Monday, September 30, 2013

US prepares to furlough 800,000 workers as shutdown looms

article here

The US House of Representatives voted Saturday to tie a bill that would fund the federal government for part of the new fiscal year to a delay in implementing the Obama administration's health care overhaul, setting the stage for a US government shutdown at 12:01 AM Tuesday.

A government shutdown would be the first in seventeen years. It would entail furloughs for over 800,000 federal workers and the total or partial shutdown of most federal agencies, while having a minimal impact on the military and the intelligence/domestic security apparatus.

The House bill will be taken up Monday afternoon by the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is expected to strip out any restrictions on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before sending it back to the House. At that point, the House is expected to reject the Senate version, setting the stage for a partial shutdown of federal government functions to begin after midnight.

The immediate crisis over extending funding for the federal government after the October 1 beginning of the new fiscal year could be a prelude to an even more consequential crisis over raising the debt limit to avoid a default by the US government when the current debt limit is reached on October 17. House Republicans are threatening to tie an increase in the debt limit to a delay in funding for the ACA.

There is a possibility that the Republican-controlled House might offer an extension of government funding for a few days to avert an immediate shutdown, while seeking concessions on the health care program from the White House and congressional Democrats.

Interviewed on "Fox News Sunday," Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican whip, said, "I think the House will get back together in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down but to fund it, and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at."

He held out the possibility of a deal in which House Republicans removed their provision for a one-year delay in implementing the ACA and Senate Democrats accepted Republican demands to lift a provision in the ACA imposing a tax on the makers of medical devices. Business interests, led by AdvaMed, a medical device trade organization, have been lobbying fiercely for a repeal of the tax. A section of congressional Democrats have joined Republicans in opposing the tax measure.

The impact of a government shutdown would be imposed overwhelmingly on the working population. Some 95 percent of employees at the Department of Education would be furloughed, as would 92 percent of workers at the Department of Energy, while all of the department's regulatory activity would come to a halt.

The Environmental Protection Agency would have enough people on the job only to "keep the lights on and respond in the event of a significant emergency," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Environmental regulation would likewise stop.

The Department of Health and Human Services would be at about half capacity, and the Centers for Disease Control said it would have "minimal support to protect the health and well-being of US citizens" and "significantly reduced capacity."

read rest here

Obama admin is complicit in "looting" of Detroit; plans are afoot to slash pensions for city workers and sell off of art

artielc here

"Top Obama administration officials visited Detroit, Michigan Friday to give their benediction to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's plans to use bankruptcy proceedings to slash city workers' pensions and health care and sell off art from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The administration delegation, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama's chief economic adviser, Gene Sperling, came bearing gifts, albeit paltry ones. Of the headline figure of $300 million to be allocated to Detroit, itself a token sum, a mere $100 million is to come from the federal government.

This will mainly take the form of previously allocated aid for the demolition of buildings and "blighted" homes—the chief request of multibillionaire developer and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert, who is heavily invested in Detroit land and buildings and aims to transform the city center into a haven for the wealthy. Tens of millions more will be made available for hiring police officers and installing security cameras throughout the city.

Orr, the unelected front man for Wall Street, announced that none other than Gilbert himself will head a new panel on "blight elimination," presumably overseeing the distribution of the federal funds.

Friday's "Detroit Summit" was aimed primarily at providing political cover for local and state officials, Democrats and Republicans, and an assortment of "community organizations" and trade union officials who are collaborating in the bankruptcy scheme. It was a photo op intended to endow the plundering of the city and its working-class residents for the benefit of the banks and bondholders with a veneer of "renewal" and "progress."

Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers, the city unions and the AFL-CIO are lobbying behind the scenes for a share of the spoils from impoverishing workers and retirees, gutting city services, and selling off public assets from DIA masterworks to the city water department and Belle Isle.

Friday's event underscores the fact that the Obama administration sees the Detroit bankruptcy as a model for similar attacks throughout the country, just as its 2009 restructuring of the auto industry sounded a national tocsin for wage- and benefit-cutting.

Among the topics not mentioned during the summit, at least publicly, was Orr's announcement the day before of plans to scrap the pension plans for city workers, turning them into 401(k) stock market investment schemes, while slashing benefits for retirees. Cost-of-living adjustments are to be eliminated for pensions that currently average only $19,000 a year for non-uniformed workers and $30,000 a year for firefighters and police.

Nor was there any reference to Orr's plans to eliminate the retiree health care program, sending retirees onto Medicare (if they are over 65) or Obama's private insurance markets (if they are under 65). With enrollment in Obama's insurance exchanges set to begin tomorrow, the anti-working class essence of his health care overhaul is evident from the fact that Detroit officials see it as an opportunity to slash health care expenditures by $120 million a year.

The looting of Detroit is epitomized by plans to sell works from the Detroit Institute of Arts, located across the street from Wayne State University, the site of Friday's "summit."

read the rest here

Sunday, September 29, 2013

@RahmEmanuel @MayorEmanuel @ChicagosMayor closes 50 school finds 93mil for real est deal

article here

"While your kids were sweltering in the heat of schools that can't afford air conditioners, or ducking bullets fired by gangbangers who operate more freely because we can't afford police, Mayor Emanuel was coming up with $92 million to spend on something you don't want.

In this case, the South Loop project at Cermak and Michigan that will feature a DePaul basketball arena and a Marriott Hotel. The $92 million will come out of the good old tax increment financing slush fund, which is like a magical drug for creating new money for the mayor to waste.

Good thing he supposedly reformed it.

The specific slush fund is the Michigan Cermak TIF district, created in 1989 by Mayor Daley.

Anytime you want to come back, Mr. Mayor, all is forgiven.

At the time of its creation, Mayor Daley said he had to divert money from schools and cops, among other things, for 24 years in order to battle blight in the South Loop.

He told us to think of it as investment. Instead of using those tax dollars for teachers or police, he vowed to shrewdly and strategically invest them in various projects that would transform the South Loop into a promised land of redevelopment yielding more property tax dollars for our schools and cops when the TIF expires in 2013.

Alas, here we are in 2013, and the war against South Loop blight has not been won—even after 24 years of shrewd and strategic mayoral investment of economic development dollars.'

