Blogs

Submitted by tnjp on October 20, 2010 - 2:18pm.

October 18, 2010
Officials Push to Bolster Law on Wiretapping
By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, citing lapses in compliance with surveillance orders, are pushing to overhaul a federal law that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure that their networks can be wiretapped, federal officials say.

The officials say tougher legislation is needed because some telecommunications companies in recent years have begun new services and made system upgrades that caused technical problems for surveillance. They want to increase legal incentives and penalties aimed at pushing carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast to ensure that any network changes will not disrupt their ability to conduct wiretaps.

An Obama administration task force that includes officials from the Justice and Commerce Departments, the F.B.I. and other agencies recently began working on draft legislation to strengthen and expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law that says telephone and broadband companies must design their services so that they can begin conducting surveillance of a target immediately after being presented with a court order...

Submitted by tnjp on October 20, 2010 - 1:42pm.

The Wall Comes Tumbling Down

Greg Kaufmann | October 18, 2010 It was an unlikely place to hear Abraham Joshua Heschel quoted, and the rabbi’s words came from an unlikely messenger.

At a news conference on a farm outside of Immokalee in southwest Florida, Jon Esformes, operating partner of the fourth-generation [1], family-owned Pacific Tomato Growers—one of the five largest growers in the nation with more than 14,000 acres in the US and Mexico—declared, “In a free society, few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And with that he announced an agreement with the 4000-member Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to implement a penny per pound pay raise — which stands to increase workers’ annual earnings from about $10,000 to as much as $17,000 — and establish a code of conduct that includes an external complaint resolution system, shade and protective equipment in the fields, and a worker-to-worker education process on their rights under the new agreement....

Submitted by tnjp on October 19, 2010 - 10:10pm.

Phony Marine, 'Airport Spitter' Victim "Darling" of Right Wing Groups
October 11, 2010 posted by Gordon Duff

“COLONEL” MIKE HAMILTON CHARGED WITH BENEFITS FRAUD AND MORE, MUCH MORE…
“How many stories were there of returning veterans killing “hippies” in Airports? “None” you say? This means, of course, that Vietnam veterans were all cowards, “candyass” whiners who, when confronted, ran and cried. That’s not how I remember it, though I do remember Sylvester Stallone telling it that way in a movie. I can see poor “John Rambo” crying his little pink eyes out. Worse than that, for 40 years I have heard dozens of “veterans” telling me about having to flee airports, gangs of hippies chasing them, saliva flowing everywhere.

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Mike Hamilton of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was convicted recently of violating the “Stolen Valor Act.” Hamilton’s Marine uniform sported 2 Navy Crosses, 4 Silver stars along with 74 other medals and ribbons. When the Supreme Court overturned the “Stolen Valor Act” as unconstitutional, a violation of “freedom of speech,” Hamilton’s conviction was overturned. He currently faces charges for other violations, perhaps even more curious ones, but Hamilton himself isn’t the problem. There are some serious questions as to whether “Colonel” Hamilton is competent to stand trial. Today, veterans groups are swooping around Mike Hamilton like vultures, looking for a meal. A few short months ago, he was the darling of the “rubber chicken” circuit, spouting the myths they wanted to hear, waving the flag and cheering on the horse manure of that is so popular to the American “right.”

We don’t know much about Hamilton. He claims to be a former judge and police officer. We are told those things aren’t true. He claims to be a Vietnam veteran and former Marine. Though he is accused of, perhaps the most grandiose “resume enhancement” in history, we really don’t know his military record. It is assumed he never served. Frankly, we aren’t sure, nobody ever checked...

Submitted by tnjp on October 19, 2010 - 12:50pm.

Tom Hayden
The Peace Exchange Bulletin

The Costs of Iraq and Afghanistan

The White House and Pentagon worry about the political costs if the American people learn the true costs of Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of casualties and taxpayer dollars.

These costs are the main factors driving 58 percent of the American public, including over 70 percent of Democrats and a majority of independent voters, to question whether these wars are justified.

It seems unbelievable, and certainly unconscionable, to keep these facts smothered in fog, when they need to be communicated in every blog, every leaflet, every speech given by anti-war activists.

The Costs of Iraq and Afghanistan.pdf

Here are the best estimates that have been hidden from the public:

Submitted by tnjp on October 17, 2010 - 8:46pm.

DemocracyNow trancript/audio/video

After Service, Veteran Deaths Surge
October 16, 2010
By AARON GLANTZ

In the six years after Reuben Paul Santos returned to Daly City from a combat tour in Iraq, he battled depression with poetry, violent video games and, finally, psychiatric treatment. His struggle ended last October, when he hung himself from a stairwell. He was 27.

The high suicide rate among veterans has already emerged as a major issue for the military and the families and loved ones of military personnel. But Mr. Santos’s death is part of a larger trend that has remained hidden: a surge in the number of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who have died not just as a result of suicide, but also because of vehicle accidents, motorcycle crashes, drug overdoses or other causes after being discharged from the military.

