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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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ACLU victory: Federal judge rules no-fly list violates the Constitution


ACLU victory: Federal judge rules no-fly list violates the Constitution
By Reuters
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 15:42 EDT

(Reuters) – The U.S. government’s no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.

“The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society,” Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling.

“Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel,” Brown said.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Jun 25, 2014, 05:21 AM (0 replies)

Corruption IS A National Security Problem: Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan


Corruption IS A National Security Problem: Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan
By Rachel Kleinfeld on June 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM

For years, “realists” in foreign policy claimed that the kind of government inside another state didn’t matter – foreign policy was only about what countries did outside their borders. As Iraq and northern Syria join in a de-facto jihadist statelet, Ukraine’s east is dismantled, and Central American refugees pour into Texas, it might be time to rethink that logic.

The story about Iraq’s downfall has largely been painted in ethnic terms. The West finds: “those tribal peoples and their endless wars” an easy to understand story line. When Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office, he immediately began to rule not on behalf of his country – but on behalf of the previously underserved Shi’a majority. He disbanded the Sunni militias that U.S. troops had painstakingly assisted, and reneged on his offer to help them join the military. Sunnis doubted they would ever be equals. When ISIS attacked, Sunnis were unwilling to fight to protect Maliki’s government.

This is true – and yet it is a half truth. In fact, Maliki ruled for an even smaller group: The corrupt elite who were eating the country away from the inside.

Yes, Maliki’s militaries evaporated because he had appointed leading military officials who were Shia cronies. But also because he allowed his military to hollow out with corruption. While the security sector “had an annual budget greater than the budgets for education, health, and the environment combined,” according to Zaid Al-Ali, very little made its way into security. df“Ghost” soldiers who were paid monthly salaries but never showed up for duty were legion. “Ghost” trainings were never held, with the money lining elite pockets, faulty, overly expensive equipment was purchased to enrich still others. No surprise that morale among the rank and file was low and they wouldn’t – and couldn’t – fight. A few years of cronyism and corruption undid a decade of painstaking U.S. effort.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 09:38 AM (0 replies)

Military pay is outpacing civilians'. Is it justified?


Four aircraft carriers (at least $18 billion dollars 'worth'), from back to front, the Abraham Lincoln (72), the Enterprise (65), the George H.W. Bush (77) and the Dwight D. Eisenhower (69), tied up at Norfolk Naval Station on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

Military pay is outpacing civilians'. Is it justified?
By Dianna Cahn
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 22, 2014


Whether you are military or civilian, enlisted or officer – mention military pay in this region and you are likely to hear an earful.

To some, the topic is synonymous with the nation’s commitment to those who serve and sacrifice on its behalf. Others see military pay and benefits surpassing civilian wages and question whether they’re too generous, especially as Congress grapples with reductions in defense spending. It’s an emotional issue, especially in Hampton Roads, where military pay drives the economy.


In Hampton Roads, 25 percent of all goods and services are directly tied to defense spending; that figure climbs to 40 percent when defense procurement and contractors are included, Wagner said.

“So small changes, for example, can have a pretty strong effect here because of the magnitude of (Department of Defense) presence,” Wagner said.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 09:33 AM (1 replies)

Pentagon says missile defense system hit target in test


Pentagon says missile defense system hit target in test
Bloomberg News
June 23, 2014 Updated 18 hours ago

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon said its $34 billion ground-based system to defend the continental U.S. successfully intercepted a dummy incoming missile for the first time since 2008.

The test, using a conventional warhead made by Raytheon, took place on Sunday over the Pacific Ocean, the Defense Department said in an emailed statement. The interceptor missile made by Orbital Sciences was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Boeing manages the ground-based missile defense program.

"This is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland ballistic missile defense system," Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said in the statement.

Two 2010 tests failed, as did one last July that used an older warhead that's on 20 of the 30 interceptors based in silos at Vandenberg and Fort Greely in Alaska.


The Missile Defense System was Ronnie Raygun's wet dream.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 07:01 AM (0 replies)

Iraq and the emerging regional disorder


Iraq and the emerging regional disorder
By Zorawar Daulet Singh
Jun 24, '14

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week expressed a truism when he remarked, "recent crises in Iraq and Ukraine remind us all how quickly things can change in the world, and not for the better."

