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The Rachel Maddow Show: U.S. Ties to Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill


The Rachel Maddow Show Attempts to Get Some Responses on the Ugandan 'Kill the Gays' Bill

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/UPDATE*/U.S. State Department Backpedals on Landmine Treaty

WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (IPS) - One day after the State Department announced that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama will not sign the 10-year-old treaty banning anti- personnel landmines, it insisted that Washington's policy on the issue was still being reviewed.

Human rights and disarmament activists had reacted with outrage Wednesday to Tuesday's announcement by State Department spokesman Ian Kelly that the review had concluded and that Washington "would not be able to meet our national defence needs, nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign the [landmine] convention".

"The administration is committed to a comprehensive review of its landmine policy," Kelly said in a written statement issued by the State Department press office Wednesday afternoon. "That review is still ongoing."

The statement did not make clear whether Tuesday's announcement had been made in error or whether the anger provoked by it had persuaded the administration to reconsider. The fact that Kelly was reading from guidance prepared in advance and presumably cleared at higher levels, however, suggested that the latter explanation was more likely.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL), a coalition of scores of activist groups, had called the Tuesday's announcement "shocking", while Human Rights Watch (HRW) described it as "reprehensible".

"President Obama's decision to cling to anti-personnel mines keeps the U.S. on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of humanity," said Steve Goose, the director of HRW's Arms Division, who also noted that Washington stood alone among its NATO allies in refusing to sign the treaty. MORE

Seriously US? Seriously? You are that in hock to the military industrial complex that you alone of the NATO countries refuses to ban landmines? Assholes.
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In a post about the White (Wo)Man’s Burden: Madonna, Malawi, & Celebrity Activism [Original Cut] they link me to the retort to Rudyard Kipling pestilential poem
The White Man’s Burden

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Scholars have long debated if White Man’s Burden is a love letter to imperialism or a satirical take-down – Kipling was an avid imperialist but was also a satirist, and his intentions with the piece aren’t fully understood. However, the poem and the term have been propelled to the heights of infamy due to the application of the core concept around the globe.
Personally, I prefer Henry Labouchère’s acid-tongued retort, The Brown Man’s Burden:

Pile on the brown man’s burden
To gratify your greed;
Go, clear away the “niggers”
Who progress would impede;
Be very stern, for truly
‘Tis useless to be mild
With new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Pile on the brown man’s burden;
And, if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old-fashioned reasons
With Maxims up to date.
With shells and dumdum bullets
A hundred times made plain
The brown man’s loss must ever
Imply the white man’s gain.

Pile on the brown man’s burden,
compel him to be free;
Let all your manifestoes
Reek with philanthropy.
And if with heathen folly
He dares your will dispute,
Then, in the name of freedom,
Don’t hesitate to shoot.

Pile on the brown man's burden,
And if his cry be sore,
That surely need not irk you--
Ye've driven slaves before.
Seize on his ports and pastures,
The fields his people tread;
Go make from them your living,
And mark them with his dead.

Pile on the brown man's burden,
And through the world proclaim
That ye are Freedom's agent--
There's no more paying game!
And, should your own past history
Straight in your teeth be thrown,
Retort that independence
Is good for whites alone.

Fascinating how both of these poems were written in 1899, but still resonate to this day. (By the way, these are excerpts – the full poems are available by following the links.)The rest of teh article is damn good too
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Juan Cole:Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True

But on this occasion, I thought I'd take the opportunity to list some things that people tend to think they know about Iran, but for which the evidence is shaky.

Belief: Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the US

Reality: Iran has not launched an aggressive war in modern history (unlike the US or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of "no first strike." This is true of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as of Revolutionary Guards commanders.

Belief: Iran is a militarized society bristling with dangerous weapons and a growing threat to world peace.

Reality: Iran's military budget is a little over $6 billion annually. Sweden, Singapore and Greece all have larger military budgets. Moreover, Iran is a country of 70 million, so that its per capita spending on defense is tiny compared to these others, since they are much smaller countries with regard to population. Iran spends less per capita on its military than any other country in the Persian Gulf region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates.

