post from They gave us a republic... - Front Page
on 14 June 2011 03:20:12 AM. © They gave us a republic... - Front Page
These are people who are, in essence, ready to put anyone in jail who doesn't support a U.S. military action -- that is, as long as it's a military action being led by Republicans.
They couldn't wait to put American troops in harm's way over those mythical "weapons of mass destruction" that were supposed to have existed in Iraq. They were just peeing in their pants to get the U.S. involved over there, just as long as it wasn't them or their kids who were going to do any of the bleeding. And in so doing, they killed something like a million and a half Iraqis.
Now, suddenly, dealing with an oil-rich lunatic in Libya presents a complex issue. Muammar Qaddafi has ruled that country despotically and maniacally for 42 years, but since it's not considered a sure thing to just go in there, knock off the dictator and steal all the country's oil, it's a moral gray area. Suddenly, the U.S. just can't afford to the the policeman of the world.
I'm not sure whether U.S. involvement in the Libyan conflict, via NATO, is a good idea. The U.S. has come to reflexively get involved in the affairs of other countries, in areas regarded as strategic, for far too long. I'm a bit nostalgic for isolationism, and even at my age I don't remember it. At least if you don't get involved, there's no "blowback," as the CIA quaintly phrases it.
But I find it poisonously funny when I see erstwhile superpatriots, the very assholes who would have gladly put my rear in a federal prison if The Bill of Rights didn't forbid it, passing resolutions questioning a military initiative by a Democratic president.
And, it seems like a Democrat can never quite hit the right note with them -- Sen. John McCain, the would-be U.S. president, is on record as saying that he thinks the problem was that the U.S. didn't use enough force in Libya. Meanwhile, for Obama, it's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
I've heard enough bellowing by Republican yellowbellies, for long enough. They just HAD to get us mixed up in a generation-long quagmire in Iraq, ostensibly because of that strutting dictator. Now, when faced with another one, and a Democratic president decides for the U.S. to participate in a NATO campaign, he's usurping the Congress. Anyway, it's too hard to steal their oil because there are too many competitors.
Here's a link to this story, courtesy of TGUAR's nightly news roundup. Of course, House Speaker Boner's office says it can't vouch for the authenticity of the letter from Qaddafi. And I'm sure they never will. Add to del.icio.us Digg this Post to Furl Add to reddit Add to myYahoo!
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post from Jutia Group
on 14 June 2011 03:00:05 AM. © Jutia Group
Source: ForexYard British CPI, US Retail Sales on Tap
The UK Office for National Statistics is due to release several significant data reports today; most impactful will be the 9:30 GMT publication of the CPI and RPI inflationary figures. The US will also be publishing its retail sales figures, and PPI data.
Economic News USD – USD in Decline ahead of Retail Sales, PPI Reports
The US dollar was seen in decline in late trading yesterday as low market liquidity combined with a positive industrial production figure in Italy to generate an uptick in euro values. With most of Europe coming back online today following yesterday's hiatus, traders appear anxious to evaluate the value of the region's currencies . . . → Read More: British CPI, US Retail Sales on Tap Add to del.icio.us Digg this Post to Furl Add to reddit Add to myYahoo!
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post from jobsanger
on 14 June 2011 01:02:00 AM. © jobsanger
After the Bush administration had invaded Iraq and destroyed its infrastructure, Bush and his Republican cohorts decided to rebuild the country and pay for that rebuilding in cold, hard cash -- $100 bills packed in shrink-wrap and loaded onto pallets. The pallets were loaded onto military planes and flown to Iraq -- with each plane holding about $2.4 billion in United States $100 bills. At least twenty plane loads were sent to Iraq. Add to del.icio.us Digg this Post to Furl Add to reddit Add to myYahoo!
As you may have noticed, very little of Iraq has been rebuilt. And a good chunk of that money -- about 3 planeloads ($6.6 billion at least) has simply vanished into thin air. For several years now the Army and State Department officials had admitted to "shoddy" bookkeeping, but said if given enough time they could figue out where the money went.
