Posted: January 2, 2013 Filed under: Afghanistan, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, MENA, Pakistan, Somalia, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Yemen | Tags: criminal wiretapping, drone attacks, renditions, the National Security Military Industrial Complex
It’s easy to overlook our far away wars and the deaths caused by drone attacks when most people in the country are trying to hang on to their jobs, homes, and incomes. It’s more than enough effort just to hang on while watching your hopes of secure, middle class lifestyles and retirement being diddled away in shows of Potomac political harangues, power plays, and stupid political memes. However, a big portion of who we are as a country has to do with our face to the world and the values we display. It’s a subject we must follow carefully because we’re as bad as we’ve ever been in many ways.
Hence, I bring you back to the topics of renditions, torture, drone strikes, domestic spying, and national security issues evoked by 9/11 and continued because we can’t have national discussions about the big policies any more. We’re too busy defending erosion of our lives and rights here. There is an important article at WAPO that highlights the immoral side of our “war” against terror that continues under the Obama administration. Americans interested in human rights and our vision of an American “morality” must read this.
The three European men with Somali roots were arrested on a murky pretext in August as they passed through the small African country of Djibouti. But the reason soon became clear when they were visited in their jail cells by a succession of American interrogators.
U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial.
The secret arrests and detentions came to light Dec. 21 when the suspects made a brief appearance in a Brooklyn courtroom.
The men are the latest example of how the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Renditions are taking on renewed significance because the administration and Congress have not reached agreement on a consistent legal pathway for apprehending terrorism suspects overseas and bringing them to justice.
I find this quote shocking.
The impasse and lack of detention options, critics say, have led to a de facto policy under which the administration finds it easier to kill terrorism suspects, a key reason for the surge of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Renditions, though controversial and complex, represent one of the few alternatives.
“In a way, rendition has become even more important than before,” said Clara Gutteridge, director of the London-based Equal Justice Forum, a human rights group that investigates national security cases and that opposes the practice.
Our country is caught up in fighting fights that were dealt with decades ago because one party wants to throw us back into the good ol’ days of witch hunts and control and ownership of other human beings through religious extremism and economic coercion and privateering. We’re having to fight for the lessons of the civil war, the depression, and civil rights era. Meanwhile, the national security industrial complex–in our names–erodes the very basic rights of our citizens and the way we behave abroad. As pointed out at emptywheel, Murdoch and son love them some Obama for extensions of abusive wiretapping. Murdoch and son are themselves guilty of criminal wiretapping in the UK. Is that ironic?
In addition to applauding Obama’s “fairly ruthless antiterror prosecut[ions] and unapologetic assert[ions] of Presidential powers,” the WSJ revels in this opportunity to mock those who thought illegal wiretapping was wrong.
This is a turnabout from 2007 and 2008, when letting U.S. spooks read al Qaeda emails or listen in on phone calls that passed through domestic switching networks supposedly spelled doom for the American Republic. Democrats spent years pretending that Mr. Bush’s eavesdropping program was “wrong” and “destructive,” as Attorney General Eric Holder put it at the time, lamenting that “I never thought I would see a President act in direct defiance of federal law.”
Maybe this mutual love of abusive wiretapping is why–as Elliot Spitzer has pointed out–DOJ has thus far failed to pursue News Corp under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
And finally, where is the inept U.S. Department of Justice in all this?
The DOJ has brought many irrelevant and tiny cases against companies for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to bribe either individuals or government officials, even in a company’s overseas operations. The DOJ loves to use the statute to show just how tough it is.
Yet now they have the most important case sitting right there in front of them. It’s easy. Even a rookie could field this one.
But what are they doing? It’s not clear.
If they fail to make this case against News Corp., Eric Holder is a failure as attorney general.
After all, Eric Holder’s DOJ successfully fought to give legal sanction to Cheney’s illegal wiretapping. It would look rather silly, after having extended warrantless wiretapping past the end of the Obama Administration, for them to prosecute Rupert Murdoch for doing the same thing Cheney did.
There is little oversight in all of these human rights outrages. Congress appears to be more interested in creating near-catastrophe problems with the economy and defunding planned parenthood then actually doing its oversight duties on the executive branch. There are many things begun in the Bush administration that were criticized by Democrats that are now completely ignored by congressional committees. Republicans have no interest in these issues and Democrats don’t want to criticize the administration. Here’s another example of questionable policy from the WAPO article.
The State Department officially categorized al-Shabab as a terrorist organization in 2008, making it illegal for Americans or non-citizens to support the group. Still, Obama administration officials acknowledge that most al-Shabab fighters are merely participants in Somalia’s long-running civil war and that only a few are involved in international terrorism.
Is any one questioning the wisdom of adding dubious organizations to the terrorist list or is this just another way to expand the power, scope, and aggregate buying of the National Security Military Complex?
How many of you know that we’ve just recently upped its drone attacks in Afghanistan despite UN condemnation? This caused Wired Magazine to call 2012 “The Year of the Drone in Afghanistan”.
Last month, military stats revealed that the U.S. had launched some 333 drone strikes in Afghanistan thus far in 2012. That made Afghanistan the epicenter of U.S. drone attacks — not Pakistan, not Yemen, not Somalia. But it turns out those stats were off, according to revised ones released by the Air Force on Thursday morning. There have actually been 447 drone strikes in Afghanistan this year. That means drone strikes represent 11.5 percent of the entire air war — up from about 5 percent last year.
Never before in Afghanistan have there been so many drone strikes. For the past three years, the strikes have never topped 300 annually, even during the height of the surge. Never mind 2014, when U.S. troops are supposed to take a diminished role in the war and focus largely on counterterrorism. Afghanistan’s past year, heavy on insurgent-hunting robots, shows that the war’s future has already been on display.
Many of the victims of these attacks have been citizens. Drones are also operating in Pakistan, Yeman, and Somalia.
Reports say over 3,300 people, many of them women and children, were killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan between June 2004 and September 2012.
Rights and peace groups opposed to the targeted killings say the US administration has already violated international law by pursuing its assassination drone attacks.
Meanwhile, the UN plans to set up an investigation team in Geneva to probe the American drone attacks, as UN officials are concerned that Washington is setting a legal and ethical precedent for other countries developing armed drones.
The targeted killings started under former President George W. Bush and were expanded by President Barack Obama. In 2012, Obama personally approved the names put on the “kill lists” used in the targeted killing operations carried out by American assassination drones.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the only countries targeted by the US assassination drones. The unmanned aircraft are also operating in Yemen and Somalia.
According to a report compiled by the Washington think-tank, New America Foundation, the number of the US drone airstrikes in Yemen almost tripled this year compared with the previous one.
The report said that the United States has intensified its drone strikes in Yemenas well, increasing the number of operations drastically from 18 in 2011 to 53 in 2012 and killing at least 223 people.
Then, there is the Espionage Act where
There has been so much dysfunction in Congress these days–as well as active religious and right wing extremism aimed at women, GLBT, and minorities–that it’s hard to look to other faucets of our policy. It’s important that we follow these important human rights abuses that are done in our name also. It would be nice to be able to focus on really important policy issues for a change, wouldn’t it?
Posted: October 2, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Foreign Affairs, Libya, MENA, Middle East, Mitt Romney, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: ambassador Chris Stevens, Barack Obama, Benghazi attacks, Craig Unger, Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz, Jimmy Carter Strategy, October surprise
The Romney campaign and the GOP appear to be rolling out an “October Surprise” in the leadup to to tomorrow night’s presidential debate.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Mitt Romney in which he supposedly proposed “A new course for the Middle East. Here’s the opening:
Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel….
Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.
What follows is several paragraphs of criticism of President Obama’s policies as Romney interprets them. For example, Romney accuses the President of “allow[ing] or leadership to atrophy,” “misunderstanding our values,” and “thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries,” but provides no evidence for these claims.
The only “solutions” Romney puts forward are also vague. He argues that we must develop a “coherent strategy” of supporting our Middle Eastern allies and also “restore our credibility with Iran.” Based on Romney’s previous statements, he seems to be suggesting that somehow if he is President, the Iranians will be more terrified of him than weak, Carter-like Barack Obama.
It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.
But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.
Yesterday Craig Unger wrote that he had learned from an anonymous source that GOP operatives will
unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.
The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.
He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”
The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration “definitely had intel” about the attack before it happened. “Intelligence can be graded in different ways,” he added, “and sometimes A and B don’t get connected. But [the Romney campaign] will try to paint it to look like Obama had advance knowledge of the attack and is weak on terrorism.”
“Chortling with glee?” The apparent goal of all this GOP strategizing is to make Barack Obama look like Jimmy Carter circa 1980. Romney and Ryan have both been trying to do this for months, with little effect.
