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Corporatism and Fascism


Corporatism and Fascism

The Shadow War: Making Sense of the New CIA Battlefield in Afghanistan


Tom of TomDispatch.com writes:

Think of this piece as an investigation at one remove: In our latest TomDispatch post, Nick Turse and I look behind the outpouring of news reports about the recent suicide bombing at a CIA outpost in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA operatives and a captain in the Jordanian intelligence service. The result: The most extensive account to be found anywhere of the CIA's shadow war in Afghanistan. Here's how we begin, writing of the suicide bombing:

"No one could say that the deaths and the blow to the American war effort weren’t well covered. There were major TV reports night after night and scores of news stories, many given front-page treatment. And yet lurking behind those deaths and the man who caused them lay a bigger American war story that went largely untold. It was a tale of a new-style battlefield that the American public knows remarkably little about, and that bears little relationship to the Afghan War as we imagine it or as our leaders generally discuss it.

"We don’t even have a language to describe it accurately. Think of it as a battlefield filled with muscled-up, militarized intelligence operatives, hired-gun contractors doing military duty, and privatized “native” guard forces. Add in robot assassins in the air 24/7 and kick-down-the-door-style night-time “intelligence” raids, “surges” you didn’t know were happening, strings of military bases you had no idea were out there, and secretive international collaborations you were unaware the U.S. was involved in. In Afghanistan, the American military is only part of the story. There’s also a polyglot “army” representing the U.S. that wears no uniforms and fights shape-shifting enemies to the death in a murderous war of multiple assassinations and civilian slaughter, all enveloped in a blanket of secrecy."

The Shadow War: Making Sense of the New CIA Battlefield in Afghanistan
By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse | TomDispatch.com

It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones.  As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation.  It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case -- except for the placement of the bomb material -- almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago. 

That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse.  Army Major General Michael Flynn, U.S. and NATO forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone -- but by implication U.S. intelligence operatives generally -- “clueless.”  They were, he wrote, "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers... Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy." Read more.

Blackwater Fever: High Crimes and Hired Guns

Blackwater Fever: High Crimes and Hired Guns
By Chris Floyd | Empire Burlesque

Scott Horton of Harper's gives us chapter and verse of the Justice Department's very deliberate -- and insultingly brazen -- sabotaging of its own case against the Blackwater mercenaries who murdered 17 Iraqis in Nisoor Square back in September 2007. As any sentient observer could have told you then, these hired killers -- gorging on taxpayer dollars as they assisted the mass-murdering invasion and occupation of Iraq -- were never going to do time. Why should they? They were just doing what they were paid, by us, to do: kill ragheads.

The case was dismissed by a federal judge last week due to prosecutorial misconduct. In an interview with Democracy Now, Horton explained how the bad deal went down:

[The] decision to dismiss these charges had nothing to do with lack of evidence or weak evidence against the Blackwater employees. To the contrary, there was copious evidence. There was plenty of evidence prosecutors could have used that they evidently weren’t prepared to, including eyewitnesses there. The decision to dismiss was taken as a punishment measure against Justice Department prosecutors based on the judge’s conclusion that they engaged in grossly unethical and improper behavior in putting the case together.

And specifically what they did is they took statements that were taken by the Department of State against a grant of immunity; that is, the government investigators told the guards, “Give us your statement, be candid, be complete, and we promise you we won’t use your statement for any criminal charges against you.” But the Justice Department prosecutors took those statements and in fact used them. They used them before the grand jury. They used them to build their entire case. And they did this notwithstanding warnings from senior lawyers in the Justice Department that this was improper and could lead to dismissal of the case. It almost looks like the Justice Department prosecutors here wanted to sabotage their own case. It was so outrageous. Read more.

Xe Services Aiming for Afghan Police Training Deal - (Blackwater) $1 Billion

Xe Services aiming for Afghan police training deal
By Richard Lardner, Associated Press Writer | Yahoo! News

Blackwater Worldwide's legal woes haven't dimmed the company's prospects in Afghanistan, where it's a contender for an important role in the U.S. strategy for stabilizing the country.

Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan's troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.

Yet even with a new name and focus, the expanded role would seem an unlikely one for Xe because Democrats have held such a negative opinion of the company following the Iraqi deaths.

