Daily Archive: 02/24/2011

Feb 24 2011

MISO- not just fermented soybeans anymore

This is illegal.

It’s not even a close call.

Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

By Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone

February 23, 2011 11:55 PM ET

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”



The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”



Holmes believed that using his team to target American civilians violated the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens. But when Holmes brought his concerns to Col. Gregory Breazile, the spokesperson for the Afghan training mission run by Caldwell, the discussion ended in a screaming match. “It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!” Holmes recalls Breazile shouting.

Please note that this took place on Barack Obama’s watch, in defense of Barack Obama’s failed Afghanistan policy.

Feb 24 2011

Reporting the Revolution: 24.02.2011

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya.

Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog stream that is up dated regularly.

Libyan “madman” Muammar Gaddafi again took to the public airways via a telephone statement that the rebellion is being run by Al-Qaeda and that the young protesters were being drugged by Osama bin Laden. Tripoli is paralyzed and, according to foreign reports, food and fuel are in short supply contradicting  Libyan official reports that everything is “normal”. Phone and internet service is intermittent.

Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago as justice minister, speaking to Al Jazeera, said that Gaddafi had chemical weapons and would not hesitate to use them. The United Nation’s Human Rights Council will meet in Geneva to decide to send a team to investigate violations of international human rights law in Libya.

In the east, the cities of Benghazi and Tobruk are now under the control of a civilian council of lawyers and doctors with the aid of military officers who turned on Gaddafi. Ferries have docked in Benghazi to aid in the evacuation of foreign residents and tourists. The eastern border with Egypt has been opened and tent hospitals and aid stations have been set up to care for the wounded and sick. Doctor Without Borders is sending a team from France to help the Egyptians.

Even as Gaddafi digs in, much of the country is out of his control and the military is deserting him. His assets in foreign banks have been frozen. Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, one of Gaddafi’s top security official and a cousin, defected and left the country on Wednesday evening, stating differences over “grave violations to human rights and human and international laws”. It would seem that it just a matter of time before Gaddafi is gone. The cost to be rid if him will be high.

Oil prices soar to 30-month high amid uprisings

Oil prices climbed to their highest level in 30 months in London today as Libya’s uprising reduced shipments and sparked fears of unrest spreading across the Middle East.

Brent crude hit 119 US dollars a barrel for the first time since August 2008, while benchmark crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up nearly four dollars at 101.67 US dollars.

Foreigners flee Libyan chaos

Countries around the world step up efforts to evacuate citizens, but some warn an exodus of refugees could spark crisis.

Nations around the world are evacuating thousands of people from the violent unrest in Libya, amid fears in some countries that the situation will lead to an exodus of illegal immigrants.

On Thursday, European nationals and thousands of Chinese people landed on the Greek island of Crete, after boarding chartered ferries from Libya, while scores of Britons were evacuated via military plane to the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Gaddafi daughter denies fleeing

Aisha Gaddafi, the daughter of the Libyan leader, appears on state TV to deny reports that she tried to flee to Malta.

Aisha Gaddafi, the daughter of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has appeared on state television, denying a report she tried to flee to Malta.

There had been reports on Wednesday that a Libyan plane carrying Gaddafi’s daughter had been turned back from Malta after it was denied permission to land.

Algeria repeals emergency law

Scrapping the draconian law to placate growing discontent had been a major demand made by the opposition parties.

Algeria’s cabinet has adopted an order to lift a 19-year-old state of emergency in a concession designed to avoid the tide of uprisings sweeping the Arab world, but protesters said the measure did not go far enough.

A draft law approved by the cabinet would repeal the emergency law as soon as it is published in the government’s official journal, the official Algerie Presse Service reported on Wednesday.

Hosni Mubarak’s cronies face corruption charges in Cairo court

Three stalwarts of the deposed Egyptian president are greeted by angry crowd at courthouse

Three former stalwarts of Hosni Mubarak’s regime have appeared in a Cairo court to face charges ranging from abuse of state power to squandering public wealth.