Saturday, September 28, 2013

city of Chicago gave a felon a six-figure grant to open a liquor store

article here,0,2407751.story

"With backing from the local alderwoman and money from City Hall, a new liquor store opened earlier this year in South Austin -- one more purveyor of alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets in a neighborhood desperate for something more.

Informing the original backer of the store that he would be getting $105,000 in city funds, a letter from the Department of Community Development exclaimed: "Thank you for reinvesting in the City of Chicago!""

7 Secrets of Highly Happy People

Celebrating companies bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

House @GOP : Delay Obamacare Or We Shut Down The Government

Allen West allegedly fired from media job after calling female staffer ‘Jewish American princess’

Single Moms React To Ted Cruz: 'Out Of Touch,' 'Offensive,' 'Insulting'

Tell @speakerBoehner : Don't cut food aid to millions of hungry American kids

Affordable Care Act and the Consumer Protection Act keeps going in the event of a government shutdown

article here

"WASHINGTON -- If Congress can't pass legislation to keep the government funded by Monday at midnight, the Smithsonian museums will close, the Centers for Disease Control will halt its influenza monitoring program and up to 800,000 federal workers (many of whom have already faced unpaid leave due to sequestration) will be furloughed.

But shutting down the federal government won't stop two of the Republican Party's most despised bogeymen: Obamacare and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Obamacare is at the center of why there may be a shutdown beginning Tuesday. Instead of passing a clean continuing resolution to fund the government, House Republicans -- egged on by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) -- have insisted that President Barack Obama's signature health care law be defunded or delayed. The Democratic-controlled Senate, however, has rejected that approach. Without agreement, there will be a shutdown.

A report in July by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that Obamacare -- including the individual mandate detested by so many conservatives -- would still be in effect during a shutdown."

@gop compares their move to shut down govt to the heroes of 9/11. Seriously.

article here

"With House Republicans all but declaring that they will shut down the government—a move opposed by 80% of all Americans—they've now taken to comparing their move to the heroes of 9/11. Seriously.
"The whole room: 'Let's vote!'" Congressman John Culberson of Texas recalled. "I said, like 9/11, 'let's roll!'"
Yes, the 40 dead, who kept a hijacked airliner from crashing into God know's what in our nation's capitol, is just like House Republicans appeasing the extremists of their party."

Texas Congressman blows Ted Cruz out of the water

article here

"I, like millions of Americans, hope that there will not be a government shutdown. I hope that we can get past the hostage politics that have prevailed over this place over the last few years. This is no way to run a government. We are the most exceptional nation on earth and these wounds are self-inflicted ones.

The junior Senator from Texas, a few days ago talked about how he was speaking for 26 million Texans when he was threatening to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act, which he derisively calls Obamacare. He does not speak for 26 million Texans. The fact is Texas has the highest percentage of people who have no health coverage at all. The Affordable Care Act is going to change that."

rest at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz Gets His Healthcare From Goldman Sachs; his wife works there

So this bozo wants to make sure no one gets health care form the gov't. But he gets top notch, and I mean TOP notch coverage form Goldman. Nothing wrong with that. If you are lucky enough to get it, good for you. But why prevent millions of people from getting same bare minimum coverage? It seems selfish and mean spirited.

article here:

WASHINGTON -- Toward the end of Ted Cruz's more than 20-hour occupation of the Senate floor Tuesday and Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tried to pin the GOP senator down.

"Will the senator from Texas for the record tell us now -- and those who watched this debate -- whether he is protected and his family's protected?" Durbin asked Wednesday morning, repeating a question he'd been trying to get Cruz to answer.

"I'm happy to tell you now I am eligible for it and I am not currently covered under it," Cruz responded, diverting the conversation to an uninsured diabetic woman that Durbin had mentioned earlier.

Cruz and Durbin debated where the woman would fit in in a health care metaphor Durbin had concocted, with Durbin arguing that while Obamacare might not give her first-class coverage at its lowest level, at least she was on the plane. Cruz put forward that she was stuffed into the baggage compartment.

Daniel Webster vs. Henry Clay it was not, but it did leave the question of Cruz' health care coverage dangling.

"Senator, you and I are blessed to have the best health insurance in America as members of the United States Senate," Durbin said.

Durbin doesn't get out enough. Members of Congress are afforded top-notch, well subsidized health plans, but they're nothing compared with those provided to the people who make the real decisions in the U.S.

Top Wall Street executives get some of the best health coverage on the planet. Cruz's wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, is a regional head of a Goldman Sachs division.

According to a 2009 New York Times report, top executive officers and managing directors at the bank participate in a health care program that costs Goldman more than $40,000 in premiums for each particpant's family annually.

A Cruz representative wasn't immediately available to comment.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

.@Verizon Verizon is quietly trying to open up the door to limit internet site access

article here

Verizon has big plans for the Internet. And if that doesn't worry you, it should.

The company is trying to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet Order, which prevents Internet service providers from blocking, throttling or otherwise discriminating against online content.

And in court last Monday [3], Verizon lawyer Helgi Walker made the company's intentions all too clear, saying the company wants to prioritize those websites and services that are willing to shell out for better access.

She also admitted that the company would like to block online content from those companies or individuals that don't pay Verizon's tolls.

In other words, Verizon wants to control your online experience and make the Internet more like cable TV, where your remote offers only the illusion of choice.

This approach would undermine Net Neutrality, the principle that allows us to connect and communicate online without interference.

Problem Found

For years, ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have said that Net Neutrality rules are unnecessary. They've insisted they would never block access to one site or favor another.

These companies have also suggested that the millions of people who joined the movement to protect the open Internet were chasing goblins.

"Net Neutrality is a solution in search of a problem," Verizon's general counsel Randy Milch [4]said in a 2010 speech.

In 2011, the company buttressed this spin with a "commitment [5]" to Internet users. Verizon would not, it said, "prevent ... users of our service from sending and receiving the lawful content of [their] choice." Furthermore, Verizon said it would not "unduly discriminate against any lawful Internet content, application or service."

But now Verizon is preaching from a different pulpit.

In court last week, the judges asked whether the company intended to favor certain websites over others.

"I'm authorized to state from my client today," Verizon attorney Walker said, "that but for these rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements."

Walker's admission might have gone unnoticed had she not repeated it on at least five separate occasions [6] during oral arguments.

In response to Judge Laurence Silberman's line of questioning about whether Verizon should be able to block any website or service that doesn't pay the company's proposed tolls, Walker said: "I think we should be able to; in the world I'm positing, you would be able to."

