Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I do not take kindly to being messed with when I am writing.
Oh yea there is a scheduled outage here for 4PM PDT so you know.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
With oil prices at $135 dollars per barrel, the pressure is on for car makers to innovate and create more fuel efficient vehicles. Volkswagen seems to be taking this task seriously with the 1L, a prototype that is capable of traveling for 235mpg using 1 gallon of gasoline, or 100km on 1L of gas. Adding to the excitement of this breakthrough is recent news that VW plans to get this concept out to market in 2010!More pics and info here
See we always knew it was possible, just BIG oil stopping production by paying off and intimidating inventors.
Guess they didn't get to those folks yet.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What Warrantless Wiretapping Means to Me
For a good chunk of my 26 year Air Force career, I was directly involved in surveillance programs for the National Security Agency (NSA).
For decades, these programs have played a crucial role in protecting our country from its enemies and all who seek to undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms that so many brave service members have died defending--including several of my Air Force Academy classmates.
I flew missions that monitored electronic communications around the world--often with Soviet MIGs flying off my wing and hoping I'd make a wrong turn. Our standing order was "if you even suspect you are collecting data on an American citizen, you are to cease immediately, flag the tape, and bring it to a supervisor." We knew failure to comply would yield serious consequences--the kind that can end your career, or worse, land you in jail.
In short, professional, accurate intelligence collection guidelines were used to protect America "from all enemies, foreign and domestic," without also undermining the very freedoms we were protecting.
So I've watched the debate in Congress over warrantless wiretapping and the manner in which private companies have been encouraged to violate the laws that so many of us dedicated our careers to upholding with great interest---or, more appropriately, with shock and awe.
Let me be clear---I strongly believe intelligence agencies need the power to conduct electronic surveillance of anyone who would mean our nation harm---particularly in a post 9/11 World. And if there are loopholes that prevent appropriate agencies from doing this work within the bounds of the Constitution, those holes can and must be closed.
But this debate isn't just about security; it's about accountability. As an officer who was both involved in these programs and held personally accountable for my actions in the name of defending America, I have a problem with giving a few well-connected, well-healed companies who knowingly usurp the law a free pass.
Every day, less than 1% of our country puts on the uniform and dedicates themselves to the security and the freedom of every single American. They do so knowing that breaking the chain of command, or ignoring orders, comes with consequences---no matter how "patriotic" your intentions.
When I see low ranking officers tossed in jail for carrying out the explicit directives of civilian leadership (I.E. Abu Gharib) that is not held accountable, silence is not an option.
When I see our national security institutions compromised by the mistakes of Washington politicians, silence is not an option.
When I see our intelligence community being used for partisan political gain instead of for defending our nation, silence is not an option.
And when I see companies acting "in the interest of national security" held to a lower standard of accountability than the dedicated professionals charged with our nation's defense, silence is not an option.
And to those few companies seeking immunity for breaking the law despite the best of intentions---might I offer a few comforting words on behalf of all who serve, and all who have borne the responsibilities of safeguarding our great nation...freedom isn't free.
Charlie Brown, Lt. Col. USAF Ret.
Don't let his name fool you, he is not a cartoon, he is the real deal, a real spy.
Going after Doonothings' Congressional seat against a carpetbagger, Tom McClintock.
Tom has been in politics in CA for a long time and this would be his springboard to the 'BIG time', so he moved up from LA to make District 4 his home. Charlie has been around the area for 16 years.
Nasty nest of crabby old repug geezers here and the current rate of expiration should be down to the nubs in about 15 years. Better hope the hometown boy can pull it off.
I saw two Bush/Cheney stickers on vehicles coming to work this AM proving people are stubbornly clinging to the sinking life raft that was the repug party.
Hey people! Get out your little scrapers and get busy or be forever relegated to the idiot bin.
Posted on Jun 23, 2008
|AP photo / Charles Dharapak, file|
By Chris Hedges
Washington has become Versailles. We are ruled, entertained and informed by courtiers. The popular media are courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are courtiers. Our pundits and experts are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games. We are being had.
The past week was a good one if you were a courtier. We were instructed by the high priests on television over the past few days to mourn a Sunday morning talk show host, who made $5 million a year and who gave a platform to the powerful and the famous so they could spin, equivocate and lie to the nation. We were repeatedly told by these television courtiers, people like Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer, that this talk show host was one of our nation’s greatest journalists, as if sitting in a studio, putting on makeup and chatting with Dick Cheney or George W. Bush have much to do with journalism.
