Friday, December 23, 2011

Federal Reserve releases secret bailout data


Gingrich Criticizes Payroll Tax Deal 2 Days After Urging GOP To Sign It #p2 #tcot


As Users Rail Against GoDaddy, Unpacking the SOPA Supporter List [VIDEO]


SOPA bans Tor, the US Navy's censorship-busting technology


Boehner’s office cuts off C-SPAN cameras as @GOP takes verbal beating #p2 #tcot @speakerboehner


House Speaker John Boehner orders CSPAN's cameras switched off during contentious House debate @speakerboehner #p2 #tcot


GoDaddy supports SOPA, I'm transferring 51 domains & suggesting a move your domain day


GoDaddy supports SOPA, customers take business elsewhere

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

As average Americans struggle, big banks set aside over $150 billion in bonuses


NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly Laughs at #OWS Police Brutality Accountability


free market will not stop crime in our neighborhoods or put out a fire or teach our kids - Powerful Defense Of Teachers, Paramedics, And Police #p2 #tcot


House @GOP Walks Away From Bipartisan Compromise on Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits #p2 #tcot


@gop @barackobama The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty And The American Warehouse #p2 #tcot


AT&T Dropping Its T-Mobile Bid, Owes Billions to Deutsche Telekom

AT&T said Monday that it is dropping its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, amid regulatory opposition from both the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, both of which had made moves to block the deal.

In a statement, AT&T said it had made the move after consulting with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom, and criticized the actions that forced it to abandon the deal.

"The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage," AT&T said. "In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled."

In addition to federal regulators, Sprint had vehemently opposed the deal, as had other smaller competitors and public interest groups, arguing it would hurt competition.

AT&T will have to pay a giant breakup fee to Deutsche Telekom, as well as enter into an expanded roaming agreement. AT&T said it would take a $4 billion charge in the fourth quarter to account for the cash and spectrum owed to the German telecommunications firm. The charge reflects $3 billion in cash and the $1 billion book value of spectrum owed, though many have placed the value of the spectrum at far more than its book value.

Despite the windfall, the move still leaves Deutsche Telekom without an exit plan for its U.S. holdings, and leaves T-Mobile without a clear path to offer higher-speed LTE service.

AT&T announced its plans to acquire T-Mobile back in March, on the eve of the CTIA trade show in Orlando. It drew almost immediate opposition from Sprint. The headwinds grew stronger as regulators began considering the deal and its potential impact on competition.

The companies had sought to see if there might be a way to offer concessions, but opponents seemed against any combination of the two, dimming the prospects for satisfactory concessions.

AT&T also failed on the political side, in addition to its regulatory chess moves. The company sought to withdraw its FCC application in hope of waiting for a court to rule on the Justice Department's move to block the deal. However, the court in that case decided that with no FCC application pending it had no need to move quickly.

@gop @speakerboehner News Alert: Republicans in House Reject Deal Extending Payroll Tax Cut - thanks plutocrats we know who u work for

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 -- 1:19 PM EST

Republicans in House Reject Deal Extending Payroll Tax Cut

House Republicans on Tuesday soundly rejected a bill approved by the Senate that would have extended the payroll tax cut for most Americans beyond the end of the year and allowed millions of unemployed people to continue receiving jobless benefits.

The House vote, which passed 229 to 193, also calls for establishing a negotiating committee so the two chambers can resolve their differences.  Seven Republicans joined Democrats in opposition.

But the Senate has left town for the year, and Democrats say they do not intend to call it back, putting continuation of the tax cut in jeopardy and leaving a shadow over many unemployed Americans as the holidays near.

Read More:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

despicable: Ron Paul Supporter Openly Calls For Assassination Of President Obama On Facebook Page #p2 #tcot

A supporter of Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul openly called for the assassination of President Obama and his family on Sunday.

Libertarian Jules Manson of California wrote a Facebook post complaining about President Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act and advocated assassinating Obama and his family. He also called for potential jurors to protect the assassins in court by voting 'not guilty.' He then posted the following statement as a comment on the original post:

"Assassinate the f****n n****r and his monkey children"

The Facebook page, Americans Against The Tea Party captured this image of the post:

Facebook users are outraged at this comment which has since been removed. Manson's page has also been taken down because so many people have reported it for abuse. Manson has run for office before, but has failed thus far to win an election. His Facebook post just ended his hopes of ever winning political office. For any person to openly call for the assassination of the President of the United States is outrageous and should be tried for treason. If Republicans do not condemn this unacceptable instance of bigotry and hatred, they are just as guilty as Manson is.