Protecting the Marketplace of Ideas

This comment didn't come as too much of a surprise, given that it came from the same company whose lawyers have argued that Verizon has the First Amendment right [7] to "edit" (read "censor or throttle") Internet content.

At its core Verizon's attack on the FCC is an attack on the idea that regulators have any role to ensure affordable access to an open Internet. Now more than ever we need policies to protect consumers and users of all communications. And as all media converges on digital networks that means policies that protect Net Neutrality.

While Verizon and other ISPs are already raking in immense profits [8] from connecting users to the Internet, they see even higher margins in being able to tell us where to go once we're online. By charging a premium so wealthy businesses can jump to the front of the line, they're playing a game with data delivery that would shove all other sites to the back.

"I think the people who talk about dismantling -- threatening -- Net Neutrality don't appreciate how important it has been for us to have an independent market for productivity and for applications on the Internet," World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said [9].

Indeed, Berners-Lee built the World Wide Web on an open protocol that gives everyday users the power to go wherever they wish.

This approach has given us a truly free marketplace of ideas where even the smallest entrepreneur can compete with giant corporations. (Would we have many of the Internet's most innovative businesses -- like Twitter, YouTube and FourSquare -- had they been unable to enter the market on a level playing field?). Without the inherent protections an open Internet offers political voices who lack a big-money megaphone will get drowned out.

The Internet will look a whole lot different if network operators get to favor one online business or speaker over another. We can't let the Verizons of the world turn the Web into their own private fiefdoms where they award express service to their corporate and political allies and shunt everyone else to the side.

Verizon has put its cards on the table. Under its preferred scenario, the open Internet no longer exists. Whatever the outcome of this court case, we need to fight to protect the open Internet [10] -- and stop Verizon's vision from becoming reality.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

.@RepTipton voted against sandy relief but asked for colorado flood help

.@RepMikeCoffman voted against sandy relief but asked for colorado flood help

.@repcorygardner voted against sandy relief but asked for colorado flood assistance

.@RepDLamborn voted against Sandy relief but asked for Colorado aid for flooding

2012: $1735 billion spent on war. would take $135 bil to wipe out poverty

petition: @NBCNews @chucktodd thinks its not his job to correct lies about obamacare

Lying Tea Partier @CongHuelskamp Wants To Defund Obamacare For Non-Existent ‘Abortion Surcharge

article here:

"Huelskamp claimed that the American people will support them and not the President if they shut the government down over funding for Obamacare because 90% are opposed to the fact that "every single person under Obamacare" will be required to pay a surcharge of $1 every month on their insurance premiums to fund abortion. He goes on to say that most of that money is going to go directly to Planned Parenthood.

It may be that he is just unaware of what the law does say but if not the only conclusion left for one to draw is that he is intentionally lying. Of course when a politician lies no one should be surprised, that is what they do for a living, but this particular lie was exposed and debunked months ago, before the Supreme Court had even ruled on the Constitutionality of the law."

@FrankDLucas gets daily meal allowance of $127.41. Food stamps cost less than $1.40 per meal.

@gop 'er @FrankDLucas gets 127.41 in daily meal allowance or 91x snap benefit

article here:

"CNN reported last night that Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, a Republican supporter of the bill, received a daily meal allowance of $127.41, or 91 times the average daily food-stamp benefit. Lucas is also notable as a recipient of the agriculture subsidies his committee doles out: He and his wife have collected more than $40,000 worth."

American taliban: Cruz announces plan B for defunding Obamacare: ‘Shut down the military’

article here

"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sunday warned Senate Republicans that refusing to filibuster a bill that defunds President Barack Obama's health care reform law "is a vote for Obamacare," and he also advised House Republicans to "shut down the military" if they had to.

After a summer of insisting that Republicans should pass a budget that would defund Obamacare or shut down the government if the president refused to sign it, Cruz got exactly what he wanted last week. House Republicans rallied behind a continuing resolution that stripped funding from the Affordable Care Act, but Senate Democrats were expected to add funding back or refuse to pass the measure.

In a Sunday interview, Cruz told Fox News host Chris Wallace that Senate Republicans should stand together and refuse to vote for cloture by filibustering if Democrats added Obamacare funding to the bill."

American Taliban: Ted Cruz “Shut down the military” to stop Obamacare

article here

"Tea Party Ted responded, "If Harry Reid kills the bill in the Senate, the House should hold its ground, and should begin passing smaller continuing resolutions, one department at a time. It should start with a continuing resolution focused on the military."

The Fox host appeared a bit flustered trying to explain the rules to Cruz, which have been around for years. Wallace also asked how many votes would he have in the Senate to defund Obamacare, to which Cruz could not answer. The Senate is held by a Democratic majority so it will not pass."

Friday, September 20, 2013

@FoxNews Covers For Republicans' Government Shutdown Attempt

domestic terrorists: @gop @foxnews Repubs threat 2shut down govt if Obamacare is not defunded

petition: denouncing House @gop Republicans for passing deep cuts to food stamps.

SNAP Bill Cuts to Food Assistance to Millions of Poor Americans - new cruel low by @gop

article here

"The House's passage today of the Republican leadership's bill to cut SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) by almost $40 billion over the next decade marks a new low for an already dysfunctional Congress.  It would increase hunger and hardship all across our country.

By cutting food assistance for at least 3.8 million low-income people in the coming year — including some of the very poorest Americans, many children and senior citizens, and even veterans — this cruel, if not heartless, legislation could jeopardize a vital stepping stone to many families who are still struggling to find work or who depend on low-wage jobs.  As the nation slowly climbs out of the deepest recession in decades — with 22 million people still unemployed or underemployed — millions of families rely on SNAP to help feed their children.

SNAP recipients already are preparing for an across-the-board cut in their SNAP benefits beginning in November that will reduce their modest benefits to less than $1.40 per person per meal.

For decades, policymakers have shared a bipartisan commitment to reducing hunger and hardship.  This legislation turns its back on that commitment.  Senators should firmly reject these harsh cuts and send the President a bill that does not take food off the table of many of our most vulnerable fellow Americans."

