Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

To any Christians who read this, Merry Christmas. To all others, may you also have a merry time at your holidays around the winter solstice.

Christians celebrate on this day the birth of the man known as the Prince of Peace. A man who came to us to teach us to live peacefully with each other, and to treat each of our fellow human beings as a brother and sister. The man who tried to teach us to love even our enemies.

In a few months, the Christians will also celebrate the death of this man who was tortured and killed by his fellow monkeys for speaking such heresy. Seems like not a lot has changed in 2000 years.

A Tale of Two Iraqis

Iraqi PM chides Sunni provinces pushing for autonomy, warns of ‘rivers of blood’ from the Washington Post.

Two Iraqis. The first is the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. He's the one speaking with the quote that made the headline warning of "rivers of blood". It seems the Sunni areas, after being pretty much kicked out of the government by the PM, and who have seen one of their political leaders arrested on 'terrorism' charges, are talking about using the portion of the Iraqi constitution that allows for autonomous regions (like the US supported Kurdish areas) to gain some independence from the Shite-dominated central government. In response, Mr. al-Maliki is making speeches warning of 'rivers of blood'.

Remember, that Mr. al-Maliki is the hand-picked, US choice to lead Iraq. In 2006, when he was first chosen to be prime minister, the Americans were deeply involved in the 'process' and certainly were not going to let a choice unacceptable to them into power. Mr. al-Maliki has bent over backwards of course to be favorable to the Americans and to let the American military do whatever its wanted to do in Iraqi.

So, the pro-American and put into office by America Prime Minister is the one making speeches talking about 'rivers of blood' if a faction does something he doesn't like. I guess the Iraqis got about the same 'change' from Saddam that Americans got in 'changing' from Dubya to Obama.

Then, buried much later down in this Washington Post story, there's a second Iraqi. This is the Iraqi that the American government has always hated. He is of course described by the propaganda writer at the WaPo as the "anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr". If you only read the WaPo, you'd probably think 'anti-American' is the man's real first name as he can not apparently be mentioned without this editorial comment/smear being applied to his name first. The WaPo isn't about presenting facts and letting readers make up their own minds. Nope, they have to tell you he's the 'anti-American' cleric before they tell you anything else.

But, listen to what Muqtada al-Sadr is talking about.

Iraq’s anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, launched an initiative Saturday calling for peaceful coexistence among all Iraqis after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The last soldiers left Dec. 18.

Al-Sadr, whose militiamen were blamed for sectarian killings during the worst years of Iraq’s violence, is seeking to assert his political weight Iraq after the U.S. pullout.

Al-Sadr’s proposal comes just two days after a terrifying wave of Baghdad bombings killed 69 people and wounded nearly 200. The bombs tore through mostly Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital, evoking fears the country could descend into a new round of sectarian violence.

Al-Sadr’s associates handed out to the media a 14-point “peace code” proposal written by the radical cleric. It warns against spilling Iraqi blood and urges respect for all religions, sects and ethnic groups.

Al-Sadr’s aide Salah al-Obeidi described the code as an attempt “to preserve the unity of the country and save it from fighting.”

Remember, America has been trying to crush and drive away Mr. al-Sadr for years now. The Us has openly declared war on him at least once back around 2004 when they invaded the poor "Sadr City" (named after his father) neighborhood of Baghdad to try to kill or detain/torture Mr. Sadr and his followers. And generally, its been a constant theme of American 'leadership' in Iraq to try to keep Mr. Sadr and his political party/faction out of any positions of power. Reserving those for the likes of Mr. al-Maliki. Even now, notice the great lengths the WaPo goes to try to tell you to hate this man in this article.

So, we see before us two Iraqis. One is pro-American, and who has been put into power and largely kept there by the Americans. He's the one talking about 'rivers of blood' in warning his political opponents to do what he demands. The other is 'anti-American' and has been opposed at every turn by the Americans who at times have tried to kill or arrest him. He's the one talking about peace. The one the Americans hate, and the one who propaganda organs like the WaPo constantly teach Americans back home to hate, that's the one trying to talk about peace. He's the one trying to get Iraqis to follow the simple rule of not shedding the blood of their fellow Iraqis.

Says an awful lot about American foreign policy. America obviously supports 'rivers of blood' while opposing the idea of peaceful coexistence. And we wonder why they hate us?

And, if you want to understand why the Iranians don't seem to like us much either, remember that we've done the same thing in their relatively recent history. America led the coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh government and replaced it with the dictatorial rule of the 'Shah of Iran'. After the CIA overthrew the Iranian democracy, it spent the next 20 years teaching and training the Shah's Savak secret police how to torture and kill and disappear Iranian's who might favor democracy and freedom over life under a US puppet-dictator. Then, when the Iranian people had the nerve to overthrow our chosen tyrant, the US has hated Iran ever since and constantly schemed to try to find a way to once again overthrow the Iranian democracy that replace our puppet/tyrant.

And, we wonder why they hate us?

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The German translates to "Germany is Free".  German propaganda always talked a lot about "freedom".


One people united

The German translates to "One People, One Reich, One Fuhrer". Authoritarian propaganda always demands "unity".  A free democracy is just the opposite, in that its acceptable for people to have differing views.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wow, A Senator Read the Constitution.

There's an excellent article up on The Atlantic, Ceding Liberty to Terror, about the recent vote by the US Senate to give the US government gestapo-like powers to sieze and detain anyone. A majority in the US Senate believes that the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights magically dissappear as soon as any government agent or official utters the magic word "terrorist". They don't even have to wave a wand or click their heels together three times to perform such magic.

The article quotes Sen. Kirk (R-IL) from the debate. Read it closely. Some day you might be able to tell your grand-kids about when the Senate used to have debate.

Sen. Kirk had some grounding words to say about the Constitution:

I took the time, as we all should from time to time, serving in this body, to re-read the Constitution of the United States yesterday. The Constitution says quite clearly: 'In the trial of all crimes -- no exception -- there shall be a jury, and the trial shall be held in the State where said crimes have been committed.' Clearly, the Founding Fathers were talking about a civilian court, of which the U.S. person is brought before in its jurisdiction.

They talk about treason against the United States, including war in the United States. The Constitution says it "shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

The following sentence is instructive: No person -- 'No person,' it says -- 'shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.' I would say that pretty clearly, 'open court' is likely to be civilian court.

Further, the Constitution goes on, that when a person is charged with treason, a felony, or other crime, that person shall be 'removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime' -- once again contemplating civilian, state court and not the U.S. military. As everyone knows, we have amended the Constitution many times. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is instructive here. It says: 'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures' -- including, by the way, the seizure of the person -- 'shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, except upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.'

