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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

Big Brother: Obama Calls for the Integration of State and Federal Military Forces

Big Brother: Obama Calls for the Integration of State and Federal Military Forces
Executive Order Seeks to "Synchronize and Integrate"
by Tom Burghardt | Global Research

In the wake of the Flight 253 provocation, over-hyped terrorism panics, and last year's Big Pharma and media-engineered hysteria over the H1N1 flu pandemic, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13528 on January 11.

Among other things, the Executive Order (EO) established a Council of Governors, an "advisory panel" chosen by the President that will rubber-stamp long-sought-after Pentagon contingency plans to seize control of state National Guard forces in the event of a "national emergency."

According to the White House press release, the ten member, bipartisan Council was created "to strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government and State Governments to protect our Nation against all types of hazards."

"When appointed" the announcement continues, "the Council will be reviewing such matters as involving the National Guard of the various States; homeland defense; civil support; synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."

Clearly designed to weaken the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which bars the use of the military for civilian law enforcement, EO 13528 is the latest in a series of maneuvers by previous administrations to wrest control of armed forces historically under the democratic control of elected state officials, and a modicum of public accountability.

One consequence of moves to "synchronize and integrate" state National Guard units with those of the Armed Forces would be to place them under the effective control of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), created in 2002 by Bushist legislators in both capitalist parties under the pretext of imperialism's endless "War on Terror." At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called USNORTHCOM's launch "the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946."

The real-world consequences of those changes weren't long in coming. Read more.

Alan Grayson Petitioning Against Looming Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision

Alan Grayson Petitioning Against Looming Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision
By Arthur Delaney | Huffington Post

In response to news that the Supreme Court will hold a special public session on Thursday, which some expect could bring a highly-anticipated campaign finance decision, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is circulating an online petition opposing the decision, which is expected to undo limits on corporate spending in federal campaigns.

Grayson said he would personally deliver the signatures to the court in the morning.

"We're trying something new -- usually the only petitions the Supreme Court sees are petitions for writ of certiorari," Grayson told HuffPost. Asked where he got the idea, he said, "It's in the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Progressive good-government groups worry that the Supreme Court seems poised to unleash a flood of corporate money into federal campaigns. The case stems from the Federal Election Commission's decision not to allow a conservative group called Citizens United to air ads for an anti-Hillary Clinton movie during the 2008 election season. The ads, the FEC reasoned, constituted unlawful corporate electioneering. The Supreme Court is questioning the constitutionality of the FEC's decision. Read more.

TomDispatch: William Astore, Going Rogue in Combat Boots


Tom writes: From TomDispatch this afternoon, a startling and provocative exploration of whether a military "stealth coup" is possible in America and ten things Americans can do to stop it -- retired Lieutenant Colonel William J. Astore's, "A Very American Coup, Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You" http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175193/

Historian and former professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, retired Lieutenant Colonel William J. Astore begins his latest TomDispatch post on whether the U.S. military could "go rogue with combat boots" with a futuristic scenario: "It’s September 2016, year 15 of America’s “Long War” against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing." Not only that, they are returning to face the tenth year of the Great Recession. What if, along with the 2016 version of the "tea-baggers," they take to the streets, our own version of the between-the-World-Wars German freikorps in formation, and a military man who led them in their wars in Central Asia sweeps to the presidency that year?

"Yes," writes Astore, "it can happen here. In some ways, it’s already happening. But the key question is: at this late date, how can it be stopped?" He offers ten steps that are needed to put a break on America's ongoing silent coup and the rise of the Pentagon.

He concludes, in part: "If our Great Recession continues, if decent jobs remain scarce, if the mainstream media continue to foster fear and hatred, if returning troops are disaffected and their leaders blame politicians for “not being tough enough,” if one or two more terrorist attacks succeed on U.S. soil, wouldn’t this country be well primed for a coup by any other name?

"Don’t expect a 'Seven Days in May' scenario. No American Caesar will return to Washington with his legions to decapitate governmental authority. Why not? Because he won’t have to."