Thanks to House Republicans, Nearly 4 Million People Closer to Starving

Hypocrite Alert! Colorado Republicans Call For Federal Flood Aid But Voted Against Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds

Watch Conservative Media's Favorite Benghazi Myth Fall Apart

VIDEO: Dem Shames GOP Food Stamp Cuts With Steak, Caviar, And Vodka On The House Floor

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Professional Idiot Elizabeth Hasselback: Register Videogames, Not Guns!

article here

"There are two reasons why this is an ignorant oversimplification of the situation.

First, there are hundreds of millions of people also playing those same violent games who never act on it, including myself. So in order for the argument to be true, that would mean that we are all just powder kegs ready to explode. However, that would ignore the fact that virtually all mass shootings are executed by people who have a tenuous hold on reality due to a mental illness of some kind. Or the fact that they all have easy access to weapons that make killing several people in a short amount of time very easy. Therefore creating a "video game registry" would essentially be punishing everyone who responsibly plays games by allowing the government to keep track of your purchases due to the actions of a select few. Doesn't that sound like a familiar argument?  Doesn't that seem a little hypocritical?

The second issue with Hasselbeck's argument is that it sets people up to be mindless sheep, unable to tell right from wrong, and just responding to what they're viewing and interacting with without an ability to think for themselves. Imagine if she actually took the time to extrapolate that out to other people, like her viewers. So ultimately the people watching her show are incapable of thinking for themselves and are just agreeing with her because all they ever watch is Fox News and they lack the mental capacity to not go out in the world and act out what they see on their televisions. But of course she'd never say that. It's only "other" people who can't stop themselves from buying guns and trying to act out their favorite violent video games. Though you'd think after all of these mass killings one of them would realize that life isn't a video game in which one person can take on dozens of heavily armed and trained men and women and still survive. Though I guess that would take the ability to think clearly."

India's legislature increases food aid by $20 billion while Republicans cut food stamps by the same amount

Here's The Petty Reason Obama Might Not Appoint Janet Yellen To Fed Chair

Read more:

"This idea that The White House might not appoint Yellen over frustration with how the Summers nomination went down has been reported elsewhere.

Immediately after Summers withdrew, David Wessel at The WSJ reported:

One leading candidate is Janet Yellen, the Fed's current vice chairwoman, who has garnered substantial support among Democrats in Congress and among economists. But the public lobbying on her behalf appears to have annoyed the president, say administration insiders, and may lead him to look elsewhere.

Bottom line: Yellen is now the favorite according to reports. But if she doesn't get it, it may be because the White House is angry at the way her supporters torpedoed his #1 pick."

DEM SENATE AIDE: Republicans' New Plan To Defund Obamacare Is Dead On Arrival

Read more:

"A top Senate Democratic aide immediately shot down the new Republican-led House's strategy to bring a government-funding bill to the floor that defunds the Affordable Care Act.

"I would say that there is a reason House Republican leaders didn't do this in the first place, which is that there's no chance in hell it passes the Senate," the Senate aide said in an email.

"It's just a waste of time. The House will eventually have to pass a clean CR or Republicans will shut down the government."

Republicans' new strategy, according to National Review's Robert Costa, is bending to the wishes of conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who are insisting that any bill to keep the government funded must also defund Obamacare. "

Here's Why The Alleged Navy Yard Shooter Was Able To Buy A Gun

Read more:

"Why was a man with a troubled history of mental issues and at least two prior arrests dealing with guns able to purchase a firearm the weekend before he killed 12 people and wounded 14 others in the Washington Navy Yard massacre?

The answer lies in how Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old alleged shooter, managed to exploit state and federal gun laws. 

Alexis bought a shotgun, the main firearm he allegedly used in the massacre, at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va. on Saturday, according to a statement from J. Michael Slocum, the attorney for the gun range.

He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though federal laws would have prevented him from buying a handgun under the same circumstances. "

Maybe Occupy Wall Street Wasn't Such A Failure After All

Read more:

"But today is time to reconsider this assessment. While it's true that the loose collection of left-wing protestors has not coalesced behind individual candidates in the manner of OWS' right-wing counterpart, the Tea Party, the movement's success in creating heightened awareness of income inequality and stoking populist anger toward Wall Street is beginning to pay dividends.

In no place has this success been more apparent than the race to succeed Wall Street champion Mike Bloomberg as mayor of New York City. After a Democratic primary campaign that served in large part as a referendum on Bloomberg's three terms as the city's chief executive, the nomination ultimately went to NYC public advocate Bill de Blasio, whose "Tale of Two Cities" campaign focused extensively on New York's widening gap between the rich and poor.

In banging the drum for higher taxes on the wealthy, de Blasio latched on to an anger that may have been simmering, but had yet to catch fire before Occupy Wall Street launched its attacks on the so-called "one percent" two years ago and brought income inequality to the forefront of the national debate."

Ted Cruz Is Making Life Miserable For House Republicans

Obamacare Is Secretly A Bailout Of State And Local Governments

Read more:

"Here's how it's going to work.

States and localities have enormous liabilities in the form of health benefits they have promised to provide to retired workers. (Finance professionals call these benefits OPEB, or "other post-employment benefits.") Most public sector retirees get health plans until they turn 65, and then supplemental coverage on top of Medicare after that.

In most cases, state and local governments haven't prefunded these liabilities at all. As Americans age and health care costs rise, this is becoming a major drain on state and local finances, arguably more important than more-widely-discussed problems with public employee pensions.

But Obamacare will give states and cities a major out. Instead of providing health care to under-65 retirees, they can tell them to go buy health plans in the Obamacare exchanges. In many cases, those retirees will qualify for substantial subsidies to buy such plans. States and localities will often stand to save thousands of dollars per retiree per year, even if they provide a cash stipend to help each employee buy insurance in the exchange.

All told, state and local governments should be able to shift hundreds of billions of dollars in OPEB liabilities to the federal government. That will mean major savings for those governments. But it will also drive costs upward at the federal level."

Did Ted Cruz Just Force Republicans Into A Government Shutdown They Don't Want?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monsanto Spends Millions to Defeat Washington GMO Labeling Initiative

article here

"With the help of a $4.6 million check from the biotech giant Monsanto and millions more from other out-of-state corporate interests, the campaign to defeat a Washington state ballot initiative in November to label groceries that contain genetically engineered ingredients has outraised the initiative's supporters by nearly three times, according to campaign data released last week.

