“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Guardian and Greenwald deserve the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Manning and Snowden deserve the Freedom Medal. Some stories are more than stories…they can become vehicles for social change. For a decade we’ve been in a surreal limbo with a soundtrack that sounds like extra-judicial mumbling. The NSA and their master manipulators in DC are the problem.



Revealed: NSA program collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'



XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data

NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches
Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history



Wednesday 31 July 2013 08.56 EDT

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.
The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.
The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.
"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".
US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."
But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.
XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA's "widest reaching" system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.
Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing "real-time" interception of an individual's internet activity.
Under US law, the NSA is required to obtain an individualized Fisa warrant only if the target of their surveillance is a 'US person', though no such warrant is required for intercepting the communications of Americans with foreign targets. But XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.
One training slide illustrates the digital activity constantly being collected by XKeyscore and the analyst's ability to query the databases at any time.

All central authority in Post Soviet Afghanistan, post ISAF Afghanistan, post Saddam Iraq, post Gaddafi Libya, and Syria, currently under Assad, has been wrecked by foreign, mostly US intervention. What remains is a power vacuum and a society of survival of the fittest. Society has degenerated into tribal warlordism. The Global War on Terror has abrogated The Treaty of Westphalia, which cemented the concept of sovereign nation states after the Thirty Years War in Europe. The US War on Terror has replaced viable nation states in a new Thirty Years War of Islamic nations.


The Treaty of Westphalia is considered the beginning of the international system of laws. The concept of sovereignty which included territorial integrity, non intervention, and political self determination was recognized. 





Posted By Mohamed Eljarh FOREIGN POLICY

Monday, July 29, 2013 - 10:59 AM 

As dusk was falling on Sunday, the city of Benghazi was rocked by two huge explosions. Bombings have become depressingly frequent in Libya's second-largest city over the past year. But they're not the only form of violence plaguing Benghazi, either. There have been 57 assassinations since the end of the war that toppled Qaddafi's regime. 
The explosions come two days after the assassination of prominent lawyer and activist Abdulsalam al-Mesmari, who was shot as he left one of Benghazi's mosques after Friday prayers. Mesmari, who was credited with playing a prominent role in Libya's revolution, was also an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists. 
More recently, Mesmari was involved in the organization of a planned demonstration over the investigation into the 2011 killing of General Abdul Fatah Younis, a leading commander in the war against Qaddafi. Islamist extremists are suspected to have been behind his killing. 
As if all this weren't enough, more than 1,000 prisoners staged a jailbreak from one of Benghazi's main prisons on Saturday. Many of those who got away were Qaddafi loyalists and extremists; predictably there has been much talk of a conspiracy, but the circumstances remain unclear. Officials are exploring the possibility of a link between the jailbreak and the two explosions in Benghazi. Nuri Abusahmain, president of the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's interim legislature, made a short speech to the nation on Sunday night in which he accused Qaddafi loyalists of trying to destabilize the country. 
Many Libyans suspect, however, that it is the Islamists who are behind the killing of Mesmari and others like him. Extremists are exploiting the security vacuum in the country, and are doing their best to deepen it by targeting the security infrastructure. (Professional army officers are among the most frequent targets.) 
Political polarization is reaching alarming levels. The authorities in Tripoli are incapable of bringing the security situation under control. No one has been brought to justice for the Benghazi assassinations, and no arrests have been made in connection with the bombings in Benghazi and Tripoli. The authorities have registered the cases against "unknown assailants," a category of people that seem to be able to attack at any time and place with complete impunity. 
As a result, Libyans are becoming increasingly suspicious of political parties, whom they suspect of maintaining their own armed wings to influence the political situation. These suspicions were affirmed by various exchanges on Libyan channels between GNC members from the National Forces Alliance and Islamist members. Hours after Mesmari was shot, angry mobs attacked the headquarters of political parties in different Libyan cities and towns, in some cases setting them on fire. The Islamist parties were particularly hard hit. The Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Benghazi was ransacked and looted; popular sentiment against the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya seems to be rising exponentially these days. (The backlash against the Brotherhood in neighboring Egypt may have something to do with it.) Some are calling for the movement to be dissolved completely. 
The situation is becoming unsustainable for the government and the GNC. Public anger is mounting by the day, and there are growing calls to sack the government and dissolve the GNC. This would be a dangerous path for Libya to take, because there is no clear alternative to filling the vacuum that would ensue. However, there are calls to amend the Constitutional Declaration, the country's transitional roadmap, and to agree upon a new framework for the country's transition. Judging from the rapid deterioration of the situation in Libya, the GNC will need to take some drastic measures and make changes in order to defuse the mounting public anger and tension on the streets. The government has been unable to reign in militias, while militias have shown unwillingness to lay down their weapons and join the army and police forces. 
GNC president, Abusahmain authorized the "revolutionaries" militias that have besieged government ministries and blackmailed GNC into passing the controversial isolation law to "protect" Tripoli in light of the deteriorating situation in Benghazi. These very same militias threatened to overthrow government and GNC if the law was not passed. In his address to the nation, Abusahmain warned against an armed coup against the legitimate democratic institutions. However, it is not clear who is leading the coup against whom, because pro-February 17 revolution groups own most of the weapons in Libya. 
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan announced in a press conference on Sunday an imminent reshuffle of his government. He hinted that he is contemplating the formation of a crisis government in order to stabilize the situation in the country. But some Libyans are discussing an alternative scenario in which Zeidan would resign, paving the way for a new prime minister to head the new government. The formation of a crisis government has been a key demand of the Zintan tribal conference that took earlier this month. 
The gap of mistrust among the various power brokers is widening. The Islamists, and their sympathizers in the important city of Misrata, view any calls for dissolution of the GNC as an attempt to repeat the Egyptian scenario, in which the Islamists are removed from the political scene with support from a majority of the Libyan people. Meanwhile, the powerful tribes in the east and south of the country, as well as the somewhat more secular leadership of the city of Zintan, view any attempts to prolong the life of the GNC in its current form as part of a gradual Islamization of the state. The Zintanis and the tribal groups worry that the Islamists are consolidating their grip on the state's institutions, especially after the passing of the controversial political isolation law that excludes many of the Islamists' opponents from positions of power. 
The only realistic way out of the current crisis is to launch a genuine process of national dialogue, one that is inclusive and transparent. There were calls for such an effort immediately after the revolution two years ago, but it never happened. The lack of national dialogue in Libya is feeding into the intensifying dynamic of mutual mistrust. Eventually Libyans will have to realize that it is only through compassion, justice, and inclusion that we can build the country we aspire to live in, a Libya that is built by all and for all. I pray that Libyans come to this realization sooner rather than later. 
Mohamed Eljarh is the Libya blogger for Transitions. Read the rest of his posts here