Well, it is several years later and they still have no idea what happened to that money. They are now admitting that it looks like the money has been stolen. This would make it the largest amount of U.S. currency ever stolen. The problem is that they have no idea who did it. It could have been taken by Iraqis, or by American officials, or by contractors. No one knows.
Making matters even worse is the fact that although the Bush administration played fast and loose with this money, it was not money belonging to the United States. It was Iraq's money, coming "from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations oil-for-food program." Now the Iraqis want their money back, and they are threatening to go to court to get it.
That means the American taxpayer will now have to foot the bill for the $6.6 billion theft, because the Republicans couldn't keep up with the billions of dollars in cash they sent to Iraq. In other words, they screwed up the reconstruction as badly as they did the occupation. Is it any wonder that these same Republicans also mishandled the American budget and economy so badly that the nation was thrown into a recession and millions of jobs were lost?
Now the Republicans want Americans to believe they are the party of fiscal responsibility. That idea is more than laughable -- it is completely insane.
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post from They gave us a republic... - Front Page
on 14 June 2011 01:00:00 AM. © They gave us a republic... - Front Page
- Trials against healthcare professionals in Bahrain delayed after attorneys for the providers accuse the ruling family of torturing their clients. "A Bahrain military court has postponed the trial of 48 doctors arrested during a crackdown on antigovernment protests, after their lawyers said they had been tortured in custody. ... The Shi'ite-led protests in the Sunni-ruled nation began in February, inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, but were crushed by harsh measures that included temporary emergency rule and the deployment of troops from Gulf Arab allies. ... The unrest left at least 31 people dead. ... Doctors and nurses who went on trial on June 13 were arrested after complaining about violence against protesters. ... They face charges ranging from possessing weapons to seeking to overthrow the ruling system."
- GOP priorities: Poor women and their children can fuck off and die, and do it quickly before they cost any money -- but Azaleas, now there is a vital spending priority. "This week, the House plans to vote on the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill, which provides funding to, among other agencies, the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the nation's commodities market watchdog). House Republicans have been crowing that this bill cuts agriculture funding by nearly $3 billion from last year's level, and is coming in $5 billion below President Obama's 2012 budget request. ... "This legislation reflects hard decisions to cut lower priority programs, reduce spending in programs that can be scaled back, and target funds where they are needed most so that our nation continues on the path to fiscal recovery," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). Evidently, the House GOP finds nutrition assistance for low-income women and their children to be a "lower priority program," as the bill cuts the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to such an extent that 325,000 to 475,000 currently eligible women and children will be denied help."
- US Navy Destroyer turns back suspected North Korean vessel in the South China Sea. "A U.S. Navy destroyer in the South China Sea recently shadowed a merchant vessel suspected of smuggling illicit material for two days until it turned around and eventually docked in North Korea, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday. ... But officials would not say what they believed was on the ship, where it came from or was heading and why it turned around. ... The incident began when the USS McCampbell, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer on patrol, hailed the M/V Light, a ship registered and flagged to Belize, on May 27. ... A Pentagon spokesman would not say what prompted the Navy to contact the Light, but the U.S. requested Belize give permission for a consensual boarding. After it was granted, the McCampbell alerted the Light's captain, but he refused the request. That refusal is a violation of international law. ... The captain also told the McCampbell that the Light was a North Korean vessel, all of which prompted the Navy to shadow the Light until it stopped, changed course and headed for North Korea."
- Sixteen arrested in Indonesia in cyanide plot "Sixteen people suspected of plotting to kill police have been arrested in Indonesia, officials say. ... The suspects were seized over the past four days at locations around Indonesia including the capital Jakarta. ... Police confiscated cyanide and "pen guns" - guns fashioned to look like pens - in a raid in Jakarta, police spokesman Col Boy Rafli Amar said. ... Correspondents say police, who are leading a security crackdown, are increasingly being targeted."