Now, in section 1031(b)(2), I do not see the requirement for a civilian judge to issue a warrant. So it appears this legislation directly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution with regard to those rights which are inalienable, according to the Declaration of Independence, and should be inviolate as your birthright as an American citizen.

Recall the Fifth Amendment, which says: 'No person' -- by the way, remember, 'no person'; there is not an exception here. 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment,' hear the words, 'of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War' -- meaning there is a separate jurisdiction for U.S. citizens who are in the uniformed service of the United States. But unless you are in the service of the United States, you are one of those 'no persons' who shall be answerable for a 'capital' or 'infamous crime,' except on 'indictment of a Grand Jury.'

The Sixth Amendment says: 'In all criminal prosecutions' -- not some, not by exception, in all criminal prosecutions -- 'the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed' ... I go on to these because I regard all of these rights as inherent to U.S. citizens, granted to them by their birth in the United States.

Does your senator agree with all that? If not, isn't it about time that you elected someone who does?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rights Alienable by the Federal Government

No Free Speech at Mr. Jefferson’s Library by Peter Van Buren

An outstanding article on the case of Morris Davis. Morris Davis was at one time the chief military prosecutor at Gitmo. He stated publicly that he would not use evidence obtained by torture. Then a pro-screaming-in-pain-and-mortal-fear general was put in as his commanding officer. Rather than wait for the inevitable order to try to put people to death by using evidence obtained while the witness was screaming in pain or shaking in fear of their life, Mr. David resigned his commission in the US military.

Mr. Davis then took a job as a researcher at the Library of Congress. But, he also continued to speak out about Gitmo in articles and letters to the editor. He was fired for this. His bosses at the Library of Congress, an institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, claimed that by using his right to express his political views showed poor judgement on Mr. Davis' part. Mr. Davis is suing, and amazingly American courts have so far let this come to trial.

The whole article is outstanding, and should be read in full. If you are only going to read one article today, this is the most important one. Well, this and the articles (left and right) about how Goldman Sachs is taking over Europe in the midst of the crisis in the financial markets largely controlled by Goldman Sachs and its former employees in government jobs.

But here's a taste ...

More broadly, the Davis case threatens to give the government free rein in selecting speech by its employees it does not like and punishing it. It’s okay to blog about your fascination with knitting or to support official positions. If you happen to be Iranian or Chinese or Syrian, and not terribly fond of your government, and express yourself on the subject, the U.S. government will support your right to do it 110% of the way. However, as a federal employee, blog about your negative opinions on U.S. policies and you’ve got a problem. In fact, we have a problem as a country if freedom of speech only holds as long as it does not offend the U.S. government.

Morris Davis’s problem is neither unique nor isolated. Clothilde Le Coz, Washington director of Reporters without Borders, told me earlier this month, “Secrecy is taking over from free speech in the United States. While we naively thought the Obama administration would be more transparent than the previous one, it is actually the first to sue five people for being sources and speaking publicly.” Scary, especially since this is no longer an issue of one rogue administration.

Government is different than private business. If you don’t like McDonald’s because of its policies, go to Burger King, or a soup kitchen, or eat at home. You don’t get the choice of federal governments, and so the critical need for its employees to be able to speak informs the republic. We are the only ones who can tell you what is happening inside your government. It really is that important. Ask Morris Davis.

Actually, Mr. Van Buren is wrong on the last part. Since he refers to the Library of Congress properly as Mr. Jefferson's library, perhaps he should go visit and read some of Mr. Jefferson's more memorable words.

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
  • that all men are created equal,
  • that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
  • that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
  • --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
  • Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
  • But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

Perhaps the most important concept of America, perhaps the most fundamentally 'American' thing in all of history is the belief that we do indeed get to choose our federal government. That power really does come from and justly resides with We The People. Not the government. Not some King or President. Power comes from We The People, and we have the right and the duty to our great nation of America to choose our Federal government and to choose it well.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Obama's War.

The “Left” and Libya by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Sometimes one gets the impression that God must have a sense of humor, and that God probably does enjoy a good game of dice with the universe.

It turns out that one of the big supporters of the Iraq and Libya wars is the, wait for it .... "Paterno Family Professor" at Penn State University. No big surprise really. After all, its not a huge leap from protecting someone who rapes 10 year old boys to supplying the endowment that pays for a professor that supports the rape of foreign countries.

That's a God who's a patient practical jokester spending years setting this up so maybe we can simultaneously laugh and become enlightened to see how wrong and evil all this violence and killing really is. Of course, one would have thought sending his son to get murdered trying to teach us not to kill each other might have gotten the message through to us monkeys, but apparently neither crucifiction nor practical jokes is enough to keep us monkeys from finding new ways to be horribly evil to each other. I hope God is infinitely patient, because any mere mortal's patience would probably be wearing a bit then with us murdering monkeys by now.

Here in America, we stay so far away from the wars. Our wars are sanitized. We get reports of victory from the battlefields. We hear accounts of our wonderful allies and their struggle for victory. Of course, our virtuous allies in the Northern Alliance ended up putting people in container trucks and leaving them in the sun with no food or water to torture and kill their vanquished opponents. And now the tales of retribution from the wonderful saints we supported in Libya are starting to come forward. But still, we usually just hear stories of our great victories. So, read this quote that comes from this article to get a good close-hand look at what our Nobel Peace Prize winning President has really done in the world.

A team of Russian doctors wrote to the president of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, as follows:

“Today, 24 March, 2011, NATO aircraft and the U.S. all night and all morning bombed a suburb of Tripoli – Tajhura (where, in particular, is Libya’s Nuclear Research Center). Air Defense and Air Force facilities in Tajhura were destroyed back in the first 2 days of strikes and more active military facilities in the city remained, but today the object of bombing are barracks of the Libyan army, around which are densely populated residential areas, and, next to it, the largest of Libya’s Heart Centers. Civilians and the doctors could not assume that common residential quarters will be about to become destroyed, so none of the residents or hospital patients was evacuated.

“Bombs and rockets struck residential houses and fell near the hospital. The glass of the Cardiac Center building was broken, and in the building of the maternity ward for pregnant women with heart disease a wall collapsed and part of the roof. This resulted in ten miscarriages whereby babies died, the women are in intensive care, doctors are fighting for their lives. Our colleagues and we are working seven days a week, to save people. This is a direct consequence of falling bombs and missiles in residential buildings, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries, which are operated and reviewed now by our doctors. Such a large number of wounded and killed, as during today, did not occur during the total of all the riots in Libya. And this is called ‘protecting’ the civilian population?”