Monday, July 29, 2013

Can The Republicans become a populist party?


SEN. SESSIONS' PLAN TO FLIP IMMIGRATION DEBATE

by MATTHEW BOYLE 29 Jul 2013, 12:01 PM PDT BREITBART

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has sent a thought-provoking new memorandum to his GOP colleagues, laying out how the Republican Party can turn the ongoing immigration debate in Congress around so conservatives win and liberals and Democrats lose.

“The GOP needs to flip the immigration debate on its head,” Sessions writes in the memo. “The same set of GOP strategists, lobbyists, and donors who have always favored a proposal like the Gang of Eight immigration bill argue that the great lesson of the 2012 election is that the GOP needs to push for immediate amnesty and a drastic surge in low-skill immigration. This is nonsense.”

Sessions challenges the conventional wisdom and long-held establishment misnomer that Republicans lost the 2012 election because of the Hispanic vote. “The GOP lost the election--as exit polls clearly show--because it hemorrhaged support from middle- and low-income Americans of all backgrounds,” he argues.
“In changing the terms of the immigration debate we will not only prevent the implementation of a disastrous policy, but begin a larger effort to broaden our appeal to working Americans of all backgrounds,” Sessions says Republicans should do to turn the immigration debate around. “Now is the time to speak directly to the real and legitimate concerns of millions of hurting Americans whose wages have declined and whose job prospects have grown only bleaker. This humble and honest populism--in contrast to the Administration’s cheap demagoguery--would open the ears of millions who have turned away from our party. Of course, such a clear and honest message would require saying ‘no’ to certain business demands and powerful interests who shaped the immigration bill in the Senate.”

Sessions argues that what Democrats did in the Senate to pass the “Gang of Eight” bill would “ordinarily” be an “act of political suicide” for them.

“In Senator Schumer’s failed drive to acquire 70 votes, he convinced every single Democrat in his conference to support a bill that adds four times more guest workers than the rejected 2007 immigration plan while dramatically boosting the number of low-skill workers admitted to the country each year on a permanent basis,” Sessions wrote. “All this at a time when wages are lower than in 1999, when only 58 percent of U.S. adults are working, and when 47 million residents are on food stamps. Even CBO confirms that the proposal will reduce wages and increase unemployment. Low-income Americans will be hardest hit.”

Sessions said that it appears possible Schumer and the Democrats proceeded with such a plan because they think Republicans are not politically smart or intuitive enough to do anything about it. “How can they possibly succeed with a plan that will so badly injure American workers?” Sessions asked. “Perhaps Senator Schumer, the White House, and their congressional allies believe the GOP lacks the insight to seize this important issue, push away certain financial interests, and make an unapologetic defense of working Americans. They seem, in fact, to expect the GOP House to drag their bill across the finish line.”

Sessions believes that any immigration reform legislation should seek to address the needs of American workers, instead of the needs of businesses. He said it appears that some in the GOP establishment have confused the two. “Indeed, more than a few in our party will argue that immigration reform must ‘serve the needs of businesses,’” Sessions wrote. “What about the needs of workers? Since when did we did we accept the idea that the immigration policy for our entire nation--with all its lasting social, economic, and moral implications--should be tailored to suit the financial interests of a few CEOs?”