No journalist makes $5 million a year. No journalist has a comfortable, cozy relationship with the powerful. No journalist believes that acting as a conduit, or a stenographer, for the powerful is a primary part of his or her calling. Those in power fear and dislike real journalists. Ask Seymour Hersh and Amy Goodman how often Bush or Cheney has invited them to dinner at the White House or offered them an interview.@ Truthdig
There is a saying "Never speak ill of the dead". That saying went the way of The Constitution I'm afraid.
Yaks are yaks, people highly paid to read from teleprompters, they too are not journalists.
It seems the line between journalism and yakdom is getting more blurry every day with the suck-up-manship on the part of the MSM always willing to appease the high and mighty all the while ignoring the reality that surrounds them of death and dismemberment in Iraq.
Ask yourself why we never see injured or dead troops on the teevee.
The yaks do not want you to know about the things that make turmoil in the World, instead they lead and distract to avoid the 'unpleasant'. That is NOT journalism, rather it is supportive of the Neo-Fascists to market BIG pharma, BIG oil, and other BIG interests. The News has become a marketing tool and anyone can tell you marketing is NOT journalism.
So what is a confused consumer to do? Well I can tell you what THEY want you to do, buy their products and enjoy your peacefull Prozac addled existence in what is left of the USA and you better not protest, or else.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
More than 840 wildfires sparked by an "unprecedented" lightning storm are burning across Northern California, alarming the governor and requiring the help of firefighters from Nevada and Oregon.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it "quite shocking" that by Monday morning the number had risen above 700.
Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger's side offered a grim update. The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state.
"This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes," Walters said. "We are finding fires all the time."
Two of the state's biggest fires had each charred nearly 6 square miles. One in Napa County quickly moved into Solano County, and threatened about 250 homes about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 60 percent contained.
The other, in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest about 160 miles north of Sacramento, threatened about 1,200 homes.
The Sun is an orange ball in the sky this morning as fires claim more property.
Mother Nature sent in the lightning bolts and that is all she wrote, has not been the same since. Stinky, smoky air causing folks with Asthma to be confined indoors.
The woods are tinder dry making even the slightest spark a potential million dollar disaster. Someone was mowing their lawn and hitting a rock started a field on fire that burned 10 acres before it could be smothered out.
We are toast.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
As the pain induced by higher oil prices spreads to an ever growing share of the American (and world) population, pundits and politicians have been quick to blame assorted villains -- greedy oil companies, heartless commodity speculators and OPEC. It's true that each of these parties has contributed to and benefited from the steep run-up. But the sharp growth in petroleum costs is due far more to a combination of soaring international demand and slackening supply -- compounded by the ruinous policies of the Bush Administration -- than to the behavior of those other actors.
Most, if not all, the damage was avoidable. Shortly after taking office, George W. Bush undertook a sweeping review of US energy policy aimed at expanding the nation's supply of vital fuels. The "reality is the nation has got a real problem when it comes to energy," he declared on March 14, 2001. "We need more sources of energy." At that time many of the problems evident today were already visible. Energy demand in mature industrial nations was continuing to grow as the rising economic dynamos of Asia, especially China, were beginning to make an impact. By 2002 the Energy Department was predicting that China would soon overtake Japan, becoming the world's second-largest petroleum consumer, and that developing Asia as a whole would account for about one-fourth of global consumption by 2020. Also evident was an unmistakable slowdown in the growth of world production, the telltale sign of an imminent "peaking" in global output [see Klare, "Beyond the Age of Petroleum," November 12, 2007].
With these trends in mind, many energy experts urged the White House to minimize future reliance on oil, emphasize conservation and rapidly develop climate-friendly alternatives, especially renewables like wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels. But Dick Cheney, who was overseeing the energy review, would have none of this. "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue," the Vice President famously declared in April 2001, "but it is not a sufficient basis…for sound, comprehensive energy policy." After three months of huddling in secret with top executives of leading US energy companies, he released a plan on May 17 that, in effect, called for preserving the existing energy system, with its heavy reliance on oil, coal and natural gas.
Keeping his pals in business as promised at the expense of the American people too wimpy to protest is the Perfect Storm.
Like the war criminals they are,I would expect no less.
Fascism, often tried, never succeeded, but they still keep trying. What is that phrase about trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result being the definition of insanity?
I wish they would quit trying so we could all catch a break.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
By Larry Wheeler, Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON — If you think the weather is getting more extreme, you're right — and global warming caused by human activity probably is the reason, according to a report released Thursday by a panel of government scientists.
The report comes as the Midwest copes with record rainfall and catastrophic flooding.
There is strong evidence the increasing frequency of extreme rain, heat, drought and tropical storms is caused by global climate change, according to the report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.
"Changes in some weather and climate extremes are attributable to human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases," the study authors concluded.