During the White House campaign, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now President Barack Obama's secretary of state, backed legislation to ban Blackwater and other private security contractors from Iraq.

Xe eventually lost its license to operate as guardian of U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Clinton's State Department decided not to rehire the company when the contract expired in 2009. Delays in getting a new company in place led to a temporary extension of that contract. Read more.

How to Save Journalism

How to Save Journalism
By John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney | The Nation

The founders of the American experiment were even by their own measures imperfect democrats. But they understood something about sustaining democracy that their successors seem to have forgotten. Everyone agrees that a free society requires a free press. But a free press without the resources to compensate those who gather and analyze information, and to distribute that information widely and in an easily accessible form, is like a seed without water or sunlight. It was with this understanding that Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and their contemporaries instituted elaborate systems of postal and printing subsidies to assure that freedom of the press would never be an empty promise; to that end they guaranteed what Madison described as "a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people...[that] is favorable to liberty."

Two centuries after Madison wrote those words, American news media are being steered off the cliff by investors and corporate managers who soured on their "properties" when the economic downturn dried up what was left of their advertising bonanza. They are taking journalism with them. Newsrooms are shrinking and disappearing altogether, along with statehouse, Washington and foreign bureaus. And with them goes the circulation of news and ideas that is indispensable to liberty. This is a dire moment for democracy, and it requires a renewal of one of America's oldest understandings: that a free people can govern themselves only if they have access to independent information about the issues of the day and the excesses of the powerful, and that it is the duty of government to guarantee both the promise and the reality of a free press. Read more.

U.N. Experts Urge Iraq, U.S. To Pursue Blackwater Case

U.N. experts urge Iraq, U.S. to pursue Blackwater case | Reuters

U.N. human rights experts called on Iraq and the United States on Thursday to ensure that the 2007 killing of at least 14 Iraqi civilians, which has been blamed on Blackwater security guards, be prosecuted.

Iraq said on Monday it would launch lawsuits in U.S. and Iraqi courts against the U.S. security firm for the Baghdad killings, rejecting a U.S. judge's decision last week to throw out the charges.

In a statement, the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries said the case underscored the need for "credible oversight" of private security companies working for the United States and other governments in war zones.

Baghdad and Washington must cooperate to resolve the killings committed at a Baghdad traffic circle in September 2007, with "those responsible fully held accountable," it said.

The Blackwater incident highlighted the Pentagon's growing use of private forces in war zones and, for Iraqis, came to symbolize what they saw as a disregard for their lives on the part of foreign forces in the country.

Private guards protecting U.S. personnel were given immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts following the 2003 U.S. invasion. Read more.

Obama's Yemeni Odyssey Targets China

Obama's Yemeni odyssey targets China
By M. K. Bhadrakumar, Ambassador Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. | Asia Times Online

An engrossing struggle is breaking out. The US is unhappy with China's efforts to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf through the Central Asian region and Pakistan. Slowly but steadily, Washington is tightening the noose around the neck of the Pakistani elites - civilian and military - and forcing them to make a strategic choice between the US and China. This will put those elites in an unenviable dilemma. Like their Indian counterparts, they are inherently "pro-Western" (even when they are "anti-American") and if the Chinese connection is important for Islamabad, that is primarily because it balances perceived Indian hegemony.

The existential questions with which the Pakistani elites are grappling are apparent. They are seeking answers from Obama. Can Obama maintain a balanced relationship vis-a-vis Pakistan and India? Or, will Obama lapse back to the George W Bush era strategy of building up India as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean under whose shadow Pakistan will have to learn to live?

A year ago, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh made the startling revelation that his country's security forces apprehended a group of Islamists linked to the Israeli intelligence forces. "A terrorist cell was apprehended and will be referred to the courts for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," he promised.

Saleh added, "You will hear about the trial proceedings." Nothing was ever heard and the trail went cold. Welcome to the magical land of Yemen, where in the womb of time the Arabian Nights were played out.

Combine Yemen with the mystique of Islam, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Israeli intelligence and you get a heady mix. Read more.

Courts Roll Back Limits on Election Spending

Courts Roll Back Limits on Election Spending
By David D. Kirkpatrick | NY Times

Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates.

