Thursday, September 12, 2013
What Putin Has to Say to Americans About
by Vladimir V. Putin
reposted from the New York Times, Opinion Pages
Recent events surrounding
prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political
leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication
between our societies. Syria
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with
’s consent the veto by
Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international
relations for decades. America
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the
of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This
is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military
action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the
United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many
countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will
result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the
conflict far beyond ’s
borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.
It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East
and Syria North Africa. It could throw the
entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
by Paul Craig Roberts
Washington has been at war for 12 years. According to experts such as Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, these wars have cost Americans approximately $6 trillion, enough to keep Social Security and Medicare sound for years. All there is to show for 12 years of war is fat bank balances for the armament industries and a list of destroyed countries with millions of dead and dislocated people who never lifted a hand against the United States.
The cost paid by American troops and taxpayers is extreme. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Erik Shinseki reported in November 2009 that “more veterans have committed suicide since 2001 than we have lost on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.” Many thousands of our troops have suffered amputations and traumatic brain injuries. At the Marine Corps War College Jim Lacey calculated that the annual cost of the Afghan war was $1.5 billion for each al-Qaeda member in Afghanistan. Many US and coalition troops paid with their lives for every one al-Qaeda member killed. On no basis has the war ever made sense.
Washington’s wars have destroyed the favorable image of the United States created over the decades of the cold war. No longer the hope of mankind, the US today is viewed as a threat whose government cannot be trusted.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
"I'm an upstanding citizen and I'm not doing anything wrong. I just don't want the government invading my privacy."
I got into a heated argument, a disagreeable shouting match over that idea today -- mostly being shouted at for nitpicking someone on my own side. I find the above rationale to be a surface response without any thought behind it or any acknowledgement of how actual surveillance-societies of the past devolved into Orwellian abominations. Worse still, the current drive for a "Total Information Awareness" society, where birth to death communications will be stored forever by the government, looms over us. NSA / Booz Allen Hamilton whistleblower Edward Snowden has said:
"they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them."To that end, the NSA's operating budget has increased steadily, avoiding any cutbacks from the so-called "sequester." The new NSA storage facility in Utah is a central piece of this total data capture society:
"An article by Forbes estimates the storage capacity as between 3 and 12 exabytes in the near term...advances in technology could be expected to increase the capacity by orders of magnitude in the coming years." (Wikipedia)
NSA Whistleblower William Binney revealed further problems at the National Security Agency and its runaway capabilities:
" Binney alleged... controls that limited unintentional collection of data pertaining to U.S. citizens were removed, prompting concerns by him and others that the actions were illegal and unconstitutional. Binney alleged that the Bluffdale facility was designed to store a broad range of domestic communications for data mining without warrants." (Wikipedia)
Edward Snowden has also said:
"I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates."
Changing people's fates is the key phrase here. How and why can this personal data be used? With lifelong surveillance of everyone, we are little better off than goldfish swimming from glass wall to wall, always under the complete scrutiny of the authorities. It doesn't take any imagination whatsoever to see the implications of total scrutiny by secretive government or quasi-governmental entities (or others!).
Monday, August 12, 2013
Contributed by Sherwood Ross
The three most powerful nations all operate prison systems that are places of sadism, sickness, and madness unfit for human habitation, much less human reformation.
They also lead the world with astonishing rates of imprisonment far higher than in other industrialized nations. “The U.S. incarceration rate of 737 per 100,000 people is the (world’s) highest, followed by 611 in Russia,” Reuters reports. Compare the above rates with the following nations: Spain, 149; Canada, 114; Australia, 103; The Netherlands, 82; Germany, 80; Norway, 71; Denmark, 68; Sweden, 67; Finland, 60; and Japan, 54.
America has 2.3 million souls behind bars; China ranks second with 1.5 million, and Russia places third with 870,000---a figure Deputy Justice Minister Yury Kalinin says actually is closer to 2 million. Whatever, all three inflict gruesome tortures on their prisoners.
Friday, August 9, 2013
by John Whitehead
Despite the steady hue and cry by government agencies about the need for more police, more sophisticated weaponry, and the difficulties of preserving the peace and maintaining security in our modern age, the reality is far different. Indeed, violent crime in America has been on asteady decline, and if current trends continue, Americans will finish the year 2013 experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century.
Despite this clear referendum on the fact that communities would be better served by smaller, demilitarized police forces, police agencies throughout the country are dramatically increasing in size and scope. Some of the nation's larger cities boast police forces the size of small armies. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually likes to brag that the NYPD is his personal army.) For example, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has reached a total of 10,000 officers. It takes its place alongside other cities boasting increasingly large police forces, including New York (36,000 officers) and Chicago (13,400 officers). When considered in terms of cops per square mile, Los Angeles assigns a whopping 469 officers per square mile, followed by New York with 303 officers per square mile, and Chicago with 227 cops per square mile.
Of course, such heavy police presence comes at a price. Los Angeles spends over $2 billion per year on the police force, a 36% increase within the last eight years. The LAPD currently consumes over 55% of Los Angeles' discretionary budget, a 9% increase over the past nine years. Meanwhile, street repair and maintenance spending has declined by 36%, and in 2011, one-fifth of the city's fire stations lost units, increasing response times for 911 medical emergencies.
