surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they're safe, yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.

As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists" - the same ones who bought and now own him.

He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.

The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA - courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.

The Bodies of Those Who Died in Vain Litter Our Landscape

By Dave Lindorff

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I am sick to death of the glorification of war in America.

And I am even sicker of politicians who wrap themselves in the bloody flag and try to rub off some of the stench of death from the bodies of those who have died, mostly in vain for worthless causes, in hopes that taking on some of the odor will cause them to be perceived as admirable patriots themselves.

President George W. Bush, who dodged danger in the Vietnam War by signing up for the Texas National Guard and then ducked even that domestic duty, and Vice President Dick Cheney who used five different excuses to duck military service, morbidly rubbed themselves with that flag for eight long years, even as they sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women into harm’s for their own personal political advantage.

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt
By Nick Baumann | Mother Jones

Michael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners' association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500. This story illustrates the type of legal quagmire that can get out of hand while soldiers are serving abroad and their families are dealing with the stress of their deployment. And fixing the mess isn't easy.

Michael went on active duty in February 2008 and was sent to Iraq. After he shipped out, his wife May slipped into a deep depression, according to court documents. "A lot of people say that the deployment is more stressful on the spouse than the actual person who's being deployed," Michael, 37, says in an interview with Mother Jones. May Clauer had two kids to take care of—a ten-year-old and a one-year-old with a serious seizure-related disorder. In addition, she was worried sick about her husband. Michael's company was doing convoy security in Iraq—an extremely dangerous job. "It was a pretty tough year for the whole company," he says. "We had IEDs, rocket attacks and mortar attacks, and a few soldiers that were hurt pretty bad and had to be airlifted back to the States."

Seeking to avoid hearing about the situation in Iraq, May stopped watching the news. She rarely answered the door, and Michael says he couldn't tell her when he went "outside the wire"—off-base. May also stopped opening the mail. "I guess she was scared that she would hear bad news," says Michael. That was why she missed multiple notices from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association informing her that the family owed $800 in dues—and then subsequent notices stating that the HOA was preparing to foreclose on the debt and seize the home. Read more.

A Disgrace Of Historic Proportions

A disgrace of historic proportions
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon

The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg reports that, this week, yet another federal judge has ordered the Obama administration to release yet another Guantanamo detainee on the ground that there is no persuasive evidence to justify his detention. The latest detainee to win his habeas hearing, Mohammed Hassen, is a 27-year old Yemeni imprisoned by the U.S. without charges for 8 years, since he was 19 years old. He has "long claimed he was captured in Pakistan studying the Quran and had no ties to al Qaida," and that "he had been unjustly rounded up in a March 2002 dragnet by Pakistani security forces in the city of Faisalabad that targeted Arabs." Hassen is now the third consecutive detainee ordered freed who was rounded up in that same raid. The Obama DOJ opposed his petition even though the Bush administration had cleared him for release in 2007. He has now spent roughly 30% of his life in a cage at Guantanamo.

What's most significant about this is that Hassen is now the 36th detainee who has won his habeas hearing since the Supreme Court in 2008 ruled they have the right to such hearings -- out of 50 whose petitions have been heard. In other words, 72% of Guantanamo detainees who finally were able to obtain just minimal due process (which is what a habeas hearing is) -- after years of being in a cage without charges -- have been found by federal judges to be wrongfully detained. These are people who are part of what the U.S. Government continues to insist are "the worst of the worst" who remain, and whose release is being vehemently contested by the Obama DOJ.

The real disgrace here is that the U.S. Congress, in 2006, enacted the Military Commissions Act, which explicitly denied all Guantanamo detainees any rights to habeas review. The widely loved Lindsey Graham -- along with the profoundly noble Joe Lieberman and John McCain -- were the prime sponsors of that provision. Think about what that means, what the people who voted for that (including 12 Democratic Senators) tried to do: had the Supreme Court not struck down that provision by a 5-4 vote in Boumediene, all of these innocent people would continue to be denied any rights of judicial review, and would unjustly languish in prison indefinitely. The people who voted for the Military Commissions Act, and the 4 Supreme Court Justices who sought to uphold it, knowingly acted to deny scores of innocent prisoners any opportunity for judicial review. That's as warped and as evil as it gets. Read more, including update.

