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Jefferson23

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Connecticut
Home country: USA
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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 19,532

Journal Archives

MI6, the CIA and Turkey's rogue game in Syria

World View: New claims say Ankara worked with the US and Britain to smuggle Gaddafi's guns to rebel groups



The US's Secretary of State John Kerry and its UN ambassador, Samantha Power have been pushing for more assistance to be given to the Syrian rebels. This is despite strong evidence that the Syrian armed opposition are, more than ever, dominated by jihadi fighters similar in their beliefs and methods to al-Qa'ida. The recent attack by rebel forces around Latakia, northern Syria, which initially had a measure of success, was led by Chechen and Moroccan jihadis.

America has done its best to keep secret its role in supplying the Syrian armed opposition, operating through proxies and front companies. It is this which makes Seymour Hersh's article "The Red Line and The Rat Line: Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels" published last week in the London Review of Books, so interesting.

Attention has focussed on whether the Syrian jihadi group, Jabhat al-Nusra, aided by Turkish intelligence, could have been behind the sarin gas attacks in Damascus last 21 August, in an attempt to provoke the US into full-scale military intervention to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. "We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan's people to push Obama over the red line," a former senior US intelligence officer is quoted as saying.

Critics vehemently respond that all the evidence points to the Syrian government launching the chemical attack and that even with Turkish assistance, Jabhat al-Nusra did not have the capacity to use sarin.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mi6-the-cia-and-turkeys-rogue-game-in-syria-9256551.html

The Iranian Nuclear Weapons Programme That Wasn’t

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Apr 12 2014 (IPS) - When U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz unsealed the indictment of a Chinese citizen in the UK for violating the embargo against Iran, she made what appeared to be a new U.S. accusation of an Iran nuclear weapons programme.

The press release on the indictment announced that between in November 2005 and 2012, Sihai Cheng had supplied parts that have nuclear applications, including U.S.-made goods, to an Iranian company, Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing, which it described as “involved in the development and procurement of parts for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
The text of the indictment ...was yet another iteration of a rhetorical device used often in the past to portray Iran’s gas centrifuge enrichment programme as equivalent to the development of nuclear weapons.

Reuters, Bloomberg, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and The Independent all reported that claim as fact. But the U.S. intelligence community, since its well-known November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, has continued to be very clear on the pubic record about its conclusion that Iran has not had a nuclear weapons programme since 2003.

Something was clearly amiss with the Justice Department’s claim.

The text of the indictment reveals that the reference to a “nuclear weapons program” was yet another iteration of a rhetorical device used often in the past to portray Iran’s gas centrifuge enrichment programme as equivalent to the development of nuclear weapons.

in full: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/iranian-nuclear-weapons-programme-wasnt/

FDR and the Four Freedoms Speech ( What we must remember and fight for, again )

How do we secure this? Public funded elections would be a fight worth our time and effort.

** This week, Bill speaks with historian Harvey J. Kaye, author of the new book, The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great, about how FDR’s speech was a rallying cry to build the kind of progressive society that Roosevelt hoped for but did not live to see at war’s end.

Kaye says the president was able to mobilize Americans who created “the strongest and most prosperous country in human history.” How did they do it? By working toward the Four Freedoms and making America “freer, more equal and more democratic.”

He believes Americans have not forgotten the Four Freedoms as goals, but have “forgotten what it takes to realize them, that we must defend, sustain and secure democracy by enhancing it. That’s what Roosevelt knew. That’s what Jefferson knew. And no one seems to remember that today. That’s what we have to remind people of.”


http://billmoyers.com/episode/fighting-for-the-four-freedoms/

snip*Franklin Roosevelt was elected president for an unprecedented third term in 1940 because at the time the world faced unprecedented danger, instability, and uncertainty. Much of Europe had fallen to the advancing German Army and Great Britain was barely holding its own. A great number of Americans remained committed to isolationism and the belief that the United States should continue to stay out of the war, but President Roosevelt understood Britain's need for American support and attempted to convince the American people of the gravity of the situation.

In his Annual Message to Congress (State of the Union Address) on January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt presented his reasons for American involvement, making the case for continued aid to Great Britain and greater production of war industries at home. In helping Britain, President Roosevelt stated, the United States was fighting for the universal freedoms that all people possessed.




http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/fourfreedoms

Groups Want Federal Autism Dollars Reallocated

By Michelle Diament

April 11, 2014

With the nation’s primary autism legislation set to expire soon, some disability advocates are pressing for major changes in the federal government’s approach to the developmental disorder.