Since 1980, the Carter Doctrine (America reserves the right to use force to defend its interests in West Asia) has been the dominant image of the regional security system. The US took West Asia into its sphere of influence, and, Washington could be relied upon to ensure a modicum of geopolitical leadership. After all, this was the implicit contract between America and the world. The US would supply public goods via geopolitical stability and receive the consent of regional and global stakeholders to a US-led regional order. Yet the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the impasse with Iran, NATO's strike on Libya, the Syrian civil war, strengthening of radical Islam in Egypt, and Turkey's drift away from its secular moorings collectively suggest that the US can no longer credibly present itself as a regional security provider.

If there is one stark contradiction in US foreign policy it is this: A relative power decline and the weakening of the domestic base for a superpower role suggest that America would seek to craft a new role, one consistent with its means and body politic. A recent Bloomberg poll showed that 58% of the Americans surveyed felt the US was in decline as a world leader. Yet, a parallel self-image of an exceptional America as a "city upon a hill" seems to be the persistent default mantra for any mainstream policymaker. Obama's West Point speech in May exemplified this: "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being", even as he wisely argued against the overuse of the American military "hammer". But then also insisting, "America must always lead on the world stage. If we don't, no one else will."

The dichotomy between the declining capacity and strong will to sustain an exceptional role, and, the persistence of a discourse of exceptionalism among US elites suggests a potentially dangerous inflexion point has been reached. This is nothing short of an American identity crisis that is part of the normative and material transition to a multipolar world.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 05:54 AM (0 replies)

Obama’s Drone Memo Revealed: US Gov’t can over-rule 4th Amendment


Obama’s Drone Memo Revealed: US Gov’t can over-rule 4th Amendment
By contributors | Jun. 24, 2014
By Sarah Lazare

The U.S. government on Monday partially released the formerly-classified Department of Justice "drone memo," dated 2010, in which Obama administration lawyers argue they have the right to extra-judicially kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen.

Anwar Al Aulaqi, who had been placed on a "kill list," died by U.S. drone strikes in September 2011, along with Samir Khan, as well as three other people. Just weeks later, another U.S. drone attack on a restaurant in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi's son Abdulrahman, also a U.S. citizen, and six other civilians.

In the memo, which is addressed to attorney general Eric Holder, David Barron—then head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—argues that the targeted killing is legal “where, as here, the target's activities pose a ‘continued and imminent threat of violence or death' to U.S. persons, ‘the highest officers in the Intelligence Community have reviewed the factual basis’ for the lethal operation, and a capture operation would be infeasible.”


Barron claims the killing is justified by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force—a highly controversial and expansive congressional act that has been expansively interpreted by the Bush and Obama administrations to authorize ongoing war and occupation in Afghanistan, covert drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, military intervention in countries from Ethiopia to Iraq, indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram prison, and more.


AUMF - the gift that keeps on giving.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 05:35 AM (1 replies)

Another Atrocious Corporate Trade Scheme Planned in Secret Comes to Light


Another Atrocious Corporate Trade Scheme Planned in Secret Comes to Light
By Dave Johnson
June 20, 2014

Another secret trade deal has leaked to WikiLeaks and it looks as if it is one more effort to lock into law the interests of certain already-huge corporations above the interests of governments, their citizens and potentially competing businesses.

As with leaks from the secret Tran-Pacific Partnership negotiations, this leak shows that the largest corporations are working to bypass recent efforts by governments to rein them in by pushing through “trade” agreements that override their ability to write their own laws and regulations.

This time the leak is the “Financial Services Annex” of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). It shows that the TISA negotiations are an effort to not only undo the minimal regulation of Wall Street that occurred after the financial crash, but to further deregulate financial markets worldwide. As WikiLeaks words it, “Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets.”

TISA is a huge “trade” agreement that covers the services sector, which includes audiovisual; finance; insurance; energy services; transportation, logistics, and express delivery services; information technology services; and telecommunications. TISA currently has 50 countries participating in the negotiations: Australia, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. (European Union includes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.)
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 04:45 AM (1 replies)

Why Boston Has the Best Tasting Tap Water in the Nation


New Yorkers may disagree but Beantown's environmental protection efforts are its water's secret ingredient.

Why Boston Has the Best Tasting Tap Water in the Nation
By Daniel Moss
June 23, 2014

If you already love Boston for its unmistakable accent and unpredictable baseball team, you might want to consider adding its tap water to your list. Boston came out on top of this year’s tap water taste test, an annual competition hosted by the American Water Works Association—a network of more than 50,000 water professionals charged with keeping our water supply healthy. The honor was particularly fitting since the association’s conference was held in Boston this year.