Legal experts and political operatives say the cases roll back campaign spending rules to the years before Watergate. The end of decades-old restrictions could unleash a torrent of negative advertisements, help cash-poor Republicans in a pivotal year and push President Obama to bring in more money for his party.

If the Supreme Court, as widely expected, rules against core elements of the existing limits, Democrats say they will try to enact new laws to reinstate the restrictions in time for the midterm elections in November. And advocates of stricter campaign finance laws say they hope the developments will prod the president to fulfill a campaign promise to update the presidential campaign financing system, even though it would diminish his edge as incumbent.

Many legal experts say they expect the court to use its imminent ruling, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to eliminate the remaining restrictions on advertisements for or against candidates paid for by corporations, unions and advocacy organizations. (The case centers on whether spending restrictions apply to a conservative group’s documentary, “Hillary: The Movie.”) Read more.

Did the CIA Deploy a Blackwater Hit Team in Germany?

Did the CIA Deploy a Blackwater Hit Team in Germany?
By Jeremy Scahill | Nation

German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA deployed a team of Blackwater operatives on a clandestine operation in Hamburg, Germany, after 9/11 ultimately aimed at assassinating a German citizen with suspected ties to Al Qaeda. The alleged assassination operation was revealed last month in a Vanity Fair profile of Blackwater's owner Erik Prince.

The magazine reported that after 9/11, the CIA used one of Prince's homes in Virginia as a covert training facility for hit teams that would hunt Al Qaeda suspects globally. Their job was find, fix, and finish: "Find the designated target, fix the person's routine, and, if necessary, finish him off," as the magazine put it.

According to Vanity Fair, one of the team's targets was Mamoun Darkazanli, a naturalized German citizen originally from Syria. Darkazanli has been accused by Spain of being an Al Qaeda supporter with close ties to the alleged 9/11 plotters who lived in Hamburg. The Blackwater/CIA team "supposedly went in 'dark,' meaning they did not notify their own station--much less the German government--of their presence," according to Vanity Fair. "[T]hey then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down." Authorities in Washington, however, "chose not to pull the trigger." Read more.

Iraqi in Blackwater Case Rejects Compensation Deal

Iraqi in Blackwater case rejects compensation deal
By Katharine Houreld, Associated Press Writer | SF Gate

An Iraqi injured by the U.S. private security firm once known as Blackwater said Sunday he would not accept a compensation deal for injuries he suffered after company employees opened fire in a crowded Baghdad square because the amount of money offered is too low.

Mahdi Abdul-Kadir was speaking about a civil lawsuit that is separate from the criminal case brought against the company, whose dismissal has become a lightening rod for Iraqi resentment over the behavior of private security companies and prompted Iraqi politicians to denounce the U.S. justice system.

Abdul-Kadir said Blackwater's offer of compensation to those who had been injured or had family members killed was too low. He said he has asked the deputy speaker of Iraq's parliament to cancel the agreement that the plaintiff's lawyer Susan Burke reached Jan. 6.

"We have rejected the settlement because it is a small amount. We won't accept such an amount," he said. Read more.

Answering Helen Thomas on Why They Want to Harm Us

Answering Helen Thomas on Why They Want to Harm Us
By Ray McGovern

Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day.

After Obama briefly addressed L’Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas to break through the vapid remarks about channeling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners.

"An Absolute Bargain": Blackwater Settles Massacre Lawsuit by Paying Families of Dead Iraqis $100,000 Each

"An Absolute Bargain": Blackwater Settles Massacre Lawsuit by Paying Families of Dead Iraqis $100,000 Each
Blackwater says it is "pleased" with the outcome.
By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports | Alternet

Two sources with inside knowledge of Blackwater’s settlement with Iraqi victims of a string of shootings, including the Nisour Square massacre, have confirmed to me that Blackwater is paying $100,000 for each of the Iraqis killed by its forces and between $20-30,000 to each Iraqi wounded. One source said it was "an absolute bargain" for Blackwater. Based on the number of dead and injured named in the civil lawsuits, the total amount paid by Blackwater is likely in the range of $5 million. Blackwater has made more than $1.5 billion in “security” contracts in Iraq alone since 2003.

Blackwater’s owner, Erik Prince, recently said his company is spending $2 million a month in legal fees to battle civil and criminal cases and investigations.