To be honest, I’m having a hard time taking all this too seriously, but today Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz of the House Committee on Oversight and Government claimed to have information to prove that:
Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed…
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [read the full letter here (pdf), Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said their information came from “individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya.”
Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.
The letter listed 13 incidents, but Chaffetz said in an interview there were more than 50. Two of them involved explosive devices: a June 6 blast that blew a hole in the security perimeter. The explosion was described to the committee as “big enough for forty men to go through”; and an April 6 incident where two Libyans who were fired by a security contactor threw a small explosive device over the consulate fence.
“A number of people felt helpless in pushing back” against the decision not to increase security and “were pleading with them to reconsider,” Chaffetz said. He added that frustrated whistleblowers were so upset with the decision that they were anxious to speak with the committee.
Issa and Chaffetz will hold a hearing on the issue next Wednesday, October 10.
Just a side note: Jason Chaffetz is a convert to Mormonism who attend BYU and is a Romney surrogate. He also spoke at the Republican Convention.
The Wall Street Journal fired another salvo today with another op-ed by Bret Stephens: Benghazi Was Obama’s 3 a.m. Call Here’s the concluding paragraph, which sums up the entire argument pretty well:
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration’s concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan “sovereignty” and the need for “permission.” After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration’s reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it’s time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.
Jake Tapper also helped out by trying to get White House spokesman Jay Carney to comment on the charges from Issa and Chaffetz. Here’s the response:
Carney said that “embassy security is a matter that is in the purview of the State Department,” and noted that “Secretary Clinton instituted an accountability review that is underway as we speak” while the investigation of the attack itself is being conducted by the FBI.
The press secretary said that “from the moment our facility was attacked” the president has been focused on providing security to all diplomatic posts “and bringing the killers to justice.”
About the list of security issues, Carney said it was a “known fact that Libya is in transition” and that in the eastern part of Libya in particular there are militant groups and “a great number of armed individuals and militias.”
So I guess we can expect Romney to attack President Obama on the Libya issue during tomorrow night’s debate, no doubt accompanied by the famous Romney smirk. Obama should be prepared though, since the “October Surprise” has been so clearly spelled out by multiple media sources.
Is there more to it? Will it work? I kind of doubt it, because it’s clear from the polls that Romney has already destroyed his credibility with voters. But I could be wrong.
What do you think?
Posted: January 14, 2012 Filed under: Afghanistan, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Diplomacy Nightmares, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, MENA, Middle East, morning reads, Myanmar, Pakistan, Political Affective Disorder, the internet | Tags: Facebook, Google privacy, Memogate, Network, News Media, SOPA
Minx here with you today and tomorrow. We are two weeks into the new year, seems like it’s been two months. The first day felt like a week, the second day seemed like five days, the third day seemed like a week again, the fourth day felt like three days, but the seventh and eighth days…seemed like an eternity!
Must be all the GOP Primary news that is getting to me! Political Affective Disorder…yes.
Alright…enough of the complaining, let’s get on with it.
There has been a lot of news happening in places other than the US…So I am going to start with global news first.
Iran, whoa…I don’t know what the final outcome will be, but I do know one thing…gas prices are going to skyrocket.
Emptywheel has some thoughts regarding Iran…and the recent Marines pissing incident. Pissing on the Peace Process(es) | emptywheel
I hope to get around to saying more about the latest assassinated Iranian scientist, but in the meantime, I wanted to point out a coincidence of timing.
Jim Lobe argues convincingly that the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was likely designed to scuttle any efforts to dial down the rhetoric between Iran and the US.
My sense of the last week or so was that the mostly verbal confrontation between Iran and the U.S., particularly regarding the Strait of Hormuz, was spinning out of control much more rapidly than anyone had expected and that the possibility of a conflict had suddenly become very real in ways the Obama administration certainly never intended. (See Anne-Marie Slaughter’s CNN column, “Saving Face and Peace in the Gulf,” as an example of “this is getting really dangerous all of a sudden”. Until last fall, of course, she was Clinton’s director of policy planning and a very influential figure in the administration.) So there seemed to be a real effort to dial things back, expressed not only in repeated statements by senior administration officials, including Clinton, emphasizing Washington’s readiness to negotiate, but also, if the always well-informed Laura Rozen is to be believed, a lot of diplomatic — some of it, I’m sure, behind the scenes — manoeuvring to get the P5+1 process back into gear, with Turkey serving as the convenor/mediator.
Under these circumstances, the timing of today’s assassination was particularly remarkable. Among other things, it makes me believe that the U.S., which condemned the attack and categorically denied any role in it (See Clinton’s statement in her press conference with the Qatari Prime Minister here), was not in fact involved.* That leaves two obvious suspects: 1) Israel and 2) a faction within the Iranian regime. If there was indeed an Israeli hand behind it, the assassination was not just an effort to set back the Iran’s nuclear program and induce fear among other scientists working on it. I think it was also a provocation designed to 1) blow up prospects for progress in any p5+1 negotiations that might convene over the next month or so; 2) strengthen hard-line factions in Tehran that oppose negotiations; and 3) possibly provoke retaliation that will further escalate tensions, if not armed conflict. Of course, all three of these overlap and reinforce each other. If it was an internal Iranian faction, which, frankly, I find more difficult to believe, both 1) and 2) above also apply.
It makes sense. Everyone with a brain believes this was an Israeli op, and it’s safe to conclude that Israel wants to press us towards actual conflict.
I look forward to reading her take on the Iran assassination, you can go to the link to read a quick thought on the Afghanistan but this next quote has links to other post you may have missed about the piss tape.
As Jim pointed out earlier this week, this comes just after the Truth Vigilante Times drummed up more drone strikes which led to … more drone strikes.
It sure looks like someone is trying to make sure peace doesn’t break out in Afghanistan as well.
I’ll just float that question for now–I expect Jim or I will return to in it the coming days. For the moment, though, I just wanted to note that someone is pissing on the peace process in at least two different fronts.
Yeah… “piss on your peace!”
But wait a minute, I thought “peace is our profession?”
843rd BOMB WING STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND -- PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION From Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove
As far as Israel is concerned, the US is sending out warning signals: U.S. Warns Israel Against Iran Strike – WSJ.com
U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.
President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran’s leaders, against provocative actions.
Tehran has warned that it could retaliate to tightened sanctions by blocking oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to punish the perpetrators of the assassination—blamed by Iran on the U.S. and Israel—of an Iranian scientist involved in the nuclear program.
The U.S. denied the charge and condemned the attack. Israel hasn’t commented.
Sticking with Israel a bit more: Advance of the Zealots: The Growing Influence of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
Veiled women, radical rabbis and gender segregation: Israel is facing a rise in the influence of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Their efforts to impose a strictly conservative worldview have led to growing tensions with the country’s secular society. A resolution to the conflict is vital for Israel’s future.
Outside is the Judean Wilderness, the Dead Sea shimmers in the distance. Naomi Machfud is sitting inside the self-built house, dreaming about making the world disappear. She wants to cover up her face with a veil, she says, her mouth, her nose and her eyes. A black veil, without even a vision slit, one that swallows every glance and submerges the world in darkness. The veil is the pinnacle of zniut, or modesty, the closest a person can get to God. But, she says with a sigh, “unfortunately I’m not that far yet.”
But Machfud, a 30-year-old woman with six children, has already created an insulating layer of material between herself and the outside world. She is wearing a wool robe, an apron, a blouse, three floor-length corduroy skirts, a black skirt and trousers. She has a piece of black wool material wrapped loosely around her head. Underneath it is a tight, black veil, and underneath that is a pale pink veil. Not a single hair is visible. She is wearing a pair of earrings, but she takes them off when she leaves the house.
Machfud is a Jewish woman married to a Jewish man. They live in a settlement in the West Bank, but she dresses as if she lived in Afghanistan.
You can click the link to read the rest of that article…it is a long one in two parts.
Have you all heard of the scandal called “Memogate?” It regards Pakistani and US relations: ‘Memogate’ scandal deepens as American accuser threatens to tell all | World news | guardian.co.uk
The controversial American businessman at the centre of the “Memogate” scandal threatening to bring down the government of Pakistan has told the Guardian he plans to fly into the country to tell what he describes as the “unaltered truth” before the courts.
The allegations made by Mansoor Ijaz reach all the way up to President Asif Zardari, and could end up with treason charges against the country’s former US ambassador, Husain Haqqani, or even the president himself. But critics say that the charges are a fantastical and thinly-veiled attempt by the military to hound the government from power, aided by the hostile courts that have taken up the case with alacrity.
This Guardian article gives you the lowdown on this memo…give it a read. It may be big talk, it may not…but it highlights the stressful relations of the two countries.
I am sure you heard about the European Countries Downgrade of Debt Ratings Underscores Europe’s Woes – NYTimes.com
Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of France, Italy and seven other European countries on Friday, a move that may have more symbolic than fundamental financial impact but served as a reminder that Europe’s economic woes were far from over.