US: Two deaths from brain-eating amoeba linked to sinus remedy for colds

A sinus-flushing device used to relieve colds and allergies has been linked to a deadly brain-eating amoeba.

Louisiana's state health department issued a warning about neti pots - which look like mini watering cans, that are used by pouring salty water through one nostril.

It follows two recent deaths - a 51-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man from the 'brain-eating amoeba' Naegleria fowleri.

It is thought the amoeba entered their brains when they used the devices.

Both victims are thought to have used tap water, instead of distilled or sterilised water as recommended by the manufacturers.

Dr Raoult Ratard, Louisiana State Epidemiologist, said: 'If you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, for example, by using a neti pot, use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution.

'Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose.'

He added that it is important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.

Half of all orange juice served in cafes may contain bacteria such as salmonella, scientists say

The very rare infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes and rivers.

In very rare instances, health experts said such infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources, such as from an inadequately chlorinated swimming pool or when people irrigate their sinuses with devices like neti pots.

© Center for Disease Control
Naegleria fowleri (left) and a stained sample seen in brain tissue
According to The Department of Health and Hospitals in Louisiana, the amoeba causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue.

In its early stages, symptoms may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis and can include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations.

After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.

A spokesman from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the Louisiana cases are still being investigated.

Russia oil spills wreak devastation – ‘Fishing, hunting – it’s all gone’

Russian workers riding an airboat clean up an oil slick in the river Kolva near the Russian town of Usinsk in this 16 August 1995 file photo. Gennady Galperin / REUTERS

By Nataliya Vasilyeva, AP Business Writer
17 December 2011

USINSK, Russia – On the bright yellow tundra outside this oil town near the Arctic Circle, a pitch-black pool of crude stretches toward the horizon. The source: a decommissioned well whose rusty screws ooze with oil, viscous like jam.

This is the face of Russia's oil country, a sprawling, inhospitable zone that experts say represents the world's worst ecological oil catastrophe.

Environmentalists estimate at least 1 percent of Russia's annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. That is equivalent to one Deepwater Horizon-scale leak about every two months. Crumbling infrastructure and a harsh climate combine to spell disaster in the world's largest oil producer, responsible for 13 percent of global output.

Oil, stubbornly seeping through rusty pipelines and old wells, contaminates soil, kills all plants that grow on it and destroys habitats for mammals and birds. Half a million tons every year get into rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean, the government says, upsetting the delicate environmental balance in those waters.

It's part of a legacy of environmental tragedy that has plagued Russia and the countries of its former Soviet empire for decades, from the nuclear horrors of Chernobyl in Ukraine to lethal chemical waste in the Russian city of Dzerzhinsk and paper mill pollution seeping into Siberia's Lake Baikal, which holds one-fifth of the world's supply of fresh water.

Oil spills in Russia are less dramatic than disasters in the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea, more the result of a drip-drip of leaked crude than a sudden explosion. But they're more numerous than in any other oil-producing nation including insurgency-hit Nigeria, and combined they spill far more than anywhere else in the world, scientists say.

"Oil and oil products get spilled literally every day," said Dr. Grigory Barenboim, senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Water Problems.

No hard figures on the scope of oil spills in Russia are available, but Greenpeace estimates that at least 5 million tons leak every year in a country producing about 500 million tons a year.

Dr. Irina Ivshina, of the government-financed Institute of the Environment and Genetics of Microorganisms, supports the 5 million ton estimate, as does the World Wildlife Fund.

The figure is derived from two sources: Russian state-funded research that shows 10-15 percent of Russian oil leakage enters rivers; and a 2010 report commissioned by the Natural Resources Ministry that shows nearly 500,000 tons slips into northern Russian rivers every year and flow into the Arctic.

The estimate is considered conservative: The Russian Economic Development Ministry in a report last year estimated spills at up to 20 million tons per year.

