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Corporatism and Fascism

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Corporatism and Fascism

Mercenaries? CIA Says Expanded Role for Contractors Legitimate

Mercenaries? CIA Says Expanded Role for Contractors Legitimate
Blackwater, Other Firms Said to Be "Hired Guns" in Iraq, Afghanistan -- Combat Role Would Be Against U.S. Law
By Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito and Brian Ross | ABC News

The CIA and the military special forces have quietly expanded the role of private contractors, including Blackwater, to include their involvement in raids and secret paramilitary operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, four current and former U.S. military and intelligence officers tell ABC News.

American law specifically prohibits the use of private soldiers or mercenaries in combat, according to Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

"The United States Congress has never approved the use of private contractors for combat operations," Turley told ABC News in an interview...Read more.

Watch Brian Ross report on Blackwater

Kucinich: Why I Voted No on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009

Kucinich: Why I voted No on the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December) – After voting against H.R. 4173 – Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement:

“Although I am supportive of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency as well as other provisions in the bill, ultimately I do not think this bill adequately addresses the causes of the financial crisis, and I do not believe the reforms are sufficient to prevent another financial crisis from occurring.

In testimony before the Committee on Financial Services earlier in the year, Dr. Robert Johnson of the Roosevelt Institute stressed that reform of the derivatives markets is absolutely central to fixing the financial system. In fact, he went so far as to say that without strong and comprehensive derivatives reform, any effort to address the problem of systemic risk would be rendered impotent.

HR 4173 makes some progress toward regulating derivatives by establishing regulations for clearing and regulating over-the-counter derivatives; however the bill--especially in light of the House’s adoption of the Murphy amendment--contains a number of loopholes that sophisticated financial industry insiders will exploit with ease. For example, the Murphy amendment’s expansion of the exemption of derivatives users, jeopardizes the integrity of the whole reform. As Dr. Johnson said in his testimony, the challenge is to “[preserve] as much scope for deriving value from derivative instruments for end users without making the definition of end user so broad that it allows large scale financial institutions to effectively continue their unregulated OTC practices and at the same time assures that end users do not themselves, through loopholes, contribute to a weakening of the integrity of the financial system.” HR 4173 does not accomplish this.

Credit rating agencies were also at the heart of the financial crisis. It was their bogus ratings on opaque securitizations and other financial products that fueled the asset bubble, and it was the fundamental conflict of interest in their “issuer pays” business model that strengthened their position in the industry.

Unfortunately HR 4173, rather than address the fundamental conflict of interest in the “issuer pays” model, instead sidesteps the issue and gives the Securities and Exchange Commission more authority to mitigate conflicts of interest. The years leading up to the financial crisis, however, taught us some very important lessons regarding the enforcement authority of the SEC: when officials at the Agency operate with a philosophical disagreement with its mission, it does not matter what tools they have; they simply will not use them. In the interest of long-term, systemic reform, HR 4173 should have directly addressed this problem.

From Hiroshima to Gaza

From Hiroshima to Gaza
By Hisae Ogawa

The first time I met and had a chance to talk to Palestinian women was back in 1975, the United Nations International Women’s Year. I was then working for the Women’s International Democrat Federation (WIDF), one of the Non-Governmental Agencies accredited by the United Nations.

WIDF’s head office was in East Berlin, the capitol of the German Democratic Republic. It had over 100 member groups all around the world and representatives that were called “secretaries” were sent from more than ten countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and America. At the time the General Secretary of WIDF was from Argentina and the President was from Australia. It was indeed an international place. But at the same time I was so disturbed to see the East Berliners suffered lack of freedom due to the wall dividing the city.

One of my co-workers was a young girl from Iraq. She was working hard trying to cover the whole issues in the Middle East. From her I learned what was happening in the Middle East.

It was through her that I got to know the Palestinian issue and made friends with Palestinian women. One day she brought some women from Palestine to the WIDF office. They were touring Europe to publicize their plight. They said Israel was doing the same things to Palestinian people as the Nazis had done to the Jewish people during the World War II.

Rep. Kucinich Rebukes Obama: "Once We Believe In The Inevitability Of War, War Becomes A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."