An analysis of official death certificates on file at the State Department of Public Health reveals that more than 1,000 California veterans under 35 died between 2005 and 2008. That figure is three times higher than the number of California service members who were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts over the same period...

Submitted by tnjp on October 16, 2010 - 1:29pm.

October 15, 2010 at 10:10:16
Pentagon Hides Iraq War Deaths Tally
By Rory O'Connor

In July, the United States military issued its largest release of raw data ever on deaths during the Iraq war. The Pentagon's tally of the number of Iraqis killed in that country between January 2004 and August 2008 amounts to almost 77,000 people both civilians and security forces who died in the carnage.

As the Associated Press reported, the information went unnoticed for months after being "quietly posted on the Web site of the United States Central Command without explanation." It was only recently discovered by the AP "during a routine check" for civilian and military casualty numbers," which the news agency had first requested in 2005 through the Freedom of Information Act. As AP noted , "The military has repeatedly resisted sharing its numbers, which it uses to determine security trends." (One exception: U.S. military officials in Baghdad released their July 2010 Iraqi casualty tally in order to refute the Iraqi government's much higher monthly figures, a decision made just weeks before U.S. forces withdrew all but 50,000 troops from Iraq "in an attempt to wind down the war and tout the nation's improved security.")

According to the AP, "a spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., could not answer basic questions about the information." Iraqi Health Ministry officials were equally reticent and refused to discuss the American figures, which fall thousands of deaths short of those the Iraqis have compiled using actual death certificates...

Submitted by tnjp on October 15, 2010 - 8:41pm.

Antiwar Activism Marks 10th Year of War - UFPJ report

Antiwar activists across the US marked the war anniversary with protests last week. Mock drone attacks dramatized the human cost of war in Madison, WI [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRuNVp8Vrvs ] and Boston [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovCbTqHC2lE ], and in Washington, DC [ www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLqJ3eDX6Xk ] at the Capitol, Union Station, and Dupont Circle (video). There was a die-in in Springfield, Oregon, and check out the great op-ed by Dan Goldrich in the Register Guard. On Long Island, Veterans for Peace and other peace activists demonstrated for an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiXIVL7L-9E ] (video). And in San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg joined a panel on "Anti-War Perspectives from the Left and Right", which brought together antiwar voices from a range of political perspectives...

Submitted by tnjp on October 12, 2010 - 8:56pm.

For now, antiwar activists will not be forced to testify
By JAMES WALSH, Star Tribune
October 12, 2010
Thistle Parker-Hartog originally was supposed to testify before a grand jury in Chicago Tuesday. She didn't go. Mick Kelly was scheduled to make the same trip next week. Don't bet on it. In all, 14 antiwar activists and several organizations from the Twin Cities and Chicago who are being investigated for alleged support of terror groups received subpoenas to appear before the grand jury this month. All -- including five who were to appear last week -- have told the U.S. Department of Justice that they are not going.

Instead, several were among about 60 people gathered in front of the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday to protest what they consider harassment and intimidation because they oppose U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. So far, it seems, the Justice Department has acquiesced. All the subpoenas have been canceled, according to a Chicago attorney working on the case. Instead of being encouraged by the inaction, they are left wondering when the other shoe is going to fall for a growing number of people under investigation...

Submitted by tnjp on October 12, 2010 - 8:54pm.

Despite Army Efforts, Soldier Suicides Continue
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
US | October 11, 2010

Nearly 20 months after the Army began strengthening its suicide prevention program, the suicide rate among active service members shows little sign of improvement.

FORT HOOD, Tex. - At 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday in August, Specialist Armando G. Aguilar Jr. found himself at the end of his short life. He was standing, drunk and weepy, in the parking lot of a Valero station outside Waco, Tex.

He had jumped out of his moving pickup. There was a police officer talking to him in frantic tones.

Specialist Aguilar held a pistol pointed at his head. This moment had been a long time coming, his family said. He had twice tried to commit suicide with pills since returning from a tough tour in Iraq a year earlier, where his job was to drive an armored vehicle to search for bombs.

Army doctors had put him on medications for depression, insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks. Specialist Aguilar was seeing an Army therapist every week.

But he had been getting worse in the days before his death, his parents said, seeing shadowy figures that were not there, hallucinating that he heard loud noises outside his trailer home. "He wanted help - he was out there asking for help," said his father, Armando Aguilar Sr. "He just snapped. He couldn't control what he was doing no more." Specialist Aguilar was one of 20 soldiers connected to Fort Hood who are believed to have committed suicide this year...

Submitted by tnjp on October 12, 2010 - 1:23pm.

The Road Ahead for Progressives: Back to Basics
Gara LaMarche and Deepak Bhargava
October 11, 2010

Twenty-one months after Barack Obama was inaugurated on a wave of hope for change in America's politics and policies, at least two important and seemingly contradictory things can be said.