Ultimately, Sessions said, the GOP “has a choice.”

“It can either deliver President Obama his ultimate legislative triumph--and with it, a crushing hammer blow to working Americans that they will not soon forgive--or it can begin the essential drive to regain the trust of struggling Americans who have turned away,” he said.

He said that lawmakers in the House should not try to save, or fix, the Senate bill. “Like Obamacare, this 1,200-page immigration bill is a legislative monstrosity inimical to the interests of our country and the American people,” Sessions said. “Polls show again and again that the American people want security accomplished first, that they do not support a large increase in net immigration levels, and that they do not trust the government to deliver on enforcement. The GOP should insist on an approach to immigration that both restores constitutional order and serves the interests of the American worker and taxpayer. But only by refusing any attempt at rescue or reprieve for the Senate bill is there a hope of accomplishing these goals.”

Any effort to try to fix the Senate bill, he argued, would be “aiding the President and Senator Schumer in salvaging a bill that would devastate working Americans.”

Instead, Sessions believes, “Republicans should refocus all of our efforts on a united push to defend these Americans from the Administration’s continued onslaught. His health care policies, tax policies, energy policies, and welfare policies all have one thing in common: they enrich the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.”

“Our goal: higher wages, more and better jobs, smaller household bills, and a solemn determination to aid those struggling towards the goal of achieving financial independence,” he said.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Edward Snowden, Get out of that airport. You are not safe there.

I believe that Snowden may be be getting set up for a snatch and grab at the airport. The Russians keep reiterating that it is not technically in Russia and for some reason do not seem to be in a big hurry to grant him entrance into Russia. 

Would it be in Russia’s interest to have the US agents grab Snowden? The Russians would be indignant but would probably do nothing substantial about it.



Saturday, July 27
17:00 GMT: The Russian Ministry of Justice said in a statement that according to the country’s laws, former CIA employer Snowden can stay inside the international transit zone for as long as he pleases, even though his travel documents were revoked by the United States.

The ministry also replied to US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s earlier tweet that the US was not seeking Snowden's extradition, but was instead asking for his return. The ministry explained that it could not comply with such a request, simply because the term “forced return” does not exist in international law.
 
"As a rule, the term 'return' in Russian law and practice is applied to voluntary entry of individuals from abroad into the country whose citizens they are," the ministry said. 


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Edward Snowden, Do not trust the Obama Administration or anyone from The US Government. Stay in Moscow.


Moscow says security agency FSB is in talks with the FBI over Snowden. But the whistleblower will not be extradited to the US, a Kremlin spokesman said, adding he's sure the fugitive NSA contractor will stop harming Washington if granted asylum in Russia.
Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. 
Russian President is not handling the case of the former CIA employee Edward Snowden, as “Snowden has not made any request that is subject to consideration by the head of the state,” Peskov added. 
The issue of Snowden asking for temporary asylum “was not and is not on Putin’s agenda,” Peskov continued, saying that it lies in the sphere of the countries’ security agencies.
Head of the FSB Aleksandr Bortnikov and FBI Chief Robert Mueller are engaged in the discussion over Snowden, Putin’s spokesman said Friday.
Responding to the question of whether the former NSA contractor will continue harming the US by leaking classified materials while in Russia, and if the situation is going to undermine Moscow’s ties with Washington, Peskov stressed that “the head of state has expressed strong determination not to allow this,” referring to Putin’s earlier statements.
“I have no doubt that this will be the case, no matter how the situation develops,” the spokesman added. 
Meanwhile, the US Senate threatened Thursday that it might impose sanctions against any country that provides asylum to Snowden, including revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences. 
At the same time the US State Department does not believe that imposing international sanctions because of Snowden would be of any use, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“We have not seen the text of the proposed bill, but we feel that in general legislation imposing sanctions under these circumstances would not be helpful,” Psaki shared, adding that she is not going “to make a prediction about any step we may or may not take.”

“Our focus in this specific case is having Mr. Snowden returned to the United States, and we still feel Russia has the opportunity to do that and to take the right steps,” the spokesperson stressed. 
The 30-year-old Snowden has been stripped of his US passport, and is wanted by the United States on espionage charges for carrying out one of the biggest security leaks in the American history. 
The NSA leaker has been stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since his arrival from Hong Kong, and remains there while his asylum plea is being reviewed by Russian immigration authorities. 
His request followed weeks of searching for a way to leave the country, which he had intended to pass through only briefly on his way to another destination. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

“Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.



