07/18/2012 archive

Consequences of the War on Terror

The consequences of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s loose lips with secret information about the informant in the assassination of Osama bun Laden in Pakistan, has put many lives at high risk.

More Damage from Panetta’s Vaccine Ruse: UN Doctor on Polio Vaccine Drive Shot; Hundreds of Thousands Denied Polio Vaccine

by Jim White at emptywheel

As one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, Pakistan launched a three day vaccination drive yesterday with a target of vaccinating the 318,000 children in North and South Waziristan who have not received their vaccinations. Across all of Pakistan, the goal is to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five. The drive is being held despite a push by the Taliban to prevent vaccinations in tribal areas. The Taliban’s ban on vaccinations is aimed at stopping US drone strikes in the tribal areas and is in response to the vaccination ruse by the CIA.  Dr. Shakeel Afridi pretended to be doling out hepatitis vaccines in a failed attempt to retrieve DNA samples for the CIA from the bin Laden compound when it was under surveillance prior to the attack that killed Osama bin Laden. Today, a UN doctor and his driver were wounded when a shooter opened fire on them in Karachi. The doctor was reported to be working on the vaccine program. [..]

It seems that Leon Panetta’s approval of and subsequent public confirmation of Afridi’s vaccine ruse is a problem that just continues to affect the lives of more and more children every day. Although the Pakistani government’s vaccine drive is legitimate and urgently needed, Panetta’s poor judgment is putting that drive at risk and assuring that it will fall far short of the rate of vaccination needed to prevent a record year for polio cases in Pakistan.

The consequences are that the informant, Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, was jailed for 33 years in May, 34 million children are at risk and trying to save those lives can get you killed. MR. Panetta should be sentenced to driving doctors and aid workers in North and South Waziristan for the rest of his life.

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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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Yves Smith: The Sucking Sound of Air Leaving the Economy

I’ve refrained from commenting much on the state of the economy over the last couple of years because it seems to have been largely irrelevant to the direction of many widely followed markets. While bonds, particularly the highest quality bonds, have continued to rally over time, par for what you’d expect in an economy facing deflationary pressures, on a day to day basis, bipolar risk on/off reactions have held sway. And even though there is no reason to expect anything better that a weak recovery in the wake of a balance sheet recession afflicting the world’s advanced economies, a peculiar tendency to look to ordinary recessions for comparisons plus undue faith in the confidence fairy has led many commentators to draw trend lines through improving data series and declare it to be a recovery. However, we seem to be at or may even have passed an inflection point, and policy makers seem remarkably unprepared to take action.

While the result may indeed be a technical recovery, with official unemployment at over 8%, and U-6, the broad measure of unemployment, showing more deterioration of late than the headline figure (it’s now at 14.9%), there was hardly much cause for cheer. Both in 2010 and 2011, improvements in economic performance that were hailed as real recoveries faltered. With youth unemployment high, working young adults saddled with high student debt loads, household formation low due to more multi-generational households and older adults contending with diminished wealth thanks to hits to home prices and retirement savings, consumers were not able to be the drivers of renewed growth unless their wage and employment situation improved in a marked fashion. And that just isn’t happening.

Ann Wright: America’s Drones Are Homeward Bound

Americans have been protesting and getting arrested at U.S. drone bases and research institutions for years, and some members of Congress are starting to respond to the pressure.

But it’s not that drones are being used to extrajudicially execute people, including Americans, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia that has U.S. lawmakers concerned. Rather it’s the possible and probable violation of Americans’ privacy in the United States by unlawful drone surveillance that has caught the attention of legislators.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., says “there is distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government. It’s raising alarm with the American public.” Based on those discussions, Landry has placed a provision in a defense spending bill that would prohibit information gathered by drones without a warrant from being used as evidence in court.

Two other legislators, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced identical bills to bar any government agency from using a drone without a warrant to “gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a regulation.”

No one in Congress, however, has introduced legislation requiring the government to provide to a neutral judge evidence of a criminal act committed by a person to be targeted for assassination by a drone, or allowing such a person the right to defend himself against the U.S. government’s allegations.

Marjorie Cohn: Immigration, Racism, and the Supreme Court

In a victory for those who support a humane immigration policy, the Court overturned three sections of SB 1070: Arizona cannot criminalize unlawful presence in the United States, or working without papers; and the decision to arrest someone for unlawful presence in the U.S. is solely a federal issue. The Court made clear that the enforcement of immigration law is reserved to the federal government.

But unfortunately, the Court unanimously upheld the most controversial provision of SB 1070, at least for the time being. Section 2(b) requires state officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain or arrest if they have “reasonable suspicion” the person is an undocumented immigrant. Although the Court didn’t address racial profiling in its opinion, how can this statute possibly be enforced without considering skin color, language and clothing?

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Unleashing the power of real girls

In a 1993 article published in the media watch group FAIR’s Extra! magazine, 17-year-old intern Kimberly Phillips criticized Seventeen magazine’s preoccupation with fashion and beauty, and its failure to encourage young women to think about important issues. Balking at the criticism, Seventeen’s managing editor responded with a defensive letter to the editor, insisting that the magazine’s focus on appearance was consistent with the interests of its adolescent readers.

Nearly 20 years later, almost nothing had changed – until now. Within the span of two months, a 14-year-old Maine girl named Julia Bluhm mobilized more than 80,000 supporters to lobby Seventeen to commit to a more modest goal: printing one photo spread per issue without an unaltered image. Bluhm’s efforts are part of Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge or SPARK, a girl-fueled activist movement that is demanding an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media.