The campaign for Washington ballot Initiative 552 is already looking a lot like last year's Proposition 37 campaign in California, where biotech and agribusiness interests outspent organic food producers and grassroots labeling supporters by nearly 5 to 1 in a high-profile battle over labeling genetically engineered groceries in the Golden State. (Genetically engineered products are also known as Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs.)

The No on 552 campaign has raised $11.1 million so far and has spent only a fraction of its war chest. Monsanto tops the group's list of donors, while pesticide giants Dupont and Bayer CropScience have donated $3.2 million and $562,000, respectively."

Alex Jones Instantly Comes Up With Absurd Conspiracy Theory About Today's Mass Shooting

NRA received $1M from manufacturer of weapon used in Newtown massacre

article here

"A new report released by the Violence Policy Center entitled Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA (pdf) disproves the NRA's claim that it receives no money from the gun industry. The NRA has received at least $1 million from the Freedom Group, which manufactured the Bushmaster assault weapon used in the December 2013 mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

At the annual meeting of the NRA in May 2013, the Freedom Group was inducted into the NRA's "Golden Ring of Freedom" which is reserved for those groups that have "given gifts of cash totaling $1,000,000 or more."

Another inductee, according to the VPC, was Smith & Wesson, which manufactured the assault weapon that was used in the July 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado."

Meet Errol Copilevitz, the lawyer who keeps some of America's worst charities in business

Colorado Flood Chopper Pilots Charging $1200 For Rescue (Video)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

GOOD NEWS: Larry Summers withdraws name for Fed chair job


"New York (CNNMoney) – After months of contentious public debate, Larry Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, sources familiar with the decision confirmed to CNN.

President Obama said he spoke with Summers earlier Sunday and accepted his decision."

Subprime lending execs back in business five years after crash

article here

"The Center for Public Integrity in 2009 identified the top 25 lenders by subprime loan production from 2005 through 2007. Today, senior executives from all 25 of those companies or companies that they swallowed up before the crash are back in the mortgage business. Most of these newer "non-bank" lenders are making or collecting on loans that may be too risky to qualify for backing by the U.S. government. As the industry regains its footing, these specialty lenders represent a small but growing portion of the market.

The role of big subprime lenders in teeing up the financial crisis is well documented.

Lawsuits by federal regulators and shareholders have surfaced tales of predatory lending, abusive collection practices and document fraud. A commission charged by Congress to look at the roots of the crisis said lenders "made loans that they knew borrowers could not afford and that could cause massive losses to investors in mortgage securities."

Risky loans, a Senate investigation concluded, "were the fuel that ignited the financial crisis."

As borrowers defaulted at increasing rates in 2006 and 2007, global financial markets tightened, then froze. The result was the worst economic crash since the Great Depression. Today, millions of Americans still face foreclosure. Yet few subprime executives have faced meaningful consequences.

"Old habits die hard, especially when there's no incentive to do things differently," says Rachel Steinmetz, a senior underwriter-turned-whistleblower who worked at subprime lender GreenPoint Mortgage, later bought by Capital One, until June 2006. "The same shenanigans are going on again because the same people are controlling the industry."

 To be sure, loans offered by their new companies face unprecedented scrutiny by regulators and investors. Many of the riskiest practices from the subprime era have been outlawed.

"We could never, ever go back to the kinds of products we were selling. They were disastrous," says John Robbins, who founded three mortgage lenders — two before the crisis, and one in 2011, from which he recently stepped down. The new Holy Grail for some lenders, according to Robbins: a mortgage that complies with new rules yet "creates some opportunity to lower the bar a little bit and allow consumers the opportunity to buy homes [who] really deserve them."

Robbins is one of several executives identified in the Center's investigation who have gathered up their old teams and gotten back into the mortgage business. Others have tapped the same private investors who backed out-of-control lending in the previous decade.

The lenders vary in how willing they are to accept lower down payments, weaker credit scores or other factors that can make a loan more risky."

On 5-Year Anniversary Of Mortgage Meltdown, Those Responsible Are Doing Just Fine

article here

"irst up is this rundown of CEOs at failed and bailed-out banks, former Lehman CEO Richard Fuld, who walked away from the largest bankruptcy in history with several hundred million dollars in his pocket (not literally in his pockets; no one has pants that baggy). He's got home in Connecticut, Florida, and Idaho, and he's now running his own consulting firm, Matrix Advisors, presumably because he's a massive Keanu Reeves fan.

Former Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne isn't working as hard as Fuld, though he did make around $376 million before "retiring" after Bear Stearns lost billions on toxic mortgages. Don't expect to run into this guy at your parents' assisted living facility, as he's holed up in the Plaza Hotel with Heloise, playing in online bridge tournaments. The horror.

Merrill Lynch lost $8 billion under the leadership of Stanley O'Neal, but unlike Cayne he hasn't taken to living like a wealthy retiree. Instead, he took his $165 million golden parachute and traded it for aluminum, landing a seat on the board of Alcoa.

Ken Lewis' hubris and desire to lead the world's largest bank resulted in Bank of America snatching up Countrywide and Merrill Lynch as they swooned. Except he didn't really do his due diligence, or he would have seen that these two acquisitions would result in penalties, settlements, adjustments, and other costs totaling more than $40 billion. That doesn't even factor in how BofA went from being viewed as a beloved outsider to becoming maybe the most-reviled bank in the nation in just a few years.

And yet, he walked away with around a quarter of a billion dollars. He did recently sell his home near the BofA HQ in Charlotte, NC. We can only assume it's because current CEO Brian Moynihan kept egging Lewis' car and writing nasty notes in shaving cream on the windshield."

After the Meltdown: tracking the fortunes reaped by the bankers who tanked the economy

article here

"Former Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne isn't working as hard as Fuld, though he did make around $376 million before "retiring" after Bear Stearns lost billions on toxic mortgages. Don't expect to run into this guy at your parents' assisted living facility, as he's holed up in the Plaza Hotel with Heloise, playing in online bridge tournaments. The horror.

Merrill Lynch lost $8 billion under the leadership of Stanley O'Neal, but unlike Cayne he hasn't taken to living like a wealthy retiree. Instead, he took his $165 million golden parachute and traded it for aluminum, landing a seat on the board of Alcoa.