Following a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement:

“Yesterday, our president mused about the inevitability of war, war’s instrumentality in the pursuit of peace and just wars. It is important for us to reflect on his words, because once we believe in the inevitability of war, war becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we are committed to war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where War IS Peace, where the momentum of war overwhelms hopes for peace. And once we wrap doctrines perpetuating war in the arms of justice, we can easily legitimate the wholesale slaughter of innocents. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are based on flawed doctrines of counter-insurgency. War is often not just; sometimes it is just war. And our ability to rethink the terms of our existence, to explore the possibility of peace without war, may well determine whether we end war, or war ends us.”

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www.youtube.com/djkucinich

We Need A Step Program

We Need A Step Program
by Missy Comley Beattie

“The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”
--Chris Hedges: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

In 1935, Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with its principles to overcome the denial that characterizes the disease of alcoholism. Since its inception, AA has proven to be salvation for countless individuals and families. Its 12-step program has translated to many areas of pathology in reaching those with other dependencies.

I can think of a huge area of pathology—this landmass in which we reside—the USA. Our drug-addicted nation has been brought to its knees by a consumption-based lifestyle and a power grab to underwrite the excesses. If this intemperance continues, we will be lost. We may be already. With this in mind, I propose a step program. However, in the interest of separation of church and state, I’m going for a non-theistic approach, one abridged, and which I slightly amended, by the American Psychological Association:

  • Admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion
  • Recognizing a greater power that can give strength
  • Examining past errors
  • Making amends for these errors
  • Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
  • Helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions

Supreme Court's Ruling Would Allow Bin Laden to Donate to Sarah Palin's Presidential Campaign

Supreme Court's Ruling Would Allow Bin Laden to Donate to Sarah Palin's Presidential Campaign
By Greg Palast | AlterNet

I'm biting my nails waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling in 'Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission' -- here's why you should be too.

I thought that headline would get your attention. And it's true.

I'm biting my nails waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which could come down as early as Tuesday. At issue: whether corporations, as "unnatural persons," can make contributions to political campaigns.

The outcome is foregone: the five GOP appointees to the court are expected to use the case to junk federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers.

Technically, there's a narrower matter before the court in this case: whether the McCain-Feingold Act may prohibit corporations from funding "independent" campaign advertisements such as the "Swift Boat" ads that smeared John Kerry. However, campaign finance reformers are steeling themselves for the court's right wing to go much further, knocking down all longstanding rules against donations by corporate treasuries.

Allowing company campaign spending will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that's already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and "bundling" of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The court's expected decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates. Read more.

Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind

Obama Doctrine: Eternal War For Imperfect Mankind
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | December 10, 2009

President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States Barack Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address in Oslo on December 10, which has immediately led to media discussion of an Obama Doctrine.

With obligatory references to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi (the second referred to only by his surname) but to no other American presidents than Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy - fellow peace prize recipients Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter weren't mentioned - the U.S. head of state spoke with the self-assurance of the leader of the world's first uncontested superpower and at times with the self-righteousness of a would-be prophet and clairvoyant. And, in the words of German philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel, a prophet looking backward.

Accompanied by visionary gaze and cadenced, oratorical solemnity, his comments included the assertion that "War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man." Unless this unsubstantiated claim was an allusion to the account in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible of Cain murdering his brother Abel, which would hardly constitute war in any intelligible meaning of the word (nor was Cain the first man according to that source), it is unclear where Obama acquired the conviction that war is coeval with and presumably an integral part of humanity.

Paleontologists generally trace the arrival of modern man, homo sapiens, back 200,000 years, yet the first authenticated written histories are barely 2,400 years old. How Obama and his speechwriters filled in the 197,600-year gap to prove that the practice of war is as old as mankind and implicitly inseparable from the human condition is a question an enterprising reporter might venture to ask at the next presidential press conference.

General: Attack May Have Killed Afghan Civilians

General: Attack may have killed Afghan civilians
By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writer | Yahoo! News

The No. 2 commanding general in Afghanistan acknowledged Wednesday that a NATO-led attack the day before in eastern Afghanistan possibly resulted in civilian deaths.

