Politics and Legislation
We Take Care of Our Own: Eric Holder and the End of Rights
Historians of the future, if they are not imprisoned for saying so, will trace the end of America’s democratic experiment to the fearful days immediately after 9/11, what Bruce Springsteen called the days of the empty sky, when frightened, small men named Bush and Cheney made the first decisions to abandon the Constitution in the name of freedom and created a new version of the security state with the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, secret prisons and sanctioned torture by the U.S. government. They proceeded carefully, making sure that lawyers in their employ sanctioned each dark act, much as kings in old Europe used the church to justify their own actions.
Politicians Won’t Return Ponzi Payoffs
Michael Winship, Moyers & Co.:
“On Tuesday, Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford was convicted in a Houston federal court on 13 out of 14 criminal counts of fraud…. But what most of this week’s stories failed to mention was the large amount of his clients’ cash that was spent on campaign contributions, greasing the corrupt nexus of money and politics for personal gain. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to candidates, Barack Obama, John McCain, John Boehner and Harry Reid; including Ponzi Payoffs; as well as national fundraising committees for the Republican and Democratic parties.”
Confusion Surrounds Federal Review of Southern Leg of Keystone XL
Lisa Song, InsideClimate News:
“TransCanada’s decision last week to build the southern half of the rejected Keystone XL has raised a tricky question about who will regulate the project review … The process could be stickier at the federal level. The U.S. State Department was the lead agency on the original Keystone XL because it crossed an international boundary. But so far, no agency has stepped forward to take responsibility for the Gulf Coast Project.”
A Field of Hawks
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post Writers Group:
“Unless Ron Paul somehow wins the nomination, it looks as if a vote for the Republican presidential candidate this fall will be a vote for war with Iran. No other conclusion can be drawn from parsing the candidates’ public remarks. Paul, of course, is basically an isolationist who believes it is none of our business if Iran wants to build nuclear weapons…. But Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do.”
No Apocalypse Yet
Will Putin do what the oligarchs fear?
By ISRAEL SHAMIR
If he wants to survive politically, he will have to implement the national agenda, confront the oligarchs, curb the creative class, provide support to those who supported him.
Obama Signs Anti-protest Trespass Bill
US President Barack Obama signed his name to H.R. 347 on Thursday, officially making it a federal offense to cause a disturbance at certain political events – essentially criminalizing protest in the States.
‘War on Terror is War on Liberty’
Farage demands that the UK break treaty with US
By Nigel Farage: EU MP
“No British court has ever been allowed to examine the evidence against Mr Tappin and I believe this Treaty, signed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, needs to be amended and the British government needs to stand up for its own people.
Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing
Not so fast. Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape. The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing. Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt. Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever.
TEXT-Moody’s: Greek sovereign credit rating remains at C
Moody’s Investors Service says that it considers Greece
to have defaulted per Moody’s default definitions further to the conclusion of an exchange of EUR177 billion of Greece’s debt that is governed by Greek law for bonds issued by the Greek government, GDP-linked securities, European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) notes. Foreign-law bonds are eligible for the same offer, and Moody’s expects a similar debt exchange to proceed with these bondholders, as well as the holders of state-owned enterprise debt that has been guaranteed by the state, in the coming weeks. The respective securities will enter our default statistics at the tender expiration date, which is was Thursday 8 March for the Greek law bonds and is currently expected to be 23 March for foreign law bonds. Greece’s government bond rating remains unchanged at C, the lowest rating on Moody’s rating scale.
Security: UK ‘must plan for euro collapse’
Ministers should draw up plans to deal with a break-up of the eurozone “as a matter of urgency”, a committee of MPs and peers has warned.
The joint committee on the government’s National Security Strategy (NSS) said the full or partial collapse of the single currency was “plausible”.
It said political unrest and a rise in economic migrant numbers could result.
Wall Street up on jobs data, brushes off Greek default
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks advanced on Friday as investors brushed off the technical default by Greece and focused instead on another strong monthly jobs report.