Belief: Iran has threatened to attack Israel militarily and to "wipe it off the map."

Reality: No Iranian leader in the executive has threatened an aggressive act of war on Israel, since this would contradict the doctrine of 'no first strike' to which the country has adhered. The Iranian president has explicitly said that Iran is not a threat to any country, including Israel.

Belief: But didn't President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to 'wipe Israel off the map?'

Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that "this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" (in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad). This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.MORE

Iran: More accomplished in one day of negotiations than in 8 years of threats

Here are two stories from the last 24 hours which provide an interesting and glaring contrast:
McClatchy, reporting on yesterday's meeting with Iran in Geneva:
Iran also pledged that within weeks it would allow the inspection of a previously covert uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that he'd head to Tehran to work out the details.
Eli Lake, The Washington Times, this morning:
President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.
The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May.
Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.
In addition to agreeing to allow full inspections of its Qom facility, Iran yesterday also did this:
Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its current stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program. . . .
Under the tentative uranium deal, Iran would ship what a U.S. official said was "most" of its approximately 3,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be further refined, to 19.75 percent purity. That is much less than the purity needed to fuel a nuclear bomb.
French technicians then would fabricate it into fuel rods and return it to Tehran to power a nuclear research reactor that's used to make isotopes for nuclear medicine.
Steve Hynd explains why Iran's willingness to agree to this process was both so surprising and so significant. MORE<./a>

Roll Out The Aluminum Tubes

In the days after the successful talks between Western powers and Iran, which yielded more in one day than eight years of threats by the Cheney Administration, those who profit off of belligerence and confrontation with the world had clearly circled the wagons and planted their stories in the nation's newspapers. If people got the idea that Iran was moving toward cooperation, why, what would the foreign policy "establishment" that thrives off of conflict and military deployment do? Where would the next enemy be found? It's very bad for business.

So out came the links. Helene Cooper typed up the fears of anonymous officials wondering if the agreements in the first round of talks, including a deal where Iran would ship its enriched uranium to Russia to ensure that it would be used for peaceful purposes, were just a tactic by the Iranians to "buy time." Practically the same article popped up in the LA Times, as "experts and government officials" questioned whether the timeline for IAEA inspectors to visit the recently revealed facility at Qom represented another stall tactic. Amid this suspicion, neocon emeritus Elliott Abrams surmised that Iranians would not oppose a military attack on their own country, because there's nothing dissidents enjoy more than bombs raining on their heads (the reformers don't want sanctions either, it will hurt ordinary Iranians rather than the ruling regime).MORE
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Palestinian homes on sale to 'private buyers' - 22 Jun 09

One of the issues sharply dividing Israelis and Palestinians is the so-called right of return to Israel by refugees from the 1948 war.

Most of the property they abandoned has been held by the Israeli government.

But as Dan Nolan reports, it has now begun to sell Palestinian properties to private buyers.

Refugees in Europe find it hard to fit in - 19 Jun 09

Europe is home to more than 1.5 million refugees who were driven from their countries by war or persecution.

Of the many asylum seekers who arrive in Europe each year, thousands are unaccompanied children.

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri met one young Afghan refugee, who has battled to create a normal life for himself in Britain.

Inequity of Haitian refugees in Mexico - 20 Jun 09

The UN says that at least 42 million people have fled their homes last yfear because of conflict or persecution.

Mexico is considered to have one of the most open refugee policies and as a result it has become a popular destination for many Haitians who fled their country.

But as Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez discovered, despite government help many are facing economic hardship and discrimination.

Palestinians 'stranded' in Iraq refugee camp - 20 June 09

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 triggered an exodus of millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including a community who found refuge in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

But facing persecution from Iraqi militias after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, many Palestinians fled to the Al Waleed refugee camp near the Iraqi-Syrian border.