That's Obama's war. A close up and dirty look at who the anti-war movement voted into office and exactly what he's doing in the world. If you vote Democratic in the upcoming elections, you are voting for more bombings of hospitals full of sick pregnant women. This is what you get when you vote Democrat these days.

The sad part is that we are broke as a nation. We are laying off teachers. We are letting our infrastructure crumble. How many billions did we spend on regime change in Libya? And exactly how does that improve the lives of ordinary Americans who are struggling to find work? How did it improve the lives of Americans who haven't had a raise in years? How does new leadership in Libya improve the lives of Americans who are fighting to save their homes from being seized by Obama's friends on Wall $treet? And yet, Obama and the Democrats are supporting the plans of a far-right-wing former Senator to gut social programs and steal from our children's and grandchildren's retirement in order to pay for this. Americans are told not only that we can't have any help, but that we have to pay the bill for this madness. And now they want a war with Iran. And now they are sending a carrier to Syria. It never ends.

We know Republicans aren't the answer. We know Democrats aren't the answer. Oh, there's a few decent people in each party who know this is wrong. The Ron Paul's and the Barbara Lee's who stand against this madness. But, those types are sidelined and scorned by the bulk of their own parties. The key thing Americans have to learn is that generally voting neither Democrat nor Republican will end this cycle of wars that has been approved by the vast majority of politicians in both parties. Its time to try something different.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

49 Congresspeople Who'd See You Starve to Save a Warplane.

Caucus forms to save the F-35 from budget cuts by T.W. Farnam @ Washington Post.

Reps. Kay Granger (R-Tex.) and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced the formation of a Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus with 49 members from both parties. Its purpose: to protect funding for the F-35 stealth fighter. The plane, as the most expensive weapons program in history, is one of the biggest potential targets in the defense budget.

The members of the caucus are also some of the top recipients of political money from the company that designs and builds the fighter, Lockheed Martin. The company’s political action committee and its employees have given the caucus members $1.3 million in political contributions over their careers, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

We are told over and over again that there is no money to help Americans. Bankers got bailed out, but everyone else is told 'tough luck'. There's no money for jobs. There's no money to stop foreclosures. There's no money to extend unemployment benefits. There's no money for anything like a New Deal for Americans. In fact, not only are we told that there's no money to provide any help at all to struggling Americans, but we are told that we are the ones who have to pick up the bill from the deficit caused by the bank bailouts, the wars and the runaway defense budget.

In the midst of this situation, this group of 49 congresspeople stands up and basically gives the finger to the American people. They declare that a hunk of metal in the shape of a warplane, a warplane that has absolutely no role in what we are told is the great threat to Americans, ie, the Terror Wars, is more important that the jobs, homes and survival of Americans.

Want to know why America is in so much trouble these days? Here's 49 reasons why.

Torture, Obama style

Report Confirms Bahrain’s Brutal Crackdown, Use of Torture

An independent commission in Bahrain has issued a report on the massive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this year, faulting the government for brutality against the dissidents as well as the broad use of torture against detainees.

“A number of detainees were tortured,” confirmed the commission’s head, M. Cherif Bassiouni. The report detailed the use of electric shocks and beatings against arrested protesters, and that at least 700 of the detainees are still in custody.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to overcome opposition and get a $53 billion arms deal for Bahrain to go through. Pressure from people who don't like murderers and torturers nearly as much as Obama does has gotten the deal 'delayed'. But remember, the deal wouldn't exist at all without Obama and official Washington support. So, 'delayed' just means that Obama thinks the heat is on and he wants to delay it until some slow news day like around Christmas when no one is paying attention. Obama worked the same tactic on his aid to the murderers and torturers in Honduras when Obama supported their overthrow of the democratically elected government and tried to quash the radical concept of the people having a say in their own constitution there.

Apparently being a murderer and a torturer is the way to get to be Obama's buddy. There's not a leftist nor peace activist in the world that he apparently will talk to. One never hears of peace activists being invited to the White House to have a long and frank talk with the President. But, he's happy to talk with Republicans. Obama has protected all of Bush era torturers from any prosecution, and he seems to love people like the King of Bahrain who go out and turn loose the secret police on his own people.

Of course, since Obama is doing the exact same thing to the Occupy movement here in the states, I guess that isn't really a surprise. Or shouldn't be. I'm sure there are still plenty of Obama-bots out there who manage to never to see Obama's love of torturers and who probably support Obama's turning the police loose on Americans who want simply freedom, democracy, change and hope.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"And our country’s been at war ever since"

"Armistice Day" By Anthony Gregory.

On November 11, 1918, the world finally had enough of the irrational killing spree known as World War I. Fifteen million individual human beings had perished in what was the largest military conflict the world had yet seen. Armistice Day, marking the end of the war, was declared a holiday by the Allied nations. Some countries still observe it every November 11.

Although the day was memorialized by governments whose integrity in the whole matter we can question, there is no doubt that there was much to celebrate in the end of hostilities. World War I convinced much of the world of the insanity of war.

Thanks mostly to mutual defense treaties among nations that had no real reason to fight each other, what started out as a royal family feud and regional squabble exploded into a global bloodbath. Serbia was joined by Britain, France, Belgium, Greece, Romania, Italy, Russia, Portugal, Montenegro, Japan, Brazil and, eventually, the United States, to fight Austria-Hungary’s alliance, which included Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. This madness was triggered when a Bosnian Serb secessionist, sponsored by members of the Serbian military, assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. One act of violence—over one localized territorial dispute—resulted in the loss of lives, property and liberty of tens of millions of human beings.

and ending with ...

At the end of the Korean War, President Eisenhower signed a bill in 1954 that changed the name of the national holiday to Veteran’s Day. Perhaps it made no sense any more to honor an Armistice that had been overshadowed by World War II and the beginnings of the Cold War. Whereas after World War I, the United States brought its armed forces home, the war against Communism guaranteed that the United States would henceforth have little interest in armistice, in truce, in peace.

And our country’s been at war ever since, with more and more veterans to observe every November.

Those who follow the link will find that this is from a right-wing/libertarian leaning website. Some people on the left have a bad habit of thinking in narrow-minded stereotypes, and by doing so they forget that there is and long has been an anti-war stance from the Libertarian point of view.

Me, I'm in the very strange state of having changed my voting registration from Green to Republican. The reason being that when the Presidential nomination caucuses occur in CO, the only 'anti-war' option is that of supporting Ron Paul on the Republican side. Since CO runs 'closed' primaries, if I want to support an anti-war voice during the nomination stage of this set of Presidential elections, I had to change my registration to Republican to do so.

