30 September 2011

The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was "considering" indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki's father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were "state secrets" and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki's inclusion on President Obama's hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that "it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing."

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

What's most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar ("No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law"), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What's most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government's new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government. Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President's ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki -- including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry's execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists -- criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that's the genius of America's political culture. It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

28 September 2011

Obama Jobs Plan Prevents 2012 Recession in Survey of Economists - Bloomberg

President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan would help avoid a return to recession by maintaining growth and pushing down the unemployment rate next year, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The legislation, submitted to Congress this month, would increase gross domestic product by 0.6 percent next year and add or keep 275,000 workers on payrolls, the median estimates in the survey of 34 economists showed. The program would also lower the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage point in 2012, economists said.

Economists in the survey are less optimistic than Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has cited estimates for a 1.5 percent boost to gross domestic product. Even so, the program may bolster Obama’s re-election prospects by lowering a jobless rate that has stayed near 9 percent or more since April 2009.

The plan “prevents a contraction of the economy in the first quarter” of next year, said John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets LLC in Boston, who participated in the survey. “It leads to more retention of workers than net new hires.”

Some 13,000 jobs would be created in 2013, bringing the total to 288,000 over two years, according to the survey. Employers in the U.S. added 1.26 million workers in the past 12 months, Labor Department data show.

Obama’s plan, announced on Sept. 8, calls for cutting the payroll taxes paid by workers and small businesses while extending unemployment insurance. It also includes an increase in infrastructure spending and more aid for cash-strapped state governments.

‘What Happens?’

“The important thing to consider is: What happens if we don’t do anything?” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida. He said the program “very well could” forestall a recession in early 2012.

“Most of all, it prevents a serious drag on the economy next year” from current programs expiring, said Brown, who estimates the Obama plan would add 0.5 percent to GDP in 2012.

A reduction in government spending, the end of the payroll- tax holiday and an expiration of extended unemployment benefits would cut GDP by 1.7 percent in 2012, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief U.S. economist Michael Feroli in New York. Instead, the Obama proposal makes up for that potential loss and may add a net 0.1 percent to the economy, he estimates.

State Aid

Tax cuts account for more than half the dollar value of the Obama plan, which also includes $105 billion in spending for school modernization, transportation projects and rehabilitation of vacant properties, according to a White House fact sheet. The proposal includes $35 billion in direct aid to state and local governments to stem dismissals of educators and emergency personnel.

“Some of this is just extending support that was already in place,” said Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York. “The actual jobs programs themselves, I don’t think that they’re a game-changer.”

She estimates the proposal will add 200,000 new workers, while retaining about 300,000 jobs that might otherwise be lost.

Republican lawmakers in Congress have expressed opposition to parts of the White House legislation. House leaders object to Obama’s plan to cut payroll taxes, saying it would lead to an overly large boost in taxes when the temporary break ended.

Tax Burden

In a memo to House Republicans on Sept. 16, House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other leaders detailed several criticisms of the payroll-tax idea. The lawmakers said an added tax burden would result when, under the president’s plan, an extension and expansion of a “holiday” on such taxes for employees and employers would expire in 2013.

Herrmann agreed. “We’re setting ourselves up for a big end to the sugar high in the first half of 2013,” he said.

A majority of Americans don’t believe Obama’s jobs proposal will help lower the unemployment rate, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 9-12 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa.

“It’s not really going to have anything more than a marginal impact,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “It’s just maintaining the status quo: extending the payroll-tax cuts and unemployment benefits. The bulk of the money is going to go to firms that would’ve hired anyway.”

Stanley estimated the program would increase payrolls by 50,000 and add 0.25 percent to GDP next year.

Fiscal Policy

While the White House hasn’t given an estimate of how the proposal would affect GDP, Geithner cited the plan Sept. 24 in an address at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Without additional near-term support, “fiscal policy in the U.S. will be overly contractionary and the U.S. economy will likely grow below its potential in 2012,” Geithner said.

He said private economists estimate the proposal could increase real economic growth next year by around “one and a half percentage points and create more than 1 million jobs at a critical moment in the recovery.”

In the Bloomberg survey, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated the plan would add 1.5 percent to the economy, while Macroeconomic Advisers LLC said 1.3 percent and UniCredit Research, up to 2 percent.

The U.S. economy faces “significant downside risks,” the Federal Reserve said in a statement on Sept. 21 as it announced a plan to shift $400 billion of its Treasury securities holdings into longer-term debt to bring down borrowing costs.

The world’s largest economy grew 3 percent last year before slowing to a 0.4 percent annual pace in the first three months of 2011, followed by 1 percent in the second quarter, according to Commerce Department figures.

The economy will expand 2.2 percent next year, according to a separate Bloomberg survey of economists conducted Sept. 2 to Sept. 7. The same survey said the unemployment rate would average 8.8 percent in 2012.

Compassionate conservatism??


Rick Perry Gets Confused About American History

No Rick Perry, that’s not what happened at the original Tea Party.

What I find most troubling about this crop of presidential candidates is their willingness to warp or distort our nation’s history to further their political agenda. Worse still are the idiots in the audience who cheer them on because they don’t know much about history either. The 2 glaring distortions here are 1) the time frame Perry is referring to is when this place was still a British colony, not a nation and 2) the colonialists didn’t have trouble with taxation but rather taxation with no representation. They were being taxed but Britain called the shots, thus inciting the frustration and wrath of the colonialists. Today, we in the middle and lower class are also taxed without representation but lack the revolutionary spirit of our forefathers.

27 September 2011

Hallowe'en costume ideas


the expendables


Jimi Hendrix If 6 Was 9

Stimulus Tales - NYTimes.com

Dean Baker is upset with David Brooks — not for the first time. Let me just put in a word here.