A Very American Coup
Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You
By William J. Astore | TomDispatch.com

The wars in distant lands were always going to come home, but not this way.

It’s September 2016, year 15 of America’s “Long War” against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing.

Iraq is increasingly hostile to remaining occupation forces. Afghanistan is a riddle that remains unsolved: its army and police forces are untrustworthy, its government corrupt, and its tribal leaders unsympathetic to the vagaries of U.S. intervention. Since the Obama surge of 2010, a trillion more dollars have been devoted to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries in the vast shatter zone that is central Asia, without measurable returns; nothing, that is, except the prolongation of America’s Great Recession, now entering its tenth year without a sustained recovery in sight.

Disillusioned veterans are unable to find decent jobs in a crumbling economy. Scarred by the physical and psychological violence of war, fed up with the happy talk of duplicitous politicians who only speak of shared sacrifices, they begin to organize. Their motto: take America back. Read more.

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

It is clear that the most dangerous and sickening crimes being committed by the US government are being directed by the CIA. The CIA poses the biggest threat to US national security and the security of the planet. The US Constitution and international law must be used to ensure security and enforce justice.

An Open Letter to Leon Panetta

Dear Mr. Panetta:

We are writing you to express our anger and dismay at the criminal and sadistic actions of the Central Intelligence Agency. There is overwhelming evidence that your organization and its front companies are guilty of the most supreme crimes against humanity. These include but are not limited to destabilizing and overthrowing elected governments, drug smuggling, child prostitution, and of course, orchestrating illegal wars of aggression. The latter was done under the pretext of eliminating a shadowy terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, which was in fact created by your own treasonous agency.

Perhaps the most sickening of the CIA's crimes is the systematic torture of human beings. Not only do you and your colleagues engage in this cowardly act, you attempt to cover up the crime through destruction of evidence and control of the media.

Obama: $33 B More for AfPak War, Only $1.3 B for Education

Michael Munk points out that while Obama is asking for $33 billion more dollars to expand the Af-Pak war, he's only asking for $1.3 billion dollars more for education. That's 96% more for war than for educating our kids, helping them build their futures. Is this the change we want? Is it any real change at all? Seems like same old, same old expansionist, military industrial complex at work: under-educated kids with limited future prospects are more susceptible to military service "opportunities."

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta Sergeant Blows The Whistle

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle
By Scott Horton | Harper's Magazine

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.


When President Barack Obama took office last year, he promised to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great.” Toward that end, the president issued an executive order declaring that the extra-constitutional prison camp at Guantánamo “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” Obama has failed to fulfill his promise. Some prisoners are being charged with crimes, others released, but the date for closing the camp seems to recede steadily into the future. Furthermore, new evidence now emerging may entangle Obama’s young administration with crimes that occurred during the Bush presidency, evidence that suggests the current administration failed to investigate seriously—and may even have continued—a cover-up of the possible homicides of three prisoners at Guantánamo in 2006.

Late in the evening on June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.

As news of the deaths emerged the following day, the camp quickly went into lockdown. The authorities ordered nearly all the reporters at Guantánamo to leave and those en route to turn back. The commander at Guantánamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, then declared the deaths “suicides.” In an unusual move, he also used the announcement to attack the dead men. “I believe this was not an act of desperation,” he said, “but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Reporters accepted the official account, and even lawyers for the prisoners appeared to believe that they had killed themselves. Only the prisoners’ families in Saudi Arabia and Yemen rejected the notion. Read more.

Three Corpses In Gitmo: The Very Worst Seems True

Three Corpses In Gitmo: The Very Worst Seems True
By Andrew Sullivan | Daily Dish

Excerpts: ...They are attempts to lie about some of the worst crimes committed by a president and vice-president of the United States in history. Anyone with their eyes open and their mind not closed knows this somewhere deep inside. And the only reason we do not know more about this is because of the criminal cover-up under the Bush administration and the enraging refusal of the Obama administration to do the right thing and open all of it to sunlight....