Blackwater released a statement saying the company was "pleased" with the ruling. “This enables Xe’s new management to move the company forward free of the costs and distraction of ongoing litigation, and provides some compensation to Iraqi families,” the company said, using its new moniker, Xe.

The Nisour Square massacre was the single deadliest incident involving private US forces in Iraq. Seventeen civilians were killed and more than 20 wounded by Blackwater forces in a shooting the US military labeled a “criminal” action. Among the dead were women and children and some victims were shot in the back as they fled Blackwater’s gunfire. Read more.

AP: Blackwater Settles Series of Civil Lawsuits

AP: Blackwater settles series of civil lawsuits
By Mike Baker | Business Week

The security firm formerly known as Blackwater has reached a settlement in a series of federal lawsuits in which dozens of Iraqis accused the company of cultivating a reckless culture that allowed innocent civilians to be killed.

Plaintiffs' attorney Susan Burke filed a motion in federal court late Wednesday requesting the cases be dismissed. The seven lawsuits cited a pattern of illegal activity, including several killing such as the 2007 shooting in Iraq's capital that left 17 Iraqis dead and strained relationships between Washington and Baghdad.

Burke didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday. Blackwater, now known as Xe, released a statement saying the company was "pleased" that the settlement, in the works for months, had been affirmed.

"This enables Xe's new management to move the company forward free of the costs and distraction of ongoing litigation, and provides some compensation to Iraqi families," the company said. Read more.

Drones Over America

Maine Press Conference Scheduled For New "Bring Our War $$ Home" Coalition Kick-Off 1/14, 11 AM, Capital's Hall of Flags

Leaders to Address State Fiscal Crisis: News Conference to Call for Cuts in War Spending As Vehicle to Fund State Programs | Press Release

Leaders from peace, church, health care, education, and social service communities will hold a news conference in Augusta, Maine on Thursday, January 14 at 11:00 am to call for cuts in war spending as a way to help Maine state government deal with its current fiscal crisis. The news conference will be held in the Hall of Flags inside the state capital in Augusta.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost Maine taxpayers $2.5 billion according to the National Priorities Project.

“If not for the money that has been wasted on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan we would not be in the fiscal crisis that we face today in Maine,” said Lisa Savage, public school teacher and a leader in the new statewide coalition called Bring Our War $$ Home.

“We will bring people together from around the state who are willing to address the elephant in the middle of the room. Our spending on endless war is killing the national economy as more than 40 states are now in fiscal crisis. We are not going to be able to cut our way out of this mess, tax our way out, nor will we be able to ‘grow’ our way out of this. Unless we cut military spending immediately there will be no serious recovery and no real stabilization of our state budget,” Savage stated.

A recent study, “The Employment Effects of Downsizing the U.S. Military” by UMASS-Amherst Economics Department, found that military spending actually creates fewer jobs than any other kind of investment.

The UMASS study reveals that for every $1 billion of spending on military production 8,555 jobs are created. But when that same amount of money is spent on home weatherization 12,804 jobs are created or when spent on education 17,687 jobs result.

“The little reported truth is that military spending is bad for the economy and creates fewer jobs and less tax revenue for state and local government than does other kinds of investment,” said Savage.

Airport Droids Attack Human Gene Pool

Airport Droids Attack Human Gene Pool
By Albert Bates | Culture Change

"If it's something that's going to improve safety, then I don't have any problem with it, I have nothing to hide." - Ashley Houston, 32, as she waited for a plane in Phoenix (Reuters).

If you were against transhumanism before, perhaps you should give it another look. Our bodies are the product of a billion years of nature’s evolutionary processes, but the War on Terror is about to irrevocably corrupt our gene pool, causing untold immune system and other genetic damage to future generations, and possibly rendering the DNA coding that we are based on unacceptably toxic.

We may need to port our intelligence to a machine, or to cyberspace, if “human” intelligence is to survive in today’s toxic environment.

While Homeland Security has installed Backscatter Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) into airports while successfully avoiding an environmental impact statement, and the Justice Department is now fighting FOIA requests for technical specifications (filed by EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Center), we already know that backscatter radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the ionizing radiation is small, the terahertz waves the machines generate do more than show your private parts to the screener. They have been found to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

Radiation waves occur naturally in the environment, and we’re hit with them all the time. But should we bombard ourselves with them unwillingly every time we want to board a flight? Initially the machines were supposed to be voluntary. Suddenly they are not. Read more.