Ken Lewis' hubris and desire to lead the world's largest bank resulted in Bank of America snatching up Countrywide and Merrill Lynch as they swooned. Except he didn't really do his due diligence, or he would have seen that these two acquisitions would result in penalties, settlements, adjustments, and other costs totaling more than $40 billion. That doesn't even factor in how BofA went from being viewed as a beloved outsider to becoming maybe the most-reviled bank in the nation in just a few years.

And yet, he walked away with around a quarter of a billion dollars. He did recently sell his home near the BofA HQ in Charlotte, NC. We can only assume it's because current CEO Brian Moynihan kept egging Lewis' car and writing nasty notes in shaving cream on the windshield."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Michele Bachmann: "If we repent, if we cry out to God" we can defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016"


"Michele Bachmann spoke to host Jan Markell on a right wing Christian radio show about the 2016 presidential election, immigration reform and the Last Days.

Bachmann responded to Markell's fear that Hillary Clinton will be elected president, "I don't at all because I look at the story of David and Goliath, all David needed was one smooth stone to fell the giant. It wasn't the stone, it wasn't David, it was the strong right arm of a Holy God.""

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three right-wing members of Congress flew to Egypt to deliberately undermine U.S. foreign policy


"As Max Fisher reported, Bachmann, Gohmert, and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) -- arguably the three most ridiculous lawmakers in Congress -- traveled to Cairo, met directly with the leader of the Egyptian coup, and then filmed a video praising both the uprising and the violent crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators that followed.

This is more than just a random stunt from strange politicians. The official position of the United States was that the post-overthrow violence was needlessly brutal and shocking, so much so that aid to Egypt may well be suspended. And yet, Bachmann, Gohmert, and King traveled to Cairo to deliver a conflicting message -- apparently because they felt like it.

Bachmann, at her most Bachmann-esque, even went so far as to suggest the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. "We have seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood has posed around the world. We stand against this great evil," she said, adding: "We remember who caused 9/11. We remember who it was that killed 3,000 brave Americans.""

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tokyo has been awarded the 2020 Olympic Games.

(CNN) -- [Breaking news update at 4:22 p.m. ET]

Tokyo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games.

During its vote Saturday in Buenos Aires, the committee made its choice over the two other contenders, Madrid and Istanbul.

[Original story published at 3:39 p.m. ET]

(CNN) -- Tokyo and Istanbul have advanced to a final runoff vote to be the site of the 2020 Olympic Games.

Saturday's International Olympic Committee vote in Buenos Aires eliminated Madrid -- but only after a tiebreaker vote. Tokyo finished first in the day's first round of voting, but Madrid and Istanbul received the same number of votes in second place. The committee then voted again to place Istanbul in the final runoff with Tokyo.

The results of the final vote were sealed and were expected to be announced during a ceremony from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET).

Each of the cities has strengths and potential weaknesses, said Ed Hula, editor and founder of, which covers the business and politics of the Olympic movement.

"Istanbul is the one bid that offers something unique and different," Hula told CNN in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires."


US Dept of Agriculture: ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China

"Here's a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.

Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.

For starters, just four Chinese processing plants will be allowed to export cooked chicken products to the U.S., as first reported by . The plants in question passed USDA inspection in March. Initially, these processors will only be allowed to export chicken products made from birds that were raised in the U.S. and Canada. Because of that, the poultry processors won't be required to have a USDA inspector on site, as The New York Times , adding:

"And because the poultry will be processed, it will not require country-of-origin labeling. Nor will consumers eating chicken noodle soup from a can or chicken nuggets in a fast-food restaurant know if the chicken came from Chinese processing plants."

That's a pretty disturbing thought for anyone who's followed the slew of stories regarding food safety failures in China in recent years. As we've on The Salt, this year alone, thousands of dead pigs turned up in the waters of Shanghai, rat meat was passed off as mutton and — perhaps most disconcerting for U.S. consumers — there was an outbreak of the among live fowl in fresh meat markets."


Why American Education Fails And How Lessons From Abroad Could Improve It


"In recent years, the U.S. education system has become overly focused on the last element -- accountability -- at the expense of progress on the others. The most ambitious federal education reform in recent years, No Child Left Behind, increased accountability by measuring schools annually on student tests in reading and math, with escalating consequences for those that did not improve. But it largely failed to address the other elements of the field, an imbalance that partially explains why the initiative has not achieved its aims. By contrast, stronger professions in the United States, such as medicine, law, and engineering, focus more on building their foundations than on holding their practitioners accountable. Doctors, for example, must clear a series of high bars before entering the field; develop a broad knowledge base, through course work and then extensive clinical training; and continually revisit their training, with practices such as hospital rounds. The medical profession places less emphasis on setting targets and making sure physicians meet them -- there is no such thing as No Patient Left Behind.

Other countries, meanwhile, have figured out a better way to educate their children, one that looks less like the United States' education system and more like its stronger professions. Recent international research suggests that the countries that top international education rankings owe their success to approaches that are in many ways the inverse of the American one. Such countries -- which include Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, top scorers on the Program for International Student Assessment, an internationally recognized test for 15-year-olds that measures higher-order problem solving in math, reading, and science -- all do certain things similarly. They choose their teachers from among their most talented graduates, train them extensively, create opportunities for them to collaborate with their peers within and across schools to improve their practice, provide them the external supports that they need to do their work well, and underwrite all these efforts with a strong welfare state. Because these countries do a good job of honing the expertise of their educators to begin with, they have less of a need for external monitoring of school performance.

If the United States wants to lead the world in student achievement, it will need to borrow some ideas from the countries that currently top international rankings. Rather than simply holding accountable the teachers and schools that have failed to live up to expectations, the country will need to build a new system from the ground up -- an expert profession that can consistently deliver high levels of performance."

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hope so: Five Reasons Why US Solar Growth Is Going To Explode

PETITION: Tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuits now


"Wow. Bayer has just sued the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban only months ago -- and we can't sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish.

Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, claim that the ban is "unjustified" and "disproportionate." But clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril. 

Just last month, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer now that we won't tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet's health. If this giant corporation manages to bully Europe into submission, it would spell disaster for the bees.

Sign the petition to tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuits now. 

The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don't have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics -- so they'll do everything they can to protect their profits. 

The EU banned these bee-killers this past May, after a massive public campaign and a clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations. Bayer fought against the ban every step of the way, using tactics taken from Big Tobacco -- pouring millions into lobbying and fake science to stop decision-makers from taking action. 