Russia won’t extradite Snowden to US – Kremlin
Published time: July 26, 2013 11:53 
Edited time: July 26, 2013 12:58
Get short URL


Moscow says security agency FSB is in talks with the FBI over Snowden. But whistleblower will not be extradited to the US, a Kremlin spokesman said, adding he is sure the fugitive NSA contractor will stop harming the US if granted asylum in Russia.
Moscow says security agency FSB is in talks with the FBI over Snowden. But whistleblower will not be extradited to the US, a Kremlin spokesman said, adding he is sure the fugitive NSA contractor will stop harming the US if granted asylum in Russia.
Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. 
Russian President is not handling the case of the former CIA employee Edward Snowden, as “Snowden has not made any request that is subject to consideration by the head of the state,” added Peskov. 
The issue of Snowden asking for temporary asylum “was not and is not on Putin’s agenda,” Peskov said, adding that it lies in the sphere of the countries’ security agencies.
Head of the FSB Aleksandr Bortnikov and FBI Chief Robert Muller are engaged in the discussion over Snowden, Putin’s spokesman said.
Responding to the question whether the former NSA contractor will continue harming the US by leaking classified materials while in Russia, and if the situation is going to undermine Moscow’s ties with Washington, Peskov stressed that “the head of state has expressed strong determination not to allow this,” referring to Putin’s statements earlier.
“I have no doubt that this will be the case, no matter how the situation develops,” the spokesman added. 
Meanwhile, the US Senate threatened Thursday that it might impose sanctions against any country that provides asylum to Snowden, including revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences. 
The 30-year-old Snowden has been stripped of his US passport, and is wanted by the United States on espionage charges for carrying out one of the biggest security leaks in the American history.

The NSA leaker has been stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since his arrival from Hong Kong, and remains there while his asylum plea is being reviewed by Russian immigration authorities. 
His request followed weeks of searching for a way to leave the country, which he had intended to pass through only briefly on his way to another destination.  
Russian President is not handling the case of the former CIA employee Edward Snowden, as “Snowden has not made any request that is subject to consideration by the head of the state,” added Peskov. 
The issue of Snowden asking for temporary asylum “was not and is not on Putin’s agenda,” Peskov said, adding that it lies in the sphere of the countries’ security agencies.
Head of the FSB Aleksandr Bortnikov and FBI Chief Robert Muller are engaged in the discussion over Snowden, Putin’s spokesman said.
Responding to the question whether the former NSA contractor will continue harming the US by leaking classified materials while in Russia, and if the situation is going to undermine Moscow’s ties with Washington, Peskov stressed that “the head of state has expressed strong determination not to allow this,” referring to Putin’s statements earlier.
“I have no doubt that this will be the case, no matter how the situation develops,” the spokesman added. 
Meanwhile, the US Senate threatened Thursday that it might impose sanctions against any country that provides asylum to Snowden, including revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences. 
The 30-year-old Snowden has been stripped of his US passport, and is wanted by the United States on espionage charges for carrying out one of the biggest security leaks in the American history.

The NSA leaker has been stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since his arrival from Hong Kong, and remains there while his asylum plea is being reviewed by Russian immigration authorities. 
His request followed weeks of searching for a way to leave the country, which he had intended to pass through only briefly on his way to another destination. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Video Spanish train crash at twice the legal speed limit - shocking


Both drivers of the train were unhurt in the crash. One of them was reportedly seen wandering dazed among the dead saying: "I've derailed, what am I going to do, what am I going to do?" It is still not clear whether the apparent excessive speed was the result of human error or a technical fault.
Spain's national rail company, Renfe, admitted that the service was running five minutes late, fueling the hypothesis that it was trying to make up time.


Obama being Obama


Barack Obama flops in Knox: the president’s speech was a train-wreck

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: July 24th, 2013



It’s been a rough few weeks for Barack Obama. A wave of scandals has undermined trust in the White House, and a series of major polls has hammered the president in the first year of his second term. Support for Obama has dropped to its lowest level in two years, with widespread public dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this morning showed the president’s approval level at just 45 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. 56 percent of Americans are “pessimistic” or “uncertain” in “their feelings about how the president will do during the rest of his term,” and only 17 percent of Americans surveyed are “optimistic.”

Today’s speech at Knox College, Illinois, was supposed to be the president’s come-back moment, the first of a series of addresses aimed at retaking the initiative by the White House. Instead it was a train-wreck. In an hour-long address, which seemed to last forever (and par for course started 15 minutes late), the president spoke in deeply partisan terms, often with bitterness and anger, lambasting his political opponents, dismissing criticism of his policies, and launching into his favourite theme of class warfare, attacking the wealthy and what he calls the “winner takes all economy.” In a display of extraordinary arrogance (even by his standards), he condemned what he called “an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals,” a direct reference to the Congressional investigations into the IRS and Benghazi scandals, which most Americans don’t see as phony. He also defended his increasingly unpopular Obamacare proposals, attacking what he calls “a politically-motivated misinformation campaign,” while failing to acknowledge that moderate Democrats are “steadily turning against Obamacare” as The Washington Post reported today.

