Daily Archive: 05/23/2013

May 23 2013

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

From our friends at Voices on the Square:

Jim White at emptywheel:

At FDL Action, John Walker breaks some great news and:

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s headache, filibuster:

From DWright at FDL News Desk:

From the contributors at Counterpunch:

Electronic Freedom Foundation contributors, Mark M. Jaycox and Seth Schoen:

From Grist, Tom Laskawy with news that may very well turn your stomach:

John Upton tells us that Connecticut did something that California couldn’t:

You know you’re in trouble when you’ve lost Charles. P Pierce:

Atrios’ Sadist>Wanker: Kinsley,  hole, shovel.

And today’s last words go to Paul Krugman at Conscious of a Liberal and the reason for his op-ed absence, The Joy of Term Papers.

May 23 2013

Yes, We Did Assassinate Four Americans, But

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D- VT) (pdf), Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that four American citizens have been killed in drone strikes since 2009 in Pakistan and Yemen.

In conducting U.S. counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida and its associated forces, the government has targeted and killed one American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, and is aware of the killing by U.S. drones of three others, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.

Al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric, was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. Holder said three other Americans were killed by drones in counterterrorism operations since 2009 but were not targeted. The three are Samir Khan, who was killed in the same drone strike as al-Awlaki; al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a native of Denver, who also was killed in Yemen two weeks later; and Jude Kenan Mohammed, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

AGLetter5-22-13

Attorney Jesselyn Radack, former Justice Department ethics attorney who blew the whistle in the case of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, in a blog post writes:

The biggest revelation in Holder’s letter  – that the U.S. has droned a fourth American, Jude Kenen Mohammed  – is also the greatest of many deficiencies. All Holder says is the U.S. killed but didn’t target these two American men (Mohammed and Samir Kahn) and one American child (al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son). [..]

Ms. Raddack points out that while the letter includes new and credulous accusations about al-Awlaki posing an “imminent threat”, it tells us nothing about how the other Americans ended up being killed by drones. Good question, that I doubt we’ll ever get an answer.

The other point MS. Raddack makes goes to the public’s right to know the legal justification that was given to the president by the Office of Legal Council:

If Holder wants to draw a distinction between Americans that the U.S. government targets and kills without due process and those Americans that the U.S. government kills without due process but doesn’t target, then the American people are entitled to know the legal basis for when the government finds it acceptable to make Americans collateral damage in the legally-unsustainable, morally-reprehensible unilateral drone drops.

There are lots of questions. If these three Americans were not the targets, then who were they targeting? And why?

In an interview this morning on Democracy Now, author and journalist, Jeremy Scahill say that this admission “raises more questions than it answers“:

“In Eric Holder’s letter,” Scahill stated, “he talks about how Anwar Awlaki was actively involved in imminent plots against the United States, that he had directed the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a U.S. airplane over the city of Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. And what’s interesting is that all of these allegations are made by Eric Holder, but no actual evidence has ever been presented against Awlaki to indicate that he played the role that Eric Holder is asserting. His trial was basically just litigated through leaks in the press. He was never indicted on any of these charges. And Holder, in fact, in his letter, says that we have all of this evidence, but it’s too dangerous to be made public. And so, there’s really a continuation of a posthumous trial of Anwar Awlaki through leaks and now through this letter from Eric Holder.”

Scahill notes that the details of the death of Jude Mohammad, who had been indicted, have not been released; that there were no criminal charges against Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American from North Carolina who was killed alongside al-Awlaki; and Holder used an curious phrase, “not specifically targeted,” referencing the death of 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.



Full transcript is here

He goes on:

“You know, what does that phrase mean? It’s almost like an Orwellian statement, ‘not specifically targeted.’ Well, it could mean that these individuals were killed in the signature strikes that you mentioned, which is a sort of form of pre-crime, where the U.S. determines that any military-aged males in a targeted area are in fact terrorists, and their deaths will be registered as having killed terrorists or militants. So, it’s possible that the other Americans that were killed were killed in these so-called signature strikes.

“But in the case of this 16-year-old boy, it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s a coincidence that two weeks after his father is killed, he just happens to be killed in a U.S. drone strike. And there were leaks at the time from U.S. officials telling journalists that, oh, he actually was 21 years old, he was at an al-Qaida meeting. But they’ve never been able to identify who they killed in that strike. And the Obama administration has never publicly taken on the fact that they killed one of their own citizens who was a teenage boy. There are no answers to that question. So, I think that there has to be a far more intense scrutiny of the statements of the attorney general and also what we understand the president is going to say later.”

Yes, the Obama administration assassinated four Americans, but …..

President Barack Obama’s speech on his never ending war on terror.

In short, war for without end anywhere on earth because the president said so.

 

May 23 2013

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board; The C.I.A.’s Part in Benghazi

Throughout months of Republican “investigation” into the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 last year, the Central Intelligence Agency has escaped the scrutiny and partisan bashing aimed at the State Department and the White House. But we now know that the C.I.A., and not the State Department or the White House, originated the talking points that Republicans (wrongly) insisted were proof of a scandal. It was more central to the American presence in Benghazi than the State Department, and more responsible for security there.