The story of Keynesian economists and the Obama stimulus, as anyone who’s been reading me knows, runs as follows: When information about the planned stimulus began emerging, those of us who took our macro seriously warned, often and strenuously, that it was far short of what was needed — that given what we already knew about the likely depth of the slump, the plan would fill only a fraction of the hole. Worse yet, I in particular argued, the plan would probably be seen as a failure, making another round impossible.

But never mind. What we keep hearing instead is a narrative that runs like this: “Keynesians said that the stimulus would solve the problems, then when it didn’t, instead of admitting they were wrong, they came back and said it wasn’t big enough. Heh heh heh.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it, never mind the facts.

And what the facts say is that Keynesian policy didn’t fail, because it wasn’t tried. The only real tests we’ve had of Keynesian economics were the prediction that large budget deficits in a depressed economy wouldn’t drive up interest rates, and the prediction that austerity in depressed economies would deepen their depression. How do you think that turned out?

Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control - 2012 Elections - Salon.com

..."The cost of the attack that you're going to see was $10.50 in retail quantities," explains Warner in the video. "If you want to use the RF [radio frequency] remote control to stop and start the attacks, that's another $15. So the total cost would be $26."

The video shows three different types of attack, each demonstrating how the intrusion developed by the team allows them to take complete control of the Diebold touch-screen voting machine. They were able to demonstrate a similar attack on a DRE system made by Sequoia Voting Systems as well.

In what Warner describes as "probably the most relevant attack for vote tampering," the intruder would allow the voter to make his or her selections. But when the voter actually attempts to push the Vote Now button, which records the voter's final selections to the system's memory card, he says, "we will simply intercept that attempt ... change a few of the votes," and the changed votes would then be registered in the machine.

"In order to do this," Warner explains, "we blank the screen temporarily so that the voter doesn't see that there's some revoting going on prior to the final registration of the votes..."

Read the rest of this troubling article at the link. It is worth remembering that it was electronic vote tampering in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election that forced 4 more years of the felon George Bush upon us. We as a nation are still recoiling from that and suffering from his terrible economic policies and his allowing 9/11 to happen.

Obama To Heckler: 'I Agree Jesus Christ Is The Lord' : The Two-Way : NPR

The man who interrupted President Obama during a fundraiser Monday in Los Angeles is removed from the audience.
Enlarge Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The man who interrupted President Obama during a fundraiser Monday in Los Angeles is removed from the audience.

A man shouting "Jesus Christ is God!" interrupted President Obama's address at a fundraiser in Los Angeles last night.

He began by shouting that the "Christian God is the one and only true living God." Then he added that "Jesus Christ is God!" Others in attendance tried to overcome the interruption by chanting "four more years!"

According to David Nakamura of The Washington Post, who was among the "pool" reporters covering the event, as the man was being removed from the event he added that "Barack Obama is the antichrist!"

During the incident, as you can see in this Associated Press video, the president smiled and waited. As the man was being led out, Obama said "first of all, I agree Jesus Christ is the Lord. I believe in that." Then, the president expressed concern about whether "the young man left his jacket." As it turned out, the jacket belonged to a woman in the audience.

26 September 2011

Part of Patriot Act ruled unconstitutional - US news - Security - msnbc.com

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

The federal government apologized and settled part of the lawsuit for $2 million after admitting a fingerprint was misread. But as part of the settlement, Mayfield retained the right to challenge parts of the Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism.

Mayfield claimed that secret searches of his house and office under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act violated the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. Aiken agreed with Mayfield, repeatedly criticizing the government.

"For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised," she wrote.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield's lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general's office was "asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so."

Elden Rosenthal, an attorney for Mayfield, issued a statement on his behalf praising the judge, saying she "has upheld both the tradition of judicial independence, and our nation's most cherished principle of the right to be secure in one's own home."

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the agency was reviewing the decision, and he declined to comment further.

Mayfield, a Muslim convert, was taken into custody on May 6, 2004, because of a fingerprint found on a detonator at the scene of the Madrid bombing. The FBI said the print matched Mayfield's. He was released about two weeks later, and the FBI admitted it had erred in saying the fingerprints were his and later apologized to him.

Before his arrest, the FBI put Mayfield under 24-hour surveillance, listened to his phone calls and surreptitiously searched his home and law office.

The Mayfield case has been an embarrassment for the federal government. Last year, the Justice Department's internal watchdog faulted the FBI for sloppy work in mistakenly linking Mayfield to the Madrid bombings. That report said federal prosecutors and FBI agents had made inaccurate and ambiguous statements to a federal judge to get arrest and criminal search warrants against Mayfield.

BBC Speechless As Trader Tells Truth: "The Collapse Is Coming...And Gold...

GOP Robocop


25 September 2011

Republican On Fox News Says Minimum Wage Should Be $3/hr | Addicting Info

Here we go again, more radical rhetoric from Fox News. On Fox & Friends Thursday morning, Republican businessman and former Senate nominee, Peter Schiffz claimed that the minimum wage was too high and that it affected the young and the poor in a negative way. Schiff even had the nerve to say “One Of The Most Anti-Poor People Rules Is The Minimum Wage.” A part of the transcript is below.

SCHIFF: Well, one of the most anti-poor people rules is the minimum wage. It keeps people poor. What the minimum wage does is says that if a person that has very little skills, and generally they’re young or they’re poor, you can’t hire them unless they can produce

KILMEADE: Right. SCHIFF: — $7.25 worth of value, but it’s not just that. It also has to compensate you for all the mandatory benefits and taxes and risks associated with hiring people.