As Al Jazeera's Nisreen El Shamayleh reports, these refugees say they now live in "horrendous" conditions.
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Fed contractor, cell phone maker sold spy system to Iran

Two European companies — a major contractor to the U.S. government and a top cell-phone equipment maker — last year installed an electronic surveillance system for Iran that human rights advocates and intelligence experts say can help Iran target dissidents.

Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), a joint venture between the Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia and German powerhouse Siemens, delivered what is known as a monitoring center to Irantelecom, Iran's state-owned telephone company.

A spokesman for NSN said the servers were sold for "lawful intercept functionality," a technical term used by the cell-phone industry to refer to law enforcement's ability to tap phones, read e-mails and surveil electronic data on communications networks.

In Iran, a country that frequently jails dissidents and where regime opponents rely heavily on Web-based communication with the outside world, a monitoring center that can archive these intercepts could provide a valuable tool to intensify repression. MORE

[livejournal.com profile] asim pointed me to Al Giordano, who has the absolutely amazing article on teh cowardice of teh corporate media

Also, The regime was caught photoshopping their crowds apparently Oops!

Andrew Sullivan gathered some of todays tweets nicolas kristoff is pretty usually a docuhe, but his article tear down this cyberwall, is pretty interesting in parts.

WTF Monday.

Jun. 9th, 2009 12:01 am
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Massacre in Peru in the name of Free Trade

Today brings news from Peru of a massacre of indigenous people who were protesting policies set in place based on the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Remember, Obama was actually FOR the Peru FTA.

What were the protesters opposing?
People have been protesting against a government - a government policy that ignores indigenous peoples, that sees the Amazon as being unproductive and sees indigenous people as, essentially, a waste of space. What the government wants to do is open up the Amazon to private investment - they see the future of development there to be biofuel plantations, oil drilling, mining, forestry, and large corporate investments and indigenous people are just getting in the way. So what the government did when it was given powers in the context of the free trade agreement was issue a series of laws that never went through Congress, that were never consulted with indigenous people, that basically restructure land rights, taking away land from indigenous people and allow rainforest to be reclassified as agricultural land - opening a legal loophole for biofuel companies to move in with plantations, for oil companies and mining companies to be able to work in the area without the troublesome part of having to negotiate or speak to the local communities for using their lands.
About how the Peru Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. fit into this..
Unfortunately, the process of the implementation of this free trade agreement - the president was given executive powers to pass laws to implement the free trade agreement. Using that excuse, the government passed these laws that take away indigenous rights and [present] a threat to the Amazon rainforest. The government here has been standing up and saying it can't repeal the laws because they are necessary for the free trade agreement and the development of Peru, and they are positioning the indigenous people as being against Free Trade and development and using the Free Trade Agreement as an excuse for passing these laws that undermine the indigenous rights.

Result? Around 2500 protestors attacked by 500 police {warning:graphic photos] with tear gas and live bullets. Some police killed in self-defense.

Eyes on Trade has got some good stuff on the perniciousness of those blasted Free Trade Agreements.


President Obama has appointed Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), to head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelley is a leading proponent of "common ground" abortion reduction -- only CACG's common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion. That is an extremely disturbing development, especially coming this week in the wake of George Tiller's assassination.

Under George W. Bush, the faith-based centers didn't play a policy role. But Obama has expanded the faith-based project to include a policy side, and one of its chief goals is to reduce the need for abortion. I have opposed this, because reproductive health is a public health, not a religious issue. Also problematic: It is counterproductive for Obama to appoint someone who disagrees with the administration's stance. Obama finds himself now in the difficult position of having elevated the importance of religion to making policy, and having appointed a religious figure whose opinions on policy conflict with his.

Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women's Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women's health "are not all perfect; some include contraception -- which the Church opposes." Never mind that more than 90 percent of American Catholics use it anyway.

