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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 70,152

Journal Archives

U.S. Amps Up the Drug War Stupidity

WASHINGTON — After several villagers were killed on a Honduran river this month during a raid on drug smugglers by Honduran and American agents, a local backlash raised concerns that the United States’ expanding counternarcotics efforts in Central America might be going too far. But United States officials in charge of that policy see it differently.

Throughout 2011, counternarcotics officials watched their radar screens almost helplessly as more than 100 small planes flew from South America to isolated landing strips in Honduras. But this month — after establishing a new strategy emphasizing more cooperation across various United States departments and agencies — two smugglers’ flights were intercepted within a single week, a development that explains why American officials say they are determined to press forward with the approach.

“In the first four months of this year, I’d say we actually have gotten it together across the military, law enforcement and developmental communities,” said William R. Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. “My guess is narcotics traffickers are hitting the pause button. For the first time in a decade, air shipments are being intercepted immediately upon landing.”

With Washington’s attention swinging from Iraq and Afghanistan — and with budget dollars similarly flowing in new directions — the United States is expanding and unifying its antidrug efforts in Central America, where violence has skyrocketed as enforcement efforts in the Caribbean, Colombia and Mexico have pushed cocaine traffic to smaller countries with weaker security forces. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/americas/honduran-drug-raid-deaths-wont-alter-us-policy.html?_r=1&hpw

Cancer Incidence May Surge 75% by 2030, Lancet Says

(Bloomberg) The global incidence of cancer may rise more than 75 percent by 2030, led by developing countries, according to research published today in the Lancet journal.

The number of people with cancer in 2030 may rise to 22.2 million, or 0.3 percent of the global population, from 12.7 million in 2008, according to research led by Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. The projection is based on the United Nations’s population forecast, the IARC’s database tracking cancer incidence in 184 countries and expected increases in the rates of colorectal, female breast, prostate and, in high-income countries, lung cancer in women.

While improving living standards in lower-income countries may lead to a decrease in infection-related cancers such as cervical and stomach cancer, that may be offset by a surge in the types of cancer associated with smoking, obesity and diet which currently affect mainly richer countries. Poor countries, as measured by the UN’s Human Development Index, may see a doubling in the incidence of cancer to 490,000 in 2030 from 2008, according to the study.

“This study underscores the diversity of cancer as a worldwide occurrence and the extent to which the disease patterns differ from country to country,” the authors said in the article. Targeted interventions are needed to “effectively control the prevalence of lifestyle factors including tobacco avoidance and cessation of smoking, a reduction in alcohol consumption and obesity, and the promotion of increased levels of physical activity.” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-31/cancer-incidence-may-surge-75-by-2030-lancet-says.html

Robert Parry: Steering from the Abyss

from Consortium News:

Steering from the Abyss
May 31, 2012

Exclusive: The world seems on a headlong rush toward the abyss, with American neocons eager to escalate their “clash of civilizations” and religious fundamentalists of various stripes insisting their own ancient texts must be accepted as political prescriptions for the modern era, a crisis addressed by Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

When thousands of people including women and children die in Syria amid what amounts to a sectarian civil war, the Syrian government is condemned and “regime change” is demanded. The West debates military intervention and feeble peace efforts by the United Nations are mocked.

By contrast, when President George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses touching off a conflagration that killed hundreds of thousands or when President Barack Obama authorizes drone strikes inside Yemen, such as his firstknown one in the al-Majala region on Dec. 17, 2009, killing dozens, including 14 women and 21 children, most Americans just shrug. The international community stays mostly silent.

It is such double standards – outrage when “their bad guys” do something and excuses when “our good guys” do – that have become the recipe for what looks to be a poisonous future of endless warfare for the world. Mix in religious fundamentalism, especially the mythologies and grievances of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and the brew becomes even more toxic. And don’t forget the foul seasoning one gets by sprinkling in propaganda from supposedly “objective” and “professional” news outlets.

Indeed, it is hard now even to conceive how the world will push back from this table filled with hate, self-righteousness and recriminations. In the United States, anyone who dares to honestly address the nation’s checkered history is accused of “apologizing for America,” a charge that Mitt Romney has leveled repeatedly at President Obama for making the mildest of accurate observations. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/05/31/steering-from-the-abyss/

Facebook Fiasco Coupled With European Crunch Freezes IPO Plans

(Bloomberg) Facebook Inc. (FB) led U.S. initial public offerings to their worst monthly performance since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, as Europe’s debt crisis scuttled IPO plans from New York to Hong Kong.

The Bloomberg IPO Index (BIPO), which tracks U.S. equities in the first year after their IPOs, sank 15 percent last month, with Facebook posting the worst one-week performance among the 30 largest U.S. IPOs since 2011. The IPO index’s decline is in line with the drop in October 2008, the month after Lehman’s bankruptcy triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Kayak Software Corp. and Russian social-networking company VKontakte shelved listings this week, while Graff Diamonds (1306) Corp. delayed a Hong Kong sale and the Formula One auto-racing series said its Singapore IPO may not occur until later this year. Facebook’s 22 percent slump since going public has shaken investors already reeling from tumbling equity markets and the slumping European economy, said Jeffrey Sica of Sica Wealth Management LLC.

“We’ve reached a breaking point where sentiment is so negative and scrutiny is so high that companies don’t want to go public and investors aren’t prepared to look at them,” said Sica, who oversees more than $1 billion as chief investment officer of the Morristown, New Jersey-based firm. “You’re talking about long-standing damage to the psyche of companies wanting to go public and investors.” ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-31/facebook-fiasco-coupled-with-european-crunch-freezes-ipo-plans.html

Amy Goodman: Julian Assange and America's vendetta against WikiLeaks

Julian Assange and America's vendetta against WikiLeaks
As the contrast with the extradition case of Augusto Pinochet shows, it's one law for whistleblowers, another for war criminals

Amy Goodman
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 31 May 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's protracted effort to fight extradition to Sweden suffered a body blow this week. Britain's supreme court upheld the arrest warrant, issued in December 2010.