SCHIFF: And people that have no skills, it’s not just worth it to hire them

KILMEADE: Peter, I want to get through, too

SCHIFF: — maybe $3 or $4 an hour, if that’s what they’re worth

As the real world looks at the extremely low minimum wage, Republicans and their conservative members want to lower it even further. Presidential nominee, Michele Bachmannz, has even said she would want to completely eliminate minimum wage as part of her plan to lower unemployment. This is just another example of the disconnect between the conservative mind-set of the Republican party and reality. Whether you consider yourself liberal, progressive or an independent, you can see pretty clearly that the wealth gap in the United States is growing. If the Republicans have their way, lowering the minimum wage will just grow the gap even more.

24 September 2011

George Carlin on what's happening today in America (though he said this in like '97)

The Republicans' latest ploy to keep the economy lousy through election day - CSMonitor.com

Whatever shred of doubt you may have harbored about the determination of congressional Republicans to keep the economy in the dumps through Election Day should now be gone.

Yesterday, in advance of a key meeting of the Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee to decide what to do about the continuing awful economy and high unemployment, top Republicans wrote a letter to Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.

They stated in no uncertain terms the Fed should take no further action to lower long-term interest rates and juice the economy. “We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy.”

They didn’t threaten to “treat him pretty ugly” — as Texas Governor Rick Perry told his supporters last month he’d deal with Bernanke if he “printed more money” between now and the election.

But the threat was there. “It is not clear that the recent round of quantitative easing undertaken by the Federal Reserve has facilitiated economic growth or reduced the unemployment rate.”

Translated: You try this, and we rake you over the coals publicly, and make the Fed into an even bigger scapegoat than we’ve already made it.

Top Republicans believe they can block all or most of Obama’s jobs bill. That leaves only the Fed as the last potential player to boost the economy. So the GOP will do what it can to stop the Fed.

After all, as Republican Senate head Mitch McConnell stated, their “number one” goal is to get Obama out of the White House. And that’s more likely to happen if the economy sucks on Election Day.

To say it’s unusual for a political party to try to influence the Fed is an understatement.

When I was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, it was considered a serious breach of etiquette — not to say potentially economically disastrous — even to comment publicly about the Fed. Everyone understood how important it is to shield the nation’s central bank from politics.

If global investors suspect the Fed is responding to political pressure of any kind, investors will lose confidence in the independence of the Fed and its monetary policies. Even if the pressure is to tighten the money supply and keep interest rates high, it’s still politics. And once politics intrudes, lenders of all stripes worry that it will continue to intrude in all sorts of ways. Lending to the United States becomes a tad riskier. As a result, lenders charge us more.

The Republican letter puts Bernanke and his colleagues in a bind. If they decide against another round of so-called “quantitative easing” to lower long-term rates and boost the economy, they may look like they’re caving to congressional Republicans. If they decide to go ahead notwithstanding, they’re bucking the Republicans and siding with Democrats. Either way, they’re open to the charge they’re playing politics.

Congressional Republicans evidently don’t care. They want Obama out, whatever the cost. Besides, they’ve never met a government institution they don’t mind trashing.

Troy Davis: Black Reaction Explained

The state of Georgia killed Troy Davis last night. Usually such acts are routine in America. Last year 45 Americans were legally executed, about one a week, with time out for vacations and holidays. But a confluence of circumstances and organizations turned Davis' cause into a global phenomenon, with pleas for mercy from such disparate voices as the pope, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Amnesty International.

It's not surprising that the outpouring of concern for Troy Davis, who was believed by many to be innocent of the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail 22 years ago, annoyed people like conservative columnist Ann Coulter. "He is as innocent as every other executed man since at least 1950, which is to say, guilty as hell," she wrote Wednesday.

You have to admire her certainty. People like Coulter have convinced themselves that we live in a flawless society, where bias, vanity, arrogance and incompetence don't exist, and prosecutors don't lie, cheat or make mistakes. It's the kind of blind faith in America that few African Americans can afford.

Our uneasiness about fairness in America helps explain why Troy Davis became such an obsession in the African-American community, to the bewilderment, if not outright annoyance, of some of our nonblack neighbors. As the hours ticked down, it seemed that all of black America was glued to their televisions, computers, mobile phones and iPads, as if watching a perverse 2011 version of a Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling bout.

But in this case we were not waiting for our black champion to knock out the German and prove our worth to America. We wanted reassurance that the fundamental precept of reasonable doubt would apply to Troy Davis, a black man, and, by extension, to the rest of us.

Yes, black America still lives on the brink of fear. For all the progress we have made, dues we have paid, degrees we have acquired and presidencies we have won, we can all recite the story of the father, son, daughter or niece who has gone from citizen to suspect in an instant -- the son frisked, the cousin shoved against the car, the uncle badly beaten -- and, more often than should be, the nephew convicted of a crime he didn't commit or, worse, shot dead by the police.

Most Americans long ago grew bored with the statistics verifying that African Americans are more likely than whites to encounter the power of the state and to be more severely treated -- in arrests, in charges, in sentencing or, yes, the death penalty. As Sherrilyn Ifill points out in her column for The Root, the racial disparities in imposing the death penalty were proved long ago, but the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1986 that the race gap was not unconstitutional. If you are far more likely to be condemned to death for killing a white man, how can there not be a constitutional issue?

It is now clear to us that the election of Barack Obama has not miraculously transformed the standing of African Americans. For those of us who have long believed that race was far more important as a signal of political status than as a genetic marker, Troy Davis reminds us that there are American citizens -- and then there are African-American citizens.

There's a very tangible bundle of inequities that defines black Americans -- whether the result is unneeded subprime mortgages, disparities in medical treatment, stop-and-frisk laws, racially coded enforcement of drug laws, higher infant mortality, more severe sentences and, yes, the death penalty -- reminders, that, yes, we may all be American citizens, but some may be just a shade less than others.

