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Jefferson23

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Hometown: Connecticut
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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 23,622

Journal Archives

In Pictures #FreeAJstaff: One year on

A year after Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were detained, journalists around the world stage protests.

Al Jazeera Last updated: 30 Dec 2014

From London and Sydney to San Francisco and Sarajevo, journalists around the world have stopped work and called on Egypt's government to set free three Al Jazeera staff detained in Cairo last year.

It was a year ago on Monday that Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested and imprisoned on false charges.

View As Slideshow >>

The arrests of Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed on December 29, 2013 sparked international outrage.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2014/12/freeajstaff-one-year-2014122914628719755.html


War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

World View: Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter the militants' gruesome tactics

Sunday, December 28, 2014



There is a scene in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass in which Alice meets the White Knight who is wearing full armour and riding a horse off which he keeps falling. Alice expresses curiosity about why he has placed spiked metal anklets on his horse's legs just above the hoofs. "To guard against the bites of sharks," he explains, and proudly shows her other ingenious devices attached to himself and his horse.

Alice notices that the knight has a mouse trap fastened to his saddle. "I was wondering what the mouse trap was for," says Alice. "It isn't very likely there would be any mice on the horse's back." "Not very likely, perhaps," says the Knight, "but if they do come, I don't choose to have them running all about." It's as well "to be provided for everything", adds the Knight. As he explains his plans for countering these supposed dangers, he continues to tumble off his horse.

The White Knight's approach to military procurement is very similar to that of the American and British military establishments. They drain their budgets to purchase vastly expensive equipment to meet threats that may never exist, much like the sharks and mice that menace Alice's acquaintance. Thus the Pentagon spends $400bn (£257bn) on developing the F-35 fighter (Britain is buying planes at a cost of £100m each) to gain air superiority over Russia and China in the event of a war with either power. Meanwhile, equipment needed to fight real wars is neglected, even though no answer has been found to old-fashioned weapons such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that caused two-thirds of the US-led coalition's casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A strange aspect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is that there has been so little criticism of the failure of expensively equipped Western armies to defeat lightly armed and self-trained insurgents. This is in sharp contrast to the aftermath of the US Army's failure to win the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. The question is of more than historic interest because the US, UK and other allies are re-entering the wars in Iraq and Syria where they are seeking to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/war-with-isis-the-west-needs-more-than-a-white-knight-9946580.html

CIA 'torture report': Agency conduct was driven by pressure to link Iraq to al-Qaeda following 9/11

Patrick Cockburn
Sunday, December 14, 2014


The CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects because it wanted evidence that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The agency was under intense pressure from the White House and senior figures in the Bush administration to extract confessions confirming co-operation between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda, although no significant evidence was ever found.

The CIA has defended its actions by claiming that it was “unknowable” if torture had produced results, although the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, maintains torture produced nothing of value.

A second line of defence put forward by defenders of the CIA is to say that the agency was swept up in the reaction to 9/11 in the US and needed to find out quickly if there were going to be further attacks.

Telling evidence about the motives of the CIA in instituting its torture programme comes in a report on detainee abuse issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2009. It cited a former US Army psychiatrist, Major Charles Burney, who had been stationed at Guantanamo Bay, as saying interrogators were compelled to give priority to one line of questioning.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cia-torture-report-agency-conduct-was-driven-by-pressure-to-link-iraq-to-alqaeda-following-911-9924552.html

The Second Circuit Makes Sophisticated Insider Trading the Perfect Crime

Posted on December 11, 2014

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 10, 2014

We know that insider trading is an activity in which cheaters prosper. We know that Wall Street and the City of London are dominated by a fraudulent culture and we know that firm culture is set by the officers that control the firm. We know that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has allowed that to occur by refusing to prosecute any of the thousands of senior bank officers who became wealthy by leading the three most destructive financial fraud epidemics (appraisals, “liar’s” loans, and fraudulent sales of these fraudulently originated mortgages to the secondary market) in history. No one is surprised that Wall Street’s elites have also engaged in widespread efforts to rig the stock markets so that they can shoot fish in the barrel through insider trading. Unlike the three fraud epidemics, one DOJ office, the Southern District of New York, has brought a series of criminal prosecutions against these officers.