For those who want to credit hefty police forces for declining crime rates, the data just doesn't show a direct correlation. In fact, many cities across the country actually saw decreases in crime rates during the 1990s in the wake of increasing prison sentences and the waning crack-cocaine epidemic. Cities such as Seattle and Dallas actually cut their police forces during this time and still saw crime rates drop.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Contributed by Sherwood Ross
State “civil-forfeiture”(CF) laws aimed at drug kingpins are being twisted to confiscate the property of people “never charged with a crime,” The New Yorker magazine (August 12) asserts.
fighting a home eviction after their son sold a small amount of marijuana to an
What’s more, a high proportion of the victims appear to be African-Americans and Latinos, the magazine says.
where victims of CF actions were motorists who had been pulled over for routine
traffic stops, “and the targets were disproportionately black and Latino,” The
New Yorker quotes one defense attorney as stating. Tenaha, Texas
Under laws once enacted to penalize drug dealers and their ilk, the authorities using CF “are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings” of the innocent, writes magazine reporter Sarah Stillman.
“In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on par with ‘probable cause’ is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime or even be accused of one,” Stillman adds.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
by Thom Hartmann
The surveillance state is even bigger, and scarier, than we thought.
And, as a result, it's time that we broke up the failed national security experiment known as the Department of Homeland Security. Returning to dozens of independent agencies will return internal checks-and-balances to within the Executive branch, and actually make us both safer and less likely to be the victims of government snooping overreach.
Last Wednesday, the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald revealed that the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon users. The agency received authorization to track phone "metadata" over a 3 month period from a special court order issued in April.
We now also know that what the Guardian uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing phone and internet records collection program that likely includes almost all major U.S. telecommunications companies.
President Obama - who promised the "most transparent administration ever" - now finds himself and his DHS at the center of yet another civil liberties controversy. That controversy has deepened in the wake of two reports published last night in both the Washington Post and the Guardian that outlined a different NSA snooping program – a data mining initiative code-named "PRISM."
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
by Daniel Ellsberg
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material -- and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under FISA -- but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
by Susanne Posel
President Obama came out to publicly endorse PRISM because it promotes public safety and protects of civil liberties.
Obama said that this “modest encroachment on privacy . . . helps us prevent terrorist attacks.”
According to the president Americans must accept this “trade-off” that creates balance between privacy and safety. He said: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program is about. In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance. There are trade-offs involved.”
In defense of unnecessary government surveillance on all Americans, Obama said: “You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”
Simply put, Obama explained that “if the intelligence community actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge.”
Disclosure of the PRISM program in mainstream media has alerted the general public to the fact that the US government has been collecting information on US citizens for national security purposes over several presidencies.
The revelation that the US government has been spying on all Americans is nothing new.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
by Aviva Shen
Florida will be allowed to outsource its prison health care system to a private contractor, the First District Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday. The privatization plan was blocked by a judge last year, after a lower court found that the state Department of Corrections had circumvented the legislative process. Another judge killed the plan in 2011 because some state lawmakers had tried to sneak privatization through a budget rather than attempt to pass a bill explicitly about prison health care.
It’s no wonder Florida officials have tried to downplay the privatization plan. Private prison contractors have become popular with many Republican lawmakers across the country because of their promises to cut costs. But these companies also often cut corners to increase their own profits, leading to abysmal conditions, inmate abuse, and frequent riots.
Private health care companies have especially bad records on inmate treatment. Nightmarish stories of inmates dying from treatable diseases because they were refused care are frighteningly common in prisons that have outsourced their healthcare. One of the largest prison health care providers, Correctional Medical Care, is under criminal investigation in New York after its negligence led to nine deaths.
Other states with private prison health care can forecast the conditions Florida inmates will now face. A Kaiser report on these systems found “inhumane” conditions, with terminally ill inmates left in soiled linens without food or water for days. One Arizona man with lung cancer begged for treatment, only to be told by medical staff that he should drink energy shakes to cure his symptoms. Others who have begged for medical aid have been told they were simply making it up or that they should “pray to be cured.”
Florida has already privatized several prisons entirely, with terrible consequences. One prisoner, Robert Boggon, was sent to jail after suffering a mental episode in a Dollar Tree store. Boggon never received a psychiatric evaluation even though he was rocking on the floor of his cell and urinating on himself. After 11 days in jail, Boggon was found dead, naked, and strapped to an emergency restraint chair with a towel around his head in his cell in the jail infirmary. The death was ruled a homicide, but the medical examiner placed the blame on no one.
Moreover, Gov. Rick Scott’s claims that privatization saves the state money have not lived up to their promise. However, private prison companies have donated heavily to Florida lawmakers to ensure they continue to back privatization. The industry donated nearly $1 million to mostly Republican campaigns in 2010, and have already padded Scott’s re-election campaign with more than $100,000.
Contributed by Sherwood Ross
Originally posted on Veteran's Today
|Walls of Doom - Desktop Nexus|
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. --- Overall, President Obama has been “a force for destruction” who has “advanced inequality, wealth concentration, deportations, imprisonments, and the de-funding of basic services in order to fund banks, billionaires, and bombers,” distinguished peace activist David Swanson says.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Swanson, a former staff aide to Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaigns, said Obama has done nothing to better the lot of the nation’s poor, including Americans in the ghettos, apart from reducing “the disparity in crack-powder cocaine sentencing.”
Noting that Obama has attempted to identify himself with the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Swanson was asked if he saw any resemblance. His reply was “Two eyes and two ears and two feet and in Obama’s case two mouths. He got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything for peace,” Swanson said. “So did King, and King followed through and retroactively earned it. Perhaps that led to the ludicrous bestowing of the prize on Obama, who proceeded to give a pro-war acceptance speech in which he insultingly and arrogantly denounced King’s approach to world change.”
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
DNA Digital News Aggregation
The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.
According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations.
At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.
So grave has this situation become, the MNRE reports, the full European Commission (EC) this past week instituted a two-year precautionary ban (set to begin on 1 December 2013) on these“bee killing” pesticides following the lead of Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine, all of whom had previously banned these most dangerous of genetically altered organisms from being used on the continent.