The Great Recession has reinforced our sense of vulnerability. Black male unemployment is double white male unemployment. A recent Pew study showed that whites, on average, are 20 times as wealthy as blacks. Another study reported that as many as 40 percent of African Americans will fall out of the middle class during this period of financial hardship. If black progress has not been stopped, it has slowed considerably in the last three years.

You need to understand this vulnerability to grasp why so many black folks stayed so close to the news about Troy Davis. He was no hero to us, any more than was O.J. Simpson, but like the former football star, Davis represented "us" before the judicial system. He represented us in Georgia, a state with a long and brutal history of racial repression. He represented us before a Supreme Court that has turned a blind eye to so many issues of social justice in recent years. He represented us as we thought of our ancestors, our relatives, our children, whom we pray never have that brief, life-changing encounter with "the law" that Troy Davis had back in 1989.

Some will say that this is just black paranoia, an unwillingness of African Americans to take responsibility for their own fate now that they are truly equal. But we have never stopped fighting to just be treated fairly. And thousands lined up to signal support in protests and petitions for Troy Davis, not just those who believed in his innocence, but those who also wanted to make sure that "reasonable doubt" applies to us, too. It's not too much to ask. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia disappointed us.

He threatened me!!



22 Year Old Man With Down Syndrome Beaten By The Police For Bulge In Pants

So simple a Tea partier can get it


Robin Hood for Republicans


Fool me twice, won't get fooled again


Class warfare is hell


23 September 2011

The Social Contract - NYTimes.com

by Paul Krugman

This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit. And Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare.”

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it’s people like Mr. Ryan, who want to exempt the very rich from bearing any of the burden of making our finances sustainable, who are waging class war.

As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?

To be fair, there is argument about the extent to which government policy was responsible for the spectacular disparity in income growth. What we know for sure, however, is that policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class.

Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes.

The budget office’s numbers show that the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes, which itself runs counter to the rhetoric you hear from the usual suspects. But that burden has fallen much more, as a percentage of income, for the wealthy. Partly this reflects big cuts in top income tax rates, but, beyond that, there has been a major shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work: tax rates on corporate profits, capital gains and dividends have all fallen, while the payroll tax — the main tax paid by most workers — has gone up.

And one consequence of the shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work is the creation of many situations in which — just as Warren Buffett and Mr. Obama say — people with multimillion-dollar incomes, who typically derive much of that income from capital gains and other sources that face low taxes, end up paying a lower overall tax rate than middle-class workers. And we’re not talking about a few exceptional cases.

According to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class.

Now, I know how the right will respond to these facts: with misleading statistics and dubious moral claims.

On one side, we have the claim that the rising share of taxes paid by the rich shows that their burden is rising, not falling. To point out the obvious, the rich are paying more taxes because they’re much richer than they used to be. When middle-class incomes barely grow while the incomes of the wealthiest rise by a factor of six, how could the tax share of the rich not go up, even if their tax rate is falling?

On the other side, we have the claim that the rich have the right to keep their money — which misses the point that all of us live in and benefit from being part of a larger society.

Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer who is now running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts, recently made some eloquent remarks to this effect that are, rightly, getting a lot of attention. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.

Which brings us back to those cries of “class warfare.”

Republicans claim to be deeply worried by budget deficits. Indeed, Mr. Ryan has called the deficit an “existential threat” to America. Yet they are insisting that the wealthy — who presumably have as much of a stake as everyone else in the nation’s future — should not be called upon to play any role in warding off that existential threat.

Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.

22 September 2011

18 September 2011

Some companies pay their CEOs more than Uncle Sam, study says - The Washington Post

Of last year’s 100 highest-paid corporate executives in the United States, 25 earned more in pay than their company recorded as a tax expense in 2010.

Those 25 firms reported average global profits of $1.9 billion. Among the 25 were Verizon, Bank of New York Mellon, General Electric, Boeing and eBay.

“These individual CEOs are being rewarded for presiding over companies that dodge taxes,” said Chuck Collins, one of the study’s co-authors and a senior scholar at the Institute of Policy Studies. Eighteen of the 25 firms last year operated subsidiaries in countries that the U.S. Government Accountability Office and other groups have identified as tax havens, one of the report’s authors said.

For example, Bank of New York Mellon paid its chief executive Robert Kelly $19.4 million last year, while the company got $670 million in what amounted to a tax refund, according to the report. The company has 10 subsidiaries in foreign countries, the report said.

Kelly has complained about the high U.S. corporate tax rate in the company’s annual meetings.

A spokesman for the bank offered no comment.

Some companies argued that the institute’s approach — which focused on what the firms recorded as a tax expense within the 2010 calendar year — presented a skewed picture.

Verizon, for instance, saw the equivalent of a $705 million refund in 2010 because it deferred paying taxes on the bulk of its income to future years. The company’s total tax bill from 2010 was about $2.5 billion. The delay in tax payments allowed the firm to make investments in the nation’s technology infrastructure, a company official said.

“Verizon fully complies with all tax laws and pays its fair share of taxes,” its spokesman, Robert A Varettoni, said.

But Scott Klinger, a co-author of the report, said the ability of corporations to push off tax bills is unfair. Ordinary Americans “don’t get to just defer our taxes until next year or 2030 or whenever they come due,” he said.

Klinger said the institute used the current tax expense listed in company 2010 financial statements. But several firms said that number — which is an estimation of tax costs from income generated in 2010 — does not always reflect the actual taxes they paid to the government.

“The IPS study is grossly inaccurate,” eBay said in a statement. “eBay Inc. paid $646 million in taxes in 2010 globally, the majority in the US. IPS has misrepresented our financial reports, and made no attempt to verify the facts with us before publishing inaccurate information.”