After Friday, the only euro zone nations retaining their top AAA ratings are Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg.
I have just a couple more global links for you…U.S. to Renew Myanmar Ties in Light of Reforms – NYTimes.com
The United States moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Myanmar on Friday, rewarding the sweeping political and economic changes that the country’s new civilian government has made, including a cease-fire with ethnic rebels and, only hours before, the release of hundreds of political prisoners.
There also is news about a grounded cruise ship: Italians launch rescue bid after cruise liner runs aground | World news | The Guardian
About 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew were being evacuated by lifeboat from a cruise ship off Italy on Friday after it ran aground and started taking in water.
The Costa Concordia got into difficulties and began listing near the island of Giglio, off Tuscany, after leaving Civitavecchia near Rome.
USA Today is reporting eight deaths:
UPDATE, 11:55: Eight people are dead after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the Italian coast in an accident which forced the coast guard to evacuate over 4,000 people, AFP reports.
More than 30 people were also injured in the accident, several seriously, and several people were still missing after jumping overboard in panic as the ship began to tilt, the Messaggero newspaper said. One of the victims was a man in his 70s who died of a heart attack caused by the shock to his system when he jumped into the icy waters, reports said.
More in US news after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 5, 2011 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Anti-War, Central Intelligence Agency, Congress, Corporate Crime, corruption, cyber security, Diplomacy Nightmares, Domestic Policy, Domestic terrorism, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, Global Financial Crisis, indefinite detention, Injustice system, Iran, Israel, K street, Main Stream Media, MENA, Middle East, Pakistan, Palestine, Psychopaths in charge, SDB Evening News Reads, seniors, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics
Today was a busy news day, as far as the number of unread feeds in my reader…However, for tonight’s evening reads I am going to stick with Iran, Israel and the US.
Quixote sent me this link earlier this evening.
Iran explosions prompt speculation of secret attacks | McClatchy
This is where the article takes an expected turn, as Dakinikat has speculated early last week, there are suggestions that Israel is behind these explosions.
The second such incident in as many weeks cast doubt on Iranian claims that these were “accidents” and “coincidences,” and it set off speculation of a coordinated attack by Israel, whose officials long have threatened a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli officials denied direct involvement, but the growing number of mysterious or unexplained blasts and deaths has many suspecting an official program of sabotage.
Israeli newspapers declared last week that Israel’s war with Iran already had begun, but that the Jewish state, rather than launch massive airstrikes, had decided on a method of covert action in cooperation with other groups. Statements by current and former Israeli officials were being parsed for clues but did little to clarify the issue.
Tell me if these responses don’t give you pause…
“There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” said Israel’s former head of internal security, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “We are not happy to see the Iranians move ahead on this (program), so any delay, be it divine intervention or otherwise, is welcome.”
Divine intervention…or did the dog do it?
It just seems like relations in the area have gone from bad to worse. This possible coordinated attacks from Israel may explain Panetta’s harsh language a few days ago:
Panetta to Israel: ‘Get to the Damn Table’ for Peace Talks « VOA Breaking News
The top U.S. defense official is warning Israel it cannot afford to further isolate itself from Arab neighbors in the Middle East.
During a forum in Washington late Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Israel needs to start by getting back “to the damn table” and negotiating peace with the Palestinians. He also called on Israel to mend its fraying relationships with traditional partners like Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.
Some Israeli leaders have viewed the Arab Spring, and uprisings like the one that toppled long-time Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as a threat to regional stability as well as to Israel’s security. But Panetta urged Israeli officials to reject that way of thinking.
Panetta said Israel has no choice but to take some risks to ensure a safer future, starting with resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, a process that Panetta said has “effectively been put on hold.”
In this Reuters India link, they published a bit more of Panetta’s comment to Israel:
Panetta: Israel must get to damn peace table | Reuters
Panetta, addressing a forum in Washington, also made one of his most extensive arguments to date against any imminent military action against Iran over its nuclear program, saying he was convinced that sanctions and diplomatic pressure were working.
“You always have the last resort … of military action. But it must be the last resort, not the first,” Panetta said.
He said Israel needed to take risks, including by breathing new life into moribund peace talks with Palestinians. When asked by a moderator what steps Israel needed to take to pursue peace, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”
“The problem right now is we can’t get ’em to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences,” Panetta said.
Panetta said the United States would safeguard Israel’s security, ensure regional stability and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — a goal Tehran denies having.
“Israel, too, has a responsibility to pursue these shared goals — to build regional support for Israeli and United States’ security objectives,” Panetta said.
“I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.”
Also heating up the already tense situation, is the recent US drone spy plane that was “brought” down by Iran…not by shooting it down, it looks like Iran was able to “hack” the drone. Reports are that Iran is in possession of the super secret spy plane.
Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane, as was reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.
I realize that link goes to Fox, but JPost.com and Reuters are reporting this news as well.
Iran is still sticking with the “shot down” story for now, there is also a warning from the Iran military, from FARS News Agency: Fars News Agency :: Iran Warns of Wider Response to US Spy Missions
“Given the flagrant violation of our country’s borders, the electronic and operational actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces against the enemy planes will not be limited to the country’s borders,” an Iranian official told FNA.
The official had also informed FNA on Sunday afternoon that the country’s forces had downed a US RQ-170 Sentinel drone over the Eastern parts of the country.
“An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran’s armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s Armed Forces,” a military official told FNA on Sunday.
In similar remarks, military sources told Iran’s Arabic language Al Alam television that Tehran will intensify its response to the United States’ spying operations.
“The Iranian military’s response to the American spy drone’s violation of our airspace will not be limited to Iran’s borders any more,” a military source told Al Alam, without giving details.
After a day of silence, both Pentagon and NATO officials acknowledged the shooting down of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in eastern Iran, alleging that the aircraft with a mission to fly over western Afghanistan had gone astray.
The drone had been downed with help from the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit.
The military official warned of a strong and crushing response to any violations of the country’s airspace by American drone aircraft.
Then there is this bit of news from The Telegraph: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards prepare for war – Telegraph
An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.
Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.
The order was given in response to the mounting international pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. Preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.
The Iranian leadership fears the country is being subjected to a carefully co-ordinated attack by Western intelligence and security agencies to destroy key elements of its nuclear infrastructure.
Recent explosions have added to the growing sense of paranoia within Iran, with the regime fearing it will be the target of a surprise military strike by Israel or the US.
Now, I realize the Telegraph and Fox News have their particular bias…but the story from FARS shows that relations between Israel, Iran and the US are getting more heated.
Of course, I have not mentioned the recent attack on the British Embassy in Iran. It all just makes me very uncomfortable…and also at the heart of all this mess…is oil. Iran, Facing New Sanctions, Warns of Oil at $250 a Barrel – NYTimes.com
Alarmed by the possibility of new Western penalties that could abruptly reduce or even halt its oil exports, Iran issued a warning on Monday that crude oil prices could more than double to $250 a barrel if such sanctions were given serious consideration.
The warning, issued by the Foreign Ministry, appeared to be part of an attempt by Iran to intimidate its adversaries as tensions grow. Western nations stepped up their efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically after mobs stormed and vandalized Britain’s diplomatic facilities in Tehran less than a week ago, evoking stark images of the United States Embassy takeover after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The assault was widely criticized, even by some of Iran’s friends.
The price of oil today did not “jump” because of this threat…there was little change in trading today.
Iran is the third-largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Its biggest customers —China, the European Union, India, Japan, and South Korea — together account for two-thirds of total Iranian oil exports, according to an analysis published by the Energy Information Administration in the United States. Reduced orders from just one of those customers could be disruptive for Iran, where the economy is already suffering from the accumulated effects of other sanctions.
After the assault on the British Embassy, European Union ministers said they would give serious consideration to an oil embargo at a meeting in January, and the United States Senate voted 100 to 0 for legislation that would penalize any foreign bank that does business with Iran’s central bank.
The Senate measure, meant to use access to the United States market as leverage in isolating Iran, is not yet law and could be modified. But analysts said that such a measure, if enforced, could wreak havoc on Iran’s oil industry, because the central bank is the main conduit for receipts from oil sales.
“At some point, sanctions become an act of war,” said Vali Nasr, a professor at Tufts University and an expert on Iranian affairs. “If you cut Iran out of the oil market, this is no longer economic pressure.”
What do you all think? It is making me a little nervous. With tensions escalating in Pakistan, and the Afghani president talking about resurgence of the Taliban…
The United States is vacating an air base in Pakistan at Islamabad’s request following a NATO attack that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers.
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told Pakistan’s Waqt TV on Monday that the United States is leaving Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan Province southwest of Quetta. U.S. drones have taken off from the base and refueled there for operations against Islamic militants, according to sources familiar with U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.