Now, we have to defend this landmark ban for the bees, and our food supply. Sign the petition now to tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their aggressive lawsuits!

We have to stand up for the European ban now, from Europe and from around the world. The current ban only lasts for two years before it's up for review, and Bayer is now determined to stop it before it even comes into force in December 2013. If it is allowed to intimidate the European authorities with impunity, then the pressure to overturn the ban will be huge. This will be a massive victory for the poison industry, and a devastating loss for the bees, and all of us. It will make every environmental regulation more difficult, because companies that can't win on the facts can use their enormous profits to fund expensive, baseless lawsuits.

Bayer is an enormous company with a ton of public-facing brands. Neonics are a big part of its bottom line, but it can't afford poor publicity on a global scale. And if word gets out that Bayer is wrecking our ecosystem and threatening a creature responsible for pollinating a third of all our crops, the company will have to back down.

SumOfUs staff and members have literally just gotten of the plane from a convention in Chicago where we took the fight for a ban in the US right to the industry itself -- so we know how important it is to hold the line. 

Sign the petition to tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuits now. Let's build on this landmark victory and take the bee-killing pesticide ban global.



More information:

EU insecticide ban triggers legal action, Nature News, 28 August, 2013"

International gangsterism and Washington’s war drive against Syria #p2 #tcot


"At the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, US President Barack Obama postured as the moral conscience of the world and upholder of international law. He did so in an attempt (largely unsuccessful) to rally international support and justify an unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Syria.

At a post-summit press conference on Friday, Obama explicitly argued that the United States has the right to attack another country even if neither it nor its allies are facing imminent attack and military action has not been sanctioned by the United Nations. This represents a direct repudiation of the United Nations Charter, which defines such unilateral and unprovoked actions as criminal acts of military aggression. It amounts to an assertion that, in defiance of the entire post-World War II framework of international law, the United States can attack any country if it sees fit to do so.

Explaining his decision to seek authorization for the use of military force against Syria from the US Congress, Obama said, "I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad's use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States… I could not say that it was immediately directly going to have an impact on our allies."

At another point he said, "It is my view… that given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use, then an international response is required and that will not come through Security Council action."

The UN Security Council, for its part, has placed its stamp of approval on a great many dirty wars, including most recently the US-NATO assault on Libya in March-October 2011, but as of yet its members remain divided on the question of Syria.

The moralistic playacting that accompanies Washington's naked assertion of militarism is, as always in such cases, based on brazen lies. No evidence has been presented to substantiate the charges of chemical weapons use against the Syrian regime. It would have nothing to gain by carrying out such an attack, under conditions where it had been winning the war on the ground against Washington's proxy forces. UN inspectors had just arrived in Damascus, at Syria's invitation; to investigate previous claims of chemical weapons attacks.

The Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, who comprise the backbone of Washington's proxy "rebel" force in Syria, on the other hand, have much to gain, since they were on the brink of defeat and needed a provocation to provide the pretext for direct US intervention on their side. Their massacres, beheadings, terror bombings and other atrocities against Syrian soldiers and civilians alike are well documented, including on Internet postings. They have boasted of having chemical weapons and being prepared to use them.

The other major lie promoted to justify the launching of a war against Syria is the claim that it will be, as Obama repeated Friday, "limited and proportionate." In this connection, it is worthwhile citing an article posted September 3 on the Foreign Policy web site by Bruce Ackerman, a well-known authority on US constitutional law and professor at Yale University.

Discussing the draft of an authorization for use of military force submitted to Congress last weekend by the Obama administration, he wrote: "But in fact, his [Obama's] formal proposal is a massive bait-and-switch operation. It authorizes the president to use 'the Armed Forces of the United States,' including boots on the ground, and to employ military force 'within, to or from Syria.' What is more, the president can act to deter the 'use or proliferation' of 'chemical or other weapons of mass destruction' and intervene to 'protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.' This is nothing less than an open-ended endorsement of military intervention in the Middle East and beyond."

The resolution authorizing military force passed Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and backed by the administration further explodes the pretense that what is being prepared is a small-scale intervention. It makes clear that the aim of the attack is to strengthen the Islamist-dominated opposition and effect regime-change. It opens the way for war against Iran, Russia and any other country deemed to be assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

What is being prepared is a regional war to redraw the map of the Middle East and insure US hegemony over the region and its vast oil riches. It is a perspective that leads inevitably—and perhaps sooner rather than later—to direct confrontation with Russia and China and another world war.

Popular skepticism toward and opposition to a US attack on Syria are broad and deep, both in the US and internationally. The experience of two previous wars based on lies in the space of a decade—in Iraq and Libya—has had its impact on popular consciousness. Washington cannot, moreover, conceal its own record of violating the "international norms" that Obama claims to be defending—from the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the saturation use of napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, to US support for Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s, to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in Iraq.

The Bush administration repudiated the Geneva Conventions in relation to prisoners captured in the so-called "war on terror," opening the way for torture, indefinite detention, rendition, and drone assassinations—all of which have been continued and expanded under Obama.

The massive popular opposition to war only makes the lying of politicians and the media all the more pervasive and desperate.

The US drive to war presents a spectacle of international gangsterism and lying not seen since the heyday of the military dictatorships and fascist regimes of the 1930s—of Mussolini, Hitler and Tojo. The modus operandi of the United States government in world affairs today is in all essentials no different from that employed in the rape of Abyssinia, Poland and Manchuria.

The words Nuremburg prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson used to describe the Nazi war criminals apply in full force to the political gangsters who constitute the American government today. These figures, Jackson said, "are surprised that there is any such thing as law. [They] did not rely on any law at all. Their program ignored and defied all law... International Law, natural law, German law, any law at all was to these men simply a propaganda device to be invoked when it helped and to be ignored when it would condemn what they wanted to do."

The flouting of international law by the American government goes hand-in-hand with the collapse of democracy within the US. It is no accident that the war against Syria is being prepared as revelations continue to surface of government spying directed against the American population, in clear violation of the Constitution, on a gigantic and unprecedented scale. These parallel developments show the inseparable connection between imperialist militarism abroad and the preparations for dictatorship at home.

While the American media is braying for blood on all channels and around the clock, the American population is overwhelmingly opposed to a military strike against Syria. There is a growing sense that the country most needful of "regime change" is not Syria, but the United States.