Some companies said their taxes were lowered because they invested in research and development or domestic manufacturing, not because they took advantage of overseas tax havens. Other firms, such as Prudential, said it listed a tax benefit of $722 million in its 2010 financial statements because it set aside too much money for taxes in 2009.

Still, institute officials said that a wide array of exemptions allow companies to keep their taxes lower despite the relatively high U.S. corporate income tax rate.

Among its other findings, the institute found that the gap between chief executive compensation and average U.S. worker pay rose from a ratio of 263-to-1 in 2009 to 325-to-1 last year.

Shared sacrifice?


Daily Kos: Rick Perry is for sale, but he's not cheap

Money! It is money! Money! Money! Not ideas, nor principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics. -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd
When we chow down on cow, we use the term "beef" to distance what we're putting in our mouths from the creature placidly chewing grass in a field. When we use the term "SuperPAC" we're engaging in another polite euphemism to avoid upsetting those with tender ears. Beef is nothing more than sliced up cow. SuperPACs are nothing more than stitched together bribes. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said of many politicians.

Take Rick Perry. Half of Perry's contributions have originated with only 204 people. So many dollars coming from so few sources means that Perry's team is extremely aware of who puts the butter on their toast. This isn't twenty bucks from a million people. It's closer to a million bucks from twenty people, and when someone contributes at that level they don't do it because they like a candidate's haircut, or even his ideology. It's not going to the candidate with whom they'd most like to share a beer. Donors at this level share all the beers (and champagne) with the candidates that they can guzzle.

When individuals cut checks to politicians the size of those being scribbled out to Rick Perry, it happens for one reason. It's an investment. In this case, it's a pretty safe investment, because history shows that Rick Perry is a slot machine who pays on every pull.

One share of Perry belongs to playboy billionaire Thomas Friedkin, who earned his money the old fashioned way—he inherited it—and who used part of that money to start big game hunting preserves in Botswana and Tanzania. Rick Perry rewarded Friedkin's obvious love of animals (and $700k contribution) by making him head of the Texas Park and Wildlife Commission, where he bumped the not-quite-so-generous Perry contributor who last held the position.

Another piece of PerryCo goes to home builder, Bob Perry (no relation). Not only did Bob Perry hand out $2.5m to namesake Rick, he also passed along another $7 million to Karl Rove's Crossroads PAC. For this, Bob was well rewarded. To help out his pal Bob, Rick Perry shepherded through legislation forcing home buyers who were taken in by incomplete or shoddy work to go to an industry-dominated commission for "justice" rather than a judge. For his contributions, Bob Perry got to have his lawyer design the legislation, which Rick Perry then signed. A very good deal for Bob, and that's even before you get to his role in passing anti-immigrant regulations.

Perhaps the biggest block of Rick Perry shares belong to garbage magnate Harold Simmons. For the $3 million he's contributed, Simmons walked off with the whole state program for monitoring nuclear waste. The program was turned into a private monopoly for Simmons' company. That was just the beginning.

When Simmons' proposed facility was sent for environmental review, it failed. The approval commission ignored the environmental review and allowed the facility anyway. That was still just the beginning.

When public complaints poured in, the commission decided to move forward by passing the proposal without a public hearing. And they did. That was still just the beginning.

Simmons wasn't content to handle just Texas' nuclear waste. Instead, he decided to use his new review-free permit and state-sanctioned monopoly to attract radioactive, chemical and biological waste from across the nation. He decided to create a "one stop shop" for waste of all sorts, a 20 square mile facility that just happened to sit on a couple of aquifers.

Simmons got his approval.

How important was the business Simmons generated by buying politicians? Important enough that he used his children and grandchildren as conduits to launder contributions and evade the FEC. That was in 1997. You know, back when there were rules that still had to be followed. Back before all the barriers to bribery were taken away.

One more thing: if Bob Perry and Harold Simmons' names sound familiar, that's because you've heard them before. The two were the largest contributors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign to destroy John Kerry's reputation and secure the White House for a second George W. Bush administration in 2004. That's not because they were pals with Bush any more than they're buddies with Perry. They pay the up front cost knowing that it will come back to them with interest. They buy Republican, because once Republicans get their hands on the government, they're even more generous in rewarding those who put them in office.

Republicans pretend to loathe judicial overreach. They rail against activist judges who "make law" and pound their chests about original intent, but the truth is that since the 2000 Bush v Gore decision, there has been an ever accelerating wave of radical judicial activism from the right. Conservative judicial decisions have overturned two hundred years of rules designed to prevent just what we're now seeing, ownership of both the media and political system by a very wealthy few.

The greatest pretense in American politics is this: that our politicians can be utterly dependent on money given to them by contributors, but not be influenced by the source of those funds. It's not true. It's never been true. Now that the judicial takeover of our electoral system is complete, there's not even any reason to hide it. This is a bribe-based system—an oligarchy all the way to the core. Getting it back isn't going to be easy, and probably can't be done with dollars. It's going to take something far more dear.

Trickling down


Afghan exam


1 in every 6 Americans live in poverty


One is too many


06 September 2011

U.N. Study: Austerity Measures Pushing World Economy Toward Disaster

GENEVA (Tom Miles) - The pursuit of austerity measures and deficit cuts is pushing the world economy toward disaster in a misguided attempt to please global financial markets, the annual report of the United Nations economic thinktank UNCTAD said on Tuesday.

The report, entitled "Post-crisis policy challenges in the world economy," savaged U.S. and European economic policies and called for wage increases, stricter regulation of financial markets, including a return to a system of managed exchange rates, and a conscious break with market-led thinking.