The trio – former housing minister Ahmed Maghrapi, former tourism minister Zuheir Garana and Ahmed Ezz, steel tycoon and one-time secretary general of Hosni Mubarak’s NDP party – arrived in police cars clanging with the sound of pelted stones and got out at the courthouse to a chorus of deafening insults.

Yemen to ‘protect protesters’

President Saleh instructs security forces to protect demonstrators after at least 15 protesters have been killed.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, has issued a directive ordering his security forces to protect demonstrators trying to end his 32-year rule, after at least 15 people have been killed in the country’s recent unrest.

The statement, relayed by the Yemeni press attaché in Washington on Thursday, said Saleh had “demanded security services to offer full protection for the demonstrators”.

“Late this evening [Wednesday] … Saleh instructed all security services to thwart all clashes and prevent direct confrontation between pro- and anti-government protesters,” it said.

“Furthermore, the government calls on protesters to remain vigilant and take all precautionary steps to prevent the infiltrations of individuals seeking to carry out violent actions.

“The government … will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression,” the statement said.

Thousands of protesters were camping out for a fifth day in an impromptu tent city outside Sanaa University. Members of the university’s professors’ union also turned out to support  the demonstrators, who have one demand: that Saleh step down.

Students killed at Yemen rally

Protests turn deadly as the president’s supporters open fire on anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa.

Feb 24 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”

Priceless

Dafna Linzer How I Passed My U.S. Citizenship Test: By Keeping the Right Answers to Myself

Last month, I became an American citizen, a tremendous honor and no easy accomplishment, even for a Canadian. After living here for 12 years, I thought I knew everything. Then I learned how we mint Americans.

After years of steep filing fees and paperwork (including one letter from Homeland Security claiming that my fingerprints had “expired”), it all came down to a test. I passed, and, my fellow Americans, you could too-if you don’t mind providing answers that you know are wrong.

Friends told me I didn’t need to study, the questions weren’t that hard. But I wanted to and so for months I lugged around a set of government-issued flashcards, hoping to master the test. I pestered my family and friends to quiz me. Sometimes I quizzed my sources. I learned things (there are 27 amendments to the Constitution) and they learned things (there are 27 amendments to the Constitution). But then we began noticing errors in a number of the questions and answers.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: The Mayor Rahm Mystery

Mayor Rahm. It will be a hoot. It could even be good for Chicago.

And in a way he has never had to do before, Rahm Emanuel will finally reveal who he really is.

One of the many dramas of a Rahm mayoralty-roll over, Fiorello LaGuardia-will be its status as a controlled (or, perhaps, uncontrolled) experiment in how a brilliant political operative translates campaigning skills into governing achievement. Bill Clinton was an elected official who happened to be one of the country’s smartest consultants. Rahm Emanuel is the go-to adviser who happens to be good at running for office.

Glen Ford:Torturing Detroit’s Kids for Racist Fun and Profit

Corporate America and its servants in the Democratic and Republican parties care nothing for the education of Black, inner city school children, and the proof is in Detroit, for all to see. The State of Michigan, controlled, like every other state in the country, by business interests, has ordered Detroit to close down half of its public schools, and increase class sizes to 60 students. That’s double the number that any respectable educator considers suitable for classroom work, and tantamount to a declaration that Detroit’s public school students will not be provided an education. In a modern society, this is the equivalent of declaring Detroit – an overwhelmingly Black metropolis – a failed state.

This racist outrage is blamed on a $327 million school budget deficit, just as when the public schools were decimated twice before in recent years, eliminating 79 schools and reducing enrollment to about 84,000 students. Many of those public schools were then sold to private charter school companies. With every assault on public education, charter schools multiplied. Now 54,000 Detroit students attend charter schools, and even before the current crisis, the corporate enemies of public education were gleefully predicting that charters would overtake public school enrollment by around 2015 – which would make Detroit the second major American city in which charters outnumber public schools.