This was a highly defensive speech, with President Obama in full campaign mode. There were no fresh ideas, just a tired rehash of earlier campaign rhetoric. It was also another love letter to big government, with a clarion call for yet more federal spending on environmental measures, infrastructure, manufacturing, and a laundry list of liberal pet causes. There was not a word about reducing the burden of government regulation, and getting bureaucracy off the backs of entrepreneurs. His speech promised more government spending at a time when America’s national debt is approaching a staggering $17 trillion. He rejected tax cuts, and bashed the rich, at times sounding more like Francois Hollande than the leader of the free world. 

Once again, Barack Obama demonstrated why he has built an unenviable reputation as a perpetual campaigner in chief, with an overwhelmingly partisan agenda. Obama is no Ronald Reagan, who always sought to bring the country together based on the common ideals of the Founding Fathers. President Obama’s message will do nothing to reassure a sceptical American public. With unemployment still above 10 percent in 27 major US metropolitan areas, and nearly one in six Americans living on food stamps, the economic record of this administration leaves much to be desired. Today in Illinois, President Obama spoke the language of decline, promising more of the same left-wing policies that have weakened US competitiveness, eroded economic freedom, and have saddled the world’s superpower with historic levels of debt. Americans deserve better than the failed statism that has bankrupted cities like Detroit, and threatens to do the same to the rest of the country.

The heavy hand of the US government in the grounding of the Bolivian presidential plane has backfired. Snowden has done the calculation and looks to be staying in Russia.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A libertarian-populist policy agenda has to be both libertarian and populist