Many branches of government must have been involved in such an act of torture or negligence or both, and the subsequent cover-up - from the FBI, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA, and JSOC. The cover-up appears to have been continued by the Obama administration - a staggering surrender to pragmatism that is in fact a cooptation of evil....

Among those who need to be subpoenaed are the former president and vice-president of the United States. Read more.

US Security Company Offers to Perform "High Threat Terminations" and to Confront "Worker Unrest" in Haiti

US Security Company Offers to Perform "High Threat Terminations" and to Confront "Worker Unrest" in Haiti
Here we go: New Orleans 2.0
By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about “looters.” After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed check-point outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).
Now, it is kicking into full gear in Haiti. As we know, the member companies of the Orwellian-named mercenary trade association, the International Peace Operations Association, are offering their services in Haiti. But look for more stories like this one:

On January 15, a Florida based company called All Pro Legal Investigations registered the URL Haiti-Security.com. It is basically a copy of the company’s existing US website but is now targeted for business in Haiti, claiming the “purpose of this site is to act as a clearinghouse for information seekers on the state of security in Haiti.” Read more.

Between Hope and Despair: Martin Luther King, Barack Obama and War


Between Hope and Despair: Martin Luther King, Barack Obama and War
By Medea Benjamin | AlterNet

Obama gave us hope when he promised global cooperation, re-engagement with the Muslim world and respect for international law. But his actions speak another language.

The Washington DC memorial to Martin Luther King, located on the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, was supposed to be completed by now. President Clinton authorized the memorial in 1996; President Bush appeared at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2006, as did Senator Barack Obama. But the memorial, designed with a massive statue of King and two huge rocks representing the Mountain of Despair and the Stone of Hope, was left hovering in legal and bureaucratic limbo for a dozen years.

In the meantime, Senator Obama became President Obama. And in the course of one year, those who thought President Obama would move our nation closer towards Dr. King's vision find themselves tottering, like King's memorial, between hope and despair.

Obama certainly gave the world hope when he spoke of the importance of diplomacy, global cooperation, re-engaging with the Muslim world and respecting international law.

But his actions speak another language. He promised to end torture and close Guantanamo but extraordinary renditions continue, Guantanamo is still open, and the Bagram prison in Afghanistan is still filled with over 600 prisoners who have been held indefinitely -- some for six years -- with no charges and no trials. Read more.

US Magazine Claims Guantánamo Inmates Were Killed During Questioning

US magazine claims Guantánamo inmates were killed during questioning
Harper's investigation quotes camp staff who say suspects died in interrogation and their deaths were made to look like suicides
By Ian Cobain | Guardian.co.UK

US government officials may have conspired to conceal evidence that three Guantánamo Bay inmates could have been murdered during interrogations, according to a six-month investigation by American journalists.

All three may have been suffocated during questioning on the same evening and their deaths passed off as suicides by hanging, the joint investigation for Harper's Magazine and NBC News has concluded.

The magazine also suggests the cover-up may explain why the US government is reluctant to allow the release of Shaker Aamer, the last former British resident held at Guantánamo, as he is said to have alleged that he was part-suffocated while being tortured on the same evening.

"The cover-up is amazing in its audacity, and it is continuing into the Obama administration," said Scott Horton, the contributing editor for Harper's who conducted the investigation.

When the three men – Salah Ahmed al-Salami, 37, a Yemeni, and two Saudis, Talal al-Zahrani, 22, and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, 30 – died in June 2006, the camp's commander declared that they had committed suicide and that this had been "an act of asymmetrical warfare", rather than one of desperation.

According to an official inquiry by the US navy, whose report was heavily censored before release, each man was found in his cell, hanging from bedsheets, with their hands bound and rags stuffed down their throats.