Feb 24 2011

News from the Wild: WWL Headlines 2/24/11

Headlines from The Wild Wild Left…the last Island on the “LEFT” in a Sea of Wildly Wrong Rightness…a Harbour of Sanity for Liberals, Progressives and Radical Leftists – Get Wild, Get Left – JOIN IN!

Its been an AMAZING week on WWL!

John Kozy follows up my interview with him last Friday with Liberty’s Easy Slide Into Tyranny.

Rusty1776 is hands down, one of the BEST writers on the Net.

Sky of Memory and Shadow sees the world on fire, a fire to rebirth!

More Exquisite *Essayship below !!

* (yes, I make up words 🙂

Feb 24 2011

On This Day in History February 24

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.

February 24 is the 55th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 310 days remaining until the end of the year (311 in leap years).

On this day in 1803, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, decides the landmark case of William Marbury versus James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States and confirms the legal principle of judicial review–the ability of the Supreme Court to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional–in the new nation.

Marbury v. Madison is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in the world that a court invalidated a law by declaring it “unconstitutional.”

This case resulted from a petition to the Supreme Court by William Marbury, who had been appointed by President John Adams as Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia but whose commission was not subsequently delivered. Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force Secretary of State James Madison to deliver the documents, but the court, with John Marshall as Chief Justice, denied Marbury’s petition, holding that the part of the statute upon which he based his claim, the Judiciary Act of 1789, was unconstitutional.

Marbury v. Madison was the first time the Supreme Court declared something “unconstitutional,” and established the concept of judicial review in the U.S. (the idea that courts may oversee and nullify the actions of another branch of government). The landmark decision helped define the “checks and balances” of the American form of government.

The Issue

There are three ways a case can be heard in the Supreme Court: (1) filing directly in the Supreme Court; (2) filing in a lower federal court, such as a district court, and appealing all the way up to the Supreme Court; (3) filing in a state court, appealing all the way up through the state’s highest courts, and then appealing to the Supreme Court on an issue of federal law. The first is an exercise of the Court’s original jurisdiction; the second and third are exercises of the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction.

Because Marbury filed his petition for the writ of mandamus directly in the Supreme Court, the Court needed to be able to exercise original jurisdiction over the case in order to have the power to hear it.

Marbury’s argument is that in the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress granted the Supreme Court original jurisdiction over petitions for writs of mandamus. This raises several issues that the Supreme Court had to address:

  • Does Article III of the Constitution create a “floor” for original jurisdiction, which Congress can add to, or does it create an exhaustive list that Congress can’t modify at all?
  • If Article III’s original jurisdiction is an exhaustive list, but Congress tries to modify it anyway, who wins that conflict, Congress or the Constitution?
  • And, more importantly, who is supposed to decide who wins?
  • In its answer to this last question, the Supreme Court formalizes the notion of judicial review. In short, the constitutional issue on which Marbury v. Madison was decided was whether Congress could expand the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

    Feb 24 2011

    Six In The Morning

    Tripoli: a city in the shadow of death



    Gunfire in the suburbs – and fear, hunger and rumour in the capital Thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy

    Robert Fisk, with the first dispatch from Libya’s war-torn capital, reports



    Thursday, 24 February 2011  

    Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli’s international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi’s rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

    Among them were Gaddafi’s fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi’s capital if you are a “dog” of the international press.

    Assange to be extradited to Sweden



    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, a judge has ruled.

    Feb 24 2011

    DocuDharma Digest

    Regular Features-

    Featured Essays for February 23, 2011-

    DocuDharma

    Feb 24 2011

    Obama: Please Go To Wisconsin

    Well, here I go again, oversimplifying, being idealistic, possibly ranting.  To all of these I plead guilty.  In advance.

    President Obama’s made a few statements about the demonstrations in Wisconsin.  The most widely disseminated one is this one, reported in TPM:


    Well I’d say that I haven’t followed exactly what’s happening with the Wisconsin budget. I’ve got some budget problems here in Washington that I’ve had to focus on. I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody’s gotta make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs — which I want to avoid, I don’t want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers.