Jesse Walker|Jul. 23, 2013 2:15 pm REASON
By now the world knows about the revolt within the Republican Party over civil liberties and foreign policy, as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and others condemn PATRIOT Act–style encroachments on citizens' rights, Iraq-style projections of power abroad, and a drone war that threatens to blur the difference. Lately there's been talk of another rebellion, this one directed at the economic policies that have come to define much of the Republican Party, and for that matter much of the Democratic Party as well. The members of this movement, to the extent that a nascent tendency can be described as a movement, have been labeled libertarian populists—"libertarian" because they aim their fire at big government, "populists" because they aim their fire at other large, centralized institutions too. The LibPop idea is to take an axe to the thicket of corporate subsidies, favors, and bailouts, clearing our way to an economy where businesses that can't make money serving customers don't have the option of wringing profits from the taxpayers instead.
Ross Douthat of The New York Times has called this current "a strain of thought that moves from the standard grassroots conservative view of Washington as an inherently corrupt realm of special interests and self-dealing elites to a broader skepticism of 'bigness' in all its forms (corporate as well as governmental)." That skepticism generally takes the form of wanting to roll back corporate power by rolling back state power. But some LibPops are willing to flirt with more active anti-corporate interventions by the state, as long as they're aimed at undoing the effects of prior interventions. The man most closely identified with the "libertarian populist" tag, for example—Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner—has endorsed the idea of breaking up the big banks.
In some quarters, libertarian populism has become not just a rallying cry for opponents of the corporate state but an idea for a new kind of Republican Party, one that, in Carney's words, "fights against all forms of political privilege." Here are three thoughts that anyone envisioning a new libertarian-populist GOP should keep in mind:
1. A libertarian-populist policy agenda has to be both libertarian and populist. Seems obvious, right? But if libertarian populism is going to be more than a slogan, it has to stay committed both to cutting back government and to battling privileged corporate interests. And there are two ways this can go awry.
In theory, any movement committed to limiting state power is going to challenge corporate power too, since so much of the state is dedicated to subsidizing or protecting different industries, from banks to broadcasters and from agribusiness to insurance. In practice, a politician familiar with free-market rhetoric will be tempted to fire it only at the easiest targets. It is easier to cut a tax than a subsidy, and it is easier to cut a subsidy for relatively powerless people than a subsidy for an influential lobby. Even figures who can boast a more pro-market record than the average Republican pol have been known to toss those tendencies aside when the right interest group is having trouble in the marketplace. Think about Steve Forbes endorsing a "temporary big role" for government—that is, a bailout role—in the economic crisis of 2008. Or, over on the Democratic side of the aisle, recall the ways the legendarily anti-spending senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin pushed to aid his home state's dairy industry. Give up the populist side of the LibPop agenda, and the libertarian side soon follows.
The other danger is that you'll keep the populism but lose the libertarianism anyway. After all, populism comes in many flavors. When a corporate powerhouse owes its position to the government yet the task of undoing the web of privilege that put it there looks too daunting, it's tempting to back a more conventional liberal measure aimed at bringing the business down to size. A potential case in point is Carney's proposal to bring the banks to heel via legislation to break them up. Big banks, he wrote, "inherently have too much political power, and...will inevitably use that power to guarantee bailouts."
That isn't a ridiculous argument, and I wouldn't want anyone to toss Carney out of the libertarian tent for making it. A federally mandated corporate breakup can be a net gain for economic liberty; when the Justice Department hammered AT&T in 1982, to give the obvious example, it ended a monopoly that had been created and maintained by the state. But the Ma Bell breakup also introduced a lot of new rules and, in the process, new ways for telecom companies to game the regulatory system. Carney suggests that "a blunt 'dumb' measure like size is not as prone to financial and political gaming as the 'smarter' plans that rely on regulators and politicians deciding what's best for us." That's probably true. But he goes on to suggest a still blunter measure—an anti-bailout constitutional amendment—that would be even harder to game, and would ultimately do more to keep the banks' size and power under control. Seems like a more promising crusade to me.
2. The important political question isn't whether libertarian populism is a winning message for the GOP. It's whether the GOP is a winning vehicle for libertarian populism. Taking on the corporate state is a good idea whether or not it's politically popular. It is true, of course, that the typical politician won't embrace an agenda unless he thinks it's going to win him votes. But for those of us who aren't politicians—or operatives in a politician's employ—there's no reason to care about winning votes unless those votes then generate something we want.
That might seem obvious too, but apparently it isn't. The most high-profile discussion of libertarian populism to appear thus far is a Paul Krugman column in The New York Times that never once bothers to engage, or even mention, the libertarian populists' central idea of challenging both state and business power. Instead Krugman treats the whole concept as a branding exercise aimed at winning "a pool of disaffected working-class white voters," then attacks it on the grounds that the strategy won't work. The LibPops' political agenda, he claims, is just "the same old policies" the GOP has always advocated, by which Krugman means less federal spending.
Well, libertarian populism does entail less federal spending. It also entails the wholesale rejection of the crony-capitalist conservatism that guided the Republican Congress in the K Street Project days and the heavy-spending, bailout-happy economics advanced by President George W. Bush. A libertarian-populist GOP would have slashed back the military-industrial complex and would have let the big banks fail. You need a serious case of myopia to see this as the same old Republican agenda.
There are rank-and-file Republicans who find these ideas attractive—if not in their most radical form, then at least in a shape that's a serious challenge to business as usual. And the so-called "liberty Republicans," represented by such figures as the Michigan congressman Justin Amash, have built a niche where such notions are welcome. But there's a difference between making a home in the GOP and taking the party over. By attacking the idea that government should be the servant of powerful corporate interests, the LibPops are challenging one of the basic operating principles of the modern Republican establishment. I wish them the best of luck in that fight, but I'm not at all optimistic that they'll win it.
Fortunately, they can still claim other victories...
3. Whether or not libertarian populism can win elections, it can win a lot of day-to-day fights. This is important to understand, because there are libertarians who have an aversion to populist arguments, apparently fearing that they inevitably end up growing rather than shrinking the state. Think back to early 2009, when the bailed-out insurer AIG prepared to dip into its tax-funded coffers to hand out $165 million in bonuses. As a loud populist outrage ensued, I criticized some prominent Republicans for rushing to AIG's defense. I was surprised to get negative feedback from a number of Reason readers, who didn't like the AIG bailout and weren't particularly happy about the bonuses but thought the uproar would likely serve as a wedge to increase the government's interference in the economy.
The scandal turned out to have a rather different effect. According to Ron Suskind's Confidence Men, an expensive proposal for a government-led bank restructuring failed to gain traction in part because of the anti-bonus backlash. "With all the money that already went to TARP, no one is getting that kind of money through Congress, especially with this AIG bonus disaster," White House Rahm Emanuel reportedly said at the time. Rahm Emanuel is in no way a libertarian and in no way a populist, and he had his own shady motives for blocking the plan. But he had a point about which way public opinion was tilting, and his argument carried the day.
If an inchoate outpouring of political disgust can scuttle that much, imagine what a more self-conscious LibPop movement could achieve—one that organizes at the grassroots, doesn't back down from entrenched enemies, and reaches out for left/right alliances as often as possible. The Wall Street bailout itself had a stumble when the House refused to vote for it, and that was before the Tea Party and Occupy movements were in place to be drawn on for reinforcements. I don't expect libertarian populism to take over one of the major parties. But it just might strike down some of the worst ideas the non-libertarian, non-populist elements of those parties try to sell us.

Full Metal Racket - More financial engineering from the manipulating muthrfuckers of Wall Street




Hat Tip: Ash


WATCH THIS MARKET MANIPULATION:




Elizabeth Warren Wants To Take This Goldman Sachs Aluminum Story And Run Right Over Wall Street With It
Linette Lopez, provided by
July 23, 2013