The C.I.A.’s role needs to be examined to understand what happened and how to better protect Americans.

Gail Collins: Somebody Did Something

Whenever the world of Washington seems hopeless, someone will point out that the Senate Judiciary Committee did a good job on immigration reform.

That’s it? Yeah, pretty much.  Immigration reform has been the 2013 bipartisan bright spot in the Senate, unless you were really moved by the day they voted to debate gun control before killing all the gun control plans. The committee members cheerfully plowed through 300-odd proposed amendments, while taking turns telling which country their great-grandfather came from. There was, of course, a lot of disagreement, although almost everybody seemed to enjoy slapping down ideas offered by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Dave Zirin: Rahm Emanuel’s Zombie Pigs vs. Chicago’s Angry Birds

My kids are into Angry Birds, a game they love for the same reason I once obsessively played Super Mario Brothers: its appeal is incomprehensible to the adults around them. This inscrutable game, however, has one essential truth: you have some pissed off birds compelled by rage to put down some zombie-looking pigs. After a sad effort to play the game myself, I had my own epiphany: this game is actually a metaphor for the city of Chicago. Please bear with me. Angry Birds is more Chicago than the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field or deep-dish pizza. The lunacy, the violence, the plethora of increasingly crazed pigs and those fierce feathered fowl all represent the political actors in a city that’s gone over the edge.

It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.

Charles M. Blow: Blacks, Conservatives and Plantations

Why do Republicans keep endorsing the most extreme and hyperbolic African-American voices – those intent on comparing blacks who support the Democratic candidates to slaves? That idea, which only a black person could invoke without being castigated for the flagrant racial overtones, is a trope to which an increasingly homogeneous Republican Party seems to subscribe.

The most recent example of this is E.W. Jackson, who last weekend became the Virginia Republicans’ candidate for lieutenant governor in the state. [..]

The implication that most African-Americans can’t be discerning, that they can’t weigh the pros and cons of political parties and make informed decisions, that they are rendered servile in exchange for social services, is the highest level of insult. And black politicians are the ones Republicans are cheering on as they deliver it.

Now who, exactly, is being used here?

Bob Greenstein: Senator Vitter Offers — and Senate Democrats Accept — Stunning Amendment With Racially Tinged Impacts

In today’s Senate debate on the farm bill, Senator David Vitter offered — and Senate Democrats accepted — an amendment that would increase hardship and will likely have strongly racially discriminatory effects.

The amendment would bar from SNAP (food stamps), for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time — even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since.  In addition, the amendment would mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members.

So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor, and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren’s benefits would be cut.

Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact.  Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.

Richard (RJ) Eskow; Apple Pie May Be American, But Apple Computer Isn’t – Not Anymore

Did you know that Apple Computer was a foreign entity? Did you know that it’s more Irish than anything else, at least as far as taxes are concerned? Or that it pays very little in income tax, even though its products wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for projects funded by U.S. taxes?

Apple products were designed in the United States by U.S.-educated individuals and entrepreneurs. (Even Steve Jobs, who famously dropped out of college, said he came up with essential elements of Apple’s product design by auditing courses at Reed College.)

The company’s logo is an apple, which may or may not have been inspired by the Beatles-owned company of the same name. But the image has become synonymous with two iconic qualities of this country’s Silicon Valley: creativity and entrepreneurial drive. And what’s more American than apple pie?

Now that the world has seen its tax payments, maybe Apple should change its logo to a shamrock.

May 23 2013

Liability Fear or Greed?

So it seems the reluctance of some U.S. Garment Companies to sign on to improve conditions at Bangladeshi Sweatshops (where over 1000 have died recently in building collapses and fires) is that they may be exposed to law suits by former slaves employees about the inhumane conditions they previously worked under.

Actually I take that back.  This is exactly like the arguments made by Slaveholders about their “human” assets that represented over 50% of the entire wealth of the United States at the time of the War of Southern Rebellion.

U.S. Retailers See Big Risk in Safety Plan for Factories in Bangladesh

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, The New York Times

Published: May 22, 2013

American retailers remain sharply opposed to joining an international plan to improve safety conditions at garment factories in Bangladesh as their European counterparts and consumer and labor groups dismiss the companies’ concerns about legal liability.

A few shareholders at Gap’s annual meeting this week questioned the company’s refusal to sign on to a plan that commits retailers to help finance safety upgrades in Bangladesh, where 1,127 workers died when the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed on April 24.

“In the United States, there’s maybe a bigger legal risk than there is in Europe,” Gap’s chief executive, Glenn Murphy, responded. “If we were to sign onto something that had unlimited legal liability and risk, I think our shareholders should care about that.”



Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, gave another reason for opposing the Bangladesh plan, saying it “seeks to advance a narrow agenda driven by special interests,” a reference to the labor unions that helped shape the plan and then pressed retailers to sign on.