Thank God McCain & Palin Lost

Thank God McCain & Palin Lost
By Philip A. Farruggio

This new year, anyone who is either a true progressive or a true conservative is lucky. Can you imagine if McCain & Palin won the White House? Just think, the Bush / Cheney neo con agenda would have moved forward with the advent of a McCain-Palin administration. Wow? Are you folks who voted for Obama / Biden happy now, right? Let’s look at how some of the key national issues that a McCain-Palin administration, with support from a Republican Congress, would effect:

  • More troops sent to Afghanistan.....No exit in sight from Iraq
  • Increases in our military ....Oh, excuse me, defense spending
  • Giving away the store on any real health care reform to the greedy and inept private health insurance industry. No chance for a universal Medicare for All option for American families.
  • Close to a one trillion dollar bailout of the corrupt and greedy Wall Street banks and investment houses. No indictments. No prosecutions of the liars and con men.

Foreclosures continuing as the federal government refuses to negotiate with the troubled (ready to go kaput) Wall Street banks for their sick assets. Thus, the sub prime mortgages are not bought by Uncle Sam for dimes and quarters on the dollar. Thus, foreclosed homes stay on the market.....And all the rest of the homes across America continue to remain low low low in value. All the businesses connected to the housing market continue to go......broke!

The Miracle of Worgl

The miracle of Worgl | Greentheo

“To all whom it may concern ! Sluggishly circulating money has provoked an unprecedented trade depression and plunged millions into utter misery. Economically considered, the destruction of the world has started. – It is time, through determined and intelligent action, to endeavour to arrest the downward plunge of the trade machine and thereby to save mankind from fratricidal wars, chaos, and dissolution. Human beings live by exchanging their services. Sluggish circulation has largely stopped this exchange and thrown millions of willing workers out of employment. – We must therefore revive this exchange of services and by its means bring the unemployed back to the ranks of the producers. Such is the object of the labour certificate issued by the market town of Wörgl : it softens sufferings dread; it offers work and bread.”-Inscription on the back of Worgl alternative money (1932)

As the stock market crashes and economic turmoil seems all but inevitable many have been thinking back to the days of the great depression. Alas, it seems we little people can do nothing but wait on the Federal Government, and its official monetary policy producer and the privately owned and operated Federal Reserve to rescue us from the sins of the fat cats on Wall Street.

We might be waiting until a certain nether world freezes over.

Back in 1931-32 the small town of Worgl, Austria was suffering from the result of the 1929 stock crash. There was no investment, no spending, 30% unemployment and civil unrest (When Hitler came through 5 years later and annexed them, they greeted him as an economic savior). Read more.

A Manifesto for Progressives

A manifesto for progressives
By Brent Budowsky | Smirking Chimp

The Progressive Caucus in Congress can save Democrats from a disaster in the 2010 elections that could destroy any semblance of a governing majority and erase any hope for the mandate for change that voters gave Democrats in 2008.

Nothing has changed. Lobbyists dominate the town. Money dominates the legislation. Democrats repeatedly fail to fight for first principles. Voters are angry. Democrats are now the party of incumbency in a nation that again demands change....

1. Progressives should speak for the huge majority of independents and fight for a public option with an opt-in provision that would allow states that favor it to have it. This would regain the political ground and reverse the political-sucker play against Democrats. Progressives should propose sending the money saved by the public option back to participating states for job-creating programs.

2. Progressives should fight for the huge majority of independents and make price-fixing, price-gouging and collusion by insurers illegal. Any insurance exchange with legalized price-fixing is ludicrous and repellant to a large majority of Americans. Read more.

Meet Your Boss: Robert Gates


Meet Your Boss: Robert Gates
Who is deciding your fate?
By Michael Prysner | Michael Moore.com

Only a brief glance at Gates’ resume reveals his deep ties to the military-industrial complex, but we should not mistake these ties for the driving force behind his actions as secretary of defense. The billionaires in charge did not promote Gates to the highest echelons of their state machine because he is loyal to his own personal interests, but rather because he has demonstrated a record of unwavering service to the common interests of the owners, bankers, and the super-rich. In the eyes of the war profiteers, the fact that Gates is one of their own only enhances his qualifications as a trustworthy functionary.