Velvet Revolution Launches "Protect Our Elections" Campaign: Seeks Your Endorsement, Ideas, Action!

Today, we are launching a new campaign called Protect Our Elections to push for passage of pending common sense federal legislation to protect the votes of millions of Americans. We need your help to call on Congress to demand passage of these important bills. Please endorse this campaign by letting us know at info@protectourelections.org, and then spread the word.

Specifically, passage of legislation to stop unfair voter challenges, purging of voter rolls, felon disenfranchisement, misleading election information, unlimited corporate financing, and mandatory photo IDs in federal elections will protect voters this year. In addition, a strong, paper ballot requirement, to be fully implemented by 2012, will help protect our elections in time for the next presidential election and mitigate the threat from Internet voting. A list of the bills involved in this campaign is on our site with a short description and the full pdf version.

In preparing this campaign, we reviewed dozens of federal election protection related bills in both the U.S. House and Senate. While there are occasional changes we might call for here and there in some of them, overall, we believe these initiatives are important. Nonetheless, we value your input, so please let us know at info@protectourelections.org if you have any concerns or ideas so we can work with legislators to improve the bills as they work their way through committees and to the floors of each chamber.

Regarding the Paper Ballot Bill, we all agree that a hand-marked paper ballot is essential for every vote cast. That means, among other things, that Direct Recording Electronic voting systems (DREs), which do not have paper ballots, have no place in our democracy.

Unfortunately, there is not a current paper ballot bill that satisfies everyone. The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 2894), introduced last year by Rush Holt, would replace DRE systems by 2014 and is supported by many organizations, including some endorsers of this campaign. Other endorsers of this campaign do not support HR 2894 as written but would consider doing so with the amendments listed at www.protectourelections.org/paper. By endorsing this campaign, you can be part of the team that works to pass a strong paper ballot bill that meets the approval of all endorsers.

This campaign will include not only grassroots activism with thousands of petitions and calls to Congress, but also an inside approach working with Congress Members and their staff to make sure the bills passed are the strongest possible. Our initial push will be for passage of the DISCLOSE act to mitigate the corrosive effects of the recent Supreme Court case which ruled that corporations can spend unlimited funds on elections.

We need your help and your support. We cannot afford another election that denies millions of citizens their right to vote. Join us by signing on at info@protectourelections.org.

Remember: Become a Fan of Velvet Revolution on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

And be sure to check out our other campaigns:
Stop the Chamber
Disbar Torture Lawyers
Restore Justice at Justice
Stop Domestic Terror
Diebold: Return Our Money

All The Best,
VR

We can't do this without you!

Help us push this campaign into the media by writing letters to the editor, linking to it on your websites and Facebook pages, and Twittering. Donate to VR today to increase the volume on this campaign!

If you prefer to send check or money order, you can mail it to:
Velvet Revolution
PO Box 9576
Washington DC, 20016

Channeling the Pentagon Channel: The New Socialist Realism

By Charles M. Young

The Pentagon Channel is not the Military Channel. The Military Channel is Hitler plus top ten lists. You wanna know about the failed plot to assassinate the Fuehrer in 1944 and then learn the ten best attack submarines of all time--the Military Channel is your meat. It’s the NFL Network with a drill sergeant instead of a coach yelling at an audience of men so bored with their lives that trench warfare is an attractive alternative. 

The Pentagon Channel is not the History Channel. The History Channel looks at many tyrants in addition to Hitler, plus UFOs and Biblical prophecies and ghosts. The Pentagon Channel is also not the the History Channel International, which is indistinguishable from the History Channel.

Back to Marx: How Can His Work Help Us to Understand Modern Times?

Back to Marx: How Can His Work Help Us to Understand Modern Times?
By Laurent Etre |
Humanite in English via Truthout

The world economic crisis has ended the taboo on referring to Marx. More and more works are being published on the author of Das Kapital, and the press is publishing special sections on him.

A discussion with Edgar Morin, the philosopher and sociologist, emeritus research director at the CNRS who holds honorary doctorates from many universities around the world and with André Tosel, the philosopher and specialist in Karl Marx and Marxism, professor at the University of Nice.

Although all of the many publications dedicated to Marx lately are not of the same quality, one can nevertheless only be surprised by this sudden increase in interest in him. When such magazines as le Nouvel Observateur and le Point, each according to its political orientation, look into Marx, it is at the very least indicative of certain splits in the mainstream media, whose ideological horizon remains limited to that of capitalist society.