That astonishing number, for which the ministry offered no elaboration, appears to be based partly on the fact most small leaks in Russia go unreported. Under Russian law, leaks of less than 8 tons are classified only as "incidents" and carry no penalties.

Russian oil spills also elude detection because most happen in the vast swaths of unpopulated tundra and conifer forest in the north, caused either by ruptured pipes or leakage from decommissioned wells.

Weather conditions in most oil provinces are brutal, with temperatures routinely dropping below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) in winter. That makes pipelines brittle and prone to rupture unless they are regularly replaced and their condition monitored.

Asked by The Associated Press to comment, the Natural Resources Ministry and the Energy Ministry said they have no data on oil spills and referred to the other ministry for further inquiries.

Even counting only the 500,000 tons officially reported to be leaking into northern rivers every year, Russia is by far the worst oil polluter in the world.

  • Nigeria, which produces one-fifth as much oil as Russia, logged 110,000 tons spilled in 2009, much of that due to rebel attacks on pipelines.
  • The U.S., the world's third-largest oil producer, logged 341 pipeline ruptures in 2010 -- compared to Russia's 18,000 -- with 17,600 tons of oil leaking as a result, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Spills have averaged 14,900 tons a year between 2001 and 2010.
  • Canada, which produces oil in weather conditions as harsh as Russia's, does not see anything near Russia's scale of disaster. Eleven pipeline accidents were reported to Canada's Transport Safety Board last year, while media reports of leaks, ranging from sizable spills to a tiny leak in a farmer's backyard, come to a total of 7,700 tons a year.
  • In Norway, Russia's northwestern oil neighbor, spills amounted to some 3,000 tons a year in the past few years, said Hanne Marie Oeren, head of the oil and gas section at Norway's Climate and Pollution Agency.

Now that Russian companies are moving to the Arctic to tap vast but hard-to-get oil and gas riches, scientists voice concerns that Russia's outdated technologies and shoddy safety record make for a potential environmental calamity there. […]

In 1994, the republic of Komi, where Usinsk lies 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, became the scene of Russia's largest oil spill when an estimated 100,000 tons splashed from an aging pipeline.

It killed plants and animals, and polluted up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) of two local rivers, killing thousands of fish. In villages most affected, respiratory diseases rose by some 28 percent in the year following the leak.

Seen from a helicopter, the oil production area is dotted with pitch-black ponds. Fresh leaks are easy to find once you step into the tundra north of Usinsk. To spot a leak, find a dying tree. Fir trees with drooping gray, dry branches look as though scorched by a wildfire. They are growing insoil polluted by oil. […]

Ivan Blokov, campaign director at Greenpeace Russia, who studies oil spills, said the situation in Komi is replicated across Russia's oil-producing regions, which stretch from the Black Sea in the southwest to the Chinese border in Russia's Far East.

"It is happening everywhere," Blokov said. "It's typical of any oil field in Russia. The system is old and it is not being replaced in time by any oil company in the country."

What also worries scientists and environmentalists is that oil spills are not confined to abandoned or aging fields. Alarmingly, accidents happen at brand new pipelines, said Barenboim.

At least 400 tons leaked from a new pipeline in two separate accidents in Russia's Far East last year, according to media reports and oil companies. Transneft's pipeline that brings Russian oil from Eastern Siberia to China was put into operation just months before the two spills happened.

The oil industry in Komi has been sapping nature for decades, killing or forcing out reindeer and fish. Locals like the 63-year-old Bratenkov are afraid that when big oil leaves, there will be only poisoned terrain left in its wake.

"Fishing, hunting -- it's all gone," Bratenkov said.

AP Enterprise: Russia oil spills wreak devastation

30 Companies Paid Lobbyists More Than the IRS #p2 #tcot @andrewbreitbart @barackobama

An analysis by Public Campaign reveals that between 2008 and 2010, 30 of America's most profitable companies, including Verizon, Wells Fargo, FedEx, GE and Mattel, spent more money buying influence in Washington than they did paying taxes.

The raw data comes from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Center for Responsive Politics—PZS

Public Campaign:

At Least 50,000 Children Caught Up In Philippines Flooding

Philippines Flooding
© Eduardo Umali/Save the Children

At least 50,000 children have been caught up in flooding in the Philippines, Save the Children estimates, after hundreds of people were swept to their deaths by an enormous cyclone.

