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Archive for April 11th, 2008

Economy Hasn’t Hit Bottom Yet

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:00 PM MST

Economy has yet to hit bottom.»

By Amanda at 9:53 am

According to a new Wall Street Journal forecasting survey, by a 3-to-1 ratio, economists say “the economy is in a recession, and almost three-quarters [say] the economy hasn’t yet hit bottom.” In the poll, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke received a grade of 78 out of 100, down from “the 92 he scored in September.” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s “grade dropped slightly — to 73 from 74 in February.”

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Evening Jukebox… Don’t Stop Believing

By- Suzie-Q @ 4:55 PM MST

Journey – Don’t Stop Believing

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John Pilger: Breaking The Silence

Sudhan @22:50 CET

Source: Information Clearing House

In case you missed it

Must Watch Video Documentary

A hard hitting special report into the “war on terror” Award winning journalist John Pilger. Click to view

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Sudhan @22:40 CET

Eileen Fleming | The People’s Voice, April 11, 2008

[Jerusalem] On April 7, 2008 Mordechai Vanunu, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for the last twenty-two years learned that Israel has continued the restrictions against his right to leave the state or to speak with human beings if they are not Israelis.

On April 9, 2008 it was reported that now Norway has joined Sweden, Canada and Denmark in refusing asylum to Vanunu.

Norway’s Bergens Tidende recorded “that Vanunu’s application for asylum in Norway had in fact been approved by the country’s immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) back in 2004. UDI was overruled, however, by Norway’s center-right government at the time. Political considerations, not least Norway’s efforts to remain on good terms with Israel and the US, were more important than Vanunu’s human rights.” [1]

UDI officials have a mandate to make asylum decisions without political interference. UDI officials had determined that Vanunu qualified for asylum and immigration authorities had determined that his application should be granted.

Israel developed its nuclear program with the help of Norwegian heavy water and between 1976 and 1985; Vanunu was employed as a mid level technician and shift manager at the Dimona nuclear weapons facility underground in the Negev desert where it was utilized.

In 1986, Nuclear Physicist, Frank Barnaby was employed by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu and review the 57 photos he had obtained at various restricted/secret locations in the Dimona. Barnaby spent three days with Vanunu in London before he was lured and abducted by the Mossad from Rome. Barnaby also attended Vanunu’s closed door trial and was called by the defense to give expert testimony.

Continued . . .

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McCain’s Reluctance On The New GI Bill…

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:00 PM MST

McCain’s bizarre reluctance on the new GI Bill

You’ve got to be kidding me.

On ABC’s The View this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked about the great strain placed on U.S. troops due to the Iraq war. McCain recognized the strain and said that in order to motivate Americans to join the military, the government should provide stronger “educational benefits”: “[O]ne of the things we ought to do is provide them significant educational benefits in return for serving.”

Why, that’s a great idea. Why hasn’t someone thought of that before?

Oh wait, someone did — and for reasons that defy comprehension, McCain refuses to support the legislation.

To briefly recap for those just joining us, the GI Bill was instrumental in helping send a generation of U.S. veterans to college and helping create the nation’s post-WWII middle class, but the law has not kept up with the times. Whereas veterans used to be able to count on the government to pay for all of their college expenses, troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that the GI Bill barely scratches the surface of today’s college costs.

Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) unveiled a GI Bill modernization bill over a year ago, which would increase troop benefits to pay for their education. From a patriotic perspective, this is showing real support for the troops. From a military perspective, it might make recruiting easier if young people know they can go to college after their service for free. From an economic perspective, the country benefits when thousands of educated young people enter the workforce with degrees, as opposed to the alternative.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are busy on the campaign trail, but both have signed on as co-sponsors of the Webb/Hagel bill. McCain, on the other hand, has stayed on the sidelines.

Why, then, is McCain going on national television to talk about how much he supports providing veterans with educational benefits?

Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark and Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, explained the need for McCain to step up in an op-ed this morning.

The Post-9/11 Veterans Act, which has an estimated cost between $2.5 billion and $4 billion, is common-sense legislation. With 51 cosponsors, including nine Republicans, the three other Vietnam War veterans in the Senate and former Secretary of the Navy John Warner, the bill simply updates what the late historian Stephen Ambrose called “the best piece of legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress.” Yet, faced with unprecedented filibusters, it needs 60 cosponsors. As de facto leader of the party, McCain could signal to other Republicans to sign on to the bill and assure passage.