- Someone will have to go to jail eventually, right? Please tell us we're right... "New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has targeted Bank of America, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, in a new probe that questions the validity of potentially thousands of mortgage securities and their associated foreclosures, two people familiar with the matter said. ... The investigation, which began quietly in recent weeks, is part of a larger inquiry that is scrutinizing whether mortgage companies and Wall Street firms took the necessary steps under New York state law when creating mortgage-backed securities, these people said, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the probe. ... Court testimony and independent studies have raised questions over whether banks and other financial firms passed along the required documents to trusts, the independent entities that oversee securities for investors. In some cases where trusts moved to seize borrowers' homes, judges have determined the trusts lacked legal standing due to faulty documentation. ... The inquiry could prove explosive: Wall Street's great mortgage securitization machine took millions of home loans and bundled them into securities for sale to investors. If the legal steps that guide securitization -- like taking mortgage documents from one party to another, a critical step under New York law -- were not undertaken, then the investors who bought the bundled loans could force the companies to buy them back, compelling them to eat enormous losses. ... New York state investigators could also find that those securities aren't valid financial instruments at all and take action under state law."
- And that is a big part of the reason why we bank at small, community-based financial institutions, and will as long as they hang on. And when they can't hang on any longer, we'll start stuffing our savings in our mattresses. "Community banks have given way to big banks and excessive industry concentration; profits are increasingly driven by risky trading; leverage is taking precedence over prudent lending; compensation is out of control. This toxic combination leads to continued taxpayer risk and threatens long- term U.S. prosperity. ... To understand the change, first consider history. Banking once was a community-based enterprise, relying on local knowledge to guide the process of gathering customer deposits and extending credit. Done well, this arrangement ensures that deposits are deployed into a diversified pool of investments, while providing depositors with liquidity and a return on their savings. ... Over the past generation, however, the financial services industry changed dramatically. In 1990, the six largest financial institutions accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. domestic deposits. As of Dec. 31, 2010, the six biggest banks accounted for 36 percent of deposits. ... Such concentration raises the concern that poor decisions at such outsized institutions can lead to systemic risk. But this risk is greatly magnified by the new way in which the major banks, those deemed too big to fail, are doing business today. The largest and most profitable bank holding companies have moved away from traditional lending and come to rely on speculative trading in all types of securities, derivatives, credit default swaps, mortgage-backed securities and other, even more complex and exotic financial instruments -- many of them associated with high leverage."
- We are failing them at every turn.Being a teenager is tough enough when you are straight, popular and able to fit in, but it's downright brutal for LGBTQ kids. The "It Get's Better" initiative is a good first step toward ameliorating the stress of associated with coming of age as a gay, lesbian or transgendered young adult, but that is all it is: a first step. The reality is those kids have a tough row to hoe, and we all need to learn a little bit about what they are facing and do what we can to make their path a little smoother. After all, they're still our kids, and we still love them.
- No, he wasn't raised in Kenya, either. That's the latest line of attack from the wingnuts-formerly-known-as-birthers: "Okay, so he wasn't born in Kenya but it doesn't matter, because he was raised there. Except he wasn't, Herman Cain's delusions notwithstanding.
- Yet when we compare these people to the Taliban, we are mean, over-the-top and trafficking in hyperbole? "For the past week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been roundly criticized by religious and LGBT groups alike for inviting other governors to join him at an anti-gay prayer event hosted by stridently bigoted American Family Association. Not only has Perry courted the radical wing of the religious right for years, he has a history of bucking responsibility for tough problems by invoking God. For instance, while Texas was facing a historic drought and rash of wildfires, Gov. Perry extolled Texans to "pray for rain," as he tried to cut funding for the agency battling the wildfires. ... As Perry is poised to sign the most draconian state budget in recent history that slashes essential services for the poor and middle class while potentially laying off 100,000 teachers, Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch Kyle digs up this gem of an interview from May in which the governor sheds some light on his motivations. During an appearance on James Robison's Life Today television program, Perry says he sees a silver lining to the devastating recession that has cost millions of families their jobs, homes, and livelihoods: it will return America to "Biblical principles" and free us from the slavery of big government."
