Politics and Legislation
NSA denies eavesdropping on Americans
A recent article regarding the National Security Agency’s new secret eavesdropping facility in Bluffdale, Utah has caught the attention of members of the House.
The article which was published last week by Wired explains how the NSA “will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”
The article goes on to explain how the “Utah Data Center” which is a project surrounded by “immense secrecy is the final piece of a complex puzzle assembled in the past decade.”
The heavily fortified $2 billion building is said to have the capabilities “to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks,” the article added.
Marine charged for criticizing Obama
On Wednesday Marine Sgt. Gary Stein was notified by the Marine Corps that he was in violation of the Pentagon’s policy for blatantly condemning President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Stein’s actions could now lead to his dismissal and a possible downgrade in ranking.
The Marine who is based in Camp Pendleton, California, created a Facebook page called “Armed Forces Tea Party,” which currently has approximately 19,000 likes and has photos showcasing slogans such as “NObama” and “One Nation, under Obama, with poverty and unemployment for all,” has been under the microscope since 2010.
Stein was first warned by his superiors two years ago after he launched the social media page on Facebook critiquing Obama care. Stein offered to remove the page while he revised the rules at the bidding of his superiors.
According to Stein, after the revision of the rules he determined he was not in violation.
GOP leadership rankled by resolution calling for attorney general’s head
By Jordy Yager
More than 100 Republicans in the House are clamoring for Eric Holder’s head, but GOP leaders are reluctant to vote on a measure suggesting the ouster of the U.S. attorney general.
McCaskill deals serious blow to BRAC
By Jeremy Herb
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that she will not let new rounds of base closures pass her subcommittee this year, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the Pentagon’s plans for the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in its 2013 budget.
Courtly battle in healthcare case
By Jess Bravin
The fight over President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul has featured nearly three years of name-calling and shouting matches. But don’t expect to hear supporters accused of creating “death panels,” or opponents of preferring the uninsured to “die quickly,” when the issue lands at the Supreme Court next week.
House approves the repeal of cost-cutting healthcare board
By Pete Kasperowicz
The House on Thursday afternoon approved legislation that would repeal a government board tasked with finding Medicare savings, and institute medical tort reform across the country.
Members approved H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act, by a 223-181 vote in which only seven Democrats supported the bill and 10 Republican opposed.
Senate passes bill on insider trading, sends measure to Obama
By Alexander Bolton
The Senate on Thursday passed legislation barring lawmakers from using insider information for personal profit, sending the bill to the White House.
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act already approved by the House passed the upper chamber easily by a vote of 96-3.
The Senate action circumvents a thorny amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) requiring political intelligence operatives to regularly report their activity. The Senate adopted the Grassley proposal by a vote of 60-39 in February, but the GOP-controlled House opposed the Grassley’s language and did not include it in its version.
On the News With Thom Hartmann:Obama Announces Fast-Track Approval of Keystone Pipeline Segment, and More
In today’s On the News segment: Only five banks control more than half of all the industry’s assets, President Obama announced the fast-track approval of the southern leg for the existing Keystone pipeline today in Oklahoma, Democrats try to curb influence of SuperPACs, and more.
Nigel Farage on the Euro
Uploaded by MightyDemocracy on Mar 13, 2012
Nigel Farage commenting on Barroso’s message that the signing of the European Fiscal Compact treaty signifies the “irreversibility of the euro.” 13/03/2012
Van Rompuy re-’elected’ as president of Europe: http://mightydemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/11/emperor-of-europe-and-future-of-n…
Spain’s Economy, Front and Center
Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.:
“I’ve always viewed Spain, not Greece, as the quintessential euro crisis country. With Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government balking – rightly – at further austerity, the focus is now where it arguably should have been all along. And with Spain now front and center, the essential wrongness of the whole European policy focus becomes totally apparent. Spain did not get into this crisis by being fiscally irresponsible; see the little comparison on the chart on this page.”