Trading was choppy in late afternoon trade after the International Swaps and Derivatives Association said Greece has triggered an insurance payment on credit default contracts.
Investors took the Greek news largely in stride because the event was widely expected. Still, it is a declaration of default following the biggest sovereign debt-restructuring deal in history, and the specter of trouble in other euro-zone countries remains.
Bernanke Is Giving Us the Recovery He Wants, Not the Recovery We Need
With the latest round of monetary stimulus, the Federal Reserve is boldly going where it has already been. Big, big news from the Federal Reserve. They are considering doing something they are already doing, but calling it something else.
This “new” operation, carried out under the rather gross-sounding moniker of “sterilized quantitative easing,” is just another way to reduce long-term interest rates. The specifics aren’t terribly important — although if you want all the gory details about bond-buying and reverse repos, check out Jon Hilsenrath — but the result should be identical to the so-called “Operation Twist” the Fed did last fall.
UPDATE 6-Oil up on jobs data even as dollar rallies
By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) – Oil prices rose a third straight day on Friday as data showing rising U.S. employment countered any pressure from a stronger dollar and faded euphoria after Greece’s debt swap deal.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 227,000 in February, above expectations and marking the third straight month that gains topped 200,000, though the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.
PRECIOUS-Gold turns higher on US jobs data, oil gains
By Frank Tang and Amanda Cooper
NEW YORK/LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) – Gold rose above
$1,700 an ounce in heavy trade on Friday, reversing early sharp losses as the metal took heart from gains in crude oil and U.S. equities’ after an encouraging U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.
Bullion, which has taken to following riskier assets, rose in the face of a dollar rally and fading hopes of further U.S. monetary stimulus after U.S. employment grew strongly for a third straight month.
Also lifting the metal was Greece’s averting an immediate default after its bond swap offer to private creditors. Technical buying also helped after prices rebounded off its key 200-day moving average.
Public-Sector Banks: From Black Sheep to Global Leaders
Once the black sheep of high finance, government owned banks can reassure depositors about the safety of their savings and can help maintain a focus on productive investment in a world in which effective financial regulation remains more of an aspiration than a reality.
Welcome to the One Percent Recovery
Mike Konczal, New Deal 2.0:
“As the one percent reap 93 percent of the income gains from the recovery, we’re rapidly returning to pre-New Deal levels of inequality … It’s important to remember that a series of choices were made during the New Deal to react to runaway inequality, including changes to progressive taxation, financial regulation, monetary policy, labor unionization, and the provisioning of public goods and guaranteed social insurance. A battle will be fought over the next decade on all these fronts.”
Jeffrey Sachs’ Reform Candidacy for World Bank President
Staff, Center for Economic and Policy Research:
“Economist and health expert Jeffrey Sachs’ reported candidacy for World Bank president is welcome news for the two-and-a-half billion people around the world living in poverty, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. ‘If Sachs were to get the job, he would be the first World Bank president with this kind of experience and knowledge of economic development … All of the others have been bankers, politicians, or political appointees.’”
China posts Feb. trade deficit
For the first time in a year, China recorded a trade deficit of 31.48 billion U.S. dollars in February, as import growth far outpaced exports.
Exports rose 18.4 percent from a year earlier to 114.47 billion U.S. dollars in February, while imports were up 39.6 percent to 145.96 billion U.S. dollars, customs data showed Saturday.
The fast trade expansion was fueled by the lower comparative base for last February, when the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday cut working days from the month and skewed trade data, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said. The week-long holiday fell in January this year.
After seasonal adjustments, the annual growth of exports slowed to 4 percent in February while that of imports was cut down to 9.4 percent.
Life in America on Two Dollars a Day
Or Why American Poverty Will Soon Match That of the Third World
The latest poverty statistics that show the number of American families with an income of less than two dollars per person per day more than doubled between 1996 and 201.
China to export yuan to BRICS:
China is reportedly to begin extending loans in yuan to BRICS countries in another step towards internationalizing the national currency and diversifying from the US dollar.