Wall Street’s court of appeals (the Second Circuit) has just issued an opinion not simply overturning guilty verdicts but making it impossible to retry the elite Wall Street defendants that grew wealthy through trading on insider information. Indeed, the opinion reads like a roadmap (or a script) that every corrupt Wall Street elite can follow to create a cynical system of cutouts (ala SAC) that will allow the most senior elites to profit by trading on insider information as a matter of routine with total impunity. The Second Circuit decision makes any moderately sophisticated insider trading scheme that uses cutouts to protect the elite traders a perfect crime. It is a perfect crime because (1) it is guaranteed to make the elite traders who trades on the basis of what he knows is secret, insider information wealthy absent successful prosecutions and (2) using the Second Circuit’s decision as a fraud roadmap, an elite trader can arrange the scheme with total impunity from the criminal laws. The Second Circuit ruling appears to make the financial version of “don’t ask; don’t tell” a complete defense to insider trading prosecutions. The Second Circuit does not simply make it harder to prosecute – they make it impossible to prosecute sophisticated insider fraud schemes in which the elites use junior cutouts to create (totally implausible) deniability.

The New York Times article on the decision was entitled “Two Insider Trading Convictions Are Overturned in Blow to Prosecutors.” The title is partially correct. The real blows, however, were to investors, the already crippled integrity of Wall Street, and every honest trader on Wall Street who cannot possibly compete with his rivals who cheat through the “sure thing” of insider trading now that the Second Circuit has written an opinion explaining how to corrupt the entire system with impunity from the criminal laws.

Wall Street’s most recent effort to rig the markets through insider trading is far larger and more audacious than any prior effort, including those by Michael Milken and Boesky. Wall Street elites sought to institutionalize the corruption of officers of a wide range of publicly traded corporations. The goal was to gain a corrupt advantage over honest investors in trillions of dollars in securities trades.

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/12/second-circuit-makes-sophisticated-insider-trading-perfect-crime.html

Bush knew..everything he needed to know and wanted to know..he was an integral part of

the program. Interesting coming from Cheney.

They may tear each other apart before long.

The CIA’s real failure? It pursued the wrong targets

It was an open secret Pakistan’s ISI fostered the Taliban but the US never confronted Islamabad


Patrick Cockburn

Tuesday 9 December 2014

The controversy over the use of torture by the CIA obscures two important aspects of “the war on terror” which the agency was supposedly waging. The first is that this war has demonstrably failed since Isis, terrorists by any definition of the term, today rules a large part of the Middle East in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

It has achieved this success despite the vast budgets of American and European security agencies after 9/11. Not only did they fail to stop this happening: they do not seem to have even noticed it was occurring until it was too late. They were much happier focusing on Osama bin Laden’s core al-Qaeda that was a group of limited size even before it lost its bases in Afghanistan in 2001.

The continuing threat from al-Qaeda was exaggerated and the organisation was presented post-2001 as a sort of mini-Pentagon with senior officials who could be regularly eliminated or captured providing Washington with politically useful successes. But over the last 13 years such operations attributed to al-Qaeda were mostly petty. The end result of the CIA operations has been the triumph of a group, espousing much the same ideology and aims as Bin Laden, establishing its own state that stretches from the Iranian border to the outskirts of Aleppo.