The order to clear out of the base comes in the aftermath of a November 26 incident in which a NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani troops.
The Taliban could make a comeback and take over Afghanistan again, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned on Monday at the Bonn Conference. “If we lose this fight, we are threatened with a return to a situation like that before Sept 11, 2001,” Karzai said.
There has been progress in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in the wake of the hijacked plane attacks on the United States, he said. But, he warned: “Our shared goal of a stable, self-reliant Afghanistan is far from being achieved”.
Seems like all the “alert” messages are being sent.
And what does the US Main Stream Media have to say about all this drone business…Don’t worry…the drone fell to earth from such a high altitude…it must be in little, tiny pieces…so Iran can’t get much insight or information from that. Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry – CBS News
“This is a high-flying unmanned aircraft that malfunctioned and then fell to earth. It’s likely to be broken up into hundreds of pieces.”
“Are we going to stop flying them? No. Was it a secret we were flying them? No,” said Pike. “Did Iran shoot it down? Probably not. Because Iranian air defenses are not very good, and it is a good stealth vehicle. And did Iranian hackers hack into it and bring it down? No. It’s just too hard to do.”
So say the “experts.”
This is a serious situation, and I worry it will be just another reason to step up the US military presence in the region, especially now that we are winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2012 election is also in the back of my mind…the timing seems to be one of the key coincidences in all this. We also have the triggered spending cuts that should be cutting into the military budget, so again my thoughts go back to the timing.
Timing is everything.
The European Union and its growing money troubles, austerity and cut backs…the US Economy and the corruption of back room secret deals…people are going to need something to make them forget the elected (and not elected) people and corporations that got us into this mess.
But what do I know, I am just someone who lives in a small town in the American South. I see all the things going on in the world from my laptop…things that I know are wrong or corrupt or manipulated to get the planned responses. Whether it be a rise in fear, so that more military spending is accepted, or the planned trillion dollars in bailouts, both public and secret, that “pay off” all those fat cat campaign contributors….or the possible terrorist attacks that bring about the acceptance of security measures so that more 85-year-old grandmothers can be striped search. (Yes, that now brings the total to three old women getting stripped searched at the same JFK terminal.)
Every day I feel more and more dejected and despondent and depressed. What makes it even worse is the feeling of abandonment from politicians and elected officials that are supposed to act in our best interest…like sheep being led to slaughter, we are just wandering down the turnstiles and being directed which ever way the controlling class and media want us to move.
I wish I could have a better post for you tonight, that link Quixote sent was a good one, and I fear that I did not do it justice.
I’m just a silent sheep in Banjoland, no expert in foreign policy or military matters…and Iran and Israel are half a world away…but from the screen of my laptop, I see the problem growing…and I see all the ways it can be manipulated and used for other people’s advantage, and that makes me a little more concerned for what is coming…and my fear is that it will be something big.
Posted: October 24, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, Africa, Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, DR Congo, Economic Develpment, Economy, financial institutions, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, immigration, jobs, Kenya, legislation, Libya, MENA, Nigeria, open thread, Patriot Act, Politics as Usual, Republican presidential politics, Somalia, U.S. Politics, Women's Rights | Tags: Bluegrass music, Maxine Waters, Silk Road
Mama bird protecting her kids...
Good Evening Y’all!
Hey, I have some links for you tonight, to make up for the lame evening reads post earlier today.
The first link is something from last week, and I completely missed it. H/T to Taylor Marsh: President Obama learns perils of roiling Maxine Waters – Joseph Williams – POLITICO.com
Obama responded in a high-profile speech urging black lawmakers to “stop grumbling”and fight alongside him. Waters responded with five TV hits in one day, delivering a blunt message: “I don’t know who he was talking to.”
Administration officials called Waters’s office to complain, discounted her as a perennial malcontent, and reminded reporters that Obama’s speech, which laid out accomplishments like tax credits for working families and protections from predatory lenders, drew a standing ovation from the majority-black audience. At the same time, White House surrogate Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, publicly took Waters to task for being too hard on Obama.
Yeah the Obama admin called Waters…but Obama has never personally talked to Waters. (Can you believe it?)
Her aides say Obama, however, has not personally reached out to the congresswoman since taking office. The president’s distaste for the flesh-pressing aspect of politics that Waters is used to, is well known.
“I don’t have a relationship with the White House,” Water said, quickly adding that the president is cordial to her when they meet at a ceremony or reception. Still, “I’ve never had a conversation with the president.”
WTF? That is ridiculous. It’s been almost a day since I saw this article and it still bothers me!
The article ends with an assumption that Waters will suck it up and do whatever she can to ensure Obama gets re-elected. I’m not so sure she will break her neck getting out there like some barker for a Obama 2nd term carousel. What do you all think?
Let’s get to some global news…In Libya, the new government is promising strict adherence to Islamic law. One of the current laws they are overturning from Gaddafi’s rule regards the ban on polygamy.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the NTC…attempted to reassure the NTC’s Western backers that the country would be a “moderate” Muslim nation, amid concern over its plans to introduce Islamic law. He appeared to soften his position less than 24 hours after using the liberation ceremony to declare that Sharia law would be the basis of all legislation.
His attempt at conciliation hinted at the difficulty the NTC is having in balancing the demands of secularists and influential Islamist factions who played a strong role in the uprising.
France and the EU warned the NTC to respect human rights after Mr Jalil’s speech on Sunday in which he singled out a ban on polygamy as legislation which would have to be swept aside.
Yup, get rid of the ban on polygamy…way to move forward there. I guess the Arab Spring is not for all Arabs…particularly the female kind.
So far the Obama Administration is staying silent on the direction the NTC in Libya is heading…Let’s see if Hillary Clinton will make any statements about the future of Libyan women’s rights.
In Kenya, some recent violence seems to stem from the Kenyan military action into Somalia targeting the terrorist group al-Shabab. Two Explosions in Kenya’s Capital; 1 Dead
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has been rocked by two explosions in crowded downtown areas that have killed one person and wounded more than 20 others.
Officials say someone hurled a grenade Monday evening at a Nairobi bus stop. One person died and eight others were rushed to the hospital after the attack.
Earlier Monday, an unidentified assailant threw a grenade into a downtown Nairobi bar, wounding at least 13 people.
Police are investigating both attacks, which followed warnings from the Somali militant group al-Shabab that it would launch attacks inside Kenya.
There is some very disturbing reports about teenagers raping old women out of Nigeria, and the mass rapes of the Congo-Kinishasa are continuing to make news in the African Press.
You can read more at the All Africa website: allAfrica.com: Sustainable Africa: Women and Gender
The Occupy protest is causing Faux news to take it to another level…as if they could go any lower. Fox & Friends: Protesting Mom ‘More Disgusting Than Any of the Filth Down on Wall Street’ | Video Cafe
The Fox & Friends kids’ reaction to the Stacey Hessler story was the same sort of predictable nonsense you’d expect from people paid primarily to get outraged over the latest liberal/marxist attack on America. The weekend edition though just might be outdoing their weekday counterparts in hysteria.
According to them, Hessler is (a) an unfit mother of four young kids for leaving them behind in Florida as she lives on the street in Manhattan; (b) who probably wasn’t ‘putting out’ for her banker husband anyway (hmm…oh, nevermind); and is now (c) shacked up with some young waiter from Brooklyn.
Get a load of the load of B.S., just check out the link for the video, there is also a transcript of the banter between the weekend version of Fox & Friends.
Rachel Maddow has the picture below featured in one of her blog’s post…
This sign — and commentary — is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan’s East Village. Maybe it’s time we did something about the economy.
This week marks 10 years since the PATRIOT Act was signed into law…and now there is a new proposed change in the Freedom of Information Act. Rule Change Would Allow Government to Lie About Whether Records Exist
A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist—even when they do.
Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.
The new proposal—part of a lengthy rule revisionby the Department of Justice—would direct government agencies to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”
Open-government groups object.
No kidding…when we are in an age that is actually considering immunity for banks…what else do you expect.
On to immigration reform…Obama style.
Democrats consider new immigration reform push
Democratic sources tell CNN that it’s likely that Democrats on Capitol Hill –with the approval of the White House– will re-introduce some form of immigration reform, possibly as early as December. At this point, the details of any plan are unclear. But what is clear is that Democrats are interested in using their version of reform as a “contrast issue” to Republicans, who largely emphasize border security.
Sources say there are ongoing discussions among Democrats ranging from re-introducing comprehensive reform to bringing up the Dream Act again, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military to become citizens. The Dream Act was defeated last year.
Another possibility being considered is to combine a tough border security plan introduced by Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl with a form of the Dream Act. “Nothing has been decided,” says one Senate Democratic leadership aide. But, he adds, “there’s a lot of interest.”