- Apparently they forgot to tell David Vitter. "The topic of today's episode of Liberty Counsel's Faith and Freedom Radio program was "How Should Christians React To Rep. Weiner Twitter Scandal?" and Matt Barber and Deryl Edwards used it as an opportunity to comment on the "hypocrisy" of the left because, they asserted, whenever a Republican member of Congress gets caught in a scandal such as this, conservatives tar and feather them and run them out of town on a rail."
- TPaw wants to give the rich even more tax breaks "The top 0.1 per cent of US taxpayers would save an average of $1.4 million in taxes under the economic plan of Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, according to an independent analysis. ... Pawlenty's $11.6 trillion tax-cut plan, which reduces rates on income, capital gains, interest, estates and dividends, is almost three times larger than the proposals endorsed by House Republicans. ... Compared with the current tax policy, 63.6 per cent of US households would receive a tax cut, with most of the remainder experiencing no change. Almost half of the benefits would flow to taxpayers in the top one per cent of income distribution, or those earning more than $593,011 in 2013. ... "It's heavily weighted toward benefits for the wealthy, giving them big tax cuts. It makes the tax system much less progressive," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center in Washington, which conducted the analysis and released it today. The center is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution."
- Sigh. We really, really miss the Fourth Amendment "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention. ...The F.B.I. soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity. ... The F.B.I. recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents' power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing. ... "Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse," Mr. German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau's surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general's findings in 2007 that the F.B.I. had frequently misused "national security letters," which allow agents to obtain information like phone records without a court order. "
- If you can't beat 'em, they have to be cheating, so disenfranchise their voters. "For nearly four decades, Maine has been one of eight states which provides same-day voter registration to voters at the polls. This policy of enfranchising the greatest number of Maine voters is likely to end, however, now that the GOP-controlled state legislature has passed a bill ending same-day registration and Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign it. Worse, state GOP Chairman Charlie Webster explained it was necessary to disenfranchise the thousands of Maine voters who take advantage of same-day registration every election year in order to save Maine from one of his paranoid fantasies: "If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people," Webster told a columnist for the Portland Press Herald in a piece published Friday. "Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections." ... Sadly, Maine's voter disenfranchisement bill is only the latest example of the Republican war on voting that began almost immediately after the GOP took over several statehouses this year. Numerous GOP state legislatures have rammed through "voter ID" laws which disenfranchise thousands of elderly, disabled, and low-income voters. Republicans typically justify these voter disenfranchisement laws by claiming that they are necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, but in-person voter fraud is only slightly more common than unicorns. A recent Supreme Court decision upholding a voter ID law was only able to cite one example of in-person voter fraud in the last 143 years."
- If Clarence and Ginni Thomas were liberals, he would have already been impeached, convicted and imprisoned. "Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife Virginia "Ginni" Thomas has a new job in conservative journalism that keeps her involved with the recent focus of her political activism and business dealings -- the tea party movement. ... As a part-time special correspondent for the Daily Caller, Thomas plans to tap into the movement, according to emails sent this month to top tea party organizers around the country, to build a list of "leaders from the grassroots in each state ... who have their ear to the ground" and are willing to be surveyed weekly by two "prominent pollsters." The results will be published on the Daily Caller website. ... Thomas's involvement with the tea party and the conservative movement in general has been a continuing source of controversy both for her and her husband. ... Ginni Thomas's 2009 creation of a tea party non-profit group for which she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed contributions, as well as her subsequent creation of a tea party consulting firm last year, has become the basis for allegations by some liberals that her husband's impartiality has been compromised. ... And her attendance at an annual summit of major conservative donors organized by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch - revealed in a recent speech by a federal judge and Thomas family ally - can be expected to draw even more scrutiny."