However, Horton spoke to four camp guards who alleged that when the bodies were taken to the camp's medical clinic they had definitely not come from their cell block, which they were guarding, and appeared to have been transfered from a "black site", known as Camp No, within Guantánamo, operated by either the CIA or a Pentagon intelligence agency. Read more.

Disaster Capitalism Headed to Haiti


Disaster Capitalism Headed to Haiti
By Stephen Lendman

In her book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," Naomi Klein explores the myth of free market democracy, explaining how neoliberalism dominates the world with America its main exponent exploiting security threats, terror attacks, economic meltdowns, competing ideologies, tectonic political or economic shifts, and natural disasters to impose its will everywhere.

As a result, wars are waged, social services cut, public ones privatized, and freedom sacrificed when people are too distracted, cowed or in duress to object. Disaster capitalism is triumphant everywhere from post-Soviet Russia to post-apartheid South Africa, occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, Honduras before and after the US-instigated coup, post-tsunami Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia, New Orleans post-Katrina, and now heading to Haiti full-throttle after its greatest ever catastrophe. The same scheme always repeats, exploiting people for profits, the prevailing neoliberal idea that "there is no alternative" so grab all you can.

On Her web site, Klein headlines a "Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again," then quotes the extremist Heritage Foundation saying:

"In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the US response to the tragic Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."

Heritage notes "Things to Remember While Helping Haiti," itemized briefly below:

  • be bold and decisive;
  • mobilize US civilian and military capabilities "for short-term rescue and relief and long-term recovery and reform;"
  • US military forces should play an active role interdicting "cocaine to Haiti and Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola;"
  • US Coast Guard vessels should stop Haitians from trying "to enter the US illegally;"
  • Congress should authorize "assistance, trade and reconstruction efforts;" and
  • US diplomacy should "counter the negative propaganda certain to emanate from the Castro-Chavez camp (to) demonstrate that the US's involvement in the Caribbean remains a powerful force for good in the Americas and around the globe."

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes
Pentagon Supplier for Rifle Sights Says It Has 'Always' Added New Testament References
By Joseph Rhee, Tahman Bradley and Brian Ross | ABC News

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents....

"This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country," said [Mikey] Weinstein [of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation]. "It's literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we're fighting. We're emboldening an enemy." Read more, view slideshow of more Bible inscriptions on US military weapons.

Pakistani Officials: Suspected US Drone Kills 20

Pakistani officials: Suspected US drone kills 20
By Rasool Dawar, Associated Press Writer | Yahoo! News

At least one suspected U.S. drone fired on a house in Pakistan's volatile tribal region Sunday, killing 20 people in the 11th such attack since militants in the area orchestrated a deadly suicide bombing against the CIA in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

Four missiles slammed into the house in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan, the same region where a drone strike Thursday targeted a meeting of militant commanders in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to kill Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

The militant leader helped organize the Dec. 30 attack against a remote CIA base in Afghanistan's Khost province that killed seven of the agency's employees and appeared in a video alongside the Jordanian man who carried out the bombing.

Analysts suspect the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-linked Afghan Taliban faction based in North Waziristan, also helped carry out the CIA attack, the worst against the spy agency in decades.

Since the bombing, the U.S. has carried out eleven suspected drone strikes in North and South Waziristan, an unprecedented volley of attacks since the CIA-led program began in earnest in Pakistan two years ago.

The house targeted in Sunday's attack was being used by Usman Jan, the head of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, intelligence officials said. Five Uzbeks were killed in the strike, but it was unclear if Jan was among them. Jan's predecessor, Tahir Yuldash, was also killed in a drone strike in South Waziristan last year.

The other 15 people killed in Sunday's strike were Pakistani Taliban, said the officials. Read more.

Shell Signs Iraq Oil Field Deal

Shell signs Iraq oil field deal | BBC

Oil giant Shell and Malaysia's state-run Petronas oil company finalised a contract on Sunday to develop Iraq's giant Majnoon oil field.

In December Shell and Petronas beat a rival bid from France's Total and China's CNPC to develop the 12.6bn barrel field in southern Iraq.

