Saturday, December 13, 2008


Is CommonDreams acting funny to everyone else?

Today's list of articles, that I can't seem to get access to ... yet, look pretty funny.

The one that really gets me is the one at the top where they attack the Republicans for killing the big giveaway of our tax money to the big Detroit autocompanies. Why is this funny? Because the Democrats and the Republicans have been right their together in creating that situation. Then as always, the two partners try to find ways to blame each other.

In the world of today, the union workers for the big auto companies are very much overpaid. Don't ge me wrong, I think working people should be paid well, and I wish the world should support these sorts of salaries. Even an old fascist like Henry Ford used to be able to realize that it was better for him if workers could afford his cars. But that's not today's world. And its the Democrats who largely created the world where these workers are now overpaid.

It was the Democrats who passed NAFTA and WTO. It was these 'trade agreements' that opened up lower paid labor sources to big corporations. Its the entire policy of 'free trade' that says we can't put tarrifs on imports to protect our own industries and workers, and the Democrats have fully supported and pushed 'free trade' for close to two decades now.

And, the one thing the government could really do to help big American industries like this would be to pass a single-payer, national health insurance plan. Since almost all other industrialized countries have this, that means its only in the case of American workers do corporations have to bear the high cost of health care. A single payer health care plan would quickly take a lot of expenses for employee health care and retiree health care off the books of these auto companies.

But, the insurance companies have apparently out-bid industrial America in bribing the Democrats, so single-payer health care is 'off the table' with the Democrats.

Maybe we should start calling the Democrats the 'tiny table party', because there sure isn't much room on that 'table' of theirs.

But hey, if you aren't blocked by the CD censors, you can go over to CD and read all about how this is all the Republicans fault.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Open Thread

As usual, its the middle of the week and I'm not posting as many articles because I'm working. So, if anyone else has anything they think worth reading .....

Outgoing US Intel Official: Iran Has Not Restarted Nuke Program

Outgoing US Intel Official: Iran Has Not Restarted Nuke Program on

Speaking to a small group of reporters Dr. Thomas Fingar, the outgoing chairman of the National Intelligence Council, defended the reports findings, adding that he believes Iran has not diverted any of the low-enriched uranium for its soon-to-be-completed nuclear power plant to weapons use. The IAEA has repeatedly certified the same, but officials still portray Iran’s civilian enrichment program as dangerous.

Dr. Fingar says he still stands behind the report, and believes that Iran has not made any decision to pursue nuclear weapons, in spite of President-elect Obama’s claims to the contrary and reports that the Israeli military is preparing to attack Iran, ostensibly to halt the program.

There seem to be more articles on that are 'blog' style. Which means you have to dig down a second level by following links to get to the original article. In this case, it seems to be this article in the right-wing Washington Times.

Just got to remember this when Obama and the other Republicans are bleating on about how we have to be willing to attack Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program. They don't have one.

An Obama Public Works Program?

An Obama Public Works Program? by Steve Conn on

More Ralph Naders are needed, not less. New Ralph Naders who are not looking for jobs in the Obama administration or tickets to one of the Balls. Ralph Naders who say what millions of Americans do not hear on TV about class warfare, the rich getting richer and the middle class disappearing when illness and job loss strikes a family member. People ready to be under constant surveillance and challenged by the troops to be stationed in America to deal with complainers.

Barack Obama has dumped the progressive agenda of his campaign, piece by piece, that he used to delude liberals who actually begged to be deluded. So where did he find a public works program? From Ralph Nader’s writings and platforms in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and even before. Back when the country had a national surplus and only corporate flaks to tell Clinton, Gore, and candidate Bush how to spend it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The CIA and its reporter friends: Anatomy of a backlash

The CIA and its reporter friends: Anatomy of a backlash by Glenn Greenwald on

Important because in this one case it exposes news outlets you can't trust not to print propaganda, reporters you can't trust not to print propaganda, and specific items about these stories that point to them being propaganda.

The backlash from the "intelligence community" over John Brennan's withdrawal -- which pro-Brennan sources are now claiming was actually forced on Brennan by the Obama team -- continues to intensify. Just marvel at how coordinated (and patently inaccurate) their messaging is, and -- more significantly -- how easily they can implant their message into establishment media outlets far and wide, which uncritically publish what they're told from their cherished "intelligence sources" and without even the pretense of verifying whether any of it is true and/or hearing any divergent views:

Gen. Hayden and the claimed irrelevance of presidential appointments

Gen. Hayden and the claimed irrelevance of presidential appointments by Glenn Greenwald on

Until five weeks ago, I literally never heard anyone claim -- in either party -- that it was irrelevant who the President appointed to his Cabinet and other high-level positions. I never heard anyone depict people like the Defense Secretary and CIA Director as nothing more than impotent little functionaries -- the equivalent of entry-level clerical workers -- who exert no power and do nothing other than obediently carry out the President's orders.