"The message here is very pragmatic: we need to reverse our course quickly," said UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Supachai, a former head of the World Trade Organization, said the policy response to the crisis, with an emphasis on fiscal tightening, was misconceived and inept.

The report's lead author Heiner Flassbeck said the global economic situation was extremely dangerous and, without more stimulus, a decade of stagnation was the best-case scenario.

The current policies were a disaster, said Flassbeck, head of the globalization and development strategies division at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, and a former deputy finance minister in Germany.

"If interests rates everywhere are zero, and if governments stick to the policy of not only keeping fiscal deficits where they are but retrenching, cutting public expenditure, then we will end up in permanent recession," he said.

"Unemployment depends very much on demand. And if you have no demand then you need government to step in with a huge program for stimulating the economy. This was the U.S. scenario in the past. Now it's worse because wages are rising less than in the past so you're going to need a bigger stimulus program."

The recovery from the financial crisis was not only jobless, which was to be expected, but it was also "wageless," he said, with Americans, Japanese and Europeans -- 70 percent of the world economy -- expecting their incomes to stagnate.

In its last report a year ago, UNCTAD said a premature removal of stimulus policies might cause a deflationary spiral with attendant slumps in growth and employment around the world.

"Let's not fool ourselves. This is a realistic scenario for the whole developed world, if we do not understand the lessons now, and really quickly, because we do not have other instruments any more," Flassbeck told a news conference to launch this year's report.

"To revive the economy with a wageless recovery with diminished expectations by the private economy, by private households, what are the instruments at hand? There is nothing."

He said that even if things go well, global economic growth would slow to about 1.5 percent in 2012, less than half the U.N. forecast of 3.1 percent growth for this year.


The report put much of the blame for the crisis on deregulation of financial markets, which it said invited destabilizing "herd behavior" by speculators, and allowed an over-concentration of banking activities.

"What we've seen in the past and we never learn is that countries seem to have excessive belief in the financial markets. And we've seen time and again that financial markets are not very sound in their judgment," said Supachai.

"But still people keep thinking that they are doing these austerity measures because they want to please the markets so that the markets give them better ratings, including the rating agencies which do not always produce the best assessment."

Flassbeck said the herd mentality was evident whenever equity markets and commodity markets all lurch in tandem on the same day, an effect that could not conceivably be caused by real swings in demand. But the world was ignoring it, he said.

"If the G20 negotiations were not confidential I would tell you that it's ignored even there," he said.

A November summit of the 20 biggest economies would reach "extremely weak" conclusions on tackling the crisis and would underestimate the influence of financial markets, he said.

"We have three areas where the G20 wanted to be strong. The first is the coordination of economic policy: nothing. The second is commodities speculation: more or less nothing; and the third is international global monetary order: nothing. So that's the result of nine months deliberation by the G20."

The U.N. report said the world should introduce a system of rules-based floating exchange rates, which would kill off distorting "carry trades" in which investors borrow currencies with low interest rates to buy higher-yielding currencies.

The system would be based on divergences between the consumer prices or interest rates applicable to different currencies, and unlike the defunct Bretton Woods system, it would cater for continual adjustments in exchange rates.

Poll: OK to trade some freedoms to fight terrorism - Yahoo! News

05 September 2011

What next???

http://wiki.dickinson.edu/images/2/21/Livingwagecartoon.jpg Happy Labor Day all! And remember, only 6 more shopping days 'til 9/11 Day!

Happy Labor Day?


Millions in tax dollars used to convert soldiers and their kids to Christianity | Rock Beyond Belief

Chris Rodda wrote an extensive exposé on the amount of your taxpayer money being spent on converting soldiers and their children to Christianity.

Your money.

  • The Soldier Fitness Tracker that includes the mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and the equally mandatory remedial training. $125,000,000
  • The Spiritual Fitness Center at Fort Hood, Texas (many more to come!) – Often described as a ‘mega church’, the building even has religious stained glass windows. They are stocked with video games, phone cards, and other incentives. Packaged with a religious message. This is in addition to the numerous chapels on every post. $30,000,000
  • Spiritual Fitness concert series at Fort Lee and Fort Eustis - Invariably evangelical Christian messages and performers. You’re on notice for a future Rock Beyond Belief event, by the way. $678,470 (performer fees only)
  • Strong Bonds and other Spiritual Fitness Retreats – These are marriage counseling seminars held at luxurious vacation spots. Notoriously stuffed to the brim with evangelical messages. There are ‘sue-proof’ teaching materials that are often offered up as a defense, but it’s a shallow ruse. When I went to one I literally counted 57 instances where I was offended by the overt religiosity (“The family that prays together stays together…” “Bless this lunch break, oh heavenly father” etc…) *$30,000,000 (*Annually)
  • Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats $120,000
  • Peninsula Baptist Association’s Eastover Retreat Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats $75,000
  • American Baptist Church Conf. Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats $53,000
  • Quail Ministries – Christian music and comedy during Strong Bonds marriage counseling retreats. Like those awful variety-show acts you sit through during a cheesy school assembly. $84,000
  • “Serving Christ Through Baseball” program – entertainment during Strong Bonds marriage counseling retreats. Title says it all… or not. I’m still scratching my head on that one. $80,000
  • Military Community Youth Ministries – evangelism targeted at children (even stalking them on their way to the school bus) $12,346,333
  • Cadence International – aimed at converting children to Christ, as well as citizens of foreign countries in the nations that they operate in. $2,671,603

Keep in mind that it is entirely outside of the scope of the Chaplaincy and the DoD’s other religious support to convert new people to a particular faith. They are certainly expected to tend to their ‘flock’, but not to grow it.