In a letter this week to key members of Congress, 18 national organizations are asking for a greater emphasis on services and the needs of adults with autism when lawmakers reauthorize legislation known as the Combating Autism Act.

“Congress should make common-sense changes that will ensure that federal funds are better used to benefit the community that this legislation is designed to serve,” wrote the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Autism Society of America, the American Association of People with Disabilities, TASH, the National Disability Rights Network and other groups in the letter.

snip* The groups also said they’d like the law renamed to remove the negative connotation they see in the word “combating” and want to see changes at the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory panel comprised of government officials and members of the autism community. Specifically, in the letter advocates told lawmakers that the IACC should include greater representation from people with autism and the committee ought to be reorganized to address more than medical research.

“Autistic people do not like being excluded from a conversation that at the end of the day is about us,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “(The Combating Autism Act) really needs to be about supporting autistic people.”


http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/11/groups-autism-reallocated/19276/

Reforming China’s State-Market Balance

BEIJING – No country in recorded history has grown as fast – and moved as many people out of poverty – as China over the last thirty years. A hallmark of China’s success has been its leaders’ willingness to revise the country’s economic model when and as needed, despite opposition from powerful vested interests. And now, as China implements another series of fundamental reforms, such interests are already lining up to resist. Can the reformers triumph again?

In answering that question, the crucial point to bear in mind is that, as in the past, the current round of reforms will restructure not only the economy, but also the vested interests that will shape future reforms (and even determine whether they are possible). And today, while high-profile initiatives – for example, the government’s widening anti-corruption campaign – receive much attention, the deeper issue that China faces concerns the appropriate roles of the state and the market.

When China began its reforms more than three decades ago, the direction was clear: the market needed to play a far greater role in resource allocation. And so it has, with the private sector far more important now than it was. Moreover, there is a broad consensus that the market needs to play what officials call a “decisive role” in many sectors where state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate. But what should its role be in other sectors, and in the economy more generally?

Many of China’s problems today stem from too much market and too little government. Or, to put it another way, while the government is clearly doing some things that it should not, it is also not doing some things that it should.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e--stiglitz-asks-what-role-government-should-play-as-economic-restructuring-proceeds#qBs5kk4cAjOicVkq.99

Corporates carve up the African cake


03 April 2014

A guest post from Stanley Ellerby-English.

This week World Development Movement activists, dressed as representatives of some of the world's largest food and drink companies, delivered an Africa shaped thank-you cake to the Department for International Development (DfID). This tongue-in-cheek action highlights the support that DfID is giving to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the stated aim of which is to lift 50 million people out of poverty and improve food security.

"Sounds great", I hear you say. "WDM has clearly made some kind of mistake; these folks are just doing their best to tackle hunger". Well, if you're on WDM’s website you're probably not saying that, but many people might think so. So what’s this all about?

The New Alliance sees ten African countries making commitments to change their land, seed and trade policies to encourage greater agricultural investment, in return for aid money and commitments from major companies to expand their businesses. Unfortunately, this is likely to do little to support the small-scale farmers who feed the majority of the African population – and instead, looks set to exacerbate poverty and inequality.

Despite their supposed goals, policies being adopted by African governments that have joined the New Alliance have been largely aimed at integrating African farmers more directly to international markets. This is good for multinational companies which are set to sell more of their products, and can source raw materials from a larger number of producers. But it’s not a recipe for reducing hunger and poverty.


http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/blog_comments/corporates_carve_up_the_african_cake


Tech Company Ramps Up Hiring Of Workers With Autism

* Good stuff!


By Michelle Diament

April 1, 2014

An international software giant that’s looking to tap the unique talents of those with autism is taking on its first group of American employees on the spectrum.

Germany-based SAP said it has added workers with autism at its offices in Palo Alto, Calif. and Newtown Square, Pa. The hires bring the number of people with the developmental disorder working as software developers, data quality assurance specialists and in other positions at the company to more than 30 worldwide, SAP said.

Last year the company said it would launch a strategic effort to employ people with autism, saying that doing so offered a “potential competitive advantage.”