    We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years, as part of my overall budget freeze. You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.

    On the other other hand, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin — where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally — seems like more of an assault on unions.



    And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers, and they’re firefighters, and they’re social workers, and they’re police officers. You know, they make a lot of sacrifices, and make a big contribution, and I think it’s important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.

    So, I think everybody’s gotta make some adjustments, but I think it’s also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well being of our states and our cities.

    Sounds, feels, smells and looks like a politician.  It’s balanced.  It’s cautious.  It looks over his shoulder to wonder which side might ultimately win the Battle of Madison.  It sounds like he’d like to be on the winning side for 2012.  What it doesn’t sound like by any means is leadership.

    Leadership would be going to Madison and linking arms and standing in solidarity with the demonstrators and union members against the reactionaries and would-be union busters.  It would be standing up to the Koch funded “movement.”  It would be explaining clearly to all who would listen that these unions are important to sustained high pay in Wisconsin and the nation, and that the antedeluvian effort to kill these unions must be defeated.  The Wisconsin football stadium might be a good place to hold the rally.

    The President, however, hasn’t shown any signs that he’s ready to lead a fight for labor, his largest supporter.  It looks like he might still want to invoke politesse and refer to these union busters as “the right to work” advocates with whom he has a small disagreement.

    These people don’t deserve that kind of deference.  They have ginned up a plan to destroy public unions and are inflexible about it.  They will not modify it or back off from it.  They plan to destroy public unions.  Period.  They have begun by trying drive a wedge between public workers’ unions. The teachers and highway workers and bureaucrats are ok to beat up on and they won’t be able to bargain, but those the cops and firefighters, which are more traditionally Republican, will.  

    Today’s mock phone call with “David Koch” proved beyond all cavil that Scott Walker is the lead dog running a national union busting movement.  He doesn’t care at all about the state’s budget.  This is another item entirely.  This for Walker is only about destroying public unions.  Yes, it’s happening through the state legislatures, but this is a manifestation of an organized, well funded, nationwide movement to emasculate public workers’ unions.

    That’s why the unions can’t afford to lose this battle.  And it’s why President Obama needs to organize an appearance in Wisconsin.  The unions have already conceded on the economic issues in this confrontation by agreeing to pay more for their health insurance and to contribute more to their pensions.  Those issues are not what’s keeping 14 Wisconsin legislators under cover in Illinois (or elsewhere).  No.  They are outside the state solely to protect collective bargaining.  It bears repeating.  What makes the confrontation persist is only one thing: the governor’s adamant refusal to drop his plan for withdrawal of collective bargaining rights for certain Wiaconsin public workers.  Plain and simple: the Governor insists on destroying these unions.

    That’s why the national democratic leadership in Washington needs to go to Wisconsin.  And they need to go now.  This is a confrontation that can and should be won.  Obama and the national leadership have to stop playing Bert Lahr.  They have to show up in numbers, and they have to roar.

    cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

    Feb 24 2011

    Prime Time

    Solid premiers.  A double dose of Nova (it means ‘won’t go’ in Spanish).

    I don’t need money. People give me things because they believe in me.

    Now, shut up! Shut up, all of you! Now listen to me, you hicks. Yeah, you’re hicks too, and they fooled you a thousand times like they fooled me. But this time, I’m going to fool somebody. I’m going to stay in this race. I’m on my own and I’m out for blood.

    Later-

    You wanna know what my platform is? Here it is. I’m gonna soak the fat boys and spread it out thin.

    Dave hosts Rainn Wilson, Hank Aaron, and The Mountain Goats.  Jon (I hardly know whether to feature him any more, he’s just as big a corporatist as Bill O’Reilly and David Gregory, perhaps you’ll give me your opinion in the comments) has War Criminal Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen Stephanie Coontz.  Conan hosts Jason Sudeikis, Brandon T. Jackson, and G. Love.

    I’m the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. But I’m standing right here now on my hind legs! Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standing on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that yet?

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