Two days after torrential rains triggered some of the worst flooding ever seen in the country, some areas are still cut off by damage and debris, hampering relief efforts and prompting fears for families trapped without enough food and clean water.

Save the Children is particularly concerned that children may have been separated from their families during the floods, leaving them especially vulnerable, Save the Children's Anna Lindenfors in the Philippines said.

"We fear that many children were split up from their parents as this disaster unfolded and our priority is to reach them as soon as possible. We are especially worried about children trapped in areas that we cannot access due to the damage caused by the storm. Children are likely to have borne the brunt of this disaster, because they are less likely to be able to cope with torrents of floodwater." she said.

Hundreds of people are still missing after the storm tore through coastal villages in Mindanao and there are reports that the majority of the bodies recovered so far have been children.

Philippines Flooding_1
© Eduardo Umali/Save the Children
Save the Children teams are on the ground to provide clean water and essential items to families caught up in the disaster. Without their families, children face a range of risks. They are often extremely frightened, unable to find food and clean water and are vulnerable to abuse.

In areas where access is possible, the government has set up evacuation centers for those made homeless by the tropical storm. Save the Children is working with the authorities to ensure that families are getting the help they need.

The attached pictures were taken at Zone 7, Acacia St. Carmen, Cagayan de Oro, where close to 50 houses were swept away in the early morning of 17 December 2011, rendering about 120 children homeless - this is in one street alone.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Dies

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had suffered from poor health since his stroke in 2008
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.

Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.

He suffered a stroke in 2008 and was absent from public view for months.

His designated successor is believed to be his third son, Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be in his late 20s.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul says Mr Kim's death will cause huge shock waves across North Korea.

The announcement came in an emotional statement read out on national television.

The announcer, wearing black, said he had died of physical and mental over-work.

South Korea says its military has been put on alert following the announcement and its National Security Council is convening for an emergency meeting, Yonhap news agency reports.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Silicon Valley execs blast SOPA in open letter #p2 #tcot @barackobama

Many of Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs and executives are warning of the dangers of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Actin a new open letter to Washington, D.C.

It's signed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, among others. It will appear as a paid advertisement in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers.

The letter's timing is no coincidence. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who drafted SOPA, has scheduled a committee vote tomorrow on a slightly revised version and still highly controversial version--call it SOPA v2.0.

SOPA will "give the U.S. government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran," the letter says. Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, recently invoked China as a model, saying that "when the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites" the company complied, according to a report at Dodd backed away from that comparison in a speech (PDF) yesterday, saying it's unfair to compare shutting down "foreign rogue sites and the policies of repressive governments."

SOPA represents the latest effort from Hollywood, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they claim to be rampant piracy online, especially from offshore sites such as It would allow the Justice Department to seek an order making allegedly piratical Web sites virtually vanish from the Internet. (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA.)

In advance of tomorrow's committee vote, opposition is mounting from Internet engineers, Web companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Zynga, and civil liberties and human rights groups. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says SOPA violates the First Amendment and "should not be enacted by Congress."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told CNET that he's planning to offer amendments to SOPA that would "reduce" the discretion of the U.S. attorney general. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a Web entrepreneur who like Issa is on the House Judiciary committee, said in an interview with CNETthat he has similar concerns about the Justice Department and is also planning to offer amendments.

Keep reading for the text of the open letter.

An Open Letter to Washington

We've all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.

However we're worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act--which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online--will undermine that framework.

These two pieces of legislation threaten to:

 * Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;

* Deny website owners the right to due process of law;

* Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and

* Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.

We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let's not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz 
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google 
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square 
Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch 
David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo! 
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn 
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post 
Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube 
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and co-founder of Alexa Internet 
Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal 
Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist 
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay 
Biz Stone, co-founder of Obvious and Twitter 
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation 
Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter 
Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!

Originally posted at Privacy Inc.

“A Third World in our own backyard” US child homelessness soars #p2 #tcot @gop @barackobama


More than 1.6 million children in the United States, or one in 45, are homeless, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The survey conducted by the Massachusetts-based advocacy group concludes that child homelessness surged 38 percent between 2007 and 2010, with the number of children living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families rising over the period by more than 448,000.