As Catholics for Choice points out in its press release criticizing the pick, "the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for providing and expanding access to key sexual and reproductive health services. As such, we need those working in HHS to rely on evidence-based methods to reduce the need for abortion. We need them to believe in men's and women's capacity to make moral decisions about their own lives. Unfortunately, as seen from her work at CACG, Ms. Kelley does not fit the bill." MORE

see alsoTrojans and Horses

Re: a good health care bill?

Read this: Musing over Morning Coffee: the Public Option, this: Your (Very Special Edition) Health reform Roundup, this: How Canada got Universal Health Care AKA the story of the man voted the Greatest Canadian, Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State, Health Care Reform: The Cost of Failure, FAIR Reports: Media quarantine on discussion of single payer health care. ANd just read this for good measure:Child Well-Being Index Foretells Hard Time For Kids

And fervently hope that this is a lie
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, recalled how Mr. Obama made a personal pledge of bipartisanship when he and Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the committee’s Democratic chairman, joined the president for a private lunch at the White House last month.
“I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a problem,’ ” Mr. Grassley said of the public plan, “and he said something along the lines of, ‘If I get 85 percent of what I want with a bipartisan vote, or 100 percent with 51 votes, all Democrat, I’d rather have it be bipartisan.’ ”

Also: WTF???? Just. What. the. FUCK???? Obama’s Pick to Lead Afghan War Linked to Abuse of Prisoners & Secret Assassination Unit Headdesk. Headdesk. HEADDESK!!!! Whatever happened to the Office of Urban Policy?
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California going to hell in a handbasket: Obama calmly ignoring

Sotomayer, Prop 8 hegemony and the Courts

Pakistan Apocalypse: Don't Believe the Hype!

JUAN COLE: You know, in the past two years, the Pakistani public has demanded an end to a military dictatorship. On the grounds that it was violating the rule of law. They demanded free and fair parliamentary elections. They accomplished them. They voted the largest party they put in is the left of center or centrist secular party. They then went to the streets to demand the reinstatement of the secular civil Supreme Court. And you've had, really, hundreds of thousands of people involved in this movement for the restoration of democracy and the restoration of the rule of law. If this had happened any other place in the world, it would be reported in Washington as a good news story. Here, we've been told that it's a crisis. That it's a sign of instability and nuclear armed nation. I don't understand that.


BILL MOYERS: Who are the Taliban and what do they want? What are their goals?

JUAN COLE: What we're calling the Taliban, it's actually a misnomer. There are, like, five different groups that we're swooping up and calling the Taliban. The Taliban, properly speaking, are seminary students. They were those refugee boys, many of them orphans, who went through the seminaries or Madrassas in northern Pakistan back in the nineties. And then who emerged as a fighting force. Then you have the old war lords who had fought with the Soviet Union, and were allied with the United States. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani, they have formed insurgent groups to fight the Americans now. Because they had fought the Soviet occupation, they now see an American occupation, so they've turned on the United States. They were former allies.

So we're calling them Taliban. And then you have a lot of probably disorganized villagers whose poppy crops, for instance, were burned. And they're angry. So they'll hit a NATO or American checkpoint. So we're scooping all of this up. And then the groups in northern Pakistan who are yet another group. And we're calling it all Taliban.MORE

Full Interview here

The North-West Frontier Province is 10 percent of the Pakistan population. That's where this stuff is happening. And most of it is actually happening not in the Province itself, but in the Federally Administrated Tribal Regions. Which are kind of like our Indian reservations. Only 3.5 million people live there. It's the size of, like, New Hampshire. Pakistan is a country as big as California, Oregon and Washington rolled up in one, with a population of 165 million. So to take this threat, which is a threat locally, to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, to parts of the North-West Frontier Province, and to magnify it and to say, "Whoa, the Pakistani government is six months from falling, the Taliban is going to get their hands on nuclear weapons." The kinds of things that are being said in Washington, are just fantastical and some kind of science fiction film. How would these guys, with the Kalashnikov machine guns, take over a country that has an army of 550 thousand? Which has tanks and artillery and fighter jets? How would they even know here the nuclear weapons are? In Pakistan, I just quoted you the Gallup Poll. People don't like Taliban, for the most part.