The report is a synthesis of the latest research on extreme weather in the U.S. and comes after nearly six months that saw a record number of tornadoes, unusual winter warmth and record-setting precipitation in many regions.
CLIMATE CRYSTAL BALL
According to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's most recent 3.3 report, people can expect these environmental changes in the future:
Hot temperatures and heat waves will be more likely, as the number of cold nights and "frost days" will decrease.
Strong waves will erode Arctic coastlines in Alaska and Canada
The Atlantic and Pacific basins will be hit with harder cold-season storms, packed with stronger winds and taller waves.
Source: Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate brochure by CCSP.
Wild and woolly weather set to continue over much of the Midwest and East, while the West bakes in record heat.
How bad can it get? It's just a typical Earth cycle they say, even as such, the devastation is enormous. We are at the mercy of the wind, water, and fire.
Batten down the hatches and stow the mainsail, rough seas ahead.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I can’t make this up:
In a hotel room in Brussels, the chief executives of the world’s top oil companies unrolled a huge map of the Middle East, drew a fat, red line around Iraq and signed their names to it.
The map, the red line, the secret signatures. It explains this war. It explains this week’s rocketing of the price of oil to $134 a barrel.
It happened on July 31, 1928, but the bill came due now.
Barack Obama knows this. Or, just as important, those crafting his policies seem to know this. Same for Hillary Clinton’s team. There could be no more vital difference between the Republican and Democratic candidacies. And you won’t learn a thing about it on the news from the Fox-holes.
Let me explain.
In 1928, oil company chieftains (from Anglo-Persian Oil, now British Petroleum, from Standard Oil, now Exxon, and their Continental counterparts) were faced with a crisis: falling prices due to rising supplies of oil; the same crisis faced by their successors during the Clinton years, when oil traded at $22 a barrel.
The solution then, as now: stop the flow of oil, squeeze the market, raise the price. The method: put a red line around Iraq and declare that virtually all the oil under its sands would remain there, untapped. Their plan: choke supply, raise prices rise, boost profits. That was the program for 1928. For 2003. For 2008.
Again and again, year after year, the world price of oil has been boosted artificially by keeping a tight limit on Iraq’s oil output. Methods varied. The 1928 “Redline” agreement held, in various forms, for over three decades. It was replaced in 1959 by quotas imposed by President Eisenhower. Then Saudi Arabia and OPEC kept Iraq, capable of producing over 6 million barrels a day, capped at half that, given an export quota equal to Iran’s lower output.
In 1991, output was again limited, this time by a new red line: B-52 bombings by Bush Senior’s air force. Then came the Oil Embargo followed by the “Food for Oil” program. Not much food for them, not much oil for us.
In 2002, after Bush Junior took power, the top ten oil companies took in a nice $31 billion in profits. But then, a miracle fell from the sky. Or, more precisely, the 101st Airborne landed. Bush declared, “Bring’m on!” and, as the dogs of war chewed up the world’s second largest source of oil, crude doubled in two years to an astonishing $40 a barrel and those same oil companies saw their profits triple to $87 billion.
In response, Senators Obama and Clinton propose something wrongly called a “windfall” profits tax on oil. But oil industry profits didn’t blow in on a breeze. It is war, not wind, that fills their coffers. The beastly leap in prices is nothing but war profiteering, hiking prices to take cruel advantage of oil fields shut by bullets and blood.
I wish to hell the Democrats would call their plan what it is: A war profiteering tax. War is profitable business – if you’re an oil man. But somehow, the public pays the price, at the pump and at the funerals, and the oil companies reap the benefits.
Click on the pic above to read the details.
So far Yahoo and Google both pissed me off significantly this AM, Yahoo changed their e-mail format and like with every so-called improvement it is not.
Google ran off with the "edit" feature at the bottom of the page so I cannot edit without going into the posts program section.
Gas is still $4.59 a gallon here which is grinding the economy to a halt in the area.
Ripoff BIG OIL deserves a 99% windfall profits tax if you ask me.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Army Overseer Tells of Ouster Over KBR Stir
WASHINGTON — The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.
The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.
Army auditors had determined that KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.”
But he was suddenly replaced, he said, and his successors — after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR’s claims — approved most of the payments he had tried to block.
Army officials denied that Mr. Smith had been removed because of the dispute, but confirmed that they had reversed his decision, arguing that blocking the payments to KBR would have eroded basic services to troops. They said that KBR had warned that if it was not paid, it would reduce payments to subcontractors, which in turn would cut back on services.
“You have to understand the circumstances at the time,” said Jeffrey P. Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command. “We could not let operational support suffer because of some other things.”@ TNYT
ONE BILLION BUCKS! or we kill the bunny! You would not want us to do that would you?