- Thank you, Italian voters, for rejecting a conservative tyrant and his pro-corporate, anti-people policies. "Silvio Berlusconi has suffered a humiliating defeat after Italians turned out in large numbers to vote in referendums which the Italian prime minister had encouraged them to boycott. The proposals to repeal Berlusconi-era legislation on nuclear power, water privatisation and trial immunity for government ministers were backed by opposition parties and opposed by the centre-right. Interior ministry figures put the turnout at 57 per cent, a huge change from the lacklustre participation in previous referendums, and 95 per cent of the votes counted backed the motions. Berlusconi had declared that he would not cast a vote, but the unusually high turnout dashed any hope he may have had that the necessary quorum of 50 per cent would not be reached. He said in a statement that the government would accept the "clear" result of the vote. "The government and parliament now have the duty to fully accept the result of the four referendums," he said."
- Notice the U.S. government is conspicuously absent. "Donors from around the world have pledged $4.3bn for a programme that aims to vaccinate 250 million of the world's poorest children against lifethreatening diseases. The pledges surpassed the $3.7bn target set by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which says it could prevent more than 4 million premature deaths by 2015. "We have exceeded the figure that we set ourselves and we have received firm pledges for a sum of $4.3bn," Andrew Mitchell, Britain's International Development Secretary announced at the end of the conference in London on Wednesday. Britain and Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman jointly committed $2.3bn to help vaccinate more than 80 million children in impoverished countries. David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, said the $1.3bn donated by his country would help save 1.4 million lives over the next five years. "Today we come together because we have the chance to save another four million lives in four years," he said."
- Yet another nation willing to put a criminal former leader on trial, unlike the U.S. "Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's former president who fled to Saudi Arabia in January, will be tried in absentia, Tunisia's interim prime minister said on Monday. "Ben Ali's trial will start on June 20," Beji Caid Sebsi said in an interview on Al Jazeera. "He will be tried in a military and in a civilian court." In a statement released by his French lawyer, Ben Ali has slammed the trial as a "masquerade". Ben Ali fled to Jeddah after he was toppled by mass protests on January 14 after 23 years in power. Several members of his family and some of his closest allies were detained shortly after he was forced out. Tunisian authorities have been preparing several legal cases against Ben Ali, including conspiring against the state, voluntary manslaughter, drug trafficking and peddling of archaeological artifacts."
- Battle of the Bugs "Seven contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have begun facing off in the first major debate of the 2012 campaign cycle. Candidates opened the debate by attacking President Barack Obama's record on the economy, especially his 2010 overhaul of the healthcare system. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is the front-runner in the field bidding to challenge Mr Obama. The first Republican primary elections do not take place until February. The president's handling of the economy and healthcare reform quickly drew criticism, while his policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya were also expected to draw fire during the debate."
- Saving endangered animals is not something poor nations can afford - Bangladesh deserves the world's help with this. "Bangladesh is setting up a special force to save the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger and other animals. The 300-member force will be deployed mostly around the Sundarbans mangrove forests, one of the last refuges of the tigers. The decision came months after they seized three tiger skins and a large quantity of bones, the biggest haul of illegal tiger parts in decades. The Sundarbans forests stretch between Bangladesh and India. Around 400 tigers still live in the area. Until now poaching has not been considered as the chief threat to the tiger population in Bangladesh. But the arrest of a poacher with tiger skins and bones earlier this year raised fears that an organised poaching group was operating in the mangrove forests. Officials admitted they did not have enough manpower, resources and training to counter the poachers, who they said were using increasingly sophisticated techniques to trap the tigers. Minister of Environment and Forests Hasan Mahmud said that the setting up of the new wildlife force was long overdue. "The forest department staff in Bangladesh need more training, because now the poachers are very sophisticated," he said."
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