Obama Nominates Superfund Polluter Lawyer To Run DOJ Environment Division

Let's cut Social Security to pay for banker bailouts!You are about to be hit by another wave of disinformation about how Social Security is going broke and needs reforming (meaning, your benefits must be cut). It's not true.
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Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

Spirit of the Resistance in Somalia
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via: womanist musings

Turkish reporter dons balck face to report on Obama.

What he is saying:
Welcome Mr Obama. You made us happy with your speech in in Ankara with your open attitude and and good will. However, we have some anxiety. Until now USA has always demanded and gotten what it wants [from Turkey] but now we have a request.

There is a proverb in Turkey which explains my current situation [with the black face]. They who request something should have a black face, and they how do not give something should be an arab (black). When they translate the word black from Turkish to English they might use words such as Negro or Blackie. Please do not be fooled with this translation. This word is not used to insult or belittle black people. In contrary, it is used in a sense that our face should be darker. Hence, I have painted my faces black so that I can make a request to Mr Obama.

Now to the point. We [Turkey] have had a problem for years with the terrorist organization PKK. You said that PKK is a common enemy to both our countries in your speech today. We are expecting serious and earnest corporation from you [as opposed to Bush] in this subject. Give us actionable information [from northern Iraq] and WE will do whatever is necessary if you do not want to do it. Instruct your allies in northern Iraq to cooperate with us in this subject. They are your men and they will obey you.

The second issue is about the Armenian genocide. In your speech today you said that your point of view in this subject have not changed. Please give us your support in this subject against the propaganda from the Armenian lobby.

Please continue with your support for Turkeys concession procedure to EU. Also, there is this subject of IMF. We do not want money from you, we want cooperation.

You said in your speech that Turkey is an important allied to US. Give us what we want as allies and we will give you what you want."

Quite. So, insulting the Pres of the US in order to request more imperialism and crackdown against the Kurds (who want their own homeland) and to deny the Armenian genocide. There is such concentrated fail in this bit that it is hard to know where to begin.
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border security for whom?

Women and the Prison Industrial Complex

The notoriously draconian Rockefeller drug laws have been filling New York Prisons and inciting widespread condemnation by everyone from judges to prisoners to prosecutors for over thirty years. Just last week, hundreds rallied for their repeal as Governor David Patterson of New York moves to "drop the rock," or at least reform its worst elements.
An often overlooked story is the impact of the Rockefeller drug laws on female prisoners and their families.
Recently, I had the chance to talk with two artists, Liza Jessie Peterson and Hazelle Goodman, and formerly incarcerated activist Vivian Gonzalez of the Women's Prison Association, about the issues that women face in US prisons.
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Does the rhetoric sound familiar?

When the World Went Bust - Episode 2 - 12 Jan 08 - Pt 1

In the second part of its special look at the global financial crisis, Al Jazeera examines the impact on countries including Iceland and the future consequences of the economic downturn in the US, Europe and beyond.

When the World Went Bust - Episode 2 - 12 Jan 08 - Pt 2

Kenya and Tanzania are lending money to America????? Oh. Really. The fucking IMF. Debto countries must hold reserves in US bonds. Because the US economy is too big to fail??????? REALLY??!!!!??

Also: `Race to Bottom' at Moody's, S&P Secured Subprime's Boom, Bust
Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- In August 2004, Moody's Corp. unveiled a new credit-rating model that Wall Street banks used to sow the seeds of their own demise. The formula allowed securities firms to sell more top-rated, subprime mortgage-backed bonds than ever before.
A week later, Standard & Poor's moved to revise its own methods. An S&P executive urged colleagues to adjust rating requirements for securities backed by commercial properties because of the ``threat of losing deals.''
The world's two largest bond-analysis providers repeatedly eased their standards as they pursued profits from structured investment pools sold by their clients, according to company documents, e-mails and interviews with more than 50 Wall Street professionals. It amounted to a ``market-share war where criteria were relaxed,'' says former S&P Managing Director Richard Gugliada.
``I knew it was wrong at the time,'' says Gugliada, 46, who retired from the McGraw-Hill Cos. subsidiary in 2006 and was interviewed in May near his home in Staten Island, New York. ``It was either that or skip the business. That wasn't my mandate. My mandate was to find a way. Find the way.''MORE
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When the World Went Bust - 4 January 09 - Part 1

After years of unprecedented boom a financial firestorm, sparked in the US, is sweeping through much of the world.