For someone whom the first Presidential campaign they can remember was that of George McGovern, I find it both shocking and very revealing that the Democrats are offering no anti-war choice at all to their voters this time around. The Democrats are now firmly and undeniably a pro-war party. Heck, you'll need at least a smartphone's computing power just to keep up with all the new wars that the Democrats will have started in these four years. I don't expect the Republicans to be an anti-war party, but at least on that side there's someone with the guts and the convictions to stand up and fight for what they believe in. The very best you can say about the Democrats these days is that not a single person in that party cares enough about ending these wars to even stand up and try to oppose Obama.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Video of the Year

My vote for Video of the Year. If this doesn't win like the Noble Prize for Songwriting,then its got to be because the voting is rigged and the North Korean judge voted for the Chinese gymnast because of an outdated sense of Marxist solidarity. This one goes on my blog for the best reason of all ... so I can find it again later. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Democrats move to the Right of Alan Simpson.

The Democrats on the 'super-committee' are following the typical pattern we've seen under Democratic leadership for at least the last decade. They've voluntarily moved their position on 'deficit-reduction' so far to the right that its now to the right of a proposal cooked up by ultra-right-wing former Senator Alan Simpson and Wall Street's Erskine Bowles.

Democrats Offer Significant Concessions -Plan Is to the Right of Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six

Of course, one thing to realize is that these millionaire Democrats conceded nothing of their own. What they are 'conceding' is our money and the few parts of the US budget that actually benefit some Americans. And remember, these are the same millionaire Democrats who already took the Bush tax cuts for millionaires (ie, themselves) and the trillion plus dollars a year we spend on war and defense off the table.

The new deficit-reduction plan from a majority of Democrats on the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "supercommittee") marks a dramatic departure from traditional Democratic positions — and actually stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate's "Gang of Six," and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission. The Democratic plan contains substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan. The Democratic plan features a substantially higher ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases than any of the bipartisan plans.

For those too young to remember, that's Ronald Reagan's economic theory. Cut spending to the bone and refuse to raise revenue. Today's Democrats are running Ronald Reagan's playbook.

Politics in this country is going to remain stuck in this constant pro-war, pro-wall street cycle until people finally wake up and realize that this bunch of Democrats is not the answer. Voting for a party that has given you Ronald Reagan's economic policy combined with Dubya's policy of declaring wars all over the world is not going to fix anything.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Dangerous Precedent

A Dangerous Precedent by Ron Paul

Last week’s assassination of two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, is an outrage and a criminal act carried out by the president and his administration. If the law protecting us against government-sanctioned assassination can be voided when there is a “really bad American,” is there any meaning left to the rule of law in the United States? If, as we learned last week, a secret government committee, not subject to congressional oversight or judicial review, can now target certain Americans for assassination, under what moral authority do we presume to lecture the rest of the world about protecting human rights?

and ending with ...

Awlaki’s father tried desperately to get the administration to at least allow his son to have legal representation to challenge the “kill” order. He was denied. Rather than give him his day in court, the administration, behind closed doors, served as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. The most worrisome aspect of this is that any new powers this administration accrues will serve as precedents for future administrations. Even those who completely trust this administration must understand that if this usurpation of power and denial of due process is allowed to stand, these powers will remain to be expanded on by the next administration and then the next. Will you trust them? History shows that once a population gives up its rights, they are not easily won back. Beware.

Governments are like serial killers. Once they start killing, they rarely stop killing on their own. Typically someone or some group has to stop them. The reason for this is that killing becomes a way to solve problems for the Government. And, its a very easy and convenient way to solve problems. Its much easier to send a team of assassins in black to kill someone in the dark of night than it is to argue and compete against a person in a free and open democracy which can be time consuming in its dedication to make sure that everyone has a voice and a vote. Its much easier for a Leader or a Government to simply say "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"

And isn't that precisely one of the arguments that one hears about why the assassination of Osama Bin Laden was necessary? Aren't we told that killing him was a better option because a public and fair trial under our constitution would have been so difficult?

Things become bloody and difficult because anyone who wants to stop the reign of killing by the government is viewed by that government as a problem needing to be solved. Thus, not only will a government tend to expand the number and range of problems that its willing to solve 'the easy way' with assassins in the night, but that they will also usually defend themselves by trying to easily solve the problem of those annoying idealists and moralists and just ordinary people concerned for their own safety who insist on this naive notion that Leaders and Governments don't automatically receive a license to kill.

The scary thought from the last time the US government practiced assassination as official policy is that it didn't stay offshore. It wasn't long afterwards that a US Presidential casket draped in black was drawn behind a riderless horse. And it wasn't too long before America was mourning the fact that some of the best and brightest among us, some of those who were willing to try to work to make America a better place for all of us were also the subject of tears at memorial services. This genie doesn't have a history of staying contained in the nice little bottle to which its been assigned by those who think they rule the world.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Occupation Heard Round the World

I tend to read a lot of history. Thus, as I stand with the #OccupyDenver occupation in support of #OccupyWallStreet, I am struck by the similarities with the 1st American Revolution.

Events happened more slowly back in the days when it might take a month for a piece of paper like a letter or a law to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a sailing ship. Thus, the American Revolution which is often thought to have begun in 1775 (not 1776 btw), actually began with the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

The British Parliament had passed an Act called the Tea Act which was designed to help rescue a failing corporation called the East Indian Corporation. The Act gave the East Indian Company the right to ship tea directly to the American colonies, and a legal monopoly on its sale. I guess even the tyrannical King George III wouldn't go so far as to mandate that people have to be the customers of a corporation. It also reignited the fight over taxation as many colonists felt it was another way of the British to impose taxation without representation. The act definitely had the effect of harming American based small businesses in the tea-trade in order to give more profits to the EIC which was highly politically connected in Parliament and the Royal Family. One of the main objections of the colonists was that parliament had given a legal monopoly on the tea trade to this connected company, and the colonists felt this had to be resisted before it was expanded to other areas and corporations.

In December, 1773, a dispute arose in Boston about three corporate tea ships that had arrived in the harbor. The people of Boston wanted the ships to turn around and leave. The Royal governor of Boston declared that the ships had to unload and pay the 'tea tax' on the tea on the ships before they could leave.

On the day of the deadline, 7000 citizens of Boston (approx 1/3 the population) rallied, and heard the news that the governor had refused to allow the ships to leave. Shortly after that, a group led by Samual Adams and called the Sons of Liberty dressed as Indians and then staged a direct action against the ships. They took over the ships, and threw some 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. This is of course known as the Boston Tea Party, and yes, it was a direct action destruction of corporate property. It was also largely non-violent, as no injuries to the crew of the ships is recorded that I can find in a quick search.

The British King and Parliament responded to this with the "Coercive Acts". One effect of these acts was to suspend local democracy in the Massachusetts colony. Up until then, the local courts that handled foreclosures had been overseen by locally elected judges. These Coervice Acts instead gave the King the authority to appoint these judges.