After the court announced its split 5-2 decision, the justices surprised many legal observers by granting Assange's lawyers an opportunity to challenge their decision – the first such reconsideration since the high-profile British extradition case from more than a decade ago against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The decision came almost two years to the day after Private Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents to WikiLeaks.

The cases remind us that all too often whistleblowers suffer, while war criminals walk.

Assange has not been charged with any crime, yet he has been under house arrest in England for close to two years, ever since a European arrest warrant was issued by Sweden (importantly, by a prosecutor, not by a judge). Hoping to question Assange, the prosecutor issued the warrant for suspicion of rape, unlawful coercion and sexual molestation. Assange offered to meet the Swedish authorities in their embassy in London, or in Scotland Yard, but was refused. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/31/americas-vendetta-against-wikileaks-julian-assange

Guardian UK: America's corporate immigrant detention racket

America's corporate immigrant detention racket
Who benefits from immigrants awaiting hearings being locked up in worse conditions than criminal convicts? Only private prisons

Sadhbh Walshe
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 May 2012

Not long after 11 September 2001, Steven Logan, the CEO of Cornell Companies (now part of the for-profit prison corporation GEO Group Inc) had good news for its shareholders. In a quarterly earnings call, Logan enthusiastically talked about tighter border control and a heightened focus on (immigrant) detention in the wake of the attacks. As he put it, "more people are gonna get caught. So I would say that's a positive."

Indeed, for those in the business of caging people for profit, there was something positive to be found in the aftermath of 9/11. With the number of immigrants held in detention each year (pdf) nearly doubling to 363,000, billions of dollars were being generated in revenue. For nearly everyone else – including the immigrants themselves, of course, and the ordinary Americans who are paying the price in more ways than one – this detention binge has been an overwhelming negative.

The ACLU of Georgia recently released a report titled "Prisoners for Profit", which examined conditions at four facilities in the state, including the Stewart Detention Center. Stewart is the largest immigrant detention center in the nation, run by the for-profit Correction Corporation of America (CCA.) The report is replete with allegations of abuse, mistreatment and medical neglect, and relates in detail the death of Roberto Medina Martinez, a 40-year-old detainee, who died from what his widow's lawyers claim was a treatable infection.

The report also highlights the disturbing fact that although the majority of immigrants have committed no crime other than not having the right paperwork, they are housed in punitive, prison-like conditions that, in some cases, are worse than those faced by convicted criminals. For instance, detainees are denied any contact visits with their families or loved ones, as a matter of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) official policy. They are allowed only one hour of outdoor recreation five days a week, which is less outdoor time than prisoners in maximum security facilities can expect to get. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/30/americas-corporate-immigrant-detention-racket

De Ja Isner......

John Isner is serving down 14-13 in the 5th set at Roland Garros as I'm posting this.

Just round it up.....

Chinatown Bus Companies Shut Down in Federal Safety Sweep

(Bloomberg) The U.S. Transportation Department shut down 26 bus companies as imminent safety hazards, closing dozens of routes out of New York’s Chinatown in the government’s largest safety sweep of the motor-coach industry.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s enforcement action primarily targeted three Chinatown operations in New York and Philadelphia: Apex Bus Inc., I-95 Coach Inc. and New Century Travel Inc. The government ordered 10 bus company owners, managers and employees to cease all passenger transportation business, including selling tickets, according to a Transportation Department statement.

“By ignoring safety rules, these operators put passengers and other motorists at risk,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a phone news conference today. “This is a notice to every bus company out there. Follow the rules and keep people safe, or we will shut you down.”

The bus crackdown follows a yearlong investigation that began shortly after a series of fatal crashes last year, Federal Motor Carrier Administration chief Anne Ferro said today. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-31/chinatown-bus-companies-shut-down-in-federal-safety-sweep.html

Hot Drone-On-Drone Action

from TomDispatch:

A Drone-Eat-Drone World
With Its “Roadmap” in Tatters, The Pentagon Detours to Terminator Planet

By Nick Turse

U.S. military documents tell the story vividly. In the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, an unmanned mini-submarine deployed from the USS Freedom detects an “anomaly”: another small remotely-operated sub with welding capabilities tampering with a major undersea oil pipeline. The American submarine’s “smart software” classifies the action as a possible threat and transmits the information to an unmanned drone flying overhead. The robot plane begins collecting intelligence data and is soon circling over a nearby vessel, a possible mother ship, suspected of being involved with the “remote welder.”

At a hush-hush “joint maritime operations center” onshore, analysts pour over digital images captured by the unmanned sub and, according to a Pentagon report, recognize the welding robot “as one recently stolen and acquired by rebel antigovernment forces.” An elite quick-reaction force is assembled at a nearby airfield and dispatched to the scene, while a second unmanned drone is deployed to provide persistent surveillance of the area of operations.

And with that, the drone war is on.

At the joint maritime operations center, signals intelligence analysts detect the mother ship launching a Russian Tipchak -- a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft with “U.S.-derived systems and avionics” and outfitted with air-to-air as well as air-to-surface missiles. It’s decision time for U.S. commanders. Special Operations Forces are already en route and, with an armed enemy drone in the skies ahead of them, possibly in peril. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175548/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_hot_drone-on-drone_action/#more

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