In fact, I seem to recall pretty vividly all sorts of confirmation fights led by Democrats over the last eight years (John Aschroft, John Bolton, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Hayden, Steven Bradbury) -- to say nothing of the efforts to force the resignation or dismissal of people such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Gonzales -- that was based on exactly the opposite premise: namely, that it does matter who is empowered to lead these agencies and departments, and specifically, that their ideology not only matters, but can, by itself, warrant rejection. Nobody ever claimed that Ashcroft, Bolton or Hayden were "unqualified." It was their beliefs and ideology that rendered them unfit for those positions, argued Democrats.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Paradoxes by Eduardo Galeano on ZMag (a 'classic' reprinted from 2002.)

On first thought it seems incomprehensible, and on second thought as well: in the places where progress has progressed the most, people work the longest hours. The illness caused by too much work leads to death. It is called karoshi in Japanese. Now the Japanese are adding yet another word to the dictionary of technological civilization: karojsatsu is the name given to suicides caused by hyperactivity, an increasingly frequent occurrence.

In May of 1998, France reduced the work week from 39 to 35 hours. Not only did such a measure prove effective against unemployment, but it also provided a rare instance of sanity in a world that has got a screw loose--or several, or all of them. For what is the use of machines if they can't reduce the amount of time humans spend at work? But the Socialists lost the elections and things in France went back to normal, so a law that had been dictated by common sense is already on its way out.

Technology produces cubic-shaped watermelons, featherless chickens, and a lifeless labor force. In a few hospitals in the United States robots already take on some nursing tasks. According to the Washington Post, robots work 24 hours a day, but they cannot make decisions because they lack common sense--an unwitting portrait of the ideal worker in the world to come.

Who Are the Afghan Insurgents?

Who Are the Afghan Insurgents? by Anand Gopal on

If there is an exact location marking the West’s failures in Afghanistan, it is the modest police checkpoint that sits on the main highway 20 minutes south of Kabul. The post signals the edge of the capital, a city of spectacular tension, blast walls, and standstill traffic. Beyond this point, Kabul’s gritty, low-slung buildings and narrow streets give way to a vast plain of serene farmland hemmed in by sandy mountains. In this valley in Logar province, the American-backed government of Afghanistan no longer exists.

Instead of government officials, men in muddied black turbans with assault rifles slung over their shoulders patrol the highway, checking for thieves and “spies.” The charred carcass of a tanker, meant to deliver fuel to international forces further south, sits belly-up on the roadside.

20 minutes south? In Denver, 20 minutes doesn't get me out of the city. In Kabul, that's the limits of what's controlled by the US and the puppet government?

Gee, I guess that's why the other article is talking more like any new troops go into Kabul to help stave off the insurgents than in any big new campaign to 'win' the war.

And, when was the last time an outside power 'won' a war in Afghanistan? Russians, nope. British, nope.

Obama's Favoritism

Obama's Favoritism by Michael Hudson on

There is a strange double standard in President-elect Obama’s largesse with the public purse when it comes to Wall Street’s banks and insurance companies as compared to his more exacting stance toward bailing out the U.S. auto industry. In his December 7, 2008 interview with Meet the Press he set conditions for an auto industry bailout, but said nothing about setting similar conditions for the financial sector.

A quick trip to reveals the following list of top ten interest areas that have contributed to Obama's Senate accounts.

Total Campaign Contributions Received: $350,573,336

Top 10 Interests Funding
Interest Contributions
Retired $41,377,564
Attorneys & law firms $37,193,295
Schools & colleges $15,955,408
General commerce $12,306,371
Security brokers & investment companies $6,946,172
Civil servant/public employee $6,353,080
Business services $5,995,808
Democratic/Liberal $5,671,243
Book, newspaper & periodical publishing $5,392,514
Physicians $4,530,946

Contributions from political parties and from other candidates are not included in top 10 lists.

The obvious answer to Mr. Hudson's point is the Security brokers and Investment companies sitting there at 5th on the list, while the auto makers don't make the top ten. Detroit has obviously gotten behind on their bribe, uh contribution, payments.

The reason why Wall Street and Detroit aren't treated the same is rather obvious. Follow the money, and it will reveal much if not all you need to know about politics in DC.

Children 'executed' in 1950 South Korean killings

Children 'executed' in 1950 South Korean killings from the AP.

Government investigators digging into the grim hidden history of mass political executions in South Korea have confirmed that dozens of children were among many thousands shot by their own government early in the Korean War.