The decisions to send us to risk life and limb around the world—today in Afghanistan and Iraq—are not decisions that we have any part of, nor do our families, nor do the vast majority of people in the United States. They are decisions for the millionaire politicians, who have the backing of multi-billion-dollar corporations, and the generals and civilian advisors in the Pentagon. We are told we must trustingly follow orders and never question the chain of command.

But who is really in the chain of command? Who are these great and wise leaders who have, in the past eight years, ordered over 5,300 of us to our deaths?

At the top of this long line of officers and their civilian equivalents is Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. The secretary of defense is the leading position at the Pentagon, presiding over the crew of generals—both in uniform and in three-piece suits—who determine whether or not we must go to war, how many of us have to go, what military strategy will be used, and the “conditions on the ground” that decide if we can leave or if we must stay. All of our orders come directly from the Pentagon brass, headed by Robert Gates.

Gates is the only U.S. secretary of defense ever to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected president. The 2008 election was an unambiguous popular rejection of the Bush administration and its imperial foreign policy. The people of the United States, including the majority of people in the military, wanted to sweep out the Bush team. But President Obama asked Gates, a key architect of the current conflicts, to stay.

Gates must have some valuable experience and qualifications to remain the head of the war machine after our “great democracy” voted those policies out! Read more.

Suspected U.S. Drones Kill 13 in Pakistan

Suspected U.S. drones kill 13 in Pakistan
By AP | ABC News 4.

A former Pakistani security chief says he believes U.S. drone missile strikes over the past week are retaliation for a suicide attack against the CIA.

Mahmood Shah says Pakistanis should expect more attacks.

Two suspected drone strikes killed at least 13 people in northwest Pakistan today. That area near the Afghan border is teeming with militants suspected in last week's attack that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan.

Since the CIA attack, five missile strikes have killed at least 20 people.

Shah said the drone strikes are counterproductive because he says they've killed Pakistan's spies in the region, hampering its intelligence gathering ability.

Jackie Ramos, Bank Of America Employee, Fired After Helping Customers

Jackie Ramos, Bank Of America Employee, Fired After Helping Customers
By Arthur Delaney | Huffington Post

Bank of America fired Jackie Ramos after she took a stand against the bank's $15 "convenience" charges and $39 over-the-limit fees so she could sleep better at night.

"There was something inherently evil about my job," the 23-year-old said in a YouTube video she uploaded on Nov. 27, two days after her termination.

Ramos, of Fairburn, Ga., worked as a "customer advocate," which involved calling people who fall behind on credit card payments and either encouraging them to pay or modifying their accounts. But not all customers qualify for modification programs that will help them, and Ramos grew tired of saying no after six months on the job.

"So I stopped denying people," said Ramos. "I helped people get on programs that they didn't necessarily qualify for but who definitely needed the help." Read more.

“Obama Has Kept the Machine Set on Kill”–Journalist and Activist Allan Nairn Reviews Obama’s First Year in Office

“Obama Has Kept the Machine Set on Kill”–Journalist and Activist Allan Nairn Reviews Obama’s First Year in Office

In an extended interview, award-winning journalist and activist Allan Nairn looks back over the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security decisions over the last twelve months. “I think Obama should be remembered as a great man because of the blow he struck against white racism,” Nairn says. “But once he became president...Obama became a murderer and a terrorist, because the US has a machine that spans the globe, that has the capacity to kill, and Obama has kept it set on kill. He could have flipped the switch and turned it off…but he chose not to do so.” He continues, “In fact, as far as one can tell, Obama seems to have killed more civilians during his first year than Bush did in his first year, and maybe even than Bush killed in his final year.” [includes rush transcript]

The More Things Change

Sheldon H. Laskin wrote this interesting historical note.

I just finished reading a history of Ellis Island. I learned about a period in the island's history that I had been vaguely aware of, but I never knew the details.

Beginning prior to WWII and continuing into the Cold War, Ellis Island was used to detain (pending deportation) "enemy alien" German, Italian and Japanese non-naturalized residents of the US and (later) immigrants from Eastern Europe who were suspected of left-wing beliefs.