But for this popular opposition within the US to find expression, it must break free from the entire rotten structure of official politics in America, all of whose factions are implicated in the drive to war, austerity, and the destruction of democratic rights. Opposition to war must not be channeled behind the Democratic Party or appeals to Congress, but must instead take the form of the political mobilization of the working class...."

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As opposition to war mounts, Pentagon plans massive attack on Syria


"Facing overwhelming opposition to its war plans among the American people, the prospect of losing a vote in Congress on a resolution authorizing military force, and unprecedented isolation on the world stage, the Obama administration has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to plan a far wider attack on Syria than had originally been indicated.

Obama is "now determined to put more emphasis on the 'degrade' part of what the administration has said is the goal of a military strike against Syria—to 'deter and degrade' Mr. Assad's ability to use chemical weapons," the New York Times reported Friday, citing unnamed Pentagon officials.

According to the Times, as well as similar reports by the Wall Street Journal and CNN, the Syria war plan is evolving to include not just a salvo of cruise missiles from a US naval flotilla deployed in the eastern Mediterranean, but a sustained bombing campaign involving US warplanes flying from bases in the region as well from the US itself.

The Journal reported that the use of Air Force bombers, which are capable of delivering a greater payload than the ship-borne missiles, is being considered for strikes on "hardened targets" and "follow-on strikes if the first wave doesn't destroy the targets."

"Among options available are B-52 bombers, which can carry cruise missiles; low-flying B1s that are based in Qatar and carry long-range, air-to-surface missiles; and B-2 stealth bombers, which are based in Missouri and carry heavy guided bombs," according to the Journal .

In the face of such preparations, only the willfully ignorant can still believe that the attack being prepared against Syria has anything to do with upholding "international norms" and punishing the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons.

The Obama administration has yet to present a shred of verifiable evidence to substantiate its claim that the Assad regime was responsible for the alleged August 21 chemical attack outside Damascus.

The American president suffered an unmitigated fiasco at the G20 summit in Russia, where he was unable to convince a single government to support US military action. If evidence of such an attack could be shared anywhere, it would presumably be with the heads of state gathered in St. Petersburg. But Obama has no such proof, and every government in the world knows it.

The August 21 event was a provocation staged by Washington and its proxies, the armed Islamist militias led by Al Qaeda, to provide the justification for not only an attack on Syria, but a far wider war.

In the first instance, what is being prepared is a full-scale assault on the Syrian government and its military. Among the objectives will be the assassination of Assad and the wiping out of much of the Syrian army. In the process, thousands of Syrian civilians—men, women and children—will be killed as well.

These aims are being spelled out clearly within the US ruling establishment. A report published September 5 by Anthony Cordesman, a leading analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and former Pentagon intelligence official, is entitled "Shaping a Meaningful Outcome to US Strikes and Intervention in the Syrian Civil War."

"If the US is to accomplish any lasting strategic result, it must carry out a truly major cruise missile strike and focus on changing the outcome of the Syrian civil war, rather than focus on Syria's chemical weapons," Cordesman writes. "In the short term, this means a focus on high value military targets that will have an impact on the civil war rather than a focus on chemical weapons."

He continues by insisting that "making a limited, short-term tilt in the balance will not be enough." The US attack, he argues, must be accompanied by a major escalation of the arming of the so-called "rebels," the fascistic Islamist gunmen carrying out a sectarian civil war on Washington's behalf.

This is already taking place. The Times of London reported Friday, "The CIA is supervising fresh weapons consignments from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to Syria's rebels to help them to capitalise on a US bombing offensive that could start next week."

The massive new infusion of weaponry includes antitank weapons and surface-to-air missiles as well as other arms. It likely also involves chemical weapons from the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, to be used should another provocation be required.

These weapons will go to Al Qaeda-led militias, with which the US government is now working in the closest operational unity, to carry out sectarian massacres across the country and in Damascus itself.

The aim of this campaign is not limited to Syria, but is directed at preparing a wider regional war, targeting Iran, with the aim of removing all impediments to US imperialist hegemony over the oil-rich and strategically vital regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Obama is pursuing the same predatory aims that lay behind the wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan over the entire past decade.

The US Senate convened briefly Friday to allow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to formally introduce the Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The full Senate returns from its recess on Monday and is expected to vote on the measure backing war on Syria as soon as next Wednesday.

The resolution provides for up to 60 days of air strikes on the already devastated Middle Eastern nation, with another 30-day extension should the Obama administration determine that more attacks are required.

Whatever the text of the legislation, and whether or not it is passed by both houses of Congress, which appears increasingly doubtful, the administration has already made clear the far-reaching scope of its military aims with the draft it first submitted. This resolution allowed it to use virtually unlimited military force "in connection with" Syrian chemical weapons and the proliferation "within, to or from Syria," of such weapons or any components or materials associated with them. Such language would allow attacks on Iran or Russia or virtually any other country that the US determined was "connected" with Syria or providing it with aid.

That this remains the aim of the US intervention was indicated by last week's presence in Washington of a large delegation of top Israeli military and intelligence officials and the steady drumbeat of propaganda to the effect that the Syrian intervention is necessary to deter Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.

As the New York Times noted Friday, the Obama administration is counting heavily on Zionist lobbying organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to pressure members of Congress to back the authorization of military force.

Whatever the results of the congressional deliberations, this will be the last time any legislative debate is carried out in the US over the impending war. Such is the depth of the crisis of US capitalism, it is driven to a war of aggression, regardless the attitude of the American people, as a means of offsetting its economic decline and intense internal contradictions.

This is a government of conspiracy, dominated by its vast military and intelligence apparatus and totally subservient to the interests of the corporations, the banks and the super-rich. It is dragging the American people into war on the basis of wholesale lying and under conditions where the overwhelming majority of the population opposes military action—something Obama and his supporters acknowledge. Ultimately, this can be carried out only by means of massive repression.

The only thing that can stop the coming war is the mobilization of mass popular opposition. This requires the independent action of working people, students and youth in opposition to the Obama administration, the Congress and both big-business political parties. The struggle against war must be joined with the fight to defend living standards and basic democratic rights, which are under relentless assault by the same capitalist system and ruling financial oligarchy that are the source of militarism and imperialist aggression.

The Socialist Equality Party is fighting to organize this opposition, holding meetings and calling demonstrations across the US and internationally. We call upon all of our readers and supporters to join this fight today."

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