A second aspect of the war on terror is that from the beginning it avoided targeting two countries without whose complicity 9/11 could not have happened: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It was obvious within days of 9/11 that citizens of Saudi Arabia were heavily implicated, with 15 out of the 19 hijackers Saudi nationals. Bin Laden himself came from the Saudi elite and the US inquiry into the attack found that financing from al-Qaeda had come primarily from private donors in the Saudi Kingdom. But President George W Bush and his administration were not only careful not to point the finger at Saudi Arabia but had 28 pages of the official report on its role censored despite the pleas of the victims of 9/11. President Obama promised as a candidate to allow these pages to be published but has never done so.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-cias-real-failure-it-pursued-the-wrong-targets-9913730.html

Noam Chomsky Talks US Militarism and Capitalism, at Home and Abroad

Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:06 By Laura Flanders, Truthout | Interview

In Syria and Iraq, the "US sledgehammer" of war is having its usual effect says professor and author Noam Chomsky in his latest appearance on "The Laura Flanders Show":

"The US bombings are, in the usual and predictable way, eliciting anger from the civilians that were under attack. They don't like ISIS. They hate it, but they don't want to be attacked by American bombs."

Atrocities that US media hail as great victories; a US "war on terror" that's the best imaginable recruiting tool for terrorists. The "official" story of today's foreign policy is as upside-down as the mythology around the founding values of the United States itself.

From the policing of slavery, to the policing of Ferguson, Chomsky has a knack for seeing through the propaganda to turn reality back right-side up. And he asks the critical questions: like, why does it take him 90 minutes longer today to travel by train from Boston to New York than it did in 1970? What else could have been done with the money that was spent on crooked banks?

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27901-noam-chomsky-talks-us-militarism-and-capitalism-at-home-and-abroad

Building a British naval base in Bahrain is a 'symbolic choice' – for no clear reason

World View: The authoritarian kingdom where doctors are tortured is a strange place for this £15m investment

December 7, 2014

The British decision to spend £15m establishing a naval base at Mina Salman Port in Bahrain is being presented as a "symbolic" deal to increase stability in the region, guard against unnamed threats and strengthen Britain's partnership with the states of the Gulf.

The agreement will identify Britain as an old colonial power strongly supporting the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain that mercilessly crushed demands for democracy and civil rights from the island's Shia majority during the Arab Spring in 2011. Even by the standards of the time, repression was excessive. Shia mosques and holy places were bulldozed. Doctors at the main hospital in Bahrain that treated injured protesters were tortured by being forced to stand without sleep for days on end. Other prisoners were told that unless they sang the praises of the king their interrogators would urinate into their mouths.

At the heart of the crisis convulsing this part of the Middle East is a struggle between Sunni and Shia, and Britain has openly taken the side of the former. It may not necessarily be a good long-term investment. The total population of states bordering on the Gulf is about 145 million of whom at least 110 million are Shia. It is a mistake to think that the Shia in the rest of the Middle East do not notice or care what happens to their co-religionists in Bahrain. The Islamic State (Isis) fighters have become the shock troops of the Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria but their extremism and international isolation may lead to a defeat for the Sunni in both countries.

There is no question about Bahrain's toxic human rights record. An independent inquiry in 2011 catalogued abuses and, despite promises of reform, torture and mistreatment continue. Last year even the United States State Department, normally cautious when it comes to highlighting the failings of the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, said that the abuses in Bahrain included "citizens' inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights."

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/building-a-british-naval-base-in-bahrain-is-a-symbolic-choice--for-no-clear-reason-9908344.html

House Approves Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts



By Michelle Diament

December 4, 2014

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to approve a bill that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act passed by a vote of 404 to 17 on Wednesday. The measure will now move to the Senate.

Under current rules, many individuals with disabilities can have no more than $2,000 in assets in order to qualify for needed government benefits. The ABLE Act would dramatically alter that scenario, allowing people with disabilities to establish special accounts at any financial institution where they could save up to $14,000 annually under current gift-tax limitations.

The accounts could accrue $100,000 without jeopardizing eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. Meanwhile, the legislation ensures that those with disabilities can retain Medicaid coverage no matter their ABLE account balance.

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/04/house-approves-accounts/19891/

Egypt sentences 188 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death

More than 180 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death in Egypt over a 2013 attack on a police station near Cairo.

The attack took place on the same day as Egyptian security forces broke up protest camps set up by Brotherhood supporters, leaving hundreds dead.

Egypt has been fiercely criticised for its crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Hundreds of death sentences have been passed but none have been carried out.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30302258
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