The investigative Truth and Reconciliation Commission has thus far verified more than two dozen mass killings of leftists and supposed sympathizers, among at least 100,000 people estimated to have been hastily shot and dumped into makeshift trenches, abandoned mines or the sea after communist North Korea invaded the south in June 1950.

The killings, details of which were buried in classified U.S. files for a half-century, were intended to keep southern leftists from aiding the invaders at a time when the rightist, U.S.-allied government was in danger of being overrun by communist forces.


The AP has reported that declassified U.S. military documents show U.S. Army officers took photos of the assembly line-style executions outside the central city of Daejeon, where the commission believes between 3,000 and 7,000 people were shot and dumped into mass graves in early July 1950.

Other once-secret files show that a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel reported giving approval to the killing of 3,500 political prisoners by a South Korean army unit he was advising in Busan, if the North Koreans approached that southern port city, formerly spelled Pusan.

The files show the U.S. command was aware in other ways as well of the organized bloodbaths.

The old lie was ....

Although at the time U.S. diplomats reported confidentially they had urged restraint on the South Koreans, there was no sign the U.S. military, with formal command over the southerners, tried to halt the mass executions.

After last month's meeting, embassy spokesman Robert Ogburn said the U.S. mission would not comment publicly on it.

File under ... never believe the government

US troops to be deployed south of Kabul as Taliban insurgency approaches Kabul

US troops to be deployed south of Kabul as Taliban insurgency approaches Kabul on

The great majority of a 4,000-strong brigade, due to arrive next month, will be stationed in provinces neighbouring Kabul, irather than in the south or east, which have seen the heaviest fighting.

Security around Kabul has dramatically worsened in the past 12 months. Taliban insurgents hold sway over large areas and often control major roads out of the city. Attacks on foreign and Afghan forces have risen steeply.

Meanwhile, this headline doesn't sound good at all. If we are going to be putting our troops right into Kabul to protect the capital from a growing revolt, that's not at all a good sign.

Obama's Afghan Dilemma

Obama's Afghan Dilemma by Robert Dreyfuss on

Some of this is kinda dreamy stuff about how Obama won't do what he's been saying he'll do. But its still and interesting read, and this part really caught my eye.

"What began as a punitive raid aimed at beheading Al Qaeda and chastising its Afghan household staff has somehow morphed--with no real discussion or debate--into a prolonged effort to pacify Afghanistan and transform its society," says Freeman. "This moving of the goal posts gratified neoconservatives and liberal interventionists alike. Our new purpose became giving Afghanistan a centrally directed state--something it had never had. We now fight to exclude reactionary Muslims from a role in governing the new Afghanistan." Freeman suggests that this is an untenable goal, and that it is time to co-opt local authorities and enlist regional allies in search of a settlement.
This is from 'Chas Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council and a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.'

This is what's always struck me about our war in Afghanistan. What are we doing there? The original bit about going after Bin Laden I understood. And if the Taliban was standing with Bin Laden and protecting him, even that expansion of the effort made at least some sense.

But, what the heck are we doing there seven years later? We should have gotten out ages ago. We could have left behind the message saying if the Afghanis let groups that would attack us reform there, then we'd be back (in our best Schwarznegger voice). But what in the heck are we doing there with all these troops that Obama now wants to 'surge'?

Democracy Now! to receive "Alternative Nobel" prize

Democracy Now! to receive "Alternative Nobel" prize

This year's winners:
Krishnammal and Sankaralingam Jagannathan, and their organisation LAFTI (Land for the Tillers' Freedom) (India), who receive an Award "for two long lifetimes of work dedicated to realising in practice the Gandhian vision of social justice and sustainable human development, for which they have been referred to as 'India's soul'."

Amy Goodman (USA), founder and award-winning host of Democracy Now!, a daily grassroots, global tv/radio news hour, is honoured "for developing an innovative model of truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media."

Asha Hagi (Somalia) The Jury honours Asha Hagi "for continuing to lead at great personal risk the female participation in the peace and reconciliation process in her war-ravaged country."

Monika Hauser (Germany), gynaecologist and founder of medica mondiale, receives an Award "for her tireless commitment to working with women who have experienced the most horrific sexualised violence in some of the most dangerous countries in the world, and campaigning for them to receive social recognition and compensation."

Today's show has interviews with founder of awards and other winners from Sweden

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New evidence on nuclear bomb tests points to cover up

New evidence on nuclear bomb tests points to cover up on

THE MINISTRY of Defence (MoD) has been accused of "a cover-up of a cock-up" in the wake of new evidence that it failed to investigate genetic damage among the veterans of Britain's nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s.

Confidential correspondence from 1984 reveals that the Medical Research Council (MRC) discovered DNA defects in a test veteran that were characteristic of radiation damage. But the council was never asked to look for similar problems in other veterans.