Prior to bringing the concept to its offices in the United States, SAP piloted the idea in India, Ireland and Germany. Opportunities will be available in Canada as well starting this spring, the company indicated.

in full: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/01/tech-hiring-autism/19243/

A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney

From Democracy Now, video at link, transcript will be posted as soon as available.

As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton.



This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after September 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, “The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives." Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled, "Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA." Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and author of the forthcoming book, "The Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/28/a_debate_on_torture_legal_architect

The Unbearable Lightness of Being CIA General Counsel ( Scott Horton )

In the months following 9/11, it seems Washington just couldn’t say “no” to the CIA. The agency’s budget shot through the ceiling. Suddenly the CIA not only commanded private armies, it even had a state-of-the-art air force! Between 2006-2007, the CIA drove a proxy war, mobilizing Ethiopia’s army to invade Somalia. It was perhaps the most audacious war the CIA ever triggered. But it hardly raised a stir in Washington, where reinvigorated secrecy ensured that hardly anyone knew about it—and where to this day few analysts even understand what the CIA’s little war, in which thousands of innocent civilians perished, was about. The CIA also bore core responsibility for a nine-year-long drone war in Pakistan: 300 strikes with more than 3,000 fatalities, almost all of this in an area that U.S. military strategists describe as the core of the battlefield in the current war. It also ran, jointly with the military, drone campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. None of this is what the authors of the National Security Act had in mind with the words “covert operation.” In fact, virtually the only people in the world from whom these activities were kept secret were American voters.

Throughout this period, the dapper and good-natured John Rizzo was the CIA’s senior career lawyer. One would hope to find in his memoir a deep account of the policy battles that led to the CIA’s transformation, and particularly the legal issues. There is no other time in American history when the public has been riveted by legal policy issues as luridly appealing as those that emerged in 2004-2007. Gruesome accounts of homicide and torture in secret prisons run by the American government rocked the world. The scandal opened with now-iconic photographs from Abu Ghraib, and spread as stories emerged from Bagram, Camp Nama, the CIA’s Salt Pit prison north of Kabul, its secret prison near Rabat, Morocco, and Guantánamo. President Bush insisted that “we do not torture.” But an avalanche of secret U.S. legal documents quickly showed otherwise.

John Rizzo was at the center of this storm.

Company Man offers an interesting collection of vignettes from a 35-year career in the agency, but its essence is a rationalization of the CIA’s decision to operate black sites and use torture. Rizzo chronicles the steps that led to these decisions and then to back away from them. We discover, for instance, as John Kiriakou first revealed, that the key decisions about the use of waterboarding, mock burial, the cold cell, longtime-standing, sleep deprivation and similar techniques, were taken by the CIA both to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and to the White House. They were ultimately reviewed and approved by the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee (consisting of key cabinet officers, the national security advisor, the president and vice president). Only two members of the NSC openly voiced reservations: Condoleezza Rice didn’t like enforced nudity. Colin Powell objected to sleep deprivation. (Kiriakou, a former CIA case officer and analyst, is currently serving a prison term for what he revealed.)

Donald Rumsfeld, who once stormed out of a party when asked about war crimes, didn’t want to be in these meetings. John Ashcroft was “mostly silent.” But Dick Cheney stood tall for torture and was a forceful dissenter from President Bush’s late 2006 decision to eliminate it. One curiosity: in his recent biography, Bush proudly took responsibility for the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but Rizzo doesn’t recall that Bush was ever actually briefed on them.

remainder: http://washingtonspectator.org/index.php/Book-Review/the-unbearable-lightness-of-being-cia-general-counsel.html#.UzVyhFf535M

Teach For America To Bolster Special Education Training

* Just what they need.

By Shaun Heasley

March 25, 2014 Text Size A A

A program that places recent college graduates in teaching positions across the country after just weeks of training says it will beef up its focus on special education.

Teach for America said it will “strengthen” training that its participants receive on “ability-based mindsets and inclusive practices.”

snip* Due to shortages in the field, advocates say that special education is more reliant on alternative training programs than many other teaching specialities.

However, critics have voiced concerns about a lack of transparency in the level of expertise that Teach for America’s teachers have. Under current federal policy, rookie educators can often be dubbed “highly qualified” even as they work to complete their teaching certification.

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/03/25/teach-america-sped-training/19225/
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