Well, let’s see what comes of this new immigration reform, considering Obama’s administration has had a record number of deportations…three years in a row…I am sure it will be something to appease and insure Obama gets the Latino vote.
Obama has a way to go to get approval from Latino voters, check out the civil right statements being made in Alabama…Civil rights groups charge Obama with hypocrisy over Alabama immigration law
The Obama administration is facing charges of hypocrisy for fighting a controversial Alabama immigration law while using the measure to arrest and deport illegal immigrants in the state.
Civil rights and Latino advocacy groups laud the Justice Department’s (DOJ) lawsuit challenging Alabama over its newly enacted immigration law, which allows state law enforcement officials to require suspected criminals to show proof of their immigration status.
But the groups blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) continued use in Alabama of the Secure Communities program, which transmits the immigration status records of people arrested in the state to federal authorities. The new state law subjects the Latino community to racial profiling and the Secure Communities program places illegal immigrants who are arrested in line to be deported by DHS, the groups said.
“You have two agencies that are pursuing courses that are inconsistent with each other,” said Joanne Lin, a legislative council for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in an interview.
When you read this post about the hypocrisy…of do as I say, not as I do…this next article about a speech Attorney General Holder gave at a memorial for civil rights advocate Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who passed away earlier this month, is kind of ironic…in a pathetic way. Holder: Alabama ignoring its past
Attorney General Eric Holder says too many in Alabama “are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past.”
Referring to Alabama’s recently enacted immigration law, Holder told the audience gathered at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday that he “was not going to let that happen.”
And then you have the bat-shit crazy electrified fence idea from the GOP idiot de jour, Herman Cain…but what about the GOP stance on immigration as a whole:
Why Republican Candidates Skirt the Real Immigration Issue
If you’re a restrictionist (personally, I’d like to see more folks allowed to come here legally), the test to gauge whether Republicans are actually intent on substantially decreasing illegal immigration, or just pandering, should be their position on workplace enforcement. It’s common to hear them decry birthright citizenship and in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants as “magnets” that exacerbate unlawful border crossings. But jobs are the draw that ultimately matters. GOP candidates benefit from obscuring that reality, because they are determined to win the support of the business community, which is understandably averse to increased workplace enforcement. It would disrupt many industries, impose extra human resources costs on companies wary of breaking the law, and result in fines and other penalties for lawbreaking companies.
Thus the awful status quo wherein someone can rise to temporary front-runner status in a GOP primary joking about the death by electrocution of Mexicans, but wouldn’t dare to joke about arresting CEOs who deliberately hire illegal immigrants or prosecuting upper-middle-class homeowners who do the same. At GOP fundraisers, bad ideas like that are no laughing matter. Unlike restrictionists, I don’t think illegal immigrants who are employed and law-abiding are hurting America so much as contributing to it, so until they’re made citizens, which I’d like to see happen, I’d rather focus enforcement efforts on human smugglers, gang members, and other criminals. Another option would be to grant amnesty to any illegal immigrant who came forward to show that he’d been hired sans documents, fine his employer, and give him a green card. That would end the hiring of undocumented labor quickly, but is totally politically unrealistic.
I think Conor Friedersdorf makes some valid points. I agree with making legal immigration more accessible, and the unrealistic option about granting amnesty to immigrants that have been hired by American employers seems like a good idea to me.
Alright, I have a few cool links to end this post. The world’s population is supposed to hit 7 billion soon…
How big was the world’s population when you were born?
The Guardian has this cool thing at the link above, you type in the date you were born and poof, it gives you a bit of statistical info…check it out.
Over a MoJo there is an article about Bluegrass Music and Chinese Folk songs, which I thought went kind of well with Boston Boomers post last night. Abigail Washburn Brings Bluegrass to the Silk Road
And lastly to connect you with the real Silk Road…I found this cool group of pictures from a carnival round up on the blog She-Wolf: Welcome to the Medieval Carnival!
It’s my pleasure to host this month’s edition of Carnivalesque, showcasing the best in recent blogging on ancient and medieval history.
There are lots of cool links at She-Wolf’s carnival, but this last one is fantastic.
I thought this Flickr collection was worth a mention. Juliana Lees has been collecting images of pre-1200 Eastern textiles found in Western churches and cathedrals, with a particular interest in Silk Road influences.
Ancient textiles from the East in Western churches and museums –
Ancient textiles from the East have often been conserved in Western churches and cathedrals. They were sometimes used as shrouds and subsequently venerated as holy relics, the source of lucrative pilgrimages. They were also brought back from the East by crusaders and pilgrims, or given to established abbeys and cathedrals by great lords and princes. Some of these Sassanian, Byzantine, Egyptian and Moorish textiles are still in religious edifices, in their treasuries or episcopal museums. Others can be found in museums all over the world. There is no doubt that they have been of the greatest importance in disseminating the styles and cultural influences of the Silk Routes into Western Europe and many motifs familiar to us on Romanesque capitals and artefacts have their origin in the imported silks and especially the Sassanian images.
Well, that should be more than enough for you all to ponder.
I’ll leave you all with a song that has been in my head all day…have a great evening!
Posted: October 23, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, Africa, anonymous, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Health care reform, health hazard, immigration, income inequality, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, MENA, morning reads, racism, Republican politics, Republican presidential politics, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, toxic waste, U.S. Politics | Tags: #OWS, Alabama, Algae, australia, food stamps, Great White Sharks, hate crimes, Jeff Sessions, Lake Erie, Michele Bachmann, Mississippi, SNAP
We write these morning posts the night before, and I am writing this one watching the Wisconsin v Michigan State…its a good game…at least no blow out! (Wow, the last few seconds of the game were something to see. Michigan pulled a Hail Mary and Wisconsin deflected the pass in the end zone right into the hands of a Michigan player who fought his way to a touchdown.)
There is a green menace attacking Lake Erie…it’s toxic but not radioactive…and there is a gray monster on the prowl in Australia. More on this at the end, think of it as your morning terror tease.
I’m going to stick with the US for a bit, and then hit the world news.
Occupy is taking up residence in a new location. This time in a swank Connecticut neighborhood, specifically on the front lawn of GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s house. Which I think is fabulous!
It seems that Occupy is getting threats from all sides. Susie Madrak had a post on her blog about Anonymous taking down a servers of a company that hosts an underground child pornography site. Looks like there is some trash talk going on, threats are being made and references to NYPD beating some Occupy ass…Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » No good deed goes unpunished Give that link a click if you want to read the instant messages between Anonymous and the Lolita kiddie porn site.
When a foreign press outlet is praising a politician from the US, it makes you wonder why our own US media hasn’t picked up on it. On Friday, the Guardian ran a story about Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders: America’s No1 socialist makes his move into the mainstream
Bernie Sanders sits in his Senate office and reflects on another unexpected twist in his already unusual political life. As the only self-proclaimed socialist to sit in the US Congress, Sanders is long used to surviving in the political wilderness. But Sanders is now having to get used to a different environment altogether: the mainstream.
His constant slamming of Wall Street, his critiques of big business and the excesses of money in politics, as well as his call for a defence of American jobs, have become hot issues in US politics. The senator from Vermont is now a regular on American TV screens and rapidly becoming a fixture of US politics and a hero to many on the left.
The white-haired and irascible Sanders, 70, who is famed for his blunt outspokenness, almost became bashful at the thought that his exile from the mainstream appears to be ending.
It’s about damn time too!
“It’s, you know, nice to know that positions you have been advocating for years are now getting out to Main Street, and that millions of people are beginning to say: enough is enough,” he told the Guardian.
Is this, at last, his political moment? “Yeah, it is,” he said, and then he details why, in a typically long, passionate, Sanders-style explosion of stream-of-consciousness explanation.
“If you were to speak to any audience in America and you say: there’s something wrong with our system when the crooks on Wall Street, through their recklessness and criminal behaviour, are able to cause a recession, which has resulted in so much suffering to people, and then they get bailed out by the American people and then three years later end up making more money than they ever have before: people go nuts!”
He pauses for breath to think about the situation. “The short answer to
your question is: ‘Yes’,” he says.
Give the rest of the article a read, Sanders has been doing interviews quite a lot lately, and he is making sense. Maybe people are starting to take notice.
Help my memory a bit, cause this next link seems like deja vu. Bachmann on the Spot In Iowa Michele Bachmann was talking to a group of people at a town hall and took a question from a woman who had no health insurance…and the answer sounds like something Ron Paul and Santorum and one of the other GOP bozo candidates has said recently.
“My son is 22 and he’s on an expanded Medicaid program that’s under Obamacare,” the woman said to Bachmann. “You often talk about stopping Obamacare. I want to know what you’re going to do . . . I can’t afford $1,000 a month.”