Like the lying-ass contractors they are, KBR has sheltered it's income through offshore accounts and is now threatening to withhold vital services from the troops?
Takes guts to rip off America and dare someone to do something to stop them. Sure do not want to blow that whistle thats for sure, you will be disposed of.
If that does not sound like a Mafia operation, nothing does. Yet it goes on unabated every day, day after day. If it was up to me KBR would be up to it's eyeballs in lawsuits to regain lost taxpayer dollars and give that guy his job back.
Meanwhile the war goes on, troops die, KBR rips off America for record profits.
Life goes on for some, while others die for nothing.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Naomi Klein's Latest Column
Obama’s Chicago Boys
by Naomi Klein, June 13, 2008
Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, “Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.”
Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed 37-year-old Jason Furman to head his economic policy team. Furman is one of Wal-Mart’s most prominent defenders, anointing the company a “progressive success story.” On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged, “I won’t shop there.” For Furman, however, it’s Wal-Mart’s critics who are the real threat: the “efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits” are creating “collateral damage” that is “way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy more broadly for me to sit by idly and sing ‘Kum-Ba-Ya’ in the interests of progressive harmony.”
Obama’s love of markets and his desire for “change” are not inherently incompatible. “The market has gotten out of balance,” he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance back to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counter-revolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago economics department. And here there are more problems, because Obama—who taught law at the University of Chicago for a decade—is thoroughly embedded in the mindset known as the Chicago School.
He chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the center-right. Goolsbee, unlike his more Friedmanite colleagues, sees inequality as a problem. His primary solution, however, is more education—a line you can also get from Alan Greenspan. In their hometown, Goolsbee has been eager to link Obama to the Chicago School. “If you look at his platform, at his advisers, at his temperament, the guy’s got a healthy respect for markets,” he told Chicago magazine. “It’s in the ethos of the , which is something different from saying he is laissez-faire.”
Another of Obama’s Chicago fans is 39-year-old billionaire Kenneth Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. Griffin, who gave the maximum allowable donation to Obama, is something of a poster boy for an unbalanced economy. He got married at Versailles and had the after-party at Marie Antoinette’s vacation spot (Cirque du Soleil performed)—and he is one of the staunchest opponents of closing the hedge fund tax loophole. While Obama talks about toughening trade rules with China, Griffin has been bending the few barriers that do exist. Despite sanctions prohibiting the sale of police equipment to China, Citadel has been pouring money into controversial China-based security companies that are putting the local population under unprecedented levels of surveillance.
Now is the time to worry about Obama’s Chicago Boys and their commitment to fending off serious attempts at regulation. It was in the two and a half months between winning the 1992 election and being sworn into office that Bill Clinton did a U-turn on the economy. He had campaigned promising to revise NAFTA, adding labor and environmental provisions and to invest in social programs. But two weeks before his inauguration, he met with then Goldman Sachs chief Robert Rubin, who convinced him of the urgency of embracing austerity and more liberalization. Rubin told PBS, “President Clinton actually made the decision before he stepped into the Oval Office, during the transition, on what was a dramatic change in economic policy.”
Furman, a leading disciple of Rubin, was chosen to head the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, the think tank Rubin helped found to argue for reforming, rather than abandoning, the free trade agenda. Add to that Goolsbee’s February meeting with Canadian consulate officials, who left with the distinct impression that they had been instructed not to take Obama’s anti-NAFTA campaigning seriously, and there is every reason for concern about a replay of 1993.
The irony is that there is absolutely no reason for this backsliding. The movement launched by Friedman, introduced by Ronald Reagan and entrenched under Clinton, faces a profound legitimacy crisis around the world. Nowhere is this more evident than at the University of Chicago itself. In mid-May, when university president Robert Zimmer announced the creation of a $200 million Milton Friedman Institute, an economic research center devoted to continuing and augmenting the Friedman legacy, a controversy erupted. More than 100 faculty members signed a letter of protest. “The effects of the neoliberal global order that has been put in place in recent decades, strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive,” the letter states. “Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world’s population.”
When Friedman died in 2006, such bold critiques of his legacy were largely absent. The adoring memorials spoke only of grand achievement, with one of the more prominent appreciations appearing in the New York Times—written by Austan Goolsbee. Yet now, just two years later, Friedman’s name is seen as a liability even at his own alma mater. So why has Obama chosen this moment, when all illusions of a consensus have dropped away, to go Chicago retro?
The news is not all bad. Furman claims he will be drawing on the expertise of two Keynesian economists: Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute and James Galbraith, son of Friedman’s nemesis John Kenneth Galbraith. Our “current economic crisis,” Obama recently said, did not come from nowhere. It is “the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long.”