The field currently produces just 46,000 barrels per day.

Shell and Petronas have pledged to increase that output to 1.8 million barrels per day. Read more.

No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain!


No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain!
By John Maxwell | Jamaican Observer

If you shared my pain you would not continue to make me suffer, to torture me, to deny me my dignity and my rights, especially my rights to self-determination and self-expression.

Six years ago you sent your Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to perform an action illegal under the laws of your country, my country and of the international community of nations.

It was an act so outrageous, so bestially vile and wicked that your journalists and news agencies, your diplomats and politicians to this day cannot bring themselves to truthfully describe or own up to the crime that was committed when US Ambassador James Foley, a career diplomat, arrived at the house of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with a bunch of CIA thugs and US Marines to kidnap the president of Haiti and his wife.

The Aristides were stowed aboard a CIA plane normally used for 'renditions' of suspected terrorists to the worldwide US gulag of dungeons and torture chambers.

The plane, on which the Aristides are listed as "cargo", flew to Antigua - an hour away - and remained on the ground in Antigua while Colin Powell's State Department and the CIA tried to blackmail and bribe various African countries to accept ("give asylum to") the kidnapped president and his wife. Read more.

NATO: US Troops Shot Civilian Protesters in Afghanistan’s Garmsir District

NATO: US Troops Shot Civilian Protesters in Afghanistan’s Garmsir District
Shootings Came at Protest Against Shooting of Civilians the Day Before
by Jason Ditz | AntiWar.com

In the second NATO shooting incident in a little over 24 hours in the Garmsir District of Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, US troops opened fire on a crowd of civilian protesters on Wednesday, wounding five.

NATO explained that US Marines went out to direct an anti-NATO protest in Garmsir and when the “civilians in the crowd disregarded instructions,” the troops opened fire on the crowd. US Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale shrugged off the civilian casualties, insisting “things like this happen.”

Ironically the civilians at the Wednesday rally, estimated at between 200 and 400 strong by the NATO forces, were protesting against a Tuesday incident, in which NATO forces opened fire on civilians at a Tuesday protest, killing 13 people and wounding several others. Read more.

If You Could Ask Tony Blair One Question...What Would You Ask Today?

THE PEOPLE'S DOSSIER VERSUS THE DODGY DOSSIER | Stop The War | Press Release

Have you submitted your question to Tony Blair for the People's Dossier, which Stop the War will be presenting to the Iraq Inquiry? Hundreds of questions have been sent in, including contributions from Hans von Sponeck, the former UN coordinater in Iraq, musician Brian Eno and a number of military families.

Sami Ramadani, from Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, has sent in this question:

Mr Blair, you have often said that you "strongly believed" you were doing "the right thing" when you sent British troops to invade and occupy Iraq. Considering that Hitler and other war criminals strongly believed that what they were doing was right, do you think that strongly believing in something makes it right, or pardonable if it proved to be terribly wrong?

Last week Alistair Campbell told the Iraq Inquiry he defends "every single word" of the dossier presented to parliament in September 2002. Blair wrote in the forward that it showed "beyond doubt" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when both he and Campbell knew full well that the intelligence had not produced any evidence that they existed.

The second "dodgy" dossier" published in February 2003 was an even more blatant fabrication intended to justify war crimes.

If you haven't sent in your question yet, please do so now. Blair will be appearing at the Iraq Inquiry within the next three weeks and we want the People's Dossier to be representative of everyone who protested in such vast numbers against his warmongering under the slogan "not in our name".

HOW TO SEND YOUR QUESTION

Israel: Global NATO's 29th Member

Israel: Global NATO's 29th Member
By Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site

"Whereas Israel's geopolitical location could offer an 'external base' for the defence of the West, NATO's military and economic status could provide added security and economic benefits for the host state.