The statement that some civilians might have been killed in the attack comes amid fears among Afghan citizens that the 30,000 fresh U.S. troops being deployed to the war will result in more violence and deaths of Afghan citizens. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has ordered troops to minimize civilian casualties, which undermine Afghan support for the war against the Taliban.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 man, told reporters in the capital that the attack, which involved coalition and Afghan troops, was a "confusing operation." Read more.

The Failure of the Federalist, No. 10

The Failure of the Federalist, No. 10
By Shahid Buttar | Huffington Post

Despite our Founders' vision of independent powers exercising checks & balances to prevent a "tyranny of the majority," every branch of the federal government acted last month to cast its lot with torturers. But even though President Obama, Congress and the Court have united to hide evidence of high-level crime, Americans of conscience continue to resist, arguing that sweeping human rights abuses under the rug is a greater threat to national security than dealing with them openly and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

This Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Department of Defense v. ACLU that the Defense Department could maintain secrecy over photos documenting pervasive torture. While disappointing, the decision was more or less inevitable in the wake of the Obama administration's latest reversal. Read more.

Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions

Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions
Half-baked Homeland Security is spending millions to develop sensors capable of detecting a person's level of 'malintent' as a counterterrorism tool.
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet

In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a D.C. police detective, circa 2054, in the department of "pre-crime," an experimental law enforcement unit whose mission -- to hunt down criminals before they strike -- relies on the psychic visions of mutant "pre-cogs" (short for precognition) who can see the future. It may be futuristic Hollywood fantasy, but the underlying premise -- that we can predict (if not see) a person's sinister plans before they follow through -- is already here.

This past February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded a one-year, $2.6 million grant to the Cambridge, MA.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to develop computerized sensors capable of detecting a person's level of "malintent" -- or intention to do harm. It's only the most recent of numerous contracts awarded to Draper and assorted research outfits by the U.S. government over the past few years under the auspices of a project called "Future Attribute Screening Technologies," or FAST. It's the next wave of behavior surveillance from DHS and taxpayers have paid some $20 million on it so far.

Conceived as a cutting-edge counter-terrorism tool, the FAST program will ostensibly detect subjects' bad intentions by monitoring their physiological characteristics, particularly those associated with fear and anxiety. It's part of a broader "initiative to develop innovative, non-invasive technologies to screen people at security checkpoints," according to DHS.

The "non-invasive" claim might be a bit of a stretch. A DHS report issued last December outlined some of the possible technological features of FAST, which include "a remote cardiovascular and respiratory sensor" to measure "heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia," a "remote eye tracker" that "uses a camera and processing software to track the position and gaze of the eyes (and, in some instances, the entire head)," "thermal cameras that provide detailed information on the changes in the thermal properties of the skin in the face," and "a high resolution video that allows for highly detailed images of the face and body … and an audio system for analyzing human voice for pitch change." Read more.

Tomgram: Meet the Commanded-in-Chief

Tomgram: Meet the Commanded-in-Chief
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com | December 3, 2009

[Thursday Afternoon Update: The Obama administration’s surge math: In his speech on Tuesday night at West Point, the president announced a surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan in the coming months. That sounded way higher than a lot of Democrats might have wanted, but still below the optimal figure -- 40,000 -- that Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal had requested. (or, depending on how you read the various leaks and news stories of the last months, perhaps demanded). Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post now reports, however, that the President granted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates the right to “increase the number by 10 percent, or 3,000 troops, without additional White House approval or announcement.” Think of it, in restaurant terms, as the equivalent of a surge tip. In addition, DeYoung adds that an unnamed “senior military official” claimed “that the final number could go as high as 35,000 to allow for additional support personnel such as engineers, medevac units and route-clearance teams, which comb roads for bombs.” So now, in surge math, we’re at 35,000 U.S. troops. Add in the expected NATO contribution of about 5,000 extra troops and -- voilà -- you have 40,000 on the button. No wonder the Afghan War commander is reportedly satisfied. Tom]

Victory at Last!
Monty Python in Afghanistan
By Tom Engelhardt

Let others deal with the details of President Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 U.S. troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Karzai regime, the viability of counterinsurgency warfare, the reliability of NATO allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: Victory at Last!

It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, netcentrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.

And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.

A Symbolic Surrender of Civilian Authority Read more.