Today the Senate Banking Committee met to discuss Wall Street's role in the global commodities business, and as you can imagine Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was quite outspoken about the fact that she wants it majorly diminished.
"...I share the concern of many of my colleagues about asset managers at huge Wall Street banks exercising control of key parts of America's infrastructure," she said.
This discussion is crucial, as all of that will come up for consideration in September.
Back in 2003 the Federal Reserve decided to temporarily allow banks to purchase commodities directly. That means oil, power, copper, aluminium etc. This September, that temporary regulatory relaxation is set to expire, and if it does, a big chunk of Wall Street's business will expire with it.
And now that the ruling is up for discussion, Congress gets to weigh in. Wall Street be warned, if this hearing was any indication, the Senate is coming down on the side of culling the commodities business.
Warren decried the idea that banks would use "other people's money" in pension and retirement savings "to pave the way for big banks to be able to control an electric plant or an oil refinery."
One witness at the hearing asked her simply — what would have happened if a bank had owned the Exxon-Valdez? 
If that general tone sounds ominous, recent news stories haven't helped. This weekend, the New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs has allegedly been using its aluminum warehouses to manipulate the price of the metal.
Additionally, JP Morgan is in negotiations with FERC, a federal energy regulator, to settle charges that its traders manipulated energy markets in the western U.S., they could pay up to $410 million.
For today's hearing, Senators heard testimony from Ms. Saule Omarova, Associate Professor of Law University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law; Mr. Joshua Rosner, Managing Director Graham Fisher & Company; Mr. Timothy Weiner, Global Risk Manager Commodities/Metals, MillerCoors LLC; and Mr. Randall D. Guynn,  Head of Financial Institutions Group.
Aside from Guynn, all of the witnesses cautioned against renewing the Fed's 2003 decision. Omarava was especially damning, saying that when Congress separated banking from commerce in 1956, they sought to prevent markets like the one we're in.
"In this... over the counter derivative oil market I suspect Goldman Sachs can actually manipulate price," said Omarava.  "They could also affect the price of physical oil if they own tankers... I'm all for the DOJ launching an anti-trust investigation into these matters... If this is the market where JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are playing, it makes me very uncomfortable as a banking attorney."
Omarava also expressed doubts that regulators would be able to catch this activity as it's so complex.
The witnesses didn't just talk about prices either, they talked monopolies. Since her rise to prominence as a regulator and then a Senator, Warren has been saying that banks are getting too big, too interconnected, and too complicated. Rosner's testimony corroborated that idea, and added to it the specter of  commodities -controlling, all-encompassing banking behemoths backstopped by the government (too big too fail).
It's just more "coddling" from the Fed, he said, later adding... "These institutions have become the equivalent of the government institutions we saw fail during the crisis."
This isn't to say that Warren's going to give up her crusade to bring back Glass-Steagall and pick this up as her mantle — she's not. At the hearing she said that it was just "one tool in a tool box" to bring Wall Street back down to size.
There's a difference between the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and this commodities issue though, and that difference is all that matters to Wall Street banks.
Where trying to reinstate Glass-Steagall seemed like a matter of lobbying and politicing, taking Wall Street out of the commodities business is seen as a matter of dollars. It impacts the Street's bottom line — if it didn't, Goldman wouldn't have put out a "fact sheet" on its involvement in the aluminum warehouse business.

The idiot, “Thank you for your aircraft carrier service”, John McCain, and his superior ability to recognize the subtleties of who is who in Syria, strikes again

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The liberal elite has betrayed the middle class people that they claim to help.




The report below is one year old, but what has changed?
For the American middle class, nothing. 
America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers and flash traders who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!
This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that's what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.
Unfortunately, it's all bullshit, one of the biggest piles ever perpetrated on the American people.
Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we're number 27.
OOrah.

The Lost Decade of the Middle Class
Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier
CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW

As the 2012 presidential candidates prepare their closing arguments to America’s middle class, they are courting a group that has endured a lost decade for economic well-being. Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future.
These stark assessments are based on findings from a new nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that includes 1,287 adults who describe themselves as middle class, supplemented by the Center’s analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot.
Their downbeat take on their economic situation comes at the end of a decade in which, for the first time since the end of World War II, mean family incomes declined for Americans in all income tiers. But the middle-income tier—defined in this Pew Research analysis as all adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national
median 1 —is the only one that also shrunk in size, a trend that has continued over the past four decades.

In 2011, this middle-income tier included 51% of all adults; back in 1971, using the same income boundaries, it had included 61%. 2 The hollowing of the middle has been accompanied by a dispersion of the population into the economic tiers both above and below. The upper-income tier rose to 20% of adults in 2011, up from 14% in 1971; the lower-income tier rose to 29%, up from 25%. However, over the same period, only the upper-income tier increased its share in the nation’s household income pie. It now takes in 46%, up from 29% four decades ago. The middle tier now takes in 45%, down from 62% four decades ago. The lower tier takes in 9%, down from 10% four decades ago.
For the middle-income group, the “lost decade” of the 2000s has been even worse for wealth loss than for income loss. The median income of the middle-income tier fell 5%, but median wealth (assets minus debt) declined by 28%, to $93,150 from $129,582. 3 During this period, the median wealth of the upper-income tier was essentially unchanged—it rose by 1%, to $574,788 from $569,905. Meantime, the wealth of the lower-income tier plunged by 45%, albeit from a much smaller base, to $10,151 from $18,421.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Valiant Israeli police, defending apartheid, shoot female photographer photographing a protest




An Israeli human rights activist has released a video showing the moment she was shot in the leg at close range by Israeli forces, while she was documenting a protest in the West Bank. She says this type of incident is quite common. 

