Daily Archive: 06/15/2011

Jun 15 2011

Vox Frustrati (Vol. 4 ): Demand

Welcome to the Vox Frustrati diary series.  Vox is a persona and this project is a collaboration by a group of people.

Vox Frustrati is here to give voice to our progressive concerns.  He welcomes correspondence from you at VoxFrustrati at gmail dot com.

If you have something to say, a rant, a comment or a question, Vox might decide to lend you his voice, either anonymously or with your byline. It is your choice.  Vox does reserve editorial rights.

Jun 15 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Around the Globe, US Military Bases Generate Resentment, Not Security

As we debate an exit from Afghanistan, it’s critical that we focus not only on the costs of deploying the current force of more than 100,000 troops, but also on the costs of maintaining permanent bases long after those troops leave.  

This is an issue that demands a hard look not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but around the globe-where the US has a veritable empire of bases.

According to the Pentagon, there are approximately 865 US military bases abroad-over 1,000 if new bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are included.  The cost?  $102 billion annually-and that doesn’t include the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan bases.

In a must-read article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences, anthropologist Hugh Gusterson points out that these bases “constitute 95 percent of all the military bases any country in the world maintains on any other country’s territory.”  He notes a “bloated and anachronistic” Cold War-tilt toward Europe, including 227 bases in Germany.

Amy Goodman: War on Drugs: Fast, Furious and Fueled by the U.S.

The violent deaths of Brian Terry and Juan Francisco Sicilia, separated by the span of just a few months and by the increasingly bloody U.S.-Mexico border, have sparked separate but overdue examinations of the so-called War on Drugs, and how the U.S. government is ultimately exacerbating the problem.

On the night of Dec. 14, 2010, Agent Brian Terry was in the Arizona desert as part of the highly trained and specially armed BORTAC unit, described as the elite paramilitary force within the U.S. Border Patrol. The group engaged in a firefight, and Terry was killed. While this death might have become just another violent act associated with drug trafficking along the border, one detail has propelled it into a high-stakes confrontation between the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress: Weapons found at the scene, AK-47s, were sold into likely Mexican criminal hands under the auspices of a covert operation of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Wendell Potter: Health Insurers Pump Your Premiums Into a Financial Black Hole

Ever wonder what happens to the premiums you pay for your health insurance?

You might be surprised to learn that more and more of the dollars you pay for coverage are being sucked into a kind of black hole.

It doesn’t really disappear, of course. It just doesn’t do you a bit of good — unless, of course, you believe it is to your advantage that it ultimately winds up in the bank accounts of a few investors and insurance company executives, including those who have to power to deny coverage for potentially life-saving care.

If you’ve been paying attention to what health insurance company CEOs have been saying to Wall Street over the past several months, you will know that they are spending more and more of their firms’ cash — which comes from you, of course — to “repurchase” their firms’ stock. And Wall Street absolutely loves that.

Glenn Greenwald: Yet Another Illegal War – Now in Yemen

Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report today that the Obama administration is planning to exploit the disorder from the civil war in Yemen by dramatically escalating a CIA-led drone bombing campaign.  In one sense, this is nothing new.  Contrary to false denials, the U.S., under the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been bombing Yemen for the last two years, including one attack using cluster bombs that killed dozens of civilians.  But what’s new is that this will be a CIA drone attack program that is a massive escalation over prior bombing campaigns; as the Post put it: “The new tasking for the agency marks a major escalation of the clandestine American war in Yemen, as well as a substantial expansion of the CIA’s drone war.”

Leaving aside the standard issue — that continuously slaughtering civilians in the Muslim world is going to exacerbate every problem which ostensibly justifies the bombing, beginning with Terrorism — Kevin Drum asks the obvious question:

   Exactly what theory of military action allows President Obama to do this without congressional approval? In Afghanistan and Nicaragua in the 80s, you could argue that we were merely funding allies, not fighting a war ourselves. In Grenada and Panama, you could argue that we were merely pursuing small-scale police actions.

Jun 15 2011

On This Day In History June 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

June 15 is the 166th day of the year (167th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 199 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day 1215, Magna Carta sealed.

Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws. Although more a reactionary than a progressive document in its day, the Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England by later generations.

John was enthroned as king of England following the death of his brother, King Richard the Lion-Hearted, in 1199. King John’s reign was characterized by failure. He lost the duchy of Normandy to the French king and taxed the English nobility heavily to pay for his foreign misadventures. He quarreled with Pope Innocent III and sold church offices to build up the depleted royal coffers. Following the defeat of a campaign to regain Normandy in 1214, Stephen Langton, the archbishop of Canterbury, called on the disgruntled barons to demand a charter of liberties from the king.

Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch’s authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225. The 1297 version, with the long title (originally in Latin) The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the Liberties of the Forest, still remains on the statute books of England and Wales.

The 1215 Charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no “freeman” (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.

Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited.

Despite its recognised importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution. Lord Denning described it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despo In a 2005 speech, Lord Woolf described it as “first of a series of instruments that now are recognised as having a special constitutional status”, the others being the Habeas Corpus Act, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement.

The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, although it was “far from unique, either in content or form”. In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.

Jun 15 2011

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to traveling (NN11) and playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition, Punting the Pundits and promotions will be sporadic for the next 2 weeks at both Docudharma and The Stars Hollow Gazette, especially tomorrow.

Bernanke warns of crisis if debt limit not raised

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa – 1 hr 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned on Tuesday that a failure to lift the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling risks a potentially disastrous loss of confidence in America’s creditworthiness.

In comments that could give fresh impetus to talks on raising the legal limit on the nation’s debt, Bernanke said the United States could lose its prized AAA credit rating and the U.S. dollar’s special status as a reserve currency might be damaged if Congress fails to act soon.