In rejecting the accord, Wal-Mart outlined its own proposals that it said would meet or exceed the accord’s goals. The company, the world’s largest retailer, predicted quicker results, saying it would inspect all of the 279 factories it uses in Bangladesh over the next six months.

While Wal-Mart, voicing concern about potential liability, said the plan “introduces requirements, including governance and dispute resolution mechanisms, on supply chain matters that are appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government.”

Totally in keeping with our history of subjugating brown people long after the “civilized” world has moved on.

May 23 2013

On This Day In History May 23

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.

May 23 is the 143rd day of the year (144th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 222 days remaining until the end of the year.

Click on images to enlarge

On this day in 1873, the Canadian Parliament establishes the North West Mounted Police, the forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

North-West Mounted Police

The RCMP has its beginnings in the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP). The police was established by an act of legislation from the Temporary North-West Council the first territorial government of the Northwest Territories. The Act was approved by the Government of Canada and established on May 23, 1873, by Queen Victoria, on the advice of her Canadian Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, with the intent of bringing law and order to, and asserting sovereignty over, the Northwest Territories. The need was particularly urgent given reports of American whiskey traders, in particular those of Fort Whoop-Up, causing trouble in the region, culminating in the Cypress Hills Massacre. The new force was initially to be called the North West Mounted Rifles, but this proposal was rejected as sounding too militaristic in nature, which Macdonald feared would antagonize both aboriginals and Americans; however, the force was organized along the lines of a cavalry regiment in the British Army, and was to wear red uniforms.

The NWMP was modelled directly on the Royal Irish Constabulary, a civilian paramilitary armed police force with both mounted and foot elements under the authority of what was then the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. First NWMP commissioner, Colonel George Arthur French visited Ireland to learn its methods.

The initial force, commanded by Commissioner French, was assembled at Fort Dufferin, Manitoba. They departed on July 8, 1874, on a march to what is now Alberta.

The group comprised 22 officers, 287 men – called constables and sub-constables – 310 horses, 67 wagons, 114 ox-carts, 18 yoke of oxen, 50 cows and 40 calves. A pictorial account of the journey was recorded in the diary of Henri Julien, an artist from the Canadian Illustrated News, who accompanied the expedition.

Their destination was Fort Whoop-Up, a notorious whiskey trading post located at the junction of the Belly and Oldman Rivers. Upon arrival at Whoop-Up and finding it abandoned the troop continued a few miles west and established headquarters on an island in the Oldman, naming it Fort MacLeod.

Historians have theorized that failure of the 1874 March West would not have completely ended the Canadian federal government’s vision of settling the country’s western plains, but could have delayed it for many years. It could also have encouraged the Canadian Pacific Railway to seek a more northerly route for its transcontinental railway that went through the well-mapped and partially settled valley of the North Saskatchewan River, touching on Prince Albert, Battleford and Edmonton, and through the Yellowhead Pass, as originally proposed by Sandford Fleming. This would have offered no economic justification for the existence of cities like Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Medicine Hat, and Calgary, which could, in turn, have tempted American expansionists to make a play for the flat, empty southern regions of the Canadian prairies.

The NWMP’s early activities included containing the whiskey trade and enforcing agreements with the First Nations peoples; to that end, the commanding officer of the force arranged to be sworn in as a justice of the peace, which allowed for magisterial authority within the Mounties’ jurisdiction. In the early years, the force’s dedication to enforcing the law on behalf of the First Nations peoples impressed the latter enough to encourage good relations between them and the Crown. In the summer of 1876, Sitting Bull and thousands of Sioux fled from the US Army towards what is now southern Saskatchewan, and James Morrow Walsh of the NWMP was charged with maintaining control in the large Sioux settlement at Wood Mountain. Walsh and Sitting Bull became good friends, and the peace at Wood Mountain was maintained. In 1885, the NWMP helped to quell the North-West Rebellion led by Louis Riel. They suffered particularly heavy losses during the Battle of Duck Lake, but saw little other active combat.

May 23 2013

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

If you need a laugh with a ring of truth in it, Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker, tosses this zinger about the president:

Paul Krugman may be on vacation form his weekly op-ed but he can’t stay away from his blog at the NYT, Conscious of a Liberal as he points of the sloppy defense of austerity:

At Corrente, DCblogger names the Democrats who voted against Food Stamps and lambert keeps documenting the atrocities of the gift that keeps on giving ObamaCare Clusterf**k.

Yesterday at emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler asked a really good question about the AP secret subpoena scandal:

From masaccio at MyFDL:

At FDL Action, Jon Walker points out more flaws with Obamacare and positive movement on an all be it imperfect immigration bill:

At the FDL News Desk, DSWright keeps up with the foreclosure, IRS and Press scandals:

As much as I dislike Fox News, this latest revelation sweeping seizures of the phone records of news organizations is out of control.

And Atrios gives us “The Worst Person in the World“:

Rahm Emanuel

It seems Rahm plans to close 54 public schools and six mental health centers but is going to hand over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. Genius move. I hope Chicago wakes up and gives this clown the boot in the next election. I have no idea what Chicago voters were thinking when they elected him in the first place.