First, there has been a series of significant progressive reforms: an economic stimulus bill that contained far-reaching antipoverty, infrastructure, green jobs and conservation measures, and that is widely credited with pulling the economy from the brink; comprehensive healthcare reform that has eluded presidents of both parties for a century; and financial regulatory reform.

For progressives, each of these accomplishments are flawed—the stimulus could have been bigger, there could have been a public option in healthcare and more teeth in financial regulation—but they are long strides in the right direction, and given the near-total opposition of Republicans and the conservatism of key Democrats, this is an impressive substantive record that has made and will make a big difference in people's lives.

Second, the nation's politics are more toxic than ever. The president's approval ratings have fallen steadily, even if they may have bottomed out. Independents are said to be disillusioned, many Democrats are demoralized and Republicans are in the grip of an increasingly—there is no other way to say it but—crazy "base," ousting very conservative officeholders in favor of extremist Tea Party candidates who oppose virtually every role government plays.

That's where things stand today...

Submitted by tnjp on October 11, 2010 - 11:56am.

Dissent in the age of Obama - Peace activists had high hopes of an Obama presidency only to face the harsh realities of FBI raids and intimidation.
Cindy Sheehan Last Modified: 09 Oct 2010

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” - Albert Camus

Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided the homes of at least eight anti-war/social justice activists here in the US.

I happen to be a prominent anti-war activist myself, and have joked that I am a “little hurt” that I was not raided and perhaps I should try harder. Even though, we have the urge to try and be light-hearted in this time of an increasing police state, with civil liberties on the retreat, it really isn't funny considering that the activists could face some serious charges stemming from these raids.

I have felt this harassment on a smaller scale myself and I know that defending oneself against a police state that has unlimited resources, time and cruelty, can be quite expensive, time consuming and annoying.

There is nothing noble about an agency that has reduced itself to being jackbooted enforcers of a neo-fascist police state, no matter how much the FBI has been romanticized in movies, television and books...

Submitted by tnjp on October 10, 2010 - 8:32pm.

The Box by Lascelles Abercrombie - postlude by Rafe Pilgrim

Once upon a time, in the land of Hush-A-Bye,
Around about the wondrous days of yore,
They came across a kind of box
Bound up with chains and locked with locks
And labeled "Kindly do not touch; it's war."
.
A decree was issued round about, and all with a flourish and a shout
And a gaily colored mascot tripping lightly on before.
Don't fiddle with this deadly box,
Or break the chains, or pick the locks.
And please don't ever play about with war.
.
The children understood. Children happen to be good
And they were just as good around the time of yore.
They didn't try to pick the locks
Or break into that deadly box.
They never tried to play about with war...

Submitted by tnjp on October 10, 2010 - 11:44am.

From Earth First! to Climate Ground Zero, Mike Roselle is a Radical Lifer
Mickey Z, Truthout: " If you know anything about Roselle, you know he's all about action, and today, he is campaign coordinator for Climate Ground Zero, a campaign to end the controversial practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Southwestern West Virginia. Roselle has been arrested over 50 times and is currently facing two and a half years for trespassing on a strip mine operated by Massey Energy, one of the nation's largest coal companies."...

Submitted by tnjp on October 9, 2010 - 11:51am.

Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain

• Pakistani diplomat launches scathing attack on White House
• European intelligence claims raised terror alerts 'nonsensical'

Simon Tisdall and Richard Norton-Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 October 2010
A US terror alert issued this week about al-Qaida plots to attack targets in western Europe was politically motivated and not based on credible new information, senior Pakistani diplomats and European intelligence officials have told the Guardian.

The non-specific US warning, which despite its vagueness led Britain, France and other countries to raise their overseas terror alert levels, was an attempt to justify a recent escalation in US drone and helicopter attacks inside Pakistan that have "set the country on fire", said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the high commissioner to Britain.

Hasan, a veteran diplomat who is close to Pakistan's president, suggested the Obama administration was playing politics with the terror threat before next month's midterm congressional elections, in which the Republicans are expected to make big gains.

He also claimed President Obama was reacting to pressure to demonstrate that his Afghan war strategy and this year's troop surge, which are unpopular with the American public, were necessary...

Submitted by tnjp on October 8, 2010 - 10:26pm.

From CodePink...
*Tell Hillary Clinton: Stop Doing Business with Blackwater!*
October 6, 2010

As we mark the 9th year of this bloody war in Afghanistan, please join us in calling on Secretary Clinton to stop giving our taxdollars to the mercenary firm Blackwater. We'll never end the war in Afghanistan as long as companies like Blackwater can make a killing out of killing. *Tell Hillary Clinton: Stop Doing Business with Blackwater!*

**As part of our Cut Blackwater Loose campaign, CODEPINK's *Medea Benjamin teamed up with DC's premier hiphop artist Head-Roc *to create a rap video "Blackwater Makes a Killing."Check it out.


**Also check out this WIRED report on all the shady things private security firms can do and still walk away with a wheelbarror full of your tax dollars, including killing civilians, lying to investigators, retaliating against whistle-blowers, stealing guns, running guns, and buying drugs...

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