Instead, McCain has said he hasn’t had time to read the bill and isn’t sure if he could support it. It’s hard to believe that neither he nor anyone on his staff has had time to read such an important bill, which has been around since before he started running for president. But, even if true, McCain must do the right thing now, when his leadership is needed.

What possible reason could there be to oppose education benefits for veterans? Why would McCain hesitate? Why does the White House actually oppose the Webb/Hagel bill? Kevin explains:

They’re afraid that updating GI benefits will hurt retention rates as soldiers leave the service to go to college. Charming, no? And of course, it would cost too much. Can’t have that when it comes to programs that involve actual help for actual people. Apparently we’re better off spending money on sugar subsidies and mediating gang wars in Iraq than we are helping vets get an education. Where’s Mr. Straight Talk when you need him?

Nowhere to be found.

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Afternoon Jukebox…Raspberry Beret

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:55 AM MST

Prince – Raspberry Beret

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By- Suzie-Q @ 10:00 AM MST

McCain gives up on his own response to the mortgage crisis

About two weeks ago, John McCain, in a high-profile speech, unveiled his response to the mortgage crisis. Despite the seriousness of the issue, the GOP presidential nominee unveiled a classic YOYO policy: “You’re on your own.”

As the New York Times noted shortly after the speech, “The real core of his speech was his argument against government action to help dig distressed homeowners — or the country — out of the mortgage mess…. His suggestion that federal aid might wrongly reward ‘undeserving’ homeowners sounded both mean-spirited and economically naive. And then there is the double standard. He seemed less concerned about the government helping reckless bankers, endorsing its role in preventing the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns.”

Almost immediately, Barack Obama began hammering McCain for his plan, and Hillary Clinton used it as the basis for a televised ad. Even some Republicans, including senator and former RNC chairman Mel Martinez of Florida, were reluctant to defend McCain’s proposal.

Yesterday, in one of the quicker flip-flops in recent memory, McCain reversed course. The Washington Post, apparently anxious to give McCain a hand, said the senator was “refining” and “revising” his plan. That’s enormously generous of the newspaper, but in reality, McCain’s proposal was an embarrassing dud, so he gave up on it.

Senator John McCain, who drew criticism last month after he warned against broad government intervention to solve the deepening mortgage crisis, pivoted Thursday and called for the federal government to aid some homeowners in danger of losing their homes, by helping them to refinance and get federally guaranteed 30-year mortgages.

“There is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority No. 1 is to keep well-meaning, deserving homeowners who are facing foreclosure in their homes,” Mr. McCain said in a speech on economic themes that he gave at a window company in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

Funny, two weeks ago he thought these same homeowners shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.”

Perhaps the nation’s callous constituency is not quite as large as the McCain campaign had hoped.

In both tone and substance, Mr. McCain’s speech was a departure from the remarks he made last month in California. […]

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois suggested in Gary, Ind., that the proposal was too tepid. It was the latest in the ever-escalating exchanges between the two senators and their campaigns.

“I’m glad he’s finally offered a plan. Better late than never,” Mr. Obama said. “But don’t expect any real answers. Don’t expect it to actually help struggling families. Because Senator McCain’s solution to the housing crisis seems a lot like the George Bush solution of sitting by and hoping it passes while families face foreclosure and watch the value of their homes decline.”

At a news conference in Pittsburgh, Mrs. Clinton called Mr. McCain’s proposal a “warmed-over, half-hearted version of the very plan he criticized.”

“Just two weeks ago, Senator McCain said he’d rather do nothing than something about the housing crisis,” said Mrs. Clinton, who ran an advertisement suggesting that Mr. McCain was unprepared to handle middle-of-the-night emergency phone calls about the economy.

“Apparently, Senator McCain got the message,” she said. “Letting the phone ring and ring is not the way to respond to housing crises.”

No word from the McCain camp as to why he no longer believes in the proposal he presented just two weeks ago. It may have something to do with the fact that the senator still doesn’t know anything about economics.

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By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

House General Counsel Files Contempt Brief

April 10th, 2008 by Jesse Lee

Today, the House General Counsel filed a motion for partial summary judgement with the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.