Sarit Michaeli, who has spoken to FRANCE 24 on multiple occasions, frequently films the weekly protests held by Palestinians in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, which are routinely dispersed by Israeli forces. This past Friday, she was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet, and captured the incident on camera.


Under the Israeli forces’ rules of engagement, rubber bullets are to be used only from a distance of 50 metres or more, to avoid piercing the skin. The fact that Michaeli’s skin was pierced seems to indicate that it was fired at close range.

When contacted by FRANCE 24, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the incident was being looked into, but could not provide further information at this time.


Friday’s protest in Nabi Saleh was actually much quieter than usual. Many people did not participate because of Ramadan. And there was comparatively very little stone-throwing; a few youths threw stones for maybe a minute. Border policemen had already largely dispersed the demonstration when a group of them started charging protesters who were on the main road leading out of the village.

I was off to the side, near a gas station, filming. I wasn’t in their way at all. There were a few people around me – a medic, two women, and a couple of foreign photographers. But they were clearly all peaceful; the rock-throwing youth were far away from us.

I don’t know if the border policeman was aiming at me or another one of these people. But what’s certain is that he shot from much too close of a range, since the rubber-coated metal bullet pierced my thigh. I estimate that he shot me from 15 to 20 metres away. I had to get stitches, and spent several days in the hospital to make sure the wound wouldn’t get infected.

“Many Palestinians have been severely injured in this way, but rarely does anyone listen to their complaints”

I have filmed protests in the West Bank for many years, and it’s not the first time I have been injured. But I have a camera, and I’m backed by an organisation – I’m in a privileged position. Many Palestinians throughout the West Bank have been severely injured in this way and rarely does anyone listen to their complaints. Yes, some of the Palestinians who are shot with rubber-coated metal bullets are involved in stone-throwing, and of course the Israeli forces have the authority to deal with them – but not by shooting them from less than 50 metres. And then, there are cases of Palestinians demonstrating peacefully who are also hit by rubber-coated metal bullets. [B’Tselem recently published a report on Israel’s use of crowd control in the West Bank that lists multiple examples of such cases]. The regulations are being frequently and flagrantly violated, and my video is just one example.

Sarit Michaeli

THERE ARE THREE PARTS TO THIS CLIP OF ISRAELI CHILDREN, ADULTS AND SOLDIERS TERRORIZING THIS PALESTINIAN FAMILY. AN ISRAELI  SOLDIER TURNS A BLIND EYE. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE APARTHEID STATE OF ISRAEL:



Goodbye, Jimmy Serrano.


Dennis Farina, the dapper, mustachioed cop-turned-actor best known for his tough-as-nails work in such TV series as "Law & Order," "Crime Story," and "Miami Vice," has died. He was 69.

"I’ve long thought Michael Hayden (ex NSA chief) belongs in prison for implementing illegal warrantless eavesdropping at Americans "- Glenn Greenwald




Former NSA Chief Smears Glenn Greenwald

"The Guardian newspaper's Glenn Greenwald," writes former NSA director Michael Hayden today in a CNN op-ed, is "more deserving of the Justice Department's characterization of a co-conspirator than Fox's James Rosen ever was." Hayden's smear came in a column in which he argues that Edward Snowden, whose story Greenwald has been telling in the Guardian, "will likely prove to be the most costly leaker of American secrets in the history of the Republic."

Those thuggish words are particularly disturbing coming from a figure who is, as CNNs editor's note at the top of the column explains, still tied to military and intelligence elites.

When powerful bullies like Hayden attempt to smear or criminalize journalists, it should stir anger, particularly among journalists. Though it should come as little surprise that an official who launched warrantless surveillance programs–in spite of the Fourth Amendment protections against them–also has a tenuous grasp on the First Amendment. 

Hayden's sordid attack on Greenwald is just the latest in a string of NSA smears and lies emitting from current and former government officials. After the Snowden story broke in early June, and the official wagons began circling, I noted how officials including U.S. senators, the current NSA chief, the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House itself, were spreading falsehoods about NSA surveillance programs and their successes. With a couple of noted exceptions, those falsehoods went unchallenged by journalists. 
  
As this latest propaganda in the campaign to burnish the NSA's reputation and tarnish those of its critics comes at the expense of a reporter, it might be a good time for journalists to ask hard questions about the smear artists, liars and constitutional scofflaws in charge of surveillance programs. Or as veteran journalist and media watcher Dan Froomkin tweeted about Hayden's attack on Greenwald: "Surprise: The people we're supposed to blindly trust with absolute surveillance power engage in smears & innuendo."
Speaking for himself, Glenn Greenwald responded to Hayden's smear this way:



I've long thought Michael Hayden belongs in prison for implementing illegal warrantless eavesdropping at Americans