Happy Holidays from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Despite campaign promises of increased transparency and accountability, the Obama administration has continued its predecessor's assaults on civil liberties and the rule of law. Many counter-terror policies that our country increasingly takes for granted permit the government to routinely invade the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans, even without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and with grave consequences for our constitutional culture. And torture remains not only unpunished, but at risk of repetition since our nation has undermined the legal precedents deterring it here and around the world.

We at BORDC are disappointed by the striking absence of support for the rule of law in Washington. But together, we can change our country's course and bring America back to its founding principles.

Emergency Anti-Afghanistan Escalation Rally, Saturday, 12/12, 11 AM - 4 PM, Lafayette Square, White House

EMERGENCY ANTI-ESCALATION RALLY (Rain or Shine)

Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 • 11am-4pm • Lafayette Square/White House, Washington DC

Info

contact@enduswars.org
202-544-2554

We are a new coalition of antiwar organizations, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of conscience who challenge our elected leaders to end the US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and bring our troops home.

Our Purpose

We call for active, non-violent non-cooperation with US war policy. As we vigorously oppose a military escalation in Afghanistan, we encourage mass political mobilization and high-profile antiwar political actions across the country. As America continues to commit war crimes for the profit of the few and at the expense of the many, we engage and energize our fellow citizens to become disablers of war party mentality. We reject defeatist thinking and futile rationales by promoting effective war protest. We break cycles of hopelessness by engaging in immediate and direct actions, consistent with our commitment to non-violence. We believe our actions will produce the best methods for securing peace in our country and the world, and we direct our allegiance to that end.

Our Demands

  • Reject any troop surge in Afghanistan.
  • Declare an immediate cease-fire in Afghansitan and Iraq.
  • Bring all US troops home in the fastest way consistent with the safety of our forces.
  • Stop Predator drone strikes that kill civilians.
  • Stop all covert CIA and private black operations in Pakistan and elsewhere.
  • Stop extraordinary renditions. Shut down all CIA black sites/secret prisons once and for all.
  • Stop torture of any kind.
  • Treat all detainees according to the Geneva Convention.
  • Close Guantanamo.
  • Investigate and prosecute all war crimes to the fullest extent.

    Our Supporters Are Associated With:

  • Mr. President, War Is Not Peace

    Mr. President, War Is Not Peace
    By Norman Solomon

    Eloquence in Oslo cannot change the realities of war.

    As President Obama neared the close of his Nobel address, he called for “the continued expansion of our moral imagination.” Yet his speech was tightly circumscribed by the policies that his oratory labored to justify.

    Lofty rationales easily tell us that warfare is striving for the noble goal of peace. But the rationales scarcely intersect with actual war. The oratory sugarcoats the poisons, helping to kill hope in the name of it.

    A few months ago, when I visited an Afghan office for women’s empowerment, staffers took me to a pilot project in one of Kabul’s poorest neighborhoods. There, women were learning small-scale business skills while also gaining personal strength and mutual support.

    Two-dozen women, who ranged in age from early 20s to late 50s, talked with enthusiasm about the workshops. They were desperate to change their lives. When it was time to leave, I had a question: What should I tell people in the United States, if they ask what Afghan women want most of all?

    After several women spoke, the translator summed up. “They all said that the first priority is peace.”

    Deceptive Progressive Call for Support of Obama's War

    Deceptive Progressive Call for Support of Obama's War
    By Bruce Gagnon | Organizing Notes | December 2, 2009

    This morning I got an email from a friend who tipped me off to a conference call for "progressives" to discuss Obama's Afghanistan speech last night.

    The call announcement included this: "The narrative so far is that the left is against sending more troops and the right is for it,” said Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s not the reality of the situation. There are reasons for progressives to take heart from much of the President’s new strategy, as well as reasons to tread carefully. We want to make sure all those voices are heard.”

    This made me quite interested so I dialed in. The call began with everyone in the audience on mute as the following people made opening statements. Read more - scroll down page almost to bottom.

    A Fearful Price

    A Fearful Price
    By Bob Herbert | NY Times | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

    The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat.

    I don’t think our current way of waging war, which is pretty easy-breezy for most citizens, is what the architects of America had in mind. Here’s George Washington’s view, for example: “It must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal service to the defense of it.”

    What we are doing is indefensible and will ultimately exact a fearful price, and there will be absolutely no way for the U.S. to avoid paying it. Read more.