The woman shook her head and looked annoyed as the 55-year-old Minnesota congresswoman recalled her parents paying $5 when she visited the doctor as a child in Iowa. She blamed federal government intervention for raising prices, and contended that increasing competition among insurance companies and reining in medical malpractice costs will help make health insurance more affordable. She also suggested private charity as an option.
“We will always have people in this country through hardship, through no fault of their own, who won’t be able to afford health care,” Bachmann said. “That’s just the way it is. But usually what we have are charitable organizations or hospitals, who have enough left over so that they can pick up the cost for the indigent who can’t afford it. But what we have to do is be a profitable nation that’s growing, so that we can pay for those people who can’t afford it through no fault of their own. Once Obamacare is gone, this is what we have to do.”
Oh yeah, private charity…these GOP asshats are so quick to suggest begging for help…just as fast as they are in denouncing poor people in need who are on government assistance.
Another example of this crap can be seen in the latest from Senator Jeff Sessions…Sen. Jeff Sessions Tries To Cut Food Stamp Funding
Senator Jeff Sessions is very, very, very worried about fraud, waste and abuse within the Federal food stamp program (SNAP). So worried he has introduced an amendment to cut funds to the program because he’s certain there are just a bunch of poor deadbeats out there taking advantage of the Feds’ largesse.
The press release from his office on Friday says it all:
Consider the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP”—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is the largest item in Agriculture Department’s budget. Spending on food stamps has surged over the last decade. It’s nearly doubled since President Obama took office. And in the appropriations bill before us this week, Senate Democrats propose another increase that would quadruple food stamp spending from what it was in 2001.
Eleven million more Americans are on food stamps now than when President Obama first took office. The size of the benefit has increased 31 percent since 2008. When the food stamp program was expanded nationally in the 1970s, food stamps were used by 2 percent of the population. At the beginning of the last decade, they were used by 6 percent of the population. Today that figure has risen to 13 percent—one in eight Americans. This seven-fold increase in food stamp usage demands honest examination.
It’s time to look under the hood.
You can take a look at the rest of the press release at that link above…what an ass, I can’t stand these people. They have absolutely no good will towards their fellow man…hmmm, I can hear Sessions now…jabbering about workhouses and decreases in the surplus population.
Alright, I’m doing it again…by that I mean writing about Alabama and the anti-immigration law. This time let’s look at what ripple reaction this law is creating when it comes to white kids bullying Hispanic children. After Alabama law, Hispanic kids being bullied
Spanish-speaking parents say their children are facing more bullying and taunts at school since Alabama’s tough crackdown on illegal immigration took effect last month. Many blame the name-calling on fallout from the law, which has been widely covered in the news, discussed in some classrooms and debated around dinner tables.
Justice Department officials are monitoring for bullying incidents linked to the law.
“We’re hearing a number of reports about increases in bullying that we’re studying,” the head of the agency’s civil rights division, Thomas Perez, said during a stop in Birmingham.
The article talks about a group of kids playing basketball.
It was just another schoolyard basketball game until a group of Hispanic seventh-graders defeated a group of boys from Alabama.
The reaction was immediate, according to the Mexican mother of one of the winners, and rooted in the state’s new law on illegal immigration.
“They told them, `You shouldn’t be winning. You should go back to Mexico,”‘ said the woman, who spoke through a translator last week and didn’t want her name used. She and her son are in the country illegally.
As if these kids don’t have enough to worry about. Now they have to deal with the additional hate this law is bringing towards the Hispanics in the state.
But hate is not a new problem in the deep south, as this next disturbing article from CNN shows us. Teen murder suspect carried ‘backpack of hatred’
Editor’s note: This story contains language that some readers may consider offensive. For more on this story, watch “Mississippi Still Burning?” on CNN Presents, Sunday, October 23, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.
To get to Brandon, you have to drive across the Pearl River, a boundary that seems to separate black Mississippi from white.
In the town’s center, a monument stands honoring the confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
This mostly white town in mostly white Rankin County is about a 30-minute drive from Jackson, Mississippi. It’s here in Brandon that some residents say a gang of teenagers expressed their strong racial prejudice — sometimes through violence.
These residents say the teens were friends with and often led by Deryl Dedmon, now 19 and facing capital murder and hate crime charges for the killing of James Anderson, a black man, who died after he was beaten and run over by a truck in Jackson, according to police. Dedmon has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has refused to answer CNN’s repeated requests for comment.
Another teen, John Aaron Rice, was charged with simple assault. He has not entered a plea. The other five teens who were there have not been arrested or charged, though officials say they may still be indicted .
I urge you to read the entire article, because it touches on the extreme hate these young men have towards blacks, and their lack of conscience when it comes to their killing of James Anderson. A killing that was caught on surveillance cameras.
“They were looking for black people. They were looking for a black person to assault,” said Mississippi’s Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.
Shortly after he allegedly drove the truck over Anderson, Dedmon boasted and laughed about the killing, according to testimony given by some of the teens to detectives.
“I ran that nigger over,” Dedmon allegedly said in a phone conversation to the teens in the other car. He repeated the racial language in subsequent conversations, according to the law enforcement officials.
“He was not remorseful, he was laughing, laughing about the killing,” said Smith.
The local police do not seem too concerned, as one of the teenage witnesses says,
“I’ve even heard it out of some of the police officers’ mouths,” he said. “This is their statement: ‘Well, Deryl was a good kid. He just made one bad mistake.”
Yeah, he got caught.
Alright, that is it for the US, let’s go global…
The fighting in Kenya is getting more complicated. We’ve seen the abduction of tourist and aid workers, now the possibility of more targeted violence on foreigners is giving the US Embassy reason to issue a warning. U.S. Embassy in Kenya warns citizens of ‘imminent threat’
The U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned American citizens Saturday of an “imminent threat of terrorist attacks” after Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue suspected Islamic militants from Al-Shabaab.
Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua told CNN about the advance this week, which marks a dramatic shift in security tactics for the east African powerhouse.
“This is to inform U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Kenya that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya has received credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs,” the U.S. Embassy said in an emergency message.
It looks like other Eastern African nations are backing Kenya’s offensive in Somolia.
African Union peacekeepers are seen in the Deynile district of the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, October 20, 2011.
The six-nation east African regional group the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has pledged full support for Kenya’s military offensive against al-Qaeda linked militants in southern Somalia. Other countries in the region are considering joining the effort as the militants appear to be losing their grip on the famine-stricken Somali countryside.
Reports are coming in that suggest Kenyan soldiers are making their way toward the rebel held port of Kismayo.
IGAD held an extraordinary ministerial level meeting Friday, five days after Kenya launched an offensive against al-Shabab. More than two battalions of Kenyan troops backed by air power streamed into southern Somalia after Shabab rebels were blamed for a series of kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers.
A communiqué issued after the brief meeting in the Ethiopian capital welcomes Kenya’s move to scale up security operations.
In other Africa news, Liberian Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been declared the most powerful women in Africa by Forbes Magazine.
As if winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize wasn’t enough, Forbes Magazine, one of the most influential business publications in the United States, has, in its maiden Africa issue, honored President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia by naming her the most powerful woman on the African continent, among 20 women listed.
According to the first issue of Forbes Africa Magazine, which went on sale October 1, President Sirleaf tops the list of most powerful African women, with Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda in second and third place, respectively. The list includes 11 women from South Africa alone.
The run off election will be held in November, I hope Sirleaf keeps her position as president. We’ll keep you posted as Liberia moves towards that run off vote.
Boston Boomer mentioned Cannonfire’s take on the “convenient” death of Gaddafi in her Saturday morning post. I want to bring your attention to this post over at Emptywheel. The OTHER Saudi Assassination Plotter Got a Reduced Sentence in July
This post from Cannonfire reminded me how convenient for our country it is that Moammar Qaddafi was executed rather than captured alive and tried: he will not be able to tell anyone, now that he’s dead, how Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who under torture provided one of the casus belli for the Iraq war, came to be suicided in a Libyan prison just as Americans started focusing on torture in 2009.
That, plus the death of the Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, made me think of another plot Qaddafi brings to his grave: that he had purportedly arranged to assassinate then Crown Prince now King Abdullah. The evidence to support that plot mostly came from Abdulrahman Alamoudi, a prominent American Muslim who was arrested in 2003 on charges he violated trade sanctions against Libya.
Anyway, thinking about the similarities between that case and the Scary Iran Plot led me to consult Alamoudi’s docket (most of which is not available online). What happens to a guy convicted in connection with plotting with a nasty African dictator as we launch the war to finally kill that dictator?
Well, it turns out that at about the time it was clear we’d stick around to ensure Qaddafi died in this kinetic action, a sealed document got filed in Alamoudi’s case. And, on July 20, 2011, Alamoudi got about 30% knocked off his sentence, from 276 months to 197.