In the summer and early fall of 1774, these Royal judges arrived in Massachusettes to take up the offices that they had purchased from the King in the expectations of the profits to be made as such a judge. The people of Massachusetts rose up to oppose this, and "occupied" the county seats with large crowds that prevented these judges from heading these courts. Crowds of thousands of people in the town squares instead forced these judges to resign their offices and thus return to Boston and to England.

Thus, in the 1770's, when the British Parliament tried to ensure the profits of a politically connected corporation, this led first to direct action that destroyed corporate property, and then to mass popular occupations of towns across Massachusetts by people committed to defending their liberty and their freedom.

Sound familiar? To someone like me who's standing in occupation against a government that currently puts corporate privilidge and profits over the liberties and freedom of ordinary Americans, it sure does.

Where do Paul Revere and Lexington and Concord fit into all of this? That occurred in the spring of 1775. The people of Massachusetts knew that they had committed an act of rebellion against the King. See movies like Braveheart for how the English Kings responded to such rebellions. Thus, the colonists started to stockpile muskets and gunpowder and other weapons with which to defend themselves against Royal retribution. Meanwhile, the King had sent more troops to Boston over the winter.

When the spring came in 1775, these troops marched out from Boston to attempt to raid and seize a stockpile of weapons that they believed was in Concord. Paul Revere was one of several riders who rode out from Boston to try to warn the militias. He was less than successful as he was captured by the British and held in custody. Nonetheless, word of the raid spread through the Massachusetts militias, and they formed at Lexington and Concord to resist this attempt. That was the Shot Heard Round the World.

But, the Shot Heard Round the World was a direct response to what might be called the Occupation Heard Round the World. It was thousands of American citizens standing up for their freedom and liberties over attempted taxation and favoritism to corporations that started the American Revolution.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Men Who Crashed the World

The Men Who Crashed the World An Al Jazeera Special Report. This is the link to Pt 1 of 4. Other parts available by clicking on the "Meltdown" link for the series from this page.

Of course, this piece of in-depth investigative journalism is largely unseen in the United States. Al Jazeera is generally banned in America. Too bad, as it most important that reports like this be seen in the United States because we are the center of the problem.

WebCam Near #occupydenver

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Letter from a Wall Street Jail

On this nite of the occupation, I've been doing a little reading. Found Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".

It sounds eirly familiar and relevant to the "Occupy" protests spreading across America. Of course, Dr. King's issue was racial injustice, while today's issue is Wall Street's economic injustice. But the eloquence with which he speaks against injustice still shines through.

To make a more concrete example, here's a small section updated to these more modern times. I'd apologize to Dr. King for these edits, but I don't think he'd mind. He was talking about leading a Poor People's March to #OccupyDC just before he died. His only question if he was here today would probably be what the heck took us so long.

Dr. King's original words:

"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation."

By making some edits as to the particular injustice involved in the discussion, this becomes what sounds like a very relevant example below. To me, the whole letter can be read in this fashion, on this nite when so many #Occupy protests are spreading across America.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place on Wall Street. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals with merely effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place on Wall Street, but it is even more unfortunate that the nation's power structure left the 99% with no alternative.

In any non-violent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exists; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps at Wall Street. There can be no gainsaying that economic injustice engulfs our nation. Wall Street's control of our economy, our media and our government is well known. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Americans have experienced unjust treatment in the courts. We are experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, activists have sought for years to negotiate with Wall Street leaders. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation."

Monday, October 3, 2011

OccupyDenver Encounter with Denver Police

OccupyDenver is a occupation in the middle of the city of Denver in solidarity and support of the OccupyWallStreet action. On Saturday, there was a rally and march in support of what's going on at OccupyWallStreet.

After the speaking portion of the rally, an unpermitted march took off through the nearby 16th Street Mall. As the video below begins, a DPD officer has stopped someone on a bycicle, and appears to be starting to write him a ticket. The crowd comes around, and starts doing various chants in support. If you listen closely, you'll hear a part of the crowd away from the camera chant that "We are Fighting for your Pensions", or something close to that. Just after that, an officer who looks like he's a sergeant with more seniority goes over to the officer writing the ticket and appears to convince him not to write it. Maybe the senior officer is also the union rep? Or maybe he's just a bit closer to pension age.

This struggle is the 99% against the richest 1%. No police officer on a public payroll is ever going to be a part of the richest 1%. The officers of DPD have been wonderful to the OccupyDenver movement so far. Its just a wild guess on my part, but I'm thinking since they are members of a public employees union when cities are cutting back that they don't need any reminding that they are with us in the 99% side of that struggle.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why We Occupy

In NYC, the 'occupation' of Wall Street is in its third week. And across America, various 'occupations' in support and solidarity have arisen and are growing.

Why are we doing this? I can only speak for myself, but here's what I think.

Wall Street was the perfect target, as its the heart of the evil or disease that has infected America. We live in a country where money dominates all. Money dominates our elections. Democracy has been pushed aside in America to make room for a government of money, by money and for money. The candidate with the most money almost always wins. Politicians certainly believe this, as they want to win and thus they spend their time accumulating donations and talking to people who can give them large quantities of money. Basic American concepts like "one person one vote" have been discarded for a world where money has been legally equated with free speech and corporations have taken the rights of freedom of speech as rights of their own.

Everything in America is for sale. Everything in America is dominated by money. The location of the OccupyWallStreet encampment speaks volumes to this, as old "Liberty Park" in lower manhattan, near where George Washington was sworn in as our first president, and home to the OccupyWallstreet encampment is no longer a public park but has been sold to a corporation.

We live in a country where money makes all decisions. Since elections are dominated by money, our representative bodies and our Presidents, Governors and Mayors all serve money. One gets the distinct impression that the only bills that pass and become law are those that make someone more money. Politics today is more an exercise in fighting over who gets a share of the public money, taken from us with high taxes, than an exercise in democracy.

When we as a nation try to talk about helping the unemployed that have lost their jobs when Wall Street crashed the economy, the political debate is entirely about money. When we as a nation try to talk about giving health care to all Americans like any other civilized nation, the debate is distorted so badly by money that the bill that results could have been named the Big Health Corporations Profit Protection Act of 2009. The one thing that was obvious from the 'health care debate' is that the bedrock that all of our money dominated government could agree on was that the profits of the big corporations in the health care field had to be protected and guaranteeed. Health care for Americans was obviously a secondary concern.

And this is why we occupy. We live in America where its been made very plain that the lives and well-being of Americans is now of secondary (or lower) importance than profits for Wall Street. Across America, citizens are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their life savings, and denied health care because profits are much more important than people.