Is it evangelism? (yes)

Sometimes outsiders may not understand the smokescreen from terms like “Spiritual Fitness”. Some people might not recognize the evangelical creep from a cursory glance. Even a (very) small number of atheists have written to tell me that they had no problem with the questions on the Spiritual Fitness test.

They buy the claim that “Spiritual Fitness = Team Spirit” Or they claim to have no problem being “Spiritual Atheists” (focusing on the beauty of the universe, music, art, etc…) These justifications fail hard when faced with the reality of the situation we foxhole atheists face. These rationalizations are not consistent with the over-the-top “get right with god so you don’t kill yourself” message that was intended all along.

Here is a sample from the mandatory remedial Spiritual Fitness training after you fail the test.

Still not convinced?

How about reading this chilling account of a Christian soldier who was forced to go to his Chaplain “to get born again” after his spiritual fitness failure on the same test.

My education, health, salary, and pension are shrinking… How about we lose all of this Spiritual Fitness stuff instead?

In a time when national debt is relatively common discussion, it seems that unconstitutional spending of hundreds of millions of dollars would be a natural choice for the chopping block. Instead, my educational opportunities (eArmyU), yearly salary increase for inflation (lowest in 50 years), retirement benefits (pensions for 20+ year veterans are now considered ‘on the table’ to be cut), are already in place or soon to be.

Insanity. How is this not shocking people? Being at the receiving end of a lot of this proselytism, I’m telling you that the system is broken. We need help. We need you to care.

02 September 2011

Eight False Things The Public “Knows” Prior To Election Day | OurFuture.org

There are a number things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit. Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy. Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks. Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn't work. Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts. Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion. Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc. Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy. Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on "welfare" and "foreign aid" when that is only a small part of the government's budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn't work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

Family sues police over California Taser death - Yahoo! News

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The parents of a Southern California man who accuse police of killing their son with a Taser after he honked at a patrol car have sued the sheriff's department and county.

The suit accuses the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the county of San Bernardino and three deputies of assault and battery as well as negligence in the death of Allen Kephart, 43.

Kephart was driving in Rimforest, 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, in May when he honked at a patrol vehicle that turned in front of him, according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The sheriff's deputy then circled his patrol car back behind Kephart's vehicle and pulled him over at a nearby gas station, the lawsuit said.

The deputy ordered Kephart out of his car at gunpoint, forced him to the ground, and was joined by a sergeant and another deputy, the lawsuit said.

The three officers used their electroshock Taser weapons on Kephart "without provocation or justification" for about 10 minutes, expending five cartridges, the lawsuit states.

Kephart, who the suit said was "overheard screaming for help," stopped breathing at the gas station.

Cops have no moral or ethical problem with killing you then swearing under oath you were asking for it. Always use EXTREME caution when dealing with the pigs. Your life may depend on it!

01 September 2011

But it's okay...


Man faces life in prison for filming cops — RT

When cops in Illinois started inspecting Michael Allison’s vehicles parked on his mom’s property, he turned on his camera while he went to see what the hubbub was about. That didn’t put that happy of a face on the police officer, and now Allison is facing 75 years in prison for hitting “record.”

Authorities have charged Allison, 42, with five counts of eavesdropping, each with a maximum of 15 years in prison. He is looking at spending the rest of his life behind bars because the state is applying an archaic law to modern technology to keep citizens from snooping around cops.

Only days after Allison was charged, the US 1st Circuit Court of Appeals stated that recording police in public was guaranteed through the First Amendment. Cops in Illinois, however, aren’t agreeing.

“Just because they can get a jury to convict somebody doesn’t mean that the statute was applicable,” said radio host Alex Jones to RT. He says that calling Allison’s actions illegal is a “giant hoax” and those authorities pegging the case as a wiretapping issue has it all wrong. Jones said that being in public removes all perception of privacy, and for that very reason cops can have cameras in their own squad cars.

Jones added to RT that it is the “scariest thing I've seen in a long time that the police would knowingly try to put this guy in prison for life for simply videotaping” them in public.

Allison has so far refused a plea deal and is seeking counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union. "If we don't fight for our freedoms here at home we're all going to lose them,” he said to Gather.com.

Should he be convicted of his crimes, Allison will be serving the same punishment as murderers and rapists.

WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says | McClatchy

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

dead children in ishaqi iraq

This cell phone photo was shot by a resident of Ishaqi on March 15, 2006, of bodies Iraqi police said were of children executed by U.S. troops after a night raid there. Here, the bodies of the five children are wrapped in blankets and laid in a pickup bed to be taken for burial. A State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks quotes the U.N. investigator of extrajudicial killings as saying an autopsy showed the residents of the house had been handcuffed and shot in the head, including children under the age of 5. McClatchy obtained the photo from a resident when the incident occurred. |

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

But Philip Alston, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.

Reached by email Wednesday, Alston said that as of 2010 — the most recent data he had — U.S. officials hadn't responded to his request for information and that Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming. He said the lack of response from the United States "was the case with most of the letters to the U.S. in the 2006-2007 period," when fighting in Iraq peaked.

Alston said he could provide no further information on the incident. "The tragedy," he said, "is that this elaborate system of communications is in place but the (U.N.) Human Rights Council does nothing to follow up when states ignore issues raised with them."

The Pentagon didn't respond to a request for comment. At the time, American military officials in Iraq said the accounts of townspeople who witnessed the events were highly unlikely to be true, and they later said the incident didn't warrant further investigation. Military officials also refused to reveal which units might have been involved in the incident.

Iraq was fast descending into chaos in early 2006. An explosion that ripped through the Golden Dome Mosque that February had set off an orgy of violence between rival Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Sunni insurgents, many aligned with al Qaida in Iraq, controlled large tracts of the countryside.