Bryce Covert: If States Opt Out of Medicaid Expansion, Over 4 Million Women Could Remain Uninsured

It can seem like just a mirage created by the summer heat: only a few weeks ago the Supreme Court actually handed down a decision that progressives could celebrate. It held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, including the individual mandate, meaning that implementation can roll on full steam ahead. I was one of the first to celebrate, in particular for all the ways that the law will help women who need healthcare (which is all of us). As Katha Pollitt recently wrote here, women will benefit dramatically from the ACA. The law bars practices like charging women more just for being women, dropping women’s coverage if they become pregnant or sick, and denying coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” like having had breast cancer or being a victim of domestic violence. It adds new benefits like birth control coverage at no cost to the patient, expanded coverage of preventative services like prenatal care, mammograms, pap smears and bone-density screenings through Medicare, and requiring insurance companies to cover maternity care.

But one aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision could have some very bad results for women: the ruling that states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion. While this could end up harming men and women, women in particular stand to suffer if states refuse to participate in the program.

HSBC: Money Laundering for Drug Dealers & Terrorists

As if rate fixing wasn’t bad enough, HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, has been caught laundering money for Mexico, Iran and Syria:

The bank failed to monitor a staggering £38trillion of money moving across borders from places that could have posed a risk, including the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. The failures stretched to dealings with Saudi Arabian bank Al Rajhi, which was linked to the financing of terrorism following 9/11.

HSBC’s American arm, HBUS, initially severed all ties with Al Rajhi. But it later agreed to supply the Saudi bank with US banknotes after it threatened to pull all of its business with HSBC worldwide.

According to the report, HBUS also accepted £9.6billion in cash over two years from subsidiaries without checking where the money came from.

In one instance, Mexican and US authorities warned HSBC that £4.5billion sent to the US from its Mexican subsidiary ‘could reach that volume only if they included illegal drug proceeds’. [..]

The Senate probe also examined banking HSBC did in Saudi Arabia with Al Rajhi Bank, which the report said has links to financing terrorism.

Evidence of those links emerged after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Senate report said, citing U.S. government reports, criminal and civil legal proceedings and media reports. [..]

Some of the money that moved through HSBC was tied to Iran, the report said, which would violate U.S. prohibitions on transactions tied to it and other sanctioned countries.

To conceal the transactions, HSBC affiliates used a method called ‘stripping,’ where references to Iran are deleted from records. HSBC affiliates also characterized the transactions as transfers between banks without disclosing the tie to Iran in what the Senate report called a ‘cover payment.’ [..]

So just how embarrassing is this? Obviously enough that HSBC’s chief compliance officer, David Bagley tendered his resignation during his Senate hearing testimony:

David Bagley, the head of compliance for the British bank since 2002, broke from his prepared testimony to tell the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that “now is the appropriate time for me and for the bank for someone new to serve as the head of group compliance.”

They don’t need no stinking regulation, that might hurt those “job creators.”  

On This Day In History July 18

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 images to enlarge

July 18 is the 199th day of the year (200th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 166 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.

Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide.

Election of 1940

The two-term tradition had been an unwritten rule (until the 22nd Amendment after his presidency) since George Washington declined to run for a third term in 1796, and both Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were attacked for trying to obtain a third non-consecutive term. FDR systematically undercut prominent Democrats who were angling for the nomination, including two cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James Farley, Roosevelt’s campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, Postmaster General and Democratic Party chairman. Roosevelt moved the convention to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized but Farley had packed the galleries. Roosevelt sent a message saying that he would not run, unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loudspeaker screamed “We want Roosevelt… The world wants Roosevelt!” The delegates went wild and he was nominated by 946 to 147 on the first ballot. The tactic employed by Roosevelt was not entirely successful, as his goal had been to be drafted by acclamation. The new vice presidential nominee was Henry A. Wallace, a liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture.

In his campaign against Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt stressed both his proven leadership experience and his intention to do everything possible to keep the United States out of war. In one of his speeches he declared to potential recruits that “you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” He won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 38 of the 48 states. A shift to the left within the Administration was shown by the naming of Henry A. Wallace as Vice President in place of the conservative Texan John Nance Garner, who had become a bitter enemy of Roosevelt after 1937.

2012 Le Tour – Stage 16

Pau / Bagnères-de-Luchon (122.4 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

This Tour is basically over with commanding leads in both the General Classification and Points but if anyone is going to make a move in the GC it’s either today or tomorrow in the Pyrenees or in the Individual Time Trial the day before the Champs.

It’s this (yawn) gripping duel in the High Mountains you see that justifies the absurdly early 6:30 am coverage start.

The Mountains will certainly be high enough, 2 uncategorized, 2 category 1s.  The Award point is mercifully early before any of the climbs, it could be some Sprinters won’t make the time boundary.  Newly not appearing for the 16th Stage are Sylvain Chavanel, Brett Daniel Lancaster, Yauheni Hutarovich, Kenny Robert Van Hummel, Vincent Jerome, and Giovanni Bernaudeau.

Monday saw Pierrick Fedrigo take a 4th French stage win with Christian Vande Velde second and Thomas Voeckler third.  No changes worth mentioning at the top.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:05
10 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT +08:51

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 6:30 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, and 8 pm.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 2 – Points Part 3

This set covers Points from Stage 13 to Stage 15.

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 2 – Points Part 2

This set covers Points from Stage 8 to Stage 12.

2012 Le Tour – Rest Day 2 – Points Part 1

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So I was telling you about evil tables and overflow errors.  I was able to crank out consolidated ones for Team, Hill Climbing, and Youth.

Tonight I’ll attempt to assemble a complete data set.  I’m dividing it into chunks to make debugging easier and to identify true overflows (there’s a lot of information and the formatting is not trivial).

This particular group has all been previously published and covers Point standings until Stage 7.  I hope to follow shortly with the other daily Point standings and then with General Classification tables and Team, Hill Climbing, and Youth (also to date).