The revelation is seen as the "smoking gun" that could bring justice for the veterans, who have been campaigning for compensation for illnesses they blame on radiation for decades. They recently launched legal action against the MoD, which has promised an inquiry.

File under ... never believe a government.

CIA ‘lied’ over fatal attack on missionary plane

CIA ‘lied’ over fatal attack on missionary plane on

FOR Jim and Veronica Bowers and their two small children, the flight up the Amazon in a single-engined Cessna float plane should have been a routine return to the remote house-boat where the family lived during missionary work with Indian tribes.

It ended in 90 seconds of horror when a Peruvian air force jet guided by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractors mistook the Cessna for a drug-smuggling plane and shot it out of the sky. Veronica, 35, and her seven-month-old daughter Charity, were killed by a bullet that pierced the Cessna’s fuselage, passed through the mother’s back, and lodged in her infant’s skull.

and later

More than seven years after the family was shattered by a terrible mistake, the CIA has been accused in a new report of repeatedly lying to criminal investigators, members of Congress and White House officials about what happened 5,000ft above the Amazonian jungle.

File under ... never believe the government.

Police: NY hotels vulnerable to Mumbai-type attack

Police: NY hotels vulnerable to Mumbai-type attack on

Get ready for a new wave of police state actions.

The attacks, Kelly added, also "represent a shift in tactics toward low-tech weaponry and a coordinated effort by a small group of men."

You can spot the propaganda aimed at promoting a police state by the sheer nonsense of it. For instance, 9-11 was carried out by fewer attackers than apparently hit Mumbai, and their weaponry consisted of box-cutters. Mumbai was actually an attack by the same size or larger group of attackers using higher-tech weaponry like machine guns and explosives.

The NYPD officials advised the hotels to train their staffs to be on the lookout for anyone loitering in lobbies or guest floors. They also recommended being suspicious of guests booking unusually long stays — a sign someone may be using a room as a staging area for conducting extensive surveillance or storing weapons.

Gee, I was just getting new floors put in the house, and thus spent two weeks living in hotels while this work was done. I guess that would make me a suspicious possible terrorist now.

Mumbai attacks: police admit there were more than ten attackers

Mumbai attacks: police admit there were more than ten attackers

Computer-generated photographs of two suspects, who are believed to be on the run, were circulated to Mumbai's police stations. Until this development, the number of gunmen was officially placed at 10 - with nine killed in the fighting and another captured alive.

But the orders for police to hunt two suspects indicates that at least 12 terrorists raided prominent targets cross the city. Eleven days after the attacks, the definitive number of gunmen is still unknown, with some estimates ranging as high as 24.

File under ... never believe a government

The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor

The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor by John Flynn from 1945

File under ... never believe the government.

More than 160 US, NATO vehicles burned in Pakistan

More than 160 US, NATO vehicles burned in Pakistan on AP.

Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said

Ooops! Oh well, I guess GM needed the orders for replacing a bunch of Humvees.

The attackers fled after a brief exchange of fire with police, who arrived about 40 minutes later, Khan said.

They blasted down the gate with a rocket propelled grenade, but it still took 40 minutes for the police to arrive? Doesn't sound like the police were all that anxious to help out the Americans.

The attack was the latest in a series that have highlighted the vulnerability of the supply route to the spreading power of the Taliban and other Islamic militants in the border region.

Not good. And gee, Obama and the other Republicans want to put even more troops at the far end of this fragile supply line?

Shahedullah Baig, a spokesman for the interior minister in Islamabad, insisted Sunday that the extra security covered the terminals.

"They are fully protected, but in this kind of situation such incidents happen," Baig said.

Someone's idea of 'fully protected' is a bit different from mine. See the picture in the article of the pile of smoking rubble for this spokesperson's meaning of 'fully protected'.

Analysis: Obama defense agenda resembles Gates'

Analysis: Obama defense agenda resembles Gates' by Robert Burns on

For a Democrat whose opposition to the Iraq war was a campaign centerpiece, President-elect Barack Obama is remarkably in sync with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on many core defense and national security issues — even Iraq.

The list of similarities suggests the early focus of Obama's Pentagon may not change dramatically from President George W. Bush's.

Given that Obama made the unprecedented decision to keep the incumbent Republican defense secretary, it would seem natural to expect that they see eye to eye on at least some major defense issues. But the extent of their shared priorities is surprising, given Obama's campaign criticisms of Bush's defense policies.

Well, its not surprising to the people who had figured out that Obama would say anything to get elected. And that he meant none of it. He presented himself as an alternative to Hillary during the primaries, and now that he's recreated much of the Clinton White House, that was obviously a big lie. So, its not surprising that when he presented himself as an alternative to Bush in the general election, that this was also a lie.