"In a rapidly changing strategic environment, Israeli policy makers are recognising definite advantages, especially in security affairs, in developing closer ties with NATO. The present Israeli government's enthusiasm for this project can be seen in an ambitious set of proposals submitted to the Alliance," which included "joint military training [and] future joint development of weapons systems." [11]

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan, the Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that "Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO's new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright." [1]

NATO is crafting its updated Strategic Concept to replace that last formulated in 1999, the year of the military bloc's expansion into Eastern Europe and its first full-fledged war, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Madeleine Albright, arguably the individual most publicly identified with orchestrating both NATO's absorption of three former Warsaw Pact members, including her native Czech Republic, and in launching Operation Allied Force, co-chairs NATO's Group of Experts with Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell until June of 2009.

Calif., Fla. Regulators Demand Insurers Drop Iran Investments

Calif., Fla. Regulators Demand Insurers Drop Iran Investments
By Daniel Hays | P&C National Underwriter

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said an inquiry has revealed state insurers hold $12 billion in indirect Iran-related investments and he will push them to divest, leading another regulator to say Poizner’s effort should go national.

“I have consulted with other state insurance commissioners to evaluate the practicality of developing a national initiative similar to the undertaking by the California Department of Insurance,” said Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty....

He [Poizner] added, "Iran's ambition to dominate the region under a nuclear umbrella is a very serious threat to this country and to people all over the world. It's just wrong for consumers here in California to find out that their hard-earned money that they pay in insurance premiums are propping up the regime in Iran. We need to do whatever it takes to put maximum pressure on Iran to change its behavior."...

According to the California insurance department total indirect Investments reported by Insurance Companies broken down by sector are: banking $6,150 million; defense, $40 million; energy, $3,994 million; nuclear, $147 million; unclassified, $1,803 million. Read more.

Obama Confidant's Spine-Chilling Proposal

Obama confidant's spine-chilling proposal
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama's closest confidants.  Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs."  In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government.  This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.  The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here

Sunstein advocates that the Government's stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups."  He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government's messaging (on the ground that those who don't believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government).   This program would target those advocating false "conspiracy theories," which they define to mean: "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role."  Sunstein's 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story's Daniel Tencer.

There's no evidence that the Obama administration has actually implemented a program exactly of the type advocated by Sunstein, though in light of this paper and the fact that Sunstein's position would include exactly such policies, that question certainly ought to be asked.  Regardless, Sunstein's closeness to the President, as well as the highly influential position he occupies, merits an examination of the mentality behind what he wrote.  This isn't an instance where some government official wrote a bizarre paper in college 30 years ago about matters unrelated to his official powers; this was written 18 months ago, at a time when the ascendancy of Sunstein's close friend to the Presidency looked likely, in exactly the area he now oversees.  Additionally, the government-controlled messaging that Sunstein desires has been a prominent feature of U.S. Government actions over the last decade, including in some recently revealed practices of the current administration, and the mindset in which it is grounded explains a great deal about our political class.  All of that makes Sunstein's paper worth examining in greater detail. Read more.

Easily Hacked Diebold Systems to Decide 'Toss-Up' U.S. Senate Special Election in MA on Tuesday

Easily Hacked Diebold Systems to Decide 'Toss-Up' U.S. Senate Special Election in MA on Tuesday
By Brad Friedman | Brad Blog

Since writing today's piece for Upstate New York's right-leaning Gouverneur Times, a new poll has come out this morning showing the Republican Scott Brown now leading the Democrat Martha Coakley by 4 points in the race for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by a Democrat named Kennedy for nearly 60 years.

As of last night, when I filed the story with them, the latest survey from a Democratic-leaning pollster showed Coakley up by 8, though a day or two earlier, Republican Rasmussen had Brown down only by 2 points.

Suffice to say it's now officially "a toss-up," at least according to the Rothenberg Political Report, and to all the Dems and Reps now sweating out what was previously thought to have been an easy Democratic win.