"It may very well be that what we are witnessing is not simply the end of the Cold War or a particular post-war phase, but the end of history as such: (...) the universal adoption of Western liberal democracy as the definitive form of human government," Francis Fukuyama, the American leader of this school of thought, wrote in 1989, the year when the Berlin Wall fell. Almost twenty years on, in October 2008, New Yorkers were demonstrating in front of the Wall Street Stock Exchange and waving signs saying "Marx was right!"

Is his "return" the automatic result of the fall of the idols of neo-liberalism? To remain at this level of thought would be to see in Marx only another conception of the finality of history, "a free and classless society," a simple alternative to Fukuyama's conceptions, which has at long last been recognized as faulty. However, that postulate of the finality of history was used a great deal to legitimize authoritarian power in the days of "really existing socialism." Read more.

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Rallying the Troops!

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Rallying the Troops!

BP Houston: The Naked Truth--Singing in Action!

Enviros Go Veal Pen 2.0 With BP’s Money

Enviros Go Veal Pen 2.0 With BP’s Money
By Jane Hamsher | FireDogLake

“Some purists believe environmental groups should keep a healthy distance from certain kinds of corporations, particularly those whose core mission poses risks to the environment.” No, what the “purists” actually believe is that these groups should not be raising money from the public to act as watchdogs of the oil companies, and then take money from the oil companies to rubber stamp their green washing efforts and shield them from criticism when they richly deserve it. It’s known in common parlance as a “scam.”

Ten days after the BP oil rig collapsed into a flaming ball of oil on April 20, I wrote a post about how most of the environmental groups still had nothing about it on their landing pages. [At left] Here was the Sierra Club’s landing page on the morning of April 30.

I chalked it up to an unwillingness to buck the White House, as President Obama had a press conference in the Rose Garden to announce the expansion of offshore drilling on March 31:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we’ll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration. We’ll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.

That’s why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic. That’s why we’ll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

But the Washington Post is reporting that money from BP itself was also complicating matters for the enviros: Read more.

Raw Story Exclusive Audio: Brothers Embark On Walk Across America To Fight Corporate Personhood


Exclusive Audio: Brothers embark on walk across America to fight corporate personhood
By Gavin Dahl | Raw Story

The Monahans are documenting their travels on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on their own blog, which included a note about their toe-dipping visit to the Pacific Ocean on day one of the walk across the country.

They have been endorsed by Move to Amend, a joint project of more than 50 organizations dedicated to overturning the Citizens United decision. Though the Monahan brothers went to boot camp together in 1964, and Laird served in Vietnam, neither belongs to VFW, Veterans for Peace or any other veterans group.

Two brothers in their late sixties are setting out on a journey they hope will "restore democracy to America." Starting out from San Francisco, Robin and Laird Monahan have begun a 3000-mile hike that will take them across ten states to Washington, DC.

Along the way, the Monahans hope to rally opposition to the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. As the Times-Standard pointed out in a short piece on the Monahan brothers, the decision overturned sections of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, and ruled that corporations are entitled to some of the same rights as people.

RAW STORY caught up with them on foot outside Sacramento after they were interviewed on Davis Community Television.

"The Citizens United decision was just a hammer blow to me," Laird Monahan told RAW STORY. "Frankly, I was despondent for a couple of days. I just thought the end of my country had come to pass." Read more, listen to Raw Story Exclusive Audio.

Federal Court Rules Bagram Prisoners Can't Challenge Their Detention In U.S. Courts

Federal Court Rules Bagram Prisoners Can't Challenge Their Detention In U.S. Courts | ACLU | Press Release
Decision Gives Government Unchecked Power To Detain Individuals Indefinitely Without Due Process Or Transparency, Says ACLU

A federal court of appeals ruled today that three prisoners who are being held by the United States at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan cannot challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The non-Afghan prisoners, some of whom were captured outside of Afghanistan far from any battlefield and "rendered" or transferred to Bagram, have been held at the detention facility for more than seven years without access to a court or counsel. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed habeas cases on behalf of several Bagram detainees and a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records relating to the detention, rendition and treatment of prisoners held there. The ACLU's Bagram habeas cases were not addressed by the court of appeals ruling today; the cases at issue were brought by the International Justice Network, the organization coordinating Bagram habeas litigation.