Ishaqi, about 80 miles northwest of Baghdad, not far from Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, was considered so dangerous at the time that U.S. military officials had classified all roads in the area as "black," meaning they were likely to be booby-trapped with roadside bombs.

The Ishaqi incident was unusual because it was brought to the world's attention by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with American military assistance and staffed by U.S.-trained Iraqi police officers.

The original incident report was signed by an Iraqi police colonel and made even more noteworthy because U.S.-trained Iraqi police, including Brig. Gen. Issa al Juboori, who led the coordination center, were willing to speak about the investigation on the record even though it was critical of American forces.

Throughout the early investigation, U.S. military spokesmen said that an al Qaida in Iraq suspect had been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile of rubble.

But the diplomatic cable provides a different sequence of events and lends credence to townspeople's claims that American forces destroyed the house after its residents had been shot.

Alston initially posed his questions to the U.S. Embassy in Geneva, which passed them to Washington in the cable.

According to Alston's version of events, American troops approached a house in Ishaqi, which Alston refers to as "Al-Iss Haqi," that belonged to Faiz Harrat Al-Majma'ee, whom Alston identified as a farmer. The U.S. troops were met with gunfire, Alston said, that lasted about 25 minutes.

After the firefight ended, Alston wrote, the "troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a U.S. air raid ensued that destroyed the house." The initials refer to the official name of the military coalition, the Multi-National Force.

Alston said "Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene and showed bodies of the victims (i.e. five children and four women) in the morgue of Tikrit. Autopsies carries (sic) out at the Tikrit Hospital's morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed."

The cable makes no mention any of the alleged shooting suspects being found or arrested at or near the house.

The cable closely tracks what neighbors told reporters for Knight Ridder at the time. (McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder in spring 2006.) Those neighbors said the U.S. troops had approached the house at 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. In addition to exchanging gunfire with someone in the house, the American troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house.

The cable also backs the original report from the Joint Coordination Center, which said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing. That first report noted: "The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men. Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."

The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.

The cable also backs up the claims of the doctor who performed the autopsies, who told Knight Ridder "that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed."

The cable notes that "at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay'ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid."

Are you here to help? No!


Top CIA Official: Obama Changed Virtually None of Bush’s Controversial Programs | Top Secret America | FRONTLINE | PBS

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them.” He promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror, which he criticized for compromising American values.

But FRONTLINE has learned from a former high-ranking CIA official that even before he took office, Obama’s team “signaled” they had no intention of rolling back secret programs begun under the Bush administration. In his first televised interview, for next Tuesday’s Top Secret America John Rizzo, a 34-year agency veteran described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history,” tells FRONTLINE:

I was part of the transition briefings of the incoming Obama team, and they signaled fairly early on that the incoming president believed in a vigorous, aggressive, continuing counterterrorism effort. Although they never said it exactly, it was clear that the interrogation program was going away. We all knew that.

But his people were signaling to us, I think partly to try to assure us that they weren’t going to come in and dismantle the place, that they were going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the Bush people.

Rizzo, who was forced to withdraw his nomination to become CIA general counsel because of controversy over his role in developing the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation policies, also told us:

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

GOP in Giffords’ district holds raffle for Glock | The Raw Story

The Republican Party in Arizona's Pima County, which is represented by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), is in the midst of a fundraising raffle, $10 per entry.

The prize: the same model of gun that delivered a near-fatal blast to the Democratic lawmaker's skull outside a Tucson grocery store in January.

Tucson is in Pima County.

The local party sent out its e-newsletter late last week advertising the raffle. On the third page of the seven-page document, a large illustration of the gun appears with the headline "Help Pima GOP get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock .40."

The winner of the gun will also receive a case, three 12-round magazines and grips for the firearm.

"Tickets will go quickly for this firearm!" the blurb in the newsletter warns.

The $1,250 raised from the raffle tickets will go toward get out the vote efforts for the party.

The gun is a Glock 23, an updated model of the Glock 19 Jared Loughner used during his January 8, 2011 shooting spree that killed six and injured 13 others, including Giffords.

I always think Repulicants couldn't sink any lower and then they go and show me just how wrong I am.

Police Officer Goes Crazy When He's Told He Needs a Warrant to Search Car

Know your rights! Don’t allow cops to search your car or home. Never talk to police officer without a lawyer, even when you’re not under arrest.

North Miami Beach police kill mentally disabled man carrying toy gun

MIAMI (CBS/WFOR) -- North Miami Beach Police are piecing together an officer-involved shooting and killing of a mentally disabled man. The man was originally thought to be carrying a gun but it was later determined to be a toy rifle.

Officials told CBS station WFOR that the incident began Wednesday afternoon when officers responded to several calls about a man seen walking around with a rifle. Witnesses told the station that at one point the man aimed the rifle at a neighborhood dog.

According to police reports, when officers arrived there was some sort of confrontation which caused one officer to open fire on the man. However, a subsequent investigation revealed that the "rifle" was a toy. The injured man was then taken to a local hospital where he later died. Family members say the man police killed was 56-year-old Ernest Vassell.

"They murdered him in cold blood for a toy gun!" cried Vassell's older sister Claire Harding. "That's no reason for you to kill somebody!"

Vassell's sisters say they have never seen him with a toy gun and believe he must have found it somewhere. They say he was mentally disabled after a brain injury as a child and that he has never been violent.

"They could tell him to drop the gun. They say they told him to drop it and he raised his hand," Harding told WFOR. "He probably raised his hand to hand them the gun because he is afraid of police."

The family is now demanding answers and changes to the North Miami Beach Police Department.

"They should train these police officers better," said Harding. "This is ridiculous, they just go around killing people for nothing."

Police maintain the toy gun appeared to be a real rifle. One officer is on administrative leave while police and the state attorney's office investigate this incident.