Forests in the protected area clean the water naturally so that by the time it gets to the city it requires only limited filtering. There’s no need for the cocktail of chemicals most cities’ water utilities use.Boston’s secret ingredient? Watershed protection. Between 1985 and 2012, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority—from which Boston buys its water—purchased conservation land in the watersheds that feed the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs to the city’s west, the sources of Boston’s water.

Not surprisingly, the city’s path to its current water purity was no walk in the park. In the early ’80s, the filthy state of the Boston Harbor made national news and the Conservation Law Foundation sued state agencies for violating the Massachusetts Clean Water Act. One result of the litigation was the formation in 1985 of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

On top of the billions the authority spent on restoring the Boston Harbor and Charles River—resulting in some of the cleanest urban beaches in the country—it invested $131 million in land preservation around Boston’s drinking water sources. Four hundred square miles of forest makes a protective ring around the city’s two major reservoirs.


I remember the MWRA starting their cleanup in the mid-80s. (I also remember my water bill took a large hit.)

The Charles River was disgusting, as was the smell of the water from the tap.

The Deer Island water treatment plant was built:

30 years of taking care if our infrastructure has paid off.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 04:42 AM (14 replies)

Iraq's Destruction Is a Reminder of the Ugly Face of American Empire


Iraqi Turkmen pose with their weapons as they ready to fight against militants led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 21, 2014, in the Iraqi village of Basheer, south of Kirkuk

Iraq's Destruction Is a Reminder of the Ugly Face of American Empire
By Chris Hedges
June 23, 2014

The black-clad fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sweeping a collapsing army and terrified Iraqis before them as they advance toward Baghdad, reflect back to us the ghoulish face of American empire. They are the specters of the hundreds of thousands of people we murdered in our deluded quest to remake the Middle East. They are ghosts from the innumerable roadsides and villages where U.S. soldiers and Marines, jolted by explosions of improvised explosive devices, responded with indiscriminate fire. They are the risen remains of the dismembered Iraqis left behind by blasts of Hellfire and cruise missiles, howitzers, grenade launchers and drone strikes. They are the avengers of the gruesome torture and the sexual debasement that often came with being detained by American troops. They are the final answer to the collective humiliation of an occupied country, the logical outcome of Shock and Awe, the Frankenstein monster stitched together from the body parts we left scattered on the ground. They are what we get for the $4 trillion we wasted on the Iraq War.

The language of violence engenders violence. The language of hate engenders hate. “I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn,” W.H. Auden wrote. “Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.” It is as old as the Bible.

There is no fight left in us. The war is over. We destroyed Iraq as a unified country. It will never be put back together. We are reduced—in what must be an act of divine justice decreed by the gods, whom we have discovered to our dismay are Islamic—to pleading with Iran for military assistance to shield the corrupt and despised U.S. protectorate led by Nouri al-Maliki. We are not, as we thought when we entered Iraq, the omnipotent superpower able in a swift and brutal stroke to bend a people to our will. We are something else. Fools and murderers. Blinded by hubris. Faded relics of the Cold War. And now, in the final act of the play, we are crawling away. Our empire is dying.

We should have heeded, while we had a chance, the wails of mothers and fathers. We should have listened to the cries of the wounded. We should have wept over the bodies of Iraqi children lined up in neat rows in the morgues. We should have honored grief so we could honor life. But the dance of death is intoxicating. Once it begins you whirl in an ecstatic frenzy. Death’s embrace, which feels at first like sexual lust, tightens and tightens until you suffocate. Now the music has stopped. All we have left are loss and pain.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 24, 2014, 04:31 AM (0 replies)

Blue Planet et al. Appeal to UN over Detroit Water cut-off to Thousands


'By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water.'

Blue Planet et al. Appeal to UN over Detroit Water cut-off to Thousands
By contributors | Jun. 23, 2014
By Sarah Lazare

As thousands of people in Detroit go without water, and the city moves to cut off services to tens of thousands more, concerned organizations have taken the unusual step of appealing to the United Nations to intervene and protect the "human right to water."

“After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands," said Maude Barlow, founder of Blue Planet Project and board chair of Food & Water Watch, in a statement. “By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water."

The Submission to the Special Rapporteur was released Wednesday by the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Food & Water Watch.

It calls for the "state of Michigan and U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation" and for shut-offs to be halted, services restored, and water to be made accessible and affordable.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jun 23, 2014, 05:05 AM (0 replies)
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