In a special programme Al Jazeera's Samah el-Shahat charts the roots of the financial crisis and visits Iceland, one of the high-profile casualties where jobs are being lost and lives destroyed.

When the World Went Bust - 4 January 09 - Part 2

It wasn't as simple as the reporter makes it seem. however... )
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French Caribbean erupts over recession: General strike, riots

On the 20th of January, the main trade union on Guadelupe declared a general strike, with the backing of 47 other organisations--these include smaller unions, civic groups, farmers organisations, etc. This followed on from the formation of a coalition last year (the Collective Against Extreme Exploitation, the LKP), its development of a platform with over 100 demands related mostly to employment and economic matters, and two days of mass demonstrations in December over these issues that got no response from the French government. The government was not willing to meet to discuss the platform, hence the demonstrations.
I haven't been able to dig up the full list but here are some of the top items on it:
- The immediate drop of 50 cents in fuel prices (gasoline costs double what it does in France, a big part of that is an import duty imposed by France as a type of tax). - The decline in prices of all essential goods and all taxes. - An increase in the minimum wage to 200 euros (this is per month--note that prices of basic food items in Guadelupe are considerably higher than they are in France and you can see that this is not asking much!). - The decline in the price of water and transport of passengers. - Contracts for all precarious workers, public and private (much of the island's Black population does day labour or agency work) - The development of production to meet the needs of the population. - The right to education and training for youth and workers of our country. - Priority in hiring and positions of responsibility for Guadeloupeans and end of racism in hiring (the strikers say that French companies operating in Guadelupe hire their staff in France, and rarely hire locally even for low-paid jobs). - Freezing rents for an indefinite period and for the year 2009, canceling the increase of 2.98% (most Black residents of Guadelupe live in social housing and the rents are set by the government). - Set aside 50,000 hectares of agricultural area as a protected agricultural zone and setting up a committee for its annual evaluation (Guadelupe exports massive amounts of food to Europe in the form of cash crops, but residents eat mostly imported food...). - Exemption from taxes for the benefit of farmers throughout the country. - Representation of trade unions in Guadeloupe in all companies and joint bodies (ASSEDIC, Social Security, CAF, AGEFOS, SME, Fong, CIF ...). - Commencement of proceedings for the reconstruction of the hospital. - The urgent development of transport networks. - Taking into account in the media the language and culture of Guadeloupe through the presence of representatives of cultural associations in the boardroom. A few weeks ago the French government started sending over planeloads of police, which is of course worrying to the Guadeloupeans. The last time they had unrest in the late 1960s, the same thing happened and over 100 striking workers were killed. And that was in a strike limited to the construction industry, not a general strike situation. Two days ago, tear gas was used. Yesterday the expected happened, as French security forces waded into a demonstration. Shots were fired (some may have been fired by demonstrators but as in all situations like this no one is sure) and a union member was killed by the police.MORE
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Manifesto of the Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism

2- No to US militarism, No to political Islam

In the conflict between the state terrorism of the West and Islamic terrorism, the civilised world is not represented. Both sides of this conflict are reactionary and inhuman. They must be driven back.

3- Nuclear disarmament of all states

Neither Iran, nor the USA, nor any other state should have nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime’s nuclear project must stop immediately. However, states which have the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons themselves are not competent authorities to judge on the nuclear capability of other states. Halting the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear project is the task of the freedom-loving people of the world, in particular the people of Iran - just as the nuclear disarmament of all states and liberation from the global nuclear nightmare can only be achieved by the struggle of the people of the world.