"Today's decision ratifies the dangerous principle that the U.S. government has unchecked power to capture people anywhere in the world, unilaterally declare them enemy combatants and subject them to indefinite military detention with no judicial review and little to no process for challenging their detention in any forum. The rule embraced by the court of appeals permits the executive branch to manipulate whether its actions will or will not be subject to judicial scrutiny, simply by choosing whether to fly a prisoner to Bagram or Guantánamo," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "Locking up people who were picked up far from any battlefield for years without telling them why, without giving them access to lawyers and without giving them a fair chance to contest the evidence against them is unlawful and un-American."

AIG Executives Won't Face Criminal Charges

AIG Executives Won't Face Criminal Charges
By Amir Efrati | WSJ

Federal prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against current and former American International Group Inc. executives for their role surrounding financial contracts that nearly brought down the insurer about two years ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

The decision brings to a close a criminal investigation that, while mostly under wraps, was widely followed. The September 2008 bailout of AIG was one of the biggest and most shocking of the financial crisis, as trading by a noninsurance unit brought down one of the most iconic financial companies world-wide.

The probe focused on Joseph Cassano, who headed a London-based unit of AIG called Financial Products, people familiar with the matter have said. Other executives at the unit, Andrew Forster and Tom Athan, also were targets of the investigation, these people said.

"The system worked," said lawyers F. Joseph Warin and Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who represent Mr. Cassano, in a statement on Friday. "The large group of federal agents and prosecutors was diligent and professional throughout the investigation, and our client is grateful that they did their jobs by following the facts to the end." Read more.

TomDispatch: Putting the Pentagon on a Diet, Will Bad Times and a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?


An expert on the Pentagon budget asks the crucial question -- are the military's free-spending days coming to an end?: Christopher Hellman, "Putting the Pentagon on a Diet, Will Bad Times and a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?"

For years, the Pentagon's ever more bloated budget has been sacrosanct in Washington. In fact, since all discussion of a post-Cold War "peace dividend" disappeared amid increased military spending in the 1990s, points out Christopher Hellman of the National Priorities Project, Pentagon spending has gone wild. Now, he writes, "after a decade and a half of unparalleled budget growth, top Defense Department officials are finally talking about the possible end of their spending spree. And they’re not alone." Is this, then, the moment when economic bad times edges the Pentagon budget into the ever fiercer spending debate in Washington?

Hellman vividly describes just how ridiculously "overmatched" the Pentagon is versus any other military force on earth, cleverly using the words of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to make the point. ("All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet -- a proxy for overall fleet capabilities -- exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners. And, at 202,000 strong, the Marine Corps is the largest military force of its kind in the world and exceeds the size of most world armies.") He also considers Congressional opposition to Pentagon budget cuts and the growing realization of top Pentagon officials that they simply won't be able to spend forever as if there were no tomorrow.

Hellman concludes this way: "Make no mistake, Gates has no intention of contributing Pentagon dollars to reducing the debt. His efforts are merely an acknowledgement of our nation’s weak economy, and the fact that fewer dollars will be available for any government program, even favored military ones. This type of Pentagon re-budgeting has been likened to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic... The mere fact that even Defense Department officials are beginning to discuss fewer dollars for the Pentagon, however, offers an opportunity for Americans intent on reining in rampant military spending. It is a chance that has been a long time coming, is finally on the national agenda, and, if missed, might be an even longer time in coming again."

This is an important piece which, like the Pentagon budget, should be on the media agenda. Read it now.

Reactions to Senate Passage of Wall Street Reform

Sanders Statement on Senate Passage of Wall Street Reform

WASHINGTON, May 20 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after the Senate tonight voted 59 to 39 for a major Wall Street reform bill:

“As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, this country was plunged into a horrendous recession. While this bill does not go as far as I would like, it is a strong beginning in the effort to reregulate huge financial institutions and to bring transparency to their often nefarious activities.

“I am especially proud that in this bill there is a major provision I authored which, for the first time, will lift the veil of secrecy at the Federal Reserve and give the American people an understanding of where trillions of their tax dollars went in the Wall Street bailout.

“I am disappointed that we could not garner the necessary votes to lower interest rates on credit cards or to begin the process of breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country which are the cause of so many of our problems. I intend to continue that effort until we succeed.”