Wars and Rumors of War
After Bales’ Arrest, Military Tried to Delete Him From Web
David Goldstein and Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Newspapers:
“Besides waiting nearly a week before identifying the Army staff sergeant who’s accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers, the US military scrubbed its websites of references to his combat service. Gone were photographs of the suspect, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, as well as a recounting in his base’s newspaper of a 2007 battle in Iraq involving his unit that quoted him extensively. But not really.”
Bahrain Medics Show Trial: This Is Not Syria, Therefore No Western Outcry
by Finian Cunningham
Bahrain’s disgraceful show trial of medical staff is set to continue, with news this week that 20 doctors and nurses are to be retried in a civilian court on trumped-up charges of subversion against the US-backed regime.
The medics were already sentenced by a military tribunal (a military tribunal!) to up to 15 years in prison after months of being held in illegal detention, denied legal counsel and subjected to torture.
Moving their case to a civilian court is presumably meant to signal a concession by the regime. But what it illustrates is that the Al Khalifa royal rulers of Bahrain are unreconstructed despots who are implacably set against accepting any kind of democratic reform.
The persecution of the majority Shia population – 70 per cent of the island – by an unelected Sunni elite is business as usual as epitomized by the vindictive targeting of medics whose only “crime” was that they treated hundreds of people injured in the state’s brutal crackdown against the pro-democracy movement.
Recently, Washington has been doing its PR best to present the monarchy in the Persian Gulf kingdom as being belatedly open to reform – this after a year of unrelenting repression against a largely peaceful pro-democracy uprising.
US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition
US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.
James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”
“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)
In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”
About That Dimock Fracking Study: Result Summaries Show Methane and Hazardous Chemicals
Christine Shearer, Truthout:
“Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3 issued a statement last week that its preliminary tests of water samples near drilling and fracking sites in the Pennsylvania town of Dimock showed no health concerns, the group Water Defense and ‘Gasland’ director Josh Fox went to Dimock to look at the EPA summaries themselves, which they say do report high levels of explosive methane, heavy metals and hazardous chemicals.”
Bradley Manning Prosecution Incurably Infected by Government Misconduct
Kevin Zeese, Bradley Manning Support Network:
“Last week I spent two days in court for a pretrial motions hearing in the court martial of Bradley Manning, the private accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks that showed widespread unethical and illegal behavior by the Department of Defense and State Department. Manning has suffered the fate the Queen put on Alice when she was in Wonderland, ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ By the time his court martial is actually held he will have been incarcerated for more than two years, one of those years was spent in solitary confinement. But, that is only one of many obvious injustices Manning is being subjected to.”
What happened to our government? (opinion)
(NaturalNews) When I was a little kid growing up in Newark and going to Bergen Street elementary school, I remember a teacher reading something to us in class one day. It went something like this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
These words are from our Declaration of Independence, and unfortunately, not from our Constitution. And from these principles, we Americans, lay claim to a rather unique and somewhat revolutionary legacy. That being that every person can lay claim to his or her own sovereignty just by being born, and that these rights don’t come from any government or person.
One of the basic principles on which our country was founded is that individuals have all these rights. Unfortunately, we give away some of them to our government. This is done voluntarily as it is not the law.
Obama threatens rare earth trade war against China – but why?
By Jonathan Benson, March 22 2012
(NaturalNews) In the spirit of election season political posturing, the Obama White House has announced that it is filing a trade lawsuit against China for restricting exports on rare earth metals and other materials used in the production of touchscreen mobile phones, military weapons, laptop computers, and various other high-tech devices. The poster child administration of meaningless political rhetoric, Obama and Co. has taken a convenient interest in China’s misdealings with the U.S. and…
The Invisible Poverty of “The Other America” of the 1960s Is Far More Visible
Peter Dreier, Truthout:
“Fifty years ago (in March 1962) Michael Harrington wrote a book, ‘The Other America: Poverty in the United States’ – a haunting tour of deprivation in an affluent society – that inspired Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to wage a war on poverty. This slim, 186-page volume became a best-seller and became required reading for social scientists, elected officials, college students, members of study groups sponsored by churches and synagogues, reporters and intellectuals, the new wave of community organizers and the student activists who traveled to the South to join the civil rights crusade.”