True enough. But before Obama can purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism, he has some ideological housecleaning of his own to do.
I am all about wait and see with BIG O. These economic gurus bring with them an actual economic policy which is something the chimp checked at the door before he set his cheerleader ass in the biggest chair in the country.
Besides anyone that is anti-Friedman is OK with me. Get in there and figure something out to make it work.
Gee what a novel idea, work.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
High oil prices fuel development of new hybrid batteries
- Q&A | Ask a question about the economy
- Story | Nissan plans big bet on electric cars
- Story | The solution to high gas prices no one wants — driving 55
- Story | GM: Shift to small cars likely permanent, Hummer may go
- Graphic | Lithium-ion batteries
- Image | General Motors announced on June 3 that it would offer consumers by late 2010 its Chevrolet Volt.
By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
NISKAYUNA, N.Y. — Rising oil and gasoline prices have put spring into the steps of the engineers at General Electric's global research headquarters, who're developing new battery technologies to power everything from hybrid cars to tugboats, city buses and diesel locomotives.
"The price of gasoline is going up dramatically, so we're looking more seriously at this," said Robert King, a senior hybrid engineer who's researched hybrid technologies for more than three decades. "The cost is still one challenge, but I think as we see the price of gasoline going up, more effort is going into the development of technology."
The silver lining in high oil prices is that they may hasten the arrival of energy alternatives that should bring a number of benefits.
Oil historian Daniel Yergin calls today's high prices a "tipping point" that will lead to alternatives to oil. New battery technologies could leave the United States less reliant on foreign oil while reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
Sound like a pipe dream? General Motors' chairman and chief executive officer, Rick Wagoner, announced Tuesday that his board has given the green light to begin manufacturing the Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle.
“The Chevy Volt is a go. We believe this is the biggest step yet in our industry’s move away from our historic, virtually complete reliance on petroleum to power vehicles,” Wagoner said in a statement, pledging to get the Volt into dealerships by late 2010.@ McClatchy
The wheels of Science are turning, albeit very slowly. The writing is on the wall and I have been noticing GE has been taking steps to be included in the race to discover alternative sources of power to drive America into the 21st Century.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Our new book, A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry, isn't all road trips and sightseeing. In between travels to nuclear bunkers and missile test ranges, we paid visits to gadflies of the nuclear world who we thought could help us plan our travels. That's how we (well, Sharon, anyhow) ended up in the office of Curt Weldon, the former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.
Weldon, for those of you not familiar with the former lawmaker, was famous for securing funding for some Russian flying saucers, his conspiratorial belief that a classified program had identified several of the 9/11 terrorists, and his determination to insert himself in nuclear issues, ranging from North Korea to Iran. It was actually the Russians that got him in trouble. We'll get back to that.
We wanted to see Weldon because we were trying to get access to Russia's closed nuclear cities, and frankly, Weldon was known for having good contacts with the Russian government. How close? Well, we'll get to that, too. Weldon, on hearing of our interest, was thrilled to talk, just thrilled. Because he wanted to tell us all about how he could single-handedly solve the world's nuclear problems. I mean, this is a man who kept a mock-up of a suitcase nuke in his office.
This was in 2006. Not long after that,the FBI raided Weldon's office and he subsequently lost his seat in the House. It is suspected that Weldon may have helped secure funding for Russian companies that in turn, paid money to his daughter. Nowadays, it's tough to get Weldon, who is at the center of a corruption probe, to talk about Russia, let alone the International Exchange Group, or IEG, the nonprofit Russian corporation that appears to be part of the FBI's investigation into the former Congressman. The Kremlin-connected IEG, the Wall Street Journall notes, was dedicated to "promoting U.S.-Russia business exchange" and "removing bureaucratic obstacles to the implementation of U.S.-funded nonproliferation programs" in Russia.
Weldon remains under investigation, though he has not yet been charged. Ken Silverstein at Harper's has been covering this issue for several years now, as has Laura Rozen writing at War and Piece. But the latest twist comes from the Journal, which reported that IEG may have paid money to the wife of a Weldon staffer. Many of the questions center on the mysterious figure at the head of IEG, Vladimir Petrosyan, and his relationship with Weldon. How close were Petrosyan and Weldon?@ Wired
H/T to Alan for the story.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Did you know that the National Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by a shadowy cabal of elite Christian fundamentalists? Jeff Sharlet's new book, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," offers a rare glimpse of this remarkable network, which is known variously as the Family, the Fellowship and the International Foundation.
The Family was founded 70 years ago by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant evangelist based in Seattle. In 1935, Vereide said, God appeared to him in a vision and revealed where Christianity had gone wrong: preoccupation with the poor, the weak and the suffering.