Ellen Bassuk, president and founder of the National Center on Family Homelessness and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told the World Socialist Web Site that the figures suggest "an emerging Third World in our own backyard."

Among the key findings of the 124-page report, entitled "America's Youngest Outcasts 2010," are the following:

• The figure of 1.6 million children homeless in a year equates to more than 30,000 homeless children each week and over 4,400 each day.

• Children experiencing homelessness suffer from hunger, poor physical and emotional health, and missed educational opportunities.

• A majority of these children have limited proficiency in math and reading.

• Only five states reported a decrease in the number of homeless children between 2007 and 2010. Twenty-five states reported that their numbers doubled.

The report is the latest in a series of studies documenting the social devastation in America resulting from mass unemployment and the pro-corporate policies of the Obama administration and both big business parties. Earlier this month a study published by Rutgers University found that only 22 percent of those who lost their jobs between August 2008 and August 2009 were working full-time as of August 2011. Just 7 percent of those initially contacted in the study had regained their previous income level.

Last month, the Census Bureau released a new measurement of poverty in the US that increased the estimate of the number of poor people to 49 million.

The growth of poverty at one end has been accompanied by an ever greater concentration of wealth by a financial aristocracy at the other. In October, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the richest 1 percent of US households nearly tripled their income between 1979 and 2007 and doubled their share of the national income.

With the 2012 presidential campaign season beginning in earnest, one would hardly guess from the statements of any of the contenders that the country is mired in a depression that is swelling the ranks of the poor and homeless at an accelerating rate.

The authors of the homelessness survey note that the reported number of homeless children is likely an undercount, because data collection procedures were changed in California, reducing that state's total by nearly 163,000 in a single year, from 2009 to 2010. In the three previous years, California had accounted for more than 25 percent of the nation's homeless children.

The report compares the impact of what it calls the "man-made disaster" of the housing and finance collapse of 2007-2008 with the natural disaster of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Following the hurricanes, the number of homeless children surged in 2006 to 1.5 million, or one in 50. In 2007, following the mass migration from the storm-devastated Gulf region and resettlement of more than a million people, the number of homeless children fell by 385,000, or 25 percent. In that year the rate of homelessness among children fell to one in 63.

Since 2007, however, the child homeless population has soared higher, by 60,000, than the level reached after the hurricanes of 2005.

The "America's Youngest Outcasts 2010" study compiles figures on a state-by-state basis, using data gathered by school districts. The states with the highest incidence of child homelessness include the highly populated states of New York and California and the much smaller states of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Oregon. The states listed as having the highest risk of child homelessness are predominantly in the South and the Southwest, including Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Ellen Bassuk, the president of the foundation, said: "What we're seeing is an escalating number of homeless kids, beginning in 2007 all the way to now. It is a disturbing picture, particularly in a country as affluent as ours.

"These are very poor families with little opportunity. The kids are extremely traumatized. Their outcomes are poor. Many of them don't graduate from high school. It's a very sad picture.

"The bulk of these families are headed by women alone. Many of the kids are below the age of six. We're talking about a whole generation of children who do not have appropriate opportunities to thrive and grow."

Describing the impact of homelessness on children, Bassuk said, "It's a very traumatic experience for kids. They lose their friends, their pets, their possessions, their routines. They end up in shelters that tend to be fairly chaotic. Whole families live in one room.

"A lot of kids are hungry in this population. It's hard to go to school and pay attention when that's going on."

Asked about the impact of budget cuts, she noted that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is "level-funded," meaning its funding has not been increased for the past two years. "Therefore it can't respond to the increase in the number of homeless families," she said. "We also know there are threats to SNAP (the federal food stamp program) and Head Start, which is a critical program for low-income kids."

She continued: "Programs that we know benefit these families should not be cut. I think right now we're treading water around various programs in the hope that some of these critical programs won't be further cut.

"Another example is child care vouchers. There are not adequate child care vouchers to help these families. How can a mother go to work who has a bunch of young kids or go to school and learn the skills she needs to earn a livable wage? They need job opportunities and job training to earn a livable wage.

"Everything right now is on the chopping block. There are going to be big domestic spending cuts. Those of us who work in this area are worried."