Motion for partial summary judgment, memorandum of points and authorities, statement of uncontested facts, and declaration (pdf) >>

Proposed order (pdf) >>

Dems fault Bush on executive privilege
Laurie Kellman, Associated Press – April 10, 2007

President Bush’s refusal to let two confidants provide information to Congress about fired federal prosecutors represents the most expansive view of executive privilege since Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee told a federal judge Thursday.

Lawyers for the Democratic-led panel argued in court documents that Bush’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former White House counsel Harriet Miers are not protected from subpoenas last year that sought information about the dismissals.

The legal filing came in lawsuit that pits the legislative branch against the executive in a fight over a president’s powers.

The committee is seeking the testimony as it tries to make a case that the White House directed the firing of nine U.S. attorneys because they were not supportive enough of Republicans’ political agenda.

The White House says such information is private and covered by executive privilege, the doctrine intended to protect the confidentiality of presidential communications.

House lawyers told U.S. District Judge John D. Bates that subpoenaed White House officials cannot simply skip hearings as Miers did during the committee’s investigation. Further, they said, any documents or testimony believed to be covered by the privilege must be itemized for Congress’ assessment.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008 at 4:46 pm by Jesse Lee

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Yoo In Hot Water…

GEF @ 8:08 AM MST

Mukasey Refuses to Say Yoo Fourth Amendment Memo Withdrawn

During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this morning, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Attorney General Michael Mukasey about that October, 2001 Justice Department memo in which John Yoo found that the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” had “no application to domestic military operations.”

Has that memo been withdrawn? If not, was it still in force? Feinstein wanted to know.

She found it difficult to pry an answer loose. “I can’t speak to the October, 2001 memo,” Mukasey said when she asked whether it had been withdrawn. He said that Yoo’s later March, 2003 memo — which broadly authorized the use of torture by military interrogators on unlawful combatants — had been withdrawn, but refused to discuss that October, 2001 memo.

Here’s video of the exchange:

That memo remains classified, and Mukasey said that working to declassify portions of or entire secret Justice Department legal memos by Yoo and others was a “priority” of his, but he refused to supply a timeline for when he might make those determinations. He was very mindful of Congress’ “legitimate oversight role,” he said.

“This isn’t a question of oversight,” Feinstein said. “I’m just asking you, ‘Is this memo in force that the Fourth Amendment does not apply?”

“The principle that the Fourth Amendment does not apply in wartime is not in force,” Mukasey replied.

“That’s not the principle I asked you about,” Feinstein countered. The memo referred to domestic military operations, she said.

“There are no domestic military operations being carried out today,” Mukasey replied.

“I’m asking you a question. That’s not the answer.”

“I’m unaware of any domestic military operations being carried out today,” he repeated.

“You’re not answering my question,” she said.

Finally, Mukasey responded, “The Fourth Amendment applies across the board whether we’re in wartime or peacetime. It applies across the board.”

When Feinstein pronounced herself satisfied, Mukasey said, “with due respect, I don’t think there’s anything really new about that answer.” He went on to imply that Yoo’s discussion of the applicability of the Fourth Amendment had not been a crucial aspect of that memo. “The discussion of which that was a part… means the inaptness… the suggested inapplicability of the Fourth Amendment as an alternative basis for finding that searches discussed there would be reasonable.”

“But Mr. Yoo’s contention was that the Fourth Amendment did not apply and that the President was free to order domestic military operations,” Feinstein replied.

“Without regard to the Fourth Amendment?”

“Yes.”

“My understanding is that is not operative.”

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By- Suzie-Q @ 7:00 AM MST


Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Thursday, April 10, 2008, in Washington. Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Cheney, Others OK’d Harsh Interrogations

LARA JAKES JORDAN and PAMELA HESS | April 10, 2008 11:00 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the meetings described them Thursday to the AP to confirm details first reported by ABC News on Wednesday. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue.

Between 2002 and 2003, the Justice Department issued several memos from its Office of Legal Counsel that justified using the interrogation tactics, including ones that critics call torture.

“If you looked at the timing of the meetings and the memos you’d see a correlation,” the former intelligence official said. Those who attended the dozens of meetings agreed that “there’d need to be a legal opinion on the legality of these tactics” before using them on al-Qaida detainees, the former official said.

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The White House, Justice and State departments and the CIA refused comment Thursday, as did a spokesman for Tenet. A message for Ashcroft was not immediately returned.

(more…)

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