The down-and-out were in no position to bring about the Kingdom of God, Vereide realized. Some Christians believe that the rapture is imminent, but not the Family. They're convinced that Jesus won't return until we get our collective house in order. If they were to wait for the down-and-out to remake the world in God's image, we could be here forever.
Besides, in Seattle in the 1930s, union agitators were making a play for the down-and-out. Christianity promised rewards in the hereafter, but workers in the Pacific Northwest were starting to wonder why they had to wait so long. Instead of competing for market share with the Industrial Workers of the World, Vereide sought a different niche.
His new plan was to target men who were already powerful and turn them to God -- and wouldn't you know it, God hated unions, too.
Through personal relationships and small group encounters, Vereide united captains of industry and politicians as a Biblical bulwark against the increasing power of organized labor.
In the late 1940s, the Family helped roll back key pro-labor provisions of the New Deal. Later, the Family did its part for the Cold War by cultivating anti-communist strongmen around the world, including repressive leaders like Suharto of Indonesia and Jonas Savimbi of Angola.
The roster of current and former Family members includes senators, congressmen, Fortune 500 CEOs, generals and at least one Supreme Court justice. The Family does not publish membership lists, and its members are sworn to secrecy, so a full accounting is impossible.
Sen. Hillary Clinton has been involved with the Family since 1993 when, as first lady, she joined a White House prayer circle for political wives. Clinton has also sought spiritual counseling from the current head of the Family, Doug Coe. Sharlet argues that Clinton's longtime association with the Family has helped her forge working relationships with powerful religious conservatives such as Family member and anti-abortion crusader Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
The Family nurtures the next generation of prayer warriors in suburban dormitories. Sharlet spent nearly a month living at Ivanwald, a dormitory in Virginia where sons of the Family are sent to immerse themselves in Jesus and clean the toilets of congressmen and senators.
The Family also runs a house on C Street in Washington, D.C. The C Street Center has housed a number of federal legislators, including Sen. John Ensign of Nevada. Residents allege that the center is just a cheap place to live, but as an Ivanwald brother, Sharlet saw firsthand that the center is a religious community. As far as the IRS is concerned, the C Street Center is a church.
Members will tell you that the Family is just a group of friends. As Sharlet discovered, 600 boxes of documents at the Billy Graham Center Archives tell a different story.
Continued @ Alternet
Yet another fine example of a wacko having a bad dream while being self-focused.
Authoritarians have been in religion for thousands of years and do not seem to have trouble finding like minded sheeple to follow their beliefs no matter how bizzare.
Worse that just plain old authoritarians are elitist authoritarians granted the wisdom of the ages through 'revelations from God', oh what a nasty bunch they are, self absorbed and appointed to 'correct' the shortcomings of their fellow man through force if necessary.
What a bunch of idiots.
Do humanity a favor and keep your religion where it belongs, in church, not in government.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Law professor and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley says that America's founders "would have been astonished by the absolute passivity, if not the collusion, of the Democrats in protecting President Bush from impeachment."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann talked with Turley one day after Kucinich's historic presentation of 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush that garnered little mainstream media attention but was an Internet sensation.
Despite noting that not all of the articles Kucinich presented were "impeachable offenses" in a strict sense, Turley says "there are pleny of crimes there -- this is a target-rich environment."
On Monday evening, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) took to the floor of the House of Representatives to read out 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush in an almost five-hour marathon.
Kucinich's action made an immediate splash on the Internet. For example, at progressive website Democratic Underground, the historic performance quickly garnered an astonishing 56 separate threads on the most-recommended list.
By noon on Tuesday, RAW STORY's article on the subject was the top political story of the day at digg.com and the 10th most popular for the last year. A separate article at afterdowningstreet.org was also high in the ratings. Both sites, as well as Kucinich's own webpage, were experiencing slowdowns due to the volume of traffic.
However, the mainstream media were far more reticent in their coverage of Kucinich's resolution -- much as they were following the release last week of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the administration's misuse of prewar intelligence. For example, the Washington Post and USA Today had short items in their blog sections, while other major outlets merely ran wire service coverage from AP or Reuters.
A "target rich environment" Mr. Turley called it. I like that.
Sums up pretty well what has been a lawbreaker paradise at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. a den of thieves and hideout for common criminals guilty of violations at levels unseen before this, all the while with the blessings of the Democrats in Congress.
That whole place stinks like a rotten kettle of fish and no one willing to empty it.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The US government has taken some extreme measures to silence former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Among other reasons, they are obviously very nervous about information that Sibel has regarding the involvement of US, Israeli, and Turkish officials in supplying the nuclear black market.