We want an America that is a democracy. That is once again a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We want an America where every human value is not sold for profit. We want an America where if one is sick or injured the first questions asked aren't 'how much money do you have to pay for it?"

That's nothing new. The original American revolution was a revolt against all the big money mercantile interests that had aligned with the King of England. The Boston Tea Party was as much about the East India Companies monopoly on trade as it was about tea. And, when the King and Parliament passed the Punitive Acts that tried to close Massachusetts democratically elected courts (that decided things like foreclosures) with officials who had bought the judgeship from the King of England, citizens of Massachusetts came out in the thousands and met these judges and just said No! That was the real beginning of the American revolution in the summer of 1774.

We want our country back. We don't believe that Wall Street should own America. We do not believe that every question and every decision should be made on the basis of who has the most money.


The Occupation of America is spreading. The #occupywallstreet protests are in their third week and still growing and gaining support. Some media types and celebrities have been showing up in NYC, and more importantly, people are rallying behind this.

Here in Denver, there are #occupyDenver protests in solidarity. Broadway in front of the state capital. Its an occupation, so there are people there 24/7. If you want to experience a democratic general assembly, that's at 3pm and 7pm. Any Americans reading this should do this if they can, as most Americans haven't seen a real democracy in their lifetimes.

#occupytogether is a place to search for other cities around the country. At the last count I heard, there are over 60 cities with protests/occupations in support and solidarity to what's going on on Wall Street.

Like all modern revolutions, its not televised. But it is on facebook and twitter. Go there, or your favorite search engine, and type something like "occupywallstreet", "occupytogether" or "occupydenver", or just about any American city name after the word "occupy" to learn more about what is going on around you in this country right now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NYPD's respect for non-violent protest

For anyone who might stumble across my blog and not have already seen the video of the #occupywallstreet protesters getting pepper-sprayed.

To me, this is torture. The NYPD has guidelines on the use of pepper-spray, and this commander in that police force went far beyond them. Whether its as an act of political intimidation to try to end the protests, or whether he's just a sadist who likes to hear women scream, who knows?

But, one of the interesting things to watch from all of this is whether the NYPD, the City government of NYC, and ultimately the people of NYC tolerate the presence of a know known torturer on the NYPD.

Anonymous: Occupy The Planet

Anonymous: Occupy The Planet

Find a city near you and come out and join the movement. And help promote online and spread the word. There's largely a media blackout on this, so that just means we all have to spread the word ourselves. Through Facebook and Twitter. Through old fashioned emails. Through talking with family and friends. Through posters and leaflets. Spread the word any way you can imagine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Philosophy Behind “Occupy Wall Street”

The Philosophy Behind “Occupy Wall Street” by VIJAY PRASHAD

It is this impulse to challenge Wall Street directly that shows how reasonable and necessary is the Occupy Wall Street protest movement underway in lower Manhattan (not far from where George Washington was inaugurated President). Those who have decided not to leave their tarpaulin homes, and who are being brutally treated by the New York police department, have an instinctively better solution for the country than those who want to throttle demand further by austerity (the GOP) and those who want to call for a stimulus without any challenge to the financial mandarins who would rather send the U. S. economy into a swamp than lose their own power over the world economic system (Obama).

Absent a fight against finance capital: to call for austerity is an act of cruelty; to call for a stimulus is illusionary.

We've tried to cure this 'worst downturn since the Great Depression' with a repeat of Herbert Hoover's policies.  We've given our money to the bankers, and we've cut taxes on the wealthy in the hopes that as in the theory of a b-grade cowboy actor named Reagan that these would 'trickle down' to the rest of us.

Have you been trickled on?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, May 19, 2011 (with photos)

Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, May 19, 2011

So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -– it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome.

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles –- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. (Applause.)

The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama Should Quit, but the Quiet Americans don't make him.

Obama Should Quit by Paul Street
On March 31, 1968, United States President Lyndon Baines Johnson told a national television audience that he would not seek and would not accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for another term in the White House. “When the address was over,” author Hampton Sides notes, “a euphoric Johnson leaped from his chair and bounded from Oval Office to be with family. ‘His air was that of a prisoner let free,’ the First Lady wrote: ‘We were all fifty pounds lighter and ever so much more lookin’ forward to the future’…The president described his mood this way: ‘I never felt so right about any decision in life.’”
Harassed and depressed by antiwar demonstrators, urban riots, rampaging youth, unruly professors and reporters, and a deadly colonial quagmire in Southeast Asia, Johnson felt that (as he later told historian Doris Goodwin) he “was being chased on all sides by a giant stampede coming at me from all directions.” And by Bobby Kennedy. He wanted out. He left and it felt good.
Read that paragraph, and you can see the failure of the left and the antiwar movement during the Obama years. You could say that Obama is mired in a deadly colonial quagmire in SouthWEST Asia. Other than that, none of these things that drove LBJ from office exist under Obama.

Obama has not been harrassed and depressed by antiwar demonstrations, despite escalating Bush's wars and starting his own.

Obama has not been harrassed and depreessed by urban riots or even protests, despite his offering of what was basically Herbert Hoover's economic recovery plan of money to the banks and tax cuts to the wealthy and making the size of the deficit more important than the homes and lives of Americans.

Unruly professors and reporters have basically been banned from American society. Professors are today removed from American universities if they believe and teach anything outside the narrow band of approved opinions. Reporters that criticized Bush were fired, and outside a fringe media there's no such thing as an unruly reporter.

There are no Bobby Kennedy's willing to challenge Obama in a primary.

Thus, we know why Obama will run for, and at this time apparently win, a second term. The lesson is that antiwar demonstrations, protests and urban unrest worked in the late 60's to remove a President who's policies were opposed by most Americans. The failure to have demonstrations, protests and unrests leaves Obama and the banker-Democrats free to be the favorite front-runner for four more years of war and a wall street economy.

The question for future historians will be why have Americans been so freakin quiet during these years.  They've lost their jobs and their homes. They pay exorbitant taxes to fund an over-sized military and so many wars overseas that they are becoming countless.  Yet, Americans refuse to do what history tells them has worked in the past to at least get a chance to for real change from this awful state.

Most of what's 'News' is Crap!

I hold a degree in nuclear engineering. So, in this area at least, I feel I'm competent to listen to what's on the news as someone who's at least somewhat knowledgeable in nuclear issues. From this one area, where I know enough to think on my own, I am left with the belief that most of what's on American 'news' is crap and lies.

 Lets review a little bit of 'recent' news'

 -- Saddam Hussein has a nuclear weapons program and is close to being able to nuke the US.