Hmmmm, interesting indeed…I’m sure Gaddafi took some big ass secrets with him to hell…and it wouldn’t surprise me if a bunch of “cleaners” from the CIA are working to make sure those secrets don’t come out.
There is an interesting article cited over at History News Network, some of you may want to click over there and check it out: Yoani Sanchez: The Deaths of Dictators: Neither History Nor Their People Will Ever Absolve Them
Ceausescu was in his helicopter, Saddam Hussein was hiding in a hole, Tunisia’s Ben Ali fled into exile, Gaddafi fled in a convoy and ended up hiding in a drainpipe. The autocrats escape, they leave, they don’t sacrifice themselves in the palaces from which they dictated their arbitrary laws; they do not die seated in the presidential chairs with a red sash across their chests. They always have a hidden door, a secret passage through which they can scurry away when they sense danger. Over decades they build their secret bunkers, their protected “ground zeros” or their underground refuges, because they fear that the same people who applaud them in the plazas can come for them when they lose their fear. In the nightmares of the dictators, the demons are their own subjects, the abyss takes the form of mobs who want to bring down their statues, spit on their photos. These despotic gentlemen sleep lightly, alert to the cries, the hammering on the door… they live with premonitions, often of their deaths.
I would have liked to see Muammar Gaddafi before a court, indicted for the crimes he committed against his country. I think the violent deaths of the satraps only gives them an aura of martyrdom they do not deserve. They must be left alive to hear the public testimony of their victims, to see their countries move forward without the hindrance they represented, and to observe the fickleness of the opportunists who once supported them. They must survive to witness the dismantling of the false history they rewrote, to see how the new generations begin to forget them, and to hear the diatribes, the scorn, the fiercest criticism. To lynch a despot is to save him, to offer him an almost glorious way out that spares him the lasting punishment of being judged before the law.
It’s a good piece, check it out.
Yay, it is now time for the links to your morning terror tease.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: View from space: Toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie | Water | EarthSky Yuk…check out the green sludge that can be seen from space.
The green plumes shown in these images is the worst algae bloom North America’s Lake Erie has experienced in decades. The bloom is primarily microcystis aeruginosa, an algae that is toxic to mammals, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. These images were acquired by the The Landsat-5 satellite in early October, 2011. The reasons for this year’s giant bloom are complex, say scientists, but might be related to a rainy spring and invasive mussels.
The Landsat-5 satellite acquired the top image on October 5, 2011. Vibrant green filaments extend out from the northern shore. Several days of calm winds and warm temperatures allowed the algae to gather on the surface. The bloom intensified after October 5, and by October 9—when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite acquired the lower image—the bloom covered much of the western basin.
Algae blooms were common in the lake’s shallow western basin in the 1950s and 60s. Phosphorus from farms, sewage, and industry fertilized the waters so that huge algae blooms developed year after year. The blooms subsided a bit starting in the 1970s, when regulations and improvements in agriculture and sewage treatment limited the amount of phosphorus that reached the lake.
Microcystis aeruginosa produces a liver toxin, microcystin, that commonly kills dogs swimming in infected water and causes skin irritation for people. Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, measured 50 times more microcystin in Lake Erie in the summer of 2011 than the World Health Organization recommends for safe recreation.
Ewww…taking a dip in that lake…makes me sick just thinking about it. One thing though…who would go swimming in Lake Erie in the first place? Isn’t it one of the most polluted bodies of water within the US? Didn’t catch on fire back in the day because of all the chemicals dumped in the water?
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Just a note, it ain’t that easy…check out this image…
Great white sharks are a protected species in Australia. Photograph: Brandon Cole
I was planning on using the Guardian article that picture is from but there has been a third fatality since that article was published Saturday morning. Diver killed by great white in third fatal attack in weeks
A great white shark killed an American diver yesterday in the third fatal shark attack in recent weeks off the coast of Western Australia.
The state government has promised to hunt the killer and is considering more aircraft surveillance off west-coast beaches. Australia averages fewer than two fatal shark attacks a year.
Truly frightening stuff…talk about needing a bigger boat!
Well that is it for your Sunday Morning Reads, catch y’all later in the comments!
Posted: October 9, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, abortion rights, Afghanistan, American Jobs Act, Baby Boomers, Barack Obama, China, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MENA, morning reads, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, Russia, Syria | Tags: evolution, Madeleine Albright
Good morning, it is a beautiful fall day here in Banjoland…we have a lot to get to, because there is so much going on in the news.
A few things first, things are still hot over in Libya, the rebel forces claim to have taken control of some key locations in Gaddafi’s hometown. In Syria, Washington Post is reporting Iraq is siding with Iran by offering financial support to Assad’s regime. They have hosted official visits with Syrians to build business relations and offer political support.
I don’t know why this is such a surprise to the US, it seems like a good way to put the screws on the Obama Administration…and assert their own government control, by joining Iran in support of Assad. Lets just wait and see, this is going to build and give Obama a reason to stay in Iraq a bit longer.
In other Syrian news, this past week the UN Security Council had a rare double veto, With United Nations Veto, Russia and China Help Syria
By vetoing a Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its oppression of antigovernment forces, Russia and China effectively tossed a life preserver to President Bashar al-Assad, seemingly unwilling to see a pivotal ally and once stalwart member of the socialist bloc sink beneath the waves of the Arab Spring.
Russia enjoys military and commercial deals with Syria worth billions of dollars annually, plus its alliance and only reliable Arab friend give it an entree into the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. In addition, Moscow maintains perks left over from its superpower days, for instance, a naval base at Tartus, Syria, that accommodates visits by warships like Peter the Great, a nuclear-powered missile cruiser, during its Mediterranean jaunts.
China worries that the reverberations from falling Arab despots will inspire civil disobedience at home.
But beyond those concerns, and a stated interest in averting violent change in Syria, China and Russia are also increasingly allied in shutting down what they see as Western efforts to use sanctions and other economic measures to put the United Nations seal of approval on Western-friendly regime change.
Hillary Clinton had some harsh words for Russia and China, Clinton says U.N. Security Council failed Syria
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the U.N. Security Council failed its duty by not passing a resolution on Syria and said Russia and China would have to explain their vetoes to the Syrian people.
“We believe the Security Council abrogated its responsibility yesterday,” Clinton told reporters, saying the measure vetoed by Russia and China represented the “bare minimum” of what the international community should do in response to the bloody crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The countries that chose to veto the resolution will have to offer their own explanations to the Syrian people, and to all others who are fighting for freedom and human rights around the world,” Clinton said in the Dominican Republic, where she was on an official visit.
This past week also marked the tenth anniversary of the War in Afghanistan. Some of the #Occupy protesters marked this decade of war…Atlanta’s Occupy was one of the cities that timed their protest to correspond with the anniversary. Group begins Day Two of ‘Occupy Atlanta’
On Friday, several hundred members of the group rallied in the park to protest, among a number of topics, corporate greed and the war in Afghanistan. By early Saturday, a few dozen milled about the park enjoying the warm sunshine and cups of coffee.
The protests are timed for the 10th anniversary for the war in Afghanistan and patterned after an Occupy group that has been encamped in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan since mid-September.
Anti-war protests in Washington DC forced the closure of the Air and Space Museum. Some of our Banjoville 8th graders are on a field trip this weekend in DC…I hope this did not affect their planned trip to the museums. Stop the Machine Protest Closes National Air and Space Museum
A spokesman for the Smithsonian, John Gibbons, said a large group of demonstrators, estimated at 100 to 200 people, arrived at about 3 p.m. and tried to enter the museum. When a security guard stopped the group from entering, saying they could not bring in signs, the demonstrators apparently held him, Mr. Gibbons said. A second guard arrived and used pepper spray on at least one person, and the crowd dispersed.
A number of groups have been demonstrating in the city in the past week. The group at the museum Saturday included people affiliated with the October 2011 Stop the Machine demonstration, which has been taking place in Freedom Plaza in protest of war and what the group calls corporate greed. It also included protesters affiliated with Occupy D.C., which is modeled on Occupy Wall Street in New York.
The group was protesting a drone exhibit at the museum. #Occupy protest are getting some notice in the foreign press, Guardian has a reporter in Seattle covering the protest there. Occupy America: protests against Wall Street and inequality hit 70 cities | World news | The Observer
Garth Carroll, who calls himself Professor Gizmo, wears the American flag as he demonstrates at Occupy Seattle at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, Washington. Photograph: Marcus Donner/REUTERS
The Wall Street protests against economic inequality and corporate greed that targeted the nerve centre of American capitalism are no longer merely a New York phenomenon. This weekend, from Seattle and Los Angeles on the west coast to Providence, Rhode Island, and Tampa, Florida, on the east, as many as 70 major cities and more than 600 communities have joined the swelling wave of civil dissent. The slogan “Occupy Wall Street” has been suitably abbreviated to a single word: “Occupy”
This article focuses on some of the older people joining the young college students.