Now we have this: The US Government apparently demanded that the Swiss government destroy all evidence - all 30,000 pages of it - related to the pending prosecution of the Tinner family. The Tinners were "very key suppliers" of AQ Khan's nuclear proliferation network, but their court case is now unlikely to proceed, given the destruction of the evidence.
The Tinners, the father and two sons, were arrested by German authorities and extradited to Switzerland in 2004 for their role in supplying the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.
Two weeks ago, the Swiss President, responding to media reports, read out a prepared statement announcing that all the evidence relating to the Tinners' case was destroyed late last year. He said that it was important to destroy all the evidence, which included sensitive information about how to make nuclear weapons, in case the information fell into the hands of terrorists. He also stated that Switzerland was merely meeting its obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and that the IAEA supervised the destruction of the documents.
That sounds reasonable.
Unilateral Decision Making. The Swiss government is under pressure internally as a result of its unilateral decision to destroy the evidence. Both the parliament and the courts are accusing the Swiss government of violating the principle of Separation of Powers. The Parliament has already announced that it will hold an investigation into the matter.
Why the Secrecy? The announcement that the evidence was destroyed (6 months ago) was forced on the Swiss President by rumours in the media. The Swiss government refuses to answer any questions regarding the matter, as do the IAEA and the US government.
NPT Obligations? I haven't seen any media report which confirms or supports the Swiss claim that this destruction of evidence was an obligation under the NPT. However the Guardian, which has the best reporting on this story, quotes a 'former senior IAEA official' saying: "I am quite astonished. It's very unusual to see people destroying documents like this. They should be put somewhere very safe."
The destruction of evidence took place with the apparent imprimatur of the IAEA, but they refuse to comment too. Has the IAEA been corrupted too?
@ Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Quite astonishing indeed. The most serious threat to global security is nuclear proliferation on the black market which incidentally is what Valerie Plame was involved with prior to her 'outing' by the chimp and others.
This all ties together making a very uncomfortable read. I don't want to die from radiation poisoning and neither do many others but the way the chimp cabal has handled this debacle to end all debacles is beyond simple deception. To start a war that could involve the annihilation of millions of planetary occupants through deliberate and careless manipulation of the weapons black market would exceed the current heinous crimes they have already committed.
Maybe they figure if they cannot have the World, no one can.
It is imperative that the chimp cabal be removed from power immediately for high crimes and misdemeanors and a task force mounted to get to the bottom of this black market operation and snuff it like a spent cigar.
To do nothing is at our own peril.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Fervent supporters of Barack Obama like to say that putting him in the White House would transform America. With all due respect to the candidate, that gets it backward. Mr. Obama is an impressive speaker who has run a brilliant campaign — but if he wins in November, it will be because our country has already been transformed.
Mr. Obama’s nomination wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. It’s possible today only because racial division, which has driven U.S. politics rightward for more than four decades, has lost much of its sting.
And the de-racialization of U.S. politics has implications that go far beyond the possibility that we’re about to elect an African-American president. Without racial division, the conservative message — which has long dominated the political scene — loses most of its effectiveness.
Take, for example, that old standby of conservatives: denouncing Big Government. Last week John McCain’s economic spokesman claimed that Barack Obama is President Bush’s true fiscal heir, because he’s “dedicated to the recent Bush tradition of spending money on everything.”
Now, the truth is that the Bush administration’s big-spending impulses have been largely limited to defense contractors. But more to the point, the McCain campaign is deluding itself if it thinks this issue will resonate with the public.
For Americans have never disliked Big Government in general. In fact, they love Social Security and Medicare, and strongly approve of Medicaid — which means that the three big programs that dominate domestic spending have overwhelming public support.
If Ronald Reagan and other politicians succeeded, for a time, in convincing voters that government spending was bad, it was by suggesting that bureaucrats were taking away workers’ hard-earned money and giving it to you-know-who: the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks, the welfare queen driving her Cadillac. Take away the racial element, and Americans like government spending just fine.
But why has racial division become so much less important in American politics?
Part of the credit surely goes to Bill Clinton, who ended welfare as we knew it. I’m not saying that the end of Aid to Families With Dependent Children was an unalloyed good thing; it created a great deal of hardship. But the “bums on welfare” played a role in political discourse vastly disproportionate to the actual expense of A.F.D.C., and welfare reform took that issue off the table.
Another large factor has been the decline in urban violence.
As the historian Rick Perlstein documents in his terrific new book “Nixonland,” America’s hard right turn really began in 1966, when the Democrats suffered a severe setback in Congress — and Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California.