Well, we all know, if we stop and think about it, that this was total crap. It turns out the Saddam had shut down the nuclear program that he'd run with US and western european support when the sanctions kicked. This of course made total sense as a nuclear program is big and expensive and no matter how much 'oil for food' was scammed and leaked, Saddam still had a lot less money under the sanctions than he had before. And of course, the weapons inspectors who'd been in the country were telling us exactly the same thing. That they had uncovered Saddam's nuclear program, that it was shut down, and that the inspectors were just working to fill in some paperwork blanks to understand what had happened.

-- Iran has a nuclear program and is close to being able to nuke the US.

Well, its not official that this is total crap, but the signs sure point this way. Especially since its pretty much the same people saying this that told everyone that Saddam was going to nuke the US within months. Again, the inspectors consistently say they see no signs of Iran having anything other than a civilian nuclear program with no enrichment anywhere near the 95-98% levels they'd need for a bomb.

-- Fukushima. 

It took them months to admit that they had melted the cores within hours of the earthquake. They recently just admitted that three times as much radiation has been dumped into the ocean as previously admitted. Now it seems that they've 'redefined' the magnitude scale of earthquakes to declare that this was a '9.0' that couldn't have been expected. The real magnitude appears to have been around 8.3 or 8.4, and the reactors were supposed to be designed to handle that. The same liars that claim that only 39 people died because of Chernobyl say no one has died this time. But remember, some of the cancers caused by Fukushima' radiation won't even be known for up to 40 years.

-- Missouri river nuke plants.

In the US, two nuclear plants were in severe danger from the flooding of the Missouri River last summer. Both needed emergency dikes and sandbags to keep the water from critical areas. And remember the real lesson from Fukushima that the news doesn't want to talk about. Every operating nuclear plant has a core that is very hot and takes months to cool down. Until then, you must have pumps running to keep cool water flowing past this hot core to cool it. Failure of these pumps at Fukushima led to melting nuclear reactor cores within hours. Good thing those sandbags held, because if they hadn't the pumps at the reactors along the Missouri River would have lost the power their pumps needed. Of course, the American news presented this as a minor curiousity that people didn't need to be concerned with.

-- America attacks itself with dirty bombs.

Not exactly a breaking news story, as we've done this damage to ourselves over 50 years. But, still, don't count on CNN making a big deal that the one measurable result of the American nuclear weapons program is that we have places like Rocky Flats that won't be safe for human occupation for generations. Same with Hanford, WA, Savanah River Plant, and some of the canyons off the back of Los Alamos. Plus we have leaking tank after leaking tank of highly dangerous nuclear waste as a byproduct of making nuclear weapons. We've never fought a nuclear war, but you can find the spots in the US that are now fenced off (hopefully) and where our quest for nuclear weapons has destroyed parts of America as surely as if we'd launched 'dirty bomb' attacks on ourselves.

 As someone with a background in nuclear engineering, in at least this area, the news and information presented to Americans is absolutely horrible. At the very best its very bad and very biased reporting, when it doesn't seem like we are being fed out-right lies. I'm not an expert in say food-safety, so I can't judge how good or how accurate the 'news' is in telling us how safe the food we eat really is. But, I do have an education as a nuclear engineer, and from that background, the 'news' we are watching and listening to is horrible.

In my house, I've used the parental blocking features of my tv system to block all the American 24 hour news channels from my house. No CNN, no FAUX, no GE-TV (aka MSNBC, CNBC). I use my TV's controls to block all of this from my home. I'm not uninformed. And I benefit from not getting all the lies and misinformation fed to me. From what I can see in the nuclear area, I'm not missing much. My advice to anyone is that they do the same and turn these 'news' channels off.

[edit 9/26]
I wrote the above before I saw the following about a study from the Pew Research Ctr. Apparently, I'm with the vast majority of Americans in believing that the 'news' is crap.

Only one-quarter of those surveyed say news orgs get the facts right, a new low since 1985 when the question was first asked. Two-thirds (66 percent) say stories are often inaccurate, a new high. And nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that journalists try to cover up their mistakes, rather than admit them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Bad Wolf

Big Bad Wolf Condemns Little Piggy for Building Brick House. Film at 11.

 US Condemns Iran for Making Civilian Nuclear Sites Harder to Bomb
VIENNA – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu accused Iran of nuclear "denial, deceit and evasion" on Monday, warning that Tehran's decision to move some uranium enrichment facilities to an underground bunker brings it closer to being able to producing the fissile core of a warhead.
Ok, as a nuclear engineer, that's just nonsense. Either that, or its an open announcement of American intentions of bombing Iran. Take your pick. Certainly, the location of the equipment has nothing to do with the physics of uranium enrichment. The same equipment works pretty much the same above ground or underground. You don't get better efficiency or higher levels of enrichment because you are underground.

The only way this statement could be anything other than nonsense is if you take into account the fact that an above ground facility is more susceptible to bombing from American or Israeli warplanes. So, this statement is either more goobly-gobbly nonsense from the American government about Iran's nuclear program, of which there has been a lot over the years, or its an open statement of American/Israeli intentions to create a massive disaster by bombing Iran's civilian nuclear facilities.

And note that all of this is still over civilian facilities that are producing only domestic reactor grade levels of enrichment and nothing anywhere near bomb-grade levels of enrichment as regularly confirmed by IAEA inspectors. In some ways, one could well say that Iran is no closer to producing a nuclear weapon with the facility underground than above ground because the odds of it happening appear to be zero in either case with the IAEA inspectors keeping watch.

People always need to understand that building a nuclear weapon doesn't happen in someone's garage. During the Manhattan Project, the US government created three new secret cities in Tennessee, New Mexico and Washington state. It could be smaller today because we know more today, but we still aren't talking about building a nuclear weapon with two test tubes and a beaker in someone's garage. This is why inspections worked and were accurate in Iraq, and there's no reason not to believe that IAEA inspections aren't working and aren't accurate in Iran.

But still, this really just sounds a lot like the fake headline above. The Big Bad Wolf is complaining that the Piggies are daring to build a brick house, calling it a severe provocation to wolf rights to attack little piggies. And that such provocations can only be answered by pre-emptive strikes against the little piggies before the little piggies can successfully move into their brick house. Tell the file photo department to find a photo of Secretary Chu huffing and puffing to run with the story.

Secretary Chu of course runs the worlds largest nuclear weapon production line, and is lobbying Congress for billions of dollars in which to build new facilities to 'modernize' nuclear weapons. Talk about the Big Bad Pot calling the kettle black.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back to the Skunk

Sad and Happy About Palestinian Statehood Bid by Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery is someone who should always be read concerning matters in the middle east. Not only is he a famous peace activist, but he's been around long enough to have fought in the 1948 war, been a part of the kibbutz's, and been a leading voice in the Israeli Peace Movement ever since. And a wonderful philosopher and writer.