With the 60th "filibuster-proof" Senate seat now hanging precariously in the balance, I'm sure you'll be delighted to hear that the winner will now be whoever Diebold declares it to be. The near-entirety of the state will vote next Tuesday on paper ballots to be counted by Diebold op-scan systems. The same ones used dubiously in the New Hampshire Primary in 2008, and the same ones notoriously hacked --- resulting in a flipped mock election --- in HBO's Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy. Read more.

War Dealer

War Dealer
By Missy Comley Beattie

Barack Obama’s aides assert that the president wants to be the anti-Bush and that’s why, after the bomb-in-the-briefs incident, he said, “The buck stops with me.” This would be a departure from W whose eight years were marked by no apologies. Bush did, however, finally say he regretted standing in front of a “Mission Impossible” sign in 2003. Note his glaring parapraxia. The sign, in fact, was emblazoned “Mission Accomplished.”

It’s one thing though for Obama to express remorse and another to act on this compunction. Especially when one year after his swearing in, he has kept the campaign promise we in the peace movement hoped he’d denounce—continuing and escalating what he calls the “right war” in Afghanistan.

Seems there’s a statute of limitations on most pledges advanced on the campaign trail.

According to Wikipedia, passing the buck probably had its origin with the game of poker during frontier days. A knife with a buckhorn handle was used to indicate who dealt the cards. If a player didn’t want to deal, he could pass the knife to the next person.

Most of us know that President Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.” A sign of the phrase, on his desk in the Oval Office, was a reminder that he would accept the consequences of his decisions. One wonders if he ever came to regret the choice resulting in his comment quoted in the August 7, 1945 edition of The New York Times: “We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history and won.”

Truman’s “scientific gamble” killed more than 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most died from flash burns, but in the following months, many people suffered agonizing deaths from radiation sickness. Years later, there were more deaths from leukemia and other cancers related to irradiation. In both cities, most of the casualties were civilians.

Obama Dictates Ominous Consolidation of War Powers

Obama Dictates Ominous Consolidation of War Powers
by Bryce Shonka

During the Bush years, unprecedented numbers of Americans poured into the streets, oftentimes ignored by establishment media, to protest the Iraq War. Some of those were not so much anti-war, but rather pro-constitution- people who recognized the fraudulent nature of the Bush's war and total lack of congressional oversight.

As more time passed and the Middle East body count moved into the millions, even more Americans joined the anti-war effort, motivated by revelations of no-bid/cost-plus Federal contracts and carnage by taxpayer funded mercenaries. 9/11 mania faded and ethical concerns about the nature of preemptive strikes replaced it.

When W was elected for a second term the war resistance REALLY heated up, with large numbers of demonstrators continuing to gather until.

POOF!

The Election of Barack Obama.

Xe Services (Blackwater) Killers' Story Doesn't Add Up

Xe Services (Blackwater) Killers' Story Doesn't Add Up
Posted by Joshua Holland | AlterNet

Wherever Xe Services' mercenaries are deployed, dead civilians stack up.

Subjects of the empire tend to get pretty pissed off when this faceless American multinational kills off innocent people -- families out for a drive, folks walking down the street in the middle of the afternoon.

This can be bad for business. After the Nisour Square Massacre, XE Services -- then known as Blackwater Worldwide -- was briefly booted out of Iraq as a result of a massive public outcry (before the Iraqi government demonstrated its legendary sovereignty by buckling to U.S. demands that the company be reinstated).

Xe Services is in Afghanistan, and as one might expect civilian bodies have turned up over there as well. Last week, two of its mercenaries were charged by federal authorities for a shooting last May in Kabul which resulted in far fewer casualties than Nisour Square, but according to prosecutors was equally unjustified.

TPM reports that the killers -- who were fired after the incident for violating the company's alcohol policy -- say they're being "thrown under the bus by a company desperate to preserve its standing with the Afghan government, after another shooting case in Iraq led to a crackdown on its operations in that country." The company says they were out on a bender when the shooting occurred, and not on the official clock. The men say they were working at the time, and that the shooting was justified. Read more.

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