The cause of that right turn, as Mr. Perlstein shows, was white fear of urban disorder — and the associated fear that fair housing laws would let dangerous blacks move into white neighborhoods. “Law and order” became the rallying cry of right-wing politicians, above all Richard Nixon, who rode that fear right into the White House.
But during the Clinton years, for reasons nobody fully understands, the wave of urban violence receded, and with it the ability of politicians to exploit Americans’ fear.
It’s true that 9/11 gave the fear factor a second wind: Karl Rove accusing liberals of being soft on terrorism sounded just like Spiro Agnew accusing liberals of being soft on crime. But the G.O.P.’s credibility as America’s defender has leaked away into the sands of Iraq.
Let me add one more hypothesis: although everyone makes fun of political correctness, I’d argue that decades of pressure on public figures and the media have helped drive both overt and strongly implied racism out of our national discourse. For example, I don’t think a politician today could get away with running the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad.
Unfortunately, the campaign against misogyny hasn’t been equally successful.
By the way, it was during the heyday of the baby boom generation that crude racism became unacceptable. Mr. Obama, who has been dismissive of the boomers’ “psychodrama,” might want to give the generation that brought about this change, fought for civil rights and protested the Vietnam War a bit more credit.
Anyway, none of this guarantees an Obama victory in November. Racial division has lost much of its sting, but not all: you can be sure that we’ll be hearing a lot more about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and all that. Moreover, despite Hillary Clinton’s gracious, eloquent concession speech, some of her supporters may yet refuse to support the Democratic nominee.
But if Mr. Obama does win, it will symbolize the great change that has taken place in America. Racial polarization used to be a dominating force in our politics — but we’re now a different, and better, country.@ TNYT
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?
By John Walcott | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.
The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.
According to the Senate report, the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity unit concluded in 2003 that Ledeen "was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar."
The counterintelligence unit said, however, that Ledeen's association with Ghorbanifar "was widely known, and therefore it should be presumed other foreign intelligence services, including those of Iran, would know."
Stephen Cambone, then the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, shut down the counterintelligence investigation after only a month, the Senate report said.@ McClatchy
Indeed there might be a score to settle there, certainly no love lost.
We can drag this stuff around and bitch here and bitch there but until action is actually taken against the worst Administration ever, we are likely to get duped again in some other issue.
Morons in charge have made tons of mistakes and will continue to do so until relieved of command. Thank goodness there is only months until we can rid ourselves of this scourge. Then maybe we can get an Attorney General that will bring charges.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
In his office, on a private floor above the Brussels office of the Suez conglomerate lined with political cartoons of himself, he told me what he thought of allegations that Bilderberg is a global conspiracy secretly ruling the world.
"It is unavoidable and it doesn't matter," he says. "There will always be people who believe in conspiracies but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion."
Lack of publicity
In an extremely rare interview, he played down the importance of Bilderberg in setting the international agenda. "What can come out of our meetings is that it is wrong not to try to deal with a problem. But a real consensus, an action plan containing points 1, 2 and 3? The answer is no. People are much too sensible to believe they can do that."
Every year since 1954, a small network of rich and powerful people have held a discussion meeting about the state of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the problems facing Europe and the US.
Organised by a steering committee of two people from each of about 18 countries, the Bilderberg Group (named after the Dutch hotel in which it held its first meeting) brings together about 120 leading business people and politicians.
At this year's meeting in Germany, the audience included the heads of the World Bank and European Central Bank, Chairmen or Chief Executives from Nokia, BP, Unilever, DaimlerChrysler and Pepsi - among other multi-national corporations, editors from five major newspapers, members of parliament, ministers, European commissioners, the crown prince of Belgium and the queen of the Netherlands.
"I don't think (we are) a global ruling class because I don't think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it's people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence," Viscount Davignon says.
"Business influences society and politics influences society - that's purely common sense. It's not that business contests the right of democratically-elected leaders to lead".
For Bilderberg's critics the fact that there is almost no publicity about the annual meetings is proof that they are up to no good. Jim Tucker, editor of a right-wing newspaper, the American Free Press for example, alleges they organise wars and elect and depose political leaders. He describes the group as simply 'evil'. So where does the truth lie?
Professor Kees van der Pijl of Sussex University in Britain says such private networks of corporate and political leaders play an informal but crucial role in the modern world.
"There need to be places where these people can think about the main challenges ahead, co-ordinate where policies should be going, and find out where there could be a consensus."@ BBC
Take what you will from these 'pillars' of humanity, they themselves know what is good for the world and how to make it tick.
They have ideas on how to make it beneficial to themselves and crumbs will tumble down to us so that we can prosper, yea right.
The benevolent Bilderbergs, now thats a hoot!
If you can't run with the BIG Dogs, stay on the porch with the puppies, poor puppies.