In many cases, the individuals had lived peacefully in the US for years; in some cases they were married to American citizens. J. Edgar Hoover compiled lists of enemy aliens before the war began and indeed, individuals were detained and brought to Ellis Island before hostitilities had even begun. Although the aliens could challenge their deportations, the evidence against them was secret and the courts in most cases basically rubber stamped the Executive's decisions. In some cases, believe it or not, people were seized in Latin America and brought to Ellis Island to be detained (sound familiar?). Perhaps most amazingly (as WWII was in fact a declared war), a number of the war detainees were still in detention as late as 1948. Whether or not the person was deported or allowed back into the country depended largely on the whims of the Executive and, in some cases, whether the individual had political connections.

US-Led Forces Accused of Executing Schoolchildren in Afghanistan

US-Led Forces Accused of Executing Schoolchildren in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, hundreds have taken to the streets of Kabul and elsewhere to protest the US killing of civilians. The incident that has sparked the most outrage took place in eastern Kunar on December 27th, when ten Afghans, eight of them schoolchildren, were killed. According to the Times of London, US-led troops dragged innocent children from their beds and shot them during a nighttime raid. Afghan government investigators said the eight students were aged from eleven to seventeen, all but one of them from the same family. [includes rush transcript]

Hotel Workers, Trumka Arrested at Sit-In for Fair Contract

Hotel Workers, Trumka Arrested at Sit-In for Fair Contract
By Mark Hall | AFL-CIO Blog

More than 100 union members, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITEHERE! President John Wilhelm were arrested at a sit-in demanding justice and a fair contract for San Francisco hotel workers last night. The workers have been without a contract since August.

The sit-in in front of the Hilton San Francisco followed a march by nearly 1,000 members of UNITEHERE! Local 2, other union members and community and political supporters. Says Ingrid Carp, a cook for 29 years at the Hilton:

“We’re determined as ever to win a good contract. It’s wrong for corporations to position themselves to make billions with the coming economic recovery, and expect us to go backward.”

The action is part of a campaign to win fair contracts at several national hotel chains, including Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood. The profitable chains are using the recession as an excuse to demand health care benefit cuts in contract talks with more than 16,000 workers at dozens of hotels in San Francisco, Chicago and other cities. Read more.

Breaking News: 4 Civilians Killed In Gaza As Israel Strikes Food-Tunnels


Breaking News: 4 civilians killed in Gaza as Israel strikes food-tunnels
By Sameh A. Habeeb | Palestine Telegraph

Following the extensive Israeli attacks across Gaza Strip, Israeli air force launched a number of air raids against the food tunnels with Egypt. Medical sources reported that 4 civilians killed and a number injured in the heavy bombardment. Israeli F16 were used in the attack and easily heard directly within the targeted the area. Due to the raids number of 10 Palestinian civilians is missing at the moment, while 4 have been confirmed as dead.

There are more than 1500 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt that are mainly used for smuggling food as Israelis impose a harsh siege. The tunnels considered to be the key lifeline as the main crossings blocked via Israeli occupation.

Less than 2 hours ago a massive explosion took place few moments ago western Gaza City, in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitness reported that Israeli F16s launched an Arial attack midnight. The attack was followed by a series of air raids. Read more.

Making Their Day

Making Their Day
by digby | Hullabaloo

This story from the Wingnut Examiner is just lethal: Once Obama's target, lobbyist Tauzin now his pet

 

White House visitor logs dumped late in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve show that Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist for the prescription drug industry and once a favorite target of Barack Obama, visited the White House at least 11 times in Obama's first six months in office.

The White House's open door for Tauzin, whom candidate Obama attacked as the embodiment of the revolving door and the corrupt collusion between politicians and industry, further dismantles the myth of Obama as the scourge of special interests. It also bolsters the conclusion that health care "reform" has become a boondoggle for the health industry, especially pharmaceutical companies.

White House visitor logs dumped late in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve show that Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist for the prescription drug industry and once a favorite target of Barack Obama, visited the White House at least 11 times in Obama's first six months in office.

The White House's open door for Tauzin, whom candidate Obama attacked as the embodiment of the revolving door and the corrupt collusion between politicians and industry, further dismantles the myth of Obama as the scourge of special interests. It also bolsters the conclusion that health care "reform" has become a boondoggle for the health industry, especially pharmaceutical companies. Read more.

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