4- Attacks on civil liberties in the West in the name of ‘war on terror’ must stop

The governments in the West are violating or restricting civil rights and liberties in the name of fighting the terrorist threat and safeguarding security. Increased surveillance and control of citizens, curtailing freedom of _expression and movement and denying the rights of immigrants are some of the commonest forms that this attack on people’s rights is taking. This must be stopped. No excuse for an attack on civil rights and liberties is acceptable.MORE
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Glenn Greenwald:The 180-degree reversal of Obama's State Secrets position

Nobody -- not the ACLU or anyone else -- argues that the State Secrets privilege is inherently invalid. Nobody contests that there is such a thing as a legitimate state secret. Nobody believes that Obama should declassify every last secret and never classify anything else ever again. Nor does anyone even assert that this particular lawsuit clearly involves no specific documents or portions of documents that might be legitimately subject to the privilege. Those are all transparent, moronic strawmen advanced by people who have no idea what they're talking about.
What was abusive and dangerous about the Bush administration's version of the States Secret privilege -- just as the Obama/Biden campaign pointed out -- was that it was used not (as originally intended) to argue that specific pieces of evidence or documents were secret and therefore shouldn't be allowed in a court case, but instead, to compel dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance based on the claim that any judicial adjudication of even the most illegal secret government programs would harm national security. That is the theory that caused the bulk of the controversy when used by the Bush DOJ -- because it shields entire government programs from any judicial scrutiny -- and it is that exact version of the privilege that the Obama DOJ yesterday expressly advocated (and, by implication, sought to preserve for all Presidents, including Obama).MORE

How the U.S. Army's Field Manual Codified Torture -- and Still Does:Buried in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, the Guantanamo virus is spreading, and eradicating it will require all of us to spread the word.

In early September 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense, reeling from at least a dozen investigations into detainee abuse by interrogators, released Directive 2310.01E. This directive was advertised as an overhaul and improvement on earlier detainee operations and included a newly rewritten Army Field Manual for Human Intelligence Collector Operations (FM-2-22-3). This guidebook for interrogators was meant to set a humane standard for U.S. interrogators worldwide, a standard that was respectful of the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. and international laws concerning treatment of prisoners.

While George W. Bush was signing a presidential directive allowing the CIA to conduct other, secret "enhanced interrogation techniques," which may or may not have included waterboarding, the new AFM was sold to the public as a return to civilized norms, in regards to interrogation.


There was only one problem: the AFM did not eliminate torture. Despite what it said, it did not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Even worse, it took the standard operating procedure of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and threatened to expand it all over the world.MORE

How the Press, the Pentagon, and Even Human Rights Groups Sold Us an Army Field Manual that (Still) Sanctions Torture

DoD Rolls Out the New Model
On September 6, 2006, a news briefing was held by the Department of Defense, as part of the unveiling of the new Army Field Manual, in conjunction with the then-new Defense Department Directive for Detainee Programs (DoD Directive 2310.01E). Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson and Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2) Lt. Gen. John Kimmons were the DoD presenters.
Much of the belief that the AFM provides an improvement over previous policies of the Department of Defense is likely due to a confusion between the two documents introduced that summer of 2006, the new Detainee Program Directive and the new Army Field Manual.
DoD Directive 2310.10E made a number of changes in regards to detainee operations and management. It made clear that "All persons subject to this Directive shall observe the requirements of the law of war, and shall apply, without regard to a detainee's legal status, at a minimum the standards articulated in Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949..." The same type of language appears in the text of the Army Field Manual itself.
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ThinkProgrsss reports:

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s office has said that his country may accept Guantanamo Bay detainees, which could “make it easier for Obama to fulfill his campaign pledge to shut the prison.” Australia joins Germany and Portugal in expressing a willingness to take some of the detainees. Both Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said that closing the facility will be a priority, while Vice President Cheney continues to insist that the “well run” prison should remain open.


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