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Archive for February 17th, 2009

CNN’s Zain Verjee Loves Penis, Err, Peanuts (VIDEO)

Huffington Post |  Alex Leo   |   February 17, 2009 10:33 AM

In an honest but funny (and by funny I mean hilarious to my 12-year-old self) mistake, CNN’s Zain Verjee got tongue tied when talking about airline peanuts and used the term “airline penis” instead.

>>>WATCH ORIGINAL VIDEO HERE<<<


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Justice probe may pose ‘enormous consequences’ for Bush officials

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday February 17, 2009

A Department of Justice report has called into question the entire legal basis of the Bush administration’s repeated justifications of abusing prisoners captured in the former president’s terror war. According to Monday night’s guest on MSNBC’s The Rachael Maddow Show, the “consequences” of some of the report’s findings could be “enormous” for members of the Bush administration.

A draft of the report from the Office of Professional Responsibility, the department’s watchdog unit, was submitted during the waning days of the Bush administration, but former Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to it, according to a Monday report by Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.

“The [Justice Department] report is expected to focus on three former officials of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that advises the executive branch on the interpretation of the law,” reports the International Herald Tribune. “They are John Yoo, a Berkeley law professor, now a visiting professor at Chapman University, who was the primary author of opinions on torture while at the counsel’s office in 2002; Jay Bybee, now a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who as head of the office signed the 2002 opinions, which were later withdrawn; and Steven Bradbury, who wrote three more still-secret opinions on interrogation in 2005, when he was the top lawyer in the counsel’s office.”

Mukasey and his deputy wanted the report to contain responses from Bybee and Yoo, along with Steven Bradbury, chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), at the time the report was submitted.

The OPR is now working to include the ex-officials’ responses before presenting a final version to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. If Holder accepts the report’s findings, it could be forwarded to state bar associations which may choose to disbar the attorneys.

On Monday night’s The Rachael Maddow Show, Isikoff took time to shed additional light on the subject, offering several stark possibilities.

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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Obama approves deployment of more than 10,000 troops to Afghanistan.»

Think Progress- By Amanda Terkel at 5:20 pm

This afternoon, the White House released a statement by President Obama announcing the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan. Noting that the “situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action,” Obama said that he “approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer.” Various media outlets are reporting that he will be sending roughly 12,000 troops to Afghanistan. The Progress Report has more on the challenges remaining in Afghanistan.

Obama’s full statement below:

There is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm’s way. I do it today mindful that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border.

To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer. This increase has been requested by General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs and the Commander of Central Command. General McKiernan’s request for these troops is months old, and the fact that we are going to responsibly drawdown our forces in Iraq allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan.

This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan. I recognize the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need.

This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region. This troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review. Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed.

Update– Yglesias’s take on the announcement:

To remain effective in Afghanistan, we desperately need to reduce the civilian death toll. That means less airstrikes. Which probably means more boots on the ground. And hopefully more boots on the ground can also reduce civilian exposure to death-by-Taliban. That’d be how you get the job done.But success of this venture is contingent not so much on the additional troops as on the adoption of a different strategy—one more focused on population security and less reliant on air power. It would be nice to learn some more details so as to really evaluate what’s happening.

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Update– Bloomberg is reporting that the order signed by Obama boosts U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan “by 17,000 combat and support personnel.”
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UpdateVoteVets called Obama’s announcement “most welcome,” praising the new administration for promoting “not just a military boost, but a strengthening of our diplomatic and political efforts there.”

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by Geezer Power

So, you know about the Treasury’s $700 billion bailout plan. But you probably don’t know that the Federal Reserve has lent out about $2 trillion since September. Few do. And that is what’s irritating bulldog Congressman Alan Grayson. Will he be able to shed a light on the Fed’s secret spending?

Grayson raises voice, hackles in D.C.

Mark K. Matthews | Washington Bureau
February 9, 2009

“WASHINGTON – In just a few short weeks, freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has delivered more memorable quotes than some members of Congress do in an entire career.”

“In interviews, the 6-foot-5-inch Grayson downplays his combative approach, bridling at a reporter’s use of the “abrasive” label and saying that he would not have been assigned to the House Science Committee — the “most bipartisan committee in Congress,” he said — if he wasn’t collegial.”

“Meanwhile, his Dylan-quoting, freewheeling stance has earned him liberal fans nationwide, including Darcy Burner, a failed Washington state congressional candidate who has already asked supporters to back Grayson’s re-election campaign.”

“He’s going to have a vicious re-election battle in two years, and he’s getting pressure to sell out to the lobbyists and corporations so that he’ll have enough money to fund his re-election. That, my friends, would be a real pity,” Burner wrote in a letter.

“Fundraising, however, is unlikely to be a problem. He is the 10th-wealthiest House member, with assets of more than $29 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

The rest of the story

Here’s Grayson’s alter ego Steven Seagal as an abstract, reality TV, illustration of what should really happen to the major players in the shadow government that still hangs over the White House.

Youtube video

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Obama Signing Stimulus Bill In Denver: VIDEO, UPDATES

AP/Huffington Post |  BEN FELLER   |   February 17, 2009 08:40 AM

Check back here at 2:30 PM ET for live video of Obama signing the stimulus bill.

President Barack Obama is ready to sign into law the most sweeping economic package in decades, a rescue plan meant to reinvigorate job creation, consumer spending and public optimism. Add the bill to an ever-growing deficit.

Capping the biggest victory of his month-old administration, Obama will sign the economic legislation Tuesday in Denver.

The setting, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, is meant to underscore the investments the new law will make in “green” energy-related jobs. It also allows Obama to get away from Washington, where the bill’s passage was a mostly partisan affair, and be among people who may benefit from the huge government intervention.

On Wednesday in Arizona, Obama will unveil another part of his economic recovery effort _ a plan to help millions of homeowners fend off foreclosure.

But first comes the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which tries to attack the nation’s economic free fall on multiple fronts.

MORE HERE

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U.S. Intel Chief’s Shocking Warning: Wall Street’s Disaster Has Spawned Our Greatest Terrorist Threat

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted February 17, 2009.

The Director of National Intelligence argued that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists.

We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgnger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington’s new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. We will see accelerated plant and retail closures, inflation, an epidemic of bankruptcies, new rounds of foreclosures, bread lines, unemployment surpassing the levels of the Great Depression and, as Blair fears, social upheaval.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. The collapse has already seen 3.6 million lost jobs in the United States. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent–the worst since World War II. There are 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed last year. And this number is set to rise in 2009, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold or were nationalized in 2008. There are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to shut down this year. Unemployment, when you add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, is close to 14 percent.

And we have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been destroyed by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. The government has pledged trillions toward the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing trillions more to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are supposed to somehow spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our imperial project on credit. Let our kids worry about it. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state’s strategies to crush potential civil unrest and you get a glimpse of the future. It doesn’t look good.

MORE HERE

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