    The Nine Surges of Obama’s War: How to Escalate in Afghanistan

    The Nine Surges of Obama’s War: How to Escalate in Afghanistan
    By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com

    In his Afghan “surge” speech at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.” He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months. He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year. And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011. Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for. Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.

    Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be. In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas. Looked at another way, the media's focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.

    In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, while information on this is available, and often well reported, it’s scattered in innumerable news stories on specific aspects of the war. You have to be a media jockey to catch it all, no less put it together.

    What follows, then, is my own attempt to make sense of the nine fronts on which the U.S. has been surging, and continues to do so, as 2009 ends. Think of this as an effort to widen our view of Obama’s widening war. Read more.

    Nuremberg Revisited: Obama Administration Files To Dismiss Case Against John Yoo

    Nuremberg Revisited: Obama Administration Files To Dismiss Case Against John Yoo | Jonathan Turley

    John Yoo is being defended in court this month by the Administration. Not the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration. As with the lawsuits over electronic surveillance and torture, the Obama administration wants the lawsuit against Yoo dismissed and is defending the right of Justice Department officials to help establish a torture program — an established war crime. I will be discussing this issue tonight on MSNBC Countdown.

    The Obama Administration has filed a brief that brushes over the war crimes aspects of Yoo’s work at the Justice Department. Instead, it insists that attorneys must be free to give advice — even if it is to establish a torture program.

    In its filing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department insists that there is “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict.” Instead it argues that the Justice Department has other means to punish lawyers like the Office of Professional Responsibility. Of course, the Bush Administration effectively blocked such investigations and Yoo is no longer with the Justice Department. The OPR has been dismissed as ineffectual, including in an ABA Journal, as the Justice Department’s “roach motel”—“the cases go in, but nothing ever comes out.” Read more.

    White House Wants Suit Against Yoo Dismissed

    White House Wants Suit Against Yoo Dismissed
    By Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer | San Francisco Chronicle

    The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.

    Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military's detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict," Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

    Other sanctions are available for government lawyers who commit misconduct, the department said. It noted that its Office of Professional Responsibility has been investigating Yoo's advice to former President George W. Bush since 2004 and has the power to recommend professional discipline or even criminal prosecution.

    The office has not made its conclusions public. Read more.

    Billions More in Easy Money for Wall Street -- Are We Too Ignorant About Finance to Stop It?

    Billions More in Easy Money for Wall Street -- Are We Too Ignorant About Finance to Stop It?
    A permanent security blanket for big boys of finance will further inflame public opinion. Only the public isn't likely to know.
    By William Greider, The Nation | Alternet

    The sale pitch for financial-reform legislation pending in the House claims it would put an stop to "too big to fail" bailouts for the leading banks. The reality is the opposite. The federal government would instead be granted unlimited authority to spend whatever it takes to prop up the big boys when they get in trouble. Only in the next crisis, Congress won't have to be asked for the money. The financial rescues will be funded by the secretive Federal Reserve, not the Treasury, with money the Fed itself creates.

    And the emergency lending could be pumped into any financial institution in trouble--not just behemoth commercial banks but investment houses like Goldman Sachs, insurance companies, hedge funds or any other pools of private capital whose failure regulators believe would threaten the system.

    This sounds nutty and it is. A permanent security blanket for big boys of finance will further inflame public opinion. Only the public isn't likely to know. The crucial terms for Fed financing are set by an innocuous-sounding amendment offered by Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina. Any financial holding company designated as a "systemic risk" and subject to stricter regulatory standards "shall have the same access to the discount window lending of an appropriate Federal Reserve Bank as is available to a member bank of each Federal Reserve bank."

    This last-minute amendment, if included on final passage, solves a huge problem for the Obama administration--how to pay for the next bailout if another financial calamity unfolds. Read more.

    The Afghan War Through a Marine Mother's Eyes

    The Afghan War Through a Marine Mother's Eyes
    By Mike Barnicle | Time

    Nearly everything is a sad reminder for Mélida Arredondo: the news on TV, stories in the paper, speeches of Barack Obama and others who talk about a war that seems to have lasted so long and affected so many lives, those lost as well as those left behind.

    "Did your son like the Marine Corps?" I ask her.