Iceland calls its former PM to account for financial crash:
Geir Haarde, whose trial began this week, could face up to two years in jail if convicted over country’s 2008 economic collapse
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Set to Default on $5.27 Million GO Bond Payments:
The city, carrying a debt load of more than five times its general-fund budget, will miss $5.27 million in bond payments due March 15 on $51.5 million of bonds issued in 1997.
Wars and Rumors of War
The Kazakhstan Massacre: Killing Hope to Benefit US Geopolitical Interests
Steve Horn and Allen Ruff, Truthout: “December 16, 2011, should have been, at minimum, a fairly bright day for the people of Kazakhstan marking the country’s Independence Day and 20th birthday. But rather than being a moment of celebration, it became a day of brutal repression and death, a bloody scene in the regional center of Zhanaozen paralleling those that occurred at the hands of US-supported dictatorial regimes during the uprisings now commonly referred to as the Arab Spring.”
Russia says 15,000 foreign “terrorists” in Syria
(Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is battling al Qaeda-backed “terrorists” including at least 15,000 foreign fighters who will seize towns across Syria if government troops withdraw, a Russian diplomat said on Thursday.
After a Decade, Afghan Forces Don’t Trust Americans
Jon Stephenson and Ali Safi, McClatchy Newspapers:
“Afghan soldiers and police say the recent burning of Qurans by U.S. personnel has seriously undermined their trust in their American counterparts, suggesting that the decade-long campaign to win hearts and minds has not only failed but also threatens the Obama administration’s exit strategy. ‘We are tired of the Americans here,’ said Mohammad Aziz, 20, a Kabul police officer. ‘We don’t want them to stay because they keep insulting our religion.’”
Fresh barrage of Gaza rockets strike Israel’s south
Iron Dome intercepts a number of rockets over Be’er Sheva on Saturday morning; 12 Palestinians reportedly killed in IAF strikes in Gaza since Friday.
Obama has partially left his delusions about Iran: Leader
TEHRAN – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says that U.S. President Barack Obama has partially left his delusions about Iran.
The Leader made the remarks during a meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Thursday.
“Two days ago, we heard that the U.S. president said, ‘We do not think of war against Iran.’ Well, this is good. This is a logical remark. This is an exit from delusion. In addition, he said, ‘We will bring the Iranian people to their knees through sanctions.’ This is a delusion. The exit from delusion in the first part is good, but remaining in delusion in the second part will harm them. When one’s calculations are based on delusion, it is obvious that the planning he makes based on those calculations will end in failure,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.
The Bloody Road to Damascus
The Triple Alliance’s War on a Sovereign State
By James Petras
There is clear and overwhelming evidence that the uprising to overthrow President Assad of Syria is a violent, power grab led by foreign-supported fighters.
10 Myths about Iran Driving the Insane Push for War
And Why They’re Dead Wrong
By Jasmin Ramsey
Israeli officials and GOP candidates spout nonsense about Iran. Here’s the truth.
Weapons Financed By US Kill Unarmed Palestinians and U.S. Citizens.
By David Elkins
“U.S. weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make the U.S. complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel’s 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip”
Kofi Annan’s calls for talks spark anger:
Syrian opposition activists have angrily rejected calls by Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, for dialogue with the government.
Assad Tells Kofi Annan He’s Open To ‘Honest Effort To Find Solution’:
Assad warned the envoy that dialogue was unlikely to succeed while “armed terrorist groups” remained.
Russia threatens to veto U.S. resolution on Syria:
Russia will not support a new U.S.-drafted resolution on Syria because it fails to urge both the government and the rebels to halt violence, said a top Russian diplomat.
No military solution in Syria: EU ministers:
As Qatar called in Cairo for the dispatch of Arab and international peacekeeping troops to Syria, Juppe joined his counterparts in saying that for the EU “military action is not on the agenda.”