Click "Read more" below right for more reactions and videos.

Tapped Out: When Water Bills Force Foreclosure

Tapped Out: When Water Bills Force Foreclosure
By Fred Schulte, Ben Protess and Lagan Seber | Huffington Post Investigative Fund

Excerpts: Rather than collect the overdue money they are owed, many local governments are selling tax liens. Buyers range from behemoths such as JPMorgan Chase & Co, and some regional banks and law firms, to small-fry investors lured by late-night television commercials promising quick riches. Investors generally bid in an auction for the right to collect delinquent taxes and other municipal debts on property owners, sometimes by paying only a few hundred dollars. When owners can't pay, investors can pick up property at bargain prices....

Investors purchased an estimated $30 billion of real estate tax debt held by governments across the country in 2009, double the amount a year earlier, according to the Florida-based National Tax Lien Association. Altogether, 29 states and the District of Columbia can sell tax lien debt to investors.

Lien sales in Baltimore have nearly doubled since the housing bubble of 2006. On Monday, the city sold 12,689 liens - a probable record. Properties ranged from boarded-up shells and vacant lots to row homes in gentrified neighborhoods and some commercial buildings.

Last February, Vicki Valentine was evicted when she couldn't pay $3,603.41 to rescue her Baltimore home. Valentine's wasn't a typical foreclosure -- the mortgage was paid off. But when she failed to pay a $362.28 water bill, the city auctioned her debt off in a tax lien sale. An investor now owns her home.

City records show that one in five of these liens on properties is for unpaid taxes or other municipal bills amounting to $1,000 or less. If Baltimore's 2009 tax sale is any indication, hundreds will stem from delinquent water bills; there were 666 such liens last year.

Although the brisk tax lien trade thrives beneath the radar, largely unnoticed, it has occasionally drawn scrutiny from law enforcement authorities.

Some of Maryland's most prominent tax sale investors have been swept up in a criminal investigation into bid rigging at the sales. Federal prosecutors allege that those investors agreed in advance which properties to bid at some auctions, improperly reducing the money earned by municipalities. Read more.

Take Action: Environmental Activist Facing Prison Time For A Banner Drop As Massey Murders & BP Kills Gulf Environment

Now Ted [Glick] is facing up to three years in jail. Based on the [DC] judge's comments last week, it really does appear that he will be incarcerated for at least a month or two.

Please read and view more below and write letters to:
Judge Frederick H. Weisberg
DC Superior Court
500 Indiana Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

This from Mike Tidwell, asking that we protest Ted's incarceration AND sign the petition to stop offshore drilling...

Dear Friends,

Despite the Gulf disaster, no one from BP has been arrested and sent to jail. Despite safety violations at coal mines, no one from Massey Energy has been handcuffed. But today I write to inform you that one of America's best global warming activists is probably facing several months of jail. He's been convicted by a D.C. jury, and now he awaits sentencing on July 6th. Why? Because he peacefully dropped two banners on Capitol Hill that said: "GREEN JOBS NOW" and "GET TO WORK."

I'm not joking. Ted Glick of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network was convicted by a jury May 13th of peacefully dropping the banners inside the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building last September. The DC U.S. Attorney's office clearly has decided to make an "example" of Ted because of his previous two -- count 'em, two -- convictions related to peaceful acts of climate civil disobedience. Can you believe it? You can see a three-minute video of Ted's September "crime" right above. He's the guy toward the end simply lowering the banners. Period.

Now Ted is facing up to three years in jail. Based on the judge's comments last week, it really does appear that he will be incarcerated for at least a month or two.

So here's what you can do:

Honduras: Bad Faith Down in The Gulch

By John Grant

In Spanish, the word Honduras means depth. The example often used is meterse en Honduras – to go beyond one’s depth. It comes from the adjective hondo – deep or low.

I’ve often wondered what the Spanish conquistador or priest was thinking when he decided circa 1500 to call the place The Depths– or with some liberties, The Gulch.

When I was in Honduras, I recall the capital Tegucigalpa as a series of hills and deep gulches, with the hillsides noted for poor communities of thousands of slapped-together shanties. The Tegucigalpa airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world; it’s a bit like dropping down and circling inside a teacup before landing.
So maybe that old Spaniard was onto something. If Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires,” maybe Honduras is the gulch where they just get mired in muck.

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