Asked if she was disappointed in the policies of the Obama administration, she pointed to the 2009 report "Opening Doors" that was issued by the administration's Interagency Council on Homelessness. The report "made a commitment to end child and family homelessness in ten years and end some of the other types of homelessness within five years. And if anything we're seeing a huge spike in numbers. We had certainly hoped that a lot of this would be going in the other direction. It's been a long, hard four years."

The author also recommends:

Study documents desperate conditions facing the unemployed in America
[5 December 2011]

US Census: One third of US population poor or near-poor
[29 November 2011]

Government report says richest 1 percent doubled their share of US national income
[27 October 2011]

Obama administration backs bill authorizing indefinite military detention of US citizens #p2 #tcot @barackobama


The Obama administration declared Wednesday afternoon that it was abandoning its nominal threat to veto a military authorization bill that explicitly authorizes the indefinite military detention of anyone the federal government declares to be a terrorist or supporter, including US citizens.

The final passage of the bill is now virtually assured by the end of the week. It marks a new stage in the collapse of the most basic democratic rights in the United States and the erection of the framework of a military-police state.

From the beginning, the administration has supported all fundamental components of the bill, while criticizing it largely from the standpoint of defending executive power. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that a few cosmetic changes this week ensured that it "does not challenge the president's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate terrorists and protect the American people."

A few hours later, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, 286-136, with support from both big business parties. Democrats split 93-93 on the bill, while Republicans voted for it by a margin of 193-43.

The Senate is expected to vote on it Thursday, before it arrives at the president's desk. Both houses of Congress had already passed earlier versions of the same legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The bill would allow for the open-ended detention of anyone caught up in the "war on terror," without trial or charges, including US citizens. This is the first explicit legislation to effectively abolish habeas corpus (the right to challenge unlawful detentions) and the constitutional rights to a fair trial (the Sixth Amendment) and due process (the Fifth Amendment).

Another provision requires that such individuals be taken into military custody, with an exception for US citizens. The military seizure of US citizens is left to the discretion of the executive branch. This means the effective abolition of the Posse Comitatus Act, which has restricted use of the military for domestic policing for more than a century.

The main concern of the administration was that the requirement for military custody could hamper actions of other agencies engaged in counterterrorism operations, such as the FBI and CIA. An earlier policy statement from last month outlined the White House position that the requirement on military detention was an "unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President's authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats that would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals."

The White House has cited the extra-judicial assassination of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki (a US citizen) as evidence that there should be no restraints on the form through which executive power is exercised.

In response to White House pressure, House and Senate negotiators on Monday agreed to compromise language that states that nothing in the bill will affect "existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the FBI or any other domestic law enforcement agency…regardless of whether such… person is held in military custody."

Another measure would allow the president to waive requirements on the grounds of "national security."

The administration also expressed the concern that the explicit authorization of indefinite detention was not necessary, as the White House claims that this power is already incorporated in the Authorization to Use Military Force, passed in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. Its inclusion in the bill could prompt judicial review. Carney's statement declared, "Though this provision remains unnecessary, the changes ensure that we are merely restating our existing legal authorities and minimize the risk of unnecessary and distracting litigation."

Commenting on the amended version, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement earlier this week: "The sponsors of the bill monkeyed around with a few minor details, but all of the core dangers remain—the bill authorizes the president to order the military to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others found far from any battlefield, even in the United States itself."

This assault on fundamental democratic rights has been packaged into a $662 billion military spending bill, including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also includes new sanctions against Iran and the renewal of the AUMF, which was passed after the September 11 attacks and used to justify everything from aggressive war to domestic spying.

It incorporates a sweeping definition of those who are subject to the law, including anyone who "substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces" and "any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities." This language can be stretched to include virtually anyone, including political opponents of US wars justified on the pretext of the "war on terror."

The battlefield is defined in the legislation to encompass the entire world, including the "homeland"—that is, the United States. A person can be detained "under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities"—that is, forever.

The White House was particularly concerned to ensure that the legislation not restrict the ability of the executive to detain US citizens indefinitely. During the early drafting procedure, it requested that Congress strip out language that would have excluded citizens from the indefinite detention clause.