    "Yes," she replies. "He loved it."

    "And why did he join?"

    "Too poor to go to college," Mélida Arredondo says.

    Alexander Arredondo enlisted at 17 and was killed at 20 in Najaf during his second deployment in Iraq. He died on his father's birthday, Aug. 25, 2004, when Carlos Arredondo turned 44.

    "My husband almost killed himself in grief," his wife says. "The day [the Marines] came to tell us Alex was dead, he poured gasoline all over himself and all over the inside of [their] car and lit it on fire. He survived ... physically." Read more.

    "What Ya Got?" Seeking Tips On Chamber of Commerce's Tim Donohue: Possible Reward Could Be $200K!

    Yeah, we know the old poster said $100,000, but it just doubled! Doubled to $200,000!

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    Colleen Rowley: New Warnings to New War President

    New Warnings to New War President
    By Colleen Rowley, Former FBI Special Agent

    Today marked another day of protests in Minneapolis in opposition to Obama's decision to escalate the war on Afghanistan/Pakistan. Instead of the "taking to the streets" in downtown Minneapolis the night after the President's announcement, today's protest was held in early afternoon so there was much better light to display people's messages on a variety of homemade signs and large banners. Numerous speakers made it clear that no one in the crowd, which appeared to mostly consist of extremely disappointed Twin Cities residents who had previously supported and/or helped elect Obama, believed the flimsy justification he put forth in his speech that 100,000 troops are necessary to deal with the 100 Al Qaeda fighters which remain in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Speaker after speaker instead detailed how tripling the troop level made no sense strategically, militarily or politically and would prove horribly counterproductive to the goal of reducing terrorism.

    Was Iraqi Cabbie the Source of the Dodgy Dossier?

    Was Iraqi cabbie the source of the dodgy dossier?
    MP's report claims 'intelligence' on Saddam's WMDs came from back of a taxi
    By Tim Shipman | Times Online

    Gossip from an Iraqi taxi driver was a key source for Tony Blair's 'dodgy dossier'.

    A report by a respected MP claims that the unlikely secret agent was one of MI6's top sources when it was building a case to justify the invasion.

    He provided the information that Saddam Hussein could fire chemical weapons at British targets within 45 minutes.

    The revelation comes as the death toll of British troops in Afghanistan reaches 100 this year alone following the shooting of a member of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in a gun battle with the Taliban.

    Senior intelligence officials have told the MP that the cabbie falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had acquired long-range missiles after listening to Iraqi commanders chatting in his taxi two years before the invasion. Read more.

    Guantánamo Lawyer Calls Off Talk In Illinois After Receiving Threats Of Violence

    Guantánamo Lawyer Calls Off Talk In Illinois After Receiving Threats Of Violence
    By Andy Worthington | AndyWorthington.co.UK

    In a disgraceful example of bullying and intimidation, Marc Falkoff, a law professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law, who has been a lawyer for 16 Guantánamo prisoners since 2004, was forced to call off a talk about Guantánamo at a college in Illinois last week after receiving threats of violence to himself and his family. In Sunday’s Northwest Herald (“Local news and video for McHenry County, Illinois), Professor Falkoff wrote a guest column explaining what he would have said had the event not been called off, which I reproduce below, as it is not only a ringing endorsement of the right to free speech, but also a concise explanation of why it remains important for those who see beyond the Bush administration’s rhetoric about Guantánamo — that it holds “the worst of the worst” — to be able to discuss the many reasons that this claim is a blatant lie.

    “What I would have said about Gitmo”
    By Marc Falkoff

    Several months ago, I was invited to speak at McHenry County College about my experience representing Guantánamo detainees.

    The event was scheduled to take place last week, but after I received a slew of threats of violence to myself and my family, it’s not going to happen.

    In blog postings and expletive-filled messages left on my personal cell phone, I was called a traitor, asked how I slept at night, and told that I would burn in hell. My clients were called murderers, and my family was threatened. After consultation with the Crystal Lake Police Department, the college understandably chose to cancel my talk.

    It’s a shame. A handful of people, purporting to be patriots, have silenced the community’s right to hear a different perspective on our national detention policy. So I’d like to tell you some of what I would have said about Guantánamo at MCC last week. Read more.

    Informed Activist

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