US officials: Loyal army, inner circle back Assad:
Despite the Obama administration’s predictions that the Syrian government’s days are numbered, recent U.S. intelligence reports suggest President Bashar Assad commands a formidable army that is unlikely to turn on him, an inner circle that has stayed loyal and an elite class that still supports his rule.
Controversy surrounds CNN footage from Syrian activist:
Video footage broadcast by CNN purporting to depict Syrian government violence was staged by the journalist reporting on camera, recent reports have claimed.
If Iran attacked it will launch 11,000 missiles at Israel, US: envoy:
Tehran’s ambassador to Lebanon says Iran has prepared itself to launch about 11,000 missiles at Israel and U.S. bases in the region if they do a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Lebanese media reported.
The Problem With the Environment Is Not Too Many People
Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout:
“We’ve all heard the claim repeatedly: humans pollute, so if we just reduce the number of people – both the number being born and the number immigrating from point A to point B – the despoiling will cease and Eden will be restored. If only it could be so simple…. ‘Too Many People?’ is a clear and convincing challenge to the idea of population control as political necessity.”
Fracking Likely Caused Series of Ohio Quakes, Officials Say
Michael Muskal and Neela Banerjee , News Report:
Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources issued new regulations for transporting and disposing of brine wastewater, a fracking byproduct, making for the nation’s toughest disposal regulations, state officials said. Though the quake damage was minor – the largest was a 4.0 magnitude – environmental groups questioned whether the state’s safety rules were strong enough to protect the area from disasters they attributed to hydraulic fracturing.
New York Times CEO Robinson’s Exit Compensation Package Tops $23 Million
Janet Robinson, the New York Times Co. chief executive officer who was pushed out in December, received an exit package, including stock options and retirement benefits, of $23.7 million.
Robinson gets pension and supplemental retirement income valued at $11.4 million, performance awards of $5.39 million, restricted stock units worth $1.07 million and stock options worth $694,164, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. She will also earn $4.5 million in consulting fees for this year.
NSA whistle-blower: Obama “worse than Bush”
Thomas Drake on life inside the National Security Agency and the price of truth telling
Thomas Drake, the whistle-blower whom the Obama administration tried and failed to prosecute for leaking information about waste, fraud and abuse at the National Security Agency, now works at an Apple store in Maryland. In an interview with Salon, Drake laughed about the time he confronted Attorney General Eric Holder at his store while Holder perused the gadgetry on display with his security detail around him. When Drake started asking Holder questions about his case, America’s chief law enforcement officer turned and fled the store.
Mass pro-democracy protest rocks Bahrain
(Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Bahrainis demonstrated on Friday to demand democratic reforms, stepping up pressure on the U.S.-allied government with the biggest protest yet in a year of unrest.
Three Ways to Beat Corporate Giants
Jim Shultz, Op-Ed:
From insurance companies lording over our health care to global conglomerates taking control of our water, corporate giants wield more and more influence over our lives and our environment. So how do we fight back? How do we take on corporate power and actually win? The Democracy Center recently published a new citizen’s resource that looks up close at the strategies that people and communities are using worldwide to successfully tackle corporate giants.
Don’t Look Away from Bahrain’s Revolution
By Ala’a Shehabi
Over the past year, as cameras turned away, the Bahraini regime carried out some of the worst atrocities in its history.
Bahraini forces kill 21-year-old protester in capital Manama:
Activists say the protester, named Fadhel Mirza, was killed on Saturday when regime forces attacked a group of demonstrators struggling to reach Pearl Square.
Stratfor: Blood On Their Hands
And it gets worse.
By Khadija Sharife
With their emails, Stratfor appears to advocate for a world where polluters and murderers, circumvent accountability by obtaining information to pre-empt – and in the process destroy – their opposition.
The Crime of Truth:
Obama’s Persecution of the Peacemaker
By Chris Floyd
Bradley Manning will spend the rest of his life in a federal prison for the unforgiveable crime of telling the truth to people who don’t want to hear it.
The Dirty War on WikiLeaks
By John Pilger
Media smears suggest Swedish complicity in a Washington-driven push to punish Julian Assange.