“This could be the tipping point,” said Dick Steinkamp, 63, a retired Silicon Valley executive at the Occupy Seattle protest being held in the heart of the city’s shopping and restaurant district . He and his wife had driven two hours from their home in Bellingham, north of Seattle, specifically to join the rally and give it support from more conventional professionals.
“I marched against the Vietnam war before I was drafted into the army and this movement is now getting towards that critical mass,” he said.
One of the favourite messages of the protesters is that almost 40% of US wealth is held in the hands of 1% of the population, who are taxed more lightly than the majority of Americans. Steinkamp was holding a sign saying “I am the 99%”. And there is widespread anger that ordinary people have born the brunt of the financial crisis with dire job losses and house repossessions.
“I came here because I wanted to show it wasn’t just young anarchists,” said Deb Steinkamp, also 63 and a retired marriage counsellor, wearing a green cagoule and sensible shoes against the damp, chilly Seattle weather.
Sensible…hmm, not fashionable. I guess Deb has reach the age where sensibility outweighs cool hip and chic style.
The protest is also getting the notice of some powerful people in Washington… Pelosi Supports Occupy Wall Street Movement
House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she supports the growing nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement, which began on the streets of downtown New York City in mid-September.
“I support the message to the establishment, whether it’s Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen,” said Pelosi in an exclusive interview with ABC News “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. “We cannot continue in a way this is not relevant to their lives.”
Pelosi said she sees the protestors’ anger stemming from unemployment, which remains pinned at 9%. Pelosi added that the failure of TARP, or commonly known as the bank bailout, to add liquidity to the Main Street marketplace is fueling Americans’ animosity towards Wall Street.
“The thought was that when we did that [pass TARP], there would be capital available and Main Street would benefit from the resources that went largely to Wall Street,” said Pelosi. “That didn’t happen. People are angry.”
Wait…isn’t Pelosi part of that 1%? That quote about TARP, it bothers me for some reason. The to small to succeed stimulus that was just the right amount to bail out the banks that were too big to fail. Oh yeah…that any of that cash was going to trickle down to main street was such a pile of stinking bovine excrement.
“We’ve needed jobs for a while,” Pelosi added. “What he [the President] is proposing is job creating. And it’s really important for him to explain what this is about, or at least keep saying it over and over.”
Ugh…I don’t have the will to post more of this article from ABC…just click the link if you want to read the rest of it…I’ve lost respect for Pelosi years ago. Anything she says now is just empty words…Like these:
“Count me among those… who object to the way Congress is conducting itself,” said Pelosi. “We have a responsibility to try to find common ground.”
Moving on to another talking “democrat”…I just want to see Obama do his best impersonation of Rodney Dangerfield, “I get no respect!” Dakinikat had a post last night that you should take a look at. In it she discusses a rather long op/ed in the Washington Post…so here is the link and a bit of her post: The Big Beltway Chill « Sky Dancing
Autumn brings campaigns and the chilly season. This year also seems to be bringing chilly retrospectives on the Obama Presidency. This Presidency has disappointed many. I think there’s finally some introspection going on within the Washington Press Corps as well as the retrospection. They may be wondering how they became so enamored of some one who seems so detached from leadership basics.
People have been leafing through their copies of Confidence Men. I read an article today by Ezra Klein called “Could this time have been different?” Klein almost steps outside of his Beltway Bob mentality. Almost. Klein is still making excuses for how the administration got the economy so wrong even though the tick tock and the economic rationale make sense. Now, politicos will have to read this one from Scott Wilson–the white house correspondent at WAPO–with it’s interesting title: “Obama, the loner president”. It seems the defining campaign moment should’ve have been “Why can’t I just eat my waffle” because Wilson says that’s how the president handles in job.
Just read her post, it is awesome.
A couple of more links for you today, Michele Bachmann is pulling the PLUB card, I guess it is just a “Hail Mary” move to gain more exposure and support from her wacko base. Michele Bachmann Proposes Mandatory Ultrasounds For Women Seeking Abortions
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) proposed a bill on Thursday that would force women in the early stages of pregnancy to have a physically invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before they can legally consent to having an abortion.
The “Heartbeat Informed Consent Act” requires doctors to make the fetal heartbeat visible and audible to the woman prior to the abortion procedure and to describe the ultrasound image to her in detail, even if she prefers not to hear about it. If the woman is between four and five weeks pregnant, the doctor has to perform a “transvaginal ultrasound” in order to hear the heartbeat, which involves a probe and can be physically uncomfortable for the woman.
“It’s similar to a pelvic exam, which can come with discomfort for the woman, and it’s invasive,” said Dr. Nancy Stanwood, an obstetrician and board member of the health advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. “It’s also medically unnecessary. Some politicians might see it as ideologically necessary, but it’s medically unnecessary, so the government telling you that you need to have one sounds ridiculous on many levels.”
She backs up her new bill with highly scientific research from a study done by Focus on the Family…she is so quick to cite various sources that seem to spring from her ass. It is all a show, because in Texas, a similar bill was struck down by a Federal Court. But Bachmann says she doesn’t care if the bill passes or not…she is committed to protecting life, and protecting what ever primary votes she can wrangle by this display of wingnut legislative action.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: This article from earlier in the week caught my attention, Population study suggests we’re still evolving – Technology & science – Science – LiveScience – msnbc.com
Humans, like all other organisms on Earth, are subject to the pressures of evolution. New research suggests that even in relatively modern societies, humans are still changing and evolving in response to the environment.
“Whether humans could or could not evolve in modern times could have interesting implications,” study researcher Emmanuel Milot, of the University of Quebec in Montreal, told LiveScience. It could help us understand changing trends for the different traits of a population.
By studying an island population in Quebec, the researchers found a genetic push toward younger age at first reproduction and larger families. This is the first direct evidence of natural selection in action in a relatively modern human population.
The study used data from 30 families who settled on île aux Coudres, located in the St. Lawrence River outside of Quebec City, between 1720 and 1773. A church on the island held historical records of all births, deaths and marriages on the island, from which researchers were able to build extensive family trees.
The researchers analyzed the data from women who married between 1799 and 1940, comparing their relations, any social, cultural or economic differences, and the age they had their first child.
The researchers found that over a 140-year period, age at first reproduction dropped from 26 to 22, with somewhere between 30 percent and 50 percent of this variation being explained by genetic variation in the population, not by other factors, such as changes in cultures or social attitudes.
“We think, traditionally, that the changes in human population are mainly cultural, which is why a non-genetic hypothesis is given priority over a genetic or evolutionary hypothesis, whether or not there is data to support that,” Milot said. “We have data that we analyzed from the genetic and non-genetic point of view, and we find that the genetic factors are stronger.”
The researchers didn’t look at which genes might have changed over time, but they suggest reasons for the age change could include differences in fertility and how early a woman hits puberty, or even heritable personality traits that would nudge a woman to procreate earlier. These genetic factors would be changing in response to the natural selection for a higher number of kids overall.
“In that particular population, selective pressure seemed pretty constant for the study period,” Milot said. “Maybe it has to do because it has a newly founded population and it was not disadvantageous to have big families.”
The study says that larger families would have been an advantage by increasing the likelihood that one’s genes would carry on.
Seeing natural selection in modern populations is incredibly difficult. Because this population was highly related and relatively cut off from outside populations, the correlation between genetic factors and age at first reproduction was easier to see.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: I have always been fond of Madeleine Albright, in fact one of her quotes is very special to me…“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Anyway, Madeleine Albright’s Famous Pin Collection Is Coming To The Denver Art Museum In April 2012 (PHOTOS)
Political junkies and feminists alike may be delighted about the pins and needles exhibit coming soon to the Denver Art Museum in April 2012.
“Read My Pins” is the emblematic collection of former U.S. Secretary Madeleine Albright’s pins worn during her history-making diplomatic tenure. Secretary Albright was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State, and the highest ranking woman in politics of her time. Many of the delicate-looking ornaments were worn by her to relay a symbolic message or tone during her trips abroad.
“I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal,” Albright has said of her collection.
One of Albright’s most famous is a gold snake pin, which she tells CNN she wore to Iraq after Saddam Hussein called her a serpent.
“So I decided I had a snake pin that I bought earlier sometime, so I thought ‘I’ll wear it when we do Iraq’ so I in fact did wear it. President Bush had said ‘Read my lips’ so I said, ‘Read my pins.’
Well, that is all I have for you this morning. I will again point out a couple of yesterday’s post by Dakinikat and Wonk the Vote, they are excellent, so please give them a read if you missed them. Have a wonderful Sunday, and I hope to see you in the comment section later today.