“Will this be the happiest day of your life?” a local interviewer asked me, referring to the approaching recognition of the State of Palestine by the U.N.
I was taken by surprise. “Why would that be?” I asked.
“Well, for 62 years you have advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel, and here it comes!”
“If I were a Palestinian, I would probably be happy,” I said. “But as an Israeli, I am rather sad.”
Let me explain.

Its worth following the link above to read the whole article and thus the full explanation. But here's a couple of highlights.

Three days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu told Cathy Ashton, the pathetic “foreign secretary” of the European Union, that he would agree to anything short of Palestinian statehood. That may sound strange, in view of the “historic” speech he made less than two years ago, in which he expressed his support for the two-state solution. (Perhaps he was thinking of the State of Israel and the State of the Settlers.)
In the few remaining weeks before the U.N. vote, our government will fight tooth and nail against a Palestinian state, supported by the full might of the U.S. This week Hillary Clinton trumped even her own rhetorical record when she announced that the U.S. supports the two-state solution and therefore opposes any U.N. vote recognizing a Palestinian state.

Again, maybe SOS Hillary thinks the second of the two states will be Settler's State?

One of the beautiful things about Mr. Avnery's thinking and writing is that he always is proposing a positive solution of what the world could become if only we'd choose to act towards peace instead of war.

According to the army, the Palestinians will get rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, but not the “Skunk.” The Skunk is a device that produces an unbearable stench which attaches itself to the peaceful demonstrators and will not leave them for a long time. 
I am afraid that when this chapter comes to an end, the stench will attach itself to our side and that we shall not get rid of it for a long time indeed.
Let’s give free rein to our imagination for just one minute. Imagine that in the coming U.N. debate something incredible happens: The Israeli delegate declares that after due consideration Israel has decided to vote for recognition of the State of Palestine. The assembly would gape in disbelief. After a moment of silence, wild applause would break out. The world would be electrified. For days, the world media would speak of nothing else.
The minute of imagination has passed. Back to reality. Back to the Skunk.

Friday, September 16, 2011

US Contractor Funds Still Going to Taliban, Pentagon Admits

US Contractor Funds Still Going to Taliban, Pentagon Admits from Follow this link to get to their summary and thus on to original sources.

 So, lets see. We are told we can't afford teachers or nurses. We can't afford health care for our elders. We can't afford a retirement for our children. But we can afford to fund the frackin Taliban?

In testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, top Pentagon official Brigadier General Stephen Townsend conceded that contractor funding is still ending up in the hands of the Taliban. The comments come a month after the military estimated that $360 million had ended up in the hands of the Taliban and other criminals in Afghanistan,

The joke is that the so called 'Super Committee' that's going to decide exactly how we get screwed to balance their budget won't look at things like 'lets stop funding the Taliban' as ways to cut the budget. Of course, the best solution towards getting the deficit under control would be to end this war and bring our troops and our money home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Biased police training can only result in biased policing.

That graph is a part of official FBI training materials used for advanced training of FBI agents tasked with fighting terrorist threats to Americans.

Hmmm, where would Timothy McVeigh fall on that chart I wonder?

FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’ from

“Seeing the materials FBI agents are being trained with certainly helps explain why we’ve seen so many inappropriate FBI surveillance operations broadly targeting the Muslim-American community, from infiltrating mosques with agents provocateur to racial- and ethnic-mapping programs,” Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the American Civil Liberties Union, tells Danger Room after being shown the documents. ”Biased police training can only result in biased policing.”

That's the hidden problem. The piece does a nice job of pointing out how having FBI agents taught with hateful, racist religious propaganda makes life a living hell for any Muslims who cross their paths. But, what about the real terror threats who don't get stopped while all the FBI agents are busy going to pot-lucks with Muslim families down at the local mosque? How does that catch the next Timothy McVeigh, or stop the next Eric Rudolph from trying to kill me when he set off a bomb in the midst of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?

One of the problems we've created in our society is that the FBI now has an institutional need to find terrorists everywhere in America. They've set up special Joint Terror Task Forces in 106 American cities. Now, here's a question for you. If you are an FBI agent assigned to one of these JTTF's and you want to have a successful FBI career, which do you think is most likely to be a step in that direction. Do you report back to your bosses that a thorough investigation has revealed that while the area has its usual mix of crazies and criminals, there's no sign of Al-Qaida or a similar organization recruiting and organizing in whatever is the 81st or 92nd biggest American city? Or, do you find a way to make a big deal about some terrorist threat in your area? Do you find a way to entrap some fool into a terrorist arrest so you can report back to your FBI bosses that you've stopped a terrorist plot?

Osama Bin Laden sat in the same safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan for four years, and we could never find him. Could it be that the reason for that was that we had our counter-terrorism agents scattered across 106 American cities desperately trying to make their careers proving that there's terrorism in Des Moines, IA or Topeka, KS? Did it occur to anyone that maybe having our counter-terrorism agents look for terrorists in some place like Pakistan might be a better use of the tax payers dollars?

Any bureaucratic organization, or sector of such an organization, tries to protect and grow their own budget. Every manager wants more dollars to spend and more people to supervise. Every manager will fight any cut backs to his portion of an organization. Thus, each of those 106 FBI Joint Terror Task Forces will attempt to justify their own existence and their own budget,and somehow even manage to plead that somehow we'd all be safer if Birmingham, AL had even more agents assigned to the local JTTF. Thus, the FBI now has a need to find terrorists everywhere.

Now we see the training materials to help the local anti-terror aqents achieve their true goal of protecting their jobs by finding terrorists everywhere. You just make every Muslim a terrorist. And, if you think its just limited to 'them', and thus that you are safe, then remember that his is the same FBI that has said in Colorado that says that anyone who 'attempts to pay cash' is someone who's a possible terrorist. Or that this is the same FBI that said in MO that everyone with a Ron Paul sticker on their car is a potential terrorist.

That's the really scary story in all of this. We have created a group of many government officials who want to justify their jobs and make their entire careers by proving that they can always find more and more and more terrorists in 106 cities all across America. If an FBI agent can't find or create terrorists in your home town, someone might decide that we don't need him there searching and thus either lay him off or to send him to some place like Abbottabad to search for terrorists over there. Its a pretty good guess that Mrs. FBI Agent won't be very happy if Mr. FBI Agent either loses his job or if the family has to move to Abbottabad because that's where it makes sense to search for terrorists. Nope. So, for domestic tranquility and for a happy career in the FBI, Mr. FBI Agent now has to prove that there are terrorists all over America. Have a nice day.