The entire "debate" within the political establishment over the NDAA testifies to the collapse of any commitment to democratic rights within the American ruling class.

Monday, December 12, 2011

new Fox News poll that says most voters think Obama will win the 2012 election had Gretchen Carlson flustered and uncomprehending #foxnews #p2 #tcot


Tea Party’s ‘Obama as Skunk’ Message: Racism or Satire? #p2 #tcot

Since Tea Party activists can no longer channel their racist hatred for President Obama by depicting him as a chimp, the Patriot Freedom Alliance has decided on a new creature: a skunk.

The Kansas-based group last week posted a picture of the malodorous mammal on its website, with the caption, "The skunk has replaced the eagle as the new symbol for the president.  It is half black, it is half white, and almost everything it does, stinks."

The not-so-subtle reference to Obama's race garnered a swift reply from the local NAACP group, which called the skunk bit a "blatant statement of racism."

"You would think that an organization that claims to be about patriotism and what this country is supposed to stand for would have a better way of expressing it than what they're doing," said leader Darrell Pope.

stupid: Florida conservative policy group pressures Lowe’s to pull ads from ‘All-American Muslim’


Tea Party Group Calls 'Half Black, Half White' Obama A Skunk #p2 #tcot


A Kansas tea party group is saying "pee-eww" to President Obama.

Patriot Freedom Alliance, a tea party group in Hutchinson, Kansas, made a statement on its website recently, depicting Obama as a skunk.

"It is half black, half white, and almost everything it does, stinks," the site reads, according to a screen grab posted by The Hutchinson News. The skunk depiction has been replaced with an abridged biography of Newt Gingrich.

The group's webmaster, Thomas Hymer, told the The Hutchinson News the statement was just political satire, saying Sarah Palin has been subjected to worse attacks. But Hutchinson chapter NAACP president Darrell Pope suggests the message carries racial overtones.

Of course, this isn't the first race-titnted gibe at Obama. Over the Summer, Rush Limbaughsuggested a new chocolate-vanilla Oreo cookie should be rebranded the "Obameo."

Read the rest here.

After Disbanding, Occupy Windsor Helps House Homeless #p2 #tcot @andrewbreitbart @foxnews

AFTER DISBANDING, OCCUPY WINDSOR HELPS HOUSE HOMELESS | Facing pressure from the city, Canada's Occupy Windsor disbanded last week. Yet while the protesters have disbanded, they have not quit working on behalf of the public. When the camp was disbanding, Ron Pritchard, who was homeless, reached out for help. Three days later, Pritchard was re-settled into social housing nearby. "Friends did it for me through Occupy Windsor," Pritchard said. "It's a new start. I can better my life." Pritchard joins at least one other homeless man housed thanks to the help of Occupy Windsor.

climate denier Gingrich’s Global Warming Book Featuring Scientist Katharine Hayhoe Delayed Until 2013 #p2 #tcot


A sequel to Newt Gingrich's 2007 book Contract with the Earth is in the works, though not until after the 2012 elections. The book, being edited by Contract co-author Terry Maple, is provisionally titled Environmental Entrepreneurs and will contain "essays by various businesspeople and scientists" on how to fight climate change. One of the essayists is climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, asked by Maple to provide "a good opening chapter that lays out the facts on global climate change." Hayhoe is a Texas Tech climate scientist and conservative evangelical Christian, who has written A Climate for Change, calling on her fellow evangelicals to stand up to the climate crisis. According to the Los Angeles Times, Maple believes "Gingrich is still interested in doing the book":

Hayhoe submitted her climate science chapter in mid-2009 but never heard back from the authors. Maple said the book has been delayed because he has been too busy to focus on it. He said Gingrich is still interested in doing the book and has not asked him to slow walk it. The Gingrich campaign did not answer emails seeking comment about the project.

"Humans are altering the average conditions of the planet," Dr. Hayhoe wrote for ThinkProgress Green in August, responding to Gov. Rick Perry's (R-TX) contention that global warming is "phony." "We can continue to challenge the reality of the issue; or we can seize this as an opportunity to wean ourselves off our dependence on the old, dirty, inefficient, and limited fuels of the past."

At the moment, Gingrich questions whether global warming is occurring.